Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Chemical Trifecta

Only massive news is going to motivate me to throw a third posting up today - and I promise it's MEGA!


September 16, 2005, The Chemical Brothers are headlining Ultra New York - the website has no annouced artists yet, but according to the Chems' forum (I guess it can be taken with a grain of salt, but this info clearly comes from somewhere), the line up is the following:

PAUL OAKENFOLD (Perfecto / Thrive)

The Joke aside, it's a fun line up for a Central Park party. The Ultra website says tickets on sale "this week," it "will sell out!!!," and they are selling 5000 tickets. Rumsey is a little bigger than I thought.

Needless to say, I am happy that the Chems are playing New York and more importantly, they are playing somewhere other than Hammerstein Ballroom for the first time probably since Dig Your Own Hole, if not earlier.

Live Ate

Holy shit - 2 MMM updates on the same day. About as rare as an unassisted triple play!

Not sure if I am going to want to
see this this weekend.
Mad Richard is going to be on stage with Coldplay singing "Bitter Sweet Symphony" - I don't hate Coldplay as much as Peephole, nor do I like them a whole lot, but this is going to turn that song into the shmaltziest thing ever. I'd much rather see Chris Martin attempt to play Primal Scream's "Movin' On Up" with
Bobby G - I can only imagine the invective that Bobby would direct at Coldplay if given the chance . Quickly on that flare up by Bobby G at Glastonbury - so not surprising. The guy is nuts - N.V.T.S. - and for any of you that came to see Bobby not make an ass of himself? "Fuck yous!"

Bob Geldof is a fool for not signing up any of the following:

the versatile Erol Alkan, who could have either bugged out the crowd, or bugged them in. For the London shoegazers out there, Erol is
playing a "shoegazer set" at the Sonic Cathedral (a weekly party that plays everything from My Bloody Valentine to Ulrich Schnauss - not that diverse, but quality!) on July 7. Autolux, who is opening for part of the NIN/QOTSA tour, wil be playing that night too.

the G.O.A.T., Underworld, and given them the chance to test out their new line up. Apparently the rumors that Darren Price, longtime pal and warm-up DJ for Rick and Karl is now going to be the third live member
are true. Not sure if he was involved in the writing of the new album.

Billy Corgan @ Webster Hall - June 28, 2005

One of the many constant themes in any musicphile's life is coming to grips with the fact that some of the icons of your youth are idiots. Billy Corgan, one of my, if not the biggest, adolescent hero, has become one of those idiots - or he always was, but I didn't realize because I was blinded by adoration for his incredible ability to articulate all of the emotions that come with being a teenager in his soaring guitars, his vulnerable voice, and his sloganeering lyrics. Well, these days, Billy is very busy complaining about how the Smashing Pumpkins never got the kind of academic analysis that they deserved, making over the top announcements about getting the old band back together, and revealing the truth behind his shiny bald façade through his blog. All of this conveniently timed to coincide with the release of his first "solo" album - TheFutureEmbrace. The announcement and the blog would be actually very cool if they didn't feel so damn calculated.

Of course, the eighteen year old in me jumped on pre-sale tickets for his concert at Webster Hall on Tuesday night prior to consulting my less inner twenty-seven year old who pays the bills (and also suffered through the extraordinarily aggravating concert that was Zwan at Hammerstein), or even hearing his solo album to see if it would be worth it. Since buying the tickets, I purchased TheFutureEmbrace, and it's what I expected: an enjoyable but less impressive foray into the area of singer-songwriter gone electro-goth that the Pumpkins explored on Adore.

As the tickets were a sunk cost, I went to the show feeling mixed. On its own, I would be happy enough to see Thefutureembrace live, but for 40 bucks and with all of the foolishness that Billy has engaged in recently - this show had low expectations. And my feelings about Billy didn't improve upon walking into Webster Hall and seeing the concert shirts that were being sold - all of them were just big pictures of his massive head…very appropriate…

