Thursday, July 22, 2010
There are plenty of Comic-Con parties to choose from this weekend, along with some good music and a children's film festival.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. So, you didn't get your tickets for Comic-Con and it's too late now and you're sad and you don't know what you're going to do this weekend. Well, don't despair, there are lots of interesting things to do around San Diego that have nothing to do with Comic Con...although most of them actually do have something to do with it. Anyway, we’re – here to give us the fabulous Weekend Preview are my guests. Liz Bradshaw is curator at The Loft at UCSD, and, Liz, welcome.
LIZ BRADSHAW (Curator, The Loft, University of California San Diego): Hi, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Nina Garin is features and entertainment reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. And, Nina, welcome.
NINA GARIN (Features/Entertainment Reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune): Thank you. Hello.
CAVANAUGH: Hello. Now, as we know, we’ve just been talking about Comic-Con 2010. But one thing that people may not realize is that there are plenty of parties happening outside the convention walls this weekend. You’ve both looked into all the offerings. You have a few highlights. Liz, the Icon Party is happening on Saturday, I believe it is. What can you tell about – us about this and it goes on all day?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, it does. And so if Coachella and Comic-Con had a child, they would call it Icon. And so what I wanted to say about Icons is it’s more than just an after party that’s going on. It’s local promoters, Jon Block Creations and West Coast Club Life have actually taken over about 30,000 square feet of Horton Plaza where a department store used to be and they are hosting a full-on pop culture experience. So this is especially great if you don’t have tickets to Comic-Con but…
BRADSHAW: …you still want to get some of the vibe of all the weird and wonderful things that are going on there. They’re going to be from 11:00 ‘til 5:00, it’s an all-ages event. It’s only five dollars and there’s going to be fashion, film, music and art. And there’s a movie theater in there that’s been curated by a local company, Mental Eclectic, and one of the films being featured will be a popular web series filmed in San Diego called “The Universal Dead.” D.B. Sweeney, the actor, will be there, that’s in the series, and he’ll be doing a Q&A panel afterwards. There’ll be a fashion show. There’s live music and performances from the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, which is definitely a sight to behold if you’ve not caught him. And a group called the Canton Mudders, who I’m particularly excited about, and you can expect tongue-in-cheek musical performances with lyrics about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek versus Star Wars, and then deejays like DJ Skullcrusher and Thierry Jean and things like that.
CAVANAUGH: Tell us – tell me, I believe that fashion show you mentioned is called a Geek Fashion Show?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, so the Geek Fashion Show is actually happening in the evening portion…
BRADSHAW: …of the event that kicks off at 9:00 p.m. and is expected to go 3:00 until about 4:00 a.m. actually. So, yeah, it’s a huge day for these guys, it really is. And so it’s worth sort of saying that, you know, I think a lot of people actually find geeky really sexy. It’s only a small part of the word geek that’s derogatory. I think, you know, most people think it’s pretty cool. And so you can expect kind of sexy-geek called geek-chic from this fashion show, think high fashion meets comic strip fashion. Harley Quinn from “Batman,” Lara Croft, that kind of thing.
CAVANAUGH: I see. I see.
BRADSHAW: And then one of the locals schools will be over there styling the models and there’ll be a super hero part. There’ll be things like snakes, latex body paint, fire-throwers going down the runway. They’ve got circus acts and hula-hoopers and all sorts of stuff. It’s going to be a real special…
CAVANAUGH: One important point in that is the night portion of the Icon party, it’s 21 and up, right?
BRADSHAW: It is 21 and up, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right.
BRADSHAW: So it’s a bit more adult than the daytime.
CAVANAUGH: It sounds it.
CAVANAUGH: Nina, you want to recommend the red carpet at the Entertainment Weekly party. Why is that?
GARIN: Well, there’s a lot of parties happening and it’s hard to kind of figure out which one you want to go to. But if you really just want to see the stars, the Entertainment Weekly party is where the stars go, and these are real stars that people even outside of Comic-Con have heard of.
CAVANAUGH: What people are we talking about?
