There Ain’t No Future In Our Frontin’ : Matador At SXSW 2007

It's the rock biz' version of Spring Break, except Spring Break doesn't have enough cachet to lure Donnie Davies. And while Matador isn't doing a zillion dollar "showcase" (damn, we hate that word) this year, we are lucky enough to  witness several of our brightest lights making multiple appearances in Austin next week…on their own dime!

OFFICIAL SXSW EVENTS (ie. those without badges, wristbands and/or having turned up way early might well be SOL)

Thursday, March 15 – Shearwater, Central Prebyterian Church, 200 E. 8th St., 7:30pm
Thursday, March 15 – The Ponys, Emo's, 1am
Friday, March 16 – Times New Viking, Exodus, 10pm
Saturday, March 17 – Dead Meadow – Club Deville, 1am

in addition, the following parties / instores are happening and should be wide open to the public, space permitting :

Thursday, March 15 – The Ponys, KEXP taping (ACL studios), 1pm
Thursday, March 15 – The Ponys, Waterloo Records, 4pm
Friday, March 16 – The Ponys, Emo's (outside), 1:30pm
Saturday, March 17 – The Ponys, Mohawk (outside patio), 2pm
Saturday, March 17 – The Ponys, Red 7 (time TBA)

Friday, March 16 – Shearwater, Mohawk, 5pm

Friday, March 16 – Times New Viking, Long Branch Inn, 2pm

Thursday, March 15 – Dead Meadow, Instant Karma, 1pm
Friday, March 16 – Dead Meadow, Red 7, time TBA (afternoon party)
Friday, March 16 – Dead Meadow, Flamingo Cantina, time tba (afternoon party)
Saturday, March 17 – Dead Meadow, Jamie's Spanish Village, 8pm

Thursday, March 15 – Stuart Braithwaite, appearing as part of the Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social at Threadgill's (time TBA, but it's in the afternoon)

for more info on the day parties, non-SXSW events, we suggest you check out http://www.showlistaustin.com

Matador Movie Club: Old Joy

I've been lazy in documenting all our recent activities, but here's a quick recap of the Matador Movie Club's movements over the past month or so:

  • 20th December: Screening of R Kelly's 'Trapped In The Closet Pts 1-12'. This was a disaster. I expected loads of people to come and enjoy Mr Kelly's melodramatic opus, but sadly it was the worst-attended screening I've ever been to. And I once saw 'Robin Hood' (the Patrick Bergin version) halfway up a hill in Donegal. Disappointing. Still, Mike and Lucy were impressed. 
  • 21st December: Pre-Beggars Xmas Party, the Matador Movie Club got ourselves in the party mood by going to see 'Zidaine',  a 90-minute art film consisting of 17 cameras all focussed on Zinedine Zidaine during a football match. Do any of us like football? No. But we love Mogwai, who provided the soundtrack. Indeed, the sound is the most impressive thing about 'Zidaine', particularly on a big loud Cinema sound system. Otherwise, it's a thought-provoking, but difficult piece of work – I felt like I'd learnt something about Zidaine by the time the film was over, but to be fair I didn't know anything about him before I went in. Now I know he's a footballer who scowls a lot. The poor guy looks like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders. For 90 minutes. If that sounds like your kinda movie, it's out on DVD here in the UK this week.

And last night, the first Matador Movie Club outing of 2007 was to see a screening of 'Old Joy', which was scored by Yo La Tengo (meaning they did the music, not sorted out the tickets for us. I'm using film terms, keep up with me now). 'Old Joy' is the first film I've seen by Kelly Reichert, but I had been informed her style was in line with those of Harmony Korine, Vincent Gallo or Gus Van Sant's slower flicks (some of you have already started falling asleep, I'm sure). But I like films by the aforementioned auteurs, so I was psyched for another film where nothing happens for a while. Artfully. 

