Friday, September 28, 2007

Sound Czech

There will come a day soon, when The Plastic People of the Universe will be playing their Velvet Underground meets Frank Zappa sounds at the Halls Carnegie and Alice Tully, but last night Joe's had them. It took them forty years or so, but here they are, unwashed and ragged and ready for their close-up.

Their music inspired Vaclav Havel and their persistence was one of the motivating beats of the Velvet Revolution. More recently they have featured as characters and soundtrack in Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll which opens here in New York in November. (Folks were handing out flyers for that show as people left this one.) When Rock and Roll opens, I'm sure that all the Everybody's Who Are Somebodies will want to elevate the Plastics to the level of cultural monuments and they deserve it--they've defied the institutions of communist order with guitars, bass and drums on a road that has brought them jail-time, censure and harrasment. A government crumbled around them as they played in basements and makeshift tents and the folks who listened to their music as the soundtrack of their lives took over and are now watching as others run the new countries they formed out of the wreckage.

But, you wouldn't know it to see them playing in the dark, wry smiles amd deadpan introductions accompanying wah-wah pedals and extended two-chord jams; pretty basic stuff, but absolutely essential.


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