This is another self-less post with no other purpose than to direct your attention to some recent work that I've done. Make sure to check out my review of Slunt's latest album, One Night Stand at Burning Angel and a piece that took far too long to get published about The Slits' reunion at GirlPunk.Net.
I'm also currently working on a piece for Details about a current trend of male celibacy, so if anyone is or knows a male who has been or is currently celibate, can you please contact me or give them my contact info. Thanks so much.
Paul Stanley and Porn I know I never post on here, but I've spent an entire semester E-mailing Jojo back-and-forth, trying to get album reviews up on Burning Angel (they seem to think naked hipsters and XXXorcist are more important than Rock'n'Roll), but they finally got around to it. So, seriously, big thanks to Jojo and Joanna. Anyway, if you still kick ass, you'll take a minute and a half to read a dirty album review.
Another Sunny Day Everyone who knows me should go to NPR's website (Jesus Christ, I never thought I would be telling people to listen to NPR) and go to the "music" section and listen to Belle and Sebastian's show at 9:30 on Monday. Listen for my guest appearance on vocals during "If You Find Yourself Caught In Love." If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, "If You Find Yourself Caught In Love," starts at about 1 hour and 18 minutes into it and it's easy to fast-forward.
New York Dolls @ The Trocadero (5/13) The New York Dolls’ current tour is being billed as “The Legend Returns”. It was clear when the band took the stage on Friday night, May 13, at the Trocadero in Philadelphia that what the half-capacity crowd saw was in fact a legend, a retelling of what once was the New York Dolls. This collection of musicians (including Steve Conte, Hanoi Rocks’ Sami Yaffa, Brian Delaney, and Brian Koonin) was an homage to the 1970’s punk rockers, but, despite having original members David Johansen (vocals) and Sylvain Sylvain (guitar) on board, it was certainly not that punk rock band itself. The Songs were the same, and even sounded comparable, and the attitude... well, they tried to keep the attitude, with Sylvain making remarks to David about being a “faggot” and David thrusting his crotch towards the audience, but it all came off looking more cute and endearing than anything. Admittedly, punk rock is a hard attitude to keep up, especially considering the twenty-nine year break that the band took, but the Dolls deserve credit for at least trying, despite the fact that they looked more than a little bit past their prime. Punk rock or not, the Dolls still provided a night of Rock N’ Roll fun... or at least late middle-aged Rock N’ Roll fun. The crowd that showed up was a strange conglomerate. There were middle-aged folks who could barely remember any of the words to the songs, Hot Topic teens who have only recently heard of the classic New York City band and never knew the songs to begin with, and then there were a few real punk rockers who made the whole thing feel legit. Still, the audience overall was far from interesting or exciting. Much like the band, it seemed like many of the fans had lost their edgy attitude as well, and spent most of the performance with their arms folded in front of them, smiling politely. The performance began with those ever so famous words: “When I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in love L-U-V.” “Looking For A Kiss” got the show off to a powerful start and was followed by “Puss N’ Boots” and “Subway Train”, which kept the momentum going. It wasn’t until the band’s cover of “Piece Of My Heart” that the set slowed down at all. The majority of the Doll’s debut was covered that night, including “Bad Girl”, “Private World”, “Frankenstein”, and “Jet Boy”. Not surprisingly, the most stereotypically “punk” sounding “Pills” and “Trash” received the best responses of the night, the latter of which evoked pogoing from just about the entire floor. The highlight of the night was Sylvain Sylvain’s rendition of the first verse of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”, which segued into the strangely heartwarming “Lonely Planet Boy”, possibly the only true punk rock ballad. Throughout the set, David Johansen tried his hardest to pull out all of his old Rock N’ Roll moves but, sadly, they were a little rusty. He can still shimmy and dance somewhat gracefully across the stage, but nothing that would impress the youngsters. On a few occasions, when near the side of the stage, he stood on a speaker and leaned onto the large speaker stack next to him as if he were going to climb it or take a big jump, but by the look in his eyes, it was clear that even he knew he wasn’t capable of anything like that anymore. Despite that, Johansen still deserves the Rock N’ Roll balls award for, at age 54 still looking just as badass as ever. Dressed in black flared jeans, high heels, a babydoll shirt, belly chain, studded belt, glittered scarf, and countless diamond encrusted rings and bracelets, Johansen looked more the part of the rock star than Mick Jagger has in decades. Sylvain Sylvain, on the other hand, took his age into greater consideration, looking more like a Rockabilly daddy, in cuffed jeans, ruffled shirt, and striped blazer. The performance of “Personality Crisis” that ended the set sounded just as dirty and trashy as the song ever had and left the audience in truly great spirits. Unfortunately, the rendition of “Human Being” that closed the show, during the encore, was not nearly as exciting. After the song should have been done, it dragged on for several minutes, with many added choruses and a repeated verse or two, and even a portion in which David Johansen put the mic down and haphazardly played one of Syl’s guitars for a few minutes. Although it didn’t come out looking or sounding perfect, punk rock was never about perfection and it was always about fucking around and doing whatever you feel like at that moment, so it’s not exactly something anyone can hold against them. It’s hard to say what the departed members of the Dolls would think of this sort of reunion. There certainly was never a sleazier guitarist than Johnny Thunders and Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan were possibly the most deranged rhythm section to ever grace a stage; it could go without saying that the new players did not fill their vinyl, platform, stiletto heels, but they are doing a good job of helping to spread the filthy, trashy Rock N’ Roll that those three helped to create, and maybe that’s all that matters. Although David Jo and Syl don’t come off as especially punk rock these days, the animal that is the music of the New York Dolls will forever be pure Punk and if this is how they’re choosing to give it to the kids these days, hats off to them.
Butch Walker @ The Black Cat (5/9/05) On Monday, May 9th, hundreds of teenage girls made their first trip to The Black Cat. Washington DC’s premiere Indie music venue, usually filled with hipsters and punks, was filled with flip-flops, costume jewelry, and birthmark-sized tattoos of flowers and stars. It was all for former hair metal “star” turned Power Popper, turned singer/songwriter, turned songwriter/producer of Billboard’s biggest hits, Butch Walker. Although most of Walker’s attention as of lately has been for writing and producing Pop’s most inoffensive acts, such as Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, and Bowling For Soup, he spent Monday night pushing his own [second solo] album, Letters, which, not surprisingly, has a handful of tracks that sound as if they were meant for Lavigne. Even though tracks like “Don’t Move”; the battered-girl-turns-to-suicide ballad “Joan”; and the first single, “Mixtape”, reek of Avril’s own chart toppers, it’s hard to deny that the now mainstream sound of a former Sunset Strip Sleaze Rocker is catchy... at least when none of the Indie queens know that you’re listening to it. Butch normally impresses fans with his classical talent and musicianship, but his performance at The Black Cat was something a little different. Although his talent showed through, the night was more about having a good rock n’ roll time and bonding with fans than his musical skills. Already drunk on wine, and swigging more, Walker danced across the stage, jump-kicking, swinging his guitar over the crowd, and thrusting himself against the audience, appearing more Rock N’ Roll than ever... or at least since Southgang split. Most of Walker’s latest release was covered throughout the course of the night, including the Power Pop of “Uncomfortably Numb” [which opened the show] and “# 1 Summer Jam”, along with more ballad-esque numbers like “Maybe It’s Just Me”, “Mixtape”, “Don’t Move”, “So At Last” and “Best Thing You Never Had”. All throughout, the entirety of the crowd sang along with these [nearly] year-old album tracks as if they were rock n’ roll classics. For this tour, Butch gave up fourth rate Power Pop group American Hi-Fi as his backing band, in lieu of a real Rock N’ Roll band, decked out in vintage Punk tee-shirts and tight blue jeans. While they hadn’t been playing Walker’s music for as long as American Hi-Fi had, the new guys solidified it as an actual Rock N’ Roll show and made the few former metalheads in attendance feel a little more comfortable about going to see the guy who’s spent the past few years working with Avril Lavigne. Although Walker’s staple, solo and acoustic portion of the show has gotten to be a huge crowd pleaser, it was probably the least interesting part of the night. On piano, Butch did Marvelous 3’s breakup ballad, “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” and “Joan”, followed by “Every Monday” and the original version of “Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star” on acoustic guitar. Although much of the crowd seemed to treasure the old Marvelous 3 songs, singing along loud enough to drown out Butch himself, there were many young fans who didn’t know that Butch Walker even existed before last Fall’s tour with Avril Lavigne and were left quiet and bored during tracks from the singer/songwriter’s previous band. For those, the best portion of this set was probably the joke that Walker opened it with: “What did one tampon say to the other? Nothing... they were both stuck up bitches.” The night seemed to be wrapping up when Butch and the guys closed the set with “Lights Out”, a Rockabilly influenced track from his latest album, that left the audience twisting and shaking and throwing their fists in the air, but they guys eventually returned to the stage for a rare encore. Butch and his band did “Race Cars And Goth Rock”, the highlight of Letters, leaving very few tracks from the latest album unplayed. After this, the band left to go out into the audience and have a few drinks at the bar while Butch, in rare form, wandered about the stage, playing anything that he could think of or that the audience asked for. Acoustic versions of songs like “Suburbia” had the crowd once again drowning him out and portions of “Bohemian Rhapsody [by Queen] and Come Sail Away [by Styx] had the audience in hysterics... except that half of the crowd that was under 16, who just sat and stared in confusion. After about twenty minutes, the wine became more and more evident in Butch and it seemed that he was spending more time tuning his guitar than actually playing it. The impromptu encore was starting to get tiresome, when he unplugged altogether, pushed his microphone to the side, and went into a 100% stripped down rendition of “Take Tomorrow (One Day At A Time)” and proceeded to stumble into the audience and walk throughout the entire club, guitar in arms, singing campfire style with his fans, until finally climbing on top of the bar and finishing the last few verses looking down on his too adoring fans. It’s hard to say whether this little stunt was some great, passionate rock n’ roll gesture, or the act of an only semiconscious drunk, but it worked and it was rock n’ roll either way. It’s hard to believe that almost fifteen years later, the guitarist from Southgang is writing pop music for the biggest stars of today and has a fanbase comprised almost entirely of teenage and twenty-something girls who look at him like David Cassidy, but he’s still kicking ass. He may not be kicking ass in a traditional way, but every night he proves that he really is rock n’ roll, whether his new fans get it or not, so fuck anyone out there who’s too cool to see that he’s one of the last figures from the golden years of Metal Edge that’s still doing anything relevant.