'Old Joy' stars Will Oldham (yeah, him) as Kurt, the kind of guy you used to hang out with when you were a teenager and probably wouldn't be that surprised if you found out that he was now homeless. Kurt calls up his friend Mark and invites him on a trip to the woods, where he's heard theres a really good hot springs. So they go. Uh-huh, that's the plot. But the plot's not that important, it's a film about the nuances of friendship, how it deteriorates and the emotions surrounding, to paraphrase Will Oldham himself,  'the letting go' of a relationship. To tell you any more about the film would probably involve me spoiling all the beautiful little details therein, and over-analysing it WAY too much. Will Oldham and Daniel London are effortlessly believable in their roles, relatable but distant in a very real way. The photography's wonderful – I love films that capture the universiality of working-class towns. And, of course, Yo La Tengo's score compliments the mood of the film perfectly – mournful, but strident. The twanging guitars took me back to 'Return To Hot Chicken' from 'I Can Hear The Heart Beating…', so I was very happy indeed. 

In essence if you think you can handle a very slow film in which not a great deal happens, you'll be rewarded with a gentle, contemplative film about friendship and growing older. And you get to see Will Oldham in the nude, if you're interested in that kind of thing. Hot!

 

More Proof that New York Is Getting Soft

Our good friends at the New York Post are reporting this morning that Limelight, the once-infamous nightclub, will be resurrected as a mini-mall:

December 19, 2006 — The former Episcopal church that once housed the sacrilegious Limelight nightclub will be born again – as a retail mini-mall.

300px-Club_formerly_known_as_Limelight_NYC.jpg

Now known as the Avalon nightclub, the legendary 12,000-square-foot venue on Sixth Avenue at West 20th Street will shutter its doors in early 2007.

"The landlord has decided that he doesn't want to go forward with another nightclub," said broker Frank Terzulli, of Winnick Realty Group.

"He's going to cut it up for retail tenants and a restaurant with patio seating."

Terzulli added, "The area is becoming more upscale with high-priced condos and stores, and that will make it more difficult to get permits from the community board" for a nightclub…

Sources say international discount-clothing retailer H&M is the likely main tenant for the space, which features triple-height ceilings and mezzanine levels.

A representative for Winnick would not confirm any specific names, since no leases have yet been signed.

Limelight, founded in the deconsecrated church in 1983, hosted some of clubland's wildest parties in the '80s and early '90s under now-deported club king Peter Gatien (above).

In 1996, federal agents charged that Limelight was a "drug supermarket" and shut it down.

Gatien was acquitted of racketeering and drug charges but convicted of tax evasion. He spent time in jail and was eventually deported to his native Canada.

That same year, one of the club's flamboyant promoters, Michael Alig, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Angel Melendez, a club regular and reputed drug dealer over a money dispute. He's still in jail.

Limelight reopened under new management but was shuttered again in 2002.

It came back to life in November of that year as the short-lived Estate. Avalon followed a few months later.

My only memory of the place is seeing Mogwai play there last year, but I'm sure other Mata-folks would be happy to share anything they might possibly remember (as long as the statute of limitations are up).

Eating with work peoples and Mogwai Live

*I did take photos at the Mogwai gig, but for some reason, WordPress is being odd and not letting me post them. It may be for the best, because, in what is becoming a habit of mine, they were really rubbish photos.

