Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happenings: M-80s Perform and the Claritans Danced

Concert from afar (left), and one-half of the M-80s (right)

In the last installment of Westfield’s “Hot Summer Nights Concert Series[1]” (do four concerts a series make?), Claritans delighted in the musical meanderings of 80s cover band the M-80s[2]. I was among the delighted Claritans, my five-and-a-half year stint in the Me Decade apparently enough to ensure eternal devotion to its music.

As mentioned, Westfield was site of and sponsor to the event, and its P.R. machine was out in force. Brand saturation was complete, the name Westfield as omnipresent as the name Kim Jung Il must be in Korea. We got mini-fans to keep ourselves cool (manufactured in Westfield red and emblazoned with the logo), there were glowing Westfield pendants, those clad in Westfield-branded shirts abounded, Westfield was on all the signs, and free drinks were passed out under the banner of Westfield. “They loved Big Westfield”, to adapt the line.

This isn’t to say that other companies weren’t getting in on the action. Many local shops and eateries donated goods that were given away in a raffle benefiting Single Mothers Outreach of Santa Clarita[3]. In all, forty prizes were given away with sponsor information provided for every single prize, right down to the two free scoops of ice cream.

Here, a check representing money from raffle ticket sales is presented to Single Mothers Outreach of SC

Truly, though, the highlight of the concert (apart from the music) was someone we called “Dancing Boy.” Rocking a bob of platinum blonde hair, a black-and-white striped hoodie, skinny jeans, and a glittering choker, it was clear he wanted to be noticed. And what dividends he paid for out attention: he dance-walked the entire perimeter of the stage and seating area drawing smiles, screams, and at least a few heads shakes of quiet consternation. My friend was too awed by the spectacle to focus the camera, so even our best shot can hardly do “Dancing Boy” justice.

Dancing Boy dances!

While D.B. was the most conspicuous dancer, he was certainly not the only one. The dance floor was packed in front of the stage for the duration of the concert. 80s music is highly danceable, after all. Despite an absence of booze, even middle-aged white men were dancing. Most just moved their shoulders back and fourth almost, but never quite, in time with the music. You could see the relief on their faces when dances with instructions arose (e.g., "wave your hands in the air" and other moves that suggest participation while requiring minimal rhythmic ability).

I had a thoroughly tolerable time at the concert, but I forgot to bring along the must have accessory: a kid. From personal experience, I can tell you that anyone who moves to SCV will be married with two children in less than a month after their arrival. I guarantee it. And, indeed, these children were evident, toted along to the show by the dozen. The band was generally great with them, even allowing several on stage to dance with the special sort of energetic fury only one-digit-year-olds can muster. Then the band got around to singing “Like a Virgin.” Obviously, “Mommy, what’s a virgin?” and “What do they mean ‘touched for the very first time?’”s followed. Dancing Boy, incidentally, seemed to love the homage to Madonna.

M-80s perform "Like a Virgin", always a big hit with the 4-feet-and-under crowd

There was a certain amount of corny showmanship, but the M-80s gave an excellent show overall . They picked the kind of songs that got people to look at one other in knowing, gleeful anticipation after the first few notes, and the lead singer’s voice was suited to all of them. The musicians were equally capable. If 80s music is “your thing”, you can watch them perform at The VU Ultra Bar[4] in Newhall every Thursday at ten. But Claritans beware: “Ultra” is a relative term in Newhall.

While this concert series has ended, the other few are continuing for at least a week longer (Tuesday night Jazz & Blues, Saturday Night Concerts in Central Park, Valencia Marketplace Summer Sunset Concerts). A subtly different group of Claritans attend each one, depending on such factors as marital status and tolerance of sobriety. Choose the one that best suits your needs.

[1]Did somebody say Westfield?
[2]Their myspace page here
[3]I couldn’t find a website for the group, but its founder was interviewed in 2006
[4]It’s pronounced “voo”, as in the last syllable of Rendezvous, the space’s former identity. Their myspace

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