Archive for May, 2007
The Devo – David Bowie Connection
Friday, May 18th, 2007

Yesterday’s edition of the Telegraph featured a great reminiscence by Jerry Casale from Devo on the Cleveland show on David Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs tour. Casales said that the show “solidified right then and there what I wanted to do with Devo.” He decided to quit sitting around and toking up and just bouncing around ideas of what to do with the band. Oddly enough, he also says that Bowie began the show in a Kabuki outfit. Really? In 1974?! That must have been some hella strong pot or Casales had a little lapsus memoriae.

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How Is This Bowie News?
Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

I know I tread dangerous and controversial waters by addressing this, but the Bowienet news item for May 16 entitled Five Years…That’s All We’ve Got has nothing whatsoever to do with David Bowie or his current projects and everything to do with the news editor’s political, non-Bowie related views. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking his views, I respect anybody who takes up a cause to save the planet (in fact, the Webmaster and I are huge believers in conservation), but the Bowie News section on David Bowie’s official website is not the appropriate place to do so. The news section is entitled Bowie News and it should report on, you know, news about David Bowie. This news item appears above another news item about tonight’s High Line Festival events and has absolutely nothing to do with Bowie, other than a tenuous thread drawn between the lyrics from Five Years and the article from the WWF.

Now whether a BowieNet reader or subscriber thinks the human race is sending the planet to hell in a handbasket named Global Warming or thinks global warming is the latest political fad doesn’t matter. The section for Bowie News has historically reported on news about, well, Bowie. Isn’t that one of the reasons why the paid subscribers and other fans regularly visit the site? BowieNet is not our one-stop shop for news that vaguely has something to do with Bowie. If it were, then the readers would see hundreds of news items in a month reporting on every person who quotes David or mentions his name. But it’s not – it is not meant to be the Wal-mart of news sections on official fan sites. What irks me is not the inclusion of this news item on the site in general, it’s just the location. All BowieNet subscribers know that there is a forum entitled Politics and Religion, and that is the place for this post. Furthermore, I’m quite confident that BowieNet readers are savvy enough to read blogs for news pertaining to their own political views, if they even care that much about politics. Neither the casual BowieNet browser nor the paid subscriber deserve to have the BowieNet news editor’s personal, non-Bowie related views thrown at them and taking precedence over news items about current projects such as the High Line Festival. Surely we deserve better than that.

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High Line Updates: Design Presentation, El Automóvil Gris
Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Last night James Corner, a landscape architect and urban designer, gave a presentation on his plans for the High Line. There’s not much more to say about it, but here is the link to the What’s Up: NYC notice. Also, shame on us for not mentioning this before but David wrote a great review of Saturday’s performance of El Automóvil Gris. I have not witnessed the spectacle before, but it looks to be a Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque performance with actors lip-synching along with the movie onscreen behind them. Brilliant! Maybe some footage will appear on YouTube for those of us not in the audience.

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High Line Updates: The Polyphonic Spree, Claude Cahun
Monday, May 14th, 2007

The Hammerstein Ballroom stage was invaded on Friday night by a small army of singers dressed in black military uniforms calling themselves the Polyphonic Spree. Quite a diversion from the usual gowns, the new duds promote their upcoming album, The Fragile Army. Daunting as it may have seemed, all they fired upon the crowd were uplifting tunes and silver confetti, while standing before a giant banner of the word “HOPE.” Their last song of the evening, a rendition of Memory of a Free Festival, paid homage the Highline curator himself, who was spotted backstage with the Spree and seen up in the balcony for part of the show. NYMag.com as well as Bowienet have short reviews, and WireImage has the usual postage stamp size photos.

Also part of the Highline Fest on Friday night, the Aperture Foundation hosted a Homage to Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Cahun (born Lucy Schob) and Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe) were stepsisters and pioneers of the Surrealist movement, best known for their gender-bending photography. This free event featured a multimedia installation of the artists’ work, a panel discussion led by NYU professor Shelly Rice, a comedy performance by drag king Murray Hill, and a film screening of Lover Other, a documentary on the lives of Cahun and Moore. For more info, see FreeNYC.net and Cahun’s website.

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More Notes from David Bowie on the High Line Festival
Saturday, May 12th, 2007

BowieNet has two more brief reviews from David Bowie on the High Line Festival acts. In his first review, he very briefly talks about Air’s show from Friday night. In his second review, he gives readers an insight into the feel of TV on the Radio’s show by giving not only his own feelings but also David Sitek’s notes from the setlist. Awesome. I always love to know how a band feels about their own setlist, like assigning a method to madness. Though David’s review is brief, it reminds me how exhilarating TVOTR is live. Check out the pictures accompanying David’s review as well. I dig that silvery gray suit.

