Tags: music


in which the two largest organs in kevin's body share a beer

Two months ago, after one of his friends' shows, Kevin sticks around and chats with the band. He has a particularly pleasant conversation with the pianist, a petite, friendly gal with tulip tattoos on each arm and a red feather in her hair. She giggles and smiles whenever she looks at him, though she seems to do that for everybody--Kevin can't really tell if she favors him in particular. When the next few bands come up she and Kevin sit by each other, whispering to each other, and Kevin discovers that underneath her bubbly exterior is a deep weariness--the flip side of the adventurousness that comes with choosing to dedicate oneself to music full time, after years of trying to fit it in between shitty day jobs. She's talented, brave, and penniless. "I'm twenty-seven," she explains, "and I'm not getting any younger. It's now or never." Kevin relates.

When happier music takes the stage, they get up and dance. There are six people in the audience and the two of them are the only ones dancing.

At the end of the night Kevin helps his friend's band pack up their instruments and carry them to the subway station. The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the iconic album art for the Beatles' Abbey Road, with the four band members lugging their instruments over a crosswalk. It differs from Abbey Road in that there is a fifth person trailing behind them, ferrying an amp. Kevin sets down the amp, thanks the band for a great performance, high-fives his friend, hugs the pianist, and walks away.

He then goes to a bodega and buys a beer, which he brings back to his apartment and drinks by himself.

Scene. Collapse )
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    Artie Schroeck Implosion - Do You Believe In Magic
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robot builder ray: a children's story

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Ray.

(Illustration of a spiky-haired boy, about eight or nine years old, wearing a welding mask on his forehead and a yellow shirt on his body. Not necessarily anime, but he clearly intends to look like it. A little steampunky. Backgrounds are minimalist, maybe just a couple of washed out hues.)

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plug! shameless!

Anna Leuchtenberger, Shawn Roggenkamp, Jon Good, and Noah Booth performing at The Tank for Josh Luxembourg and Nick Aszling's Puppet Playlist. These guys are frickin' amazing and I'm not just saying that because they're my friends. Video speaks for itself.

There's another Puppet Playlist this weekend, with the theme "One Hit Wonders." Tonight's sold out, but there's still tickets left for tomorrow night at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM. If you're in the city, you should go.

enough residual energy to fill an E can




Man I suck at meeting new people. I guess that's one thing I've never given up about being a nerd--though my social skills have vastly improved, I'm still no good at starting conversations with strangers. (Once a conversation gets going I'm good to go, but that first step is still awkward and terrifying.) Fortunately, the great thing about nerds is that they're no different. NERD COMMUNITY MOTHERFUCKER YEAAAAAAAAH

And all the ladies my age are taken. All of them. Everywhere. There's no point in even flirting anymore. If you like it someone else has put a ring on it, woh oh oh.


*several minutes of continued fratboy screaming*

*continuous headbanging*

8-bit tankbusters!!

Brief flash-forward to New York before I continue writing about Cupertino.

Last month, when by amazing dumb luck I met Tob, the guy who did NitroTracker and the DS MIDI Interface, he told me about a little chiptune concert series in the city that he was planning to stop by the next day before he returned to Germany. "It's called Pulsewave," he explained. "I am interested to see what you Americans are doing with chiptune music. I hear you guys have done amazing things using Game Boy and Game Boy Advance sound chips as instruments."

"Sounds cool," I said. "Where is it?"

He scratched his head a bit. "It's not a large venue, very small, I hear," he said. "A little theater off a side alley in Times Square called the Tank..."


You're shitting me. That Tank? The little off-Broadway theater where my Oberlin friends Josh Luxenbourg and Jon Levin do Puppet Playlist, where I've heard Jon Good and Anna and all the others perform? Goodness. The bigger this city gets, the smaller this city gets.

Alas, I couldn't make it that Saturday due to prior commitments. But when I heard there was going to be another one last night, I couldn't pass up the chance.
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"words are like dollars, what's backing them?"

For the past two months I have done virtually nothing but make, play, and talk about video games. While that has been great for moving forward with my life, it is putting me at serious risk of burning out--and the biggest, most intense parts are yet to come. So today I took a break and went to see Oberlin friend Tom Curtin play a set at a bar just outside Ass-Nowhere, Hipsterville.

Goodness did it feel great to be in that world again--that world with the sharp, twangy report of the acoustic guitar, and the nostril-searing sting of cheap booze, and the motes of dust floating in the halos of purple and orange above the mic and the bathroom stairs incandescent with band stickers and neon glare. Sometimes it's easy to forget. Sometimes I tell myself, who are you kidding, Kevin, you're a geek. Go back to your video games. Go wear your snarky webcomic t-shirt to that chiptune concert at the Tank tonight, be with your kind in a laser-lit roomful of gangly males, bobbing their heads slowly and thoughtfully to a DJ sweet with the plastic rot of beige. You have a place in that world, and that world has a place for you. You love it there. Go there, and never again to sitting alone, in a chair at the edge of the room, to this cold, lonely, booze-soft bar-land, this midnight den of cigarette ash and bedroom voices, where no one ever looks you in the eye.

