Wednesday, January 11, 2006

muffled stoplights burn out right in front of me...

Saw the Invisible Cities with Goh Nakamura last weekend at the Hotel Utah, which I'd never been to before. They have a regular open mic there, and I've been invited to play/listen a couple times by a friend, but haven't worked up the courage -- or figured out the missing middle-eight chords for my poor, bridge-less songs.

Anyway, the Invisible Cities were without a drummer, but had nicely reworked their songs for the different arrangement. "Double Fisted" turned into a hard-rock shuffle, in the mode of the New Pornographers' "My Slow Descent into Alcoholism," and "Birthday" came across all ethereal and squall-y.

I like squall. It kind of sounds like the name of a flightless bird from Northern England that needs constant protection from poachers. But of course I'm thinking of squab, which I've never eaten but sounds disgusting. It might not be from England.

Look, don't eat squab. I don't think it can even fly. That's all I have to say on that.

Okay, so the band also played a few new tunes, and generally re-confirmed their status as the most adorable band in the world, even when the music is edgy or angry.

Goh Nakamura, who plays solo as well as with the band, opened with a friendly and limber opening set of solo acoustic guitar songs, about teenage longing, geekiness, unrequited love of the self-consciously literate variety. Stuff that resonated fairly well with me. It sounded great in the small space. He also had the courage to cover "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)," and pulled it off nicely despite having as little in common (at least on the surface) with Otis Redding as anyone could. I liked his use of the loop sampler pedal, and I liked his not-use of it even more. I can't stand it when guitarists are constantly fiddling with that thing. When Camille and I saw Garrin Benfield a few months ago, opening for Dan Bern, it was like "LOOP SAMPLER MADNESS WITH GARRIN BENFIELD -- NO SONGS SPARED!" It should come as a warning sign if, when you bend down to start pushing buttons, the audience groans and settles back in its seat.

But Goh Nakamura was pretty judicious, at least in this show, and he combined it with singing into the pickup behind his strings, which produced a quavery harmonic-ed background harmony. An all-around good opening, not even spoiled by Camille spilling her Wyder's, cutting herself on the glass, then getting mopey about the whole affair.

The highlight of the show, for me, was the cover of the Flamin' Groovies "You Tore Me Down," which sounded terrific, and a gentle version of the band's "Lost in Translation," from whence comes the title line of this post.

people go the movies i don't
get what they see
muffled stoplights burn out
right in front of me

you, another sidewalk
you, another phone
you, another thought won't leave me alone

Warning: Don't listen too much to the Flamin Groovies. They're really catchy, and mildly narcotic, but what you're forgetting is that at some point people whose opinion you care about will be over at your house, and they'll see the CD, and they'll be like "Who the hell are the 'Flaming Groovies?' Are you kidding me? Didn't you used to listen to Dead Prez? Fuck this, I'm outta here. Have a nice day, Wavy Gravy."

That will suck for you.

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