We saw George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and it was fan funkin' tastic

I've searched my LJ and cannot find any review of the first time we saw Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at House of Blues. I remember it well because it was an excellent show and it cemented HoB as my favorite place to see music. The sound at HoB is usually quite good, always better than the abominable Paradise, I can get seats with a good view (unlike the Paradise) and it's clean and spacious, unlike... well, you get the idea.

Clinton and P-Funk returned last night for another edition of their show. It's definitely a performance, and it's definitely musical, but it's unlike most other shows you're likely ever to have seen. It's as much cabaret as it is rock show, with 14+ people on stage at any given moment. There's a solid backing trio of keyboards, drums, and bass and then there's... well, everything else.

And by "everything else" I mean rappers and singers and "back-up" singers about whom more in a moment, and Clinton himself and horn players and other vocalists and percussionists and one gentleman who has, let me tell you, not one ounce of fat ANYWHERE on his lithe and very gymnastic body. With that many people on stage it sometimes leads to amusing miscues but the group have toured and practiced together so much that they manage the transitions and hand-offs with aplomb. The only major stumble I saw was due to the sound system not working properly.

Clinton leads the ensemble, doing a bit of singing, some dancing and jumping around (pretty spry for a big man of 75 years) but mostly he's the impresario: bringing people on, encouraging attention to one place or another, getting the audience riled up. He's like the best combination of a rock star, cheerleader, and grandfather who never lost the love of what he's doing.

The performance went for an hour non-stop before the first break and then another hour+ of almost continuous play after that with shifting performers and styles. Around midnight-fifteen the venue shut off the sound system and turned on the house lights and we finally went home.

Notable highlights in this show:

  • the aforementioned back-up singers, two of whom did a really nice soul-infused duet. Lovely voices, but the sound mix wasn't helping them a lot.
  • the OTHER back-up singer, a skinny woman who spent the entire 2.5+ hours in some very high platform boots and whose solo performance would not have been out of place in a strip club (just sayin') except for the part where she was singing while gyrating. Balance, grace, and a sweet vocal range - also really nice.
  • a saxophone player whose name I sadly did not catch because dude was AMAZING. His range, speed, precision, and sustains were all out of this world. And then he put down the sax and sang lead, quite ably. There was also a trumpet player who on another stage would have been good but placed next to this sax genius, well, I'm not sure anyone could have measured up.
  • TWO extended solos from Blackbyrd McKnight. He's one of the few remaining traces of the old Parliament Funkadelic and he's just insanely good at what he does. His solos were incendiary, a throwback to old-school Clapton and Hendrix and Page. And yes, he did actually play the guitar with his teeth at one point, as if to prove he could do that, too. Last show I remember him kind of sitting out much of the first part while he fussed with his guitar only to blow away the stage and audience once he got rolling. Seeing him hit that mile-high groove again was awesome.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the opener: The Nephrok Allstars, whom I'd heard of before through kit_holliday and had watched videos but never seen live. Like most funk acts, Nephrok is much better live than recorded. They did a strong set with Nephrok himself giving some of the verbal vibe that I remember from the earliest P-Funk days.

---------- Music history aside ----------
Back in the dark ages, funk music and particularly P-Funk with its weird sci-fi-esque mothership and space alien vibe (see also Sun Ra) positioned itself as a force for intergalactic harmony and peace. At a moment in time when many Black voices were speaking anger (Nation of Islam, Black Panthers) funk artists stood up to deliver a "we are all one" message. It's something that has always stuck with me.

So last night Nephrok talked to the audience about being "love soldiers" - active, not passive - and paying attention to what was going on in the world. He did a song for Syria and pointed out that even though he doesn't personally know many Syrians it's still something that should touch us all deeply. He reminded people that we are all children of Abraham. Funk music and (Black) politics have always been entwined in my brain and I'm glad to see modern funk artists carrying on that tradition too.

Two technology updates

First and simplest to state: anyone have a good solution for blocking spam calls on a Droid mobile phone? For a while it was some credit BS thing multiple times per day; now it's "GE Home Security". They always spoof caller ID - I never pick up non-local numbers, but because I'm doing business with various local companies I do pick up calls from nearby area codes.

