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Friday night at Chop Suey

Last night’s original plan was “something fabulous,” with the specifics to be filled when one of us had an idea worthy of the template. Around noon this resolved to “sushi night,” where we make and eat sushi (duh), but then at five changed to “Quasi concert”.

I’d missed my chance to see Quasi at Bumbershoot, at the Modest Mouse concert, having eschewed them because of the opening-opening band principle. The opening-opening band principle, for those unfamiliar, states that whenever a headline act has two opening bands, the first one, known as the opening-opening band, will suck egregiously. It’s like a law of nature. Every law has its exception, though, and everyone present at Bumbershoot told me that I missed out by only showing up in time to hear the Shins (the opening band) play; Quasi (the opening-opening band) gave a very worthwhile performance, as word had it. Accordingly, when Laurel called me yesterday afternoon and invited me to the show, I decided it would be worth twelve dollars to find out if everyone was right.

We showed up at Chop Suey, a much-touted club on Capitol Hill that I’d never been to before, around 8:15, expecting to have to fight for tickets and then to get in. Luckily, the doors were still shut fast, and the line hadn’t begun to move. I found my friend Naomi, along with her friend Cameron and their crew, in back of the line, and added our own quartet of myself, Bryan, Laurel, and her new roommate Abe (he filled Marta’s vacancy).

(A word on the new kids. Abe is goofy, enthusiastic, and shy. He came to the show wearing a striped shirt, lime-green pants, a purple tie, and brown sweater. He loves Quasi, and spent their whole set bobbing and weaving through the steps of his own peculiar, high-energy dance. He’s probably the perfect roommate for Laurel. Naomi is, shall we say, an interesting girl. She’s in my English class, and is one of those rare people who can analyze circles around me without batting an eyelid; she intimidates me sometimes, which isn’t easy for a girl standing at 5’5″ or thereabouts. She’s a hipster, certainly, but falls just short of scenester status. She’s also a freshman, 18, although all her friends seem to be 20 and up. Cameron is one of these, a tall guy with black hair, a hawkish nose, and more-or-less boilerplate indie-rock fashion and tastes. Naomi calls him “Camo,” but admonished me for doing the same. They are, all three of them, my kind of people.)

Eventually we got into the show proper, and I for one was surprised. Chop Suey is decorated in the style of Old China, with incandescent paper lanterns, dragons, and lots of Chinese architectural modes and artwork. I liked the decor, except for the one thing. It was an all-ages show, but they still served alcohol to those of age – a blessing for those over 21 to say the least, but it creates a strange dynamic, especially since the bar and lounge are separated from the rest of the theater with large traffic barriers and a scary-looking bouncer. I felt caged in, like cattle. It’s important to note, however, that these issues didn’t stop me from enjoying a couple beers with Laurel and Bryan.

As for the show itself: I was moderately impressed. Both the opening acts had their charms. The first, Violent Green, defied the opening-opening band principle by not sucking; I found them rather pleasant. They comprise a fifty-ish, white-haired man on keyboards and a thirty-something woman on guitar and vocals. Cameron told me that they’ve been around since the beginning of the Up record label, ten years, and have put out an amazing amount and variety of music in that time period. I’m a sucker for plaintive guitar pieces, so I was sold. Next up was Duster, not to be confused with Guster, who are a semi-up-tempo emo act. They had three guitarists, which is one or two too many in my opinion, but weren’t bad for it. The headliners were, in a word, raucous. A girl on drums and a guy on guitar and keyboard, but not The White Stripes; not by a long shot. The best comparison I can make is a stripped-down Ben Folds – the guy even sounds a lot like him. They are possessed with a frantic, desperate energy on stage, and it seemed like everyone there enjoyed themselves, especially when Sam Coons, said keyboard guy, delivered a personal “fuck you” to nearly every Republican member of the federal government – always a crowd pleaser around our part of the world.

We met up with Kelly and tried partying for a bit after the show, but only with mild success. Partying takes a lot of energy, and it was late at night; the attendees dropped off in pairs and trios until it was me, Kelly, Bryan and Abe on the couch. Then I left. So it goes.

Today I’m doing the typical partied-too-hardy-the-night-before thing: sleeping late, wandering around the apartment, surfing the web, playing guitar, doing laundry. Notice the list doesn’t include “school work,” but with any luck it will, very soon. Well, it pretty much has to very soon.

Two important things: there’s now a 3D picture of me online for your (and my!) viewing pleasure. If you’ve ever read anything about stereoscopy, you know there’s two ways to view images like this one in 3D, referred to as cross-eyed or parallel. The parallel one is the method of the “Magic Eye” book series, where you “look through” the picture. The cross-eyed one is the exact opposite, where you focus your eyes on a point in space between you and the picture. Either way does the same thing: you’re tricking each eye into looking at a separate version of the image independently of one another (rather than both of them looking at one image, like is normally the case), so that your brain will interpret it as 3D. I’ve provided a set of images for both methods; while you’re oohing and aahing over one, you’ll notice the other is reverse-3D, so that my face is concave and whatnot. Give it a try, if you like that sort of thing. Second, have you seen these guys? They’re on the new Quizno’s commercial, which I saw for the first time in Cancun. There’s a whole site of similar works by some very strange Brits, which I suggest you check out.

Also, I have the pictures Kelly took in Mexico on my computer, so you can expect to ogle them in a few days. Cross fingers!

Posted in Musings.

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