Hypnopompic by Kustaa Saksi

Hypnopompic at Artifact
Hypnopompic at Artifact

Finnish-born, Amsterdam-based graphic artist Kustaa Saksi creates abstract, dream-like, and fantastical illustrations that, as well as gracing gallery walls across the world, have been featured in campaigns for brands such as Nike, Lacoste, and Issey Miyake. His work has appeared in the pages of the New York Times and even on the stamps of the Finnish Post. Continue reading “Hypnopompic by Kustaa Saksi”

Station to Station

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.. Is the title not only of one of my favourite Bowie albums, but also a Nomadic Art Happening taking place across the United States this month — kicking off in Brooklyn last night.

Multimedia artist, Doug Aitken somehow convinced Amtrak to loan him a train that, adorned with multi-coloured LED panels and loaded with artists, will travel cross-country. From Pittsburgh tomorrow night and on to Chicago, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, Winslow, Barstow, Los Angeles, and finishing up in Oakland on September 28th.

At each stop along the way, an event is hosted inside old train stations, and a in a vintage drive-in movie theatre in Barstow. The multi disciplinary events will feature performances from the likes of Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, Beck, Cat Power, Savages and Eleanor Friedberger, as well as art by Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Ernesto Neto, and Carsten Höller.

Last night’s event at the Riverfront Studios in Williamsburg began with multi-coloured smoke bombs bursting from an  Olaf Breuning installation and then a drum line and a popping of pink and grey pom-poms and silver sequins: The Kansas City Marching Cobras.

Olaf Bruening, Station to Station
Olaf Bruening. Photo by author.

While guests (the show was sold out but not crowded) explored the installations, including a yellow Ernesto Neto yurt, and Liz Glynn explained the theory of relativity in her black yurt; No Age, Free-Kitten member, Yoshimio, Hisham Akira Bharoocha and Ryan Sawyer; and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti played on the stage in front of a bold film backdrop running shorts from the likes of Yayoi Kusama and Nicolas Provost, whose spliced up film of endless cinematic kisses was my favourite.

The night ended loudly: Suicide. A band that, given the singer, Alan Vega, is 75 years old, I never thought I’d see live. Vega stumbled on, cane in one hand, drink in the other and screamed into the mic; Martin Rev, in shiny vinyl trousers, palmed and hammered the synth. Pretty damn delightful.

Suicide. Photo by author.
Suicide. Photo by author.
Suicide. Photo by author.
Suicide. Photo by author.

Here’s an interesting comment from Aitken to the Washington Post:

“The train system runs across the American landscape like untapped arteries,” Aitken wrote in an email. “Much of our journeys have been replaced by interstates and highways. I was interested in using the train to become a nomadic broadcast tower, broadcasting new and experimental culture while tapping into unknown and amazing creators from the locations in which the train stops.”

Pulp at Radio City Music Hall

Radio City. All photographs by author.

As much as I loved them, I never got the chance to see Pulp during their early-mid-nineties heyday. Even when they announced they would be reforming to play a few dates last year, it seemed like it was just not meant to be — the first summer in three years that I didn’t spend time in Sweden, and they played there, at the Way Out West festival.

I might have missed out again if my friend Strippertweets hadn’t posted a link to their website announcement that they would play San Francisco and New York City. I agonised over whether to see them in SF or NY; furiously battled Ticketmaster’s website to get a ticket for a show that sold out within one minute, booked a flight and ultimately spent way too much money to see one band. It was worth it. I was not going to miss Pulp again.

While the all-seated space of Radio City doesn’t much lend itself to crowd participation, it was a treat to be inside of the venue. I was standing in the line for a glass of champagne (socialism?) when green letters began flashing across the stage: “You’re looking good.” “Shall we do it?” A couple of lines from Mis-Shapes spoken in a mechanical voice, then the those spacey, synth-y first bars of Do You Remember the First Time? (my first favourite Pulp track) struck up and hung in the air for a minute. Then there was Jarvis: stalking sleazily across the stage; bouncing and kicking as the song built — the whole crowd seemed to leap at that part near the end that goes “oh yeah, you wanna go home; you wanna go home. Hey!”

Between songs Jarvis regaled his audience with stories, musings, “interesting facts,” the riff from Louie Louie and London Soho/Charing Cross geography. “you haven’t come here for a night of spoken word have you? Sorry.’

During This is Hardcore he fell to his back and scissored his legs in the air; in F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E he dashed and posed his way up the sides of the hall, followed by a spotlight.

Even songs that might have sat awkwardly out of their mid-nineties home sounded just about as relevant as they were then. Sorted for E’s and Whizz, a song I haven’t listened to for probably 10 years but still know all the words to, sounded great accompanied by green lasers swooping across the crowd; and I sang along to the chorus of Disco 2000 (“Let’s all meet up in the year 2000”) with neither shame nor regard for the passage of time.

