Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Life With Dead Beat, Part II: Interview with Haley Baptiste

Interviews like the one posted below are the sort of thing that prompt people to post comments expressing their confusion over what they just read. But to be fair, I kinda guess that Andrew would play straight man to Haley's joker. It's irreverent and quirky encounters like these that keep music journalism from being an dry and tedious bore.
Sadly, we never got around to talking about Felt or Maximum Joy.

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Your dad (pictured above)used to play in the Beatnik Flies. Did you decide to start playing the drums because of him?
Not that it's any of your Zagat rated businesses, but my dad still plays in the Beatnik Flies.
I never had a choice in deciding to play music, seein' as how come along the lines of for the first 5 years of my life I spoke only in tongues and Beatles lyrics which led my old ma and pa to do the only thing they could think of: which was to...(Ed. note-abruptly cuts off)
And then I never stopped playing music again, tin can telephones notwithstanding...

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How do you write songs with Dead Beat?

1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round mixing bowl or deep 8-inch square container with foil. Spread ice cream in container, packing firmly. Cover and freeze 8 hours or until firm.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x8 inch pan.
3. Prepare cake mix with egg and almond extract. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven according to package instructions, until center of cake springs back when lightly touched.
5. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar, salt and sugar until stiff peaks form.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment or heavy brown paper. Place cake in center. Turn molded ice cream out onto cake. Quickly and prettily spread meringue over cake and ice cream, all the way to paper to seal.
Return to freezer 2 hours.
7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
8. Bake the Alaska on the lowest shelf, 8 to 10 minutes, or until
meringue is lightly browned. Serve at once

Would you ever consider recruiting other musicians to play with you and Andrew?

I don't know that I would recruit any other musicians to play with us,
per se, but I am definitely interested in recruiting anyone associated
with the Nurgle Death Guard Marine Army to join our group.
Also, the ineffable Samuel Chotzinoff once said "... it is impossible to deny that his music is a soporific, by the side of which the telephone book is a strong cup of coffee." I think that explains a lot, too.

Right now you play on a miniature set, thus giving your group a distinctly twee sound. Would you ever make moves to a full-size kit? Or would that change the dynamic of Dead Beat?
I.would. Never.

Why do you think that a lot of girls don't play in bands. Do you believe it's social conditioning or a genuine lack of interestt?

I think I'd like to focus more on why more boys don't play in bands, because I feel like the number of boys getting inspired by Led Zeppelin is shrinking at an alarming rate. Can you answer that? Since you're a boy? You know?

Well I don't stuff my jeans like Robert Plant used to, so I guess I can't respond. Regardless, do you have any predictions for 2008? What trend is going to sweep the underground music world and render everything that we currently enjoy obsolete?

I have a lot of predictions for 2008.
1. I will cut my hair
2. You will cut your hair
And listen... Just because I alone am privy to the next big trend that is going to sweep the underground music world doesn't mean everyone else should be. I worked really hard for my omniscience.

Five groups that you'd like to see reunite?
I cant answer that right now. (See third question down).

Ok, Five favorite songs right now ?
1. Crazy Town – whatever that song is called (ed. note-"Butterfly")
2. Velocity Girl – "Crazy Town"
3. Primal Scream – "Velocity Girl"
4. Motley Crue – "Primal Scream"
5. That plan didn't work out cause I hit a dead end. More songs should be titled "Motley Crue"
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Every now and then you'll tell stories about visiting Brighton, England. Would you like to share a little something about your time spent in that dreary seaside town?
Fine!!! Then tell me a little bit about your other side projects
Right now I'm working on an essay I hope to get published. It's titled Pussy Control :How Prince Changed the Face of Sexual Politics with One Greatest Hits Album. It's about five groups I'd like to see reunite

Friday, October 19, 2007

My Life with Dead Beat

Dead Beat were once known as The Husbands, and this created an incredible amount of confusion, as there is a band from California with the same name. When they played their first show at the Wonderland Bar in Washington DC, I remember overhearing some people say “Oh this isn’t the right group at all!” Needless to say they soon changed their name to the Ex-Husbands before settling on Dead Beat.

Dead Beat is Andrew Bucket (guitar, vocals) and Haley Baptiste (drums,vocals). Both are longtime locals of the DC Metro area and are two of the friendliest faces that you can encounter in the late night party circuit. It is always a pleasure running into either of them. And living where I do, it happens quite often.

Because of internet issues and scheduling conflicts, I was only able to interview Andrew. Be on the lookout for an in depth conversation about Felt, Maximum Joy and all things weird and wonderful with the one and only Haley.

Until then, I present to you Señor Bucket:
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First of all, how did you guys get together in the first place? When did it all start?

Well I met Haley at Wonderland in early 2005. It was a very different bar then. I think it was a very different DC then, too. Now you have "cool," yuppies.
Anyway, we were snowed in one weekend at Haley's house and we found a program that recorded music on her cousin's Mac. We were in the basement and there was a drum-set from Haley's youth and immediately next to it was her Dad's guitar. So one-two, we're a band. It was a joke though, we put it on MySpace for our friends to laugh about, but they took it seriously. Then we took it seriously.

Let's talk about your influences. I have to say that you two have pretty eclectic taste in music and it carries over into your work. What got you to pick up instruments and what's keeping you alive right now?
Well Haley and I have similar taste now, obviously. But I know she's had phases that I did not have. Riot grrrl being one of them.
The first band I ever freaked out over was Green Day and I was 11. That's a cute one I'm willing to admit. When I was 18 or 19 I heard the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still listen to them. Mazzy Star is a band I think I'll listen to for the rest of my life. Other bands that I really like are The Popguns, Velocity Girl (from our hometown!), also the original DC scene- The Beatnik Flies, the Slickee boys, and Tru Fax and the Insaniacs.
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What music do you dislike right now?

I'm not sure. I don't know if I entirely hate any kind of music. I thought I hated The Killers, even though I'd never heard anything by them, but then I was in the car and heard some song and I thought it was an old New Order b-side…turns out…it was them. I was very embarrassed when Haley Googled the lyrics and told me who it was.
Anyway, I tend to get bored with music more than anything and the most boring music I can think of is Animal Collective.

