Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cloud Cult and Pela at the Doug Fir

So what does anything you're about to read have to do with food? Nothing at all, but it's my damn birthday so deal with it!

Jenni and I headed out on this 36th birthday evening of mine to see Minneapolis' Cloud Cult at the Doug Fir. I'd heard these guys before, a few months ago (okay, I'm a bit behind the curve here, as these guys have been around since '98, but do I live in Minneapolis? No, I DON'T live in Minneapolis! I can't be on top of everything, people...), and I was keen to see what they could do in person.

I got to the Fir a bit ahead of Jenni, and was lucky enough to catch the last three songs of the opening band, Brooklyn's Pela:

Pela were simply astounding. Just total full on rock. Exactly what a rock band is supposed to be, to my taste anyway. They took ownership of the stage in a way I haven't witnessed since I saw The Sleepy Jackson open for The Polyphonic Spree at the Alladin back in 2002 (I'm no fan of SJ's recorded output, but in person they tear up a room like no band you've ever seen; best opening band since Pearl Jam toured with the Chili Peppers in '92... but enough with the name checking, already). They were very much in their element, and really appeared to be enjoying themselves to the fullest. I can tell when a band is phoning it in. Pela were NOT phoning it in! Great showing from these guys, if the last three songs of their set can be taken as a reliable indicator, anyway. Jenni showed up in time to catch the last 30 seconds of their last song. I wish she'd seen more.

Cloud Cult, on the other hand, were a bit disappointing. Perhaps a little backstory is required before I go any further: Cloud Cult are one of these bands who've latched onto the trend of having a painter working onstage while they play (to be fair, given how long they've been around, they may actually have started the trend). Now I've seen this done before, and to good effect. But Cloud Cult didn't have just one painter. They had two, both very talented, I should add. And they had a cellist, which in the context of a rock band, for me tends to throw a wrench into the works to begin with. And they had very elaborate, digitally projected, psychedelic graphics. Taken together, this was all just too much to take in. The music being itself, a pretty good brand of indie folk/pop, ultimately got lost in all of this. They were trying to be too many things at once, I think. They'd be a good band without the painters. They'd be good painters without the band. The psychedelic graphics would be appropriate at an Allman Brothers show. But put all together, it just didn't work for me.

The paintings, done by Scott West (in the black hat) and Connie Minowa (far right), were auctioned off at the end of the evening. West's painting, an expressionistic rendering of a laughing face oddly reminiscent of Maggie Gyllenhaal, was my favorite of the two. His use of color was violent and dynamic, and pefectly suited his sense of form. Minowa's painting of what appeared to be two sisters lamenting... something was more subtle and haunting, the paint applied in a more patient and layered manner. The fact that these two improvised such works in just about an hour is pretty damn impressive. I just wish I'd had my camera on hand to capture what they'd created. They'd do well to jettison the rest of the band...

5 comments:

Julie Ann said...

Remember we didn't even care if we got there on time to see Pearl Jam because we didn't know who they were?

Happy b-day fellow 36 year old. Wow.

tommy said...

Yeah, I know! Funny...

The Pastry Pirate said...

happy birthday... i made you a cake and ate it, too... and hey! look! i can now post comments on your blog again!! teehee!!

Trisha said...

Hope you had a great birthday!

tommy said...

Pirate-

Glad you have your commenting priveleges back!

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone!