After Last NightA column of reviews of live entertainment in San Francisco by Larry-bob
Saturday Feb 1, 2003:
Today was the first of two days of APE -- Alternative Press Expo, which is an annual non-mainstream comics convention. There was a fair ammount of queer content:
I attended a slide show by Howard Cruse, who was the first editor of Gay Comics and had a long-running comic in the Advocate.
Michelle Tea was in the house -- she did the script for a comic in a collection called "The Penny Dreadful Travel Guides" which is a very unique style folder with three booklets inside. http://www.pennydreadfulpress.com/
Roberta Gregory, creator of Bitchy Bitch was there signing and selling Bitchy Bitch jumping jacks.
I hadn't seen Paige Braddock's comic Jane's World before. It's quite amusing -- features a lesbian newspaper worker who gets into various scrapes.
David Kelly was down from Seattle. He had cards announcing that at next year's APE there will be copies of a new issue of the queer male comic anthology Boy Trouble -- which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Eric Shanower and David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press were there selling Oz-related material -- I got a CD of early Oz-related music.
You know, I did not see much of any queer comics that I was not already aware of. I don't know if the queer youth of today are not doing comics, or if they're not doing queer specific comics, or maybe they're only doing on-line comics. Howard Cruse hipped me to a website called HOMni which has a very extensive listing of queer comics by category.
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2001:
OK, so I haven't updated this page of the website for a year. That doesn't mean I'm not doing anything -- it just means I'm busy with other stuff. Politics, running a comedy night, volunteering at a radio stations, things like that.
I do still go out, though -- I go to a lot of stuff I list on my events page.
In the past week, I've gone to a "Fuck Valentines" party at Amnesia on Valencia (formerly the Chameleon, and it's across the street from what once was the Crystal Pistol, which eleven years ago was the site of the first incarnation of Klubstitute.)
And I went to a performance by Deep Dickollective at the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum in Oakland. They put on a great show -- roaming the hotel ballroom with cordless mikes. Also appearing on the program was the poetry slam team from SMAAC, the queer youth center in downtown Oakland. These kids are prodigies, writing and reading fantastic stuff that's deeply political and poetical. There was also a performance by the artist formerly known as Sha-Key, and a dance performance.
Saturday, May 27, 2000:
Busy day. Started off with some rehearsal with Ian Callas, (the most recent incarnation of the artist formerly known as The Grand Negress Godiva) then we played a four-song set at Build. I'm surprised at how many people don't know of this tiny silver-fronted storefront on Guerrero near 17th. It's been around for like five years, and it's even mentioned in Michelle Tea's new book "Valencia." The show went well, though I had to reboot my sampler before the set. We did three originals and a cover of the German-language romantic song "Still wie die Nacht."
I skipped the afternoon show at Club Hot in Oakland, though I'm sure it was good -- local faves The Little Deaths, who I most recently saw at The Eagle, and touring from St. Louis, Star Death and Bellesfury. I saw the latter two bands the night before at a house party. I was the oldest person at that event, and just about the only non-lesbian. And I was the tallest, which came in handy when the ceiling fan had to get switched on. When I got there, someone had just burned chocolate chip cookies. See Jane Run had cancelled because there wasn't a true P.A., but the sound was actually quite good. Star Death and Bellesfury share a rhythm section, but have different guitarist/vocalists. Bellesfury wore blank white masks. The band has a somewhat metalish feel. They have a 7" out, which I bought afterwards.
Star Death are really amazing. The Minutemen came to mind, with the common items being the trio format, the unrhymed vocals, and the agile bass playing. And now that I've been to their webpage I find out that, like the Minutemen, two of the members grew up together.
But that's lazy rock journalism to just make comparisons to other bands. Blueberry is such a powerful vocalist, and there is so much joy radiated by this band (and it was reflected back to them by the excited audience in the tiny living room they were playing in). Anyone who hears them can hardly fail to be an instant convert. They have a CD out, and Blueberry also has a solo CD.
OK, that was Friday night. So back to Saturday. I went to A Different Light for Lea Delaria reading from her book "Lea's book of rules for the world." She was late, because she had food poisoning. But she read, and answered questions. Someone asked what makes her mad, and she said that Hillary Swank has to stop being a self-appointed spokesperson for the trans community. She's going to have a music CD out, is working on an off-Broadway show, and plans to do another book.
