Entries tagged with: Frank Sidebottom
by Bill Pearis
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson in 'Frank'
There aren't a lot of actors out there where I'll go to see a film just because they're in it but Michael Fassbender is one of them. From more commercial projects like X-Men: First Class and Prometheus to his work with director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame), he always gives interesting performances, even in films that aren't very good (Jonah Hex). Fassbender is currently filming Frank, what could be the strangest film of his career, playing late UK cult icon Frank Sidebottom (!).
As you may know, Frank Sidebottom alter ego Chris Sievey (who was also in Manchester punk band The Freshies) died suddenly in 2010 after a short battle with cancer. Sidebottom's music, usually covers of popular (and indie) songs rewritten to be about Frank's life in Manchester suburb of Timperley, often with help from a puppet version of himself called Little Frank. All while wearing a giant paper mache head. Frank played NYC often in the last ten years of his career and seeing him confuse day drinkers at the 119 Bar back in 2008 is one of my fondest show memories of the last five years.
The film Frank, is only loosely based on his life. The IMDB synopsis:
A comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers he's bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender).The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and, yes, that's a still from the movie above. As it's still filming, Frank probably won't see release till late 2013 if we're lucky. Till then, a few Frank Sidebottom videos are below.
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Higher Than the Stars (Others in Conversation Mix) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Besnard Lakes - And You Lied to Me (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Cinnamon Band - Buena Vista (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Princeton - Calypso Gold (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Princeton - Sadie and Andy (feat. Meredith Metcalf (MP3)
The Besnard Lakes
(This Week in Indie Pt 1, in case you missed it.)
North of the border, Pop Montreal 2009 is going on as we speak, yet one of the Canadian city's best bands, The Besnard Lakes, are here in NYC playing a show on Saturday (10/3) at Mercury Lounge. I think they must feel an affinity for New York -- Brooklyn too, as their excellent 2007 album Are The Dark Horse (one of my faves from that year) has a song called "On Bedford and Grand," a tongue-in-cheek ode to Williamsburg. As good as that album is, Besnard Lakes are even better live, though it probably depends on their ever-fluctuating line-up. In addition to scoring actor Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut, the band are working on Dark Horse's follow-up, so it will be good to hear some new material. The show also features Philadelphia duo The Cinnamon Band (2/3s of defunct Jagjaguwar band The Union of a Man and a Woman) and Acrylics who I think are one of the city's best new bands.
We've got a pair of tickets to give away for this 21+ show. If you're interested, send an email with your first and last name to BVCONTESTS@HOTMAIL.COM with the subject line "Besnard Lakes" and we'll pick a winner at random.
Saturday is a busy night. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (9pm), who just released a great new EP called Higher Than the Stars, headline Webster Hall (tickets), the penultimate date on their current tour with Cymbals Eat Guitars (7pm) and The Depreciation Guild (8pm). You can download a brand new remix of Higher Than the Stars title track, which strips off the original's sparkly sheen and gives it a rougher, darker coat of paint. The Webster Hall show has an early start with 6pm doors, which will have you out of there by 10pm, in time for a second show of the night if so desired. The band play Philadelphia on Sunday (10/4), then are taking six weeks off before Europe in mid-November. They are also conspicuously absent from either of the upcoming Slumberland Records Anniversary shows.
Also also Saturday (that's 10/3 if you forgot), Finland's The Dø wrap up their first-ever American tour with a NYC stop at Hiro Ballroom (tickets). One night earlier (tonight), they play a show at Pop Montreal. Their 2008 album A Mouthful is a schizophrenic mix of indie rock, dreamy folk, tribal rhythms, and even (less successful) forays into hip hop. One woulda thought the band would have been here a year ago, as A Mouthful's hype hit its pinnacle about a year and a half ago, though it still hasn't gotten a proper U.S. release. (You can get it via iTunes or Emusic, though.) The Dø's show in L.A. as part of the Oohlala Festival didn't go so well, apparently, but their show at Chicago's Empty Bottle was a hit according to Popmatters critic (and ace photographer) Kirstie Shanley:
Creating a live performance full of win, French-Finnish duo The Dø could have easily entertained an audience of thousands. Olivia Merilahti was electricity personified. Flipping her long lustrous hair, coming up to the tip on the stage and leaning into the audience were two of her frequent rock moves. Dan Levy chose to engage the audience with his sudden floor kneeling. But despite the sense of developed chemistry between he and Merilahti, it was she who truly stole the show. [Popmatters]You've got another chance to catch L.A. band Princeton, who play with Chicago's Maps & Atlases at the new Knitting Factory in Williamsburg on Sunday. Both bands are just now wrapping up a tour supporting Ra Ra Riot. Their debut, Cocoon of Love, is out now and is pretty hard not to like, full of well-dressed scholarly pop not unlike Belle & Sebastian or the Magnetic Fields (or, loathe as I am to admit it, Vampire Weekend, minus the Afrobeat influences). Princeton were to be one the unavoidable bands at this year's CMJ Festival but canceled after being offered an opening slot on Art Brut's upcoming U.S. tour, so this may be the last chance to see them for a while (well, unless you choose the Art Brut show at Maxwell's which is one of the shows they're opening).
