Nighttime “heat relief” this weekend includes:
The good folks at Erratic! Radio are presenting one helluva birthday bash…
Friday, Aug 19th @ 8pm | The Rogue (423 N. Scottsdale Rd) | $5 | 21+
…and several bands are helping local art provocateur Paul Jones with transformative FUNraising (you can read about Jones’ mouthful of troubles in this AzKaos interview from a while back)…
Saturday, Aug 20th @ 8pm | The Firehouse Gallery (1015 N. 1st St, Phoenix) | $5-10 (sliding scale) | All Ages
…so spend your days hydrating (and/or sittin’ buck nekkid in front of the fan - whichever!), then get the fuck outta the house and enjoy yourself as best you can.
by Pete Petrisko
After a half-year in business, FilmBar has both exceeded expectations and grown as downtown’s premier microcinema, adding other events (live stand-up comedy on Tuesday nights, DJentrification’s world beat/international music of The Palace on Saturday nights) to further build its audience.
Recently, some changes have come to the arthouse theater, with the departure of its original film programmer (as reported by AzKaos over the weekend) and the public announcement of a strategic alliance with Mesa’s grindhouse theater The Royale.
FilmBar founder and owner Kelly Aubey sat down with AzKaos, while he talked about these changes and the big picture of downtown Phoenix.
AzKaos: FilmBar has reached the six month mark as an independently-owned business downtown. As such, what’s worked beyond your expectations and what would you like to improve on?
Kelly Aubey: Beyond my expectations was the community welcoming of what we’ve done. I did this as a community project, I didn’t do it for the money, because I know we needed it and it needed to be done, and I guess I was the person to try it. How much it’s been reciprocated to this point is far greater than I expected. I feel really lucky to have had that support, and it’s absolutely surpassed expectations.
I think people are hungry for new ideas, they always have been, and if you watch society it goes through these peaks and valleys in regard to innovative thought. Even going back to the whole punk rock scene (Aubey & I discussed Phx’s punk rock scene, circa early/mid-1980s, prior to the interview - ed.), it bubbled around for years before people were well aware of it, but at some point it hit this critical mass. I see the same thing with what’s going on downtown, it just needs to hit that critical mass. I get the sense that people are ready for something to blow their socks off in a different direction.
I guess what I’d like to see now is better cooperation between this district north of the tall buildings (i.e. Roosevelt Row arts district) and what’s going on downtown Downtown. There’s a division from both sides I think, people are kind of staring each other down. Ultimately, the only way to make it work is to look at it as a cohesive unit, where each area keeps its independent flavor but compliment each other. I’d like to see that happen more.
AzK: What does FilmBar have scheduled to mark the occasion?
KA: As a literal demarcation of that (six month mark), we’ve got something coming out called the FilmBarFly Member Card, as a thank you to those who have supported us to this point and to encourage them to come back. It’s a purchasable thing for a very good price, and will include twelve movies, happy hour pricing on drinks regardless of the time they come in, free popcorn, plus other discounts and special events. FilmBar will be cross-promoting that with The Royale, so they’ll also get discounts over there, and we’ll honor The Royale’s membership card as well.
AzK: On the recent changes at FilmBar, from taking on the task of film programming yourself to now cross-promoting with indie theater The Royale, what was the creative inspiration and financial consideration for these decisions?
KA: For anything to grow, especially at the early stages, like what we have going on here in downtown, there’s not a lot of competition so we’re looking for ways to support each other and collectively raise the awareness of what’s going on.
It’s a similar thing we’re trying to do with The Royale. We’re like two islands in a spread out city dominated by AMC and Harkins, with the massively powerful media engine they’ve got to get their word out, and so - “divided we fall, united we stand” - we decided to get together to do the best we can to further each other’s causes. Two people together can raise awareness better than two independent businesses, so we chose to do that.
In doing that, there was a natural overlap, or redundancy, in a position and, because of that, it didn’t make sense to keep Steve (Weiss) in his role (as film programmer).
AzK: Now that a strategic partnership has been forged with The Royale, what might the moviegoing public expect to see come out of this arrangement?
