Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eels, April 16 at the El Rey

You never know what you’re going to get at an Eels show, as any fan of their knows. And as their fans know, the Eels is really just E and indeed, at the El Rey, it was just him. He had one other guy helping him on instruments, as well as reading sections from E’s book, and I wouldn’t complain that it was any less of a show even though it wasn’t a full band and the ticket was $40. Apparently, a bit before the show he had fired Butch, the only other constant member of the band since E decided to form a band. The show was mostly acoustic, with a few bits of really loud electric-guitar, including a raved-up version of “Novocain for the Soul”, and a neat drum solo where E took over playing the drums from the other guy, while still playing, not missing a beat, then back again. It’s a shame that the Eels’ music is often thought of as a novelty, as evidenced by the easy, expected laughs during “It’s a Motherfucker,” which begins with those words and is actually a very sad song. The music could be considered quirky but I would never say it’s meant as a joke. As a matter of fact, their second album, Electro-Shock Blues, is on my list of Most Depressing Albums and it’s also often considered their best one by other. It may seem funny on the surface but there’s pain underneath, like a lot of the best music. That night in concert E was a little closer to Beck than They Might Be Giants but whatever form he takes, he puts on a good show.

I don't remember Vanessa being an Eels or E fan but it was her idea to go to the show. We probably drank.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Gutter Twins, April 2 at Avalon

The show with the Gutter Twins, featuring Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers, and Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, was exactly what I expected: dark, grinding rock that's great to drink to (though I hadn't planned to drink until I got there and ran into a friend from work). They played most of their album and a track or two of Lanegan's solo stuff and, after a satisfying set, left the stage. The crowd cheered and waited for an encore... then the house-lights came up, music came on over the P.A., and the bouncers shuffled everyone out. No encore? Now, a band isn't obligated to play more, especially after they played for a good hour (almost to the minute), but it was disappointing, since we all wanted more and saw no reason why there wouldn't be. Even worse, I'd read a review of some of the other shows they'd played and was really looking forward to some of the stuff they'd play post-set (especially some Twilight Singers stuff and, if I wished hard enough, maybe a 'Whigs track). It was good enough but, right at the end, turned out to be a bit of a let-down. Openers Great Northern were good, very polished, leading me to think they were from other bands but all I could find is that the guitarist used to be in 30 Seconds to Mars. As a warm-up act they were great. This was also the show where I imfamously paid $25 to park across the street from the place (being no street parking in the area, even on a weekday night). Sometimes I want to tell Hollywood that it can fuck itself, even when it has good shows.