ST.VINCENT vs THE SUGAR HILL GANG
This past weekend, I experienced what can only be likened to a pregnant woman’s weird audio craving. In a single evening, I was wooed and disoriented by St. Vincent’s epic set at the swanky Walker Art Center, only one hour after being pumped up and creeped out by The (the) Sugarhill Gang’s appearance at the WNBA Finals halftime show. And yet, I couldn’t help but take notice of some unexpected connections. What may seem like pickles and ice cream to you turned out to be a Sunday picnic of poperatic candy and old pie. In other words, I’d like to take a moment to (loosely) outline these shows’ key similarities:
1. Grrl Pwr!!! : Needless to say, St. Vincent’s show was a feminist firestorm. Annie Clark’s talent is indisputable. Her voice is that of an angel who grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Grace Slick, and her guitar playing is like a million Jimmy Page spiders power-soloing. Not to mention the bowl-cut on her Asian lady Moog player who literally caused an amp to catch fire. As for the Sugarhill Gang, when an incredibly asthmatic rendition of “Rapper’s Delight” failed to produce the desired effect at Minneapolis’ Target Center, grrl pwr intervened in a big way. That’s right, Minnesota Timberwolves dancers! Get out here and remind these audience people how much fun they’re having with your hair and butts!
2. I was blinded: Well, to be honest, the pyrotechnics at the halftime show finale were about as exciting as a lit 2010 Winter Ball candle. But anyone who attended the St. Vincent concert can tell you that the light show was spectacularly seizure-inducing. A man sitting in the middle of the theater held up a magazine the entirety of the concert to shield his face from the laser apocalypse. A man next to him was actually wearing a visor. I imagine his friends scoffed when he packed it that morning. But he was of the few people in that theater not vomiting from sensory overload.
3. Flesh wounds: LOST: My ass. Last seen being shaken to the Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache!” This was by far the best part of their two-song performance. I’m only bitter UNtalented children made it onto the big screen when I didn’t and was doing all the jump-on-it moves to the best of my ability. But after all that hip-hop grooving, I was lucky my face was left intact so it could be MELTED OFF by St. Vincent’s incendiary guitar playing. 3rd degree musical burns 4lyfe!
Seniors (also, citizens) Brian Hurlow, Chris Hoge, and Charlie Rudoy have started this year off with the fusion of rock, pop, and electronic. With the concept of three being better than four, the group has decided to keep this project small, low key, and inventive. “Sometimes that fourth person just doesn’t need to be on the chorus. It’s nice to maximize our abilities,” said Hurlow. The boys eat, sleep, and play in the same Carroll Ave headquarters, perhaps adding a little sump’in more to the overall comfort and energy of their music.
“We’re trying not to make the electronics too scripted. We want there to be fluidity, spontenaity. Like a warm hottub. Think Teen Dream Beach House. Think some choice Deerhunter Tracks. Think the dusty sound that old organs make that sound like a blanket. We wanna sound like a blanket.” [Hurlow said this. Hoge wishes it was off the record. It was too prime to discard.] Stepping on the edge of dance-pop, the group knows how they want this all to turn out. “We want to play pop music with a disturbing undertone. Pop music that’s a little bit dark. Think Katy Perry. On black pills.”
On the issue of one trick ponies, these rocklings are definitely not. They offered up their ideas and plans for internet-oriented projects that integrate other medias with their music. With their website up (designed by Brian), they expect to take their music and presentation to other levels, all with the goal of making their music completely accessible to the public.
“We’re not interested in making any money from our music. We don’t expect people to buy it,” said Hurlow of the group’s plans to have their music available for free download on the website.
Along with the promise of online music, the group shares the info on an upcoming Liquor Lounge show. After this off-campus debut, Carroll plans to play upcoming campus shows in 10k. And if for any reason you happen to miss one of these shows, Carroll is ALWAYS available for exclusive parties. And they will offer car rides to their shows.
Get your bids in now.
The Goondas Jump and Yell and Sing
“Ever since the twenties music’s only been people rippin off the blues,” says Jackson, the guitarist of The Goondas, “It’s all been played, it just depends on how you play it.”
10 minutes later the big EP release show starts and Brenden, the front man, is climbing along the ceiling of First Ave. 7th Street Entry on all fours, holding his mic in his mouth, spitting beer and jumping all over like some kind of corrupted, spastic carnival barker. The suburbo-cynical Minnesotan from before was obviously now being controlled by some unseen, vindictive spirit, some lobotomized Victorian ghost. By the end of the show he had taken off at least 4 shirts, which lie on the ground, wet and tangled up in wires. Even if it’s already been played before, the apocalyptic sound and fury of The Goondas live show feels very new and exciting.
