This past weekend was a flurry of activity beginning with the Friday night show at Mr. T's Bowl. But Saturday, December 6, 2008, was the centerpiece.
First I attended an afternoon screening of Doubt in which Meryl Streep's performance, at times, left me gasping for air. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are equally fine, but Streep blew the lid right off the top of my head. It's a fine play, beautifully filmed by it's author, John Patrick Shanley.
With that lighting a fire beneath me, I took off for Pehrspace to try to see as much of the Ema and The Ghosts EP release party as I could. Ema had invited the wonderful bands, The Sweet Hurt, Karabel Nightlife and The Monolators to fill the bill. But I also wanted to get downtown to see Death To Anders at the Zero Film Festival. This might take some careful juggling.
A good crowd assembled as The Sweet Hurt serenaded us with their soft, sweet harmonies. Wendy Wang's music is really lovely and beautifully sung.
Next, Ema and The Ghosts played another set of her quirky, improvisational-sounding story/songs in her distinctive voice. I hear influences ranging from Joni Mitchell to Melanie, from Bjork to Joanna Newsom. This girl has her own voice, though, and a wonderful talent, accompanying herself on ukulele and accordion and displaying ability far beyond her years.
I was happy to have the opportunity to chat with her dad for a while, too. Elaine Layabout had come back from delivering the Anders boys downtown, to see her daughter perform, and we were going to go back to see Death To Anders play, but the logistics of the Zero Film Festival got a little muddled and we spent the entire Karabel Nightlife set out in the parking lot trying to figure out when D To A would go on.
They couldn't go on till after midnight so we were able to stay for The Monolators. They provided the usual high-energy tonic for the night and Eli was in great voice as he blazed his way through song after song. Man, can that band play fast, with Mary's extraordinary drumming leading the charge.
That left me primed for running downtown to catch some more music. It had to have been one in the morning when we walked into the bright, white, overly 'designed' building on Main Street. The few Silverlakers already there seemed pleased to see a troupe of familiar faces coming in.
After chatting with Rob, Nick, Pete and John of Death To Anders and Christian of The Transmissions we all headed for the roof, where a band was playing some generic sounding indie-rock under a blustery sky that kept dripping random raindrops onto us.
When they finished, the crowd thinned, it was 1:15 after all. Death To Anders took the stage and began a very promising set. In spite of the late hour, they played with invigorating energy, right up until the cops showed up.
It was 2 AM and the festival permit only went to 2, so they had to shut us down. Being indie-rockers, everyone said, "O.K." and went home.
Actually, the whole night had been one hell of a good time.
Sunday (December 7, 2008), in spite of being beat, I went over to El Cid to catch Oliwa and the Pleasure Circus Band, who promised a festive set. Henry Wolfe opened with his band and I enjoyed what I heard, even though I only saw the second half of his set. It was smart, upbeat indie-rock with horns and keyboards and a nice range of musicians, including Oliver and others from The Pleasure Circus.
I stayed for a few songs by Oliwa and The Pleasure Circus Band, but I was totally tired and had to go home. I enjoyed their whole carnivalesque mystique and the songs are jaunty, instrumental pieces with a heavy gypsy-folk-punk flavor. Sometimes there was just too much going on, but I think these are talented musicians and would love to hear them some more. They play the El Cid again next Sunday, December 14 and I may try to give them a fairer shot.