Superchunk did a small tour, and they weren't in Chicago or Texas, but were in San Francisco, so I felt happy. Of course I was really looking forward to this show, and I bought two tickets. No one I knew wanted to go, however. So I wound up creating an online personal ad, and I went with this woman I met online. There's more story there, of course. The band rocked just as fine as ever, and they played a couple or few new ones in which Mac played keyboards live. That's the first time I can remember that. They closed the show with a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run". It rocked. They rocked. It's been 10 years, and they simply rock. Yay! So the keyboard guy in Spoon is someone I was acquainted with in Austin, and I ran into him before the show. That was a surprise.
Kid 606 was a guy with 2 PowerBooks (a G3 and a Titanium G4, at least that was cool) mixing live. This isn't that exciting. He might as well have been programming and we were watching, without being able to see the screen. This reminded me of Oval, but Kid 606 had a video collage going on behind him. The woman from iqu seemed much more attractive this time around. It was fine. Chicks on Speed were over the top funny. They even went through a costume change. They had super small samplers and what not on stage, and a enormous video display. I had a great time. I went to a show with my old college roommate Jeff for the first time in 5 years.
Sonic Youth put on a great show, as usual. There were no videos this time out. Jim O'Rourke played with them again. Kirk Curtwood was in Meat Puppets and he played acoustic version of his songs. I had decided that I was going to stand about 10 feet back from the center of the stage during Sonic Youth. My goal was to not move from that spot for the entire show. I succeeded. I would keep my feet in one place and "pull" myself across the masses in order to stay standing up straight. I'd keep the masses at bay with my arms. I'd invade people's personal space when they invaded mine. I had a fun and self righteous time.
The highlights of this show were the creamy middle of the line up. The Aislers Set are a pop punk band. My friend who digs them would probably hate that description, but it's true. Erase Errata have this great sound and vibe that I regret I can't describe right now. All I remember is I'd like to see them again. The cookie outsides of the line up were abrasive and stale. Incoherent, sound-check, noodling in the basement, "we have nothing new to say" type of stuff. The final band was supposed to be the loudest ever, and they were loud, but whatever. Play something I haven't heard before and use that loudness for catharsis, not garbage.
The crowd was all ready for Tortoise to play. When the band finally came out, they stood there silently, waiting to play. Everyone was in the "about to rock" pose. The crowd cheered when they walked out, and then as nothing continued to happen, the crowd grew quiet. It was as if everyone suddenly understood that this was art, and they should respect it. Then the band continued to do nothing. By then the silence grew uncomfortable, and some people woke up from their artistic stupor, realized they were at a rock show, and started yelling. The band still did nothing. The crowd grew quieter again, not knowing what the band wanted from them. Right when the silence seemed impossibly long, Tortoise let loose the harsh & loud guitar strains of "Seneca." Yes it was rock. Art rock. It was the best start of a set I've seen in awhile. Takemura put on one of those shows where it's a guy behind a computer. He had a brand new iBook, which was cool, but he could have been checking email while playing CDs on stage for all we knew. Jet Black Crayon was a harder sounding instrumental band.
I thought it would be cool to go see a friend's band in Santa Cruz. Euphone are a trio that mostly play instrumentals. They were set up in a corner in a very strange place. Nick from Euphone is from back in the Champaign days, and he said the place gave him a Channing Murray vibe. There were quite a few kids there. There was this one guy who was free form dancing during the sets. I don't think I had seen much like his dancing before. Lonesome Organist played with Euphone as well as for himself. He's a one man band. It's pretty chaotic, but he's intense enough to keep you interested. His set ended with the typical steel drum and tap dance number. I went to the show with an intern at Apple. The opening band was this guy singing songs out loud without a mic and a few others banging on pots and the like. It was... not my taste. Frankly, it made me uncomfortable to see someone needing audience approval so much. Anyway, after the set David (the intern) told me how he was scared that this is what the show was going to all be like. He wasn't sure what he had gotten himself into. But he wound up digging the show despite his earlier reservations.
Smog put on a great performance. I've just recently become a fan of Smog. I've seen and heard it in the past, but it hadn't really hit me until the last couple albums. This show was great. He looks pretty uncomfortable on stage in some ways, but he can really hold your attention. His face contorts in many different ways while his voice brings you to different places. The band had a fiddler that added to the songs quite in a great spooky manner. The lyrics are minimal, but his grain puts you in the right spot.
The first band played music that sounded like it should be in a Woody Allen movie. They had funny ditties with kudzu's and kitty puppets. They were pretty good. The headliner had two large vibraphone's at their disposal. They did some covers, as far as I could tell. I heard lots of Martin Denny in there. The act included a guy who swallowed and spit fire, and swallowed a leg to a table that was about 2 feet long. I didn't know that I was in store for that, so it was a great bonus. The woman bartender was memorable. I'm going to try to make it back here.
This was a fun show. It was nearly all singer and guitar. Whysall Lane is someone from Versus. While I was watching, I got the impression of Smog in my head. Calvin Johnson was great fun. He just sang and played guitar. He did his dances, and he held a Q&A session. He did one Dub Narcotic song, "Shock Mount," which I had never really listened to all the lyrics for. There was a falsetto a cappella song "Girl." This sounded like a crooning pop R&B song, that evolved into yelps. It has to be seen to be believed. Marc Robinson was last. He played a few Unrest songs. Calvin joined in on "Make Out Club," which was funny. Imagine singing along with a funny devil voice, and you've got it. His songs are really jangly. Overall, it was a great evening.
The place was full. The first two bands featured members of The Aislers Set. So I guess they are something of a super group. They both played pop on the poppier side of pop than The Aislers Set. Jonathan Richman did a few songs all in Spanish. He also went for his "Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" to butter up the hometown crowd. It actually seemed like a short set, but it was sweet.
I had a great time. I decided to go to this after seeing David Byrne do a PowerPoint presentation and reading from his book "The New Sins". It was put out by McSweeney's Books. I went up to the theatre and haggled with a few people outside to get a cheap ticket. I got a pretty good spot to watch the show. Being David Byrne, the fashion must be noted. He wore garage clothes. His shirt had his name on one breast, and "Champion" on the other. He played a guitar that had crazy effects that made it sound like a piano, among other non-guitar instruments. Another odd thing was there were no amplifiers on stage. Everyone had small earpiece monitors and they must have been plugged into the P.A. directly. There was a drummer and a bassist, of course, and a percussionist. The end of the set featured a 6 piece string section. In some songs they did the synthesizer parts, and you could really tell that they enjoyed it. They were just playing odd sounds. I really did get the chills seeing this show. When I heard "And She Was", all I could think was that this was the song that drove me to get the "Little Creatures" album, which put me firmly on the road to punk rock. Before this I listened to Van Halen and the Scorpions. I mean, those are fine bands, but I don't think I'd be as interesting as person as I think I am if I only listened to hard rock. The Talking Heads songs he played were "Nothing But Flowers," "And She Was," "This Must be The Place (Naive Melody)," "Once In A Lifetime," "What A Day That Was," and the Wim Wenders Film Soundtrack song. He ended with a Whitney Houston cover, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." I think he really succeeded in putting his own mark on the song. Interestingly, this song was a sign of all that was wrong with music when I first started getting into music in 1985. It was wonderful to see him sing the way he does in person. I can't describe it.
