Thursday, March 14, 2024

Coming Up

Upcoming shows:
* Sleater-Kinney, March 29 at the Belasco;
Myki Berenyi Trio, May 29 at the Fonda.

New entries:

More posts soon, including, but not limited to, Massive Attack, as well as Sleater-Kinney, Beach Bunny, Pixies (again), Brad Paisley, Brandi Carlisle, Primavera '22, Afghan Whigs (again), Lissie, L7 (again), Smashing Pumpkins/Jane’s Addiction, Pixies (yet again)/Slow Pulp, Sisters of Mercy, Leanna Firestone/Abby Cates, Taylor Swift/Haim/Owenn, Samantha Fish/Eric Johanson, Please Don’t Destroy/Ian Sweet, The Walkmen, Be Your Own Pet/Birthday Girl, Liz Phair/Blondshell, Me-First & the Gimme Gimmes, Fall Out Boy/Jimmy Eat World/The Maine, The Kills (again), and Neko Case.

If you just got here, start with the introduction.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cowboy Junkies, May 19, 2019 at the Fonda

I discovered Cowboy Junkies (besides just a minor entry on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack) past their prime, mostly through my brother’s recommendation of Studio, and over time I drifted into their stuff, not much beyond that album until later, but I eventually realized that it had settled fairly deeply with me. They were also still an active band, even if anything they’d done since hadn’t gotten much traction, and still together for the intermittent show. It was easy enough to get a ticket for the show (a single, just to make it easy) and see if I could catch up on what I'd missed, even this late for us all. Being a show at the Fonda is also encouraging (especially on an off night when parking in Hollywood is easier). I was having a low day but I could look forward to the warm comfort of their music. I got there early (8:09) but they started earlier (8:00), showing chiefly how outside of rock n' roll they could be by actually starting on time. They’re not a band that can add a lot of energy in a live setting such as to defy the gentle lilt of their music, but that’s a feature, to run parallel to the minimal production on much of their records. Still, I was hoping for a burst of enthusiasm in the second set, when the first was unfamiliar (from a new album) and seemed to take its time, mirroring their age-earned placidity (and gray hair), but a measured count of how they performed. The singer's voice was scratchy, but it was a patina earned from age. (And whose name I've never looked up, which says something about the appeal of the band as a whole.) It was fine, but maybe they could go to something livelier after the break. A few songs from the end of the set there was an altercation at the bar (of all shows, betraying the meek nature of the night’s performance), then something going on outside. The band took a break as planned but during that time the place was evacuated -- calmly, to match the vibe -- and we all shuffled outside and waited. And waited. Then fire trucks came to the place next door. But no one had us leave. Apparently a fire had broken out at the neighboring weed shop (that I didn’t even know was there (but also had no reason to know)). We waited some more but after a while it was apparent the rest of the show wasn’t happening. For a show that actually got away with starting so early it got cut off, like it was punishment for defying rock concert standards. (Also to us, with no refund for the abbreviated show.) It was a bummer to not get all of an infrequent show by a band I had so recently found, but I ended up being able to get home in time to see the Game of Thrones series finale (the original plan for the night, though I would have rather had the show).

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Totally ‘80s Weekend #7, January 26, 2019 at Microsoft Theater

