Show Is the Rainbow: Gay Mohawks
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: July 20, 2005
The Show Is the Rainbow
w/ Beans, Holy Fuck and Warhammer 48K
July 21, 9 p.m.
13th & Martha
Want more TSITR? Check out the
Oct. 2003 Lazy-i interview with Darren Keen.
There's a poorly veiled attempt at controversy at
the end of the second track on Radboyz Only!, The Show Is
the Rainbow's recently released full-length.
In an homage to Bright Eyes' Fevers and Mirrors, TSITR's
Darren Keen undergoes a faux interview with (fictional station)
KRNK's "Chas Dynamite," where he's asked to explain some
of the metaphors heard on the record. "Actually, the mirrors
" "Cocaine!" yells a big crowd
out of nowhere. Keen laughs. "No Robb Nansel, Tim Kasher, Gretta
Cohn... (he goes on list a slew of Saddle Creek Records performers),
the mirrors don't represent cocaine." "Awww!"
yells the crowd. As Keen explains, someone with a certain distinctive
bray breaks into the studio and shoots him, saying, "You're
The "interview" leads directly into "Up a Creek
without a Saddle," an electro-rap-beatbox treat with the opening
lines "Destruction / Dishonor / You'll never last here Conor"
and closing with the lines "I'll knock down all the walls
at Sokol Hall and start a new thing."
Though just released, Keen is less
than enthusiastic about the track these days. "I like to do
funny weird things," he said sipping hot cocoa at Caffeine
Dreams, pointing out that the CD was recorded more than a year ago.
"I'm really trying to separate myself from being this crap-talking
guy. It was a funny time in my life. To me, the Conor stuff is old
news. I've played shows and traveled with Saddle Creek bands. I
think it's dead."
With that, Keen wanted to close the topic, and wisely so. The fact
is The Show Is the Rainbow can stand on its own these days without
resorting to trash talk, thanks to Radboyz' collection of catchy,
upbeat and funny rap/punk/new wave songs that caught the ear of
European label Tsk Tsk Records, who released it in the U.S. this
spring and just last month in Europe.
With its release, Keen has continued his relentless touring, performing
his in-yer-face blood-spewing sets to a slowly growing fan base.
A typical show is performed from the floor, with Keen running around
with a microphone, screaming stories about drugging mentally handicapped
kids and having sex with underage girls while prerecorded breakbeats,
samples, guitars and synths blaze in the background. On stage a
homemade i-movie is projected on a big screen that shows footage
of Keen and his friends combined with mod graphics and text, all
sequenced to the music.
Keen's gone from driving alone around the country selling homemade
CDs from the trunk of his car to playing a European tour with Les
Georges Leningrad and opening a handful of U.S. dates for industrial
metal act Mindless Self Indulgence. The band asked Keen to join
their tour after being "freaked out" when he opened for
them at The Ranch Bowl.
"Mindless was a band that was kind of like where I am now,
playing the college circuit, doing vulgar and weird stuff,"
Keen said. "Then Jonathan Davis from Korn saw them and freaked
out, and they got on these package tours. After a few years of doing
that without major label support, they were going gold on their
own terms. They compromised nothing, but ended up at a weird place
with shirts at Hot Topic and playing for goth kids every night."
It's a place Keen doesn't want to end up. "I came back from
that tour with a weird view of how the music industry works,"
he said. "You can't control who listens and enjoys your band."
"I'm really trying to separate myself
from being this crap-talking guy. It was a funny time in my
life. To me, the Conor stuff is old news."
| || |
"I don't care about pleasing the
audience. It's never been my concern. It's about doing whatever
seems fun and awesome at the time."
So instead of reaching for more arena
gigs, Keen is going back to where it began, heading out on yet another
tour. But this time he's bringing some friends along. Keen has pulled
together a supporting band of Lincoln buddies including Bright Calm
Blue's Javid Dabestani, Mr. 1986's Micah Schmiedskamp and The Cuterthans'
Chris Cramer that will act as The Show Is the Rainbow on what he's
lovingly calling the "Homosexual Mohawk Tour." Don't expect
to hear the Conor-bashing song or anything else off the new Tsk
Tsk CD when the merry mohawked men drop in at Sokol Underground
"We only play songs I wrote as a punk band, all of which are
20 or 30 seconds long," Keen said, saying the show is sort
of a CD release party for a self-released recording of the band.
Won't his usual audience get confused? "The Show is the Rainbow
is all encompassing," Keen said. "I don't care about pleasing
the audience. It's never been my concern. It's about doing whatever
seems fun and awesome at the time."
After the last Mohawk show Aug. 3 in Lawrence, The Show is the
Rainbow will revert back to just Keen (though he says he intends
to record another album with the full band). He will go on the road
again, this time with another one-man show, Books on Tape, starting
at the CMJ Festival in New York as part of the File 13 Records /
Noise Problem (his new booking agent) showcase.
Even without a band, Keen won't be alone. These days he has roadies,
and even has a rider (that includes providing a bottle of Grey Goose).
It's a long way from "playing bathrooms in Austin" only
a couple years ago, or having to resort to angry Creek-related gimmicks
"I love making records and being crazy," he said. "I
just want to keep driving around the country and having fun until
it isn't fun anymore."
Published in The Omaha Reader July20, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.