Before her performance, it was mentioned that Janelle Monáe had worked with OutKast, and that remained imprinted on my brain as I saw her sing and thrash and stagedive in one of the smallest bars I had ever been in, Vice. She wasn’t just inspired by OutKast, she was taking it to the next level. Her vocal range was phenomenal throughout the show, which was quite a theatrical production that included a DJ, drummer and guitarist. Among the most upbeat and dancable songs were also moments that really let her voice shine, most notable in her cover of Nat King Cole’s “Smile.” Unfortunately, her EP “Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase” does not do her justice as she really is quite the force on the stage. Luckily, she has a string of shows lined up, including an appearance at Bonnaroo and opening for a handful of northeast No Doubt shows in June. Check out her MySpace for more info on the whens and wheres. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a west coast tour.
At the Universal Republic Showcase, in order to get to Tori Amos’ set, I had to stand through three other acts I had never heard of. The first act, Tyrone Wells, was good. Gabriella Cilmi, the second act, was not so good. My faith in the third act was now up the air. It was Erin McCarley and thankfully she did not disappoint me. I’m a sucker for the female singer/songwriter. I really am. I was immediately drawing comparisons to Milla Jovovich (remember when she had a promising singing career?), a smooth voice but with something of a harsh tone to it as well. I was sold after an amazing rendition of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” which included her keyboardist beatboxing before it led into full on drums. I managed to get a snippet of video with my phone here. (I apologize for the sound. I’ve come to realize my phone isn’t the best when it comes to video at shows.)
She’ll be on tour with Jacks Mannequin and Matt Nathanson in April and May, so check out her MySpace page for tour dates. And you can download the above track for free at Amazon.
Now that I’m finally recuperating from SXSW, I cannot wait to fill up this blog up with some of the goodies that I heard. I think I did a good job of instantly reviewing the movies I saw. There were only two that I did not review right away (“The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle” and “Winnebago Man”) because they were the two best films that I saw and I felt they deserved a bit more that me typing something up on my phone and emailing it in.
Once the music portion of the festival kicked in, I barely had time to breathe and/or sleep let alone blog. I did twitter like there was no tomorrow, which was about as much as I could do while running around from bar to bar. Harlem Shakes is one of those bands I was running to from another act. After Tori Amos performed her show at La Zona Rosa, my feet were exhausted but I wasn’t quite ready to call it a night. My friend Ahmad and I raced over across downtown Austin and caught this band he knew. At first, I was so floored that I just stood there soaking it all in but it wasn’t long before I started shaking my ass. Vocally, I kept hearing They Might Be Giants but musically I was thinking something along the lines of Tilly and the Wall - that kind of music that just makes you so happy and not have a care in the world.
Their debut album "Technicolor Health" was just released today, and I cannot recommend it more highly. And if you happen to be in New York City this Thursday, they’re having a record release party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (that is, if you’re not already seeing PJ Harvey and John Parish that night). Check out harlemshakes.com or their MySpace for more on these guys.
A documentary that goes through the lives of three role playing gamers. Starting at the annual GenCon, we meet the three main subjects of the film and learn a bit about the gaming world, from the classic Dungeons and Dragons to the more modern World of Warcraft. Each person discusses what they enjoy about gaming and role play, and then we follow them after the convention and into their every day lives. As different as each person may be (there’s two older men and one twenty-something woman), each one seems to have had a similar disgruntled upbringing early in life that would suggest why they want to retreat from a real society. Each one also expresses the constant desire of wanting to be someone, whether it’s a novelist, a girlfriend, or a game master. However, as much they all try to differentiate the fantasy world from the real world, they seem to end up merging both. In the end, one of the three ends up quitting gaming because he feels as though it isn’t fun for him any more, while the other two continue on to the next GenCon.
I enjoyed the film because, as a comic book nerd, I know these people. The narrative was a little to be desired but I think it showed a good portrayal of three hardcore gamers.
A documentary about a small community outside of Cairo that relies on the recycling of the city garbage in order to make a living. They recycle 80% of the trash that they collect and export it to various countries. This is threatened when big businesses come in and start handlingall the disposal of trash in the city. They don’t recycle nearly as much and instead start filling up newly created landfills. The town must now try to either adapt and work with the businesses or find new ways of earning their money. The film really focuses mostly on three boys who only know how to work with the garbage and have aspirations of turning it into careers. We see what happens over the course of two years as the boys are now turning into men and starting to get more serious about starting families in their troubled times.
A film about what happens when a teenager says he’s going to kill himself on camera for a high school film project. The result is a varied mix of reactions from students and adults, as it’s mostly considered a practical joke at first. The film starts out comedic with parodies of infomercials and cartoon violence but eventually abandons all that for a more serious and dramatic tone. It was a bit of a mess of a film that I thought was being forced on me at moments - switching back and forth from the characters point of view through his camera lenses to the actual movie. The story itself was good but the execution was a bit too manic for me. It was wonderfully acted by the lead and most of the rest of the cast. There were a couple random guest appearances that felt, well, random (Tony Hale and David Carradine, whose rolls could have been done by anyone). The film was very well received but I really felt as if its an ti-suicide message had just been beaten into my head.
I am now in Austin for the annual SXSW festival. This is my first time at this festival and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I have been to Sundance on multiple occasions, I went to the Toronto International Film Festival a couple years back, but I have a feeling that SXSW is going to be in a league of its own.
I pick up my film badge tomorrow and then start with a movie at noon entitled "Died Young, Stayed Pretty," which is a documentary on the “indie-rock poster movement.” Later in the day there is an acting workshop with Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show) that I will not miss. I’m not an actor, but I think this will be extremely interesting.
My goal is to review each film that I see here on this blog. We’ll see how well that holds up once things start rolling. I will mostly likely be twittering like a mad person though, so feel free to follow me on Twitter if you’re interested.
“Pandora’s Aquarium, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been serving rape and sexual abuse survivors for a decade. Nearly 20,000 people have been served by the organization’s online support community, where survivors find a refuge to share experiences, seek advice, and provide support.
Pandora’s Aquarium is hosting its first healing retreat weekend in the fall of 2009. For many survivors, the cost to attend the retreat is prohibited and local resources aren’t available. Pandora’s Aquarium believes that all survivors should have access to quality programs regardless of their ability to pay.
We are seeking a grant to provide scholarships to women in need of financial assistance to attend, and you can help us by voting every day in March. Voting only takes a second, and you don’t have to register. Just follow the link, scroll down, and click the blue “vote” box on the right.