Category Archives: boosterism

Media Mix XVIII: Brotherly Love Edition

I pretty much forgot about Oasis between 1996 and oh, about six weeks ago, when I noticed Los Bros. Gallagher would be releasing a new record on one of the weeks I had a pair of CD reviews due. I liked their first two albums, and it turns out I like their new one, too. If you care about this band at all, you doubtless already know that songwriter/guitarist Noel Gallgher was injured after some guy stormed the stage and shoved him into the audience at the Toronto Virgin Mobile Festival last month. I’m going to check out their show at the Patriot Center with Ryan Adama just a few days before Christmas.
Incidentally, I have a bootleg of Oasis recorded at the Patriot Center in 1996. What moved me to buy this at Salzer’s Records in Ventura a few years back, when I never was an Oasis superfan? Your guess is as good as mine. It never took much arm-twisting to get me to open my wallet at Salzer’s. I also had that CD single of an incredibly profane argument/fistfight the Gallgher brothers got into on (I think) British radio in the mid-90s. Don’t know why the hell I would ever have owned that, either.

Rachel Yamagata’s Elephants . . . Teeth Sinking into Heart is apparently a double CD, though my advance of it collected all 14 of its tracks on a single disc. The two-disc strategy is to emphasize the binary nature of its slow half and fast half, I guess. But the slow half is almost twice as long as the fast half.

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Old 97’s Rock Obama in Balmer

Real quick — one of my favorite bands, Old 97’s, played a special gig at SONAR in Baltimore last night to benefit the Obama campaign in what was referred to all night as “the crucial swing state of Ohio.” I’d never been to SONAR before, but I liked the club a lot, and its entire staff was working for free last night, along with the talent. The merch and the concessions were all donated, too. Whether you bought one of the $20 T-shirts or the $10 event poster signed by all four 97s or just a beer for $4.50 (the same ones you pay $6 for in D.C.), every penny you pried from your wallet was, we were told, to go straight to Obama’s Ohio machine. 97s frontman Rhett Miller and bassist/second singer Murry Hammond each performed a solo acoustic set in the Talking Head Lounge (SONAR’s equivalent of the Black Cat’s backstage) for people who sprang for the $100 tickets. The tix for just the Old 97s gig in the main room were $25. Two Balmer bands opened the mainstage gig, Desert Boys and Caleb Stine and The Brakemen. Neither of them were bad at all. Stine sounds eerily like Jay Farrar, but Uncle Tupelo-era Farrar, so that was no bad thing.

It was a fun evening, though I wish the club had been more than half-full. The 97s just played a sold-out show at the 9:30 here in the District six weeks ago, so that plus the fact that it was a Monday night might have depressed the turnout a bit. Their set was on the short side for them, at a mere 20 songs, but that was forgiveable given that Murry and Rhett had each performed a solo set beforehand, and anyway, the band’s actual performance absolutely smoked.

For me, though, the evening’s clear highlight was the interview Murry gave me about his fine new solo album, I Don’t Know Where I’m Going but I’m on My Way, and about the origins and history of the 97s. We spoke for about 20 minutes before his solo set, and then he actually came and found me after he and Rhett were finished so I could ask him the rest of my questions. Hell of a nice guy, he. I’ll be posting the interview on DCist probably late next week, in advance of Murry’s solo gig at IOTA on Monday, Sept. 22. I’ll see y’alls there.

Old 97’s at SONAR, Monday, Sept. 8, 2008

The Setlist

01 The Fool

02 Barrier Reef

03 The One

04 Buick City Complex

05 No Baby I

06 Mama Tried

07 Indefinitely

08 Early Morning

09 St. Ignatius Alone So Far

10 Question

11 Color of a Lonely Heart Is Blue

12 Dance with Me

13 Hands Off

14 My Two Feet

15 W. Tx Teardrops

16 Rollerskate Skinny

17 The Easy Way

ENCORE:

18 Salome

19 Murder (Or a Heart Attack)

20 Timebomb

The Band

Philip Peeples — drums

Ken Bethea — guitar

Murry Hammond — bass, vocals

Rhett Miller — vocals, guitar

Los Angeles, Detroit, Cairo, Rome

Suzanne Bertish and Andrew Long as the titular star-crossed lovers in Antony and Cleopatra. Photo by Carol Pratt.

Either because I am remarkably prolific or because I am distressingly lazy, my reviews of the Shakespeare Theatre’s Antony and Cleopatra and of the X/Detroit Cobras double-bill at the 9:30 Club last Wednesday ended up on DCist the same day. The Friday preceeding Memorial Day weekend, in fact. Given that I posted them both after lunchtime, I’m confident that tens and tens of people read both trenchant works of art criticism.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody.

X: Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, Jon Doe, and D.J. Bonebrake, pictured sometime well in advance of their current 31st anniversary tour.

Better Half Called Sinuous, Otherworldy in the Washington Times

Milady sees the future in Constellation Theatre Company’s current production of Aeschylus’ The Oresteia. Washington Times theatre critic Jayne Blanchard says she “provides chills . . . as the sinuous and otherworldly oracle Cassandra.”

Way to bring those chills, Baby. Respect!

Lou Reed vs. the 9:30 Club

Lou Reed called his most famous live album “Rock and Roll Animal,” but the title was kind of a joke even then, in 1974. The unofficial poet laureate of New York City is one of the least-pandering rockers ever, and his complete absorption in the music gives him a paradoxical charm: Like all icons of existential cool, he seems truly not to give semi-consensual anonymous back-alley fuck whether you like him or not.

Take Tuesday night’s powerful but frustratingly brief show at the 9:30 Club. The majority of the mere dozen songs performed were mid-80s-and-later album cuts, with only “Sweet Jane” (disposed of early in the set) and “Perfect Day” among Reed’s “hits.” He might have rolled his eyes introducing the Velvet Underground curio “I’m Sticking with You” (“This was in ‘Juno,’ that’s why we’re doing it”) but you just never know with this guy. Reed’s signature speak-singing, as distinct and authoritative as Johnny Cash’s, sometimes seems to veil everything in a protective layer of sarcasm.

Increasingly as he’s aged, Reed, 66, has used this vocal armor to get away with naked, frank introspection that would sound insufferably weak in anybody else’s mouth. (‘Naked’ is not just a metaphor here — few songwriters have addressed sex as Reed has, viscerally but with more revulsion than prurience.) The sole new song he performed, but didn’t identify, was like this, with its refrain, “the power of the heart.” But his tough-guy delivery also makes him out-loud funny sometimes, as in the well-chosen opener, “Mad.” (“I know I shouldn’t have had someone else in our bed, but I was so tired / Who would think you’d find a bobby pin?”)

The sold-out crowd followed Reed through his back pages without hesitation, though it was probably the incendiary chemistry of the band — featuring lead guitarist Steve Hunter, reunited with Reed from the 1973 “Berlin” album, along with longtime members Mike Rathke, Tony “Thunder” Smith, and Rob Wasserman — on numbers like “Ecstacy” and “Video Violence” that moved them. Reed rescued two from his fascinatingly clunky The Raven, adapted from/inspired by Poe: “I Wanna Know” felt unintentionally comic with drummer Tony “Thunder” Smith filling in for the Blind Boys of Alabama (not a task to be wished upon anyone), but “Guardian Angel” had the wrecked beauty of Reed’s best material.

The main-set finale was an apocalyptic “Magic and Loss,” Reed’s title cut from an album that chronicles two of his friends’ slow deaths from cancer. (Rock on, Washington DC!) “There’s a bit magic in everything,” goes one lyric, “then some loss to even things out.” That sounds about right.

A slightly shorter version of this review appears in today’s Paper of Record.
NPR recorded this show for webcast pending Lou’s approval; they’re still waiting on that as of yesterday. Check their blog for some amusing stuff about how Lou kept them scrambling to find the right gear to capture the show to his exacting specifications.

Lou Reed at the 9:30 Club, Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Setlist

01 Mad

02 Sweet Jane

03 I’m Set Free

04 Ecstasy

05 I’m Sticking with You

06 [new one w/ some refrain about “the power of the heart,” Lou said it was new but didn’t give a title]

07 I Wanna Know (The Pit and the Pendulum)

08 Halloween Parade

09 Video Violence

10 Guardian Angel

11 Magic and Loss (The Summation)

ENCORE:

12 Perfect Day

The Band

Steve Hunter – lead guitar

Mike Rathke – guitar

Rob Wasserman – upright bass

Kevin Hearn – keyboards, vocals

Tony “Thunder” Smith – percussion, vocals

Seth Calhoun – “live electronics”

Lou – lead vocals, guitar

UPDATE: Excepted from the April 29 edition of WashPo pop critic J. Freedom du Lac’s “Freedom Rock” webchat:

Mt. Pleasant, D.C.: Please, please tell Post writers and all the critics you know to stop using phrases like “the unofficial poet laureate of New York City” to describe Lou Reed, because he apparently reads these reviews, takes them to heart and then decides 75 minutes of rambling, mid-tempo pretense constitutes a good show. Sure “naked, frank introspection” is a good thing, but it’s not enough to make up for high school literary magazine-quality lyrics and a kind of ostentatious lack of enthusiasm from the guy. I disagree with your colleague Chris Klimek the words sounded “insufferably weak” even from the mouth of The Great Man. I mean, he’s a legend, he can do what he wants, and no one needs to hear “Walk on the Wild Side”� again. But a little energy and a little wit to balance the ballads would have made for a show that was actually worth watching.

J. Freedom du Lac: Duly noted — and possibly/probably something Chris will respond to if he’s reading in real-time, or something close to it.

Everybody knows (or should know) that rock’s real poet laureate of NYC is actually Patti Smith.

But I thought the show was pretty solid. Not great, but absolutely worth watching, even if he did half-arse his way through some of the material, “Sweet Jane” especially. Maybe he was just tired after his weekend wedding.

Why Do You Talk? (Being a Short Conversation with Lou Reed.)

Tomorrow’s Paper of Record features my “Conversations” interview with the great Lou Reed. I’ll also be covering his 9:30 next week. I saw him play there in, I think, August of 1998, and it stands out in my memory as one of the ten or so most exciting concert experiences of my life. I remember that he opened with “Dorita,” that short instrumental prologue to the Magic & Loss album, then went straight into “Sweet Jane” from that. The first encore number was “I’ll Be Your Mirror.”

And that’s, um, pretty much all I remember about the setlist. But I was there with Mac and Shark, and a good time was had by all.

Media Mix V: The Final Frontier

wacoslivepromo.jpg

IN THIS ISSUE: My pithy assessments of the B-52s first album of new material since 1992, plus the Waco Bros.’s long-overdue live album.  Wish they’d come play ’round these parts.