For some reason, though, the big Granny Smith back east is sizzling hot right now. So it's no wonder New York's ever-present artsy energy is spiking off the charts.
Maybe it's nationalism. Maybe it's Mayor Bloomberg. Hell, maybe it's the weather. Whatever the reason, NYC's cup runneth over, and now its sloshy spill is splashing past the George Washington Bridge, trickling across the Great Plains and lapping up on Portland's grassy shores.
Two trendy-with-a-capital-T NYC phenoms are descending upon our fair city with a loving spoonful of cool for Y-O-U. On the surface, the two might seem to have nothing in common, but scratch below their mirror-ball facades and you'll be surprised what you discover. Bend low and drink.
Dubbing themselves "New York's Muscle," A.R.E. Weapons (playing Friday at Dante's) are three handsome lads who decided to roll off the couch and rock. Their self-titled first record prompted a gushing review in the Village Voice, but snarkier critics question the band's sincerity. Personally, my favorite is Blender magazine's tempered appraisal: "The music is sexy in the dirtiest possible way, which makes up for the band's stoopid posing." The Weapons' visual aesthetic--punk shirts with Miami Vice jackets and neck scarfs--fits their sound to a ripped tee. You'll hear urgent echoes of bands like the Faint and Interpol (themselves '80s punk and New Wave rip-offs), mixed with tricks lifted wholesale from Beck--synth washes overlaid by goofy rapping, dude-guy interjections of "It's fuckin' awesome!"
Is it good music? Who cares!
A.R.E. shows, according to promo material penned by the band's lead singer and spokesboy, "Brain" F. McPeck, attract "drug addicts, gallery owners, actress people, model things, fashion dorks, music nerds, criminals, and ultimately the police." And here's where I mention the band includes celebrity DJ Paul Sevigny, brother of actress/fashion muse Chloë (The Last Days of Disco), who is quickly becoming the Kevin Bacon of the indie world--everybody seems to be connected to her.
Will Portland "get" this band?
Surely, there's got to be enough coke in this town. Surely it'll be better than going to Rock Bottom with your co-workers again. Be warned: wear something bruisable.
The made-up name Yoko Devereaux is a fashion line spearheaded by Andy Salzer and Thomas Meus. Their range of slick streetwear and limited-edition T-shirts is half apparel-industry collaboration and half art experiment (YD has teamed up with Doc Martens and Levi's on past projects). Typically the clothes--think leather hoodies, asymmetrical zip jackets and heavy use of painted and abraded fabrics--are found on the pages of expensive magazines or in far-flung fleshpots like New York City, Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo.
But this is your credit card's lucky day.
Salzer, a Northwest native, has a longstanding alliance with a New York roving store/gallery that goes by the mysterious moniker of Vacant. Temporarily setting up shops in (you guessed it) vacant storefronts, Vacant uses the space to feature exclusive and one-of-a-kind products from designers and artists worldwide.
Yoko Devereaux just launched its Spring '04 T-shirt collaboration at Vacant Portland--a homey little retail space in the super-cool Wieden & Kennedy building. The event showcased the work of more than 30 graphic artists (street, fashion and design), each delivering his or her interpretation of YD's Spring 2004 theme: theft and stealing.
Yes, you have to pay for your merchandise.
A.R.E. Weapons with 31 Knots and Spalding Rockwell
Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. 9:30 pm Friday,
July 18. $8. 21+.
Yoko Devereaux @ Vacant Portland.
Wieden & Kennedy, 224 NW 13th Ave., through July 31. For more info, visit http://www.yokod.com or www.govacant.com.
Fashions of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
See 20 local designers interpret past, present and future in this Seaplane-sponsored show. Live music by Schicky Gnarowitz and the Transparent Wings of Joy, Bobby Birdman and Ultraman.
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 234-2409 for info. 9 pm Sunday, July 20. $9.