Arthur Russell/Wild Combination Party at Santos Party House
Wild Combination Afterparty
Santos Party House
Wild Combination, the empathic and beautifully drawn Arthur Russell documentary that had its New York premiere back in May, is now at the IFC. It's there for only one week—there's a DVD on the way as well—but it'd be a mistake not to go now. This weekend, the doc had its second or third coming out event: an afterparty at Santos Party House, featuring Swedish soft-j guy Jens Lekman, among others, on the early side, and Steve Knutson, Dan Selze, and JD Samson after midnight.
Jens, billed as accompanied by "surprise guests," took stage in a loungey cul de sac—an actual depression in the floor in fact, the total reverse of a stage— in Santos' bottom level, making him impossible to see. Ernie Brooks of the Modern Lovers, a longtime Russell collaborator, sat in, along with an invisible horn player—bet it was trombonist Peter Zummo. "A Little Lost" was definitely played; after that, I lost the thread.
Later, "Go Bang!" and "Is It All Over My Face" could be heard emanating from the club speakers, courtesy of who knows. People danced. There is a schism, of course, between those who most value Russell's mournful, cello-struck meditative stuff, a la what Lekman likes, and those who swear by Russell's Loft-disco alias work, which is certainly equally weird, if not as affecting. My preferences swerve. Both identities were front and center, Saturday night; both screamed in over club speakers at high volume—certainly a kind of memorial. But Wolf's documentary—delicate, gay, impressionistic, highly personal—is nothing if not emotionally quiet, reserved. Those looking to celebrate the film found a dance party had broken out instead—fitting given Russell's many guises, but nothing like Matt Wolf's work, which might break your heart. You have till Friday.