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Alright, look...the indie rock duo is hardly a new or novel approach to music. What is Dead Beat bringing to the game that the White Stripes, Mates of State or the Ravonettes aren't?
Well, duh. We know our roots. The only comparison I would reject is the Moldy Peaches, because we take our music seriously. I would say that we come from a more shoe-gaze/psychedelic school of rock and roll. The White Stripes do the blues, Beat Happening did pop, and we do pop, but we can also sing well. So we have that going for us. I think we're better than those bands to be honest. I mean we're a pretty cute little duo. I think Haley really puts me in context, and I put her in context. Our binary is really, really radiant—and it even blurs a little cuz we're both pretty queer.

Y'all have played a decent number of shows in the DC area. What do you enjoy about it? What do you hate?
I hate worrying about people coming to the show. DC is a small town and most of the clubs are booked by one guy who wants dance bands that are dressed like Ritchie Tenenbaum. So if you have an off-night and nobody comes, that could mean curtains for you at one of these places. But the Velvet Lounge and Wonderland are good to us and I'm getting to the point where I don't really want to play anywhere else unless they offer us the royal treatment, and even then I just don't know.
I also like I love playing with Ra Ra Rasputin. I also love meeting girls and getting free drinks, but my favorite thing, my absolute favorite thing is when you have a new song that you just know is going to be a hit, and you play it really well, and everyone loves it. That's what it's all about.

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Five groups that you'd like to see reunite
Orange Juice
The Velvet Underground (and I would suggest Mike Watt on bass)
Velocity Girl
Misfits w/ Glen Danzig (of course)
Mazzy Star

Five favorite songs right now
“Shabop Shalom”- Devendra Banhart
“Walking With Jesus” Spacemen 3
“The People I’m Not”- Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
“Ain't No More Cane”- Burt Jansch and Rod Clements
“Black Diamond Halo”- The Beatnik flies w/ Mark Noone from the Slickee Boys

I must say, you two are quite the stylish pair. Would you mind giving away some of your secrets?
I just try to dress like Joe Dolan from the Beatnik Flies or Kim Cane from the Slickee Boys. But, if you don't know them, just read Japanese fashion magazines, it's all about wearing one of everything. Just keep adding things to your outfit, but only one of things that come in pairs. After you have like 25 or 27 things on, you should have a pretty good outfit.

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You guys have written a lot of material since the Shoes EP. When can we expect some new recordings ?

Well the Shoes EP was recorded in one day using the microphone hole on a Mac computer. We have some friends at UMD that are going to give us some free studio time and we will probably record there and release a real album by like, Valentines Day. We haven't picked a title and Haley doesn't know this, but I thought maybe we could call it In Rainbows.

Well, I'm excited to hear what you come up with next. Now, tell me a little bit about your other musical endeavors.

We both record by ourselves, but I haven't heard any of her stuff. Her mom says it's really slow music. I usually make people songs as birthday gifts, or just any old occasion gifts, so I have those and maybe 40 songs I've done alone that are very much copying Marc Bolan's early stuff, even copying Leonard Cohen.
Haley and I had an electronic band called The Wicked Stench and we had a dance hit called Décédée, which is French for deceased.
I also have a band called Women that only plays private shows amongst friends and it's a true-blue shoe-gaze thing with lots of reverb and we do these video projection things while we're playing. Nothing new, but if you're going to imitate anything…ya know?

Do you have any predictions for 2008? What trend is going to sweep the underground music world and render everything that we currently enjoy obsolete?

I've already seen the noise thing get kind of good and I think that's pretty cool for the purpose of tear-down/rebuild philosophy. A good noise band can get down to the rudiments of sound and explode even the tiniest nuance. It's like looking through a microscope. The smart musicians, the really smart ones, smarter than any of us, will cultivate these new ways of making sound and will ultimately devise new paradigms. I heard about an instrument made up of a scanner that measured the luminosity of any object you put in front of it and converted the scan into a tonal value. The guy played it by putting things in front of the scanner and then taking them away, then he put on white gloves and played it with his hands.

Dead Beat @ MySpace
Women @ MySpace

Dead Beat will be performing on Saturday October 20th at the Velvet Lounge. Doors are at 9pm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

SNIPPET The Declining State of Black Entertainment Today: VH1 Hip Hop Awards 2007

This year’s VH-1 Hip Hop Honors was arguably the most tragic excuse of an award show I've seen all year.....and I watched the Oscars, the Grammys and the VMAs. Rather than hammer out a lengthy play by play of last night’s events, I’m going to focus on what I believed to be the biggest embarrassments to the honorees.

During a tribute to the New Jack Swing era, T-Pain huffed his way through the Keith Sweat classic “I Want Her” without his trademark auto-tune. What brain surgeon of a programming director allowed this man to sing live? Not only did I discover that T-Pain has a dreadful voice, but the dude has zero stage presence.

2.Busta Rhymes
It was a cameo on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” that launched Busta Rhymes on a path towards international stardom. If you’ve ever seen a clip of Tribe and Leaders of the New School doing the track on the Arsenio Hall show, it’s pretty evident that a young Trevor Smith was on his way to much bigger things.
To see Busta Rhymes this evening was like seeing a drunk uncle wilin’ out on Tanqueray at a family party. He was fat, sloppy and fucking unintelligible. The man wasn't even trying to rap the verse that bought him fame and fortune. He was just screaming at the top of his lungs. The shit was just sorry.

3.Lupe Fiasco
There is no excuse for anyone to fumble the lyrics to “Electric Relaxation.” Especially not Phife’s verse. Period.

OK there was some good shit that went down.
The Highlights:
*Tracy Morgan rockin' a shearling coat and black Shelltoes.
*KRS-1...always a pleasure, sir.
*Ice-T's Crip-walkin
*Whodini doing “Friends”
*Harvey Keitel introducing Snoop Dogg
*A Tribe Called Quest closin’ out the show. Yes, Jarobi was there too. And yo, I had no idea that Phife was that short. Or maybe it's because Q-Tip is just really really tall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


When I was 18, I received a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. At the time I was playing in my first group, SCAM, and I decided to get some music that was supposed to “inspire me.” I decided to get a copy of the Ramones’ compilation All the Stuff and More Volume 1. I heard so much about them from my friends and I always liked hearing their music in skateboard videos (Plan B, Second Hand Smoke, slam section) so I figured why not!

About a week later, I returned the album and exchanged it for Pink Floyd’s Animals. Thirty years ago, a move like that would be considered treason by many. Thankfully, I was born into a generation that is a lot more open-minded to variety.

To this day, I still don't listen to a lot of punk or hardcore. Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Meatmen, Dead Kennedys, and a handful of others. I'm not nostalgic for the times when I used to listen to those groups obsessively, simply because I thought of them as a springboard. They were, gateway groups. As great as the early 80s was for punk music, there was so much more happening.

