Sunday, April 30, 2006

What would Tony Bourdain do?

This week on No Reservations, my culinary hero Tony Bourdain went to Quebec's Au Pied Cochon and had a 13 course French meal with delicious foie gras in practically every dish. It looked simply delicious - the poutine (so wrong yet so right), the "hot dog" and "hamburger", the ducked stuffed with foie gras, the duck in a can, and the pig heads.
Sad news for people who love food this week though as Chicago banned the serving of foie gras in its retaurants. I understand the process of making foie gras, "gavage", is considered cruel by some, but I see it more existentially. Since, it's all coming to an end, we need to take advantage of the simple pleasures in life, food being one of them. I just don't feel government should legislate what we eat, especially something like foie gras which most people haven't eaten anyways. Oh no- lobsters scream when thrown alive in a pot, veal is torture for baby calves - what next?
I imagine Mr. Bourdain lighting up his cigarette in a restaurant after eating his 7th course of fois gras and saying, "Life's too short anyways. Enjoy."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eastern Wrestling Alliance house show

Not much to do this evening, so I decided to check out the house show of the Eastern Wrestling Alliace (EWA) in Essex, Maryland. The place was called it's Pain Factory - actually, it was in a fitness center in a strip mall. Small turnout- about 40 or 50 people maybe. Talked to some regulars before the show- I guess bleeding is not allowed in Maryland- too bad.
The show opened with a battle royal for the number one contender spot for the MD championship- too bad, there were no characters for this sorry and fast bout.
One reason I wanted to go was to see the Japanese female wrestler, Sumie Sakai. She was up against a heel, Fate, who played a diva rich girl. The falls were clumsy, but Sumie Sakai got off a moonsault (as pictured), and she won despite Fate's manager, Kylie Pierce, interfering.
Overall, it was an ok show- some of the guys, particularly the faces, were lousy at selling. The crowd was into it which was nice despite the numbers. I dare say, I would go again.
My favorite group were the Legion of Ungood (Goldthumb, Dr. X, and Mr. E Machine) who were 3 guys who had a comedic edge. Hard so say if they were definitely heel or face, but their schtick was funny.

Baltimore Waterfront Festival

The Volvo Ocean Race in town, so Baltimore is having it's Baltimore Waterfront Festival this weekend at the harbor. It's the reason for the crabcake eating contest. Afterwards, I wandered around the tourist packed area, and I got to see a few of the high-tech ocean sailboats. They are like large catamarans- very Waterworld. Also got to see a Lego Volvo car - woo hoo- 2 Scandinavian products hand in hand. To top it off, there were dragon boats as well - I was looking for Chow Yun Fat with a moustache on a boat out in the harbor.

The Phillip's Crabcake Eating Contest with Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas

This afternoon, the IFOCE brought in some competitors for the Phillip's crabcake eating contest. Included were "Crazy Legs" Conti, Tim "Eater X" Janus, and the favorite Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas. The competitors had 10 minutes to eat as many crabcakes as possible. Sonya set the world record, beating her previous number, by eating 46 crabcakes in 10 minutes. Amazing.

Here is a vid of her eating technique, "chipmunking".

Metalux, Child Abuse, and Sic Alps at True Vine

Last night, I went to True Vine again in Hampden for an interesting show with a diverse lineup. Up first was Metalux. They are a duo of ladies who play electronics, tapes, and some custon instruments made by a guy in Baltimore, no less. They played at opposite sides of the room, and were very good at playing off of each other. I enjoyed them a lot, and it's always interesting to see ladies at these kind of shows.

Second was Child Abuse, a threesome from NYC. They were more thrashy, and reminded me some of Ruins. Loud, fast and fun.