Taking the stage at close to 11, Billy's persona instantly filled the room and every twenty and thirty something cheered wildly because in the flesh was the same gawky-looking alien that once put out an album that contained "Cherub Rock," "Hummer" and "Geek USA." Sadly, despite Billy's desire to get the old band back together (meaning get Jimmy Chamberlin back on the kit and hire something pretty to stand on the side if D'Arcy and James aren't interested) none of those were played, although Billy did tease the crowd with 2 seconds of "Today." He played a bunch of songs off the new album, a few other tracks which were not on it (and not particularly good - or I just didn't recognize the worst songs on TheFutureEmbrace), and closed with a cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Want to Rock and Roll)." Billy's band was made up of
this girl (looks like he hired her straight off of Suicide Girls), Matt Walker (the drummer that played with the Pumpkins during Jimmy's short sabbatical away from the group because of his love of the skag), and Brian Liesegang (of Filter's first album, Short Bus - I thought that might have been him). The most impressive part of the show was the room-encompassing screen that surrounded the back of the stage - it was up there with Kraftwerk's rig. Webster Hall was almost too small for the screen and the images on it looked the clearest on the projection screen that's on the second level of the venue (the camera shooting the stage is at the back of the venue and was far enough away to give the proper perspective. The new stuff was good - icy electronic melodies with Billy playing crisp, strident guitar lines that could have been played by The Edge.

The show was not as bad as I feared it could have been. Not the most glowing review ever I know, but my expectations were so low, that it is a compliment. But this is the last time I see Billy without a contractual guarantee that I am going to hear some Pumpkins. Check out Central Village's review and photo

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bloc Party @ Webster Hall - June 15, 2005 and some other stuff

a) I saw Bloc Party on Wednesday night at Webster Hall. I had seen them in the fall knowing nothing of them and enjoyed the show despite the less than perfect circumstances that the Tribeca Grand provides for concerts. I am somewhere in the middle on Silent Alarm: I do like it, but it's not earth-shattering for me (not yet at least). I decided to see them this time around in large part because of the love One Louder gave to the Bowery Ballroom show in April (anyone else besides the Kaiser Chiefs take the one-two-three steps of Tribeca/Bowery/Webster?).

I was substantially more impressed this time around with Bloc Party. I know the album now, which of course always helps. They also appear to have honed their stage craft, although it's hard to say how good they were back at Tribeca because the sound there isn't great for concerts. The crowd's unbridled enthusiasm also probably helped. My group was on the balcony, which made watching the audience just as easy and entertaining as watching the band - and I was particularly happy to not be up close when the sweaty shirtless drummer, Matt Tong (who is excellent), decided to stage dive at the end. Only the most devoted fan (and one that wouldn't kick Mr. Tong out of bed) would be anything other than icked out by his decision to rub his sweaty back on their outstretched hands. The crowd was completely mental - a far cry from the un-disaffected type that is supposed to attend NY shows - which would have pleased Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys. The double encore was probably very exciting for the devoted fans - I was tired by that point and I could have lived without hearing non-album tracks at that time, but the ending was very energetic, complete with drummer Tong spitting out a mouthful of water in sync with a crescendo (Brooklyn Vegan got a photo of it).

The two openers were a study in contrast. Engineers, a Manchester act that owes as much to the genre of shoegazer as Bloc Party does to Gang of Four, were very good. They could be described perhaps as a cross between Slowdive and Elbow (better than Elbow, probably not as good as Slowdive). Part of me would like to see them tonight at Mercury Lounge, but I will be out of town. The other openers, Automato, were anything but shoegazer. Their sound is live hip-hop, relying as heavily on machinery like Moog synthesizers and a Hammond organ, as much as drums, bass, and guitar. I am not going to bad mouth them because a sizeable chunk of the band (according to my sister) attended my high school, though in light of that I should say that they felt very young - they looked like a HS band. The music was interesting (they had some breakbeat flourishes in there) and their album was produced by the DFA, so they got that going for them.

Check out One Louder's pictures and write up. Peephole had little to say about the show, but it sounds like she enjoyed it.

b) Bloc Party remixer and superstar DJ Erol Alkan's website has some goodies on it (as per usual). First, he has provided MP3s of a couple of some of his very old mash ups: first, a Missy Elliot v. George Michael v. House of Pain track here, and a DJ tool here that melds the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" with Jacko's "Billie Jean" - wicked. Next, Erol graciously provided a link to a segment of an Our Disco set he spun in 2004 - grab the MP3 here. From Our Disco, you can also get a 35 minute set he spun recently there. And if you check out his forum (where he frequently checks in and answers questions about tracks), you will learn that the recent set opens with Primal Scream's "Screamadelica" (don't you love the track that an album is named after but the track isn't on it? other example I can think of is Gomez's "Liquid Skin" and "Bring it On") and is followed by the DFA remix of The Chems' "The Boxer." This remix is kind of in the vein as the DFA remix of The Rapture's "Sister Savior" but not close enough to feel cookie cutter. Worth checking out if you like Erol, The Chems, DFA, or anything, really.

