Backwash

Mr. Pacman scores at a newly opened Monkey Mania.

"No one ever believes me when I say I am Mr. Pacman," said Avery Rains, the lithe and soft-spoken leader of the three-man technotronic outfit that headlined a baroque bill at Monkey Mania on Saturday, September 27. If those who'd gathered in the newish venue's dark and beer-splattered parking lot didn't immediately recognize the uncostumed Rains as he wandered around between sets from Friends Forever -- which performed, as usual, in the back of the band's ramshackle Volkswagen bus -- and dreamy popsters the Guitards, no one could blame them. When he assumes his role alongside partners James Compton and Kit Peltzel, Rains sports a large yellow helmet not unlike those donned by fellow masked men Bob Log and both of the Daft Punkers. Fortunately, this bit of costuming has more to do with a clever theme than a Slipknot fashion statement: Mr. Pacman's split-personality voyage into Atari soundscapes is charming, funny and musical, a retro-flavored ruckus that makes completely unsophisticated stabs at being futuristic. Mr. Pacman is like the musical equivalent of an old Dr. Who episode -- low-tech but ambitious, and lots of fun to watch late at night.

Mr. Pacman's set was the perfect reintroduction to the Monkey Mania contingent, one of Denver's more daring art-and-music cells. The new northside space is stationed at 21st and Arapahoe streets; although this warehouse space has hosted shows intermittently in the past (including late-night fetes from the Make-Up and other art-world favorites), it is now reportedly open for (semi-)frequent business.

We hope the shows continue, and not because it's fun to stand around in the dark -- but because Denver needs more places that follow fewer rules.


You know things have gotten a bit out of hand when Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." enjoys equal playing time at both the Great American Beer Festival and assorted elementary schools throughout the Littleton area. In troubled times, apparently everyone is duty-bound to swallow the same bad music in the name of the greater good.

Fortunately, there's some positive musical news to come out of all of this: Last week, Boulder's What Are Records? label enlisted a plethora of the area's bigger names for an in-the-round rendering of John Lennon's "Imagine," the results of which will wind up on a W.A.R? charity comp designed to raise money for family members of fallen New York City firefighters and police officers. While it would be hard to top Neil Young's quietly defiant version of the song (performed during the $150 million-generating "Concert for Heroes" telethon two weeks ago), Sally Taylor, Brian McRea, Wendy Woo, Liza Oxnard, Sharon Docherty and others gave it a shot in a live recording last week. The CD, which will also include tracks from the Hothouse Flowers, the Innocence Mission and Hanson, should be available via whatarerecords.com by mid-October. The people at W.A.R? hope you'll enlist in their cause.

According to Mike Jerk of Soda Jerk Records, the band formerly known as the Gaza Strippers has changed (well, really, just typographically altered) its name in the aftermath of you-know-what. The raucous, harmless, free-spirited rock-and-roll combo (whose management has assured us it has no role in any terrorist network) was reportedly receiving death threats from misguided patriots who didn't find the band's wordplay amusing. So the G*z* Strippers will appear sans vowels at Tulagi on Saturday, October 6, with Pleasure Forever and the Volts.

While it may be a while before anyone makes music specifically about the recent attacks, a new release from the leather-loving "shock rock" trio Nocturne suggests that the statute of taste limitations has expired on another tragedy still fresh in the memory. On the delightful little song "My Bitch," singer Lacey Connor (who appears all of twelve but is presumably 'sposed to scare us with her leather catsuit and pierced nose) muses on the possibility of using one's genitalia as a weapon before offering this couplet: "Harris and Klebold and me/Setting all of your dead souls free." Elsewhere, Connor regales with this bit: "Put the barrel to his head/And pull the trigger/Pull the trigger seven times/And then it's over/Pieces of him through the room/And that lovely gunshot odor." The song is track two on Welcome to Paradise, a bad Marilyn Manson knockoff loaded with faux-industrial dreck that was released on Triple X records. While the lyrics might sound scary on paper (especially to a teacher of English -- they don't even rhyme!), the only thing Backwash found shocking about this record after listening to it all the way through was the fact that Nocturne got a record deal at all. There truly is no business like show business: Nocturne, please go back to sleep.

There's so much live music happening this week, you'll need a shoehorn to make it all fit. Sally Taylor appears with Livingston Taylor, her folk-singing uncle who's a professor at the Berklee School of Music, on Thursday, October 4, at the King Center Concert Hall on the Auraria campus...Little Fyodor & Babushka perform on Friday, October 5 at the Ramada Inn downtown alongside the theremin-wielding Winona Righteous and Page 27. Go, big Red... Yo, Flaco! debuts its new CD, Goin' At It, during a two-night release party at Herman's Hideaway: On Friday, October 5, the band appears with the Funky Babylonians; Chronophonic and Minezaijoin the jazzy ensemble on Saturday, October 6...The Denver-based band formerly known as the Baghdad Cowboys is to be henceforth known as the KOB and will be performing Mondays, including October 8, from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Atrium Bar & Grill...Denver songwriter Marcy Baruch releases Clearly, her second CD, in a performance/party at Cameron Church Music Hall on Friday, October 5...New York City's the Strokes -- who recently attained the distinction of being blurbed on the cover of Rolling Stone -- come to the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, October 9, with the Moldy Peaches and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The band's debut is one of the most pleasingly clever, crunchy and snotty things Backwash has heard in a while, a sort of alternately low-key and rambunctious blend of a junked-up Velvet Underground and a mellowed-out MC5. The band has also received comparisons to another Motor City export, the White Stripes. We predict that the Strokes will soon be as big as its members' hair...The Eight Bucks Experiment shows off its new lineup -- which includes former Blister66 drummer Davis -- on Wednesday, October 10, at the Lion's Lair. Early responses indicate that the experiment is working.

 
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