Print Story Something Like a Phenomena
By Kellnerin (Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 06:53:00 AM EST) (all tags)
'6-'6-'6, the concert date of the beast.

CAUGHT SOME LIVE music with G last night. Met up with him beforehand to see Greg Grandin and Noam Chomsky speak at an event sponsored by Harvard Book Store.

Grandin spoke for a while on US policy in Latin America, and then the moderator got up again. "Our next speaker" -- he raised his arm in a "show of hands" gesture -- "Is there anyone here who doesn't know who Noam Chomsky is?" A pause, while he confirmed that no hands were raised, then he turned and made the introduction gesture: "Noam Chomsky."

Chomsky at one point phrased US policy as "democracy promotion is the best thing since ice cream." But you can't have democracy promotion for lunch, so I'm unconvinced. Anyway, after the brief talks they opened it up for questions. The moderator requested that people coming up to ask questions be sure that they actually have a question; also, "although most of you came to hear one particular speaker, please do make sure to ask questions of Noam Chomsky as well."

G and I ducked out as the first questioner got up to say "I just wanted to start out with one point, Professor Chomsky, because I completely disagree with what you said ..."

WE MET UP WITH D to grab dinner before the show. Grendel's Den, which had been one of D's favorite haunts before it closed down. Now it's back again. I mentioned its temporary non-existence, and D said "Yes! It's true! They brought it back just for me."

"Then why isn't it called 'D's Den'?"

"Because D likes mythology."

"Oh does he?"

AFTER DINNER, WE WALKED to Central Square. Arrived at TT's in time to find a couple other friends before the State Street Liars took the stage. I have really only one word to describe their sound: loud. If I were to add three more words they would be: too much feedback. So it was no great surprise when the guitarist turned to the bassist and said into the microphone, "Hey is that smoke coming out of your amp? Is it on fucking fire?"

In fact, it was.

The guitarist did a solo rendition of "Somebody Kill Me" from The Wedding Singer while the bassist attempted to sort out his shit. All in all, it was good that they blew an amp, or we would have had to hear more of their stuff.

THE NEXT BAND came on the stage and unveiled a skull-and-crossbones banner at the back of the stage. The lead singer announced, "We're Teenage Bottle Rocket, and this is 'Radio.'" I'm not sure whether this was the name of just the first song or the title of the whole first half of the set, because for a while they just dove from one song into the next with barely any breaks. The first song went something like this:

Most of their other songs had similarly varied lyrics.

At some point, the singer introduced his twin brother as the drummer, who promptly busted his snare drum. The band continued, undeterred, into "Bloodbath at Burger King." I kept waiting for him to introduce the rest of the band, but he never did.

Overheard while the Phenomenauts were setting up:
"I like flashlights. I just do. My grandfather liked flashlights, my father liked flashlights, I like flashlights."

THE PHENOMENAUTS ARE probably best described as The Red Elvises meet Devo obsessed with the Space program. Their banner has a sort of Starfleet crossed with the UN logo with the motto "Science and Honor" beneath. They managed to avoid much of the bad gig karma of the evening, but were late getting started because two of their members were missing their costumes (most of the band wears TV-scifi-y uniforms while the Professor, on keyboards, wears a lab coat). Fortunately, they had fans in the audience who were decked out in Phenomenaut attire, and the Professor and Commander Angel Nova managed to bum uniforms off of them.

In addition to the coordinated outfits, the Phenomenauts have a really polished show. They begin the set with a countdown/preflight checklist (Bass ... Drums ... Audience ...) before launching into their first tune. One of the singer/guitarists, Corporal Joe Bot, wears a silver helmet with an antenna and other weird devices on it, that completely covers the top part of his head. Somehow, despite the fact that his eyes are hidden, he manages to be expressive with just the bottom part of his face along with whole head and body movements. There's one bit that they do, where the Professor tosses a harmonica to Joe Bot, who begins to play while Angel Nova plays Joe Bot's guitar from behind. The choreography isn't going to blow anyone away, but it's well executed.

The only thing they broke was by design: A large globe balloon that they float out over the audience during the song "Earth Is the Best," that eventually bursts, showering people with confetti strips. D got one of these pieces caught in his hair, and when we pulled it out later, it looked like a fragment of someone's credit card statement.

Overheard while the Epoxies were setting up:
"That's just levelling the playing field, I mean, you had a better upbringing than me. I never even saw fucking adults until I was an adult myself."

