the life of a modern musician: a week of noisepop.
Big Star are, apparently, Big Stars.
But, more on that later...
The Fillmore has a decades-old history. Which is to say, compared to many a historical edifice, for example, in Europe, China, India, or Japan, it has nearly no history at all. And yet, this idea of the Fillmore as a birthplace for a type of music and as an active center for that ol' cat "Rock And Roll" is entrenched - that's how powerful a cultural meme the psychadelic/rock/funk/experimental music of the 60s/70s must be.
"Entrenched." I think that's what I mean. Always the same cycle. The coup becomes the state.
Parking is easy. There's a large structure next door. Two well-formed lines separated by heavy velvet ropes separating those arriving from those departing. Security checked my bag. A line is formed for people who needed to come from the inside to smoke.
The Fillmore has become an airport.
I arrive in the middle of the Moore Bros. set. Feel a swift pang of jealousy. Not only are the Bros. great, -beautiful voices, a touch of Elliot Smith, of Bart Davenport, of Barbara Manning, the Beatles, etc.- but there are soooo many people there. And I'm acutely aware that there will be fewer people arriving early (8pm!) for Guided By Voices on a Sunday.
We'd first been offered this slot. Then plans changed. As they often do in these circumstances. Not sure why.
I feel young. Well...just look at this audience! I feel like a twelve-year-old!
Wander to the front and manage to be stage right at the lip of the stage when Imperial Teen start. Wonderful! Imperial Teen are the Captains of the Build. Meaning, they take a nugget of music, some rhythmic or harmonic exposition and build it to an explosion. They traffic in musical foreplay and it's no wonder so many critics mention sex when discussing their music.
They are funny, cognizant of the context. "I smell...'grass'," Jone giggled. Roddy announces, formally, that he is single and causes quite a stir. There are two girls behind me who begin chatting excitedly about approaching Roddy.
Now, girls, I've talked to Roddy. Personally. This night, in fact. And I have something to tell you that I shouldn't reveal...
You are soooooo his type. Blonde and brunette! Ohmigod. You should email him. He's only in town until Monday. Dreamy and single. You're so in there.
Moving on... They come out next and They are the engenue. The crowd is huge. And many knew every line to every song. Who? Big Star! Big Star are legends. For those who don't know, Alex Chilton (who founded Big Star with his friend Christopher Bell) had a hit single when he was sixteen years old. Then the Big Star record, No. 1 Record debuted in 1972. Yes, you're reading that date correctly. They have influenced countless bands, but were consigned to the margins of fame as their contemporaries blocked the spotlight.
You know them as the band who contributed the song "In the Street," to T.V. It was the original theme song to That 70s Show.
They open with that song.
It's easy to be a jerk. I had a million snarky things to say. I had time to think them up, since they performed a 19 (or 20 or 21)-song set. I thought of at least 10 terrible and scathing puns.
But... But I think I can understand. The attaction, that is. Partly because I have a vague idea of the music playing at the time they were releasing albums.
And they were better. Not a little better, but a lot. Much. Much. And if I can close my eyes, I can see the harmonic departures that may have inspired a young Frank Black to not "take it low." Which makes more sense if you've listened obsessively to the Pixies' song "Alec Eiffel" like I have.
In fact, the more I listen, the more attractive it becomes. Teen music. The sound of crushes and rebellion. Gettin' some and gettin' high. Sure. It makes sense. Besides, I love that movie Over the Edge. My fingers form the "V." Just like the guitar, baby.
Just close your eyes, and think... somewhere (and maybe everywhere Big Star is heard) a plucky band of kids win back the deed to their summer camp in a tour de force three-legged race.