The first two bands were of the 60s garage rock variety. I only heard one of the first band's songs, but it was as energetic as 78 RPM's was. I had an inkling of what The Richmond Sluts were before the show. I was at this movie showing where they had played, but I took off to go elsewhere. All I remembered was that they sure did look the part. I can't recall any smaller band working so hard on their look. They look like British rockers circa The Small Faces and The Yardbirds. I wouldn't quite say they sound it, but they're maybe close. At this show, their drummer was missing. It was crowded, and the Cafe Du Nord has a really short stage, so I didn't realize for about 2 songs that there wasn't a drummer. I just thought that they were quieter songs. Then some of the crowd started yelling about it, and the band acknowledged it. I can remember they were a rocking band, so this isn't what I was looking for. So I left early, and so did others. I commend the band for going on, but overall the thing is pretty Spinal Tap sounding, isn't it? I guessed the drummer was out getting his hair done, but while I was leaving I heard a rumor he had fallen down the stairs while setting up for the show. I hope he isn't dead.
This was a young show; it was all ages. I felt old again. Plus everyone of the kids' fashions are quite retro. In a way I felt like I was about 10 again with all the fashion there. Pretty Girls Make Graves don't seem to have anything to do with The Smiths. However, they are from Seattle, and they rocked. It gave a vague Champaign rock feel, and one of the guitarists looked to be about a 12 year old boy. Maybe that was why it was all ages. He was also standing next to a really tall guy. Pleasure Forever is why Jeff wanted to go; they are a 3 piece with keyboards taking bass and atmospherics. Jeff thought the crowd was new wave. They didn't look that to me, but I agreed with that about the singer for Pleasure Forever. It was a fun show.
I spent most of my time during the first 2 bands talking with friends. Winfred E. Eye continues to be interesting and gravel-like. The middle band seemed OK, but they aren't the best band to be listening to while hanging out at a bar drinking with friends. They are more reading on the couch music in my mind. The Handsome Family do amusing country-esque songs about Chicago. They have a backing drum machine, which is pretty unique. They gave off a great vibe during the show, and everyone had a good time. Even if my Swiss friends couldn't understand the countrified Chicagoans.
This was an incredibly great show. Willie played for about 3 hours straight. He did old stuff ("Night Life", "Crazy"), a slew of Hank Williams, "The Rainbow Connection", "To All The Girls I Loved Before", "Georgia", "You're Always On My Mind", "Momma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys", "Stardust", "Blue Skies", and so many more. His band was fine, and they did the trade off solos style of playing. He came out wearing a cowboy hat, which he took off sooner or later. People would toss hats up on stage, and he'd wear them for a bit and toss them into the crowd. He'd grab a bandanna from he stash, tie it over his guitar neck, slip it off, and wear it for a song or two until he'd throw it into the crowd. His guitar is a smashed up old thing that sounded great. He dedicated one song or set to Waylon Jennings, who'd passed away the week before. He's nearly 70, he never stopped smiling while singing, and he would have played longer. He was walking the front of the stage, shaking hands and waving, and then he walks back up to the microphone, and says "I just thought of another one I wanted to play you!" The best part was that it didn't seem contrived at all. Somebody even threw a bra on stage during the show. The opener was an interesting jazzy singer. I read she's Ravi Shankar's daughter from Texas?! She played a very 70s sounding keyboard.
This was an interesting show. The Richmond Sluts have the look but the feel is all wrong. I really think that they might be able to do something because they have the late 60s, early 70s thing down pat. The problem is that it doesn't sound inspired; it sounds rehearsed. Please Forever kept pointing out that they don't live in the area anymore. It was more angry rock with mid 80s sounding vocal. The Makers were a trip. They too were quite late 60s or early 70s, but they had a dude singing who was amazing. He came on stage twirling a tambourine like no one else. He was dressed like Prince or Jimi Hendrix, and acted like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler. He pranced and danced and screamed. It was hilarious. He kept tweaking his chest. Towards the end he yelled to the crowd, "I fuck better than Gene Simmons!" The band was tight, and the guitarist was fun to watch and listen to. I checked them out, and they're on SubPop. I guess I'm out of the scene.