I know these reviews from David are brief, so for those of you who are like me and must have an accurate mental picture of the show here are some more links. Cafe Eclectica Music has a great review of all acts from Friday night.  #comments is also featuring their own review of Air’s set and opening act, as is disconap.

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High Line Festival Artist Review
Friday, May 11th, 2007

Amid all the hullabaloo about the bands playing the High Line Festival and the Spanish film exposition, we have not heard much about the visual artists who are exhibiting their work.  NY1 News steps up to the plate a bit to give us a brief comment and description of the work of Laurie McCleod.  McCleod has an affinity for being immersed in water and makes short underwater art films.  It is her film that will be projected onto the water tower at 14th and Washington Streets.

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More News on David Bowie and the Burlesque Club
Friday, May 11th, 2007

Some of you may remember that we reported on a rumor that David Bowie and Sting were teaming up to open a burlesque club in Manhattan. No? Don’t remember? Here’s the link. According to the New York Observer and backed up by Gawker, the deal is back on now that Bowie, Sting, and Forty Deuce burlesque show owner Ivan Kane have found a bit of real estate. The trio are going to be taking over and revamping Little Charlie’s Clam House to transform it onto a burlesque performance space. The club is supposedly opening in fall of this year. Like I commented in my previous post on this subject, if this is indeed true then, man, have I got to see it. And if it’s not true, then I will continue to amuse myself by giggling at Bowie-themed burlesque dancer names – I think Ramona A. Stone would be a good one for a PVC-clad dancer.

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Review from David Bowie himself of the Arcade Fire Show
Thursday, May 10th, 2007

BowieNet is featuring a few words from David Bowie himself on last night’s Arcade Fire show. WireImage also has two pictures of David and Iman at the show. I love the picture of Iman – she looks like she’s having a ton of fun! Anyway, as always David’s description is very eloquent but for a more detailed review, check out Sam’s in the post below.

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Review of the Arcade Fire show at the High Line Festival
Thursday, May 10th, 2007

The following review was kindly written for CrackedActor.com by Samuel Mohar. I must admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of Arcade Fire but this review makes me want to give them another chance. If anyone else wishes to contribute a review to be posted on this site, contact me or the Webmaster at webmistress (a t) crackedactor.com or webmaster (a t) crackedactor.com.

In preparation for my first Arcade fire concert, while spraying on some cologne, a roommate asks “Gotta smell good for David?” “Yessir,” I reply. Ain’t gonna hide my purpose here; I bought these tickets at least in part due to my hope that the man himself, David Bowie, would pop by, sing a song, as he did at last years Fashion Rocks, and once again at a follow-up New York concert Arcade Fire had. And after the opening act, The National, I doubted anything but his presence would make this worth the price.

Welcome to Radio City Music Hall! Opulencia! “Poor man’s eating off a hundred dollar plate,” and poor student’s going to a $50 show (after Ticketmaster’s healthy chunk). The crowd covers a decent age range, mean lower 20’s, median 29, as a rough guess. The man a few seats down from me looked 45, and I saw a few other older fellows, almost all in some sort of print button up over a t-shirt, often with its own design. The youth were as expected: late-twenties hipsters with tight vests, late-teens hipsters with that wonderful hair that apparently is never socially acceptable after that age, and a couple of Danish dames to my left, who were lively and would later dance throughout Arcade Fire’s set. I was in a nice white tee and some imitation cologne, and felt more underdressed than I should at a rock show. Shiny glowstick stirrers in plastic cups abounded, brought in from the numerous bars littering every floor.

The auditorium itself is huge. I made my way up to the second of three mezzanines, and sat down to view the giant egg of concentric half-ovals, nestled nicely back in the middle of the mez, enveloped in the blue lights twelve feet above. It felt appropriately isolated and distant from the stage, but comfortable, especially with the sparse crowd to which The National took the stage.

Their sound filled the womb of the stage, with poorly mixed and overpowered bass becoming like a disproportionately distant beating- you make the metaphor- while the screeches from the front-man sounded strangely close and natural, not reproduced or amplified. They sounded good, playing decent indie rock music with clean, solid, but expected builds. The songs became formulaic. The lead singer did his thing fairly well, singing Nick Cave drones into the mic at the odd body angles of Tom Waits, sometimes bordering new wave, sometimes going up into the aforementioned shrieks. Nothing sounded bad about the band, but nothing stuck out, either; we could have been listening to a CD player, and, had we been, I would not have been paying more than cursory attention to it. Now, the frontman’s leg was injured, damaging his ability to jump around, though he made good effort. But the rest of the bands’ perpetually bored appearance did nothing for their show. The drummer’s hands looked mechanical, in perfect time, in perfect rhythm; the rest of him could remain dull at the most frenetic beats. It was apparent, though, why they would open for The Arcade Fire; look no further than the drone guitar and slam piano on “Apartment Story.” Nonetheless, I was near falling asleep before Arcade Fire had taken the stage.

