What's More Unbelievable?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Adventures in Crowd Management

Can you tell if you would like a stranger simply from the way they act at a concert? I am here to state most certainly that you can. The guy who pogoed wildly and then burped in my face at an Archers of Loaf show years ago? I'd probably not want to go for a beer with him. The total creep who wandered the grounds of Fort Reno handing out flyers shirtless with his pants far too low and far too close to the the no-no zone? I most likely would not want to share a slice of cheesecake with him? And the two starched shirts chatting during songs, clapping loudly and arrhythmically and shouting out "Screen Door!" over and over and over again at the Jeff Tweedy solo show this past weekend? I wouldn't stop if I saw them crossing the street.

Friday night Jimbama, Mothra and Quinnothra ventured into Northampton for a solo acoustic concert from Mr. Wilco and I've never in my life seen a crowd so rowdy at a semi-quiet show. The only time I can remember a more insane crowd was at a Servotron show in Baltimore but there the band was actively heckling the crowd and badmouthing the city, basically guaranteeing angry verbal assaults from drunken jackals. This show started awfully quiet with about 6 or so songs in a row with no banter, just focusing on the tunes. It didn't matter, the goofballs filling the audience wanted blood and were going to scream their lungs out whether Jeff talked to them or not. Imagine the softest moment in a beautiful song and imagine the rapt attention you would hope for from a large audience. Then imagine that lovely scene split in half by the shrillest "Whooooo!" you could imagine. Isn't this kind of behavior outlawed in a concert going rule book somewhere? Didn't R.E.M. address this kind of nonsense years ago?

Well Mr. Tweedy is a total pro and eventually started talking to the audience, filling in the second half of what had been, up until then, an awkward one way conversation. One by one he politely eviscerated those who needed it most. I was so impressed by the way he would cut off the assholes at the knees but in the kindest way so that they wouldn't go home, hating the front man they once loved. After one fellow loudly mumbled something about how Jeff Tweedy's father should hang out with his, Mr. Tweedy responded, "Do you have a mouthful of sandwich? Are they serving hoagies here?" During a brief tuning break, the crowd's setlist suggestions grew increasingly louder and more insistent. As 50 or so song titles flew through the air with abandon, he shook his head and remarked "these are the good parts." He also mentioned his fear that if he didn't put an end to the barrage of requests quickly, within 5 minutes the savages would rush the stage and spill out onto the street, tipping over his bus and setting it on fire. There are superfans and then there are those in attendance Friday night who made Jeff Tweedy fear for his safety.

I was in such a good mood and the comebacks were so lovely that I didn't mind the chaos and actually revelled in it. He handled it all so well and was such a great showman that it never felt uncomfortable and never seemed like the inmates had taken over the asylum. The concert itself was amazing, building slowly and featuring songs from all parts of his career including his side projects. The first encore is almost always a gimme but the second encore always feels special. On this evening he came back for a third encore, performing "Dreamer in My Dreams" and "Acuff Rose" at the front of the stage without a microphone. The yahoos still didn't shut up, even for this part, but they couldn't ruin what a perfect end to a bizarre and amazing evening. Check out a fan video of the finale below after the setlist.

1. Spiders (Kidsmoke) 2. I'm Always in Love 3. Remember the Mountain Bed 4. Bob Dylan's 49th Beard 5. Jesus, etc. 6. One By One 7. Everlasting 8. New song 9. Someday, Some Morning, Sometime 10. The Ruling Class 11. Wait Up for Me 12. Muzzle of Bees 13. In a Future Age 14. Forget the Flowers 15. California Stars

1st Encore
16. Shot in the Arm 17. Via Chicago 18. Fake Plastic Trees

2nd Encore
19. Wilco (the song) 20. Heavy Metal Drummer 21. Casino Queen 22. I'm the Man Who Loves You

3rd Encore
23. Dreamer in My Dreams 24. Acuff Rose

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ha Ha Very Funny

The Beatles - Act Naturally
Beck - Satan Gave Me A Taco
Van Morrison - Big Royalty Check
The Frogs - I'm Sad the Goat Just Died

Crispin Hellion Glover - These Boots Are Made For Walking
Richard Cheese - Buddy Holly
Shooby Taylor - Stout-Hearted Men
The Beat Farmers - Happy Boy
Tony Burello - There's a New Sound
"Weird Al" Yankovic - White and Nerdy

Flight of the Conchords - Think About It
Zlad - Elektronik Supersonik

David Bowie - The Laughing Gnome
The Pogues - The Gentleman Soldier

Nite Hawks - Chicken Grabber
Louis Jordan - Barnyard Boogie
Wynonie Harris - Keep on Churnin'
Bull Moose Jackson - Nosey Joe
Hurricane Harry - The Last Meal

Spinal Tap - Stonehenge
Leonard Nimoy - The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
Pat Boone - You Got Another Thing Coming (Judas Priest)
Kip - Always and Forever (Napoleon Dynamite)

Song-Poem - Virgin Child of the Universe
Monty Python - Galaxy Song
Tom Lehrer - So Long, Mom
Muppets - Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear
They Might Be Giants - Violin

Will Oldham - Big Balls
Devastatin Dave - Zip Zap Rap
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - My Pal the Tortoise
Atom and His Package - Anarchy Means I Litter
Danger Doom - Vats of Urine

Reggie and the Full Effect - Mood 4 Luv
Ween - Bananas and Blow
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Buy Me a Condo
The Simpsons - Monorail Song

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Know You Can't Control Yourself Any Longer

I love lists. Listmaker loves lists. Most people love lists, especially music nerds. One list that often comes up as a topic with us music geeks is guilty pleasures. These are the kind of joys that would only bring shame and derision were they to see the cold light of day. Music snobs love to talk about this subject because there are serious cool points to lose depending on what circles you traffic in and how deeply affected your musical friends are. Hardcore punks are as rigid and fundamentalist as the worst of the religious right.

Over the years, I've softened on my uppityness and have embraced, or at least tried to, the entire world of music. Few things turn me off on principle alone and I try to give most anything a chance. Years ago, I realised how much I truly loved Journey and everything changed. Not "loved" in any ironic, so-bad-they're-good kind of sense but true joy. "Any Way You Want It" moves me as much as my favorite White Stripes songs and thanks to Rock Band 2 I now know how truly awesome it is to belt out that melody at the top of my lungs. After Steve Perry, the deluge. I stopped caring what was hot and what was not and started embracing all the cheesy artists I remembered from my youth and the walls came tumbling down.

I was talking about this the other day with Flapdoodle and Flapman and found myself at a loss for words. "What are your guilty pleasures?" they asked and I had a hard time thinking of any. There's very little I'm embarrassed to admit I like these days, as evidenced by my loud and proud crowing about Rush. I offered the new Kanye West album as something that's not really a guilty pleasure but more a surprise to some people who know me. They offered up Billy Joel and Hall & Oates, neither of which is really something to be ostracized for. I have selfmade best of cds in my collection for the music of Dave Matthews and Enya, both who are pretty embarrassing but I can't apologize for my enjoyment of some of their songs. Yes, there's little cool about either musician but something about them touch me in ways the 18 year old Gamera would retch at. So, there we were, at a loss for a true guilty pleasure until Flapdoodle came up with one that I dare anyone to trump - Miami Sound Machine. I don't even know their music very well but I'm sure if I liked them it would be a hard thing to admit openly. It kind of makes me want to investigate their back catalog.

Dr. Beat - Miami Sound Machine

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pea Soup Pea Soup

Shaking Off the Sadness With an All Night Beat Frenzy!

Kraftwerk - Dentaku
Trans Am - Party Station
The Faint - The Conductor
Fantastic Plastic Machine - Take Me To the Disco
Wolfgang Press - Mama Told Me Not to Come
Gary Numan - Metal
Kanye West - Robocop
Burial - Near Dark
Radiohead - Sit Down. Stand Up.
Tortoise - Jetty
Tleilaxu - Sick
Mum - Don't Be Afraid...
Ween - Friends
Alice Deejay - Better Off Alone
Hans Raj Hans - Aaja Nachle
Fischerspooner - Emerge
MGMT - Electric Feel
Hot Chip - Keep Fallin'
Booka Shade - In White Rooms
Dirty Vegas - Days Go By
New Order - Ecstacy
Daft Punk - One More Time
Crystal Castles vs. The Whip - Divebomb
The Cure - The Walk (Everything Mix)
Sugarcubes - Motorcrash (Justin Robertson Mix)
We Will Build - Out These Doors Inside
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
The Avalanches - Radio
Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
Mantronix - Needle to the Groove
Animal Collective - Lion in a Coma

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Capt. Planet's Maiden Voyage vol. 2

Theme vs. theme once again. This time Mothra brings the elements while Gamera delves into the artists who don't merit a second purchase.

