Tonight's performance by Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters at Diesel is being postponed, said promoter Jon Rinaldo in an e-mail, "due to Mark being ill." The show is being rescheduled for Wed., Aug. 20 at the same venue. For more information, visit the Joker Productions website. Hope you feel better, Mark!
The corner of Stanwix and Liberty overflowed last night with festival-goers eager to get an earful of '70s glam icons The New York Dolls, in town as part of this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Dolls' raucous set was a mixture of tunes from their heyday, plenty of cuts from their 2006 reunion album, One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This and some odds 'n' sods, including an iffy cover of "Piece of My Heart," made famous by Janis Joplin.
The harsh and indistinct sound quality at the show was a drawback, and made it hard to tell how good or bad the Dolls' performance was -- though they and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. As the Dolls played the triumphant "Happiness" toward the end of their set, I slipped off down Liberty Avenue; as soon as I rounded the corner, the sound seemed to improve drastically and even get louder. Strange but true.
Opening the show was local band Takeover U.K., currently promoting their debut EP on Rykodisc, It's All Happening. The band attacked the short garage-pop songs, bringing a barbed intensity to what seemed otherwise fairly standard retro-rock. For some reason, the Leonard Cohen album title New Skin for the Old Ceremony popped
into my head, and summed up their set for me; I guess that makes the Dolls' set "old skin for the old ceremony." Indeed.
In some respects, watching the crowd was more interesting than watching the bands onstage -- especially the shock of seeing some pasty '80s Night refugees and the cast of Dee's Café in broad daylight -- but that's kind of what these things are for. Eat a funnel cake; chit-chat with your friends; gawk; see a band play. Repeat.
I'll admit, my interest in local '80s Night events dropped to about zero after taking a bottle to the skull at one of the last dance extravaganzas at the now-defunct Upstage in Oakland. The impact must've jarred something loose in there -- perhaps the something that makes people want to hear "Come On, Eileen" each and every Thursday night. But those who still jones for it have had no lack of options since the Upstage's demise, with similar nights cropping up around town.
Last night in Lawrenceville, for example, the Thursday time-warp started out at Arsenal Lanes, where from 9 p.m. to midnight $8 gets you all-you-can-bowl with DJ Swank Cat (a.k.a. Corey LeChat of The Gothees and other local groups) spinning '80s hits and oddities. Throughout the evening, LeChat obligingly took requests from bowlers, sometimes dropping in oddball covers and even Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" ("Yes, that really was from the '80s," he assured afterward).
At midnight, the lanes closed, and it was down the hatch and down the block to dingy dive Belvedere's, where the weekly Neon '80s-themed dance party was already well under weigh in the bar's cavernous back room. With DJ Hates You presiding, the crowd had a younger, scruffier feel than the Upstage in its heyday (I mean, would you dress up to go to Belvie's!?) which the DJ seemed to acknowledge by dropping a punk mini-set towards the end of the night, prompting a half-hearted mini-mosh by a few dancers.
Reasonably good time all around, even if Belvedere's often feels like being in a giant ashtray -- once you stomp out a butt of your own on the floor, at least it's sorta your ashtray.
The other day when I was out for a run I came across a dead grackle in the middle of the sidewalk. Dead birds seem pretty ominous, so I wondered what it was foreboding. Turns out it was probably this: a band called Grackles, and a band called Dead Bird, playing together, at Gooski's on Saturday night. They're opening for the Working Poor, and I'm not sure how that fits into my brief instance of prescience, unless of course I was the allegorical figure for that band name, which of course is possible.
Regardless, the Working Poor are always a treat, as Alan Lewandowski -- despite, or perhaps because of, the always-sloppy drunken celebrations that are his shows with WP and his other band Anita Fix -- is one of the finest outsider songwriters in town, and possibly beyond. It strikes me that, while he labors away at his clever wordplay and weirdo stage shows (mostly with the latter band), rarely leaving town to tour, he's building a body of work that'll likely someday be "discovered" by someone outside of town, and they'll rip us all to shreds for having kept him to ourselves.
And speaking of the Goosk, a band I wrote up about a year ago, Oxford Collapse, is back for more, appearing at the Polish Hill rock bar on Tuesday night (June 10). Work nights are a drag for good rock shows, but it promises to be a good time, with a few Centipede Eest side projects playing. Gangwish (Sam Pace) and Dark Lingo (Nick Falwell and Sandy Patton) open, along with a rumored short set by Plastic Idea, the brand-new band featuring Centipede bassist Caulen Kress along with local rock dudes Eli Kasan, Stacy Mackin and Taichi Nakatani. Should start around 9 (I certainly hope).