KA: It’ll allow us to synchronize our efforts, and spin off of each other, since now we’ll know intimately what each other are doing. We can coordinate films that are complimentary to each other. So, as more of an independent and foreign movie theater, FilmBar can show something like (the recently screened) 13 Assassins, while The Royale, which is more of a grindhouse theater, can show some old Bruce Lee flicks.
In the best scenario, we’ll make sure we’ve got a well-rounded offering for the general public. That’s what this is about. I don’t think either of us are in it to be rich, we’re in it to further the independent film cause here.
AzK: With the addition of two midsize music venues (The Foundry and Crescent Ballroom) in downtown Phoenix, and other arts-related businesses opening in the city core, what do you feel is still missing and what would you like to see in the near future to help solidify a true cultural rebirth?
KA: The first thing that pops into my head is Belief. I think that this city spends an awful lot of time feeling second-best to a lot of other cities. I think that belief is important, in who and what we are, a belief in the cultural identity that we do have here. And with belief, other things will come to fruition, investment and other interest in businesses, patronage of those businesses, it’s a snowball effect. I think, collectively, if we just stand up and say, “We’re Phoenix and we believe in that!”, and stop making excuses for who we are, I think it’ll change like that.
[Top photo courtesy of FilmBar, located at 815 N. 2nd St, in Phoenix]
Got twenty bucks burning a hole in your pocket and don’t know what to do? Wait til this weekend to say goodbye to that extra Andrew Jackson…
Friday, August 12 @ 7pm | Chasers (8005 E. Roosevelt St, Scottsdale) | All Ages | $10 (before 8pm, $12 after) | More event info HERE!
Saturday, August 13 @ 7pm | Plaza de Anaya (524 W. Broadway Rd, Suite 107, Tempe) | $10 (in advance, $15 at the door) | More show info HERE.
by Pete Petrisko
As executive director of No Festival Required, Steve Weiss has provided an outlet for feature-length documentaries and experimental shorts, shown at various venues (including Modified Arts and Phoenix Art Museum), since 2002.
When FilmBar, an art house cinema and bar, was slated to open in downtown Phoenix, Weiss contacted owner and founder Kelly Aubey about programming for the theater. He was brought aboard in that capacity in time for its February 2011 opening, a role he continued to fulfill until a few days ago.
In his first interview since departing the indie theater as programmer, Weiss reflects on his stint at FilmBar and looks to the future.
AzKaos: As programmer at FilmBar, what would you consider to be some of the highlights during your tenure?
Steve Weiss: It’s incredibly hard to select one versus another, but I think The Red Chapel documentary, which played in the first week, about a Dutch comedy troupe that “punks” the North Koreans in North Korea… Vincent: A Life in Color, the Jennifer Burns film on the flashy dresser and Chicago character Vincent Falk (with Jennifer AND Vincent attending the screenings)… the Takashi Miike samurai film 13 Assassins that I booked from the trailer, sight unseen, and turned out to be much more than I hoped… and at least two films suggested by friends; Marwencol, which might be in my personal Top Ten, and this week’s Some Days Are Better Than Others, which I think successfully redeems the indie narrative film genre from typical angst-ridden dreck.
These come to mind the fastest, but in general all of them were highlights. They certainly were Phoenix highlights, in that without coming across them and having the FilmBar platform for screening, they never would have been seen here. I dug that PBS screened two films I programmed after we’d ran them (Marwencol and Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo).
AzK: You parted company with FilmBar earlier this week. How was this decision reached?
SW: The owner told me he didn’t have the money to pay for a programmer any longer, and that he would save money by doing the programming himself.
AzK: No Festival Required has recently begun screening a free series of BUILDING COMMUNITY CINEMA presentations at various artspaces. What was the inspiration for this series and what do you hope to accomplish through these events?
SW: Reid Butler, the owner of Butler Housing Company and the Roosevelt Commons apartment complex, is a fellow Steering Committee Member of Downtown Voices Coalition, and a personal friend. Reid felt strongly that it would be good for me and my aspirations for No Festival Required to go mobile, so that instead of looking for places to show films, I could conceivably show films anywhere. He and his wife Shawna Leach sponsored the purchase of a HD video projector, PA sound system with mixing board and a large screen to make mobility with quality possible.
This actually occurred a very short time before I got my gig with FilmBar, so I’ve sort of put the project on hold until recently as I got FilmBar up and running.
