Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest 2010: Part 1
LeBreton Flats Park; Ottawa, Canada
A festival this prolonged has something for everyone, but with less (quote-unquote) independent bands playing there seems to be an increased reliance on acts from days long passed. Shows by these veteran acts tend to be hit-or-miss, depending on the toll that hard living has had on band members’ bodies over the decades. However, if you have been playing the same songs for 40 years, there is no real reason to not have it spot on. In an effort to cover both the “veterans” and the other groups, we’ve broken down our first part of coverage into two major categories: “Respect the Vets” and “Brief Look At The Rest.” In addition to those categories, we’ve included the “Dem B’ys is Full-a Humour” and “Look at Me! I’m Famous!” categories about stuff we found amusing with a distinct Canadian spelling, and the acts that clearly inspired this year’s bizarre theme of “Bluesfest Goes Hollywood.”
On with the shows!
Look At Me! I’m Famous!
The Bacon Brothers, featuring the “footloose” Kevin Bacon on guitar, harmonica, and tight black t-shirt, was the first Hollywood-linked act to take to the stage. Unfortunately, they played a limp set of sub-Mellancamp, countrified pop. Kudos to Bacon for trying his darndest and taking a stab outside his comfort zone, as he has for years with The Bacon Band, but this act was booked because of its name, not its content.
Rotten behavior is what people expect from Courtney Love, but the train-wreck rubber-neckers would have been disappointed by Hole’s show. Trying valiantly to resurrect her musical career instead of her tabloid-fodder career, the confident and jovial (seriously!) birthday girl ran the latest version of Hole through songs off new album, Nobody’s Daughter, faithful versions from her back catalog (“Miss World,” “Celebrity Skin,” Violet”), and a covers of Leonard’s Cohen’s “Take This Longing” (chosen instead of Canuck anthems like “Summer of ‘69” or “Black Velvet,” joked Love) and the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Musically, Hole was as unimpressive as always, proving that Love’s strongest suit is her ability to draw a crowd, not her ability keep them entertained.
The big-screen biopic of The Runaways hasn’t hurt to rekindle Joan Jett’s popularity, but Day 4’s headliner proved the real deal is always better than Twilight’s “it-girl” facsimile. Beginning with her classic “Bad Reputation,” the still-cool-as-fuck Jett and The Blackhearts rifled off crowd pleasers like “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” “Do You Want to Touch Me There,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Throw in a few Runaways hits like “Cherry Bomb” and “You Drive Me Wild” and the show was great enough to make me want to see Light of Day again.
Brief Look At The Rest
The Gipsy Kings opened the second night on the Claridge Homes stage to a staggering number of people for an early show. The band responded kindly with an energetic set perfect for an open-air festival. Grupo Fantasma and SEPTENTRIONAL d’Haiti are excellent World bands, who played to small crowds of enthusiastic fans in the blacksheep tent. We also caught up with MonkeyJunk for a moment while they worked over the crowd with their brand of quality local blues.
The hillside setting at the Hard Rock Cafe stage is conducive to more intimate sets, and this year is no different. On Day 3 alone, mellow yellers were treated to a captivating show by Ottawa-born, Montreal-based Laurent Bourque, the standard, rustic fayre from Great Lake Swimmers, and quiet magic from Andrew Bird. Bird just can’t lose at festivals. Every time we’ve seen him he plays haunting sets that show off his sickening versatility and musicianship (yes, we’re a little jealous). Needless to say, his appearance was much appreciated by the dedicated contingent of indie fans and lovers of heartfelt songwriting alike.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band were suggested by a friend, and we’re happy we agreed after witnessing one of the best blues acts on the first leg of the festival. Randolph himself looks stuck between a hip-hop MC and somebody on their way to a wedding, neither of which would indicate he was a phenomenal slide-guitar player with a knack for improvising within a lock-tight groove, in this case provided by Danyel Morgan and Marcus Randolph. Similiarly gifted were the John Butler Trio, a chart-topping Australian group with a revolving set of musicians except for the guy in the band name. The trio play exceedingly well off each other, ending its set with a wall-of-noise drum finale that could be heard two stages over.
