Funny thing: rock stars can perform stoned, high, coked up, or tripping and they're fine. But after one bad piece of halibut, everything goes to hell. At least that seemed to be the main problem when Electric Six took the stage at Chicago's Double Door on June 6. Dressed like gas station attendants going to a business dinner, they rocked and sat through a set mixed with elements of garage-y punk and hook-heavy disco. The group's genre pallet certainly blends well. After all, rock and disco have some common ground in the parents-be-damned Bacchanal reveling. When it works, it's rebellion through overindulgence, right down to the dopamine hooks. When it doesn't, it's Cher with a guitar. Either way, a reunion between the two sounds is never particularly surprising. What might warrant a double take, however, is that this mix got cooked up in the clubs of Detroit. That's where Electric Six call home. The sextet, easily construed as either legitimate buzz-makers or trendy garage buzzards, has a not-so-simple mission while on their current tour: Prove the Jack White-saturated single, "Danger! High Voltage", is more than a one shot, make it clear that White's backing vocals are not required for the Six's success. But back to that halibut. Apparently, the band had gone out to taste some of Chicago's plentiful, if not necessarily fine, cuisine earlier in the evening. Unfortunately landing a game piece of fish, Dick Valentine (who sings lead and has the best pseudonym in rock) suffered the consequence as all expected over-the-top antics were kept in check by his bellyful of bad fish. For the first half of the show, Valentine looked more like a man on trial than a man on stage, singing stiffly in front of the mic and addressing the crowd with a reticence contrary to the bands first song, which announced "you came to see a rock show." While Valentine came alive on the fan-favorite "Gay Bar", he generally seemed to be a man in pain. Announcing an abrupt transition into the group's dancier songs, however, Valentine flicked into the more synth-heavy, beat-steady bounce of what Electric Six will likely be known for, a gritty blend of rock and disco, both derivative of and distinct from the rest of the garage-rock scene. Suddenly, Valentine caught up with the rest of Electric Six (most notably the enthusiastic lead guitarist Rock and Roll Indian and animated drummer M.). Sweating like an uncle, Valentine finally started to dance. When his moves were at their best, they were 8-track cool, endearing in their antiquated swagger. Between songs, Valentine grinned like a backwoods psychopath alongside rhythm guitarist Surge Joebot, tossing stiff waves to the crowd. During songs, he twirled like a broken pinwheel. Elements of the brash humor one would expect from a group that rhymes "gates of Hell" with "Taco Bell" (or, almost as amusingly, sings, "when I'm fucking you, it's like nothing else matters") were clearly bared as he stripped off his jacket during the opening licks of "Danger! High Voltage", exposing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "UGLY AND POOR". In between verses, however, Valentine faded again, sitting on a riser with his head in his hands. Rightly assuming the song could sell itself to the crowd, he neglected to turn on the power when it would have been its most electric. Damn that halibut. Near the set's end, Valentine omitted the typical "you guys are the most insane stop yet!" spiel, saying instead, "we've been all over the Midwest this week, and I just want you guys to know, this is easily the largest city." Ultimately, it ended up being an all-too-appropriate aside. Not much else could be said for the audience other than its relatively large size; if this was the most excited crowd Electric Six had seen on tour, it was a sad day for Detroit. After running through a few more tracks from their recently released LP Fire, most notably the tough beat of "Dance Commander" and the catchy '80s throwback "Synthesizer", the group loped off stage, seemingly done for the night. The crowd called for more, though, and Valentine managed to pour himself into a brief encore. Closing with a cover of Queen's "Radio Ga-Ga", the group aptly capped off their set with a knowing wink to the ridiculousness of their current hit, "Danger! High Voltage". While it remains to be seen how high and far that song will take Electric Six, possibly high enough even to overcome the poverty noted on Valentine's shirt, one thing is clear: the night could have gone a little less ugly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."