Pop music is like romance. It’s rare for anyone to find a soul mate the first time out. My favorite rock album of all time, Forever Changes, was a bargain-bin afterthought by the time I was born, then it took me almost 30 years to hear it. What if I never had?
Local music promoter Jerry Perry was apparently one of the lucky ones. He was 15 when he got his hands on a copy of the Clash’s just released London Calling, and the record has meant so much to him over the years that he put together a tribute show Saturday night at Old Ironsides to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Local bands played the record in its entirety.
By showtime, Old I was a sardine tin, with people standing in line in frigid night air to get inside. As only a lukewarm admirer of the Clash and a bit dubious of the tribute-show concept in general—isn’t it yet another barren feedback loop of fake authenticity, a fetishistic staging of the very culture we’ve collectively put to death with our iPods and file sharing?—I was surprised at how eager I was to dance when the Secretions began playing their flawless version of the title track.
For one, a tight beat and a packed venue just go well together. For another, the song “London Calling” kills. Its politically charged lyrics could have been written by Bertolt Brecht (“London calling, see we ain’t got no highs / Except for that one with the yellowy eyes”), but its main intention is to make you feel wonderful in your body. The Clash never lost faith in that hoary analogy between making rock ’n’ roll and making love.
The Kelps, a trio of underaged gentleman out of Lincoln, who were dressed in preppy sweaters and ties, were another highlight of the show. Lead howler Cory Barringer had the good sense to sing these songs with his mouth wide open. You know, like Jagger. Why is that so rare nowadays? I guess people think it’s more “tuff” to be tight-lipped.
The evening began to drag around side four of the album, but Final Summation re-energized the crowd with the album’s closing tune, “Train in Vain,” and a couple of punkier songs not on the London Calling album. A short-lived bout of slam-dancing even broke out.
Perry announced he was in talks with the The Refuge, the new all-ages venue in Midtown, to rerun the show there. That makes sense, since a punk show without teenagers makes none. A tentative date has been set for February 12, though Perry said he would like to do it before then. (Jeff McCrory)
String-pulling dance tunes:
Local techno-dance duo 20,000 was one of the more inventive and promising local acts to break through in the past couple years. So of course they broke up, right?
But then, as I mentioned in last week’s column, 20,000’s David Mohr recently slipped me a copy of his new project’s EP, T.O.T.E.M.P.U.L.L. Hope renewed.
Mohr’s new group is called Favors, and its sound calls to mind the same nerdy, blippy electronica as 20,000, a Dan Deacon meets Erlend Øye vibe, if you want to go about pigeonholing bands without abandon, buddy. The EP is Mohr on his own, but he intends to play with a full band soon, including members of the Impotent Ninja.
Anyway, did I mention that, in spite of Favors’ spirited techno sound, the EP is really depressing? Well, it is. Get these lyrics, from “Things That I Gave Up”: “Nothing good ever materialized / It only gets worse, I’m not gonna lie / I think about what you do at home / Saddest part was leaving alone.” Yikes.
The only thing that keeps you from diving deep into the fire is the song’s groovy, IDM-inspired programming and that cool, full-bodied snare slap during the chorus and final verse—when, finally, the silver lining appears and the song spins out of its disheartening drone.
I like it.
Since, in the end, it’s a happy track that doesn’t sugarcoat it, with Mohr echoing the Lou Reed line, “You’re still doing things that I gave up years ago,” in glorious singalong fashion. My stereo won’t give up on Favors any time soon. (Nick Miller)