SWEET G-SUS, INTERNET. My jarring hangover and gratuitous grin indicate that it was a damn fine week of shows for the Wizened Wizards of the Moist Graffiti. Although Schnitzel B. and I commenced the fall concert season 2.5 weeks ago with the sacrilicious Book of Mormon, it was akin to sipping a delicate apertif before running a train on a plate of your Cajun drunkle’s barbeque.* Prior to last week there hadn’t been a solid show in town since July,** so needless to say the Schnitz and I had been ready to nod approvingly to some tunes for a minute.
Part I: The Weeknd Launched A Sex Missile At Us and It Was Awesome
You may not know this, but Schnitzel B. is actually an elf. As such, when he makes love he tends to jam the songs of his people e.g. Beach House, Sigur Ros, Washed Out, etc. Thus, he admittedly wasn’t ready for Abel Tesfaye’s special brand of Canadian booty music. That was aight tho, as local music enthusiast K.T. of House Targaryren was more than down to traverse the cavernous halls of the Bayou Music Center with yours truly. We got to the show just as Abel was beginning to bless the mic with his android love ballad “You Belong to the World.”
Notwithstanding MG’s vitriolic review of Kiss Land, the undersigned admits that The Weeknd went off live. Backing Abel was a four dude, thirteen instrument band that positively shredded his songs, old and new. He called out to them sweetly by name throughout the performance, ensuring that they would share in the green room orgy that was sure to follow the encore. What a charmer. Abel himself sported a great deal more confidence than the last time I saw him perform, stalking across the (quite broad) stage with the anxious sexuality of a jaguar on adderall. His MJ-tempered tenor was studio recording crisp, and the falsetto flourishes he added turned the audience’s collective panties into fondue. At one point during “Love in the Sky” he yelled, “But I’m sure I’ll make you come; two-three-four-five times in a row,” while air-fucking the space in front of the stage. The crowd went apeshit. The guy has talent.
Perhaps most interesting was the stage motif, which played continuously throughout the set on giant monitors surrounding the stage. Abel took a moment to soberly explain that Kiss Land was based on a diary he kept while on tour. Thematically this may be the case, but it quickly became clear that the accompanying Neo-Tokyo aesthetic was borne of too many stoned nights watching anime DVDs on the tour bus/submarine/elephant. During the performance corsucating waves of neon Kanji screamed by on the monitors, bathing the room in alternating palls of green, yellow, magenta, and cyan. Between crescendos in the set, they aired faux ads*** for Kiss Land, prophylactics, and something called “Super Happy Fun Time,” each with their own soundtrack. Japanese girls in stewardess outfits smiled at me so hard that I almost forgot they have to pixel-censor their porn over there. Of course, then there was the actual porn that appeared on the screen from time to time. Seeing topless, kissing females towering over the audience was… somewhat distracting… but… I mean… wait, what were we talking about?
The real highlight of the show was the middle of the set, wherein Abel calmed the crowd by whispering “don’t worry, Imma play all dat old shit” before launching off into the best of his mixtapes. The screens flickered off, leaving Abel standing starkly against a darkened set. On cue, the smoke of four hundred Dutchmaster blunts billowed into the air, eventually coalescing into a cumulonimbus cloud of bad decisions but good times. It. Was. Bitchin. After six or so Trilogy**** joints delivered to satisfaction with apropos deviations and instrument solos, Abel finished off Kiss Land’s concert-ready tunes, dropped a relatively mild encore, and that was that.
It remained evident that through the show that Kiss Land‘s production lacked the clarity of vision that defined Trilogy. Still, seeing the visual aesthetic intended to accompany the album at least put it in context, of which it had none prior to us seeing the show. Combined with Abel’s sexcellent performance of all the tracks, new and old, it made for a memorable experience.
Moist Graffiti Rating
Venue: Bayou Music Cavern. Too many damn people, but Abel kept it skintimate: 88.616
Audience: Houston’s thug element and K.T./me; also some eight-year old kids (sex ed. I guess?): 88.65
Songs: Homage to Trilogy while hitting almost all of Kiss Land. Improvisations were delightful: 93.78
Visuals: The thoroughly realized vacation to Neo-Tokyo’s
Red Light District was intriguing and unexpected: 94.31
Part II: Alt+J and the Virtue of Suppressing Violent Urges
Thursday arrived quickly and Schnitz, K.Targaryen, and myself were back on the scene to bear witness to Alt+J’s peculiar brand of Euclidian Indie Pop. After taking the scenic route back the Bayou Music Center*****, we were immediately thrust into a sea of sweaty, flip-flop clod frat dudes and their insecure girlfriends, all of whom were wearing jorts and those goddamn Native American-but-really-from-Anthropologie-headbands. Complicating our attempts at establishing a beachhead in the crowd was a chance encounter with Katniss T.’s arch-nemesis, who suddenly stumbled out of the brush like a wasted Pokemon. I watched on in disbelief as they exchanged frenemy hugs with all the enthusiasm of two glaciers colliding. I attempted to make small talk, but my vocal chords were choked with angst and $9 Zeigenbock.
