Over the past 15 years, I probably contemplate the potentiality of a Talking Heads reunion about every 4 months or so. And I’m not saying I have one of those What If/Wouldn’t That Be Cool moments, I’m saying I literally imagine myself at such an event and try to visualize what exactly is happening. I’m in one of those 4 month moments right now, spurred on by watching disastrous footage of recent Rolling Stones gigs, contemplating the cycle of events that could lead to a Ween show in 2013, and by reading a recent quote from Robert Plant where he actually hints about wanting to do a 2014 Led Zeppelin tour. So here’s my really shitty vision of being at a T-Heads reunion show: I’m in Madison Square Garden and I’ve somehow landed tickets at face value even though face is like $135… half the crowd is over 50, and 2 songs in I realize that 25% of the crowd knows nothing except for “Burning Down the House” and “Once in a Lifetime.” The band is essentially just running through the motions, and David Byrne has a look on his face like he just traded his soul for a ham sandwich. The guy sitting behind me then taps me on the shoulder and asks me both to sit down and if I can stop smoking that joint. I’m bummed – I feel hollow – I think back to when I wrote a blog about imagining this moment and realize I should have accepted fate as it was… Am I right? Can’t we all see that situation? So here’s my really awesome vision:
I’m in NYC’s Roseland Ballroom. The Heads have announced a 23 night run there dubbed All or Nothing. Tickets were hard, but I managed to land some $70 ones at face for 2 consecutive nights in the middle of the run. The stage set-up is minimal – very little lighting – and the full lineup is there. Alex Weir and Adrian Belew are both on guitar – Belew in amazing form after his stint in the Nine Inch Nails reunion. Tina Weymouth is thumping the bass with all the pent-up passion she’s been waiting to unleash for the past 30 years. It feels like it’s not even the same woman I’ve seen play with Tom Tom Club. It’s hot in there. It’s smoky. It’s sweaty. Each show of the run has followed a fairly similar setlist, but there have been divine moments that make each night stand out. This is a Tuesday, and currently the band is 8 minutes deep into “The Great Curve.” I am getting down harder than I ever have in my life, but still not as hard as the 70 year old woman sweating bullets to my left. To my right, a 21 year old EDM kid stands still staring at the stage with his mouth on the floor and a slight tear coming down his face. During “Houses in Motion” I glance to my left and notice James Murphy dancing anonymously amongst a circle of friends. At several times during the gig I check my pulse to make sure I’m still on planet Earth… And am I right on this one too? Couldn’t we all see this?
Sigh… dreams and fantasies can really mess with your head sometimes, but that’s what makes our weird human brains so amazing. God bless you David Byrne, and God bless whatever decision you ever make to reconstruct my reality. A few months back a friend of mine turned me onto the Bonus Tracks that were released on a Remain in Light reissue. I had never heard them. They crushed me. I cried when I first heard this jam called “Right Start” – it’s kind of like a mash-up of “Lifetime” and “Electric Guitar.” I imagine it as the soundtrack that the great creator had playing in his head when he was manufacturing the universe, and I kind of imagine the after-life as a world where this thing is just playing on loop for eternity. Dig in…
Time for another Ween update. While it seems like the dust has settled on Gener and Deaner calling each other out in public forums, it doesn’t seem that there is of yet any reconciliation with one another – be it personal or musical. But recent events could potentially lead one to believe that not all bridges are burnt between blood brothers, and the biggest cue is the unified connection both parties share with bass player Dave Dreiwitz. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Dave, he’s one of the more happy-go-lucky guys you’re ever apt to encounter in the music business. He’s one of those “down for anything” kind of people, and while that may branch into some sexual and/or psychotropic avenues that could be somewhat off-putting, the dude’s hard not to love. There’s been a few interviews and comments inquiring about what led to him playing with Marco Benevento, and every reply seems to lean towards “He asked me so I said yes.” And as great as it is to see Dreiwitz out on the scene, every time I see him play I realize that there’s really only one place he really should be – and that place is laying down the low end for Ween.
