Friday, July 24, 2009

Semi Precious Weapons @ The Viper Room

First off, thanks to the Viper Room for randomly handing Tess and I pretty awesome shirts and the door. Must have been shirt night... I didn't know... so... pleasant surprise. Thanks! (actually, i just looked it up, apparently having tickets ahead of time gets you a shirt... thanks still though!)

Before I get into the awesome that is Semi Precious Weapons, I'd like to mention their opening bands (that I saw, I missed the first two but SPW rarely travels with crap so I'll certainly be checking them out shortly, Lady Sinatra and DJ High Voltage for anyone else interested):

Singapore was pretty decent but I gotta say they sort of made me want to listen to a couple other bands a bit. I told Tess they sounded like Jack White Horeconteurs Stripes... but I still very much enjoyed them. They have some solid lyrics, they play well and both of their singers have voices that fit well into the music they play. I'd have listed their myspace link here but I seriously can't find them... and there are a bunch of bands called Singapore on myspace. Hell I might even go so far as to buy them on itunes! gasp.

Purple Melon ( ) kicked so much ass. Despite Singapore making me crave some Jack White and Alison Mosshart, both they and Purple Melon played something I have not heard proper in a club in... ever...

ROCK AND ROLL! The way Lucifer intended!

The way it was meant to be played. With solos, tunes, lyrics about life that hit below the belt, long shaggy hair remincent of Led Zeppelin or Jefferson Airplane or any band really from the glory days of rock. They looked like they had style and not just American Apparel gift cards (and nothing else). The best part was they could play. Really play! They knew how to put on a show.

Purple Melon especially. Wow. They're from England, did a stellar cover of Baby I'm Amazed to close their set, won over the crowd and looked like they enjoyed being on stage together. I've only seen that a couple of times to be honest. Ima Robot put on a hell of a show at the Key Club a couple years back. But most shows I've gone to in the last few years featured bands whose members I couldn't tell apart (both from each other or other bands there). Bands that seemed to only know how to find their local American Apparells and Hot Topics and not much else. (I have nothing against Hot Topic or American Apparell in theory, but I do hate when people only wear ONE store just to wear THAT store). Rock N Roll doesn't need a uniform. Nobody should need instructions to know how to rock! (thank you ATHF fans who got that reference). So Purple Melon, thank you for an opening act I valued only a smidge less than the headliners (I just met you though so its not an insult! I also just realized also that they're playing a few shows in August around the LA area, so hopefully I can get to know them better).

Sure we need our dance music for dancing and our indie music for... I don't know... smelling how great our own farts are cuz we're so above it all (again, that's directed at the GENRE. Those who tried to hard to be Indie rather than just ending up there for being quirky... Brandon Flowers, I'm lookin' at you bub!). We need our acoustic ballads for rainy day weeping and whatever. We need are screamo/hardcore/grindcore for... actually do we need those? I guess we need those so when we hear some solid ROCK as delivered by the likes of a Purple Melon so we realize we're getting something special. I soaked up every minute, the whole crowd seemed to. Its nice to go to a show and not see a bunch of clones in skinny jeans and bangs only letting one eye be visible that looks at the ceiling or floor and while sighing loudly.

The first breath of fresh air though, in what I'm PRAYING is to be the thing to do in music (again... back for the first time... whatever) , to rock the hell out of the Knitting Factory (where I first saw them) and this time in the pleasantly small Viper Room...

SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS from New York Motherfucking City as lead singer Justin Tranter bellows often. He also calls his audience dirty filthy whores, sluts, kunts (Tranter's spelling) and whatever else he can think of. The Semi Precious Weapons perform like no other band I've personally had the pleasure of seeing. The only emotional response I've ever had as strongly as the one I have for SPW was seeing Arcade Fire at Cochella a while back... but thats a different sort of emoting than you do at SPW. This band makes you feel a little guilty for not being covered in eyeliner and glitter with your best heels on. Tranter is always as appropriately innappropriate as always in a sort of fishnet mini skirt thing with matching tights and silver high heeled boots that he kicked around stage in like he was born in them. He probably was.

They exploded onto stage in top form, making demands of the audience (at one point for titties Justin recquired for inspiration... sadly no one obliged at the Viper Room, the Knitting Factory gave 'em up easy). One fan up front, who looked more than a little past .o8 on the blood/alcohol scale, tried one to many times to get a hand on Tranter's body stocking and was met with this threat, "Don't touch me! Only ladies touch me! [pause] I'll hit you." Which was of course met with applause and laughter.

Tranter is certainly a huge ingredient into SPW's pressence, but his band is easily as much to blame. Guitarist Steven Pyne solos and shreds without missing a note while being kicked and thrown around stage to say nothing of his own leaping and bounding. Sadly the Viper Room's stage was a bit small so he ended up in booths and even laying on the standing room area floor a few times. At the Knitting Factory he finished an amazing solo standing on drummer Dan Crean's bass drum. Everyone in the band is on their game and seemingly launching notes like mortar shells. Basest Cole Whittle thrashes around stage like he's in his own personal mosh pit. Intensity doesn't begin to cover it.

