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April 23, 2002

Super Furry Animals

The magestically talented Cex was afforded a mere half-hour with which to break minds, but what little time Cex was given was ample enough to intrigue at most five people in the audience, not counting the initial five who were already down with the Cex.

Not to damn the man with faint praise, but Cex had to deal with crowd responses ranging from mild disapproval to outright hostility—it seemed that most of the Abbey Pub Friday night crowd did not know their $15 cover had earned them an audience with the IDM superstar du jour. And the thing about this IDM superstar is that he doesn't, or at least, didn't, play any IDM in concert. He raps. About bicycles.

It's tough to review a half-hour set that included two freestyle interludes (which covered topics ranging from Billy Ripken to Richard Gere's para-apocryphal penchant for putting gerbils in his ass) It's even tougher when that half-hour also included ten minutes of baiting the audience and referring extensively to the cast of Cheers during said baiting.

To put things in proper context, Cex didn't start baiting the audience until after someone yelled "Vanilla Ice lives," which, frankly, didn't make that much sense. The audience continued to more or less not give a shit that the world's #1 Electronic Musician was dropping science at high volume less than fifty feet away. Most of the nattily-attired crowd continued their conversations while Cex did his thing, and even his command to wave your hands if you got a 401k account fell on ignorant ears.

However, those who managed to avoid the widespread apathy were treated to an absolutely hilarious set from Cex. His rhymes were mostly comprised of a string of non-sequiturs and puns, but it was pretty funny. It might be cautioned, however, that appreciation of Cex's live show is perhaps not grounds for a projected appreciation of his recorded output, which does not include rapping.

Another puzzling aspect of Cex's appearance is the nature of the headlining act—the Super Furry Animals may have a proclivity for splicing their Status Quo meets Elvis Costello meets XTC meets the Beatles meets ELO rock with occasional spurts of deafening IDM. Well, I guess it's not so puzzling then. Cex is as apt as any other artist could be to open for the Super Furries—a band whose enormous eccentricity is rivaled only by their similarly plus-sized talent.

The four reticent Welsh men who comprise the SFA seemingly never broke a sweat in their hour-plus set, although everyone else in the positively fetid venue most likely did. Whether this was because they are seasoned performers or because they are seasoned drug-abusers, I have no idea.

The SFA ran through most of their newest LP Rings Around the World, performed a unrecorded song entitled "Golden Retriever" (dedicated to lead singer Gruff Rhys' dog), and burned through selections of their deep catalogue, including live favorite "Calimero" ('This song is about a chicken named Calimero') as well as two tracks from 2000's slept-on masterpiece Mwng.

It is at this point that I reveal myself as a sniveling fanboy for the SFA. My demeanor at the concert could best be characterized as "like a pig in shit." Frankly, the SFA could have sat around on stage for three hours and picked their noses with turntable needles and I would have ate that shit up. But they played songs, so I was pretty pumped about that. I don't know how cool it is to be an SFA fanboy. Prolly a couple notches below the White Stripes. They're not the Promise Ring, thank God, but in a few years, who knows what might happen?

After the show, a guy with a camcorder and a Welsh accent was doing post-op interviews on concertgoers as they left the Abbey. Someone who may or may not be former Voices editor J____ ______ pointed this man in my direction, where I proceeded to ramble incoherently for five minutes about how much I love the SFA and it's too bad no one in America likes them and how I loved each and every band member like my own brother and if they ever want somebody to rap with or just get weird and then I started blowing kisses to the camera, all the while disguising the fact that I was wearing a Cleveland Indians baseball hat for some reason known only to God. Well, this article as a concert review is pretty much finished so I will begin with the serious Foucaultian analysis of my fanboyness.

NOTES ON SUPER FURRIES FANBOY STATUS

PROS

Are obscure, at least in US

Actually make good music

Band used to have a tank

Band has lots of import singles

Members of band are good-looking—I am good-looking by osmosis

CONS

Makes me a fanboy

Band has stupid name

Band is not on indie label

Being a SFA fan in America is like being