The garage rock sixties seem to be some sort of a theme with the shows I've gone to lately. This was at the Hemlock Tavern, which is pretty cool. It's a big bar that's no cover, and then there's a tiny room in the back where they charged $3 to see the bands. This is easily the cheapest show in San Francisco. The Sermon have a theremin, and the singer likes to go into the crowd. This was easy for him to do because the stage is like 6 inches up. They wore all black. The Flakes were great. They really looked the part. The singer reminded me of Peter Brady or something. The sound was weird in here. I wasn't too far from the stage, but the guitar was only distinguishable when the singer would hold his mic to the amp so it went out over the P.A.
Knievel were Australian. They had a PowerBook to go with their indie rock. Swearing At Motorists used a cell phone held up to a microphone in one song. They were a very energetic duo from Ohio. They had the Ohio flag displayed behind them so that the crowd could verify it. My Morning Jacket had long hair. I couldn't place them musically at all. It was all over the place. I found it annoying that their hair was so long. They very deliberately had it hanging in their faces while they rocked out. Then the singer, who has a high voice like the Flaming Lips or something, would sing with his hair in his face into his microphone, which hid his face even more. This is because there was some sort of a buffalo or camel head of a stuffed animal mounted on the mic. So in a strange way it looked like a hairy buffalo was playing guitar and singing. This would have been more exciting, so I left early.
Le Tigre rocked again, lesbian contingent intact. They had DVD tracks instead of slides this time out. I also don't remember a guitar on stage the last time, but I may be wrong. Chicks On Speed used a PowerBook G4. They had a song about space aliens. They also had a DVD playing behind them. Tribe 8 are quite angry, and it really isn't appealing to me. But then again I probably just don't get it. I hereby present them with the award for first display of someone using a large knife stabbing a stuffed animal.
With a full band behind him rather than a 3 piece, this was a different sound than I had assumed I'd hear. It was melodic and mellower. They played a couple of Clean songs. Oddly enough, he did a short encore, even as an opener. We were shocked, just shocked at this. Then once Lambchop came on, we realized his backing band was most of Lambchop. Therefore there was no animosity, I guess. He even played a few songs with Lambchop. Oh, this was another show with a full grand piano on stage. I'd only heard a couple Lambchop songs before from some Merge compilations. They are a very quiet band; no one talked during the show. If you did talk, people would look at you. They reminded me of American Music Club, and somehow the singer made me think of Elvis Costello, but it might have just been the glasses. He has a low deep smoky voice. They also used this interesting atmospheric guitar effects that hung in the middle of the songs. It sounded somewhat like a theremin. The songs are of the type that I think it's fine, but since they are of the introspective quiet side, having a good time at one of these shows requires the correct mood. This isn't always easy to have or to provide. For the encore, they came out smoking. For those of you accustomed to going to shows in a smoke filled bar, this sounds like no big deal. But in a big room in smoke free California with the lights shining bright and no other smoke to speak of, it looked pretty damn spooky. The smoke just flows up in all sorts of interesting ways, flowing around their heads. This isn't supposed to sound like some obsessed ex-smoker; it just looked cool. So cool I was like "hey", but then I thought to myself that I was as likely to smoke a cigarette as to fly like a pig.
Waycross were pretty good. They had big bass lines, even bigger drums, a slide guitar, and a woman singer who actually sang. Richard Buckner did a half and half set. Half was with a drummer and half wasn't. His songs are emotional and intense, and that's always something a little hard to swallow at a live show. But he rocks on the guitar, so it really does work live.