I'm most thankful for SPW because I think its the closest I'll ever feel to seeing The Stooges (who I'm obviously way to young to have seen when they mattered). SPW does not give a fuck what you think. And they will tell you. Tranter told us all to shut up so he could sing a song they'd never performed before that would lift our hearts. One crowd member shouted is it Freebird? To which Tranter replied, "Who said "Freebird'? I'll stick a stillheto in your kunt!" Their new song Vamp was amazing, it was my first time hearing it too. They closed with the awesome ballad: Rock and Roll Never Looked So Beautiful... easily one of the greatest additions (especially lyrically) to the genre in YEARS.

I could go on. Just do yourself a favor and go check em out:

And whatever you think of their studio stuff, they're eyebleeding awesome live. They play Friday night and Saturday night at the Viper Room if anyone reads this in time. Otherwise get the record, watch for the next one and see them as soon as you fucking can you dirty filthy kunts!

Comic Recomendations Week of 7/24/09

let's see, this weeks stack:


Gotham City Sirens/Streets of Gotham: I'm sorry, I've loved Paul Dini in the past, the cartoons were great, but his work on Gotham City Sirens and Streets of Gotham is so BORING. We've got Dick Grayson playing Batman. There's a little psychopath as Robin. No one, even Gordon, quiet believes Batman is back, not even Two-Face as we saw in the latest issue of Batman. So what does Dini give us in Streets of Gotham? We have Firefly escaping Batman hanging onto him via grapple and this is the exchange we get:

Firefly: How does it feel to watch everyone you've tried to protect burn to death?

Batman (Dick Grayson): You're the only one going down in flames, Lynns!

Really? If this was gonna be Adam West territory could we get a warning on the cover? Streets of Gotham could have been a title that simultaneously told short stories (mini's and one shots) depicting street level life in the, as of late, chaotic Batless Gotham city and Dick Grayson's struggle to become the big man. We could have had Grayson intervien in very real (and nicely developed) situations tapping into the public's own fears in a chaotic economy that would have created instant interest, understanding and drama. Instead we get the same typical surface crap we've all read so many times that the above example may as well have been white noise.

Over on Sirens of Gotham, the nicely drawn issue #1 ended promisingly, Ivy and Harley torturing the identity of Batman out of Catwoman... but as issue 2 resolves that in a matter of pages... oh it ends up Talia taught Catwoman how to suppress that knowledge a long time ago so its all good. Thank you flashback that was simply told in flash back because the scene carried absolutely no drama otherwise. And Catwoman isn't even mad they turned on her like that after they torture her! She continues to let them stay at her new pad! And why? Female commradery... woooooooooo. Really? This is one of those 'I can tell this is a man trying to write chicks' books. I literally only care about one DC book right now and its the Morrison Batman and Robin. Everything else reeks of filler/rehashing/a totally lost company trying desperately to be relevent. And I used to be one of DC's strongest defenders... I hope they turn it around soon. There wasting a lot of good characters.

Onto the relevant company who understands how to make current political economic fears into comic storylines for added realism and stress


Nothing big big this week, the new Wolverine was really good. Anyone following the DKR storyline needs to grab this. Daniel Way is doing some great stuff with this book (much like his Deadpool book that I cannot reccomend enough). I can't explain it without killing the plot but suffice to say, it has Way's signature hard with a sense of humor dialogue and pretty great art too.

X-Men Utopia running through Uncanny and Dark Avengers right now is really interesting too. The whole 'villain running the show surrounded by other meglomaniacs who don't like following' is starting to come around to bite Osborne in the ass. His most recent scheme is exploitation of mutant riots for political maneuvering and the creation of yet another puppet super team (ala Dark X-men run by a very black leather clad White Queen) begins to stretch his scheming a little thin. My only beef so far is why Cyclops is taking Emma's change of heart so lightly. Its either a scheme he's in on, or this writer hasn't realized that Scott Summer's found his balls in the last few years (I thank Grant Morrisson for his FANTASTIC New X-men run a few years back).

Marvel in the past felt like the more rehash company to me contantly riding on their one laurel of having super heroes with real problems (which sometimes can make them a bit whiney for my taste) but lately they've been really doing well with adding corrupt business folk, politicians, shading puppet government activities and the ease with which evil people exploit PR to their books. Its a great commentary on current events in America and makes for a far more dramatic read than Firefly's cackling evil threats (can he just twirl a mustache already?).

Over at Wildstorm:
The GEARS OF WAR comic has been a bit hit or miss (thought I've still enjoyed it) but the story arc starting in issue 9 (with a slammin' cover by Jim Lee) is pretty damn awesome. And for any fan of the Gears world, it adds something we're just not used to seeing: women on the battle field. For the non Gears folk, the human race is at dangerously low levels and women are "protected" for breeding purposes, this new book shows how easily and horribly that can be exploited. It has a great artist who (i think?) is a Heavy Metal alum. If not he'd fit in that book nicely.

