Sunday, October 25, 2009

The night I saw Jay-Z in concert and almost died in a parking garage.

I am super white, but 99 Problems is seriously one of my favorite songs. I don't even own a car [I am a fan of public transportation, which makes me even more white], so I'm not going to get pulled over any time soon because 'I'm young and I'm black/ and my hat's real low.'
Okay so one time my friend and I drove past a bunch of police officers who were standing inexplicably along the side of the highway, just as the 'in the rear view mirror was the motherfuckin' law' line blared out our open windows. The police officers looked slightly taken aback, and for a second we felt like badasses. Of course, at that moment we were two girls from Detroit driving through rural Canada so in that situation we actually probably were.
But that was sort of the point of the whole evening I spent with Jay-Z: it doesn't really matter who you are, all you need is some swagger.

Jay began the evening with a performance of Run This Town complete with Rihanna's disembodied voice, and followed that up by telling us all that he was essentially drunk. A thunderstorm had grounded his plane on the runway in New York [because of course Jay-Z would fly to Providence, even though its only a 3 hour drive], and he told the audience that "Good news is, I still got here. Bad news is, I passed that time having a couple shots. Know what I'm sayin'?" Yes Jay-Z, I know what you're saying considering in the break between opening acts I waited for roughly 40 minutes in line to buy a $7.50 rum and coke, even though I had spent the previous hour pre-gaming with my own bottle of wine at my friend's apartment. I even put up with this girl who came up to me when I was next in line at the bar and who said in the most condescending way possible, "Sweetie, would you mind buying me a beer?" Yeah I do mind Sweetie, considering I just waited 40 fucking minutes for a drink which I am sure will be watered down and not worth what I am paying for it, as will all the other people in line behind us who, like me, do not appreciate you just waltzing up to the front of the line. Said girl then tried to flirt with my friend to see if he would be into buying her a beer, but seeing as he's not interested in the ladies, she was effectively shut down. Score! So long story short, yes Hov, I know exactly what you're sayin'.

So after all the drunks in the audience loudly cheered the fact that they had dropped $45+ to watch another drunk rap, Jay launched into D.O.A. while funny looking skull and cross bones that looked like belonged on a Hot Topic t-shirt danced across a screen in the background. Of course I could have died happy if I saw Jay-Z perform 99 Problems live and nothing else, but I also obviously wanted to hear some of the other greats. And the set list did not disappoint, if I could have made up the list myself I don't think it could have been any better. In addition to 99 Problems, there was among others, Izzo, Can I Get A... [or as a friend excitedly exclaimed, "He's doing the Rush Hour song!!!"], Jigga What, Public Service Announcement, and the last song before an encore, Dirt Off Your Shoulder. About three-quarters through Jay returned to do more songs from The BluePrint 3, bringing out a few special guests in Memphis Bleek, Swizz Beats and Pharell [N.E.R.D. was the opening act, even though they weren't billed at all!]. While bringing out his guests was decidedly cool, this section of the concert lagged a bit mainly because after hearing all those hits that you know all the words to and loudly sing along with, some lesser known new album tracks can be kind of a drag. Since Pharell was in the house I kind of wish he and Jay had done Change Clothes together instead of their new song So Ambitious, but hey, you gotta try to sell new records. The exception during this section was Empire State of Mind, which is my favorite song off the new album, and from the crowd's reaction probably a lot of other people's as well. After the song, Jay introduced his back up singer Bridget Kelly, who sang all of Alicia Keys' parts live, and who could probably give Alicia a run for her money. A hundred bucks Bridget has a record deal within the year.