c) Finally, on Allmusic, some love was shown for One Dove's Morning Dove White as it was featured in the Editor's Corner on the home page. Here is a link to their review.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

November f-ing 3rd

I had recently learned from their respective websites that the NIN and QOTSA were going to tour together in the fall. On their own, in smaller venues, these bands played the two most banging shows (I didn't say best - that's a toughie) I have seen this year. Together, in an arena, the havoc they will wreak will be awe-inspiring.

The only hitch that I foresaw when this was announced was the fall timing of the tour. In September, I start a job that is a touch more intense than my current placement (not to say that this one doesn't have its moments) which will most certainly not allow me to keep updating this webpage at the vigorous pace that I maintain (heh). I just read on NIN's webpage (thanks to ProductshopNYC), that this amalgam of stoner rock and industrial mayhem will play MSG on Thursday, November 3rd. I knew there would be shows that might get missed at my new job, but I really hope this isn't the first one (or the second, etc.), so here's hoping that Thursday night is a mellow one at Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.

My only other concern is that Josh Homme's badass ways would be muted by then thanks to a court-ordered stint in rehab - what has this world come to if a rock star can't dump a bottle of beer on another musician and then clock him with the beer bottle? Jack White didn't get anything for beating the hell out of that Von Blondie - C'mon!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's More Fun to Compute

Last week's Kraftwerk show was unbelievable. My first exposure to Kraftwerk was seeing them last summer at 4 in the morning in Benicassim. Sitting on the first mezzanine made it easier to enjoy the show for what it was, rather than just trying to survive it at the Both halves of One Louder had plenty of accurate things to say about it, as did Peephole (what she says about the equal parts style/substance and humor/seriousness, is very true). Jon Pareles of NYT, not content with merely standing up to the Coldplay juggernaut this week, offered an ill-informed write-up of the show. Part of the charm of Kraftwerk is that it can only be seen as the sum of the parts - the parts are irrelevant. The mystique around them is all encompassing, and that goes for how the music is produced and who produces it. To assume any part of the music is pre-recorded show sounds like the NYT sent a curmudgeonly rocker who has never been to a live electronic show to review it - pobre.

The other night, basking in the glow of having witnessed Pedro's 2-hitter in person, I bought a bunch of CDs at Virign, including Minimum-Maximum, the live Kraftwerk album that was released on Tuesday. Recorded all over the world during their 2004 tour, the setlist and the arrangements of the songs are very similar to the show last week - an incredibly timed souvineer that perfectly captures the overwhelming audio/visual experiences of seeing Kraftwerk (although sadly it doesn't have the prestine visuals - see Jason's great photos). Many of their older songs have been remade with far more modern sounds - the sheen on the melodies are closer to contemporary trance than they are to 70s/80s synths. Because the album is such an accurate rendering of the live show, the highlights of the show at Hammerstein are similar to the album's high points - pretty much everything - but most specifically "Neon Lights" (my personal favorite Kraftwerk track - was gleeful when they played it), the Tour de France suite (although on the album it is sequenced slightly differently, with "Tour de France" coming after "Vitamin"), "Pocket Calculator" (perhaps the biggest beneficiary of a modern revamping - the excellent main melody is even more fine tuned ), and "Aero Dynamik."

Pitchfork's review of Minimum-Maximum is pretty on point.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

NIN lawsuit update - Trent wins!

Cue jokes about getting what you deserve - Trent Reznor had a very big day in court yesterday when a New York jury awarded him 2.95 million in damages against his former manager, John Malm. That award doesn't include interest, which will spike that number higher. Trent also gets control of all NIN trademarks back, which is of significant consequence.

Trent testified the same day that OL, SoF, and I saw NIN at Hammerstein Ballroom. It was a big week for Trent: suing his former manager, playing two big shows in NYC (get the feeling the tour was scheduled to coincide with the trial?), and on the day that followed his testimony/asskicking Hammerstein show, Trent turned 40.