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SF Sketchfest Presents Epic Rap Battles of History & Smells Like the '90s: A Night of '90s Music + Comedy

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 11, 2018 07:26pm | Post a Comment

SF Sketchfest

The San Francisco comedy festival SF Sketchfest is back for its 17th year and runs January 11-28th at venues around the City. Amoeba Music is proud to co-present two stellar musical events: Epic Rap Battles of History Live and Smells Like the '90s: A Night of '90s Music and Comedy!Epic Rap Battles of History

Epic Rap Battles of History Live
Great American Music Hall
Jan. 26th (two shows: 7:30 & 10:00 pm)
Tickets
The record-breaking digital series Epic Rap Battles of History, created by Peter Shukoff (aka Nice Peter) and Lloyd Ahlquist (aka EpicLLOYD), features comedic rap battles between historical and/or pop culture figures - such as Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking, James Bond vs Austin Powers, Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates, and Jim Henson vs Stan Lee. The series, which airs on the YouTube channel /ERB, is currently the most-viewed format on YouTube on a per-episode basis. The series has garnered over three billion views and more than 14 million subscribers, and has been nominated for numerous awards including the Emmys. Musician, comedian and actor Nice Peter, and comedian and emcee EpicLLOYD first met freestyling on a porch in Chicago. EpicLLOYD recruited Nice Peter to join the improv comedy group Mission IMPROVable, which he helped found at the University of Massachusetts and later expanded across the country. In 2009 the improv group began the M.i. Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA and after separate moves to Los Angeles, Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD connected again in the comedy circuit performing at the club.In 2010 Nice Peter, already a well-established YouTube personality, suggested that one of the live segments he, EpicLLOYD and MC Mr. Napkins (Zach Sherwin) were performing—an improv rap show that featured comedic, poignant altercations between two characters suggested by the audience—was better suited as a digital format. Tapping into his growing YouTube fan base, Nice Peter went to his channel subscribers for potential matchup ideas. Premiering on Nice Peter’s channel in September 2010 as Epic Rap Battles of History, John Lennon vs. Bill O’Reilly, the first battle in the series, was an instant hit. It was Episode #2 though, Adolf Hitler vs. Darth Vader, that became a viral sensation—with now over 96 million views. Epic Rap Battles of History has since featured appearances from hugely popular stars including Weird Al Yankovic, Snoop Dogg, T-Pain, Key & Peele, Rhett and Link, George Watsky and DeStorm Power, among others.

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Introduction to Subcultural Anthropology: Kogal

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 12, 2015 10:37am | Post a Comment
Even disregarding the sense having to do with bacteria, there are many definitions of "subculture." The longest that I've found is that of the The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:

A group within a society that has its own shared set of customs, attitudes, and values, often accompanied by jargon or slang. A subculture can be organized around a common activity, occupation, age, status, ethnic background, race, religion, or any other unifying social condition, but the term is often used to describe deviant groups, such as thieves and drug users. ( See counterculture.)

No one will ever be able to document every subculture, or even agree upon what they are. With this series I will examine subcultures primarily organized around two things, music and clothing. That way I can largely avoid the can of worms which are gangs. For gangs, both music and clothing are of considerable importance but the engagement in of criminal activity is assumed to be their raison d'être. Also, I don't want to provoke a bunch of angry, misspelled comments written in all caps. 

This week's subculture: Kogal

*****



The kogal (コギャル) subculture arose in Japan in the 1980s and became widely known in the Japanese mainstream after the airing of a 1993 television special, ザ・. コギャル NIGHT ("the Kogal night"). The subculture were further featured in the fictional 1997 film バウンス ko GALS ("bounce Kogal") (1997) depicted Kogals turning to prostitution to fund their insatiable materialism. In reality, many Kogals were apparently engaged in "paid dating" although for the vast majority that means involves little more than accompanying a man to karaoke in exchange for money and drinks. 


Kogals remained an exclusively Japanese phenomenon although they are apparently featured in Quentin Tarantino's film Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003). By the time of its release the Kogal had largely been supplanted by two offshoot subcultures, ガングロ (Ganguro) and ヤマンバ (Yamaba or "mountain hag").
"Kogal" in English, is derived from an Anglicized spelling of a contraction of kōkōsei gyaru meaning "high school gal." Most Kogals simply referred to themselves as gyaru (ギャル), meaning "gal." The word entered Japanese in 1972, with the launch of a brand of women's flared jeans of that name. The basis of the kogal costume is not bellbottoms, however, but the Japanese school uniform.