Coming back from intermission, an immediate change was noticed; the place was packed. How everyone knew exactly when to show up so as to miss the openers, I’ll never know, but there they were, twice as many hipsters, twice as many high-schoolers, and everyone twice as excited. The lights dimmed to a cheer, and five white circles placed amongst the numerous instruments on stage lit up with an old recording of some female televangelist. “Anyone who can’t feel the light of God needs a Jesus enema put right up their butt.” Yes, really, it was something very similar to that. She continued, and the theme was set.

If you’ve ever heard that Arcade Fire is best live, you’ve heard completely right. At first I thought the sound was true to the album, clean and well-rehearsed. Maybe, but that is far from all. By the time they tore through “No Cars Go,” I knew I was in for a theatrical experience. Strange faces played across the back curtain, sometimes fading into live feed of the drummer, and red neon lines of light stuck straight up in front of the band, six of them. Every “Hey!” was accentuated with a bright flash at the audience. And, more importantly, every person on stage, all ten people, were completely into their music like it was their first time playing it live. And they wanted everyone else to be, too. The lead singer at one memorable point in the evening tried to summon more people to the sectioned off space in the front: “Come on, there’s more room up here. Oops, he’s [the security guard] shaking his head ‘no.’ Come on down, what the fuck are they gonna do?” Wonderful sentiment, exactly what bands need to keep from losing all fan interplay to these large venues, except this ain’t a punk-rock audience. They may be into the music, but certainly aren’t going to run up against the four or five guards standing at the entrances to the barricades, especially not these guards who looked large even from my viewpoint and distance. So he does the next best thing, running out into the audience during “Power Out”, a brave stagehand dashing out to loose him some mic cord. The same song featured a gorgeous duet of fiddling, just discernable enough over the general drone. Later, in a valiant attempt to grab some much-deserved attention, one of the men from the horn sections ran all the way back along the side.

Which reminds me: never have the horns on Neon Bible stood out in any way, especially not as emotional catalyst, to my ears. And yet they were one of the most impactful pieces of the orchestration on many songs live. This leads me to believe that Arcade Fire could take a cue from Ziggy Stardust: TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME. This is not just ambient rock, to set on as background, this is a wall of noise! Every instrument is emotive, and every instrument is vital! The mixing on the album does not do them justice.

While watching, the smell of pot wafted up to my seat fairly early in their set.  The aforementioned Danish women danced through every song. The hipsters did their thing, which seems to be showing appreciation by standing attentively, occasionally nodding. The friendly older man leaned over and spoke with me, behind a rather cute hipster who hardly moved his hands to clap. The last time he had seen Arcade Fire, he had snuck into the VIP section (No one was watching it), and, after a few songs, noticed that David Bowie was standing nearby, completely engrossed in the music. This should have sent me back into fret over whether he would appear, but by that time, more than halfway through the set, I no longer minded; I was seeing a true performance. Beginning, middle, end, it was about the arch, about the concert as a whole. “In The Backseat,” a ballad sung by one of the women in the band, is not a song I’d normally listen to on an album. But when placed in context, with her stunning performance and strange little circular hand motions, the effect was haunting; the cello solo doubly so.

They ended beautifully, the drone dropping out, only a chorus of reverberant voices remaining, as a siren fades in and the band leaves the stage. A moment later, the siren is gone, the stage is barren, but for the five TVs displaying the Neon Bible logo. All that remains is the chorus of voices, which grew until it sounded as if the audience was a congregation, all singing along. A glance proved this untrue, but I’ll just take that as a nod to the sound men. When the encore claps came, they seemed obtrusive to this moment, distracting, a reminder that no, you aren’t in some strange post-apocalyptic church, just in an audience of hipsters. But getting to hear the man himself, and this time I’m referring to Win Butler, sing those words: “Poor man eating off a hundred dollar plate…” It was worth the disruption of the final tableau. But following that up with “Wake Up?” That was just cruel. Just asking the audience to expect Bowie to pop on stage.

-Samuel Mohar

[email protected]

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David and Iman Attend Gala at the Met
Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

David Bowie and Iman put in an appearance at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala on Monday night. According to Bowienet, the two sat with Stella McCartney and Scarlet Johanson, among others. Iman was dazzling in a white trouser suit and David wore a standard tux. Post-Gazette.com has a decent-size picture of the couple.

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