Anyways, the entire Matador Europe staff (me, Mike & Lucy), ex-Matadorian and super-publicist Sarah, and super Beggars radio lady Ruth all went to see Mogwai on Friday at the Royal Albert Hall. Now, this made me nervous for a couple of reasons – namely that we’d be going straight after work, which means I’d have to go to dinner with my aforementioned colleagues. Not that I don’t want to eat with them or anything, it’s just that my palette (when it comes to food) is, um, limited. The last time I went out to dinner with work people was last Christmas with Mike, Sarah, Patrick and Try Harder Records* supremo Alan English, and it was pretty excruciating because it was a very expensive French restaurant and I didn’t want to make a foodie faux-pas, what with me really only liking chicken and chips. I wasn’t actually a Matador Records employee at this stage either, so I was sure any display of weakness or lack of etiquette would eradicate any chance of a job I might have. I thought my best option was to order the Steak Tartare, thinking ‘Ah, steak with tartare sauce. I can just scrape the tartare sauce off, and no-one will be any the wiser, ho ho’. Some of you will be surprised to learn that Steak Tartare is actually raw meat mashed up into a kind of pudding. Not nearly as surprised as me. I nearly cried when I saw it. Summoning up all the courage I could muster, I told myself ‘You’re just going to have to eat it, or you’ll look like a tool’. Luckily Mike, by intuition (or by the look of poisoned anguish on my face) noticed that Steak Tartare may not be my thing, and shared some of his…I can’t remember what it was, but anything other than raw mashed-up meat was good enough for me. But obviously, I work here now, so that story had a happy ending – they obviously found my fear of food endearing.

Where was I? Oh yeah, having to go out to dinner with work people. Thankfully, we went somewhere that didn’t intimidate me too much (I was able to get sausages – phew) and had a lively discussion about Christian mythology and R Kelly.

Now, Matador don’t handle Mogwai’s records in Europe, so I can gush all I want about their awesomeness without being accused of nepotism. To begin with, the Royal Albert Hall is MASSIVE. MASSIVE. I’d never been before and it’s just…MASSIVE. It usually plays host to operas and orchestral stuff. We got in about 10 minutes from the end of Kid606**’s opening set, and it sounded remarkably like Jesu***. Does his new album all sound like that? It was very good, and considering the last two times I saw him he did 40 minutes of scorching noise and 1 hour of gabba respectively, it was nice to hear him kick back a little bit. 20 minutes later, the lights went off and Stuart came on to pluck the opening chords of ‘Christmas Steps’, one of many moments tonight where I thought ‘They’re doing this? Wicked, I can’t wait til it gets to the noise bit’. As a set, it was a perfect summation of Mogwai’s music – they did quiet stuff, they did the loud stuff, they did old and new stuff in equal measure. Hearing ‘Tracy’ live for the first time in aaaages was lovely, even more so when it transformed into ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’. It’s kind of useless to repeat the same things that everyone says about Mogwai (live or recorded), but they are so visceral live it’s untrue. During the closing ‘My Father, My King’ (oh yes) it was noise heaped upon noise, and when you think it can’t get any louder, someone steps on another pedal and it feels like they’re taking a drill to your eardrums (in a good way). ‘My Father, My King’ was so good, that when it was over it felt as if I hadn’t breathed for the previous half hour. Really, when Mogwai are good there’s not much that’s better than them. When they’re bad, they still fucking rule.

Because WordPress is having an off-day and not letting me link to things, here’s some further reading:

* www.tryharderrecords.com
** www.tigerbeat6.com
*** www.avalancheinc.co.uk

The Mutual Admiration Society That Is Mogwai & Lucasfilms

If you were wondering what to get Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite for Christmas this year, here’s a hint : Lego Star Wars for the PSP.

(from left to right : Braithwaite, Ewok)

An interview with Stuart can be found at the official Star Wars website

Mogwai’s contributions to the original score of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” can be heard next week when the long awaited followup to “Requiem For A Dream” is screened at Austin’s Alamo South as part of the 2006 Fantastic Fest. Aronofsky will be on hand for a little Q and A, and prior to “The Fountain”, they’ll be showing René Laloux’s “Fantastic Planet”.

Mogwai headline Glasgow’s Barrowlands tomorrow night, and they’ll be at the Manchester Academy on Sunday.

Label Head Pleads Guilty To GBH

After Mogwai’s blistering set at La Route du Rock, I tore into Barry’s bottle of Scotch. The backstage area was an ancient Barn of Stone, which in my opinion, was the perfect locale for a rumble!

I know John pinned me to the ground, and I admit the fucker is strong but I was drunk! Anyway, this is what happens when you don’t let the boss win : your head goes bam! into L’ Ancienne Stone Wall!

Sorry John!