Unfortunately for anyone who's reading this, I have not skipped the year-end music lists that I'm sure I've been made fun of for on several occasions. Anyway, here they are, the best artists, albums, and concerts of 2004:
Artists Of The Year
9. Sonic Youth
7. Brides Of Destruction
5. The Von Bondies
3. The Donnas
2. Velvet Revolver
(Studio) Albums Of The Year
25. Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart
24. Ministry - Houses Of The Mole
23. Slunt - Slunt
22. Skinny Puppy - The Greater Wrong Of The Right
21. Le Tigre - This Island
20. A Perfect Circle - eMotive
19. Aerosmith - Honkin' On Bobo
18. The Von Bondies - Pawn Shoppe Heart
17. Auf der Maur - Aur der Maur
16. Nightwish - Once
15. Lenny Kravitz - Baptism
14. Gene Simmons - ***hole
13. theSTART - Initiation
12. Lisa Loeb - The Way It Really Is
11. Monster Magnet - Monolithic Baby!
10. U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
9. The Cure - The Cure
8. R.E.M. - Around The Sun
7. Rasputina - Frustration Plantation
6. Butch Walker - Letters
5. Brides Of Destruction - Here Come The Brides
4. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
3. Velvet Revolver - Contraband
2. The Donnas - Gold Medal
1. Morrissey - You Are The Quarry
Concerts Of The Year
1- Morrissey w/ Damien Dempsey
10/1/04The Tower TheaterUpper Darby, PA
2 - Morrissey w/ Damien Dempsey
10/2/04The Tower TheaterUpper Darby, PA
3 - Velvet Revolver w/ The Exies
11/10/04Wachovia SpectrumPhiladelphia, PA
4 - Marilyn Manson w/ Slunt
Against All Gods Tour
5 - Marilyn Manson w/ Slunt
Against All Gods Tour
11/21/04The Electric FactoryPhiladelphia, PA
6 - The Sounds w/ Kill Hannah and Ima Robot
2/27/04Theatre Of Living ArtsPhiladelphia, PA
7 - Liz Phair w/ The Cardigans, Katy Rose, and Charlotte Martin
Chicks With Attitude Tour
8 - Liz Phair w/ Wheat and Rachel Yamagata
3/27/04The Recher TheatreTowson, MD
9 - Liz Phair w/ Wheat and Rachel Yamagata
4/2/04The Electric FactoryPhiladelphia, PA
10 - Aerosmith w/ Cheap Trick
4/14/04The WachoviaCenterPhiladelphia, PA
11 - The Donnas w/ The Von Bondies and The Starlite Desperation
11/26/04Theater of Living ArtsPhiladelphia, PA
12 - The Donnas w/ The Von Bondies and The Starlite Desperation
13 - Liz Phair w/ The Cardigans, Katy Rose, and Charlotte Martin
Chicks With Attitude Tour
9/2/04The Electric FactoryPhiladelphia, PA
14 - Sleater-Kinney w/ The Thermals
4/29/04The TrocaderoPhiladelphia, PA
15 - Kiss w/ Poison and Z02
Rock The Nation Tour
7/24/04Nissan PavilionBristow, VA
16 - Velvet Revolver w/ The Living Things
17 - R.E.M. w/ Angela McClusky
10/30/04The BorgotaEventCenterAtlantic City, NJ
18 - Marilyn Manson
Against All Gods Tour
11/27/04Reading Eagle TheatreReading, PA
19 - Pixies w/ The Datson and The Bennies
12/5/04TweeterCenter On The WaterCamden,NJ
20 - David Bowie w/ Stereophonics
A Reality Tour
21 - Sonic Youth w/ White Magik and The Magic Markers
Less Interesting Than A Concert Review About once a year I feel as though I should post dumb stuff in livejournal. Now that I'm 20, I shouldn't even have a livejournal, so please discourage me. Oh, and this was stolen from someone, but I'm not good with links.
age: 20 height: 5'9" location: Philadelphia, PA hair color: Brown with grown out blonde streaks. There may also still be some red streaks in there, but I can't tell because I'm colour blind and never really noticed them in the first place. eye color: green sexual preference: grrrls what do you think of cheerleading: It disturbs me to watch, but I've always wanted to get a cheerleading uniform. what brand of deodorant do you use: CK one of the people you've kissed, who was the worst kisser: possibly my first girlfriend, but it's hard to remember do you like pickles: no do you watch porn: not movies Do you have any pets: I'm really not a pet person. do you have your own phone line: yeah your thoughts on abortion: Pro-Choice, but please don't try to discuss this issue with me, even if you agree. do you like Britney Spears: no ever been butt naked bangin' on the bathroom floor: actually, yes; is that hot or embarassing? would you ever get plastic surgery, if so, on what: only if I got into an accident that deformed me further. biggest redneck you know: too hard to choose do you think foreign accents are sexy: some do you like hot dogs: yeah last time you went to the doctor: over the summer ever taken ballet: no last time you used the restroom: maybe an hour ago most attractive person you know: probably Lennon, although it's been quite a while since we talked piercings = ring in left nostril; rhinestone in right nostril; ring in left earlobe tattoos = left arm is a (somewhat) nearly done sleeve of traditional Japanese work and on my right shoulder is a Steven Tyler eyeball (You should know what I'm talking about.) shoe size = 8.5 in British men's; 12 in US women's favorite color = pink describe yourself in four words = Rock 'N' Motherfuckin' Roll (I'm counting "'N'" as a word) siblings = none underwear = none, EVER (well, sometimes with skirts) coffee cup = I hate coffee and any warm drink in general, but my parents gave me a mug depicting a polar bear orgy that I keep change in. cd you listened to = COME ON PILGRIM by Pixies person you called = Elyse person that has called you = Elyse person you emailed = my Writing For Media teacher person who emailed you = The 9:30 Club person you kissed = probably Elyse (but in a completely unsexual way); Tom, Elyse, and I can get especially affectionate at times. you have a bf or gf = no you have a crush on someone = yeah you wish you could live somewhere else = only like down the street or a few blocks over you think about suicide = Embarassingly, I have recently, even though it's sooooo not cool or "in" anymore. others find you attractive = I don't know you do drugs = yeah you smoke = yeah you like roller coasters = I could take them or leave them you write in cursive or print = cursive long distance relationships = What about them? I've done it before. using someone = Aren't friends just people that we use to satisfy our fun quota? killing people = I would love to kill most people, but I don't have the time and if I'm living in a country where everyone is supposed to have the right to live, then I can't condone any type of murder from a technical standpoint. doing drugs = go for it premarital sex = go for it
do you.... like the taste of blood = not terribly believe in love = yes believe in soul mates = I'll have an answer when I'm dead. believe in love at first sight = maybe believe in God = no ever cried over a girl/boy = too many times ever lied to someone = yeah ever been arrested = no ever dated anyone who's in your lj friends list = yeah ever considered dating anyone else on your lj friends list = yeah kissed anyone on your lj friends list = yes ever been in a fist fight = no
what... are you scared of = Way too much. what are you like in relationships = Ask exes, although I'm quite a different person than I was when I was in any sexual relationships.
number... of times I have been in love? = one, although thinking you're in love and being in love are very different and I've thought I've been in love a few times. of times I have had my heart broken? = too many to count, but only by one person of hearts I have broken? = ask around of boys I have kissed? = 1, maybe 2 (I can get back to you on that) of girls I have kissed? = I think 11 of men I've slept with? = none of girls I've slept with? = slept with:4 "slept with":3.5 of continents I have lived on? = 1 of drugs taken illegally? = not sure of people I would classify as true, could trust with my life type friends? = 2, maybe 3, maybe even 4, 5, or 6.
