DID YOU READ

Portland’s Five Thingiest Bands

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In a city where bands should be considered on the census, for musicians, simply writing good songs isn’t enough. You need to have a Thing. Whether it’s playing toy instruments or making beats from the sound of crying babies or recruiting your cat as a full-fledged member (foreshadowing!), an extra level of ingenuity is required for bands in Portland to rise above the competition. As you’ll see below, some band’s Things are better than others.

MarchFourth Marching Band

Members: Ryan Moore; Jenny Pancake; Richard Cawley; Dan Stauffer; Alex Yore; Aspen Walker; Dan Herrick; Keith Vidos; Ashley Ward; Andy Sterling; Michael Kennett; Heather McGarry; Topher McGarry; Jason Wells; Katie Presley; Joel Ricci; Daniel Lamb; Chris Long; Taylor Aglipay; Andy Shapiro; Michelle Christiansen; Luke Solman; Robin Jackson; Domonic Britton; Jenny Johnson; Matt Moor; Russ Liquid; BennyMo; Ethan Chessin; Eric Miller; Lesilie Kernochan; Katie Colgan; John Avril; Sid Simpatico; Aaron Lyon; Jeremiah Guske; Amy Hotfield; Scarlett Rose; Faith Jennings; Nayana Jennings; Jen Forti; LaTisha Strickland; Nathan Wallway; Aaron Levin; Alex; Eric Quist; StarChadStar; Kevee Balmer; Michael Taluc; Marnee Benson.

Sounds Like: Gogol Bordello’s Traveling Circus.

Their Thing: Fusing a funky, New Orleans-style brass band with a whole host of other sounds, then welding it to a Cirque du Soleil-like spectacle, complete with dancers and stilt-walkers.

Thing Score: 4 (out of 5). Making a scene will always get you noticed in this town, and M4 can make a scene like no other.


Ninja

Members: Throat Rot; Ysan; Christo Bas; Roku; Explorer.

Sounds Like: Heavy, technically proficient, larynx-burning metal.

Their Thing: Dressing like ninjas.

Thing Rating: 3. While Ninja goes all-in with the theme—concealing their identity, creating a whole origin myth—it’s hard to imagine true ninjas playing something so loud, given their stealth and ability is drawn from having zen-like calm. Real ninjas are probably into more loungey, chill-out, downtempo type stuff.


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(Photo by Derek Dahms)

DRATS!!!

Members: Alex Gall; Yoon; Q; Maddog; Chairman; Chad Deitchley.

Sounds Like: Something akin to an Oingo Boingo-Dead Kennedys supergroup covering the Mothers of Invention.

Their Thing: In 2006, the band released “Welcome to New Granada,” a rock opera based on the film “Over the Edge.”

Thing Rating: 2. DRATS!!! has established itself as one of Portland’s zaniest institutions, so nothing it does could be considered a true Thing, no matter how off-the-wall. Insanity is just its style. Now, if it put out a concept album about “Over the Top,” then we can talk about that rating.


mARMITs

Members: Um…not available?

Sounds Like: I’ll pass this over to my friend and colleague, AP Kryza, who wrote of the band a couple years ago, “Did Frank Zappa accidentally eat the brown acid and have an Eraserhead baby? If not, how the hell did Marmits happen?”

Their Thing: Masks and costumes apparently purchased from a Troma Studios garage sale.

Thing Rating: 4. Really, when you make music as frighteningly obtuse and purposely polarizing as mARMITs, you need a good Thing to have any audience at all. Looking like an acid-fried Slipknot and talking like creatures from an ’80s Jim Henson movie is a good Thing.



(Photo by Tarina Westlund)

Portland Cello Project

Members: Justin Kagan; Skip Von Kuske; Gideon Freudmann; Anna Fritz; Allegra M; Sonja Myklebust; Galen Cohen; Kevin Jackson; Douglas Jenkins; Ashia Grzesik; Samantha Kushnick; Robert Brooks; Brian Bruner; Emma Wood; Collin Oldham; Melissa Bach; Sarah Young; John Whaley; Jen Harrison; Teagen Andrews; Jourdan Paul; Jill Coykendall; Leander Star; Elise Blatchford; Matt Berger; John Vecchiarrelli; Rachel Blumberg.

Sounds Like: Your favorite songs, made safe for your grandma.

Their Thing: Adapting everyone from Britney Spears to Kanye West to Pantera to cello.

Thing Rating: 5. If you could see how crazy everyone around here gets whenever the PCP cello-izes a new hip-hop or pop hit (which is a lot), you’d understand why their Thing is the best Thing going in Portland.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.