Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Tina Turner Journey

Strength. Courage. Conviction. This is what Tina Turner is full of. It’s also what was projected in a lame-ass PowerPoint video behind Luisa Marshals in her Tina Turner show/tribute.

Strength, courage and determination were exactly what I needed to make it thought the night. First off it should be noted that I wanted, really badly, to go to this show. My friend Jamie James, who not only has one of the most awesome names of anyone I know, is a back up dancer for a Tina impersonator and gave a bunch of us free tickets to the show. In some sense of irony or being way too post-modern I had to attend this tribute show about a woman whose number one song I got wrong – just like 60% of the audience. I knew it was going to be awesome. But I had no idea I was about to embark on my own Tina Turner Journey.

First off the show was in Surrey, the car theft capital of North America, just outside of Vancouver. That should have been my first clue of where the night was headed. My friends Jason, Lucy and Daniel all piled into Jason’s 92 Civic and embarked on our hour long trek. Thanks to Google map, the trip should have taken 42 min but sadly Surrey doesn’t see the need to mark intersections and we got turned around a few times.

When we finally found the venue the Bell Stage or something we discovered that the theatre was in a high school. The best looking high school I’ve ever been in. I think it was like three years old. It was fricking huge; the school and the theatre.

At the high school we meet our friends Frano and Miranda who were similarly giddy in an ironic sense of humor. We entered into a theatre that would make professional venues in Vancouver jealous. Why couldn’t I have gone to high school in Surrey? When I did The Wizard of Oz in grade 12, we performed on the gymnasium stage and the Styrofoam rainbow fell on the munchkins. That’s shit these Surrey kids will never have to experience.

Before the show the video projected factoids about Tina Turner’s life, that we wouldn’t learn in the show.
Tina Turner is 5’4”
Luisa Marshal is 5’3”
Tina Turner’s real name is Anna Mae Bullock
Her birth date is November 26, 1939
Can you guess what Tina’s biggest hit was? 60% of you will get it wrong.
And so on.

The show:
My heart goes out to Tina and her tribulations but jeez this show was lame. Lame in a good way- very post-modern. I felt for Jamie James as he performed simplistic choreography that anyone with two years of training could have created. He was simply the best out of all of the other male dancers who were about 22 years old and looked like this was their first professional show. The girls were about 30, in wicked shape, and did a decent job.

However the highlight was the PowerPoint video background that told us Tina’s inner monologue along her journey.
“Never give up”
“You can go it”
“Reach for the top”
“Jealousy”- with Ike
“adultery” – Ike
“Calm”- when Tina turned to Buddhism
“8 Grammies”
And so on.

At intermission I decided to explore the school, since I kind of have an obsession with teen culture.

This is what I found.

A diorama of Star Wars. I can’t believe rich kids in the Surrey mega school get away with this.

I did find one diorama of “The Cell.”

After the show I had to get our picture take with Tina. And that was awesome.

Basking in the afterglow and the knowledge that Tina’s biggest hit was “What’s love got to do with it”- I guessed Private Dancer and Jason guessed the theme from Thunderdome” We Don't Need Another Hero."

Side note: This was kind of strange because Frano, Miranda, Daniel, Jamie James and I all knew each other through this play we did that referenced that song (but none of us knew it was Tina’s). In our show the main character was named Hero and had mad a lame DJ mix under the name DJ Hero: We Don’t Need Another.

The whole event made me think about all the other bands in existence who are lacking their own theatrical/dance tribute show. I would love to do one about Deee-lite. The 90s house/rave band that had the hit “Groove is in the Heart” that I will stop everything and dance to whenever I hear it.

Back at the car, proud that we made it out so far to experience whatever it was we just experienced, and creatively inspired, the Civic wouldn’t start. Oh shit. It wouldn’t start and couldn’t start. We were still in Surrey. Luckily I called Frano, who was still ogling Tina, and got him to take Lucy and Daniel home.

Jason and I waited 25 min for a tow truck. I was began to fear that I’d never leave Surrey. We entertained ourselves by looking at the grad class photos; pointing out who was popular and who wasn’t and who had the most 90s haircut even though they graduated in 2004. Sadly I don’t have a picture of this.

The tow truck driver was kinda crazy, of course and told us all about the business and how he can make up to $300 a night if it’s busy. He mostly works nights because the roads are clearer and there’s more business from cool things that are Police involved. Jason thought he should become a tow-truck driver.

When we made it to Jason’s repair shop, in Burnaby, it was already 11:30pm. The Tina show had started at 7:30. I called a cab just wanting our adventure to be over but Mr. Tow Truck who loves his job couldn’t find the necessary paperwork for Jason to fill out. His car was a mess. He turned down the seats, looked in the glove compartment, everywhere. The cab showed up and waited 15 min (not on the meter luckily) for us to finish the paperwork.

In the cab that drove us back to Vancouver smelt funny to me. I thought it was baby. Baby diaper or something. But Jason had the correct answer: barf. Which I felt we both smelt like for the rest of the night, although there was no evidence of it on our clothes.

So, that was my Tina Turner Journey. A lesson in risk taking, triumphing over adversity and living to tell the tale smelling a bit like vomit.

Jason’s car was fixed the next day after $500 worth of a new distributor. But it’s all ok because...

Big wheel keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on burning
And were rolling, rolling
Rolling on the river

Rock on Tina. Rock on Tina impersonators.

Going to Watch a Band Review

Head boppers at Richard's on Richard's watch Trans Am, April 25

When it comes to new music I'm pretty out of it. I rely on my friends in Montreal to make me mixes to keep me hip. So when a friend invited me to see Trans Am last night I figured they were some hip new thing. Actually they've been around since the 90s and with eight albums out, on Thrill Jockey, you could say they're established.

Trans Am played last night at Richard's on Richards. Enticed by their name and a bizarre video I downloaded I decided to take a chance and check them out. Now I don't often see live music. And when I do I'm regularly disappointed. Here's why:

1- I don't understand the point of 'watching' music and I'll blame that on my time spent in the rave scene. Trans Am played a pretty danceable set with their sweet drum machine, keyboard synths and computerized voice distorters. Much head bobbing and toe tapping but the booty shaking was nil.

2- I love banter. Sadly a lot of musicians are musicians and not stand-up comedians. Go figure. Performance/stage presence factors hugely into show caliber. Now I'm not talking having bands monologue or bring people up on stage but they do have to acknowledge the audience. I think this is why crowds go 'wild' when bands say "Hello Vancouver!" Trans Am was forced to banter when the guitarist broke a string. The shirtless/shoeless drummer did a satisfactory job of it, but didn't go into details about the band's border difficulties - a favorite "banter topic" that I've observed from the few shows I've been to. I suspect this could have made for fantastic banter material and very possibly won my heart.

3- Taking a chance on bands sight unsound is a risky venture when you don't have major coin to toss around. Thankfully I didn't have to pay to see Trans Am. Not that I didn't like their music, I just probably wouldn't have paid for it. I've just always found concerts more enjoyable when I know the songs or... read point number two again.

If I were to review Trans Am Band I'd give the show 3 out of 5 thingies of importance. Being that I'm no music reviewer this rating pertains most importantly to the fact that I left the house. And that a lot of other toe-tappers did too. That's what the Vancouver should embrace - that sometimes it's okay to be mildly satisfied or even abjectly miserable provided the company is good.