Sure, I know to some people the title of this post makes no sense… yada, yada, yada Grateful Dead, blah, blah, bonghits, murmur, murmur, when were they ever productive in the first place…phuck phish. But c’mon – hippie bashing became passe in the late 90′s. You can only tell so many light-bulb jokes before you realize everybody around you is having the time of their lives. Take it from THIS GUY. But anyway, in the past there’s always been a distinction between the dreamiest desires of nerdy passions and the technological possibilities available to us. These days though, the nerds are in charge. And with the nerds in charge they’ve been able to develop the means and know-how to bring our nerdiest dreams to fruition. What this really means is that after some recent developments, you can currently stream for free every Grateful Dead and Phish show ever played. You can now open up your nerdy setlist book, find some epic moment where some specific song is being played in some odd fashion, and you can listen to instantly. If you had told any Deadhead that this was possible in the times when Jerry was still around, they would have lost their friggin’ shit. Hell, if you had told any Phishhead this was possible ten years ago they would have lost their shit. The fact that we have reached a time when all this music, and furthermore all this information is truly available at our fingertips is quite astounding. I’m only 32 years old, and I already sound like an old fart when I talk about sending out Maxell XLIIs to people who would make a shitty copy of a show for me if I sent them “blanks and postage” – and that I would then wait for it to be physically mailed back to me. Sure the thrill of anticipation is lost, but I for one surely don’t miss it.
I feel some of the legality of these sites is still up in the air, but as long as they’re audience produced recordings that have been freely available in other forms for years elsewhere, I think they’ll stick around. But if you’re a fan, be warned – because hours can fly by in a heartbeat when you’re listening to random gems from Europe ’97, or Anywhere ’69. God bless these super nerd fans for figuring out the date entry formula to create these pages, and for the fact that they weren’t Nickelback fans. The only current flaw with the system is that over at listentothedead.com, each song needs to be started on its own – you can’t just sit back and listen to a whole show without cuing each track. You have been able to do that with Dead shows over at archive.org, but that site doesn’t have them so neatly organized as this new site. I’m sure it’s a bug they’ll fix soon though, so enjoy your fucking face off…
GRATEFUL DEAD – www.listentothedead.com
PHISH – www.phishtracks.com
Last week, the most talented shitty-named band of all time, Umphrey’s McGee, announced that they would be trying out a brand new idea at some of their upcoming shows. For an additional cost of $40 on-top of your concert ticket, a select group of fans will be given headphones with a wireless belt-pack upon which they’ll be able to hear the direct soundboard mix of the band. These fans will be given access to the front-of-house area, but the wireless mix will still work outside of that area. However, they can only confirm an uninterrupted audio signal if you stick by the board. Basically it’s the same technology that folks are using for those “silent disco” parties, except if you take off your headphones there’s still live music raging in front of you. I’ve really been weighing the pros and cons of this situation in my head over the past week, and here’s what it boils down to.
- You can hear those cool little subtleties that you usually can’t make out during the live show. It will essentially let you hear the music the way the band is hearing it.
- You can take a piss and still hear everything fine. While they are still in the process of making the signal strong enough for this to work without glitches, imagine not having to worry about missing your favorite song at a concert. Hell, you could leave mid-jam to take a massive dump if you wanted. If Phish were to utilize this, then those spunions who go to the upper decks of MSG would actually be able to hear the music for once.
- On that same note, the hallways could come back into play at some of the bigger shows. The Dead used to put speakers in the hallways – something I’ve always wondered why Phish hasn’t done. This could bring back that ability to open up all areas of the building for dancing and not interfere with the hot-dog salesman who wants to play Lil’ Wayne on his boombox.
- You don’t have to worry about the dumb fucks next to you who are talking about the after-party all gig long. You could become your own little pod of isolation.
- Seeing music live is all about hearing music live. As cool and crisp as it is to hear the soundboard mix after the show, at the show you want to hear all the nuances of the room. You want to hear the guitar solo bounce off the ceiling and hear it mesh in with the roar of the crowd. That’s why we see shit live in the first place.
- It’s a mother-fucking rock and roll concert. You’re supposed to be a part of it, not be a piece of living furniture. You’re supposed to have the dude next to you be able to ask you for a lighter – you’re supposed to be able to joke with your friends about the sweaty guy in front of you. You’re supposed to have an experience – not just hear some shit.