After a short break Jay returned for an encore filled with even more hits - Lucifer, Hard Knock Life, and even his verse from Swagga Like Us. He performed these songs in a sort of medley style, which he abruptly stopped when his band started the intro of Big Pimpin'. Why you ask? Oh, because in Jay's words, "We just can't do Big Pimpin' like its any old song! It's a cultural phenomenon!" He then encouraged the audience to wave something, anything above their heads - Jay waved his jacket, and I waved my iPhone. Like I said, I'm super white. Then came Encore, because if you have a song called Encore and don't perform it during an encore, that's just extremely lame. Next came the "I'm HOVA bitches and I can talk about whatever I want for however long I want" portion of the program, during which we were treated to boasts about record sales [please, like you thought it would be a rap concert without that], an inspirational speech about how it was us young people who had finally elected a black president, and most entertainingly, Jay sent a camera man into the audience so he could comment on audience members' fashionz and generally good-naturedly mock people. He ribbed on a older man asking him if he was old enough to have seen Frank Sinatra in person, and even brought a young kid named Angelo on stage who even though he looked to be about 6 was still probably cooler than I'll ever be. The evening then ended with a performance of Young Forever, and with its "Life is short, but art endures" message it was the perfect song to go out on - whether its just a concert, or as it might finally turn out, a whole career.

Overall, Jay-Z is a very consummate live performer - I don't think he would have had as long a career as he has had if he wasn't. One of the things I enjoy about Jay-Z's music is that a lot of songs have a rockin' edge to them, and with a live band with horns and electric guitars behind him this was even more evident. In contrast, when I saw Kanye's Glow In The Dark Tour, it sounded like he was rapping live over pre-recorded backing tracks, mainly because his songs were carefully arranged to fit into a narrative. With Kanye I was more aware that I was watching a "performance," since with the combination of elaborate sets and narrative it was almost akin to watching a rock opera like Tommy. But with a minimal set, a live band and frequent breaks for witty banter, Jay just seemed like that guy you gave 20 bucks and a case of beer to and invited to rap at your house party. That isn't to say one style is better than the other - I enjoyed both concerts immensely and think each style most definitely has merit - but Jay's concert was just a good old fashioned time. Jay was also surprisingly easy to understand - every word out of his mouth was as clear as it was recorded [every once in a while he would throw out an acapella verse, and in those cases the words were even more pronounced]. But this clarity just encouraged everyone to sing along louder, increasing the party atmosphere even more. 24 hours later and my throat is still scratchy - I may be a white girl who wears plastic glasses but that didn't stop me during Izzo from yelling out "Vamoose son of a bitch!" with the rest of the arena.

Indeed, an evening with Jay-Z will increase your swagga exponentially; I not only told off annoying beer girl and I can count on one hand the number of times I have told off anyone, but a friend managed to elicit cheers in the parking garage after a rather spectacular maneuver. Predictably, an arena parking garage after a concert is a giant clusterfuck and an unnecessarily large SUV tried to cut off the car I was in and nearly nailed us - seriously, I was sitting in the passenger's seat and that SUV's grill was all up in my grill. In retaliation, my friend in the car behind us entered into a game of chicken with the SUV to see who would get to go next in line, and amazingly my friend managed to pull off the victory, earning him cheers from a bunch of people watching the incident go down. So if my Asian friend who wore a sweater vest to a rap concert and owned a giant SUV in his little Toyota isn't the perfect embodiment of Jay-Z's "fuck critics you can kiss my whole asshole" ethos then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Week's Playlist.

1. Whatcha Say - Jason Derulo
2. Fireflies - Owl City
3. Earthquake - Little Boots
4. Hard to Handle - Otis Redding
5. Doesn't Mean Anything - Alicia Keys
6. Lion In A Coma - Animal Collective
7. The Twist - Chubby Checker
8. We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
9. People Have The Power - Patti Smith
10. Metal Guru - T. Rex

oct 2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gossip Girl: Wedding Bell Blues.