The Kogal's skirt was generally pinned up to shorten its length and the socks were worn loosely, often with platform boots. The kogal's hair was artificially lightened and the skin artificially darkened. A common flourish was a
Burberry scarf -- then as now a popular emblem of conspicuous consumption. 

Kogals didn't just have a look but a unique slang, known as "kogyarugo" (コギャル語), a jargon peppered heavily with words borrowed from English and acronyms like "MM" and "MK5" (the latter meaning that the speaker is on the verge of losing it).  The poster girl of Kogal style was singer 安室奈美恵 (Namie Amuro). The Kogal's natural range was the Harajuku and Shibuya shopping wards of Tokyo, in particular, the latter district's fashionable department store, 109. Their motto, if they had one, was  biba jibun "ビバ自分" or, "Viva the self!" 






Kogal style was promoted by the magazines ポップティーン (Popteen, launched in 1980), Street JamHappieエッグ (Egg, launched in 1995), and ランズキ (Ranzuki, launched in 1998). From 1992-2002 the manga ギャルズ! (Gals!) chronicled the exploits of a character whose claim was to be, "the greatest gal in Shibuya." As late as 2006, the drama ギャルサー (Gal Circle) revolved around a cast of Kogal characters.


(Source: Tokyo Fashion)



*****

Follow me at ericbrightwell.com 

The Top 10 Shoegaze Bands of All Time, or, The Godlike Genius of Shoegaze

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2015 06:11pm | Post a Comment
I'm still buzzing from the Ride show at the Warfield. "Cool Your Boots" has been running through my head non-stop for a week (although there was a break, at least in my sleep, when I had a dream which involved listening to Cedric Im Brooks). Since the show I've been listening to a lot of shoegaze (and a little chimp rock -- anyone remember that?).

Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny -- the alternative was San Diego Sizzler Chic

I've also met a couple of people since getting back from San Francisco with whom the subject of music arose. Two of them were on their way from Coachella to Brokechella and were talking about "soul" (in the sense that Maroon 5 are soul, I suppose) act, Fitz & the Tantrums. No one had heard of Ride or had the haziest notion of what shoegaze means. When I told them that Ride had played at Coachella they looked incredulous. 

I realize that twenty years ago is forever when you're in your twenties but if you'd mentioned Led Zeppelin, The Doors, or psychedelia to a college kid in the 1980s they would've been familiar with them at least as concepts. Maybe even if your favorite pretendie bands are all signed to the world's largest corporate music label you still might have have at least heard of Creation Records. Seriously, they were fine -- but I wouldn't at all be surprised if after I dropped these kids off in the Arts District if they immediately took to Twitter, stating "OMG idk wat is Ride and wat is shoo gays LOL?" 

Whether one is a fan of shoegaze or not, is that it was that last moment in rock's history when something happened that was both significantly different from what had come before but still recognizable rock music. Shoegazers pushed the boundaries of rock with ethereal ambiance and post-psychedelic noise; beyond those boundaries lay Metal Machine Music or Ambient 1: Music for Airports -- which whatever you think them have little to do musically with the rock 'n' roll of Jackie Brenston, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and the like. 

Ride rolls into the Warfield -- and their thirteen most massive tunes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 13, 2015 10:42am | Post a Comment
I'm currently down in San Francisco (well, Richmond actually) to see Ride play. Ride, for those keeping score, were the best of a crop of bands known way back in the early 1990s as shoegazers. Like most British bands that survived into those dark years of the mid-1990s, when a collective craze for slow motion guitar solos and untucked shirts overcome white Britannia, Ride too went horribly wrong (i.e. Britpop) in the end before calling it a day in 1996. They only released one bad album (and it was awful) but then Andy Bell formed Hurricane #1, a truly horrendous (way) sub-Seahorses audition for Oasis. Bell went on to play in Oasis and then that other Liam Gallagher band who can't have been all bad as they covered World of Twist's "Sons of the Stage." 





This is all a roundabout way of saying that the prospect of a Ride reunion made me, understandably I think, rather nervous. They released a clutch of fantastic EPs, three great albums, and only one steaming, stinker -- but it was their final album, and a direction Bell pursued with his following bands so would he insist that Tarantula haters like myself got it wrong and try to prove his point by subjecting audiences to "The Dawn Patrol" and "Starlight Motel" or worse, "Just Another Illusion"? All of my fears were put to rest when I listened to them play a short set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which included five songs from their brilliant debut, Nowhere, and its equally classic follow-up, Going Blank Again. They sounded great. I meant to dust off my old Ride T-shirt with the mud stains and holes but perhaps wisely forgot (it's really holey).

