Live Review: Darren Keen, Stolen Kisses…

Category: Blog — @ 9:47 pm January 28, 2009

I’ve been following Darren Keen’s career for years, since 2003 when I first interviewed him as The Show Is the Rainbow. TSITR shows are mad, freak-out events, part dance party, part performance art, part AV extravaganza. TSITR recordings and performances have been inaccurately compared to Har Mar Superstar because of their sheer mad-cap quality even though TSITR leans more toward experimental-noise-rap than HMS’s comedy-dance-underwear shows.

That said, last night’s CD release show for Darren Keen — not TSITR — was the most entertaining thing I’ve seen/heard Keen perform — a straight-up psychedelic rock show with a bit of standup/personal confession/monologue tossed in between songs. Keen approaches songwriting in a way that so few non-Creek local singer-songwriters are able to — he writes about his life and how he’s living it. His songs aren’t cliché, made-up rock fantasies, but small scenes from his personal reality. We got about 45 minutes of Keen singing about crushes suffered at Urban Outfitters, being broke and in debt, drug fantasies in Germany, messages to his mother, bizarre love triangles and other moments from his everyday sordid life.

TSITR fans may not be aware of this, but anyone who remembers Musico knows that Keen is something of a guitar virtuoso — a real showman. And he’s smart enough to surround himself with other virtuosos on keyboards and drums. So while his new record is a somewhat restrained, stripped down, keyboard-dominated affair, the live rendition is pure rock spectacle. And I loved it.

The irony (to me, anyway) is that Keen as TSITR just signed to Retard Disco Records (Gravy Train!!!, Hawnay Troof) and has a new TSITR album coming out this spring, which means he’ll be stuck touring his one-man show for the next six months or so, and neglecting the music that I heard last night. Is this merely a Keen side project in the vein of Sean Na Na? If so, it’d be a shame.

I did catch most of the Stolen Kisses’ set. Here’s a four-piece that consists of guys dressed in collared shirts and sweaters, tweed jacket and turtleneck, playing ’60s-style garage rock that recalls early Velvets and MC5 and the bands that influenced them. We’re talking stuff like “This Magic Moment,” and “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky.” I thoroughly dug it, but from what I gleaned by comments made on stage, some of the band’s members might be moving away. I don’t know that for a fact, but if it’s true, it’s another shame.

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Column 207 — about Twitter — will appear tomorrow. Sorry about the delay.

BTW, if you were thinking of going to that Kevin Costner show at Slowdown tomorrow night, you’re all out of luck.

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