Now Playing: The Kinks--"One of the Survivors"
Sunday afternoon, I accidentally nodded off after my little art-out and awoke to a Terry Gross interview with Iggy Pop, in which, among other things, he slagged off Traffic. It was a good interview, and they played "Raw Power" and "Gimme Danger," but slagging off Traffic?* Eh. Screw him--I still like 'em both, and frankly, I don't care if he was born in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.
I got to the Madison House on time (as I generally do) and was the only non-musician there for about half an hour, which was awfully amusing. The weather was more than a little odd, overcast and even a little cool (maybe in the upper 60s or low 70s--and let me state, if I haven't before, that I never thought I'd be using Louisiana temperature talk for Michigan). I chatted a little with Brandon, and found myself in a conversation out of nowhere with Wanda, a tremendously pleasant pair from Ferndale (north of Detroit) composed of Samantha Linn and Ben Mumma, the first on guitar and the second on percussion and harmonica. I mentioned in passing that I can whistle tolerably well, and before I knew it, I'd been signed to accompany them for a stretch of one of Wanda's songs (which I did later, to much amusement, after lubricating the pipes for the occasion with cans of Labatt). They came third, and create a fascinating yet somewhat unsettling impression--Samantha's voice is deceptively light, with concealed iron (I described Vashti Bunyan's sort of the same way on the British Horror Films forum, so I guess I'm plagiarizing myself, but it still applies). The guitar complements the voice well--it's like a tune out of a dream that gets louder and closer and perhaps a little more frightening. Ben's harmonica and occasional drumming lent able support throughout.
Interestingly, they were probably the most "typical" performers if one looks at the lineup in terms of acts that usually play the Madison House. Amoeba Kids opened up with a muted set of off-kilter folk songs that set the tone for the evening--songs with titles like "Robot Volcano", and an ode to their apartment that reminded me strangely of Lili Taylor singing "Joe Lies" in Say Anything (1989). Annie sat next to me through part of that set and it was hard for either of us to keep a straight face through some of the amusing lyrics. They were followed by Chicago's Within This Forest, who... I decided to describe them as a light, happy-go-lucky Godspeed, You Black Emperor! and I'm still not sure that makes any sense. They use guitars, percussion (including a xylophone), and electronic and audio samples of dialogue to create a bizarre yet exhilarating experience--I think they only played two songs, but it seemed like more. They, coupled with Wanda, ably set the stage for Patrick Elkins.
I'd heard of this fellow around town, seen the flyers, etc. I think whoever described his music as "punk-folk" was right on the money. Accompanied by a group of musicians (including Aleise Barnett, who'd played the Madison earlier), he gave us a series of absurd, whimsical songs like "Whitey's Gonna Pay" and "Set Dogs' Hair On Fire" (I'm making guesses as to the titles) that, halfway through the set, got me dancing. I'd decided to try out the chairs this time, and as I was all the way at the back, I think I felt less awkward and/or conspicuous. It was my first dance at the Madison, and it felt great (first time dancing to actual music since the Dirtbombs--I don't count Karen's reception because of the wretched DJ). Patrick Elkins rules. Towards the end, I met Alexander Robins, the guitarist and singer who'd played with Chris Bathgate and Emily Hilliard, and got to thank him for the music from that previous evening. In the course of our conversation, I found that he knew my Emily (from the restaurant, who I dated once, etc.--some of you may remember how I embarrassed myself earlier), which once more goes to show how friggin' small Ann Arbor can be sometimes. Such a wonderful evening, and now my weeks are beginning to pall in comparison (which isn't hard).
*Probably too much time spent on the British Horror Films forum has led to me writing things like "slagging off," if not actually saying them.