One of my other posts went on about these nostalgia shows, and how they’re fueled by the hits, with acts well past their prime as well as plenty of one-hit-wonders, and how they're poor for getting a decent set from a band, but some of them can start to make up for it, by volume if not pure quality. And again it wouldn’t be our thing, since we’d much rather see a full set by any band we’re interested in, even if we have to see a separate show, which would also mean we wouldn’t have to sit through bands we didn’t know or care about. Yet these shows can cover a lot of ground, and aren’t even always tied to being “modern rock” from a few decades ago, but can go into mainstream pop or even some acts that were big but never got on our personal radars. But more than anything, this show was about a night out with friends, with me & Carla joining up with her work-friend Sarah and Sarah’s boyfriend Brian, and maybe some other friends. We got a drink at the Palms (familiar since my dad built it) before. Our seats weren’t bad -- on the floor, a few rows back, near the middle. For any show like the Totally '80s Weekend (#7, in case there's a value in the order), for anyone else it wouldn't have been about much more than those singles that were as big as they got in America, and no one trying to be a hero by playing anything newer than 30 years, though the audience would have been just as disinterested by a song that wasn’t one of the hits no matter how old it was or wasn’t. Few of the non-hits made an impression anyway, but especially The Flirts, if it wasn’t "Jukebox (Don't Put Another Dime)" (believing they’re keeping it together enough to appear on stage at their age); Jody Watley (possibly a replacement for Tiffany, whose absence was just as well) and Rob Base had a few good hits between them that were big enough to bust through genres so that even I knew them, then padded out their sets with a lot of energy that floated what was only obscure stuff; Candyman was a special guest (though everyone was a special guest if this whole thing was a one-off), and even his hit was too obscure for us; we didn’t care enough about Farrington + Mann to know why they couldn’t be called When In Rome (which doesn’t help anyone), but they played their couple of recognizables (obviously higher up in the popularity hierarchy) and were a good lead-in to the headliners later; The Bangles are proudly L.A.-local and yet we’ve always missed them, over the decades when I knew all their MTV hits, possibly taking them for granted for whatever local availability they’ve had, and we had to go one of these nostalgia fests to finally see them, though they had more hits than just “Walk Like An Egyptian,” which they deserved better than, even if they made it just slightly more than a novelty hit. Of course they sounded great and could even pull off being a relevant act for being current (relatively, as even their most recent songs were old enough to border on oldies), and if they didn’t have enough hits to float them through their entire set, it was enough familiarity for us (even if I never reached beyond the greatest-hits, though I wore that one out both on cassette and CD). We didn’t get “Be With You” but we also didn’t get the full show, so maybe they’ll pop up again while they can still keep the look. Without being too disrespectful to the event and the other bands, they seemed to be having a laugh at the show, that anyone who wasn’t drunk and had any idea about the culture of music would know how ridiculous the whole thing was, but they were still having a good time (while getting out and getting paid); as far as I was concerned the rest of the show could have gone away for only seeing Bananarama. To a lot of people they could have too easily have seemed like a minor pop act that got lucky, had a few good songs (more than a one-hit wonder), and were probably bigger somewhere else, but they grew on me in my later life, even when I I dissected their greatest-hits album (leaving out “Cruel Summer” from any set-list). Even before then I’d been into just short of obsessed with Shakespeare’s Sister, for which I couldn’t ask for a connection, though in full shows they did “Stay,” so I was at least on the right track. And by this they were down to only two ladies, but they were enough for a show (though if it had just been one that could have been weird). If nothing else they could do no wrong for “I Heard A Rumor,” one of the greatest productions of the ‘80s, if not all of pop music ever (even before I discovered  the rest of Wow!, with which prior knowledge I would have wanted to go to the full show at the Novo the year before, but had to settle for this). They had enough hits (that hit somewhere) to fill a set, even if it was a fraction of the space they deserved, which also seemed to amuse them when they realized they were done with what they could do. What was only a sampling seemed a crime but also a concession to such a show (especially when no one else deserved the stage more), but even getting that much was a treat, especially if it was just the last signature on all they would do for the Americas. Those ladies are eternal so they could probably pull it off again and still look great, but there wouldn’t be much point if that’s as much as they could get so far after the heyday. But we were fortunate to get even that and good with it; the order seemed a jumble (even in this post), loosely based off their number of hits but maybe more off how well they were regarded today, but I certainly wouldn’t have picked OMD (Orchestral Movements in the Dark) as the headliner, and certainly not deserving of the additional amount of time they pulled. The audience made it sound like they were the most eagerly-anticipated of the night, but that could also be from how much all the parents drank cumulatively and how it was almost time to go. Admittedly, OMD had hits, though I was largely lost for anything beyond “If You Leave,” which has been a classic since 1985 (when I heard it in a parking lot on Fresno commercial radio), but it couldn’t balance out the other songs that weren’t quite so slick or seductive, and often just doofy stuff. If they were riding on the back of Depeche Mode they never had the atmosphere or sexiness (even when they weren’t clearly old guys) and surely got in from being yet another Brit new wave band (the reduction completely on purpose). They might have been in denial for how much “If You Leave” was carrying them by playing it like it was just another song in the set, but they had a lot of twinkly lights that lit up the interior with a sparkling ambiance, and it might have been nice to have such a gentle let-down to finally end the show. Also no finale bringing everyone out to do an ill-advised jam, with all of them doing their contractually-obligated sets and high-tailing it from the building, but it was also getting late and babysitters needed taking home, so it all got stamped as a few hours’ visit into a shuffle of ‘80s hits like many others, and they would dig up a new (if not fresh) crop of the same for next time, since apparently there are yet more bands with not much else going on but to reunite for a night (but you can certainly fill up a bill with one-off hits, and the lesser bands might go cheap just to have someone paying them).

