Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We're Waxing Nostalgic About LFK With Murder By Death: "We have good friends we've made in Kansas over the years."

Readers, if you're anything like us, you've had at least a few good times watching Murder By Death perform in LFK over the years.  As near as we can pinpoint, our own first MBD experience was at the Replay in 2004.   The band is as fond of Larryville as we are of them, as you will learn in our interview with lead singer/guitarist Adam Turla, who offers some nice shout-outs to some of your favorite scenester spots and scenester heroes!  

Murder By Death will be back in LFK on New Year's Eve for a huge show at the Granada (their second New Year's show at this venue), and they'll be joined by local favorites Cowboy Indian Bear and Y(our) Fr(end).  Yep, it's going to be a party!

The band has recently joined legendary Bloodshot Records label (visit their Bloodshot page here) and has a new album called Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, a title we love, though of course our favorite MBD album title is Like the Exorcist, But With More Breakdancing, which never fails to make Chip laugh.  You should also drop by the band's official website here for recent news and all the links you need to prepare for a raucous New Year's Eve.

Huge thanks to Adam Turla for taking the time to chat with us during the holidays, and we hope you enjoy this interview, in which Chip goes all Barbara Walters on Adam at the end! 

Chip: I always like to ask about band names and I’m assuming yours is a reference to the great comedy Murder By Death, which cracks my ass up! What’s your favorite scene in that film? 

Adam:  Hmm, it's been a minute... I love that movie, but haven't seen it for a minute. I remember liking Miss Marple a lot. It's one of those ensemble movies where everyone is so talented but they are acting completely ridiculous. It's a celebration of absurdity.

Richard: A recent press blurb describes your sound as “rollicking gothic indie folk." What’s YOUR preferred term for the band’s sound these days? And can you list us a few somewhat esoteric reference points for your sound (they don’t necessarily have to be musical) that will send our readers scurrying out to look them up.

Adam:  I just never think of things from a genre standpoint: I think that it why our music is more eclectic. I tend to draw from anything from South American literature to my love of travel and adventure to old movies.

Richard: With song titles like “The Curse of Elkhart" and “No Oath, No Spell,” I’m sensing some emerging themes on the new album. Tell us about Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon.  How does it fit in with your previous work?

Adam:  There's a lot more lush sounds on the album thanks to Scott Brackett. We wanted to do some slower, darker songs on this album, and I think it worked pretty well.  I was thrilled to be able to have more sonic variety thanks to the fact that Scott plays so many instruments. Thematically, we are always looking for more ways to explore darker content and ideas we think are interesting for us and the listeners. 

Chip: I make a lot of silly boner jokes on this blog, so people often don’t realize that I’m a well-versed Shakespeare buff (though of course he thought boners were funny as well). Tell us about the lovely little “Queen Mab” melody from your new album. Did you arrive at Queen Mab through Romeo and Juliet or some other source?

Adam:  Hmm, yes, I think the reference came from Shakespeare. We kept calling that song "Fairyland" or "Walk Through Pixieland" while we were working on it and knew we wanted a more suitable title. We often have very stupid working titles. I will consider "Boner Jokes" as a future temporary song title. 

Richard: The new record is your debut on the Bloodshot label and I’m guessing that you (like most of us!) have loved a lot of Bloodshot albums over the years. Do you have a particular favorite?

Adam: Hmm, offhand not sure. Love me some Ha Ha Tonka, but Neko Case's "The Virginian" is interesting too as it is her only total country album.

Chip:   Neko gives me a total boner.  She actually replied to one our @larryvillelife tweets once and I was aroused for three days!

Richard: You’ve been together a lot of years (since 2001) and playing shows in Lawrence for a lot of those years. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw Murder By Death here was 2004 at the Replay Lounge. And this will be at least the second MBD show at the Granada on New Year’s Eve, right? Do you have any particular favorite Lawrence shows or Lawrence memories to share?

Adam:  Yep, second New Years show in Lawrence. We have good friends we have made in Kansas over the years. I remember the first time we played Lawrence was actually a house show at a place they called The Halfway House. That was back when we rammed all our gear into a minivan. The cello would have to sit between someone's lap and everyone else had to hold their luggage for the drive. I dig the Replay-- Dagan and I always shoot pinball when we come to town. One of my favorite shows was the fest that Jacki Becker put on: "Bleeding Kansas."  There was such a variety of acts that were on their way up that played that fest. There was also a dunk tank and free vodka for the bands, so that was nice. As Murder By Death we challenged Death Cab for Cutie to an arm wrestling match to the death, but they declined.

Chip: If I might, let me end with a Barbara Walters-style question! There’s a song on the new album called “Oh, To Be An Animal.” If you WERE an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

Adam:  Today, a snow leopard, but tomorrow probably a tiger shark. 