So just a few weeks ago, April 14th to be exact, Dreiwitz was scheduled to play a gig with Ween drummer, Claude Coleman, at Ween’s former homebase – John and Peter’s in New Hope, PA. A couple of phone calls went out to old friends, and suddenly the gig turned into a 4/5ths Ween reunion as Deaner and keyboardist Glenn McClelland joined in. They pulled a full set composed mainly of Deaner’s songs from Ween, and reports were that it was obviously a fantastic evening for everyone involved. Now cut to today, May 8th, and Gener has announced that at tonight’s gig in Connecticut, as well as the following 2 shows in Mass and Brooklyn, he will be accompanied by Dreiwitz on the bass. This means that within 3 weeks time, Dave will have played a full show’s worth of Ween tunes in 2 separate parts. While he doesn’t seem to be one to ruffle any feathers, and I personally have no clue as to what levels of communication happen backstage, one could only hope that at least some word could be brought up about the New Hope gig from a few weeks back. Because I’m sorry, I don’t care how fantastic any Aaron Freeman gig is, there’s no way it can contain a smidgen of the magic that a Ween gig had. And after a solid year of sobriety, one would also hope that Gener is beginning to contemplate the possibility of maintaining his sobriety while playing with his old band mates. It seems to me that the Boognish is singing in the distance right now – like a siren of yore calling to sailors – calling and urging the patriots of its message to reunite and reforge the magical rock strength that has been missing from the universal musical spectrum. I’ve got my nuts crossed.
There was a time in my youth when I was straight-up addicted to Mountain Dew. The destruction of a 6-pack was an easy afternoon affair, and when they made the genius and frightening move to introduce the wide-mouth can to the soda universe in the mid-90s, shit got out of control. The first can was like a primer – it wouldn’t even touch my mouth. It’d just kind of rapidly coat my throat in preparation for the subsequent can that I would take a solid 90 seconds to savor. Thus it was right around this time when my teenage hippie mind decided this shit was no fucking good for me. It was also right around the time when the rumors began to circulate about Yellow-5 making you sterile… or impotent… or doing something shitty to your penis – I can’t really remember. Anyway, despite not having touched the stuff in nearly 20 years, I still hold a fondness for the natural absurdity of the product itself. Thus, I’ve been quite intrigued by the past week’s news of two different musical spokespersons being fired from the Dew’s ad campaigns.
Here’s the thing: MTN DEW brings to mind off-the-wall, zany shit. So they try to get some zany motherfuckers to hype the stuff. You’re not gonna get the dudes from Bon Iver to promote the Dew, you’re gonna get some nutso jack-off like Lil Wayne. But if you’re the Dew, you should have been prepared for Weezy to drop the occasional line causally referencing a lynching victim from the 50′s as he just did with a horrid line about Emmett Till. Thus the Dew just dropped him. As a side note, as somebody who keeps getting hospitalized for near-fatal seizures, maybe chugging Mountain Dew isn’t the best idea for Weezy anyway.
So what other nutso rappers could the Dew go to – well how about Tyler the Creator? He sarcastically raps about rape and murder on a casual basis – sure he’d be great at bringing in the kids. But whoops, Tyler’s latest directed commercial for the Dew was deemed overly racist and was pulled down. It featured a goat standing in a police lineup with some black fellas, and in my opinion wasn’t really racist. The problem was it just wasn’t funny. Either way – that’s two strikes in about 4 days for the Dew, and perhaps it’s time they rethought their promotional attack. That is, unless this was all some intentional move to use random controversy to put their name in some unexpected places. That’s obviously quite potentially true, but I think they’d be better of showing some hyper-teens chugging the liquid sunshine. You know, Bieber that shit out or something. Or even better, just have this fake-ad by Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney play on a loop somewhere all day.
Portland was insanely psyched about Trey playing the small capacity Crystal Ballroom a couple weeks back – so psyched in fact that the majority of them neglected to pay attention to the concert. So yeah, it’s time again for my usual West Coast Phish oriented indoor gig review – shut the fuck up people. Read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music. And just as a clue as to how loud the crowd was in the back, here’s video of the “Black Dog” encore, which believe it or not featured the least amount of audience murmurs all night.
