Long live rock, I need it every night

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Thorkelsons '06


Get psyched like you've never gotten psyched before. Rock Club, with financial sponsorship from the Chubb Group, is proud to present the 2006 Peter Halsten Thorkelson* Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Rock Art Form.

This world-famous award is incredibly prestigious, and there are precious metals embedded in the award statuette. It's really something. Here's a picture of one--notice that the table is very sturdy. That's because the statue is 19 lbs. of solid gold, mined from politically-unstable areas, so you know it's got street cred:

Over the next two weeks, watch this space as the Rock Club academy, or "brain trust", if you will, will present their choices for such exciting categories as

Best/Worst Show
Best Use of Special Effects ("FX!")
Best/Worst Albums of 2006!
Best/Worst Singles of 2006!


*AKA Peter Tork, member, Monkees, born Washington DC 1943

And thanks again to our sponsors, the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Consider insuring your belongings with Chubb Group Insurance.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

As seen at the 9:30 Club

The Real Geniuses - December 9, 2006 - Private Party, Old Town Alexandria, VA

"It will be a great time food, dance, fun, drink, frolic."

December proves a tough month for Rock Club. The options seem to dwindle this time of year, and the social and chocolate making calendars fill up fast. But a little serendipity graced RC this past week, as TJ's mom had hired a band for her 60th birthday party. The band, The Real Geniuses, performed at the 9:30 Club in support of the wildly over-rated Super Diamond (a Neil Diamond cover band) earlier this fall. I could easily see why TJ's mom hired this band. I'll bet they outperformed Super Diamond. Now, I like Neil Diamond, and not the "played" Sweet Caroline sing along anthem. Song Sung Blue, and Forever in Blue Jeans are great ND tracks. But Super Diamond takes itself too seriously, and gets old pretty quickly and I know from personal experience.

Okay, back to The Real Geniuses. As you can tell from the picture, I creepily stood behind the band to take this photo. The keyboardist has a nice back, doesn't she? So let's get that out in the open. She was super cute, and that always makes the rock a bit more interesting. The Real Geniuses are in fact geniuses. They're smart enough to know that sometimes the crowd just wants to hear songs they like. I believe it was Tainted Love that lured me up from the basement to check out the band. It was the keyboard that did it. I was summoned by the unmistakeable "duh-duh"..."duh-duh" coming through the ceiling tiles. The Real Geniuses band is, of course, a cover band. And a good one at that. There really isn't a lot more to say about them. They performed admirably. I liked them. The girl was cute. What more do you need?

I can't say that the rest of Rock Club even bothered to check them out. Maybe as they waited at the pasta bar, or the booze bar, but I doubt much more than that. So for those that missed it all together, here's some rather lousy video I shot with my camera. To be fair, in my version, you can actually see TJ's mom dancing at the end. But not so here. Oh well. But this is the song that I've had in my head all weekend.

So after the "show," TJ we suggested we go to one of his favorite local bars. I actually don't need to tell you much about it. I'll let this footage speak for itself. Imagine this scene set to the song, "Closing Time."

Did you notice the dialogue at all? My favorite was hearing the woman moan, "nooooooo!" I was waiting for her to say, "not without my daughter!"

King Luva is visible on the top left. He calmly watches as the "bitch gits tossed." This was followed by more violence on the street.

At least no one died (that I know of).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Witty Statehood Title

If Rock Club had a house band, it'd probably be our well bearded friends, Statehood.

While this was the first official Rock Club show for Statehood, we've seen almost every show they've played. In fact, RC has been represented at 60% of all the shows they've ever played (that's 3 out of 5 for you math whizzes). Their first show was at Fort Reno this past summer (back in Rock Club's salad days). At the time, they had pre-recorded all the guitar parts, leaving Clark to focus on his singing duties. They later ditched the machine and had Clark play guitar AND sing at the same time. The experiment was a success and all the people rejoiced. However, something was still missing. On Saturday night they added a second guitarist and again there was success and rejoicing.

It's been interesting to see the band evolve. The songs have become tighter, harder, faster, and more punk. Clark's singing has really grown on me and the band emphasis on "the kick-ass rock" is clear. Songs such as "Disconnect" and "Giants" rained down upon us with great vengeance and furious anger. The highlight of the evening was when their new guitarist joined them onstage and the band launched into "Plexi". The second guitarist took the song "to eleven". It balanced out the sound with the band's stellar rhythm section and added more a harder feel. Needless to say, I think their sound is getting better and better.

While the songs are certainly getting better, the crowd on Saturday was underwhelmed. Eric even pointed it out during the show. Maybe it's b/c the songs tended to sound similar due to Clark's singing style. Whatever the reason, I don't think the crowd reaction was an accurate measure of the performance. I expect the band to continue to progress into a rock juggernaut. At least I hope so. Rock Club needs a killer house band.

Rock Club Rating: 6.8

Since I bailed on the Radio 4 show and missed what apparently was a great show, I'll finish with some comments on the Rock & Roll Hotel. It was our first visit there and collectively Rock Club was impressed.

We in Rock Club appreciate the finer things in life. We swim in pools of champagne, dine on meals of fresh horse, and sip crude oil from a twisty straw. We demand nothing but the finest, which is why the R & R Hotel could become the unofficial home of Rock Club. Five reasons why we'll be returning to the R&R Hotel:

1. Music and lounge areas are on separate floors so you can escape and hang out if you want
2. The upstairs is divided into cool rooms w/ rock-inspired décor (and not the cheesy Hard Rock Café type of crap)
3. Let's just say if Potsy showed some initiative, he'd have a decent chance of crushing some ass
4. Ample Parking
5. Good beer selection, cheap booze

Comments on the Radio 4 show are welcome.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

At His Satanic Majesty's Request

Rock Club Movie Night: Gimme Shelter (1970--Criterion Edition)

I first saw this movie sometime in the early 1980s on local station WDCA 20, on a 12-inch Sony color television. The times they are a-certainly becoming different. Now, in 2006, Rock Club watched the remixed-and-remastered-by-Criterion DVD of the documentary Gimme Shelter. Gimme Shelter tells the story of the Rolling Stones and their ill-fated answer to Woodstock, Altamont. With Dolby sound and retouched color, the 35-year-old me appreciated this movie in a way that a 12-year-old could not.