Last up, Sic Alps from SF. They were a duo on drums and guitar playing psychedelic rock. They did a great Soft Machine cover. All in all a good night of music. A weird thing is that two members from two of the bands thought they recognized me. I guess I look like the ubiquitous large Asian dude at the show.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Spank Rock at the Ottobar

Last night, I went to see Baltimore native, Spank Rock play at the Ottobar. He now resides in Philly, but I understand the group chartered a huge bus down from there, bringing down several guests and fans from that city.
His DJ crew, the Baltimore Bass Connection, are locals as well. They were pretty awesome. After, the kinda boring openers, Spank Rock tore it up! His sound is a rapid fire hip hop mixed with electro beats, and the crowd was totally into it. He had guests, Amanda Blank, also come up and spit some rhymes as well. (Can you feel me?) Check out his record "Yoyoyoyoyo"- it's pretty fun to listen to.
Spank Rock - Backyard Betty
Spank Rock - Sweet Talk

Martick's, Baltimore French Food

Wednesday night, I went to dinner with my friends, Larry and Kwan. They took me to Martick's, a French restaurant downtown.
When you drive up, it looks like a condemned building. To get in, there is a doorbell, and the maitre'd lets you in. Apparently, the place was a former speakeasy with a large bar inside. The owner/chef was sitting inside and welcomed us in.
The food was good- definite French, but imagine larger portions served at home. We tried the sweet potato soup which was like dessert. I had the lambchops which were really yummy and fatty. I had wanted sweetbreads, but they were out of them. Larry had a yummy Beef Bourgignon, and Kwan had a veal dish. Dessert was porfiteroles - sweet and delicious.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Indie Film Saturday

Sue and I killed Saturday while Nick was coaching rowing watching indie movies in Princeton.
We first saw Friends With Money, the new film by Nicole Holofcener. I described this movie to Nick as "a woman's comedy", and lo and behold, I was the only guy in the theater. The movie was really funny - following the lives of 4 female friends - 3 of whom are living affluent successful lives while one woman (Aniston) is a maid - and the men in their lives. It follows the themes in Holofcener's previous films about women finding identity in their work and relationships.
Sue and I then went to go see Brick by Rian Johnson. Great film- it is a classic film noir set in a modern day high school. It has snappy tough guy dialogue, lots of twists, and a femme fatale. Really clever style- it is definitely low budget, but the filmmaker was smart in portraying a lot of events off camera, and the strong script keeps the film compelling. That kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun is the new indie boy, isn't he?

Wilco at the Starland Ballroom

Friday night, went up to Sayreville, NJ to see Wilco play at the Starland Ballroom- kind of a dive-y concert hall in the middle of nowhere Jersey.
It was a sold out show, and the place was packed wall to wall- a lot of obnoxious Jersey dudes and dudettes who were drunk, pushy and sweaty. I wonder if this was the venue Klaus Nomi opened for Twisted Sister.
Anyways, Wilco sounded great and they remain one of my favorite rock bands I have ever seen. I would have to say they were much better and played longer the previous time I saw them in Flagstaff, AZ last year. Tweedy kept a knit cap on the whole night, made fun of Jersey some, and told one guy in the crowd that he hated him. I heard they might be trying out some new songs from their upcoming record, but I only recall one or two new songs. They played a similar set to the Kicking Television album. Solid.
Thanks to pmbebop for the pictures - I forgot my camera.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Miss USA 2006 invades Baltimore

Since, I'm not going to any shows this week - a shocker <, I wanted to discuss the pending Miss USA 2006 Pageant that's coming to Baltimore this Friday on NBC. Hoping to accidentally catch goofy women in sashes roaming West Baltimore, yeah right. Most likely they'll just hang around the harbor.
Anyways, based on the their website, I have handicapped my favorites:
Miss Pennsylvania has the oddest profile photo. I like that. According to her interview she "lights up the room" and the craziest thing she's ever done is skiing the expert slope - you go girl!

Miss Kentucky is just plain hot. She is lacking though in the interview- not much going on for this community college girl who is a model/ student/ waitress- guess which is the primary profession - "can i get more wings?"

Miss Louisiana is my pick for the contender. She's got the state sympathy vote cause of Katrina, but also cause she's pretty darn sexy- an older woman- 26. Zow. She likes to ebay, do yoga, and is well travelled. However, she does like Better Than Ezra - oh well, no one's perfect.

Fake boob alert: Wyoming, Oklahoma, Oregon

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tranquil Music Night at Lemon Hill

Went tonight to Tranquil Music Night at a space in Baltimore called Lemon Hill, a rowhouse on Howard St next to the light rail line. It felt like sitting in an empty home except with astroturf on the floor. Cool space- you would occasionally hear the train pass or some car with loud boomin', but I liked it. It seemed most of the people there were MICA students.