When it was announced a couple months back that Jim James would be playing the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on May 14th, I immediately bought a set of tickets, presuming that the gig would sell out in a heartbeat. But here we are now, less than two weeks away, and it seems that there’s still plenty of tickets available. Sure it’s on a Tuesday night, but after seeing My Morning Jacket play to 5,000 people last year at Edgefield, I figured there would be a huge draw for the show. I suppose that when it comes down to it, MMJ is simply another one of those bands that the collective outfit far outweighs any popularity that a solo member of the band may hold. It’s the same reason that Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman is playing shows for 200 people these days. Honestly, I’m not gonna gripe about being able to see Jimmy James in a room with apt breathing space, but it’s a drag for both him and fans of the Jacket – because his solo album is fucking fantastic. Here’s a quick rundown if you’ve missed it…
Quite frankly, Regions of Light and Sound of God is a far better album than either of the last two MMJ records. There’s a looser, pressure-free vibe to it and it hopefully serves as a beacon for what direction the bigger band should be taking with their music. The single, “Know Til Now,” gives a fairly accurate preview of the whole – a sort of electronic leaning soul groove. But the lean is far more towards the soul than towards the electronic. In fact, the majority of these tunes would feel completely natural coming off a MMJ stage if it weren’t for the stark lack of guitar riffery. “A New Life” starts off with the slow, acoustic nature that has found its way onto several of the band’s newer tracks, but the hook on the chorus is ten times catchier and more gut-wrenching than anything you’d hear in similar sonic tracks like “Librarian” or “Wonderful.” If you found yourself bored or discouraged with what MMJ has done after trying to follow up on Z, then this solo record will renew your confidence in James’ songwriting capabilities. And in actuality, “Of the Mother Again” has one of the dreamier guitar hooks I’ve heard in quite some time. Don’t think of this as being connected to that Yim Yames’ George Harrison tribute, or even anything near what The Monsters of Folk tried to do – this is stripped down MMJ in a beautiful, raw form. Just as James ends his solo gigs with MMj songs, I would definitely expect upcoming MMJ shows to include a few tracks off this solo record. Don’t let it pass you by.
As Bonnaroo released their schedule today, two things struck me right off the bat. 1st off, while at first I thought it was an incredibly weak lineup this year, their ability to format bands’ schedules, plus the fact that gigs go so late into the night, plus the fact that they give each band full set time slots (I’m looking at you Coachella,) makes for some fairly dope moments. I mean hell, Friday night you get to see 2 and a half hours of Paul McCartney, followed by an hour and a half of the full Wu-Tang Clan til one in the morning, culminating in the psychedelic explosion that will be Animal Collective playing from 2 to 4 A.M. And yes, mark my words, that will definitely be the most perfect time slot for A.C. and thus their greatest gig of all time. Now, it’s definitely quite odd that there seems to be a gap in music from 1 til 2 in the morning, but I guess they want to give kids time to consume more substances without missing any music.
Anyway, the 2nd and most important thing that struck me is the notion that people actually give a fuck about seeing R. Kelly. He has the golden gem time-slot of 11:30 on Saturday night. So sure, you love to dance to “Ignition” drunk at weddings, and you laughed your ass off at how completely ludicrous “Trapped in the Closet” was, but do you actually ever listen to his music? The shit is horrendous. I was asked to review his latest album last year and I couldn’t even fathom how anybody would even find it listenable. It sounded like an act you’d see playing at the Circus Circus Casino on a Sunday night – just a complete joke. So I’m sorry if I missed the memo, but when did we all decide that this dude made great music? It sure as hell wasn’t when he put out that dumb split LP with Jay-Z that nobody ever bought or listened to. It sure as hell wasn’t when he was pissing on little girls’ heads. Was it Space Jam? It was Space Jam. The Roo is just banking on the notion that at least 20,000 people will be so fucked up on Saturday night that they’ll want to bask in the ironic glow of singing “I Believe I Can Fly” at one in the morning. But please, if you have any insight into what this dude did that made him a desirable headliner at any major music festival – please let me in on it. I’m dying to know. And if you don’t have any leads, then get ready to hear this crap…
Sure, last night’s Dr. Dog and Dawes show was promoted as a “co-headlining” bill with both bands playing solid 90 minute sets – but whoever thought putting Dr. Dog on first made a bad choice. Quite simply put, they’re one of the most exciting bands to ever see live, bouncing around in a way that makes me envision their calf muscles as boulders. With a non-talkative Sunday night crowd, the band sounded amazing in the sometimes muffled Crystal, and played a take-no-prisoners set of Dog classics – full of nothing but bumpers that almost seemed like the band wanted to prove who the real headliner was. When Dawes emerged, they sounded great, but they just don’t have the songs or the power to match the Dog’s set. The crowd would enthusiastically cheer after each song, but the level of movement in the audience became next to nothing, and after a half hour a good chunk of the crowd started to head to the door. I would have felt bad for Dawes, but I was still hyped up over the “opener’s” set. Here’s the list…
1) Heavy Light
3) The Breeze
4) Hang On
5) Do the Trick
7) That Old Black Hole
9) Shadow People
10) Heart it Races
11) Jackie Wants a Black Eye
12) The Ark
13) The Way the Lazy Do
14) These Days
15) The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
Even if you live in the Pacific Northwest, Boise is still in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere. But the second annual Treefort Music Festival, held a few weeks back, is essentially the greatest reason for a non-fly-fishing-aficionado to ever come to Idaho. Any festival at which Built to Spill plays every night of is worth trekking too though, and I’m slightly ashamed of myself for not heading out there for this one.