::what (illegal) drugs (if any) have you done?:: I don't remember them all ::What's the best gift you've ever received?: too hard to say ::What's the best concert you've ever attended?:: even harder to say, but maybe: Iggy Pop @ the 9:30 Club in 2001, Motley Crue on the 2nd Maximum Rock in 2000, or KISS @ The Baltimore Arena in '97, but there's plenty more that were probably as good. ::If you had to give up either music or sex for the rest of your life, which would you pick?:: sex ::What's your favorite bad-for-you food?: everything I eat is horrible for me ::What rockstar would you be a permanent groupie for, no questions asked?: there's quite a few: Brett Anderson (Donna A, not from Suede), Bif Naked, Lennon, Poe, Shirley Manson, Liz Phair, Courtney Love, Fiona Apple, Jewel ::If you could lose (or get back to re-lose) your virginity to any person living or dead, who would it be?: not even going to get into this ::Are you a dog person or a cat person?: I hate cats less; actually, I kind of want a tiger named Anton. ::What's your favorite US city?: too hard to say ::Have you ever made out with more than one person in the same 24 hour period?: yes ::Favorite curse word?: I'm not cool enough to curse ::Have you ever had a romantic/sexual encounter with a rock star?: not that I can remember, but Kim Deal did kiss me ::What's the craziest/stupidest thing you've ever done while drunk?: peed on my ex-roomates floor, and then argued about it with him for an hour ::What current trend do you think is ridiculous and wish would go away immediately?: I don't feel like getting into this.
HAVE YOU EVER... [Said "I love you" and meant it?] yes [Been to New York?] yes [Been to Florida?] no [California?] no [Hawaii?] no [Mexico?] no [China? Japan?] no [Canada?] no [Danced naked?] yeah
EITHER OR... [Apples or bananas?] neither [Red or blue?] red [WalMart or Target?] Target, if I'm backed into a corner [Math or English?] English [High school or college?] college
Future [do you want to get married] maybe [if so, what age would you like to be married] I don't know [Who will you marry] I don't know [what do you want to do when you grow up] be a debaser, or a rock n' roll star/pop icon, whichever comes first
The Cure's Curiosa Festival may not be perfect, but it's the best package tour this summer has to offer.With two stages, the festival provided six straight hours of music, with no more than ten minutes between bands, and few acts that were a complete waste (Interpol and The Rapture).The bands were not exactly directly influenced by The Cure, as was promoted, but most of them seemed to have some value of their own.
Merriweather Post Pavilion served as the perfect venue for the bill on August 6.Set in the middle of the woods, the bands of the second stage played atop the lawn, underneath trees, in a setting that seemed a lot more appropriate to the word "festival" than the parking lot of Nissan Pavilion.Unlike other traveling summer festivals, Curiosa kept vendors to a minimum, and while there were a few hippies selling jewelry and Bob Marley tapestries, the day was clearly about the music.
The crowd that nearly filled Merriweather that day was far different from that of The Cure's usual tours.There were still girls in black velvet dresses and there were still guys in poet shirts, but there were just as many hipsters and wannabe-weird preppy girls in Vans and trucker caps.It's not as though The Cure aren't mainstream, but these people didn't feel like they belonged there; it was like the jocks were crashing the party of the Gay/Straight alliance, but, for some reason, wanted to be a part of it.This may have had to do with MTV bands like Interpol and Muse, but it made the whole idea of the festival seem less significant.
The second stage provided a handful of good performances, although nothing to amaze.The stage opened with an impressively energetic set from possibly the best looking band of the day, Head Automatic.Described as, "an electronic cock-rock band," by lead singer, Darryl Palumbo, the band spent half an hour making the audience dance, pump their fists, and bang their heads, while they pulled out all of the traditional rock star kicks and struts.It was hard to decipher their style exactly, with the members varying in looks from glam rockers to rockabilly daddies and hipsters; and their songs varying from almost hardcore to nearly dance club music.Either way, it's rare to see the very first band of a festival not get booed by the audience and they even managed to get them on their side.
Opening the mainstage were avant-garde Scottish rockers (if you could call them rockers), Mogwai.Their stunning attention to the detail of their ultra lo-fi music is hard not to find beautiful, yet it is also hard to find interesting to look at on a bright, sunny day.The group crawled through half an hour of instrumentals while the small audience sat in boredom.It seems ""un hip" and close-minded to say, but there are very few people who want to stare at a bunch of greasy Brits inching through their dark and musically deep tracks in a shed in the middle of the afternoon.It's sad to see good music go to waste, but this tour was just clearly not the right bill for Mogwai.
Unfortunately, the mainstage had even less than high-quality music accompanied by low-quality performance values to offer for the rest of the day, before The Cure took the stage.The Rapture's synth-driven, ultra-loosely composed dance music didn't provide for much, other than a cheap laugh and while Joy Division tribute band, Interpol, did produce a nice sound, it's hard to be even a little bit intrigued by music's most blatant rip-off artists.
Back at the second stage, more pretty good-good artists provided entertaining sets to kill time before The Cure.Cooper Temple Clause's run-of-the-mill Brit Pop wasn't the most interesting thing on earth, but at least their style is one that never quite gets old.Auf der Maur's performance was clearly the highlight of the second stage.The former bassist for Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins produced a half-hour-long set of darkly hard rocking tracks from her solo debut, including the radio hit "Followed The Waves."Melissa [Auf der Maur] is clearly the most attractive artist on this tour and when she's onstage it's obvious that she means business [dressed like a cross between a 70's rock star and a cowgirl], but it seems that she hasn't quite mastered the art of taking control of the stage yet and her captivation of the audience is still a little weak.It's disappointing to see such a talent looking a little out of place but, in time, she'll be blowing away the live shows of any of the bands on the tour.Closing the second stage was the biggest band in the UK for the time being, Muse [who actually managed to get Morrissey booed at a festival (Robert surely would have been proud)].Although Muse's style of Brit Pop is irritatingly inoffensive and radio friendly [reminiscent of Remy Zero, even though they're not Brit Pop] and vocalist Matt Bellamy has a voice annoyingly similar to Thom Yorke's, they produced one of the biggest spectacle's of the night that had about ten thousand people crowding around the small stage protruding from the forest.Nearly deafening roars and flashing waves of red and blue lights covered the area, making it feel more like an arena than the quaint setup that it was.
The Cure took the stage only moments after Muse had finished, as fans were still madly rushing into the pavilion, bathed in blue lights while the opening notes of "Plainsong" began to play.Even after nearly thirty years of touring, it still feels unreal to see a being such as Robert Smith (vocalist/guitarist) in the flesh, face painted with bright red lipstick and half-inch-thick black eyeliner, looking just as he does on all of the album sleeves and posters; he is truly "Goth" personified.Unfortunately, Smith's angelic, trademark voice was not present that night, but a few off-notes and slip-ups are certainly not going to ruin a rock n' roll performance.
"Plainsong" was followed by "Labyrinth" and "The Figurehead", getting the show off to a slow, mellow start before going into the more aggressive "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea".It was surprising to hear so many big hits to follow, from a band known for playing long sets of few singles.This included all of the 80's Goth anthems ("A Night Like This", "Lovesong", "One Hundred Years", "A Strange Day", "Disintegration"), along with some of their peppier and more dance-club friendly hits: "InBetween Days", "Push", and "The Walk".
Surprisingly, the band didn't seem to be pushing the new album, The Cure, with the set list, including only four tracks in the bulk of the show."alt.end", the album's highlight, was included, although tracks like "Lost", "Before Three" and "The Promise" were forgotten.The album's material has a much harder and angrier edge than anything else the band has ever done, making it ideal for a live situation, but they didn't take advantage of that aspect of it at Merriweather.
With a lineup that has been fairly steady for a good few years now, the current version of The Cure was sounding sharper than almost ever before, even putting a slightly new and pleasant spin on a lot of the old classics.
If the number of hits played in The Cure's set was surprising, then the setlist for the encores was downright shocking.The first encore was filled with back-to-back top 40, more than danceable hits that had the audience shaking their hips, moving their feet and nodding their heads.80's standards like "Close To Me", "Lovecats" and "Why Can't I Be You" put the crowd into the best mood of the night.Alongside was "Friday I'm In Love", the guiltiest pleasure of their catalogue, and a shotty rendition of "The End Of The World", which clearly displayed Robert's vocal troubles.
The performance ended with a second encore of "Just Like Heaven" and "Boys Don't Cry".Although these tracks were plenty enjoyable, it felt as though the band was beating the audience over the head with their hits at that point.
The set lasted for just under two hours, a severely shortened performance compared to the nearly three hour sets that fans have come to expect from them.None the less, the upbeat, fun nature of most of the numbers made up for the length.The Cure have never been known for over-the-top stage shows or any real energy at all onstage, so even though many of the songs played were radio hits, it gave fans something different, and a little bit more fun, than they could have expected.
It was unknown whether or not a band like The Cure could pull off a summer festival of their own, but by the end of the night, it was obvious that they had done it.Like The Cure themselves, the day will be remembered for a collection of musicians superior to that which fills most of the mainstream, but not necessarily the biggest, loudest, or most spectacular presentation of that music.
