Monday, April 30, 2007

The “Communists” at My College Were Total Hypocrites, or, how sometimes a cigarette tastes oh-so-good

Every liberal arts college has them: that group of kids that are kinda artsy and maybe a little dirty and give you that “I hate authority because my old man used to make me mow the lawn. I don’t like mowing the lawn” attitude. When these kids get to college they don Che Guevara t-shirts and spout out other people’s manifestos, maybe print up some of their own. The hang around on the green talking shit about the Man and Capitalism and smoke their cigarettes. That’s right. Cigarettes. And I’m not talking hand rolled either. I mean “Nothing more archetypal of Capitalism then Marlboro Reds or Virginia Slims and other such products of the Devil Himself Philip Morris USA”. Being the discerning observationalist that I am, I never quite understood how the two philosophies went together. But really, what else can you expect from kids who, for the most part, can’t drink legally yet? A Soviet flag and dirty jeans a Karl Marx makes you not.

I never really smoked until I moved to Ireland. And even then, as it does now, “smoking” only meant socially. There was that pack of Camels I had senior year of college. The summer prior I worked in the mail room and they were sent as a promo to someone who no longer attended the school. Even if we’d had a forwarding address, the postage didn’t allow for it. So, my first pack. I smoked most of it one balmy night when I was depressed about the way the things I cared most about weren’t turning out. It was sickening, but I felt justified. And then there were the occasional few when I was younger, including my first that I split with a friend, behind a portable in 6th grade, during break time at a Girl Scout event we were at. That’s right, Girl Scouts. I’m adding that detail so you think I’m a bad ass because only a bad ass smokes behind a portable at a Girl Scout event. Bam. I didn’t pick it up after that because, let’s be honest, I was underage and illegal things make me nervous. But also I was afraid I’d become addicted. Good thing I’ve since discovered I don’t have an addictive personality. Ha.

There are, in my opinion, two very nice things about cigarettes. I don’t mind doing things on my own. I’m very good at it. But sometimes, say, during a set change at a show or while waiting for someone, you can only pretend to text message or tie and re-tie your show for so long before feeling somewhat self-conscious. For example, if I wanted to hang out in a field, by myself, while other people chatted away with each other, some might think me weird or “eccentric”. But if I’m out in a field smoking a cigarette, well, then, who’s to question the naturalness of my act? Instead of weird and aimless, I'm doing something. I’m a normal member of society and oh-thank-god for that.

Okay, okay, time to be realistic here. Everyone knows that the more salient point to cigarettes is HOW FUCKING COOL YOU LOOK SMOKING THEM! I mean, who doesn’t want to look like that kick ass Joe Camel or Marlboro Man? Or maybe I can be like Marlboro Man with breasts. Kind of like…Mrs. Marlboro Man. Except that suggests some sort of marriage bond and ew! gross! he probably has rotten breath and yellow stained fingers and teeth (on that note, thank god I didn’t pick the camel. Who wants “My hubby’s hung like a, er, camel” to be literal? Especially after I managed to re-instate myself into normal society simply by smoking a cigarette in that field).

Anyway, I just had a cigarette. Parliament Light, and lo, it was good. The nice thing about not being a real smoker is how quick the nicotine works and how much longer it stays with you. I think I might have another. But first I need to re-hang my totally awesome Soviet flag from my window…dang thing keeps falling down.

Love, Rachael

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Klaxons at Studio B, or how I forgot how much fun other people's sweat is.

Dear Web Journal,

I have a little secret for you. I don’t know what the fuck “new rave” is supposed to mean. And to add to my confusion, Klaxons, the NME-named forerunners of the current “new rave” music trend penetrating the States from over the pond and the undeniable stars of Friday night’s gig at Brooklyn’s Studio B, have said they are not “new rave” (all self-respecting musicians discard labels, right?). Which leaves me hoping there is some complex musical theory to back it up, whatever “it” is, including time changes and, um, other music terms I don’t really understand. Because just throwing in glow sticks and a bunch of kids on E like its the late 1990s shouldn’t be enough. But sketchy “new rave” label or no, Klaxons were a fucking great time.

Doors were supposed to open at 10 pm on Friday, but by the time I walked that long, slightly scary walk from the Bedford L stop and arrived at 10:30, the lines outside were massive. Luckily enough, I ran into some friends “saving my place in line” at will call and had a nice spot at the front. Thanks friends! Once inside we went to the front of the stage to wait for the opening act. The crowd quickly filled up and though I was not too impressed with Brazil’s Bonde do Role, I was impressed by Bonde do Role’s female singer’s leopard print pants:

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And my friend Nathan was even MORE impressed by how sexy he thought she was. I have to hand it to Bonde do Role though, even if the music was just Portuguese screamed-talked-sung over Guns n' Roses and even a *gasp* sample from The Darkness, the energy was the perfect pace setter for Klaxons. Plus, her leopard pants were REALLY, REALLY cool. In that I-would-never-wear-them-but-I’ll-totally-support-you-if-you-do kind of way.

After a laborious set change (what is it with Studio B only having ONE person set up instruments?) Klaxons came out to one of the most welcoming crowds I’ve seen in a long time. And I don’t mean just in “Too cool for school” New York, but anywhere I’ve been. At the precise moment they took the stage, a gap opened up and I was pushed through by the crowd to the very front. Right in front of the cute one, too:

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No really, everyone around me was totally jonesing for this kid. Including this annoying British girl (aren’t they all) who tried to elbow her way past me. Where exactly she thought she might go I haven’t a clue-the crowd was so large and packed so thick there was nowhere to move. Her explanation for the pushing was “Excuse me, I have to get there so I can get Jamie to take his shirt off”. Now, what makes her think I am going to give up my perfectly good spot at the front of the stage, where every second finds me slammed (deliciously) into a very large amp by the lurching sea of sweaty people behind me, so she can “get” some skinny white boy (albeit the cute one) to take his shirt off? Furthermore, after taking a good look at this girl, nothing about her convinced me she had some special “get guys to take their shirts off” power. Because if she did, then maybe we’d have to be friends.

But I digress. Although not really, because it brings me to my next point. Klaxon's music is really sexy. I don't understand how or why, but it is. And the reaction of the crowd totally backs up how sexy it is. This may sound weird (it would be unlike me of it weren't), but I had forgotten how great it feels to be covered in your own sweat and the sweat of everyone around you. They played everything you'd expect, opening with "The Bouncer" (or maybe not, I don't really pay attention to set list orders. I mean, who really cares anyway?) and mixing their numerous singles through out the rest of the set. "Magick" (my favorite) and "Gravity's Rainbow" sounded especially good to me. The show ended too quickly, I wish I'd tried to see them multiple nights while they were in New York.

And oooo look, it's the cute one again:

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And the, um, other Klaxons:

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And some sweaty, happy people:

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So thanks, Klaxons. I'm glad you were worth the hype. And blah, blah, blah.

Love, Rachael