Then I went to the Eagle for rock music, a show put together by Christopher of Lucifag. There was a great mix of people, from drunken slamming skateboarders to drunken old men in leather. It was kind of like oil and vinegar -- the ingredients mixed but didn't fully blend, but that was cool, even surreal. But why have the subliminated homosexuality of slamdancing when the real thing is available right there?
I missed Agent for Allied -- I think it might have been a short set. I really need to write a review of them sometime, since this is the second time I wrote about missing them.
Drunkhorse were prety amazing - southern fried metal. At one point the audience was asking each other "Is this an Iron Maiden cover" -- "no, I think it's Rush" -- but it turned out to be an original. Twin leads and all.
Sangre Amado were even heavier. A trio, the drummer wore corpse-paint. An audience member unappreciative of the gravity of the situation heckled "your drummer's a mime." Hey, don't say that, or some nordic metal type is liable to cut your head off. I found myself wishing for a little more crispness, but there was some excellent double bass drum action.
Finally Leper Sex Killer on the Loose took the stage. No longer an acoustic duo, they're now a four-member band. The kicked off with the brief "Oh my god it's rock n roll" and promptly broke a string. Only a couple songs later, there was another interruption while a guitar amp was borrowed. Despite the problems, there was a great new song "Simulated Rock," and favorites like "I want my city back." Leper Sex Killer are meta, but they mean it too.
Monday, Feb 14, 2000:
Whoah, mighty stale. That doesn't mean I haven't been going out - just that I haven't been writing about it. Last night was one of the Gay Comedy nights I've been producing. So it would be a little incestuous to review my own event.
Likewise the 10th anniversary of Klubstitute at the D.N.A. on Sunday the 13th, which I performed at accompanying The Grand Negress Godiva. Klubstitute was one of the reasons I moved to San Francisco. I attended about the 2nd one when I was in San Francisco for the Out/Write conference in 1990, when I still lived in Minneapolis. Actually, then I missed most of the show. But I saw plenty more Klubstitutes after I moved to SF in 1992. I never performed at one before. But it was nice to now. It was kind of a reunion - people chattering who hadn't seen each other in years. Not too many of the younger generation who now throng to Trannyshack or the local queer rock shows. Phil Ford did drag and lipsynched a Mrs. Miller song. There was a wonderful Ethel Merman impersonator who sang with her own voice, had a huge wig and looked like a living cartoon. She did a version of "La Vida Loca" with changed words - I don't think the original mentions Almond Roca. There were a few of the Klubstitute faux queens - genetic women dressed as drag queens - one lip-synched to her own voice in a song parodying Madonna's Material Girl but about living in a "mostly gay world."
The thing is, much as it's nice to have the name of Klubstitute carried on, in some ways the mostly drag show thing it's become isn't so true to Diet and the other Popstitute's original vision. The earlier Klubstitute shows were weirder, more performance oriented, misfit freaks. I saw stuff like Robbie D. building a wooden frame around himself in the middle of the dance floor. There were hors d'oeuvres given away for free, and people were made to feel welcome. I heard about legendary stuff like when Klubstitute tried to do a night in the East Bay, Klubstitute set designer Tyler Popstitute dressed up as Counselor Deanna Troi and staffed a psychic coming-out booth to help troubled youth.
At this Sunday's event, the artist formerly known as Remix Von Popstitute, Alvin Orloff, wore a shirt with the words "nostalgia = death." That pretty much sums it up.
Saturday, Nov 20, 1999:
On this night in Los Angeles, I first went to a reading by contributors to the zines Ben Is Dead and Angry Thoreauan. A guy (whose name I don't remember now but will fill in later) read his piece from B.I.D. about the time he appeared on the dating game dressed as a superhero, and played a videotape of it. He also did a karaoke song in which he recited all 150 or so names of kinds of Pokemon, twice. The Rev. Tinear of A.T. read an autobiographical piece. Darby of B.I.D., who was a bit shaken from a car accident earlier in the evening, read a couple of very revealing autobiographical pieces.
Next I headed to G.I.M.P. Un-ltd, which is Vaginal Davis and Ron Athey's new performance club. Brendan Mullen was DJing. I got there too late to see house violinist Julie Fowells. Onstage was an odd metal fountain on wheels with a part in the air with nozzles squirting liquid. An unfleshy woman in underwear lounged her butt in the fountain. Four volunteers from the audience came on stage and drak from the liquid, which was alcohol. When the woman go out, her clothes were winestained pink.
