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LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
The guitar is being gently played by Phil Elverum, A.K.A. The Microphones. His soft voice and gentle strums are accompanied by Kyle Field, A.K.A. Little Wings, tapping out a rhythm on a beat-up drum set. Together they play music, talk in hushed tones to the audience and ramble on together in a sort of stream of consciousness conversation comprised entirely of tangents and odd remarks.
After a while, they switch instruments or pick up guitars and play each other's songs. The backdrop is comprised of animals doodled on brown butcher paper by the musicians before the show. Occasionally, the butcher paper is hung in the foreground, with only Elverum and Field's heads visible through cut out holes. All of this is to be expected at each stop on the tour.
Wise Old Little Boy, a documentary by Ryer Banta, follows the meandering path of The Microphones and Little Wings as they tour across Washington and Idaho for two weeks. On this mini-tour, the eccentric characters travel from small town to small town in a brown Volvo, playing music and enjoying the beauty of nature between each stop.
The pace of the film is slow but fitting with the mood of the tour. Each musician's quirkiness is apparent in their stage banter, interviews and interaction with each other. Their performances are extensions of their personalities. Starting out practicing shirtless in a sunny Portland backyard, tour stops include colleges, coffee shops and living rooms. Banta does an excellent job of documenting these performances and interspersing them with candid moments of Elverum and Field.
As anyone who's been to a Microphones show knows they can be frustrating. Bits of recognizable songs float in between spontaneous music and off the cuff lyrics. Phil Elverum can seem timid and shy, mumbling into his sleeve as he tries to hide behind the mic stand - this is also what makes each show so remarkable. Everything he says sounds so sincere and what he does play has an immense beauty in its frailty. More so than anyone else, he seems truly exposed while on display in front of the audience.
While there are no rock star antics or theatrics of showmanship, the music is genuinely moving; when things work out just right, the performance is unforgettable. Banta has truly captured visually the spirit of each musician as expressed through their music. SEE ALSO: www.kpunk.com
SEE ALSO: www.fireflysessions.com
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.
See other articles by Kevin Alfoldy.
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