Geezer Pleaser 

Wednesday, Oct 30 2002
Photos by Gregory Bojorquez

at the Troubadour, October 24

When a sold-out show has a will-call line a block long, you know the buzz behind the Streets is industry-fueled, not spurred by heads swapping demo tapes. Well, you can bloody well believe the hype. The Streets, a.k.a. 22-year-old rapper Miky Skinner, is the first white British MC to be taken seriously. The reason, a chipper B-girl confided, is not because "he's their answer to Eminem." Unlike Slim Shady's self-obsessed spazz, Skinner's appeal lies in his status as a "geezer," an ordinary bloke biding time on the dole, and without preying on upper-class guilt, he calmly invites you into his world "to kick back and open up your sack."

Production- and lyricswise, the Streets' brief set from Original Pirate Material was real-time and raw, two-steppy synth shards popping that much harder with a live drummer and bassist. "Do you know [U.K.] garage? It's heavy," a DKNY-T-shirted and ball-capped Skinner bellowed between pithy, conversational verses -- a brand of flow less about pyrotechnics than dispensing nuggets of hard-earned wisdom. The chorus of Pirate's lead single said it all: "Geezers need excitement/If their lives don't provide it, they incite violence/Common sense, simple common sense." Chain-smoking Benson & Hedges and sipping on stout, Skinner rocked it like a karaoke session with his mates at the neighborhood pub, especially when, in the middle of "Let's Push Things Forward," he segued wildly into the Specials' "Ghost Town" and finally broke into that irritating Nelly song.

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"Booooo -- that means good," said the Streets, translating cockney patois for the novelty-hungry hiperati. "What's good about L.A.? Silicon, yeah?" He was joking, but you got the feeling that, 5,000 miles away, the dreary housing-council tenements never seemed so much like home.

at the Palace, October 25

The rock-star status of DJs on tour has resulted in countless disappointments as the jocks give us what we want (hits) instead of what we need (a musical journey). Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and Paul Oakenfold all fell into this trap in Los Angeles stops over the last year. But Deep Dish, the Washington, D.C., duo most responsible for today's fusion of house, techno and progressive, really did it this time, and the effect was sublime.

The Palace was electric with beautiful people as Ali "Dubfire" Shirazinia got behind the turntables and programmed the sound of filtered jet engines for his midnight introduction. Shirazinia stayed cool and rinsed one of the pair's first-ever productions, 1994's "The Dream," a pure house jacker that said Get ready for takeoff. From here on, the floor was hip-to-hip and never let up. Hats off to "the light guy" who was killing with on-beat blasts of gorgeous pastels and white heat; mixing was crisp, and the house music chugged like a Mississippi steamboat as Dave Gahan's voice floated over twisted, evil bass lines. Sharam Tayebi took over the turntables at 2:07 a.m. and lifted the venue in Herculean fashion, blending in a sizzling progressive redux of Foreigner's "Urgent" ("You stay up, you won't come down/You wanna live, you wanna move to the sound" -- rock & roll!).

Of course, soon there was TVP -- Typical Vocal Progressive, an affliction facing the dance scene that pairs sweet but unimaginative lyrics with tribal drums and rolling breakdowns. Based on the success of Deep Dish's Grammy-winning remix of Dido's "Thank You," it was a formula many in the audience came to hear. No thanks. On balance, however, the duo came through with steady rocking house and elevating unreleased tracks, vibing the hyper locals like lion tamers and, for the most part, avoiding the typical cover jock's song and dance. (Dennis Romero)

at Hotel Cafe, October 25

Patrick Park's left hand looks like a spider doing yoga, contorting into horrid shapes as it moves along the fret-board. It's hypnotizing. The shocking chord progressions he forces from his acoustic guitar convey more than sound; Park's love of sound reverberates through everything he plays, giving his music a special, sacred intelligence. A Colorado native, Park writes songs born from personal tragedy, but his songwriting philosophy is akin to that of his pop heroes, the Zombies: "I will triumph over this shit with the prettiest music you ever heard. Key changes and crazy chords and time changes will save the world!" (He glides between 4/4 and 6/8 on "Nothing's Wrong" like it's no big thing.)

Park's show at the Hotel Cafe last Friday was sparsely attended, with some cloth-ears even leaving in the middle ("See you guys," Park said affably as they walked out). Somehow, it only made the show feel more, you know, exclusive, secret and important. Park had trouble tuning his guitar, apologizing repeatedly ("I'm fucking tone-deaf tonight") and made a few boo-boos while playing. It didn't really matter. In fact, Park has a way of using his weaknesses to his advantage. If anything, he sings above his natural range, letting his voice grow thin and even break at times, to lovely effect. Park also has a refreshingly unpretentious stage manner: He just stands there, hardly moving, singing his songs with his head thrown back, as if that were enough. It is. (Kate Sullivan)

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