Here's MBD cavorting in a barn and the flyer for the New Year's Eve show:


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Boner Under the Mistletoe: Our All-New Foxy by Proxy X-Mas Interview ("What could warm one's heart better than whiskey and pasties?")

Readers, as you may remember, we interviewed some of the Foxy by Proxy gang back in October prior to their Halloween performance, but that interview was a bit  of a quickie.  Frenzied and erotic, yes, but without the slow teasing and foreplay one might expect in an interview with a burlesque troupe (read it here). So we decided to sit down with Bunny Baltimore, Honey Caprise, Shagra Khan, and The Right Reverend Spunk Rogers for a more penetrating peek at their hopes and dreams (and, yes, their T & A) once again prior to their major Miracle on Mass. Street performance this Saturday at the Granada

Saturday's event promises impressive production design, a cohesive narrative, and the group's first-ever poledance routine, because nothing says X-mas like a little pole-dancing!  Oh, it will be a naughty treat, and a mere $8 will get you inside, where it's all nice and cozy.   (Chip: "These sentences are getting me aroused.").  Doors are at 9:00.

Enjoy the interview below, and happy holidays from the LC! We'll see you after X-mas.


Chip:  Our last interview with you ladies was a bit rushed, but this time we’ve got the space for some sweet foreplay, so let’s make ourselves comfortable [note to readers: Chip is naked right now] and talk about how you all got your start performing burlesque.  

Bunny Baltimore:   I started performing burlesque under the name "Dolly Baltimore" while living at 20th and Baltimore in Kansas City, Missouri in 2008.  Last year I changed my name to Bunny just for the hell of it. My first performances were the Naughty Needles burlesque event at the Jackpot Music Hall (Lawrence, KS) and Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School burlesque life drawing (KCMO) in 2008. That just got my appetite for burlesque started. I performed and modeled sporadically until I decided Lawrence (my hometown) needed a troupe. I asked a friend who was equally into the idea and she introduced me to another girl, Miss Roach von Hoebag, and we started Foxy by Proxy (named after Roach's previous year's V-day party) Revue. We held auditions at Pachamama's ballroom June 2011 and that is when the core Foxy performers came together and Scarlet, Putressa, Lorie, Chi Chi tried out and joined. Soon after that came Honey and Rex Bodean. We have added new members in the last year: Jolly, Dolly, Frenchie, Nessie, Shagra, the Rev, Marion, Bel and Red. We have all grown together as performers whether Foxy is our first run or our last, which for me, has been like becoming a whole new performer.

Honey Caprice:    Foxy By Proxy was my first.

Shagra Khan:   I started in Foxy over  a year ago as the merch girl. I would convince frat bros that wandered into our shows to buy pasties. It wasn't until June that I started MCing.. which I think is really just me yelling at everyone. They seem to be into it though.

Richard:  Tell us about your favorite burlesque performance that you’ve ever witnessed and also your favorite that you’ve ever personally performed.

Bunny:  Fave burlesque performance: done by Lorie Darlin' at our circus show in August 2011.  Her music box bit.  It raised the bar for theatrics and props in Foxy shows. Fave I have ever done: tie between my bit for Miracle on Mass St because it debuts pole dancing for this first time for our troupe and 'Little Red Riding Hood," [which] I performed with Rita B in 2008 at Jackpot Music Hall for Naughty Needles because it was my first burlesque performance ever. 

Honey:  There are many New York artists that I want very much to see in person. Particularly  Dame Cuchifrita and Tigger James-Ferguson, they are inspiring performers. I think my personal favorite bit was Kali at our last Halloween show.

Shagra:   My personal best might have been chugging a beer on stage and throwing my cup into the crowd. I've never been accused of being classy.

Chip:   Tell us about your dream burlesque performance: if you could do anything and perform anywhere, what would be involved?

Bunny:  I would do a 30 minute interpretive dance to "the sound of whales" for a fat kid camp involving me in a sequin leotard and a harpoon.

Honey:   My dreams and vision for my art are constantly changing, I definitely strive to grow as a performer every time. If I had my way we would simply have access to unlimited costuming materials and be travel ready. I would also love very much to be able to take some classes to explore contortion and aerialist possibilities. 

The Right Reverend Spunk Rogers:  My dream burlesque performance: if I could do anything and perform anywhere, I would do a striptease while flying around near the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Also, I would use my telekinetic powers to make the Pope and all the bishops and priests do the worm down the processional aisle while I showered them with the sweet-scented alien urine flowing copiously from my magic pasties.