But why should I apologize? It's not like people are going to chew me out for admitting that I like Pink Floyd. Hell, The Mars Volta have built their career on some of the more difficult (and frustrating) corners of Pink Floyd's back catalogue. And while they often come off as self-indulgent or even downright awful, you have to admit, their first EP and album were pretty timeless. Summer of 2003, anyone?


PS I'm one of those people who prefers the Clash's later albums (London Calling, Sandinista! and Combat Rock) to their "punk" stuff. Deal with it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why yes, I own this establishment (Part 2)

Part Two of Colonel K as bar owner series!

I'm actually more enthusiastic about numbers 51-100 because the selection is a lot more fun. I feel as though this half of the list includes the albums that would really get a party started. Outkast, Kraftwerk, James Brown, The Jam...they're all present and accounted for.

Sadly, some people didn't like 1-50. One commenter stated:

"But may I suggest you reserve 30 or so of the remaining places for the biggest selling album of each year since 1977. While this may mean you'll be forced to grudgingly purchase albums by the likes of Garth Brooks, it will save you alot of grief from customers not quite accustomed to the off-key caterwauling of the Mars Volta."

I couldn't help but chuckle (and then frown) when I read this. But rather than go into a lengthy rant, I'm going to put it very simply.
I chose these albums for MY fantasy jukebox for the following reasons:
a) These discs than adequately reflect my taste
b) They would attract a clientele that does not view music as wallpaper or background noise.
b) I don't care for Garth Brooks.

Besides, almost none of these albums would count as abraisive or difficult. Some of them may be loud (Slayer, the Jesus and Mary Chain, PIL), but there's nothing tuneless or difficult.

51. At the Drive In “Relationship of Command”
52. Iron Maiden “Number of the Beast”
53. Slayer “Reign in Blood”
54. The Cure “Pornography”
55. James Brown “Live at the Apollo 1962”
56. Three Six Mafia “Most Known Hits”
57. Fela Kuti “Zombie”
58. ABBA “Gold”
59. Gangstarr “Moment of Truth”
60. Ultramagnetic MCs “Critical Beatdown”
61. Portishead “Dummy”
62. De La Soul “3 Feet high and Rising”
63. Peter Gabriel “3 (aka Melt)”
64. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are BlackStar
65. Paul McCartney “Ram”
66. The Pale Fountains “Pacific Street”
67. Gang of Four “Entertainment!”
68. Outkast “ATLiens”
69. Fleetwood Mac “Rumors”
70. U2 “Achtung Baby”
71. Operation Ivy “Operation Ivy”
72. Daft Punk “Daft Punk”
73. RJD2 “Dead Ringer”
74. Notorius BIG “Ready to Die”
75. New Order “Substance”
76. Morrissey “Viva Hate”
77. Madvillian “Madvillany”
78. Lou Reed “Transformer”
79. Kraftwerk “Computer World”
80. The Feelies “Crazy Rhythms”
81. Dead Kennedys “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”
82. Neu! “Neu!”
83. Can “Tago Mago”
84. The Jam “Greatest Hits”
85. The Jesus and Mary Chain “Darklands”
86. The Last Poets “The Last Poets”
87. The Rapture “Echoes”
88. Les Savy Fav “Inches”
89. Ladytron “604”
90. Public Image Ltd. “Metal Box”
91. Ride “Nowhere”
92. Rolling Stones “Some Girls”
93. Serge Gainsbourg “Melody Nelson”
94. Suede “Suede”
95. Blur “Think Tank”
96. Oasis “(What’s the Story?) Morning Glory”
97. The Zombies “Odessy and Oracle”
98. Fela Kuti “ITT”
99. Black Uhuru “Sinsemlia”
100.Steely Dan “Aja”

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why yes, I own this establishment (Part 1)

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Top five dream jobs

1. Music Journalist
2. Staff reporter for major center-left newspaper e.g. New York Times or The Guardian or Le Monde
3. College professor (teaching modern European history)
4. Musician
5. Store owner (music store, unisex boutique, bar or nightclub)

Wonderland, which is located in a leafy section of DC’s Columbia Heights, remains one of the few bars that doesn't make me feel anxious or very, very annoyed. Its well-stocked jukebox makes it the ideal environment for posting up and getting away from your troubles. I was having a drink there this past spring when I decided to draft a list of 100 CDs that I’d want in the jukebox at my bar. For a number of reasons, I never got around to finishing this list.

You know, it is rather unfortunate that I have developed a serious dislike of American customer service. I don’t like the idea of service with a smile because I’ve never been paid a respectable wage to do it. A moody young man such as myself probably wouldn’t make much money in the service industry. Nonetheless, I still dream of the day that I could own a bar, this way it wouldn’t mater how I behaved at work, I’d be the boss!
Until that day comes, this list will remain a fantasy. Oh well.

1. The Clash “Combat Rock”
2. Depeche Mode “Violator”
3. Os Mutantes “A Divina Comédia Ou Ando Meio Desligado”
4. The Smiths “Meat is Murder”
5. Joy Division “Closer”
6. The Faint “Blank Wave Arcade”
7. John Coltrane “A Love Supreme”
8. The Pixies “Bossanova”
9. Echo & The Bunnymen “Ocean Rain”
10. Souls of Mischief “93 Till Infinity”
11. T.Rex “Electric Warrior”
12. The Beatles “Revolver”
13. Spacemen 3 “Perfect Prescription”
14. The Brian Jonestown Massacre “Give it Back”
15. The Dandy Warhols “Come Down”
16. Pink Floyd “Animals”
17. Happy Mondays “Bummed”
18. Minor Threat “Complete Discography”
19. The Meatmen “Studpowercock: The Touch and Go Years”
20. Roxy Music “For Your Pleasure”
21. Jay-Z “The Blueprint”
22. J-Dilla Donuts”
23. King Gheedorah “Take Me To Your Leader”
24. A Tribe Called Quest “The Low End Theory”
25. Duran Duran “Rio”
26. Upsetters “Double Seven”
27. Talking Heads “Fear of Music”
28. Orange Juice “Rip It Up ”
29. Japan “Tin Drum”
30. Primal Scream “Screamadelica”
31. Wire “Chairs Missing”
32. Wu-Tang Clan “Enter the Wu-36 Chambers”
33. Ghostface Killah “Supreme Clientele”
34. Guided By Voices “Alien Lanes”
35. Supergrass “Supergrass is 10”
36. DJ Shadow “Endtroducing”
37. Felt “Absolute Classic Masterpieces Vol 1”
38. British Sea Power “The Decline of British Sea Power”
39. Brian Eno “Here Come The Warm Jets”
40. Boogie Down Productions “Criminal Minded”
41. Television “Marquee Moon”
42. Love “Forever Changes”
43. The Misfits “Collection One”
44. Q and Not U “Different Damage”
45. Stevie Wonder “Songs in The Key of Life”
46. Grace Jones “Nightclubbin’”
47. Pavement “Terror Twighlight”
48. David Bowie “Scary Monsters”
49. Stereolab “Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements”
50. TV on the Radio “Return to Cookie Mountain”