Oxbow, the first band, reminded one of The Jesus Lizard, except that their singer, in a deliberate manner, disrobed song by song. His ears were also taped to his head. The singer also couldn't quite deliver in the vocals. He was yelling loud over the band, but it just sounded a little off. Zeni Geva played a few songs with just two; apparently K.K. Null wasn't allowed into the country due to some type of work permit visa deal. Those who remained put on quite a show, and a few guitarists from Neurosis rotated in to end the set. Neurosis provided an onslaught. It was huge and loud. I've not been familiar with them, but apparently others had been. They sounded like an interesting mix between sludge and death metal. To simplify, imagine the tree of rock offshoots, and they joined two. They had quite a Hum feel going, but the vocals were quite dark and hoarse as in death metal. This was the band that put together the whole concert series (there were four nights of music planned), and many of the folks at the show seemed to be there for them. They had quite a stage show (including snippets of iTunes in their video backdrop), so it was quite a contrast to the headliner. During Shellac it was perfect sound; no buzz at all. I don't think they put the instruments through the P.A. This worked very well for them because I think Shellac does alot with the silence. Albini was his usual self on stage, so this was nice. Like their sound, the stage was raw. There were just white house lights, to make an absolute contrast to the other bands. Overall, and I don't mean any disrespect with this, the evening felt very 1993. It also helped that I went with my old college roommate. But the question on my mind this evening was whether Hum gave or received in the influence department. I think the consensus is that they did both.
My brother was in town, and we heard about this show about noon. It was on the bay on the north side of San Francisco; you can see the Golden Gate Bridge perfectly from here. It was a great sunny day, but it's also an immensely windy place. It was a benefit to bring a MUD to San Francisco. This means that the city will run its power generation, and the idea is that it will then be run with the users' interests in mind rather than profits. The first band was a fine gospel blues band. The next were a pair of turntablists (I love that word) who had to fight against the wind blowing the needles off their records. Then came Peaches (all innuendo intended). She's German, and she sings in English. A sampling of some of her lyrics, "Fuck the pain away, thank you very much" and "Double A, thinking triple X". She sings along to a tape, and to show her appreciation to the crowd, she went from conservatively dressed to dressed like a stripper. She was also quite enthralled with the wind, and how it would blow her dress around. It was all quite hilarious, intended or not. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is Will Oldham, aka Palace (Records/Music/etc). He did a few songs I've heard, and many I hadn't. I think his thing is to completely destruct his songs and play them differently each time. The feel I got from the stage is "let's do this now." There were 2 guitars and an occasional Farfisa. It was good to see him play again. He has an odd presence on stage that really fits. He makes odd faces while singing. He really reminds me of Smog (or vice-versa) in this manner. By now the sun was on the way over the hill, and the crowd had thinned out, most likely due to the cold. Bardo Pond came on and did their stoner drone rock thing. She has a great voice, but I've only ever seen them live, and it's a little hard to discern over the feedback. It was a fun afternoon.
Jonathan Richman was his wonderful usual self. At times he seemed to be lost in the venue, but his charisma is enormous and filled the space. So he had no problem. Belle And Sebastian had a full grand piano on stage. I think I can safely say I haven't seen that before, except, maybe at Paul McCartney. They had about 14 people on stage. The sound was pretty quiet, as far as live shows go. But I think it worked; you could hear all the subtleties of the 14 instruments on stage. I'm not being as cynical as that sounds. They really sounded good and professional, especially for a newer band. They did a Michael Jackson cover, "Billie Jean". They also did "San Francisco", which my web research shows me is a Scott McKenzie song, not a Mamas and Papas song like I thought. They did 2 shows in San Francisco, and they were sold out. I guess the night before was quite a different set than this evening. I'm not a huge fan of them, but I had a good time at the show.
This is Eric Bachmann from Archers of Loaf. They started the show by saying they were going to play from "out there", and then they proceed to march right to where I was standing and do about 3 acoustic songs. He was singing about 2 or 3 feet from me, and that made me feel a little uncomfortable. I wasn't sure where I should look. Should I look him in the face? Should I look away while they're right there? It was good, but I was happy once they got back on stage. I would describe him as a cross between Archers (of course), Tom Waits, and Neil Diamond. I can't quite describe the Neil Diamond part, but it's true. They did a cover of "Under Pressure" by David Bowie/Queen. It took a bit for me to figure it out, because I swear they covered the song with out the bass guitar riff that Vanilla Ice used. Pretty impressive. I had a great time at this show.