Richard:   The Miracle on Mass. Street is looking pretty great.  Finally, an X-mas event that’s not all about wearing ugly sweaters!   Give us a little preview.  I understand there’s going to be a Nighmare Before Christmas sketch?

Honey:  This will be the second time we have attached all of our numbers to a loose story line. Everything has a place in the tale. Mine is based on Pan and will be one of a couple stretching the limits this time around.

Shagra:  Our technical director, Rexy Bodean has pretty much built an entire living room and bedroom set for the Granada stage so we can tell some classic Christmas stories with a Foxy twist.

Chip:  Personally, I like ugly sweater X-mas parties, and I sometimes accidentally win even when I don’t know there’s a contest.  Will there be any sort of ugly sweater striptease element to this show?

Honey:   Well, if you wear one you may have to peel it off fairly early in the evening. Those things are itchy!

Shagra:  There might have been an ugly Christmas sweater striptease if this was "boring ironic hipster burlesque." You definitely won't be seeing any ugly at this show.

Richard:  Leave our readers with a little blurb that convinces them that they absolutely MUST leave the comfort of home and hearth right before Christmas and witness the Miracle on Mass. Street.

Bunny:  Miracle on Mass st. is your opportunity to be part of entertainment history for Lawrence. There will be acting, singing, dancing, stripping, Santa and the most amazing surprise that I can't give away. This is our gift to you, it would be rude not to accept :)

Honey:   Where else are you going to get Soul Grinch, the Rat King and the three spirits of Christmas in one room. It's like the Ghostbusters containment unit up in here.

Shagra:   The holiday spirit is overrated. What could warm one's heart better than whiskey and pasties?

Chip:   Don’t take this the wrong way, because I know you ladies don’t work at the Outhouse, but is there any possibility of me getting a lapdance at this Christmas party?

Bunny:  Why would we take that the wrong way? You say that like strippers are inferior to burlesque dancers. Strippers that dance at gentleman's clubs are really no different than burlesque performers...everyone has a different set of morals that they carry with them on and off stage and no one is better than the other in this business. I was a stripper at the Flamingo Club for a year and a half and a few of our other performers are/were dancers also. That doesn't make us more susceptible to handing out lap dances, but I am not saying it couldn't happen :)

Honey Caprice:  Ask Biker Santa. 

The Right Reverend Spunk Rogers:  That probably depends on how much you tip Richard to give you one, but if by "lap dance" you mean climb on Santa's knee and drool on his chicken leg, then quite likely.

Photos:  The Right Rev; Honey Caprise; Shagra Khan; Bunny Baltimore:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Interview With Atomic Pajama Party: "...we got to witness someone dancing with an Atomic Pajama Party thong on their head. You can't really beat that."

Readers, this may not be hip of us to admit, but we increasingly enjoy watching bands perform that are actually fun.  And fun is the primary goal of Atomic Pajama Party (this is a band, after all, that sells Atomic Pajama Party thongs and whose last gig was an actual "pajama party" at Barnyard Beer).   The band has just launched a Kickstarter campaign so they can record an album that puts the fun on wax, so please go here and kick in a few bucks to help them reach their modest goal.  

We spoke with APP ringleader and longtime LFK musician Tim Morrell in a wide-ranging interview that ends up covering about a decade of the local music scene and closes with a promise that, for a mere $200, the band will be happy to immortalize Chip's boner in a song  (Chip:  "Totally worth it!").

Chip:  Your  mission statement is “to make rock music danceable again,” a noble goal!  But it’s soooo fucking hard to make the apathetic scenesters in this town dance!  Are you having much luck?  Or do you mostly play for old geezers who aren’t worried about looking cool all the time?

Tim:  I do a pretty good job of making myself look like the biggest fool in the room so that people feel more comfortable loosening up a bit.  We honestly haven’t seen much of the scenester crowd at our shows so we haven’t  had to deal much with the shoegazer mentality. We’ve tried to target the college more than anything and that crowd is a bit more comfortable with going out dancing. Frankly it’s almost hard not to at least move around a bit when you are at our shows listening to our music, and we rock out some well-placed covers to help get people moving such as "Jungle Boogie," "Get Down Tonight," and the newest addition "Oops I Did It Again." We put so much energy into our set, we jump around, we play our songs on the edge of being too fastWe just do everything we possibly can to make sure we are having a good time and I think it’s contagious. Most people going out are only looking to have a good time, so when you have an act on stage making fools out of themselves, taking you by the hand to lead you to that good time, it’s a bit hard to resist. It’s a lot harder getting people to give this band a shot in the first place, considering rockers (myself included) have been so against dance music ever since the disco retaliations of the 70’s. We’ve seen a couple of the silver-age audience members dancing, but the majority of the people dancing are younger, albeit probably not scenesters.

