Can’t talk now. Working. Watch this space for announcements.
ITEM! Big changes in the New Pornographers’ setlist between nights one and two at the 9:30 this time, as advertised. Newman kept speaking to someone upfront who had apparently provided his or her own list, from whence, said Newman, he’d culled three or four songs the band wouldn’t have played otherwise, and that they’d likely keep playing. It’s worth noting that over the course of the two nights, we heard seven of Mass Romantic ‘s twelve, wow. Is the New Pornos’ nostalgia phase now upon us? Perhaps. Perhaps not: They played eight from the new Together last night, too.
Last night’s show was about 15 minutes shorter than Tuesday’s, too, owing to less dead time between songs. There was at least as much banter as the first night, but it was faster and funnier. Continue reading
(Two-thirds of) The New Pornographers. From Canada!
Who was it who said that 90 percent of success in life is showing up? Was that Woody Guthrie? Allen Ginsberg? Vince Lombardi? Brian Eno? T-Pain? It was somebody smart, and he or she was almost certainly discussing a concert by The New Pornographers, Canada’s pop musical Justice League whose legend far eclipses that of any of its individual superheroes (with the eternal exception of the exceptional alt-country chanteuse Neko Case). When the group can field its complete nine-strong roster — a feat they haven’t always managed when playing Our Nation’s Capitol — the results are seldom less then splendid. Continue reading
You ain't got the gumption to use it. But he'll find it.
Summer in our Nation’s Capitol is long and hot and squishy and hot and suffocating and sultry and hot. Also, it’s been known to get a little warm on occasion, those occasions being July and August. But the sticky season is not without its pleasures. Screen on the Green, the beloved outdoor film series on the National Mall, returns next month to showcase another eclectic menu of classic flicks on four consecutive Monday evenings. Continue reading
You could be forgiven for being a little wary of Thurgood, George Stevens, Jr.’s one-man stage biography of the Hon. Thurgood Marshall, as performed by Laurence Fishburne. What’re the odds a grade school-to-grave account of the life of the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, boasting a star of such Zen-like solemnity that you totally believed him about us all being pickled, hairless pod-dwellers plugged unawares inside The Matrix, could be anything more than plodding hagiography? Great for high school history and government classes, but nothing made with such worthy intentions could possibly be any fun. Right?
Sez you. Point one, Fishburne, reprising his role from a Broadway run two summers ago, is as impish and avuncular as he is authoritative. Whether lurching across the stage with on a cane or channeling LBJ’s puffed-up, Lone Star imperiousness, he’s a captivating presence for every second of this 95-minute monologue. Point two, the story of Marshall’s life — one Stevens seems to have taken a strict-constructionist, if anecdotal, approach to interpreting — is simply a hell of a story, so rich in incident and character (and names — his Uncle Fearless gets a lot of play here) and humor and triumph that it seems too good to be true. Continue reading
So there was Conan at DAR Constitution Hall last night, dressed in what he said was Eddie Murphy’s catsuit from Raw, possibly signaling his awareness of the perils that await the comic who lets his moment of cultural primacy go to his head. Raw came out in 1988. Eddie Murphy’s last good movie was, I think, Boomerang, from 1992.
Conan is even rocking Eddie’s odd pose from Raw in the first photo there. My phone is to a real camera what I am to a real photographer, but I figured you’d want to see these anyway on your way over to checking out the City Paper’s Arts Desk debrief of the DC stop on Conan’s almost-done Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour. (SPOILER: It was good, but not great, but we liked it anyway.)
This discussion, which I failed to grasp was being “recorded” and would be presented to you, the reader, with minimal editing, stars Benjamin R. Freed and CP arts editor Jonathan L. Fischer and one Christopher T. Klimek, whom I suspect may have been drunk for at least part of it. It’s choppy and discursive and long-winded and confusing, but that’s all part of the choppy, discursive, long-winded fun. Continue reading
Better than Sleigh Bells, not as good as Broken Social Scene. My Click Track review of last night’s Broken Bells gig at the 9:30 Club is here and also here. I regret to inform you there was no sign of Christina Hendricks at the show.
RELATED: I wrote about Gnarls Barkley when they played the 9:30 a couple of summers ago.
So I lucked into an advance copy of Stiff author Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. Set for publication in August, the book shows us the cosmic lengths to which space agencies must go to replicate off-world conditions here on Earth for the purposes of testing their equipment — and more to the point, the puny, hungry, fragile humans who rely on it to survive in a place nature clearly never meant for us to reach.
I haven’t read any of Roach’s prior books, but it took her about a sentence and a half to seduce me with the humor and sense of wonder she brings to her uncluttered reportage of complex scientific stuff. One chapter talks about an experiment called Mars-500 wherein Moscow’s Institute for Medical and Biological Problems locked would-be astronauts in a mockup spacecraft together for 500 days, the span of time required, using current technology, for a manned ship to journey to the Red Planet and back.
The test subjects faced simulations of the various emergencies they might have to cope with on a real Mars mission, but the primary purpose of the experiment was examine the psychological effects of so long an isolation. An similar experiment the IMBP hosted in 1999-2000, using an eight-member, coed, multinational crew, ended early. There was unwanted French-kissing and, in a separate incident, writes Roach, “a fistfight that left the walls spattered with blood.” Continue reading