Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wonder Twins: Detroit Urban Legends Haunted House

This week the Wonder Twins go to a haunted house. But not just any haunted house - one that raises dollars for charity while scaring you. And by "you" I mean "me." Unlike my brave, brave sister, I somehow have this thing where my brain isn't able to separate "entertainment" from, "you are in grave danger - harm is imminent." This makes me pretty hesitant to agree do do anything like a haunted house trip, but I'm a good sport and took one for the Wonder Twins team. Go ahead and read the results and laugh at my expense.

After you're done reading it, I urge you to actually GO to the Detroit Urban Legends Haunted House - yes, yes - you'll say, "but my Halloween weekend is already SO jam packed!" But trust me - you can still fit this in. It is running Friday and Saturday and starts at 7pm. Nothing you're going to starts until at LEAST 10pm, and most things probably won't get started until like, 2:30am because the cool kids don't sleep. Apparently ever. So go there first, have some fun and raise money for something worthwhile. It is only $10 and will make up for the guilt you'll feel about the hundreds you spent on your costume, only to find out that nobody in your age group even remembers the Noid.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How bizarre, how bizarre

I like Halloween. But more so, I just like fall. And seeing as Halloween plays a big part in the season, I include it in my general appreciation of this time of year. Of course, I also like candy so that plays a part as well. Also pumpkin anything – ale, pie, cookies, seeds, muffins, bread, soup… pretty much anything but the Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks, That, I found out the hard way, tastes like vomit.

I’m not one of those Halloween fanatics that basically just live for the end of October and spend the rest of the year scheming to come up with (and considering the astronomical amount of money some spend, finance) the perfect costume. In fact, I’m not that nuts about getting dressed up. Another thing I’m not nuts about is being outside when it’s cold. Combine being in a costume AND being outside when it’s cold and you’ve pretty much lost me. Asking me to spend $55 for the privilege of being in a costume and being outside when it’s cold? Please. But that’s exactly what I did on Saturday at Theatre Bizarre.

Right up until I get out of the car I kept thinking, ‘This is going to be cold. Which means I will hate it. Which means I just wasted dollars.” But holy shit. I didn’t think anything like this existed anyplace outside of say, a movie. Theatre Bizarre may very well be the most amazing event I’ve ever been to. And I’ve seen New Kids On the Block. Several times. The people who put this event together have the kind of talent, creative energy and devotion that Detroit needs a lot more of. I’ll be going back next year for sure.

I don’t have any pictures or video of the event, but judging from the number of people who spent the entire evening with their iPhone in the air, a quick search of the Google will show you many different images and video clips. I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t feel the need to capture every second of any event or show I attend on camera. I kind of prefer to just “remember” stuff and make “memories” like they did in the olden days. Plus I know I can count on the above mentioned people to lessen the quality of the real time experience for themselves in an effort to get it all on their iPhone so they can put it on Facebook.

Also, I have a new band to obsess over thanks to catching them play at Theatre Bizarre: Catfish Mafia. For most of my adult like, the term ‘bluegrass” has caused me to run in the other direction, but my girlfriend likes too much music associated with the genre for me to ignore that it’s not all horrible shit kicker music. I’ll be checking these guys out again in the near future and hope they’re as good out of costume.

Also, if you want to know what I was for Halloween, then you should come to the Crofoot for the Creepy Cheapy Halloween Treat II event on actual Halloween. But here's a hint: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight..." Last year's Creepy Cheapy Halloween Treat performance by Prussia as The Smiths was one of my favorite things I've seen live in Detroit, like ever. This year they'll be the Velvet Underground. Plus Child Bite as Rage Against the Machine, Silverghost as Devo, Marco Polio and the New Vaccines as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Allan James and the Cold Wave as Weezer. I'll be drinking milk and Pepsi.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hey there, leprechaun, drop it like it's hot

I'm hanging out at home listening to this here Irish Hip Hop Volume 1 CD, and I have to ask: Does it make me a bad person that I can't help but picture a leprechaun with a big gold chain for virtually every track? Probably. It is fun to play the, "This is the Irish version of (fill-in-the-blank-with-American-rapper)" game though. So far I've heard the Irish Eminem, the Irish Beastie Boys, and the Irish House of Pain. Wait - I guess House of Pain actually are Irish - so it's just a HOP rip-off. Nevermind.