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Darks’ set-list:
“Enola Gay“
“Tesla Girls“
“History of Modern (Part I)“
“If You Leave“
“(Forever) Live and Die“
“Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)“
“So in Love“

The Bangles’ set-list:
“A Hazy Shade of Winter“ (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
“Live“ (The Merry‐Go‐Round cover)
“Manic Monday“ (Prince cover)
“Going Down to Liverpool“ (Katrina and the Waves cover)
“September Gurls“ (Big Star cover)
“If She Knew What She Wants“ (Jules Shear cover)
“Want You“
“In Your Room“
“Hero Takes a Fall““
Walk Like an Egyptian
“Eternal Flame“

Bananaramas’ set-list:
“Cruel Summer“
“He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'“ (The Velvelettes cover)
“I Can't Help It“
“Look on the Floor“
“I Heard a Rumour“
“Venus“ (Shocking Blue cover)

Farrington + Mann (When In Rome)s’ set-list:
“Heaven Knows“
“Wide Wide Sea“
“The Promise“

Jody Watley’s set-list:
“Some Kind of Lover“
“Don't You Want Me“
“Real Love“
“Looking for a New Love“

Rob Base’s set-list:
“Pump It Up“
“The Incredible Base“
“Joy & Pain“
It Takes Two“

Candyman’s set-list:
“Melt in Your Mouth“
“The Roof Is on Fire“ (Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three cover)
“Knockin' Boots“

Saturday, August 25, 2018

David Byrne, August 25, 2018 at the Shrine Expo Hall

I never had much use for art-rock when I was younger, and I didn’t know about the early NYC punk scene before I knew about music beyond the radio. But the Talking Heads had some songs that I liked when I found them, and they could be just another pop band as far as I knew. Sand in the Vaseline was the greatest hits that I was hungrily awaiting in the early days of getting CDs, and I didn’t shy away from a two-disc set that had a lot more songs than I wanted but plenty I could explore, and I eventually got into it over time, though I still clung to the hits (mostly off Little Creatures then some of the easy, later stuff). Even then I didn’t follow David Byrne into his solo stuff and I didn’t have much to do with him without the anchor of the 'Heads (though I got The Heads album and still put “The Damage I’ve Done” on playlists (it being a pretty great Johnette Napolitano song)). As such I wouldn’t have bothered with Byrne’s American Utopia except for getting it from the library, and it still didn’t do much for me. If Byrne wasn’t leaning hard into pop or rock then it was too arty for me to stay with. A little too weird to be catchy, and not enough easily consumable moments. As such we wouldn’t have bothered with the live show, but friends had to ditch out and we said we’d take the tickets, and Carla & I went with Candy. I had read that the show was an arty thing but it was another experience to see it in person. It was less a concert and more of a performance, which can happen with some of the edgier music we might be into, since if there aren't expectations for the music then there might not be the same for the performing of it, and it doesn’t always work but it can at least be interesting and fresh, enough to set it off from just a rote run-through of songs. And while I didn’t hew with Byrne’s music as much, I could appreciate that he was trying to do something new and creative, as he always does (and probably why he's refused to go back to the Talking Heads, though even just a little bit wouldn't have killed him). I wouldn’t normally be into such a thing but it was good to see something new from a show. Byrne even thew in a few Talking Heads tunes, a surprise from someone who has so adamantly tried to separate himself from his past, more successful endeavors, even at this own expense, though it was to get something more out of them with new versions than to just flog the hits or revisit what he’d already done decades ago (as evidenced by hitting "Once in a Lifetime" early in the set instead of building up to it (though still conceding to climaxing with "Burning Down the House")). Though it also marked how we don’t need a Talking Heads reunion if Byrne would be allowed to only take it back to what it was, since his restless spirit wouldn't accept the vacuity of a rehash when he could do something new, and on his own (as interesting as it could be, it would flop if they didn’t recapture the purity from what the people loved, such is the conundrum of new art vs. old love). Byrne even took a sampling of this show to SNL and it worked just as well. It was even better to see this performance before Byrne moved well beyond it with his next project, which could even be the complete opposite of what he’d done, which might not be something I’d love but it’s a thrill to witness where such a wildly creative mind’s impulses take him. We missed opener Ibeyi. (And I wouldn't always bother to note which are songs from the old band in the set-list, but those stood out as the better bits.) 

