Thursday, October 11, 2007

Donnas play NYC and Sparks flies


Critical theory works in mysterious ways. Some years back I was spending a few days with Peter and Jenny McLaren in Los Angeles, taking coffee at The Bean, watching the Lakers in the days when they last were great, and talking Frankfurth stuff. After a day or so a second house guest, Juha Suoranta, arrived from Finland and matters digital got added to the mix. We've published Children in the Information Society by Juha and colleagues in the New Literacies series, and made a brief trip to Finland a few years back to speak at a conference. It was a great trip.

Not surprisingly, we were thrilled to be asked to go back again to speak at the New Literacies in Social Practices Seminar to be held next week. We figured it would be easier administratively to both fly out of Newark rather than me out of Montreal and Michele out of Newark. Reijo fixed the tickets and the fun began.

Within hours of the trip being planned an email feed from the Donnas arrived in my yahoo inbox announcing the release of their new album and related tour dates. I've wanted to see them play live for years now, narrowly missing them in Oz on a couple of Big Day Out occasions. So I oculdn't believe my luck when I found they were scheduled to play at the Highline Ballroom in New York City the very night before the trip to Finland. It pays to fly out of Newark, the inevitable flight delays notwithstanding. Tickets were bought online in short order.

Driving into NYC from New Jersey is easy enough after rush hour, and we arrived in time to catch the entire second act, an indie band (as the donnas and, it seems, radiohead now are, bless them) we'd not previously heard of: Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments. Still ahead of their first full album, (we bought the EP meanwhile), they blitzed the ballroom in a kind of Blondie meets the Hives via the B52s.
They played one of the all time great sets, a class act. They were almost too good for anyone who had waited too long to see the Donnas.

Almost. The Donnas arrived right on queue and delivered to the letter. The long wait was over, but the waiting had been worth it. There is something truly uplifting about the indie spirit, and thanks to digits the lid is now off the box in a way and on a scale that are probably unprecedented. Long may it run.

Oh yeah, I got the tee shirt. Pity it's gonna be cold in Tampere.

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