Review: Polaris at The Chapel

Spoiler alert: Polaris sounds exactly the same live as they do on their recordings. And I mean this in the best way possible.

Friday night, when the band took its Waiting for October tour to The Chapel in San Francisco, was a giant 90s throwback, from their performance of the former Nickelodeon show’s theme song “Hey Sandy” to their cover of REM’s 1992 hit “Man on the Moon,” which included audience Elvis imitations.

The show wasn’t sold out, but everyone who made it through the doors of The Chapel, a former cathedral that is now a concert venue in San Francisco’s Mission WP_20150424_016District, needed to pinch themselves to believe it.

This is largely because Polaris, despite being around since the 90s, never toured until last year. We thought our exposure to Polaris would forever be limited to old CDs — they’re not even on Last.fm (high fives, hipsters) — and Pete and Pete DVDs (though now the show is on Amazon).

The audience favorites were “Hey Sandy” — the crowd lost it when lead singer Mark Mulcahy said “this one will require counting down,” because we all know the song’s epic intro begins with “4-3-2-1” — Little Pete’s favorite song “Summerbaby,” and “Recently,” which someone politely requesting by passing a piece of paper with the title written down along the crowd to Mulcahy.

A few other, lesser-known songs were also worth mentioning. “Waiting for October” has the power to elicit nostalgia for something that never even happened, and “Saturnine” transports you to a summer drive with the windows rolled down.

Mulcahy, Dave McCaffrey (guitar), and Scott Boutier (drums) — known on Pete and Pete as”Muggy,” “Harris Polaris,” and “Jersey,” respectively — seemed genuinely excited to be playing their songs, perhaps because they recently picked them back up after a long latency period.

And man has this period been long for the band’s cult following. “You saved my life on more than one occasion!” one audience member shouted. (I know what you’re thinking and no, said “member” was not me.) “We’re not really in the life-saving business, but whatever we can do,” Mulcahy responded.

Now that I have jumped up and down singing “I wasn’t aroooound, nobody knows, nobody knows” not just in the privacy in my bedroom but also in front of the actual people who created that song, how am I going to make the rest of my life matter? Have I peaked at 24? This concert has brought up some pretty big questions for me.

I’ll try to figure out some way to make the rest of my life measure up, but in the meantime, thanks, Polaris, for giving me and the rest of your fans the opportunity of a lifetime, and one we never thought we’d see in our lifetimes.

Advertisements

6 Things Women Can Quit Feeling Guilty About (Because Nobody Will Starve If You Eat That Last Chip)

Numerous studies have illuminated an unfortunate fact: As women are at work, eating, trying to sleep, and probably just breathing, counterproductive thoughts creep into our heads telling us to feel guilty about our very existence.

Perhaps the most insidious part is that we’re so convinced our guilt is justified, we feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

So, without further ado, you are officially excused from guilt over these behaviors – and permitted to do whatever you want with the mental energy you currently expend on guilt.

Read the rest on Thought Catalog.

10 Queer Women (And Gender Nonconforming People) Who Are Better LGBT Music Icons Than Lady Gaga

Being a music junky who is also a member or ally of the LGBT community can feel like being a vegan in a southern barbecue restaurant. But beggars can be choosers if what you’re begging for is a more nuanced musical critique of heteronormative culture than Lady Gaga’s.

While members of the queer community have embraced Gaga as an icon, others have criticized her for trivializing lesbian relationships, perpetuating the notion that gay rights are predicated on being “born this way,” and rejecting feminism. Gaga identifies as bisexual but considers herself more a supporter than an icon.

Check out my latest Thought Catalog article for some other queer women and gender nonconforming people whose progress in advocating for LGBT rights often goes unsung (no pun intended).

5 Signs You Have A Foot Out The Door Of Your Relationship

 

 

I know firsthand how hard it is to recognize when it’s time to cut your losses and stop trying to make a relationship work. When you still have one foot lingering in the door, you want nothing more than for your partner to convince you to put the other one back in too.

