Welcome to the lost highway of black acid Taco Bell tricks.
Jai-ghee-yan-tick: Frank Black is an unassuming monster. In between songs at Harlow’s last Monday, he affectionately listened to his wife, Grand Duchy singer/bassist Violet Clark, as she recounted unfunny anecdotes. But Black nursed his red wine, eyes peering from behind neon-lens black sunglasses, and let her jaw. Nice husband.
When Black’s took his turn on the mic, he first soothed up to it, coiling his portly build like a chunky cobra about to strike. And then he did, ripping into songs with that gentle, inimitable Frank Black baritone that pretty much every 16-year-old teenage poseur wanted to hear emerge from their pubescent throat back in 1989.
Anyway, Grand Duchy—a synth, drums, bass, guitar four-piece who put out an album this past February—doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Black’s cashed in his surfer-punk Pixies vibe for an alternative, sometimes even prog (gasp!), rock styling, which is just OK. But Black, who came onstage looking like he just waddled out of bed—black V-neck T-shirt, noir cotton sweatpants—still owns it. He navigates the frets on his blond Telecaster and manipulates his Vox amps’ sounds like you and I intimately know and finger our TV remote’s buttons. With each dense riff, Black thrusts the rock into our brains. And we take it, because we’re still just little pushovers, he’s a rock god, which is why we still go to shows and he still kicks ass. (Nick Miller)
My bnd izz rad: There’s a phenomenon sweeping the world that must be stopped: local bands getting “publicists.” Please. You make $5 and a pitcher of beer at shows. Stop wasting money on a publicist—or pretending that your girlfriend is a publicist. Yes, I’ve caught on to the fact that she’s not really a publicist (Hotmail account?).
It’s cool to have a press secretary if you’re, you know, Barack Obama. But as a local musician, you really don’t need one yet. Especially when the press releases are misspelled—or straight-up lying. If your group is the best thing since Michael Jackson’s hair lit on fire, then we’d know. Take a hint: If I see you working a food-service job, you don’t need a publicist. I’ll just go to Taco Bell, order a chalupa and set up an interview on your break. Capiche? (Josh Fernandez)
Gorillas in the pits: There were a lot of “holy shit” faces when people heard Sleepytime Gorilla Museum was playing the UC Davis Whole Earth Festival. Maybe it was the trace amounts of hallucinogens in the air, but SGM playing a pseudo-hippie, college-town lovefest seemed strange; it’s kind of the same feeling I get when Slipknot plays anywhere.
People were digging it, though, and everyone was there—the white Rasta kids, the punk rockers, the metalheads—so there was bound to be conflict, manifesting in the traditional rock-art form known as moshing. Luckily, security promptly put an end to the shenanigans and saved the show for all the hippies who, in all fairness, were probably already terrified of SGM. Acid is a helluva drug. (Derek Nielsen)
Fog dog: Is anyone reading this a personal friend of David Lynch? If so, it’s in Lynch’s best interest that you invite him to watch Fancie’s next multimedia show. Judging by the band’s set this past Saturday at Funcastle, he and Elisabeth Wood, the band’s mastermind, would get on famously.
If only Lynch could have seen the film that accompanied Fancie’s haunted songs. It was like a Magic School Bus field trip into a nightmare; 30 compelling minutes of déjà vu-type visual dissonance. The film was so powerful and self-aware that its inclusion of otherwise absurd Joaquin Phoenix beefcake stills rendered the actor’s meaningless blue eyes strangely sympathetic, making him seem like a remorseful symbol of pop-culture apocalypse, surrounded by scenes of modern tragedy that were all the more tragic for their triviality: a Jack Russell terrier repeatedly chasing bubbles, choirs of women in frumpy prom gowns, flames and saxophonists and cascades of gold coins, etc. Ideally, all dreams would—like Fancie videos—be accompanied by Wood’s ethereal, triumphant, somewhat unsettling songs. (Alexa Shapiro)
Expensive Trick: Our general seating Cheap Trick tickets at the Dixon May Fair came to 33 bucks, and we were miles from the stage. And the pricier seats up front were half-empty. This probably didn’t bode well for Jessica Simpson, who performed last Friday, because, after all, she’s a country dilettante and Cheap Trick are power-pop superstars.
Rick Nielsen introduced the band’s cover of “Don’t Be Cruel” by saying they had a No. 5 hit with it “a few years ago.” I would like to point out for the record that that was in fact 22 years ago. Anyway, we raised a lighter for power ballad “The Flame,” but the real thrill was the “Dream Police” encore, when Nielsen injected the words “Dixon, California” into the song. Let’s see Jay Simp top a pro move like that! (Becky Grunewald)