Bobby Conn's band were all wearing silver threads. He sang odd songs about odd people in an odd fashion. It was quite dramatic, almost like a early David Bowie song. There were some neat parts where a violin and a rather heavy metal guitar would intertwine. The guitarist was someone I recognize from back in the RunAndGun days. I want to say his name is Paul. Trail of Dead never quite sounded right. The guitars were too low or something. This made for a less that assaulting show. It was sold out, and they played the hits. I think it's odd that they are on Interscope now. I just can't see it lasting, but the show was sold out. They didn't mess around too much in between songs, so they've definitely become more professional. Ha! At the end of the show, they completely smashed up the stage more than I've seen them do before. I don't think much seemed to be left. The Great American's stage hands were quite upset with the band and their tour entourage. There were a few words exchanged. While all of this was going on, one of the band was saying, "OK, we still have one more song to play" while throwing cymbals around. We didn't get to hear this song.
There were two opening bands that I didn't bother with. They were not too exciting. I had seen Ladybug Transistor before, and they are on my Merge compilations. However, the show didn't bring me much excitement. I left early. Every show I've seen so far at Cafe Du Nord I've left early! What does that mean?
Will Oldham had a 6 piece backing band this time around; it sounded really good. Once again, I recognized no songs he played, but they sure were good. It was at a Presbyterian church. I was lucky and used some of my good concert goer karma, and got a ticket to the sold out show out front for face value. He and most of his band were wearing matching tan overalls. The band included a female backup singer and his brother on bass. There was an annoying person behind me who kept screaming for "New Partner", which he didn't play. rainYwood were great. They had three singers who'd harmonize on these nice quiet songs. The guitarist, was quite a funny guy from Alabama. Entrance was a guy named Guy who played some of his own songs and a cover of The Stooges "Dirt".
Firewater sound large. Their drummer is really loud (and in Big Lazy). The songs are dramatic, and the singer is really tall. They had some burlesque dancers come out during a few songs (as did Big Lazy). I think that Jeff is a magnet for burlesque. Stratford 4 sounded like British music circa 1986, without much new. The rhythm section was plodding, and it seemed like the singer was high. Big Lazy had incredible drums and spacious guitar and a stand up bass. They were instrumental, and a few burlesque dancers came out during the show as well.
The Capricorns are two women serving up hard-core new wave. It's all synths, 1981 style. Gravy Train!!!! (apparently the exclamation marks are necessary) serve crude songs that are actually quite funny. This is a simple single synth serving, with extra attitude. Dance moves are served for dessert.
Mercury Rev put on quite a polished show. They had lots of crazy lights. The singer Jonathon was in full on mode. He'd flick his hands to the music as if he were shooting the sounds of his fingers. He also smiled profusely in between songs. I listened to more of the lyrics of Mercury Rev than I do while I'm listening at home. The opener had a sound somewhat like really early Cure, especially in the singer's voice. I'm pretty sure they aren't British though. Highlight of the evening: there was a woman (I almost used "young woman." Ugh. Wouldn't that make me sound old?) standing in front of us for all the opener all alone. I've gone to shows alone, so I just thought I'd make chit chat with her. So I said, "What did you think of The Hives?" She looked at me funny and said, "The Shins." "Oh whatever. What did you think?" She turned away while I was laughing at the hilarity of this. This story makes me old for 2 reasons. I screw up the name of the band playing with an ultra tip of the tongue band. I had The Hives on the brain because I was just at a wedding where a friend happens to work with The Hives. So my brain is cross wired. I know nothing about The Hives. The young woman didn't even try to laugh about it anymore. I swear I wasn't hitting on her. Her loss.
I'd never seen Wayne Hancock in Austin. I probably should have. He does country as it sounded circa 1947, in a way. It also surprised me there were no drums. He had a really skinny electric guitar player who'd play some quite interesting licks. The songs were good, and so was the crowd. They were dancing most of the time. He was going to play even longer than we stayed. The opener was a rockabilly band. They were good, but they have quite a shtick. I can't say I cared for the shtick, but the music was alright. He plays double necked guitars, by the way.
