Music » This Little Underground




;My, what postmodern times we live in. Survey the landscape and you'll see a scrap yard of mash-ups (The Grey Album), rehashes (Interpol) and resurrections (New York Dolls). Progress, it seems, is no longer measured linearly. The artistic course we find ourselves in has become circular, resulting in an eddying of our culture. Fashion used to revolve in 20-year cycles. Now that tetherball arc is getting tighter every day. When I Love the '80s debuted on VH1 in 2001, I thought, yeah, OK. But when I Love the '90s aired a mere three years later, it was like, what the fuck? How can you cast a vintage glow on something only FOUR years removed? But that's our reality. We're instantly nostalgic.


;Return to the fun house

;;On that note, guess who's decided to join the deluge of Lazarus bands? Currently recording their first studio album in 33 years (with über-producer Steve Albini, no less) are the Stooges. The affair reunites founding members Iggy Pop and the brothers Asheton. The only substitute is bass god Mike Watt (of Minutemen fame), which is cool so long as he isn't given any songwriting latitude.

;;In fact, his dynamic is giving this story even more juice since he's been detailing the sessions in an exhaustive blog on his website ( The inside dope is definitely there, things like Iggy instructing Watt to play with back erect to avoid playing too many notes and to "get in touch with the stupider side of yourself" for this recording. But, man, is it tedious. With copious detail, he puts the "pain" in painstaking. And the caffeinated tone had me half-expecting to read "I love chewing gum" at any minute. Unbridled verbosity aside — 2,000 to 3,000 words per day, which is roughly three times the length of this column — it can be an interesting read. His personal lexicon is colorful ("pop," "konk," "econo," etc.), even if it contains more word truncations than any adult should ever use. And his style can be blindsiding in its humor ("… I hoof it back quick to ron's cuz I feel the mule kicking at the barn door and get on the dumper just in time for it to catch the blast.").

;;While we're still on the subject, check this (sorta) personal anecdote. Last year, a family friend who had just moved back into the country was regaling me with the details of the sale of his home in the Cayman Islands. He explained how he concluded the tour of his property for a certain individual by showing the prospective buyer the private beach that came with the house. According to him, said person then stripped completely nude, dove in the water and swam out a bit. Upon returning and walking back up the beach, he simply proclaimed, "I'll take it." That person? Iggy Pop, or James Osterberg, as my friend knew him before Googling his name.


;Cut and paste

;;Another sign of these immodestly referential times is the forest-fire popularity of sampler extraordinaire Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis), who played Firestone last Thursday. Apart from flaunting the most emasculated moniker out there, he's a rising star in the mash-up world due to his megamixed, nonstop jump and total lack of aesthetic snobbery. But live, his sonic quilt wasn't as breathlessly cut as his albums.

;;Besting Gillis at his own game, however, was dynamo DJ Mike Relm at the Social. His appearance — pencil-necked physique, black-framed specs, suit and tie — conjured more of a bookish kid at his first job interview than a turntable slayer, but that's precisely what he was. His bag is essentially the same as Girl Talk's, but his sample selection and skills are manifestly superior. Relm's frenetic set was ablaze with rapid-fire beat-juggling, spot-on scratching and a distinctly hip-hop point of view. Corresponding video clips were being mixed in as well, culminating in a display of mixed-media bravura. Unleash his fire on a bouillabaisse of classics like Eric B. & Rakim and genre-busting picks like Björk, Led Zeppelin and the Outfield and you've got the kettle boiling over.

;;The fever pitch he hit had me concerned for headliner Del tha Funkee Homosapien. Admittedly, I always walk into rap shows assuming they'll suck. That's not a knock on hip-hop as art, it's just an empirical observation on the genre's widespread lapse in live performance ability. Well, Del didn't suck at all. Wisely, all he brought was a single hype man (Souls of Mischief's A-Plus) and a DJ, neither of whom was intrusive. Such minimal accompaniment obviated the dog-piling situation hip-hop shows tend to be, keeping the focus on his warm, facile flow.

;;Because of his kooky sense of humor, Del's always been on the fringe of hip-hop, which made him ripe for collaborators like Gorillaz. But apparently his humor's not the only thing that's kooky. I assumed the sauna-like conditions in the club were due to the packed crowd's enthusiastic heat. According to club sources, however, Del asked them to turn off the air conditioning because he smelled freon, which can only mean he's either part bloodhound or part insane.

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