Noir City Nightclub

Last weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse, the first annual Noir City KC film festival took place.  The event featured a set of classic film noir flicks, entertainers, musicians and cinema noir stars like Peggy Cummins. She is most well known for her performance in Gun Crazy.  The musical entertainment for the evening featured the Laura Ellis, the Latenight Callers and burlesque performer Evie Novelle.

Here’s some images from the nightclub event at the Chesterfield:

Click for more Latenight Callers


Click for more Evie Lovelle


The entire Noir City group. Click for more.


For this and other great local music events, head over to KC Live Music Blog

“You Won’t Believe What You’ll Do”- The Disingenuousness of Pharrell’s New Video

Before the excoriation and finger-wagging begins, I want to genuinely praise Pharrell Williams. Forget the legion of hits he’s produced in the last 20 years with partner Chad Hugo as part of the Neptunes. In the past year alone he’s lent his silky croon to colossal hits “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines,” unleashed a firebreathing cleanup verse in “Move That Dope,” manned the boards with Hans Zimmer for the Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack and dominated the Billboard charts with the Oscar-nominated “Happy.” If the time from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 was all we had to judge Pharrell on, his discography would still be unassailable.

What Pharrell should be criticized for is the bizarre “pro-woman” campaign that’s accompanied sophomore LP G I R L. Before the album had been released, Pharrell spoke to GQ about the “Women and girls, for the most part, (who) “have just been so loyal to me and supported me.”” The stylized album title then was Pharrell’s way of paying tribute to members of the opposite sex that had helped him out so much.  What Pharrell seemed to be forgetting in his tip of the Dudley Do Right hat was using the word “girl” infantilizes those heroic women who had helped him along the way. If you’re a man reading this, ignore the “would you call your mother this?” test and think about it this way: if a woman consistently referred to you as a “boy” wouldn’t it start to rankle you? I know it would me. The word “boy” connotes a doe-eyed naivety I’d like to think I’ve pushed past. Boys and girls are people who don’t know better; with minds that worry about things like lunch and the time until recess. When you insist on using either to describe someone who has reached adulthood, all you’re saying is their mind is set to childish.

If Pharrell’s facile campaign had stopped there, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Only when he released the video for the clattering funk of “Come Get It Bae” did I find myself compelled to write something. The song itself is undeniably catchy, with rallying handclaps that recall “Iko Iko” and strutting guitar Pharrell might’ve swept up from the floor of the “Get Lucky” sessions. I wish it was left there and we never had to see Pharrell’s grand cinematic vision for G I R L‘s third single. Instead what we as viewers are provided with is the zenith of Pharrell’s ludicrously mixed message. In red block lettering recalling “Blurred Lines,” the words “BEAUTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE” dominate the first frame of the video. By itself, that kind of hokey “Dove Real Beauty” message is blandly inoffensive. The problem is with who Pharrell trots out to “prove his point.” “None of them boys know the first thing about your fantasy,” he assures a parade of under-40 women from his director’s chair. The supposed lack of a black woman on G I R L‘s cover is “replaced” by the absence of a woman who has made it past her fourth decade on Earth.

Now I understand when you’re casting a video you go with the best, most qualified candidates. It is part of the reason I took offense to the controversy that swirled around the casting for Arcade Fire’s stunning “We Exist” video. In the clip, which premiered in late May, Amazing Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield plays a young person struggling with gender identity while living in a small town. For an excruciating six minutes, Garfield’s character is leaving home in women’s clothes and getting into fights at the local watering hole. Ultimately Garfield’s unnamed character steps on-stage with Arcade Fire at Coachella and finds a “home.” When Against Me!’s lead singer Laura Jane Grace saw the video she took to Twitter “Dear @arcadefire, maybe when making a video for a song called ‘We Exist’ you should get an actual ‘Trans’ actor instead of Spider-Man?” Grace (formerly Thomas James Gabel) has been open about her own personal battles with gender dysphoria and was understandably upset about the exclusion. I don’t share her same frustration, a. because I’m not transgendered myself and b. I believe Garfield gave a real portrayal of an extremely disenfranchised minority. The women in “Come Get It Bae,” through no fault of their own, fail miserably in conveying the agelessness of beauty. There isn’t even an attempt made to capture beauty in its twilight years. No pieces of flab, no grey hairs, and zero wrinkles are shown as striking women nod in approval to the luridly repetitious “come get it bae.”

Not that I personally mind lurid come-ons in R&B. The Weeknd has staked an entire career on being a hedonistic lecher. In “High for This” he’s coaxing a woman into popping ecstasy to have better sex. “Enemy” has him doing his horrifying best to make a lover into a rival. Elsewhere in the Indie R&B circuit, Miguel begged “tell me that the p**** is mine,” in “P**** is Mine,” and came away with one of 2012’s most beautifully desperate songs. The difference between those two and Pharrell is they weren’t trying to mask their material as The Second Sex. They understood misogyny was under-girding their material, because men can be misogynistic. They know they don’t deserve applause for telling a sad truth and they’re not looking for any. Despite his assertion being a “feminist” is an impossible aspiration, Pharrell’s seeking credit for wearing the sheep’s clothing of one. The whole thing is remarkably disingenuous, telling women they can go their own way while ensuring what they need in their life is Skateboard P. “You won’t believe what you’ll do,” he insists in his feathery voice. What’s significantly harder to believe is that Pharrell thought any of this could be uplifting.


“Rooney Mara”- L3thargic1

“Harsh” is how Hannibal, MO electronic-artist Lethargic1 tags their second EP Towns on Bandcamp. Seeing the adjective appear next to the word glitch, I innately suspected Crystal Castles levels of brutality to come hurling out of my laptop speakers. I was primed to turn down the volume before the song had even begun.

But that action isn’t at all necessary for Towns’ lead-off track “Rooney Mara”. In fact if you dialed down the volume a smidgen, you may not hear anything at all. Opening on confident but not overly brash drum machine taps, the track quickly segues into spaced-out skips with enough room to lie down in. It’s restful music and sleep is one of the first things I think of when I hear “Rooney Mara”. The way L3thargic1 blurs individual glitches together resembles a dream where you miraculously go from point A to B without remembering a single action along the way. And like any good dream, “Rooney Mara” is over much too quickly and you’re left wishing for it to return.

(Towns is available for download now through L3thargic1’s Bandcamp page now as a “name your price” album.)