Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Songs for Eating and Drinking

Music, food, and fun. Those are the tenants of an exciting event recently taken place in a naval airplane hanger in Seattle. The project, entitled Songs for Eating and Drinking, is a collaboration between table guru Michael Hebb and photographer/director Chase Jarvis. Here's a description of the concept and a video of the band Fences performing "We Wore Panthers on Our Hands":

get a bunch of insanely talented musicians together, and let them share songs, food, and drink. many a musical career starts with small audiences, impromptu performances, late night mutterings; and then the lucky end up on large stages and tucked deep inside recording studios - often vastly disconnected from those that love their music. our friends in the music industry have bellyached that industry folk hardly ever share food in a meaningful way – or rarely just get together and f’in chill. so we decided to create these evenings for our musician friends built around long tables, remarkable locations, sturdy drinking food, and bottles of wine and whiskey – with the hope that throughout each night songs would rise up from the table...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menomena | The Pelican | Middlebury College

I shot this video at Middlebury College's Sepomana 2008 festival back in May (thank you WRMC). Sadly I only recorded the first 1:46 of the song, but at least it gives an idea of how dramatic their performance was. Make sure that you WATCH THE DRUMMER.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

US v Guatemala | World Cup Qualifying

Time to dust off your Hugo Perez jersey...it's World Cup Qualifying.

Qualifying for South Africa 2010 kicks off in earnest for the US on Wednesday (Aug 20) when they travel to Guatemala for the opening match of the semifinal round for CONCACAF (ESPN2, 10pm EST). In this round, there are three groups with four countries a piece. Each team plays every other team in their group twice (home and away) with the top two teams in each group advancing to the final round of qualifying.

Here are the four groups:

Group A
United States
Trinidad & Tobago

Group B

Group C
Costa Rica
El Salvador

Group B is easily the roughest group and Group C is one of the most ridiculous groups ever created. The US is the heavy favorite to win its group but starting with two games on the road is tough. We dominate Guatemala at home but are only 1-4-4 at Guatemala with our one win coming in 1988. Thankfully, the weather looks more pleasant in Guatemala City than you'd expect for August. Regarding Cuba on Sep 6, you have no idea what sort of reception we'll receive in Havana. Then again seven U-23 Cuban players defected when they played in the Olympic qualifying tournament this spring. So, they may not be at full strength. If we take four points from those first two matches, we'll cruise through the rest and top our group.

Here's the schedule for the US matches:

Aug. 20........@ Guatemala..........Guatemala City, Guatemala
Sept. 6..........@ Cuba.................................Havana, Cuba
Sept. 10......vs. Trinidad & Tobago.......Bridgeview, Ill.
Oct. 11...........vs. Cuba.........................Washington, D.C.
Oct. 15........@ Trinidad & Tobago...Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Nov. 19..........vs. Guatemala......Commerce City, Colo.

Montpelier Street Band

I like the spirit but the same melody for two minutes is ponderous; just fucking ponderous.

iPod Fire

Be careful out there.

Sustainable Dance Club | Club Watt

The average music club uses 150 times more energy than a normal house. However, Club Watt in Rotterdam is trying to change that. They plan on using 30% less than a normal house. How? With a new dance floor that has a 1cm give to it. Then as people dance, the bouncing of the floor will generate energy which will be used to run the club. The more people dance, the more energy that'll be create. If it works as billed, that's a fantastic idea.

Guess who the first artist to play with the new floor will be? Iggy Pop. Get your "Raw Power" on.

Iggy & The Stooges | Raw Power | Buy

Sunday, August 17, 2008

False 45th Record Club | Sep 9

It's back!

A couple of months have passed since June's record club and it's time for the next one. This one will be on Tuesday, Sep 9. Everything else is the same deal.

If you'd like to participate, email me two songs you'd like to share by Sunday, Sep 7. The same rules apply regarding the selection of songs.

If this is the first time you've heard of the False 45th Record Club, then you can read about the concept here. The song list from the last one is here.

Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, Sep 3 @ 8pm

Where: The Black Door in Montpelier

Who: Anyone. If people don't want to submit songs but just want to hang out for the night, please do. Bring whoever your want.

What: Send us TWO songs.

Song Rules:

(1) Every genre and time period is fair game. You have some kick-ass polka you'd like to share? Let's play it.

(2) The two songs must be from different artists and different albums. The emphasis is on variety.

