I've been laying low lately...extremely low. Strikes and gutters, ups and downs, this would be a "down" period. "Up" is inevitable, so for now I have been content to lie down and paint the walls of my rut. I work, go to the gym, go home, eat, and play Super Smash Brothers with my roommates (IKE!) and that's OK. If I drink or party, its in my own house, with an occasional excursion to the city to sell CDs and grab a beer. I think this rush of self-control is a necessary counterpoint to all the times when I had none...check the old, old posts in this blog for an idea of what that was like.
Then there was last night...
Its my good friend Miles' birthday today. Being a smart, straight-laced adult, he has stretched his birthday into a three day bender celebration with all of his friends. All of which I will be documenting here...fuck liveblogging South By Southwest...this is the new South By Southwest.
27 years on this earth should start with whiskey, naturally...and for some god-forsaken, horrible reason there is an establishment in Brooklyn that sells dollar shots of rail whiskey as part of their happy hour. Dollar shots of rail whiskey. DOLLAR SHOTS OF RAIL WHISKEY.
It was me, Miles, and his good friend/musician guy who is in a band with Mocean Worker, and has played horns onstage with El-P, good dude. We started off innocently enough, drinking whiskey, eating tater tots and waxing about the state of the music business. Pretty standard fare as we stayed ignorant of the harsh truths about to hit us.
Now, there's a tiny creature inside each bottle of whiskey. He lives there, and he is a boorish, loudmouth bastard who farts anger and pisses arrogance. So when you drink whiskey, it is laced with this little guy's juices, and you become infected with his attitude.
That is my theory...my friend Jargy calls it gorilla blood, which is apt and hilarious, but I think its a stretch to think Gorillas are really all powered by rail whiskey. That is just crazy. I'm sticking with my theory.
Anyway, before the light had even left the sky we were well (or rail! ba-dum-ching) on our way. Telling jokes, yelling at each other, laughing our balls off. The whiskey had us by the nuts as we rolled into the street and down the block to the Bowery Ballroom...I mean, the Music Hall of Williamsburg....fuck I hate saying that whole thing, can someone come up with an acronym already? The MUH? "Hey guys, I'm just on my way down to the MUH to catch a noise band from Portland, you guys wanna come?" I never was very good at coining phrases.
So we get into the MUH and hang out in the bar while some guy played acoustic versions of Crass songs upstairs. I've never really heard Crass...I know they have a sweet logo and they are British, but I was more content to hang out in the bar and talk too loud. By the time we made it upstairs, Jeffrey Lewis was playing.
[EDIT - Turns out Jeff Lewis and the Crass guy are the same person, I don't know who was playing when we got there]
Watching Jeffrey Lewis do a set involves cartoons, slide shows, really long spoken word pieces that are actually quite funny, and some music. He started with a slideshow/cartoon he drew that told the story of a dentist who gave a gift of wisdom teeth to a female thief he was in love with. The teeth were smart teeth and didn't mind when they were rejected as a gift...wisdom...get it?
Throughout his set, I alternated between wanting to high five him and wanting to punch him right in his face. His rants go on so long that they start funny, get annoying, and then keep going so long that they become funny again....like those jokes on Family Guy where Peter is all, "Ahhhhhhh, Sssssss, ahhhhhh" for ten minutes.
If you get to his myspace, check out the song about Will Oldham and you will agree. He closed the set with a 9 minute "History of Punk Rock on the Lower East Side from 1950-1975" or something...it was an exhaustive medley that went through every inch of punk's development from beat poetry and the Fugs to Lou Reed and Iggy Pop until the UK stole it. It was so meticulously intelligent that I wanted to smack him for having the drive and creativity and Wikipedia bookmarks to pull such a thing off.
After the set I slapped Miles in the face...twice I think. At the time, it seemed completely logical. But it actually went down like this:
Me: Ok, birthday guy, its shot time
Miles: Ok, what are we doing
Bartender: What would you like?
Me: Two Kamikazes, please
Miles: God damnit.
Me: Here, I will make it easier on you
*Smacks Miles right upside the head*
Miles: DUDE, what the fuck?
Me: Take your shot!
*Miles takes his shot, I slap him in the head again*
Miles: Dude!!!! WHY ARE YOU SLAPPING ME??!!!
*Slaps me as hard as he can*
Me: Mumbles unintelligible nothing, drools
*Miles slaps me again*
Me: I was trying to make it easier for you! Happy birthday!!!
Yeah...or something like that. I promise, that at the time, my logic was sterling. I thought Miles was hesitant, so i figured I would give him a little incentive. This doesn't make any damn sense, especially considering that a Kamikaze is basically a shot of kisses and sunshine, a baby could take that shot.
So yeah, the whiskey had us slapping the piss out of each other between sets at the MUH...jeez.
With our faces red and stinging, The Cribs took the stage. Man, people love these guys! I didn't know many of their songs, but the massive love for the band was as infectious as the gorilla blood, so I ended up pogo-ing around like a complete fool for their entire set. They killed it, they all have the same haircut, and I'm convinced that every one of their songs are equally catchy.
It was sort of like that...but better...and drunk-er.
They closed their set by bringing out Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth (who?) to do a spoken word bit on their track "Be Safe". I think its the best song on the album, because it stands out...a slightly noisy, stark bit of ranting in the midst of an album thats all catchy and jumpy, all the time. This was the first, and possibly only time they would do this live, so it was cool to see.
After the show was over, somehow, self control took over again and I left a little after midnight. I came to in a cab with no stupid phone calls made, no stupid phone calls received, no drunken texts to my parents, with both of my kidneys. I was impressed. I ran home to eat bagel bites and whoop my roommates in Smash Brothers.
Tonight we bought out a whole section at the Knicks game. Tomorrow is the Digitalism show at Webster Hall. Stay tuned.
Sorry I slapped you dude.