Started out with a guy called Milk Money - a creepy minstrel, Tom Waits voiced act that got everyone to clap or pound along.
Up second was Wheatie Mattiasich, a young woman who sang old tyme soundin' country songs. She had a beautiful voice, and her songs had a real traditional sound. Occasionally, she had a guy accompanying her as well on a small guitar - I forget what it is called.
She was followed by a singer-songwriter, Andrew Bryant, who was on tour harking from Oxford, Mississippi. He said he worked construction by day, and spent the rest of his time writing songs. He was trying to get all his songs put out, but he only has gotten 2 records and 1 EP out. He was pretty good. I liked a couple cowboy songs he sang, and at one moment, someone outside on the street sang out while he was playing.
Last up was a local group called The Tall Grass. Compared to the other acts I was a little disappointed. They consisted of 3 guys playing guitar, one singing, and another one occasionally playing keyboard and sampling it. The other acts were acoustic, but these guys were all plugged in. I kind of wish they had a bass guitar, and the singer's voice was not very strong. He sounded like Smog, but his voice broke a lot.
All in all, a nice show. I would definitely check it out again. The picture below shows the astroturf. Tapping your feet when you're not wearing shoes and on astroturf is weird. Come to think of it the shot has no socks. Ewww.

Exit Clov, The Soft Complex, and Georgie James at Black Cat

I decided to check out the local DC scene last night, and made a trip to the Black Cat to see Exit Clov, The Soft Complex, and Georgie James. (thanks to DCist)
Georgie James opened up. The band has the ex-drummer of Q and not U, John Davis and singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn. They reminded me of The New Pornographers with a little more groove and a little less pop. I really liked them - bought their demo at the show. Also, best dressed bass player!

The second band was The Soft Complex. My first impression was to laugh. The lead singer had a receding hairline, eyeliner, and a voice like Morissey, and they were accompanied by a cellist with the dress sense of someone's grandma. However, their electro-new wave songs really grooved, and I was definitely moving to their stuff. The lead singer also reminded me of a gay version of the nutter from Prodigy.

Last up were headliners Exit Clov. They seem to have a big following in these parts. They consist of twin chinese girls playing the keyboard, violin, and guitar and singing pop rock songs in unison. (Their parents' music lessons have paid off!) They were backed by 3 white boys on rhythm section and lead guitar. Definitely reminded me of Puffy Ami Yumi, but with more less cheese. They were definitely an Asian fetishists dream band. There songs were catchy, and I liked their cover of the "Little Boxes" song that is used in the opening credits of Weeds.
All in all, I was really impressed by my foray into the local DC scene- the crowd was great. People actually got into all three bands even though they had different styles. Rock on DC!

Exit Clov - "Working Class Hero"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fursaxa at the Ottobar

After the True Vine show, I hopped over to the Ottobar to catch Fursaxa play. Not a well attended show. Her set was pretty cool. He sings and plays various instruments all the while sampling everything and replaying them and reprocessing them. She was followed by her tour partner, Jack Rose, who played an acoustic guitar. Nice. It was a real night of weird and ambient american folk music in Baltimore.

Otto Hauser and Asa Irons at True Vine Records

Went to the True Vine Record Shop in Hampden last evening to see Otto Hauser (Espers) and Asa Irons (Feathers) play. Neat venue- a small record store with a cool selection- the concert took place in the back room surrounded by vinyl. About a dozen people were there- Tara Burke (Fursaxa) stopped in before her show at the Ottobar. Hauser played first- it was a single piece with him making ambient noise with his guitar and pedals. Mellow- very soft- nice. Afterwards, he mentioned he is playing with Devendra Banhart at Sonar in June.
He was followed by Asa Irons, a guy from New England. He started off playing percussion on large saw blades. They have a cool rich sound. Then he played and sang a few soft folky songs. All in all a nice show. I left then to go see Fursaxa.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Art Brut and the Rogers Sisters at the Ottobar

