Puke Sick

Thoughts of Sonic Youth, kid's shows and animal testing with sick body and warped mind

There are plenty of ways to pass a chilly Thursday (meeting my deadline would have been the practical, if not ecstatic, option), but when some unidentified bug has got you disgorging bile on a regular schedule and there's nothing to do but huddle under a dirty blanket and hope for the saving grace of, say, instant death, a delirious mind can lead a man to do some crazy things. Like read Alec Foege's new Sonic Youth biography, Confusion is Next (St. Martin's Press), cover to cover in one sitting. I can't recommend it. Aside from the dubious pleasure of remedial fact-checking (The Fluid was from Denver, not Seattle -- see how much fun this is?), there's little to be gained from Foege's ham-fisted insistence that Sonic Youth is the precursor to Nirvana, Lollapalooza and the Alternative Nation. Foege never even asks the obvious question: are they proud? He does, however, show an inordinate fondness for the descriptive "arch," applying it to Thurston Moore with a frequency that lets you know he thinks it's insight. Whatever....

Quick, before someone plays 'em the new Danzig disc... If you follow the local club scene at all, you'll have noticed the slow emergence of two nascent trends: non-smoking shows being the first and -- to my personal aesthetic, anyway -- ugliest, and children's shows. Children's shows, of course, are an inherently good idea, kids being the future and all that claptrap (I'm not talking about those short people crowding Emo's on Saturday night). The little ones usually can't stay up as late as your normal clubgoer, but hell, they ought to be able to check out live music, too. They dig the stuff. When Mrs. Molly staged a kiddie matinee at the Satellite a month or so back, observers claimed that a good number of the little tykes were actually singing along. They knew the words. Go figure.

Anyhow, at least one group of locals has noticed. Folk mainstay Don Sanders has been performing a children's show at area schools recently, mixing and matching song, storytelling and audience participation in a program called "Sourdough Cowboy: Authentic Texas Cowboy Songs and Yarns' and based on anecdotes from WPA Writer's Project interviews in the 1930s. Recording engineer Andy Bradley and wife Gloria Holdman, who runs a management company that handles Sanders, among others, liked the idea so much they formed their very own local label, Green Giraffe, to release the program on CD. Local luminaries like Eric Avenger, Robbie Parrish and Jack Saunders helped out on the session.

And since where there's a CD, there's a release party, Sanders (solo) will be celebrating with a children's show at McGonigel's Mucky Duck on Saturday, October 5. The youth-oriented showtime is 2 p.m., and at press time, there's no confirmation as to whether it's a smoking or non-smoking show.

Every member of local rock band Vice Grip has a pet. So when Gripper James McGee discovered that Harris County is one of only two counties in the U.S. that allows the sale (after a three-day waiting period) of impounded animals to animal-testing firms, he was concerned enough to organize the clumsily titled but well-intentioned "Stop the Sale of Pound Animals Into Medical Experimentation in the Harris County Area" benefit, scheduled for Sunday, November 6 at Fitzgerald's. Here's the deal: doors open at 6 p.m. Objection plays first, followed by Deth Kultur BBQ, Vice Grip, and headliners 30footFALL. The bands are splitting the door 50/50 with Fitz, and all band proceeds go directly to the Houston Animal Rights Team, which recently appeared before Commissioners Court in an unsuccessful lobbying effort to repeal the ordinance that allows the sale of animals for testing. If you've ever had to rescue your dog from the B.A.R.C. holding tank, you might consider the $6 cover charge a fair investment. If you don't have an animal, you'll still be getting a deal on the music.

I Shall Be Released... Musical brothers David (he's the songwriter/singer/guitarist) and Darwin Keys (here playing bass, though you're more likely to have seen him behind the Toy Subs drum kit), have teamed up with drummer Phillip Kidwell as Space Monkey (like I've said before: all the good names must be gone...). And with Galactic Cowboy drummer Alan Doss handling engineering and production chores, they've produced Broke, a nine-song showcase for the younger brother David's Cheap Trick-ish guitar pop tunes. The presentation is kinda weird (the cover shows David looking like Morrissey's haughty valet, Kidwell looking like he just got kicked out of Morrissey's hotel room and Darwin looking sorta embarrassed), but the tunes themselves are pretty damned catchy in a commercially accessible way. The boys will be celebrating the disc's release at Fitzgerald's on Thursday, November 3.

Cassette of the Week, Demo Version: Black Dresses is the name of the band, and it's also the name of the sole song on this tape. Trish Herrera and Diana Ray, formerly of Houston punks the Mydolls, join here with "longtime collaborator" Kathy Johnston and visual artists Sarah Irwin and Jack Livingston to make less noise than so many people would suggest. The song "Black Dresses" is a lilting two-chord guitar stroll with winsome female vocals and not a whit of the aggression the punk pedigree would lead you to expect. The band's painterly element shows up, I guess, in the emphasis on texture over dynamics, but this is, however soothingly, monochrome. It's also just one song, and I hear that a recent gig at the Orange Show pulled an enthusiastic turnout, so who knows what else is up this sleeve.

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