Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reckless Eyeballing

I thought the Pere Ubu performance was a successful meld of music and film. The band performed instrumental versions of Ubu songs ranging from the first album to the most recent, 2006's excellent Why I Hate Women. David Thomas didn't sing, as far as I could tell. He occasionally triggered samples from a computer. Some of these were humorous, such as a voice paging "Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine" during hospital scenes.

The music was well-suited to the movie. Some of it was conventional rock, used to stirring effect during the climax of the film, when Ray Milland recklessly flees Las Vegas, chased by a helicopter. The title track from The Modern Dance was performed during a party scene when Milland realizes that he can see through the dancers' clothes. Pere Ubu is still capable of an uncompromising electronic squall, often used during the surreal scenes of Milland's visual disorientation.

David Thomas introduced the film by describing his love of "sci-films" and citing their influence on the "third generation" of rock musicians. He also mentioned the theory that there is a lost ending to X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes. The film ends suddenly, and some fans believe that another scene was shot. Thomas said, "Roger Corman has always denied this, but I think he's wrong." David Thomas clearly loves this era of B-movies, and it would be wonderful if Pere Ubu carries out his wish to perform a musical underscore to the eerie cult film Carnival of Souls.

Pere Ubu's performance appeared to be well-attended. I briefly sat next to Bradford Cox near the front, but the band's equipment blocked my view of the screen, so I moved further back and ended up sitting behind one of the dudes from Mastodon (or someone who wears the same style of beard). I think I saw at least one Black Lip (or someone with a very similar mustache). But the big thrill for me was not all this local celebrity facial hair: it was seeing David Thomas in person. There was the man who sang "Final Solution"! The voice of Rocket from the Tombs! The dancing behemoth in Urgh! A Music War! After the end of the show, I saw him smoking a cigarette behind the theater. I thought about approaching him to say how much his music had moved me when I first heard it as a teen, and how impressed I was with the most recent Pere Ubu album. But I imagine he often hears this type of mush, and it looked like he wanted to be alone.


At 3/26/2008 11:44 AM , Blogger PCarino said...

Sounds awesome. Is this going to tour the States?

(also: Ray Milland can do no wrong.)

At 3/26/2008 2:25 PM , Blogger Mold Prince said...

Thanks for the review.

I had a ticket to this last night, and I just forgot the date. Simple as that...and I missed an epic show.

I was devastated.

I saw Rocket From the Tombs at the drive-in couple of years back, so at least I can say I've seen David Thomas before...

I just can't say I've seen him twice.


At 3/27/2008 7:12 AM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Not to rub it in, sir, but you did indeed miss an epic show. And it doesn't appear to be part of a tour, but rather something that Pere Ubu has performed on occasion over the last few years. You can check the calendar at

At 3/27/2008 8:57 AM , Anonymous James said...

There is a fascinating current of b-movie love that traveled through the 70's Ohio punk scene. It ran from Ghoulardi (the host of horror movies on Cleveland television in the 60's, who probably warped a generation of future local weirdos), through Pere Ubu, Devo (the "Are We Not Men?" phrase came from the 1932 Island Of Lost Souls film), the Cramps and Michael Weldon (originally a member of the Mirrors, later the publisher of the terrific Psychotronic Video magazine and books).

At 3/27/2008 9:26 AM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Wow! I didn't know that the Psychotronic guy was in the Mirrors. Thanks, James!

At 3/27/2008 2:52 PM , Blogger grigorss said...

I cannot express the magnitude of awesomo-sity that would be emitted if Pere Ubu were to perform an "underscore" to Carnival of Souls -- definitely worth seeing if you haven't -- It's like the best Twilight Zone episode ever that Rod Serling never made. Also, Ghoulardi did indeed "warp a generation of future local weirdos"; most significantly his son, Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood. Yes, it's true -- he is "The Son of Ghoulardi"! Didn't know Weldon was in a band though -- truly The Psychotronic Guide is the Bible for all Trash/Exploitation filmmaking. Obviously a man of many talents.

At 3/27/2008 2:57 PM , Blogger grigorss said...

Also, to pcarino:

"Ray Milland can do no wrong"?!?
-- Have you seen The Thing With Two Heads?


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