Okay, I’ll throw it out there. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while, and maybe one of the best I’ve ever seen. The presence of Dan and Erin made me check my gushing, but if I’m honest I have to say I was mesmerized by this movie. Much of the appeal, again, has to do with Criterion—if you plan on renting this, make sure you get the Criterion edition. Only Criterion will do. Got it?

The story of this movie, in my opinion, is something more elemental than “the Death of the 60s”, or something more big picture. In my mind, Gimme Shelter is a movie about what happens when 300,000 people converge upon a large open area with limited access roads, few toilets, and a very, very, very popular band playing at one end. The movie is almost like a Discovery Channel nature documentary. If you’ve ever been in a big crowd, and felt a surge, or a sway, or just some sweaty dude up on your back, when maybe for a second you thought, I really wish I weren’t in this crowd, and later I have fucking have to get some air, then you’ll feel that anxiety while you watch Gimme Shelter. It’s sickening to watch a crowd crush, either filmed, or live. I suppose for me it’s comparable to watching a movie with a shipwreck survivor bobbing in the water, knowing the sharks are underneath. A few things can happen in either situation, and all of them are bad.

That’s not to say there aren’t other stories in this film. First, the Rolling Stones, in 1969, were the most fantastic band on the planet. The Beatles had recorded all the music they would ever record, and Jagger and company were on top, but—and I say this as a committed Beatles fan—I don’t think it would have mattered if the Beatles were still together, because, as the live performances in this movie prove, no band could rock like the Rolling Stones in 1969. The movie opens with footage of the band at Madison Square Garden, and Jagger is electrifying. For those of us used to seeing him as a fucking old fart with bad knees, the 1969 Jagger is something else entirely—cool, talented, energetic, committed to the cause of rocking. The film is also an interesting look at the rest of the band, who refuse to speak at length. Charlie Watts, of all people, is the talkative one. We get a brief look at the short-lived Mick Taylor, whose place was taken by Ron Wood, whose place I understand has now been taken by some black guy. Wow, we’ve come so far since the 60s.

The movie, contrary to how I remembered it from my 1980s viewing, isn’t about just Altamont, either. There is ample footage of the Stones at Madison Square Garden, as well as a priceless look at the band recording “Wild Horses” at the Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio. Now, I know this song comes on classic rock radio all the time, and really conveys a sincerity that in these days is quite out of place, but put yourself in the way-back machine and check out 1969. The Stones had only formed in 1962, and had released their first album in 1963. This was not the era of iTunes and Limewire and allofMP3.com—it took a while for new sounds to spread. 1969 is only six years removed from 1963, but in terms of sound it may well have been light years. Think—it’s now 2006. What were we listening to in 2000? Probably shit that pretty much sounds just about like what we listen to now. Whereas, in 1969, everybody—the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, everybody—was new and exciting. And now, “Wild Horses” is no longer new and exciting, but it’s still an excellent song.

The Stones began their 1969 tour in support of their new album, Let It Bleed. They hadn’t been to America since 1966, and my, how things had changed. The movie features the band doing “Gimme Shelter”, “Love in Vain”, and “Live With Me” (outtakes only). This album is wonderful and I recommend every human on earth buy a copy immediately—not in the movie, but also fantastic songs, are “Midnight Rambler” and “Monkey Man”, the latter the soundtrack to Ray Liotta’s coke-fueled downfall in Goodfellas. And once again, the Criteria remix is superlative—the surround sound makes it seem as if you’re front-row, off to the left, a little back. Which is my preferred spot.

But you realize early on in this movie, the story is the crowd. The camera catches the audience, streaming onto the speedway grounds like ants. The close-in shots are fascinating—the color of the movie, the clothes people are wearing, the haircuts. It’s endlessly fascinating. I’ve now watched it twice since I’ve rented it and will likely give it a third viewing sometime in the near future.

If you don’t know the story of Altamont, the Hell’s Angels, Oakland Chapter, were hired to do security at the festival, which was the West Coast answer to Woodstock. The Angels were bad dudes and had a tendency towards violence, but let’s remember that they had done security at many Grateful Dead shows, and thus had experience in crowd control with a hippie audience. But the brute size of the crowd—and the movie includes aerial scenes of it, shot from a helicopter—is overwhelming.

From the start of the festival, the vibe is bad. Fights break out during the Flying Burrito Brothers set, followed by more scraps during the Jefferson Airplane. Actually, “scraps” underdoes it, as Airplane guitarist Marty Balin is knocked unconscious by an Angel. By the time the Stones appear, the atmosphere is angry and ominous. Not helped by the one-foot high stage, the Stones do their best to quell the violence, but the crowd by this point is a multi-cell organism, with a terrible imperative to get closer and closer to the stage. The movie shows countless fucking weirdos rushing the stage, pressing forward, undergoing really really bad acid trips and assuming talking to Mick will help them. From the start it was bad—a scene showing the Stones’ helicopter-borne arrival at Altamont, while the sun was shining and the music hadn’t even started, ends with some amped up freak rushing forward, slugging Jagger, and muttering “I hate you” as he’s dragged away. This is the California of Charles Manson and Jim Morrison, not the crunchy Woodstock Nation of upstate New York.

The Mansonite side of 1960s California certainly becomes latent in the movie when Meredith Hunter is murdered. Hunter’s stabbing, by a Hell’s Angel, is captured on film. It is difficult to watch, having come just after a short-lived lull in the fighting near the stage (watching Keith Richards trying to calm the crowd, and failing, and then turning his back and crossing himself is distressing). Hunter is glimpsed earlier in the movie, during a crowd shot—his lime green tuxedo jacket; his sweaty, twitchy amphetamine face, and big afro, stick in the mind. The stabbing unfolds with a predictability that is sickening. My hypothesis is that Hunter was pressed into the security line of Angels, took exception to their rough treatment, got his ass beat, came back with a gun, and that was that. See the Rolling Stones and get killed, I guess.