Caravan Palace are the type of festival band that do exceedingly well with a live audience but flounder a bit in the studio. The Parisian band consists of several members playing a variety of instruments, including an electric stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, clarinet, bass-heavy synth, and a female singer rocking a ’20s jazz style. In lesser hands you could deride an act like this for trying too hard, but the earnest delivery and high-energy set sold the gimmicky aspects. Another high-energy act that hasn’t lost an ounce of their grip on the 16-18 local demographic in the last 10 years are The Planet Smashers. They tore through a set of aging material, but the youthful crowd ate it up, circle moshing with a ferocity only found at the best ska shows.
We skipped much of the Kelp Records Revue (with the exception of the ever-reliable Andrew Vincent) and sidestepped most of the saccharine electronic sounds of Lights, the guitar goddess freakout of Ana Popovic, and the tedious heavy rock stylings of Dream Theater for the opportunity to see Iron Maiden’s long-awaited return to town.
Iron Maiden were their usual selves. Whirling dervishes Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris commandeering the large stage with the gusto of men 30 years younger, three guitarists trading solos, a massive drum set (and Nicko McBrain somewhere behind it), and a fleeting appearance by Eddie (who now looks like a cyborg linebacker, in case you were wondering). All “newer” songs sounded great and wouldn’t be completely out of place on the band’s early albums but, with the exception of five tracks from the first three albums, the entire setlist consisted of tracks post-Somewhere in Time. The band were fantastic as always but there was an anticipatory feel in the air that didn’t subside until “Iron Maiden,” “The Number of the Beast,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” and “Running Free” were done.
Snippets of sets by The Moody Blues, Steve Hackett, and the rain-delayed Renaissance came next. All flashed some golden-years form. Babe Ruth, in particular, stole pieces of hearts with a wonderfully arranged spectacle led by the overpowering presence of frontwoman Janita Haan, who is THE template for women rock singers. Her swaggering confidence and chops brought fans like flies to sherbet as the sun was setting on the Ottawa River.
The crowd at Further with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir was dense but peaceful, as most were in an altered state or were waiting for the perfect moment to enter an altered state without being noticed by the red-shirted security slinking about. Lesh and Weir sounded laid-back and comfortable, which only furthered the distinct vibe coming from within the crowd. This TMT-er is not familiar enough with past work to comment on their dedication to classic material, but they sounded great.
The B-52’s were radio dynamite in their day, but have been reduced to the following statement overheard from a young audience member: “I think is the band that did that Family Guy song about lobsters.” With their legacy on the line, the B-52’s put on their best “show faces” and rehashed their hits in front of a diverse group of just about every age, from 5 to 65. To their credit, the main trio of Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Kate Pierson have plenty of enthusiasm for both the performance and music that has been paying their bills for the last 30 years.
Dem B’ys is Full a Humour
Metal bands attract a certain type of crowd, but metal bands of a certain vintage attract an even more certain type of crowd. Where else but at a Maiden show would a hoary rock chick (sorry, she could only be described as such) deafen those in the vicinity with, “I don’t need a bike, this is MY BITCH!” as she straddled her startled husband’s back like he was a well-worn Harley seat? Alright, that could happen anywhere – and should happen more often – but it seemed more at home on this night.
The Subway stage, which has a glorious backdrop in the Ottawa river, and offers up some more eclectic musical choices for the city, is also unfortunately home for some of the more “aggressive” blues, including Jonas & The Massive Attraction, a band that really “wants it.” The stage theatrics of lead singer Jonas Tomalty were incredible in how uniformly awful they were, and even better when noticing the smirks on the faces of his band members. Jonas’ wife-beater tank-top, greasy curls, and rippling body mass might of attracted a very specific demographic (the type that enjoys chillin’ on the Jersey shore), but his Blueshammer level of terrible should of earned him a spot in the comedy tent instead of on a stage.
