Hello, Film Streams; Handsome Furs, The Winter Sounds, St. Vincent all tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:45 pm July 25, 2007

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I go to as many movies as I do rock shows, maybe more. I see everything, not only the high-falutin’ indie and foreign flicks at The Dundee (Once, After the Wedding, etc.), but also the popcorn fluff at the cineplexes (Harry Potter, Fantastic Four, Ratatouille). And I love them all, except for the shitty ones, which — just like shitty bands — are plenty and hard to avoid.

Anyway… tonight is special for a non-musical reason: It’s the press opening of the Ruth Sokolof Theater down at the Slowdown complex — i.e., the grand opening of Film Streams. Actually, one of the first screenings was last night for city big-wigs and the high-end donors who are making the whole thing possible. Tonight is the press screening. Tomorrow is yet another event (I’m not sure who’s invited) and Friday is the hoi polloi opening. Watch for the spotlights.

When Rachel Jacobson told me about the project back in 2005 (for this story), I thought it was a no-brainer — it was an even better idea than Slowdown, quite frankly. The only theaters screening indie films at the time were that grand old dame The Dundee, and its ghetto twin, the $2 Westwood Cinema 8. Now two years later, the AMC Oakview has dedicated a couple screens to indie films, and theaters in the new Mutual of Omaha and Aksarben developments also are likely to screen a few indie films. That’s more competition, but if the Film Streams’ auditoriums (two of them — 209 seats and 96 seats) are as state-of-the-art and comfortable as originally planned, it won’t matter. Film Streams is more of an arts organization than a movie theater anyway, a non-profit that depends on the kindness of strangers for its financial well-being. And there are plenty of strangers in Omaha willing to lend a hand if it means getting quality films shown in this town. I bought my membership weeks ago. You can too, right here. $50 is a small price to pay to get access to films that I only used to read about in my subscription to Time Out New York. And, yeah, you can always Netflix them, but really, there’s no comparing watching a film at home on a plasma to a movie theater experience.

Tonight’s screening emphasizes a problem with Slowdown that I’ve mentioned before — their 8-sharp start time for rock shows. Because I’ll be walking the streets of France via the Sokolof Theater this evening, I’m going to miss Handsome Furs and Latitude Longitude at Slowdown Jr. The bands will just be leaving the stage when the final frames of La Vie en Rose burns on the virgin screen. A pity, because the new Handsome Furs disc, release by Sub Pop, is Neil Young meets Arcade Fire, with lead vocalist Dan Boeckner (also of Wolf Parade), providing the lonesome moan over the Crazy Horse-style guitars. $10, 8 p.m.

Well, the movie should be over in plenty of time to make it out to the other hot shows tonight. The sleeper is Winter Sounds at The Saddle Creek Bar with The Lemurs and Hyannis. In its more laid-back moments, Athens Georgia’s Winter Sounds is like Minus the Bear fronted by Bob Welch (who remembers “Ebony Eyes”?). They’re at their best when trying to be dreamy and psychedelic vs. when they’re doing the usual indie stutter-step guitar stuff we’ve all come to know and yawn over. Hyannis just finished recording the final two tracks of their upcoming EP, Off the Reels. $5. 9 p.m.

The other prime show is St. Vincent at The Waiting Room with Scout Niblett, and Omaha’s Bear Country. St. Vincent is singer-songwriter Annie Clark, a veteran guitarist for both The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens. Her new album, Marry Me (on Beggars) is stunningly beautiful, mixing upbeat ballads with a voice reminiscent of (this is really gonna date me) Carly Simon. She works with a number of accompanists on the record, including Bowie pianist Mike Garson and a horn section. But tonight I believe she’ll be doing it solo, probably with backing tracks. I fear it could be more of a PJ Harvey 4-track Demos-style presentation than what we get on the record. If you’ve never seen Scout Niblett and her wig before, you’re in for a weird treat. The first time I saw Scout down at Sokol Underground, it was just her, her drum set and her boyfriend from Swearing at Motorists. The next time, a year or so later, it was her, her drum set, and her electric guitar (Though Ryan Fox lent a hand on one song). Scout looked like a spooky, stoned-out Chan Marshall with adult ADD. It’s weird stuff that borders on beat poetry and often includes crowd participation (you’ll likely be prompted to help with a few cheers). $10, 9 p.m.

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