David Byrne’s set-list:
“Lazy“ (X‐Press 2 cover)
“I Zimbra“ (Talking Heads)
“Slippery People“ (Talking Heads)
“Dog's Mind““
“I Should Watch TV“
“Everybody's Coming to My House"
“This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)“ (Talking Heads)
“Once in a Lifetime“ (Talking Heads)
“Doing the Right Thing“
“Toe Jam“ (Brighton Port Authority cover)
“Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" (Talking Heads)
“I Dance Like This“
“Every Day Is a Miracle“
“Like Humans Do“
“Blind“ (Talking Heads)
“Burning Down the House“ (Talking Heads)

“Dancing Together“
“The Great Curve“ (Talking Heads song)

“Hell You Talmbout“ (Janelle Monáe cover)

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Kills, August 13, 2018 at the Regent

Jen had another extra ticket for a concert, and if I wasn’t working then I was at home and usually good for a weekday show. I was a fan of The Kills, though I didn’t go much beyond seeing them at a festival and liking the stuff that they also knew was worth playing. I also hadn’t been to the Regent for a show; it's good for a mid-size venue, but a little too easy to get packed for a popular act. We got a good parking spot around the corner (also a perk for a weeknight show), and got there to settle for a spot in the back (though Jen isn’t one to fight to get close, and I don't care enough to do more than go with flow), in time for “Black Balloon,” missing the older stuff at the beginning that we probably saw at a past festival anyway (and also opener Saul Williams, who had headlined the Troubadour once and was now opening in a club, but the mix of styles and genres would have been interesting). It takes some confidence to go from older to newer in a set (unless it's just to use the familiar stuff to hook the audience enough to get them to pay attention to the new material), relying on new stuff to carry the climax of the show, but it’s not like they had hits that anyone was holding out for, and their newer stuff (off Ash & Ice, which came out two years before, so this had been a long tour) was strong enough to sound great without it having to chart as pop music somewhere. And they could still pull a crowd for a show, and maybe even could have without Mossheart’s heightened public profile for an association with Jack White (which left Hince with either resentment or time off). As far as two-person bands with a prowling front-woman and a dude on guitar, I might have taken Sleigh Bells for the live show, if only for the volume and more neo-gothiness than scuzzy NYC vibe, but the Kills could translate whatever they did with production to a live setting, even if the rhythm was canned. We also didn’t get as much (or any) off No Wow as I would have liked, but they had already gotten 13 years and three albums (not counting The Dead Weather and solo work) past it, and I thought I could do without them for a bit, so I couldn’t complain. I also hadn’t gotten obsessed by “Future Starts Slow” until well after that, and it had already become an old track they'd cycled out, so I couldn’t know what I was missing, and it was all still what could be expected from their show, unpacked and expanded from the usual festival.