But good God, how could I? Leaving this world, it'd be like cutting off my big toe. It's been a part of me longer than anyone who has known me may ever know, despite being something I can never do myself; it runs deeper in my soul than love or art or even video games. And the moment I hear the crack of Tom's fingers against the strings and the gentle, sad, McCartneyesque wail of his voice some part of me that has been empty since Oberlin fills up, just a bit, and that vast, rolling ocean between me and all the people who are hopeful and sincere and true to their souls, the people who sleep art and dream magic, among whom I am but a charlatan, feels just that much smaller.

The next band to play after Tom was a buoyant, screaming, Stratocaster-wielding trio of fucking awesome jump-up-and-downers called the Telethons, whose music fits in a rather enjoyable place between the sheer facefuck energy of punk and the cool melodic grooves of classic rock. Their sound, loud and giddy and thermonuclearly forceful and colossally stupid (the chorus to one of their songs goes, I kid you not, "CHORD! CHORD! CHORD! OTHER CHORD!!"), despite being the polar opposite of Tom's in delivery, lyricism, and style, captures the ambience of the dive-bar stage just as perfectly. Tom's music soothes your soul; the Telethons' blasts it through a hole in the side of your face. And somehow putting those two acts back-to-back on the same stage, at the same show, felt just right.

Tom calls me, in the humblest and most self-deprecating way possible, his number one fan. I apparently show up to more of his shows than any of his other friends. I am one of maybe six or seven people who actually know his repertoire well enough to sing along. Which is something I've done for most of my friends' bands; Billy the Kid once joked that I went to more Huzzah for the Shopkeep shows than he did, and he was their frontman. It has struck me that being that person has become a part of who I am--that stranger, that one guy by himself, cheering at every parkside performance, tapping his feet in every bar, screaming at every rock show, dancing in every mosh pit. Trying to make friends with your group of buddies afterwards. Creeping you out. Musicians I have never met, but see often, sometimes offer me hugs and handshakes after their sets--I have contributed nothing to the experience, yet they see me and they see the show itself.

I guess I do have a place in that world after all--if only as everyone's groupie.

I met Not Anna at the show tonight--no. That's not fair. Why would you even. No one is Not anybody. But I guess I can call her Not Anna, because I honestly thought it was her. Same build, same hair, same gait, same vintage dress, selling art in the corner of the concert area, but, truly, not Anna. No, she was Lulu, last of the cave painters--the kind who in ancient times would scrawl scenes from your everyday life on your walls--selling minimalist charcoal drawings of plants and animals inspired by the mystical power of nature. A very different-souled creature. She set up burning candles in the spaces between a grid of homemade hand-drawn animalist tarot cards, which you could flip over to determine your fate, and buy and take home to protect you, which in turn were watched over by a large plastic statue of a giraffe. There was a stylized drawing of a turnip, which I almost bought to magnet on my fridge, mostly because it was pleasingly familiar in the same way that a child is pleased looking at a photograph of himself for the first time. I can almost imagine my housemates asking: "Why did you put a picture of a turnip in our kitch--oh. You know, that actually makes a weird kind of sense." I am resisting the urge to decorate my room with crude images of neon signs, iPads, TV dinners, perhaps a group of spear-wielding businessmen hunting a bus.

...I am shit drunk right now, aren't I. Oh God.

LJ entry, you will be lucky if you survive tomorrow morning.
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next level beats from south africa

Some background. I am aware that these guys aren't actually Afrikaner zef (the cultural equivalent in America is what we call "white trash") and that the entire act is South African hipster performance art. Who cares. It's a brilliant piece of performance art, with far more to say than "haute couture is awesome" (Lady Gaga) or "people are too uptight" (all of Sacha Baron Cohen's personas).

On a related note, fellow Americans, our worldview is way too small. I reiterate my position that races are nothing more than arbitrarily drawn lines in the sand.

every day's great at your junes

Most of the people on my flist who still read this journal won't get this, but anyone who's been to Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea will. Within seconds, at most.

This song is far more catchy than any of FamilyMart's actual advertising--and more relevant to their brand. (Nooooo! I'm half the world away from the nearest FamilyMart and I still can't get that little jingle out of my head!)

You know you've transcended from "mega-corporation" to "cultural institution" when people not affiliated with your company write a sentimental pop song* about your stores. Taiwanese blogger MUTEBKTK, who was immediately inspired to make an unlistenable remix of the song the moment he heard it, observes that the song is not just a commentary on Japanese convenience stores but on the loneliness and alienation of contemporary urban life. In the past, we had family to welcome us with a bowl of warm food when we came home from work; now, the one who welcomes us home with a warm bowl of food is FamilyMart. (全家就是你家!) The blogger finds this poignant. I find it sad.

(The attitude is a little dated, too, but hey, Taiwan and Japan are still very traditional, patriarchal societies; modernity is just now bringing them through the same kind of familial separation anxiety that America experienced fifty years ago.)

*"Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" is only a sentimental pop song if you're high

(edit) Oh, hey, looks like there's a Taiwanese version. This one incorporates the jingle with the advertising slogan from the Taiwanese television commercials (some commenters are calling it the "FamilyMart brainwashing song"), and, as such, it is quite possibly the most annoying song I have ever heard.