Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ex-Models / Dance Disaster Movement at the 40th Street Warehouse - 11/8/2003

with Dance Disaster Movement
40th Street Warehouse

Ex-Models had played the night before and I had missed it (at the Hemlock, which I’m sure was packed to the gills).  So there was no way in hell I was going to miss one of my very favorite bands two nights in a row!  I got there just as the first band was finishing, which meant that Dance Disaster Movement was next. I’ve got their record and it’s just OK – I was curious to see how their live show would pan out.  After many long and tedious technical difficulties, they finally got the show on the road; just two guys, they make up for the lack of members with samplers that would loop different instruments and fill in the holes.  For most of their show, the singer would get some keyboard and/or guitar parts going on the sampler, let them loop, and then grab the mike and freak out while the drummer kept the beat.  There were plenty of kids dancing and lots of good times had.  They were a great complimentary pairing for the Ex-Models, and I was glad I had gotten there early enough to check them out.

I was so pumped up waiting for the
Ex-Models to come on that I zoned out and totally blew off some random girl who was trying to talk to me.  When they finally came on, I totally freaked out like it was Beatlemania.  I danced and spazzed out so much during their set that my neck hurt for the next two days – my body just isn’t used to that sort of thing (and I don’t expect it to either, as I only dance about once every five or six years).  They played nearly all of their songs, but what’s most important is that they closed with "Three Weeks," which is not only my favorite song of theirs but possibly my favorite song to come out this year.  This was easily one of the best shows I’ve seen all year.

Don Caballero at Bottom of the Hill - 5/18/2004

Don Caballero
Bottom of the Hill

He may be an asshole, he may be surly, he may be a bit full of himself, but one thing is for sure: Damon Che is never, ever boring.  Be it with either his absolutely amazing drumming for Don Caballero or his insane between song banter, he kept me rapt for the duration of the show, either in awe or laughing my ass off.  Introducing the band as “Broke Ass Sexual Chocolate” (taken from either “The Chapelle Show” or Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America” or both, depending on who you talk to), making note that he was drinking a pitcher full of Mountain Dew Code Red and Tequila, or selling autographed drum heads and sticks, he never fails to amuse me.  And while the band shouldn’t really be called Don Caballero (Ian Williams was most certainly missed, his high guitar playing, asshole smirk and incessant gum chewing always added to the flavor of any old Don Cab show), they still rocked...the Creta Bourzia dudes are plenty talented all on their own and I can’t really complain.  Plus they had two guitarists, which added an extra dynamic to many old favorites that I never would have thought of.  The set started out with a number of new tracks before they launched into a number of older songs, mostly from “American Don” and “What Burns Never Returns.”  I ended up staring at the blur of Damon’s bass pedal foot for a long time during the show.  My mouth may or may not have been open, but I was definitely in awe.  Every time I see a bad-ass drummer, and there are plenty of them, I think they’re just as good as Damon Che.  But then when you see the real thing you realize how very, very wrong you were.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Do Make Say Think / Fly Pan Am at Bottom of the Hill - 10/19/2002

Do Make Say Think
with Fly Pan Am
Bottom of the Hill

It was packed for this show.  I expected as much, with the entanglements both of these bands have with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and all.  When I got there Fly Pan Am had just started.  I thought they were French, but it turns out they are French-Canadian, a group that usually end up being the butt of a lot of jokes.  At least all the jokes I laugh at.

I had heard a couple of mp3s of these guys before the show, but they weren't very memorable.  As for their live show, it was a lot of ups and downs.  Most of the time, they were channeling some weird hybrid of funk that reminded one person I was talking to of Public Image Ltd, and me of a more bass heavy version of Kammerflimmer Kollektief.  But then the all of that funky town business would erupt into this great noisy-post-punk sound ala Wire or Gang or Four, and it was amazing.  It was almost as if the funky part was set up that way intentionally so that the rock part would sound that much better.  Whether this was intentional or not I haven’t a clue, but I enjoyed it all the same.  If only more of it was punk, a little less funk.

