Tag Archives: toro y moi

“Take Me With U” : A Screening of Purple Rain

5 May

prince-purple-rain

 

Going through Prince’s catalog on Tidal (I finally broke down and got the free trial–you already know I’m canceling that shit on the 29th day) evokes the feeling of going through my mom’s photo albums when I visit her on the holidays.

It is hard not to think of the outrageous leather pants and fish net shirts that my mom and aunt used to wear back in the 80’s. My uncle was a guitar playing, motorcycle riding, martial arts freak, so naturally he was a Prince fan. There weren’t many people in my family who didn’t at least own a copy of Purple Rain on vinyl or cassette.

When I was academically ineligible for high school baseball my sophomore year, I would come home from school, fix a sandwich, and listen to the A side of the 1999 album (Let’s Pretend We’re Married and Delirious were my jams).

What I remember most about going to see the first installment of the “Batman” series (directed by Tim Burton), was stopping at Sam Goody (remember those?) and grabbing the soundtrack on cassette.

My parents were never shy about exposing me to anything as a young child (refer to my write-up on American Werewolf of London), and revisiting all these old songs from my childhood is like hearing them for the first time. As an 11-year-old, I listened to what felt and sounded good–things like lyrics and production meant very little to me. Listening to the man’s music now as an adult , it is so easy to pick up on the influences he had on

a) light-skinned dudes (I can see why the 80’s were ruled by light skinned bruthas–with the emergence of Drake and Steph Curry, there may be a resurgence of that era)

b) hipster bands like Wild Nothing, Of Montreal, and Toro Y Moi

and c) Beck (Midnight Vultures was pretty much a Prince homage).

It was really easy to take his contribution for granted because I grew up listening to him.Every member of my family actively followed his career. Let’s be honest, unless you were a hard-core fan, or a music scholar (which I’m not) it was easy to sleep on his stuff after the mid 90’s–by that point he was making music for himself. To be even more honest, by the time I was in my late teens, there were a lot of males like me who thought he was a little strange (harmless–but it wasn’t like all the homies piled up in the car and drove downtown jamming Prince).

His death shook me up so much, because I happened to take off from work because of a bad dream I’d had the night before. I’d dreamt I was in a two seated plane with a friend who’d never flown before, and we were crashing. I was frantically trying to unbuckle my seat and jump out of the plane. The dream itself was so unsettling that I went online and requested a substitute teacher for the day. Then I  went back to sleep.

It was only after a few hours of running errands, that I’d come home to have lunch, had checked twitter to see my timeline flooded with tweets mired in disbelief. I wasn’t the biggest Prince fan. I don’t own a single CD of his, and it has been years since I’ve watched or listened anything by him that wasn’t played at the club or on the radio. The “Prince” sketch on The Chappelle Show isn’t even in my top 10 of his sketches. But I have to admit that the news stung a little.

I immediately wanted to call my aunts and uncles, and I even picked up the phone to shoot a  few texts, but for some reason decided not to do so. I wasn’t even planning on writing anything about him, having been removed from anything he’d been doing for so long. A phenomenal thing happened after his death though, throughout the country, movie theaters began screening  his first feature film, “Purple Rain” in his honor.

There was a showing of it at the local art house cinema here in town, and I made sure to get a nap so I would be able to stay up late enough for the 10 pm show. I’d seen the movie as a kid of course on Beta Max and VHS,of  course, but seeing it on the big screen seemed like the way to go.

It didn’t disappoint either. Don’t get me wrong, some of the dialogue was definitely corny and overdone, but how many 80’s movies aren’t guilty of this? It was pretty crazy seeing Clarence Williams III (Sampson from Half Baked) in the movie, playing his father. There is a sense of self-awareness at times– like it knows that a bit may fail, but they go for it anyway (a fearlessness that many 80’s movies share) . The close up shots (evocative of fans from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour) during the opening montage are dynamite and hilarious.

