Monday, March 17, 2008

Priceless Entertainment: Rachael Ray, Bad Jokes, and Japanese Ska-induced Riots

There was a line extending up the block, past two venues and a shady bail bonds office, and nearly into the next street’s crosswalk. Word had gotten out that ubiquitous celebrity chef and one-woman brand Rachael Ray was serving lunch at Beauty Bar.

Apparently the invite said something along the lines of “Rachael Ray, celebrity chef and indie music lover, invites you…” Indie music lover? And this whole time I thought her only love was for Wheat Thins.

We found our way inside where DJ Efren Ramirez (still coasting on his “Pedro from ‘Napoleon Dynamite’" fame) was spinning, but we continued on to the stage at the rear patio. The area was slowly filling, free margaritas were flowing, and the media empress herself was floating about in a sea of flashbulbs. Her food – ribs, mac and cheese, and bite-sized burgers – was being doled out and oh, did I mention her husband’s band (The Cringe) would be playing?

I have yet to listen to the free CDs they were giving out to see if the music is fittingly cringe-worthy – so for the meantime, let’s just say that it is.

Meanwhile, Autovaughn was wrapping its set and when the applause settled, I happened to again bump into our family friend. “Wow, you came to see Autovaughn!” he said.
“Sure,” I said. “There was a long line to get in because of Rachael Ray.”
“Who’s Rachael Ray?” he asked.

Apparently he’d been standing right next to the indie music lover herself during Autovaughn’s set and wasn’t quite sure why everyone was so excited to snap pictures of the hostess.

We boogied on outta there and headed up to the less-glitzy festivities at Waterloo Park. Making our way to Stage One, we were promised an afternoon of comedy. But what we got was some of the most groan-inducing repartee I have perhaps ever heard. This is, and I am not making this up, one of the jokes told by a showcasing comedian:

“The previous comedian mentioned Courtney Love. What’s glassier – Courtney Love’s stare or the glass floor Courtney Love walks on? The answer is C: Philip Glass.”

Yeah. I’m not sure I have any words to adequately describe just how bad the rest of the jokes were.

We wandered around for bit looking for something interesting, and found exactly that at Emo’s – an all teen girl Japanese ska band called Oreskaband – or maybe Ore Ska Band – I’m not really sure.

The thing I am sure about is how quickly a group of Asian girls in ties could motivate a group of 20-something boys to start a dance-induced mosh pit through their high energy tunes. Dancing and tooting on trumpets and saxophones, the band put on an impressive show – and all props must go to the amazing electric guitar player. She truly rocked.

To properly finish off a highly weird afternoon, we paid a stop to the Liverpool Sound City showcase – which could have easily doubled as a sauna. We caught a set by The Rascals – a UK group that’s practically indistinguishable from the Arctic Monkeys – but our real want was to see The Wombats.

While their full album may still not be available in the states, if you can get your hands on a copy of The Wombats’ “A Guide To Love, Loss, and Desperation,” it’s definitely worth listening to – many times. The album’s breakout hit, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” isn’t a question, it’s a command. Boogie.

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