Reid and Shawna are also sponsoring the Building Community Cinema series. The idea came from Reid and Shawna’s interest in architecture and city issues; affordable housing, gentrification, transportation and other issues are topics we hope to explore. It also is somewhat of a visual declaration of the things a group like Downtown Voices champions; historic preservation, thoughtful development and an interesting and sustainable community.
AzK: Where are upcoming BCC events scheduled?
SW: We have a film at The Clarendon, Tuesday August 28, 7pm, on the Phoenix-based architect Al Beadle, whose mid-century works dot the Phoenix landscape.
The film was made by local director Suzanne Johnson, and she’ll be attending the screening and do a Q and A following the film. She’ll also have the definitive book on Al Beadle’s work, “Constructions”, available for sale.
For the series, which will be six shows in all, the admission will be free because of Reid’s sponsorship, and we are working on other spots and films right now. I wanted to start with places that had a/c and eventually move to a larger space with “bring your own chairs”, like Bragg’s Pie Factory.
AzK: Starting in November, No Festival Required will also be hosting a film series at SMoCA. Can you give us some background on this upcoming series and a hint of what we might expect to see?
SW: SMoCA (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts) contacted me about a new space they are building to form a “lounge” for lectures, meetings, events, music and the quotient they asked me about, film. The interior is being designed by Janis Leonard, whose local works include Hanny’s, AZ/88 and Six. The film line-up is being developed literally right now. I am finding it a very collaborative experience, which is a great thing.
With continued sponsorship from Woodesign, a company I’ve known for many years and who sponsored shows for me at Phoenix Art Museum and now SMoCA, we plan three screenings - one a month in November, January and February. There will be an effort at some point to seek other sponsors for both the SMoCA shows and the BCC series to continue, as this is how I pay myself and the filmmakers.
AzK: What’s your view of Arizona’s independent film industry - from the filmmakers to cinemas - and what role do you see yourself playing in the foreseeable future?
SW: The arthouse cinema world, and film in general, is undergoing rapid change. By 2013, major distributors and studios will not be shipping film to theaters. They will all have to go digital or only show classics, and even those will be held by the studios as it’s less profitable to print and ship cans of film across the country than to send a digital file. Most will retrofit by 2012, and with so many filmmakers shooting digital anyway, it’s somewhat silly to shoot digital and then get a film print made.
For me right now, having the ability to screen films in high-quality on my own equipment anywhere where there’s power and an audience is very appealing, as well as working with SMoCA and other ventures that support thoughtful provocative cinema. My role will be what it’s always been, to respect and honor the filmmaker’s work with great presentation and payment, and bring quality cinema without the trappings of the festival circuit to an appreciative audience. My own quirky way of programming has found a following everywhere I’ve screened, so I plan to continue as long as I find good films and an appreciative audience.
[ photo (of Steve Weiss) by Rachel Luptak ]
by Ashley Naftule
“We are trying to close fifteen yards between the audience and us; and the White Stripes want that fifteen yards.” - Billy Childish
The title of this article is deceiving: I don’t have a garage. If I did, I’m damn sure I wouldn’t read inside one. The prospect of reclining on a pile of tools or sitting on top of a spare tire, slowly paging through a good read as the smell of oil pooling on the floor drifts up my nose… well, it doesn’t seem nearly as attractive as reading on the comfort of my couch. I just threw that in to be a shitty subtitle, which gives me something in common with the book I just finished reading, Eric Davidson’s We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001.
Before you read the rest of my review, reread the title of Davidson’s book again. If the words“Gunk”, “Punk”, and “Undergut” being strung together in that fashion doesn’t make your eyes want to grow mouths so they could vomit all over your screen, then you and I, dear reader, were born on different planets.
When someone says “I’ve got good news and bad news”, I’m the kind of person who always wants to hear the bad news to get it out of the way. We Never Learn is an excellent book, and for lovers of rock history, tales of tour debauchery, and good interviews, its damn near indispensable. It has a few faults, though, which I’ll talk about first to get it out of the way. Gunk Punk, for starters. In the introduction, the author expresses his ambivalence about the phrase “garage rock” and proposes the use of “gunk punk” as an alternative tail to pin on his book’s donkey, said ass being the rowdier, Sonics-loving, beer-soaked, and production-values-be-damned segment of the rock underground. Oddly, perhaps sensing just how retarded a phrase gunk punk is, its almost never used in the book. I noted it popping up maybe a handful of times, whereas “garage” appears on almost every other page.