On the closing night of the fest, Built to Spill played a set composed entirely of cover songs. It touched on a little bit of everything that Doug Martsch is into: Dinosaur Jr., Metallica, Blue Oyster Cult, Neil Young, Dylan… but most importantly Pavement. Hearing one of your favorite bands play one of your favorite songs by one of your other favorite bands is not something that happens often, and I presume there are a large group of 90′s indie-rock nerds like myself who realize this is one of the greatest things to ever occur in the history of mankind. Pavement has a fairly massive catalog, and while I saw them on both sides of the country during their reunion tour a few years back, “Here” was an illusive cut to catch. So yada, yada, backstory… here’s all I’m saying…
I fuckin’ love Pavement. And I fuckin’ love “Here” – it’s one of my Top 10 songs of all time. And goddamn, do I fuckin’ love Built to Spill. So yeah, this video brought a weird spiraling tear of existential reality to my eye. Too bad it cuts out before the end.
Last night during the 9th straight show Furthur was playing at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY – shit was not going good for Bob Weir. I started receiving texts from a friend at the show during “Me and My Uncle.” He was telling me that Weir was in hilariously fucked up form all night: leaning at a weird angle, forgetting all the words, strumming aimlessly. But then the texts got darker…”He just fell over”…”I think I’m gonna cry.” As you can see from the video below, Weir takes a straight up face-plant onto fake-Jerry during “Unbroken Chain.” Two crew members come out and prop him up in a folding chair as he stares aimlessly like an Alzheimer’s patient, or more like someone under the influence of a massive amount of opiates. The song ends, the band walks off stage, and then returns sans Weir to finish out the set. Phil Lesh announces that Bobby strained his shoulder earlier in the day, like that’s some sort of excuse for passing out on stage. I suppose he could have been under a good amount of medication, but that’s besides the point.
The point is something much larger. First off there’s the very ominous sign that the entire band is dressed head to toe in black. As my friend pointed out, “Maybe the whole band wanted to dress like Jerry but Bobby wanted to take heroin like Jerry.” Regardless, the scariest part of the situation is the band’s reaction – which is absolutely no reaction at all. It seems like they could honestly care less what’s happening to Weir. Now this leads to two things – First, they obviously seemed well aware that Bobby was a mess before the show started, and thus seem prepared for this potential scenario. Even the crew members seem to have a folding chair ready to go just in case it was needed. Secondly, and more importantly, they seem prepared to not give a fuck what’s happening to Weir. Now I don’t care how big of a band you are or what legacy you carry… when you see your 65 year old friend take a massive digger front and center, you fuckin’ check to make sure the dude’s OK. Hell, what if he had seriously cracked open his skull and bled there to death while Phil Lesh just kept singing “Unbroken Chain.” Clearly it seems like there is a severe break in the chain there fellas. And honestly, John “Fake Jerry” Kadlecik doesn’t seem to give a fuck either. Seriously, one of the founders of the band that this guy has modeled his life after just fell on top of him, and he just kind of takes a step out of the way.
Sometimes you gotta stop. Sometimes you need to remember you’re a human being as are the other members of your band, and make sure they’re still breathing. Honestly, I feel sad and sorry for Bobby, but I feel anger towards Phil. This is a tremendous low-point for the legacy of the Grateful Dead. It’s not sad that Bobby was so fucked up, it’s sad that nobody seemed to care if he was all right. You don’t just pretend nothing happened. It will be interesting to see what news arises about the actual background behind this situation, but it’s clear we’ve reached an odd point with the Grateful Dead. With hundreds of Dead cover bands out there, it’s become clear that the music itself is more important than the people making it, but Phil Lesh has just taken that mantra to a whole new level.
Now don’t get me wrong, these guys work their fuckin’ asses off, and I understand the desire to keep playing music and push through everything. But at least glance at the man and make sure he’s OK… maybe John could have reached down and lent him a hand at least… Ugly scene all around – get prepared if you haven’t watched the video yet – it ain’t pretty. Get well soon Bobby… and Phil.
“Trying to keep up with all the rotating members of Snarky Puppy is a lot like trying to keep up with all the new flavors of Pringles — there’s too many to keep track of, and no matter what variety you get you’re guaranteed to have a rumble in your ass.”
“Justin Stanton would flip between the keys and the trumpet like a stoner jumps between nachos and a Snickers bar — bringing a unique flavor to each but acting like either one was the defining piece of his existence.”
Read the full review HERE at State of Mind Music, and definitely jump on seeing these cats the first chance you get. Here’s footage of them a week prior at the BK Bowl.