Reviews

Brave Combo

Dainon Moody
Brave Combo

Brave Combo

City: Salt Lake City, Utah
Venue: Utah Arts Festival, Utah State Fairpark
Date: 2001-06-21

Judging by the relatively small crowd that had gathered to see Brave Combo play once they'd ambled onstage just after 8:30 p.m. on a Thursday, it appeared nobody was prepared for what was to come. Even those advertising its appearance weeks in advance stumbled on their words, describing the Denton, Texas-based band as one which played "world-wise, unclassifiable music". Perhaps the marketing department didn't think those in Utah would come out in droves if they knew what Brave Combo really was: an honest-to-God rock 'n' roll polka band. It's a band that peppered its performance with proclamations that "It's polka time!" while machines spit out Lawrence Welk bubbles above the heads of the crowd. It won its share of shouted approval when lead singer/guitarist Carl Finch raised the accordion above his head like a Samurai warrior. It's a band as comfortable with playing "Hava Nagila" as the crowd did The Twist as it was covering a note-for-note rendition of "La Bamba". Maybe it's not fair to pin the polka label on them, though, for Frankie Yankovic they ain't. Polka for a new generation? Perhaps. Once the band really got going, the crowd was attracted to the stage like mosquitoes to a blue-glowing bug lamp. Maybe they were in awe of the overweight flute player who could pass for Jerry Garcia and danced like a light-on-his-feet ballerina. Could have been bassist Bubba Hernandez, in high top sneakers and a purple sequined vest. It might of even been the tattooed percussionist wearing a Krispy Kreme hat or Finch, who saw fit to bang his head to nearly every tune the Combo did, playing guitar solos that would make Warrant proud. Eye candy that the band members were, it was the music that drew the crowd in. It was the reason you couldn't get through the thick gathering near the front of the stage, dancing To Perez Prado's "Mambo Jambo", an instrumental "Sway", and a slowed-down "Louie Louie", among others. The high point of the night, however, was not the speedy rendition of "Hosa Dyna". Where it all came together, where more were on their feet and shaking their right feet "all about", had to have been during its rock version of the "Hokey Pokey". Still, others might argue it was "The Chicken Dance" that got them out of their chairs. But, when all was said and done, the encore was short-lived at best. Per the city's regulations, Brave Combo had to pack up at 10 p.m., an hour when most live bands are just barely hitting their peaks. At a short hour and a half set, though, at least this band left on a high note.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image