When I was in Austin for South by Southwest, Little Rock native Jeff Nichols was gracious enough to meet me at Thunderbird, his neighborhood coffee shop, and chat about his third film. Mud opened nationwide last Friday.
So we finally made it to Valley of the Vapors on the fourth night. (Hey, we work, and it’s a drive…) The venue was great — plenty of space, a real stage with wrap-around curtains (tightens sound, keeps those waves from bouncing around), great techie stuff (lights, sound) — just all around kudos. The crowd was mixed (it’s all-ages, with armbands for beer) and there was a healthy mosh pit for half the show.
We got there at 8 p.m., so we came in on the second band, the Svetlanas — a punky thrash rock foursome from Italy that pretends to be from Russia. (All their songs are about the KGB and occasionally, there’s a Russian word tossed in, compliments of the half-Russian singer.) Their sound is reminiscent of early ’80s hardcore, still influenced by the rolling lines and snakey, swaggering rhythms of ’70s rock ‘n’ roll. Their performance was conceptual and theatrical, with a large dose of the magic coming from the gnarly, animated female vocalist. She destroyed the gap between audience and band, jumping into the mosh pit and later offering up her mic during a cover of The Runaways hit “Cherry Bomb.” Think Wendy O. and the Plasmatics with less flash and props.
Thanks for the tapes, and for the tapes of all the bands you influenced. You did well, Alex Chilton…
“Without Chilton no Jayhawks/REM/Mats/Huskers/db’s/Rain Parade/Game Theory/Posies/Teenage Fanclub,” wrote Twin Cities musician and producer Ed Ackerson. “The mind reels… Not to mention no Cramps, Panther Burns, Let’s Active. Chilton showed us how to write pop songs with teeth and anguish. Blurred beauty. Mangled melodicism. Proved guitar pop wasn’t for pussies.”
From Chicago Tribune obit:
“Among the many bands that have proudly cited Big Star as an influence and put their own interpretations on its sounds are Chicago’s Wilco and Material Issue, the dB’s, Teenage Fanclub, the Posies (whose Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow fleshed out the reunited version of the band that has performed over the last decade), Game Theory, Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, the Bangles (who scored a hit with a cover of “September Gurls”), Ryan Adams, Cheap Trick (which covered “In the Street” as the theme song for the sitcom “That ’70s Show”) and of course the Replacements, who went so far as to write a song called “Alex Chilton.”