Josie Roth played viola to a pre-recorded rhythm track and sang. The music was hypnotic and droning.
Nicole Blackman did spoken word - a piece about the life of a highschool slut, the teachers full of impotent concern. Then a chanted piece for Matthew Shepard with stage blood on her hands and face. She was dramatic without being overblown, letting the pauses carry the weight rather than speaking portentiously.
Lydia Lunch read from the advice column she does for GettingIt.com. It was amusing and got a good audience response, but I wished she had done more of a variety of pieces rather than all of the same kind.
I left, thinking that Kembra Pfahler of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black wasn't going to perform, but apparently she actually did.
I would definitely suggest a visit to G.I.M.P. - the audience was very attentive, a nice change from chattering rock audiences. The December G.I.M.P. is supposed to feature Ann Magnuson.
Thursday, Nov 11, 1999:
I haven't written one of these lately, but that doesn't mean I've been inactive. Sure, I haven't had one of my blockbuster four club nights, but I have done various stuff - a day of the dead cabaret performance by Cara Vida, a screening of the Homocore Minneapolis documentary and the new Monika Treut film, Gendernauts, at Trannyfest, a Cockettes Halloween party, a comedy show by Mark Davis, Karen Ripley, and Sara Felder, a performance by comedian Kate Clinton, and went to (and performed at) the queer open mike K'vetsh.
Last night I went to a benefit for The Free Radical, an alternative space/zine library/community center that I'm involved in planning. OK, conflict of interest time - I performed, playing my DX7 for The Grand Negress Godiva. I guess it's unethical for me to review our performance, but I thought it went pretty well - we played Prince's "I Would Die For You", Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and a medley of Cheap Trick's "Auf Wiedersehen," Van Halen's "Jump", and the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation." There were several other performers - one guy who played some original tunes on plugged-in acoustic guitar put me in mind of Rob Crowe of Optiganally Yours. He had some short, amusing songs like one about building a city on landfill on a faultline. A women performed wearing a white dress and body paint near a black light so she glowed as she read poetry. Dawn of Aquarius read his poem about being on the edge of his own age.
Still dressed in my tuxedo, I headed down to the Bottom of the Hill, where Momus was playing. I'd already bought a ticket for his Saturday show, but I figured I might as well see him tonight as well. When I got there, Toog was performing. I'm not going to be an ugly American and complain that I couldn't understand the lyrics, which are mostly in French. I bought a copy of his CD afterwards, and it fortunately for me has a bilingual lyric book. He did have a few songs in English. The musical backings were very nicely arranged - ah music, the international language. He had one song about wanting to get a Jackalope for his girlfriend - I think the point was that she wanted a live one, not a stuffed one. Momus accompanied Toog on some of his songs.
Kahimi Karie was scheduled to appear on the tour, but she was unable to make it due to visa problems. Momus (wearing a kilt and a sweater with Llamas on it) performed "I am a kitten", a song he'd written for her. When Kahimi's voice popped up on the backing track, he looked around for her, to the audience's amusement. I don't want to give away too much of the between-song banter or ways that he twisted around songs in live performance while he's still on tour, since I don't expect performers to come up with all new banter at every show. Things that will be different at every show, though, are the song caricatures. The conceit of Momus' last record, Stars Forever, was that he charged $1000 per person for a song portrait. At shows on this tour, he is charging 1% of that, $10, for an instant song caricature. He asked for volunteers from the audience, and then brought each victim on stage to be interviewed, and played a song on the spot, in some cases even requesting a suggestion of musical style.
I managed to be one of the volunteers. It probably helped that I was still wearing the tuxedo I'd performed in earlier (do I always dress up for Momus shows? Last year he performed on Halloween and I wore a tamagotchi costume) and that I stood by the side of the stage where I was easily visible. After the performance, I was given a tape of the song, but unfortunately the polaroid camera was out of film so I didn't get a picture of myself grinning with Momus.
Wednesday, Oct 27, 1999:
After a meeting of my writing group, I took the bus in the rain down to the Coco Club. Because I didn't get there until about 10:30, I missed the first band, Agent For Allied. I've seen them before, but a proper review is unfortunately going to have to wait for another time.
When I got there, the Subtonix were warming up, and they started just a couple minutes later. They're currently between guitarists - Colleen hasn't been playing with them lately. So they had a guy (whose name I forget...) filling in on guitar. The other members of the band are Brandi on keyboards, Jessie Trashed on sax, Christina on drums, and Jessy Panic on bass and vocals. (I'm gonna have to double-check my spelling from their demo tape.) There's pix of the band at Heartcore's website. You can write the band at 225 San Jose Ave, SF CA 94110.