Kiss' July 24 performance at Bristow, Virginia's Nissan Pavilion was filmed for an upcoming DVD... which is why it was strange that the band threw out the majority of their live staples; anthems like "Cold Gin", "She", Let Me Go Rock 'N Roll", "King Of The Night Time World", "Do You Love Me", and "Calling Dr. Love"; in favor of rarely played classics, like "Love Her All I Can", "Got To Choose", "All The Way", and "Makin' Love".Making it even stranger, was the fact that, while a lot of dates of the Rock The Nation Tour sold well under 10,000 tickets, that night's attendance was over 20,000, and that was the night the band chose to experiment.While it seemed that many of the lesser fans in attendance didn't appreciate this, they didn't seem to be terribly disappointed either.Kiss are still one of [yes, they've finally slipped from the top spot] greatest live acts in the world and it would be hard for them to disappoint.For the bigger fans at the concert, this was the most interesting set they've been able to hear for well over a decade.
The only thing holding Kiss back at this point is their refusal to take off their makeup and costumes.While Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thayer (lead guitar) are more than sufficient players, it's more than a bit of a put-off to see them playing the parts of Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums).They're still the greatest rock n' roll band in the world and they can still pull off just about all of their fist-pumping anthems; is it really the makeup that keeps the fans coming back?
To open the show, Kiss scrapped their traditional opening tracks ("DetroitRockCity" or "Deuce") and came out with a slightly rusty version of "Love Gun".That was followed by "Deuce", which really got the heads banging.
Although they claimed otherwise before the tour began, the group's stage set was just about the same as it's been for the past eight years or so: metal staircases on either side of the drum riser, TV screens covering the stage, a giant video screen, and more pyrotechnics than anyone could hope for.It all seems to be a winning formula, but it would be nice to see something different after all these years.
Most of previously mentioned "rarely played classics" were played early in the night and the arena anthems, such as "Detroit Rock City" and "Shout It Out Loud", were saved for the end.Somewhere in the middle of this was where the highlights came in: "Parasite", "I Want You", which quickly turns from a tender ballad into a fast-paced, fist pumping rock n' roll jam, "I Love It Loud", and "100,000 Years".Unfortunately, "Makin' Love was extended to an annoying length with Paul pausing throughout the song to scream for more from the audience, sounding like a less haggard Ozzy Osbourne.One of the few seemingly unnecessary songs played was the title track to Psycho Circus, the comeback album for the original members, who are no longer even there; the song is far from a classic and it's something that fans have had to hear thrown into the middle of every Kiss set for the past six years.
With the exception of Ace's special guitars that smoke and shoot rockets, all of the usual stunts were still there.Paul [Stanley; vocals, rhythm guitar]was taken out into the middle of the audience for the [dare it be said] disco classic, "I Was Made For Lovin' You", Gene [Simmons; bass, vocals] breathed fire during one of the band's more metal songs, "War Machine" [not "Firehouse"], and of course, Gene flew over the heads of the audience while spitting blood, although for one of the first times ever, it was during "Unholy", one of their bigger hits from the non-makeup years, instead of "God Of Thunder", which was not even played.
It's sad to say that the night didn't end on a high point.The encore began with Paul going off on a mindless rant about the USA before going into "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II", a ballad off of Revenge that makes "Beth" sound poetic.The nearly official anthem for rock n' roll, "Rock And Roll All Nite", closed the set as a wall of confetti clouded the stage.
All in all, it was a great night.It may be more than time for the guys to take off the 7 inch platform boots, spandex, rhinestones, and body armor, but it's still just about an impossible task to top a Kiss show.Paul's, the Starchild, on-stage charisma and high-pitched squeal to keep the women screaming and Gene is just as demonic looking, in or out of costume, and always manages lure in fans of all ages.When the two of them strut across the stage, jump into the air, and assault the audience with their beautifully simplistic tales of sex and excess, it's hard for anyone to resist.This should probably be the last tour that the band does (actually, their Farewell Tour should have been), but it's unlikely that they would stop this rock n' roll money-making machine anytime soon... and they don't give a fuck what anyone thinks about that.
Reviewing The Start when they're in the Baltimore/DC area seems useless at this point.With a band averaging three shows a year in the market, anyone who hasn't seem them yet just doesn't get it. They're not only the best band on the Sunset Strip, but the quintessential power pop band, and they've been touring their asses off for the past two years, bringing their half-hour, punk rock style, powerhouse performances to just about every city across the country about half a dozen times over.
The Start's July 22nd appearance in CharmCity was the second of the summer, although their first time playing The Talking Head (the old Ottobar), a much smaller venue than those played on past trips.There were about thirty fans in attendance during their set, although very little commotion aside from a few bigger fans right up front."This feels like a house party... except you're all looking at me... instead of dancing with me," commented lead vocalist, Aimee Echo, in the middle of the set.
While The Start are getting more punk rock with age (getting dropped from Geffen Records and signing with an indie label), their style seems to be maturing.They were starting to look like elegant hipsters at The Talking Head, dressed entirely in black, save Erick's [Sanger, bassist] button-down shirt.Jamie's [Miller, guitarist] famous dance moves even seemed lost; instead of spastically jumping, spinning, and shuffling in circles all night, he simply stepped back and forth to the beat of music, looking far more sophisticated, but far less interesting; that's okay though, their music speaks for itself and Aimee has more than enough energy to make up for it.She was just as playful as ever: dancing, banging her head, and literally reaching into the crowd for support from those big fans up front.Aimee has everything a band needs in a front woman; she's sassy, sexy, energetic, has control over the crowd, and can kick ass with the best of them; she's like Gwen Stefani, if Gwen Stefani were cool.
After more than a year together, the current lineup of the band is sounding more solid than they ever have; they even seem to be putting new spins on older tracks; Jamie and Erick's Hardcore-style backup vocals on "Hi-Flyer" made the track sound darker and heavier than ever.It was surprising to see that, with a new album (Initiation) only about a month away, the group didn't play more new material.There were only a couple of unreleased songs played and a few less common tracks added to the set, such as the morbid ballad, "Trinity".The usual "classics" (yes, a very loose use of the word) were played: "Gorgeous" and "Shakedown!", which usually finds it's way as a rallying song to either open or close the set, but that night found it's way, seemingly lost, in the middle of the set).The Death Via Satellite ep was nearly played all the way through and, as usual, the title track, along with "The 1234" served as the catchiest moments of the nights, having even new fans [who didn't know the lyrics] dancing along.
Unfortunately, many regular attendees [of The Start's local shows] didn't make it to The Talking Head that night and there weren't enough newcomers for the band to make any major impact on the Baltimore scene, but the city more than appreciates yet another sensational performance from the best power pop band in the world (yes, it had to be restated) and it will be less than a month before they're back in town, rocking the Ottobar once again, hopefully, this time, to a bigger crowd.
For the first time in four years, Ozzfest's stop at Nissan Pavilion was not plagued with sweltering heat and unbearable sunshine, but instead drizzling rain and cool, breezy, comfortable whether.This may have been the reason for the lack of excitement at this year's event as well; there were fewer arrests, less nudity, and even Slayer couldn't get the blood flying in the mosh pit.
While this years lineup is weighted on real Metal acts like Dimmu Borgir, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, who were on the mainstage, the second stage was comprised of just as many Hardcore outfits as Nu Metal bands, bringing a whole new demographic into the mix.There were just as many kids in tight T-shirts and trucker caps as those in UFO's and fishnets.On top of that, there was also the usual batch of Southern metal heads, making for the most diverse group of fans Ozzfest has ever seen.
The day started with a bit of rain and a cloudy sky as emerging Hardcore act Every Time I Die took the second stage at .Although lead vocalist Keith Buckley complained of how early it was throughout the set, the band played on as if they did this everyday.With the chaotic energy of any Hardcore group, they spastically danced across the stage, jumped off of amps, and screamed till their vocal cords bled as the young, mostly unfamiliar crowd slam danced along, not paying much attention to the music, but using any excuse they could to mosh.Their music may have gone under appreciated, but anyone who can get a pit going before ten in the morning has got to be proud of themselves.
Up second for their twenty-minute shot at acceptance was Italian Gothic Metal band, Lacuna Coil.Dressed in matching black shorts and button-down shirts [except for female vocalist, Christina Scabbia], they resembled an army as they took the stage to perform songs for their latest release, Comalies, which many younger Ozzfest attendees had already taken a liking to.While Every Time I Die just seem to want to have fun onstage, Lacuna Coil reached out for more of an audience response and had their help singing songs like "Swamped", "Tight Rope", and "Heaven's A Lie"; there was far less moshing and far more fist pumping for this set.Although they may be losing all credibility with their US radio play and comparisons to Evanesence, but Lacuna Coil are still exploiting that darker side of metal more than anyone else has managed to in recent years.
Lacuna Coil was followed by OrangeCounty natives Bleeding Through, a fairly typical, attractive Hardcore band covered in black slacks, tight shirts, and ink.Although they were probably the most out-of-place band of the day, they kept the crowd going with Brandan Schiepatti's terrifying growls and somersaults across the stage.It must be strange for bands like this to be playing festivals in front of thousands of people, as opposed to the church basements and dirty punk rock clubs that they're used to.
After Bleeding Through the bands of the second stage became more generic and less interesting; with more Hardcore bands like Unearth, Atreyu, Throwdown, Hatebreed; the Death Metal of Darkest Hour; radio rockers Magna-Fi; and standard-sounding Ozzfest bands such as God Forbid, Devil Driver, and Lamb of God.
