Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boise Audience Has a "Mass Romantic" Crush on New Pornographers

Posted By on Sat, Jul 31, 2010 at 7:08 PM

With five albums under their belts, the members of Canadian indie-rock super group, The New Pornographers, have learned a thing or two about putting on an outstanding live show.


At last night’s concert at The Egyptian Theatre, their diverse set of spunky, pop-driven hits kept the audience hoppin’ and stompin’ for more than two hours. And even though Neko Case joked that dancing was optional, one could argue only half-deaf fuddy-duddies would have kept their butts glued to the seat.

After solid performances by Imaad Wasif and San Francisco kids The Dodos, the nine Vancouver natives sauntered onto the stage opening the show with the quintessential New Pornographers power-anthem “Sing Me Spanish Techno” from their 2005 album Twin Cinema. As noted in BW’s interview with frontman A.C. Newman last week, The New Pornographers have mastered the art of playing a solid balance of songs from each of their albums. For the two hours on stage, the group grabbed hits from each of their releases. With nine performers, achieving a full sound was no challenge, especially with a bounty of interesting instrumentation, including strings, dueling keyboards and an accordion.

Although there were no threatening outbursts from Neko Case, the fiery redhead still managed to steal the show. Dressed in a perfectly worn graphic tee and a flannel shirt that symbolized her laissez-faire, “I don’t give a damn” attitude, Case blew audiences away with her flawless and sultry voice on nearly every song. Her heartbroken and anguished crooning on “Go Places” was especially noteworthy, especially as she was accompanied by Kathryn Calder on accordion.

The very talented Dan Bejar (frontman for the bandDestroyer) was frequently absent, often disappearing backstage. However, when he did return—each time with different bottle of beer in hand— the crowd instantly responded with cheers, especially as the band broke into “Myriad Harbour” and “Silver Jenny Dollar.” Although every song could be considered big crowd pleasers, if the group was to captivate audiences with just one song, it would’ve been the guitar-heavy classic “Mass Romantic.”

Although the sound quality of The Egyptian left something to be desired, the historic venue offers both class and intimacy and, with its quirkiness and fun-spirited nature, was the perfect place to see the quirky and spirited New Pornographers.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

These United States In This City

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 6:05 PM

  • photo by Shervin Lainez
A few years ago, on the advice of a local musician, I went to The Bouquet to see a band from Rhode Island that I'd never heard of. All of 12 other people had the same idea that weeknight, and the 13 of us were treated to the crazy antics and skilled musicianship of East Coast psychobilly band, Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys.

The next time Sasquatch played The Bouquet, more than two dozen of us were there to see them. The third time, the place was packed. Since then, I've hypothesized that a band has to play Boise at least three times before people here start to catch on.

That, however, does not always happen. I've been to shows in which the band has never even been to Boise before, but a buzz precedes them (think Vampire Weekend), and whatever venue is lucky enough to be hosting them is stuffed to the rafters with fans.

And on the flip side, I've also been to shows—Sunday night's performance by These United States for example, who have been to town three or four times—in which I was, once again, one of maybe 20 attendees (though I think that's a generous estimation).

I've scrapped my hypothesis.

It's hard to say who or what will bring out a few people or a roaring crowd. But everyone who goes out gets something. What I got for going out on a Sunday night was twofold: one of the best live shows I've ever seen, and an intimate show that felt kind of like it was just for me (and the other 19 people who were there). Plus, they played their brand new release What Lasts from start to finish, something TUS frontman Jesse Elliott said they hadn't done live yet.

When some bands say they don't care if they play in front of four people or 4,000, they just want to play, it's true. After the show, Elliott told me, "I'd rather play a show in front of 20 people where 19 of them are paying attention than for thousands who aren't." Elliott made a point of engaging the small crowd throughout the night, and rather than act disappointed at a not-well-attended show, everyone in the band played like we were a crowd of thousands, all paying attention.

When TUS comes through town next time, go. Or don't. They'll play for me as if you were all there.

Continue reading »

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And the Basque Puns Continue ...

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Reader Chad53 recently posted a comment on my "Jaialdi 2010 Basque For Beginners" feature that made my pun-loving heart go pitter pat:

"If I follow your instructions on how to eat, drink, dance, speak, and play like a Basque, will I be guilty of....'Basquerading'?"

Well, I'm sorry to say, Chad53, you've officially been ousted as king of Basquepunsville. Artist Noble Hardesty's company Test Tube Kitty recently came out with this spicy Jaialdi T-shirt design. You can pick up one of your very own here.


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Snapshots from the Basque Block

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Judging solely by the number of folks at BWHQ who have come in quaking with the kalimotxo sweats over the past few days, Jaialdi is in full, drunken swing. Here are a few shots we snapped on the Basque Block in between dancing in the middle of Capitol Boulevard to Amuma Says No, stuffing our faces with manchego-and-olive-tapenade bocadillos from the Basque Market and making frequent trips to the bar.