The laughs provided by Mr. Jonas inspired a visit to the Black Sheep music and comedy tent, a new addition to Bluesfest this year, and after getting past the crack security team of volunteer children (well, teenagers) we were presented with some relationship advice from Finesse Mitchell, a former SNL cast member. His routine was amusing and he delivered the material well, but the topic of relationships is a well-worn path in the comedy world and Mitchell didn’t offer any new insights. Louis C.K., on the other hand, was brutal, vicious, and absolutely hilarious. Even though some of his material can border on mean, his delivery and cushy personality sell jokes that would drown a lesser comedian.
The first slab of days at Bluesfest was a struggle of attrition for our already overworked sweat glands, but the heat wave is over. Whatever nonsense Mother Nature throws at us for the rest of the Bluesfest, it couldn’t be worse than what we endured (though we would probably endure razorblade-and-dirty-diaper tornadoes if it meant standing in a field drinking beer and watching an overwhelming amount of music). Bring on days five to nine!
by David Nadelle and munroe
The Hobby Shop; Los Angeles
When I walked through the front door of The Hobby Shop, I was expecting to find a small crowd milling around inside a record store. Instead, I was met instead by an incredibly cozy, wood-paneled recording studio. There was just enough room for two rows of people to stand and still leave a reasonable walking path between the audience and the band, whom were lit warmly by tiny lights hanging off their mic stands. Beyond them was the booth, and beyond that was a beautiful backyard.
The space shouldn’t be the star of this review, but if The Hobby Shop does bring this weekly concert series back in August, you’re going to want to check it out. Besides the fact that it feels like watching a show in a really hip humidor, the perk of going to a show in a recording studio is that each attendee receives a digital copy of the show, delivered via e-mail.
The whole thing felt very homey, with the proprietor, Andrew “Mudrock” Murdock, revealing he’d heard every band in the series play, with the exception of the night’s opener, Woolen, whom he’d booked off the strength of their sort-of-sister-band, Random Patterns. That was okay, though, since I had. Woolen is one of my favorite local bands and they’re incredibly flexible live. Their sets can emphasize the proggy, 90s-influenced side or take you into wavering, twang-tinged bliss. They leaned toward the latter and were accompanied by a steel guitar. The set was more fluid and serendipitous as a result of breaking from the standard line-up, which probably led to the inclusion of a song frontman Paris Patt claimed he hadn’t decided on the lyrics for yet. Come to think of it, they did the same thing when I saw them a number of months ago, so this might just be a long running joke. Truth or fiction, the steel guitar player adapted admirably and it sounded just as polished as the rest of their material.
The aesthetic choice was logical given the stripped-down quality of a lot of Barlow’s solo material and the smaller space, but didn’t pan out completely in terms of matching the headliner. Barlow came out with more force than I had anticipated, backed by Mike Watt’s Missingmen, Tom Watson and Raul Morales. Strummy acoustic numbers like Emoh’s “Round-n-Round” became full bodied rockers in the trio’s hands and there were brief moments where they veered off and flirted with the stoner-rock elements of Dinosaur Jr. that always made me slightly uncomfortable. (Read: bored.)
In a neat twist, Imaad Wasif, who played with Barlow on Emoh and in The New Folk Implosion, was also in attendance. There was a great moment where Watson mentioned how weird it was to be playing Wasif’s own parts back to him, which led to musings on a word that could function as, “Thank you,” and, “Sorry,” simultaneously. Verdict: “Sorry,” with a lisp, or, “Thorry.” My verdict: no apologies necessary; fans and musicians should enjoy hearing old songs in a new way.
Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio / JG Thirwell and Steroid Maximus
Prospect Park Bandshell; Brooklyn, NY
Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio sound like the footsteps of three tiny cartoon men running up and down a stairwell at extreme speeds. Smith’s organ ramblings lay a quietly complex framework for the dancing guitar of Jonathan Kreisberg and the psycho-syncopation of Jamire Williams’ drums. Smith’s scatting, occasionally bubbling to the top, almost always consisted of the syllables “ba ba dee ba dee ba da!”