The only point at which the second stage got a second wind was during Otep's set.The Tairrie B wannabe poet/rapper/screamer/front woman, Otep Shamaya, graced the crowd with a rambunctious set of some of her new works, along with a few older pieces, like "My Confession".Her shtick may be a bit cheesy, but a gorgeous woman throwing a tantrum onstage while howling her poetry and hearing the sounds of a coffee shop in hell is always a winning combination.
As all of this was going on, the Village Of The Damned (Ozzfest's version of a fair) was offering all of its usual attractions, such as rock climbing walls, basketball hoops, autograph tents [many of which, fans had to buy $15 CD's in order to get into and meet their favorite bands], body painting stations [where girls could get their flabby torsos accentuated with rainbow colors], a Playstation trailer [in case fans were jonesing for some good time on their couch back at home], and a tattooing shop on wheels (nothing needs to be said about this one).Year after year the setup gets bigger and somehow less interesting.With lines that are half a mile long and trendy kids weaving in and out of everyone, it felt like a cross between Hot Topic and Toys R' Us.
The second stage, along with most of the festivities, came to a close at around four o' clock, when much overhyped headliners Slipknot took the stage in front of the better part of the ampitheatre's audience.The quintessential Hot Topic band performed with a scaled down set this year, as opposed to the massive pyrotechniques and theatrics they brought with them the last time they were on the tour [on the mainstage].Even though their fanbase has shrunk dramatically since then, they still seemed to be the highlight of the day for many young teens.
The real Metal began just before five when Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society opened up the mainstage.Although Zakk (arguably the most impressive rock guitarist in the world) didn't get to play with Ozzy this year, his guitar expertise was still heard on a handful of his own songs.The bearded, beer guzzling, madman shredded through a number of tracks off of The Blessed Hellride and the anthemic "Berserkers" without a hint of humbleness.Unfortunately, there was no time for extended solos in this thirty minute set, but the prehistoric looking axe man did manage to just about fill the pavilion with screaming fans before leaving the stage for Metal/Hardcore crossover group Superjoint Ritual.
Lead by former Pantera and Down frontman, Phil Anselmo, Superjoint Ritual came out and threw a bit of hardcore to the prominently older fans that filled the pavilion.Phil was just as cocky as ever and managed to lead his band, along with the audience through thirty minutes of their freshly gritty music.It's hard to tell how much the crowd enjoyed this because Anselmo just about made everyone in attendance bang their heads and pump their fists, just as he was doing.They didn't seem to leave a huge impression on anyone, but it's rare that an oldschool metal head could front a band that plays something that's not quite for metal heads, but more for "the kids" and still sound as relevant as ever [not that he has ever sounded especially relevant].
Dimmu Borgir's typical, theatric and overly dramatic Metal didn't fair especially well after the sun had broken through the clouds and was shining down on tanners covering the lawn.Although their music is meant to sound like the soundtrack of the apocalypse, it all just seemed silly on a day that had become so sunny.
Although they've never been terribly interesting, Slayer is without a doubt the archetype for real Metal bands and their fifty-minute set sent the fans running back into the pavilion.Even though they are supposed to be exactly the type of band to represent Ozzfest, they seemed quite out of their element.Their infamous mosh pits were nowhere to be seen; fans simply stood and threw their fists in the air, and the majority of them were bound by seats.It looked nothing like the anarchy that a Slayer performance normally evokes and the monotonous, thundering sound of their interchangeable death Metal anthems just was not enough to keep them entertaining.
Even though Black Sabbath was closing out the night, Judas Priest were clearly the headliners of Ozzfest 2004, with a seventy-five minute performance and an arena sized stage set.It had been twelve years since lead singer Rob Halford was with the band and they hadn't sounded as good since.Metal catwalks lined the stage, while a giant painting of an eyeball served as the backdrop, although the band's outfits would have been more than sufficient for visual stimulation.They took the stage covered in black leather and metal studs; Halford even had at least half a dozen leather trench coats which rotated throughout the performance.Judas Priest may have not been the hardest of all the bands on the bill, but there was no question about their Metal credibility.During their set, they shredded through classics like "Living After Midnight", "Breaking The Law", "Heading Out To The Highway", and "You've Got Another Thing Coming" while Halford covered the length of the stage a dozen times over and fans almost mechanically pumped their fists along with him.He even provided the day's top moment, when he rode out onto stage for the encore on his motorcycle, inciting cheers louder than those of Backstreet Boys fans.Even well into his middle age, Rob Halford proved to be the showman of the day without any shadow of a doubt and also proved that he still had vocal cords that could top anyone's in attendance.They may not be as scary as Slayer or as morbid as Dimmu Borgir, but they didn't have to be... they're Judas fuckin' Priest and they didn't have anything to prove to anyone that day other than the fact that they could still rip out the same pounding British Heavy Metal that they created twenty-five years ago.
It's hard to have to admit that Black Sabbath, the founders of Heavy Metal, actually put on a disappointing performance.This was not a part of any big reunion, like the previous years that they were on Ozzfest, but seemed to be simply a last minute attempt at rounding out the bill of metal bands with the kings of Metal... and it just didn't look like their hearts were in it this time around.Their hour-long set had no frills, no surprises, and no real emotion in it; they ran through a shortened set of most of their biggest hits and then left the stage without leaving any big impressions.They certainly didn't carry the weigh of "headliner" very well.
Bill [Ward, drummer], Geezer [Butler, bassist], Tony [Iommi, guitarist], and Ozzy [Osbourne, lead vocalist] took the stage backed by the same bland video screen that had been hanging at the back of the stage all day.As always, they opened with their anti-war anthem "War Pigs" (still possibly the greatest Metal song of all-time) and followed up with the bass-driven "N.I.B.", getting the audience into a slightly more frenzied mood.Although the songs sounded as good as ever from a technical standpoint[other than Ozzy's voice, which still sounds more than a bit off], they were lacking in emotion.The band just seemed to stand onstage and go through the motions, without even taking the time to enjoy themselves.Ozzy didn't even bring out the fire hose or try any of his quirky stage moves, like the frog hop.
The rest of the set was comprised of more radio hits, like "Faeries Wear Boots", "Black Sabbath", "Children Of The Grave", and Beavis And Butt-Head's anthem, "Iron Man".It was a bit surprising to hear "Into The Void" and "Snowblind" [a beautiful ode to cocaine] instead of the slightly more popular "Electric Funeral" and "Sweet Leaf" [a beautiful ode to a slightly less interesting drug].
As could have been expected, Sabbath closed the night with an encore of "Paranoid".They came, they went, they played all of the songs that one could expect them to, there were no giant burning crosses, no special guests, no massive gargoyle statues, no pyro, nothing special.Although it seems great to be able to see Black Sabbath again, they're starting to look like another washed-up rock n' roll band on a Time Life compilation.
So this year's Ozzfest was not quite the spectacle that everyone thought it would be.It may have been due to the weather, but for so much Metal, it was a lot more calm than usual.There were few awful moments, but there were also no amazing moments, putting the event into the scary category of being mediocre.It does not however sound like this is going to be the final Ozzfest and it's hard to say what next year's will need; maybe less diversity, maybe fewer sponsors, or maybe just less comfortable weather.
Even with the concert industry suffering this summer, Van Halen's reunion tour [with Sammy Hagar] is still managing to sell out the better part of major arenas just about every night, although, unfortunately for Eddie [Van Halen], with Velvet Revolver finally up and running and Black Label Society on Ozzfest this year, he will have to settle for being the third best guitarist currently on the road.
The band's June 25th performance at WashingtonDC's MCICenter proved to be a night of equally wonderful highs and painfully dull lows.In between rock n' roll classics like "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Best Of Both World" were unbearably long, typical solos and a handful of new songs that nobody went to hear.
The show began on possibly its lowest point, with a horrific rendition of "Jump".Maybe Sammy's becoming more comfortable singing [David Lee] Roth's songs, but that may not always be for the best.His tequila stained vocal cords made the eighties anthem sound like drunken karaoke and seeing a slightly overweight guy in matching yellow pants and t-shirt (Hagar) running around and pathetically trying to mimic Roth's jump kicks only lessened the appeal.
The night quickly got better with a rendition of "Runaround" that sounded just as solid as the studio version on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.Just about all of the night's high points came during songs from Sammy's years in the band, including "Poundcake"; the heartfelt ballad, "Dreams", during which Sammy walked across the lighting rack over top of the audience; the perfect arena rock tune, "Top Of The World", which had Sammy descending from a staircase on the giant video screen embedded in a huge mine shaped, spiked sphere that served as the backdrop for the show (that's right, there was no light-up "VH" logo on this tour); and a tear-jerking performance of "Right Now", which closed the set while clips of George Bush were interspersed with the original music video on the stage behind them.Sammy's vocals on all of these tracks sounded just as perfect as ever, which should be no surprise, considering the fact that he's been playing them every night with the Waborita's for the past eight years."Unchained" was clearly Hagar's best effort on a Roth song [sounding no worse than Roth himself], but his take on "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" was nothing to be ashamed of either.Mistakes of the set list included three new songs; "It's About Time", "Learning To See", "Up For Breakfast"; and the "soundtrack song," "Human's Being", which took up the time for songs that should've been played, like "Finish what Ya Started", "Judgment Day", and power ballads "Love Walks In" and "Can't Stop Lovin' You".In fact, the entire Balance album, Hagar's last effort with the band, was ignored.