I’d never heard much of Do Make Say Think either, but what I had heard I’d loved.  My expectations of a good show were raised when I saw that they were setting up two drum kits.  It doesn’t mean it’s going to be good, but certainly raises the chances.  More affirmation came from the fact that the guy standing near me looked like jesus in a trench coat.  That must mean this is god’s music!  There were six members total, with apparently the trumpet player missing because he couldn’t get through customs.  Except for the drummers, all of the other members took turns playing guitar, bass, keyboards, flute, and various horns of all shapes and sizes.  No matter what instrument they were playing, everyone seemed highly skilled doing it.  The sound they produced reminded me of a unique blend of a less-jazzy version of Tortoise with the added ‘slow/fast’ song dynamics of Mogwai.  It sounded great, even jesus standing next to me seemed to think so.  Sometimes instrumental bands can get a little boring after a while, but DMST kept things changed up enough that it never got tired.  A good night of fun, Even if it was a bunch of Canadians.

(Image not mine, found randomly online.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dismemberment Plan / Enon at Slims - 6/7/2003

The Dismemberment Plan
with Enon

Show length time can be a tricky thing - some bands play too long, others not long enough.  Enon played too long for me. The length of time I can enjoy a band is sometimes pretty short anyways (I’ve been accused of having musical ADD before), and this especially holds true for bands whose music I don’t really know. Plus I generally prescribe to the "leave them wanting more" school of thought.  I liked Enon, they sounded great, the male singer had some great dance moves, and the female singer had a cute voice (actually, everything about her was cute). I’ve seen them before and been meaning to pick up their records for a while, but somehow always get sidetracked at the music store. I was really enjoying their set for probably the first three-fourths of the show, but at some point I hit a wall and just wanted the headliner to take the stage.

The Dismemberment Plan also played too long, but I’m willing to cut them just a little more slack since it is supposedly their final tour before breaking up.  Still, a two hour show is a long one for any band, regardless of the circumstances.  And you can’t really complain anyways when the final band goes long, cause you can just leave – not an option for a lengthy opening act. They sounded great, and played every song I wanted to hear. The band took requests for almost the entire night, and they might have actually played every song they’ve put out, they were up there for so long (including plenty of their older songs that run a little too close to white boy funk for my tastes; It’s ok in small doses, but too much of it is definitely not one of my favorite things). They played almost all of "Emergency & I," which is one of my favorite records of the late nineties. Especially great were "Gyroscope" and "You Are Invited."  As usual, when they played "The Ice of Boston" tons of people jumped up on stage and danced and it was a rollicking good time for all. The entire band really seemed to be enjoying themselves the entire show, maybe just living it up because they know it isn’t going to last much longer. It was sad in some ways that this was their last show, but they had a pretty good run at it. 

(Image not mine, found randomly online.)

The Dismemberment Plan at Great American Music Hall - 11/3/2002

The Dismemberment Plan
Great American Music Hall

It’s not often that I feel old at shows in this town, mostly due to the 21+ age restriction of most bar venues.  But based on the sea of young fresh faces at this show, this event must have been all ages (my girlfriend tells me that the Great American is always all ages, I guess I’ve just never noticed - maybe all the other shows I’ve been to there only appeal to old folks).  When I made my way to the front for The Dismemberment Plan, I felt considerably older than almost everyone there.  Seems that a lot of the kids were there for the opening band, Engine Down, whom I didn’t see.  Maybe they were also Plan fans, or just sticking around to check out the scene.  Either way, they all seemed to be enjoying themselves, dancing and whooping it up like you usually don’t see from an older set of people.

As usual the band put on a great set.  Travis, the singer, was well out of control in his own wacky way - dancing like a robot, pantomiming to the lyrics, and generally hamming it up with the crowd.  More importantly, he had a "Free ODB" sticker on his guitar.  I always wanted one of those, dammit!  I’ve stated many times that I prefer their rock songs to their white boy funk stuff, but even the funk was pretty entertaining.  "The Dismemberment Plan Get Rich" particularly stood out.  About halfway through the show, these two kids came and stood near me and proceeded to pogo, climb on top of each others backs, and create quite a ruckus in the crowd.  This is the sort of thing that usually really gets on my nerves, but it ended up just making me laugh pretty hard.  It was something about the crazed look in their eyes that made it difficult to get mad.  They even had the band laughing in the middle of their song.  Right after that, they played what is probably their best song, "The Ice of Boston."  They invited all of the kids onto the stage to dance while they played - there must have been at least 30 or 40 people up there, including the two monkey boys.  Everyone seemed to be having a damn fine time, the band included.