My friend Matt Daley was in town from Austin. He was digging through the weekly papers here, and read a favorable preview of this show. When he told me about it, I remembered that my friend Victor at work had mentioned it would be a good show. Victor didn't go, but we did. During the opening act, Matt and I just chatted. Then The Clean took the stage and simply gave one of the best shows I've ever seen by a band I'd barely only heard of a week beforehand. I was going to say "the best", but then The Jesus Lizard popped into my head. I don't know which was a better "I've never heard of this before" show, but that indicates how incredible this show was. They did lots of catchy rocking songs that sounded like songs I should have heard before, but I never had. So they reminded me of R.E.M. (musically), Guided By Voices (great songs I've never heard but should have), and Big Star (same). Matt thought they sounded just like Velvet Underground, but good! They had an incredible rhythm section, the lyrics were odd and delivered in a quirky fashion, and noodling guitars. As a bonus, they are from New Zealand and have been a loose band for about 20 years. Go see them in your town.
So The Strokes apparently are the hype. I've been told more than once that the press (or whatever) thinks they are the next big thing. That's all I knew about the band before I saw them. All I knew was they were rock, and two of my respected music head friends told me they were good. I had read no hype, and heard none of their music before the show. I did, however, see a picture on the web: bratty rockers. Anyway, I was hoping to get another Clean experience. Never-heard, raw rock, live and fresh. This show (their first in San Francisco) was sold out before their album was available, and we didn't get tickets in advance. I'd gotten tickets on the street before shows previously, so we stood outside to get tickets from those who had extra. We walked up, and the first guy (a scalper) wanted $50. I said "No way, the tickets are $20." The guy told me they decided no one was getting less than $40. I assertively told them I was paying $20, and that I'd wait until their tickets were $20. Some time went by without much success, but we weren't trying very hard either. So we wound up finding good karma concert goers who were willing to part with their extra tickets for cost (plus the darn fees). We paid $22, $25, and $25. I told the scalper about our deals, and one told me I was lucky. I told him we'd done it 3 times tonight, and I'd done it twice before. Anyway, thanks for the good concert goer karma! So we get in, and it is full of hipsters. The opening band was wack. They were as strange as can be. All in all, a very interesting choice for the opener for the most hyped band. The Strokes had a look like the hype indicated they should. They were bratty rockers. The singer seemed a little drunk. They are a strong band. They do what they do very well. I expected to hear the first song and say to myself, "This is ripping off X." But I didn't. I couldn't figure it out. It sure sounded like something, but not like nothing. I think it sounded like everything, without any one thing to pick out. This really bothered me for awhile. I was wondering if someone had actually found something new with 1-2-3-4 rock. After a few minutes of shock and dismay, I realized what it was. The Strokes are bland! They sound like everything and nothing at the very same time! They are familiar, but they don't distinguish themselves enough to make a strong impression. The singer did have an attitude; he said, "We don't do encores." The next day a friend that I went with told me that they had played the album in order. Perhaps they didn't have the songs for an encore. The best thing about the night was the concert-goer karma.
So Neil Michael Hagerty (once? of Royal Trux) was scheduled to play this show, but he had to cancel. As a bonus to those there, Will Oldham played in his place. In his words he was pinch hitting. We arrived while the first band was playing; it was quite typical indie rock. That idea was put into my head by Jeff, who I went to the show with, and it stuck. The Winfred band all wore beards. They had a real Tom Waits feel to them, in particular the vocals were gravelly. Will Oldham was solo. Once again, I don't think he played a single song I've heard before. The place was packed, and a little rowdy. He did an a capella song about whaling, I think, and the crowd wound up shutting up. It must be quite a great feeling to sing about whales in a warbly voice while making odd faces and make an entire bar shut up. I couldn't stop smiling to myself after this point. (Smog) has added parentheses to their name. This is personally bothersome to me because it gives them two entries in the program that creates these web pages. It's the sole impetuous to add a "related" entry to the entire program. I'll get to this feature sometime. Anyway, the band was the same as the last time. I've heard the newer songs now, and after hearing them live one of the main things I wonder about is how the heck do these songs come about? They have extremely harsh, sparse and off-kilter rhythms. Then the lyrics are really direct and emotional. You know, I just wrote that, and I should add they are to direct and emotional to me, thought I'm certain others would say otherwise.