“Heart of a Dog“
“U.R.A. Fever“
“Kissy Kissy“
“Hard Habit to Break“
“Black Balloon“
“Baby Says“
“Tape Song“
“Echo Home“
“Sour Cherry“
“Doing It to Death“
“Whirling Eye“
“List of Demands“ (Saul Williams cover) (with Saul Williams)
“Pots and Pans“
“Monkey 23“

“That Love“
“Siberian Nights“
“Steppin' Razor“ (Joe Higgs cover)
“Fried My Little Brains“

Saturday, July 28, 2018

80's Weekend #6, July 28, 2018 at the Microsoft Theater

I’m not usually one for nostalgia concert packages: most of the acts are 30 years or more past their prime, which can be sad, or they’re still relevant but no one wants to hear anything that isn’t the hits (and usually just the biggest one). And the festival format doesn’t allow the decent acts with songs beyond the hits much time for a full set, and the one-hit-wonders have way too much time. Even when they get some good bands we usually wouldn’t bother, if only not to have to pay for the whole thing when only one band is worth seeing (and not for a portion of their full set). But we’ll take tickets to a show. Carla & I were at a nephew’s birthday party on a Saturday afternoon when our sister-in-law messaged us that she had tickets for the ‘80s Weekend show that she needed to get rid of since she had another show that night. (Her error in scheduling, and she picked the country act on the other side of that conflict, which was to our benefit.) We didn’t have anything going on that night so we took them, though we had to cut short our time at the party (after I drove to near downtown L.A. to meet her for the tickets, then we had to go back and get ready), and missed the first few acts, but Soft Cell/Marc Almond and Thomas Dolby probably didn't hold much for us anyway. Also seeing Richard Blade on a screen more than anyone needs to, but very little downtime between acts since they have a revolving stage to minimize the wait, though we were in no hurry for any of it. We walked in for Berlin. Terri Nunn still looks and sounds great, not too far from their heyday (but our seats weren't great and they didn't have big Jumbotron screens). They actually had a few beyond “Take My Breath Away” but there wasn’t much concern for them. They were always to me a band from KROQ and Metro between the edgier stuff, though "Sex (I'm a...)" often seemed audacious for the mainstream (which was why it was "alternative"). The Microsoft Theater is still a little too formulated to be all things to all shows, but it’s a surprise that no one else has much thought to make pitch black their venue's interior theme to focus the visuals. There wasn’t anything to gain for being closer and among the moms who couldn’t get out of the ‘80s, or worse, only knew it secondhand, and had been partying much longer and earlier in the day than we had; Adam Ant would have been fine enough for festival filler, but I’d seen him just recently -- maybe on his same tour -- and his set here ditched some of the lesser hits in favor of trying to fit in some newer (or newer) tracks. (Though I always forget that Ant did "Desperate But Not Serious." That's always been a great track. Maybe even to balance out with "Goody Two Shoes" (which he inevitably had to have played).) Few in the crowd were there for anything but the hits (to be said for pretty much all the acts), but Ant played like he was still a concern, since it was more of a crowd than he’d get on his own. And he still had that masked drummer, who had a different costume (still with the mask) and made his act cooler than maybe it was even 30 years ago; Blondie have longevity if nothing else. They’d seem to be just the kind of band to headline one of these shows, with enough hits to fill any slot, but just the fact that they landed the feat of having a #1 hit in every decade of their career (up to the ‘10s, at least), maybe put them in another echelon, enough to headline this kind of thing. They also know how to churn through the hits, even if they didn’t need much more than “Heart of Glass” and the sucker cuts that everyone recognizes even if they don't know the words. Still, they have enough time to get out some better stuff off the usual track, like “Hanging on the Telephone” telegraphed by starting with a subtle dial-tone before jumping in with that rush of a drum beat like it can't wait to get going (the best starting of any rock song of all time, I argued recently, even if that was just off the top of my head). Debbie Harry could be a grandmother who doesn’t need to keep up with coming on younger than she is, but the band still gets hired for these things and people still get out to see them, even if it’s more for the memories than keeping up artistic integrity when they come up with new stuff that could take away from their contingent of well-loved and well-played hits. If it’s about the hits for the moms who can afford a package show like this (and all the drinks) then it’s as good as any show with a steady measure of recognizable tunes, though it could be a bit much for the casual fans and not enough for those who are really into the acts, though this could be enough for those bands to come out once more and actually get a crowd, even if they're dragging out the same old hits yet again, often to the exclusion of anything else they've done.