(Part two coming at the end of this week)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's A Celebration, Bitches: Ryan O'Neil and 100dBs Album Release Party

When 100dBs told me that he was going to complete an album with Ryan O'Neil in exactly one year, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and snicker. After all, this was a man who was notorious for his flagrant refusal to adhere to any sort of deadline. While he was "working" on Brenner's Breaks Vol. 1, he would disappear for hours on end, only to return and continue evading his duties by watching an entire season of Home Movies or The State. As a result, BBV1, which was slated for release in early summer 2006, wasn't available until February 2007.
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Thankfully (and surprisingly), moving to New York City has allowed 100dBs to settle into a quieter and more productive lifestyle. In a similar change of pace, Ryan O'Neil has whole-heartedly devoted himself to the grind of an up and coming MC. Or, as he once put it, "no more wasting time and money on unnecessary goods and or pointless bullshit." The end result of their collective sacrifice and newly found time-management skills is The Adventures of the One Hand Bandit and Slum Computer Wizard.

But this essay isn't about the album, the production, the rhymes, Prince Po's guest spot or even the artwork....It's about the party.

Antique Lounge is located in the downstairs of China 1, a popular East Village nightspot. This particular venue is popular with Theory Events because of the friendly staff, fine facilities and prime location. When I heard that the album release party was going to be hosted there, I realized that the boys were 100% serious about celebrating in style.

You know what, I had planned on wearing a blazer or something fly to the event, but I had to change my plans upon checking the weekend forecast for NYC. Besides, my travel companions Pat "P-Diddy" Dulany and Gabby already had the grown and sexy fashion angle covered.
As the new album blasted over the PA, people began crowd into the dimly lit basement. I was more than pleased to see friends from the suburbs, University of Maryland, Jersey and Brooklyn. And as an added bonus, the families of both artists were in attendance. As mushy as it sounds, you couldn't help but notice them beaming with pride and joy.
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Around 11pm, most of the crowd moved into next room, where they were treated to DJ sets by 100dBs and It's Overture (as well as a special late night performance by Ryan). Thanks to the $20 open bar, my memories of the night are a bit fuzzy. So rather than attempt to piece together the stories, I'll let you examine the photos yourself.
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Support good music:BUY THE ALBUM HERE



All the best,
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Colonel K

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A People's History of Q and Not U

Q: Who was biggest musical influence during the last seven years?
A: Q and Not U

Everything about them was incredible. Their sound, their style, their equipment, everything.
Considering that they were such a tremendous part of my musical upbringing, it's hard to believe that two years have passed since they disbanded.
I didn't attend Q and Not U's last two shows in DC, but I do miss them. Since their demise, DC has become rather bland. Even worse, an increasing number of national acts are scheduling their mid-Atlantic gigs in cities like Baltimore and Richmond. But I'm not here to complain about the habits of regional booking agents, I'm here to remember the good times I had listening to an amazing group.
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(Photo by Matt Alcock for Zumonline)

December 3rd 2000 WMUC Studios, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.
(with Penfold)

Up to this point, most of my show experience was in the blah suburban punk/ska/emo scene of suburban New York . I came to the show and found a world that I'd never seen before. Pavement chic had yet to be co-opted by the mainstream, so everyone looked novel and interesting. Everyone else was dressed in dark straight leg pants, vintage dress shirts or comically undersized t-shirts. The haircuts were homemade; the attitudes were detached, yet cool. But fashion aside, I had no idea what I was in store for upon entering the live room at the school radio station.
Celebrating the release of their debut album, No Kill, No Beep Beep , the quartet's energy shocked me in the way that a great band is supposed to. Sure, they indulged in a couple of indie clichés, like awkward political banter and performing by the light emitted from a badly tuned television. But who cared?!! The room was just throbbing with good vibes. By the end of that show, I decided that it was time for a serious musical about face. Everything I had learned up to that point had to go.

October 30th 2001 Wilson Center. Washington DC
(With Virginia Black Lung, Page 99, Del Cielo, Teddy Duchamp's Army, Crispus Attucks, Strike Anywhere and Tim)

The closing of the Wilson Center was one of many signs that change was coming to the Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights. Today the area is awash with hipsters, young families and real estate agents. But as recently as six years ago it was a mostly Black and Hispanic enclave that was still reeling from the 1991 race riots. Hanging around the Wilson Center was often a frightening affair, even for the most hardened locals. But all fears aside, the people came out in droves to attend the last hurrah for the church basement made famous by Bad Brains and Fugazi.
Q and Not U were scheduled to play second to last; a pretty outlandish decision on the part of the organizers if you ask me. The lads were energetic and political enough to play for the rabidly socialist-chic harDCore crowd. But they were nowhere nearly as violent,hard-headed and macho as most of the other bands. Then again, it would've been a little obvious (and boring) to slot them back to back with College Park's indie pop representatives for the evening, Del Cielo.

April 12 2002 SIS Lounge, American University, Washington DC
(With Nazca Lines, Black Eyes and Orthrealm)

By this time, bassist Matt Borlick had exited the scene. Surprisingly, the band's flexibility flourished when they decided to continue as a trio. Adopting the "total football" approach to their unique brand of post-punk, frontmen Harris Klahr and Chris Richards swapped guitar, bass and keyboards duties. Drummer John Davis complimented and anchored his bandmates in a clever and melodic fashion.
The opening groups set the stage nicely for what was to be an exciting adventure in cerebral music. It should be noted that around this time, DC was safely inoculated against the virus that was "New York Rock Revival." Not a single group on the bill performed using the standard Guitar, Guitar, Bass, Drums lineup. Take for example, the instrumental duo Orthrealm. Their avant-jazz meets thrash metal sound was both intimidating and breathtaking at the same time. They played at an ear splitting volume that tested the limits of even the most hardened metal fans (of which there were several).
By the time Q and Not U began setting up, I wasn't sure if I could handle any more excitement. The group's new found love of the melodica, synth bass and hand percussion had a few people in the crowd stare at them quizzically. Nonetheless, I noticed the crowd shuffle and groove with each note of new material. Much like what was probably happening up in Brooklyn, we were rediscovering the power of dance.
In a thrilling nerd moment, I actually got to talk to the band after the show. I found them cordial, friendly and down to talk serious about their equipment. But that's very much a DC thing. I've since learned that it's not surprising to see one of your teenage heroes standing next to you at a record store or riding on a train during the morning commute.

