The Movement You Need Is On Your Shoulder
We've all heard about the intense pressure the Japanese place on their kids to get good grades or risk dishonoring all of their ancestors. We have seen this in the arts as well - piano lessons, violins - you know what I'm talking about. Here's evidence that the Japanese will stop at nothing, as they move into the realm of pop music as well.
This kid is one of many youngsters being raised to replace Tadaaki Naganuma, Eric Mabuchi, Hajime Kubo, or Yukinobu Kabe. My guess is that he's gunning for Mabuchi.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Movement You Need Is On Your Shoulder
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
National Museum of Natural History
February 9, 2008
Two weeks ago was Movie Night for Rock Club. Our first choice was Hounddog, which features a Dakota Fanning rape scene. We all love Dakota Fanning and felt that watching her get raped would be pretty illuminating and we could sit around and discuss it afterwards, over scones and tea.
Unfortunately, and inexplicably, Hounddog was unable to find an American distributor, so we went to see U23D instead. I had no idea there was an IMAX theater in the
Okay, some thoughts on U23D:
The technology: BAM! WOW! There’s U2, right the fuck in front of me! Hi, Bono! Hi, The Edge! Wow, Bono’s getting close...oh my, that’s sharp...okay, that’s a little too close, Bono...dude, I can smell your breath, you really should floss before the show.
The band: They’re still the biggest band in the world. They looked fine, although Bono was a little pudgy. Larry Mullen Jr., the youngest and best looking member of the band, is starting to resemble Ray Winstone from Sexy Beast:
Bono is his usual self, with the preening and posing and posturing. By the end of the movie, you expect him to ascend bodily into heaven, carried by a host of angels. Fare thee well, Bono, your work among the living is complete. From now on I will not be racist and will not harbor Dakota Fanning rape fantasies.
The music: U2 is the coelacanth that spawned the Radiohead/Coldplay branch of the rock evolutionary tree. Like the Beatles, most of U2’s songs are about love and are unobjectionable. I’m not a U2 fan, but I like them the same way I like bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. U23D gave me a chance to reevaluate the songs anew. Some highlights were “Where the Streets Have No Name,” which I’ve never cared for but sounded great, and the movie opener “Vertigo”. “One” was also fantastic, and made me wish there were more selections from U2’s 1992 tribute to National Socialism, Achtung Baby.
The crowd: The 3D effect looked best when used for audience shots. I wished there had been more—perhaps they could have ventured outside the stadium(s) a bit for some local color? I spent much of the movie scanning the crowd for
Gratuitous cleavage picture
Overall: U23D wins top marks. As I mentioned, I am a lukewarm fan of the band but I enjoyed hearing all their hits and having Bono come so close that I thought he would try and goose me. Definitely worth a trip downtown.
The other week we saw the current kings of the blogopshere: Vampire Weekend. They have a new album out with some catchy tunes and some not so catchy tunes. They're fun but the reality simply doesn't match the hype. Along with the hype comes the predictable backlash. Now you have bloggers either declaring them geniuses or saying they suck taint. There's very little middle ground.
This trend online to crown the next big thing annoys me for many reasons. I'll spare you the rant and just list two:
1) If the band comes to DC the show will be packed beyond belief. The Vampire Weekend show was ridiculous. Potsy, always the stickler for the rules, was appalled by the total disregard for fire laws. I was a little concerned too. I was silently mapping out the closet exit in case of disaster. Another example of large crowds was the Yeasayer concert last month. The whining about them not playing the Black Cat main stage was pathetic. Is it that hard to buy a ticket in advance?
2) Along with the hype comes the jackasses. Let me be specific: people who yell "Free Bird!" at shows. Lamest. Joke. Ever. It's even worse than using Comic Book Guy speak. To those who yell "Free Bird!": shut the fuck up already. The only thing that annoys me more is people who wear Dr. Seuss hats to concert festivals. I thought that trend died in the '90s but I saw it once against the Pitchfork Festival last summer.
Okay, so what's the next band to get the music blogs all excited? It could be Bon Iver.
Potsy was the first to give them the thumbs up. He heard a few songs on WOXY and said "me likey". Then Audiogram wrote a nice little something-something. There was also a very positive review on Pitchfork along with an interview. Anytime something is hailed by Pitchfork you have to be a little weary. They got it right on this one though.
