Cornerstone 2007, Day 3: Linda, Linda, Linda, The Winston Jazz Routine & State Bird

J. Robert Parks was right. I can’t get the darn theme song from Linda, Linda, Linda out of my head. Not that I mind, because Linda, Linda, Linda is a fantastic film.

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting — I think that after the cinematic riot that was Kamikaze Girls, I was expecting something similarly off-the-wall. Linda, Linda, Linda is surprisingly straightforward and even mundane, following a group of high school students as they seek to overcome some internal strife in their rock band and get ready to play at the upcoming school festival.

The band is on the verge of breaking up, until they draft a Korean exchange student (Bae Doo-Na from The Host and Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance) to be their new lead singer. From that point on, the film winds its way through the relationships, foibles, and dramas of high school until the final, climactic concert.

But on second thought, the film isn’t quite that mundane. There’s a surprising amount of ambiguity and uncertainty, and even melancholy, in this very mainstream film. Although it’s set in a high school, it’s ultimately a far cry from your typical “high school” film, with a certain anxiety underscoring much of its length. As such, long after the credits stopped rolling, my wife and I still found ourselves reflecting on the film, wondering about this or that character, thinking about how that particular plot might’ve played out had the film kept going. Whille, of course, singing the title song.

Then it was over to the Imaginarium to catch another installment of Paul Nethercott’s seminar on Japanese culture, including the aforementioned “hikikomori”.

My friend Nathan, who runs The Record Machine, told me a few of his bands were playing Friday night. After the final screening of Haibane Renmei, including a short Q&A session — because so many people were getting into the series and wanted to talk about it –Renae and I headed back out into the night to catch a few shows.

First up was The Winston Jazz Routine. The more I listen to their music, particularly the excellent Sospiri (which I picked up after their set), the more I’m reminded of Sufjan Stevens. The same breathy vocals and elaborate, packed arrangements are there, but filtered through a post-rock atmosphere similar to that of The Album Leaf. Suffice to say, it was a welcome change from all of the screaming and thundering guitars that permeated much of the fest.

State Bird was an absolute blessing in disguise. In the absence of the Danielson Famile, this sixpiece — fronted by a guy who looked like Chris Elliott in running shorts — brought some much-needed silliness and surrealism to this year’s fest. And they did so with incredibly catchy songs and a quirky stage presence to boot (and a piñata full of candy). I wasn’t the only one taken in by their silliness; by the end of their show, a sizable number of the crowd found themselves in a strange parade that meandered about under the tent.

Afterwards, I caught up with Renae at the Imaginarium to catch a little bit of True Stories before heading back to the hotel.

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