Second, a real update on the VW situation I blogged a few weeks ago. There's now an official site into which one can put one's VIN to see one qualifies and get an estimate of what they'd buy back the car for. The amount is surprisingly large. I didn't look up the paperwork but I think it's very close to actual purchase price (minus some options we added on). That makes the buyback option much more realistic than I had thought, but it brings up the question of what I'd get instead. A Tesla is still out of the question, unfortunately.

There's also information on the modification option. VW is anticipating that by November they'll have an EPA-approved plan to modify the emissions systems and software and will be able to tell me things like what mileage I'd get, what the impact on performance will be, etc. Those are really the key numbers because while it'd be nice to get my money back and be able to buy a new car I'm not particularly in the market for that. Then again, having the modifications done could be a great deal like getting a new car that might be inferior to my present car.

The settlement documents don't seem to talk about it so I'm guessing "do nothing" is not an option. At some point this vehicle is going to start failing annual emissions testing and not be legal to drive. Which is as it should be - everyone ought to play by the same set of rules. There are also options for not participating in the class settlement but I can't see any advantage to that.

We finally saw Star Trek: Beyond and my suspension of disbelief is still icing its bruises

A week or so ago we tried to see ST:B and got diverted. This time the projector was working.

Two new things about how this movie was made: a new director, Justin Lin (advertised as notable for Fast & Furious movies), and it has Simon Pegg (who also plays Scotty) as one of its writers. Both leave significant marks on the result, though neither one shows any real brilliance. 2.5/5 stars for being formulaic and forgettable.

Lin's style would not seem inherently Star Trek-ian. A Trek movie is about the web of characters within the context of the ship and the Federation. They're not generally fast-paced action-adventure glitz flicks like F&F. It's also no spoiler to say that this movie blows up the Enterprise, yet again. Why anyone keeps giving Kirk new ships with this kind of accident record is beyond me, but OK. At least the method used this time is kind of cool and novel, even if it is a ridiculous violation of approximately all the known laws of basic mechanical physics. On a more serious note, is Kirk just completely inured to feelings of any kind? The number of dead has to be in the hundreds or even thousands but it's less than water off a duck's back to him.

So they blow up the ship, the crew get stranded, meet the mandatory cute alien chick, and have wild action-adventures with shooting and high-speed chases. Mostly I'm yawning, though the scenery is rather pretty. The plot (and I use that word VERY lightly) hurries you along from bit to bit so you won't notice the insane ridiculousness of it. More on that below the cut, but first some notes.

Pegg's contribution seems to be to bring Scotty more to life as a character by having Scotty appear in a more central plot role. He gets to interact with the cute alien chick (where usually it'd be Kirk) and gets a funny sidekick and gets to play a starring role in the rescue effort instead of being rescued himself. Aaaand, we care about this why? I mean, Pegg's a fine actor and I like how he's developing the Scotty role while paying tribute to its history. But I didn't feel any spark, and what Pegg's good at - 1:1 scenes with dialog and reaction - gets drowned out by the roaring special effects.

Unfortunately Scotty+alienchick time crowds out what I suspect would have been Spock+Uhura time if another writer had handled it. That's sad because Spock is dealing with, and reacting to, major losses (which I won't spoiler here). I just didn't feel like Zachary Quinto is given adequate time to develop that part of the character, also due to being pushed from one action sequence to the next.

Both the guest stars this time around do good jobs. Idris Elba is Krall, the main villain with dark secrets, and Sofia Boutella is way better in this one than she was allowed to be in Kingsman. Jaylah (Boutella) picks up the movie considerably once she appears and the character gets to be emotional and thoughtful, competent and self-sufficient, but with strengths and doubts and fears all at once. Props to Pegg and team for writing her that well and Boutella for filling out the role admirably despite the full-face make-up. Elba I just plain adore - he's #2 on my list for who should be the next Bond (*). He's also working through full-face make-up and doing a decent job of conveying his character.

Lin's other notable contribution to the movie is his non-rectilinear camera angles. Everything is tilted, or folded over, or looking up. It's really rare that you get a standard-aspect wide shot. That's nice, but the fact that I spent so much time noticing it means the movie itself wasn't getting my attention.

But, seriously, this movie is overflowing with ridiculous... (spoiler alert)
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In summary I think I would've liked this movie better with fewer crazy camera angles, more Spock time, and a lot less ridiculousness.

(*) Number one is Kate Beckinsale because she has action-movie chops (Underworld), has the accent, we've gotten a cross-cast M so it's well past time for a female Bond, and finally I am visualizing Kate Beckinsale in a fine Armani suit - your argument is invalid.