Listening to the swelling and deflating sounds of JG Thirwell’s least electronic, most orchestral project, the all-instrumental Steroid Maximus, it is hard not to imagine a movie in one’s head. While Thirwell has a knack for high-energy, fight-scene music, this particular program boasted many subtler, more gradually mounting compositions. “I saw a chase through a swamp on motorboat,” came one audience member’s interpretation of the third piece. In the opinion of this reporter, however, the correct interpretation was, “The montage in a heist movie in which all of the members of the team get into position.”
Thirwell closed the evening with a rendition of perhaps his most famous composition, the score to The Venture Bros. An essential element of the heavy stylization of the cartoon, this music takes on a different dimension in live performance. Though certain instruments (mostly horns) lacked the aggressive loudness of their recorded counterparts, the greater dynamic range and number of tonal voices allowed for a different intensity and an ending epic enough to appropriately conclude the evening’s sonic drama.
Although Thirwell seemed to have little communication with the musicians onstage, the 20 or more instrumentalists executed his opuses with a flawless tightness regardless of his conducting. But as the final medley came to a close, his passive motions finally began to intensify until he leapt into the air, slamming back down on the stage and gesturing the cutoff with both hands. He then quietly acknowledged his band, thanked the festival organizers, and walked offstage.
Hearst Greek Theatre; Berkeley, CA
You’d think reunion tours would have something … special to them, some spark that would be powerful enough to invoke an emotion affecting the mindset of those involved. Minds being blown, especially to a crowd that, mostly, never even witnessed the band originally. A vibe that could shake the foundations of the venue.
None of that happened when Pavement played at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA. (And if you find that awful, stop reading. NOW)
Perhaps an imminent warning sign is the notice that tickets were still available to the show prior to opening at the box office. Now, at the time Pavement started playing, the venue was at about 90 percent capacity (based on observation), and the venue is pretty large (8500 seats). But given the sold-out shows in Central Park this fall, and the close proximity to hometown Stockton, CA, (which they just happened to play for the first time the night before), one would think this particular show would have sold out in the same amount of time those four shows did. That it didn’t may not just undermine the importance of this show, but the tour in general.
Pavement rolled in shortly after 9 PM, opening with the classic “Cut Your Hair,” followed by another, lesser-known “cut,” “Frontwards.” Steve Malkmus and crew threw down some weight: The set was filled with the hits, including “Spit on a Stranger” and “Gold Soundz,” and some lesser gems like “The Hexx” and “Unfair.” They also played a new song, supposedly titled “Linden” (though that title may have be mixed up with “Lions (Linden)”). A big surprise was calling in original drummer Gary Young during the encore, who played a couple numbers from Slanted & Enchanted.
It all should have made for an incredible night. Yet, the concert felt incredibly underwhelming. Everyone except the unpredictable Young was playing solidly, but not much more. The band got along and were enjoying themselves, and Stephen Malkmus behaved himself, but there were few if any shining moments that could raise the crowd into a frenzy. Every song was played with little deviation. The setlist’s depth was, at best, predictable. The more time they played, the more the crowd was into it, but it felt so standard. Their set length, 1 hour and 20 minutes, with a 15-minute encore, made the show as a whole seem more like part of a tour for an album (which, given the release of Quarantine the Past, it partly is) than a full-blooded reunion. Any person, never having heard Pavement or understanding their significance, would have simply seen this as an unexceptional indie-rock show.
Maybe they’ll improve by the time they reach New York in September. Maybe, like their ’80s brethren Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr., they’ll return to the studio and turn this reunion into a comeback. But for now, Pavement’s reunion tour just seems to cover the fans. And it doesn’t feel like enough.
Conan O’Brien: The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour
The Wang Theatre; Boston, MA
You may not have heard this, but a few months ago Conan O’Brien lost his gig hosting The Tonight Show to Jay Leno. No, really. Apparently it was a clusterfuck of Hollywood drama, inept network management, internet campaigns, Nielsen ratings, and the perceived lust of the unwashed masses for the boring, tired comedy of a man whose best-known bit is reading newspaper typos.