- We’ve already got half the crowd sticking their iPhones up in the air at the gig – do we really want to go deeper in manufacturing a whole crowd of cyborgs oblivious to one another at a rock concert?
So… Well fuck, I’m not gonna ever pay $40 for this shit. But what if they could isolate the signal so it was like some sort of walkie-talkie signal that you could bring your own headphones to hear. If it was somehow available for free for everybody, then I probably wouldn’t be against bringing in a set of headphones myself that I could throw on when I went to take a piss, or when I wanted to hear the high upper piano notes that I can’t make out in the back of the room. It’s a cool idea, but the most important thing is that we’ll need to come up with a new slang name to call the headphone elite. “Ear jockeys” or something.
If you missed the first post then check it out HERE. And while we’re talking covers, when the fuck is “Born Under Punches” going to return? Isn’t that what we’re really all waiting for? Well, here’s my other 10, and to sum it up my first 10 in no particular order…
The Who – “Eminence Front”
The Kinks – “Lola”
David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust”
Queens of the Stone Age – “Turnin’ on the Screw”
Vampire Weekend – “Cousins”
The Allman Brothers – “Dreams”
The Band – “Don’t Do It”
Beastie Boys – “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital”
Beck – “Go it Alone”
The Buzzcocks – “Why Can’t I Touch It”
Derek and The Dominoes – “Keep on Growing” - Sure, there’s a bunch of Clapton songs that would be amazing, (“Badge” would be killer as well,) but this classic just seems like it’s way overdue to make an appearance. Maybe with a guest guitarist?
The Doors – “Peace Frog” - There is no denying what a massive dance-party this track would bring. The room would fucking explode.
The Faces – “Stay With Me” - I picture a massive 2nd set – massive, and then for an encore this tune emerges and the place just totally erupts. Holy shit would they destroy the living crap out of this song. We need it.
Frank Zappa – “Flakes” – I think the whole album Sheik Yerbouti would be phenomenal, but the younger kids wouldn’t really get it. This track though, has the melodic changes to perhaps be able to make the crossover. it’s hilarious and one of my favorite Zappa tunes ever.
Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged” - Forget about the cliche “November Rain” – this is the real epic GNR jam that would annihilate the audience. What a fucking huge tune.
INXS – “New Sensation” - On one of those perfectly weird, magical nights, this tune could arise in the 2nd set and tear the house fully down. You know Trey has been fiending to rock that simple groove – you know it.
Jimi Hendrix – ” Long Hut Summer Night” - Sure, any number of Jimi tunes would be amazing. I’m still waiting for “Izabella” to make it’s return, but this would be an amazing closer to a beautiful summer night.
Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand” - Again, Zep is one of the bands that any number of covers would be incredible – perhaps “Down by the Seaside” or even “Song Remains the Same,” but “Achilles” would be the epitome of dark power. I’d probably completely lose my shit to this one.
The Meters – “I Need More Time” - With Page’s recent gigs with The Meter Men, this one doesn’t seem that far off of a possibility. This oft forgotten track is one of the Meters’ most bad-ass grooves ever. It’d be huge, and could erupt into a massive groove-jam out of it.
The Pants – “2000″ - The greatest band that never came to be. The mid-90′s amazing Burlington band had numerous ties to Phish, and I think paying some homage to these fellas is long overdue. This song is so fucking beautiful, and huge…cut to 4:30 for the start of it.
Well, Phish summer tour-dates are up, and with that rises the question of whether there will be any new material for their 30th anniversary kickoff tour. The band has been sounding friggin’ amazing as of late, but some new shit would definitely breath a much needed jolt of life into the scene. I’d like new Phish songs, but am weary that they may completely suck ass. So on the flip side, here’s my list of 20 cover songs that could add some zest to the sets.
The Who – “Eminence Front” - Ahh, 80′s Who. Just the right mix of power and kitsch to get a summer shed really fuckin’ popping. “Come and join the party dressed to kill” – you betcha.
The Kinks – “Lola” - Nothing like an awesome diddy that everyone know the lyrics to, to really unify a crowd. This would be a great Fishman track or even just a regular cover encore.
David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust” – I still think this whole album would be a great Halloween cover, but there’s no doubt that this rager could be the perfect set-closer or encore when they needed a quick powerhouse tune to end the night.
