The Icarus Line Must Die Premiere At The Regent With Joe Cardamone, Annie Hardy, Melissa Brooks, At The Regent, Wednesday June 20th 2018
If tragedy fuels great art, Joe Cardamone‘s art must be the greatest of all…. The Icarus Line frontman rides hardship like a tragic hero with the look of a rock star, and on Wednesday night, he may have proven that transcending horror and suffering has to be the most important power of art.
Last night, Michael Grodner’s ‘The Icarus Line Must Die’ had its premiere at the Regent Theater, downtown Los Angeles, and the screening was followed by a series of performances by some of the actors of the movie. Main character, Joe Cardamone, who is going solo since the dissolution of his band, did a all-powerful set, just before his dear friend Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) and Melissa Brooks of the Aquadolls. If I already have had a sneak preview of the film a few months ago, I was happy to see it again as the movie had let a few unexplored ideas in my mind after a first viewing.
Rooted in truth but as fictional as you want it to be, the film is shot in black and white like a ‘50s thriller or a French nouvelle vague flick, and with its Jim-Jarmusch-like dialogues, the film follows musician and band leader Joe Cardamone and his struggles with the music industry. As he is trying to survive from his art, he is also literally fighting for his life as he receives repeated death threats on his cell phone and is tracked by a ghostly killer throughout the movie. Under this omnipresent metaphoric kill-the-artist menace, Cardamone visits his dying friend and real life bandmate Alvin DeGuzman, who tragically died shortly before the release of the movie. Annie Hardy, who plays a weird and very funny musician, brings a lot of humor in the movie, while her real life has been struck by unimaginable loss when her baby son and her boyfriend died less than 2 years apart… in life, like in the movie, Joe Cardamone works on her new album, born in the wake of these two life-stopping tragedies.
The cinematography of the movie is intense and stunning, and the vision of Cardamone driving with the reflections of the tunnel lights on his sunglasses and the hood of his black car create the surrealist experience of an old sci-fi movie.
Despite this dark tone, the movie offers an engaging view of LA music scene – if you live in LA you will recognize plenty of familiar venues and places – and the humor pierces through the noirceur, thanks to the real-life dialogues and loveable Annie, plus several guest stars such as punk legend Keith Morris, writer Jerry Stahl, and weirdo indie rocker Ariel Pink. Life is a struggle, music business without commercial concession is a struggle, but it’s also a salvation, and many artists or aspiring musicians will recognize themselves through Cardamone’s tribulations and failures.
Just after the movie, Joe Cardamone, now a blonde, gave us one the most breath-stopping performances in front of a screen where powerful images of giant spider webs, war-devastated cities and grandiose landscapes were projected. Before he got on stage, one of his videos featuring Prayers’ Rafael Reyes/Leafar Seyer, put us in the mood with a bloody female corpse, symbolism from the occult, satanic whispers and an atmosphere so macabre that it surely put a chill on everyone’s spine. Followed by his long shadow on the screen, Cardamone’s performance was drenched in industrial noises with vibrating rhythms and an aggressive delivery, which was turning into loud and chilly howls. His face was hidden behind his dark sunglasses and the bright projections, and his voice was sometimes deformed to reach a deep icy tone. He was alone on stage with zero music instruments, while a laptop was playing his scary and creepy soundscapes and all sorts of religious imageries were projected on the large screen. ‘Holy War’ is barely an album, as he explained later, rather a collection of morbid songs about our fucked-up world (my interpretation), but funny man Ariel Pink once told him that it reminded him of Beyoncé. If it’s true you could hear traces of twisted R&B filtering through the noise during a song and an obvious hip hop, trip hop influence on several others, we were far from flamboyant Bey. But we were also far from the post-hardcore rocking tone of his ex band The Icarus Line. This collection was released in various formats and volumes, film, music and custom lighters, and represents a whole new chapter in his life, dark and beautiful, beat-heavy and almost mystical, made of new sounds and noises from beyond the grave.
On stage you would never think that Annie Hardy went through so many life-shattering events, she was upbeat from start to finish, and never stopped talking, going freestyle, making up silly lyrics based on a few words suggested by people in the crowd, for a crazy improvised song. She alternated between guitar and piano, showing an impressive force and a great vulnerability at the same time, interpreting her passionate songs with an uncontrollable ardor. Playing in front of a country-esque teddy-bear-balloons-american-flag arrangement, she gave a new meaning to her ‘Annie Hardy Rules’ mantra, with a voice that was breaking at the right places and a distortion in her guitar. And beyond the witty comments and the voluble attitude, you could occasionally have a glimpse here and there of her broken heart.
Aquadolls’ Melissa Brooks finished the night with infectious rhythms and gave us a stripped down show with just a laptop and a few dancers on stage. In the movie, Melissa plays a demanding singer, who records music in Joe Cardamone’s studio and inappropriately sticks her gum below the microphone. The cute mermaid sang a few R&B-inspired poignant songs sometimes turning into power-energy pop-punk anthems or always led by strong EDM-like beats,
It was a great night at the Regent, a night celebrating LA’s strong music scene, meanwhile, ‘The Icarus line Must Die’ will open in Los Angeles on Friday at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre and then be available digitally on July 10th.