Sept 6th 2002 Black Cat, Washington DC
(With Scene Creamers and Aloha)

I don't remember much about the evening except purchasing a t-shirt and an advance copy of Different Damage. I also remember walking away from Aloha's set feeling a little bit woozy and thinking about how cool vibraphones sound.
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(Photo by Mike Brennan. University of Delaware February 15th 2003)

Oct 26th 2002 Black Cat, Washington DC
(With Ink and The Mercury Program)

This performance at the Black Cat stands out in my mind for two reasons. Firstly, it was the only time I've ever heard "No Damage Nocturne" played live and secondly, it was the first time I met my friend Caitlin.
Caitlin was studying English at George Washington University. Somehow, we got to chatting between sets and eventually exchanged contact information while waiting for the Metro at the end of the night. What began as a casual encounter evolved into a warm and quirky friendship. Over the years we've keep in contact and regularly meet up to laugh about our troubles.
I saw her two weeks ago when my band played a show at Niagara in the East Village. A day or two later, she sent me a text message:

"Your band made me smile for the first time since Q and Not U broke up."

Needless to say, great bands make for great friends.

July 11th 2003 The Knitting Factory. New York, NY
(with Aloha and Palomar)

The first time I'd seen Q and not U outside of the DC area. It was a bit strange, because for the longest time I felt as though none of my friends knew or cared about them. Little did I know that their relentless touring was winning them rabid fans around the country. So it was pretty amazing to come into the city with some of my friends from Rockland County and see them get wild to a band that I'd been hyping for what seemed like ages.
I seem to recall accidentally licking a large sweaty girl's arm while singing along to the last song. Yuck.

May 14th 2004 Black Cat Washington, DC
You could tell that the boys were beginning to grow weary of life on the road. Nonetheless they had enough enthusiasm and stamina to preview new material for the hometown crowd. The stage was cluttered with all sorts of new toys. I had always been envious of their equipment; particularly Harris' fireglo Rickenbacker 330. But I had to fight from drooling over their newly acquired toys, which included a Yamaha DX7 and several vintage analog delay pedals.
The keyboards and hand percussion, which had been used sparingly on Different Damage, were now being used as primary instruments. The result was busy yet danceable music that could not possibly be lumped in with anything that was happening 200 miles north. The band put on a terrific show, but you really had to wonder how much further they could take it.

July 16th 2005 Siren Fest. Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
(with Spoon, Mates of State, Brendan Benson, VHS or Beta, Dungen, Q and Not U, The Dears)

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(Photo by Rafe Baron)
In retrospect, I regret not going to see Q and Not U's final shows at the Black Cat, because Siren Fest is more of a happening than a concert. Besides, the sound is usually so atrocious that you don't even feel like you're attending a concert.
Even more tragic was the fact that my mind was in another place for the majority of that day. I had spent the better part of the summer going back and forth between NY and DC. All the shuttling back and forth was beginning taking its toll on me. I watched Q and Not U perform but I wasn't all there. I wonder how the band felt knowing that their final performances in New York and DC were only a few months away. Were they anxious? Were they relieved? Like I said before, if I really wanted to know, it wouldn't be a problem to ask.


Matt Borlick: Works for the Washington City Paper
John Davis: Plays guitar and sings for breezy pop group Georgie James. They will be releasing an album on Saddle Creek Records this fall.
Harris Klahr: Now resides in Brooklyn, NY and will be releasing an album under the name President this fall.
Chris Richards: Released the album Ris Paul Ric and is currently part of the funk-pop trio Bullets (formerly Rubber Bullets). He is also one of the hosts of Crowd Control, a dance party hosted on the first Thursday of each month at DC9.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

How the Hipster DJ is killing (Yes, I said it) underground music

"It's always been the same format. It's the casual amateur DJ night. It's become such a feature of the landscape, that it has almost replaced bands."
Ian Svenonius

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In an earlier essay I briefly lamented the rising influence of amateur DJs nights. After a recent trip to NYC with my band Ra Ra Rasputin, I've realized that that this is an even bigger problem than I thought.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the hipsters. I adore the fact trendy kids in New York, LA and London helped put straight leg jeans back on the shelves and took Limp Bizkit off the radio. But I abhor the bourgeois and blatantly commercial narcissism that has come to define the attitudes of so many young people in these circles, particularly in New York. Even more frightening is the fact that New York's status as a cultural capital, makes these attitudes incredibly appealing to all those seeking to emulate the looks and lexicon of "cool New York kids."

"Why do you pay them any mind? Why do you even care?"

Because I believe that the amateur DJ night is a step in the wrong direction for youth culture, particularly in New York City. I really take offense when people make snide comments like "DJ-ing is easy" or "You, like, don't even have to do anything, all you have to do is get some CDs or a computer and just play anything." So what if my opinions are a bit conservative; I am a firm believer in the idea that a DJ is an individual who can scratch, beatmatch and throw in a few surprises. This is why I prefer people who spin hip-hop, reggae or house. These individuals have to provide a continuous flow of music when they're behind the decks. Not just anybody can do it. It takes practice, dedication and a very good ear for detail.
Unsurprisingly, the arrival of the amateur has not democratized DJ-ing, it has bastardized the art form. These young men and women bring nothing new to the table. They are human jukeboxes whose sole purpose is to fuel the self-congratulatory nature of these useless nightlife events.

In cities up and down the East Coast, I keep reading about venues devoting fewer and fewer nights for bands and more nights for dance parties. It seems as though the hipsters throwing these parties are thoroughly uninterested in contributing to the artistic legacy of their generation. It could be argued that the punk/DIY ethics that created Anglo-American indie music have been tossed out the window. The after-party has become more important than the show! It's cooler to be photographed in front of the wall at Don Hill's on a Saturday night than to actually play in a group!