You can stream his new album here. His songs have a stark, affecting quality. It reminds me of the first time I heard Iron & Wine. I was amazed how he made such great songs that we're so simple, stripped down, and spare. There are a million guys playing acoustic guitar but 99.9% aren't worth noting. So, take note, and check out Bon Iver tonight at the Rock & Roll Hotel as he opens for weed rockers Black Mountain. Unfortunately, illness, obligations, and travel means we can't make the show tonight as planned. I guess I'll just have to listen to it on NPR as I paint my apartment. Hey, anyone want to buy a swanky two-bedroom place in Courthouse?
Monday, February 11, 2008
This is the real thing. Stop whatever you're doing and listen to this MP3 clip now. It's an outtake of Runnin' With The Devil, with Diamond Dave's vocals isolated.
I said now, goddammit. Not after you finish what you're working on, now.
(This is from Chunklet via Stereogum)
Friday, February 08, 2008
Vampire Weekend - February 6th, 2008 - RnRH $10
The long-awaited live performance of VW came and went through capital city this past week. A sold out, Sold Out, SOLD OUT (there are no more tickets!) ten dollar show at the Rock n Roll Hotel brought the kids out en mass for the Columbia Univ. quartet. But to be honest, there was anxiety/worry/suspicion in the air as RC drove in circles around H Street looking for a place to park Wednesday night.
First, and almost as predicted, the roof seemed to be falling in on me after having secured tickets for this show back in mid December. On Monday night, with the show just two nights away, I was stricken with what the Italians might call "the influence," aka, the flu. Awesome. Nothing like calypso up tempo world beats when you can barely stand up straight. But this wasn't the only reason to be leery of the night's performance. As it was pointed out in pre-show debate, 1. These guys went to Columbia (strike 1?). 2. They follow a similar enough thread spun by WOXY pop favs Juke Box The Ghost (dork rock? strike 2?). 3. The aforementioned World Music label has been lightly applied to VW (that sounds bad. what is world music anyway?). It left doubt in my fevered mind, and others' too.
I had downloaded 4 VW tracks from emusic.com last year without any real knowledge about them, and I liked what I heard. But with the release of their self-titled full length album only hours old, I hadn't memorized all of the lyrics to their entire catalog (though some fanatics at the show clearly had). The point being, this could have been another instance where you get hooked on a couple tracks only to later realize this is not the band you thought they were. Remember the Spin Doctors? Hmm? They played the DC Chili Cookoff 12 years ago - for free. There's a reason for that.
After 6 beers and a ginger ale upstairs, RC made its way downstairs to enter a steamy and highly populated RnRH main floor. It was uncomfortably crowded, and I was beginning to feel like I was back in college, but not in the good way - more like the "not this again" way. But within minutes, Vampire Weekend took the stage and started hammering it out and I started sweating. I thought my flu was coming back to put an end to my night once and for all, but I looked around, and it wasn't just me. For some reason, the RnRH didn't turn the air on until the 5th song of their set. I couldn't have been happier to have it. Likewise for keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij, I'm sure. He was wearing a puffy vest and a massive scarf. Bad idea. And he's from DC? Man shouldaknownbetta. As the room cooled, VW heated up. They got better as their set progressed, and after having heard APunk, Mansard Roof, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and Oxford Coma plenty of times, I was most definitely ready for something new. And despite earlier concerns, Vampire Weekend delivered. It was actually nice to see the occasional onstage mishap met with unabashed laughter from drummer Chris Tomson and a similar response from bassist Chris Baio (I want to call him Chachi, can I call him Chachi?).
Now, Jimbromski and sacklunch suffered in the back with the masses and just as the penultimate song was about to begin, Jimbromski texted that he was going home to watch the USA v Mexico game. "Too crowded." Here's his insight into the overcrowding situation:
About 40 min into the show I left my spot way in the back of the bar to go outside for a smoke. I was surprised by how crowded it was even that far back in the room, it took me a little bit to wiggle my way out. There were also a bunch of people standing [in] the lobby as well b/c they had tickets but couldn't fit in the room. Anyway, I was outside and overhead the doormen talking and one of them said that VW put 40 people on their guest list, which somewhat explained why there were 20 people in the lobby with tickets who couldn't get in the room. Also, I figured at this point that it would be too much effort to try to make my way back to my original spot so I bagged it and went home to watch USA/Mexico.Vampire Weekend played short pop songs and were done. They played their catalog, and except for a short break to set up the unnecessary encore, there was no dicking around. This is the kind of band you want to play at your party in July. Like steel drums, they put people in the right frame of mind. They could definitely set things up for you, were you hoping to hook up with a new friend.