All roads lead to croquettas.
  • All roads lead to croquettas.

This lady has the right idea: kalimotxo koozie
  • This lady has the right idea: kalimotxo koozie

Everythings betta with a croquetta.
  • Everything's betta with a croquetta.

Future Oinkari dancers practice their footwork.
  • Future Oinkari dancers practice their footwork.

The paella playas.
  • The paella playas.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

20/20 Failure in Declo

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I was recently asked by a customer to compete in the State BBQ Championships in Declo. I agreed thinking that I would have no problem being a competitor with all my years of professional experience. I called on a fellow chef, my father and former sous chef to come along. Collectively we called ourselves “Son of a Berkshire.”

Looks great, huh?
  • Looks great, huh?

We made some extraordinary food. My ribs were Thai peanut glazed with cilantro and lime. Our brisket was cooked with chipotle and kalbe barbecue. We made roasted garlic and cracked-pepper pulled-pork. Our chicken was seasoned with elderberry and rhubarb. When we turned our food over to the judges, we had confidence that, at that particular moment in the time space continuum, we had just made the best barbecue on the planet.

Like the Metallica song says “The light at the end of the tunnel is just a freight train coming your way.” That is exactly what happened in the competition. We got out butts kicked, ran the hell over. Not just a little whooping, a whole can of it.

Out of the 20 teams that competed in the competition we came in last. With more than 55 years of combined professional cooking experience, award winning barbecue restaurants, a certification from the American Culinary Federation and a borrowed $4,000 smoker “Son of a Berkshire” took absolute last place in the competition: 20th place. The highest any one of our dishes scored was 18th place and it was for the Kobe brisket. That hurts a guy’s ego.

After we received the judges' score sheets, we received a little talking to from the event promoter about the “style” that was expected. We cooked “above the expectation and the judges’ wishes.” Basically we were told that these competitions do not take lightly to changes in recipe or formula. The food we cooked was too out-of-the-box for this style of competition. The judges wanted hardwood-smoked and barbecue sauce-rubbed items. No Thai peanut sauce allowed.

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B is for Brewforia's Bounty of Beer

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 4:22 PM


In a dedicated effort to steer clear of impending triple-digit temperatures, my newest hobby involves scouting out indoor sports. Even with Scott Dorval's "three-degree guarantee" error margin, my usual playground, the Boise foothills, has morphed into an incinerator of the cruelest kind (evidenced by multiple brush fires ignited yesterday). Unfortunately for me, my athletic strength lies in aerobic endurance rather than in hand-eye coordination, which seems to be the basis for most games played in confined spaces.

Yesterday, I tried my hand at darts. Although the only sweat I broke occurred during my cross-town drive to the tangled mess of traffic at Overland and Eagle roads, the hydration options where I found my dartboard were more than enough to cool me off. Brewforia Beer Market is a perfect summer afternoon field trip—it's a Powell's Sweet Shoppe for adults. Instead of a continuous loop of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the flat screen at Brewforia is tuned to sporting events. Instead of Candyland, patrons can play Scrabble or read books like Tom Robbins' B is For Beer.

My dart game deteriorated after a bottle of the "dangerously drinkable" Hog Heaven Barleywine from Avery Brewing Co., a brewery based in Boulder, Colo. So I cut my losses and set to work exploring the great beer selection. Maybe I won't win any dart games in the future, but I know where I'll do my training for Boise Beerfest—only one week of practice remains.

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Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM


It was brought to our attention that the photo that we ran of Carrie Rodriquez in Boise Weekly on July 28 is 4 years old, and someone sent us a new one. Thanks. We like it; she's cute. And we updated our files.

You can catch Carrie Rodriguez in Boise this Saturday, July 31, at The Egyptian or in Stanley on Sunday, Aug. 1 at Redfish Lake Lodge.

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Dinner for Schmucks is a Three-Course Comedy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:42 PM

By now, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the movie that is being heralded as this summer’s inappropriate comedy. (If you haven’t, it’s embedded below.)

So who would have thought that Dinner for Schmucks could be described as “charming” or “sweet?” Now, don’t worry, there’s a bucketload of laughs, but it practically celebrates idiocy rather than mocks it.

Paul Rudd plays Tim, who in order to climb his particularly ruthless corporate ladder, must invite a schmuck to dinner. Steve Carell plays Barry, the schmuck and a guy with the funniest hobby we’ve seen yet. So BW’s arts and entertainment schmuck, Amy Atkins, and resident news and movie schmuck George Prentice accept this invitation to dinner and compared notes over dessert.

