To the Barricades!

A banner week for Octoberists, anarchists, and junior achievers

Love in October played an exuberant set at the Varsity Theater last Thursday night, but the real highlight of the evening was the new video for their single, "A Day in the Life Of." Directed by Justin Staggs, the mini-epic screened to a mostly female crowd after the band finished its set. With characters in ball gowns, plumage-topped wigs, and come-hither fans, the production was like Marie Antoinette cast in emo-saturated shades of scarlet and jade. Soldiers gallant in formal attire chased aristocratic lasses up and down red-covered stairways while the guitars bled with melodic angst. And in between the handclap verses and hooky choruses, I tried to match each onscreen mademoiselle with the audience member I suspected had played her.

 

Don't Fall Asleep: A Minneapolis DIY Compilation for Daybreak Newspaper is a benefit CD for our cities' premier "anarcho-tabloid." Daybreak Newspaper isn't printed very often, because its publisher is an anarchist collective, and their asses are often broke. Will the profits from these 21 tracks help get the presses rolling again? The songs themselves forgo overt political messages to focus on neo-vaudeville fun. From the playful gypsy strings of the Knotwell's "Gasoline" to the joyful and danceable chanting of Fort Wilson Riot's "Song of the Conscripts" and Thunder in the Valley's "Alter," the mood is more traveiling-theater than anarchist-chaos. Run, don't walk, to your nearest Starbucks and buy this album!

 

Wolfman-about-town Mark Mallman, under investigation by a federal grand jury for interstate piano sex crimes (seriously), is putting his solo persona on momentary pause. His current focus is the new band Ruby Isle, where he is joined by I Am the World Trade Center's Dan Geller and Planes for Spaces's Aaron LeMay.

"Dan lives down in Athens, Georgia, now—I just picked him up from the airport a few hours ago—but the two of us actually went to high school together," Mallman explained when I caught him on the phone the night of the band's first real practice. "We met in sex education class, and had a band together in high school—it was called Snuff Box Fern. This time, we named our band Ruby Isle, after the movie theater we went to all the time back in Wisconsin. It was called Ruby Isle Cinema, and one time—at the premiere of Batman, actually—Lars Ulrich sat in the empty seat next to me. He was so drunk."

As Ruby Isle, the trio combines the Space Invaders pings-and-pulses of the arcade with the dance-demanding beats of the discotheque. Separated by a thousand miles, Mallman and Geller worked on their album online, and booked a gig at South by Southwest with faith that their shared history would compensate for the lack of rehearsal time.

"I'm not nervous," laughed Geller, when I asked about the stress of performing at the music festival after only a few nights of in-the-flesh practicing. "It's Mark; it's kind of foolproof," the Kindercore Records co-founder said.

 

Ruby Isle might be the newest Minneapolis act to perform in Austin, but the true Twin Cities Junior Delegation to SXSW is First Communion Afterparty. This band of California dreamers, buzzers, and droners has few members old enough to drink in the clubs they play. But through the grace of native Austinites and fellow groove hypnotists the Dolly Partners—and some cooperative parents—they are headed down to Texas in a conversion van.

"Only three of us are still in high school," pointed out frontman Liam Watkins to me, via MySpace email. "Everyone's parents understand that age shouldn't be an issue when doing something worthwhile, and they realize how hard we've worked to get to this point and they encourage us to reach our goals."

Especially if your goal is pissing off the kid in fifth-period trig who overhears you telling your friends that Anton Newcombe is actually very laid-back, in person.

 
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