We decided it would be fun to ride bikes from Billyburg up to 175th Street for Bjork's show at the United Palace Theater. There's a bike path along the Hudson River the whole way up - way, WAY the fork up - and it was a gorgeous crisp Spring Saturday. Why not?
Well, not only was it fun, but it was also Epic, Grueling and, by the ride home, Exhausting. (A two hour tour each way? Respeck!) And I would do it again as long as I get one of those thick gel bike seats and some reconstructive knee surgery.
May 2007 A.D. trees were in full olfactory bloom and the view along the river was a knockout . Perhaps the best part of the ride occurred on the way home when, around midnight, my companion ran down a live rat that was scrambling across the path. HIT AND RUN. One down, 8 million to go! (And let me tell you we're going to have some feast tomorrow night once I skin that rat, boy!)
And Bjork? I just got back from another bike jaunt up to 59E59 to see The Receipt - which was brilliant - and I'm so knackered now that as I was describing the show a few minutes ago I referred to Bjork as Beck. Yeah. At least twice before being corrected. So grains of salt all around people, but the show was at turns magnificent, jaw-shatteringly unbelievable, impersonal and overwrought (Declare Independence? Um, I think I'm sticking with the Union.)
God bless her little Icelandic heart for having the stones to reach for the supernatural; when it works there's nothing else like it and you're helpless to resist. Songs like Hunter, Wanderlust and Pluto left me twitching, drooling and finding myself standing inexplicably in the aisle. Of course, the downside of that is the occasional grandiose overreach, and Declare Independence is Exhibit Eh.
Bjork doesn't "do" political; she's too evocative and surreal for that. Declare Independence, her STINGY one song encore, screeches on and on in the form of an interminable, simplistic techno diatribe that sent this blogga nitpicking into the night. (S/FJ dips his oar into this in last week's New Yorker.)
I know you all think it always comes back to Fugazi with me, and perhaps you're right. But strong men also cry. Strong men also cry, and for me the final word on flags and nationalism is a little song called Facet Squared. You know, the one that climaxes with the lines "We draw lines and stand behind them. That's why flags are such ugly things that they should never touch the ground!"
Listen UP! Facet_squared.mp3
Fine, perhaps I am being a quibbling little beeatch. There is no mo Fugazi but there is Bjork and there were enough perfect moments in her set to make me feel like I got my EIGHTY DOLLARS worth, and that's no small task with me. She brought out Antony, whose exquisite voice went to waste on a strangely unaffecting Dull Flame Of Desire. But still... When she told us she was bringing out another guest I thought, "could it be... please... I've been SO good... THOM YORKE!?!?!"
No, but it was Min Xiao-Fen who ABSOLUTELY KILLED on the pipa, or "Chinese lute" or, as I referred to it last night, "whatever the fuck that was it blew my fucking head off OMGWTF she SHREDDED that thing!!!" My rat-slaying companion said something about the lute being the favorite of opium smoking dilettantes in the Oriental days of yore. Hell, I would have payed 80 bones just to hear Xiao-Fen go nuts on the pipa solo for 75 minutes. With or without the opium. (Ok, $80 with, $70 without. Final offer.)
And last but not least there was ample video projection of the absolutely fascinating Reactable.
Yeah, that's an instrument. (Though not played by infants last night.)
"Reactable is a multi-user electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible user interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving physical objects on a luminous table surface. By moving and relating these objects, representing components of a classic modular synthesizer, users can create complex and dynamic sonic topologies, with generators, filters and modulators, in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language." (Read more about it on Boing Boing.)
Music Slut was there and I stole his/her photo of Bjork. (Just trying to cultivate my Bad Boy image.)