Richard:  Quite a few of the “aging scenester” demographic are readers of this blog and are well-versed in LFK rock history.  Tell us about your old band The Disagreements and how you got from there to the hijinks of Atomic Pajama Party.

Tim:  The Disagreements started as a pretty crappy pop rock band with a wretched name in Toast! (thankfully another band with the same name wanted to keep it, so we happily changed it) and ended as a pretty decent punk rock band, all the while claiming to be a straight-up rock band. Labeling various forms of rock is confusing and hurts my brain. We played for the first time live on KJHK when Nick Spacek was hosting "Plow the Fields."  We always had a fairly decent following, but I think through the duration of the band it changed from people coming out to support us to people that actually liked our music and wanted to see us play, so that was cool. We got to play with a lot of the acts around that we admired and were friendly with such as Tawni Freeland, Podstar, Jade Raven, Emma Feel, Thulium/Anything But Joey, Slurry, BeNon, TopHat. We never really “broke up” per se, but after our final drummer quit, we never got around to replacing him (although we had every intention to) and that was that. The main two people throughout, Matt Herbert and myself, were always a bit on the goofy side of things, much to the chagrin of everyone else that played in the band with us, so as we progressively took control of the band we became a bit more about entertaining ourselves and less about what we were supposed to be doing.  We played Andy Morton’s (of Danger Bob fame) birthday show in our underwear, played songs with our instruments behind our heads, jumped around a lot, even used strobes and a bubble machine at our shows.  Hell, half the time I was known as the guy who would play with his pants around his ankles. Turned out entertaining ourselves entertained the audience quite a bit too.

Between The Disagreements and Atomic Pajama Party, I did a lot of songwriting that I was never happy with, filled in for a couple of bands for one off gigs, but didn’t really find anything I wanted to continue doing.  I wanted to be on stage again, so at some point I had to ask myself, “What is it I want out of my music?”  The overpowering answer was fun.  I actually sat down and wrote out the various things I would like to do, and what I ended up with was “Pop vocals, big metal guitars, underwhelming melodic bass lines, dance beats, raw rock songs, and punk rock energy.” I also scribbled down in big letters at the bottom of the page, “Stop worrying about if you are ripping someone off or not, chances are that you are!” In random conversation I mentioned this to the guy I was working with who just happened to be a guitar player and he said he was in.  We tried working with a couple of different drummers but it turned out really hard to explain to a drummer what type of beats we were actually looking for, especially because we weren’t using just club dance beats, but a variety of popular dance beats from the last century including funk, swing, disco, rockabilly, etc. We recorded our demos with me programming all of the beats into my computer and used those for recruitment. They turned out a lot better than we could have hoped.  Not only did the first drummer we audition want the job and was perfect for it, we were able to use those demos to promote the band and create a bit of a buzz before we were even ready to play a show.

Chip:   I know you played an actual pajama-party at Barnyard Beer on Stop Day.  How did that go?  And what’s the origin of the band’s name?

Tim:  I don’t know that I’ll ever leave a show being completely satisfied, I’ll always wish there were more people there or even that we hadn’t messed something up, but really I was very happy with the show.  Barnyard Beer is a fantastic place. We love what they’ve done there; they are great guys to work with, their self-brewed beer was fantastic, and it’s a nice set-up.  However, it is a bit off the beaten trail and does not have a high visibility so it’s an extra challenge to get people there.  All in all, we had a great audience--many of whom were sporting some cool pajamas--fantastic sound, had a helluva time playing, people danced, and we got to witness someone dancing with an Atomic Pajama Party thong on their head.  You can’t really beat that.

As far as the band name goes, I probably overthought it as well.  I wanted a three-part name that sounded like it should match together (but not quite) for two reasons. The first was to make it easier to avoid trademarks and specifically other bands with the same name.  The second reason had to do with a conversation I had overheard a long time ago. After Eric Melin had joined Ultimate Fakebook they had played with the idea of dropping the Ultimate from their name.  Byron Huhmann of TV fifty ended up talking them out of it because with it they have a great rock chant with the three letters UFB.  I guess that stuck with me. Maybe we can get people chanting APP at our shows. As far as what three words, we chose Party first to help promote the fun party atmosphere we are trying to project.  We chose Pajama second after playing with such words as Vampire (thought it sounded too goth/industrial/Twilighty) and Disco because we like the idea of a Pajama Party.  We wanted to make the beginning word something to refer to the energy of the music. We thought about Electric, but I decided that made it sound too much like UFB’s first album Electric Kissing Parties.  It probably took us three weeks of going through words such as Amped, Nuclear, Jolt, and a whole other bunch of energy related words before I even thought of Atomic. Once the word came to mind we thought it was perfect.

