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LIVE: 3 Shows That I’ll Recall Fondly

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2008 was a pretty decent year between me and my favorite music. I liked a handful of albums, but hardly loved any. (Tim Goldsworthy’s production with Cut Copy and Hercules and Love Affair was probably the one thing that impressed me more than any specific record.)

(left: Kraftwerk, “I couldn’t hold their inaction against them.)

I went to a lot shows and enjoyed many, but rarely walked away dragging my jaw on the ground from amazement. And isn’t that the point of going to shows? To feel like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be during that hour, or so?

The band that made my favorite album of the year couldn’t wow me live. However, bands with albums I was very lukewarm on made me want to spend the rest of my life at their shows. And the many acts I saw multiple times, with the exceptions of Constantines and Jamie Lidell, were noticeably better one time. So it wasn’t quite great, but there’s plenty I’ll remember, especially the three below. They’re not necessarily the best (only so many times I can write “transcendent” about seeing Mavis Staples, plus she’s not exactly indie), but they hold some tremendous memories for me. In chronological order, three shows that I’ll recall fondly:

Magnetic Fields
I didn’t really care for Distortion. It’s a pretty good album with some great songs, but the theme is what dragged it down. After seeing Magnetic Fields perform at the exquisite-sounding Old Town School of Folk Music, there was no way I could ever hear those songs in their recorded form without pining for their undistorted versions. With Stephin Merritt in typical form (read: cranky), Claudia Gonson filled up the time between songs with inane diatribes, but when they actually played music, the band sounded pristine. New songs like “California Girls” and “Zombie Boy” sans distortion fell right in with their old songs such as “I Don’t Believe in You” and “Papa Was a Rodeo.” And in the intimate Old Town School music hall, quiet enough to hear a phone vibrating two rows away, the humor and wit that Magnetic Fields have always honed on stood out just as much as the top-notch musicianship. It was an incredible evening.

I’m pretty lucky to live in a city (Chicago) that thousands of bands tour through every year. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to my town. And when a legendary band is touring within a day’s drive, I get jealous of that city’s music fans and typically decide to go. So, in April, I trekked to Minneapolis for a weekend centered on seeing Kraftwerk. How often does the most influential electronic music group ever tour the Midwest? Not often. Even without founding member Florian Schneider along for the 4-date US tour, the modified quartet didn’t take long to wow the audience with their updated versions of classic songs like “Man Machine”, “Radioactivity” and “Tour de France.” The visually-stunning 100-minute set was highlighted by some added depth and updated arrangements to songs that didn’t need any help but got it anyway for the sake of entertainment. I’m a big fan of performers who are animated, but when a band has spent their entire career personifying mechanics, I couldn’t hold their inaction against them.

You know what’s risky but often carries great rewards? Going to a show by a band that you’ve never heard before, especially one that you have no good reason for never hearing. It’s not like M83 has been hiding under a rock for the last few years. They’re pretty popular, yet I’ve just never listened to them outside of a Pontiac commercial. So when the opportunity presented itself to see them in May, I jumped at it based on past raves of their live show. And, oh, I was not disappointed at all. I can’t name one song that they played that night, but that electronic shoegaze sound thumped through me and put one of those ridiculous “Why haven’t I listened to this before?!” looks on my face. Whether held together by guitars or synthesizers, every song’s numerous layers floored me as my head broke them down. It’s a powerful show that makes you go out and buy a band’s entire discography.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.