Their sound is influenced by X-Ray Spex, as you might expect from the sax, but there's a darker edge to it. They usually wear blood on stage.
The headliner of the night was The Lies. The lead singer is Dale, who used to be in the British band Blood Sausage. After that he was in a band called Bonnot Gang, which I never heard. This KRS Factsheet filled me in on the other members of the band. The factsheet doesn't list who plays what, but the other people played drums, two guitars, and keyboards - no bass. This was my first exposure to their music, either in recorded or live form. It seemed to be largely based on repeated phrases of a few notes, setting up a drone. Dale kept his mike stand at half mast, sometimes standing on a higher step of the stage than the stand, bent over and loudly vocalizing, throwing himself entirely into the creation of sound.
Saturday, Oct 23, 1999:
Just to make it clear, since the column is called "After Last Night" I write it the day after I do something. (The name is stolen from an old column Will Jones, author of the cookbook "Wild in the Kitchen" used to do in the Minneapolis Tribune.) But the date at the top of the column is the date on which the events happened. Clear?
Yesterday afternoon I distributed campaign literature for Tom Ammiano, who is running a write-in campaign for Mayor of San Francisco.
I tried to go to the Queer Kid Radio benefit show at the Long Haul in Berkeley, but when I showed up at 7 the place was locked and nobody was there. There was a calendar in the window that listed that as the time. My efforts to find out details on the phone earlier proved fruitless. Anyway, I had dinner at La Peņa, and afterwards, there was still nobody at the Long Haul. So I took off.
Next stop was the Great American Music Hall. Jim Fouratt had invited me to come see Cindy Bullens. Cindy, a guitar player and singer, released two albums in the late 70s, one in 1989, and has a new one. I just got her second and third albums, and haven't had much time to absorb them, but her second one is kind of power-poppy, and I think tracks from it could be slipped in by a rock club DJ with better-known material and people would enjoy it. The tool I used for researching the past albums is the All Music Guide. The new album, Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth, is inspired by the life and death from Hodgkin's disease of her daughter. Bonnie Raitt appeared live at the concert on two of the songs, and she's on the album, as well as Lucinda Williams, Bryan Adams, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and Rodney Crowell. Live, Cindy performed on acoustic guitar, as did Bonnie Raitt on one of the songs, playing with a slide, and she was otherwise accommpanied just by a drummer. While the recorded album is not excessively glossy, I found the stripped-down live form more condusive as an introduction to the songs than listening to the clips at an on-line CD sales site. These songs are very sincere, and Cindy's strong voice delivers an emotional impact.
Cindy was opening for this band Moxy Furvous. I hadn't heard of them before, but the name sounded kind of Santa Cruz to me. I was having a hard time placing their influences - they all sing, they have a stand-up drummer, and all I could come up with was more Eagles than Beach Boys. But then it became clear that they were Canadians, and it clicked - Bare Naked Ladies. Or even the Nylons. The drummer kind of had a C. Bard Cole look going. One of the guys in the band made the mistake of wearing shades, which I think distances the performer and the audience.
After having enough of that, we took off to North Beach and the Cocodrie to see Tribe 8. They put on a good show as usual, Lynn Breedlove stalking the stage barechested and sporting a dildo. They did an "Iggy Pop" version of "Manipulate" that was quite different from recorded versions - it's always nice to see rearrangements live. The show wound up with flaming guitars and with the band bringing a bunch of women on stage to dance to "Radar Love." I don't really understand why they cover that song, but I can understand their cover of Black Flag's "Rise Above," for which Lynn forced Aaron Detroit of the Little Deaths to suck her cock.
I stayed for three songs from Royal Trux, but as I don't have any of their records except maybe an early single, I didn't feel obligated to stay longer. I do think, though, that while it's generally a mistake to perform in sunglasses, Jennifer pulls it off pretty well.
Tuesday, Oct 19, 1999:
Until tonight, I hadn't been out to see a performance since my busy night of the 16th. I went to a meeting for the Free Radical community center/infoshop on Sunday night.