Therefore, it doesn't make much sense when you notice that people claim to yearn for the look and the feel of Lower Manhattan circa 1978-1982. People can't seem to find the time to pick up a paintbrush, a pen or a guitar. Today's hipsters are leaving nothing for tomorrow because they are too busy living for today. And in doing so, they have failed to set themselves apart from the khaki pants wearing crowd that they routinely bash.

So is there no hope left? Am I doomed to see my birthplace become as vapid Hollywood? Is DC next?
I'm a firm believer in the idea that new challenges create new opportunities. People have been hosting guerrilla gigs all over Brooklyn and Queens. There are still a number of small bars and clubs which still have the equipment and the dedication to promoting live music several times a week. Down here in DC, the hardcore punks and college kids are still putting on house shows. And all of these are positive developments. If people aren't constantly reminded that they are capable of creating music and performing it live, we are in danger of returning to the days when people thought that bands just fell out of the sky.

As for the hipsters? I'm all for fashion and looks. But when having the right look and being at the right places takes precedent over creativity, that's where I start asking questions. Why not create something that is both challenging and cool, rather than running around every night trying to be ironic and detached from a society whose values you've shamelessly co-opted?

Next week: How Q and Not U changed my life.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Failed musician turned failed journalist turned musician

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I originally started this blog because my attempts at starting a band had been going nowhere for three years. From summer 2004 until early spring 2007, my musical career was nonexistent. Because of my travels, graduate school and other distractions, I was unable or unwilling to focus on making music with people.
Instead, I spent a lot of time just listening to a wide variety of stuff. I did all the stuff that one could do without relying on other people. I finally learned how to play decent guitar solos. I learned how to make loops on my laptop. Anything that didn't require making phone calls or waiting around for someone.
But most importantly, I spent a lot of writing about music. I've always enjoyed doing research, so I decided to start writing essays about my favorite bands. I began publishing this blog and started to get some really strong feedback. Hell, for a little while I was hoping that I'd end up like Bob Stanley from St. Etienne: I hoped that after a career in journalism I would eventually get around to starting a group again. Unfortunately, I found out that most publications were uninterested in people like me and my school work was becoming a lot more demanding, so ultimately the music suffered.

Then, out of nowhere, I joined a band.
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I met Brock through Craigslist. The ad he placed was supposed to be a joke, but apparently the bands that I listed were eclectic (and cool) enough for him to take notice and send a response citing his serious desire to play music. Brock then introduced me to Anna, who happened to bartend at Wonderland, our favorite local watering hole. We got together on a rainy night in March and jammed for a few hours while swapping police stories and drinking cheap beer. At the end of the night, Brock noted that he knew a drummer called Ken. Turns up that Ken knew of a decent practice space near Catholic University.
Two months later we had written about 10 songs and were rehearsing at least twice a week. And last Thursday, we played our first show to a packed house at Wonderland.

When people ask me "What do you play?" my response is usually pretty long winded. Ra Ra Rasputin is unique because we use a rotating squad system. That is, everyone, except for the drummer, switches instruments regularly. Anna and Brock swap vocal, guitar and keyboard duties. I tend to go back and forth between guitar and bass, though recently I've become very fond of playing bass. As a rhythm guitarist, I always followed the drummer, so switching to bass was not terribly difficult. This is not to say that I'm not putting in work. On the contrary, I've been practicing my scales and Paul McCartney faces so much that I've arrived at a point where I enjoy playing bass more than guitar.

It's a shame that when I'm playing in a group, I tend to listen to a lot less hip-hop and electronic music. In that aspect, I suppose that I'm a bit of a rockist. But this is not to say that I have conventional aspirations for this band. The minimalism of ESG and the intricate funkiness of Talking Heads during their Brian Eno period have played a huge role in shaping my style of composition and performance for Ra Ra Rasputin. I adore Tina Weymouth's bass playing so much that I've been scanning E-Bay for an affordable Fender Mustang short-scale bass. Unfortunately when you've got no scratch, you have to deal with what you can borrow or afford (SIGH).
As per guitarists, I started listening to the Smiths again in order to get an idea of the kinds of sounds one can conjure up when playing a Rickenbacker 360 through a Roland JC-120 amplifier. I always enjoyed Johnny Marr's style of playing and arranging, even if it's impossible to replicate (closest anyone ever came was Bernard Butler on the first Suede album). It's frustrating at times because I can't really practice at my house, but that's nothing new.

Song writing in the band tends to be a mostly democratic affair. Anna and Brock are the group's primary lyricists, and they will often come to practice with a basic melody and song structure for the compositions. Most of the arranging, however, is done by the group. In some cases, songs grow organically out of lengthy jam sessions during practice. Someone will do a cool bass riff, or a guitar lick, something...and eventually it becomes a song.
I don't sing because I haven't bought in any of the songs I've written over the years. I have a lot of stuff was never used by SCAM and the Norm and the Shake. But I'm still not 100 % comfortable about introducing completed original material. At this point, I'm a lot more comfortable just working on the music and the arrangements.

When we played live last week, I was beyond happy once I plugged in and got playing. But during the three hours before our performance, I was anxious and miserable. I tend to get really anxious and pissed off before going on stage because, well, nothing ever goes right. People disappear, cables get lost, microphones don't work, etc. But once all that nonsense is settled and you set foot on stage, it's a wonderful feeling. I still get really nervous about playing guitar on stage. Mostly because I'm afraid of what people like me will think. You know,those people who pay attention to every little sonic detail. People like me.

I hope to play more shows and eventually get around to recording. Right now, all we have is a Tascam 4 track and a mixer so the recordings will probably be pretty lo-fi. Nonetheless, I do believe that it's possible to use our technological constraints to our advantage. It'll force us to be creative. Plus I could finally get my Lee Perry/George Martin/Brian Eno producer groove on....

Ra Ra Rasputin will be playing on the 14th of July with the Husbands @ Velvet Lounge in Washington DC. For more information, please visit www.ra-ra-ra-ra.blogspot.com. MySpace page coming.....eventually.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Ain’t Getting’ No Grape: Living it up in New York with 100dBs and Ryan O’Neil: March 23rd-25th 2007

My most sincere apologies for the delay of this posting. Please see below for details and relevant updates
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The 45-minute trip from my house in Washington DC to Sykesville, MD is a boring and familiar one. But on this particular Friday morning, it was a race against time. It was my duty to pick my girlfriend Laura, run some errands, park the car and hustle to downtown to catch an 11:30 bus to NYC. If everything went according to plan, we would arrive in midtown Manhattan around 5pm and meet up Dan “100dBs” Brenner at work. The two of them were booked to perform at the Knitting Factory on Saturday night, and a small cabal of us from DC/MD had arranged to crash at his place for two nights and attend the performance.