Although they're a bit older, Van Halen still proved to be the ultimate party band, having drinks between each song and running around the ramps of the stage like madmen, trying to get the audience to join their party.Sammy Hagar seemed to spend as much time signing autographs for fans as he did singing, missing a few vocals because he was messing around and having fun.With any normal band this could be considered a fault, but for Van Halen, it's what one would hope for.
The audience did their fair share of partying as well, drinking themselves into oblivion throughout the performance and using the new songs and extended solos as opportunities to continue the flow of alcohol.
Sammy's solo was the only of the night to not feel excruciating.He used his time to do acoustic versions of "Eagles Fly" and "Deeper Kinda Love", two of the better known songs from his solo career.Much of the audience seemed bored and sat down for this acoustic part of the evening, but compared to the other member's (who don't have solo careers) solo's, it was heaven.Alex's [Van Halen, drummer] got a surprisingly large response, considering how difficult it is to watch someone band sticks around for five minutes.For Michael Anthony's solo, the bassist came armed with his trademark Jack Daniel's four-string, which didn't do much for the audience and ended more quickly than any of the others.Eddie Van Halen's twenty-minute guitar solo that ended with his son, Wolfgang, joining him onstage to play along, was undoubtedly the most unnecessary part of the night.Maybe after cancer, losing his wife, and sitting around and playing video games for seven years, Eddie needs to serve his ego again, but after ten minutes of the most clichéd and typical guitar solo on earth, even his biggest supporters got bored and took a bathroom break.
It's surprising that after so many years Alex and Eddie (Michael Anthony has been playing on-and-off with Sammy's band) are still so fluent with their instruments, but they were nearly as impressive as they were twenty years ago, in their prime.They did, however, look like homeless people, in old, stained jeans and facial stubble, but it can only be hoped that they have that under control the next time around.
After about two hours, the performance ended with two encores.The first of the two had some of the bigger hits of Roth-era Van Halen, with The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and "Panama".These two fast paced, fist pumpers have never been a problem for Hagar to pull off, although it was rather strange to highlight them during an encore.The final encore presented "When It's Love", only the third power ballad of the night; it left fans on a happy and comfortable note, but whenever a night is ended with a ballad, it tends to leave the audience wanting more... but they'll just have to wait.
It's hard to say what's going to happen to Van Halen after this.Many thought that they wouldn't even make it through the first leg of this tour, although on June 25th the guys appeared to be having the time of their lives.They're obviously still working out a few kinks, but it's clear that they haven't lost it.Fans have to simply hope that the band will make it through this summer and beyond because, while this set seems to have quite a few downfalls, another tour could prove to be the ultimate Van Halen show.
If June 22nd's show at the Club in WashingtonDC is any indication, Skinny Puppy's first tour in twelve years is not the spectacle that could have been expected.Despite a relatively massive stage set [9 TV screens, one giant video screen] and props [buckets of fake blood and sand, along with a water gun that spewed blood, and numerous costume changes], frontman Nivek Ogre just doesn't have the stage presence that he used to.Even while stomping around the stage in loosely choreographed dance moves, he failed to grab the audience and have them embrace him as the pop icon that he is.All of the silly little dances that he does appear to be to amuse no one but himself; he wasn't looking to the audience for support.The reaction was one of interest, but it was obvious to everyone in the concert hall that they had no part in what was going on that night.The tour seems to be for the band to merely indulge themselves with the fact that they can still sell a thousand tickets or more on any given night.
The performance lasted for an hour and a half and included a mix of newer tracks, like "Neuwerld" and "Empte", alongside classics like "WORLOCKed", "Smothered Hope", and "Harsh Stone White", accompanied by giant video clips of George W. Bush, Hitler, mountain landscapes, concentration camps, and murder victims, which backed the crazed-looking Ogre for the duration of the set.It sounds like quite a site... which is why it's a shame that it just didn't work.With an Industrial band like Skinny Puppy, it's hard to know whether the crowd showing up each night it going to be looking for a kick ass rock n' roll show or a dance party and the Club's crowd that night was definitely leaning more towards a dance party.Skinny Puppy's music provided a great backdrop for those folks, sounding identical to their studio sound, but those looking to Ogre as frontman and a showman were let down.Even with such a big stage production, it was hard to keep from getting bored by about half-an-hour into the show and it was hard to take Ogre seriously for any portion of the night.
With a style of music progressing and digressing as quickly as punk rock has, it is not uncommon that many fans of that genre know nothing of its roots.Hot Topic shoppers with mohawks and studded leather jackets talk about "old school punk", like the Ramones and C.B.G.B.'s and The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Damned and the second British Invasion.They never, however, seem to talk about Detroit or the '68 Democratic convention, or the band that made both of them famous [in the world of rock n' roll], arguably the very first punk rock band... the MC5.Now, after more than thirty years, the three surviving members of the band (Wayne Kramer, guitar; Michael Davis, bass; Dennis Thompson, drums) are touring together and it is far from the spectacle that it should be.This should be the biggest tour of the summer, they should be selling out thousands of tickets every night, the guys from Rage Against The Machine and At The Drive-In should be following them around, giving them felatio in return for their careers, the gods of punk rock should be able to take a sigh of relief... but barely any real notice is taken.
On June 18, the new incarnation of the band, DKT/MC5, played WashingtonDC's Black Cat, a modest venue mostly known for indie rock.There were hardly any fresh faces to be seen in the crowd a few hundred strong; mostly middle-aged couples out on "date night", trying to reminisce, with a few younger fans who had probably never seen a real punk rock band in the flesh.What was in store for these concertgoers was not so much a reunion, but a celebration of the MC5... and one that would have made those gods of punk rock proud.
Without original vocalist Rob Tyner and original guitarist Fred Smith on hand, their spots were filled by Mark Arm (of Mudhoney), Evan Dando (formerly of The Lemonheads), and Marshall Crenshaw.Arm and Dando each took turns with the lead vocals [although Arm had far more turns than Dando] and Crenshaw made for the second guitarist and contributed some vocals as well, including lead on the show opener, "Tonight".
Mark Arm and Evan Dando both did respectable jobs as frontman, although they both looked more like Jim Morrison than Rob Tyner, intentionally stumbling across the stage (Dando even took a staged fall) and keeping their energy to a minimum in exchange for deep, "poetic" looks as they casually strolled back and forth, apparently pondering their shoes.This didn't hurt the performance, however, it just kept it more mature than was necessary.
The majority of the lead vocals were done by Mark Arm, who took tracks like "Come Together", "Over And Over", "The Human Being Lawnmower", "Starship", and even "I Believe To My Soul", by Ray Charles.His high point, however, was "Call Me Animal", which was when the crowd first began to get rowdy.This favorite off of Back In The USA started the slam dancing that continued through the majority of the performance.Arm's low point was "Sister Anne", which he messed the lyrics up to repeatedly, until he just about gave up on it as Wayne Kramer and everyone on the side of the stage laughed at him.Although he must have been embarrassed by this, it wasn't any major setback and he still came out as the top vocalist of the night.
Evan Dando got to do far fewer tracks than Arm, although he got a few of the more fun numbers.He started his performance for the evening with a medley of the very upbeat and poppy "Shakin' Street" and "High School", which was followed by the painfully sensual "Looking At You".He returned later for the equally bouncy, "Teenage Lust".Unfortunately, Dando didn't quite have the MC5 vibe down like Arm did; his inflections seemed to be off, giving the songs less of a punch and a more lazy sound, much like the early-mid 90's alt. rock that he's familiar with.
Although Arm, Dando, and Crenshaw were the ones with something to prove that night, it was original MC5 members, Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, and Dennis Thompson who seemed to take the night's music most seriously.Even with the new additions to the lineup, it was the tightness and near perfection of the original members that kept the classics sounding so true.Dennis Thompson, who was probably more into the music than anyone that night, pounded away on his drums with the passion of a seventeen year old in a garage band and didn't miss a single beat all night.Wayne Kramer, however, was obviously leading the band, as he strutted and shuffled across the stage and did all of the talking for the night.Thompson and Davis were phenomenal players, but had been out of the spotlight for too long to match Kramer's stage presence or showmanship.
After playing for well over an hour, the band returned to the stage for two separate encores.The first was an ultra-extended version ofKick Out The Jams' "Rocket Reducer No.62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)", which had Wayne Kramer doing his best to orchestrate the audience into different sections to sing different portions of the chorus, which inevitably fell to pieces the minute he put his hands back on his guitar [but that's okay, everyone was having a great time anyway].
The night ended on the first especially upbeat (sounding) [although very depressing] number in a while, with Back In The USA's "American Ruse".
The whole performance lasted around and hour and a half and, although no one there had the energy of Rob Tyner, the songs were just as inspired as ever, making for a great night of rock n' roll.It was probably the first time many of the youngsters there had ever been to a true punk rock show and it was probably the first time in well over a decade that any of the middle aged fans had been in any kind of mosh pit.The tour may be far under hyped, but it was just about an unbelievable event to see occurring before one's eyes for those that were there.