The songs themselves are all the best flavors of old rock n roll and blues, played with the energy of people who are doing something they actually enjoy. “Whatever it is, we just like playing music that we think is fun,” says Brenden. Andy, the bassist, chimes in- “It’s like a hotdog, you got a little bit of this, you got a little bit of that, you roll it up, throw it in a boiling pot for a little while, you get a hotdog. Just like the cover.”
Yeah, the cover of the new EP is some kind of mangled up hotdog (also, a Velvet Underground reference of some kind, although The Goondas swear they don’t do heroin), but the best thing about the record is that it’s like a 4-song encapsulation of the band’s incredible live show: the world-hating ‘Bowzer’s Trousers’, the Adderall panic of ‘Pet It’, the 55 second twitch of ‘Seizure Boy’, and ultimately the Joycian march of ‘Young Action’ to end it all off.
By the way, The Goondas won’t be going anywhere anytime soon: “We toured the South this summer, with heat indexes of like 110 in Memphis, it sucked.” These guys are from the western Chaska suburbs, and the Twin Cities just feels like the right place for them. “The music scene here is tight-nit, like a Catholic school, it’s hard to get in and hard to get out, but there’s a lot of cool people, and everybody just helps each other out.” So support local music, give their songs a listen and then go see them live, you won’t regret it.
“Youth of the nation: get pissed off, stop being so happy!” says Jackson, smiling.
Let me start by saying, I definitely know how I feel about looking into the face of adversity and laughing. Because of that, I was maybe a bit more comfortable with 50/50 than some of the other people in the audience. The movie, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick, deals with mild-mannered, 27 year old Adam’s (Gordon-Levitt) journey as he is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. His best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), deals with the diagnosis in the only way he knows how—getting high on medical marijuana and using the cancer card to get dates with girls. Adam goes along with Kyle’s antics only to a certain extent, which was the defining line between Seth Rogen’s typical stoner-comedy and this, which was something else.Anna Kendrick plays Adam’s therapist, Katherine, a medical student who relies on casebook definitions to help her treat her third-ever patient. Her spastic personality, seen predominantly outside of her office, was endearing, saving her from what I thought was an otherwise flat performance in comparison with the other performers. Anjelica Huston was incredibly sympathetic as Adam’s over-bearing mother. Bryce Dallas Howard plays, yet again, a reprehensible human being—at least she does it well.
Not surprisingly, the scenes which directly involved Adam’s cancer (i.e. chemo, doctor’s appointments, surgery) were the most resonating for me, and I thought the best executed: the identification he feels with the men he undergoes chemotherapy with weekly; the sterility of the doctor in his tones and mannerisms; the heart-wrenching idea of losing everything he has, including his life. Director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) presents to us a story that is maybe less about a Seattle radio-producer’s cancer and more about self-reflection. There are absolutely laugh out loud scenes in the movie (particularly one about “Nobody [liking] dicks in their mouth”), but I found myself crying a lot more.
The bottom line: Maybe not a movie to watch on a first date…Or really on any date. See it with some friends who won’t judge you when you wipe away a tear, see it with your mom, see it alone, but definitely see it.
Cole World: The Sideline Story
“Cole under pressure, what that make? Diamonds.”
J. Cole, described by a great number of hip hop fans as the best young rapper right now, uttered this line in this summer’s outstanding “Return of Simba”. In seven words, he acknowledged the huge hype surrounding his debut album (which at the time didn’t even have a release date) whilst reassuring his fans that the album would still be great. Indeed, no hip hop debut album has been this greatly anticipated since Drake’s “Thank Me Later”.
If you go see even one film this fall about widespread incurable illness, it damn well better be contagion. I went in to the theater with a vague knowledge of its veritable galaxy of A-list stars and the whole “dangerous epidemic” plotline, but that was all. Fortunately, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne did not disappoint. Contagion delivered a visceral portrayal of how quickly disease and the public’s panic of contracting it can spread. It also delved into the politics of healthcare without focusing too closely on either the side of the government or the frightened responses of the general public. Also, the poignant cinematography and unpretentious acting made it an overall great cinematic experience. But, if you still require more reasons to go see this gem of a dramatic thriller, there is the fact that a good deal of Contagion takes place in Minnesota and there are several enjoyable shoutouts to MSP sprinkled throughout. On a more personal note, I have my own rating system based on whether or not I go to the bathroom during a movie. If it’s mediocre I have no qualms about potty breaks or even lingering at the sink mirrors for a few extra minutes. But if the movie is amazing, I hate the fact that I even have a bladder at all. I have never hated my bladder more than I did during Contagion. Go see it.
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Photo Credit: Emma Pulido
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