Posts tagged “concert”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Mermaids poised for their mainstream splash [SF Chronicle] – Here’s an emergent trend that we’ll all want to get in front of, whether it’s cultural literacy or presents for friends and children, or perhaps cashing in before it the bubble bursts.

Mermaids are about to swamp vampires and zombies as supernatural rainmakers in popular culture. Photographer Mark Anderson is releasing a book called “M: Mermaids of Hollywood,” that features Anna Faris, the Kardashians, Kristen Bell and others in tails. Carolyn Turgeon, author of “Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale,” has agreed to run a new magazine, Mermaids & Mythology. The true beneficiaries of the mermaid bull market are small-business owners who cornered the mermaid market before there actually was one. Eric Ducharme, who lives near Tampa, makes about seven latex tails a month for $500 to $700 and since December has created 25 silicone ones for $1,600 to $5,000, including one for Lady Gaga. The Weeki Wachee Springs Underwater Theater, also near Tampa, started its mermaid shows in 1947. In danger of closing just a few years ago, it’s now hosting sold-out camps for adults who want to swim with tails.

Masked Protesters Aid Time Warner’s Bottom Line [] – The mask wearers have been seen here in the Bay Area recently, in protests against the BART transit system preemptively disconnecting cell service in advance of a protest. There’s clearly a market for knockoff masks, which may lead to some corrective corporate actions, which may in turn lead to more protests and indeed an entire economic turnaround.

When members [of Anonymous] appear in public to protest censorship and what they view as corruption, they don a plastic mask of Guy Fawkes, the 17th-century Englishman who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Stark white, with blushed pink cheeks, a wide grin and a thin black mustache and goatee, the mask resonates with the hackers because it was worn by a rogue anarchist challenging an authoritarian government in “V for Vendetta,” the movie produced in 2006 by Warner Brothers. What few people seem to know, though, is that Time Warner, one of the largest media companies in the world and parent of Warner Brothers, owns the rights to the image and is paid a licensing fee with the sale of each mask.

Come On, Feel the Mud [] – This interactive feature has some lovely, if muddy pictures, but mostly I was struck to learn that there’s a Polish Woodstock. If nothing else, we are clearly a decades past the dawn of political correctness where that phrase could only be the punchline to an offensive joke.

The original Woodstock festival was known for both its music and its mud. Although it is no relation to the American festivals, the Woodstock Festival in Kostrzyn nad Odra, Poland, does its best to recreate the experience by building giant mud pits in which thousands of young Poles writhe and wrestle to a hard-driving beat. Now in its 17th year, the Polish Woodstock mixes older Western rock bands like Prodigy and Helloween with popular Polish acts like Laki Lan and Enej. Despite the aggressive music, the vibe in the mud pit is much more summer of love. “We are moshing, we are throwing sand and dirt, but it’s really friendly,” said Michal Knapinski, 16. “When someone falls, there are hundreds of hands pulling him up.”

Understanding the fan community

Ben Ratliff writes an interesting piece about Grateful Dead fandom (not the tie-dye, need-a-miracle twirling, but the tape trading/DAT-head/live show collecting aspect). The article offers a couple of provocative perspectives:

1. The hierarchy of fan expertise
At the basic level, people know about published material, beyond that fans differentiate between the different eras, then choosing between specific performances (known by date and venue), then songs within a specific performance, and ultimately thoughts about the provenance of a specific recording (which source, which remaster, etc.).
This level of engagement (it’s easy to call it obsession if it’s not your bag, of course) is not limited to Deadheads, of course. Being a long-time Rolling Stones enthusiast, I’ve experienced some of that progression myself (and certainly observed debates among many of my fellow travelers along pleasurably obscure details). Indeed, going from the first level (I know what’s on record) to the second (discovering the treasure trove of unreleased material that other fans are sharing) is an On Beyond Zebra experience, like that dream where you find that you’ve had another room in your house all this time.

2. Long-tail meets plenitude meets paradox-of-choice
I remember my earliest days on the Internet where the most active non-technical communities were for fans of either Star Trek or the Grateful Dead. The Internet offered a dramatically increased ability to connect with other collectors and trade cassette tapes by snail mail. But Ratliff describes the massive increase in availability over the past few years as broadband, iTunes, and other online digital sources provide ridiculously easy access to the nearly 2,200 available shows. As more shows become available to more people, the landmark shows that everyone used as a common reference point for “best” have less of a footprint.