Richard:   You’ve currently got a Kickstarter campaign going. Tell us about the album you envision making?

Tim:  I really envision trying to pull off a Foo Fighters-esque album that is full of singles but really more cohesive as an album. I’ve been working on DJing the flow of the album to make song-to-song transitions a bit more similar to how you’d hear it in a club versus what you’d hear on a rock album, we’ll see how that works.  We don’t want the over-produced sound you get on dance records It’ll definitely be a rock album. I’m sure you can see we are tearing up a very fine line here. It’ll include everything we demoed out before because those need to be recorded with a real drummer, plus our concert staples and at least one song no one outside of the band has heard before. We’ll always keep at least a couple of surprises back.  Who knows, you may even hear a waltz on the album. Really, we are looking to capture the fun, energetic passion that infuses our live shows. I’m thinking of naming the album something that sounds like it’s been badly translated from Japanese, like Happy Tiger Dance Time. Our logo looks like it would fit into anime, so why not?

Chip:   Your song titles such as “Bump and Grind” and “Jiggle in your Pants” totally make me want to get laid [listen here ]. Are there a lot of sexy chicks at Atomic Pajama Party shows?   Also, leave us with a blurb that convinces our readers that they absolutely MUST contribute to your Kickstarter fund.   Also, If I donate $100, will you write a song called “Chip’s Boner Song” for me?

Tim:  Those make you want to get laid? Hell, you haven’t even heard "Bang Buddy" or "All Night Long!" We actually wrote those songs as a tongue-in-cheek homage to what currently plays on pop radio.  In fact, in our initial round of songwriting the rule was that every song had to be about sex, drinking, dancing, or partying.  Preferably all of the above.

As far as sexy chicks at the shows go, we are a danceable act that promotes a party environment, lots of fun, getting primped up in your pajamas, and our best piece of merch is our Atomic Pajama Party thongs.  Why wouldn’t we have a lot of sexy chicks at our shows?  Seriously, why won’t they come?  Really, we’ve had some cuties there, but there’s always room for more.

Why MUST you contribute to our Kickstarter campaign?  Atomic Pajama Party is that nice perfect-length wooden backscratcher that precisely tackles that itch right in the middle of your back that no amount of twisting and contorting your body will make you able to reach with your own arms and is on that curve that makes it practically impossible to fully scratch rubbing against a door frame.  We fill that niche that you never really knew needed filling, but now that you’ve had a taste of its possibilities you never want to go without.  We are the hope that represents all ideals of mankind; would you really want to inhabit this world without hope? Don’t you already feel a little bit emptier inside without an Atomic Pajama Party album already made? Wouldn’t you like to feel whole? How could you not want to be at least a small part of contributing to the band and album that could save mankind?  Besides which, our modesty is pretty admirable on its own.

Now about “Chip’s Boner Song.”  Are you earnestly asking a legitimate self-respecting band to compromise our dignity and respect to sell out?  We do have our pride; we are a genuine working band that’s currently striving to earn enough honest money to release our first real recordings.  So in answer to that disrespect you call a question, my only answer can be that I’m thinking of something with maybe a bluegrass punk feel to it.  Something that makes you want to do some serious shitkicking.  Make it $200 and I’ll include the phrase “12 inches long”.

Here's a T-shirt, but where's the thong??


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Your Official LFK Guide To the Mayan Apocalypse (Replay, Percolator, Frank's, and Films)

According to a recent TIME magazine piece, 10% of people believe that the world will end in a Mayan apocalypse this Friday.  And we suspect the numbers are even higher in East Lawrence.

So how you should you mark the occasion?

The Replay's matinee is billed as a special "End Of The World Show" featuring The Ants and The Recessionists.  The Recessionists will help you dance your way into the endtimes, and we suspect The Ants will offer up some special treats (surely an R.E.M cover is in the works, if you catch our reference).  The last time we saw the Ants was on the tenth-anniversary of 9/11, where their cover of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" blew us away.  Read our report here .

Also, it wouldn't be a winter solstice/apocalypse party without a good old-fashioned LFK drum circle, so leave it to our friends at the Percolator to fill those needs.  The FB event page here has some rather mysterious description of the night's proceedings:

"So come to the Perco, bring a drum, celebrate... lighten’ your load, artfully repack your bags, and get on board ...Timeship Earth 2013."

Chip:  "If there's Kool-Aid being served at this event, do NOT drink it, folks."

And head across the river at 10:00 for Frank's North Star's basement blowout  (billed as "The End of the World @Frank's").  The FB event page says:   "If the 2012 end of the world is really to be the biggest event in 26,000 years, we need to all be hammered in the basement at Frank's rocking out to LongShadows! We're doomed! Lets rage! $4 cover."