GARIN: We have actors like Ryan Reynolds, Blair Underwood, Aubrey Plaza, who’s on “Parks and Rec,” my favorite show, Seth MacFarlane, who does all the animation on Fox, pretty much. So you can – you can’t go into the party but you can go to the red carpet and you can watch them go in.
CAVANAUGH: I see, just like a real red carpet.
GARIN: Yeah, like a real red carpet.
CAVANAUGH: And where is this happening?
GARIN: That is at Hotel Solemar, which is on Sixth Avenue, and the red carpet begins at 8:30.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right. So if you want to just line outside of the ropes…
CAVANAUGH: …and just look at the rich and beautiful people go into the party.
GARIN: It’s a watch them party. Then go there.
CAVANAUGH: Now, Liz, there’s a lot of clubs and bars downtown throwing parties with Comic-Con themes. Can you recommend a couple?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I would say – I would imagine that pretty much every single bar downtown is going to be…
BRADSHAW: …by default some sort of Comic-Con theme. One thing that really caught my eye, one of my favorite deejays from LA, DJ Franki Chan, who has a record label that’s actually aptly named I Heart Comics, will be coming down to this year’s Comic-Con for the 8th year running and along with having a booth at the expo they’re going to be running a Pop Cult party which starts at 9:00 p.m. at the Voyeur. Also features Franki Chan and Holy Ghost as well and Mike Relm deejaying at that one. I think it’s ten bucks to get in. Not bad. Goes from 9:00 until late. Ought to be a great one. The Onyx Room’s going to be throwing themed after parties on Friday and Saturday, and then media company The Tweet House will be throwing a party on the USS Midway on Friday…
BRADSHAW: …which I thought sounded quite interesting. A ton of special guests and celebrity video mashup artists who’ll be kind of spinning tunes and videos throughout the night.
CAVANAUGH: And how much is that one?
BRADSHAW: That’s $25.00.
BRADSHAW: So that one’s going to set you back a few more but I would imagine that’ll be like a whole night. You’ll probably go there and stay there and enjoy that full-on experience. And then the Hard Rock Hotel has a rock star media suite lounge that’s happening Thursday, Friday and Saturday and it’s rumored or it’s likely that you’ll see people like Seth Green and Mark Wahlberg as expected guests, hanging out by the pool up there.
CAVANAUGH: Be still my heart. Now, Nina, there’ll be films screening in the convention parking lot, is that right?
GARIN: Sort of. Well, not actual films but preview screenings. Tomorrow, I don’t know if I can say this on the air. There’s a sneak peek at “Jackass 3-D.”
CAVANAUGH: You did.
GARIN: Okay. It’s, you know, the movie about juvenile stunts and pranks.
GARIN: So that is happening in just like a random parking lot behind Stingaree and so I just expect to see a lot of bruises happening after that event. That address is 416 Sixth Avenue, so I don’t know exactly where it is but…
GARIN: And then there’s one tonight that you can see. Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming movie “Machete.”
CAVANAUGH: Is in preview.
GARIN: Yeah, it’s just like a short preview of it.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, and there’s a rumor that tacos will be served at that?
GARIN: Yes, they’re setting up a “Machete” taco cart and apparently the director, Robert Rodriguez, and Michelle Rodriguez, the star, they’re supposed to be the ones serving the food.
GARIN: So we’ll see.
CAVANAUGH: And where is that again?
GARIN: This one is in the 5 Star Parking lot on Fifth Avenue and J Street. The food is from five to eight, and the movie screening’s at nine.
CAVANAUGH: Well, it’s just absolutely going to be a panic down there this weekend. There’s no doubt about that.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s move on to something that doesn’t really have anything to do with the Comic-Con, I think. Nina, there’s a Yacht Rock party at the Whistlestop Bar. What is yacht rock?
GARIN: I’m going to give you two definitions.
