Two weeks ago I attended the advance movie screening for 24 Hour Party People, a new British film that tells the story of the Manchester music scene through the eyes of Factory Records founder Tony Wilson. (The first half of the flick is pretty interesting, with Wilson mucking about with Joy Division and the Buzzcocks, whereas the latter half visits the typical rock star downfall, complete with groupie sex, brandished guns, and overpriced office furniture.) Ruby Skye seemed like an odd choice for the afterparty, as the film barely touched on dance music, except to toot Wilson's horn via his now-defunct Hacienda Club.
But the possibility of free booze prevailed, and so to Ruby Skye we went. Unfortunately, upon arrival we were told by the beefy doorman that our wristbands were relatively worthless: After 10 p.m., all the supposed VIPs would have to shell out $10 (half-price), and the previously gratis cocktails would begin costing an arm, a leg, and some other dangling appendage. This situation was particularly galling because the movie didn't let out until 10, so there was no way for us to be there on time. Naturally, almost no one went in.
Maybe I'm making too much out of this incident. Perhaps the club just wanted to keep the riffraff out. Pure greed would have been wrong, but surely the partygoers understand that exclusionism is a natural part of the nightlife world. And nothing bad could come of pissing off a bunch of journalists, right?
24 Hour Party People opens Friday, Aug. 16. I suggest you use your ticket money to buy rotten tomatoes and then go visit Ruby Skye instead.
Prove my love Some records are so singular that no one ever tries to duplicate them. Take the Violent Femmes' eponymous 1983 debut, which has just been reissued by Rhino Records. The album's busker sound was the result of odd instrumentation -- bassist Brian Ritchie used a model typical of mariachi bands, while drummer Victor DeLorenzo whacked away on an overturned metal basket -- and lead singer and songwriter Gordon Gano's voice, an adenoidal howl that one critic said landed "between the notes." Topping it all off were Gano's heart-baring lyrics, which perfectly captured adolescence's rampant lust, mixed-up malevolence, and naive romanticism. As Michael Azerrad says in the liner notes, Violent Femmes still serves as a collegiate rite of passage for burgeoning hipsters, up there with "clove cigarettes, thrift-store clothes, and Naked Lunch."
Few acts have approached that record's giddy minimalism and snarky salaciousness -- until now. Chicago's Happy Supply makes a jittery, libido-smacking racket with nothing but a guitar, a Farfisa organ, and a drum machine. On a handful of singles (and a forthcoming album, Crucial Cuts), the duo of Ian and Tara suffuses the Femmes' agitated euphoria with slashing riffs and blaring fills, all the while singing about fucking off, fucking up, and just plain fucking. "When you rub your legs together/ Oh, I think I see sparks," Tara moans on "Sparky Song," drawing out the last word in a hormonal swoon. Ian adds some healthy disaffection to his vocal turns, as when he ditches his girl's pals for his radio on the new-wavey "Friends Song." The tunes are super catchy, with melodies that make you want to grab a stranger and pogo around the room.
Twenty years after its release, Violent Femmes is nearing the 2 million sales mark. It's doubtful that Crucial Cuts will reach anywhere near that number, but someday locals may talk about this week's two Happy Supply shows -- Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Li Po and Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Edinburgh Castle -- with the same reverence as the Femmes' early Milwaukee gigs. Local '70s-ish rock group Hard Place opens both nights. Call 982-0072 for Li Po and 885-4074 for the Castle.
The devil made me do it The "Morph" party ("Swap meet," Pop Philosophy, July 31) took place at the Blind Tiger, not the Red Devil Lounge, as previously written. We regret the error.