It seems safe to say that a band has reached the mainstream when fans are showing up to their performances accompanied by their parents.This was the case on Sunday, June 13 at The Black Cat, where dark-wave'rs, Rasputina, finished off their US tour, making them possibly the only "mainstream" band in the world to use cellos in place of guitars.The famous indie rock club seems like somewhat of an odd choice of venue for a recital of such elegance (well... sort of).Instead of deliberately disheveled looking indie rockers staring holes into their shoes, the concert hall's stage was graced with gothic maidens Melora Creager (vocals, cello) and Zoe Keating (cello, vocals) [dressed in renaissance style garb], along with Jonathon TeBeest (drums).
The performance began with some of the group's harder, faster numbers, such as crowd pleasers "AntiqueHighHeelRedDollShoes", "Howard Hughes", and their strangely impressive cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Rock".The audience reaction was surprisingly appropriate; the young girls filling the club quietly mouthed the lyrics along with Melora, but only got loud between songs, when they politely, but emphatically clapped.Even in the strange setting, it was clear that this was not quite a rock show.
As the night moved on, the set got more mellow, with more tender and easygoing number, like "My Orphanage" and "Secret Message".Although this change was expected, it seemed to bore the audience slightly, who's level of excitement dropped drastically.
A lot of the high points of the night came from tracks off of the group's latest effort, Frustration Plantation, such as "If Your Kisses Can't Hold The Man You Love", "Wicked Dickie", "Possum Of The Grotto", and "Momma Was An Opium Smoker."These especially quirky [even for Rasputina] tunes are quickly becoming audience favorites.
Before the end of their hour-long set, Rasputina went back to a some more fast-paced numbers (including their cover of Heart's "Barracuda", which is far superior to the original) and finished off with "High On Life", another new song.It wasn't long before the group was back for a five-song encore that ended the night with their cover of the slightly-too-cheesy "Bad Moon Rising".
When Rasputina started out, many looked at them as more of a gimmick than a real band, but in a surprising twist, a massive group of kids across the country seemed to enjoy the clever, almost genius, nature of the band.Melora's excessively (in a good way) silly, yet still melancholy songwriting and cute little rants about life [and anything else she feels like talking about] make Rasputina's performances far more entertaining than just about any other cello based band that one is likely to find, yet it still slightly lacked the energy and emotion that one could hope for at a good concert but, then again, the majority of the audience looked like they were there more for a fashion show or popularity contest than the actual concert.
It's been years in the making; it's the best thing to happen to rock n' roll in nearly a decade; and on May 27th at Washington DC's 9:30 Club it was St. Patrick's Day, New Year's Eve, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one; Velvet Revolver reminded a sold out crowd of just over a thousand fans what it means to kick ass.In a time when supergroups seem to be one of the biggest jokes of rock music, this lineup, consisting of Scott Weiland (ex-Stone Temple Pilots), Slash (ex-Guns N' Roses, Slash's Snakepit), Duff McKagan (ex-Guns N' Roses, Neurotic Outsiders, Loaded), Matt Sorum (ex- Guns N' Roses, The Cult, Slash's Snakepit, Neurotic Outsiders), and Dave Kushner (ex-Suicidal Tendencies), showed an audience of all ages what only an LA born band could.Their 75 minute, no frills set looked like something that would be reserved for a special corner of Hell [or Heaven, whatever's preferred].
Shockingly, Scott Weiland stood out as the shining stage personality in this band that is essentially a modern version of Guns N' Roses.Dressed in tight red, flared corduroys, a sleeveless t-shirt, scarf, and vest (most of which were stripped off throughout the course of the night); he had the sleaze rock look down to a T and the way that he moved across the stage with his hands on his hips, constantly spinning in circles, and stomping across the tops of the speakers lining the front of the stage; made him look like an angel of rock n' roll.There's no one in the game who looks like him and he was playing it up to the full degree at the Club, not wanting to look bad in front of the former G'N'R legends.
Scott's vocals on the G'N'R classics played were nearly perfect."It's So Easy" sounded just as good as it ever did with Axl and got the crowd into a frenzy like nothing else that night.Even the stone-faced security guards cemented in front of the stage were singing along."Used To Love Her", played during the first encore, was nothing for Scott to be embarrassed by either and "Mr. Brownstone" [played during the second encore] was not quite what it used to be, but was more than worth it to be heard being sung by a real life rock n' roll junkie.
Although Scott was the one in the spotlight that night, it was Guns N' Roses shirts that filled the audience that night and it was Slash, Duff, and Matt who were sending shivers down people's spines.While Scott may have had control of the audience, Slash's (who was decked out in traditional, skintight black leather pants, tucked into New Rock's covered in chains) flawless guitar work was clearly leading the band's sound, complete with bluesy solos and "talking guitar" riffs.Meanwhile, Matt and Duff were providing the pounding rhythm's to which the audience pumped their fists.On choice occasions when Slash and Duff would grind into each other while playing it was hard not to be taken over by the perfection that was Guns N' Roses.
In the same vein as Weiland, Slash's take on Stone Temple Pilots songs was impressive to say the least.As opposed to Weiland, who tried to keep the Gunners' classics as close to the originals as possible, Slash put his own spin on "Crackerman" and "Sex Type Thing"."Crackerman" sounded harder and sleazier than ever before, while "Sex Type Thing" sounded punchier and somewhat less dirty than the original (not that that's necessarily a good thing, but interesting none the less).
With Velvet Revolver's debut album, Contraband, still almost two weeks from hitting the shelves, the audience didn't have tons to sing along with, although they still had just as much fun as anyone would at the perfect rock n' roll show, like this.Of course, the Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots numbers were the crowd favorites, but Velvet Revolver's first two singles, "Set Me Free" and "Slither" got almost equally loud and pushy reactions.Other new tracks included "Suckertrain Blues", "Do It For The Kids", and "Headspace", which were the first three numbers played, along with "Illegal I" and "Big Machine", which were especially raunchy and angry tracks, and "Fall To Pieces", a typically sounding G'N'R style ballad about Scott's marriage.The new songs had all the ingredients of a Guns N' Roses song in them, although slightly modernized; shorter guitar solo's and more aggressive vocals, without that Axl style screeching.
The highlight of the evening may have been right before "Used To Love Her", when Slash put on his trademark top hat for the first time of the night. The crowd's riotous response may have been cheesy or immature, but some things never change and it just doesn't feel like the real thing without the hat.
It's hard to imagine where Velvet Revolver will go from here.They sold out their first ever tour and are putting on rock n' roll shows like only they could.If Scott can keep prolonging overdosing, they could save rock n' roll.It sure felt like they did after their show at the Club.
It's been nearly a year since Lacuna Coil has made their way to Jaxx, the quintessential metalhead hangout of Springfield, Virginia.In that year, Lacuna Coil has gone from having a cult following in the US to having videos played on daily rotation on MTV 2.Their May 26th show at Jaxx was one of the few off dates of their tour with Christian Nu-Metal stars, P.O.D., and the crowd they drew was far different from last year's crowd of Gothic teens and Southern Metalheads; there were still a few metalheads, but the majority of the nearly filled venue was comprised of middle-of-the-road teenagers in khaki's, tennis shoes, and t-shirts of radio rock groups and Nu-Metal bands, like System Of A Down and Killswitch Engage.Have Lacuna Coil sunken to this level?
It seems as though the Italian Metalheads had misplaced their kilts and leather garb on May 26th, taking the stage in matching black workshirts and U.F.O.'s, looking like guys trying to fill the next opening in Dope.The beautiful Christina Scabbia (female vocals) was the only member not in the new uniform, dressed in layers of black (top, miniskirt, Capri’s, and knee high boots).The new look may be a bit cheesy, but it seems to work for them; there is no member seemingly more important than any other and as they headbanged in unison throughout the night, they appeared as more of a heavy metal machine than a rock n' roll band.
The Gothic Metal group's set list relied heavily on their most recent release, Comalies, which, despite the fact that it was released a year and a half ago, is just now starting to make some noise in the US, with the band's first radio and video play.This included their newest single, "Swamped", which opened the show; "Entwined"; "Humane"; "Self Deception"; and "Tight Rope".These rolling hums of metal songs had most of the newer fans singing along, but may have bored some of the older fans who have heard them at every gig for the past two years.A few tracks from the band's two previous efforts (Unleashed Memories and Halflife) were played as well, including "To Live Is To Hide"; "Senzafine", the only song played in their native language, Italian; "When A Dead Man Walks"; "Halflife"; and "Cold Heritage", which had Christina and the group's two guitarists alone onstage for the sort of metal ballad.The band’s first two releases (Lacuna Coil and In A Reverie) were completely ignored.
The band's newer, more mainstream fans had a more easygoing approach to the concertgoing they did that night.There was no moshing or crowd surfing and hardly any pushing; the audience simply let the band guide them in their headbanging, never taking their eyes off of the six onstage other than to sway their hair in rhythm with them.They may not be the most visually appealing band in a concert setting, but they looked more powerful in their control over the audience than ever before.
After playing for about an hour, the group ended the night with a short encore, consisting of their first U.S. single, "Heaven's A Lie", which received the biggest response of the night, followed by "Daylight Dancer", another track off of Comalies.