WE'D SEEN THE EPOXIES before (not on purpose). I remembered them as having their sound jacked up as high as the State Street Liars, so that you couldn't make anything out, and the overall impression was "Ow." Also that they had horrible, discordant keyboard playing. D remembered that the lead singer was kind of cute, had a funky costume involving being wrapped in electrical tape, and had an energetic dancing style that's sort of like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O turned up to eleven. I agreed that her dancing was much more entertaining than her singing, or the rest of the band's playing.

The lights dimmed, and a single white light started sweeping back and forth across the audience. The keyboardist said into the mic, "Killer. Thanks, Phenomenauts, for unplugging our smoke machine. Now all these lights we brought will be for nothing. That's all the pyrotechnics we could afford. $12,000 of lights. Fuckin' Phenomenauts. Way to upstage us. OK all you monkeys out there, the only way this show is going to be cool is if you make it cool. We lost our screaming monkey intro, we don't care. We lost our lead singer, that's irrelevant. But everybody, smoke. Smoke a lot, because that's the only way these lights are going to look at all cool."

The singer did make it on stage (though she was skankier, and less cute than D remembered, as well as having less room on stage to move around than before), and the smoke machine got going after a while, but so did the too-aggressive moshers. We left.

< Your attempts at this song are so tragic (2) | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Something Like a Phenomena | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
Um... by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:03:43 AM EST
For me, seeing phenomena construed as singular is on a par with usage of the word antediluvian. But I suspect you're aware of this, and quoting something I wouldn't recognize, what with being out of touch with popular culture.

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

right by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 08:56:09 AM EST
It is a quote from a song (though not by any of the bands from last night). Surprisingly, I like the song quite a bit despite the fact that this lyric should make me want to crawl out of my skin. Instead, I think, "Isn't it odd that I'm not screaming right now?"

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
Or by ana (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:04:28 AM EST
maybe there's something really deep, man. A reason, like, why a is used with a plural noun.

Kind of like the comparitively comparitive version of an adjective, that describes age differences in my family: "I am 2 years more older than Z than X is than I."

/me listens for the pop of exploding heads.

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

[ Parent ]
I shoulda stayed ... by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:15:20 AM EST
It depends where the bar is. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:06:22 PM EST
I mean the bar in your X-bar syntax. The issue he's trying to plug is that he described a formal system that's adequate to encapsulate (nearly all) syntax, and semantics has much more complex behaviour than that, so all the stuff he's done since 1957 is bound to be less elegant and nitpickier. It's enough to drive you to fitting massive post-hoc formalisms to arbitrary political behaviour, really.

[ Parent ]
glad you clarified by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 02:19:58 PM EST
or I would have thought you meant the bar where I saw the bands, because we had plenty of time to get there, and it would probably have been better all around if we'd missed the State Street Liars.

Thing is, I've studied bits of lots of random languages, and picked up snatches of linguistics here and there (a class on English etymology and one on language and anthropology), but never actually did any linguistics proper. It would have been fun, though, to go up and say, "All this stuff about foreign policy and junk is fine, but what do you think about the sentence, 'You're something like a phenomena, baby'?"

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."

[ Parent ]
So their radio song by sasquatchan (4.00 / 2) #2 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:05:48 AM EST
did they wear outfits like this:
yip yip yip

Or was their other song about telephones

(darned if I can find the radio sketch, thought that was the first one..)

I love those guys by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:00:29 AM EST
The yip-yip aliens, that is. Unfortunately, the band was not nearly as cool. They were the sort of band that wears other bands' T-shirts to their gigs. It wasn't until the last two acts that they had any coherent wardrobe choices.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
Damn. by toxicfur (4.00 / 3) #3 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:15:05 AM EST
I forgot Chomsky was speaking last night. Of course, I'm at least as interested in his linguistic research as I am his politics, perhaps more so. My advisor once described Chomsky's success as a linguistics professor as:

Step 1: "I have figured out the definitive universally applicable system to describe syntax!"
Step 2: Write lots of books, hire lots of post-docs and grad students.
Step 3: As the furor from Steps 1 and 2 begins to die, say, "No, wait! I had it all wrong. Here's the real theory."
Step 4: Repeat Step 2.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1-4 until PROFIT!!!1
I've got more than one membership to more than one club, and I owe my life to the people that I love. - Ani DiFranco

It was pretty brief by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:03:36 AM EST
And yeah, I'd have been more interested in the linguistic side, but it was a good way to spend an hour.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
Phenomenauts by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:31:28 AM EST
Did any of them have ginger hair, wear a skirt or chainmail?
Close friendships and a private room can offer most of the things love does.
nope by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 09:58:49 AM EST
One guy (upright bass player) was bald and wore goggles kinda like River's in Serenity, though.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."
[ Parent ]
Something Like a Phenomena | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)