I bought tickets to this one in advance. No dealing with scalpers this time. I did see the scalper I hassled the last time outside, but I didn't bother with him again. The warm up band wasn't all that. I didn't pay much attention. I had seen Stereolab a few years before. They are great live, but I've forgotten about how much they don't really seem like personalities on stage. They put on a great, tight, & dry performance. It's a drone, but I liked it. I have no idea what they are singing about most of the time, I just really like the backup vocals. As far as my tone deaf ears can tell, the backup vocals are mostly nonsense sounds and words sung in such a catchy way. It was really fun to watch them sing those parts, mostly without any smiles.
I believe I can safely say that this is the very first show that's made me queasy. I've never seen the Butthole Surfers before, but I've heard of their shows. This time out they had 3 DVD players via live video mixing showing some of the most disturbing moving images. Car crash victims, Charlie's Angels backwards, some surgery videos, African tribal circumcisions, a mouse with a human ear growing on it's back, many types of pornography mixed in with aerobics videos, and some more. It was a immense and overwhelming experience. The band's nice and loud and the room fills with hand distorted vocals. I hit my maximum about the time of the circumcision film. I had to step outside and cool off as, if you know me well, I'm quite squeamish, and I broke out in a cold sweat sans James Brown. There aren't too many bands that I'd think could do that to me, so in the end I really think I liked the show. It's just too bad I never took the opportunity to see them in Texas. I think they didn't play often when I lived there because they were having legal problems with their music labels or something like that.
Trail of Dead is so much tighter nowadays. They don't goof off as much on stage, so there's more time for the rock. It was another great show, with a few new songs thrown in. Perhaps they have a new record coming up soon. They're always entertaining. The folks that I came to the show with took off early, so I shared a cab home with a woman who wound up paying for my whole ride. She wouldn't accept any of my cash. Thanks, Bonnie!
Wow. What a coincidence, but this is exactly the 10 year anniversary since I first saw Superchunk. For the occasion, the band added a new member. She plays guitar and keyboards, and sings backup. She's also cute. So when you go to see Superchunk this time around, the band is flanked by attractive women. The cover this time around was an Elvis Costello song, "Lipstick Vogue." Very good. The strange thing about this show is that they booked two nights, but this night wasn't a sold out night. It was pretty strange, since I don't think I can remember a non-sold out Superchunk show. I hope I can see them play for another ten years; I wonder what they think. The Good Life sound like The Cure played through an indie rock prism of the last ten years.
So I've seen Shannon Wright before, but I don't remember a show like this. It was intensely emotional. At first I was a little skeptical about how sincere it was, but after a few songs I was convinced. She plays guitar and electric piano, and there's a drummer who's moving around too much. He was distracting, frankly. Anyway her singing goes from growls to mumbles to outright singing. It was exhausting. She had to have been drained after that. The crowd was largest for Songs: Ohia, and this baffles me. It sounds like Smog/Will Oldham, without any grain. It didn't seem very genuine, especially with the heavy metal hand signal at the end. The opener was in Swervedriver, and I believe he may be the singer. The only thing I have to say about him is this; while he was playing I noticed this attractive woman who appeared to be alone at the bar. I was entertaining myself imagining of all the things I would talk to her about, but surely wasn't going to do. It was a good thing I didn't sweep her off of her feet, because the opener was with her.
