PHX Literal Reviews Are Reviews That Are Literal (and Unnervingly Hilarious)

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Hello. You are reading a music-themed weblog. Sometimes this music-themed weblog (known as "Up on the Sun") features words that describe music events the night before. Show reviews are a kind of "cool" history, but to some people, they're boring, pretentious outlets for the Millennial Generation's worst epidemic: Fear of Missing Out. At the same time, those people might just hate music.

Then there's PHX Literal Reviews, featuring reviews that are well, literal. Painfully so. And sometimes these reviews make people emit guttural noises, and other times they make them envision violent ends to the site's main writer, Yulunga Baktai. Mr. Baktai writes things like "Japhy's Descent was the band playing. Most of them were standing. Two of them were sitting. One of the sitters was the drummer. The other one was the sitting man. Two of the men were blowing into things. The rest of were plucking or hitting things."

Do you get it now? But even through its cringe-worthy objectivity, PHX Literal Reviews reveals some of the pitfalls of music journalism in general: "That's how you review music in Arizona. You say nice things about your friends, and pretend that the people you don't know were never born." Is there a place in the metropolitan Phoenix scene for absurdity and tongue-in-cheek negativity? Decide for yourself at their website, in the most straightforward reviews you will (literally) ever read.

Up on the Sun: What compelled you to do this project at the very beginning, before you had this idea? That is the first question, by the way.

Yulunga Baktai: I was at a show, and there was music happening. I asked myself, "Where's that music coming from?" As it turns out, it was coming from the band playing the music. "Somebody needs to document this," I thought. That somebody is me.

Someone -- my editor to be perfectly specific -- said this, literally: "They're fascinating -- it's like Tao Lin reviewing shows." Have you ever used your eyes to understand Tao Lin or perhaps other so-called "meta" writers?

After googling Tao Lin just now and finding out who the hell he is, I've decided to tell you that he's been a heavy influence on my work. I'm "a big fan."

Tao Lin probably would be delighted on the inside to hear that. He is probably googling his own name as we speak and will read this and smile and say, "I like this" or "sweet."

An ad for Tao Lin's new book is now appearing in the sidebar of my Facebook. He already knows we are discussing him.

He would be wise to do that. Googling oneself is one of the most productive things a man can do.

Who else is involved in this project of literalism besides yourself?

We've got a number of contributors who delighted in the project at first and then quickly abandoned it for more important things. I am proud to call them "people who gave a shit at first." Presently, the site is maintained by myself and Sir Dutchenson III. Everybody else is dead to me.

I'm very sorry to hear that. How did they die?

They died of Bigfoot (the Man-Thing, not the truck).

Another one bites the dust. Thanks for nothing, Bigfoot the Man-Thing.

I'm pretty sure Bigfoot can fly. A guy [at] Long Wong's the other night told me he has wings.

That I did not know, but I believe it. A guy at Rips Cocktails last night told me that he had been to Venus and was a bionic man. It was also his birthday, but I did not buy him a birthday drink because I only had $5.

Five bucks is hard to come by. He can drink from the hose. It's free.

Where does your name come from, assuming that your mother did not swallow so much lysergic acid diethylamide that she actually scribbled Yulunga Baktai on the certificate signifying your birth?

I like to think that's exactly where my name came from. Let's just go with that.

Fair enough. Does it encourage you to become irrationally upset in instances whereas a male or female person might use the word literally in a figurative sense?

I literally die every time that happens. Literally.

Are you capable of self-resurrection? Or do you have a cadre of doctors on hand? Because doctors can be very expensive and with a name like Yulunga, I might assume you have connections to the Yakuza.

Sometimes that happens, yes. It's customary for most venues to keep a defibrillator on hand in the event that I'm watching a show and the drunk lady I came with says she literally did something she didn't literally do.

What is literally the best show you've ever been to in Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America?

The people who started the blog, NTN Global Systems, a self-described think-tank of terrible ideas, sent me to this thing out in the middle of Egypt, where there were all of these country people in hats, but no cattle. Instead there were tents and recreational vehicles. I didn't really understand what was happening, but then some people started playing music, and I began to realize, "Oh, I'm at a show." I had a really good chicken soft taco at that show. It was a really interesting country music show. Thunderous, even. I never reviewed it, because who wants to review that shit?

You're lucky you weren't stabbed. I was stabbed with kindness.

Figuratively. Just to clarify for potential readers.

Oh, good one.

Does your number of rotations around the solar beacon in this spaceship made mostly of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen compel you to feel out of touch with the youth of today? I ask this question based on your literal review of Playboy Manbaby at Yucca Taproom, where you say, literally, "I felt kind of old."

Everybody at the Yucca Tap Room feels old when Playboy Manbaby plays. They're so young and happy, and they bring all these enthusiastic people with them. You can't just spring that on a place like Yucca. I'm pretty sure that six people died of old age at that thing.

Man, you are constantly surrounded by death. Does that make you sad or depressed or cry?

Yes, in that order.

Do you have anything else you are currently working on?

I'm working on building a revolutionary new dingbat font that I'm confident will change the way we relate to our fellow human beings.

That makes me tingle in weird areas, like when I rode my bike downhill and the brakes broke and I hit a wall.

You could have stopped using your feet.

The bike was very tall and I was very not tall. Do you have anything else you would like to add to this interview before I return to doing my actual job?


A very firm answer that I can appreciate like firm . . . never mind. I very much enjoyed this interview. Did you enjoy yourself?

Yes. This was a lot of fun. Goodbye.

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Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation. Troy Farah literally has nothing better to do at troyfarah.com

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