Worth the hype so far, but like Sufjan Stevens, I'll bet that at some point soon enough VW will get tiresome and require a fallow season before reemerging on your playlist. But an excellent concert experience nonetheless. I wish them well.
By default, I pride myself as the Jimmy Olsen of RC. No one else bothers. So here's some footage to augment sacklunch's recent review:
I wish I had captured more of this band, but this gives you a peek into what Holy F*ck brought to the 9:30...
If you look to the top right corner of the screen, you'll see the Larry Craig look-a-like hopping up and down. I think he was chaperoning his tween daughter to the show. There were lots of kids at this show, and when I say "kids," I'm not talking punk-kids. I mean like 10 year olds. One was standing next to me for a couple songs. It made me uneasy, like planned obsolescence. Anyway, check out Sen. Craig's wide dance:
Lastly, here's the space helmet Gruff wore:
Some random stuff for everyone before the weekend starts.
- ETIQUETTE: Kudos to Sacklunch for his Super Furry Animals review. He raised the hot button issue of people who sit on the risers on the upper level at the 9:30 Club who object when people then stand against the railing in front of them. To quote Sack, "i am really MAD at peeple whom sit down onn the 2econd floor of 9:30!! and then you trie to stand on thee ra1ling and they gett all angry these people SUCK I hate them 111011 one one 1 one." Well put, Sack. My position on this is that there are in fact two separate spots here--your seat on the riser, and the railing spot. You can't sit on one and prevent people from standing on the railing, as to do so would mean that you are in effect taking up two spots with your solitary fat ass. Not only is this rude but it also violates the laws of physics, because as we know matter cannot simultaneously occupy two spots at the same time. To do so risks causing a split in the space/time continuum and if a black hole opens up at the 9:30 and swallows the universe, we'll fucking know who to blame.
- WHOA, CANADA: Oftentimes I find myself irritated by Canadians. I love hearing about how Americans are so nationalistic/jingoistic/fascistic, especially when this lecture is delivered by some jizzhead from Toronto who apparently cannot leave his igloo without plastering various maple leaf patches, stickers and iron-ons all over his body. But most of the time I look upon our northern neighbors with gentle indifference. When they start talking about health care and the War of 1812, I tousle their hair and say, run along, Canadians, adults are talking.
- They do have some good bands, though. WOXY has been playing a group called The Whitsundays that I think sound pretty good. Their sound falls somewhere on the Syd Barret/Clientele/Stone Roses continuum. I like a good fake English accent. I couldn't find any videos but here's their MySpace page. Here's a clip, too..."Sorry James":
- WOE, CANADA: Just when I start liking Canada, I am again reminded of their essential lameness. I was playing blast off with my son the other day, which consists of me lying on the ground, putting him on my stomach, counting down, and then lifting him in the air while I make a rocket engine sound. After a few reps the rocket engine sound was making my throat sore so I switched to singing rocket-themed songs to him. I went through "Major Tom," "Satellite of Love," "Rocket" (Def Leppard!), until for some reason from my cerebellum sprang forth the lines "turn that dial, all the way/shoot me like a rocket, into space..." Oh yeah, Loverboy! "Lovin' Every Minute of It"--I have to admit I like this song. Not like, I own a CD or anything, but if I were in a bar and someone played this on the jukebox, I would probably say, hey, nice choice. I looked up the video and had a good laugh, those Loverboy guys were some goofy fuckers:
- WHAT TIME IS IT? It's 4:20, according to Lawrence Welk. Notice the little cough when as he introduces the song. They were totally hitting his skull bong backstage before this performance:
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Monday, February 04, 2008
It was hard to pass up this triple bill for a measly $17, so Rock Club was off to the 930 Club on a sleepy Sunday night. I arrived a bit late, but just in time to catch most of Holy Fuck (I like that I don't need to use that f*cking asterisk).