This is the woman who sings in Red Meat. She sang a some country that reminded me of Gram Parsons. She's also pretty funny. The band had a guitarist who played a 12 string guitar in a few songs. It's surprising how almost all song with 12 string guitars remind you of The Byrds. Sometime after the show I read that a song she had written for Red Meat was in a movie in the Academy Awards.
The Ghosts were great. They wear white ghost sheets with eye holes cut out. They do garage rock and ghost jokes. It was crazy fun. I haven't laughed so much at a show in a long time. They have a song that starts out, "I've got a pocket full of drugs!" So you know it's crazy. The Bitter Pills are also a garage band, and much tighter than The Ghosts. But they seemed a little more shtick than fun. They sure were loud and rocking though.
This was a fun show. My friend Sasha & I went, and she had the great idea of bringing along some food. We got there at about 6pm, and it latest until about midnight. The Hackensaw Boys played country/bluegrass in between sets. They were pretty good, and according to Wayne from The Flaming Lips, they had an old bus they wanted everyone to come visit and smoke pot afterwards. Modest Mouse didn't seem too keen on doing the show. The singer didn't like that they couldn't play so loud and were playing early in such a large place. It made me wonder why they came at all. De La Soul told us that hip hop was all about audience participation and had the crowd up, waving their hands, and yelling. We were sitting on the good side. They played their hits, and some I hadn't heard. A guy from the Black Sheep came up and did a few songs as well. The Flaming Lips came out, all of them dressed in fuzzy animal suits except for Wayne. They had the big screen onstage again, but they didn't use the little lipstick camera on the microphone. They had four huge mirror balls spinning on the stage behind them. The drummer played real drums for a few songs. The video for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was a combination of some type of a Japanese commercial and an ultra violent schoolgirl cafeteria battle scene. There were four guys in fuzzy animal suits on the sides. They'd dance around and had large flashlights they'd flash around. One song they had megaphones (which I think were making the siren sound, though I couldn't hear it) stuffed with green and yellow smoke bombs. They also threw large balloons to the crowd to bounce around. When they would inevitably pop, they were full of confetti that would spray onto the crowd. Being Berkeley, Wayne took a poll of the audience of how many times they had taken LSD. I had then expected him to then mention The Flaming Lips t-shirt they were selling. In large letters it said "The Flaming Lips ACID" and interspersed were much smaller words. It really said something like "The Flaming Lips ACID gives you diarrhea." A much different message than expected. The front had a picture of Wayne as the Martian in "Christmas on Mars". Underneath it said "FAGS" in large letters. Again, there were smaller letters so that it read "The FlAming lipS". Wayne also had an acoustic guitar that would play, but it also had some sort of a theremin sounding thingy in it. The set was great, but it was much too short. It was an insanely positive set, despite all the references to death and accidents and evil robots. Wayne also made a reference to the first time they played in Berkeley, about 1985 or so. I don't know much about Cake, but the crowd here sure did. Cake are from Sacramento, and had some of that close to home following, I guess. Their set was fine, but not really all my taste. They had an audience sing along as well, and once again, we were sitting on the better side.
I went to go see the Bloodthirsty Lovers because it's a band with the singer from The Grifters and Those Bastard Souls. They got on stage with 2 sets of keyboards and a real drummer. The singer would play guitar on about half the songs as well. The drummer was nuts. He could do drum & bass drums alone and live. It was crazy. Think of fast fast off-kilter beats. He'd do it while nearly falling out of his seat. It was a great set. There were quite a bit of samples, and the songs seem to still cover the lost love and outer space themes. I bought a CD, and it was a home made CD-R. I stayed for Enon. I wasn't too sure what to expect. It was pretty chaotic; they'd use completely random (they were just hitting keys) sampled sounds with a big rocking back up. They were having difficulties with the sequencer at the beginning. The crowd could hear it, but either the band couldn't or they thought the crowd couldn't. The woman in the band has a Japanese accent, and said dejectedly, "This is a problem."