But I also know from experience (and from John Mayer) that keeping one foot (or “half of your heart”) in a relationship when the other is already out is not fair to you or your partner.

halfofmyheart

 

If you’ve caught yourself exhibiting any of the behaviors listed in this article on Thought Catalog, chances are you have a foot out the door and need to either put it back in and give the relationship a fighting chance or take the other foot out and rip the bandaid off.

8 Awkward Things Nobody Acknowledges About Having A Vagina

Though male bodies are often used for humor in the media, female bodies are typically depicted as delicate, pristine, and best suited as sexual objects. 

Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but as a newly popular genre of humor from female comedians (think of the show Girls or the movie Bridesmaids) has unabashedly acknowledged, females pee, poop, fart, and generally hold the potential for awkwardness.

Read the rest of my article on Thought Catalog for a few awkward tribulations of those with vaginas that are not normally, er, exposed.

Cyber-sentience: detecting “artificial” consciousness

I just found this old post of mine on artificial consciousness:

Brown University Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative

“We already have impressive models and simulations of a couple dozen of the brain’s several hundred regions,” writes Ray Kurzweil in The Singularity is Near.1But how accurate can these models get before they stop being models, and how advanced can artificial intelligence be before it is no longer artificial?

We are getting closer and closer to creating machines that do all the work of human brains — work that previously required thoughts and feelings. David Hanson’s robot Jules, for instance, mimics not only awareness but also self-awareness when he muses over his identity as a robot in this video. It’s hard not to feel sympathetic to his human-like struggles. Hanson’s website implies that he thinks his robots are or will be sentient: “The Character Engine A.I. software adds the spark of soul—enabling our robots to think, feel, to build relationships with people as they understand your…

View original post 830 more words

Request to Just Give Him a Chance Denied

To Whom It May Concern:

I have received and processed your request that I just give him a chance. I have carefully considered the reasons why I should just give him a chance, including

  • “He’s a really nice guy”
  • “He’ll grow on you”
  • “He didn’t mean it”
  • “Nobody’s perfect”
  • “Boys will be boys”

While these are all compelling arguments, I have determined that the following conditions exempt me from the obligation to give him a chance:

  • I possess no interest whatsoever in said person
  • I prefer to focus on other things at the moment
  • Said person has behaved like a total asshole in my presence
  • Said person annoys the living shit out of me

I have taken into consideration my guilt over not fulfilling said person’s desires and determined that, unfortunately, my own desires must take priority at this time.

Your petition demonstrates impressive mastery of the reasons he might want a chance but a weaker grasp of my personal agency.

I understand and consent to the possibility of missing out on a potential Beauty and the Beast-like transformation in which my opinion of said person spontaneously reverses.

I hereby forgo my right to be “swept off my feet,” “won over,” and otherwise passively bestowed with emotions that go against my better judgment.

Sincerely,

Director of the Department of Chance Distribution

You are receiving this letter because you have submitted a request to the Department of Chance Distribution. Please note that appeals will take 3-5 business days to process.

Most of my writing is like the people in my life who fall somewhere between strangers and friends

The spoken word poem I recite in the shower is the guy I exchanged numbers with at DNA Lounge Saturday night knowing very well we’d have nothing to talk about on Sunday.

The short story that got trashed in workshop is the friend who stopped talking to me because our relationship “wasn’t healthy for her” but keeps in touch with a mutual friend who regularly hallucinates that she’s the Virgin Mary.

The blog post I keep saying I’ll publish once I clean up some rough edges is the friend who makes a slightly misogynistic remark every time I see him but occasionally says something mind-blowing about astral travel, so I invite him to lunch every few weeks.

The parody I waited two hopeful weeks for McSweeney’s to reject is the love interest from yoga class I figured was just busy when he didn’t text me back – until I ran into him at a club in SOMA and he said, “What’s your name again?”

The prose poem that sounded really brilliant at the time is the girl who instantly befriended me at a networking event but fell off the face of the earth after getting a boyfriend who rides a motorcycle.

The autobiography I’ve given up on salvaging is the ex I’ve slept with too many times post-relationship to remain friends with.

