Saturday, June 30, 2007

SHOW REVIEW: CALVIN JOHNSON with JULIE DOIRON

3 nights ago, Calvin Johnson and Julie Doiron played at First Amendment (silkscreen/ design/ all sorts of awesome stuff place here in minneapolis).
they arrived at my house promptly, quietly, and EARLY (by rock tour standards); A. they loaded all their own shit into the house, and proceeded to unpack all of THEIR OWN FOOD. A+. amazing. Calvin then regaled me/ us with tales about NW rock (including stories about Greg Sage, which is, obviously, a current mild obsession of mine), and how to bring tens of thousands of cd's to the dump A+ / B- (as the second part made me sad).
with an incredible minimum of fuss, Julie took the couch (with the dog), and Calvin went and slept in the van (because he apparently has an aversion to dogs, and because after all these years, he is STILL PUNK.) A+. woke up early, made their own food, folded the sheets i'd given them, and Calvin sort of remembered how to play "Ponytail", so he showed me that; but the point is, when they left, the house was AS IF THEY HAD NEVER BEEN THERE; like that Zen "don't leave a ripple in the pond" thing that i can never remember right. Calvin even put away the salt and pepper, and cleaned toast crumbs off the counter.

all you touring rockers out there take note: THAT'S how you DO IT.

all in all, a spectacular performance: A+.

ok, actually i missed the show itself (Calvin does sing in the shower, loudly, so i caught that and it was pretty good...) but if it was anywhere as good as their houseguest manners, i totally missed out.

no but really; Calvin is an old pal (and, let's be frank, a total pinetop-- but in a good way.) and it's always great to see him (i hadn't met Julie Doiron before, but she was real nice too). but beyond that, i've started thinking in recent years that...Calvin's the real deal. not that he ever WASN'T (in fact--and this is something that really truly surprises me-- those Beat Happening records not only hold up incredibly well, as opposed to a lot of stuff from that era that i THOUGHT was fantastic at the time but now sort of mildly suck, they actually GET BETTER as time rolls on. put on Jamboree or Black Candy and see for yourself.), just that...things move and change, so does the world. and that's fine, but Calvin knows what he is, and what he does, and he has never stopped. and me, i find it all pretty awesome.
i mean, the last part of this tour (which he is doing BY TRAIN), Calvin is playing, you know; Minot ND. and Kalispell MT. no rock clubs, not even any AMPLIFIERS. he just goes into a room, people are there (sometimes a lot, sometimes not so many), and he's got his guitar and he sings his songs. la la la. no microphone, no nothing.
aside from the fact that this just takes a lot of balls, it's...as always, PUNK.
and Calvin's "punk" was never the mohawk/ crusty kind, it was always...weirder. he does 2-week acoustic tours of small towns in Oregon.
indie-rock or "punk" or whatever you call it is now as standardized as anything else; it's just a different "sound" than, say, adult alternative (but often not MUCH different). they play the same clubs, they sign with the same labels, etc etc. what Calvin does is, and never has been, that.
it's the honest- to -god REAL DEAL: the real "punk", which, to me, is that just because "the way things work" happens to be a semi- stupid, crass, and dehumanizing bunch of nonsense, that don't mean it's the only way. it just means you try to figure out a better way. and the dichotomy here (i learned that word by looking it up in the dictionary) is that it's no big deal and the biggest deal in the world at the same time. it's not wearing a Crass shirt and having a stupid haircut and beating your chest with righteous indignation, it's just getting on with what YOU do.
regardless of if it's cool or hip according to this weeks' barometer, or that it's "unmarketable" and economically stupid, or that it flies in the face of what you're "supposed" to do (i mean, you're supposed to play ROCK CLUBS, you know?). you just do your damn thing, and the innumerable people who will tell you you shouldn't can...go ride a bike (or fuck themselves, depending). i really don't know what "punk" is anymore, and i'm not sure i ever did, but i know that...sometimes little stuff is important.
the first time i heard Beat Happening, i HATED it. all i could think is "this is RETARDED. i HATE this."
and boy was i wrong. 20 years later, here we are.

hm. i actually did not mean to write that much.
ah well. go buy a record from K, or go see Calvin play. it'll be fun.

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2 Comments:

OpenID Will M. said...

I remember seeing calvin in 1989 in a dinkytown coffee shop. There were about 15 people there and it was perfect. I couldn't understand then how he could afford to do tours like that. Now I wish I had gone with him.

He is beautiful and timeless!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Charmaine said...

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7:13 PM  

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