The first encore ended, inevitably, with Common People, and the night finished with Mis-Shapes — a song I don’t care much for, but danced and sang along to regardless. Post-match analysis, however, centered on the unexpected inclusion of Bad Cover Version, from 2002’s much-maligned We Love Life.

In the end, I only missed Lipgloss, but I didn’t even notice it was missing until a few hours later, so… This was everything I wanted from a Pulp show and more. And I don’t mean just for a reunion tour; Pulp could have been proud of this show in 1995.

Setlist via Brooklyn Vegan:

Pulp @ Radio City Music Hall, NYC 4/11/12 – SETLIST
Do you remember the the first time?
Monday Morning
Razzamatazzz
Pencil skirt
Something Changed
Disco 2000
Sorted For E’s and Wizz
F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.
Feeling Called Love
I Spy
Babies
Underwear
This is Hardcore
Sunrise
Bar Italia
Common People
//
Like a Friend
Bad Cover Version
Misshapes

Related: apparently the mid-nineties Hole line-up was back on stage last weekend. Reunion tour please?

Hawaii Music Monday: GRLFRNDS

GRLFRNDS at Anna Bannanas 2/26

“It’s a long and complicated story about how the punks took over the dance floor and the dance floor took over the punks.” So says the blurb on GRLFRNDS’ Myspace page, which also lists some very tasty influences: The Clash, Joy Division, New Order, M83 and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Anyway, GRLFRNDS are Nick Ross (guitar), Alex Kaiser (vocals), Jake Achitoff (synth), Nate McCurdy (drums), Ryan (bass) and, I think, one of the most exciting bands playing in Honolulu right now. Their synth-heavy, high-energy, dancey, punky sound brings to mind the neon-saturated days of British post-punk, New Wave–the lead singer even adopts a convincing British accent when he sings. GRLFRNDS’ live shows will make you want to dance. They will dance. Alex throws some moves on stage while wrapping the mic cord around his neck and Ryan looks like he might hurt himself he’s bouncing around so furiously. Nick plays so hard his fingers bleed (see above photo) but Jake, well, he just chills with his synth by the side.

This Week in Honolulu

News: The Star-Bulletin’s owner bought the Advertiser David Black will try to find a buyer for the Star-Bulletin, or otherwise shut the paper down. This doesn’t look good; Honolulu is looking like becoming a one-paper city and there’s certain to be lay-offs.

We dodged a tsunami Luckily those sirens and evacuations turned out to just be a precaution.

By Night: ARTafterDARK returned after a three-month break. Last night’s event reflected the current exhibition on view at the Academy of Arts until July 3rd, Mad For Modern: From Whistler to Warhol. Clones of the Queen played in the Courtyard, while DJ Nicky Savage was at the Pavilion. There were docent-led zip tours, live figure sketching by artist Lauren Roth and, of course, yummy food and drinks–thanks to Town/Downtown.

GRLFRNDS played Anna Bannanas on Friday; they were actually opening for Choda but I left before them. A few tuning difficulties couldn’t stop them. This band has some of the most energetic performers–bassist Ryan at one point jumped onto the dancefloor, while still playing, then did this crazy back-bend over the rail; the guitarist’s fingers were bleeding over the strings. Not the synth-player though; he just kinda stands there.

Hawaii Music Monday: The Hell Caminos

The Hell Caminos at Anna Bannanas February 19th

The Hell Caminos are a Psychobilly band whose music mixes rockabilly, punk and swing. Band members are Michael Camino (upright bass), Nick Danger (guitar), and Handsome Jack (drums).

From January 2009 they took a long hiatus, returning in January 2010 with a typically manic show at The Loft in Chinatown, where they opened for L.A band Spooky. Their world, they say, is full of voodoo roads, slinky dames, and cheap honkytonks.

A Hell Caminos live show is high-energy and always feels like it is on the edge of something. It’s a twitchy, unsettling feeling that fits their description of themselves as “living on caffeine, sleep deprivation and women.” I love the upright bass, which Michael lifts up and spins around. Oh yeah and all the band members are not too hard on eyes at all. The crowd at their shows is also a beautiful sight; lots of gorgeous tattooed girls in cool dresses.

I caught them this past Friday at Anna Bannanas. They were up before the ska band Black Square and the show was part of the ‘Last Days of Annas’ series: a bunch of live shows that will run until Annas tragically closes this April.

Fever Ray in Stockholm

It rained from before we arrived until after we left. It did not stop raining. I got a cold. The rain made my cold worse. I was miserable. We lined up by the stage to wait and our feet sank into the mud as the announcer told us she was not coming on for another half hour.
Then she arrived and it was worth all of it. Fever Ray’s performance at the Where the Action is Festival in Stockholm on Saturday night was spellbinding: costumes out of a child’s story-book, vocal pitches that varied from sweet and child-like to threatening and monstrous and a dreamy laser you could lose yourself in.