Bringing on the Weekend.

8 07 2012

Class Actress @ Town Ballroom

There are a handful of bands that must be seen live in order to receive the full effect of their music. After last night’s show, I have no choice but to include Brooklyn’s noir-pop trio, Class Actress, amongst them.

I was unfortunately too young to truly enjoy the 80s in any other way than vicariously through my older half-siblings and cousins. The music. The big hair. The fashions. I remember it vividly but the memories, themselves, don’t belong to me. Enter Class Actress whose first full-length LP, Rapprocher, was released back in October 2011. Upon first listen, there is no denying that the music of Class Actress hearkens back to a time when MTV was flooded with the pulsating beats of synthpop and folks like Pet Shop Boys, Gary Numan, Thompson Twins, Flock of Seagulls, Tears For Fears, and Depeche Mode ruled the roost. It felt like this wonderful era of decadent music left us an aural time capsule to unearth when we were in need of a reminder about what good music should sound like.

The evening of July 7th, 2012, saw them take to the stage at Buffalo’s Town Ballroom in support of Sleigh Bells (who I had previously seen back in 2010 at Mohawk Place). Elizabeth Harper took to the stage with her band as the epitomized physical embodiment of her music. A beautiful hybrid of Laura Branigan/Ally Sheedy/Tiffany. Her hair voluminous and draped over the shoulders of a long-sleeved white button down shirt with uncuffed French cuffs that started off underneath a black blazer. As she danced from one end of the stage to the other, you could easily envision Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall dancing along to that very same music after-hours at Prince and Company.

“Come on, Buffalo… it’s Saturday night… let’s do this right!” Elizabeth would say as the group segued into their single, “Weekend.”

And in case anyone in the crowd was too naive to pick up on the flood of 80s deliciousness that Class Actress was dishing out, the set ended with Ms. Harper yanking her keyboard from its stand and playing it like a keytar. Stellar!

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Saturday Night Nostalgia.

10 04 2012

This past weekend was spent in with my family in Boston. In between playground visits, comic book signings, a visit to Harvard, and an Easter Egg hunt, Will and I managed to catch up with some of our childhood friends on Saturday night.

Chris Parker and co.

"She's got the baby-sitting blues..."

Chris Parker and Ryan Lynch were the first to arrive. It had been a long time since Chris and I were in touch and the last I heard, she was attending the University of Chicago and she and Ryan were still together and very much in love. Who wouldn’t fall very much in love with Ryan? He’s charming, sensitive, and warm-hearted. Alterior motives aside, it takes a special kind of guy to drive from the city to the suburbs just to return a rollerskate to a child that he barely knows. It turns out that Chris received her MEd and shares a loft with Ryan in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood. We had to chuckle at the notion of her going into the education field considering her infamous baby-sitting-gig-gone-awry.

Ryan excused himself to take a call from their dog-sitter (he and Chris have two Welsh corgis named Thor and Handsome John) just as Sara Anderson arrived looking like she fell out of the pages of an Urban Outfitters catalog. She had certainly grown up from being the little girl with the Asgardian helmet and Gizmo backpack. To our delight, we learned that she had continued to pursue her passion for drawing and eventually pencilled her own independent graphic novel based on the Chris’ pseudo-botched night in charge. She met her girlfriend, Darcy, at Chicago Comic-Con and the two of them are the proprietors of The Enchantress’ Lair, a comic book shop/cafe/performance space. A launch party was hosted at the store for the release of Sara’s graphic novel which may or may not have included an impromptu performance of “The Baby-sitting Blues” when Chris arrived to offer her congratulations.

Before the three of them left for the evening, I had to ask Chris about her old best friend from high school. It turns out Brenda finally managed to successfully run away from home and was last seen operating a hot dog food truck in Manhattan. In case you were wondering, she doesn’t accept checks.

The next guests at our little reunion were Jake Ryan and Samantha Baker-Ryan. To my surprise, they went against the stereotype of high school romances not lasting. After conversing for a while, we learned that Jake was a corporate attorney working at his father’s firm and Samantha was a stay-at-home mother to their four children. They were still close friends with “Farmer” Ted. In fact, he was their weekend baby-sitter. Thankfully, Ted has the entertainment factor built directly into his geek gene and the children adore him. Jake and Samantha were truly living a blissful, upper middle-class, suburban life… complete with a two-car garage and white picket fence.

Close your eyes.

"Close your eyes..."

Like most high school friends/acquaintances, the couple lost touch with Caroline Mulford after graduation. Jake jokingly commented that she was lucky that the Sinead O’Connor/buzzed head look came into style not long after the unfortunate pruning of her hair to free her from a door jam. Apparently, when you’re intoxicated, simple actions like opening a door are completely lost on oneself.

While Samantha regaled Will with the list of men that her sister Ginny had since married and divorced since leaving the “oily variety bohunk”, I took a quick call from Mercedes Lane. She had the night off from dancing at The Shanty (a club in Los Angeles that is as glamorous as the name insinuates). “It seems like all your old friends are coming out of the woodwork tonight,” she said after I mentioned who had stopped by that evening.

Mercedes Lane

Mercedes Lane

She and Les Anderson stopped seeing each other not long after they started. In the end, they really didn’t have much in common other than a love for mega-hold hair care products. When she said that, I could practically see her sitting in her small L.A. studio apartment, hair teased, frayed denim skirt on, and rocking a faded Guns N’ Roses tour t-shirt. For Mercedes Lane, the 80s never died. How could it with a name like Mercedes Lane and a career at a strip club called The Shanty?

It really was a fantastic Saturday night. These were the childhood friends that kept me company when I was sick, entertained my friends and I at slumber parties, and taught us that your bangs can never be too high nor your jeans too pinned. They were the friends that remind you of a time when the most stressful decisions in life revolved around which folders to keep in your Trapper Keeper.

Tangerine

Tangerine... flashy and trashy

I’ve already begun digging through my old contacts from way back when to see who I should reconnect with next. I’ll have to let Will know about the rumors buzzing around the fashion circuit that Tangerine is looking to reignite her “flashy and trashy” apparel line. Something tells me that Dodger and his pals won’t be her sweat shop workers this time around.