18 January 2007
GUEST RIFF WEDNESDAYS: SOMETIMES HAPPEN ON THURSDAYS
Today’s Guest Riff Wednesdays comes from Jelena Kristic. Also since it’s Thursday I’ll probably put something up about Jim Jones or the Dipset guys, I’m pretty sure I’ll have some things to say about them later today. Thanks for reading. -NBS
I heard Seu Jorge play at MoMA Tuesday night to celebrate Doug Aitken’s sleepwalkers opening. sleepwalkers consists of five films depicting five characters and their life in the big city, each projected on MoMA’s walls seen from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The bigwig dinner started at 8 and the cool suitless kids shuffled in around 10. Between 8 and 10, Connelly’s “the Original Connelly’s” Bar slash Restaurant was packed and smelled like farts.
Seu Jorge I know from his soundtrack work on Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a movie not many people liked. The soundtrack was all Seu and what Seu did was cover David Bowie songs via his Brazilian bossa nova, samba-style pop. Seu would appear in scenes of the film with his trusty guitar, and look like a pirate while singing Bowie, mostly in Portuguese and sometimes in English.
His MoMA set consisted of five songs, one of which was “Rebel, Rebel” (smooth jazz remix) and one in which he summoned the crowd to sing with him but then realized no one knew the words. There were as many heads checking out whatever or whoever was backward, leftward and rightward as there were heads staring frontward watching the show. Either way, after Seu would finish strumming out a song, the crowd applauded and hooted, turning the place into some sort of middle school basketball game. A girl on the stairway was swaying her hips.
It wasn’t a concert, in other words. It was live music for a MoMA opening. But it wasn’t really an opening either. The artworks in question--Aitken’s films--were turned off by 10. “Where’s the free booze?” asked one short man as he entered the lobby, addressing no one in particular.
What bothered me wasn’t the free boozing priority but rather the event’s uncomfortable feeling of exoticism. It felt too domesticated. The dredded performer in a beautiful purple suit warbling in Portuguese looked and felt like a cute commission, even though it ostensibly made sense – Seu was a special character in one of Aitken’s films, and now he was performing his special music for special art lovers. Maybe this atmosphere was unavoidable given the smooth jazz (corporate remix) air of MoMA's new building, filled with people who probably have “money” as their email passwords. Except a couple months ago I remember one massive ruckus that totally activated MoMA’s lobby—Les Savy Fav, dressed as cat burglars, with Tim Harrington’s lovehandles throttling us for our attention, bad acoustics aside. Anyway, the free booze is by the coat check and on second floor, look out for towering flower arrangements.
92 GUEST RIFFS