The phrase "20,000 Days on Earth" evokes a Biblical scale. For that reason, it's a fitting title for a film about Nick Cave, a faux documentary chronicling the 20,000th day in the life of the revered Australian bandleader, composer, screenwriter, and novelist. Cave's voiceover in the trailer begins, "Mostly, I write..." The camera pans across a crammed study and onto Cave himself, attacking a typewriter and wearing a suit that's unbuttoned to the chest. His hair looks great. Cave's lyrical world depicts humans at their most abominable and sublime, tumbling hopelessly into love, then fucking their way out of it.
Cave often discusses his writing process. In a deluxe edition of the last Bad Seeds album, Push the Sky Away, he included reproductions of his handwritten notebooks. That makes it impossible to follow Cave's stories, no matter how remote and unbelievable, without thinking of their writer. Mostly, Cave writes. But when he's not marshalling depraved and exalted characters across the page, or voicing those narratives on record, Cave is reminding people of his authorial presence. Believers know that the Bible is God's word; Cave won't let anyone forget what's his. 20,000 Days on Earth screens for one night at the Roxie on Thursday, July 10. On July 7 and 8, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds play the Warfield.
"HA HA HA / BLAH BLAH BLAH / EITHER WAY YOU DIE." That's the entire lyrical content of a song by Olympia, Wash., hardcore band Gag. It appeared on last year's 40 Oz. Rule '90 EP, released by local punk imprint Warthog Speak. Two lines of onomatopoeia and one macabre truism, drenched in reverb, cascade over thuggish backbeats and rudimentary riffs, fulfilling the hardcore imperative. With no room in its stylistic conventions for rumination, the genre demands assertiveness, linguistic concision, and musical economy. Gag doesn't waste a moment. Obviously, this music is not profound, but when long-winded ambiguity from rock acts tests one's patience, Gag's no-frills lucidity is refreshing. There's more merit in a coherent bit of idiocy from these miscreants than in most of the blubbering vagueness clogging songs elsewhere. Gag plays on Wednesday, July 9, at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records with Apriori and Busted Outlook.
Punk is just a backdrop for Repo Man, but few movies are as synonymous with the subculture as Alex Cox's 1984 cult classic. Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a young, disenfranchised punk who's lured into car repossession by a speed-addled misanthrope named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton). Otto's old punk friends appear intermittently and the Circle Jerks cameo in one scene as a chintzy lounge act. Otherwise, the movie is about an elusive Chevy Malibu and its enigmatic cargo. Punk may be a just backdrop, but Repo Man shares much of the genre's extramusical themes: government conspiracies, clandestine organizations, beyond-the-law ranting, and, most significantly, fantastical interventions that make somewhere as boring as Albuquerque, N.M., the site of a riotous adventure. Thrillhouse Records screens Repo Man, along with John Carpenter's They Live, on Sunday, July