My name is Jonas/ I'm carrying the wheel/ Thanks for all you've shown us/ But this is how we feel/ Come sit next to me/ Pour yourself some tea/ Just like grandma made/ When we couldn't find sleep/ Things were better then/ Once but never again/ We've all left the den/ Let me tell you 'bout it/ The choo-choo train left right on time/ A ticket costs only your mind/ The driver said, hey man we go all the way/ Of course we were willing to pay. —“My Name is Jonas,” the opening track on the first recording by a band called Weezer.
There’s a sort of astonished exuberance and celebration of the self—nearly Whitmanesque in its sweep—to be heard throughout the first album by the Rivers Cuomo gang. Even in the sad parts, it still affirms the power of the indvidual. That’s about the best reason I can come up with for using their song about Jonas as an opening gambit for this week’s column. I am willing to bet that the good-natured and ultimately forgivingly optimistic take on human life given example here will move average readers toward the venue of their dreams. After all, it costs only your mind.
Weezer: “My Name is Jonas”
Citizens of Tape City
Going with the flow implies that one take a passive approach to events presenting themselves in one’s perview. For citizens of hip-hop nation, the phrase could also imply making a commitment to specific poetic or lyrical content. Ironically, Flobots, a hip-hop outfit with an extensive rocanrol vocabulary, seem to be taking an actively spirited approach to the direction American culture is moving, post-election. The Colorado-based ensemble will be appearing at Launchpad (618 Central SW) to perform works from their latest recording, No Enemies, on Friday, June 2. The new album is a collection of protest songs, “a body of songs that speak to the urgency of the current moment,” according to founding vocalist Jonny 5. Musically, the work is elusively melodic, veering widely away from typical hip-hop strategies and sometimes embracing a layered, prog-rock sensibility. Qbala, another dweller of the genre’s poetically inclined left field, provides support. Burque bassist extraordinaire Artha Meadors’ powerful pop project, Citizens of Tape City, will also perform; local flowmasters Bandit Lordz and Speed One open the evening’s incantations. It’ll be a Hamilton well spent for local 13+ listeners.; this gig goes off at 9pm, yo.
As hip-hop has become intimately interlaced with popular culture, it seems that rocanrol has become more intricately individualistic. This tendency may explain the maddening, sometimes heartening and always amusingly musical bifurcations always going on within heavy metal. Case in point: Conan, a Liverpudlian trio whose vision is guided by a dark, sludge-like, tuned down sound that—in the imaginations of its head-banging adherents—would be the tuneage of choice for Neolithic cave dwellers or rampaging barbarians had those ancient cultures been given divine access to guitars, amps and a drum kit with a double bass kick. Conan will be in concert at Sister (407 Central NW) on Saturday, June 3, to demonstrate that their roar is the raw reality of Revengeance, which is also the name of their latest record. Portlandia’s official representatives of doom, the growling Graves at Sea, are also on a bill that features opening performances by North and Jagged Mouth. Satan, laughing, spreads his wings, and you can too for only $15 and a 21+ ID! The gates to the underworld, temporarily located at Sister Bar, open at 9pm that night.
I remember Elvis Costello. My brother Albino bought a copy of his debut album, My Aim is True at a hole-in-the-wall record shop when we were in middle school. The joint was called Merlin’s Workshop; the main clerk there convinced my brother all that lofty rocanrol nonsense we had been listening to was a complete and utter drag. Stuff like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd just wouldn’t do it in the future, in the 1980s, the dude told mi hermano. So we took a chance. And then we went back to the shop later that week for copies of records by the Buzzcocks, the Dead Kennedys, DEVO and the Talking Heads—after we had burned, broken or otherwise destroyed all our old school rock records. Forty years later, Costello, a pop chameleon with profound chops—and a wicked, world-weary attitude—is considered a rock god: a lofty progenitor and prophet. That’s cool, but I’m still trying to figure out how a true iconoclast came to be a superstar. It’s probably because his music is sublime and timeless. Serio. You can come to a similar conclusion by taking a trip to good old Popejoy Hall (203 Cornell NE) for a performance by Elvis Costello and the Imposters (a band that features members of the lad’s original punked-out ‘70s ensemble, the Attractions). The show’s on Wednesday, June 7, at 7:30pm. It’ll cost ya between $59-84, but for that price you can see and hear one of music’s most creative forces. If you wanna go home and torch all your Beyoncé and Drake records afterwards, you can blame me and Al.
Elvis Costello and The Attractions: “(What’s So Funny “Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”