The other two beefs I have with We Never Learn: Davidson can lay the hyperbole on pretty thick. He’s enthusiastic about his subject, and makes no bones about how biased he is towards it, but he can pile the praise high on so many of the acts he writes about it gets kind of ridiculous (a minor nit to pick, admittedly, esp. considering I can be quite hyperbolic in my own writings).
Beef #2: Davidson is too humble. Davidson was a member of the New Bomb Turks, who according to the book, had toured and interacted and had dealings with at least 90% of the people in this book. They are the “Zelig” of garage rock, and yet he says very little about his group’s history. While its refreshing that the dude would rather wave other bands’ flags and cheerlead the movement, there were moments where I yearned for him to raise his own flag and give some more context on how the New Bomb Turks fit into this scene.
Now that the bad news has been told, let’s move on to the good. We Never Learn is the best kind of music history book, in that it immediately made me want to hunt down at least half of the acts it wrote about. Davidson makes these groups sound GREAT, and helpfully provides a list of essential singles and albums to seek out at the end of the book (the book also comes with a free 20-song download). The scope of his book is vast: while he writes mostly about American bands, he also devotes chapters to groups from France, Sweden, Japan, and England. He interviews musicians as well as zine writers, label heads, and record collectors to give a broad overview of all the people involved in building and maintaining this ramshackle, discordant scene.
I think part of the reason why I was so wowed by this book is that, I must confess, I know little about garage music. I’m well-versed in punk and indie music, and I’ve listened to my share of Sonics songs and given “Nuggets” a spin on several occasions. It used to be, when I heard “garage rock” referred to modern music, I would think of the White Stripes, The Hives, etc.
The great feat this book accomplishes is showing how small a worldview that is and how deeply neglectful rock critics were in covering the subculture that spawned groups like the White Stripes. I had never heard of The Devil Dogs, The Country Teasers, Dead Moon, The Oblivians, The Cheater Slicks, The Gories, or The Rip-Offs before reading this book. Now that I’ve consumed We Never Learn, the next time I hear someone say “garage rock”, those will be the names that come to mind. Along with the many, many other groups Davidson covers that I‘ve heard about, like Guitar Wolf, Teengenerate, Turbonegro, The Dwarves, The Mummies and Billy Childish (whose interview is so good it justifies the purchase of the book all by itself).
If We Never Learn had another subtitle, it should have been “Everyone Fucking Hates Jack White”. It’s kind of amazing: folks from Childish to Jim Diamond to the Dirtbombs rag on the Stripes front man. It’s a consistent theme in the book, the sheer douchiness of the man and his pariah status. And based on the stories told in the book, its kinda hard to disagree with their grim assessment. Though the best Stripes-related story goes to foreword writer Byron Coley, who explains how part of the credit for the White Stripes buzz-y guitar sound goes to folks from Wolf Eyes for messing with Jack’s amp. Speaking of Coley: when is HE going to write a music history book? Never mind the mountains of liner notes the man has written, just a cursory glance at “Forced Exposure” and the “Bull Tongue” columns he used to write with Thurston Moore for now-defunct Arthur magazine show a VAST knowledge of music. And the dude can write. Hopefully one day he’ll drop his own version of “Our Band Could Be Your Life” and blow our minds all the way to Andromeda.
If you love the Sonics and their throat/speaker destroying howling, read this book. If you love punk music, read this book. If you love reading about a subject that rarely gets its due, read this book. Just please don’t try and perpetuate this “gunk punk” nonsense. Lovers of music writing are already besieged with hundreds of idiotic sub-genre names, and we don’t need another earwig to burrow its way into our chewed-on discourse.
And if you enjoy book reviews that use the word fuck for no reason, rejoice! I’ve got a couple of other books I’ll be covering soon: Retromania by Simon Reynolds and Supergods by Grant Morrison. Until then, dear readers, mind your paper cuts and flex your heads.
Alternative Press added an exclusive stream of AJJ’s Hate, Rain on Me today, from the forthcoming Knife Man album (available Sept. 20, on Asian Man Records).
You can listen to the new song exclusively HERE.