A Prozac Man, a Harpist, and a Bunch of Sassy Guys play Bowery: Now That's a Motley Crew. - Oh My Rockness

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A Prozac Man, a Harpist, and a Bunch of Sassy Guys play Bowery: Now That's a Motley Crew.

December 16, 2004
Lo-fi D.I.Y. hero Smog, a.k.a (smog), a.k.a. Bill Callahan, has been perfecting depressing music for over a decade. He's a deadpan man -- self-obsessed and armed with a steely confidence in his sparse tales. His baritone seems impenetrable as he delivers song after song rich with pathos. You won't find much humor in him on stage as he's not big on between-song banter. But the music is all the entertainment you need, as his acoustic guitar quiets even the drunkest of drunks in the crowd. His sets have been known to go well past the hour-and-a-half mark as he explores his vast catalog of heartbreak. Friday and Saturday there is little doubt that he will hold the entire Bowery Ballroom in the palm of his calloused hand.

Also playing is 21-year old anti-folk (the new hot term is "freak-folk," but that just sounds mean) harpist Joanna Newsom. Suddenly she is everywhere. Newsom has played shows with similar artists like Devendra Banhart, Cat Power and Bonnie "Prince" Billie (Will Oldham even says she is one of his favorite storytellers). She traditionally opens her intimate sets with a stirring a capella number, highlighting her warbled, Bjork meets Mirah vocals. It's the perfect beginning from a strangely intriguing persona. Newsom, like Smog, is completely engrossing on stage. What's most striking is witnessing her fingers fly on the harp. It's clearly an art-form (the fly-fishing of music) that few can master; yet Newsom undoubtedly owns the instrument of angels and Kings.

Opening is Drag City's Weird War (formerly the Scene Creamers). Prepare for silly, subversive gararge-funk mixed with excitable yelps and lots of jumping around. Fronted by Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, The Make Up, Sassy Magazine's "Sassiest Boy in America"), Weird War undoubtedly belong alongside the lyrical elite. After all, they wrote a song that profoundly touches on the subject of nuclear diarrhea. Eat your heart out Thomas Wolfe.

According to the Bowery Ballroom website, there is a dress code for these shows: a sweater with a knit cap or scarf. Hmmm...

Joanna Newsom, Smog and Weird War play Saturday, December 18th and Sunday, December 19th at Bowery Ballroom.


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