“One Way or Another“
“Hanging on the Telephone“ (The Nerves cover)
“Call Me“
“Rapture (included snippet of “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)“ by the Beastie Boys)
“The Tide Is High“ (The Paragons cover) (included snippet of “Groove Is in the Heart“ by Deee-Lite)
“Long Time“
“Heart of Glass“ (included snippet of “I Feel Love“)

“From Russia With Love“ (Matt Monro cover)

"Dog Eat Dog"
"Vive le Rock"
"Apollo 9"
"Friend or Foe"
"Ants Invasion"
"Desperate But Not Serious"
"Prince Charming"
"Christian D'or"
"Kings of the Wild Frontier"
"Goody Two Shoes"
"Stand and Deliver"

“No More Words“
“The Metro“
“Show Me Tonight“
“Take My Breath Away“
“Sex (I'm a...)“
“Highway to Hell“ (AC/DC cover)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Strfkr, February 4, 2018 at the Teragram Ballroom

Jen had an extra ticket for a show, and if I’m free then I’m in for whatever it is, and so I was, and so I did. And she’s always a good hang, not even needing a show but just getting together for an evening. I probably only knew Strfckr for maybe opening shows around town because they were local or getting low billing at a festival, but they have a great name (though they'll do a Cyndi Lauper cover rather than a Rolling Stones or Nine Inch Nails song) (and a clever way around their name to dare marquee value when they started to get big, which must have been a surprise since no band would start off with such a risqué name if they expected to go anywhere. (Even with the all-caps, which anyone knows I hate (as much as no-caps))). We got there early so we had time to kill (not bothering to see Reptilians, who were on but we stayed in the right-side bar, saving our energy), and Jen doesn’t drink, and matching her to be polite was actually a welcome respite from getting blurry at a show and risking not remembering most of it. And she’s good for conversation, usually about gaming and/or other music, not gossip or the SuperBowl which was earlier that day (marking the crowd as not one for sports). It was a younger audience but not kids (relatively), possibly following their home-town heroes even if that’s as far as the band could get. They're male indie dance-pop, in a sea of male indie dance-pop (just in L.A.), with low vocals that too easily got swallowed in the place (a venue maybe better for bigger bands who have more control over their sound), an aim for as much pop as they could do with as short as their songs must have been to pack in so many (even if they ran together in the mix), and not too much to distinguish them except for a lot of energy and a singer whose style harked back to the loopy pastels of Chip Z’Nuff from back in the days of MTV hair-metal (and also a local stalwart). The show didn’t hit me so much, but it was good to get out and have a mellow evening, even at a show, with a friend whose taste in music can be trusted to want to check out new bands (and maybe find something in them later).

Strfckr’s set-list:
“Hungry Ghost“
“Tape Machine“
"Kahlil Gibran“
“Mystery Cloud“
“Isabella of Castile“
“Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second“
Mystery Cloud Interlude
“Lazer Fight“
“Gyrating Hips“
“German Love“
“Golden Light“
“Helium Muffin“
“Bury Us Alive“
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun“ (Cyndi Lauper cover)
“Open Your Eyes“
“Never Ever“
“While I'm Alive“
“Being No One, Going Nowhere“