And finally, UK legend Frank Sidebottom is visiting NYC again, here ostensibly for the Coney Island Film Festival where he'll debut his film Frank Sidebottom Saves Coney Island. I caught Frank (and his sidekick Little Frank) back in March where he played to confused locals at the 169 Bar, where he first got heckled but eventually won the crowd over with his bizarre, hilarious covers of The Fall, The Smiths, Queen and The Beatles, which includes multiple costume changes. He's playing a bunch of shows throughout the weekend, including two on Sunday (10/4) at Cake Shop and Otto's Shrunken Head. If you're even slightly curious (there are videos below) I recommend you go see him -- there's really nobody else like him.
Videos and tour dates follow...
by Bill Pearis
Thee Oh Sees
The post-SXSW music flood has yet to show relief and this week might actually be more jam-packed with goodness than last. Where to start?
Kings of San Francisco's fertile garage rock scene, Thee Oh Sees are back in town for two shows this weekend in what I'd have to call unlikely venues for the band. Thee Oh Sees are not exactly fond of playing on stages, as I've only ever seen them set up on the floor, so I'm not sure how they're going to handle it at The Bell House (4/4) and Mercury Lounge (4/5). Regardless, if they're anywhere near as good as they were at the Todd P/Woodsist party during SXSW it'll be a great time. John Dwyer is an intense frontman, flinging his guitars around and likes to get very intimate with his microphone for maximum in-the-red levels. Speaking of, In the Red is releasing Thee Oh Sees' great new album, Help, and while it's not in shops yet, it should be available at the merch table this weekend. Go see them.
Michigan's Tyvek are playing three shows this week, starting tonight (3/31) at Cake Shop. There is certainly no shortage of this kind of low fidelity, high attitude punk being made right now, but these guys do it better than most I think. The band, who keep changing the spelling of their name (Their Myspace currently has it as "Tyvjk"), are due to drop their debut full-length on Siltbreeze any minute now, so maybe they'll will be selling it at these gigs.
Tonight's show at Cake Shop is for the venue's "World's Birthday Party" parties held on the last day of each month. Tonight is curated by Peggy of Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Chuk Reutter of Gold Dust who will be playing their last-ever show tonight. Also on the bill: San Francisco's gothy New Thrill Parade (they sound more than a little like The Birthday Party), and two ca-USE co-MOTION offshoots (Extreme Violence and The German Measles). If your birthday is in March, it's free entry plus two drink ticket and a "gift" and cake. All others pay $7. Tomorrow (4/1) Tyvek play Death by Audio with local folkies Woods (whose new album, Songs of Shame is pretty darn good) and then on Thursday (4/2) opening for Asobi Seksu at Bowery Ballroom.
Also on that Asobi Seksu bill are San Diego scuzz-rockers Crocodiles who put out a JAMC-loving single "Neon Jesus" last year and will release their debut album on April 28th via Fat Possum. Two songs from that album (as well as "Neon Jesus") are available over at RCRD LBL and show they also seem to like Spacemen 3 a lot too. I missed them at SXSW so I can't say whether they're good as a live band or not (editor's note: I liked what little I saw of them), but I'm guessing it's gonna be two guys, a drum machine and a truckload of feedback and reverb (editor's note: YES!). Which is okay by me. In addition to the BB show, Crocodiles also play Pianos on Saturday night (4/4) with the aforementioned New Thrill Parade and L.A.'s pummeling duo Tweak Bird (who BB most recently caught at SXSW).
A few more shows to mention (and all tour dates below):
by Bill Pearis
Right before the Wedding Present played at Southpaw last night, a guy appeared on stage wearing a paper mache mask. I excitedly thought, "oh my god it's Frank Sidebottom!" Never in my life did I think I would see him perform live. He's mostly unknown in America, but in the UK he's... uh... I don't know exactly what to say... I'll quote the Trouser Press:
"At first glance, Frank Sidebottom is just an idiotic soccer fan from Timperley (a town just outside Manchester) who performs inanely nasal renditions of popular songs -- accompanying himself in various musical modes, from rock to acoustic piano to a rinkydink synthesizer approximation of '20s ragtime -- while wearing an enormous painted papier-maché head. But what Chris Sievey (former leader of the equally prolific punk-era Freshies) has done as Frank Sidebottom is so completely over the top, so singlemindedly weird, funny and charming that one has to marvel at the wit and intensity with which he pursues his bewildering career."Though Frank's been doing his thing since the mid-'80s, I have no idea whether he's played the U.S. before. It's the first time I've ever heard of it.
He only performed for 10 minutes at Southpaw, so I can't actually tell people to go see him, but it would be a diservice to the world to not let the New York public know that he is here. Seven more upcoming NYC-area shows are listed below, and here's some Youtube video of him on Tony Wilson's Grenada Reports in the mid-'80s: