Lee's Palace, Fri, October 20
It wasn't quite J.K. Rowling at the Skydome, but getting a few hundred folks out to Lee's Palace for a poetry reading was impressive anyway.
Brooklyn wordsmith Saul Williams's dramatic performance left the club silent Friday. Backed by a four-piece band including a DJ and cellist, he confirmed his reputation as his generation's Gil Scott-Heron. Voice booming and with a big book of rhymes in his hand, Williams alternated between straight-ahead, a cappella readings and frantic, hiphop-inspired rants that drew on dancehall shouts, snippets of Rakim and Public Enemy verses and Williams's own impressive beatboxing. It was as devastating as it sounds.
In fact, the only time the crowd did interrupt Williams was to shout out requests for older pieces like Twice The First Time. When was the last time you saw that at a poetry reading?
El Mo, Tues, October 17
The sight of fire trucks in front of the El Mocambo can't be a good thing.
Upon closer inspection, though, it turned out there was no disaster and no further brawls involving booker Dan Burke. Instead, the commotion concerned the tremendous number of people hoping to get in to see Wesley Willis. An above-capacity crowd for a Chicago schizophrenic poet whose preferred form of introduction is a solid head butt. Who knew?
With the law threatening to shut the whole thing down, the doors were closed and some ticket-holding fans were sent home empty-handed. The wise ones simply went downstairs to hear Los Angeles soul demolition crew the Bellrays bring the noise.
With her KISS shirt on and outrageous afro shaking above the crowd, shouter Lisa Kekaula did her best Tina Turner (Ike era), and men in the crowd took their clothes off. No insanity, but impressive nonetheless.
FULL BLAST CLOSING
Another record store shuts down
Following the sad demise of local record retailers Who's Emma?, Happy House and just recently Driftwood, Bloor West punk emporium Full Blast is the latest in a growing list of vinyl vendors to call it quits.
For the time being, Full Blast will be open during its regular hours of operation to sell off the remaining stock of indie rock and hardcore CDs and records. But the lease will be up on November 15, and doors will close at the 605 Bloor West hangout for good.
While Full Blast manager Louanne Voskans is clearly troubled by the turn of events, she felt the time was right to call it a day.
"It was a really difficult decision for me to make," says Voskans. "But it just turned out that my lease was up at the same time that my business loan for the place would finally be paid off, so it seemed like the right time to take a break.
"I need some time to myself to think things through so that if I reopen a store I'll be able to do things better for my customers and myself. In the meantime, I plan to continue running my business as a mail-order operation. People can reach me via e-mail at email@example.com, and I'll soon start sending out regular lists of available CDs and records.
"I really appreciate the support of everyone who came to Full Blast over the years and I know I'll miss seeing everyone, but I'm looking forward to spending some quality time on the couch in front of the TV."