Sometimes you go to a show that has a great line up. The bands are similar or they complement each other. Sometimes it seems to be set up to highlight some new band opening for a bigger band. Sometimes it seems like someone comes in from out of town, and they throw in some locals. This show was an example of the last. I didn't get Young Trade. It oftentimes sounded as if they were playing more than one song at once, and I don't think it was intentional. They played much too long, and fulfilled their life long goal of smoking on stage in California. "Hey, you can't stop us from smoking, we're on stage." There weren't that many people there in the first place, so this didn't help the turnout for the wonderful, but admittedly hard to appreciate King Kong. There weren't too many folks remaining for the headliner, but it was apparent that most were familiar with what they were up for. King Kong had a drummer and a bassist, and the singer had a rack of keyboards and a PowerBook G4. They started out just about playing "The Big Bang" in order. Someone in the crowd was shouting for songs from "Funny Farm," and they switched and did a few. They didn't play any songs I hadn't heard before. The singer is quite geeky. Without a doubt, he ranks up there with Calvin. He'd step out from behind the keyboards to do his three note guitar parts to great satisfaction. He danced in an extremely awkward way. The shouter asked where the girl was, and the singer answered "She's impregnated." In the song on "The Big Bang" where the battle occurs, he'd hit the sound effect on the keyboard looking serious and then he'd smile like a little kid when the explosions fired. It was a great show.
It was yet another great Sonic Youth show, just like I've become accustomed to. Everyone should go see Sonic Youth as soon as possible. In case you are keeping track, there was no PowerBook I could see on stage this time. They played old and new songs, and it was all good. Erase Errata put on a killer set. Amazing! They have really found their sweet spot. The rhythms are insane and abrasive. They were all wearing these similar wacky Mondrian-like outfits. The singer said they were going to end early. Soon enough they all came back out on stage with rat hoods, including Kim Gordon. They played a few very punk sounding songs that were short and fast and had lots of screaming. The Erase Errata singer acted like Tony Clifton in between songs, insulting everyone in a very odd voice.
It was an afternoon rock show. They were both doing the 60s garage sound. The Mall Rats all wore suits. You couldn't hear any of the vocals however. The Manges are Italian, and they are all quite short. In order to emphasize it, they all stood on the floor and not the stage. In addition, they only played with their legs splayed, making them about a foot shorter. They also all wore striped shirts that matched. The singer was singing in English, and at the end held up a sign on a stick that said "Hey Hey".
It was an odd evening at Kimo's. The door person was a man that looked like a woman, but only in a very odd way. To attempt to describe this, I'll say there was a plunging neckline, that just didn't really plunge. The sound guy (well, he turned on the work light in between sets) was this 80s metal looking dude, who'd pick up beer bottles when he wasn't holding onto his girlfriend. She was metal looking as well, and the bartender was this big football player looking guy. The four of them made for quite a picture. The first band was the best of the lot. The second band had Lionel Richie-like keyboards; either that or The Doors. The final band we stayed for played some blues rock.
A rocking show. Eric Gaffney is in Fields of Gaffney. He was once in Sebadoh. His songs were always quite the odd type. Frankly it makes those old Sebadoh records great because on one hand you have Lou's pop rock confessions, and then Eric's loud vents. Then he wasn't in the band anymore. He played a few of his Sebadoh songs, and a few new ones. Jason played ones off of his album and a Sonic Youth song whose name I can't remember while writing this. It was a great rocking night that made me think of 1993, nine years later.