The lyric essay I can’t submit anywhere because my college literary journal owns the rights is the high school friend I instant message from time to time but haven’t seen in the flesh since I was 17.

Just as I’m still Facebook friends with all these people in case some unforeseen circumstance gives us reason to speak, I save these documents in a Google Drive folder hoping one day we’ll reconnect.

Review: The Blow and Anna Oxygen at The Chapel

The Blow‘s “Unplugged” tour, featuring Melissa Dyne (synthesizer) and Khaela Maricich (vocals, keyboard) on stage with live instruments for the first time,* made a stop at the San Francisco mortuary-turned-concert-venue The Chapel last night.

Anna Oxygen“This is a song from the moon’s perspective,” psychedelic folk artist Anna Oxygen announced as she opened the show with an animated rendering of songs that combined electronic instrumentals, operatic vocals, and mystical lyrics. Her voice’s tenor sounds like Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, while her naturalistic, fantastical imagery brings to mind Joanna Newsom’s lyrics.

A full moon shed light over the Mission outside The Chapel as the singer, songwriter and actress gestured and danced the motions of the moon’s monthly routine.

In keeping with the pagan theme set by the opening song, which employs a clever pun by describing the moon as “revolutionary,” she also sang about a witch who gazes upon the earth from behind a wall of fog, appropriate in the San Francisco climate.

Throughout her set, Anna Oxygen kept the audience intrigued by singing over amplified echoes of her previous lines, shaking a beaded instrument above her head, and prefacing her songs with lines like “Imagine one quick thing, which is that I’m wearing psychic armor … and maybe I’m holding a pendulum.” She introduced The Blow as “mystical wizardresses.”

Maricich and Dyne entered the stage quietly and positioned themselves across from each other. Maricich sung with a subdued demeanor, her gaze directed toward her keyboard or Dyne for the majority of the set.

The audience chuckled during “Gravity (Pauline’s Response to Amy),” a song speculating about a former lover’s whereabouts, as Maricich sang “From behind, can you feel those hands? They’re not mine.” The energy picked up as the duo played “True Affection,” a fun, minimalistic, synthesizer-dominated reflection on a failed relationship, keeping listeners on their toes by deviating from the tune of the recorded version every so often and drawing out the bridge in slow motion.

The BlowThe piece I found most intriguing, which is nowhere to be found online, contained mostly spoken word by Maricich with the refrain “She’ll be the woman you want her to be” followed by a high, chant-like “Ooooh-oowoooo.” The woman characterized in the song embodies the feminine ideal of catering to another’s desires without demanding consideration for her own: She knows exactly what her partner wants, doesn’t ask for anything, and is “everything” and “nothing” all at once.

Many of The Blow’s songs deal with issues of gender and sexuality, perhaps related to the members’ lesbian identity. What makes this band most notable in my eyes is the critique of patriarchy and heteronormativity weaved into its music. For example, “Pile of Gold” from the 2006 album Paper Television draws attention to the economic model of sex as a service traded for preferential treatment:

All the girls are sitting on a pile of gold
All the girls—
And the boys you know they want—they want it
It’s economic

Hey Boy” from 2004’s Poor Aim: Love Songs paints a regretful picture of a girl consumed by a love interest who won’t call her back; “Like Girls” from the 2013 self-titled album contains the powerful feminine image of flashing a “powderpink handgun;” and “What Tom said about girls” from 2003’s The Concussive Caress depicts a character too many women are familiar with:

I’ve seen a hole and I aim to fill it
If that hole’s got a heart I’ve got the means to thrill it…
Cause you looked like a beacon of light
Just beaming in the night, I feel safe
So I’m like “Hey Baby!”

Maricich also explores feminist and queer politics on her blog and started the website Woman Producer to document women in music production.

Being a feminist seeking music that suits her political sensibilities can feel like being a vegan at a southern barbecue restaurant. That’s why I’m grateful for artists like The Blow and Anna Oxygen that satiate my craving for tunes I want to dance to combined with lyrics I can get behind.

*In the indie pop duo’s past performances, Maricich performed on-stage while Dyne produced the music from across the room.