All Tomorrow's Parties

Queen Mary, Long Beach
Saturday-Sunday, Nov.

BLACK HEART PROCESSION: San Diego's Black Heart Procession were creating a "sound environment" on the main stage amidst quite an air of anticipation: LA's public correctly holds them in high esteem, for this band of melancholiacs have a formula to make the children of swoon into their livejournals. That's in no way a slight; leader Pall Jenkins has been faithfully building a legacy from the ashes of Three Mile Pilot (who are supposedly reforming), honing his lineups and sound into something truly rich. As the beat kicked in on their opener, it felt like drummer Joe Plummer—with Jenkins' musical saw, Toby's powerful piano and the MAX-patch minimalism of (we believe) the very talented Jason Soares—had pulled the band into a golden age. You might think that's another way of saying geriatric, but did you ever write a song Johnny Cash covered? Yeah, so there. (Jeffrey Rosenberg) LUNGFISH: Let it be known that this reviewer has recently rekindled a sense of non-specific spirituality, a general feeling there are good powers and organizing forces that are larger than us, holding it all together. That said, Dan Higgs is a prophet, and he was about to speak words of universal truth. For those unfamiliar: please consult history texts describing the toil of the American proletariat; please examine the feeling of being an exile within one's own home; please just listen to Talking Sounds for Walking in your headphones while walking through Washington, D.C. Lungfish's music is incomparably simple—almost a mantra—with one or maybe two riffs per song, played with determined purpose to form a foundation for Jesus-meets-Joe-Cocker-meets-Iggy-Pop Higgs to blow his own poetry apart. Band members' children watched and sang behind the stage; Higgs stopped between songs to explain, "We come here in friendship." It's an insult to call his behavior cavalier—he gives everyone his honest word and his honest music, and then gives the rest of the world some of the best tattoo work known to man. It's the best solace since last week's election. (JR) THE BUFF MEDWAYS WITH BILLY CHILDISH: The British are like gods to us Cheeto-chawing American trogs right now; when mustachioed Mr. Childish and the Buffs calmly stepped out with a jug of Glenlivet and nicely brushed epaulets, we felt conquered. Where most of the ATP lineup was inexperienced or over-the-hill, bloated or ghostly, desperate for attention or just self-consciously boring, Childish and company tapped out matter-of-fact Nuggets rock & roll with the measured aplomb of a squaddie popping open a bottle with his teeth. Setlist: most of the two most recent Medways albums, the Kinks' "Misty Water," the final suite of "Quick One While He's Away," even Son House's "John the Revelator" (or whatever, made famous by Son House). Plus: "What's Wrong With Me" and "Punk Rock Is Nicht Tot," which demonstrated that it wasn't as well as proved that it should be kept out of the hands of children. (Chris Ziegler) LOU REED: Guitar Center plays the Velvet Underground songbook. Blah. Hate to harp on equipment, but: five-string fretless bass? That shiny junkyard drum kit? Do you think, like, "Satellite of Love" has been festering in Reed's heart for a generation, keeping him from ever truly sleeping through the night because he knows that without the tinny Seinfeld-ian tones of a five-string fretless bass, it wouldn't ever live up to the perfect vision he's kept inside for so many years? The kids who weren't leaving early were the kids without enough sense or self-confidence to push through a crowd. Reed looked pretty cheerful; we went and saw an Elvis impersonator instead. (CZ) WHITE MAGIC: White Magic's EP Through the Sun Door (on Drag City) blends equal parts '60s psych rock (see Grace Slick and the Great Society), British folk invasion (see Comus and Fairport Convention), and dark soul and out jazz (see '70s-era Nina Simone and Alice Coltrane), but for modern comparisons? Maybe "New Weird America" counterparts such as Animal Collective and Six Organs of Admittance, but White Magic are really on their own. Quix*o*tic was singer Mira and sister Christina Billotte's earlier and darker outfit, and White Magic takes up where Mira's contributions to Quix*o*tic left off, with ponderously emotional heavy psychedelia made heavier by the feel of the ship itself, Mira's voice as deeply hypnotic as her music. (JR) THE CRAMPS: They were the only band to get rained on—they LOVED that!—and they were good, respectable, a little creaky and cartoony, but at least there was some life to 'em—Lux had a few comments about "pop-opular music"—and then once two or three bottles of wine got into the act, whoosh, down go the pants and up goes Lux on the speaker tower. "Here's . . . some bad ad—advice from the Cramps!" he said through a slurry of booze. Then they did "Tear It Up" for minutes and minutes—"Up! Up! Up! Up! Up! Up! Up! Up!"—until you really did wanna fight something, maybe just so Lux would notice you. (CZ) THE FLAMING LIPS: "OH! YES! OH! YES!" says the video screen; the stuffed animals are pushing out balloons, and Wayne Coyne just smiles in his suit, the punk rocker who finally took acid, the cool dad no one really had, pumping a fake fist ("B-U-S-H"; the other said, "S-T-O-P") and telling everyone, "This is your last chance to sing along all night." Or, "If you don't know the words, just sing something; let the anger out!" (for "War Pigs" with Peaches). Or asking, "Should I get the bubble?" They were the only band that really filled up the stage, blowing up balloon after balloon where Lou Reed had deflated before, everybody backstage moving aside so little kids could see the crowd out front. It was goofy, and we're all too old for that kind of thing, but maybe we aren't, and it's dumb, but it was just fun to listen and look up at the lights. Guitars everywhere, and girls were beautiful, boys were beautiful, sound guys were beautiful—it was a song from a car commercial, but fuck it. You couldn't see past the top of the stage, but the confetti lit up all across the field. (CZ)

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