I saw these guys open for Wolf Parade a few years ago at the Black Cat and once again they didn't disappoint. I will readily admit that I am not a huge fan of live electronic music, but these dudes bring the ruckus. No laptops, just a bunch of keyboards, effects pedals, wires, and other gizmos. They also had a great rhythm section utilizing the traditional drums and bass. Good uptempo music that seemed to get the crowd shaking its ass (just a bit). I also liked the fact that the members of Holy Fuck were hopping around acting like a live band, rather than mere electronic drones. One of the dudes was even playing some keyboard/synth/xylopohone thing with a butter knife, you don't see that too often. Good stuff.Next up were The Fiery Furnaces. I am still trying to figure out how I feel about this band. This is the second time I have seen them live and do have a fondness for some of their studio albums. What I need to know is, are the Fiery Furnaces a shitty band that got hyped up too much my Pitchfork and the like? Are they talented musicians with an avant garde edge? Is Eleanor Freidburger the least attractive female lead we've seen since the Heartless Bastards? I am not sure of the answer to these questions, but I do know that I quite enjoyed their set. I will agree with Jimbromski (who thought they sucked ass) that they have a tendency to screw up the arrangements in a live setting. Songs like "Single Again" and "Tropical Ice-Land" which are quite good (and almost melodic) on disc, were butchered live. However, I enjoyed "Navy Nurse" off of Widow City (which they played heavily from...). Again, they had an amazing rhythm section with included Jason Lowenstein, formally of Sebadoh. The jury is still out on The Fiery Furnaces, despite my overall appreciation of the set.
I will readily admit that my motivation for coming to this show was for the 1st two bands. I am not too familiar with the Super Furry sound, and thanks to Jimbromski for the concert preview and video clip. I was pleasantly surprised after their first couple of songs, which included the upbeat 'Golden Retriever" and I believe some songs off their new album "Hey Venus". The style of music is hard to peg down, as it mixes many genres (pop, psychedelia, a dash of electronica, druggy jams, etc...) but I was particularly smitten by the voice of Gruff Rhys. In my humble musical opinion, I would have to say they were definitely the most talented musicians of the evening. I did find myself losing a bit of interest halfway through the show, as they played a stretch of so-called "power ballads" that slowed things down a bit. However, the final tune of the main set was the excellent 'Receptacle for the Respectable", which included some interesting celery chomping. I enjoyed the encore much more than the main set (I will also admit, I just about left during the power ballad stage), and I am glad I stuck around. They rocked out on "Rings Around the World" and although they didn't don the more traditional wookie outfits, Gruff was kind enough to put on the space helmet to lighten things up. All in all, a good show, strong opening, soft middle, and ended on high note. What more could you ask for on a Sunday night.
Other items of note:
1. Jimbromski wanted me to mention the "Euro-Hippies". I couldn't find a good picture, but imagine a pasty faced skinny dude, long hair, wearing pajama bottoms and a neo-psychedelic shirt. That would be a Euro-Hippie, most likely seen at the Glastonbury, Stonehenge, and the 930 Club for Super Furry Animals.
2. Crowd: The crowd was very appreciative of all three acts (well, maybe not the Fiery Furnaces) and the club seemed pretty full. There was also this Larry Craig lookalike in the front row, totally jamming along with a three bands. The dude had to be like 60 years old. Maybe that will be me someday (I hope not)
3. Annoyances: I am not sure if I have posted about this before, but my favorite spot at the 930 club in on the left side of the balcony, leaning up against the railing and looking straight down on the bands. It is a great spot. There are risers behind the railing that people sit on. Sometimes these folks sit on the risers "saving" their respective spot on the rail, and usually sit for the openers and them move up for the headliner. If you get in front of them they have a fucking conniption and complain that it's their spot. This drives me crazy and happened again at this show (Thankfully, the situation was difused by Chip Chanko). What is your opinion on this matter? I say, if you want to lean against the rail, then you need to stand there all night. No saving, no sitting. It a General Admission show, you need to jockey for position and stay put. Just a rant.