The killing is horrifying and the Stones absolutely rock out from this point on. It sounds callous, but to have called off the show at that point would certainly have provoked further violence, so they keep going—the crowd certainly backed off after the stabbing, allowing the show to take place. It’s a sick compromise, but it’s one more reason this film is great. The band plays more out of fear, than anything else, and they sound absolutely terrific.

Altamont exposed the weakness in the hippie argument that absolute freedom will lead to absolute bliss. There’s always some asshole that ruins things. You’ll find no apology or justification here for the behavior of the Hell’s Angels at Altamont, but there was something preordained about the Altamont violence, and Gimme Shelter’s genius, intentional or not, is in capturing that foreboding. The very idea that you could hold a free festival, with three days notice, featuring the biggest band in the world, now strikes us as ludicrous, on so many levels. 300,000 people were at Altamont—can you imagine? The reality is that mankind is simultaneously angel and animal, and sometimes circumstance is the only arbiter of which side wins out. Woodstock worked, Altamont didn’t—the devil was in the details, and that’s the only difference. For a lack of portable toilets and accessible parking, Altamont became a symbol of “the death of 1960s”. Only the demon that killed the 1960s didn’t die with its victim—11 dead in Cincinnati in 1979 (the Who), nine dead in Denmark in 2000 (Pearl Jam), 100 people in Rhode Island in 2003 (Great White), and countless more in between. In summary, this is a horror movie—next time you feel yourself in a crowd, move towards the back and make sure you know where the exits are.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go...(Gob Iron Review)

I have to say I wasnt expecting much from Gob Iron as we descended on the Black Cat last Friday night. In fact, I even gave Potsy and Jimbromski the option of of just going out to the Red Room and skipping the $15 show altogether. However, since Potsy hadnt been to a show in like 3 weeks, I think he was going through RC withdrawal. We all decided to pony up the dough and check out Gob Iron upstairs. The bad is a duo, consisting of Jay Farrar (ex-Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt) and some other dude from Varnaline (which I have never heard) who looked a bit tlike Mr . Bentley from the wonderful 70's sitcom The Jeffersons.
We arrived after they had already begun and Potsy and Jimbromski stayed for all of 2 songs. I managed to stay for 4. Needless to say this was not the type of show I was looking for on a Friday night at the Black Cat. I needed more rock. Farrar has a nice alt-country voice and the mellow guitar playing was soothing to my soul, but it really wasnt in the mood for such a laid back evening. I think I will give Gob Iron another try on the iPod, perhaps just prior to bedtime. During one of the tunes, I glanced to my right and saw this guy (obviously having been dragged to the show by his girlfriend) dozing off in the corner. Maybe he was just "feeling the music", but to me it looked like REM sleep. Anyway, I proceeded bakc downstairs where we had a nice evening listening to my excellent jukebox selections.
Since I stayed upstairs for another song or 2, I missed the altercation downstairs. Apparently some patrons were being to loud, or screaming and the bartender had to turn the music down and yell at them to "SHUT THE FUCK UP". Humiliating if you ask me. Anyway, I dont have much more to add. RC rating 5.4.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Welcome Change of Pace

PLEASEEASAUR, JOE JACK TALCUM (of Dead Milkmen) $8 backstage at the Black Cat - Monday 11/13/06

Backstage!! Hell yes, bitch. We scored back stage passes for the latest Rock Club event at the Black Cat this past Monday night. Suck on that Baltimore Rock Club! You guys are soooooooo lame! It promised to be a very exclusive Monday night. I think only 12 people had these precious passports to DC's Behind the Music. But come to find out, these back stage passes weren't all that hard to get, and the "Back Stage" at the "Black Cat" is really just a "back room" on the "first floor," behind "the" Red Room Bar. A couple of the RC members seemed hesitant to commit to the show, despite the opportunity for close-up-and-personal attention from the acts. Loose Lips heard one RC member complain that "if there aren't enough people in there, I won't be able to make fun of the band." And this same member claimed that Rock Club was "starting to feel like a job." How sad. Either you're with us or you're against us. But eventually there seemed to be a rush at the door, and RC x 3/4 sprang into action Jackson to round out the even dozen of geek rockers present. And our friend Don Rickels managed to get himself a seat to rest his tired old bones. The first act was Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen ah...fame?. Were/are Dead Milkmen famous? I can't decide. But Joe Jack Talcum was the perfect geek rock appetizer for the night.

Did you notice how I managed to slip "but come" into the paragraph above? When we entered the Back Stage, it looked pretty grim. JJ was singing the song about Scotty dying from the toxic waste factory, or whatever it was. Yeesh. Way to build a crowd. Hey Joe Jack Talcum, play something better. And he did. Some of it was serious but much of it was old Dead Milkmen stuff (what JJ could remember of it). I love that new "Sex Sting" track. It's a fable, really. It says: "Be careful on the internets." Especially this one. He, of course, played Punk Rock Girl. Which was nice. I'd see him again. I think TJ's mom should hire Joe for her birthday bash. While JJ had this sad, American Splendor quality to his appearance, he really belted it out. He was poignant at times, and amusingly ironic at others. Like I said, he was a good set up for the antics of the "headliner."

The dorky dozen took 5 and awaited the arrival of Pleaseeasaur on the Backstage. I had urged the other members of RC not to snoop around looking for the Pleaseeasaur back story, as it really is best going in fresh. Now, I had seen Pleaseeasaur open for Pinback at the Black Cat earlier in the year, so I was prepared. Seeing this act for the first time can be somewhat uncomfortable given its ridiculousness, but that discomfort quickly fades when you see just how insanely funny the main performer, JP Hasson, is. If you missed the show (TJ), you needn't be ignorant to the inzanity, check it out here. Or another example below.

With crowd pleasers such as "I Hate Dog Shit," "LA Nights 2," and "Strangers Have The Best Candy," Pleaseeasaur provided quality, low-cost - nearly individual - entertainment. My feeling from the group was that this was a nice change of pace. Not annoying like Weird Al, but with the low-fi multi-media to complement the shameless Bill Murray-esque performance of Mr. Hasson, this show was memorable. For another perspective, I found this review on the DCist.