Not much to report here - but there's two great posts on my
sister's blog, Touched By A Monkey. One of them is about those awesome Chick Tract Christian propaganda pamphlets and their popularity at Halloween time. I was the proud recipient of a certain "Doom Town" tract while in Saugatuck one September. I can only imagine how horrid it must've been for God's messenger to have to leave those under the windshield wiper of so many sodomite-mobiles in such a gay, gay city. What a brave little soldier.

The other post takes you to one of the most amazing, heartbreaking and well written journalism pieces I've read in a long long time. As my sis writes, "Ever wonder if the justice system in this country has ever put an innocent man to death? After you read 'Trial By Fire' by David Grann in The New Yorker you won't have to wonder any more." It's a long piece, but totally worth your time. Her post also includes links to info about the virtually indisputable fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry is going to great lengths to make sure nobody gets to the bottom of this - at least not until after his reelection. Scum bag.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wonder Twins: The Moth Detroit StorySLAM, Review: Amy Millan

It's been a few weeks now, but today's Metro Times features the latest Wonder Twins installment. We went to Cliff Bell's for the first ever Moth Detroit StorySLAM. It was really fun, yet packed to the gills. There will be a StorySLAM on the first Thursday of every month, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Anybody have a sleeping bag I can borrow? I'm going to camp out in front of Cliff Bell's next time around so I can get an actual seat with a table and wait staff.

Also in this week's MT is my review of the new Amy Millan record Masters of the Burial. If you only like records that Pitchfork likes, then you have probably not given this a chance after their 5.8 rating and are too busy trying to convince yourself to like Volcano Choir. But I assure you, they're just being bullies. Masters of the Burial is an understated and great record. She's playing tomorrow night at the Pike Room with Bahamas. I am assuming that means the entire country, so expect a lot of calypso. I guess maybe it's this band, but my money's on the whole country.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I've been listening to this week

Johnny Headband - Phase 3 EP
After seeing their theatrical and entertaining live shows, I was afraid that the Johnny Headband experience just wouldn't resonate as recorded music. But the three songs on Phase 3 have gotten the OCD best in me, and for the past couple of days I've listened to little else. And you can get the songs for
free dollars at their web site. Then, when you're all like, "Wow, I've listened to the Phase 3 EP so many times and it has brought such joy to my life - I want to put a monetary value on that and repay Johnny Headband for these musical treasures!" you can get your hands on the limited run vinyl version of the EP with handmade jackets designed by the band. They also have really sweet t-shirts you can purchase to shower even more money on them. The best place to do this? Probably this Saturday at the Magic Stick since their having their EP release show with Silverghost and Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship. Go there. Make it rain. I am pretty sure this "make it rain" expression has something to do with showering strippers with money or something. So treat Johnny Headband to your hard earned dollars. Just like strippers, they deserve it.

The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
The whole concept of The Life of the World to Come, with the bible verse song titles and such, left me with a feeling of dread. Why? Because I don't like Bible in my indie rock. I frown on artists sneaking Christianity into their music, as if their message will somehow resonate with me if they can trick me into hearing it. It's like those fake five dollar bills - have you seen those? It looks like a folded up five mistakenly dropped on the ground. But when you pick it up and unfold it, you're treated to a little Bible scripture and a message about Jesus being worth more than five dollars. Or something. I don't know about you, but if I'm going to find Jesus, it isn't going to be the result of having a practical joke played on me. Of course, the whole "being gay" thing makes me more suspicious of the Christian leanings of bands and music I like than I might otherwise be. I don't like having to wonder if musicians I enjoy possibly consider me an abomination. It just bugs me. But in fact, John Darnielle has managed to take characters, stories and lessons from that contentious "good book" and make insightful, not preachy songs. I could explain more, but Darnielle totally does a better job of that
himself. A definite contender for my best of the year list.