Whoa. I got there for the last 3 Erase Errata songs. This was at 11:20 PM. They were great for that short time, so I was upset they started so early. Oh well, better luck next time. So I stayed along with the large lesbian contingent, and witnessed something I hadn't quite seen before. Tracy sings live on stage to cheesy/good dance tracks with a large VHS video projected on the wall behind her where her band mates, Nikki & Cola, perform. They all really are Tracy, dressed up differently for each character, and the live Tracy interacts with the video in ways I haven't quite seen before. It's actually quite funny. The video characters are socially responsible, concerned, and somewhat airy. Tracy and them talk to each other. It's funny because Tracy is live and there in front of you, but the stage lighting is such that you don't really see her. She's in the dark or in front of the video projection, either part of the image or lost in it. The video is the focus, and the music is toe tapping but it's something everyone's heard before. So in a strange way you're more interested in Nikki & Cola larger than life on the screen, whom both make great expressions with their eyes. That alone reminds me of more than one crush I've had in my life, so I really dug this show on multiple levels.
I got into this show with good show karma as well. It was sold out and we stood outside and got some other people's extra tickets. The first band was interesting. They sounded pretty tight, but it was obvious it was their first show at a bigger venue. First off, they mentioned that, and the singer was waving to friends in the audience. He's just a singer, and suffers from the singer has nothing to do in the musical parts syndrome. Erase Errata were incredible. I'm glad I got to see a full set. This was actually why I decided to try to go to the show; I wasn't satisfied by the 3 songs I saw the last time. Jeff dug them as well. They have a tight off-kilter rhythm section, odd guitar, and low in the mix vocals. After The Fall came on, I turned to Jeff, and asked, "Is this the weirdest thing ever?" He agreed. The band came on, and in Jeff's perfect description, they were very Guitar Center. They were tight, very loud, and rock perfect. This isn't at all what I expected. I was expecting a little more randomness. Soon, Mark E. Smith came on stage. He seems to have a hunchback, and looked every bit the part I expected. They didn't play a single song I've heard. He was chewing gum for about a third of the set, and I swear he hardly interacted with the band at all. He'd walk around the stage, at time adjusting the bands amps or a drum microphone. He used two microphones himself, messing with them often. There was one time where he was banging on a keyboard completely off rhythm and key, and the guitarists smirked at each other about it. The words were obscure. It was just like I guess I expected, completely unexpected.
I've never really listened to Wilco, but I've heard them before, and plenty of folks I know dig them. I guess they've had a line up change, but they now have the bartender rule in effect. It seems that many a bartender from Chicago's band is good. They had a PowerBook G4 up on the stage. They were filming the show for a documentary. They write really fine songs. The opener band had this singer who would twitch oddly while singing. He sounded like some band from a few years ago that was big on the radio. They were forgettable. The night before (which was sold out by the time we bought tickets) the opener was Mercury Rev. That would have been so much better.
They had 4 big screens behind the stage. One was live a live video mix that looked like it was rendered live. I haven't really listened to them for awhile, so I didn't recognize any songs. They did have an older PowerBook on stage. However, he was having quite a bit of problems with it; I think I saw him reboot it (it was not running MacOSX) a few times during the show. He did say that he had broken something just before the show, so perhaps that was the problem. They used the built in speech synthesis during one song. One of the funnier parts was a song called "SimpleText Song." They wheeled a ImageWriter ][ to the front of the stage and miked it. The ImageWriter ][ was a dot matrix printer (from Apple; I had one myself) that made quite a racket. It sounds like a metal man making a car skid sound like a kid would. They then starting printing a document that printed with a particular rhythm. They were up there rocking out to this sound. It was quite hilarious. Zero Zero didn't impress impress. The 45s are this great rock and roll band. I guess they are from Georgia. There was only one song that didn't rock like the others. They are that type of rock and roll that you hear all the time, but can't name a popular song that matches it. It's like the 60s garage stuff, and quite good.