Calvin Johnson at WBAR
Sept. 21, 2013, 1:47 a.m.
Last Monday (September 16, 2013), WBAR kicked off our fall 2013 semester with something unspeakably awesome. For purposes of this post, I'll be speaking about it-- but know that I'm in no way doing it justice. If you weren't there, well, c'est la vie, I guess. Anyhow, this bit of awesomeness I'm referring to? A show featuring the legendary Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening, The Go Team, The Halo Benders, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and The Hive Dwellers, as well as the founder of Olympia's ultra-necessary K Records. Usually us WBARbarians don't get our shit together until later in the semester, so having a show this early was a real treat, privilege, etc.-- and for it to be with ol' Calvin, well, color us ecstatic, proud, starstruck, etc. The show was pretty phenomenal, if we may say so. Poses, a new project from Kicking Giant's Tae Won Yu opened, preaching rhetoric of communal cultural experience via off-kilter pop jams and brief, inclusive sermons. A short intermission followed, wherein Calvin hawked K LPs and homemade mixtapes (this writer snagged a Japanese Underground New Wave comp, presumably assembled from records Calvin picked up on Beat Happening's 1983 tour of the Land of The Rising Sun). Then, while everyone was chit-chatting away in Barnard's Altschul Atrium-- a space considered by many to be the 21st century heir to the CBGBs throne-- Calvin opened up his mouth and ran his fingers across the nylon strings of an acoustic guitar. Within a second, the entire room was silent. What came next was, yes, sorry, a little bit of a HTBTM. Never have I seen someone command an audience so fiercely-- Calvin had every single one of us, the devoted fans and uninitiated alike, wrapped around his little finger (or, more accurately, his booming baritone). We all hung on every word. "Get in," he beckoned, summoning the freak within every audience member-- and "get in" we did, physically and emotionally, joining Calvin in a holistic communal artistic shakti dictated by his precious-yet-haunting gyrations and layered lyrical depictions of youthful lust and confusion. WBAR's off to a semi-unprecedented start this semester, and I'll be damned if we don't keep it up. Stay tuned.