Polvo - In Prism
Polvo is one of those bands I should’ve listened to sooner, but alas, it took In Prism to get my attention. I blame the indie subcategory of “math rock” and how often Polvo were the first band mentioned to exemplify this so-called “math rock” sound. I don’t want to say I hate math, but if one were to judge my intelligence level based solely on my math skills, I may very well be considered a developmentally challenged adult – high functioning enough to say, dress myself, but still in need of some sort of basic supervision or home care. So it's no surprise that I shied away from listening to music associated with something I'm terrible at, right? But wow did this record blow me away. Now I have to somehow find the time to explore their whole back catalog. So much pressure! Of course come to find out lots of 90's indie bands I've grown to love have a "math rock" association: Shellac, Shudder To Think, Chavez, Jawbox ... Thankfully I wasn't aware of that or else I might have missed the boat on those bands as well. Also a best of the year list contender.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What I've been listening to this week

Friendly FoesSo Obscene EP If you’ve seen Friendly Foes play a handful of times over the past year, many of the songs on So Obscene will sound very familiar to you. But not familiar in that, “the internet has ruined my ability to be entertained by anything that my brain registers as even remotely familiar and if I don’t hear or see it first then why bother” way, but in the “Yes! Now I have ‘How It Works’ and ‘Paint It Gold’ which will be perfect for that sweet, sweet mix I’ve been trying to build around my favorite Superchunk song” way. It’s also nice to hear bassist Liz Whittman’s vocals more front and center, particularly on “Keep Breathing,” a song that tackles the seriousness of asthma awareness.* The release show for this should be great, great fun and may include a reading of the album cover by drummer Sean Sommer. The show is Saturday October 10th with Javelins and Allan James & the Cold Wave at the Berkley Front.

DesktopMy Boo EP Remember how that Ghostown DJ’s song “My Boo” was one of the most awesome songs of the mid-90’s? Well thankfully one of the boys from Desktop not only remembered this, but had the nerve to be like, “Dude. Listen - we should like, totally cover that song – that would supremely rule, would it not?” This is how Zach Curd talks at all times because of his Bill & Ted’s obsession.** Well, cover it they did and Desktop's version does supremely rule – and it’s on a free digital EP! The My Boo EP also has two remixes – one of which (Dave Shettler's "Too Much" remix) I'd almost say I like better than the original. The originals can be found on the Desktop 12” that was just released the other day. If you buy it, it comes with a floppy disk or some such? I have no idea what you do with that – maybe punch a hole in it and wear it around your neck ala Fava Flav.

Elvis Perkins in DearlandDoomsday EP If asked which Elvis camp I was in, I wouldn’t pick Presley or Costello. I’d pick Perkins which would illicit a, “You mean Carl Perkins?” response from Presley fans, and maybe a, “Was it marrying Diana Krall?” from Costello’s faithful. But my response would probably make his dad (Norman Bates!)*** happy seeing as he named his son after Elvis Presley. The fantastic title track for this EP is from the band’s full length that came out earlier this year (and is one of my favorite ’09 releases) and the rest of the songs are all good – no “EP filler” here. It’s the perfect little soundtrack for a post-zombie apocalypse, New Orleans-style funeral march. So I’d learn the songs soon so if you survive, you can participate. Remember: the first rule of survival is remove the heard or destroy the brain. All surviving musicians will meet on the corner of Woodward and 9 mile 24 hours after the area is officially deemed safe. I call cymbals.

*It does not
I just feel like making stuff up today.

Okay, okay, it's not really fair to call Anthony Perkins "Norman Bates" but it's better than calling him "Anthony Hopkins," right? Because Norman Bates wore his mother's wig, but he did not eat her.

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