Geek Chic


Left: Lady Rizo. (Photo: Dawn Chan) Right: Artist Cory Arcangel. (Photo: Damien Crisp)

In the case of a legend as large as Bruce Springsteen, an extra homage never hurts—especially when said homage consists of a full-length glockenspiel concert. Inspired by the use of the instrument in the famous melody of Born to Run’s title track, artist and hacker Cory Arcangel procured one of the modest metallophones and made compositions for each song on the album. Released as a vinyl LP, Arcangel’s tracks have been performed live in snippets, but last Tuesday offered the rare chance for die-hard fans to see the full-length concert debut of the epic gesamtkunstwerk. As proof of the strength of Arcangel’s following, the show was sold out, despite the sweltering August heat and the remote location (Sunset Park, Brooklyn). The venue, Light Industry, is situated on prime real estate, between a pungent Snapple flavor factory and a federal prison. The concert was so tightly packed that the site’s stewards, Thomas Beard and Ed Halter, had to lock the doors to keep an overflow of hipsters, looking slightly greenish under the hallway’s fluorescent lights, from darting into the space.

The stage’s setup resembled tame karaoke, with bootleg Springsteen footage (mixed live by Charles Broskoski) projected on the back wall, and a glockenspiel placed to one side, looking as unassuming as a lectern. “Is the Boss going to play around New York anytime soon?” a groupie plied Arcangel, backstage. “No, I think this is the closest you’ll get,” he replied. I asked him about the glockenspiel’s physical demands. “There is a technique to the instrument,” he said. “You have to get into it. I’ve been practicing for the last two days straight.”

As the concert kicked off, those expecting stage jumps and fist pumps were sorely disappointed. Arcangel evinced none of the anthemic triumph so present in Born to Run. Instead, his performance took more of a cue from his classical-guitar training—though his Metallica T-shirt and high-top sneakers seemed more in tune with a casual aesthetic.

Arcangel did have a “cheat sheet” with him on a stand, featuring such advanced music-theory cues as “one-Mississippi . . . two-Mississippi.” “I did screw up in ‘She’s the One,’” the artist later admitted. “But you know what to do with mistakes: Just repeat them several times and no one notices.”

Left: Light Industry co-founders Thomas Beard and Ed Halter. Right: Comedienne Kim Cea. (Photos: Dawn Chan)

Having had my fill of pregentrified neighborhoods, I departed for more yuppified Brooklyn pastures: the gala opening of Galapagos’s new location in DUMBO. The site may be short on acoustic clarity, but it apparently preserves all that is meaningful and important about Galapagos: the interior reflecting pool. I arrived just as Geo Wyeth, accordionist extraordinaire (and college classmate), was finishing up his set. While Vanessa Hidary delivered her spoken-word poetry, two footmen of sorts—lissome guys in tight T-shirts—attended to the drag queen made famous by the 1968 documentary The Queen: Mother Flawless Sabrina. Flawless being the operative word, I asked whether she had any beauty secrets to share. “Duct tape!” offered one of the footmen. (“Write that down,” added Sabrina.)

Comedienne Kim Cea threatened to go home and make herself Xanax martinis if no one laughed, and the multitalented Nick Hallett sang to lighten the mood. After an intermission, all eyes turned to the Daisy Spurs, a high-octane, vamping, voguing, go-go-dancing svelte group that made all onlookers vow to do more sit-ups. Burlesque singer Lady Rizo did some seducing of her own. Revealing that her “foot bone was connected to her ankle bone,” she worked her way up through the rest of her anatomy. Meanwhile, outside, a polo-shirted, loafer-shod man out walking his terrier asked the bouncer, “What’s going on in there?” “A benefit,” the bouncer replied, with deadpan veracity. “Cool,” said the man. His tiny dog growled. And on that note, I cut a path through the neighborhood’s darkened lofts and condos, their resident gentry undoubtedly fast asleep and all but unaware of the sweaty undulations taking place in their midst.

Left: Mother Flawless Sabrina (center) with fans. Right: Artist and curator Nick Hallett with producer Earl Dax. (Photos: Dawn Chan)