Grandaddy - Underneath the Weeping Willow
Boyracer - Is It Me or Is It Cold?
The Pastels - Love It's Getting Better
Drunk - A Nip For Kitty

Man or Astroman - Earth Station Radio
The New Pornographers - All of Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth
The American Analog Set - Gone To Earth

The Hives - Die, All Right!
Wire - Lowdown
Franz Ferdinand - Cheating On You
Dog Faced Hermans - Les Femmes et Les Filles Vont Danser

Scorpions - Wind of Change
Brian Wilson - Wind Chimes
Billy Bragg and Wilco - Black Wind Blowing
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - The Sweeping Wind

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - Cup of Dreams
Kanye West - Street Lights
Starlight Mints - Cracker Jack
Teenage Fanclub - Guiding Star

John Parr - St. Elmo's Fire
Madvillian - Do Not Fire
Mitch Hedberg - Fire Exit
Bill Monroe & Doc Watson - Fire On The Mountain
Broken Social Scene - Fire Eye'd Boy
Wolf Parade - This Heart's on Fire

Unrest - Cath Carroll
Smog - Not Lonely Anymore
Edsel - Narrow

Brian Eno - Slow Water
Modest Mouse - Grey Ice Water
Beck - See Water
Akron/Family - I'll Be on the Water

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cliches Come to Life

Phish are back after a five year hiatus and so are their legions of glow stick loving fans. I got to work today, saw the headline on Yahoo that $1.2 million in drugs were confiscated at Phish's three night jammy jam at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia this past weekend and just laughed in amazement. Back with a bang, eh boys? Even better is this headline courtesy of Gawker:

Police Win War on Drugs Belonging to Zonked Phish Hippies

Yes it's expected that there will massive amounts of drugs at a Phish concert but still, $1.2 million!? That's a lot of drugs. What kinds of drugs, you wonder? "Many of the charges pertained to marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms and painkillers" reads the article. I know what you're thinking - the painkillers must have been to dull the 3 hour+ onslaught of noodling and vacuum cleaner solos. I saw Phish years ago and was relating the story to a friend and he commented on how I was probably the only one there actually paying attention to the music. While that's obviously an exaggeration, it is odd to be straight at a show where the assumption is that you are on one, if not several, controlled substances. As much as the hacky sack loving, haircut avoiding, hippie dancing legions bug me, I still would have loved to be at one of those recent shows but not enough to be one of the many doofuses who wander around the parking lot yelling "I need a miracle!" Man, I hate those guys.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Capt. Planet's Maiden Voyage vol. I

Elements vs. Artists Who Don't Merit the Purchase of a Second CD!

Desaparecidos - The Happiest Place on Earth
Bjork - Earth Intruders
Tom Waits - Earth Died Screaming
The Fucking Champs - Over the Flat Earth

The Stranglers - Get A Grip On Yourself
The Rapture - House of Jealous Lovers
Iron Maiden - The Trooper

Frank Black - Parry the Wind High, Low
Guided by Voices - Adverse Wind
Cat Power - Wild is the Wind
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Summer Wind

The Detroit Cobras - Midnight Blues
The Replacements - Color Me Impressed
MC5 - Ramblin' Rose
The Walkmen - The Rat

Crooked Fingers - You Must Build a Fire
Sebadoh - Soul and Fire
The Cure - Fire in Cairo
Brian Eno - St. Elmo's Fire

Akron/Family - Afford
The Wrens - This Boy is Exhausted
Q & Not U - Soft Pyramids

Of Montreal - A Collection of Poems About Water
M. Ward - So Much Water
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Underwater (You and Me)
Lilys - Icy Water. Water Everywhere

My Morning Jacket - Anytime
Death Cab for Cutie - Company Calls
Maserati - The Width of The Atlantic

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bring Me the Head of Jeff Tweedy

I hate shit like this. If you don't feel like clicking, let me post the offending quote: "(Wilco's last album) features a lot of songs that didn't quite live up to their lofty legacy. So there's a little more pressure on the band to come through with goods on the still-untitled follow-up." Oh really? Says who? Most people I know love that album including Mothra, Jimbama and Big Red from Lucky Bitch. This happens a lot (and it happens a lot on Pitchfork) where one person, or one website's opinion, all of sudden gets deemed common knowledge. When I saw Wilco last summer, their fans were insanely excited about the new songs which all sounded incredible live. In my mind, there is no separation between their back catalog and their recent songs. I also find criticism that classifies Sky Blue Sky as soft, toothless rock to be missing the boat completely and not really listening to the album. It seems that often times critics come to a general conclusion about something (see: TV on the Radio) and all agree to unanimously pan or praise a certain band, album, etc. For some reason, Wilco has seen a mild critical backlash recently and Sky Blue Sky took a hit but to me it's all nonsense and makes me trust critics less and less with each passing day. And that part about needing to prove themselves this time out is laughably pretentious. You either like an album or you don't like it but no one's take on anything is universal. I'm sure most every shitty record out there has someone championing it, even if it's just the artist's parents. I hope for Wilco's sake that their forthcoming album is pleasing to Ryan Dombal for who knows what kind of shitstorm will rain down on them if it's not.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Oblivion or Bust

Did anyone else see Kanye West on VH1’s Storytellers Saturday night? In a word it was revelatory. I am now his soldier. I am ready to go into battle for Kanye. And what battle would that be exactly? I’ll let Kanye answer that. “The war on traditional thinking.” For you see, Mr. West is not simply a fantastic songwriter or a masterful producer or a mindblowing performer, he is also a vessel wherein god’s words course through him allowing him to be a mouthpiece for the freaks and weirdos and in the end causing him to change minds.