This show was well worth the $8. And now I know the secrets of the Back Stage.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some Thoughts on the Lizard King

I read this article today on the CNN website, which describes comments made by Jim Morrison's family to the authors of a new authorized memoir about The Doors (The Doors on The Doors). Morrison's dad (King Lizard the First?) was an admiral in the US Navy, and the family lived for a time in Alexandria, on Glebe Road. Adm. Morrison looks back on his son's life with a mixture of fondness and regret:

We look back on [Jim] with great delight...the fact that he's dead is unfortunate but looking back on his life, it's a very pleasant thought.
Remember, this was the guy who sang about killing his pops and banging his mom ("The End"). With the exception of one phone call, Mr. Mojo Risin' didn't speak to his parents after he left home (although he did remain friendly with his siblings. Here's his dad on their estrangement:

I had the feeling that he felt we'd just as soon not be associated with his career. He knew I didn't think rock music was the best goal for him. Maybe he was trying to protect us.
The article reminded me of when I was in Cleveland for work last November, and took some time to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s an exhibit on The Doors in there, and I remember they had a letter from Admiral Morrison to the Florida Probation and Parole Commission, regarding Jim’s arrest, and subsequent conviction, for indecent exposure and profanity at a 1969 Doors concert in Miami. Through the magic of Google I was able to find the letter, which I post below:

Letter to Jim's Father from probation department: (dated September 24,

Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office

Admiral George Morrison,
I am presently conducting a pre-sentence investigation on your son.

As you are probably aware, Jim has been found guilty of indecent exposure and profanity in Dade County.

Jim tells me that it has been 2 or 3 years since he last had any contact with you. I would very much appreciate any comments that you would care to make regarding your son's behavior and his present situation to include in my investigation.

The sentence date has been set for Oct. 30, 1970.

Thank you very much,

Robert Disher

Admiral Morrison's reply: (dated October 2, 1970)

Thank you for your letter of September 30. I appreciate this opportunity to comment on my son Jim.

I saw him last about 5 years ago during his senior year at UCLA. He was successfully completing his fourth year of college. As in all his academic work through grade school, high school, and college, he was an excellent student. While he had always been an intellectual rebel, he had always obeyed and respected authority.

In 1965 I began a two-year assignment in England. Although I invited him to join us in London after graduating, he declined to start his own career. Since that time he has been completely independent of me financially and in every other way. We have very little contact with him since that time due partly to the physical separation and partly because of some criticism from me.

While in London, I was called by an old friend in California who had been approached by Jim for a loan to finance his first record. Concerned by his appearance, particularly his long hair, the friend called me. I, in turn, wrote Jim a letter severely criticizing his behavior and strongly advised him to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I considered to be a complete lack of talent in this direction. His reluctance to communicate with me again is to me quite understandable.

Since returning to the United States I have on several occasions made an effort to contact him. One time I was successful in talking with him by telephone. Our conversation was quite pleasant and I congratulated him on his first gold album, but nothing of consequence was discussed. We have had no direct contact since that time. However, while we all lived in California in 1969, Jim's younger brother and sister visited with him frequently and got along famously as they always did during their childhood days at home.

Also an old friend of ours had dinner with Jim in LA several months ago and reported to us that he was the 'same ol' Jim'. I have followed his career with a mixture of amazement and in the case of Miami, great concern and sorrow.

While I obviously am not a judge of modern music, I view his success with pride. Based on my knowledge of Jim through his twenty first year, I firmly believe that his performance in Miami was a grave mistake and not in character.

I will always follow his progress with the greatest of interest and concern and stand ready to assist him in any way, should he ask.

Thank you again for this opportunity to affirm my conviction that Jim is fundamentally a respectable citizen.

Very truly yours,
G.S.Morrison, Rear Admiral USN

I don't know what lessons are to be drawn from this, but it struck me as incredibly sad, especially given that the next exhibit, alongside the above letter, was a telegram, dated August 10, 1971, from the U.S. Embassy in Paris informing the Morrisons that their son had been found dead in his apartment. Children turn their backs on their parents, and parents respond in kind--it's been this way since before rock and roll and the birth of the "counterculture". Either way, the family Morrison still look back on their wayward son and brother with pride:

Jim Morrison died of a heart attack in Paris in 1971, and his grave at the Pere Lachaise cemetery is one of the city's top tourist attractions. His family pays the authorities to take care of the site. George Morrison said it was "quite an honor ... for the family" to have his son buried near cultural giants like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Frederic Chopin.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some Tricks, Not Enough Treats (or sexy nurse costumes)

Tapes N' Tapes with Annuals and Dosh
Oct. 31st at the Black Cat

I'm not a numbers guy like Jimbromski so I can't mathematically prove what makes for a good show. I do know parts of the formula though: a good album (The Loon by TNT is one of the year's best), a festive evening (Halloween), highly regarded openers (Dosh and Annuals), and Potsy's absence. All signs pointed to a great concert when Tapes N' Tapes came to town. A can't miss evening, right? Well, not exactly.

Let's discuss these "highly regarded openers" first. Dosh opened the evening and I went up to catch a few songs. I was impressed. His one man, multi-instrumented performance was unique and definitely very cool. He has an electronic, rootsy, hip-hop, rock, keyboards, and drums thing that he does. Whatever it is, I like it. Plus, he was friendly as Flanders. I appreciate polite indie rockers.

Dosh, as God sees him.

Annuals were a big disappointment. I was tipped off to this when a drunken kid with a thick Boston came into the bathroom and said, "Oh my Gaaawd! These guys saaack!". Well, he was right. The whole show was total cock rock. All 5 guys in the band were shirtless and thrashing their long hair around. As Jimbromski said, "Put your shirts on. This isn't gay porn." The songs were Spinal Tap-esque. One of my favorite band gimmicks is the dual drummers. Annuals even managed to mess that up. We were all happy when their set was over. Rock Club Rating: 2.7

Speaking of disappointments, I was less than impressed with the costumes we saw. First, there was a dearth of sexy outfits. Not a single hot nurse to be found. One costume was so lame, the girl actually wrote what it was on her chest so people would know: "Dead Cat" . Lame, but not as lame as the guy in the Star Trek uniform. Yeah, I'm sure you borrowed that from a friend. Sure you did!

