Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cult of Personality

Celebrity encounters, so comparatively common for the denizens of New York, are very often disappointing, embarrassing, or both. The Pretty People sometimes smell horrible (I won't name names), treat you rudely (up yours, Pink!), or simply render one so star-struck that she says something incredibly stupid to them. (Apologies to both Susan Sarandon and Mike Myers are appropriate here. Oh, and William Forsythe, too. Yikes. Sorry guys. Really.)

Thankfully, this was so, SO not the case this past Saturday, when Tim and I were lucky enough to attend Cloud Cult's Mercury Lounge show, and to hang out with the band a bit afterwards. Wow. I've been so profoundly, wonderfully affected by the whole experience that it took me this long to sum up the words to describe it.

I am so enamored with and inspired by this band, their music, their journey, and everything they stand for, that had they been buttholes, I would have been entirely heartbroken. They turned out to be, quite literally, some of the nicest people I've ever met.

The show was nothing short of incredible, especially from our front-and-center vantage point. They played every song I'd been hoping to to hear, from both their new and previous albums (how often does that happen?), with a casual sense of precision and kind, happy energy. These kids from rural Minnesota had a typically snotty, arms-impassively-crossed crowd of New York hipsters actually dancing, and singing their songs back to them word for word. Meanwhile, artists Connie Minowa and Scott West created stunning paintings onstage along with the music. All senses were engaged. It was amazing.

At the end of the set, Tim gallantly grabbed the setlist off of Craig Minowa's synthesizer for me, and we headed out to the bar. There, we met up with Connie, who greeted me with a warm hug and spent the next 20 minutes pleasantly tolerating my semi-coherent flood of admiration. When I asked her to sign the setlist, it took her five solid minutes to craft an appropriate note. Who does that? Unbelievably sweet and beautiful.

Craig (who is also Connie's husband), is the anti-rockstar. He too hugged and thanked me post-show, and stayed around to talk with the remaining fans. He tolerated my teasing him about his smoking (and then fully busted me for taking a pull off Tim's cigarette), as well as the pajama-esque pants he wore onstage ("but they're comfortable!") The guy is a musical genius/organic farmer/environmental scientist who provides consultation to the United Nations and survived the tragic loss of his only child, yet he remains remarkably affable, humble, and perhaps even a bit shy. He puts to shame the self-important, low-or-no-talent, diva-esque nobodies who pass for music idols these days. He reminds me...and this is no hyperbole here, people...of John Lennon, both in his immeasurable talent, and his commitment to leaving a better world behind after he's gone.

The best part is, I have no doubt that Craig will accomplish just that. The fans were absolutely nuts over these guys, and I'm sure anyone who was there would gush as unabashedly as I am. Perhaps it's because everyone in the band is just as awesome as Craig and Connie, but Cloud Cult seems to have an almost magical effect on people. I wasn't kidding earlier...I saw hipsters dance. If that's not magic, I don't know what is. People are paying attention to this band's mission, and only good can come from that.

Eventually, Tim and I left the band at the club and ventured out into the Jersey-trash nightmare that the Lower East Side has become. I had a soon-to-be-framed setlist signed by everyone except drummer Dan Greenwood (next time!), and proceeded to float three feet off the ground for several days to follow.

It goes without saying that I encourage you to listen to and buy Cloud Cult's music, under the following conditions:
  • Buy CDs directly from their site. They're an indie band (by choice!), and that maximizes their profits (ALL of which are donated to environmental causes, by the way. Yeah.)

  • Listen to the CDs in order of release. Especially the four most recent. That will make more sense if you read Connie's bio, linked above.

For my Denver peeps: You'll have the chance to see them at the Larimer Lounge on May 10. Buy advance tickets here. It'd be the best seven bucks you spend this year even if I wasn't gonna be there. Which I totally am. So it totally will be. Ayep.

I stole this picture of the new record's cover from their site, obviously. I'll post my own photos when they get developed, if they don't suck that much. And my new boyfriend will be with me at the Denver show, so photos and hopefully some video will most definitely be posted.


Anonymous ricardo said...

yer new bf is hott!
girl, this is some beautiful writing - about such an incredible night. i cannot wait for the larimer lounge. holy hell, that's gonna be bitchin'!

6:27 PM  
Blogger lioux said...

I Love, Love, Love being turned on to new music.

I'll have to explore Cloud Cult®™©™ further.

Thanks for that.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Tater said...

WOW Helen. Thanks for tuning me into this band. I just downloaded The Meaning of 8, and I must say it is fucking incredible. I owe you one. Kind of has a Death Cab for Cutie vibe, but way better. Hope they are in Chicago soon.

10:04 AM  
Blogger evilganome said...

So, you kinda liked them, huh? BTW, I am so hot for your new boyfriend!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous tater said...

I wish you had posted this review earlier! I missed seeing them last night in Chicago at Schuba's :( *sniff* *sniff* FUCK! But thanks again for turning my attention their way. I must revise my earlier comment and say I was wrong about a Death Cab for Cutie vibe, totally original, but remind me a bit of Modest Mouse.

1:33 PM  
Blogger yellow_mustard_girl said...

Well, um...several MONTHS after you were kind enough to recommend Cloud Cult to me on my own nearly-abandoned blog, I finally read the comment and have checked them out.


Thank you!!

PS. Sorry for dropping off the face of the planet, but I still love yer blog :)

5:10 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sounds like a cool time.

Hey, soon to be neighbor! Actually the exact 'hood where I will live is very Orthodox Jew. Again, not the gay-friendliest, but the worst I'd have to face is a drive-by bris.

We should totally hang out once I get settled.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Big Ass Belle said...

rural Minnesota had a typically snotty, arms-impassively-crossed crowd of New York hipsters actually dancing . . .

i can't tell you how much i adore that. yay! maybe when all of us country rubes actually connect with all of you cool city people on some genuine level, we can all be friends and sing kumbaya and storm the white house!

while i await developments along those lines, i will download this music because i am desperately bored by what's on the 'pod and in need of something new. yay.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Big Ass Belle said...

well hell. i read all of the comments about your new boyfriend and was a little confused. then i looked at him and he's a pretty butch hot black bulging handful, isn't he?

i actually clicked on "TIM" thinking that was the new BF, then read something there which made me think of that line from a Head East song: "woman with the sweet love, better than a white line."

and that made me laugh because of how my little husband and i were singing along to that song on a road trip and he muttered "bullshit" to that line, then looked at me in horror and said "oh! but you are baby" and so goes stream of consciousness monday, when i can't get back on track from a week in the sun.

you have inspired great merriment in my life today.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

VERY cool.

Now ... dish on Pink! What happened?? Dirt, baby, dirt!!

10:22 PM  
Anonymous greg said...

hi - sorry to drop in uninvited, but just wanted to say as a huge cloud cult fan, this was a really nice post. every time I see them play or listen to one of their songs, I just want to create something half as wonderful and beautiful.

the fact that they go to such amazing lengths to protect the environment is impressive in itself, that they make such beautiful, joyful music on top of that just blows me away. and then add in the reputed "niceness" and I just don't know what to say except I've never found another artist in any medium quite so inspiring.

"I’ve got two hands on the sunshine..."

4:09 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

Thanks for the heads-up Helen. I checked out their the music and their approach. They play Portland on Thursday and the posse will be in attendance.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Sure you cannot name names. I understand. Heard rumors of who stinks. How about initials?

Love reading your blog!

12:33 AM  
Blogger Timothy J said...

We need an update helen. Badly.

2:05 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

girl, where are you???

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Emanuele said...

Keep up the good work.

5:16 AM  

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