Taking a deep breath and a gulp of hooch, I closed my eyes and gathered my qi. It was going to be a long night. Opener Lord Huron was on the stage at that point, peddling some indie-folk best described as the middle of the middle of the road. It sounded as if some malevolent chemist had taken a paste of ground Mumford and Sons and Kings of Leon, mixed them with a tincture of Crosby, Still, and Nash, and cooked the resulting pop folk slag down to a desert-colored rock in one of those stupid, wide-brimmed “AYO IM SO RUGGED” hats. The auto-correct on Schnitzel B.’s phone inadvertently summed up the affair when he handed it to me to pass a note over the din of the show. It read: “Mumford and Sins?”****** The question mark was underlined. Twice.
We regrouped between sets and soon enough ▲ took the stage. Unfortunately, it was at this point our group found itself ensconced squarely between the Charybdis and Scylla of concert goers. To one side of us was a randy band of overly confident girls whose drunken swagger was incompatible with their size, causing them to fall into us at random in meaty avalanches. Worse still, in front of us was a dreaded Groping Couple, whose hedonistic displays of affection threatened to reverse my sexual polarity at any moment. To add insult to injury, the Gropee therein randomly thrust her arms into the air throughout the show, undulating like a dranked out genie and blocking our view. But lo, our hearts were iron and our resolve unwavering.
Meanwhile on stage, Alt+J sped through a line-for-line retelling of An Awesome Wave along with all of the geometric precision they’re famous for. Unfortunately, the raucous crowd, enormous venue, and relatively low volumes of a few of their tracks/interludes conspired to damage the experience. Having to hone in on the quiet riffs and quieter lyrics of “Matilda,” “Tessalate,” and “Ms” over the dirge of 2,500+ brahs hashtaging their lives into 140 character-sized chunks was difficult. It’s a testament to Alt+J’s technical proficiency that they managed to project their sound into the audible oubliette that is the Bayou Music Center as well as they did. And, when they turned that shit up on joints like “Fitzpleasure,” “Dissolve Me,” and encore “Breezeblocks,” everything, including homegirl-in-front-of-me’s sweaty dinner wings, faded away into a great time.
Epilogue: As soon as ▲exited the stage, the evil super computer that controls BMC’s DJ set threw on some Nicki Minaj, wherein the scene devolved into a gingham storm of white kids booty droppin. It was alarming, then hilarious. Then incredible. Even more bewildering was the sight of 5,000 discarded cans of bud light that littered the floors in the frat lords’ wake. The accompanying Deepwater Horizon-sized slick of mysterious fluids was equally worrisome. Hiking our collective pants, we bid adieu to the scene and swung home again, home again, jiggity jig. On the ride home I learned that Schnitzel B. used to play the flute, but that’s a tale for a different hour.
Moist Graffiti Rating
Venue: BMC. Too many goddamn people for quiet shows. Bring back Fitzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz: 43.812
Audience: 2,800+ drunk millennials = 5,600 instagram posts = 11,200 tweets = deadly carcinogen: 21.262
Songs: A faithful rip of An Awesome Wave performed to the T. ▲ absolutely kills it live: 94.787
Bonus: Absurdly awesome twerking party that followed the show: +3
Total Score: 55.287
As always, we Titillating Templers of the Moist Graffiti appreciate you taking the time to read our modest contributions to the interwebs. Stay fresh and extra tuned for next time, because the season has only just commenced.
Dr. Socktopus, Ph.D.
*For more on the art of being a drunkle, may I suggest the haikus of (NSFW) http://drunkcle.tumblr.com. Sample: “Marilyn Monroe; without her there’s no Tumblr; she died for your sins.”
**Wherein Ariel Pink banished Schnitzel B. and me to a phantasmal realm populated by stoned woodland creatures and sentient striped sweaters.
***These ranged from bizarre to downright exploitive. At one point K.T. and I looked at each other and simultaneously uttered, “Man, ‘das racist.”
****I was holding my breath waiting for “D.D.” a/k/a The Weeknd covers “Dirty Diana” a/k/a Michael Jackson’s greatest gift to humanity, but it never came. Abel didn’t play it last time either, which makes me think that the lawyers are probably involved. They ruin everything.
***** Schnitzel B. barely made it through security, as a pedometer clipped to his belt resembled a butterfly knife at first glance. Fortunately, the
guy getting paid to steal people’s weed guard let us through after S.B. beguiled him with talk of corporate insurance discounts couched in a hypnotic drone. It was super-effective!
******This is an unfortunate characterization, as Lord Huron’s catalog is much more progressive sounding than their live show let on. Alas.