Friday, November 05, 2004

Best Unpublished Concert Review of the Week

Here’s the “review” I wrote for the school paper of the Walkmen concert I went to last week. Turns out there wasn’t enough room in the paper for this article (probably because of the 900+ words I wrote on the Incredibles and Iron Giant that we did punish) so this is the first this review has ever been available to “the public.”

I think it comes off as overly negative, that was my “angle”, I guess. To their credit, the Walkmen were rather tight and performed rather well . . . I really, really like their drummer. There was just something off about the show, and the whole short first set/three encores deal was a part of what was very wrong about the show—along with all the screaming their singer did. Seriously, he screamed so much (Heavenly Martini “Jack the Ripper” style, if that means anything to you) and after every song he gestured to the sound guy to turn his vocals up. Trust me dude, we heard you, you didn’t need to keep turning it up.

There was this Concert that I Went To
by Brigham Barnes

Rock band the Walkmen dared their audience to ask “When is an encore not really an encore?” Friday night at Webster Hall show. Despite a strong repertoire to draw songs from, the band dashed through a rather lackluster 45 minute set where the band’s lead singer sure screamed a lot more than I remember him needing to on any of their albums, topping the night off with succinct renditions of their biggest “hits”, “We’ve Been Had” and “the Rat” before calling it a night. The band left the stage momentarily, the audience remained in relative silence waiting for the obligatory encore, and I can only imagine that the following scene took place behind stage:

Walkman One: “Hey, what time is it?”
Walkman Two: “Let me look at my watch . . . aw, no way! It’s 10:30!”
Walkman Three: “A rock concert can’t end at 10:30, can it?”
Walkman One: “No! We’d better get out there and play some more songs.”

And so the band returned to the stage to play about four more songs, ending their set with a cover of the Cramps’ “Green Fuzz,” probably the only song of the evening to make me go “Hey, that’s kind of cool.” Then the band left the stage, probably a little happier with themselves for having taken up a more reasonable amount of our time. At this time, most of the audience started to leave, but oddly, the house lights didn’t come up. To the experienced concert-goer, this can only mean one thing. Backstage, the Walkmen were having a conversation something like this:

Walkman One: “All right! Now we’ve officially played for an hour!”
Walkman Two: “Man, those kids loved us out there!”
Walkman Three: “Well, there’s only one thing we can do now . . . “
Walkman One: “Yes, time for our real encore!!”

And so the Walkmen returned to the stage—the sight of this causes the departing crowd to rush back into the concert hall. Walkman One says “Here’s an old song from our first album” or something like that and they play a song where he mostly screams, if I remember correctly. It was more along the lines of something you endure. When the song ended, Walkman One says “So that’s what you get for your twenty bucks” or something like that, you know, to make us aware of how much money we had spent on some seriously underwhelming rock and roll.

So the crowd starts to depart again, even if the house lights haven’t come up and no one has started to take any instruments down, I make it all the way to the lobby before I can hear that the band is playing another encore. I imagine a conversation like this had occurred:

Walkman One: “Well, our encore seemed to go real well. The fans love it when we play our old stuff.”
Walkman Two: “Uhm, you’re talking about the song we just played, right? Not the mini-set we played before it, right?”
Walkman One: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Walkman Three: “You know, since everyone liked us so much, why don’t we play . . .”
Walkman One: “A third, or second encore (depending on how you look at it)? All right!!”

And so the Walkmen took to the stage once more, but I was in the lobby and “missed it.” Word got to me that the band announced that they were tying their personal record for “most encores” – I’m just glad I was blocks away from Webster Hall before I could find out if they had broken their record for most encores or not.

Since I don't have anywhere else to say this, let me say it here: Monday night I went and saw this movie, "800 Bullets", from Spain. It came out in 2002 and played at a few festivals or whatever but was never picked up for general US distribution. I read numerous reviews by film geeks losing their minds over this thing, so when I heard it was playing for a week here in NYC at the Clearview Cinema Latino, I went to check it out. Turns out I was about the only person interested in it, because I was the lone ticket buyer for the 9 PM showing. Sort of a very odd feeling, watching a movie all by yourself in a giant theater. Even worse, there was only one screen at the whole place, so basically the entire staff had to stay (as late as they should have stayed) because of me. Movie was pretty good, for a movie about a Spanish boy who runs away from home to meet his stuntman Grandfather, but it had that odd feel of a movie meant to be popular in another country--(this is in no way a legitimate criticism)--most of the jokes and the twists of the movie just weren't made for Americans, even snobby foreign film fan Americans. This movie isn't a "foreign film" in the sophisticated sense of the word, it's just a popular movie of another country. A solid 3 stars, but you aren't missing anything if you never see it. Of note: the Spanish in this movie? Some of the foulest language I've heard in any film. Kept me cracking up.

And why don't I cram a third "review" in here. Last night I rented Pieces of April, the movie from last year about hipster Katie Holmes making Thanksgiving Dinner for her whole family. I liked it plenty. What it had going for it is that it told the story it had to tell, tossed in only one or two subplots, and didn't try to do any more than that. A nice enough little movie with some really funny moments and a bit of heart. No complaints.

Tambien Dejame decir "Hola!" a La Familia Santo Roble. You guys are making this place blow up. You know what, let me say "Hola" to all the Moms, Dads, Brothers, and Sisters of my friends who visit Steady Mobbin' in general. It is true. I am as cool as I seem.

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