I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Michael Jackson died yesterday.
Even in an indie haunt like The Slowdown, there was an underlying buzz about MJ’s passing last night. The discussion: Will another music performer ever reach the same heights of global deification as Jacko? In this new world of multi-media multi-channel multi-message communication, the answer is no. You’ve seen the last King of Pop. There is no room for royalty in a musical democracy where anyone can listen to anything anytime.
Jackson first and foremost was a performer. Unlike Springsteen or Prince or The Beatles, he wasn’t known as a musician and he only wrote about a third of his songs (which included some of the best tunes on Thriller). Elvis was a performer. Sinatra was a performer. And though American Idol is designed to generate more and more performers, we’ll see fewer and fewer, and none that will equal the stature of those who came before them.
So here’s my question: When Dylan’s time comes, will he get as much attention as Jacko is now? I doubt it.
Actually, there is a new King of Pop, and his name is The Stay Awake. I’m sort of kidding (really?), though last night’s set by The Stay Awake in front about 50 at Slowdown Jr. was the closest this trio has come to making pop music. Their typical style is a ferocious wall of guitar, bass, drums, feedback and screaming, delivered with all the subtlety of a knee to the groin. The music is throbbing, jittery, staggering, at times hypnotic, but always ballistic and rarely boring. But last night there was even more of a throbbing vibe to their set; it seemed less random, more organized. It’s as if they’ve begun to evolve from a rhythmic, mathy noise collage band to something more…musical. And I like it. Kings of Pop indeed. (see action photo).
Deleted Scenes, a four-piece from the District of Columbia (see photo), played songs from their new album, Birdsheed Shirt, none of which I recognized. In fact, the band didn’t sound anything like their record, which is much more mannered and straight-forward than what I heard from stage. Part of the problem was the sound mix — it was way too bottom-heavy, too bassy, and that bass crushed everything in its path. Still, an interesting set, but not as interesting as their quaint, trippy pop record.
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Tonight Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band play again at The Anchor Inn. Those of you wondering whether it’s worth it, here’s a detailed review of when the band played at the Anchor Inn last September. It was a blast, and it’s likely going to be a blast tonight even if there aren’t any fireworks. Opening the show are Tilly and the Wall, Deep Sea Diver and Michael Runion. We all know Tilly. I have no idea who the other two are. Show starts at 8 and is $20.
Of course, also tonight is the annual concert in Memorial Park, this time featuring The Guess Who, Grand Funk Railroad, and the main attraction — fireworks. The show starts at 6 and please don’t park in front of my house. Thanks.
Afterward, you may want to swing down to The Sydney for a punk rock extravaganza featuring Pornhuskers, Blood Cow and Coffin Killers $5, 9 p.m.
Also tonight, O’Leaver’s is hosting No Blood Orphan with Matt Whipkey and Ashley Raines. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) Brooklyn band White Rabbits is playing at Slowdown Jr. The band’s new album was produced by Britt Daniel of Spoon. Also on the card, The Subjects and Little Black Stereo. $8, 9 p.m.
The Dinks return to O’Leaver’s Saturday for an eclectic show that includes The Lonely H and Western Electric. $5, 9:30 p.m.
The Sydney has Mal Madrigal and the horribly named Box of Baby Birds (from Chicago). $5, 9 p.m.
And Led Zep tribute band The Song Remains the Same returns to The Waiting Room with rock karaoke band Girl Drink Drunk. Here’s your chance to climb on stage and do your best MJ impersonation. $7, 9 p.m.
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