GARIN: Technically, yacht rock is the soft music that was popular in the seventies and eighties, like Michael McDonald and Toto, Loggins & Messina, stuff that yuppies listened to while they were cruising on their sailboats enjoying a sweet time. So, but a new generation is embracing it and now there’s these Yacht Rock Nights that are hosted by a local deejay, DJ Claire. That is one yacht rock. Another series of this is that they are videos. They are kind of like terrible but hilarious spoofs about the fake Kenny Loggins trying to write music for a fake Michael McDonald, and there’s 12 of these. They’re online and they’re hosted by a guy named Hollywood Steve.
CAVANAUGH: And Hollywood Steve is going to be at the Whistlestop Bar?
GARIN: Yeah, apparently he got word of this and is coming down for it.
CAVANAUGH: Now how popular is this? Do we have any idea, Nina?
GARIN: Well, the first two were – they drew a lot of people. The bar was full and it was great fun and listening to Doobie Brothers on a Saturday at sunset is pretty ideal, so it brought a lot of people.
CAVANAUGH: Now do you have to dress up in any way? Like a seventies garb or…?
GARIN: Well, actually they encourage nautical so…
CAVANAUGH: Nautical, okay.
GARIN: …stripes, topsiders…
BRADSHAW: Deck shoes.
BRADSHAW: Sounds great, that.
GARIN: White pants.
CAVANAUGH: So that’s DJ Claire’s Yacht Rock Party Saturday night at the Whistlestop Bar on Fern Street. Liz, Swedish singer/songwriter Robyn is in town. Tell us about her sound.
BRADSHAW: Wow, pop, fun pop, dance pop, electro pop, party pop. It’s just great. Great, great pop music. A bit of a Euro sound there. Robyn’s actually from Sweden and has been recording since the nineties. In the late nineties she actually broke into the U.S. Billboard’s Top 10, I believe, with a couple of hits and then had a real kind of international comeback in 2006-2007 with her last self-titled album. Went into the Top 10 in the UK. She was nominated for a Swedish Grammy, has toured with Madonna, is currently out with Calise and is visting the Bellyup tonight. For me, Robyn is definitely one of those really cool pop artists who manage to kind of transcend that bridge between kind of teenyboppers and then the hipster crowd.
BRADSHAW: So, you know, everybody loves her. She’s something for everyone.
CAVANAUGH: Well, she’s has this longevity now. She has a new album out called “Body Talk, Part 1.” What do you think of it?
BRADSHAW: You know, it makes me want to have my own iPod party.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, why can’t you?
BRADSHAW: Well, I can. I can, you know, bop around at my desk while I… But, honestly and seriously, the beat is almost like a, you know, a Casio keyboard demo beat behind it, certainly not meaning that in a derogatory way, it’s so fun. It just makes you want to get up and dance. She’s got great videos, too. And actually “Body Talk Part 1,” there’s also going to be Body Talk Part 2 and 3. Part 2, expected release I think’s around September and Part 3 is December this year. So she obviously has so much material and she just feels the need to get it out there and get everybody going.
CAVANAUGH: Well, we can hear a little from the new album. This is Robyn with “Dancing on My Own.”
(audio clip of Robyn performing “Dancing on My Own” from the album “Body Talk Part 1”)
CAVANAUGH: We’ve all been to parties like that. Robyn with “Dancing on My Own” from her album called “Body Talk Part 1.” What can you tell us, Liz, about Robyn’s opening acts?
BRADSHAW: Well, you’ve got Dan Black on this concert and also the Far East Movement. Similar kind of fun, electro-pop and even some hip-hop tones that are coming through there. Dan Black’s based out of Paris and London. He’s very, very cool. He has a single out right now featuring Kid Cudi and so that’s got much more of a hip-hop vibe to it and then the Far East Movement, again, slightly a bit more kind of beat’s laden in hip-hop. And I think seriously the theme of the night is going to be dance, dance, dance.
CAVANAUGH: It sounds like it.
BRADSHAW: I would not be surprised if you see, you know, wannabes from – for America’s Best Dance crew kind of busting some moves on the dance floor. Maybe I’ll be there doing that, I don’t know…
CAVANAUGH: Watch out for Liz.
