11.17.10 | Larimer Lounge
Vincent Gallo: Not an asshole. First of all, assholes, especially assholes who have starred in movies, do not play music at places like the Larimer Lounge. And they definitely don't express gratitude when 38 people show up to watch them. There was a certain distance to RRIICCEE's performance, but Gallo finished playing and immediately went into the crowd, smiling, thanking people for coming.
While shaking hands with fans doesn't make him Mother Teresa, the general vitriol aimed in his direction would have you believing he'd be charging $5,000 for those handshakes instead of giving them away for free.
The reason people might believe that, specifically, is that there is a section on his web site where you can allegedly buy his sperm for $1,000,000. The original posting included language that insinuated he wouldn't sell his sperm to black women. He's also famously made flagrantly homophobic remarks.
He has never said any of this is a joke or an act or a massive-scale performance art piece or sarcasm or anything. But the only useful thing you can deduce about his character from any of this is that he profoundly, thoroughly, doesn't care what anyone thinks about him.
Want proof that he isn't a bigot? One of his earliest collaborators, in music and film, was artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was not only black but certain not to have associated with someone who earnestly fantasized about "becoming more like the stereotype of the Republican Party," as Gallo has said.
RRIICCEE is nearly as enigmatic as Gallo, its "Creative Director." The band started in 2007, but it has been dormant for most of the interim, and the current tour apparently started on a whim in Little Rock, Arkansas. This time, he is accompanied by LA musician Nico Turner and film composer Woody Jackson.
From the looks of it, we got a pretty generous show here in Denver. Nine songs and over an hour of run time, which is both a longer set and shorter song lengths than anyone else has reported. The thing about RRIICCEE is this all has to be based on hearsay. The deal with this band is there is no record of it. No recordings, no videos, no photos allowed at shows.
RRIICCEE may well have been selected as the name because it is so easy to monitor for online appearances. There was a thirty-second YouTube clip up earlier in the week, but that's gone now. Everything you hear at a RRIICCEE show you are hearing for the first time. And the last time, since Gallo claims the songs are improvised. I say claims because this performance involved too much structure, too many concordant alignments between musicians to be completely cut from whole cloth in real time.
Still, there is little doubt the songs will sound different tomorrow night in Scottsdale. Turner and Jackson kept their eyes on Gallo pretty much the whole time, and there were little cues back and forth. Too much attention paid for professional musicians playing the exact songs they've played before.
There were chairs set up on the floor of the Larimer Lounge, which is weird for the venue but makes a ton of sense for the music. On stage, the set-up is: three guitars, two drum sets, a keyboard, and a bunch of incredibly expensive electronics. The three musicians rotate instruments on almost every song.
They do not engage the audience in any way. Gallo performed exclusively with his back to the crowd or, if he was playing keys or drums, with his head down. There was no introductions and not a single word of banter until, by way of signaling the end of the show, Gallo said, "Thank you good night." Still facing away from the audience.
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And at last, the music. Mostly mesmerizing, minimal constructions in lush and inviting tones. This concert was almost entirely made of resonance and a mass of sound a friend precisely described as "cinematic." Gallo sang this time, all love lyrics like, "Love me forever/Love me forever/'Cause no one has/Love me forever/Like I do love you forever," and "We're these dreamers/In these colors/And these colors/Are like summer."
Gallo has a great voice, high and wistful. The group played a cover of "Moon River" from Breakfast At Tiffany's and followed it with a proper guitar rocker. The pairing was overwhelming after all that build-up. But, unless you were there, you'll have to take my word for it.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Buffalo '66 is totally worth it for the payoff at the end, and that has more to do with RRIICCEE than it might seem. Random Detail: Art-school type crowd, for sure. But it wasn't as studious as you might think -- by the end, a third of the people were back by the bar talking.