“Leave It All Behind“

Friday, January 19, 2018

Circuit des Yeux, January 19, 2018 at the Resident

We (Carla & I) didn’t know Circuit des Yeux but the show was the get-together for Heather's birthday, so it could have been anybody anyway. We also hadn’t been to The Resident so it was a new venue for us, though we saw more of the patio in the front, with its attendant bars, to hang out with drinking friends and maybe we even saw Heather at some point (as well as Ben, if it was also his birthday, but the event might have been presented as mostly Heather’s). We went inside only for a moment, maybe just to see it for the sake of seeing it, but stayed in the back, since it was small enough to get packed by a crowd that might have been there just to be there instead of seeking out the featured performer, and we didn’t bother getting anywhere near the stage. I hadn’t gotten familiar with CdY beforehand, but I might have assumed that they/her were an arty group that wouldn’t have impacted me seeing without being there specifically for it (though the Nina Simone vocal similarity might have been enough to get me going). We risked missing a great performance but that might not have been where we were that night anyway. Then Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly (wearing a great hat) hanging out at the bar. Even though I’m a fan of both I had no reason to approach them, though it was a stamp of approval for the performer that they were there, as well as Heather picking the show for her birthday party (if she did, but I would never underestimate her taste in music outstripping mine anyway). As it was it was a lovely night out and celebrating our friend’s birthday, and there just happened to be a show at the same place. Harpsichord player Mary Lattimore opened but we didn’t see her (or notice she was playing).

“Black Fly“
“Paper Bag“
“A Story of This World, Part II“
“Call Sign E8“
“Falling Blonde“

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pixies, December 13, 2017 at the Palladium

Some time ago in a conversation, someone who should know me better stated the assumption that out of all the concerts I’ve been to I’ve surely often gone just for one song. But it hasn’t happened even once. Though there are plenty of bands I’ve discovered from one song, I won’t bother if that’s their only good song or if it didn’t lead me to others just as good. The farthest I could stretch that is seeing a band casually at a festival knowing only one song, but in that case I didn’t go just for them (and it didn’t usually become anything that turned me on to them). I’ve gone to see Pixies for a number of reasons and I thought I had probably seen them enough to have covered any song they could conceivably play, but when I read that on yet another tour they were including “I’ve Been Tired” (a deep cut that’s always been an obsession) I decided that was reason enough. Though I started with only one ticket to keep the intention minor and limited only to myself, the night before it became a thing so I got one for Carla and we met up with Cid & Jon, and we even left the company holiday we were at early (and they had food and a raffle). We missed openers the Eagles of Death Metal (but Carla and Cid had surely had enough of them from years before) and the Orwells (and didn’t see their parents), but got there in time for the set. They’d played the Palladium before multiple times and we’d seen them there before multiple times, and the new songs didn’t sound any fresher for seeing them there, though they counted for a quarter of the songs they went through -- maybe too much but thoroughly mixed (as opposed to subjecting us to a chunk of them all at one time); a bummer for anyone discovering them through the post-reunion stuff (since somehow there must be those people somewhere), but smartly sticking mostly to the old set (though leaving out “Gigantic” and “The Holiday Song,” but also “Might As Well Be Gone,” maybe the only new song that could approach being considered decent (even while staying away the traditional Pixies sound)). “I’ve Been Tired” wasn’t a guarantee that they’d play -- it had been in the set but they’d skip it for a few shows before -- and even then it was doubtful that anyone else would be excited for it (even those who had seen Unbreakable, the only other time it’s ever gotten out into the wider world), but they did it, as if just to add anything at all fresh to the set that wasn’t one of the disappointing new tracks. If that counted for only going for one song then so be it, but at least the whole show wasn't for just that one song.

Pixies’ set-list:
“Gouge Away“
“Wave of Mutilation“
“Um Chagga Lagga“
“Head Carrier“
“Monkey Gone to Heaven“
“Classic Masher“
“Bone Machine“
“I've Been Tired“
“Bel Esprit“
“Magdalena 318“
“Tenement Song“
“Crackity Jones“
“Isla de Encanta“
“Planet of Sound“
“All the Saints“
“Here Comes Your Man“
“Silver Snail“
“Motorway to Roswell“
“Wave of Mutilation“ (UK Surf)
“Nimrod's Son“
“Where Is My Mind?“
“Winterlong“ (Neil Young cover)

