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House Of Tudor 

Con artists, pre-pubescent pettiness, culture jamming, and sonic bedlam

Wednesday, May 29 2002
Before Reverend Glasseye found his Legs, he performed on the singer/songwriter circuit in Boston, perfecting his pitch -- a combination of tall tales, heart-rending howls, villain's whispers, coarse warbles, invigorating yodels, graceful melodies, and dobro. Soon enough, the bespectacled twentysomething was joined by some like-minded miscreants: an upright-bass fiddler, a harmonium-playing guitarist, a howitzer boom-drum operator, a fluegelhorn-blowing trumpeter, and a fiendish percussionist with a flair for djembe, shekere, steel drums, coconuts, kegs, and other assorted junk. The puppets, contortionists, and showgirls soon followed. Now, with the completion of Black River Falls -- a collection of original songs combining the nefarious aspects of Weimar cabaret, Appalachian folk, Romany wedding music, and carnival grinds -- the Reverend Glasseye & His Wooden Legs are ready to take their show on the road. Glasseye and his crew might not be able to compete with the innovative artistry of old-time pitchmen like Doc Murray, Big Foot Wallace, and Tom Waits, but they have a certain aptitude for both the short con -- riotous klezmer-hued sendups like "50% Murder" -- and the long con -- delicate, disturbing ballads like "Carnival of Pills." Of course, the show itself is easily worth the price of admission. The Reverend Glasseye & His Wooden Legs perform on Wednesday, May 29, at Cafe Du Nord with Japonize Elephants opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 861-5016.

If King Louie, the grizzly one-man-band-and-train-wreck, can't get you giggling and hoofing along with his oddball ditties about propane, hitchhiking, nuclear crucifixions, stinky cabbage, stinkier feet, and "wampus," perhaps the banjo duo Pineapple Princess can get a rise out of you with their luau renditions of classics by the Ramones and Kiss. If not, you suck. King Louie and Pineapple Princess support the Groovie Ghoulies on Thursday, May 30, at the Justice League, with the Triggers opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 289-2038.

If Malcolm McLaren still mattered, he'd be drooling over Violet Discord, three beguiling punkettes who summon all the bright, bouncy, snotty sass of Bow Wow Wow and much of the cathartic irreverence of X, without the need of a single boy. Such self-sufficiency might make McLaren run for the nearest pub -- if he hadn't already been trapped by the first two songs on VD's debut, American and Hot: "Mean," a sprightly anthem about grade-school viciousness and in-crowd psychology, and "MIQ," a throbbing masochistic request christened by pristine three-part harmonies and four thick chords. Nearly every Violet Discord song -- from "Queer Boy" to "Piece O Meat" to "Take It" to the surprising banjo-laced "Blister Finger" -- involves some pre-pubescent pettiness and/or complicated sexual dynamics, and VD possesses the perfect combination of chirpy exuberance, musical acuity, and punk rock humor to capture and conquer both. In grand, goofy style, the band celebrates the release of its CD with free food, hula hooping go-go dancers, immoral puppets, fire-eating backup singers, rock 'n' roller derby girls, and eXtreme Elvis on Friday, May 31, at the CW Saloon, with Venus Bleeding and the Solvents opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6-7; call 974-1585.

Jill Sharpe's documentary Culture Jam: Hijacking Commercial Culture explores the delight and impact of pranksters and artists who challenge consumer society by appropriating and manipulating popular advertising images. From the large-scale defiance of our very own Billboard Liberation Front to the protests of the Church of Stop Shopping to the legalese of the Constitution and the rights of paying advertisers, Sharpe looks at the phenomenon from all angles, with delightful bias. Culture Jam screens Friday through Thursday, March 31-June 6, at the Roxie Cinema (3117 16th St. at Valencia). Admission is $7; call 863-1087.

The Lack has been disparaged for sonic bedlam -- both by critics and by club owners whose rooms have been rattled by the subsonic frequencies the band unleashes -- but by combining the chaotic abrasion of noise artists with the lyrical composition and rhythmic volatility of electro artists this Ohio group has created music that's truly industrial in form and function. At once poetic, hypnotic, orchestral, savage, hideous, and impenetrable, the outfit's compositions command emotion, even if you try to withhold it. The Lack arrives with two full drum sets and a pile of electronics on Saturday, June 1, at the Tempest Bar at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 495-1863. Another barrage comes Sunday, June 2, at Talk of the Town in Oakland, supporting Nightmare Syndicate at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call (510) 534-8255.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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