Monday, July 16, 2007

My Weekend, Pt. 1: Os Mutantes and Syd Barrett

When I lived in Athens, I went to see a lot of bands. I'd estimate that in the 7 years I spent there, I saw a band play live at least every other week. Then I moved out here, and I just stopped going to shows. I guess not knowing the clubs or feeling comfortable at them just put the momentum on the side of my laziness and agoraphobia. Because I love seeing bands, but I really hate standing around waiting for the band to come on, and I don't really have any friends out here who share my musical taste, so it's just easier to stay home or go to the movies. In the 10 years I've been out here, I've been to two shows - my friend Brian's band opening for the guy who used to be in Dramarama (they blew him off the stage), and the Beastie Boys last time around.

So I decided that I need to go see more shows, and I was gonna go out next friday to the Greek Theater to see Sonic Youth perform Daydream Nation and Redd Kross do Born Innocent, but you know what? I've seen SY twice, seen RK twice, and even though it's probably my only chance to here Redd Kross play "Kill Someone You Hate," I decided that it would just be cooler to see Os Mutantes.

Man, Os Mutantes were amazing. Just the energy coming off the stage was so great, so positive and joyful. I've never seen a band look so happy to just be on stage performing. And the guitarist was laying down some great psychedelic solos. Busdriver opened, and he was fun too, but I think his songs come off better on the albums than live (which I guess is true of most hip hop).

Bobbie had a rare weekend off, so we went to the movies on Saturday (Order of the Phoenix) and Sunday (Sicko). More on those in the next post. So Sunday night, I was kinda not into going to the movies again, but how often do you get the chance to see Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett? Oh, wait, am I getting ahead of myself?

The American Cinematheque's 8th annual Mods and Rockers Festival is underway. Traditionally, this festival has featured groovy 60's flicks like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and the various James Bond spoofs, but I guess after 7 years they started running out of that stuff, so they've shifted the focus this year to rock docs and concert films. So last night was a bill that included a 30-minute film of Pink Floyd from 1966, along with a 10-minute short Dollybirds and the 70-minute Tonight Let's All Make Love in London. So, even though I could think of a lot of things I could get done if I stayed home, I decided to go. I figured they'd be showing the shorter films first, so if it started at 8 or a little later, the Pink Floyd thing would be over by 9, I'd watch 15 minutes or so of Tonight just to get an idea of it, and be home by 10.

I got there just before 8, and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in. So I got my ticket, got in, and waited. Finally, getting close to 8:30, the currator gets up to introduce the film, and goes on for about 10 minutes. Then he announces that the Floyd film will be last. Fucker! (Although, to be honest, that's how I would have programmed it.)

Dollybirds and Tonight are both documentaries about the Swingin' London Scene c. 1966. Dollybirds was made for TV, but in the time between its completion and its airing, mod went out and hippy flower power came in, so it was never shown. It's pretty cheesy, but I did find out a couple interesting things about pirate radio stations (of which there were apparantly a few in the 60's, broadcasting from ships in international waters "in an attempt to break the BBC's monopoly) and Vidal Sassoon (not just a manufacturer of shampoos, but a hairdresser who invented the sharp, angular haircuts favored by mod girls). It also featured a song I've wondered about for years, a bubblegum tune called "With a Girl Like You" that I heard REM do (Mike Mills providing lead vocals) sometime in the 80's (I think I liked the REM version better. Still don't know who did the original, but at least I've heard it). Tonight is more impressive, with nude body art, music video editing, an interesting interview with Mick Jagger, footage of Dolly Reed serving drinks at The Playboy Club (in bunny outfit!), and "music by The Pink Floyd." There's some interesting footage from the days when leftists were a bit less agreeable (a Vietnam protestor carrying a sign that says "Arm the Viet Cong!" and Vanessa Redgrave singing a heartfelt tribute to Fidel Castro), and the Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, coming off as an intolerably pretentions jerkoff. The one frustrating aspect is some brief video footage Jimi Hendrix, which would have to have been filmed before he had any recordings out, but unfortunately was presented with no sound (other than the Pink Floyd soundtrack).

The Floyd film was footage of them recording the soundtrack to Tonight, along with some footage from an event called The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream (with Yoko doing performance art!). The audio is all from the studio footage, and consisted of two long, freeform jams that must have been incredibly radical in 1966. The first was an early version of "Interstellar Overdrive," the second an instrumental that sounded pretty much like what would later become "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun." Roger Waters sporting a bowl cut and groovy mod glasses was more fun to watch than Syd, who mostly played in a sitting position. The whole night was a hassle, but for a music geek like me, definitely worth it.

The festival continues through July. Tuesday night their showing Brazzilintime, which looks pretty impressive, and Wednesday there's a big event for any Led Zep fans: Led Zeppelin live at the Royal Albert Hall, a 108-minute concert from 1970, on a 60-foot wide screen with 60 surround sound speakers! This is as close to seeing a Led Zeppelin concert anyone of my generation (or younger) will ever get! (Well, you've probably had a chance to see The Song Remains the Same, but they really sucked at that show.) Show up early, I wouldn't be surprised if this sells out, based on the crowds that showed up for 30 minutes of Pink Floyd last night.


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