Days of Lore

The future sound of Chico
I’m a little confused as I stare at the wall-sized flat-screen television at a tiny watering hole on the corner of Second and Main where Peet’s Coffee used to be. All I see is a life-sized Jon Stewart in front of me. He’s aged pretty well. The set of the Daily Show has changed quite a bit, though. Wait … is that the presidential seal? Holy shite … President Stewart is giving his State of the Union address?

I’m laughing at this point as I look around at the handful of patrons lined up at the bar. They glance over their shoulders, puzzled. It’s my first destination in my time machine—the year 2020—and I’m still trying to catch my bearings. I decided that it was best to ease into the future … I might go into shock if I travel too far ahead. Hell, at the rate we’re going there might not be anything to look at by the year 2050.

The trip was a little rough, and I had to hammer a few nails into the left wing after the landing, but here I am in downtown Chico. Things look a little different. There’s a strip club where the Crazy Horse used to be (guess not much has changed). And the Senator Theatre is showing movies again. Wait, Bird In Hand is still here?

I step outside and pick up a Synth-Beat from a nearby trash receptacle. Synth-Beat? Is this some new-age music magazine? No. The Chico Beat and The Synthesis joined forces! Wow. Bill Fishkin is still writing about bad drivers and promoting some new project of his where musicians actually write reviews for their own albums. Hmmm … Bear Hunter signed with Matador and the new record received a glowing review from Maurice Spencer. Oh, and would you look at that, Daniel Taylor just got a new pair of iPants that actually do the strutting for him. Tom Gascoyne is selling ads, and apparently doing a helluva job, as the paper is a hefty 75 pages.

Oooh … there’s the CN&R! Who’s the editor now? It’s Evan! And the arts editor? Brandon Squyres … the singer from The Makai? (Yes, Mr. Tuchinsky talked about the future in our 30th anniversary issue, but I’m in the real time machine here.)

This is too much fun, but I’d better get out of here before I run into someone I know, or I run into myself. But if I’m not working at the paper, what am I doing now? I’m not prepared to deal with that yet. Besides, there were three nights of rock back in 2007 I had been planning to attend …

Show me the shows
The first event, Fri., Aug. 3, was a somewhat low-key affair at Café Coda where San Francisco’s Ash Reiter (pronounced “writer”) played a set of sparse melancholy songs that showcased her lovely Cat Power-like vocals. Aubrey Debauchery was her usual charming self, and hammered out a batch of new songs that have taken on a slight country bent with the addition of lap steel player Marc Anderson. And it was my first time seeing Ol’ Yeller, a five-piece country-punk band made up of members from La Fin du Monde and The Ugly Stick. It was as rockin’ as it was ridiculous. Remember kids: A band can never go wrong doing a version of Modest Mouse’s “Cowboy Dan.”

The following night found me in good Bloody Mary company as Bear Hunter (hey, you’ll be on Matador some day!) played in the shady City Plaza (no, it literally was shady). Sporting a black-and-yellow suit, guitarist-vocalist Maurice Spencer and his Wayne Coyne-meets-Country Joe fashion sense led the trio through selections off the band’s excellent new record, You Will Be Heard! Redding’s History Invades closed the night off with a slightly more interesting version of modern mall pop.

I had been looking forward to Monday night’s Times New Viking show for weeks (even thinking about it as I was zooming around the year 2020). Guitarist Jared Phillips delivered some searing riffs that were melodic as they were disjointed, with some great male-female vocals provided by keyboardist Beth Murphy and drummer Adam Elliot. Locals West By Swan were solid per usual, ending with a clamorous new song that had a very metallic-a feel to it. Me likey. But I couldn’t figure out why the members of Detroit’s Little Claw had looks on their face like they were pulling off some sort of mystical, other-worldly form of rock. Mystical? No. Clunky and repetitive? Yes. Other-worldly? Nay. Not very interesting. Umm … yay?

Next week: What does the future hold for Mark Lore … and mankind?