Queens of the Stone Age – “Turnin’ On The Screw” - This completely loony, funk-rock song from 2007 is QOTSA at their finest. Phish could completely make this song all their own, and could become the new sibling to “Carini.” The fast breakdown jam in the middle could be taken way the fuck out.
Vampire Weekend - “Cousins” - I feel like this song drew a lot of inspiration from early 90′s Phish weirdness – it has a very “NICU” fell for it. Tell me you can’t hear Trey fire launching this guitar lick.
The Allman Brothers – “Dreams” - Honestly, I can’t believe that over 30 years they’ve never used this Allmans launch-pad tune to take a 2nd set out into the ether. It’s one of the classics, and it would be a magical evening when this tune dropped.
The Band – “Don’t Do It - Now there’s a ton of Band tunes Phish could do great justice, but this one always seemed like the one they could stretch out further. Would be a great set opener – 1st or 2nd.
Beastie Boys – “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital” – I’ve been waiting for this dark B-Boys instrumental to arise out of a late 2nd set funk jam for nearly a decade. Basically, it’d be all Gordo and Fish holding the groove, while Trey and Page noodle on top – shit would be ultra-dope-city though. Cut to 6:54 to hear it on this video.
Beck – “Go it Alone” – There’s a bunch of Beck tunes that would be incredibly fly for the fellas to bust out, but this one’s just so smooth. It could easily creep out of any number of jams.
The Buzzcocks – “Why Can’t I Touch It” Oh, the hardcore punk-kids would call this a tragedy, but imagine this coming soaring over the Gorge during a s unset. Next level stuff.
Check out Part 2 for the other 10…
Derek & The Dominoes – “Keep on Growing”
The Faces – “Stay With Me”
The Doors – “Peace Frog”
Frank Zappa – “Flakes”
Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged”
INXS – “New Sensation”
Jimi Hendrix – “Long Hot Summer Night”
Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand”
The Meters – “I Need More Time”
The Pants – “2000″
First things first – this is a pro-Phish statement. When the most over-analyzed band on the planet opened up their New Year’s Eve gig last week at Madison Square Garden with Ricky Nelson’s mellow, country-tune “Garden Party,” many presumed it was a reference to the astro-turf lining the stage and floor that night. But as the fake grass would later turn out to be intended for the golf gag accompanying the 3rd set, the song cover was obviously much more of a statement from the band about their constant over-analyzation – “You see you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” Thank fucking God they’ve finally vocalized this in one form or another. There was a time, in Phish’s mid-90′s heyday, when the foursome strived to be the greatest band in the world. And during those times of intense desire and practice, many would argue that they achieved just that. But these days, nearly 20 years later, their main intent seems to just be continuing their dream life of having fun on stage with their best friends, and letting the music goes wherever fate takes it. The joy and playfulness of all 4 nights of this past MSG run showcased that this is a band doing whatever the fuck they want to, as they essentially have always done, but becoming more and more oblivious to ignorant complaints from an overly-critical audience that wants to place them on a pedestal upon which they have no desire to ascend. Relax, the band sounds great – so just have a good time already. I attended all 4 nights of this past MSG run and was befuddled and amused to read the reviews of one specific Phish blogger who has chosen to devote his life solely to this one band and nothing and no one else, and was thus let down by these shows not reaching their most epic level of fruition. This is a guy who apparently abandons his family at home to attend all 37 Phish shows across this country this year, and as far as I can tell only really enjoyed 5 of them. Maybe it’s time you rearranged your priorities bud – or at least tried listening to another band for once. And yes, I know I hated like hell on one of the San Francisco shows I saw this Summer – but that’s because not only was the music piss poor, but the band was clearly not enjoying themselves on stage. So rather than review these 4 shows myself, I thought I’d list the Top 4 things that are wrong with Phish’s audience, as I noticed at the gigs last week.
