I met Mars as the shyest of shy solo performers in a college town in the Midwest. Since that time years ago, Mars has gone on to write tons of songs with intense pop hooks that I can't get out of my head in bands like FLEABAG and (currently) AYE NAKO. For such a shy person, Mars has a laugh that is alarmingly loud and intensely infectious. The Bay Area was lucky enough to know him for a short time but is a little bit sadder now that he lives on the east coast.
MARS' TOP TEN OF 2012
A lot of 2012 was a shit stain (excluding the following):
*Gender Failure: The way Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote told their stories, which a lot of the time felt like my own stories, about growing up queer and experiencing many "gender failures" -- I can't even explain. I cried and laughed a bunch. The performance totally blew me away!
(ed. note: This video is excellent)
*Speedy Ortiz - "Sports" Ep: I never find bands post the year 2000 that I can get into wholeheartedly. Speedy Ortiz is the rare exception. It's probably because I have a strong penchant for "alternative/indie" bands from the 90s and they sound like they could've been one. Last spring, I had the pleasure of playing the most wild ass show with them in Hadley, MA involving a dusty garage, kids spitting on each other, thrashing around, and crowdsurfing their friend who is usually wheelchair-bound. I met Sadie (the singer/guitarist) back in 2011 when we played with her old band, Quilty. She writes the kind of songs I wish I was writing. When I brought the EP home, I lied on my bed, belly down, intensely reading the lyrics as the needle on my record player wore out.
*Frank Ocean - "Channel Orange": By autumn, I gave in after months of avoiding this one. I was flabbergasted to hear a modern mainstream artist have such powerful and thoughtful lyrics on top of interesting musical compositions and a wonderfully smooth voice. I'd like to point out that he mentions Little Rock, AR (where I'm from). Bad Religion makes me shed tears every time with the damn swelling of the bowed instruments and the passion in his voice singing about unrequited homo love.
*that dog. at Music Hall of Williamsburg: Speaking of the 90s...Last May, that dog. played their first NYC show in 15 years. I parked it at the front of the stage to get a good look (and they were looking good!) and just geeked out and annoyingly sang along with every song. They played all the hits! Watching them banter was a kick in the butt to work on my own stage presence.
*Big Freedia at Santos Party House: Never have I seen so many asses shake at once and nowhere else have I seen someone booty bounce wearing ass tassles while crowd surfing.
*Alice Bag on Violence Girl tour: I got to see her twice on her book tour. Really inspiring to watch her sing/read/talk. She was traveling with a friend, who I am pretty sure was named Angie, who gave me off her own shirt, a brown-skinned vulva pin she made out of felt, lace and a zipper.
*Jonathan Richman at Bell House: How is he so good at stage banter, playing the guitar standing with no strap and swinging it around, and writing the kind of songs that make me feel nice? It was great watching him, but it took great concentration to forget how uncomfortable I felt among the thick crowd of awkward normal straight people, especially the couple perpetually knocking into me while they made out. Ask Joe -- I ran to the bathroom several times to puke.
*Nightmares about Satan: There was a 3-month period that destroyed me in which I had nightmares almost every night. A number of them starred the Devil herself, an attractive, well-dressed blonde woman. She was horrific, but I liked it in a way. The only sequence that had any lightheartedness went like this: Me and Joe were tied up and burning inside of a roaring fire, watching our friends get lashed and beaten by the Devil. I turn to Joe and say, "Wow! I didn't realize she was such a babe."
*Your Heart Breaks - "Harsh Tokes and Bong Jokes": Clyde is one of my favorite musicians. These songs make me feel blue, but I like it.
*geek denial: My love of video games and sci-fi rubbed off onto my younger brother. After I moved out, he took it to another level that we never went to together. He makes weapons and costumes for these videos where he and his friends kill zombies and shit. When I visited home last summer for the first time in years, I told him I thought it was cool that he's into larping. He barked back at me that he absolutely DOES NOT do larping. Here's a photo of one of his handmade swords: