Monday, November 7, 2016

In Our Minds and Hearts

Even after three decades here, I'm still discovering new places to plant myself.

At the Bijou, new were some (but not all) of the re-installed theater seats from the Westhampton Theatre, notable because it meant that we no longer have to abuse our asses with those ergonomically-incorrect white plastic chairs to see film of note.

Tonight's trivia question concerned Holly Hunter's role in the movie and we were instructed to signal when we spotted her. Bags of popcorn in hand, the small group at the 5:10 show settled in to the new seats, ready for what was to come.

Mostly, anyway. How anyone can watch that entire knife through the hand on the window sash scene without averting their eyes is beyond me. Just saying, I felt squirming on both sides of me.

The unexpected beauty of seeing a film you last saw 33 years ago when it was in first run is that it could almost be an entirely new-to-you movie this time around.

And I say "almost" because even with little to no memory of seeing "Blood Simple" in 1984, the film stands instantly recognizable as a Coen Brothers movie because everything they're known for now was fully formed and on display in this, their first film.

I had forgotten how perfectly lovely and very of-the-era 27-year old Frances McDormand looked, somewhere between Tony Tenille and Farah Fawcett. No wonder Joel Coen married her almost immediately.

Like all good '80s films, we saw men's blazer sleeves pushed up a la Miami Vice, as well as a man's shirt with only one button buttoned and far too much curly chest hair on display. But it was the geezer (M. Emmett Walsh's character) who showed his age by sporting a mustard yellow leisure suit with bell-bottom pants.

So completely un-hip by then.

The surprise was that apparently in '84, we were still tying up moving boxes with brown twine and, honestly, I'd have guessed that habit had long since been replaced with packing tape.

Midway through the film, I heard Holly Hunter's vice on an answering machine and signaled to win the evening's prize - two tickets to a future screening at the Bijou - a nanosecond before another woman in my row realized who it was.

After a mini-film discussion post-screening, I walked home in the dark, despite it barely being past 6:30. Autumn, I hate what you bring.

The newness in tonight's music adventure came not from the venue's name, Sound of Music Studio, because I'd seen bands at SoM on Foushee Street as well as at SoM on Broad Street, but tonight's SoM was on Altamont in the hipper-than-thou Scott's Addition 'hood.

I don't ask why they move, I just follow where the music goes.

When I arrived, I found two women bent over a map, one drawing and explaining Richmond to the other, who just moved here. When I saw she'd marked and labeled Short Pump, I took it upon myself to inform the newcomer that she had no need of venturing so far west.

Pointing to Willow Lawn and eastward, I assured her that all the life she needed could be found there, complete with Target on the far western fringes. What more could a person require?

She thanked me with wonder and gratitude in her eyes, or at least that's what I chose to tell myself.

A big reason I'd come was to hear Bad Magic, the musical project of Julie Karr, a guitarist and singer with a throaty voice and confessional delivery of whom I'd long been a fan but who used to do an acoustic solo act.

She was apologizing for her cold when I got there, saying, "The mic is gonna need a bacterial wash after this. That would be my advice!"

Behind the band, a dated film of roller bladers played, with occasional interview segments in front of a flag-draped fireplace.

Trying to decide what to play next, the band bantered about songs. "What's it called?" Julie asked the others, then turned to the crowd. "We named it in the computer, but not in our minds and hearts."

Turns out the song was called "Three" and had some terrific early Interpol-sounding guitar licks in it.

Between songs, she vented about the film behind her, saying, "I do not want to see a Confederate flag behind me again. Not at all. Can we make sure that happens? I do not want to see any more Confederate flags!" Since I'd already noticed the same thing, I appreciated her addressing it for the entire room.

Bad Magic rocks a lot harder than Julie solo did, making for an engaging set before she announced that Toronto's Greys, not local band Clair Morgan, were up next.

"That's what you do, you make a sandwich with the out of town band inside. Welcome to Richmond, we eat you!" she joked about being the rye bread slice to Greys' filling.

Their lead singer began by warning us that they were going to play a quick set and then start driving home. I only hope he meant after a god night's sleep.

Their sound pulled from decades of punk, primarily '90s, some of it crossing into thrash territory, some straight up pop punk and some indebted to the Pixies' alternating loud/soft dynamic. Violent head banging accompanied others while a light show rather than southern relics and tasteless flags played behind them.

"This is the last night of a really long tour," the singer said and his body language showed that he was feeling it, although the other three musicians seemed to be cranked up to 11, maybe as a sendoff for the tour's last show.

All kinds of audio issues kept Clair Morgan from playing right away, but feedback and dead mic problems were eventually resolved and Clair got right down to business, both musical and political.

"In a couple of days, there's going to be a thing." From nearby, someone shushed him. "No, I'm not going to stop. If you want to keep certain people out of the White House, please vote on Tuesday. If you're for Donald Trump, please vote November ninth!"

It's tough to argue with a man who writes such well-crafted songs about life and family and surrounds himself with solid talent, while a breathtaking car chase from Hitchcock's "Family Plot" plays behind them.

Could it be that the point was to remind us of the danger and treachery that lies ahead on Tuesday?

I think we can all agree, the entire country's going to need a bacterial wash after that.

No comments:

Post a Comment