BRADSHAW: …because it sounds like fun but I did want to say quickly…
BRADSHAW: …that I think this show’s nearly sold out so if you’re interested in going you better move quickly and get your tickets. So…
CAVANAUGH: That’s Robyn playing the Bellyup Tavern in Solana Beach and that is tonight. So, Nina, Del Mar’s free summer concert series kicks off this Friday, a local favorite indie band Pinback is going to be featured. Give us a background on this band.
GARIN: Pinback is basically two guys, Zach Smith and Rob Crow, and together these two have been in pretty much every good local band that we have, like Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot. Pinback, however, is one of these guys’ most successful bands.
CAVANAUGH: Well, what have they been up – what has this band been up to lately?
GARIN: Actually, not much.
GARIN: Why not, guys? But they have been touring lately, and they’re touring without a full band, so they are kind of playing their songs by themselves and new interpretations of what we’re used to hearing is what kind of we will hear when they…
CAVANAUGH: Sort of like an unplugged kind of a thing?
GARIN: Like an unplugged but their music’s very complex and so they kind – they have to re-imagine what they do and, you know, normally when they have a live band. So what we’re going to hear probably won’t sound like what we hear on the record.
GARIN: So that’s pretty cool.
CAVANAUGH: Well, we have – we actually have a cut from a record. Let’s hear a song from Pinback. This is “Good to See.”
(audio clip of Pinback performing “Good to See”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s the group Pinback playing “Good to See.” And Pinback is going to be playing the Del Mar Racetrack’s Four O’clock Friday concert series. Now they played Del Mar before and I’m wondering, Nina, what are their shows like? High energy or more mellow?
GARIN: Well, they’re a mix. The music isn’t very high energy but the guys themselves are pretty silly and playful. In other bands, Rob Crow has come out practically naked or wearing a tutu. They don’t really do that in Pinback but they have that tendency. So…
CAVANAUGH: Certainly not at Del Mar.
BRADSHAW: Big hats.
GARIN: So it’s not really people with their arms crossed like at normal indie shows but there’s a little bit of that.
CAVANAUGH: Now tell us more about the Del Mar concert series. Who else is playing this year, Nina?
GARIN: This happens every Friday after the last race.
GARIN: And it brings some really good bands through. Like we also are getting The Soft Pack, which is another one of San Diego’s super buzz bands. Then there’s the ones that, you know, a lot more popular like B-52s, Ozomatli, Common Sense and the English Beat, they’re all up on the schedule.
CAVANAUGH: Wow, that’s great. So, just to reiterate. Pinback plays the Del Mar Racetrack Four O’Clock Friday concert series at four this Friday. We move on, more music, Liz. The Black Seeds are in town this weekend. Tell us about this band.
BRADSHAW: Umm-hmm. So the Black Seeds are from New Zealand and I actually have a bit of a thing for bands and comedians from New Zealand.
CAVANAUGH: You do?
BRADSHAW: The Black Seeds are one of them and an amazing group called Fat Freddy’s Drop are another. And there’s this excellent soul dub reggae funk big beat sound that comes from bands like the Black Seeds, from Fat Freddy’s Drop, from Salmonella Dub. They’re a big group. There’s 8 of them in the group. They’re led on vocals by Barnaby Weir and Daniel Weetman and the music’s really, you know, it – lyrically, they’re pretty much about peace, love and positive vibes. I mean, they do cross over into the darker side sometimes but it’s good, feel good, summertime reggae vibe soul music. They put their first album out in 2001 actually, and haven’t toured all that much over in North America, so this is definitely, you know, a really good time to check them out.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you know, when you say the word reggae, New Zealand does not automatically pop to mind. Do we know anything about how this band came to be?
BRADSHAW: You know, they’re from Wellington, New Zealand and, you know, part of a collective of, you know, just a lot of musicians that would kind of play together. There’s a great kind of—from what I know about New Zealand, unfortunately I haven’t been—there seems to me like there’s a great kind of community, a collective vibe with the folks that play music and create art and stuff like that. So, you know, as far as that goes, I can also tell you that Brett McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords, one of my favorite New Zealand comedic duos, actually used to be in the Black Seeds as well, and he’s played with, you know, other groups like the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra. So they definitely, you know, all play together and collaborate on different projects and stuff.
