Thursday, March 23, 2006

an unfortunate bout of creative limbo is making the rounds

and I must confess that it’s likely that I’m more than a carrier. not so much that the reverse Midas has invaded my writing. more like molasses is flowing through my brain and clogging my prose. and my body’s in worse shape than that (could this be the end of Zombie Shakespeare?)

last night, following a scrumptious dinner at Prem-on Thai (West Houston Street, NYC; a very strong effort on the sirloin with yellow curry and the spicy lobster salad entrée was damn near transcendent), we headed down to the Knitting Factory where Camera Obscura made their first New York appearance in two years. since they have no new album to promote, I assume the gig was but a stopover on the way back to Glasgow from their obligatory SXSW performance. the show (with opening act Maria Taylor) was sold out, but thanks to the fine and considerate folks at Merge Records, I was in attendance. I had every intention of taking photomagraphs, but discovered at dinner that the camera’s batteries are in worse shape than I am (and later discovered that Leonard Street may be the only square block in Manhattan south of 96th Street without a visible Duane Reade).

not that it would’ve mattered, I don’t think. the room was packed (for those of you unaware, the Knitting Factory in New York is a near maze of different bars, showrooms – though Camera was afforded the main - and their ticket takers play more work hour Internet Spades, Chess and Checkers that any club staff in town) and we were lucky to gain a sight line from what, temporarily, was the back (doors opened to the front bar behind us following Maria Taylor’s set, which did allow much greater ease of ingress and egress, but remained open during Camera’s set, effectively muting any stage banter in between songs).
worse yet, two separate groups – a trio of young women so authentic in their Valley Girl speech (“like, I’m so sure”) that they defied believability and a pair of former frat boys (the most troubled of the two definitively declared David Bazan as his favorite artist, opined that Green Day’s lead singer spells his first name like a girl, and loudly, and continually, yearned for a move to Seattle as New York City is “too much of a city” for him) – obviously possessed an ingrained belief that the back of a performance space is where conversations, even if they take place on a cell phone, should be held.

after several minutes of phone chatter had passed (with no end in sight), a rather boozed man leaned over to the Valley Girl telecommunicatively planning her weekend to insist that she SHUT THE FUCK UP!
I considered buying him a beer for his effort, but he appeared to enjoy the confrontation a little more than he should have.

in front, the sound was not what it should’ve been and Camera (led by the delightful Tracyanne Campbell (she's on the left on the album cover)) played a heavy, heavy portion of new material – I recognized but three songs from their excellent last album, Underachievers Please Try Harder. personally I’d hoped for maybe “Suspended from Class” to start the set and a little better balance of old and new (Tracyanne’s a much talented lyricist but it was rather hard to catch what you’re supposed to under the strained circumstances). throw in an uneventful, yet lengthy subway ride home (try crossing the threshold of your domicile at 1:30 a.m. on a school night) and it was a rather disappointing evening.

of course, I did stay up to replay the South Park season premiere. and while the whole “Chef as pedophile” theme was so over the top that it rocketed past entertaining, Stan’s speech at Chef’s funeral did a fine job of wrapping a nice, tight bow on a rather ugly package.

tonight I dream of major couch time and an LSU victory over the Dookies.

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