Thursday, November 16, 2006

Albinos, Anorexics, and a Music Legend

When I heard that Frank Black was coming to town, I craigslisted myself some tickets. You might remember Frank Black as lead man for the early 90's band, the Pixies. I have fond memories of the Pixies opening up for U2 in 1991 at the Tacoma Dome. It drove in my Ford Escort, tape player blasting "Trompe le Monde." That "tape" featured cows eyeballs dipped in sugar. Growing up on a farm, and having considered cows as pets, that visual was a PETA brochure waiting to happen. At the '91 concert, Kim Deal came on stage first in a red mini-skirt, and a sunglassed Frank Black was behind her. She was fall-down, F-- you all drunk. Frank tried to get through a few songs, but her limp body went between jolts of swaying and firecrackering to attention. As a 16 year-old kid at my first concert, I thought, "WOW! This is Rock and Roll!" Uh, no. Frank escorted Kim off the stage after getting booed. They cut their session short, and within months, the Pixies broke up for good.

There was no love lost. I'd moved on to writing poetry to cheesy tracks of Michael Stipe's music, finding something very deep about "Nightswimming." And yes, my poetry back then was equally as sucky.

Kim Deal went on to join up with Kristen Hersh and Tanya Donnelly, both of which are fantastic solo rockstars. The Breeders was formed and "Cannonball" became a hit. One of my favorite all time songs from highschool is "Not Too Soon" a Throwing Muses track. I was at writing camp (at Port Townsend, ironically enough) and two angry teenage lesbians gave me the tape. Yes, tape. I'm of that era.

Last night, I wore my CBGB t-shirt and painted my nails black for the occasion. Andrew and I wandered in to the purple-chandeliered Fillmore and got drinks. Frank Black came out, a little heavier, a little blacker than I remember. (Clothing, of course.) About a quarter way through his solo set he started introducing the rest of the band, and they ran out and took their spot on stage. The drummer looked like an albino with a wave perm. I was mystified. "I saw that guy earlier, and I thought he was just a freak," Andrew said. Nope, that was the drummer.The bass player looked equally freaky, anorexic with a wig-like amount of hair. His pea-sized biceps popping out whenever he'd hit a new chord.

The Pixies had reunited, but where was the real drummer? And where was Kim Deal? She's got to be almost fifty by now, and probably looks worked. Andrew and I listened to song after song emitting from the sweaty bald-headed Black. The Fillmore was in full character. That place could sell air fresheners going by no other name than "The Fillmore" and people would immediately know: Pot. Officers could no longer accuse people of holding because they could blame it on their Fillmore air fresheners. Genius! Or at least it seemed to be when I dreamed it up at the concert last night, probably on a contact high.

Andrew and I left, and walked to my car. "Well I guess that's proof that Rock is still alive," I told him.

"See, I'm not so sad that it ever died," he said. I considered that, and all of the great music that has come since certain forms of rock have evolved.

Tonight at the Great American Music Hall, we're going to see Split Lip Rayfield, a blues garage band. It's a special performance, because it's one of their last. Their lead singer, Kirk Rundstrom has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of esophsgeal cancer and decided that singing sold-out shows brings him the most joy. Also, Chris Abani is reading at City Lights in Little Italy on Columbus. At Vesuvio, the tiny two-story pub/cafe next door, I swear the ghost of Jack Kerouac is still kicking around. If you're in the neighborhood, and especially because it's holiday time, stop by Tosca and get a house cappuccino, mixed with brandy and Ghiradelli chocolate. Tiny glasses line the bar, with stir sticks coming out the top. Don't forget to bring nickels for the juke box which plays Italian opera from records that look like glass.

Andrew has another ticket to Split Lip Rayfield, so if you're interested, meet us there. I'll be the tattooless blonde with black fingernails contemplating the aroma of another famous American venue.


biggearhead said...

I'm am SO going to go home and dig out some mix tapes from college! You're punching all the right buttons on the wayback machine!

jaynel said...

mixed tapes are the BEST! forward...rewind...writing out the words...God that was ALOT of work!