Everything in the Lindsey White show currently at Baer Ridgway is fantastic, but it is her installation Accidents Happen that I've been thinking about constantly since I visited the gallery yesterday. In it two panes of glass sport matching holes carefully incised to mimic the jagged shapes you see in cartoons when a baseball goes through the neighbor's window, with a black window shade pulled down to cover the wall behind the sculpture. Nothing about this is of course actually accidental. White loves those moments that stand between coincidence and wonder, whether captured or constructed, and many pieces in the gallery made me laugh out loud like her Disappearing Act (pictured here) or The Waterfall in which a cataract eternally cascades down a series of five TVs stacked on top of each other. The objects she uses in her work are often simple, but the results are profound. She reminds us not to ignore the random details of our lives, no matter how mundane they might seem, and that there is magic in the people around us.
I was back at the New Parish last night already to see Slim Cessna's Auto Club, and their spooky, high-energy brand of alt-country sure translates marvelous well into a live show (even if after about 45 minutes of said high energy I had to go have a sit-down with my friends on the smoking patio). Lead singer Slim and sidekick Munly took turns leaning on each other as they yodeled and belted out lyrics, at one point jumping off stage to sing amongst members of the adoring audience, and all the while the band's music barreled on. Also full props to the Auto Club for eking feedback out of a banjo and for the double-necked electric guitar with a lenticular image of the Virgin Mary behind the strings.
Yeah I went to a lot of shows last week, and I capped them all off with Pavement's epic reunion gig at the Greek Theatre Friday night. The last time I had seen them was at the 1995 Lollapalooza I went to with my brother Brent, who is an even bigger Pavement fan than I am and who flew up to the Bay Area especially for this Greek show. We had actually seen Stephen Malkmus during his Noise Pop solo gig at the Great American about a year and a half ago and had been thrilled when he sprinkled some Pavement songs in during his set. But that couldn't compare to seeing the whole band rocking out like the indie gods they still are, two drummers and all, and sweeping the enormous crowd into a Gen X singalong. They started out with "Cut Your Hair", encored with "Summer Babe", and in between played absolutely everything I wanted them to during their almost-two-hour set ("It's kind of scary when you know every song," Brent commented at some point). We'll be seeing them next at the Hollywood Bowl in September with Sonic Youth, the band that headlined that Lollapalooza back in the day, which will be both completely surreal and totally awesome.
Thursday night I was back at 21 Grand for one of their 10th anniversary shows, and what a great show it was. I think it's been a couple months since I've been able to catch a full High Castle set, which just seems wrong, but luckily they went on first with Erin, Wilson, and Shaggy in their propulsive full-on assault mode. Oxbow were next and set up on folding chairs right in the middle of the gallery floor before delivering an unexpected (at least to me) acoustic set, vocalist Eugene growling out some seriously bluesy tunes that occasionally hinted at the avant-garde noise rock I know them better for. Evangelista's Carla Bozulich joined in on one song too, which just served to whet my appetite for her band's later set. I've been a huge fan of Bozulich ever since she sang for the Geraldine Fibbers and have been loving the more experimental paths she's been treading both on her own and with Evangelista, so I was in seventh heaven finally getting a chance to hear her live. When Evangelista did a gorgeous pitch-black version of the Fibbers' "Outside of Town" with the chaos of the original amplifed about ten-fold, I felt like I'd been waiting my whole life to hear Bozulich sing, "'Til then, I will love you 'til then."
Reasons to hang out in downtown Oakland after dark keep multiplying exponentially, and the recently-opened music venue The New Parish is a case in point. Wednesday night I was there to see Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles, but the club is cool too, intimate but still with plenty of space to roam around in and a great place to see those particular acts. Crocodiles' "I Wanna Kill" was one of the tracks that got stuck in my head endlessly last year, all Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz and backbeat, and I jumped up and down happily when they closed their set with it. Then the Dum Dum Girls came roaring on with their cover of the Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire" (the B-side of the "Jail La La" 7-inch) and proceeded to burn the house down. Though for the recent album I Will Be primary Dum Dum creative force Dee Dee (and spouse of Crocodiles' Brandon) recorded all the songs herself before sending the tracks to producer Richard Gottehrer, live the band is fleshed out to four women total, and their harmonies are drop-dead gorgeous. Both Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles are playing together again this Wednesday at Bottom of the Hill, so clear your schedule now.
Still heavily jet lagged Tuesday evening I stumbled over to 21 Grand and settled in for a night of good ol' noisy rock 'n' roll. American Splits and Deep Teens (who blew me away again like they did the last time I saw them play with Extreme Animals and Nero's Day at Disneyland um last year I think) started the show out right before making way for a pair of excellent visiting acts from Vancouver, Nu Sensae and Shearing Pinx. The always-amazing Awesomes were all set to finish things off with a bang, the two women on this particular occasion coming out in matching money-print minidresses and drenching themselves in what looked like chocolate syrup, but their set was suddenly cut short when a few songs in M. hurt her head and started bleeding profusely. The good news is she's OK, and five staples later is even more badass than she already was.
As much as I love London I'm very happy to be back to gallivanting around our fabulous Bay Area galleries, and yesterday during my lunch break I ran up to see the Frederick Hayes and Ernest Jolly shows at Patricia Sweetow. Hayes, whose beautiful graphite skyscraper-scape is pictured here, is interested in both the architectural and human face of the city. His painted protraits of African Americans are executed with deceptive simplicity, a few expressionistic slashes of color filling in details, and his cityscapes and series of building facades show off his ability as a draftsman. Also on display is his installation City Cathedral City, a compact metropolis daubed with riotous color. Hayes's concentration on the urban is a nice contrast to Jolly's sculptures, which incorporate references to the sea and other natural phenomena. His Pier is a small collection of jagged sticks jutting up from the floor, looking as if the elements had had their way with them, while the video component of Drift (which consists of not much more than a few bands of barely-perceptible color, minimalist violin music, and ambient sound) plays on the wall behind it. Clear globes illuminated with white light in another piece stand in for bubbles, and a large grid dripping with yellow paint is called Hive. Similar to Hayes's work Jolly's forms may be simplified, but they still contain much complexity.