Last night, I went to a great show- Art Brut at the Ottobar with The Rogers Sisters opening.
I got there around 9 right when the opening band started. They were a local group called Baby Aspirin - they were ok, still seem to be working on their songs and getting a little tighter. The next group to play were The Rogers Sisters - they were great. They have 3 members: an Asian guy on bass and singing and two women, one on lead guitar and singing and the other on drums.
The band rocked- they have a very New York dance/disco punk sound, and they had a great energy onstage. I had their first 2 records before, and I picked up their new record, The Invisible Deck, at the show. The audience really warmed up to them quickly. I liked how the bass player sometimes would play melody on his guitar while the drummer took over the bass line. Nice. They also knew how to make the music driving - the drummer was like a machine.
Lastly, Art Brut came out. They were awesome - hilarious, full of energy, and charming onstage. They came out and opened with bars from "Enter Sandman"! The lead singer Eddie Argos had the best mustache, and he was really funny. He talked about taking pages from the "Lead Singer's Handbook" by following a hit song with a b-side, with a mixed reaction from the crowd. He then said that he would have to bring it all back by playing the title track of the album. Hilarious to hear him make fun of his own set.
He insisted that everyone at the show go out and start a band. He told everyone to "Stay off the crack!" He even came out and slamdanced with the audience while still singing. At one point, he became embarrassed when an audience member pointed out his fly was down.
There was also a mini-mosh pit up front, and nearly a girlfight when one girl who was moshing had a run-in with another girl. One person was ejected. It should be noted, there were probably only like 60 people there, so all this was really fun because of the scale of the show. I had a great time. My favorites were "Top of the Pops", "Bang Bang Rock 'n' Roll", and "Good Weekend" ("I saw her naked ...TWICE!")

Art Brut - "Good Weekend"
Art Brut - "Bang Bang Rock 'n' Roll (acoustic)"

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Stills at Sonar

Last night, Montreal's The Stills played at the Sonar Club in Baltimore.
The opening act was a band from NYC called Favorite Sons. They were a 5-piece with 2 guitarists. I enjoyed the intensity of their first song- the singer was very serious. However, they didn't seem to have much versatility in their songs. All the subsequent songs they did were the same note. The band wasn't very charismatic on stage either. Towards the end of their set, I wasn't enjoying them, and instead spent time checking out girls.
Now, I really enjoyed The Stills first record. It came out a few years ago, and I saw them play Coachella, and they were really good. It looks like the band has changed now- I read the guitarist left, and the drummer took his place as well as taking on the duty of sharing singing with the lead guy. To be honest, even though they played new songs, the songs from the first record were better. I'm not sure if I will get the new record. It's too bad.
I noted that they definitely have a lot of female fans - must be nice to be pretty boys from Montreal.
I tried to head over the the Talking Head to see The Glass Family, an Austin band I've been reading about but I caught the end of their set only- they sounded interesting. Another time.
I decided to grab a late night snack, braving the crowds of drunken twentysomethings in Federal Hill, and I noticed a couple things: 1) a lot of people at the food place had terrible acne, and 2) no matter how expensive or trendy a guy's clothes are, if he looks dorky, he can't hide his dorkiness (it's why i don't bother)

The Stills - "In the Beginning" (kinda boring)

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Ponys & Jason Forrest at The Talking Head

I went late last night to the Talking Head in town to see Chicago's The Ponys and crazy mashup electronic artist, Jason Forrest.
The opener was forgettable- two guys on laptops bobbing their heads and amusing themselves. No thanks.
Jason Forrest, on the other hand, despite playing tracks on his laptop, was great. His style of music is the ultimate ADD mashup- he overlaps samples of other songs and create flurries of sound bites from various styles of music from punk to rock to techno and hip hop. Meanwhile, onstage, he was jumping around, dancing, and air guitaring to his tracks, and he even ran out into the audience to mosh with us. Cock Rock Disco!
He was briefly sidetracked when his laptop lost power, but his interaction with the audience was fun. He convinced a kid to strip naked onstage for beer.
The Ponys followed and they were great. I love their Celebration Castle record. It's pretty solid Chicago influenced rock- I think Albini produced the record. Their guitarist and drummer were just tight, while the lead singer, Jared, was fun onstage. Melissa the bass player was really cute- she reminded me of Susanna Hoffs and Chiaki Kuriyama.
They too had technical difficulties when the snare drum broke. While fixing it, the band had audience members come up to tell jokes.
Best one: What is brown and hiding in the attic?
The diarrhea of Anne Frank.

"I'm With You" - The Ponys
(Thanks to A Gentle Bossa Nova)
"My 36 Favorite Punk Songs" - Jason Forrest