George Prentice: Amy, I think the first thing I have to say concerns the first thing in the movie: the opening titles. I loved them. With the Beatles singing “Fool on the Hill,” we watch a pair of gentle hands craft this lovely world of stuffed mice, complete with costumes and wonderfully tiny dioramas. Even though there are several scenes featuring this bizarre hobby, I never tired of this joke. If anything, I found it more endearing and laughable each time.

Amy Atkins: George, I could not agree more. Those little mice were so charming and whimsical, they alone were with the ticket price. Speaking of titles, I have to say, my anticipation grew as the supporting stars’ names popped up on screen: Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) David Walliams (Little Britain), Christopher O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover). Each one added his own little ray of sunshine to the film.

GP: I think Steve Carell and Paul Rudd did fine with their roles (Barry and Tim respectively). Have they been funnier in other films? Sure. But they’re true to their characters and I truly believe that they could be friends.

AA: I guess. But in real life, I think someone like Barry doesn’t so much grow on a person as wear him or her down.

GP: And how about Jermaine Clement as Kieren Vollard? How is it possible that he appears with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd and he steals the scene. Even his character’s name is funny.

AA: I’m such a big fan of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, Clement can do no wrong in my eyes. And he completely exceeded my expectations as a narcissistic yet engaging artist. I will say, however, I thought the pacing of the film left a little to be desired.

GP: I agree with you in that the movie sags, especially in the middle. My best advice to someone would be not to be afraid to hit the concession stand about an hour in to the film.

AA: When I got up to go to the bathroom, I wasn’t worried that I would miss much. When I returned to my seat, I realized I hadn’t.

GP: But the last half hour of the movie really picks up again. After all, we’re all waiting for the big dinner. And I don’t know about you, but I was not disappointed. I found myself laughing. A lot.

AA: You did laugh a lot. But for me, the dinner was a little anti-climactic. It makes sense that some of the redemption scenes take place there, but it was a little unrealistic. The dioramas were, of course, adorable, but a little over the top in that situation for me.

GP: And for me, the ending was very satisfying. I’m a sucker for happy endings. So definitely don’t miss the beginning of the ending.

AA: I would agree. I have no problem with a happy ending wrapped up in a neat little package, and this movie did exactly that. I definitely left the theater feeling a little lighter.

GP: I guess I surprised myself with my overall experience. I was fully expecting to have most of my laughs at the expense of idiots, but in fact, I found many of the “schmucks” charming and their idiocy was more charming than insulting. I really loved the “schmucks.”

AA: I think the schmuckiness of, let’s face it, everybody in the movie, was the most appealing aspect. I wish Barry had a little more self realization, but overall I was totally drawn to him. Would I have him and Paul Rudd over for dinner? You bet.

Dinner For Schmucks opens Friday, July 30.

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Low-fi at Ziesta

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Sounds are fickle. They rise and fall with the zeitgeist, with the state of technology and with the progress of the retro-cycle. But they never really vanish. There are always loyalists who will rock Animotion or Baroque-metal to the bitter end.

But some music, like Low-fi's, ages better than others. Possibly because that sound, a somewhat mournful mid-tempo guitar rock, isn't a hyper-specific expression of a subculture so much as it is the classic foundation from which other sounds are built on. Take riffs and beats. Put words on top and tie it up in a bow. Serve raw.

Their performance at the Ziesta barbecue paired slightly moody reverbed arpeggios with solid back beats and riffs that could hit hard enough to leave a mark, when the situation demanded it. And as a bonus those elements played out in good, well-rehearsed songs. There were clear echoes of The Gin Blossoms, but tempered with a bit of BTS. And though there were no instant classic sing-along anthems present, the ingredients to craft one were. Overall, it was a sound that seemed more suited to a tighter, darker space than a backyard barbecue to get maximum impact, but it still worked.

Their major failing was in performance value. A few moves played out on one of the more rocking tracks towards the end of the set, but for the most part, Low-fi were not tremendously engaging as performers, or as personalities between songs. But not every band has to be. Sometimes the music says it all.

Why they chose the name Low-fi is something of a mystery. There's nothing low-fi about it. Low-fi is high class, through and through.

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Need Something to Do Thursday?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 1:00 PM

What a day, what a day, what a day... You got the Basques going nuts, BP on trial, nationally recognized hip-hop at the Reef and renegade dance troupes invading the BW office. And that's just a few snapshots of what's going on in downtown alone today.

On top of all the buzz, we're all still a bit oxygen-starved after the smoke from yesterday's fire.

It's all enough to make you want to sit in a nice dark room away from it all. Just check out and watch an awesome flick, let the world figure it out on its own for a little while.

Well, lucky for you, today's a great day for just that. Cause The Flicks is doing a special screening of the Akira Kurosawa classic, The Hidden Fortress, about two peasants tricked into helping a defeated general back to power.

The show starts at 7 p.m. and is $12 at the door. The next film in the series, Ikuru, shows next Thursday, August 5.

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