Freedom, democracy, whatev: My Bloody Valentine reuniting and releasing a new album is what I’m thankful for. First the Jesus and Mary Chain, now this! The masters, it seems, are back. See the full Kevin Shields interview for yourself on Ian Svenonius’ Soft Focus on VBS TV (www.vbs.tv/softfocus).
Canadian pop juggernaut Tegan and Sara sold out the Plaza Theatre Nov. 12. Seemingly custom-built from a lesbian dream (twin sisters, both cute, both gay – what are the fucking odds?), they were born to be a mega-indie commodity. It’s a formula that has critics like yours truly whipping out the loupe pronto, pounced to dispel the mirage. But nothin’ doin’ here, because they actually have the goods: They play their instruments, they write their songs and said songs are solid pop nuggets, all of which they brought together for their adoring fans in a good performance. With a hip factor even Amy and Emily couldn’t dream of, Tegan and Sara are the Indigo Girls for the new generation.
A few days later, I was back for Diamond Rocks. After three years in development, this was the launch for the locally based Neil Diamond tribute act. Though I love his music, any tribute act is sort of inherently ridiculous – so if you’re gonna do it, might as well go all out. With a 10-piece band and backup singers, that’s exactly what they did.
Everyone was solid and singer Donn Lamkin’s voice was quite convincing, but the slight kitsch factor made this baby fly. I may be a snob but I’m even more of a good-time Charlie, and this was a ton of fun. Despite all outward appearances, this proved not to be an uptight crowd. People young and old alike actually got up, sang and danced, and that just RULES. The only thing that woulda knocked it outta the park would’ve been if a mom bra had been flung from the audience and hooked itself on Lamkin’s ear, but life ain’t perfect.
Having visited the Plaza twice in one week, can I just tell you how stoked I am that shows – relevant shows – are starting to trickle into this glorious old theater? Not only is it a great space with authentic historical patina, it could actually become an exciting, impactful new ripple on the scene. And now that the old Southern Nights building a few blocks down has reopened as Revolution, the slowly awakening Bumby Avenue may just become the next Mills Ave., giving downtown another welcome stretch of hip.
From a big band to a small one packing huge sound, Back Booth was crushed Nov. 13 by the grinding assault of deadly Athens two-piece Jucifer, who were doin’ the boy-girl duo thing way before Jack and Meg entered the cultural lexicon. Heaped with noise, metal and Melvins-esque sludge, their destructo-rock wields whatever it takes to flatten your nuts. Hell, even before a note is played, the mammoth rig of their trademark wall of amps alone sets a thrilling, intimidating tone.
Once they plug in, though, you’re a goner. Sometimes structure becomes secondary for them live, but it doesn’t much matter when a band can make your viscera quiver like a little bitch. Playing like a man possessed and loving it, Edgar Livengood is the sickest drummer alive. A Jucifer show is certain punishment, but always a treat.
The smallest outfit yet was Berkeley’s That 1 Guy, who stunned at Taste Nov. 14. Wonder why his stage name is so stupidly generic? These are the things that keep me up at night too, so here’s an excerpt from a conversation between him and me that never actually happened:
Me: Why’s your name so stupidly generic?
Him: Dude, I blew my creative wad on inventing my Magic Pipe. Haven’t you been listening to what I was doing up there?
And lemme tell you, that Magic Pipe is a wonder indeed. It may look like the collision of a harp and a pipe bomb (airport security must love him) but this one-of-a-kind marvel doubled as stringed instrument and rhythm machine. Basically, his act looks like some renegade Amish dude having his way with your plumbing, only the result is a rousing ball of oddity, theory and innovation. In a face-off, the polyrhythmic, future-funk virtuosity of this one-man act would smoke all three of the Blue Men at firstname.lastname@example.org