September 10, 2004



Though not a stepper, I stepped out last night with J Shep, who can step, I bet. (And she likes that Alchemist and Nas song “Tick Tock,” which is almost a steppers tune.) Our first stop was Franz Ferdinand at Roseland. The Strokerspol axis has never made me especially mad or happy or prone to think much of anything. Their bandness does not excite or depress me and I see nothing in their future that is not also in the future of the many acts who give us a few hot songs, as both bands have. Now having seen FF, a band dipping into the same 80s file cabinet, I can see that the Julian Banks dedication to frigidity is the sandbar between me and either excitement or depression. The Franz boys are unchilly. They are happy to be a dance band, even though they’re not particularly good at it. Further, they seem happy to be any kind of band at all, and this makes me like them.

The woman dancing in front of me was even better than the band. She was all like "My long black hair will whip around and I will smell like bubblegum and smile at you intermittently as if to say 'We're here! You and me! With the actual Franz Ferdinand!'" And I was all like "I love your affirmative nature!" The second guitar guy is mentally in Wham!, or he’s at least considered it. He shimmied hard when he played the little keyboard lines, which he did not fuck up. (I hate it when rock bands try the keyb lines on stage but don't bother to nail them because they’re "simple" and “surplus to requirements.”) Main skinny dude doesn’t dance as well as Wham-buddy but he gets spazzy happy and scissors his leg up and down, which is enough. I can’t make the case they don't care at all about being cool, because anybody under the age of 300 cares in some way about this, especially if he or she is facing an enormous crowd at the Roseland. Within these parameters, having chosen the black pants and apportioned each band member the appropriate solid color shirt, they felt more bounce-on-the-bed than cigarette-must-dangle-like-so. And despite my desire to see the world taken over by 14-year-old girls singing over staple guns, I am pleased that a live band playing reasonably well-written songs can sell a million albums. Small problem: chunky bass player looked bored. Take it from The Cardigans’ bass player, a master of hand motions: If you increase the weight, increase the rate. Move, earn it, work it. You’re up against three cute guys as it is, so don’t sleep. (Delays opened, were strong. Half late-80s stadium pop, half deracinated Nashville. Keyboard player walked around and watched the rest of the band when he wasn’t playing. That is hot: We only play the instruments when we need the money.)

28-year-old women signing over staplers are also my shit and, also, eating food is my shit. So before we went to see M.I.A. at Studio 450, we tried to get "take out." The bag we were handed was enormous and weighed as much as an encyclopedia. It was not street food. It was table food. So we perched, troubadour-style, on a demobbed fire alarm and speed-chowed. But this did not put a dent in our enormous Mexican payload. We had, by volume and weight, the exact same problem of food. So Julianne put it in her bag, which felt kind of gangsta. Toting food into a diagonal stripes and stilettos clusterfuck is maybe not gansgta, actually. Maybe it is more lobsta. It is a move that needs a new word, and “bum style” will not do because it is two words.

If you host an “event” now, you must serve free Sparks and Red Bull and all manner of gussied up bathtub crank that I don't think people should spill on their carpets, much less drink. This means there were lots of raccoon hair-donts and sunset fadeglasses moving about nervously but not dancing, because that demands the coordination that cheap speed blocks. This left us room to dance (hold that thought) but the Sean Paul stylings didn’t work for me and since nobody bothers providing a decent sound system for the dancers any more, I started my old man routine: "At The World, the sound felt like a big Waterpik on your brain. At Danceteria, it sounded good both at the bar and in the bathroom.” Wah waah waah.

MIA’s set started on the floor in front of the DJ, without warning, like a Lightning Bolt show. She played with a hype woman and singer who kept saying “Please give me some room.” Nobody did. MIayA played the three songs she's already released and no more. The “hey ya ya hey" singing at the end of "Galang" is this year’s riot music. It is the soundtrack to bottles hitting a wall that's already been half knocked down. It is music for reoccupiers. It is my favorite moment of any song this year, aside from “Son, do you know why I’m stopping you for?”

We also met the mighty Abe of Abstractdynamics fame, the man who has made this blogwave hotter that the fire, or at least as hot as fire. Our talk devolved into an exchange of sports-like threats between Faculty Lounge and Sticker Shock, neither of which exist. But that can change in seconds, and when it does, you’ll never buy records again!

We decamped to APT for Theo Parrish. I don't dance a fraction as much as I should and, as a result, I don't feel entitled to speak about "the scene." But having spent a fair amount of time dancing in other places at other times, I have to ask: What the fuck is up with a dance club that has no dancefloor? Is this all some cabaret laws bullshit? Parrish's jazzhouse/uptempo Mandrillated filterfunk made me want to move about, possibly from the river all the way to the bank. This is not something I could have done. The downstairs at APT is all about walls, not the people leaning on them. The bar is a long, installation-sized wall bisected by a backlit shelf of bottles, which is both functional and pretty. This grows at one end into a horseshoe counter that colonizes the center of the not big room. Dancers must find kickroom in the narrow pathways around these fixtures. (All of this is visible under "downstairs" on the APT website, linked above, so you don’t need to bother with my description.) The backlit, transparent woodgrain walls are also kinda great, but it was hard to enjoy them when I heard these questions looping in my head: “What the fuck? Is this how people dance now? What if you want to do a little windmill, maybe hucklebuck and ride your pony to the left?” Try it the hucklebuck in a broom closet like APT and you'll topple three gazelles and seven gas station attendants. I may have been feeling saucy and as one with the beat but I did not want to start apologizing to Jimjam and Klaus for knocking them over.

But, Theo Parrish. He will make you dance. And “Lose My Breath” is stuck in my head now like a titanium screw. What was I doing, second-guessing The Knowleses? Mortals risk annihilation.

Posted by Sasha at September 10, 2004 11:19 AM | TrackBack