They were on like Simon LeBon—mewling and ambrosial, with a gnashing guitar and buttery highlights that confided a discreet hair shift from traumarama to surfarama. Duran Duran, architecturally the Rem Kool-haas of ’80s Britpop, could have bid us, their squeaky, fawning canaries, to plummet off the Millennium Bridge for the love of them. And we would, chronically tossing our asymmetrical bowlies whilst proselytizing the reedy bewitchery of John Nigel Taylor in parachute pants to the depths of the river Thames. Even the hipsters who mashed together last Wednesday night at Webster Hall’s “The Ritz,” gaunt in their post-trucker-hat sepsis—irony can be so taxing—Morse-coded their adulation via lyrical mutations on Duranese: “I want you to save a prayer till the morning after,” one fey rake commanded his cabana boy. “This is no ordinary world, but I will learn to survive.”
My own reverence for the band, partially observed through the nostalgic prism of plodding around to “Careless Memories” with my seventh-grade Knox Overstreet, Matt King, as a puffy, owlish 12-year-old, was amped to rapture after Taylor-Taylor-Taylor (guitarist Andy, drummer Roger, and John on bass, respectively), duenna di mascara-keyboards Nick Rhodes (who is so cerebral and droll; his brain melts things), and pouty-mouth candy Monsignor LeBon opened with the tart, synth-tastic “Friends of Mine.” Their deadpan, growly edict to “close the door” slayed. Relatively obscure, “Friends of Mine,” from Duran Duran, was a canny choice for a first song, considering that this, the original Duran Duran lineup, now a quarter-century old, had adjourned for a time from playing together, gathering back up only in 2001. Onstage, though, they smirked and cooed like five homecoming princesses who got their nails painted cherries-in-the-snow together before prom.
“Welcome to the helm of the second British Invasion,” thundered Simon Le B. before warming up “Rio,” and to my right, Roger Taylor’s girlfriend’s parents beamed. Andy Taylor, simpatico and bashful, slouched behind his space-ageish wraparound specs until “New Religion” compelled him to loop a blistering riff off the rap-ready preamble. By the encore—a superb cover of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines”—the Duranicals had swooned us to altitudes ecclesiastic. —Nita Rao
Game Boy Nostalgists Find Harmony of Form and Function
Block Rocking Bits: A Diverse Exploration of the Nintendo Game Boy as Musical Instrument” was the fare de la nuit at the Tank one recent Thursday evening. The small performance-art center’s Pompidou-inspired decor resembled the chassis of a work-for-hire jalopy, crayoned paper adding a splash of color to air ducts that lined the ceiling like circuits around a motherboard. “Free” beers ($3 donation requested) were hawked across a thick slab of Formica, as, downstairs, a computer installation barked out Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech. Upstairs, Game Boy DJ Glomag was generating a steady stream of blips and bloops from an iBook hooked into an old-school Game Boy console. As he tapped a key, a dubbed-out Gregorian chant suffused the room, before dissolving into a vaguely familiar tune set to cut-up “My Cherie Amour.” Trainspotters nodded smugly. “It’s his big hit,” one whispered, “a remix of the theme song from Zelda.”
The New York-based Nullsleep took the stage next, three Game Boys spliced to a keyboard that was slung over one shoulder like an electric guitar. He played it low, catching tinny riffs and twisting them together like an intergalactic Jimmy Page. As he segued into a Depeche Mode mini-mix, suddenly a voice rang out from the crowd: “Hey!” Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren came to check out “folktronic” Game Boy artist Mark Denardo. “These kids are humanizing electronic music,” McLaren said after the set. “It’s just like rock and hip-hop were—totally DIY. It’s the beginning of the look and sound of 21st-century pop culture.”
Brooklyn’s Bitshifter closed the night, working with two Game Boys and a laptop, manipulating hiccup-y glitches to create a steady bed of danceable synth-pop loops. “Wonderful,” breathed McLaren. People clapped and stomped their feet. And, when two fans finally got up to get down, it almost felt like a revolution. —Adrienne Day