So do you think in 1986 when Star Power was released Kim Gordon thought "Hey 23 years from now I'll be singing this song on a campy TV show beloved openly by teenage girls and gay men, and secretly by 20-something girls who should have something better to watch?" Probably not, but then in 1986 I didn't think I would be blogging about said campy TV show, because well, I was a year old. I had other priorities.
But investing Kim Gordon with some internet-given power to perform marriages a la Joey from Friends and then having her marry Rufus and Lily was basically pure genius. So did the "Sonic Youths" as Dorota so charmingly put it, lose some indie street cred by appearing on Gossip Girl? Maybe, but the whole "I ironically love Sonic Youth ironically appearing on Gossip Girl, which I ironically love anyway" apparatus is tricky, so in the end they probably come out even.
But do you know who I love un-ironically and unequivocally? Georgina. Girl is INSANE, and I say that with all the love in my heart. She sent Dan a fucking e-card, like it was 1998. And then proceeded to blackmail Vanessa into convincing Dan to dump Olivia because she was "dating Orlando Bloom." False obviously, but apparently Georgina has some experience in getting people to dump celebrities, which come on, is awesome.
Meanwhile, while Georgina was being awesome, Carter and Bree were being ZZzzzzZZZzzzz, over some "family honor" bullshit. I'm just going to talk about them now and get it over with, because those two are boring as hell and I'm super glad Nate finally broke up with Bree even though I have the sneaking suspicion we're not done with her just yet. Carter's "big secret" was that he had hooked up with one of Bree's cousins in the hope that saying he would marry her would get him some ca$h from the Buckleys to pay off his gambling debts, but then he jilted her at the altar. Not as juicy as I had hoped, but whatevs, there's already one love child running around this joint. Bree then brought some of her beefy Buckley cousins with her to enact some Texas-style vengeance, with a bit of encouragement from Chuck who has always had it out for Carter. The episode left it up in the air as to what would happen to Carter, but my guess is that he's laying on the side of the East River with a broken jaw, a bloody nose, and some serious bruising. [But Chuck also left him a plane ticket, so maybe he managed to escape.]
But the whole Carter/Bree smackdown wasn't nearly the most exciting thing going on, because Rufus and Lily were getting married! After a ridiculously manufactured fight! And Georgina was going to crash it! And Blair and her minions planned the entire thing in a day! [I buy that more than the whole Carter debacle actually.] And Serena wore something almost appropriate! And Jenny sewed a wedding dress in one night! And the Lincoln Hawk Love Baby finally came clean! And I think Blair has a crush on Dan! Let's discuss, shall we?
Lily was all huffy that her former rock star fiance allowed her daughter to forgo Brown while she was off having a baby and getting a nasty divorce IRL, and taking care of her mother in the reality of the fictional universe. So when Rufus showed up at the Brooklyn loft which still inexplicably exists to escape the wrath of Lily, Dan and the rest the Van der Humphreys decided to pull a Parent Trap to get their respective parents back on speaking terms. This move obviously failed, because NO ONE SANG LET'S GET TOGETHER! An amateur mistake really, so here's a primer kids for when Rufus and Lily inevitably get divorced:

But not all of us can be Hayley Mills -or gah! Lindsey Lohan - so Rufus and Lily had to patch it up all by themselves, with no help from their spawn. Their first attempt at a wedding ceremony was ruined by both Lily's cold feet and the appearance of Georgina, who revealed the news that Scott was the LHLB as casually as if she was reading the weather report. And everyone believed the crazy girl with no hesitation, which is ludicrous, but par for the course on this ludicrous show. Scott went from being Vanessa's bf who also happened to be a Lincoln Hawk fan, to brother of dead love child, to oh wait! the love child himself - and of course, no one thought this was strange. What was strange was that Lily consented to running around Chinatown in her wedding dress looking for Scott even though a few scenes earlier she had chastised Rufus for not remembering she was Lily Bass and that there were "expectations" that would go along with another one of her weddings.
But Rufus and Lily caught up with Scott just as he was about to get on the Chinatown Bus back to Boston, and embraced him as a member of their family, which already includes such a motley crew of children one more random can't possibly hurt. The Van der Humphrey-Bass-"Addlers" now includes Rufus' two children Dan and Jenny, Lily's two children Serena and Eric, the adopted Chuck, and the biological son Scott. And essentially Vanessa too, because the way she acts you would think she was a clingy desperate orphan. And just to review, Serena and Dan slept together, Chuck almost raped Jenny but now they're cool and she went with him on a "date" to make Blair jealous, Vanessa slept with Chuck twice, Vanessa dated Scott, oh and Chuck tried to get Serena to get it on with him in a kitchen one time.
Yet as fucked up as this family is, it appears they all care for each other in their own fucked up ways, whether its Chuck pushing Carter out of town because he worries about him dating Serena or Lily actually agreeing to get married in a dress Jenny sewed in one night, and well, its actually kind of sweet. Three-quarters of the characters on this show are now related, and the other quarter are either friends and/or significant others of the core family, a fact which I hope gets played up the rest of the season. But these new bonds made Rufus and Lily's ultimately simple wedding ceremony in the old Brooklyn loft all the more poignant, and I hope their next step is to adopt Nate because that last shot of him looking all lonely and scorned was just sad.
And then Sonic Youth played, because apparently Lincoln Hawk had once opened for them and it was a memorable night for Rufus and Lily, but that's just ridiculous because its like saying "Hey remember that awesome night we had after we watched the Gin Blossoms open for Sonic Youth?!" Sigh. But whatever, it'll be fun watching Rufus and Lily get a divorce.