Despite the self-deprecation and low-level martyrdom melodrama that swirled around Conan in the aftermath of NBC’s reneging, the great redhead’s ensuing tour is looking more and more like a victory lap. The chain of events garnered great media coverage and galvanized his dormant fan base, allowing the quickly thrown-together 32-city tour to sell out without a dime being spent on promotion. Marching into November, Coco will still be wielding public goodwill and a fat settlement as he begins his new job at TBS, not only with a longer leash for his content, but with complete ownership of his show and all its creative properties.
Not exactly the unluckiest man in showbiz.
As for that public goodwill, you’d be hard-pressed to find more of it on the “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour” than Conan’s stop in Boston. As his stereotypical Irish appearance may suggest, Conan grew up in Boston and even attended college at Harvard, just across the Charles River in Cambridge. Multiplied by the fact that his comedy career centered in New York and L.A., the comedian’s first hometown show was a lovefest of all things Beantown.
Walking on-stage at the Wang Theater in a Paul Pierce Celtics jersey to support the basketball team’s 2010 championship bid, Conan mused, “Thank God, there’s not a game tonight or you’d be yelling at me to put it on the big screen. ‘Put the game on! Shut up! Stand in the corner and shut up!’ ” He then confessed that living in L.A. made him homesick for that abuse, saying that he occasionally hired an actor to put on a Bruins jacket and shove him while calling him “queeahh.”
Conan also joked that, due to his large Irish family attending for free, he was only making $55 from his two sold-out performances in Boston. We got to know a little more about the family during a parody of “Polk Salad,” an old Southern song of poverty and hard times popularized by Elvis Presley. With the music of The Legally Prohibited Band churning and backup singers The Coquettes sashaying, Conan sang of his own hard times growing up in Brookline — “an affluent suburb of Boston/ Most people were upper class/ We O’Briens were upper-middle class… It was hell.” He went on to bemoan his “poor mama… a lawyer at a prestigious law firm, she made partner very quickly, pulled in a couple-hundred-thousand-dollars a year,” and his “no-good daddy… a microbiologist who worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in downtown Boston, which is affiliated with the World Health Organization.”
The self-deprecating stylings that have branded Conan’s comedy served as a running theme. Perhaps the biggest laugh of the show came when the pasty string-bean emerged stage-right in an exact replica of the purple suit Eddie Murphy wore in his 80s special Raw. Conan also made light of his peculiar situation, with several bits on his recent misfortune at NBC. The show opened with a video chronicling the past few months of his life. A closeup shot reveals Conan with long, unkempt hair, a long scraggly beard, and a dead-eyed stare. As the camera slowly widens, we see a substantial (fake) weight gain, numerous half-eaten pizzas, and empty beer bottles surrounding him as he lies on the floor. When a ringing phone interrupts his wallowing, Conan springs toward the phone, answering “JOB?!? TV JOB?!?” He continues to mope around the house to the tune of “All By Myself” (of course), having a few pathetic exchanges with his wife and then daughter, who walks away yelling “Mommy! Daddy smells like pee!”
Another video featured Conan sporting a cheap bald cap and glasses to play Generic Network Executive. Evil Exec strokes a token white cat while insulting the “sad little stage show,” and asking “Do you miss television? Well television doesn’t miss you! … We’re now one of the top-17 broadcast networks.” Exec then kills the cat by petting too hard, tosses it aside and has another handed to him.
In a musical number, Conan sings his own version of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again,” replacing the lyrics with “My own show again. I just can’t wait to have my own show again. On any network, even Oxygen.” And in what has become a running joke since his appearance at Google, a squeaky impression of a Tonight Show host-that-shall-not-be-named led Conan to assure the audience that the imitation was of “rapper Ludacris,” since he is contractually bound not to bad-mouth NBC.
