Monthly Archives: July 2008

Marat/Sade at Forum

Fringe is over, but Forum’s Marat/Sade has two more weekends left in its run. Reviewed for DCist . . . more than a week ago. I’m a bit behind in my blogkeeping.

Three Guys and a Singular Girl: Old 97’s at 9:30

Reviewed for DCist.

Old 97’s at the 9:30 Club, Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Setlist

01 The Fool

02 Barrier Reef

03 The One

04 The Other Shoe

05 Designs on You

06 Color of Lonely Heart Is Blue (Murry Hammond lead vocal)

07 Lonely Holiday

08 My Two Feet

09 Early Morning

10 Stoned

11 This Beautiful Thing (Murry Hammond lead vocal)

12 Question

13 I Will Remain

14 Niteclub

15 No Baby I

16 Smokers (Murry Hammond lead vocal)

17 Over the Cliff (Jon Langford cover; marvelous)

18 Rollerskate Skinny

19 The Easy Way

ENCORE 1:

20 Come Around (Rhett Miller solo)

21 ? (The Spring Standard with Rhett Miller)

22 Valentine (Murry Hammond lead vocal)

23 Dance with Me

24 Big Brown Eyes

25 If My Heart Was a Car

ENCORE 2:

26 Indefinitely

27 Timebomb

The Band

Philip Peeples — drums

Ken Bethea — guitar

Murry Hammond — bass, vocals

Rhett Miller — vocals, guitar

Media Mix XIV: When Alyssa Met Johnny

Coupla a serviceable new releases from emerging artists this week. Details.

Old 97s at Old Low Prices

How many things cost only one-third more now than they did seven years ago? Concert tickets, following their stratospheric mid-90s leap (another reason to hate Don Henley) may actually have leveled out in the first part of the 21st century. When the Old 97s play the 9:30 next week, they’ll be charging only $5 more face than they did back in 2001. (Good seats still available, incredibly.) These guys have kids and mortgages! How can they do that?

Here’s my review of their reassuring latest, Blame It on Gravity, from today’s Weekend section. I haven’t been able to find it on the Paper of Record’s web site anywhere except for right here.

Making Sweet Musical

Natascia Diaz and Doug Kreeger in Rooms: A Rock Romance. Photo by Colin Hovde.

Ever wonder how an original musical gets written? A: Very slowly.

And now I’m writing about theatre for the Paper of Record.

The Freak Flag Flies High

My first MusicMakers profile for the Paper of Record is about the man who installed the Mothership Connection . . . President, One Nation Under a Groove . . . the Atomic Dawg his own bad self, Mr. George Clinton.

Off to que up for The Dark Knight at the Uptown now. I’d be doing exactly the same thing if I were 11 years old. I’d be embarrassed over how excited I am to see the flick if everyone I know weren’t nearly as excited as me. We’re counting on you, Chris Nolan.

Stuever on the Clown Prince of Crime

How the hell did I miss this? Stuever’s one of my favorite scribes at the Paper of Record, and The Joker is, of course, the scariest killer in fiction. Decent essay — Stuever’s are never less — but he misses that people said the same thing about Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman that he’s saying about Chris Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight: That the villain is more interesting than the hero. Well, yeah, Hank: The villain is always more interesting than the hero.

I can’t recall if it was an issue of Detective Comics where I first saw the ad pictured above on the back. (Could they advertise “Suggested for Mature Readers” books on Comics Code-approved books?) It would have been late 1987 or early 1988. I do remember being terrified by Brian Bolland’s depiction of The Joker — those swollen, murderous eyeballs! — and reading longtime editor of the Bat-books editor (an occasional writer) Denny O’Neil’s “From the Den” warning that The Killing Joke was most certainly not appropriate for children. His column ended with the sentence, “You are alerted.”

A smart salesman, that O’Neil.

Naturally, I had to have it.

I’d read The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One by that point, both “adult” Batman stories that had found a massive audience outside of the comics mainstream — one that O’Neill hoped, no doubt, would spend $3.50 on The Killing Joke, too. (The new hardcover reissue will set you back $17.99.)

When it finally hit the comic book shop to which I faithfully pedaled a sweaty mile, several times a week, Roger (the rat-tailed manager who was exactly like Comic Book guy on The Simpsons, only disgustingly skinny instead of corpulent) slapped a “PG-18” sticker on it, which made it like an R-rated movie, only you couldn’t buy a ticket for something else and then sneak in. Your parents, could however, sign an index card granting you permission to buy PG-18 comics (mostly the DC fantasy/horror books like Swamp Thing and, a year or so later, Sandman; the kind of stuff that in the 90s would comprise DC’s Vertigo line. I’m pretty sure this store didn’t carry anything that might approach any legal standard of obscene, though probably a lot of parents would have called Love & Rockets that.) Incredibly, my dad accompanied me to the store at my urging so I could buy The Killing Joke. (Later — somewhat incredibly, he even signed one of those index cards.) It was the first comic I ever saw where the bad guy actually seemed evil, and his acts horrifying and irreversible.