Onto TNT. Being fun loving guys, the band dressed up for the holiday. The lead singer was Tyrone Biggums (character from the Chapelle Show), the keyboardist/Tambourine Man was Superman, the drummer was Tommy Lee, and the bassist was a Referee. They had a strong start with a two songs off their excellent album, The Loon. "Insistor" was especially good, but after that things went south. The middle section was a milquetoast performance. The band couldn't seem to muster the Rock I was hoping for.

The show dragged until they finished with their two best songs, "Cowbell" and "Jakob's Suite" (which you may recognize from those annoying 7 Days In A Nissan Sentra commercials). We opted against staying for the encore which I heard was really bad. Some sort of white-boy rap. We were correct to leave Costanza style - on a high note.

It wasn't a great show, but I'm not going to slam them either. Rock Club Rating: 5.7

Monday, October 30, 2006

Duck and Cover

Cold War Kids, Oct 26 2006

Last week saw Rock Club reduced to Jumbo Slice and I. Potsy was (and still is) away for work, and Sacklunch was in France living la vie en rose. So that left just the two of us, the sole survivors--I was Charlton Heston in The Omega Man, and Jumbo Slice was a plague-resistant albino. And off to DC9 we went.

This week's show was originally to be The Futureheads at the 9:30, with Cold War Kids opening. I know not what happened to the Futureheads, but they wimped the fuck out and left us all in the lurch. And as I mentioned in a previous post, I don't do research, I just make shit up to fill in any blanks in my knowledge. And thus I can say with authority that the Futureheads canceled their 9:30 show due to stomach pains and diarrhea caused by the consumption of genetically-modified paprika-flavored Pringles. Go ahead, look it up.

Things got lamer at DC9 as Jumbo Slice announced that he would not be staying late due to his participation in the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon. Two points here: (1) He made the announcement in an overly-loud voice, so that everyone would look at him and go, wow, wish I had the motivation and heart to run a marathon, and (2) This was Thursday, and the marathon was on Sunday. You do the math. Don't feel like it? Okay, I'll do it for you:
(3x + 5y)*π = Jumbo Slice's a wuss

There, I've proven mathematically what until now we've only known subjectively. I am a multi-faceted genius.

So here's the Cold War Kids review: I have no idea what this band sounds like live, or even what they look like, because we stayed downstairs drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, instead of actually going to the show. I was able to get a nice buzz on and get home by midnight, whereupon my wife complained that I smelled bad. Also, Jumbo Slice considered but rejected the notion of purchasing a jumbo slice. Hmm, what else...we saw a big rat outside. Oh wait, we also saw a young Pakistani guy in a warm-up suit (similar to what old people wear when they're doing laps around the mall) panhandling. Bizarre.

Anyway, that was Cold War Kids. I'll be pretty cheesed off if these guys become the next Beatles, seeing as how we played hooky instead of seeing their show.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Built To Spill/Camper Van Beethoven Review

First and foremost, I must apologize for the tardiness of the review. Much like the many term papers in college that waited until the last minute, such is the same with my RC reviews. Anyway, I will try and remember the evening as best I can and put together an insightful review.
We arrived during the middle of the Camper Van Beethoven set and I promptly made my way to "the spot" at the 930 club. I must say that besides my bed (with my lovely wife at my side...), or perhaps eating a large bowl of Pho at Pho 75, leaning up against that rail at the 930 is possibly my favorite place to be in all of DC. There is something very comforting about leaning out over the masses like some sort of King of Rock. And with no one to hassle be about blocking their view because they got there first, yadda, yadda.....Anyway, I remember seeing CVB back at the old 930 and recall them being fresh and exciting, and new wave of alternative group that seemed to be a bit different from the rest. The yeven had a dude that played the fucking fiddle, how indie is that. Well, seeing them some 15 years later they seemed a bit dated. I dont think the fact that David Lowery had to don Homer Simpson style reading specs in between each song helped out too much. There want too much interaction with the crowd and they just seemed a bit flat. They also had 2 Apple laptops on the stage which added to the "un-rockness" of the set. They also spent too much time withthe whole DVD player bullshit, just play some music and get on with it. I now must pause my review and refresh my cocktail. I just purchased this top shelf gin and made an extremely tasty G and T with it. I shall return later.(to quote the legendary Snoopy Dog Dog, "Tanqueray and tonic, yeah I'm fucked up now...")
I have returned, albeit the next morning. After the cocktail I settled into to some episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on the DVR, funny shit that Larry David. Although I did find the CVB set qa bit lacking, I did enjoy the extended 20 minute jam which they played as their last tune. It was helped along by the video that Jumboslice posted earlier in the blog, it was a good fusion of audio and video. RC rating 5.6
As we were waiting for BTS to come on, I noticed lead singer Doug Martsch onstage setting up his own equipment. At first, I thought, "I like this do-it-yourself attitude, who needs roadies anyway". However, this turned out to be a major downfall of the show. They finally set-up and played a few songs and it sounded tight and I thought the show had real potential at that point. However, this was not the case as there wasnt much interaction with the crowd, just a feeble "thanks" after each tune. There were also large gaps between the songs at which they proceeded to tune their instruments while the crowd chattered and waited. I am not saying that every band has to be like Art Brut and be thoroughly entertaining for the entire set, but a liitle reaction from the band is always nice. Maybe a "thanks for being here..", or a "Hello Washington DC, are you ready to rock..." would be nice. The whole show just seemed a bit flacid and I generally like their music. There was also a great deal of time spent noodling with the DVD player that projected videos on the screen behind them. Some of the songs were good, and the Built to Spillers definitely have talent. I just wish they had come a bit more prepared to play and had left the DVD player in the car. RC rating 6.2
On a side note, Potsy and I left a bit early and stopped in Ben's for a large plate of chili-cheese fries. This was the perfect antidote for the sour taste left in my mouth after the show. Also, I might add that Potsy sometimes has a habit of being a bit to energetic when something pisses him off. Case in point, as we left the 930 we were walking across 9th St on our way to Bens. A large SUV turned the corner and did not yield to the pedsetrians (us) and we had to stop and yield to the oncoming SUV. OF course, in true Potsy fashion, he yells something about obeying traffic rules to the drivers of the SUV. Now I am all for standing up for your rights as a pedestrian, but yelling to a car, on U St., late at night, may not be the best move. Just brush it off and move on. What do you gain by yelling at the drivers of the car. So now, the rest of the walk down U St. is tainted by the fact that I have to keep looking over my shoulder in case the SUV comes speeding back down the block and we promptly become a statistic in the ever increasing crime of DC. Or at the least, wait until I am not around to comment, I have a wife and kid for Christs sake.....