ANYONE who loves The Goon or the show Metalocalypse needs to read the Deathlok vs Goon one shot this week! It is without a doubt the funniest thing I've read this year. And bloody. Its the perfect blend of the two properties. Powell draws all Goon related characters/backgrounds while the people who draw the cartoon draw those characters. There's even a bit where Goon is carrying weapons from cartoon characters that are drawn in that style, but held by the Goon we're all used to. Its hard to explain. Just read it. You will not be let down! And anyone not initiated in The Goon should grab it. Just go ask your local shop, they'll know about it. Its one of the most original comics I've ever read. And I've read a few.

Also Rapture is really really good. Written by the guy that does Powers, its along the lines of the Powers 'superpeople from the perspective of regular people' but very much not (which will makes sense once you read it). Its very character driven and has an awesome mythic angle. Anyone into his other work or even the Hellboy/BPRD crowd should totally check this out!

That's all for this week but there are always more comics to read and even I can't keep up with them all! If I should be reading something let me know!


Granted this movie has been out a while but hey, I got to see it late and I think its certainly worth some attention. Especially from anyone done with Harry Potter (either before or after seeing the new one) or turned off by talking rodent spies who needs a flick this weekend.

Public Enemies, is the story of famous Depression Era Gangster John Dillinger (Johnny Depp for anyone who hasn't seen the massive and only poster advertising). The movie is directed by Michael Mann who created what I could argue is the greatest crime movie ever (that is if I could ever pick just one myself).

Public Enemies was tremendously engrossing in its sheer refusal to be the typical overly polished biopic flick where all the actors carry themselves around with such reverence you often forget they're playing what was once a real person who was simply flesh and blood like any of us. The film, the actual print, is barely treated and looks on par with British television. A lot of people might find the film looks at times like it was shot with a camcorder. Maybe it was (probably not). But honestly, I love the effect. Its nice to see night shots that actually look like they're at night in its pure form and not carefully and dramatically lit. Believe me, nothing is more dramatic than a realistic night chase scene through the woods teeming with trigger ready enemies waiting to put you down.

Instead of being lectured like a school session, this film gets you in on the action and Dillenger's downright balls to the wall lifestyle right off the bat. The man clearly was not meant for a regualr type life and, even as a criminal, took things as far as he could. Depp plays Dillinger as he does all his characters: unaware that he happens to be Johnny Depp and could possibly phone in a performance now and then like most big names. But of course he doesn't. I often forget Depp is playing the characters he plays even when he looks like he essentially always does. In this film he's understated without losing the little quirks and details that make his performances so enjoyable. Depp's Dillenger lives with an internal struggle to be himself in a world where being himself puts him at odds with just about everyone in authority. And yet, the man was popular enough with regular folk trying to survive the Depression in much the same way Bonnie & Clyde were. All of this is evident in his performance without having to resort to any over theatrics. Depp knows when a well timed smirk is all Dillenger needed to express himself.

Bale plays famous FBI law man Melvin Purvis as he does all his characters: as if not moving a facial muscle is the same as depicting a stoic, strong silent type. Even Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry grimaced, smirked, and increased/decreased a few degrees of his always furrowed brow. I still find Bale likeable in most roles but it is getting a little old seeing Batman in everything. And I love Batman. Especially Bale's. Somehow, though, he's losing a little bit of the otherwise perfect range he brought to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

The two characters play a bit of cat and mouse but not in the typical contrived Hollywood style with witty exchanges and fantastic one liner's no cop or gangster comes up with on the fly. Their war is fought much more so on the front pages, in the form of reputation and public opinion rather than with bullets, although there's plenty of those too. Speaking of bullets, let me just say that the sound crew did an amazing job creating great bursts that send a jolt up your spine and smashing punches as bullets pound the scenery. It created a very real atmosphere where gunfire, even when you know its coming, is startling and takes getting used to.

Where Dillinger is without authority, Pervis is exploited by a PERFECTLY depicted J. Edgar Hoover by the always fun to watch Billy Crudup. I felt bad for Purvis as he tried his best to do his job: catch the bad guys. The man had little to know interest in anything else, let alone being made a very public hero. Still, I wasn't sure I wanted him to catch Dillinger either since, in classic Heat fashion, Mann makes sure to cover both sides fairly and without judgement. This is one of Mann's best qualities, his ability to tell you a story like its playing out before your eyes and a writer hasn't had time to throw in the typical grandiose/heart string tugging/sensationalism that I, personally, see in most films of this nature.

Slice of life is, without a doubt, the best way to describe Public Enemies. We get to know everyone, we get to feel what everyone is feeling and we get all of it in a very real time method of story telling; easily allowing me to get lost and engulfed in both the characters, the era, and the lives involved. In an era of economic unrest dangling dangerously close to the Great Depression (closer than ever before at any rate) this film could not have come out at a better time.


Basically this is a blog about everything. We'll discuss films, bands, books, art, artists, toys, comics and really anything else that is creative and catches my attention (which is usually frazzled and running in ten directions at once). I wanted to be able to review films. But then I wanted to talk about bands and shows. I wanted to talk about some amazing toys and comics out there and then of course books.

Most blogs stick to one thing.

I can't.

So neither will this blog.

And so I give you... That One Blog.