Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Amy Oden’s excellent documentary film From the Back of the Room at Seattle’s eclectic and indispensable Northwest Film Forum. As anyone can read on the film’s website, the “documentary chronicles the past 30 years of female involvement in DIY punk, and has interviews with over 30 women from across the country, ages 17 to 40. Race, gender, sexuality, motherhood, class, and activism”
The film is not only a reminder of the efforts and achievements of women in the arts, it is a reminder that everyone can, if they take on the responsibility, assert their place as valid and respectful progenitors and guardians of culture and of each other, and anyone can re-politicize art for social benefit. The pace of our daily lives increases at a cost to our meaningful participation in society. It is good to be reminded however that we are society. We can still be the change we want to see.
The indefatigable Ted Leo was at a small auditorium at the Henry Art Gallery on Friday, February 25 doing a solo show put on by UW’s Rainy Dawg Radio. Indefatigable may be a hyperbole, considering his recent comments, however clarified and defused, hinting at retirement and his postponement of about 2 weeks of dates at the beginning of his tour. The pictures tell the story. The lighting wasn’t so great, we were seated (a guaranteed mood-killer), the sound was sub-par, the audience was a bit too hushed, and Ted was fighting his way through the onset of a cold. All that said, it’s always a pleasure to see the hardest working man in rock managing not to sell out for one more year. He pushed through whatever he was fighting to deliver a solid performance. I don’t think this guy can put on a bad show.
I can (proudly?) say I contributed one moment of hilarity to the nearly nonexistent banter between Ted and the audience (I mentioned the audience was quiet, right?). Hoping to hear a favorite track off his debut solo record from ’99, a little ditty called “The Northeast Corridor”, I piped up during one of those airless pockets of absolute non-interaction the audience was showering the stage with to request… a nonexistent song called “The Northwest Passage.” In the abbreviated parlance of today, that was a superfan fail. It did manage to animate the audience a bit, though, and the gracious Mr. Leo was very nice about my request being for something on the opposite side of the country from where the subject of the song should have been and the fact that he hadn’t rehearsed that one.
Still a good show, though.
One question for the Ted Leo-lovin’ world at large- I guess I can understand why no one ever asks him to play the brilliant songs off the first record (that might be an obscure entry in the catalog, what with all the tape noise and effects noise tracks filling out the incredible songwriting), but why am I the only one who requests “The Great Communicator” at shows? Has everyone forgotten about that one?