Monday, August 08, 2005


What comes after les blues

Pop quiz! What do the following acts have in common: 1) A two-man hip hop group from Pittsburgh who use beats by the Go Go's to rhyme about household cats, colouring contests and the birth of lemonade (invented by Jesus' disciples during the crucifixion...doncha know?) 2) Six rockers using lyrics which define melancholy (if not outright depression) to channel the spirits of Hank Mark I and Crazy Horse? The answer? Not much besides the stage at Sala Rosa last night (oh, and much-justified love for Van Halen). Yes, last night was my heavily-anticipated first opportunity to see Jason Molina and Magnolia Electric Co. Lucky for me, they brought along the surprisingly entertaining Grand Buffet. Despite a nearly complete lack of stage banter, there was a genuine warmth coming from Molina and his five piece backing ensemble. The most pleasant surprise of the evening was the amount of power Magnolia were able to pack into some of the more recent, Neil Young inspired material from the last two full length records (Magnolia Electric Co. and What Comes after the Blues). Listen to The Dark Don't Hide It from Magnolia Electric Co. (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) The full band sound (including a few incidents of concussive, single-note unison attacks) left me closed-eyed, smiling and swaying like a flower-lovin' hippy on more than one occasion. Thank you, gentlemen! As for the opener. Well! You know that wired dude in highschool who made you laugh and feel genuinely uncomfortable at the same time? The one voted "class clown" and "most likely to end up like Ted Kaczynski" Well, the good news is he hasn't hurt anyone. In fact, he's now fronting an underground hip hop act in Pittsburgh. Yes, while Jason Molina was reticent to share much talk with us beyond the occasional "Thank you kindly" Grand Buffet - the self-proclaimed "Kermit and Fozzy of underground Hip Hop" - left all good sense behind as they talked hockey (poorly) politics (embarrassingly) and fast food (surprisingly knowledgably) . Then again, when you're dropping rhymes as absurd as Nate Kulka's History of Lemonade good sense just has to take a back seat to good times. The weekend wasn't ALL about the strange conflict between jokey hiphop and near-retro indie rock. Nope, Saturday night Bell Orchestre (you might know them as The Side Project of a couple of these guys) performed a jazzy, melodic, modern set at Le Local. It was my first time at the industrial space near the Jean Talon Market, but I can say with confidence that Le Local has to go down as one of the hottest clubs ever. Seriously, it must have been 45 degrees in there. Memo to the owners of Le Local: Many people would be willing to pay another 50 cents for their tickets if you used the money to buy fans! All the sweating aside, the show was quite delightful. Openers - Ottawa's lovely and talented Wooden Stars - were a nice reminder of the ole home and Bell Orchestre turn something that could have easily slipped into improved, new-jazz wankery, into emotionally powerful and emotive music that makes you wanna dance. (Listen to Bell Orchestre MP3s here or here) and keep an eye out for their debut full-length on Rough Trade. What's on tonight? Well, Mark Sultan, the man behind Montreal's loudest one-man garage band, the mighty mighty BBQ is the best bet over at Toc Toc (6091 Parc). Until tonight have a taste of BBQ's Outa My Mind. Pregnant Pause I know this is Quebec. I know I've chosen to live in a strange part of the world and I know that the town I used to live in has been holding a Blues Festival for years featuring acts that wouldn't know Robert Johnson if they fell over his tombstone...but can someone please tell me how you can hold a "Blues Festival" and have more performers from Denmark than Chicago? This man claims to have "the most important collection of Mr. T dolls in existence." (I'm not going to object to his claim. Though it does, of course, demand that we ask the question: "Where is the world's SECOND most important collection of Mr. T dolls?") (vi(v)a (le) Boing) I'd be remiss if I didn't briefly mention Jason Molina's desperate need for a little electrolysis...I mean, I don't want to be cruel but that monobrow is pretty hard core.
*sigh* I hate to crap on critics' darlings, and I can't remember if I've already vented this yet, but I just can't see the appeal (live, anyway) of Magnolia Electric Co. The show I saw from Molina and Co. went down as the weakest this year -- and this in Saskatoon! A stage demeanor rivalling Jay Farrar for woodenness; a lifeless delivery of seemingly formless songs; and, yes, a frightening monobrow. But then, I guess it just goes to show you that one man's drug is another's poison.
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