newest entry 2002-08-04 8:28 a.m.

He who is truly wise

Always sees the absolute Self.

Celebrated, he is not delighted.

Spurned, he is not angry.

Pure of heart, He watches his own actions

As if they were another's.

How can praise or blame disturb him?

--Ashtavakra Gita 3:9-10

I had the honor of taking my nephew and niece, 17 and 15 respectively, and my nephew's girlfriend (!) to see Juliana Hatfield at the Knitting Factory, their first encounter with live music.

It was an evening of other firsts, was the first time I'd hung out with the teenaged version of Nephew and Niece separate from their parents (they're my sister Quilty's kids). Although still pretty shy, they came alive a little, and were slightly more articulate about their opinions. At one point Niece made an incisive point about another person in our family and I was a little stunned--when she's with her parents she can barely string two words together...

We ate dinner at a cool and tiny Greek place in Soho called Snack (the waiter was suitably charming and I felt irrationally proud of New York waiters and their way with the tourists) and then we hung out at KF waiting for the show to start.

I passed out ear plugs to the kids, and they looked at me like I'd just given them condoms or something. They giggled and scrunched their noses in confusion and some untranslatable teenage glee. Completely unimpressed by everything so far, the earplugs melted their reserve and they got the biggest kick out of them. I dunno, don't ask me.

Since N & N are still a bit mysterious to me, it's hard to gauge which of the incidents from last night will end up in their long-term pleasant memory file, and which are going straight to "in-joke for the next two weeks" bin.

Anyway, the show: the opening act Palomar were nothing less than emblematic of what's wrong with indie pop music today...I'd been hearing great things about this band in the local press, but they were just one of ten thousand other bands exactly like themselves: i.e. wimpy bands that make up for lack of playing/writing skills by executing everything really fast and loud. No stage presence, no warmth except a nervous/quirky kind of cuteness that smart white girls can get away with. No artistry to the set list or arrangements--every song was played at exactly the same tempo, with twin-lead vocals. And yet, here they were playing the Knitting Factory on a Saturday night in front of a sold-out house. I don't get it.

Juliana's set, on the other hand, was everything the opening act's wasn't. She's really come a long way in her guitar-playing, singing, and board-stompin', embodying a fluid grace onstage that was inspiring to see. She pretty much avoided the hits in favor of her heavier rock songs, and a cover of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." Her backing band ("Some Girls" including the Blake Babies' Freda!) were solid indeed, but for the encore she came out solo and played some very pretty ballads which caused the comic moment of the evening, when a drunk, obese woman commandeered the fore-stage and displayed all the rather sad traits of being someone's Biggest Fan (shushing the crowd, reaching up to Juliana as if to touch her, singing along, loudly, etc.). Ouch. At least N & N got to see the down side of rock fandom.

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