I’m going to have another look at The Killing Joke tonight, before I see The Dark Knight on Thursday. Can. Not. Wait.

His Life was Saved by Rock and Roll

Alejandro Escovedo at the 9:30 Club, reviewed for the Paper of Record.

Alejandro Escovedo at the 9:30 Club, Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Setlist

01 Put You Down

02 Real Animal

03 Everybody Loves Me

04 Sister Lost Soul

05 Chelsea

06 Hard Road [I think — an instrumental piece from By the Hand of the Father]

07 Rosalie

08 Sensitive Boys

09 I Was Drunk

10 People

11 Nuns’ Song

12 Real Animal

13 Castanets

ENCORE:

14 All the Young Dudes (David Bowie)

15 Beast of Burden (Stones)

The Band

Josh Gravelin – bass, vocals

Hector Muñoz – drums

David Pulkingham – guitar, vocals

Brian Standefer – cello

Susan Voelz – violin, vocals

Alejandro – lead vocals, guitar

Iconicity unleashed!

So, my better half — co-founder of the Eleventh Hour Ensemble — got to breathe a big sigh of relief last night. The first of a half-dozen Capitol Fringe Festival performances of Iconicity, a photography-and-memory show she and Ryan Christie created with the aid of a gifted cast, went off mostly successfully. (So says Dan Owen, blogging for the City Paper’s Fringe & Purge dealio.)

The biggest flaws were all light-and-sound-related, and thus entirely my fault, since I was running both boards. In my defense, we had exactly one rehearsal in the Fort Fringe space and using their equipment. (I’d else practiced the sound cues on an iPod, which is a little different from a soundboard.) But that’s no excuse. I pledge to you that when you attend one of the five remaining performances of Iconicity — as you must! — the light and sound cues will be dead-solid-spot-on perfect.

How’s the show? Fabulous! Truly, that’s my as-objective-as-can-be-expected assessment. It’ll resonate especially with anyone who reads this story in today’s Paper of Record by Warren Zinn, who frets that a photo he shot of Army medic Joseph Dwyer during the first week of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 may have contributed to Dwyer’s suicide last week. Sad, haunting stuff.

Media Mix XIII: Positively Deathly Freedom!

A pair of winners get their report cards this week. Nice to hear Mellencamp getting his dignity back. As recently as, um, ten years ago, I could tell people I liked him without fear of embarrassment. He had a strong run of albums for a decade-and-a-half from 1983’s Uh-Huh up through his self-titled Columbia debut in ’98. The ones between The Lonesome Jubilee in ’87 and Human Wheels in ’93 were especially good.

As the Hold Steady’s Stay Positive seems to have arrived without the tidal wave of hype that accompanied the release of their very-good-but-not-life-changing (though it probably changed their lives) revelatory Boys and Girls in America in 2006, I feel freer to enjoy it. It just sounds great. It’s okay for records to just sound great sometimes, yeah?

Fite Ain’t Right . . .

. . . but he sure ain’t dull. (And his 2006 album Over the Counterculture is still legally available as a free download, courtesy of the artist.) The Watson Twins, meanwhile, kind of are, even though they look great and have lovely voices.

Read all about it in today’s Paper of Record. And then re-insert my omitted last line: “I was going to ask the sisters for [Jenny] Lewis’s number, but it turns out they need it even more than I do.”

I missed Jenny Lewis and the Watsons at the Birchmere and the 9:30 in 2006. How sad am I about it?

This sad.

Unce, Tice, Fee Times Escovedo

I reviewed his Real Animal for Weekend.

I interviewed him for DCist, though the conversation was stymied and shortened by a lousy cell phone connection from his tour bus that kept cutting out, requiring me to call him back each time.

And I’m covering his 9:30 show Saturday night for Style.

Hep C treatment is no joke. Then he bounces back with a pair of records as strong as any he’s ever made — stronger, even. A trooper, this guy.

Another Reason to Love Guillermo del Toro

I didn’t love Hellboy, the movie, as much as I feel like I should have, or as much as I love Mike Mignola’s source material. But the advance word on Hellboy II: The Golden Army, has me fairly drooling. Not as much as The Dark Knight, due for release the following week (!), but still. Del Toro and Chris Nolan can count on my $10 and then some. Actually, Nolan will get more:  I’m going to have to check out The Dark Knight in IMAX, since Nolan apparently shot four scenes in IMAX.

These kinds of films were defining events of my adolescent summers. They offer diminishing returns in adulthood, but I still get excited about ’em. Obviously.

Bow Down Before The Lion King!

No, it’s good. Really. Are you at all surprised? I wasn’t. Which is why my review is less than a rave, even though the choreography and especially the sets and costumes are all topnotch.