All phenomenology, no spirit
The lost highway that never leads back to Sac:
A sunny, cloudless sky cooked the mercury up a few notches this past Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to persuade the usual Second Saturday-goers to flood Midtown that evening. This March night was, in a word, icy—and only the bravest of teeny-bopping tract-homers took to the central city, like chatterbox Pop Rocks exploding up and down J Street. Do these kids ever stop talking? What a soundtrack.
Anyway, Second Saturday’s music turnout was solid. Gone are the crap blues jammers. In are the real bands, like Two Sheds and Co.’s free day rage at Clubhouse 24 (920 24th Street). And in are the beats, like at UnitedState (2318 J Street), where Southern California deejay duo LBCK mixed dance for a crowd of shoppers who weren’t shopping.
A good friend who always has an opinion praised LBCK’s steadfast commitment to playing upbeat dance tunes, not the usual gloom-and-doom, it’s-all-in-my-head-I’m-tripping-brah concept techno. The deejays, Alex Noble and Mike Lucas, crossed arms and feverishly twisted knobs during their set, like two kids fighting over Legos during playtime, bopping on their tiptoes all the while. They killed it. No wonder they’ll be in Berlin, dance music’s de facto HQ, next month.
Also, UnitedStates’ new digs are totally worth digging. Deejays set up on a stage at the storefront’s glass facade, and you can either window-shop their sets or go inside for the full live effect. Yes, live hip-hop and deejay dance will curb America’s consumer-spending freefall. We’re saved. Slide the plastic, sign the receipt.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the streets were cold-dead, so we left Midtown for K and 10th streets: Specifically, former local and R&B-electronica chanteuse Natasha Kmeto’s gig at Marilyn’s on K (908 K Street).
And so, a little story on why bands who play Sacto sometimes never come back.
Things started off promising. Kmeto was already onstage when we arrived, and the healthy crowd, perhaps a click more than 225 people, showed respects. But then bit by bit, Kmeto killed the scene. Softly. One smoothed out, never-ending, synth-bass transition at a time.
But it wasn’t all Kmeto’s fault. Marilyn’s system isn’t meant for a lot of things, and lows-heavy R&B beats are one of them. And the crowd—a mix of actual Kmeto fans, heterosexual 40-something suburbanites longingly clawing for somewhere to pound white wine and flirt, and a strange coterie of St. Patrick’s Day amateurs—really sucked.
The Sade hit the fan midway through Kmeto’s set, when a dozen, green-clad guests rushed the stage and started dancing, Girl Talk style, while Kmeto rolled through her tortoiselike tunes.
The kicker was this dude dressed up like a robot, complete with cardboard-box body and fake arms covered in tinfoil. He had short, gelled hair, too much blush and flashed a creepy smile, looking eerily like acquitted killer Robert Blake in David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Kmeto performed a Sade cover, and Robot Blake just shuffled side to side, grinning like a jerk tailgater in your rear-view mirror.
After an hour, we left into the cold and crept away down a vacant, war-zonelike K Street, Kmeto and robot boy still bumping the soft beats to a dwindling audience.
And this is when I felt bad for poor Kmeto. Her set could have worked at another venue. At one point, she even tried to get the place going, saying something like “C’mon, Sacto,” but drew only lukewarm applause from a handful of loyal ladies in the front row. What a bust.
This is why some bands never come back to Sacramento. Ever again. (Nick Miller)
You got a problem with that, Mr. Hegel?:
Ye olde folk, remember the skeleton costumes the bad guys wore in the classic from 1984, The Karate Kid? A guy dressed in that exact costume handed me a copy of the lyrics to a song hailing the pagan god Wotan. Johnny Skeleton was handing the lyrics to everyone who had gathered Friday at Luigi’s Fun Garden for Lasher Keen’s CD release show. Lasher Keen is from Nevada City and straddle the line between dark/pagan folk (Blood Axis comes to mind) and campy Gothic theatricality (singer DyLan Sheets closed the show with a cover of the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Music of the Night,” complete with Phantom cape and mask).
A stodgy materialist myself, I didn’t sing along with Lasher Keen’s paean to Wotan. I only hail the dialectic, and the evening’s lineup struck me as quite dialectical. Thesis: Dead Western opened, and tall man/doll man Troy Mighty found his antithesis in the next act, In the Silence, a melodic metal band with a taste for epic choruses. Lasher Keen, in turn, was the negation of the negation. Or to put differently, if Dead Western were to procreate with In the Silence, it would be Lasher Keen who’d slither out of the womb. (Jeff McCrory)