Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Strange Matter: Music but No Booze (Yet)

Strange Matter, the latest incarnation of 929 West Grace Street, was where I spent my evening, but not because of the vintage 80s arcade games, although Rob, the bartender at Ipanema, told me that they're worth a trip if you're a fan of the old games.

Apparently the Ninja game is just as difficult now as it was in the 80s, not that I'd have a clue about that.

Not sure what Strange Matter would have for food, I'd stopped by Ipanema for the grilled Gouda sandwich and while Rob raved about the games, his enthusiasm for the food at S.M. was, um, more restrained.

Besides, I hadn't had the most popular item on Ipanema's menu in months, so it was time (or, perhaps I should say "thyme," since that's what makes that sandwich combination so sublime).

I was heading to Strange Matter because of their new weekly film series and I was very much looking forward to seeing the documentary All Tomorrow's Parties about the sponsorship-free music festival of the same name held in England.

It's a brilliant idea; musicians, and sometimes artists, are asked to curate the festival, inviting their favorite performers to play.

Thurston Moore called it the "ultimate mix tape" so I was sold right then and there; seeing who chose what bands was fascinating to a music lover like me.

For example:

Animal Collective curated by Explosions in the Sky
Gossip curated by Sleater-Kinney
Lightning Bolt curated by Mogwai
Daniel Johnston curated by the Fans (how democratic is that?)
A Hawk and a Hacksaw curated by Portishead
Iggy and the Stooges curated by Thurston Moore
Akron/Family and Fuckbuttons curated by ATP
Boredoms curated by Sonic Youth

There were also performances by the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Slint, Mogwai, Sonic Youth and too many more to recount.

What was cool was seeing how the musicians and the attendees stayed in the same places, making for a totally casual environment throughout.

Sort of a festival for the rest of us, if you will.

The screenings, which are on Wednesday nights at 7:30, are free and although S.M. doesn't yet have its liquor license, until it does, seeing music films in a place where we've all seen countless live shows seems like the perfect use for the space that is always changing names and owners, but remains all about music.

Or, as Patti Smith put it, "Punk rock is back in the hands of the kids again not the big business guys."

As well it should be.

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