I went out to New York around my birthday. This was about 10 years after I first saw The Flaming Lips! What a great place to see a show. It's a huge and ornate theater. We were sitting on the second level, not the mezzanine. They had more people on the stage than last time, perhaps about 30. The set was similar to the last time. Wayne was sporting a band aid on his head, just like Nelly. I've since learned that the strange Japanese movie of school children shooting each other up is a real movie called "Battle Royale." In this tour, The Flaming Lips opened, and then were the backing band for Beck. This was exactly what made me pretty excited about this show. It thought it would be interesting to see how the two worked together. I think I was expecting a Flaming Lips take on Beck. It would be interesting to see how they did it. However, they were great, but they nearly could have been any old band. Nothing too special about it at all. It was unfortunate. Beck has so little charisma, and he was sharing a stage with Wayne who has more than most people. It was an interesting idea on paper, but I don't think it came out well. Nevertheless The Flaming Lips were still the greatest.
A friend of mine got me into this show. It was a part of the CMJ Festival. The headliner was The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I was too tired and had drank too much beer to be able to last. The rest of the bands weren't particularly exciting, but I had been able to hang out with friends all evening. Blonde Redhead were terribly boring, and !!! had this funk sound going that wasn't catching me. They all wore mirrored outfits however. Calexico were definitely the band highlight of the evening, with the horn section waking everyone up.
We were going to try to see The Ghosts this evening, but we got there too late. However I found one of their CDs just sitting in the bathroom. It's a hilarious CD. SLA were from Sacramento, and I think they may win a ugliest band contest someday. Their skinny bassist had some flashy moves that cracked me up.
These guys don't play out of Chicago much. So when a friend told me they were going to be playing while I was home in Chicago, it was a must go. They had an extra guitarist this time out. They played all the hits, and a cover of Brian Eno's "I'll Come Running." They've been around for 20 years or so, so let's hope I can see them again. My brother pointed out it was almost like the Lounge Ax, as the sound guy & door man were the same as there.
This is a small place. He did an acoustic set. None were songs I'd heard before. He had come out not knowing where he had put his set list. So he went into quite a few songs. Soon he was wondering what had happened to his set list again. I could tell something was in his t-shirt pocket, so I called out "shirt pocket!" He then grabbed his set list from his pocket! The room laughed. He said that he had played most of them. He then went into what I assume were some Kingston Trio songs. He mentioned that his mother was a nurse and had come to San Francisco and saw the Kingston Trio play at the Hungry I. He hardly seemed to open his eyes while playing. He told some stories in between some songs. I recall something about C-SPAN, and another about someone killing themselves. It was an interesting show, although he quite gives the impression of a casualty.
When I read about this show, I sort of ignored the Jello Biafra part, and told myself we were going to see Melvins. Unfortunately, I had deluded myself. Melvins did about two Melvins songs to start the set, and then Jello came out on stage. He looked exactly like William Shatner does at this very moment: a sixty odd year old balding actor. When he sang, he did these odd pantomimes that I guess represented what he was yapping about. This was the type of thing that looked good on paper, but didn't work out in the end. The disappointing part is that the two Melvins songs were classic. Mike Patton's record label was the organizer of the evening. His band were fast & loud with lots of guitars. He used two microphones that sounded indistinguishable from each other, but I think they actually just were used for visual effect. The problem was is they played right through midnight. It seemed kind of selfish to me. Yes, everyone paid to go see this show on New Years, but New Years 2003 only comes around once a lifetime, and they kept on playing. And it's not like a celebration wasn't planned for the evening; the ceiling had hundreds of balloons that were dropped when the set was over at 12:12 AM. Mondo Generator were pretty good. Their guitarist looked like the Superman character from Chris Ware's comics. Dalek were hard core hip hop in the sense of hard core heavy metal. They had this DJ who, when scratching records while flipping his large afro, would scratch across the grooves instead of in the grooves. It was done in such a loud and violent way that it sounded like screaming guitars. It was like nothing I'd seen nor heard before. Pink Anvil were on while we arrived. It sounded exactly like you'd expect a band with one of the guys from Ministry would sound. Kid 606 checked his email on his Powerbooks in between sets, or whatever it is he does when he appears live.