A number of guests added to the night’s festivities. Former co-host, announcer, and “bosom chum” Andy Richter often shared the stage throughout the night, and one of Conan’s writers, Deon Cole, delivered a short set mid-show. Noting that he was Conan’s only black writer and has to field all of the staff’s “black questions,” he asked the crowd if there was an activity they hate to do around black people. “Dancing” was the answer, to which Cole responded “And we hate watching you dance.” He continued, “One lady told me she didn’t like to go to the ATM with black people around. I said, ‘Me too.’” Earlier, eccentric opening act Reggie Watts had the crowd laughing and scratching their heads at the same time. Armed with an array of voices and accents, the dead-pan afro’d comedian/musician toyed with effects pedals to loop his voice, creating a beat first, then layering more melodies and noises on top of it. The bizarre raps and songs Watts then unleashes are unforgettably funny.
Noting the venue, all the comedians made requisite cracks about “the Wang.” Conan intimated that, while growing up, “It was my dream to perform in a giant penis.” Watts observed that we were in “one of the biggest Wangs in the world.” (By my research, the Wang accommodated about 3,600 this night. The Wang was busy.)
Boston barroom staple and unofficial Red Sox house band the Dropkick Murphys also made an appearance to belt out the anthemic “Shipping Up To Boston” (a.k.a. that accordion song from The Departed that’s everywhere now).
Some old favorites from Late Night came along for the ride, as intellectual property rights seem to remain unsettled. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog mailed in a hastily made video with (intentionally) poor dubbings of city-specific barbs. The Walker Texas Ranger Lever was rechristened the Walker Texas Ranger Handle, and the crowd was treated to a number of classic scenes, including the infamous “Walker told me I have AIDS” clip.
Even the Masturbating Bear joined everyone on stage for a Dropkick Murphys-aided encore of “The Weight” by The Band and old rockabilly number “Forty Days” by Ronnie Hawkins. The crowd of fans happily ate it up as the finale went into full swing. Strobe lights pulsed, a giant inflatable bat swayed and smiled awkwardly (bought second-hand from Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Tour, they claimed), and Conan ran through the theater as giant balls — featuring his face — dropped onto the crowd, to be batted around Flaming Lips-style. It was a helter-skelter send-off, and it was more than fitting that, after a night featuring some wonderfully juvenile humor, Coco’s Wang performance ended with the audience playing with his balls.
Who knows what life at TBS will bring, but the past fiasco and ensuing tour have proven that Conan will always have followers, be it on TV, YouTube, Twitter, or the stage.
[Photo: Senor Ryan]
The Missing Link Festival: Mastodon, High on Fire, Baroness
The Fox Theatre; Oakland, CA
On May 8 in Oakland, CA, two high-and-mighty heavy metal tours collided and cooperated to create a huge metal-fest at one of the East Bay’s classiest joints, The Fox Theatre. The Fox originally opened in 1928 as a movie theatre and was designed with ornate, delicate crafting inside and out, with the architectural flair of an Indian Temple and a wholly unique style that redesigned building styles on the West Coast. After being closed down in 1966, the venue only recently reopened after a massive renovation. Although an unlikely choice for a crusty metal-fest, the class and spiff of the Fox could not deter a horde of the Bay Area’s finest metal fans from coming out and getting sick with metal. The lineup was so thick that many days of mental preparation were not out of line — Mastodon, Between The Buried And Me, High On Fire, Baroness, Priestess, Valient Thorr, Black Cobra, Bison B.C., and more.
I attended with a good friend, Elvis deMorrow, in tow and we sat down for a post-concert conversation about the show as we let our metal hangovers subside.
Chizzly St. Claw: Metal brain. I laid in bed the next morning and felt tinnitus from earhole to earhole, despite the fact that the biggest complaint was the lackluster sound up until Mastodon. It was still loud enough to cause some sort of damage to my faculties.
Elvis deMorrow: Yeah, it was a dangerous brew: The early bands sounded terrible through the mix, but they were still pretty punishing volume-wise. Worst of both worlds.