(3) The songs have to be eight minutes or less. We won't have enough time to get through everyone's songs if someone drops a twenty minute Godspeed You Black Emperor track on us.

(4) They can't be from your own band. We don't want people using this as an opportunity to just pimp their own bands.

(5) Send us your songs by Sep 7 so we have time to burn the CDs.

Suggestion: Keep in mind that your songs will be playing in a bar. Therefore, a quiet atmospheric piece may not be heard over the din of chatter and beer glasses. It'll need a little volume to be noticed.

Send your songs to False45thRecordClub@gmail.com

There are two updates since the last club meeting:

(1) Someone has offered to correct the equalizer for each song as the playlist progresses over the night. That should help with some of the songs being too bassy, low, etc.

(2) I spoke to The Black Door about doing a drink special on beer that night. They seemed to be cool about it. They said they'd talk about it and let me know. So, hopefully, we'll have some cheaper beers this time.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The New Year | "The Company I Can Get"

The New Year's self-titled third album is still a few weeks away (Sep 9) but they've released a cut from the album. "The Company I Can Get" is one of the piano-heavy songs I was referencing when I commented on the album a few months ago. I'm still trying to reconcile rednecks and Corvettes though. When I think of rednecks, I think pick-up trucks and Corvettes make me think of a-holes at a country club.

Regardless, good song. You can download it for free courtesy of RCRD LBL.

TNY also have two new album teasers available. Oh, all the teasing. Make it stop. Pre-order here.

Radiohead | Comcast Center | Aug 13

I've never been much of a Radiohead fan. When I listen to their stuff, I can respect them for what they are trying to do and understand why others love them so much. However, they've never made an emotional connection with me.

So, when a friend mentioned that he had a pair of VIP tickets to see Radiohead outside of Boston, I suggested he find a hardcore Radiohead fan to go but if none appeared, I'd be interested. Perhaps seeing them live would explain their massive fan base to me.

On Wednesday night, we drove the 3 1/2 hours down to the Comcast Center in Mansfield which is one of those sterile corporate outdoor amphitheaters that every medium size city and up seems to have. I hadn't been to that large of a facility to see a show since 1995 when I went to Giants Stadium to see Bob Dylan as he opened for The Dead. Besides Wilco at Shelburne Museum, everything had been small clubs and theaters over the last 13 years.

The Comcast Center was a nice place tucked into a wooded lot. The VIP passes allowed us easy access into and out of the place, entry to the hospitality tent and box seats behind the first seated section. The parking is the best part of that package. Not having to wait in line is beautiful. The hospitality tent above was a relaxing place to hang in before the show but the food prices were criminal. Two burgers and four beers between us cost $67 with tip. Ugh.

The box seats were nice though because we had a bit of elbow room and were raised up slightly above the rows in front of us. Plus, the movable chairs made it easier to get comfortable. One thing about the place that shocked me, in contrast to the usual shows I see, was the amount of staff employed for the show. At one point, while waiting for the show to begin, I counted the ushers and security guards. There were 25 of them just in the section between us and the stage. I guess that's why burgers and beers ran us $67.

Grizzly Bear opened the show. Like Radiohead, I'm a bit mystified by their popularity. They sound highly ordinary to me but they get a lot of attention in the blogosphere. I thought seeing them live would explain it to me but...nope.

They still sounded like an Elephant 6 wanna-be band with some nice harmonies and pleasant melodies but no compelling reason to buy any of their stuff.

Note: I like the look on the security guard's face in the shot above. You know he's thinking, "I really wish one of these fuckers would do something wrong; so friggin' bored."

One thing you don't get in small indie clubs is a light show; perhaps a bit of smoke and a strobe light if you're lucky. However, you never see anything on the scale that Radiohead used to entertain my eyeballs.

There was about two dozen long tubes dangling from the rafters that changed colors throughout the show. That was enhanced by a series of lights above and around the stage that cast more color across the band. Then to top it off, they had video of the band running on a screen at the back of the stage and on the jumbotrons on either side of the place.

The cool thing about the video was that the angles and images they caught didn't look like traditional concert footage. By capturing the musicians at weird angles, cutting off their heads, arms, etc., focusing on inactive instruments at times and dividing the screen into quadrants, the video more closely resembled a 7-11 security tape rather than Austin City Limits. It gave you a voyeur feel which was kind of interesting.

