One sad reality of both a full family life and an aging body is that I go to way fewer shows than in years past. A band that I still make every possible effort to see live are The Horrors. When I heard they were doing a secret show in London next week, I jokingly wrote to my pen-pal mate Patrick Johnson at XL, the band's label, telling him he should convince the powers to fly me to London for the gig. He instantly responded saying he could possibly get me into the NY show tomorrow night!
While I still think of them as a relatively young band, they’ve actually now been together for close to ten years and are releasing their forth full album, Luminous, next month. They are a perfect example of a band not afraid to both clearly love & reference past genres, distorting & blurring the lines of what those genres are, while also pushing hard to create something sonically new. Truth be known, when they first exploded I largely dismissed them as UK press hype. I wrongly thought it was simply hype based on their wicked image & the fact that legendary director Chris Cunningham offered to direct their now punk anthem, Sheena is a Parasite. So when XL signed them I was surprised & thought there must be more to them than being stylish, neo-goth punks. How true that has turned out to be. They’re able to fuse 60’s California Garage Psych with 80’s Synth Pop into something wonderfully original. The new record, the first produced solely by the band, is still too new to me to know if I love it as much as their Skying album, but it's so sonically dense that I’m devouring it simply for the production right now.
Below is the first song that dropped from Luminous, & below that is "Still Life," which has possibly now gone into my top ten songs of all time.
Live performance is also great, part Shoegaze, and by projecting real 16mm film loops on hung sheets for a screen it's part DIY hippy Warhol/Factory vibe. My only criticism of last night was that the sound was akin to a dustbin, with some of the band playing in another room. I’ve no idea if that's simply the norm for the House of Vans--which is an awesome skate room but not necessarily a great venue for a band that obviously cares so much about sound. But because it was some kind of secret/industry gig, Ned & I were able to place ourselves dead center in front of the stage. :)
Knowing that both Swoon & Ai Weiwei have exhibits on at the museum, I decided to take a walk up there with a seven, a nine & a thirteen year old yesterday.
Walking around with them having a good time was strange mix images & emotions.
The young girls loved the Weiwei giant metal boxes that one had to clime up steps to see down into. Explaining to them that the scenes in the boxes were from when the artist had been arrested and held prisoner for eighty one days, kind of put a damper on their enjoyment of the running from one box to the next.
I accidentally had my color filter on the iPhone boosted to maximum overdrive, giving the whole day over saturated hues.
Its difficult to see the desired effect of 2008’s Moon Chests, but they are still beautiful objects in their own right & fun to look through.
The artists most moving work for me is “Straight”, the one relating to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It was not that easy explaining to the girls that names walls were of more than 5,000 children killed in badly built schools that collapsed. Max was super intrigued/angered by how this could have happened, and how the Chinese authorities chose to deal with it.
The whole Weiwei exhibit also made me reflect, and explain to Max, that while I may complain about a lot of the west’s policies, standing there in the museum, I feel grateful for them.
Eve & Edie decided to rest, then pose, as others starting taking photos of them, wondering were they part of the Weiwei exhibit.
Even with Max in front to show scale, its hard to get a sense of the enormity of the dream like Swoon installation.
Swoon’s dripped wall’s were not really as yellow as this.
About three years ago Eilon Paz interviewed & shot me for his awesome vinyl record collectors site, Dust & Grooves.
He’s spent the last couple of years tirelessly working to create a book. The book is done & its beautiful. It features just some of the hundreds of interesting people & their crazy collections that he’s shot over the years.
I was invited to be one of twenty DJ’s to spin ten minutes worth of records at the fun release party last Sat night.
So, I’m feeling honored that I made the cut to be included in the book. I actually have two full spreads! Also feeling lucky, because while I love showing off my records, I don’t really like seeing myself in pictures, and he chose great photos where I’m not that visisible ;)
Anyone looking for good gift ideas, this is a great book. Also, he self published, so you will be supporting individuals, not cooperations.
Wandering around the LES yesterday with my friend Jeff Newman, not knowing what was showing, we decided to check out the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
It's an exhibition exhibition titled "Big Girl Now" of new ceramic sculptures by Czechoslovakian-born and Sweden-based artist Klara Kristalova.
