No Age Rocks the “Won’t Grow Up” Set, VanityFair.comPosted by jenni.avins on Oct 19, 2009 in Art, Culture, Uncategorized | Comments Off
A Peter Pan syndrome seems to be permeating pop culture. Last Friday night, the premiere of Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are sent droves of man-children to midtown Manhattan’s IMAX theaters—likely encouraged by the movie’s tear-jerker trailer, Karen O’s accompanying lullabies, and Dave Eggers’s literary adaptation.
Meanwhile, downtown at the New Museum, a sedate crowd in spectacles and sweaters gathered for another adaptation of a childhood classic. The Los Angeles-based punk duo No Age was to perform an original score alongside a screening of the 1980s nature drama The Bear.
Maybe the audience, sitting in tidy rows in the museum’s basement, remembered the movie from childhood with as much affection as the wild things uptown reserved for their old picture books. And yet, there seems to be something more fueling these adaptations’ success—not merely nostalgia, but a sense of abandon and adventure that thrills kids of all ages, even those who happen to dress in wolf-suits from Opening Ceremony.
Shortly before the lights dimmed at the New Museum, Henry Ricatto ambled up the aisle with three of his friends and sat in the second row. It was his 13th birthday, and his dad had driven them in from New Jersey. The seventh graders settled into their seats, pulled up their sweatshirt hoods, and checked out the band’s setup a few feet away. They were No Age fans, but they had never seen The Bear. The classic story of an orphaned cub in the wilds of British Columbia, came out in 1988—well before Henry was born.
Henry and his friends leaned back in their chairs while No Age’s drummer, Dean Allen Spunt, manned a mixer board and Randy Randall sat with his ringing guitar, laying down a thick, ambient sonic landscape to match the epic scenery, sampling elements to complement the action onscreen: a shrill fuzzy hum when honeybees swarm around the bear cub, shimmering bells when he munches on a magical mushroom, and a trippy ominous echo worthy of Colonel Kurtz as a hunter cleans his gun. But when the bears stood up majestically at a lake’s edge, not knowing hunters were in hot pursuit, Dean crept to his drum set, and bang! All the boys jumped. As the hunters’ dogs came tearing over a cliff, Randy’s driving guitar rang louder, Dean’s drums got faster, and the boys nearly fell out of their chairs. When the credits rolled, Henry and company started clapping well before the rest of the crowd. Randy, the guitarist, grinned at them.
Dean said they had chosen The Bear because his band mate had adored it as a kid. And, he added, “We’re kind of into the idea of animals running around.”