You can see the full package of what I'm talking about in this video I shot. It's no Yes in Madison Square Garden in 1985 with laser light geometric shapes spinning over the crowd but it's a nice visual.

As for the music itself, being a lesser fan, I relied on my friend to inform me that they played a lot of In Rainbows, four or five songs from Kid A and OK Computer, one or two from Hail to the Thief, the title track from The Bends and nothing from Pablo Honey.

They clearly know what they are doing and are hyper-polished on stage. And while their quieter songs didn't pull me in, I was definitely enjoying their loud rockers. For some reason their grooves infected me more live than when I had heard the albums.

Thom Yorke's frontman persona is a bit too much of "I'm a tourtured artist who's willing to dance" for me but I have a well-developed callous to that particular portrayal after years of seeing it played out in numerous clubs across the fruited lands over the years. So, it didn't bug me too much.

Bassist Colin Greenwood was sporting a No Age t-shirt which immediately made him my favorite member of the band.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. The light show was fun to watch and they definitely had me bouncing to the groove. It wasn't enough to get me to buy a Radiohead boxset but I'd pay to see them if they came to VT.

The last point about them coming to VT is key because the drive home was brutal. We stopped at two different gas stations on the way home that we knew were 24-hour stations. However, as we later learned, due to cost-cutting measures, they had recently decided to start closing rather than staying open to help the late night stragglers. Fuckers.

The closed gas stations led to us running out of gas at Exit 13 on I-89 in NH. Anyone who has driven on that stretch of highway knows that there isn't anything out there. It's a dead zone unless you're a woodchuck. Luckily, we ran out right at an exit ramp and managed to roll into a closed gas station. Double lucky was the fact that my friend had AAA coverage. It was a long wait for the dude to show up with a can of gas for us (and depressing when the newspapers were delivered) but we eventually got home at 4:30am.

So, like I said, if they come to VT, I'm there...but I'm not staying up until 4:30am again.

Baseball in Vermont

No need for a fancy recreation park when you have a cow pasture. The game and the bovines were coexisting nicely until a bull decided to go check out home plate. One of the kids yelled, "COW ATTACK!!", and they all went scurrying under the fence.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Coming Soon: New Live Bonnie Prince Billy

October 10th marks the Domino Records release of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's third live album, entitled Is It The Sea? The thirteen tracks were recorded at various locations during his Spring 2006 tour, including Scotland, Ireland and Newcastle. Will Oldham was joined by Edinburgh's Harem Scarem on harmonies, fiddle, flute, banjo and accordion, as well as Glasgow's Alex Neilson on drums and percussion.

I was blown away by the Superwolf (Oldham and Matt Sweeney) show I witnessed at Higher Ground in 2005 (along with 30 other people). The greatest thing about the show was how different the tracks were presented then the album. The songs had been restructured and were much fuller and interesting - it was as if the album was the blueprint and the performance was the full structure. That same richness is found on this new album. I've spent many hours pouring over Will Oldham's body of work, but I've never been swept away like I am while listening to these strangely familiar ballads.

Will Oldham | Birch Ballad

Will Oldham | Love Comes to Me

Sip Sip Sip Sippin' on some sizzzzurp...

Thanks to Three 6 Mafia, we have this ridiculous concoction:

1. Cough Syrup (anything with Codeine)
2. Vodka
3. Milk of Magnesia
4. Jolly Ranchers Red

Sizzurp goes by other names, such as lean, syrup, purple jelly, barre (seriously), and purple drank. Given the fact that at least two rappers have died of codeine overdose due to this stuff (DJ Screw and UGK's Pimp C), you'd think the sizzurp days were numbered. Guess again. An enterprising soft drink company is capitalizing on the woozyness. In leans Drank.

Innovative Beverage Group has taken time and great care to design the first and only anti-energy drink of its kind 'Drank.' Drank was formulated to be an extreme relaxation beverage that personifies the slow, smooth style of chopped and screwed music put forth by hip-hop giants such as: Mike Watts, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Johnny Dang, Three 6 Mafia, T.I., Rick Ross, Ludacris and the late D.J. Screw.

Instead of codeine, the slowness effects are provided by a mixture of rose-hips, melatonin, and valerian root (natural sleep aides). So now you can get your nap on the old fashioned way.

The AV Club did a hilarious Taste Test of this sleepy time beverage so that you don't have to.

