Knocked Out Loaded
“Brooklyn! Let’s fuck together!” Mario Escovedo yelled mid-set, as a prologue to a so-called “ballad.” The Ramones-style rip had as its chorus “I wanna wanna wanna wanna fuck everyone!” At the Dragons’ Friday show at Luxx, the Jack and Coke-swilling audience reveled in an old-fashioned good time. A blond woman in shitkickers and a fringed suede jacket tirelessly headbanged with the same devotion that a lady with Sid Vicious’s leering mug safety-pinned to her ass shook that ass. “Get loaded!” was Mario’s first address to the crowd, as the band burst into their opener, “Three Steps From the Bar.” San Diego’s veteran Dragons blast tight, commanding rock’n’roll unencumbered by artiness. Mario’s rapid-fire vocal delivery is redolent of Motörhead; the foursome’s 18-song set, with numbers like “Whoa Yeah” and “C’mon,” was a breath of fresh air—a night of unironic fist-pumping.
At tiny Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn on Saturday, a fight broke out before Austin’s Black Lipstick even set up; a tampon hung from a tangle of Christmas lights arrayed on the ceiling. For his part, singer-guitarist Phillip Niemeyer proclaimed over a VU/Modern Lovers riff in “White Jazz,” “I don’t care about shit except for getting off and getting lit.” The two girls and two boys in Black Lipstick downed shots during songs and affirmed multiple times that they just didn’t care that the sound was shitty. “Next up . . . more extended jams,” deadpanned keyboardist-guitarist Travis Higdon—who resembles Daniel Clowes’s Lloyd Llewellyn—after the dense, spacey “The Dawn of a New Error.” For an encore, Black Lipstick matter-of-factly presented two choices: “Sister Ray” or “Let It Bleed.” As they launched into the Stones, a guy remarked to a biker with a long white beard, “In 10 years this’ll be on Behind the Music.” —Hillary Chute
The Artist in Exile
Since the 19th century, the Clinton Correctional Facility has been equipped to handle the toughest (as well as mentally disturbed) inmates. Now the maximum-security prison is the largest in New York State, in the coldest location—Dannemora, a Podunk town 20 miles south of the Canadian border. “Little Siberia,” they call it.
This is where Ol’ Dirty Bastard is serving a two-to-four-year sentence for possession of marijuana and crack cocaine. As Dirty sat down for his first interview from prison, he looked confused. “Do I know you?” he asked, darting his eyes around the visiting room suspiciously. His belt had been removed and the gold was missing from his teeth; his breath smelled like his body had been rotting. “I wasn’t really expecting no visitor.” D-3 Entertainment, ODB’s new label (which drops his new album, The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones, on March 19), had promised he knew I was coming. “D-who? What are they, out of California or something?”
For Trials, ODB said he recorded his tracks on the lam, switching between studios in New York and Miami. The album is about “escapin’ the evilness of the world,” said Dirty. Where does this evilness come from? “It’s the sun. You can’t hide, can’t mess with the philosophy of the sun.”
For much of the interview, Dirty sat with his hands clasped together; his demeanor was calm and pensive, and he asked many of the questions. “Shit always happens to the best. It’s like a rule.” He wants to transfer to Rikers Island, a smaller, lower-security prison. “I don’t need a maximum. This is the big house—and it’s like, they forgot to take out the laundry in a long time.” The food is “beyond terrible,” he said, and asked me to buy him a chicken sandwich from the vending machine.
“Tell all the rap artists to keep up the good work,” he said as I left, “and to never shut up, for nobody.” —Geoffrey Gray
Catch Her on the Rebound
“This is not a drag queen pretending to be Laura Branigan,” read the e-mail from Homocorps, Dean Johnson’s monthly queer punk showcase at CBGB, advertising Saturday’s show. “This is the REAL Laura Branigan (“Gloria,” “Self Control”) singing her greatest hits with a live band!” And why not? According to Laurabranigan.com, “Laura is beholden to the gay community.”
She’s had some tough times lately: After she retired, her husband died of cancer, her mother fell ill, and then, she told Johnson in a recent interview in HX, she broke both hips in a wisteria-hanging accident. Her only other recent gig was at the Mohegan Sun casino, and while that audience was probably more respectful, it couldn’t have been warmer. Already loosened up by Johnson’s wigstock rock crew (the self-explanatory Indigo Etheridge; his own not-yet-ready-for-Don Kirschner combo, Velvet Mafia; and a troupe of white-spandex-clad Dazzle Dancers), the mostly homogeneous crowd acted excited when she finally emerged from the club’s seedy bowels and treated them to “The Night Spanish Eddie Cashed It In.” They perked up when she began working her diva hand jive, striking totemic salutory poses later shamelessly copied in every Whitesnake video. They tried to help her out with the soundman (chanting, “Reverb! Reverb!”) and waited patiently through the sappy parts for the hits, which she delivered in minimalist arrangements perhaps inspired by her days as a Leonard Cohen backup singer. They chanted her name as she left the stage, although a few confused souls called her “Gloria,” and one wag yelled for “Dr. Laura!” Returning to the stage for an encore, she apologized that she couldn’t perform her new single, “The Winner Takes It All,” because “a piece of equipment didn’t arrive.” Instead she plowed through “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and Argentina played along, cheering just because she asked. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. —Josh Goldfein