C: It’s a bizarre venue for eight metal bands.
E: Also, as you know, earplugs generally filter out mid and high frequencies more than the low. So because the drums were overpowering guitars in the mix, it sounded even more unbalanced with ear plugs in. I kept switching mine in and out. There was a clear move upward in volume for High On Fire; the drums sounded like stampede under the second floor. I could tell Mastodon were too loud up front, but the guitars sounded so good I opted to take the punishment. My skull got rung pretty good.
C: I couldn’t help thinking the High On Fire drums had some kind of effect on them, like a slight delay or reverb. They sounded supernatural, like thundering horse’s hooves. High on Fire was the only 3-piece we saw, but they sounded so big.
E: Agreed. The cut down from two guitars to one for High On Fire clearly benefited them. I think they likely brought their own soundman, whereas the openers probably had the “house” man on the boards. There was something weird & thunderous about their drums, though I remain underwhelmed by their songwriting approach, leaving me clearly in the minority at this point. They just don’t interest me very much at a riff, vocal, or solo level. A solid ensemble, but nothing special to my ears.
C: I can’t help wanting to call Between The Buried And Me the Coldplay of metal.
E: Between Buried & Me are the NIN of metal!
C: Fair enough. NIN and Coldplay are the Phil Collins of noise. Between The Buried And Me seemed so out of place compared to the other bands.
E: I was loving Baroness because they brought the disco beats. No one should ever be afraid of the disco beats — all good guitars work well with disco beats. Then Mastodon played the entirety of their latest record, which is maximum disco beats. Every song moves in full circles, which becomes hypnotizing then a bit monotonous.
C: I was impressed by Baroness as well. Except for the dude’s vocals, which were too monochromatic for my tastes. I guess I have such a soft spot for Eric Adams that anyone who only re-enacts the chorus from “I Turned Into A Martian” underwhelms me.
E: It’s too bad that a band “ambitious” as Mastodon don’t push the vocal melodies much past the status quo of the last 10 years. The metal genre always benefits from dynamic and inventive singers, from Ozzy on to today. But they are always in short supply. Ozzy & Halford had more than three vocal melodies. Even Hetfield & Anselmo are diverse by current standards. I think Mastodon successfully broke the “taboo” of singing in a proper contemporary metal band; now they need to sing more than a handful of melodies.
C: Even though the crowd brought it up a notch for the Mastodon slampit, it still was a sub-par performance by the Bay Area metal thugs.
E: Any time you have a guy in a Zappa shirt who just wants to “watch the band, man” up in front of the stage two feet away from a Kerry King doppelganger, then the GDF (Gross Domestic FUN) is going to be negatively impacted all around. Everyone has to compromise in how they want to enjoy the show, which will prevent the overall magic from rising through the roof.
C: We saw no death or thrash metal on this bill, which I think contributed to the overall lackluster slampit scene. Well, that and the jackboot efficiency of the Fox security force. Their stormtrooper approach keeps it clean… Perhaps cleaner than metal should be? At least first aid was quick to aid the puking waste-oid with road rash on his nose in the smoking hole. That’s one squad that should always show up quicker than later.
E: Yeah, I thought for the most part the security had the PRC style down: omnipresent but seldom seen in action. I think a lot of the incongruent behavior was simply due to how classy the joint was. It is rare to see anything tougher than Santana in a venue like that, or maybe Tool would play there.
C: Avett Brothers. Eww.
E: I think this speaks a lot to the civilising potential of one’s surroundings and why most contemporary Americans have been severely insulted, degraded & retarded by our architectural and civil engineering environments over the past several decades. A Minnesotan once told me: “if you don’t clean your apartment before you host a party, the guests will totally trash the place.” He was correct. You go to the Fox Theatre, I don’t care who is playing — you don’t feel compelled to piss on the carpet. In general, venues that implicitly ‘invite’ more use and abuse will make for better tribal catharsis/raw thrills. Venues that look like the Fox interior will make for better Santana solos.