The weekend before leaving for Argentina, I checked out King Khan & The Shrines at McCarren. King Khan is a chubby little Indian (via Canada) dude who plays James Brown-style dutty rock and has a voice like Screamin' Jay Hawkins'. For their show at the pool, he was wearing a Speedo and some kind of gold lamé garment that was either a cape or a cocktail dress -- I couldn't tell which. Their set was awesome -- real nasty and fast. About half way through, one of the guys from The Black Lips, the other band playing that day, got on stage with a bag of bananas, which King Khan distributed into the crowd. Kind of predictably, this proved to be a bad idea: some of the people who caught the bananas ate them, but most of them threw them back on stage -- and mostly at King Khan or at the Shrines' dancing girl. Khan got fairly pissed at this and hauled one of the chief offenders up on stage, where he chewed him out and the two of them got into a mashed-banana-to-the-face slap fight that was kind of all in fun but kind of creepily not.
Friday night I was sitting at work wondering to do with myself; it was already like 9:00. As I was surfing my events calendar, Nina pointed out that her former co-worker June was in a band called Vagina Panther that was playing at Trash Bar. I'd heard the name mentioned before -- as I understand it, V.P.'d long been germinating among the staff at Seed as an idea for a band but had just recently become, you know, real. So I checked out their MySpace, and they sounded exactly what I was in the mood for. I hopped on the L train and hoofed it over to Trash just in time for their set -- and to run into another former co-worker of Nina's, Nikhil, who'd showed up to support June, but also to offer a (friendly) critique of their style and skill. "They think they're a punk band, but they're playing stoner rock," he said. "With a little practice, they could be a pretty good 'Queens of the Stone Age' cover band." Nina showed up a little while later and we managed to escape back to Sunset Park with a copy of the awesome, design-y poster from the show, which is now hanging up in our bathroom. I challenge you to come see it.
Then on Saturday I headed out to The Yard to see Peelander-Z and a Kaiju Big Battel tournament, another spur-of-the-moment decision, since the show had only started being advertised in the usual places a day or so beforehand. I'd never been to The Yard. It's, well, a yard -- a junkyard, really, behind a police / fire station building and on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. There's even a little jetty with some boats tied up to it and a small "flag" that looks like a windsock made of fish skeletons. I ran into Adam and his friends Ari and Jay, which was lucky, and we all got food together. One of the vendors from the Red Hook ballfields was there, making delicious-smelling tortillas on the spot and selling tacos and these things they were calling quesadillas, but which were actually a lot more like huaraches. Not that it matters -- it's not like the components of the top five "Mexican dishes" most places make are really all that different. It's just a matter of arrangement / size. And I'm not arguing. So people on the line were doing things like ordering "the big taco" or "two of those small burritos," and somehow everything worked out. Peelander-Z went on around five o'clock, playing, as they did the last time I saw them, about four or five songs in 40 minutes. I love those guys -- they're funny, high-energy, they flick boogers, the works -- but I can't help feeling like they put on a bit of a minstrel show. Like, after the show, Peelander Yellow told me and Adam to check out their next show in September, and, you know, his command of English is significantly better than his stage act would lead you to believe. Nonetheless, I bopped along during "Mad Tiger" and joined the conga line during "Health."
The Kaiju show was pretty great, too. The ring was enclosed in a high chain-link fence with little wooden platforms built on its upper corners, so you knew it was going to be great. The results, for those of you who care:
- Powa Ranjuru was kicking Pedro Plantain's ass until his brother, Zombie Pablo, showed up and quickly got her onto the ropes. Pedro ended up having to pull Pablo off of her, after which the two of them ran off, leaving Powa Ranjuru FTW.
- The Sea Amigos were auditioning a replacement for Call-Me-Kevin (who'd been given the boot as a result of his bad attitude). None of the contenders -- including a human wrestler from Chikara named Jimmy Sprinkles -- were making the grade, until a suspiciously familiar-looking monster named Call-Me-Thurston showed up and blew the Amigos out of the water.
- Dusto Bunny, whose costume might be the ickiest in the league, and Super Wrong kicked the crap out of Dai Hachi Hachi and The Grudyin, nipples and all. (I think? It's kind of hard to remember who everyone is and what "side" they're on, especially a week afterwards.)
- Neo Teppen, who was supposed to fight no-show Hell Monkey ("He wasn't picking up his cell phone," Louden explained), instead took on the three Iron Brothers, Fist, Claw, and Mace. They had the cooler costumes, but he won.
- Chris Hero and Dr. Cube defeated Hero Intern '08 and American Beetle, although it took a half dozen interrupted counts, and a whole lot of really impressive jumps off the top of the fence. At the end of the fight, Louden Noxious was so disgusted with the outcome, that he tried to award the medals (oatmeal cookies glued to loops of yellow caution tape) to the fallen heroes, but Dr. Cube and Chris Hero grabbed them back.
On Sunday, Nina and I went out to Williamsburg to see what we could see. The venerable and screamy Titus Andronicus were opening for Yo La Tengo out in McCarren Pool; it was the last free show there, ever -- they're turning the thing back into a pool after this summer, in case you hadn't heard. But that also meant that there was a huge line. So we opted to check out this motorcycle show with Winnie and Evan at the garage on N. 14th St. They had lots of awesome old and new bikes and weird machines to work on them. We all ended up having afternoon beers at this attractively grungy bar next door called The Gutter, which is run, apparently, by the people who own Barcade, and includes on its premises a set of functional bowling lanes. Evan's friend Ray turned me on to a couple of interesting resources. We never did end up going to the show.
Finally, on Wednesday, we hit up Santos Party House in Chinatown to see The Virgins, a band I hadn't really heard much about -- except I guess that they had a song on that show Gossip Girl? That would stand to reason, because the crowd wasn't really what I was expecting for a downtown Manhattan rock show. I got to wait outside for a little while before Nina showed up with the ticket-purchasing credit card, and, man -- lots of bridge-and-tunnel meatheads in tight V-neck t-shirts, lots of disturbingly orange, not-too-attractive girls. I watched two drunk girls with hair the color of glitter pens get kicked out and banned from the establishment for trying to sneak in ("Fuckin', okay, I'm sorry, I lied about us being friends with the band, but seriously, they're, like, our favorite. We wanna see 'em so fuckin' bad!"). As for the band themselves, they were, you know, okay. Their hit song, which I think is called "Rich Girls," was pretty catchy, but everything else they played had no hook; no, you know, idea. They're good enough to write songs for car commercials, maybe, but not to play rock music. Case in point, they had a song called "One Week Of Danger" that went:
One week of dangerI kind of liked the venue, though -- I've been wary of stylish, fancy-vodka-serving places since attending a spate of awful shows at Terminal 5 (nee "Club Exit"), but the 'Party House seems like it was planned out so you could actually see the stage.
One week of danger
I just want to have
One week of danger
In other news, there's some kind of political thing going on? And a storm about to destroy New Orleans? I don't even know.