Sunday, March 2, 2008

Live From New York; The Directors Cut

Soft Circle and High Places

Man, I wish Marijuana wasn’t a drug because then I could smoke it. After arriving at The Silent Barn in Bushwick (the city most likely awaiting you in purgatory) the tireless quest to keep going past one in the morning on a snowy winter New York night had my mouth watering for the cannabis. I began to settle in only to discover that a thin layer of hatred was resting on my shoulders and pinching my nerves. One thing I’ve learned in sobriety is that sadness is dormant anger, and let me tell you, I’m one angry bitch. But surely the pursuits of the bad, well meaning poets I had just escaped at a reading in Clinton Hill was not enough to justify this feeling, rather I discovered that what had me disgruntled was that the older I get the more I seem to be loosing my sense of humor. I can no longer justify “laughing” things off when so many people suffer needlessly and others march on in the name of ignorance. The more this knowledge pervades my sense of identity the more I am unable to bypass other people’s attitudes and careless, negligent “free speech”. The old adage of sticks and stones, for me, no longer applies. Words do hurt and carry a powerful punch. Bones can heal but psychological damage is insidious and long lasting and we can see it reflected in the people around us.
As you can imagine it’s made writing this column very hard as I’m finding it increasingly difficult to express these sentiments in a format that’s not always appropriate. These past two weeks I’ve found myself raging at anyone who comes into my path about everything from the election to personal responsibility in advertising. My first love, and for many years my only passion, music, seemed to be getting pushed to the background. I just couldn’t fit together a place in my life where it seemed urgent and necessary. And how was I to start reconciling my complicated pure love of such bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin? Groups who most definitely do not align themselves with my political leanings, and how do I begin to disengage myself from the fray of my own anger? (One of my favorite words is cooter).
Grumbling in the back of the room on a wet beer soaked couch in a sea of youngsters subjecting myself to The Lucky Dragons and a blinking light show of aneurysm inducing proportions (yes, yes, I know they're going to be in the Bienial) I contemplated these things. And then like Chris Cornell’s voice slicing through a black and cloudy day High Places began to play. Instantly ripping me back into the present, a place I spent so many years tirelessly trying to escape. HeeHaw had pushed her way to the front some time ago during Soft Circle’s set- an incessant percussion based noise experiment with uplifting loops and surprises! Very fun if you’re not in a rotten tomato mood - I could see her smiling now with surprise. High Places is one of those bands that, at the risk of sounding flip, sounds new. Their happy, heavily layered music often dips into moments of Club Med commercial silliness, but it comes across as earnest rather than contrived. Much like the kitty on the skateboard that adorns their Myspace background. If not in better hands their sound could easily fall flat on its face in the name of minstrel tendencies (much of the songs flirt with Caribbean beats). Rather lead singer Mary Parson sings with the honest curiosity of following her percussionist to see where he leads her. I got the feeling that she was the Alice to his white rabbit. Her voice floats between monotone barking and bird like trills. And Rob Barber’s “melodies” change so quickly that just when you’ve figured out where he’s going he’s left you. Hee Haw wasn’t the only one thrilled to find herself at the end of this long and convoluted night, it was a smile that I was sharing. It was recognition that there are indeed exciting and refreshing things happening in the world on a daily basis, and while I don’t think we can sweep away the agony and suffering of millions we can indeed work to alleviate it. And that is something I want to be a part of. If simply by letting others know that I am angry and that if you are too, you’re not alone. Hopefully that other saying, “Last but not least” is true, it was Friday night at Silent Barn. Our time will come.