“All I Think About Now“

Friday, October 13, 2017

Afghan Whigs/Har Mar Superstar, October 13, 2017 at the Fonda

The Afghan Whigs had stayed together after their big reunion, even if it was only switching out one member with the Twilight Singers and had settled into basically doing Twilight Singers stuff along the continuum, well after where the Whigs had left off, only with the classic bassist, but still all Dulli. Do to the Beast was a good effort, and one that rewards repeated listening, but it never had the initial crunch like they used to have for it to leave an impact. Still, I’m enough of a fan to want to hear what the new stuff sounded like live and what tricks they might pull off (also after having had to go so long without them, arguably at the height of their prowess and my fandom). I waited only a few days before the show to get a ticket (on Seatgeek, $40, all told) and presumed the wife would get a ticket if she wanted in, but celebrating a Friday and a show and the anticipation of rolling into a free weekend doesn’t always beat the exhaustion of a work-week, so I went alone. I even got there early enough to see what Har Mar (Superstar) would do, after the days of seeing him dance along to canned beats on a boombox, and he had a full band and didn’t sound bad for what he was doing, but the seedy, lascivious shtick was getting older than he was, and he had plenty. Yet there was energy in the room, and when the 'Whigs went on they brought a fury they haven’t had in a while, at least since getting back together. If the first post-reunion album was a clearing house to make the transition from Twilight Singers to the full Afghan Whigs again, then In Spades was something that could be manipulated to go heavy and loud live, and they knew well enough how to make that happen. The post-grunge crunch still wasn’t there, but at last they finally brought the volume again. The first few songs, at least, were the kind of rock majesty that a band even half their age couldn’t always bring (saying something for the experience they’ve had with this music and Dulli putting in getting through his shit (though it’s a shame he didn’t go through the same if it would inspire the kind of albums they used to do)). It was focused as if making the point of bringing the noise, but there was a soberness of approach to getting unhinged like the best rock, which didn’t replicate the sloppy, sweaty, fun shows they used to do, but could age into a precise assault on accusations that they might not have anything to offer with the long-awaited reconciliation and using the old name (which is Dulli’s right anyway). If nothing else Dulli earned a trade for the new songs by returning to “My Curse” with Marcy Mays, the original singer, whose warble always brought more heart and darkness to that song than a surer, accomplished performance did. (Dulli made a point of thanking the guests on stage with a full-on kiss, and included Har Mar, though he noted that it was good that Lanegan wasn’t there since doing the same to him "would freak him the fuck out".) Even getting “Debonair” out of the way early, they got back to the older songs in the second half, returning to the comfortable energy they left off with, and even including a good helping of 1965, for how much neglect that album got (even though they pushed it as far as it could go, it still deserved more). They had to include a Twilight Singers song as if it was some obligation (and Dulli is the boss, after all), but it was the material that most matched the original 'Whigs material anyway, and it rocked as hard as anything else (as it always does). And missing “Gentlemen” or “Miles Iz Dead” in exchanged for “What Jail is Like” is always a fair trade (for another song that never got a fair airing, perhaps from Dulli exposing himself too much in it, but it's up to him if he's still wrestling those demons by keeping it alive in every show). It was a show that displayed Dulli and his band -- whichever one he picked, with whatever combination of members -- had righted themselves not back to where the 'Whigs were but on a new road that didn’t necessarily have to be the Twilight Singers or any of Dulli’s other stuff. They all carry similar themes of personal pain, regret, and trauma, and fans that can enter that darkness don’t have to care about the details of names or chronology. Dulli has established himself as a rocker for life, with volume and fury accessible when he wants it, and maybe it’s always the case that he’s never bothered to prove himself and rather just made something true and we’ve followed. It turned out to be an ideal mix of the new and the old, before they started going more fully into the newer stuff just because it’s new.

The Afghan Whigs’ set-list:
“Arabian Heights“
“Light as a Feather“
“My Enemy“
“Toy Automatic“
“Can Rova“/“Last Goodbye“
“My Curse“ (with Marcy Mays)
“What Jail Is Like“
“Teenage Wristband“ (The Twilight Singers) (with Petra Haden)
“Going to Town“ (Slight Return)
“Demon in Profile“ (with Har Mar Superstar)
“Dear Prudence“ (the Beatles cover)
“John the Baptist“
“Somethin' Hot“
“Into the Floor“ (with "Boys of Summer" outro)

“Parked Outside“
“Summer's Kiss“
“Faded“ (with "I Can't Make You Love Me" intro)