Last Night: N.A.S.A., the Staxx Brothers at Nectar

The green, break-dancing alien, courtesy Kate McElwee

Since N.A.S.A.'s new album, The Spirit of Apollo, is basically a Handsome Boy Modeling School-like project featuring a boatload of famous collaborators, I wasn't sure what to expect from their live show. By and large, most of the album consists of electronica and hip hop, and I wondered: Would any of the revered artists on the record show up? How were DJ Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon going to entertain us? With go-go dancers, a giant visualizer screen and aliens, that's how (and if you want to see lots of Kate McElwee's photos of last night, go check out this slideshow of the party.)

The N.A.S.A. men showed up onstage in orange spacesuits (N.A.S.A. stands for North America South America, by the way, but I guess you can't avoid the space theme, so why not), and after the first few tracks, the rumored go-go dancers I'd heard about pranced onstage wearing silver bikinis, green body paint, pigtails, outrageously big boots and glitter eyeshadow. But that wasn't the best part. The aliens were the best part-- a giant eye, and a skinny green man in a suit who busted some serious moves in spite of his headgear. I think I liked the giant eye best, but his costume was bulky because its body was designed to look like a pink, floppy mess of intestines and eyes, so all he could really do was sort of bob up and down. It was adorable. Meanwhile, they had a visualizer screen going off to the left that, if you paid attention to it, corresponded with the tunes they were spinning in really interesting ways.

Though they played a few jams from their album, a lot of the music they played wasn't from the record-- or if it was, it was remixed so much as to become an entirely different animal-- but the mashups were excellent, even though they went pretty heavy on the M.I.A. (not that I mind.) I really loved the splicing of "My Girl" and "Bucky Done Gun," set to an old video of The Temptations singing their hit. And Ras Congo, the artist who sings the chorus on "Money," was there to sing; not surprisingly, David Byrne wasn't there to do his part on the track, but the crowd filled in for him quite nicely after a little bit of prodding from the Martian go-go dancers. It was a great party-- one I'll definitely attend every time they come to town in the future.

And now for a word on N.A.S.A.'s local openers, The Staxx Brothers. Basically, they're a jam band that does the things jam bands do: play repetitive, funk-inspired music that's not as dynamic or interesting as real funk, set to equally-repetitive, boring lyrics. I'm going to chalk my distaste up to the reality of the situation, which is that I pretty much universally hate jam bands and cannot, therefore, offer an unbiased opinion. Everyone else (well, mostly) seemed to be enjoying it, though.

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