Archive for September, 2007

You never outgrow a need for toys

September 26th, 2007

mechahawaiiThe non-kiddie toy craze was a little slow coming here, but you need only check out Split Obsession at Koko Marina
Shopping Center; Mechahawaii, Urbanz Toys and Toys n’ Joys in Kaimuki, and In4mation to know a rush is underway.

Check out the Star-Bulletin’s Boomtown magazine insert (page 56) in today’s paper or this week’s Midweek for
my short story on Mechahawaii and Urbanz Toys. The figure here is from Mechahawaii.

Split Obsession I’ve covered twice in six months because owners Bruce Chin and Erica Apana keep bringing in international artists to add color to the local scene. I’m all for that. Without that injection of energy, the pool can get pretty stagnant on an island.

buff monster

Nadine Kam photo
Buff Monster poses with ice cream — might have been pistachio — and Split Obsession owners Bruce Chin and Erica Apana, wearing the limited-edition T-shirt and tank top created for the early August event. They promise more such artist collaborations to come.

Last artist Split Obsession brought in was Buff
Monster, who lives in L.A., but hails from Hawaii.
These days he’s all about things pink and showed up at
an in-store celebration and exhibition in a pink shirt. Gotta love a guy who’s unafraid of
pink. (more…)

Looks like the ’80s!

September 25th, 2007

Michael Aston

Nadine Kam photo
Michael Aston fronts Gene Loves Jezebel, delivering a laidback
opening performance during the “Lost ’80s Live” concert Sept. 22.

Debated for the longest time whether or not to go to the Lost ’80s Live concert Saturday night at Aloha Tower Marketplace, which, by the way, is a great venue for acts unlikely to start a riot. I wanted to see Gene Loves Jezebel, a band I missed when they came here about 20 years ago? Scary how time flies. Given a choice, I prefer to see bands in their prime and my one regret is not having gone to see Rage Against the Machine in their last concert here. I didn’t want to get stomped and now I’m kicking myself for not going!

Nadine Kam video
Listen to Gene Loves Jezebel in concert.Anyway, Gene Loves Jezebel. So interesting because, of all bands, this one bears the distinction of being the only one whose album “Kiss of Life,” is in the collection of all my siblings, which is extremely weird because we all have very different tastes in music with virtually no crossover. I knew nothing about them except that Michael Aston is not exactly a great singer (his estranged brother Jay was the real wailer responsible for “Kiss of Life”), but definitely has one of the most intriguing voices on the planet which he uses to great effect through unusual vocal phrasing and scales. Maybe it’s his South Wales thing but I haven’t heard anything like it since. The band delivered a laidback performance and Aston’s bandmates compensated for notes he can no longer reach, admitting at one point that “your voice drops” as a person gets older.
80s look80s couple
Nadine Kam photos
Dressed for fun. Other ’80s getups spotted included
Madonna-esque frothy mini skirts and mesh gloves,
punk hair, and raglan-sleeve duotone KISS
baseball shirt. I don’t miss ’80s dress at all.

The idea of sitting through the other bands, Dramarama, When in Rome and Flock of Seagulls was daunting because ’80s music actually drove me away from chart/radio-friendly music. The ’80s, it seems to me, was about fantasy and over-the-top excess (in a bad way vs. today’s luxurious way), from clothes, to dry overblown permed hair, to the sound of fake instruments, especially synth drums. It drove me to playing music myself and the guitar god rock of Yngwie Malmsteen, Greg Howe, Vinnie Moore, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, eventually to bands like Metallica, Megadeth (whose guitarist at the time was from Hawaii and sent his drummer to my teacher Chuck James) and Anthrax, which put me in line to fall in love with the Seattle explosion of the late ’80s through early ’90s. Sigh. Those were the best of times.

At the concert, one of the ’80s fans told me how much he loved the music because “it was the last time music was happy.”

When in Rome
Nadine Kam photo
When in Rome singer John Ceravolo gets s
upport from the crowd after climbing up
against the barrier between the stage
and the audience.

Nadine Kam video
Dramarama performance of “Anything, Anything” in which I am up to my neck in sweaty armpits in the end.

Fair enough. The music was happy. The crowd was definitely happy. And I ended up staying for the whole show. The greatest thing about going to a concert surrounded by a bunch of old people is that they have other outlets for their energy so up close to the stage I didn’t have to worry about getting an elbow or combat boot in the face. Well, that is until Dramarama performed “Anything, Anything,” a song I’ve covered. At its finale, the singer John Easdale came over the barrier and the crowd surged forward to grab him — why they want to touch a sweaty stranger I’ll never know — but I got all these sweaty arms across the face without being mentally ready for it. Yuck! With any luck, I’ll be able to post my video for you.