Tonight I continued my spree, starting at Josie's for a one-woman show by Amma called "In Search of my Clitoris." Amma is from Liberia, and she was subjected to so-called female circumcision, the removal of the clitoris. She is a comedian, and her performance involves rapid shifts from humor to pathos. It's a parallel to her description of the ceremony, in which the village gathers and dances and has a good time, and then the girls are taken away for the operation - the joyous is mixed with the horrific. After the performance, there was a discussion of the issue. It was very effective to hear someone with this direct experience speak. The show's run at Josie's is over, but Amma plans to perform it next in Berkeley.
Speaking of Josie's, it will be closing soon, and they're saying that next Monday is the last-ever Gay Comedy Open Mike. So be sure to be there. This is a huge loss. Also, the Tom Ammiano for Mayor writein campaign headquarters is Josie's, so stop by Saturday at 11 to help elect Tom.
After the show at Josie's, I went on to the Covered Wagon's metal night, Lucifer's Hammer, for a performance by Guillotine. When I got there, it was still an hour until the band was going to go on, so I went down the street with Guillotine members Traci and Rainy to the Hole in the Wall. I talked with DJ Don Baird, who's also a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times. I told him that I'd always wanted to be in a gay bar that played Big Black's Fists of Love, and he was able to instantly play my request. He also played music I hadn't heard before by The White Strips and Zen Guerilla.
Then back to the CW for Guillotine. They have a new guitarist, who has played a couple shows with them already, including the Castro Street Fair, which I missed due to being in New York. They played several new songs. Godiva, the lead singer, was dressed in a white baby doll dress and had white makeup on. Their music has a rhythmic variation reminiscent of Babes in Toyland, the Throwing Muses, or Fifth Column. The bass is more of a lead instrument than the guitar, and the sound is rhythm-heavy.
The headliner at Lucifer's Hammer was the Thrones. This is the one-man band of Joe Preston, formerly of the Melvins. I can't understand why they're not better-known in this backwater country - I imagine they must be playing in concert halls in Europe. The Thrones aren't playing their double-necked bass anymore, instead using a natural-wood bass with a Fender-type body. This is augmented by guitar synth and a Roland 505, and something in that setup creates unearthly noises. The sound was excellent. My only complaint is that they have been performing the same material for a while. When I saw them open for Fugazi several months ago, they played a very similar set. But if you haven't seen that set yet, you should check out the Thrones.
Saturday, Oct 16, 1999:
Busy night! First I missed a bus and walked down to Josie's to see my boyfriend Nick Leonard open for comedian Scott Capurro. Also performing was Michelle Collins. Capurro, who did the voice of the sportcaster's Huttese-speaking head in that awful Star Wars movie (Greg Proops played the other head) has been pushing the edge a lot recently, getting right up to the point of alienating the audience. He quizzed a nice straight couple in the front row about their sex life. Somehow I don't find his pushing of the envelope of political correctness annoying the way I do with some other comedians, and I can't put my finger on exactly why. He's got great facial expressions, too. You can see the master at work two more times this week, at 8 and 10 on Saturday.
Next Nick and I went to see Emo Phillips at Cobb's. I thought the opening acts were kind of lame. One of them had to deal with a drunken heckler somewhere between middle aged and elderly. Fortunately he shut up during Emo's set, but there was an overzealous fan who actually shouted out a punch line at one point. Emo is still using the same publicity stills, but he's cut his hair and he's gone a bit grey. He's still got that trick of putting tags on jokes that twist their meaning, and that odd body language. He'll be at Cobb's Saturday and Sunday.
I stopped off at Kimo's on Polk. Unfortunately, I missed the Knives, a band which includes Jesse Trashed of the Subtonix. She was still there and gave me a flyer for the Lies (ex-Blood Sausage and Bonnot Gang), Subtonix, and Agent for Allied show on Oct 27th at the Coco Club. See Queer Things to do in San Francisco for more details. Playing when I was there were Venus Bleeding. The female lead singer was dressed like Axl Rose and the rest of the women in the band were dressed like Slash. I guess that's part of the "bands in drag" thing that happens at Kimo's.
Then I headed down to the Tip Top, where the Pre-teens were playing. I hadn't seen them before, but I've reviewed their demo tape. I recognized a couple of songs from the tape. They also did a cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" that reminded me of the time I went to see the Rain Parade when they were opening for Don Henley, and the ex-Eagle's fans booed them. The Pre-teens say they've moved up to San Francisco from Santa Cruz, so hopefully they will play more local shows. Supposedly most local bands boycot this echoey concrete room due to a past conflict with the bar but I don't know all the details.
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