P.S. Am I the only one who noticed that Blair was hovering around Dan a disturbing amount this episode? I'm totally going to call that the rumored GG threesome is going to be Chuck-Blair-Dan right now, because ever since Dan murdered her headband I am like 70% sure Blair has had a thing for him and his plaid shirts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Week's Playlist.

1. Sandcastle Disco - Solange
2. Alone - Heart
3. Somebody to Love - Glee Version
4. 3 - Britney Spears
5. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me - Dusty Springfield
6. American Boy - Estelle ft. Kanye West
7. Cold Summer- Get 'Em Mamis
8. Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
9. Death Letter - The White Stripes
10. My Love Is Your Love - Whitney Houston

october list

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gossip Girl: She Works Hard For The Money.

Last time I went to visit home I ended up watching an episode of America's Next Top Model with my mom [my parents don't have cable, so our choices were limited], and to my surprise my mom was pretty well versed in the Tyra insanity. "I love this show," she said, "All the girls are so stupid. Don't they realize it's just Tyra insulting them for an hour? You look so...interesting! Your forehead is so big! Your eyes are too far apart but that will photograph well! Don't they understand they are letting themselves get insulted by Tyra Banks!?"
That's sort of what this episode of Gossip Girl was like, an hour long commercial for ANTM during which we were all too stupid to realize we were getting our intelligence insulted by Tyra Banks. But we played along because dealing with Tyra meant we also got to see Serena become a working girl in dresses 40 inches too short [yeah not that kind of working girl, but from those dresses you'd be surprised], Dan start to date a "movie star," Blair devolve into a high schooler, and most elusively, a Jenny storyline! It's kind of like when Tyra tells you your eyes point in different directions but its totally cool because you've won the photo shoot challenge anyway and your picture is going to hang in that crazy model house for a week. Yay! I'm smiling with my eyes!
Speaking of modeling photo shoot challenges, Rufus could have won one this week with his impressions of Lily. Those were some crazy poses sir, and also crazily accurate. The scene with Rufus and Serena was kind of sweet; Serena has been gallivanting around the world trying to find her father, so its a shame she doesn't yet realize she has a good one right in front of her in Rufus. Of course, Rufus was counseling her into making terrible life decisions but when you leave a washed up rock star who loves to make waffles with an 18 year old blond, what do you expect? [Side note bracket: This weekend I arrived at a party just in time to hear my friend drunkenly rattling off about how she had recently encountered Blake Lively in the flesh: "She just looks really normal ya'know? Like, she has meat on her bones! I didn't want to feed her a cheeseburger or anything! I kind of don't hate her!" Now said friend was in the process of being ushered out the door by her more sober boyfriend so I have no idea if she saw Blake in New York, or if GG was actually filming here at Brown because who knows maybe Serena magically decides to come see what she's missing. But I haven't seen Emma Watson yet either, so I hope GG wasn't filming up in my hood and I missed it, because between those two my inner paparazzi is seriously sad.]
But Lily came home only to hear that her eldest daughter had deferred Brown for a year, and was appropriately incredulous at Serena's declaration that she would be finding a job and doing something productive with that time. It was a sentiment to which Lily rightly said,"I love you Serena, but you've never worked a day in your life." Bazinga! So armed with a recommendation from Anna Wintour [uhhh....what!?] Serena set out to find a job as one of those socialite girls who happens to land the plumb fashionz job simply because everyone wants her to be seen wearing their dress. But the economy is tight for everyone, so poor little S didn't get hired anywhere. Ouch!
This leads me to my most awesome idea ever: why isn't Serena on the The City?! So much room for meta cross-over potential! And don't even tell me The City is "real" and Serena is not, because The City is not real. Note this clip as socialite Olivia Palermo tries to get a job at Elle, using no more credentials than basically the fact that she's famous:

