Weekly Rochester Events #337: Note to La Salle: China is Way Farther West
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Although this past week was pretty busy, I really didn't get out to see many shows. Saturday was a wedding for a couple friends of mine and after spending the morning setting up, the day at the wedding, the afternoon packing up, and the evening at the after-reception reception, I was pretty tired. I valiantly attempted to go see the bands at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) but — although the mind was willing, the flesh was going to fall asleep any minute. By the time I got home, I ended up just sleeping in my clothes.
The really cool show, though, was on Tuesday. Now, I tend to try and pick at least one thing for the "pick of the week" with the icon each week ... sometimes there's a couple things, but more often than not, I just look for the best bet. This week I took a bit of a chance on the Tuesday show at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) I had only actually seen Jason Anderson play once before and that was over two years ago as Wolf Colonel.
However, the show ended up being great. I mean really really great.
When I got there, about 20 people were already there. This is pretty unusual for a Tuesday ... and apparently they were all under-21. I heard there was a lot of interest from people under 18 about Kimya Dawson for some reason. Anyway, The Tight Phantomz started things off. They weren't even going to be in the area this particular night, but they happened to be in town and got the gig lined up. They do this really good, loud, high-power rock/punk-rock music with a ton of "false-finishes" to the point you can't even tell each song ends and begins.
Next, Strand of Oaks brought things back to the ambient-acoustic level that everyone expected the show to be like. They do this really good, mellow vocals, guitar, keyboard, and drum work ... it borders on ambient sometimes, but the lead singer keeps things just a bit over the line toward traditional acoustic.
The highlight for me was Jason Anderson, though. And I mean, not just because his name is Jason. He started out with a song intertwined in a monologue about how their truck broke down and they ended up missing two shows, so he wanted to really make this one count. I felt it was sincere.
Anyway, rounding things out, Kimya Dawson was losing her voice from singing karaoke earlier in the week. Nonetheless, she sings some really good, interesting, witty acoustic stuff with her own style — sometimes up-tempo, sometimes down-tempo, but always uniquely Kimya.
Before I get back to Jason's performance, I should mention (as if you didn't already notice) that I stuck the old webcam in the sidebar. Pretty much continuously, I have had it up-and-running since January 20, 1997. However, it's been tucked away in some obscure corner of this site and not many people even go look at it.
So anyway, why this guy? I mean, what makes him so different from any other guy standing in front of a crowd with a guitar and sporting a beard and wearing a baseball cap? At first, I thought it had to do with him not being able to make any real money — he already got his share of our $6 (or $8) at the door and, since he only gets around here every 2 years or so, it's not like he's going to create some kind of reliable fan-base that he can tap into for his financial needs. Heck, even if you throw in CD sales on the tour, it probably will barely be enough for gas.
Now, I've seen lots of bands get up and tell the crowd to move forward, or to dance more, but for some reason it just didn't seem sincere. I'm really having a hard time figuring out what it was about this particular guy on this particular night with this particular crowd. I think it had to do a lot with his willingness to put himself "out there" ... he really seemed to give a lot emotionally — beyond the mechanics of storytelling his travel woes, the way he explained his ideology was thoroughly heartfelt. I mean, he was open ... he was honest about what he was feeling.
And his sentiment (in general) is something I agree with: that the experience of seeing (or rather, participating in) a performance is something special. It's important to me to see someone say something because they need to say it. If you think about it, it's really possible for just about anyone to create a song — like any art, they can learn the established techniques and use them to create something that is appealing or otherwise expresses some idea or emotion. But it is quite another thing to look inside oneself and dig up a message and use those same learned skills to make something that both reflects and conveys the idea inside.
I want to also mention Drivers Wanted which opens this weekend at The Little Theatre (240 East Ave.) I decided to post a review on IMDb and I had a tough time explaining why I liked the film so much. See, it isn't polished: it does not have that Hollywood sheen that we have come to expect from movies these days. However, it overflows with real warmth — not the traditional movie kind of warmth (like I wrote about in the review) where a carefully calculated set of lighting, script, direction, and music create a facsimile of what we experience as human warmth. Rather, Tim Beideck's movie has a genuine warmth. He gives his characters respect — he looked at this job of "food delivery" not with disdain, but with admiration. Real admiration, and this is what comes across. It's Tim's honest-to-goodness warmth in his daily interactions with people that comes through the film.
That said, it's a movie that almost everyone has some suggestion of how to "make better." Sometimes the exposure is a bit dark, or the camerawork is a bit clumsy, but that's the film that Tim made. By the end, though — as long as you're you're willing to let that stuff go and just live the film — for some reason you'll leave the theater and feel good.
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About the title ... The city of Lachine, Quebec, Canada, founded 337 years ago in 1668, is named after Sieur La Salle's futile attempt to find a westward passage to China. [The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 1992, Houghton Mifflin; 1994, INSO Corporation.]
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including Monroe County and occasionally the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, June 23, 2005 (Thu, Jun 23, 2005, 6/23/2005, or 6/23/05) Friday, June 24, 2005 (Fri, Jun 24, 2005, 6/24/2005, or 6/24/05) Saturday, June 25, 2005 (Sat, Jun 25, 2005, 6/25/2005, or 6/25/05) Sunday, June 26, 2005 (Sun, Jun 26, 2005, 6/26/2005, or 6/26/05) Monday, June 27, 2005 (Mon, Jun 27, 2005, 6/27/2005, or 6/27/05) Tuesday, June 28,
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