Shoegazers were sometimes criticized for hiding their lack of songs behind walls of feedback... but listening to "Morning Becomes Eclectic" for the first time in fifteen years as I waited for Ride to play I was treated to a barrage of forgettable, tuneless, garblers in Native American headdresses singing whoa-oh-oh-y car insurance jingles (or at least that's what it sounded like to me). You know, Coachellacore or the stuff that plays during Spotify ads when sensible users remove their earbuds. Ride, on the other hand, wrote some of the tightest (I'll never use that word again to describe music, I promise) melodies, sang the pretties harmonies, channeled The Byrds, Love, and Buffalo Springfield, and then added a healthy squall of guitar noise that make me wonder why all the "nu-gazers" are so bland and limp (...oh yeah, Slowdive). 
Ride played at Coachella the other night, apparently. They're playing at the Warfield tonight. They're playing in Pomona at the Fox Theater tomorrow. 


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Now allow me to get all listicle and give you the Top 13 Ride Songs:
“Vapour Trail” from Nowhere (1990) 


I first heard this on WMNF in 1990 when a DJ played the entire record. I later taped the video onto a VHS cassette when it was played on City Limits (Much Music) and it inspired my brother to go into graphic design.

“Taste”  — form the Fall EP (1990) 

 

Sounds like a poppier My Bloody Valentine, right? A pretty terrible video, though, although Mark's hair inspired me to grow out my bowl. Also, I did a sketch of him four our high school literary journal -- ha!


“All I Can See” — from the Ride EP (1989)

When the Smile compilation came out I played that record so much that it immediately conjures up the harsh winter of my freshman year in the dorm.

“Cool Your Boots” — from Going Blank Again (1992)


Going Blank Again was the first record I bought without having heard anything off of it. I was on a ski trip in Colorado and I didn't even know Ride had a new album out so I had to grab it before I returned to rural Iowa, where I'd be screwed. I was not disappointed. Bonus points for Withnail & I samples.

“Crown of Creation” — from Carnival of Light (1994)


I'd suspected from the beginning that Ride were Byrds fans. Carnival of Light would seem to be pretty strong evidence for that suspicion. This song title comes from a Jefferson Airplane album, the album also included a Creation cover, and a photo of Andy Bell showed him wearing a Buffalo Springfield shirt. Still, 1968 was a much more forward looking year than 1995 would turn out to be.


“Twisterella” — from Going Blank Again



“Only Now" — from Carnival of Light




“1000 Miles” — from Carnival of Light 




“Close My Eyes” — from the Ride EP


Bonus points for mentioning the band's name in the song.


“Dreams Burn Down” — from the Fall EP 



“Leave Them All Behind” — from Going Blank Again



“Like a Daydream” — from the Play EP (1990)


Long-sleeve T-shirts and early hints at Byrds love

“Sennen” -- from Today Forever EP (1991)


It sounds completely like Robert Plant's "I'm in the Mood," which is kind of amazing.

*****

Follow me at ericbrightwell.com

What a wild, wild scene - A look back at Ditch Parties for Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 8, 2012 04:12pm | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION TO DPS



Truancy is presumably exactly as old as education. Some 800,000 years ago in the Middle East, people learned how to start fires. Though an important skill and an entertaining subject, I’m sure that some frustrated student thought to her or his self, “Lame. I’m outta here.” Later truants organized parties during school hours. My research for this blog entry turned up accounts of actress Sharon Tate and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa frequenting them in the 1960s. I myself -- though something of an advanced ditcher of high school -- only attended one organized ditching event (it wasn’t really a party. The drumline I was in all went to a restaurant and played tabletop shuffleboard. My punishment was having to work in the school library for a spell).

In the early 1990s, a ditch party scene emerged as a phenomenon on LA’s Eastside (for clarification: the region east of the LA River). That is the subject of this entry. DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to glorify drug abuse nor truancy; neither is it meant to suggest that I’m an authority on the subject. I didn’t even move to Los Angeles until well after the scene had faded. 

I have searched for firsthand accounts of the “Old School Ditch Party” scene but, aside from a couple of blog entries, and scanned images from Street Beat magazine, almost all of the information in this post is derived from the sensationalistic and comically disapproving FOX Undercover stories from the era. So far only one of my friends has told me about her firsthand experiences with the scene. So this isn’t mean to be taken as anything remotely suggesting a serious study but rather an invitation for readers to share their memories and help fill out the picture of this seemingly scarcely documented but fondly remembered era.


WHAT, THEN, WAS A DITCH PARTY

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