Every time I’ve seen these guys play, they’ve wrapped up their show with a cover.  This time was no different, but instead of covering some cheesy hip-hop song like per usual, this time it was Spoon’s "Fitted Shirt."  Those of us in the crowd that knew what it was were notably excited.  I even heard one person exclaim after the show that they did the song better than Spoon does.  I'm not here to argue the merits of that statement, but a great cover regardless. 

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Devo at the Civic Center Lawn - 10/25/2002

Civic Center Lawn

Holy fucking shit, I got to see Devo.  I can’t express the amount of joy I felt when I found out they would be playing on the lawn in front of city hall.  On top of that, it was free!  And everyone that knows me, knows how much I like free shit.  They were going to be playing at noon, so finally being unemployed was going to be useful for a change.  Not that I would have missed it anyways, if still employed this had "take the day off" worthiness written all over it.

I got there a few minutes before they started playing, and weaseled my way pretty close to the front.  I even brought my camera with me to take some pics, and I never take band pictures.  Maybe one day I will even develop them, won’t that be good times!  There was a decent amount of people there, but there should have been a lot more.  A whole shitload of people work downtown, and this is fuckin’ Devo!!!  One person who was there, standing near me, was The Surly Pineapple.  Who is this you ask?  Why, it’s some stoner dude wearing a giant pineapple costume, of course!  It was an especially funny sight when he was toking on his stash of kind bud, watching the smoke billow out of any opening in the outfit.  Good times, and the show hadn’t even started yet.

I wasn’t even remotely prepared for the musical onslaught to come.  A big part of me sorta expected it to be a bunch of old geezers phoning it in, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.  They rocked their asses off in those black outfits and red step hats (you know, the ones that they wore in the "Whip It" video).  The band was incredibly tight, the songs were great, and they seemed like they were having a really good time.  They played plenty of the hits, including "Freedom of Choice," "Whip It," and my personal favorite, their cover of the Rolling Stone’s "(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction."  The crowd was very excitable, with much dancing and jubilation to be had.  There were even some heads poking out of city hall - maybe Mayor Willie Brown is a big least then he would have some sort of use.  I took a bunch of photos until these two tall dudes came and stood right in front of me, which was bad enough, but that kept their hands raised in the air almost the entire time "whooping" the entire rest of the show as if Arsenio Hall were on the stage or something.

So I’ve now seen one of my "top five bands I never got to see" play, and it lived up to my every hope and dream of what it would be.  Now if only The Replacements, The Pixies, The Clash, The Misfits would do the same...

Dizzie Rascal at the Independent - 4/4/2005

Dizzie Rascal
The Independent

Despite how much I listen to it, I can’t think of the last time I went to a hip-hop concert.  For the most part I’ve always found them a bit underwhelming, usually because of terrible sound, sometimes because of terrible performers, and almost always because of terrible crowds.  But when Dizzie Rascal announced he was crossing the pond to play the States, I knew I had to get out of the house on this one.

And it was obviously the right move…because frankly, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this if the show were crappy.  But it was better than alright, it was damn good – he had a cat there rapping with him, whose name escapes me, and a great DJ well versed in the sounds of grime (the term someone thought up to name the type of hip hop/club music hybrid that Dizzie performs).  Perhaps most importantly, the sound system was dialed in – I don’t know if they did anything special to the Independent (I’ve never had any sound issues there), but the beats were crispy and the volume was just right, escaping the plague that ills so many hip hop shows where some dumbshit decides they need to turn the volume so loud you lose the high end when it gets washed away but a fuzzed out low end.  He performed many of the tracks from his last two albums as well as at least one new track…his vocals were powerful just like on the record, and I could barely understand a word he said, just like the record.  The crowd was one of the most lively I’ve ever seen in this town, lots of dancing and bouncing and arms waving in the air as if they may or may not care.  This show was so good it might make me rethink my “never go to hip hop shows” stance.  But then again, most hip hop isn’t as good as Dizzie, so they’re automatically working from a disadvantage.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

DJ Shadow / Lyrics Born / Tino Corp at the Warfield - 11/24/2002

DJ Shadow
with Lyrics Born and Tino Corp
The Warfield

I went into this show thinking that it was only going to be DJ Shadow, as I could find no information anywhere as to opening bands.  I don’t know if it was never posted, or I’m just stupid...most likely the latter.  Anyways, when I got there I found out that there was not one, but two openers!  I was a little bummed, as I was hoping to get right to the meat of the matter and not fuck around too much, but what are you going to do?