On one hand, we can't believe the nerve of those folks at Frank's, charging  a $4 cover just before the whole shithouse goes up in flames (as Jim Morrison would put it).  Then again, it's always smart to hedge your bets.

As best as we can tell, none of the folks involved in these events have bothered to make cool flyers because, well, why bother, really?  So here's a shot from one of the best recent end-of-the-world films, Von Trier's Melancholia.  Let's hope the real end of days is at least half as pretty as this!

But what's our all-time favorite end of the world flick?  It's one you may well have overlooked: Don McKellar's terrifically funny and sad 1999 gem Last Night, which can be a bit hard to find.  If Netflix were smarter, they'd be streaming it this week.  As it is, they list it under "Save," which usually means you can NEVER see the fucking thing.  However, last time we checked, Miracle Video had a copy.  Maybe Liberty too?  Go and find it.  Before Friday.   It looks like this:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday and Sunday Scenester Picks: Palace, La Guerre, and Hospital Ships at Replay ; Ragtime/Jimmy Stewart Party at Gaslight

As we speak, the drunken Santas of SantaCon LFK are poised to begin their journeys at the Sandbar.  And Frank's North Star is preparing for a circus  (how in hell they're getting an elephant in and out of that basement is a mystery).  But we've told you of these things already.  So here are two more weekend events to consider:

1)  After a a few days of soul-crushing news out of Connecticut, treat yourself to a few hours of twee happiness and soaring pop at the Replay tonight with St. Louis' Palace and our local friends in La Guerre and Hospital Ships.

Palace's FB page bio says they "sound like your childhood," and the first line of the first song we clicked on kicks off with some "oohhs" and "aaahhhs" and the line ""I remember playin' in your sandbox."  We liked them immediately.  Check out some tunes at their FB page here.

Here's the band with cartoon animals on their shoulders.


The event also has the coolest flyers of the week.


(2)  Are you looking for a quirky X-mas event that doesn't involve Ugly Sweater contests?  Venture over to the Gaslight on Sunday evening  and catch Brian Hawkins performing some ragtime favorites with a backdrop of Jimmy Stewart films on the television and (we think) a Jimmy Stewart impression contest. Visit the FB event page here .  The party runs from 6:00-9:00, so you can still be home in time to live-tweet the Homeland season finale, which is sure to be fucking ludicrous!

The music of Brian Hawkins, the spirit of Jimmy Stewart!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nerd Nite 12: Ruin Porn and More! / Weekend Scenester Picks: A Circus at Franks, Drunken Santas, and Other Holiday Treats

For their one-year anniversary party, the nerds of Nerd Nite scheduled Nerd Nite 12 on 12/12/12  (so nerdy!) and perhaps the largest crowd so far assembled for three speeches from past alums.  But first...the origin story.

Former co-boss Nick Ray, wearing "rose-tinted glasses," set the stage for Nerd Nite's anniversary celebration with a meditation on nostalgia (quickly dismissing "Proustian nostalgia" in favor of "historical nostalgia"). 

Presentation 1:

Steph Kozach kicked off the evening's talks with "Spit-Shining the Rust Belt: Transforming a Region from Smokestacks to Tech Startups," offering an optimistic take on the efforts of Rust Belt cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit to emerge from the decline of the steel and automobile heyday and become hubs for everything from polymers to 3-D printing!   Sure, the Cuyohaga River may have been once been so polluted it caught on fire, but now you can drink a "Burning River" beer from Great Lakes Brewing and remember the worst while looking ahead to the better!  This presentation also introduced us to the term "ruin porn" (as in photos that capture the beauty of the decaying urban world).  And this (nerdily) reminded us of a phrase in our favorite novel, DeLillo's White Noise, in which Jack reflects on a German attempt to design buildings in such a way that they will decay beautifully:   "The ruin is built into the creation."

We recommend a "ruin porn" Google image search, which will lead you to shots like this from SmartPlanet

Presentation 2:

We are dumb when it comes to science (and, oddly enough, beer doesn't help), so we got lost admist the DNA, RNA, and TNA partway through Bryan Smith's "The origins of life: A quick biochemical history."  Luckily, Bryan kept things remarkably light and funny for such a dense subject, complete with a "fungi / fun guy" joke, a reference to the theme song of Facts of Life, and a description of LJ-World talkbackers as lower life forms.   This presentation also produced the best Q&A question of the evening:  "So, could X-Men happen?"  (Happily, the answer was yes!).