1) Talking During the Show – Now I’m not referring to talking with your friends, or even the occasional ranty convos that go a little too long. I’m talking about these dumb folks who want to strike up an idiotic conversation with you because they don’t really care at all about what’s happening on stage. Case in point: this withered middle-aged hag from California who I’ve never met, but have frequented the same parties with, who is well known for hating Phish ten years ago. But now she’s finally realized that Garcia really isn’t going to be reincarnated, so she pretends to enjoy this band so that she can have a place to do drugs with her friends. Listen bitch – we’re on the floor standing 50 feet from the band – it’s the jam in “Reba” – I’m clearly focused on the stage and the music, and enjoying all the things that I’ve paid $70 to be here for. I really don’t need you to turn your back to the stage while standing directly in front of me, and try to talk to me about how there’s too many glowsticks on the ground because your friends have gone to the bathroom and you have no one to talk to now. Why don’t you try paying attention to the music for once, and mind your own fucking business? I promise nobody will think you’re not cool becasue you’re being quiet. Moving on…
2) Lying About How Many Shows You’ve Seen - Listen, I really don’t judge Phish fans by how many shows they’ve seen. And I’m truly more impressed with the kid who has only been to 12 shows and is raging his fucking face off, then the kid who claims he’s been to 200 but only wants to talk about the after-party during “Tweezer.” If you’re lying about the past, then it only means that you’re not enjoying the present, and again, maybe you should go find something better to do with your life. I’ve seen people on numerous occasions jump from 60 shows to 160 in a week’s time. Why? Because you think I or anybody else is suddenly going to give you more respect? Live your own fucking life and embrace your own past.
3) Chicks Who Think Fucking the Bassist Gives Them Street-Cred - Now there’s no argument that Mike Gordon is a ridiculously talented bassist. But he is also an incredibly haggard and odd looking man. If you’re going to tell me that you don’t really like the band that much but that Gordo gave you free tix because of a late night rendezvous you had with him, then honestly any iota of respect I had for you as a woman has just been completely thrown out the window. It’s one thing if you LOVE the fucking band, and would do anything to express your infatuation to them. It’s a whole other thing all together when you say you’re not really that familiar with the music, but you know it gives you good street cred when you say you get tickets from the band. Put your tits away, or at least throw them in the face of someone you admire. Again, have some fucking self-respect people.
4) People Who Wonder Why The Band Doesn’t Play “Steam” – Wanna know why? Because the song is boring. It’s got 3 chords, a redundant lick, and no interesting changes – but everyone wants to hear it because it’s got a good funk groove. Sure it’s fun to dance to, and Kuroda hits the steam shit on the stage, but if you watch any videos of the band playing the song though, Trey looks bored as all fuck. I think the band realized that they wrote the song to appease fans looking for a new groove tune, but that it doesn’t really bring the constructive dynamics that they want to showcase at this point in their career. It’s not that it’s a bad song, it’s just a step in the opposite direction of any kind of growth the band could show.
It’s not high-school anymore everybody – you don’t need to be the coolest kid in the room. Grab one friend and go find a good spot in the building to really enjoy the show. That’s what all those “custys” and “noobs” are doing, and I assure you, they’re having the time of their lives.
If you read my blog on a regular basis, then you know I’m no stranger to expressing my own heartfelt opinions. Thus, when I was asked a couple months back about answering some questions about my own blog, I decided to drop any potential hesitations about clouding my honest answers. And I realized that most of my darkest secrets happened long enough that I don’t care about family members reading about them, nor do I worry about ever running for public office. So to sum up the interview in 5 parts:
#1 – I love to talk shit.
#2 – I accidentally smoked crack when I was 16.
#3 – Ween kicks ass.
#4 – Zach dela Rocha let us all down by not releasing new Rage Against The Machine material during the Bush administration.
#5 – I’d be nowhere without the influence of Built to Spill, Phish, and the Beastie Boys.
Read the in-depth article HERE.
Photo courtesy of my utterly bold 18 year old self.
Crowd participation at concerts has always been a tense subject for me. I love Phish, and they have an onslaught of interactive things I don’t really do…a 3-beat clap during “Stash,” the vocal chanting of “Wilson”, the dumb Hood ad-lib in “Harry Hood”, the “Meatstick”… but ironically the band used to base a solid portion of its live performances on secret signals that fans could perform in syncopation so that newbies would have no clue what’s going on. I may sound like a pretentious fuck, but I seem to only like crowd participation if the majority of the crowd isn’t doing it. I know, that sounds stupid but that’s who I am. I will, however, do the wave whenever possible.
