Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hive Dwellers (Kings, Raleigh 4/2/12)

The Hive Dwellers is Calvin Johnson's latest band, he of K Records, Beat Happening, and Halo Benders fame. As much of a fan of his prior work as I've been, I'd never seen him live with any of his bands. What I saw was very entertaining, and probably (a bit like that deep baritone of a voice) a bit of an acquired taste to anyone unfamiliar with Johnson.

I don't know if his persona with this band reflects his usual stage antics, but what I saw and heard was part slam poet, part jazzbo/beatnik, part nightclub chanteuse, and a little Tai Chi. Funny, and fun (how could that combination NOT be?).

His songs are humorous, sometimes sweet stories. Highlights included Sitting Alone at the Movies, and Get In. The latter is an anthem for the disaffected, in which Calvin proceeds to rattle off an endless series of insulting names -- some reaching NC-17 depths -- for oddballs, minorities, geeks, and various outcasts. It's a bit cringe-worthy (in the way that David Cross's comedy can be), but the point is made. If you are weird, OWN IT! BE who you are, and make no apologies. And when all these "outcasts" are come together, they pretty much add up to... well... everybody (or at least 99%). Get in!

The audience was smaller than your usual Kings crowd (it was a Monday night), but very appreciative. So was Calvin, who seemed to enjoy the intimacy, and chatted with those in attendance throughout the show, and after.

On his guitar was an inscription from a fan reading "Calvin, you're kind of amazing!". You know what, they were right!

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