First up was Tino Corp, which was just a couple of dudes who operated a bunch of pre-programmed bits and pieces, samples, a little bit of turntable, and drum machines, all backed up by a projected video that ran in synch with the music.  Apparently, one or both of these guys used to be in Meat Beat Manifesto, a somewhat popular band that I could never get into back in the day when people were talking about them.  Most of Tino Corp’s music was just ok, generally sounding as if it would fit in well with some of the Future Primitive stuff out there.  There were a couple of stand out tracks - the first, which involved all of these samples and film of drum instruction that was pretty funny, and then another song about Kool Moe Dee that involved them splicing in Homer Simpson saying "Moe."  They weren’t doing anything terribly exciting, but their set was fairly short and the video kept it pretty lively.

Next up was Lyrics Born,  a member of DJ Shadow’s Quannum crew.  I have seen him before and he is probably my favorite of all the Quannum guys (Shadow excluded, of course).  His music could probably be aptly lumped in with a lot of good-time party rap, but he does it well and I enjoy it.  More than anything, he has this great, raspy voice that is one of my favorites in hip hop today, and his delivery is this half-singing style that sometimes makes me think of a really mellow version of dancehall.  His set was good, nothing groundbreaking, but the crowd seemed to dig it and so did I.

Finally, DJ Shadow came on.  He had in insane set up of four turntables, a sampler, and other miscellaneous gadgets to concoct his beautiful brew of music.  There was also three giant, equally sized screens set up behind him that showed some really great clips that were synched up to the music.  Sometimes all three would be used as one giant screen, other times they would all be running different things.  There were also cameras set up around Shadow and they would project him on the screen from time to time, just so you could see exactly what sort of mad scientist stuff he was up to.  He played almost exclusively tracks from his albums and the UNKLE album, with maybe five percent coming from other sources.  Instead of playing one song right after the next, he played mini-sets - where he would talk to the crowd for a few minutes, then mix a bunch of his songs together for 20 or 30 minutes, then chat up the crowd and take a little break while he set up for the next mini-set.  I found the whole thing truly amazing, kicking back in my upstairs seat and just trying to soak it all in, and getting a contact buzz from all the pot smoke floating in the air around me.   

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Metz at Schoolkids Records - 4/20/2013

Schoolkids Records

Record Store Day - the day I spend way too much money on, well, records.  But at least this year I also got a free Metz show out of it, as they played an in-store at Schoolkids.  I hadn't listened to their record a ton, but it certainly intrigued me enough to get out of the house for a free show.  A smart move on my part - live they were blisteringly amazing.  I've never encountered another band that reminded me this much of Hot Snakes outside of, well, Hot Snakes.  I didn't get that vibe from the record, but it was hard to think of anything else in person.  Schoolkids was packed - not sure how much was because of the band and how much was because of Record Store Day, but it was a good thing either way.  They were so good I wanted to drive out to the 506 in Chapel Hill and see them again later that night, but I had other plans to see the Durham Bulls with the wife.  Great band though - I'll definitely be seeing them next time they roll through town. 

(Didn't take my camera so you get an extra shitty phone photo and you'll like it!)

Redd Kross / Pipe at Kings - 4/4/2013

Redd Kross
with Pipe

Redd Kross came to town and babysitters across the area rejoiced.  I'm usually the creepy old man at shows, but even as I near forty I felt like a young gun at this gig.  I'm not sure there were any kids there at all, which is their loss - because Redd Kross put on a power pop clinic, delivering an arena-worthy effort on the intimate stage of Kings.  I don't know shit for song titles with this band, but they mixed their newest (and really great) record "Researching the Blues" with older material from their thirty year career.  The McDonald brothers seem to have the energy and passion of musicians half their age, and twice the talent.  So many hooks, so many goddamn catchy hooks all night long. 

Pipe opened the gig, and while it could be argued their old man indie punk was a weird pairing with the power pop sheen of Redd Kross, it delighted me to no end.  I don't even know how I would begin to count how many times I've seen Pipe at this point, but one thing is for sure - I'm always, ALWAYS happy to see them.  They did their aggro rock thing, Ron Liberti danced and goofed while he sang, and a handful of beer cans were throw on the stage ( though far fewer than usual).  The best moment of the night happened before the last song of their set, when the guitarist started tuning his guitar, and Ron turned and said to him "like it matters!"  Everyone laughed.  Pipe for president.