Presentation 3:  

Justin Runge wrapped things up with "The Sound of Thunder Over Headphones: Ray Bradbury and the Radio."  This was not a "teaching" presentation, Runge explained, but merely an attempt to share a passion, and in our view these are the very best kind of Nerd Nite presentations.  Runge's talk worked mostly as a personal narrative of his boyhood fascination with radio drama, specifically Bradbury dramatizations, and much of the presentation allowed the audience to simply sit back and soak up some audio snippets.  Ah, 100 nerds sitting in a dark room listening to sci-fi.  Readers, this was nerdy as shit.  And we liked it.

Bryan directed us all to this link to immerse ourselves into some sweet "old-time radio."  You should probably do so.


A few weekend picks.

Those who like their X-Mas festivities twangy and rootsy (we do) can hit the Granada on Friday for the KC Limits Christmas shindig with Reckless Kelly.  Show starts at 9:00.


And those who STILL haven't had their fill of ugly-sweater parties can head back to the Granada for "Tacky Christmas" on Saturday.   Midday Ramblers and Signal Ridge will be on hand for picking and grinning.


Frank's is hosting a circus in the basement on Saturday night.  Yep.  We predict at least three scenesters will get mauled by a fucking tiger.


And our drunken Santa-costumed pals in SantaCon Lawrence will hit the bars and the streets on Saturday for their annual (drunken) celebration of the holiday spirit.  They kick off at the Sandbar with treks through Granada, Replay, Red Lyon, as well as a variety of optional evening routes, one of which includes Frank's, so presumably some of the Santas will be on hand for the circus.  Visit the FB event page here,

And here they are posing at the Sandbar. How many Santas do you recognize?

What else should be included?  Let us know.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Interview With Rev Gusto: "...if the Modern Lovers had a baby with The Kinks, then that baby grew up listening to The Violent Femmes and Frank Ocean."

We happened to click on Rev Gusto's song "Click-Click" a few weeks back and fell in love with its poppy goodness, so we sought out the fellows behind the sound for a short interview in advance of their Friday night barnburner at Barnyard Beer (alongside Mr. and the Mrs., The Bad Ideas, and Four Arm Shiver; show starts at 10:00).  This is a ROCK show, kids, so all you scenesters who associate the Barnyard with nothing but hippie noodling should venture out there on Friday!

Check out Rev Gusto's tunes on Soundcloud, "like" them on Facebook here , and follow them on Twitter @revgusto .  In this interview, we discuss girls in short skirts, Rubik's cubes, and, yes, even the music of Rev Gusto!

Chip:  Tell us about the name Rev Gusto.  Is the Rev short for “Reverend?”  Are any of you fellows ordained ministers?  Give us the origin story of the band name.

Rev Gusto:  Our name used to be 'Legal in Canada' until an all-ages venue (the only place that would give us a gig at the time) disapproved of the name.  So we changed the name to Reverent Gusto, then shortened it to Rev Gusto! We feel we sing with gusto so it works out!

Richard:  The song “Click-Click” is just catchy as hell!  It reminds me a bit of some of the Fourth of July stuff, to use a local reference:  pretty and poppy but not polished to the point where the emotion is bleached out.  How would you describe the “Rev Gusto sound” for us? And can you incorporate one of those “we sound like ________ meets _________” references (but filling in those blanks with esoteric bands).

Rev Gusto:  We like to think of it as if the Modern Lovers had a baby with The Kinks, then that baby grew up listening to The Violent Femmes and Frank Ocean. Each member has their own influences (Blues, Hip-Hop, punk rock, soul) so its just a fantastic mix of genres that gives off an energetic and dancy indie-pop/rock vibe.

Chip: Also, tell us what effects you’d like a song such as “Click-Click” to have on your listeners.  For instance, all that talk about “girls in short skirts” has the effect of giving me a boner!

Rev Gusto: We play "feel good" music, so if it gets the audience hot, bothered, and having a good time, our goal is achieved. 

Richard:   Leave us with a blurb that convinces our lazy readers that they absolutely MUST leave Mass. Street or Frank's for an evening and join you at Barnyard Beer for your show on the 14th

Rev Gusto: It's literally RIGHT behind The Merc! So if you, by chance, need food and want to listen to some randy music you know where we will be.  

Chip:  Oh, one more thing.  You gents seem to have an affinity for Rubik’s Cubes based on the album cover and other promotional material.  Is there anyone in the band that can give me some tips on solving that sumbitch??  I’ve been trying for upwards of 20 years now!
Rev Gusto: Bring a cube to the show and our guitarist, Peter, will show you.

And here is our first video

Album cover:  

 click-click cover art

Cool show flyer!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nerd Nite 12 Preview / Monday Music and Movie Picks: Math the Band, Til Willis, Appropriate Grammar, Teen Wolf

Now that our favorite nerds have gone "mainstream" with a splashy article in the Sunday LJ-World (read it here), will we abandon them in favor of something a little lesser known?  Nah, we have too much fun writing about their nerdery.  And can't we agree that the article's photo of "co-bosses" Travis and Becky is 100% adorable?