It looks as though Lacuna Coil's brand of Gothic Metal may finally be catching on in the U.S. mainstream, which could either change the way people look at metal, or change the way the metal community looks at Lacuna Coil.They're not a band to rile up audience or cause injuries; they're one of the only metal bands that don’t look like they have something to prove when they're onstage.Their performance at Jaxx on May 26 may have been a little too aimed at winning the Nu-Metal lovers in the audience over for good, but with a short and to-the-point set, they never got boring... of course winning over fans of real rock n' roll may be an entirely different story.
David Bowie (A REALITY TOUR) @ Patriot Center (5/16) If there is any theme to David Bowie's A Reality Tour, it is confusion. The pop icon has moved on from his stage personas of the 70's, like Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, and Aladdin Sane, and even his theme driven tours of the 90's, revolving around his darker and more mature sides, for a tour in which he seems to have set out to do nothing but have fun and please his mostly middle-aged fans. Dressed in blue jeans, a sleeveless t-shirt, a frayed scarf, and Chuck Taylor's during his performance at Fairfax, Virginia's Patriot Center on May 16, he graced the crowd with nearly all of his hits, along with a large handful of more rare material. This intensely laid-back version of the [only slightly] aging rock star created a more relaxed and fun experience for his fans, although it was much less intriguing performance than he is typically known for. The show began with a cheesy half cartoon/half live action video clip playing on the large screen behind the stage as Bowie's band took their places via a catwalk that stretched along the back and sides of the stage. Mr. Bowie eventually took the stage and began the show with his newly remixed, embarrassingly dorky rendition of "Rebel Rebel", the shining gem of Diamond Dogs, and the nearly official anthem for femme bois across the world. The version played was partially acapella and partially Vegas lounge style, but absolutely not glam rock. Despite the dislike of the particular rendition of the track by his fans, the whole of the sold out arena was clapping along the entire time. After the poor start to the performance, Bowie went right into "Fashion", another classic that could have probably be done without, but was quickly followed by "New Killer Star", the first single off of his most recent album (Reality) and a cover of The Pixies' "Cactus", first penned on Heathen. Much of the first half of the nearly two and a half hour set was dedicated to "the hits" that the lesser fans had come to hear, such as "Fame", "Hang On To Yourself", "The Man Who Sold The World", and "China Girl". As the performance went on, [too-old-to-hack-it] fans slowly became less and less interested and began sitting down [if they were even standing in the first place] in larger and larger numbers. This occurred during some of the newer numbers, from Heathen and Reality, but also during some of the rarities that were pulled out, like "Station To Station"; "Panic In Detroit", which David referred to as, "the first song I ever wrote... about terrorism"; Hunky Dory's "Quicksand"; "Sister Midnight", originally recorded by Iggy Pop; and "Loving The Alien", which he even used a lyric sheet for. These were high points in the set for many, but also a time to sit down and relax for the majority. Even with much of the audience on their asses, they tried their best to be polite, clapping and cheering between songs, and seemed to leave a good impression on David Bowie, who continually complimented the crowd and spent a total of about half an hour telling cute stories about his past, the writing of his songs, and other generally charming things, making him sound like a stand up comic at certain points in the night. This all fit in with the mood of the night rather nicely. David didn't seem to be straining himself to get any specific image across; he was just having fun, casually strolling about the stage, and constantly checking in with the audience to make sure they were having as much fun as he was. The lack of theme to the performance didn't seem to hurt it too much. The major downfall seemed to be the eclectic musicians forming David's current band. The Jazzier and more worldly styles of people like Mike Garson (keyboardist), Gail Ann Dorsey (bass), Sterling Campbell (drummer) and Catherine Russel (backing keyboardist, backing vocalist) seemed to conflict with the more straight ahead rock n' roll style of Earl Slick (guitarist) and Gerry Leornard (guitarist), making for something a little too inoffensive and watered for the music of someone like David Bowie. Although their playing was solid, something a little bit edgier would have been more fitting. The night's highest point was surprisingly early on, with a cover of "All the Young Dudes", written and produced by David Bowie, yet originally recorded by Mott The Hoople. This number had the entire crowd on their feet and swaying their arms back and forth in the biggest response of the night. Although it lacked much of an audience response, David's nearly tear jerking rendition of "The Loneliest Guy", one of only two tracks played off of Reality, ran a close second as far as standout tracks went. Other especially impressive numbers included the satirically depressing, "Ashes To Ashes", Bowie's post-Industrial nod to androgyny, "Hallo Spaceboy", and the artist’s own favorite song, "I'm Afraid Of Americans". Mistakes of the night were limited, with his always too poppy and too smooth rendition of The Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" and a duet of "Under Pressure" with Gail Ann Dorsey, as opposed to Freddie Mercury (some things are just sacred). After well over two hours, Bowie closed the set with the anthemic "Heroes", only to quickly return for a brief encore of "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust", two glam rock classics that will never get tiresome. The admirably long performance left the audience sweaty and drained, but everyone in attendance had to have gotten something special out of the night, whether it was the chance to hear some of the biggest hits of the Seventies, the opportunity to hear songs that they hadn't heard performed live in decades, or just an uncharacteristically fun and easygoing night with one of their favorite rock stars. This current, carefree attitude of David Bowie was a nice variation from his usually very structured performances, although it may also be a sign of aging. Is it that he doesn't have the patience to keep a stage persona at this point in his career, does he just not care anymore, or was he just looking to have some fun out on the road in a way he hadn't tried in recent years? He may still be able to keep an arena full of people happy, but it may not be the wisest idea to lose that former stage presence forever.
Genitorturers @ Thunderdome (5/15/04) Saturday night, May 15, the Genitorturers, the biggest S&M performance artists of rock n' roll found themselves at what seemed like the least likely venue. They headlined Baltimore's Thunderdome, the local home to washed up stars of the eighties, such as Ratt, LA Guns, and Winger. Despite the fact that the band had played the venue previously, they and their fans, dressed in black vinyl and fishnets seemed out of place in the club typically filled by rednecks with mullets, beer guts, and acid wash jeans. The Genitorturers had to scale down they're typically impressive stage set for the less than impressive stage of the venue. There was no massive drum riser, although they did manage to fit two small projection screens [projecting images of torture], a "torture box" (for lack of better term), and two of the band's logo'd banners on either side of Thunderdome's own lightening emblazoned logo. Even with a scaled down stage setup, the band still managed an impressive performance... but the audience didn't seem to care. Gen (lead vocals) took the stage in knee high boots, red fishnets, a bubblenet top, a patent leather corset, a sequined jacket, a spiked leather cod piece, a belt of vibrators, belting out "Machine Love", and the audience didn't seem to care. The band tore through fan favorites like "Razor Cuts", "Flesh Is The Law", "House Of Shame", "Liar's Lair", "120 Days", and "Asphyxiate", and the audience didn't seem to care. Gen worked her way into the audience on a stage extension in hopes of rousing spirits and no one seemed to care. The audience stood nearly still, barely bobbing their heads, not singing along to any of their favorite songs, and certainly not pumping their fists for the majority of the performance; it was embarrassing to Baltimore. It must be said that, although they are still entertaining, the Genitorturers have lost quite a bit of their edge. There was almost no faux gore and audience humiliation was minimal. There were two lucky fans who bowed down before Gen's feet and a few who were "assaulted" with the band's infamous rotating wooden dildo by one of the performers, but everyone's clothes were free of fake blood by the end of the night. Even the group's stage performers were somewhat less impressive than on previous tours. There were a few sexy young girls in cheap, Halloween store costumes for slutty cops and nurses, and a guy in a devil's costume that was falling apart and a crazy judge's outfit, but nothing too spectacular. As usual, Evil D (bassist), Angel (drummer), and Biz (guitarist) held up the background noise very well, while Gen ran the show. She was her typical, animated self, scowling at the audience as she pranced dominantly across the stage throughout the set. She's still reminiscent of a female version of Alice Cooper; she's just as intimidating, just as evil, just as fun, and a whole lot sexier. She did seem to have a little trouble with the microphone and getting herself set up in time, having to sing the first verses of a few songs from backstage, but it didn't hinder the show too much. The only point in which the rest of the band had any of the spotlight was when Evil D brought out his upright bass for a few numbers. Highlights of the night included "Terrorvision", with the chorus, "Hail to the freaks," which no one seemed to sing along with; "One Who Feeds," during which Gen wore her infamous metal chest plate with tentacles emerging from it; and the sing-along concert favorite, "Touch Myself" (originally recorded by The Divinyls), which no one sang along with. There were also a few unreleased tracks performed, including "Take It", which didn't receive a bad response... compared to the rest of the night. After more than an hour of trying desperately to get a reasonable response from their fans, the Genitorturers came out for an encore and did "Sin City", which one would have thought was "Stairway To Heaven," based on the crowd response. Although the fans were still not moving too much, everyone sang along as if it were a Top 10 radio hit. The performance ended with "Public Enemy #1", during which the crowd was still reasonably upbeat for. The night ended on a good note, it was just pathetic how long it took to get to that point. It's hard to say what the future holds for The Genitorturers. They're playing smaller clubs than they used to and they seem to have lost a lot of the edge that is responsible for their fame. They may be trying to concern themselves with the music more these days, or they may have just gotten sick of pulling out the same old tricks every night, or maybe they don't have the resources to put together the shows that they used to. Either way, they really need those old tricks, if they want their most recent generation of fans to appreciate them the way the last did.