by Zohair Hussain
Remembering Lou Reed
I was a few months shy of 16
when I first heard the lucidly stark voice of Lou Reed stream over the
airwaves. I was just another suburban weirdo, looking for a justified rebellion
to call his own. I had spent those “formative years” sleeping around with any
album loud enough to drown out my inner white noise, moving through a steady
stream of Hardcore, Punk, Metal — if
they were screaming it, I was buying it. As it turns out, though, what I was
really looking for was a quieter sort of revolution, and at the helm was Mr.
Lou Reed, telling me with a frank honesty that there was freedom in the
composition. It was, like any great lesson, one I’d come to learn in time. To say I enjoyed those first striking chords of “Heroin” would be an
understatement. It was on a snowy night in 2007, crammed in the back of a
friend's Yaris Liftback, when I first heard it. I can’t remember exactly where
we were previous to that moment, when that raw melody first came in. All I can
remember is how I suddenly became more aware of myself than ever before.
Everything I knew about music, about artistry, about writing — all of it would
change with that first overlap of beautiful melody. I was mesmerized, shaken
from a stupor of conditioned knowledge and thrown into a concoction of John
Cale’s haunting strings with Lou Reed’s candid crooning. By the time Maureen
Tucker’s drumming kicked in, sparse in its reverberation, my resolve would be
just as stripped, replaced by a wily knot that would take years to untie.
Though, right then, the song was just “fucking awesome.”
It would only be years later, waking up to a chilled October morning in 2013,
that this memory would even begin to matter. As the headlines would come to
read, “Lou Reed Dead at 71,” so, too, would the horizon appear most clearly.
I’ve always been a firm believer in the crossover of influences, the
collaboration of mediums in shaping any sort of artistry. As a writer, I can
proudly say that the recorded sound has had just as much influence on me as the
written word. And when I heard the Velvet Underground for the first time, it
became clear that they believed in a similar marriage, affirmed on the morning
of Oct. 27. With the news of the passing of a legend came an onslaught of
anecdotes from around the arts world, plastered against my computer screen. Amidst
the mass of legends, one story stood out in particular.
As according to
Rolling Stone, it was
1965, and the first few months of the Velvet Underground playing under their
iconic moniker. They had began a residency playing in New York’s Café Bizarre
and in the beginning stages of developing their distorted and chaotically
composed sound. Management was set on having performers play more contemporary
numbers, and warned the band not to play their original composition “Black
Angel Death Song.” They went on to perform the number anyway, fit with all the
chilling accidentals in its string arrangements, and were fired immediately.Though they would emerge from that loss victorious (it led to their
introduction to Andy Warhol, the man who would come to produce their record and
put them on the map of the underground art scene of ‘60s New York), there was
something bigger about that moment, something more pressing in my association
Incidentally, “Black Angel Death Song” was the first thing I clicked on Sunday
morning when I heard the news of its writer’s passing. The strings were
suddenly more haunting, and the story seemed all the more important. It was yet
another quintessential moment in the life of Lou Reed, a man who sang with
unbridled frankness, who played with unencumbered passion, and who inspired me
with the tirelessness of his dedication to honest expression. It transported me
back, seven years and a lifetime ago, to that night in December 2007, when I
first pricked my ears with another of his songs, that found, all at once, both
comfort and chaos within itself. Though I’d spend the lapsed time between 2007
and 2013 finding appreciation for the 40-plus years of Reed’s prolific career —
from “Black Angel Death Song” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” through “Satellite
of Love” and “Pale Blue Eyes” and even up until his
Hudson River Wind Meditations — it would always be that
compositions that would stay, forever imprinted in my mind.“Heroin” became, for me, a love song to the in between — it was everything I’d
been listening to up until that point and nothing I’d ever heard before; it was
the sentimentality of Indie Rock, the calm before the double bass in hardcore,
the simplistic, chord interplay of Punk and its cleaner cut cousin Pop. And, at
the same time, it was also the recklessness of avant-garde, the soundtrack to
the colors of an underground New York I’d only experience in preserved murals
and snapshots. It was everything I’d known, and everything I would come to know
about music, about art, about sound and about writing.
There are moments that comprise your past, songs that take you to a memory you
thought you’d left. And then there are moments that define your future, songs
that propel you forward into infinity.
Lou Reed, and what he accomplished before, with and after the Velvet
Underground, stood as a symbol for finding freedom in ones composition, and
pushing the statements made to work in a fashion of success.
It was a lesson I would learn time and time again in my own work, as I moved
through the progression of my writing and my own performance techniques. I
would come to face my own obstacles, fight my own battles against normative
expectations. And it would be in those times I fell the deepest, my resolve
threatening to falter, that this education would come back to me, mysterious in
its origins, all the while growing, like a backbone that stood rigid for honest
experimentation and freedom in the composition.
Even now, as this mystery’s been unearthed, its inductor put to rest, ahead of
me remains miles and miles of still shrouded possibility. But against that wall
of lessons I’ll stand, riveted, staring towards the looming unknown. And I’ll
try for a different kind of kingdom, if I can.
by Belinda Cai
Posted In: Reviews
at 11:07 AM | Permalink
Man Man is
a band that thrives on live performances, aka circus-themed Halloween parties
sprinkled with confetti and a touch of grotesqueness. The five-piece
experimental group has an insatiable flair for the dramatic and is never short
of kooky stage props. This held true at Tuesday’s performance at the Wexner
Center of the Arts, where a sleeping Furby, a werewolf-like skeleton holding a
wig and a colorful glow-in-the-dark drum set augmented the band’s theatrical
Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) dazzled as he frantically played the keys — often
times with his foot, even — and sang with his customary raspy fervor. He was a
shape-shifter extraordinaire, transforming from normal dude to circus
ringmaster of sorts to alien. His manic wardrobe changes were anticipated, as
it is basically a Honus trademark. The rest of the band — Pow Pow, T. Moth,
Brown Sugar, Shono Murphy, as well as talented opening artist Xenia Rubinos — likewise
entertained with lots of dancing and instrumental finesse. All of this is pretty
formulaic for Man Man.
it’s not every day that the audience at a concert gets to share the stage with
the band itself. The show took place in the “black box” space of the Wex’s vast
Mershon auditorium that seats nearly 2,500 people. Guests stood on the stage,
which was blocked off from the rest of the auditorium, to watch the show in an
intimate, tight-knit setting — ideal for moshing and the like.
the concession at show was lacking. There were $1 waters and pops available but
no booze, which perhaps explained why there was little to no moshing. Although
highly energetic crowds and moshing are routine at Man Man concerts, the
Columbus show was just as fun without the raucousness. It had more of a
respectful “in awe” type crowd, which fit nicely with the band’s attempt at
adopting a more mature and refined sound with their new album.
kicked off their set list with “Oni Swan” and “Pink Wonton,” the first and
second tracks off of their recently released album, On Oni Pond. “Oni Swan” is a brief instrumental opener for the
catchy and vibrant “Pink Wonton,” which critics claim most closely embodies Man
Man’s previous musical style.
On Oni Pond was the focal point of the show and
this was made evident by the backdrop that showcased the album art courtesy of
artist Andrea Wan. The band affectionately played tracks such as the sultry
“Paul’s Grotesque,” the boisterous “Loot My Body,” their more relaxed and
heartfelt single “Head On,” “King Shiv” and “Born Tight.” It was apparent that
Man Man embraces its newer, mellower sound, which has a focus on bona fide
lyricism rather than sheer eccentricity.
also made sure to satisfy diehard fans of their previous albums Life Fantastic, Rabbit Habits, Six Demon Bag
and The Man In A Blue Turban With A Face
by playing hits such as “Zebra,” Piranhas Club,” “Mister Jung Stuffed,” “Hurly
/ Burly,” “Doo Right,” “Push the Eagle’s Stomach” and others.
new direction of On Oni Pond, the
overall eccentricity of Man Man was not lost during the concert. In fact, the
band upped the ante in this aspect. Honus came out in a sparkly hooded cloak
during “Haute Tropique,” a song about a serial killer, and proceeded to fling
confetti onto the audience. He did this as he sang, “Oh here's a story of a
lovely lady / Who had three daughters who drove her fucking crazy / She hacked
‘em up with an old machete / And threw a party with dead daughter confetti.”
Grotesque has never been so fun and glittery.
I have to
admit that the best part of the show was the extended encore, during which
Honus came out in an Anderson Cooper shirt that my sister just so happened to
airbrush for him. “I love it. Maybe I’ll actually give it to Anderson,” he said
to her before the show, when she presented it to him. (Yes, my sister and Honus
are acquainted and yes, I am totes jealous.) Honus had a cameo on Anderson Cooper 360° in September in
regard to Man Man’s Wolf Blitzer-themed song, “End Boss.” He appeared on the
segment in a bad ass tunic with Wolf’s face plastered all over it and, hey, it
got Anderson’s attention. What more could one want?So Honus came out for the encore in the Anderson shirt and proceeded to perform
four very popular fan favorites from older albums — “Steak Knives,” “Van
Helsing Boom Box,” “Engrish Bwudd” and “Young Einstein on the Beach.” The first
two songs were melancholic and heartfelt, playing on the emotions of the
audience. The latter two were crowd-pumping, face-melting tracks that
completely changed the atmosphere from somber to vivacious, ending the show on
a high note.
without the booze, Man Man was one hell of a party and a band that is worth
every dollar to see live.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
David Kisor and Tom
Lottman, a composer and researcher,
respectively, work in harmony perpetually crafting a chorus of
“strength-based” education for Growing Sound, a division of Children,
Inc. that produces
children’s songs and music videos to encourage pro-social learning in
the early years of childhood.
by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
New Orleans Hip Hop artist and “Queen of Bounce” Big Freedia was
twerking back when Miley was still “Hannah.” Her booty-shaking anthems like
“Azz Everywhere” command crowds to pop their shit — Cincy was lucky to get a
taste of Big Freedia during the 2011 MidPoint Indie Summer Series. Now that the
world has gotten wind of twerking, completely taken it out of musical context
and become grotesquely obsessed with it, Freedia is here to tell us the true
story of bounce music and booty dancing. Check out the new docu-series Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce
on Fuse debuting Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 11 p.m.