Friday, October 27, 2006

10 Great Albums Released This Year, Part II

Blue Collar by Rhymefest - To me, rap is like art; I'm no expert, but I know what I like. It's not the rap about "bitches and ho's and guns and money". I like thought provoking, original, edgy, yet humorous artists. Rhymefest is all of these things. I'm not into rappers who talk about how gangsta they are or how they're the greatest rapper of all-time. We settled that debate years ago (Biggie, right? No?) Rhymefest likes to portray himself as the working-class rapper. He's not a bling man. I can respect that. Plus, his music is slammin'.*

*I tried to think of description where I wouldn't sound like the whitest man on Earth. Clearly, I failed.

Rather Ripped by Sonic Youth - With Ripped, Sonic Youth reminds people that it can still kick ass. Their new tour even includes pyrotechnics and Steve Shelley performing a drum solo while spinning in a cage above the stage. Suck on that, Motley Crue!

Okay, so maybe they aren't quite Motley Crue (thank god), but they do crank on this album. I love the guitar work, the straight forward rock, and the strong vocals from both Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. Sonic Youth has always been a favorite of mine. I rank this album right up there with Murray Street, Dirty, and Goo (but maybe not Daydream Nation). Summary: Jason will enjoy this, James will not.

We, The Vehicles by Maritime - Infectious pop goodness with lots of big hooks. I may do a full review on this later so I'll keep this brief. It's bouncy, fun, and tight. Just like that hot girl you hoped to hook up with in college (didn't happen, did it?). Well, maybe this record will help you forget you got no action at school. Hey, not everyone can be a love machine like Erin. Oh, wait. Never mind.

News and Tributes by The Futureheads - As good as their latest album? Maybe not, but still better than the vast majority of records put out in 2006. The Futureheads deserve admiration for the way they approach music. They have the same post-punk inspirations as hundreds of other bands but they have a creativity all their own. All four members take turn on the vocals and the interplay of singers, along with their explosive sound, makes for a great listen. "Yes/No" and "Skip To The End" are great tracks and measure up against anything from their first album.

We're Already There by Mazarin - "Northeast Winter" is one of my absolute favorite tracks of the year. However, I'm an album guy and not suckered in by one good song. An album needs to deliver the goods from start to finish. Mazarin does this with a collection of indie pop, instrumentals, experimentation, clever lyrics, and the best melodies I've heard this year. This is a band I'll insist we go to see next time they're in town.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who Is Rock Club?

We receive thousands of emails a week (and by "thousands" I mean zero) asking us "Who is Rock Club"? Here's a closer look at the four founding members of rock club.

Strengths: prognostications, the power to move you (applies only to the ladies)
Weaknesses: Sleeplessness, Letting Go
Favorite Band: Bang Bang Bang
Greatest Shame: Still asks for a Pony each Christmas
Person He Would Most Like to Meet: His father
Summary: The only unmarried member of Rock Club. Fails to acquaint himself with the local au pair community. This disappoints the rest of Rock Club tremendously.

Jumbo Slice
Strengths: Athletic Quickness, Useless indie rock trivia
Weaknesses: Mental Quickness, telling the truth
Favorite Band: French Toast
Greatest Shame: Wife notices his disturbing amount of "man crushes"
Person He Would Most Like to Meet: Says it's the Dalai Lama, but really it's anyone willling to listen to him rattle off obscure indie rock nonsense.
Summary: His Rock Club membership is tentative at best. Brings very little to the table. If we were the Beatles, he'd be Ringo.

Strengths: can make things magically delicious, spewing invective
Weaknesses: Spelling & Grammar, "Reply To All" button
Favorite Band: Jackson Browne
Greatest Shame: Let's just say there was an accident at his bris.
Person He would Most Like to Meet: The Rabbi from his bris
Summary: The founder and unofficial President of Rock Club. Voted "Most Likely to Tell Someone To Fuck Off".

Strengths: Spotting "That Guy", searching the interweb
Weaknesses: his ankles, scoring weed
Favorite Band: Skin Tight Band
Greatest Shame: An unabashed lover of British wuss rock. He also loves soccer, fish & chips, and the Queen. Yet he still claims to be an American.
Person He would Most Like to Meet: George Costanza
Summary: Rock Club's voice of reason. Responsible for our best ideas: Rock Club t-shirts, the clubhouse, and expelling Sacklunch. He doles out wisdom via Seinfeld quotes like a monk quoting Confucius.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Album Review: The Walkmen

I'm not a fan of The Walkmen. Yes, they have some good songs, especially "The Rat" and "Little House of Savages". However, I judge bands on the quality of their albums. After all, even bands like Blind Melon and Golden Earring were able to make a few decent songs. It's tough to listen to an album by The Walkmen from beginning to end. There's a great disparity in song quality. I'm also not a fan because I saw them earlier this year at the 9:30 Club. The show was pretty crappy. The lead singer struck me as a frat guy. Very annoying. I figured I was done with these guys. Not so fast, my friend! (Get it? Lee Corso? College Game Day? Anyone? No? Fuck you guys) I just listened to "Pussy Cats" starring The Walkmen, a song-for-song recreation of Harry Nilsson's 1974 album Pussy Cats. Since this album isn't officially being released until October 24th, I wanted to chime in before Pitchfork either deems it genuis or "shit sandwich".

