Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Legendary but unknown


Pere Ubu is playing here in Los Angeles on December 17th. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too. Here’s the link for information and tickets.

Sometimes we are lucky enough in life to find an art product that truly suits us. We’re not always clear why it is that it suits us, it just does, and we are sometimes bewildered why it doesn’t suit more people because that thing is so palpably astonishing to us. I’m passionate enough, and naive enough, about Pere Ubu and what I believe to be their extraordinary catalog that I can’t help but feel it impossible to understand why more people haven’t embraced it. In their 35-year career, they’ve proved that they can do, well, almost anything: they are post-punk pioneers who have also produced sophisticated but appealing pop albums, explored the blues, embraced their own form of Captain Beefheart-infused jazz, and experimented at every turn with introducing new sounds and new ideas into what in different hands would be a hidebound endeavor of album-tour-album-tour-album-tour, liberally laced with old ideas executed in old ways. (For one example of that approach, consult any of those 90’s hair bands. Or Rod Stewart.) I can only assume that it’s their very experimentation and the shock of their difference that has kept them on the commercial margins. Because they are not singleminded or simpleminded in their tastes and explorations, few have followed. That is a shame.

It is also a shame, to me, that the ticket prices for the concert above are only $13 – $15. That’s right — for one of America’s most important bands, the band that forms the bridge between the gleaming Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks partnership and everything alternative that’s interesting since then — the ticket price is the cost of the latest incoherent blockbuster spectacular at your local megaplex. The ticket price for acts no one wants to see starts at 20 bucks — but Pere Ubu (!) is 35% off that. I don’t know how that price got set, but I’m concerned that it’s low enough to be more insulting than attracting.

I can only hope that whoever reads this buys a ticket and shows up.

In the meantime, those relative few of us who savor Pere Ubu will be there.

One Response to “Legendary but unknown”

  1. adrian Says:

    Perfectly said, particularly: “we are sometimes bewildered why it doesn’t suit more people because that thing is so palpably astonishing to us.”

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