For most of the morning, it seemed as though my plan was working smoothly. I’d gotten gas, picked up Laura, and was making good time overall. Of course, fate had to intervene and I was cursed with a series of delays on MD Route 29. As the clock struck 10:20AM, I realized that I had no shot at making the 11:30 bus. Translation: our departure would have to be delayed until noon. Sure, it was only a half hour’s difference, but I was pissed off because my plans had been thrown into total disarray. And because I am a petty man, I took this particular inconvenience very personally.
In spite of the delays, we were able to board the bus without incident. Normally, I can be a very talkative fellow on long trips, but I was still suffering from a really bad cough (which later developed into a rather serious infection), so I wasn’t really saying much. Laura was not pleased with my lengthy silences and expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation by sulking and giving me the evil eye.
After hellish delays on I-95 near Newark, NJ, we entered Manhattan and quickly made moves downtown.We found 100dBs and Patrick Dulany (of Francis Estate fame) having drinks at Niagara, a popular East Village nightspot. Seated with the dynamic duo was Sam, a Brooklyn Law student who attended the same high school as 100dBs. He was a tall beatnik lookin’ fellow who bore a passing resemblance to MC Serch. Because he is such a garrulous and inviting fellow, my man pulled over a couple of stools and invited Miss Laura and I to have a seat.While sippin' on a freshly poured Guinness, Sam enthusiastically explained to me why he was working with dBs and Ryan. It was refreshing to hear a young person talk about creating something and using a venue to promote artistic performance, as opposed to flogging a series of self-congratulatory popularity contests that now define Lower Manhattan nightlife.
After a lively dinner at nearby 7A, our gang made moves to Sam’s apartment in Alphabet City. The rest of the evening was spent passing blunts and watching NCAA basketball. Because most of us were/are public university students, we were all keen to find out the final scores. This may seem underwhelming for a first night back in New York, but it had been a really long day and some down time was absolutely necessary. Around 1am, we decided that we'd had enough of James Brown mixes and watching the Gators coast to another championship. A car service was flagged down and we made the first of many trips back to Brooklyn.
From the real estate perspective, Sunset Park is rather unremarkable. There are no cool warehouses, hip bars and or storefront art galleries. It is in this decidedly ho-hum immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn that you can find the residence of 100dBs and Meg. They share a two-bedroom apartment that is littered with canvases, back issues of Fader, and endless crates of vinyl. This would be our home base until Sunday afternoon.

Having spent most of the night coughing, I was far from well rested. Tragically, I woke up at 6 AM and couldn't fall back asleep. I was pissed because I had promised to take Laura downtown and now I was restless and feeling worse than I had the day before. Making matters worse, 100dBs could not decide whether or not he wanted to go around the corner and get a haircut. Two hours had gone by and we were still at the crib. Realizing that Time=$, me and Laura decided to groom and hit the road in order to prevent the passage of any more idle time. Upon making our plan known to our hosts, we jumped on the R train and headed to SoHo to rendezvous with the one and only Melissa Friedman.
We found Mel-1 at Supreme, an upscale skate shop located on Lafayette Street. Ms Friedman is one of the few people I know who can talk about the history of Lower Manhattan without the bullshit nostalgia that is conjured up by a lot of our friends. For next couple of hours we walked in and out of boutiques as Melissa spit some classic stories about long gone record stores, squats and homeless folk.
After grabbing a quick lunch from a small Israeli takeaway, we posted up in Tomkins Square Park to watch the skateboarders. We were particularly amused by a small Asian kid who was there with his mother. He was no older than 4, but he was determined as hell. Every time he fell down, he got right back up and started pushing around, paying no mind to the controlled acrobatics of the older boys. I sometimes wish skating was still that fun for me.
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By 5pm, the sky had grown dark and it began drizzling. It was becoming painfully apparent that we could no longer be outdoors without coats. We decided to jet back to the subway and avoid getting soaked by the impending downpour.As we approached Union Square, I spotted two men, one black, one white, arguing loudly at the corner:

"Yo man, I told you I wanted wheat, what the fuck is this nonsense."

"You said originally that you wanted white. So that’s what I got you!"

"Nah man, that's out. Fuck all that mess, I said that I wanted wheat, how are you gonna bring me this shit and expect me to take you seriously."

After a quick analysis of the situation, I arrived at two possible conclusions. Either bro man was really serious about the nutritional content of his sandwich OR this was a poorly coded argument about an illicit transaction gone awry. No matter which way you flipped it, whitey was not getting out of this one easily. You could see the lump forming in his throat as he tried to talk his way out of an increasingly difficult situation.