Three 6 Mafia ft. UGK | Sippin... (DJ Emagen Purp Sippin Bass Drippin Remix)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cold War Kids | "Something Is Not Right with Me"

Cold War Kids have posted a track from their upcoming album Loyalty to Loyalty on their website. It's a good song but not killer. If it's the best track on the album then the album might be a clunker. However, if it's just an average track then the album might be Cracker Jack.

The street date for the album is Sep 23.

Here's a little factoid for you: CWK are Norwich City FC fans. I didn't see that one coming.

Cold War Kids | Something is Not Right with Me | Pre-Order

Devendra Banhart | "Carmenista"

Warning! This new video from Devendra Banhart is NSFW.

Not because there's anything raunchy in it; just because if a co-worker catches you watching this freakfest, they'll never look at you the same way again.

Oh, and Natalie Portman is in it.

Devendra Barnhart | Carmenista | Buy

Honda Step Bus

Then you can stick your transparent canoe on the roof and slick bike on the back of Honda's Step Bus and you're looking like you just step out of 2030.

Beautiful Canoe

To go with the bikes, here's a sweet canoe.

Beautiful Bikes

More of these bikes here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Von Südenfed

Back in college, my freshman roommate introduced me to The Fall and frontman Mark E. Smith. At that point, I never thought that 22 years later I'd still be listening to the same guy and that he'd be doing German dance rock. I don't know if it says more about Smith's longevity or me being stuck in a two decade long musical rut. Regardless, Von Südenfed is here and I'm enjoying it.

Besides Smith, the trio includes Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma from Mouse on Mars. Quite frankly, Von Südenfed sounds like a Mouse on Mars album with Smith handling the vocals. Although, like The Fall, some of it is just terrible and some of it is fabulous. The beats are disco infectious and, at this point, Smith's vocals are comforting in their familiarity. However, some of the songs go too krautrock on me.

Von Südenfed | The Rhinohead | Buy

Von Südenfed | Fledermaus Can't Get It | Buy

Eric Chanaux | Coming to Burlington | Aug 10

If you're loving Bon Iver (and...really...who isn't?), then you may want to hit the Firehouse Gallery on Sunday night to catch Eric Chanaux. Chanaux is more electrified than Bon Iver but they both have that mellow intensity and melancholy voice that sucks you in. He'll be performing with Burlington superhero Greg Davis.

Showtime is 8pm and tickets are $7 at the door.

Eric Chanaux | Love Don't Change | Buy

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lollapalooza | Day Three

And the beat goes on with TK...


Sun., Aug. 3

We arrived just in time for the start of Iron And Wine's 4:15 set at one of the big stages. Considering we did this two weekends ago and this is the third straight day, it's starting to take a toll on us. We felt relieved to sleep in and do a huge breakfast before we left. Just as it was the case with Explosions in the Sky the day before, Iron And Wine was the chill-out time slot. Great band to just lay on the grass and relax to. The overcast weather keeps things cool and makes life easier for everyone. Hearing Woman King and staring at the sky was bliss.

Let's say Iron And Wine is the neighbor that calls ahead and then rings the doorbell. Then Flogging Molly is the type that just walks in and kicks your ass off the couch. Their introduction from a local DJ bordered on an overslurp but they were an absolute blast. Irish music on amphetamines. Lead singer Dave King cracked us up by saying Irish football is so bad right now they had to hire a fucking Italian coach. He later dedicated a song to himself and completely energized the crowd. Some bands take breaks between songs; Flogging Molly's bassist uses that time to slam a beer. It was that point I think I really came to admire them. We realized the only problem with their set was that our blood-alcohol content was way too low. One of the joys of Pitchfork is having unfamiliar bands freight-train us and Flogging Molly provided that joy.

Either my memory fails me or I don't recall Love and Rockets being this ....heavy. Despite a food and beverage break, we stayed within earshot. I can't recall a truly disappointing band from the final two days. Love and Rockets kept the roll going.

It was nice to hear Love and Rockets clearly because we were focused on getting up close for The National. At some point, you reach a saturation level with a band because you've listened to them so much. The National only makes me enjoy their music even more. Like Radiohead, they have an uncanny ability to sound isolated and intimate at the same time. Fans insisted on clapping early but quickly realized if they stopped, they'd fully appreciated The National's wonderfully layered sound. About the only time it worked against them was Mistaken For Strangers, when the murky, menacing rhythm section unfortunately ceeded to everything else. Otherwise, fantastic. Matt Berninger can be your lonely crooner or your fanatical outburst on tracks like Squalor Victoria and Abel. They capped the set with Mr. November, introduced as follows: "This song is not meant for John McCain. We're sure he's a nice guy and everything, but it's not for him." The joke here is that The National is selling shirts with Obama's mug and Mr. November written below it. If you haven't hit a National show and screamed the chorus of Mr. November at the top of your lungs, consider yourself cheated.