Now note these scenes as Serena tries to pull basically the same maneuver:

Come on MTV & CW! Make it happen! Everyone wins: Serena gets a "job" and people maybe start to care about The City because let's be real, its just the sucky cousin of The Hills. At the very least, let's have a Kelly Cutrone guest appearance!
But I guess my City dream has to die because Serena landed a "job" with a PR firm - by pure luck of course - whose main clients happen to be Ursula/Tyra and Olivia, Dan's new crush, Vanessa's new roommate and star of a vampire movie series that somehow managed to sound more shitty than Twilight. Serena ran into Olivia and her PR girl KC at lunch, because its not like 8 million fucking people live in New York or anything, you can obviously meet the entire cast of Gossip Girl within about 2 hours.
Both Ursula/Tyra and Olivia had a movie opening the next day, a movie inexplicably about the French Resistance - so is the French Resistance the new "thing?" Because my friends and I made a point to go to the French Resistance exhibit at the New York Public Library this summer, and I hope that means we're cool, but it probably just means we're over educated grad students who got needlessly excited about seeing an original photo of Althusser. Anyway, someone had inexplicably cast Tyra Banks [because honestly, "Ursula" was basically Tyra Banks] as Josephine Baker, and Tyra was all excited about her "acting" in the movie, but her big scene got cut, and Serena was hired to control her diva ass.
Meanwhile, Dan, who never sees movies, watches TV, reads the newspapers or goes online, had no idea who Olivia was when he met her at the coffee cart. Olivia saved him the embarrassment of having to dig for change to pay for his coffee and just did it herself, because she's basically like Emma Watson who has more money than God but is going to college anyway. Admirable! Of course there were mix ups and confusions and blah blah Dan was roped into going to the movie premiere by Vanessa, yada yada yada, not important, and by the end the jig was up. But because Dan is totally in awe of how "normal" Olivia is the two crazy kids are going to try and make it work, but we've already established last week that Dan is totally into the crazy psycho bitches so dating a movie star who pretends to be normal folk is right up his alley.
In addition to all this movie star nonsense there was some shenanigans back at Constance Billard, like people actually still care about that place, concerning Jenny and her hesitation to become the new Queen. Other than the fact that Jenny wore a leather vest to private school, who cares when you have Tyra Banks throwing dresses and crying in the bathroom? Blair went back to Constance to try and straighten the hierarchy back out, because no one gives a hoot about headbands in college and her life was empty. Sad really, that Blair Waldorf was throwing sleepovers for high schoolers because she didn't feel accepted anywhere else, but in the end Dorota and Chuck straightened her out and she found some NYU minions to rule over. The best part of this disposable storyline was that Blair spoke Polish to Dorota, and that no one cared Chuck using Jenny as his date was creepy because you know, they're kind of brother and sister.
Also, in a very disconcerting moment, Nate Archibald actually made a lifelike and somewhat hilarious facial expression of disbelief after seeing clueless Dan with Olivia. Emmys, meet Chace Crawford.