Laura and I returned to the crib around 5:30pm, only to find Pat Dulany sprawled out on the couch watching an episode of Scrubs. I was exhausted, but there were no more seats because the old lady had passed out on the only available couch. I shrugged my shoulders and decided to relax in the kitchen by reading magazines and drinking green tea. Cripes, my throat was killing me.
About an hour and half later, the doorbell rang and in came none other than Ryan O’Neil and his mother. Ryan had just gotten his braids redone and was glowing with that pre-show radiance. His mother, who looked absolutely stunning, had the sort of charm and eloquence that rivaled girls half her age. But rather than try to play Daddy Cool with my friend’s Jamaican queen of a mama, I politely excuse myself and made moves to grab a quick dinner from a nearby tacqueria.
After dinner and a little bit of pre-gaming in the kitchen, everybody got dressed and prepared for departure. There was no rush to get to Knitting Factory, but most of us wanted to get the trip out of the way and get the party started. Around 8pm, me, Laura, 100dBs, Ryan, Pat, Meg and her brother Tyler piled into an oversized taxi and made moves to the show.
100dBs was scheduled to perform twice that night. First as a solo act and second as a DJ for Ryan's five song set. As he began to warm up, friends and cohorts from NY and Maryland began to trickle in. Kyle Decker and Tom 4 arrived with a sizable Jersey mob in tow. Our girl Lisa, also of College Park infamy, decided to take a break from her 60 hour work week to enjoy a night of hard drinking with a couple of buddies from uptown. Oh shit, even the infamous Ginger Pubed Bringer of the Ruckus, Timmy E balled up from Philly.And of course the ever-popular one-hand bandit, Ryan surrounded himself with a army of friends as he sipped tea to in preparation of his performance.
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I've seen 100dBs DJ more times that I can remember, but as of recently I've been really impressed. On this night, he blessed the crowd with a fine mixture of hiphop, reggae soul and the occasional Colonel K not-so-obscure favorite (e.g. the Buddy 12" mix by De La Soul) By the end of his set, the basement was becoming packed and sweaty. It was the Francis Estate all over again.
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Tragically, the next three hours were an exercise in pure misery. It’s rather shameful to think that New York, the home of hip-hop, could produce so much 2nd and 3rd class talent. Then again, it’s a tad unfair to place such a hefty burden on 19, and 20 year-old MCs. But Lord have mercy, a these guys were just plain awful.Thankfully a steady intake of alcohol and a never-ending stream of new and interesting people kept me entertained.
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Around 1230, my patience was beginning to wear thin. I was in the middle of talking to a new friend when I noticed Ryan jump to the stage and Dan creep behind the decks. Where previous acts had failed to captivate me, Ryan commanded my attention with the ferociousness of a South American dictator.
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He and 100dBs delivered a 20-minute long set that packed a real wallop. It was incredible; Ryan had the whole crowd singing along to “She Got A Body” and “Clap Your Hands.” Next thing you know he had girls dancing on stage with him. It sorta reminded me of the last few times I saw Ghostface.
A recent review of Brenner’s Breaks Volume 1, complained that Ryan was too cocky, but I strongly disagreed with this. Here he was, commanding a New York audience on a Saturday night while girls of varying shapes,sizes and colors shaking their asses on stage with him. If you were in his position, you’d be pretty cocky too.
At the end of the night, all of us were feeling a bit tipsy. As soon as the venue closed we were on our way back to BK, where we were treated to some nightcaps and fabulous grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches prepared by our hosts. Mmmmmm.
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The next morning, me and Laura were up bright and early so that we could make moves back to DC. I was tired and my voice was shot. We said our goodbyes to Dan and Meg and hustled back to Manhattan to wait for the bus with a bunch of Georgetown students who'd come up to NYC to watch the games over the weekend. Our ride back to the District was uneventful. I walked into my house, cleaned up and started writing this essay, which has taken me nearly three months to complete. There are a lot of legit excuses I could make, but you know what, better late than never....right?

Dan and Meg have since moved to the East Village. Pat Dulany finished his architecture degree and is currently wreaking havoc in Europe.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Colonel K, MA...... à la française

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I was reading the Washington Post Express on Thursday morning when I stumbled across an ad for a Nuite Carte Blanche at the Alliance Francaise de Washington. More specifically, guests were asked to bring their favorite electronic songs on an I-Pod so that the DJ could play them over the PA. For a small fee you could sip wine or margaritas and munch on hors d'oeuves. But most importantly, the event was an opportunity to speak French with native speakers, Francophiles and those who are trying to remember the four or five years of French they learned at school. I decided go because I was unable to head to New York to see 100dBs, Ryan O'Neil and Outputmessage do their thing in the LES.

Strangely enough, I recently turned in a final essay that dissected the influence of Mp3 blogs and MySpace on the French underground electronic scene. I managed to cobble together enough resources to make that paper fit the rather hazy criteria that was given to us by the prof. I never thought that I'd have an opportunity to spit some facts about how Ed Banger remixes are a sign of increased cultural exchange.

A healthy number of people were milling around the front room when I arrived a little after 7pm. I paid my entrance fee and began with the uncomfortable task of mingling. Despite my chatty nature, I am still quite self-conscious when it comes to bullshitting during the first few minutes of conversation. It's in situations like these that I tend to rely on other people to make things happen. Thankfully, I was approached by Mark and Sarah, a couple of friends who'd spent extended periods of time in Dakar, Senegal. We spent an unusually long time talking about architecture and morality because the two of them had studied urban planning and development. After a few drinks, we decided to part ways and mingle because it seemed somewhat anti-social to post up in a corner.

By this time it was....well who the fuck remembers what time it was....the MCs began to announce the songs that would be played from MP3 players. A few people were called up to briefly discuss their choices. Not wishing to be outdone, I quickly filled out a small sheet of paper and handed in my song selections. I don't know if it was my diplomatic skills or good taste that got me added to the queue, but the staff were super cool about it. To make things even better, they put the names of our songs on a projection screen (see photograph above).

My three songs:
1. St. Etienne feat. Moira Lambert "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
2. Cabaret Voltaire "Yashar"
3. Sarah Nixey "Beautiful Oblivion"

Say.....I've just realized that the first two groups are English bands with French names. Either way, I was more than pleased to contribute to the festivities. And, as a bonus all the amateur "DJs" were rewarded with a bottle of Merlot and invitations to another upcoming musical celebration being hosted by the Alliance. For this, I have to give a grand "Merci" to Sylvain and his two immaculately dressed colleagues. Fucking 'ell, can't remember their names. Now I see why everyone in DC has a card....
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After enjoying my minutes and seconds of fame, I took up conversation with two Indian girls with very French names, Elise and Cecille. Comically enough, the two of them also share very D.C biographies: Elise is a student, while Cecille works for Department of Commerce. We did the usual meet and greet and ping-ponged between French and English and eventually the conversation veered towards music. I casually slipped in some references to my blog and my band. Remember, this music shit is all about hustlin'.Look, you've gotta create a public image. Shameless self promotion is the key to expanding one's audience.
I also ended up chatting with Nell, a student at the American University in Paris. Normally people go to AUP for a semester or year abroad, but she was actually doing her degree over there. Her accent was so convincingly Parisian that I kept having flashbacks of my grey days spent at the Centre Pompidou. Somewhere in the middle of this exchange I was pleased to spot Becca, Alexandra and their unruly mob, which included Gavin and Fritz. I swear, this lot are omnipresent. Any big event within a 20 mile radius of the area, they're all present. First and foremost, I apologized to the girls for all the racket that comes out of their basement (I am in a band with their housemate). They laughed it off, but noted that my bandmate does have a tendency to play music at very odd hours.

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For whatever reason, happenings like this do not stretch late into the night. I surmise that it has something to do with the fact that many Embassy Row affiliated buildings are housed in a super residential neighborhood. Rather than go home and collapse, I decided it would be best to ride the tiger on this one. I quickly collected business cards and info from from the Alliance (all of this regarding the planning for my band's Bastille Day show) and made moves. I went home, dropped off my bags, took off my blazer, threw on my Supreme hat and decided to continue the week long party that has been my post-graduation celebration at a nearby watering hole.
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