Finally, it was Nine Inch Nails, who I'm fine with but I'm not a big fan, either. They sounded great when they weren't wanking with their electronic toys and we got to hear a flushed-out version of Terrible Lie, one of my fave NIN tunes, before we had to catch our train.

All things considered, we had a great weekend and got our money's worth. I'm probably hesitant about coming back because the crowds were ridiculous, but part of that is like Coachella in 2003, I'd hate to taint a great experience with a lousy one. Get another great lineup and they can talk me into it.

photo courtesy of Robert Loerzel

The Avett Brothers | Higher Ground | Jul 29

Some thoughts and photos from The Avett Brothers at Higher Ground:

A few years ago, I reviewed Kris Gruen's debut album, Lullaby School, for 7D and enjoyed it. So, I was happy to see him opening for The Avett Brothers. In fact, it was probably the factor that tipped me towards going since I was sort of middling towards The Avetts.

Gruen played for about a half hour and showcased all new material (as far as I could tell) which would make sense since he's been working on a new album. You can hear some demos from his recording session on his myspace site; I'm digging "Memoir". At the show, Gruen had everything stripped down to just him, an acoustic guitar and a bass drum and the songs sounded good in their minimalist versions.

The bass drum was a great idea. Typically, playing just an acoustic guitar as an opener is a recipe for lots of crowd chatter. However, with Gruen stomping on that bass drum pedal, the chatter was completely drowned out but his guitar and vocals still came through clearly. More acoustic performers should try that move.

Prior to the show, my knowledge of The Avett Brothers was limited to just their 2007 album Emotionalism. The album is pretty but their mellowgrass sound never completely sucked me in. Just a bit too subdued. So, I went into the show expecting to hear quiet but beautiful folk songs. However, in place of that, I caught a rollicking hillbilly stompdown.

From the moment they hit the stage, their energy was evident. They seemed a lot closer to the frantic dynamo of Old Crow Medicine Show than I had previously appreciated. In fact, at one point, I noticed that sweat was pouring off the elbow of Scott Avett; not an occasional drip but a constant drip-drip-drip. At first I thought there was a leak in the roof but then I realized that the guy was just showing the effects of not stopping for an hour.

The other thing I picked up on about them was how much they are influenced by The Beatles. It comes through much more in their live show than recordings but they could forge a whole new genre of Beatlesgrass. I know...that's terrible...but it'd be fitting.

About 3/4 of the way through the show, Seth Avett was left alone on stage to perform "The Ballad of Love and Hate". While I was grabbed by the energy of the show, I'd say Seth's performance of that song was my favorite of the night. Beautiful. In fact, when it was done, someone in the crowd yelled, "That was fucking amazing!"

Apparently, they sold-out a 7,000 seat venue in NC the weekend before the show at Higher Ground. So, it must have been difficult for them to be excited to play in front of 400 people a few nights later. However, if you didn't know about the NC show, you never would have thought it was an issue. They seemed pleased to be there and I can't imagine them putting out more energy for a show than they did on Tuesday. Kudos to their professionalism.

One note about the crowd, there was a couple in front of me (about ten feet back from the stage) that brought their two-year-old to the show. Don't do that. It's just stupid. The kid doesn't want to be there. It's bad for the kids hearing. The people around you who have to deal with a squirming kid don't want the kid there. You'd enjoy the show more if the kid was at home. Just cough up the money for a babysitter and leave the kid at home.

I still don't consider myself to be a big fan of The Avett Bros. but, as a half-hearted fan, I'd see them again. Quite simply, they put on a good show.

Note: jds was at the show with me and has some differing opinions but I'll let him express them rather than put words in his mouth.

Romance in the Bronx

The Yankees are having a lot of promotions commemorating the final year in the current Yankee Stadium but this one has to be the cheesiest. It's a contest to see who gets the privilege of being the last dork to pop the question on the Jumbotron in front 55,000 people. I can only hope that the lady will say no and run away crying.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lollapalooza | Day Two

The odyssey continues...


