Abusing Steers With George W. Bush

Excuse me, but I think I just rocked so hard that my head fell off: John Dwyer of Coachwhips
Bill Kelley

The time has come. This week, I will tear off my headphones, kick in my speakers, hoover my record collection through my Flowbee, and shout it from the rooftops: No more! No more standing in the Target Center skyway just to watch some dickey-necked glue-sniffer sing a "future classic" called "Dopeheads on Mopeds." No more waiting in some punk teenager's basement for 45 minutes to hear the all-female cover band AC/DShe, whose songs were written by the all-cardigan-sweater cover band AC/TweeC, whose songs were written by some screechy dude in an Australian schoolboy uniform. No more sitting in my car, blasting the treble-only stereo, and misting the air with equal parts room freshener and cat pee, trying to pretend I'm at the 7th St. Entry. No more.

Because, my friends, the fact that the half-melted snow has yielded to last November's cigarette butts tells me that we've made it to March. Which means we're almost at the point when local bands will awaken from their torpor and national bands will decide they can safely visit our frigid wasteland without accidentally turning into a cryogenics experiment. Is it possible that as soon as next week we may be visited by topless drummers and short-shorted shorties? Who can say? For now, I'm just wondering if I can still smoke those cigarette butts....

Opening party for Tonic of Uptown, Wednesday, March 3 Climbing endless staircases to search for a shorter drink line, I'm convinced that I'll eventually see a sign above the bar: Disco Inferno: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Covet Beer. Though even without the devil's brew tickling my liver, this swanky new club makes me feel like dancing. The DJ seamlessly transitions between Billy Squier and Lil' Kim, the friendly fashionistas aren't too cool to sing along, and all the people-watching is dilating my pupils.

On the first floor, I see a crowd of garrulous men who've decided there's more to life than watching sports in the living room. There is, say, watching sports at the bar. (And who can blame them: If I had these fancy flat-screen TVs in my apartment, I'd settle for watching lawn bowling.) On the second floor, I find stylish young guys celebrating the DJ's eclectic taste. On the DJ catwalk, I find stiletto-heeled women celebrating stylish young guys. Meanwhile, in the lounge, one drinkless patron jokes that this place should be called Club Soda.

Every floor exudes such a nice metropolitan vibe that I fantasize about tonight's bar close being pushed back to 3:00 a.m...on December 5, 2006. It's a little depressing to think of this capacious club without the opening-night throng. Still, for now, it's nice to feel like this place is bigger than Minneapolis. Maybe not as big as New York. But watch out, Luxembourg--we've got your number.


Coachwhips, Friday, March 5 at Big V's There are people standing on the chairs, on the tables, on the bar--one dude even appears to be standing on top of some poor soul who just bent down to tie his shoelaces. But no one is standing on the stage. And when John Dwyer marches in to set up in the middle of the floor, the crowd swarms in like a soccer riot. We're so close to Dwyer that if he sucked up a mouthful of beer, we could probably swallow it for him.

"Hello, St. Paul...I didn't know we were in St. Paul!" the Coachwhips singer-guitarist screeches, not a sneeze away from our sweaty mugs. The crowd positively roars. I send a memo to my brain: Are we cheering because he name-checked our city or because he can't remember where he is? But just as I'm receiving a reply, Mat Hartman's drumsticks stab through my ear canal, and suddenly my head feels like an Etch-A-Sketch, ready to be shaken and erased. Soon the whole room is doing the whiplash wave as Dwyer throws his magnificent three-chord blues into the mix like a hairdryer into a bathtub. The guy next to me grabs the band's tambourine. Coachwhips' Val-Tronic leaves her keyboard to go dance. And then something wonderful happens: The entertainers disappear into the crowd. And the crowd becomes the entertainment.


Aesthetic Apparatus opening, Saturday, March 6 at the Ox-Op Gallery Here's what the President of the United States wants to say to you:

"That's what you get, you gay, liberal, Jew bastard!"

"Hey, let's snort coke off this donkey's balls."

"Abusing steers gets me SOOOOO horny. Get it? Horny? Guys? Huh?...SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Or at least you can make him say one of those things in a print series created by local design duo Aesthetic Apparatus. I can't find the gutter-mouth George poster here in the gallery, but goddammit, just when I'd stopped having that sexy dream about Dubya snogging David Geffen in the Prairie Chapel Ranch slaughterhouse, it's back. Trying to shake the image from my head, I turn toward Michael Byzewski and Dan Ibarra's display of vividly imaginative, eye-scaldingly beautiful concert posters. A green severed hand with serpentine veins trailing from its jagged flesh reaches out from a Hives poster. The four horsemen of the apocalypse don skinny ties and breathe pink fire on a Rapture print. A headless blue woman with Liz Phair's name engraved on her groin sports a strategically placed upside-down "A"--stuck where the scarlet letter don't shine. The visionary printers lament that they missed Phair's show, though they admit in notes about the poster that "Michael was looking forward to Miss Phair trying to seduce him and then having to say 'Sorry lady, I'm totally married.' Which would've definitely happened."


ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Candi Staton, Candi Staton (Astralwerks) She was married four times: once to an abuser, once to a womanizer, once to a hustler, and once to an addict. But when this Southern soul diva wails "Stand by Your Man" in a tone so fiery it could scorch off your eyebrows, you vehemently believe that everyone--even J. Lo--can and should experience the thrills of lifetime monogamy. A former gospel choirgirl, Staton cultivated her scratchy moan during her years at Muscle Shoals (1969-73, collected here for the first time on CD) by intentionally singing herself hoarse every night. Which is probably why her raspy, cocksure swagger often out-emotes the guys who made her covers famous, from Otis Redding ("That's How Strong My Love Is") to Elvis ("In the Ghetto"). Still, it's Staton's own country-funk classic "I'd Rather Be an Old Man's Sweetheart (Than a Young Man's Fool)" that lingers when the album ends. Someone who can make septuagenarian spit-swapping sound sexy--that's a real woman to me.

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