Last weekend was quite busy in terms of arts consumption. Having taken in one movie, one broadway show, and one concert – all excellent in their own ways – I felt stuffed and incapable of ingesting more culture into my already full content-hole. But behold, it’s all digested and now ready to come shooting back out of me in the form of reviews.
The movie? Quentin’s latest, Kill Bill Volume 2. After being mildly disappointed with the first, I came into the second with my expectations lower. This quickly became needless because the movie destroyed my notions of what QT could achieve and constructed new, loftier expectations for all future movies. The only bad thing I can find to say about this movie is that some of the scenes ran long. Outside of that, it was gravy. Particularly standout was Michael Madsen’s performance as Budd, both absofuckinglutely brilliant and nuianced. Go seee it now, and if you skipped the first part, rent (don’t buy) the DVD first so you aren’t lost.
The show? Avenue Q, which we were fortunate enough to see thanks to my parents. The phrase “Sesame Street On Crack” seemed apt after we left; it was brilliant and hilarious and still somehow touching. Standout songs include “What Do You Do With A BA In English / It Sucks To Be Me”, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist”, and “Schadenfreude”. John Tartaglia and Stephanie D’Abruzzo were both excellent in every role they handled. If you ever come to the city on tourism and want to go to a show, this is the one to see.
The concert? The previously mentioned causing-the-shitting-of-bricks Quannum World Tour. Now, I’ll come right out and say this wasn’t as fantastic as I had hoped. The problems with the show were, in my eyes, represented in three seperate “artists”. DJ D-Sharp, while amusing at first, mugged too much and merely added annoyance to the show. The Lifesavas Movement, while decent, were in the end forgettable, and since they were out almost as much as anyone else, it deadened parts of the show. Finally, Gift Of Gab (on his own or as half of Blackalicious) is certainly a gifted rapper, but his delivery was crap live. There were times when he just didn’t seem to be paying attention to the beat and was just spitting the lyrics out as fast as possible.
So what saved the show? Obviously, part of it was DJ Shadow. Shadow’s set was nothing to write home about, as it was good but short. The primary reason he brought it all together for me is because he’s so goddamned focused. Even with 5 MCs and 2 other DJs sharing the stage, he’s got his head to the vinyl, very serious, never mugging for the crowd. He is the eye of the hurricane. (Also, his use of a dvd turntable – surely to be widespread by next year – was a huge bonus.)
But equally stunning was Lyrics Born. Not only did he have the crowd eating out of his hand most of the night, but his vocal range and talent is astounding. I’m going to actively seek out his solo cd because he is just incredible. Do yourself a favor – go to the Quannum website, flip through the records at the bottom of the page till you find the I Changed My Mind single, and play the album version. It’s one of the best hip-hop songs I’ve ever heard.
This weekend, Katie is back in Maryland, so I’m all alone for a few days. I’m planning on playing Beatmania to-de-excess, hitting up the MTR again to finish the programs from last week, and maybe getting some UT2k4 in. We will see.