Anywho, the biggest flip in the game for me was the first time I saw Dan Deacon perform about 5 years ago. The man forces crowd participation and you’re a total jack-ass if you deny it. So leave it up to the Baltimore Wonder-Mind to come up with the next logical advance in crowd participation – digital smartphone apps! Bum, bum buuuuuum… Now this is a massive expansion on the brief notion that Coldplay put into rotation this year – where they gave everyone in attendance wristbands to wear, and those wristbands then all shined like black-lights when a certain light was cast upon the crowd. So instead of holding up a lighter, or an iPhone, you just put your wrist in the air and you can see the masses swaying in motion together. Neato. Deacon has gone light-years further though, and created an actual app for smartphones that directly links to Deacon’s equipment at the show. Thus, it’s OK if there’s shitty reception or no WiFi at a certain club, because Deacon’s own gear will be the source of the digital info going to the phones. The phones themselves then emit both light and sound in time with the music he is producing, thus the fans are literally becoming part of the show. Basically he’s completely taken the horrible scenario of being at a rock concert where the entire crowd is playing with their phones, and he’s turned it into one of the flyest, and most innovative things to happen to the live concert experience since Gwar started shooting semen on their fans. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Dan Deacon is a genius and a blessing. I can’t wait to try this live – this might be the first thing that really pushed me into getting a new phone. Check it out…
Despite being the home of their psychedelic forefathers‚ California has always seemed like a crapshoot when it comes to quality Phish concerts. I tend to chalk it up to the Bay-area audience‚ who either from a collective subpar knowledge of the band’s catalogue‚ remnants of post-Dead-Head angst‚ or dub-step induced non-existent attention spans‚ has the most superficial appreciation for the VT boys than any other part of the country. Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to understand the existential wonder of quality Tom Marshall lyrics‚ but the majority of the SF crowd this weekend strictly was looking for and expecting a simple beat to dance to. I suppose that’s not really a desire to fault anyone on‚ but it’d sure be nice if they could at least stop yapping during the ballads. And no‚ these aren’t simply the complaints of a jaded vet — the level of constant crowd conversation can be truly overwhelming at times‚ and it seems obvious that the band too feels that dis-conjunct energy. Shit got weird this weekend. Never in my 17 years of seeing this band have I ever experienced such massive highs juxtaposed with such disastrous lows‚ but let’s just say it made for one hell of a ride in San Francisco. Read the full rundown HERE.
Not a bad time to be a TV executive in New York City – the late night talk-shows are crushing this week, or actually I guess they’re literally crushing at around 5:30 – when these things are recorded, but either way. Things kicked off with Radiohead on Saturday Night Live 2 days ago – they played “Lotus Flower” and “Staircase”, although both seemed a little bit dusty. I think it’s more based upon the fact that a spaced out, 2-song performance is not the ideal slot for these guys to lock in their magic, but we’ll see when they appear on the Colbert Report this evening. And the 2 shows they’re playing at the Roseland Ballroom this weekend are gonna be fuckin’ historic, but I don’t want to remind myself that I won’t be there. The important thing to note is that, like at this summer’s Basement sessions, they have Portishead‘s Clive Deamer on a second drum kit. It really thickened up the beat in a way that says, “Fuck yeah, Radiohead should have 2 drummers” and I hope he plays the whole shows, because it’d be great to hear him fill out some of the older stuff. I put a clip of SNL’ s “Lotus Flower” below.
The 2nd NYC TV event of the week is Jimmy Fallon hosting Pink Floyd week. I guess there’s some huge Floyd reissue due out this week – I mean all the Floyd I got sounds amazing to me, I don’t need some weird 3D reissue bullshit – but I’m into having random bands come on each day to play a different song. The Shins re-emerge as a functioning band again – tonight they play “Breathe”. The highlight of the week has got to be tomorrow though, when the Foo Fighters play “In The Flesh” with Roger Waters on vocals. Sickness. This is a much better plan than when they did Rolling Stones week, and closed it out with Phish playing “Loving Cup” while Keith Richards just sat there on the plush couch. C’mon, Keith’s right fucking there – can we get a guitar in the man’s hands? Anyway, MGMT on Wednesday, that country-fuck Dierks Bentley on Thursday, and Pearl Jam on Friday. So tune into WNNNNNNNBC each night this week around 1:20 AM for a glimpse into what late-night television would be like if MTV hadn’t forgotten what the “M” stands for.
So there’s only one band that can really leave me both so amazed and exhausted that it deters me from writing on my music blog for 2 weeks. When Phish is on, as they were for this entire 3 day period, it’s so thrilling that it takes a solid fortnight’s worth of my energy to fully experience it, and thus just as much time to recover. Here’s a clip of and the link to my full review: