Monday, September 22, 2008

My Morning Jacket @ The Greek Theatre, 09.21.08

Now that it is settling in and the initial ecstasy of it all is waning, I can say that in all honesty it was one of the best shows I've ever witnessed. Up there with Ben Harper's 3.5 hour performance at 9:30 Club a few years back. Likewise Radiohead at Tower Theatre, DFA 1979/QOTSA/NIN at the Verizon Center, The National/Arcade Fire at DAR, TMV, TVotR, Boris, Eddie at The Wiltern, the list goes on....It was epic. And I will forever wax nostalgiac about how this band literally exceeded every impossible expectation I had for them. Studio recordings ain't got shit on what it sounds like - what it feels like - to hear those vocals live in the midst of a balls out rock and roll assault.

I really don't know how to, in some way, capture what it was like to be within maximum effective range of Jim James & company a couple of nights back. Without getting lost in Sabine's reverberation equation we need to somehow make sense of it all; figuring critical distances will only lead to a maddening plunge down a dark rabbit-hole. And you probably won't hear the vocals down there. Things are good and firm up here on planet earth. Down there, you probably won't feel the goosebumps on the back of your neck emerge when that madcap lunatic with the beard (who has spent the better part of two and a half hours doing things with his vocal chords you couldn't possibly imagine) hits the pedal on "Run Thru" and deepens your plunge into eclecticmusicalecstasy with a Reznor-worthy riff thats been building for five minutes or so. The muted jab on the strings sounds like a pistol grip pump - the not-so-calm before the storm type of foreshadowing that draws your breath away and makes your jaw drop right before Mr. James and Mr. Broemel unleash some of the nastiest guitarwork you've ever witnessed (and you've seen Jack, John, Omar, Ben, Nels, Adam and the like).

But don't go down that rabbit hole either. Don't go comparing or associating. Don't get lost in the categories. Prince, Floyd, Zeppelin, Petty, Elvis, The Boss, they're all there somewhere. So where are we, right now? If time is reflected on the x-axis and we're strictly speaking of the evolution of rock and roll - y'know...where. we're. headed. - where is this band taking us? It's all meeting and merging, exploding and imploding, destroying and creating by the time you get to the chorus, if there even is one. There's too many branches, but it's all so focused and contained. And two and a half hours never went by so fast. And how is it, that the mastermind behind all of this, that guy with the beard and the towel draped across his brow, the one that just did three knee slides the length of the stage, while he was playing during the outro, how is it that he seems to be having more fun than I am? Because I'm having a pretty good fucking time, right now.

Looking back on it you realize how American it all is. But not that nationalistic spew they're shoving down your throat when we club other malnourished, tiny nations to death on the Olympics. No. Not that faux-patriotism that you slap magnetic on the back of your SUV. This is that truly American promise of anything's possible, the America that I like to believe in. Potential. A million ways to the same place. Creating an interpretation of life through every influence that has ever crossed a synapse in your brain. A melting pot. And everyone gets to choose which way to go. Like walking into a country music bar and pumping some Boris on the jukebox and everybody being cool with it. (Give us a few decades and a few more bands like this and we'll get there.) But, they'd been thinking about all of this long before the rest of us, sponging it all up - motown, metal, disco, reggae, country, folk, intro, outro, solo, bridge, keys, brass, and most importantly guitars (their own little musical melting pot). What they found and what they bring to an audience is a wholly different and unique approach to that good ol' American end-state of rocking the fuck out. No limits. No boundaries. No genre of music is safe.

There was this girl five rows in front of us with blonde stringy hair, she was shaking and rocking so hard I thought her head was going to spin off. I've only seen cathode-ray black and white permutations of things as drastic and spastic as this: it was '64 and they were the Beatles. But who am I kidding. We were all under the same spell, the place was going shithouse-rat crazy and well, it ain't evil, baby if ya,...

It's been more than a day now, I need to hatch a plan. I need to somehow figure out how this bad man from California is going to get to Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve. Talk about potential.

1. "Evil Urges"
2. "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt.1"
3. "Off The Record"
4. "Anytime"
5. "I'm Amazed"
6. "The Way That He Sings"
7. "Two Halves"
8. "Thank You Too!"
9. "Sec Walkin"
10. "I Will Sing You Songs"
11. "What A Wonderful Man"
12. "Mahgeetah"
13. "Lay Low"
14. "Phone Went West"
15. "Gideon"
16. "Dondante"
17. "Librarian"
18. "Smokin From Shootin"
19. "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt.2"
20. "Golden"
21. "Wordless Chorus"
22. "Highly Suspicious"
23. "Run Thru"
24. "One Big Holiday"


Easily one of the best shows I've ever witnessed. Setlist and photos will follow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beck, Spoon, MGMT Tonight

[Photo Credit: Amazon]

Beck will be ripping up the Hollywood Bowl tonight. I've never had the opportunity to see him live and the fact that MGMT and Spoon are opening gives this show a lot of promise. It is also my first time catching a show at the Hollywood Bowl. His latest album has been spinning regularly out here in California and while I don't know if it tops Sea Change (my favorite and one of several albums that literally CARRIED me through my experience in Iraq), it's very, very good. It won't hurt that Beck's dad (a legendary producer in his own right) will be manning the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra strings.

As for MGMT and Spoon, this will be my first time with them as well and I'm quite interested to see how MGMT does live. Oracular Spectacular is a fantastic album, but I'm nervous about these guys pulling off that heavily produced sound live (see: Bloc Party's "Flux"). At any rate...all of it is the perfect primer for my maiden voyage with My Morning Jacket tomorrow night at The Greek Theater. Let the games begin...

MP3: Beck - "Chemtrails"
MP3: Beck - "The Golden Age"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Bond Theme: Another Way to Die

It sounds like a song by The White Stripes with a little bit of Alicia Keys. I'll take it.

Another Way To Die (Feat. Jack White) - Alicia Keys

Friday, September 12, 2008

Radiohead Talk Mercury, Return to Studio

About 1 minute in to their Santa Barbara finale (webcast for all of the high-speed connected world to see), and thus, North America closer, Frat and I had no idea what they were playing...and where it was headed. And then "Idioteque" bounced and bubbled and ripped through us. The dawn of a new age: there we were in my living room, gathered with friends, having conversation, but more often then not riveted to the screen and immersed in a global show. Throw away your television.

It turns out these guys have more for us. They will return to the studio once their Japan leg wraps and somehow try to top a year of music I will not soon forget (an 18 track album of epic proportions, an ongoing series of webcast shows, a wholly original and breathtaking score to one of the greatest films in recent memory, and a tour that pulled out all of the stops). Or maybe, in perfect Radiohead fashion, they won't try to top anything, they'll just do something unique and different...and keep on keeping on.

From the BBC:

Radiohead have announced exclusively to 6 Music that they’re in the process of writing a new album.

After losing out to Elbow for the Mercury Music Prize on Tuesday night (9 September) they told us they’d taken time out of playing live to put new tracks down and would be heading to the studio in the near future.

Colin Greenwood said they'd be heading back into the studio when they'd completed their current world tour: “We’ve finished the main bulk of it and we’re off to Japan in a couple of weeks to finish it off.”

And fully enthused about writing new stuff, Ed O'Brien chimed in: “We’re still talking about doing some stuff and we’re really excited about it. First we came off tour to do some writing and we wanted to just carry on doing it because it was so brilliant.”

"We’ve finished the main bulk of it and we’re off to Japan in a couple of weeks to finish it off." Colin Greenwood

The band didn’t join the other acts in performing at the Mercury Music Awards ceremony earlier in the week

However, they agreed that the Mercury was one of the most important accolades in the music business: “We’ve been on tour in America so we’re culturally a bit out of it but you come here and you realise that actually it’s a bit deal. When you hear Guy Garvey go this means everything to us you go, er, yeah, you’re right. It beats the hell out of the Brits and the other ones.”

Colin and Ed were also really happy that Elbow had won it: “We've been on tour with Elbow we've played festivals with them and they're lovely people. They've made a brilliant record with The Seldom Seen Kid. It really couldn't have happened to more deserving people, but most of the shortlist was great this year.”
MP3: Thom Yorke - "After the Gold Rush" (Bridge School, 2002)