Big Freedia hosted Guinness World Twerking Record dance-off in New York
City Wednesday. Yes, there is now an official world record for “most people twerking at
1:05 - Twerk, Grandma, TWERK!
Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night —
his second major award hosting gig this year (He also filled the role at July’s
Tony Awards). NPH did a fine job, but the skits and monologues were nothing to
write home about. Maybe he needs a break from being the face of every awards
After an excruciatingly long intro monologue (saved barely by the
flawless Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), the night kicked off with the award for Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Nurse
Jackie’s Merritt Wever answered everyone’s prayers by skipping an
acceptance speech altogether to give us a bathroom break (turns out Wever
wasn’t shooed offstage for time considerations as speculated — she was just
nervous, which is adorable).
Veep’s Tony “Buster Bluth Forever” Hale nabbed the Supporting Actor in a
Comedy prize, later reprising his role as the Vice Prez’s bitch boy onstage
when co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy.
Other notable wins of the night:
Anna Gunn (Skyler White, Breaking
Bad) was finally validated with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
after portraying a major love-to-hate character for five seasons. Breaking Bad was also awarded as the
best drama series, because obviously. Side Note: For those unable to watch
Sunday’s Breaking Bad series finale
in real time and all you pathetic chumps still not caught up, social media can
be a landmine of spoilers. That’s why Netflix created the Spoiler Foiler, which censors the tweets in your feed that
contain “breaking,” “bad” or other “danger words.” But until we see the day
when people realize “I can’t believe XX killed XXX” is not share-worthy
commentary, no one is truly safe.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama was full of worthy contenders:
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones),
Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Jonathan
Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut, Breaking Bad)
to name a few. But it was Bobby Cannavale who deservingly took the trophy for
his role as Gyp Rosetti, Boardwalk Empire’s
Season Three villain. As much as I adore the other nominees, Cannavale’s take
on the dangerous, hypersensitive Italian gangster Gyp was a performance to be
James Cromwell won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries for his
role in American Horror Story: Asylum (the show’s only major win, despite
having the most nominations). Cromwell is great in everything from Babe to Six Feet Under, but his role as this sexually repressed mad
scientist was truly chilling.
Finally, The Colbert Report beat
The Daily Show (among others) for Outstanding Variety Series, breaking
Jon Stewart’s 10-year winning streak (although Stewart is actually an executive
producer for Colbert, so he kind of
to see all the nominees and winners.
Richard Simmons (who really seems to be popping up everywhere lately, which I'm loving) got done up in drag to pay tribute to his fave Emmy nominees
(Richard Simmons dressing up like a man can also be considered drag, I
If you needed an explanation for why hashtags are inherently stupid, you
probably have much more pressing problems than those confined to social media.
But thankfully, besties Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake are here to drop
some knowledge. #truthbomb
Because women aren’t perceived as nagging bitches enough, there’s Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train to call out dudes for not minding
their personal space on public transportation. ONLY MEN DO THIS! Including the
one and only Robb Stark, actor Richard Madden.
The American Horror Story:
Coven trailer is here! After AHS’ lineup of signature
teaser videos, we finally get a glimpse of what wicked witchery lies ahead. The
series premieres at 10 p.m. Oct. 9 on FX. (Teasers followed by the first trailer at 3:38)
'Reverberation' exhibit showcases evocative live music photography during MidPoint
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Might a picture be worth a thousand songs? It’s possible that a photograph, as much
as an MP3 player full of tunes or a head full of memories, is the best
way to recall attending a concert by a favorite act. Not just something
shot far from the stage on your shaky iPhone, but rather the kind of
image that an inspired photographer — with media access and lots of
skill — can take up close.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Ok. So, obviously using the word “cool”
to describe something is, in fact, decidedly “uncool,” but that’s not
going to stop us from labeling the following people, places and things
as cool Cincinnati shit of which you should definitely take note.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Events, art and music to jam-pack your fall with coolness.
Dare to experience a bounty of art offerings in Cincinnati — and beyond
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
features countless exciting opportunities to support the arts around the
city (and beyond) in the fields of visual arts, dance, vocal arts and
classical music, theater and film. We encourage you to break out of your
typical routine this season, and this Fall Arts Preview is stocked with
plenty of ideas for your calendar.
Grizzly Bear’s rise in popularity hasn’t swayed the group from continuing to make music they love
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Grizzly Bear is the kind of band that
sneaks up on you. Its atmospheric, richly textured songs take time to
process, its hooks less overt than your typical Indie Rock outfit’s. The
band’s four multitalented members are just as understated in
personality and presentation, all of which makes Grizzly Bear’s steady
upward trajectory somewhat surprising.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Opera is the operative word for June.
Cincinnati Opera kicks off its 93rd season with expanded venues,
programming and some of the hottest singers on the scene.