I ended up going one for three on CMJ.
On Wednesday night, after an early screening of Lorenzo Lamas' Snake Eater at Chez O'Donnell, I tried to hit up the Hooray For Earth show at Crash Mansion, only to realize I'd written the info for the show down wrong. I could've stayed and seen Die! Die! Die!, but didn't.
Friday was worse: I swung by the WFMU Record Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion after work, with the intention of snagging a vinyl copy of one of The Abs' albums (my current low-grade obsession). Didn't find any, but I did get to peep Nick The Bard and Ken in the flesh, and the wet-dog smell of record collectors is pleasantly familiar. After that, I got booze with Emma and we had dinner at Melt. We parted ways around 10:30 -- my plan was to hit up the Matador showcase at The Suffolk just in time to catch Ted Leo and miss all of the opening acts. Unfortunately, I failed to anticipate the popularity of bands like... "Cold Cave." Or "Lemonade." That is to say, the place was packed, the bouncer unsympathetic, and I'd arrived past the beginning of Ted Leo's set. I'd just hoofed it all the way to Suffolk and Delancey from Canal St., though, and, although it was drizzling, there was a spot next to the external stage door under some scaffolding where you could hear pretty much everything (except the vocals). So, somewhat shamefully, I lurked outside, face metaphorically pressed to the window, and managed to semi-listen to the majority of the songs. They played "Me And Mia." I think they played "Counting Down The Hours." They covered Hybrid Moments as their first encore.
Thursday almost made up for all that, though. I went to Cake Shop to see Kittens Ablaze, again trying to time things to miss as many bands as possible that I hadn't vetted beforehand. Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers were on stage as I came downstairs -- I hadn't meant to arrive for their set, but I was pretty quickly overwhelmed by the, uh, intensity of their sound. Shilpa Ray sings and plays the harmonium, which is a kind of stationary accordion that she pumped with one hand. She's got an amazing, Brody Dalle-level set of pipes, and a frighteningly expressive face: When she's howling out a real raw, scary song, her features get all screwed up like a toddler throwing a tantrum and her frizzy hair floats in front of her face like a dark cloud, bruise-colored. In contrast, the "happy hookers" were a trio of chubby white beardos. It was weird. But I came away from their set feeling like I'd been hit by a (small) truck, which doesn't happen very often.
pow wow! came on next, and they were fine but nowhere near as good as Shilpa Ray. Their set reminded me of what (I think) people don't like about The Strokes: Bouncy, sing-song guitar and bass backup up indifferently-sung lyrics of no particular significance. After them were a Mancunian ensemble called The Answering Machine (ugh) who were also fine but not very interesting.
Kittens Ablaze went on a little after 11:00. One thing I like about them is the way their songs sort of emerge from the tuning noise and between-song dithering of six different instruments. This sounds like a horrible way to perform rock and roll -- indeed, I have no idea why I don't hate it -- but they ramp up the tempo and tighten things up nice and quick, and before you know it they're literally clambering over each other and across the cramped stage area to shout into the mics and the cellist and violinist are going nuts. Their aesthetic and the earnestness of their music reminds me of the The Clash a little -- they've got the backpacking-through-Europe look nailed, and the music's sloppy and super catchy. There's no way to avoid being drawn in by the screamed choruses of "This Machine Is Dying." You'd have to be a real suck-ass not to sing along.
On Sunday, Tom and I went to go see a stage production at the Magnet Theater by the people who curate the website Everything Is Terrible!, which showcases awful, found videos from the past few decades. The stuff on their site runs the gamut from funny (old people using the Internet in 1994) to terrifying (mass hysteria at a Pentecostal prayer convention), and the show included some additional videos that they weren't allowed to put on YouTube, like a promotional video for a Jeff Stryker-branded penis pump. Unfortunately, the show also featured some live-action "interview" segments with the people who hunt down and edit the videos (wearing outsized masks / headdresses to obscure their identities from the potentially litigious) and those really dragged.
Video game news: I finished Bioshock, ultimately coming around to appreciating its narrative chops; the story really solidifies in the second act. I had to put it on easy mode to get through the very last fight. Evan came over a few weeks ago and filled up the Xbox's download queue with demos, which Nina and I have been working through since. The one for Batman: Arkham Asylum was pretty neat, although the controls seemed to be pretty involved. Brutal Legend's got great writing and voice work but the running around and killing things part isn't that much fun. Lost Planet 2 was gorgeous but pretty much unintelligible. I've become very impatient in my dotage -- tl;dr.