The entire show seemed to be beamed in from the future. Kanye performed on a square stage lit from within that changed various colors over the course of the evening going from bright white, to silvery like a mirror or watery surface to multicolored as his mood warranted. Above him was another reflective square hanging from the ceiling at an angle adding an extra dimension to the future shock set design. There was also a full band surrounding the raised platform that included at least 2 drummers as well as a smattering of string players. They looked a demolition crew from the year 2112, all dressed in dark colors and wearing shiny helmets with protective face guards to prevent them from being injured by any explosive comments or egos on stage.

When Kanye was on SNL recently, his voice was noticeably off and the autotune seemed as much a necessity as a cool effect but on Storytellers, he was on pitch about 96% of the time and it elevated the songs drastically. He was belting out all his newest jams and ferociously spitting hot fire on older hits like “Flashing Lights.” Songs were manipulated into mulitpart medleys or else drawn out with extended jams where the drummers pummeled their instruments as Kanye waxed poetic on the tragic events leading up to 808s and Heartbreak and the near constant criticism he suffers at the hands of reporters, bloggers, haters, parents, close minded jerks and anyone else put off by comments like “My biggest regret in life is not being able to watch myself perform. Y’all know a pleasure I will never have.”

One of the most incredible and shocking events came during a jam/breakdown, one of the many “storytelling” portions of the show where Kanye expounded on a variety of topics, some of which were censored and/or cut from the show entirely. During this particular story, Kanye divulged that he’s not much of a reader so most of his quotes are from movies or from conversations he’s had. He goes on to talk about the value of actually talking to your fellow humans and how educational it can be to engage with people of opposing viewpoints as long as you keep an open mind and are willing to broaden your perspectives. After mentioning a few clich├ęd ideas (young black guy vs. older white woman, rich Lincoln Town Car passenger vs. homeless man) he says he’s realized he’s been wrong all along with his conservative opinion of homosexuals. All those people in Chicago were wrong, he said, telling him to avoid gay people when he was growing up. Then after this astonishing revelation and wonderfully surprising display of progressive thinking, he went on to sing “Don’t be an asshole for too long.” Putting his money where mouth is when it comes to the war on traditional thinking, my respect for Kanye increased tenfold in that moment.

I used to think Kanye was a buffoon but I’ve softened my stance on him recently and it’s no secret that this latest album has made me fall hard for the man. I can see why he’s been such a target for critics and can also now see that he’s horribly talented and I admire his stubborn refusal to back down, give in or stop trying to be the biggest star in the galaxy. His ego is enormous, sure, but he truly believes in what he’s doing and the endless possibilities laid out before him. During his more bizarre and longwinded asides on Saturday’s program, he certainly resembled a somewhat creepy cult leader but I have tasted the Kool-Aid and will follow him into the darkness.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

There Will Be Blood Sausage

Blood and bleeding!

Liars - Brocken Witch
Jay Reatard - Blood Visions
Misfits - Bloodfeast

Destroyer - Your Blood
Barbara Manning - The Blood of Feeling
Suzanne Vega - Blood Makes Noise

Black Sabbath - Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath
Truman's Water - Good Blood After Bad
Slant 6 - Blood Song
Voxtrot - Blood Red Blood

Billy Bragg & Wilco - The Blood of the Lamb
Franz Ferdinand - Shopping for Blood
Radiohead - We Suck Young Blood (Your Time Is Up)

Archers of Loaf - Fashion Bleeds
The Faint - Cars Pass in Cold Blood
The Cure - The Blood
PJ Harvey - Rub Til It Bleeds

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Blood Embrace
Bon Iver - Blood Bank
Mountain Goats - The House that Dripped Blood

Man...Or Astroman? - The Heavies (Let's Surf the River of Blood)
The Dead Milkmen - (Theme From) Blood Orgy of the Atomic Fern
Ted Leo - Bleeding Powers
Pixies - I Bleed
Johnny Cash - Flesh and Blood

Bright Eyes - Bad Blood
Sondre Lerche - Face the Blood
The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show
Sons & Daughters - Blood