The name didn’t ring bells for us, but we both felt like we’d maybe seen this somewhere before. I thought maybe it was in the Rubell Collection, or maybe it reminded of others, it has a slight Marcel Dzama feel, or maybe its just the stuff of sub-conscience dreams.
The sculptures are largish, slightly unsettling hand-painted figures, that felt like they are all innocent and yet disturbing, dreamlike and even nightmarish, but for me feel very much feminine.
This is was not expected & really something special.
This show includes tunes by The Black Angeles, Black Ghosts, The Black Keys, Black Mountain, Black Light White Light & Black Sabbath. Plus another 20 songs with black in the title. It starts gently and gradually builds in intensity as the two hours unfold.
As a youth, the idea of jumping in on a train, or renting a car to go see a band, or some DJ at a rave in another city was a common thing. As i’ve aged, and art has become so important to me, its nice to know that juvenile fanboy mentally is still alive in me.
On the spur of the moment, I asked my buddy Paul Weston (a very gifted artist in his own right) if he’d be up for driving my son Max & I down to Philly if I paid car rental. Always down for whatever, we picked car & Max up from school sharp at 4.00, naively thinking it would take ninety minutes to get there. Four painful hours of Friday rush-hour & the tortures NJ Turnpike later, we got to the gallery with only ten minutes of the opening left. Luckily they let it run overtime, so we got to check out all the work by the 3 artist, Dan Murphy, Isaac Tin Wei Lin & of course Barry. Even got to chat for minute with Todd James, and ask Barry to tag up the poster from the show. Wicked Cheesesteaks from legendary spot Pat's also helped to relive the frustration of the journey there. It took us exactly 90 minutes to get home. I really hope Max grows up with a fond memory of the trip, rather than a bum one.
Try to go to the show, or see gallery link for full images. Department of Neighborhood Services is on on till April 11th at Fleisher Ollman Gallery.
My favorite piece in the show..
Max, Barry & Todd.
Tag on the the Philly streets. Looks like that youthful spirit is still alive & kicking in Barry too.
Hard to believe but, I bought my first Kraftwerk record forty years ago, but that's when Autobahn was a hit in the UK, and that was actually four years after the bands formation. So having never seen them live, last night was a real treat.
Normally I'm really not one for nostalgia, and very rarely go to shows by bands that I loved when both I & they were young. Back in 1990 I saw the Stones & decided that it was a mistake as my image of them was now sadly cracking due to the reality of age. I guess I believe that rock n' roll is a young man’s sport, or maybe it just highlights my own dissatisfaction with aging & the mortality of my existence. Either way, I don’t really try to see many old rockers. However when my good friends Hang & Tim offered me tickets to see Kraftwerk because Tim had the flu, I jumped at the chance. I knew they were not going to be leaping around the stage, trying to act like teenagers. It would be a much more reserved affair, dubbed "An Evening With Kraftwerk 3-D Concert."
As my friend Gregory Hoffman, who came with me, astutely observed, it was like watching a musical history lesson. They showed their influence on multiple genres, from techno & house, to industrial, to electro, and still clear in the synth pop of today. Most people acknowledge that there’d probably be no New Order and Depeche Mode, or even Daft Punk, if not for Kraftwerk. They are the original robots.
Another factor that made the show so great, was that the band clearly cared about the venues for this tour . Last night's was at the incredible United Palace Theatre. Hope more bands follow the lead & use it in NYC.
Obviously these iPhone pictures & the video don't do any justice to the effects of the impressive 3D enhanced performance.
In the photo - Max with Juan Roselione-Valadez, the director of the Rubell Family Collection. Lying on the floor, a work called “The Death of Marat” by Chinese artist He Xiangyu. Poor Max nearly had a heart attack when he walked into the room & saw Ai Weiwei dead. Juan informed us, that people being freaked-out is a regular occurrence, & judging from this article, it's not only in the museum. The art work is just one from the massive collection of Chinese works currently on display. "28 Chinese" is the culmination of the Rubells’ six research trips to China between 2001 and 2012.