Along with Spinal Tap, Tenacious D (Kyle Gass / Jack Black) pretty much closed the book on metal parody. For Kyle Gass, the next step in the skewering evolution was ‘70s era Southern rock, and the result is the mulleted, wigged, and moonshine-fueled Trainwreck. Formed in 2002 and fronted by Gass (aka Klip Calhoun) and frequent Tenacious D conspirator JR Reed (you might remember him as Lee from the Tenacious D HBO series, immortalized in the Tenacious D song “Lee”), Trainwreck is a loving celebration of bros, leather pants, and machismo. The key to the gimmick is that musically, it works. Loaded with heavy, catchy riffs and sing-a-long anthems, Trainwreck’s debut album The Wreckoning pairs perfectly with a 12 pack of Keystone Light, Kodiak dip, and maybe some bad speed. After a successful run through the Midwest in March, Trainwreck is currently on their second tour of the year, and I sat down for a chat with Kyle Gass before Trainwreck’s gig in Chicago.
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Miike Snow are the International Men of Mystery of the electro-pop scene. Whether disguising their faces behind ghostly white masks or hiding behind their Jackolope logo, there is something coolly enigmatic about them. Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg were famous behind the scenes, crafting pop hits for Madonna and Britney Spears (the duo won a Grammy for their work on Spears’ Toxic) before recruiting American musician Andrew Wyatt to form Miike Snow. Their 2009 eponymous debut is a smooth hybrid of throwback soul, ‘80s synth, and electro anthems, with just the right amount of sex appeal and songwriting chops to attract the ladies and discerning hipsters alike. Finally getting to meet the men behind the masks, I sat down with Miike Snow before their sold-out, April 5th appearance at Chicago’s Metro Theater.
Back in December, AEG Live, Action 3D and Cinedigm released Larger Than Life in 3D. The 90-minute theatrical concert movie featured performances from Dave Mathews, Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello from the 2009 Austin City Limits Festival. It was a limited one-week run to test out a new kind of theatrical concert experience filmed and presented in full 3D HD. Did it successfully usher in a brand new bread of concert film or did it’s lack of cinematic storytelling rock fans to sleep?
Larger Than Life was the first of several other 3D theatrical concerts AEG Live plans to release in 2010. When I heard the news last fall I thought that they had captured footage from 2009 music festivals like Lollapalooza, All Points West and Mile High Music Festival, I thought about all the ways this could revolutionize how we relive our favorite concerts experiences, or even influence what we expect from real live concerts. I initially considered it a move that would forever change the art of the concert film, too. I also wondered if Larger Than Life would be an improvement on the U2, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus or even the Micheal Jackson This Is It IMAX concert experiences.
It won’t be long until the music industry hands out honors at the 52nd Grammy Awards ceremony. Sure, much of the annual hubbub surrounds the Best Song, Record, and Album categories (Will Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” trump both Beyonce’s “Halo” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”? Discuss!). Let’s not forget that the Grammys have handed out an award for Best Short Form Music Video since 1984. Music videos have been the one of the most important methods of disseminating new music to audiences for nearly 30 years (not to mention they’ve been works of art in their own right on countless occasions), but considering the award program structure the Grammys still treat them as mere afterthoughts.