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  • Marnie and Me

    5 Nov 2010, 22:56

    Wed 3 Nov – Marnie Stern

    The Echo is hard to find. They don’t even have a sign out front. Also, a big part of my motivation to write this review is due to the title.

    First up, Kill Kill Kill. I couldn't really find any information about them so the most I did was listen to a 30 second preview of their music online.

    First a girl with a pink wig wandered onstage and played guitar with a violin bow. I wasn’t sure if the show was starting or if she was just practicing. She did this for quite a while so people must have started to wonder, “Is this it? Am I being rude by sitting down right now?” since they slowly, awkwardly wandered up to the stage. Then some big hairy white guy with super cool light-up drumsticks wandered up onto the stage. I’m not even sure if he was in the band or not due to the way he crept up there and had this look that said, “Hey, no one noticed that I’m not supposed to be up here.” He took up playing a cymbal with the cool drumstick and pretty much stuck to that the whole time. He was probably nervous about being caught. I think the next person to wander on stage was an Asian guy. He sat behind a full drum kit and played with such purpose that he must have either been in the band or really wanted to. Pretty soon a postal worker out of the crowd caught on to the ad-hoc nature of the band and grabbed a bass guitar that was lying around up there. I assume he was a postal worker, at least, because he wore blue work clothes and really looked like he was getting some anger out up there. This set up left a gaping hole at front and center stage. Realizing this, some tall mountain man from the crowd jumped up there and grabbed a guitar. He played for a while, then noticed a microphone in front of him. He sang for a bit but then, probably due to his inexperience as a musician, stepped on the cord or something and make the mic cut out. If he were in the band he probably would have asked the venue to fix it for him, but instead he kind of played it off as not a problem in order to not get noticed. At some point a guy that looked like someone’s drug dealer uncle sat down stage left and tweaked some knobs, or sent text messages to his clients, it was hard to tell. After about a twenty minute intro, their first and only song began. Which is pretty good considering they hadn’t played together before this. Twenty minutes to get into a groove with a fully new band, heck, that’s actually pretty much amazing. In case you’re still wondering, they seem to have coalesced into a drone band. I hope they exchanged numbers after their set.

    Now for Marnie Stern! Yeah! Woah, check out the double-headed guitar up there! Marnie is going to shred tonight! Wait, what the heck? Electric mandolin, banjo? Another hairy white guy? Is that the same guy? I still don’t know.

    I thought there were going to be only two bands, Kill Kill Kill and Marnie Stern. Nope, there’s another band. This one is much more professional. They’re doing sound checks and whatnot. There’s a buff dude on bass, a Boston-looking guy on banjo, a hippie-ish lady on mandolin, and a thirteen-year-old on drums. That means that nearly 38% of the people in attendance tonight are in one of the bands. But the real star of this set is the huge hairy white man singer with the guitar. He apologizes to Marnie for smoking marijuana in the backroom upstairs, forcing her to vacate it. The mandolin lady replies, “So what? This is California, man!” See? I told you she was hippy-ish. He wears an army helmet and begins belting out desperate rock and roll that makes me think of Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov from Crime and Punishment. He has holes in his jeans, including one right near the taint area (this will not be the first time you hear the word “taint”). It’s rather energetic and endearing bar music and at least one song was about being a failure. It seems to make everyone happy. It makes me want to act like an Irishman in a pub somewhere. Unfortunately I’m not entirely sure what that entails so I stick to leaning against my support pillar. At one point someone says “I love you” to the band, and the mandolin lady replies, “I love you too, man!” That’s my last piece of evidence in the case of this lady being a hippy. Throughout the set the singer mumbles his band’s name. “Thanks everyone we’re Manhattan Cheeseburger Massacre!” Huh? “We’re Manhattan Microwave Massacre!” That’s probably not right... Anyways, the singer got pretty feisty and a few times threw off his helmet. He also got off stage and played on his knees on the floor. A girl from the audience came and put his helmet back on. He later threw it off again. She put it up on stage for him, remarking, “Wow, that’s heavy!” Eventually they got to their last song, “In the Parking Lot.” Amazingly, the singer threw down the mic, rushed through the audience, and exited the building (to the parking lot?) while the band kept playing. Now that’s dedication to the literalness of your lyrics. Of course, a real badass would have just left, gone to a strip club, gotten drunk, and killed a cyclist while driving under the influence. Instead, he eventually came back, which is much more in line with his image as a scruffy, lovable failure. Their name is Manhattan Murder Mystery.

    Alright, finally Marnie Stern! There better not be a third opening band. Hey, Marnie is out on stage setting up all her fancy stuff! YES! It’s fun to watch her interact with her band mates because they seem to share a similar sense of humor and are liable to start laughing if they make eye contact. Marnie is definitely the instigator, though. They're nearly ready to go, they just need to make a few sound tweaks. “Can we get more of his voice in the monitor?” Marnie asks the black abyss behind the audience. She has to repeat the request a few times. The voice of God appears: “I, I’m not getting that.” Even as someone entirely unfamiliar with the configuration of sound for live music, this sounded like an odd response to me. Marnie looks to her bass player with a puzzled expression, then tries to stifle a laugh. I think they gave up on that request and simply moved on. So basically the way the rest of the night went was Marnie would play a song and be really into it and intense and then in between songs would turn into this hilarious bubbly person barely able to contain herself. It started with the bass player asking, “How are you doing small wonder?” to which she replied either, “Empty vagina” or “Dry vagina.” It’s hard to remember which, since she frequently referred to her barren vagina throughout the night. She said she visited her grandmother and that her grandmother has a “pristine vagine” (like vagina, but the way Borat says it). This made her jealous, and she likened her vagina to the arid landscape of Arizona. She told a story of peeing in the dirt and watching the urine make a small river in the sand and wishing her vagina was like that. She was hilariously snappy, too. When the bass player expressed a bit of disgust at her jokes, she fired straight back, “Whatever! You’ve been in a van with me for 99 hours, you know what I’m like!” Several times she mentioned not being kissed by any boys during the tour and that she often ended up playing solitaire in the green room. The bass player kept playing the part of the solid advice man, telling her, “You just gotta keep believing.” Her retort involved something along the lines of, “What? Who is this cool, collected guy?” and then some sort of comment about him being a Jew or something. I think. One thing that surprised me was Marnie’s choice of beverage for the night. Going off of her music, I’d assumed she drank nothing but pure liquid speed. She actually drank a Tecate, I think. That means she’s just naturally insane, which is cool.

    Well it was such fun listening to the banter, I nearly forgot about the music! Of course, it was awesome. I noticed she didn’t have a second guitarist like she did on some YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTbTZDqgt4s) so I was wondering how she would do everything. For a couple songs she pre-recorded and looped her crazy tapping stuff then played the other parts over it, which was way cool! Really, everything sounded good and she played a number of her newest songs. The standout for me was probably The Crippled Jazzer, which sounded super powerful live. I really hope we get some more female guitar virtuosos, or whatever she is, because she uses her skills to make songs, while someone like Yngwie Malmsteen does his best to impress and ends up with something most appropriately used as background music for a monster truck rally radio promo.

    Overall a very fun show. I think I probably still would have gone if she were just doing stand-up comedy focused exclusively on vagina jokes. And she appears to make these jokes frequently. For more, watch Sterogum’s “‘Gum Bowl” (http://stereogum.com/thegumbowl/) I think she says her vagina is “weak” in that. And she’s palling around with Jemina Pearl, which makes for an excellent combination.