May 27, 2003

It's uncommon to get to see two of your heroes on the same night, and even stranger when their performances are part of totally separate events. The evening began with a free concert in Battery Park by James "Jaaaames Browwwwn... Jaaaames Browwwwn" Brown, and ended with a real fun hardcore show at the Knit's Tap Bar -- headlined by the amazing Guyana Punch Line (hidden away in last-week's self-indulgent meanderfest of a blog entry is my thinly veiled love letter to the lead singer).

James Brown thing was good; weather wasn't so great, and I spent most of the show trying to find the friend I promised I'd meet, which distracted me from the main event. James Brown was James Brown, giving a performance befitting "a real professional," basically "putting on a hell of a show" and everything else you'd expect from James Brown-brand entertainment and prompting all the default watercooler comments people tend to make after seeing "IMEANWHATCANISAYHESTHEGODFATHEROFSOUL" in concert . No actual complaints on that front, just the typical Jody observations. However, I did think it was weird when he covered Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" (c'mon dude, you're not Dan Aykroyd; show some self-respect), and equally weird when he broke into a rendition of "God Bless America" (patriotic goon in the audience: "WOO! YOU BET YOUR FUCKEN ASS"). Heading towards the subway I saw something I honestly haven't been first-party witness to since about 1985: a team of breakdancers, bustin' it up on the concrete, in time to a bit of old-school hip-hop, one guy passing around a steel pail for tips. I encourage such behaviors. More, please. More graffiti, too. New York needs it, now more than ever.

Won't go too deeply into GPL coverage, but yeah, they definitely brought their A-game, and Mr. Bickel was in fine form, makin' with the interbanter funny all night long, rockin' the Catskills like his name was Beck Hansen. New CD's out and I picked one up; scrawled across the back in small punky collagey Bollocksy pink it sez "IF YOU BUY THIS RECORD THE TERRORISTS WILL WIN." Which, come to think of it, is really the necessary antidote to James "I don't know karate, but I know careerism" Brown's "God Bless America."