Hearsay: Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Trans-Euro Express

A.C. Identity might be the best thing that never happened to krautrock. What was heard last weekend in the lounge of Ridglea Theater from this new project of Nathan Brown’s had Euro-trash genius written all over it. The arrangement featured Brown on keyb’s and vocals, the bespectacled Geoffrey Wossum — appropriately nerdy, togged up in a CompuServe t-shirt — on keyb’s, and Ken Jones on the silent guitar (“silent” because it ultimately proved ineffectual). This was Brown’s show. (Brown’s stopping a song to tell Wossum his keyb was out of tune added to the drama that had infected the set all night — there were a lot of technical problems.) A redneck in the room took one gander at the relaxed outfit and said, “Dem dudes are stoners.” Not quite. While the laid-back atmosphere engendered by the musicians screamed “hippie,” the music was on a plane where computers interlock their male and female plugs/sockets — pure synthetic, aloof, cold, digital love.

Whatever little humanity survived in the music came from Brown and his wry sensibility. One of the most unforgettable bits of the show — and of the past few shows by other artists here in clubland — happened during a number called “Business Children.” A deep groove rumbled, then stopped to let the mere twinkle of a Casio beat carry the song while Brown rapped, Beck-style, over top. The catch line that Brown repeated at the end of every rap — to signal, simultaneously, the return to the groove, an admonition to his fellow musicians that they better be ready to rock, and, in the context of the lyrics, the defeatism natural to living in the corporate world — was “let’s go to work,” and every time he said it the smallish crowd of hipsters (and a few very respectful, obviously open-minded rednecks) responded with giggles of amazement, like “that’s so cool it’s funny.” The crowning moment of the song was when Brown busted out the Speak & Spell and played letters. Utterly classic.

The end of the set was also not without its humanity: Brown, a real bohemian (he sleeps in his van when he’s not staying with friends), passed out flyers/applications to audience members to let him spend a month or two in their houses. The name of the program is “Adopt the Nathan.” Interested foster folks can contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com for a copy of the application, which will be snail-mailed to you. It’s the least your columnist can do to help out one of Fort Worth’s true musical treasures.

Malcolm’s Makeover

Ain’t nothing wrong with a straight rock critic getting a makeover in the pages of the Startlegram by four gay guys. HearSay’s problem is with the motivation behind the new look — what purpose, other than generating potentially interesting newspaper copy, is served by turning someone who writes about music for a living into a dandified accountant? The answer: To make the city’s only daily newspaper dumber than ever.

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com.

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