BEING THERE: Laura Jane Grace @ Four Seasons

Photo by DYLAN JARED LONG “I’ve performed at big arenas, I’ve played Wembley Stadium. I sang on stage with Cyndi Lauper, written songs with Weezer. I’ve been on stage with Joan Jett. And nothing compares to this,” said Laura Jane Grace,  the singer-songwriter known best for founding punk group Against Me!,  mid-set atop the parking lot at Four Seasons Landscaping on Saturday. “I draw a bigger crowd than Rudy Giuliani, and I have more Twitter followers than Donald Trump,” she declared to a sea of eager smiles, “which isn’t fucking so bad for a transgender high school dropout.” The makeshift […]

CINEMA: Q&A With Action Starlet Maggie Q

  THE PROTEGE (Directed by Martin Campbell, 109 minutes, USA, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC The Protégé is an unconventional actioner starring Maggie Q as Anna, an assassin on a mission to avenge her fallen mentor and father figure Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). Moody’s taken out while digging too deep into the pair’s latest gig, which would’ve sent them to Vietnam, where the assassin found Anna – who managed to kill his targets before he had a chance. It’s this humanizing moment when the killer saves the life of the young girl, by taking her in and smuggling her […]

WORTH REPEATING: Being Owen Wilson

  ESQUIRE: We haven’t ordered. We don’t have food yet. We don’t have coffee yet. Just talking. Waitstaff whir around, trolleying quinoa bowls and acai. The scene sends Owen’s memory to another restaurant, which makes him smile. He and Wes Anderson were writing The Royal Tenenbaums, the 2001 movie for which they were nominated for a best-original-screenplay Academy Award, and as part of the backstory, they made up a restaurant called Sloppy Huck’s, which Royal Tenenbaum (played by Gene Hackman) used to take his kids to when they were little. “It was this place with peanut shells on the floor […]

FROM THE VAULT: Heroes & Villains

Photo by Christian Lantry EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published in the pages of MAGNET MAGAZINE in June of 2002, in advance of the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. We are reprising it here in advance of Wilco’s performance at the Mann Center on Sunday August 22nd, with special guests Sleater-Kinney. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR MAGNET so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. That was written by William Carlos Williams, an American poet. Best I can tell, he was talking about the significance of insignificance, that little things truly do […]

CINEMA: One More Time With Less Feeling

SUICIDE SQUAD (Directed by James Gunn, 132 minutes, USA, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC James Gunn helming a Suicide Squad film should have been an easy win. The director previously adapted a property for Marvel few even knew existed when he brought Guardians of the Galaxy to the MCU. That film has became a pop-culture touchstone and represents a watershed moment for the director. Gunn cut his teeth making no-budget indie films for Troma that trafficked in transgressive humor and buckets of gore. After a falling out with Marvel — a fence that has since been mended — Gunn […]

Q&A: Stranger Things/Free Guy Star Joe Keery

  BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Free Guy takes a concept we’ve seen before, the character who suddenly realizes he’s living in a simulation, but elevates this idea with the surprisingly nuanced how and the why of the narrative. The film stars wisecracking Ryan Reynolds as a Guy, an NPC or Non Playable Character, who works as a bank teller in a video game called Free City. The game is like Grand Theft Auto where gamers come and let loose whatever carnage they see fit on the city’s peaceful inhabitants, who have learned to blissfully accept this behavior of the […]

FROM THE VAULTS: The Temple Of Boom

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR BUZZFEED In 1965, Tacoma, Washington’s The Sonics released a debut album of raw-boned, hemorrhagic garage-punk and maximum R&B called, simply, Here Are The Sonics. Exponentially louder, wilder, and weirder than their woolly-bully frat-rock brethren on the SeaTac teen club/roller rink/armory circuit, The Sonics sang about witches, psychopaths, Satan, and strychnine as a social lubricant, along with the more standard themes of hot girls and fast cars, or, even better, fast girls in hot cars. The 12 tracks on Here Are The Sonics capture the needle-pinning, speaker-blowing, tonsil-shredding, balls-to-the-wall mating call of five hormonal mid-’60s teenage […]

BEING THERE: Japanese Breakfast @ Union Trans

Photo by DYLAN LONG The long-awaited return to live music at Philly’s beloved Union Transfer was spearheaded by none other than Philly’s own Japanese Breakfast. The breakout indie pop unit, headed by frontwoman, author and director Michelle Zauner, played its second of five sold-out shows last night to a packed, masked up crowd spanning all ages, backgrounds and creeds. In terms of homecomings, five nights over six days is wildly impressive without the existence of a pandemic, and exactly what the people needed with one. The night was as beautiful as it was a stark reminder of the pandemic. The […]

BEING THERE: Modest Mouse @ The Met

Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER At a punctual 9 PM this past Thursday, Isaac Brock martialed his Modest Mouse crew to their instruments, squared off with a house thick with expectant minions, and plucked the first waltz-time notes of “Dramamine” to kick off a luxuriant 20-song set. The Golden Casket, their first new music in six years, offers elegiac overtones that include a music video for album single “We Are Between” in which Brock is crushed inside of a car in a junkyard. In the context of global pandemic and climate change, oppressive anxiety and existential dread may be the zeitgeist, […]

CINEMA: Requiem Pour Un Con

ANNETTE (Directed by Leos Carax, 139 minutes, France, 2021) BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC French writer/director/film critic Leos Carax, responsible for the absurdist masterwork Holy Motors, is back with an oddball operatic musical called Annette, for which he collaborated with Sparks, aka the greatest band you’ve probably never heard of. Sparks is comprised of brothers Ronald and Russell Mael who for the past 55 years have somehow managed to remain bleeding edge of music, with just the right blend of complexity and quirk. If you’ve seen Edgar Wright’s the excellent Sparks doc The Sparks Brothers, you know the brothers Mael […]

The Greatest Modest Mouse Story Ever Told

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally published on March 30, 2015. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR BUZZFEED: Most people don’t know it, but there are actually five, not four, time zones in the United States: Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, and Isaac time — as in Isaac Brock, singer, guitarist, chief songwriter, and all-around mastermind of the very popular underground major-label rock band Modest Mouse. The Isaac time zone is usually situated within the city limits of Portland, Oregon, where he resides, but point of fact it’s located wherever he’s standing at the moment. Isaac time is kind of like bullet time in […]

RIP: Dusty Hill, ZZ Top Bassist, Dead @ 72

  EDITOR’S NOTE: To mark the sad passing of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill [pictured above, center], we’re re-posting this 2012 concert review that even back then read like an epitaph. Rest in power, Mr. Hill. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER It is a well-known fact that only two things will survive the coming Apocalypse: cockroaches and Keith Richards. A betting man would add ZZ Top to the list. After 40 years of chrome, smoke and BBQ’d blooze licks, their party time ubiquity shows no signs of diminishing. Wherever there are men on scaffolding, they will be there. Wherever […]