My analogous experience differs from Ratliff’s (although liking the Stones is not exactly like liking the Dead): I don’t need to choose Taylor vs. Wood (two lead guitarists with markedly different sounds and associated with markedly different eras). Since I can now listen to a version of Satisfaction where the Rolling Stones essentially covered Otis Redding’s then-popular cover version, or a 9-minute version of Brown Sugar with horns, or a live version of a relatively-obscure album track that really bring the song home, I now have a broader and richer fan-listening experience. Listening and listening again and hearing new things over the years is sufficient; deciding the best isn’t ultimately that useful once you’re in a position to even make a reasonable distinction.

Deadheads and Stones fans are connected communities with passion and purchasing power and Ratliff’s article is worth reading for some insight on – at the extreme end – how those communities evolve and transact.

Pop Culture Osmosis, Tokyo (part 2)

(also see part 1)

What sort of stuff is “popular” in another country? How do we, as visitors, experience, catalog or contextualize pop culture?

Tokyo’s Shibuya district is the throbbing heart of Japanese youth culture, overflowing with pedestrians (and vehicles), with dense ground-to-sky advertisements for music and electronics and clothing.

Upon arrival, we see a truck driving by advertising an upcoming album release by Ayumi Hamasaki.

In fact, we see this truck – or others like it – constantly. We’ve never heard of Ayumi, but clearly someone wants this album release to be a big deal.


One evening, we notice large crowds outside Yoyogi National Stadium. Turns out it’s an Ayumi Hamasaki concert.
(Notice the suitcase, featuring her logo.)

Parked alongside the stadium are a number of Ayumi Hamasaki tribute vehicles

Passing by the next night, New Year’s Eve, there is an even more extensive display of tribute vans.

Assuming (and I do) that these vans were made by fans, and not record company plants, then at this point it becomes impossible to deny the obvious: she is huge. The larger-than-life marketing messages are appropriate given the enormous popularity. The foreigner’s reaction of “Well, we’ve never heard of her” is only a temporary refuge in the face of the demonstrable devotion.

Consider this: in a major city in the world there’s an performer where fans decorate their vehicles with her face on the outside and displays on the inside and tailgate together with their custom vans before concerts. And you’ve never heard or heard of her. (Disclaimer: doesn’t apply to you if you’ve heard of her).

And: spend a few days in this major city and you will learn about this performer over and over and over again and wonder how you could have possibly not heard of her before.

Are we not men? What a drag it isn’t getting old.

Looking through an airline magazine last week we found this:

That’s a detail from this full-page ad:

It seems the devolution that this art-project was always telling us about is indeed further along than when they started. It’s one thing to see an aging Steve Perry try to hit the high notes at a casino, but when you’ve got a band that dressed in silly costumes and ironically questioned their own human-ness, the nostalgia-revisionism takes on a whole other set of meanings. Their band picture evokes lameness at first, but then really just seems so perfect.

Tastiest of all is the name of the place where Devo is playing: Moron Go!

The Kids in the Hall at the Steve Allen Theater

Oh to be in Los Angeles! The Kids in the Hall at the Steve Allen Theater

Not having performed together in four years, The Kids are back to rediscover their theatrical roots in three rare performances. As in the early years at The Rivoli, The Kids will come to the table Monday morning, work out new sketches and characters, then put up a show on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be a unique opportunity for audiences to travel back in time to the day when The Kids in the Hall first discovered their gift for making strange things happen in normal places.

February 23, 24 & 25
8 p.m.
The Steve Allen Theater
4773 Hollywood Blvd.

Sock It To Me

I got a kick out of this great idea for a benefit concert – Sock It To Me: a sock and underwear collection for San Francisco’s homeless program. The only clothing that can’t be given as ‘hand-me-downs’ are socks and underwear. This is where you come in. Check your sock drawer and look for anything with a tag on it, or pick something up at the store on they way.

Norway mistakes ‘Hook ’em’ for Satanic gesture has a well-written, appropriately tongue-in-cheek article about Norwegians reacting to Jenna Bush’s seeming-devil-invoking hand gesture that was really a Texas Longhorns sign. The coverage of this has been really lame; pointing out that the gesture is similar to a heavy-metal sign in Norway. But even the SF paper ran a picture of a rock concert in San Francisco where people were using the same gesture. But it was an AP story; they left the story unedited, making no reference to the fact that it’s something that happens at every rock concert in this part of the world as well. Yes, the Norwegian press reacted, based on their metal-esque interpretation of the gesture, but the story doesn’t have to have this wild-eyed “in NORWAY, heavy metal fans made this gesture when they enjoyed their loud rock music” as if we’ve never heard of that fascinating and exotic foreign fact.


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