Photo detail

This month's Nerd Nite ("Alumnite") is a one-year anniversary celebration and it's being marked with three returning favorite speakers chosen by nerdy voters. Here are their three (all-new) presentations:

1) "The Sound of Thunder Over Headphones: Ray Bradbury and the Radio" by Justin Runge

Given Bradbury's recent passing, this one is timely.

Chip:  "I'm aware of his work."  (Free PBR for the first to guess Chip's reference).

2)  "Spit-Shining the Rust Belt: Transforming a Region from Smokestacks to Tech Startups" by Steph Kozak

3)   "The origins of life: A quick biochemical history" by Bryan Smith

Steph's and Brian's presentations sound inspiring and complicated, respectively, and we tend to be leery of inspiring and/or complicated things, so they've got their work cut out for them!


It's Monday, it's Finals Week for KU students, and the Mayan apocalypse is fucking looming, so what should you do this evening.  Here are three options.

Math the Band is bringing their "electro-spazz" to the Bottleneck.  We interviewed them last week (read it here).  It's sponsored by Wonder Fair.  Agent X-12 is also on the bill.  Here's his bio:

"AGENT X-12 is a cyborg lost 20 years in the future on a random world. The agent’s origin and eye color are unknown. What we do know about Agent X-12 is that he is 5’11” and a fully analog circuit-bending cassette sorcerer."

We found a rare photo of Agent X-12 in action via his FB  page.

Yeah, it's going to be weird.  Visit the FB event page here for lots of links on the bands.


At the Jackpot, Til Willis takes the stage along with a KC band called Appropriate Grammar (Chip: "I bet they'd freak if we spelled their name wrong!).  

The flyer features a kid smoking while sitting near a chicken.

 Jackpot Juke: featuring Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy / Appropriate Grammar / Beach Team
And Chip is finding himself strangely aroused by Appropriate Grammar's Lies and Stories album cover:

We also like the description of their sound from their FB page.

"Their songs sway between The Black Keys' howling guitars and country roots, into Clash territory with funky basslines and fast drumming before spiraling into a collage of Explosions In The Sky's sonic depth and The Pixies' pop sensibilities with just a hint of Nick Drake's eerie and well-written vocals."


And across the river at Frank's, Monday Movie Night continues with...


Somehow we suspect the night will culminate in a van-surfing contest along Locust Street.  Be careful out there, scenesters!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekend Picks: KC Invades LFK, Shoegazin', Good Deeds, and Drunken Shopping at Sip & Shop,

Well, it looks like KC is taking over LFK for some of this week's best shows.

The dance floor is always hopping when KC's HoD (Hearts of Darkness) hit the stage.  They're at the Bottleneck tonight for a KJHK sponsored show along with the ever-wacky Dean Monkey and the Dropouts and DJ and the Drums.  The evening is also a "retro prom," so dress accordingly, you sloppy scenesters! Visit the FB event page here .

KJHK presents Hearts of Darkness

And the freakiest flyer of the week award goes to KC's Hillary Watts Riot, who will bring their "freak pop" to the stage at the Jackpot this evening along with Dream Wolf and Dolls on Fire.  Check Hillary Watts Riot out on FB here .


In other music news, don't forget the early Replay matinee this eve with Sona.  It's gonna be a shoe-gazin' good time!  Re-read our Wednesday interview with the band over here.

And you may have missed yesterday's very funny special X-mas message from The Noise FM.  Find it here.  Their 4th annual Noise For Toys benefit is Saturday evening at the Replay.


Shopping tends to bore us senseless, but the one local holiday shopping event we can always get behind is Sip & Shop, where local artists sell their wares while shoppers (and artists) swill cocktails.  It takes place on Saturday from 6:00 to 10:00 in the ballroom at Pachamama's and, according to the FB event page here, a whopping 190 of your hippest friends will be there.

We've been particularly excited this week about BARRR's new work which offers a distinctly BARRR-ian (BARRR-esque?) take on classic (and not-so-classic) album covers.   They're selling quick, so "get at him" (as he would say) and place your bids.  See a full gallery over at his Tumblr and check out a few of our favorites right here:

Chip:  "My favorite is the Barbara Mandrell one, because I'm pretty sure there's a dick reference in it.  Classic BARRR.  So playful and phallic!"

But the most likely to be controversial, we suspect, is the Go-Gos cover. 

Barbara Mandrell x BARRR “Live w/ a pink microphone”

Sip & Shop