Another long-form-music post

I want to close out the last set of tabs I've backed up for the past month so I can open new ones. A couple of the usual suspects here and a couple new.
Ghetto funk EP from DJ Roast Beeatz. Five lovely tracks in variations on a style. It slides a little sideways into glitch at times, but overall this is the new old stuff I really dig.
The Funkunters' fifth podcast actually showed up about a month ago, which tells you how far behind I am because I loved it from first listen. I particularly like that this mix has a number of instrumental and acapella items. The entire 'cast is full of luscious phat horns and wonderfully stompy beats. I know this is not everyone's definition of "all good" but it sure is mine.
Hidden & Reign teamed up with Jacob Ferrer to produce this "Festival Essentials" mix. In a way it's a Best of summer 2016 remixes with almost every track edited down to fit the hour-long requirement. That makes for some choppiness but I liked it anyway. Most of the tracks are A|B mashes of various house bangers so you have to be in the right mood for that kind of thing. It's hard to pick favorites from this set but the two that most caught my ear were the first two tracks. "Faded Lights" is Dannic mashing Alan Walker's 'Faded' against Dannic and Amersy's 'Lights Out'. The result is a strong electro-house banger with good sustain. Though if you're not completely DONE with "Talking Body" the next track is a nice Tove Lo/Tom & Jame mash-up that I also enjoyed.
I've been linking Ummet Ozcan's radio shows for a while now - this is his live set at Tomorrowland. It's not bad, as live set recordings go. Unfortunately there's no set list so I can't pick out favorites. I'm pretty sure I recognize some of the tracks from his shows, though.

I keep wanting to update

And it keeps not happening. The latest update is that Thing 2 came home from camp on Saturday with some kind of aggressive illness, quite likely viral bronchitis. The odds that Pygment and I have now caught it are higher than I like.

OTOH, both of us felt better after napping, so maybe it's just accumulated stress and exhaustion. So here's a very small update from me...

Thing 1 is still at camp. He asked to stay another two weeks - he's apparently been doing well there. We told him he'd have to pay for it. He agreed. Then we told him how much it was. He blinked and continued to agree. This means, at a minimum, he's going to be missing his Friday night D&D, weekend classes, occasional Magic evenings, and other pay-as-you-go Guard Up activities. We'd normally pay for those - instead, we'll deduct them from his debt.

Later this school year he'll have some kind of paid internship, which I think he imagines will pay off this debt. I don't think he's going to be bringing home as much money as he thinks, and I think it's going to be a shock to him when he's in debt and has no money to spend at Arisia.

But I also think it's WAY better for him to get a first-hand idea of what it's like to be in debt now rather than later...

Last Saturday's Thing 2 pick-up took much longer than anticipated, plus there was nap fail so we ended up missing a_t_swampends's family BBQ. I'm writing this down now so hopefully I'll remember next time - it's OK to go over at 6PM for an event called for 4-6.

It's a little funny because we rarely put end times on our events. Usually it's "until the last guest leaves or we throw you out and go to bed." Some of our regular guests are perennial late-nighters, and for a while we pretended great shock when r_ness showed up at any of our events before midnight. But kids and age and tiredness and caution have gained the upper hand these days. What about you? If an event has an end time stated, how do you feel about showing up at or near that end time?
  • Current Mood
    still tired
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We saw Ghostbusters even though we didn't mean to

We had Thing 1 home for a couple days and though he doesn't like most movies he was eager to see Star Trek with us. So we got tickets for the three of us. But when we got to the theater they regretfully informed us that their projector was on the fritz. They refunded our card for the Trek tickets and offered us comps as well. We looked at the board and decided to exchange the comps for tix to the Ghostbusters showing in half an hour. It took some cajoling to get Thing 1 to go and, like all the kids in the theater, he'd not seen the original so missed the nods and homages. But he still enjoyed himself, as did we. I give this a 3.5/5 - fun entertainment but not nearly as memorable or quotable as the original. Definitely stay all the way through the credits, though.

***Important Safety Tip*** the couple in line behind us for not-getting-into-Trek bought their tickets through Fandango and there was some issue where the manager was expressing regrets about not being able to refund them. I didn't eavesdrop long enough to hear the details but if you're someone who uses these third-party ticket services you might want to check if there are limitations on your ability to get a refund.