First, background on Harry and his album, compliments of Wikipedia and the magic of Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V:

"1974 found Nilsson back in California, and when John Lennon moved there during his separation from Yoko Ono, the two musicians rekindled their earlier friendship. Lennon was intent upon producing Nilsson's next album, much to Nilsson's delight. However, their time together in California became known much more for heavy drinking and drug use than it did for musical collaboration. In a widely publicized incident, they were ejected from the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood for drunken heckling of the Smothers Brothers. Both also caused property damage during binges, with Lennon trashing a bedroom in Lou Adler's house, and Nilsson throwing a bottle through a thirty-foot hotel window.

To make matters worse, Nilsson ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions for this album, but he hid the injury due to fear that Lennon would call a halt to the production. The resulting album, Pussy Cats, which may charitably be described as "uneven", was a shock for listeners who knew Nilsson as one of the best singers of his generation. In an effort to clean up, Lennon, Nilsson and Ringo Starr first rented a house together, then Lennon and Nilsson left for New York."

Okay, back to my review. The opener "Many Rivers to Cross" features The Walkmen's lead singer at his best. Bluesy, sometimes snarling, he delivers a nice rendition of this Jimmy Cliff song. Following this is a great version of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues". [Warning: Gratuitous indie rock references coming up. James, you may want to skip to the next paragraph.] Ian Svenonius is a guest vocalist on this track and the duel vocals add to the chaotic quality to the cover. Ian was in Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up (both referenced by Art Brut during their Top of Pops list the other night). He's currently in Weird War, a local band featured in the Burn to Shine DVD, which Jason just let me borrow.

Another stand out track is "Save the Last Dance". It's a beautiful and heartfelt song. "Loop De Loop" is a raucous live track with great horns, maracas, and kazoos. It's also more evidence The Walkmen are slowly becoming a Mariachi party band. At least, I hope they are. The album ends with a truly great cover of everyone's favorite rock oldie, "Rock Around The Clock". Bill Haley would be proud. The only real clunker on the album is "Black Sails".

Damn, I really need to be more concise with these stupid reviews. Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Rock Club Album Rating: 7.3.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rock Club - Top of the Pops

Art Brut - $13 @ The Black Cat 10/17/06

Are you ready Rock Club?
Form a band. This is what Art Brut wants you to accomplish with your life. It seems like good advice until you realize that the members of Bang Bang Bang took it to heart. This show basically calls us back to the origins of Rock Club. Not only did it fulfill our latent desire to be thoroughly rocked, but Art Brut itself avoids the pretension of the big-egoed "artists" and reminds us of why we like to rock. Rock, if nothing else, is supposed to be fun. And not whimsically fun like watching a pinwheel spin, but the kind of fun you have when you strap a video camera to a monkey and send him on a roller coaster - intense fun with a degree of ludicrousness (yes, it's a word, look it up). Well maybe that's not the best analogy, but this act does everything you'd want them to. Let's start with their membership and their look. First the drummer (Mikey B) stands upright throughout the show. No sitting down on the job here. The bass player is a chic. She has purple hair, stands off to the side and goes by the name Freddy Feedback. Nuff said. The lead guitarist (Ian) has a Nikki Sixx hair-do and can "jam." Lead singer, Eddie Argos, is British. I'm pretty sure the rest of the band is too, but I haven't heard them talk, so I can't be certain. And Mr. Argos likes to sing without wearing his shoes. He used to have a mustache and I've seen him dressed sorta paramilitary-like. His hair flopped in a certain way reminiscent of a young frustrated Austrian, but that was a loooong time ago. That's an older photo of Eddie on the right. He likes to drink. I know this because he told me so. And this photo proves it. But unlike when I saw him in April, Eddie is now unmustachioed and is getting a bit bloated. But it doesn't keep him from being fucking cool! Just look at him with the C. Lee look-a-like. He's a riot. Lastly, Jasper Future, who kinda looks like the annoying blonde guy from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (I know you know who I'm talking about, don't play dumb) plays guitar for Art Brut. He wears a kerchief, and is straight-up 1982. He'll even throw a windmill from time to time. He has the kind of energy that only comes from being under 30 and from an overdose of rock. All this adds up to one simple truth (or elaborate lie), these guys have fun rockin' out. And that's the kind of thing that inspires Rock Club.

Now, I must admit that this October show was very similar to the Art Brut we saw in April. The set was pretty much the same with a few different tunes, but what can you expect after only 6 months and a rather limited catalog? But the strength of this act is more than just the musical performance, it is the theatrics as well. And for me, this is an essential part of a good live show, otherwise, why bother leaving the comforts of your surround-sound living room? Built to Spill should take note (and TJ should write his review so you know what I'm talking about). One of the highlights for me was watching Eddie Argos use the microphone cord to jump rope. Jump rope! Let's see Lukass Rossi try that, mo' fo.' Argos also made his way on to the floor during one song and into the crowd for several minutes before returning to the stage. He actually walked right passed me. I was going to buy him a drink, but he walked by too quickly. But that's how this band keeps it real. I also liked the point in one song toward the end of the show (no, I don't remember the name of the song, sue me), where the band paused for a beat, and faked out the crowd. They all laughed at our expense, but it wasn't malicious. It was good old fashioned tomfoolery wrapped up in a lovely bouquet of punk rock.

This was a great Rock Club show. Perhaps the best that I've attended to date. I would have spent $15 on that show, easily. My only hope for Art Brut is that they disband before they become a parody of themselves.

The Hold Steady are Unamerican, and Must Be Destroyed

I heartily dislike the Hold Steady. Right from the first moment I heard them. I’ve decided to post the reasons why I don’t like them. And if you like them, we’ll agree to disagree. This is America, everybody doesn’t have to like the same things.


Jimbromski’s Reasons to Dislike the Hold Steady

1) Gritty “Heartland” Style Lyrics: I once read a parody of a Bruce Springsteen song. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like this:

Well I lost my job at the refinery, Mister

And Janie was pregnant and on disability

The government check was all we had

I gunned my ’69 Pontiac

Down the double yellow line blacktop...

And so on and so forth. I like the Boss but hearing for the umpteenth time that the factory closed (the type of factory changes with each song—steel, auto, chemical, semiconductor, widget, etc.) and of the great feeling you get feeling the wind in your hair Mister from driving your motorcycle down State Route 19 with Janie and her hands around your waist Mister...