Saturday - Day 2

Let me backtrack briefly and give you the lay of the land where Grant Park is concerned. Columbus Drive in front of the park is closed off and shut down for emergency vehicles. There's only one main entrance in front of Buckingham Fountain, which dissects the venue. Fortunately, with three-day passes like we had, you only had to sit in a huge line Friday and getting in Satuday was a piece of cake because they give you a wristband.

The two biggest stages sit at opposite ends of the park about a mile apart. Two other stages sit adjacent and two smaller stages sit behind those toward the middle on intersecting, blocked-off streets, Jackson and Balbo. The ground rises toward the fountain so you don't have sound from one end messing with sound from the other.

We started off with the Gutter Twins playing the stage Radiohead played on the previous night. Instantly,we noticed the sound quality was much better, something I hoped we were past from Pitchfork but evidently not. We were real close for the Black Keys but I guess the sound was awful in the back. The Gutter Twins, comprised of former Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, describe themselves as "the Satanic Everly Brothers". Even though Lanegan just stood there to sing and couldn't get off the stage fast enough, they put on a quality set to start the day.

Having eaten early and skipped breakfast and lunch, it was 3:30 by this time so we pigged out. It was much cooler with a nice breeze and we froze the four 1-liter bottles of water we brought in (two each), so we had cold water all day as they melted.

Explosions in the Sky played the other big stage and I was familiar with their early albums and saw them at a tiny club in Madison. Still tired and short on sleep, we found a spot of grass and laid down while listening to them. I think I fell asleep for a bit. Normally, that wouldn't be a compliment but it was great music to relax and unwind to, even if there were no lyrics.

From the same spot, we were able to just turn and catch the first half of Okkervil River's set. I'm not very familiar with them but they continued the great vibe of a pleasant afternoon, even though they opened with a song that talked constantly about the president getting shot.

Because of the distance involved, we cut early and grabbed a vegan ice cream (Pitchfork had it too, it's quite tasty) on our way to Battles, who we saw at Pitchfork last year. I don't even know where to begin as far as describing these guys but they got the crowd energized and were a good pick-me-up for the evening sets.

Staying on that same side, we caught the Toadies, who sounded like a bunch of pissed-off Texans. This was a good thing. There was an underlying agitation throughout their set which I guess is just the way they play. And I enjoyed it. Lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis wore a sly grin before leading the crowd in Possum Kingdom's signature line, "Do you want to die?" Their first new album in eight years is out in September and if their set was any indication, it's good to have them back.

Finally, the early evening crescendo of anger built to the headliner, Rage Against The Machine. We picked Rage over Wilco, the other headliner, because my buddy Rich never saw Rage live and we both saw Wilco put on an impressive set at Sasquatch in 2004. Perhaps we made the wrong choice. We lingered at the back so we could bolt early to catch our trains. While this compromises the headliner, it got us in and out in a clean and cheap manner (we heard one tale of a two-hour traffic jam downtown). The sound was too low early and Rage had to stop twice for extended periods because of fan mayhem and they threatened to cut their set short the second time they stopped. On one hand, I commend Zack de la Rocha for looking out for the safety and well-being of his fans. On the other hand, he plays in a band called Rage Against The Machine that plays some of the most angry, inciting music ever recorded. How do you expect nearly 40,000 people to respond? By sipping tea? It entirely killed any momentum of their set and gave us that last little push out the door. I'm not sure that it dawned on de la Rocha that he followed his two look-out-for-each-other sermons with Bombtrack (chorus: Burn! Burn!) and Bullet In The Head. Yeah, that'll chill everyone out, Zack. Like Public Enemy two weekends before them, it's not if they remain relevant but rather if anyone is still listening or going to do anything about it. When he told people to save their anger and energy for the streets, it came off as a punch line. If they do new material, perhaps they should rage against apathy and indifference.

photo courtesy of brokenbat

Lollapalooza | Day One

You can't keep up with TK. You can only hope to live vicariously through him.


Fri., Aug. 1
Grant Park

It's my first crack at Lollapalooza and it comes two weeks after Pitchfork. This time, the setting is Grant Park, where my sidekick Rich and I caught Radiohead in 2001 for one of their most famous shows. The lines turns out to be massive to enter and sure enough, we get stuck in line behind the dickheads that don't read the website and bring in their own water jugs rather than two sealed bottles as per the rules. As a result, we miss the Black Lips. Later we would find out that this event sold out for the first time in its history with over 75,000 in attendance.

