Life of Possibilities

Sure, the drummer wears batting gloves. The bassist grooves like a wacko Jaco Pastorious. And the lead singer dances (and smirks) like Andrew McCarthy. But dammit if the Dismemberment Plan don't make it work. The cerebral and the three-fourths facial-haired group have announced plans to call it quits in '03, but keep coming back for more makeup sex—and why not? Any band that exits at the top of their game deserves a victory lap—and, apparently, a Braun Beard Clipper for their road-weary tour bus.

The last time the D.C. quartet put out a record, in September of '01, the world went crazy, and their magnificent, soul-weary Change kept a lot of skinny indie types like myself sane. (Something about frontguy Travis Morrison's ability to charm and wiggle his way out of whatever cacophonous chaos the music threw at him; something about how "Time Bomb" sounded bleak, devastating, and beautiful all at the same time.) Now the world's gone truly cuckoo, and there won't be another D-Plan record to comfort us—though hopefully there will still be a world. Instead of teasing fans with glimpses of the literate and political new songs now bound for Morrison's solo album, at Bowery Ballroom's February 5 show the band stuck to the hits, making the show more like a summing up than a coming down.

Saving the world with what he's got: D-plan's Travis Morrison
photo: Jay Muhlin
Saving the world with what he's got: D-plan's Travis Morrison

The up-with-downcast-people numbers like "You Are Invited" and the perennial backpack-boy boogaloo "The Ice of Boston" get all the attention, but the Plan's superpowers reside in quieter moments: the rush of sadness in "Sentimental Man," the swish of ruefulness in "Spider in the Snow." They make minimalist, grown-up concerns (keeping track of trash day, missing exes on New Year's, having sex to the McLaughlin Group) danceable, if not downright universal. "Ah, indie rock," Morrison sighed at one point, but with more than a little fondness, perhaps thinking of the thick-black-rimmed-glasses-on-the-dancefloor mash-up culture his band presaged and coveted, but never quite realized.

May Travis Morrison be blessed with Pharrell's cell phone number; may the rest of the band have perpetual free flights to Burning Man. May all of the progressive indie bands Morrison name-checked (and mocked) not "fucking blow it." And may the Plan's best song not be their epitaph (or ours): "The city's been dead/since you've been gone." —Andy Greenwald

Peace Squawks

"We bring greetings from Brooklyn, or as my friends call it, 'Little Gaza,' " Corey Glover announced last Saturday at the Knitting Factory, taking the stage with Vernon Reid and guitarist Dennis Diamond. They were one of a dozen acts who performed, under the auspices of Artists Against the Occupation, to raise money for Israeli and Palestinian activist groups working to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

There was a subdued tone to the proceedings, but what the event lacked in ideological fire it made up for in charged moments and intersecting narratives: You noticed when Jennifer Charles of the Elysian Fields wrapped her smoky voice around the line "I keep repeating it" in "My Prayer." You noticed how snatches of Middle Eastern music seemed to explode out of the din created by the DJ Mutamassik and guitarist Morgan Craft. A few minutes after the Palestinian American poet Nathalie Handal told of grim news from her hometown of Bethlehem, Shelley Hirsch performed from her work, O Little Town of East New York, about growing up Jewish and working-class in 1960s Brooklyn.

Glover et al. were the most eager to explore what connection musicians in Tribeca might have to a conflict halfway around the world. "Flying," sung from the point of view of someone jumping from the twin towers, a potentially cringe-worthy attempt to personalize geopolitical conflict, was actually quite moving. "Last Temptation" turned out to be an even more poignant evocation of Glover's Brooklyn-as-Palestine connection. Hours before Glover took the stage late Saturday, there were three homicides in "Little Gaza"—in Mill Basin, East Flatbush, and Prospect Heights. Early Sunday morning, three members of Islamic Jihad blew themselves up near an Israeli guardpost in the original Gaza. "Some people want to die for love," Glover sang sometime in between. "I just want to love again." —Greg Milner

Describe the Ruckus, Sir

John Hughes couldn't have convened a more pitch-perfect lineup than last Friday's Irving Plaza bill—a cast of caricatures rivaling the Breakfast Club: the brains, the jocks, and the criminal princesses. Longwave are the boys your mother told you you'd love one day, OK GO are the ones you loved in spite of yourself, and the Donnas are, of course, the girls who cut gym to go smoke in their shorts.

Longwave, whose ethereal pop blends U2's Boy phase and Coldplay, have inherited some showmanship from recent tourmates the Vines and the Strokes; guitarist Shannon Ferguson fell to his knees beneath the force of a riff like a hipster Hendrix. And Steve Schiltz's thick, Morrissey-like vocals over the densely layered "I Know It's Coming Someday" moved the crowd to swoon. Chicago's OK GO threw a party like their parents were out of town. They lack anything resembling irony, but it all goes down like light beer, delivering a similar tingly effect. Front man Damian Kulash knows how to win hearts and raise fists. Their cover of Toto's "Hold the Line," is sweet, sappy '80s nostalgia, and "C-c-cinnamon lips," which purrs, "c-c-cinnamon lips and candy kisses on my tongue. Fun!" is fine to taste—just don't overdo it.

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