Whew. I got possessed by the Boss there.

As I was saying, I like the Boss. I also can roll with some John Cougar at times. Tom Petty as well. But when you listen to guys like this, you can’t help feeling that you’re listening to a Chevy trucks commercial, or a Miller Lite ad, or a Dockers campaign, if Dockers broke out and got all edgy on us. This is American masculinity at its most mundane.

2) This is not how I remember my youth: One of the reasons I don’t like the Hold Steady is that their cultural memory doesn’t match up with mine, except in a bad way. To quote the great man, it says nothing to me about my life. Ordinarily, this isn't a big problem. You don't have to be a lonely vicar watching the youth of your English town move away to Australia in order to like the Kinks. I'm not some fag leatherboy, but I like Judas Priest. It's called empathy, and I got it, jack. But still, the Hold Steady really get on my tits.

Listening to the Hold Steady doesn’t remind me of high school. It doesn’t remind me of my 20s, when I was trying to find myself and mature. It doesn’t remind of growing up in my depressed Rust Belt town, surrounded by alcoholic Irish friends and relatives.

Listening to the Hold Steady does, however, remind me of, let’s say, Baltimore, which is full of broke-assed, no-account white people. Listening to the Hold Steady does remind me of dorks with soul patches, stupid porkpie hats, and slight weight problems. Remember when you were young, and you’d go over to the dude’s house that you didn’t know very well, and the place smelled like a combination of dog piss, cabbage, cigarettes and body odor? They’re a band full of guys like that. Here's some potential Hold Steady fans:

Speaking of porkpie hats and soul patches, are the Hold Steady just the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in disguise?

3) Craig Finn’s voice: A corollary to (1) is that, when your lyrics are so soulful, so meaningful, so...real, man...you have to sing in this raspy growl. This singing voice signifies that you are “singing from the heart.” The gravel voice affectation is again common to heartland/Rust Belt types. Paul Westerberg, Springsteen (again), Mellencamp (again), Bob Seger, Bob Mould, Dave Pirner and countless others do this. All these bands hail from parts of the country that peaked in say, 1952, and have steadily turned into deserted shitholes ever since. Hence, they attempt to sound like the grandfathers, who all died of lung cancer. Imagine Vince Lombardi singing in a band—this is how he would sound.

4) Endorsed by NPR: Let’s play a game. You name a band, and I’ll tell you if NPR would like them or not. Go ahead, it’s fun. Black Sabbath? No. Arrested Development? Yep—“This hip hop band is subverting the macho image of rap, with their latest single, ‘Mr. Wendell’...” NWA? Nope. Tracy Chapman? “It wasn’t easy being a black lesbian trying to get ahead in the male-dominated world of...” Art Brut? Please. The Hold Steady? Absolutely—“with his heartfelt lyrics describing a string of failed relationships, boozy nights with old friends, and a love of rock and roll...” The shit writes itself. Add to that, the soft voice of some wuss eco-friendly NPR journalist doing the story, and you’ve got A BAND THAT USUALLY BLOWS. Time magazine is also good for this—if your band is profiled in Time as “a band that’s capturing the hearts of disaffected twentysomethings everywhere,” then you should immediately break up and find a job in accounting, because more likely than not your songs will end up being played in Pottery Barn while 30something dweebs like my wife and I shop for a new ottoman. Not cool. And please bear in mind that I have no idea whether the Hold Steady have been profiled on NPR, or in Time. That would involve research, which is a drag. But really, if it hasn’t happened yet, it will.


Okay, fire away. I know for a fact that Jumbo Slice likes the Hold Steady, but he would, as he’s from Brockport, New York. I’d like to hear from the rest of you on this subject—I fear this band is slowly turning into the American U2 and if we don’t take steps to stop them now, we’ll be seeing these jokers everywhere for the rest of our lives—Super Bowl halftime shows, beer and car commercials, tribute albums, pay-per-view specials, etc. Take a stand now on behalf of your children and grandchildren.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Extra Credit

Since no one is posting any reviews these days, I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on 1 of the 3 (count 'em, 3) shows I've seen in the last week. One of those shows was a comedy show, so I won't review that one (yet).

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - 10/15/06 9:30 Club

This Las Vegas native knows how to put on a show. Accompaned by her two tall and sleeky, fair-skinned (twin) back-up singers, Jenny Lewis performed to a soldout audience at the 9:30 Club Sunday evening. After a solid - albeit drug hazed Dylan-esque long haired freaky people - opening act called "Vietnam," Jenny Lewis commanded the stage for 4 songs before exiting for a waredrobe change. Lewis and the Watson twins left the stage in long black sexy cocktail dresses only to return 45 seconds later enveloped in shiny gold speckled dresses that barely covered their assests. This is a good way to keep me interested and entertained. While I'm disgusted by how shallow the music industry has become (would Janis Joplin make it in today's business?), I have to admit it works.

Anyhow, back to the show. While I didn't know this prior to buying my ticket, Lewis isn't new to the scene by any means as she is a major stake holder in Rilo Kiley, and has performed with other notable acts in the indie pop world. No, I'm not going to note them here. You can read about it elsewhere. And since I know Jumbo Slice will throw his Encyclopedic knowledge in here somewhere (although he should be working on his own damn review), I'll stop with the back ground info now. So how was the show? It was just loud enough, and just alt country enough to avoid being overly wuss-inspired. Jenny Lewis has a tremendous voice, and it was on full display Sunday evening. Unlike GLP (that's Grant Lee Phillips people, have you done all the reading?), Lewis's whisper is powerful and resonating. And when she's not knocking you over with her whisper, she slapping you around with her soulful singing. She also manages to play a mean organ (okay, keyboard that sounds like an organ), and handles the acoustic guitar like a real musician, cuz she is one.

This is an act that will satisfy you and your wife/girlfriend/mistress. She rocks out in a way that makes the ladies want to be like her and the guys want to sleep with her (and/or the twins). Want to really know what the show was like? Listen to it here. Her album, Rabbit Fur Coat is pretty good, but I enjoyed the power of her live performance much more. And the twins helped too, did I mention them yet?