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There were some uncomfortable moments for sure. The scenes where groupies are getting smacked around or thrown in dumpster are hard to watch. But there are plenty of redeeming moments. Morris Day and his flunky Jerome, bring a much-needed levity to the movie with their tongue in cheek interactions (there is even a nod to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” bit written into a scene). “Let’s have some asses wigglin’ I want some perfection!” was easily the funniest line of the movie (“Don’t get my seat wet” may be the next funniest). I died laughing,and guiltily giggled well into the next scene.

let-s-go-crazy-and-obsessively-re-watch-prince-s-purple-rain

The hypnotic scene of the movie may have been,  when the Revolution took the stage to perform “The Beautiful Ones.” It was mesmerizing watching Prince sing this to Apollonia as Morris Day is trying to wine and dine her. It clearly unnerves her as the song climaxes with Prince screaming emphatically,”Do you want him? Or do you want me? Cuz I want you!”

It seems counterintuitive to think that Prince, who has been known for so long as “that dude” could ever be in a place to write such a vulnerable song. Even at such a young age, Prince understood how beautifully attractive people allowed themselves to become callous and careless.

The movie of course ends on a high note. After a series of heavy events in the film, the final performance, a medley of Purple Rain, I would Die 4 U, and Baby I’m a Star had people in the theatre dancing in their seats.

Seeing this movie put in perspective just how big he was (at the time) and how big he would become. The end of the movie is his Chuck Berry moment. He was the Jimi Hendrix of my parents generation. He was to black people what David Bowie and Elvis were to whites.

The sad thing is, that he was such a semi-recluse for so long, that I’d forgotten how much of a pioneer he was. The man was a true artist. He wasn’t afraid to stir the pot, and he didn’t burn out. He lived his life according to his own terms. Although it is sad that the world lost one its brightest and most enigmatic artists, on the bright side, he has left us so much to consider about life, art, and music.

I’ll be in Minneapolis this summer, and my buddy doesn’t know this, but he and I are taking the unofficial tour that we should have taken during my visit last summer. I’m not even one-tenth of a fan as many die hards out there, and I’ve never had the desire to see him live, or meet him. But I can’t think of a more appropriate way to pay homage to the Artist Formerly (and Forever) Known as Prince, than going to see Purple Rain. It was a pretty unique experience.

 

BM

Geeking out on Les Sins

3 Jan

And a Happy New Year to you all.

Thanks Vision

7 Nov

Last night I found myself at the Granada with a 15 dollar ticket to see Toro y Moi.

For as good of a band they are, they are still kind of an underground secret.

The place was packed with a vast collection of Lawrence bros and hipsters.
The band threw down from the very first note, but I was extremely unnerved by the lack of dancing at the show (and the awful bro/ho ratio). It was hilarious watching a crowd full of hyper masculine dudes resist dancing to some ultra funky grooves. It was almost like they were afraid of letting go and appearing “gay”.

I started out in the very back of the crowd and finally after 3 songs decided I was going to go up front and dance. I fished my way up to the stage where only a smatter of people actually were grooving. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. What in the name of Andrew Wiggins were these people here for if not to dance? The lifeless looks on their faces was confusing. I know I was back in the midwest but this had to be the stiffest crowd I’d ever seen at a live show. I could only imagine how it looked from up on stage. Were we not in the best college town in America? Was this not a chance to celebrate how lucky we were to be able to share this experience? Maybe it was the depressing layout of the theater (no seating and loads of concrete–the Dallas Grenada is far superior) Or was I a little too fucked up on mushrooms?

I don’t know. But I knew I had to show these cats some love. I appreciated them coming to play here in Lawrence, Kansas of all places. I was going to dance and if someone got bumped into it was because they were out of rhythm.

I didn’t think I was high enough until the music started, but by the time they went into Divina, I knew I was peaking. I was drenched in sweat from the constant dancing– I couldn’t stay still for one single note. This was the third time I’d seen Toro y Moi this year and it was amazing just how much tighter they’d gotten since the last time I’d seen them in March at SXSW.

They were feeling it too. You can tell they are locked into a groove. Even old Chaz had let his hair grow into a beautiful fro that I could only be jealous of. They are ready. I had danced so much that by the last 3 songs I felt exhausted. My limbs were moving by sheer rhythmic instinct.

It was an incredible show. It is unbelievable that it was only a 15 dollar ticket. I’m certain that the next time they tour, Toro y Moi will be playing in bigger venues for a higher price. And as long as there is room to dance and the speakers and sound system can handle their music, then it will be worth it.

Enjoy your Summer

26 Jun



Toro y Moi

2 Feb

This is what we men like to affectionately call “Panty-dropper” shows.

I can’t wait for the show tonight