Friday, September 24, 2010

MidPoint Day One - Hot Smiles

Thursday nights at MidPoint are traditionally quiet nights. Most people have to work the next day. Most people are holding out until Friday & Saturday to really fill the venues. This year I'm happy to report that Thursday was hot, both literally and musically. If you didn't make it out, you missed out.

I hit Grammers first and that meant seeing a local favorite first: Wussy. Chuck and Lisa are steamy together and last night Chuck's distortion ripped through the opening song Rigor Mortis. The group was pumped and pushing the envelope a bit. Even as I poured through the PBR, the heat of the evening didn't end until the sun had long been set.

Male Bonding was good, but very rough. I wasn't blown away and maybe the fact that I was more interested in talking with several friends drove me from listening intently. Maybe it was the heat. Best Coast was much better and by this point the crowd had really swelled. So had the heat.

Let me say the Metro buses were great and are air conditioned, which came in handy. They were also the perfect spot to chat up others about what bands they were going to next. Some were on their way to see Shonen Knife, some You, You're Awesome and Holy F*ck, but a good sized number, along with myself wanted to see Van Dyke Parks.

My knowledge of Van Dyke Parks was limited to his MySpace page. His music was very different. Very-non-indie-rock, something that I want more of at MidPoint, which is one of the reasons I was pleased when I listened to their samples. The Group's picture was of a 65+ year old white haired man. I honestly thought this might be a bit of joke. Well, it turns out that I'm joker. Van Dyke Parks is famous. I mean Beach Boys famous. He's a well known composer arranger, most noted for working with Brian Wilson on his famed album Smile. He is the white haired man in the PR photo.  He's also very aware of this fact and didn't hide it, joking often about it.

Parks played the Blue Wisp. Where else would he play? He fit in there like a musical king and musicians go to the Wisp to praise other musicians. The Blue Wisp was packed when we got there, and thankfully the fire marshal was not around. Clare and Reasons were still on stage and their music blew me away. I meant to put them on my list of picks, but for some reason I screwed up. If I believed in it, I would say fate led me to the Wisp early, but I don't, so I will just share my joy at their encore song "He Needs Me" which was written by Harry Nilsson. It is such a beautiful song and Clare and Reasons invited Van Dyke Parks up on stage to play with them for it. I was humming along to it very loudly. It only took me a few seconds to remember where it came from: Robert Altman's Popeye. I had always assumed that it was an old standard. Today I wanted to look it up, see who the composer was, so I didn't just reference the movie and appear ignorant. Well, it turns out the song, along with the rest of the score for movie, where original, by Harry Nilsson. I dug a little bit more, and as I was reading I ran across the golden ticket to a musical version of the "Rest of the Story". The music to Popeye was arranged by Van Dyke Parks. So, there it was. It all came back to something near a point. It was charming, it was cute.  If had a girlfriend I would want her to sing this to me all the time. It maybe up staged Van Dyke Parks a bit to me.  Maybe it was the amount of beer I had, anyway, I was really moved by it. In case you don't know the song, here's a snippet from the movie:

If that doesn't put a smile your face, not much will. Clare and the Reasons version was better on a thousand levels, but tall skinny girls are more gracefully challenged, and make for better movie stars.

Day two of MidPoint is almost ready to being, so get out and find your own smile tonight.

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