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  • Current Music
    Seeking DayIight (Jacob Ferrer & Hampus Hytti Edit)
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Second set of music links

Still clearing out some of the short-form things I've bookmarked in the past few weeks...
Luca Rubino's "Point Break" is a delightful summer dance track that's sure to see lots of remixing. High BPM, strong electronic edge, with that by-now-classic build-drop-build pattern. As all-electro-instrumental tracks go this one's not bad, edging just close to too frenetic and too repetitive but never straying over the lines. It's a nice change from Rubino's past A|B pop mashes.
DirtyVibes' remix of "Resistance" from Jetfire has a lot going for it (not least promotion from DJs from Mars, which is how I found it). That aside, it's a nice steady moobahton sound and I can see why the DJs picked it out. The original ( is a pretty standard dance banger and I like that the remix keeps the vocals and the drive of the original, but strips out much of the higher-end electronica in favor of deep bass lines.
When I linked the 'twerk' tracks in the last entry I forgot this one, which calls itself "twerkhall". No, I'm not making this up. On a sample size of three I can't really say that one is that much different from another. This one is much more riddim and less moombah and yes, if I was going to envision music specifically designed for people to twerk to it would likely sound like this, but on the other hand I'm not convinced this is an improvement on riddim (assuming you like that, of course). STAiF seemed to be drawing on more diverse and interesting influences.
Stephen Murphy's remix of "Lush Life" from Zara Larsson is a pleasant, bouncy summer dance tune. The original ( is a very girl-poppy overtuned track. I think it benefits from being energized and sped up, but it still feel like it needs something more.
I have a few long-form things to link but I figured I'd round this entry out with an episode of Innerstate Radio that I marked a while back. Ummet Ozcan has been following the trend toward glitchier stuff that I mostly don't like so I will be linking less of it. This set is not bad, though, and it features several nicely melodic pieces. For my money, the best of it is in the middle, TripL & Warkids' "Love Addiction", one of those feel-good trance tracks that you get often from AVB and less often in other places. Fun factoid: the Jessy Katz featured here is Stephen Spielberg's niece.

I have been silent for too long (music)

There's a metric sh*tton going on and I want to post about it but it's being very hard for Reasons, some of which I'll post about. Things have happened, some of them good. I want to write and think through writing but it's not happening. As you'd expect after a month I have a lot of music tabs, too. Here are some:
A Tribe Called Red was pointed out to me by a coworker on our Slack "listening" channel. She and I have the most overlap of musical tastes of the small cluster there. The actual link was to a video of some of the best Native American hoop dancers ( for whom A Tribe Called Red have done backing music including this "Electric Pow Wow Drum". I recommend watching the dancing in that video - it's excellent.
We're definitely going to see Suicide Squad when it opens, if only to figure out whether to let the kids see it (I'm guessing HELL NO but we'll see). Also from that same Slack channel came this link to Glass Animals' cover of "Love Lockdown". I'm not a real Kanye fan, but LL ( is one of the few of his tunes that I like. I really appreciate what this cover is trying to do - updating the sound while keeping some of the essential elements of the original.
Speaking of covers (or remixes in this case) and essentials, here's Glowjack doing a Tropical House remix of the Frankie classic "Relax". Most of the coworkers in the Slack channel are too young to remember when this was an iconic tune so they don't have a lot to compare against. This is... not bad, despite my not being a huge fan of tropical house. Where it strays too far from the original, I think, is in the musical interludes. When it hews more closely to the vocal lines of the original I find I like it a lot.
Premeson's remix of "Settle My Heart" combines some of the good elements of prog-house (full sounds, driving pace) with a nice funky bassline to give this track a whole new feel. Unfortunately I couldn't find an online version of the original to link back to and this is just a preview from a remix EP but I think it's still a worthwhile couple of minutes.
I feel compelled to share these so you, too, will be aware that "twerk" is apparently now a musical subgenre. I go between "hate" and "roll with it" on this idea. The first one gets away with a lot because it's a remake of a favorite Panjabi MC track. STAiF (or DJ STAiF) is a Greek with a bunch of interesting stuff I'll be diving into. The second track is also doing a good job of energizing a dance sound that seems to be drawing from several influences. Of the listed tags I'd definitely classify this as riddim and sure I can see the moombahton influences. That, for me, is part of the fun of watching new subgenres emerge - you see them reaching around for ways to describe themselves until they either make it or don't.