We did get to catch Rogue Wave, which was kind of like easing into the pool rather than just diving in head first (see Boris at Pitchfork). They had to compete with a nearby stage but were well received.

I cut short on them to catch The Go!Team while Rich stayed to catch Yeasayer. Rich's quick-capsule guest review: They sounded pretty good.

I've really enjoyed the last two Go!Team albums but I was also mindful of Flatlander hitting the gong on them after seeing them live. It seems like lead vocalist Ninja is the weak link here. Her mic was too low on sound early in the set but I swear she was freestyling different lyrics. I suppose it's her right with her music and I'm usually not that particular with lyrics being sung in the exact same manner as on the CD. It just alienates the audience is all. It'd be like going to see Steven Wright with the same mannerisms, only to have him start telling George Carlin's jokes. But Ninja doesn't totally suck either and she got better towards the end of set. She and the band just need a bit more polish. The music was spot-on. During The Power Is On, they unleashed a pure sonic avalanche. If you listent to The Go!Team's CDs, you figure their show should be bumper cars with all the asses shaking but it wasn't. Some of that may be the eclectic, mash-up nature of the music,some of that may be the heat and people not wanting to pass out in mid-afternoon. The infectious energy was there but if the Go!Team could get the lightning to match its thunder, they'd surely have a massive strike.

Then it was break time for a couple of brews before The Black Keys and goddamn if they didn't kill. I wondered what kind of reception they'd get after singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach pissed all over the Chicago white boy blues scene in an interview with The Onion (it had it coming, by the way).There's something about the Keys that just leads to a sweaty show, be it small club or huge venue. They didn't completely win the audience over but maybe it was full of Chicago white boy wannabes, as evidenced by the huge roar when cloud cover provided some welcome respite from the sun. Otherwise, they were fantastic with Auerbach's chainsaw riffs and drummer Patrick Carney playing like a gun was pointed at his head. From 10 A.M. Automatic to the new stuff, the Keys are 3-for-3 in times I've seen them.

A fair number of musicians can't get one group to sound good but Jack White's doing well for himself as a White Stripe and a Raconteur. He seems relieved to not have to carry the load like he does with the Stripes, but it doesn't hurt to have a guy like Brendan Benson to turn the wheel over to, either. The Stripes put on a terrific show and the Raconteurs played to a very high standard as well. Flushed out versions of Level and Top Yourself were highlights. Like the Keys before them, when the Raconteurs jam, I'm actually curious as to where they're going with it. The only regret was to have to bail early to catch some Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks on the way to Radiohead.

We only caught a passing bit of Malkmus and the Jicks,which was a shame because I like Sleater-Kinney and they've added S-K drummer Janet Weiss. It's a good thing we started getting into position when we did for Radiohead because....holy freaking sea of humanity. No other act played opposite them so everyone sardined into that side of the festival. Over 75,000 people crammed in as far as the eye can see. I'm just glad I didn't have to pee. I was there when Radiohead sold out Coachella in 2003 and this was much bigger. Radiohead have a reputation for delivering big-time performances in huge venues and once again, they didn't disappoint. This time, the groundbreaking light show was almost worth the cost by itself. It looked like they were playing under a set of huge wind chimes but they were manipulated to simulate candlelight, rain and many other dazzling visual effects. The sound quality was a bit low at first but it was either us not being right by the speakers (as usual) or the crowd finally learned the deal and joined the compliant Radiohead faithful. Few things are cooler than tens of thousands singing as one and it was goose-bump inducing to hear The Bends' final line of "Where are you now, when I need you?" sung in complete harmony. Radiohead, for me anyhow, has an ability to entrance an audience be it with a lullaby like No Surprises or singing about cracking your little skulls (Dollars And Cents). When fireworks went off behind the stage as they played Fake Plastic Trees, an interesting contrast, the fireworks reflected off one of the nearby skyscrapers to look like Christmas tinsel. By the time they played their sultry House Of Cards, the place was either dead quiet or singing along, and careful not to spoil the music. I've never seen so many cellphones taking pictures. Normally I'd be distracted and/or agitated but I can't blame people for wanting to make a moment like that last forever.

One day in the books and I already feel like I got my money's worth.

photo courtesy of swth