CAVANAUGH: We have a cut from the Black Seeds. Here’s a song from them called “Cool Me Down.”
(audio clip of the Black Seeds performing “Cool Me Down”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s called “Cool Me Down.” The Black Seeds. What kind of live show do they put on, Liz?
BRADSHAW: You know, I think by nature when you get that many musicians on stage, you’re going to get a unique experience when you go to one of their shows. They’re going to mix things up. You know, they’ve got a percussion section, a brass section, a couple of vocalists, and so I would expect, you know, a few extended versions of songs and long jams and kind of, you know, mood lighting. I think people in the audience are going to be dancing in a different kind of way than they’re going to be dancing at Robyn. I would imagine less franticly and less fist-bumping and more kind of swaying and head-bumping but it’s – it’ll be a super fun kind of mellow good summertime show.
CAVANAUGH: But, still, dancing going on as the Black Seeds play the Bellyup Tavern in Solana Beach this Sunday evening. Nina, the Children’s International Film Festival starts on Sunday. It runs all this month. What kind of films are shown at this festival?
GARIN: All kinds of films.
GARIN: They have – they’re films from all around the world and there’s everything from animation, live action, even documentary but they’re made for young viewers.
CAVANAUGH: And what kind of ages? Are they broken down by ages, these films?
GARIN: No, they’re not. They’re just made for all ages, though I haven’t seen them so I don’t know if they’re scary or good for sensitive kids. But they’re shown in one-hour blocks, which is perfect because that’s the amount of time that it takes for kids to get squirmy.
CAVANAUGH: Attention span, yes.
CAVANAUGH: What kind of launch of the festival is taking place this weekend?
GARIN: Well, they’re being shown for free at Comic-Con. And if you have tickets for Comic-Con, you can see them and they’ll be there. Otherwise, you have to wait until next weekend when they screen at the new Children’s Museum and after that you can find them at the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Carlsbad Library and San Marcos Civic Center Plaza, and that’s running through mid-August.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, that’s great. Okay, so you get a lot of opportunity.
CAVANAUGH: Are you looking forward to any of the films being screened throughout this whole month-long festival?
GARIN: Well, honestly, I’ve not heard of any of them. So, no. But I think that’s part of the fun of going to a film festival.
GARIN: Yeah, just going in with no expectations. There is a full length screening of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” however, which is popular and that’s on August 7 at MOPA. So I think people might be excited about that one.
CAVANAUGH: And, you know, if you take your kids out to see a show or a movie, you know, it can be pretty expensive. What kind of price range are we talking about?
GARIN: Well, they’re all free.
GARIN: So, that is…
GARIN: …great. There are places like the Children’s Museum where you need to pay to get into the museum.
GARIN: But on top of that, there’s no added cost.
CAVANAUGH: And tell us again where you can see them, starting at Comic-Con this weekend.
GARIN: Starting at Comic-Con then the new Children’s Museum downtown, Museum of Photographic Arts, the Carlsbad Library, and San Marcos Civic Center Plaza. And I have the website if you need that.
CAVANAUGH: Sure, yeah.
GARIN: sdchildrensfilm.org and there’s a complete schedule on there and it even has the names of the films that you can see.
CAVANAUGH: Terrific. That’s the San Diego Children’s International Film Festival. It runs from July 25th to August 15th. Thank you. There are things to do that don’t have anything to do…
GARIN: There are.
CAVANAUGH: …with Comic-Con.
BRADSHAW: All sorts of things going on.
CAVANAUGH: Liz Bradshaw, Nina Garin, thank you so much.
GARIN: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: I want to tell everyone that These Days is produced by Angela Carone, Hank Crook, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, Julien Pearce and senior producer Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Chris Maue. Our production assistant is Hilary Andrews. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.