Lifestyles of The Rich and Absent
All week, the rumors were everywhere: Bruce Springsteen will play a secret show at the 400 Bar. He'll join Bright Eyes on stage so they can strum their guitars and bond about Nebraska. They'll play a pro-democracy anthem that will conclude with a billion voter registration forms folded into origami peace doves that will be released into the crowd and peck out the eyes of Bush supporters. At least that's how it sounded when everyone and their mechanic was talking about the Boss's supposed guest appearance during Bright Eyes' set on the night before the Vote for Change concert at the Xcel Energy Center. A few days later, after the Boss failed to show up at the 400, I heard a few people whisper that, on the eve of Michael Moore's Williams Arena speech, the agitprop filmmaker was going to attend Revolver Modele's "Burning for Change" show at the U.A.W. Memorial Ray Busch Union Hall. But Moore wasn't there.
People, City Pages won't commission my celebrity stalking if they think I'm the boy who cried wolf! So this weekend, I'm going to stage a mass protest of false rumors. We'll have it at my house. And Jesus will be there. With his friend Britney Spears. You should come.
Bright Eyes, Monday, October 4 at the 400 Bar Somewhere in America, John Kerry is yelling "Bruuuuuuuce!" and we want to shout along with him. After all, most of Springsteen's Vote for Change crew is already here at the 400 Bar: R.E.M.'s Peter Buck makes a cameo with local openers Kraig Johnson and the Program, who join the bushy-haired guitarist for their Athens-style jangler "Freight Train," and Michael Stipe pulls down his newsboy cap in the back of the room, avoiding eye contact, so we wait--and wait and wait--for our favorite U.S.A.-born troubadour to appear. But Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst braves his set alone, his voice cracking beneath the contemplative ballad "Old Soul Song" and the lovely, Dylanesque folk tune "One Foot in Front of the Other," which builds slowly from a shy guitar to a reveille of horns. I want to hear Oberst's "Don't Know When, But a Day Is Gonna Come," because the 2002 parable of soldiers with Purple Hearts and men who further the sins of their fathers sounds like perfect preparation for tomorrow night's vice presidential debates. But Oberst trades that punkvoter rally cry for some more direct between-song banter: "No one is voting for Bush, are you?" he asks the crowd.
As ballot-casters in a profoundly polarized age, we know we'd better answer carefully. So we do what all politically savvy swing-staters would do. We sit quietly until some drunkard yells, "Show us your tits!"
The Fever, Tuesday, October 5 at First Avenue If most rock stars are dying for a living, as the Fever's Geremy Jasper suggests on his band's debut full-length, then I say, long live death. Because tonight, Jasper's shrieking like he sold his soul to the Grim Reaper in exchange for a set of pipes that an extra-strength Drano cocktail couldn't cut through. As the Brooklyn band's new-wave rave-ups build from keyboard-driven synth-pop to a decibel duel between bassist Pony and drummer Achilles, Jasper's raspy growl grows into a full-blown scream that could make the hair on Frank Black's bald head stand on end. "I'd walk on my hands for you," he wails on "Ladyfingers," raising all 10 digits into the air as if to warn you that the cartwheel could come at any moment. The crowd responds by raising their own hands above their heads every time Achilles' heel slams into the bass drum pedal. And as the drummer ends the song with a polyrhythmic pummeling that makes the hi-hat shiver, we're ready to forgive the band for committing the ultimate First Avenue cliché: dedicating a song to Prince.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The Futureheads, The Futureheads (679 Recordings) These notes from the Sunderland underground truly sound subterranean--they seem to draw your ear to a practice space six feet below the concrete. The sub-bass buzz of old U.K. post-punk reverberates its way up to the top of the dance floor, and then singer Barry Hyde tries to drag the crowd back down. "I said you are a moron," he quips in a sing-song yelp on "Meantime," while start-stop guitars shoplift a riff from the Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket." Swipes at garage rock ("Bullshit!") and shallow people ("Eat shit!") follow, but Hyde drops the scatological scat to coo over doo-wop on "Danger of the Water." You can hear tiny, hiccupy gulps for air when the backup singers gasp their oh ohs on "Hounds of Love." But when the jagged guitars take over "Man Ray," everyone drowns in sound.
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