Ratings: Holy Fuck A-, Fiery Furnaces B, Super Furry Animals B+
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Richard Thompson -Wednesday 1/23/2008 - GW Lisner Auditorium - $39.50
I heard a Richard Thompson tune on our beloved WOXY the other day, so while not an official RC event, you get my outdated review of his show as a result. I ventured to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium for Richard Thompson's 1,000 Years of Popular Music a couple weeks back, and I've now had plenty of time to reflect on my experience (and to forget a good chunk too). Let's first remind everyone who Richard Thompson is and is not. The Richard Thompson I went to see is NOT:
- Sir Richard Thompson, 1st Baronet, (1912–1999), British Conservative politician
- Richard Thompson (cartoonist), cartoonist who has also worked as an illustrator
- Richard Thomson (Thompson), 17th century theologian
- Richard Thompson, former prosecutor and current President of Thomas More Law Center
- Richard Thompson (animator), Warner Bros. cartoon animator in the 1950s
- Richard Thompson (mathematician), for whom the infinite Thompson groups are named
- Richard W. Thompson, United States Secretary of the Navy under Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1880
- Rich Thompson (baseball pitcher), Australian baseball player
- Richard H. Thompson, U.S. Army general
- Richard Thompson (footballer), English footballer
- Richard Thompson (Australian parliamentarian), New Zealand-born Australian parliamentarian, businessman and Methodist Lay preacher
- Richard J. Thompson, baseball historian (1957-2008)
The highlights (via our wikipedia friends):
Richard Thompson (born 3 April 1949 in Notting Hill Gate, West London) is a British musician, best known for his guitar playing and songwriting. As a guitarist Thompson is notable for the breadth of his influences — which range from Buddy Holly and James Burton via Les Paul and Django Reinhardt to less likely influences such as pipe player Billy Pigg. Over a long career (he first recorded in 1967 as a member of Fairport Convention), Thompson has received much acclaim from his peers and has consistently been well-regarded by critics. While he has never become a household name — even his best-known albums have enjoyed only limited commercial success — he has earned a reputation as a skilled and compelling live performer and a consistently vital recording artist. In August 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed Thompson as #19 on its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
This was, in fact, the second time I saw Thompson perform. Like the first time, the impetus for seeing him was my rather excitable old man. As it happens, my dad is a big Richard Thompson fan. The first RT show I saw with my dad was at Wolf Trap 4 or more years ago, I think. It was a nice summer day and the show began in broad daylight which made for more of a picnic type family experience. It was a good show, from what I remember of it, with lots of happy Baby Boomers singing along with a few of their favorite tunes.
This time around, it was a brisk wintry night and I found myself in the Lisner Auditorium for the first time. The auditorium reminded me of my high school's auditorium, a modest venue with a large wooden stage, not a bad seat in the house, which was good as we were in one of the upper rows. This was the first show that I've been to in quite a while where 100% of the audience had seats...and sat in them. At first I thought, how lame. On your feet people. But then I realized sitting isn't such a bad deal when you've had a long 3 days at the 9to5. And then I returned to my initial reaction after about 30 minutes, mostly as a result of feeling like I'd been sitting in coach for too long. I've got legs that need stretching, ya know.
Anyhow, this tour that Thompson is on is not your typical tour. The 1,000 Years concept follows pretty much as the name implies. Thompson covers songs from 1,000 years ago up to present day, forgoing any of his own songs in his performance. This show could have easily been co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. Lots of history involved beginning with ancient Italian songs, bits from an opera, a dandy of a madrigal, and then a quick acceleration through the last 5 hundred years of old coal mining inspired songs, pub tunes, and the like to land us firmly in the 20th century. All and all it was not bad. Some of the tunes didn't really appeal to me, given their crusty nature, but Thompson keeps you interested regardless. Banter has been discussed on this forum a number of times. Some folks don't care for it (Jimbromski, for one). I think this has more to do with the quality of the banter than anything else. Good banter takes talent. And Thompson's banter-talent rivals his deft guitar work. Maybe it's a British thing, but the guy's like Hugh Grant up there, cracking wise and being all kinds of witty. (I know that Jimbromski is a sucker for Hugh Grant, so I wonder how he would have come to terms with it all.) When discussing the different origins of some of the tunes, he told the following joke that some have likely heard before, but nonetheless it's a good one:
IN HEAVEN: The English greet you. The French do the cooking. The Italians provide the entertainment. The Germans organize it all.
IN HELL: The French greet you. The English do the cooking. The Germans provide the entertainment. The Italians organize it all.
I know he's used this joke in previous concerts, but I'll bet he sang the same songs more than once too.
When it came to the end of his set, he had played songs from the Beatles, Abba, the Kinks, and other more familiar artists, but he never picked the obvious or pop tune. Instead he choose the deeper cut, a bit more obscure, and it worked well. So with the requisite encore approaching, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought, "okay, now he'll play a couple fan favorites from his own catalog. Everyone will go home a bit smarter, but with a sated appetite for Thompson tunes." Instead, he came out with more of the history of violins. Actually, he played a song penned by Richard the Lionheart, which was all in French since Richard I was essentially French (so I learned). So there was no 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, or any other popular Thompson tracks. And while I'm sure there were many hoping to hear something familiar (like the guy wearing the beret sitting next to me), I'm pretty sure no one left disappointed. It was a good show regardless of what music he played. Richard Thompson is that good of a performer/entertainer.
Friday, February 01, 2008
My last post got us all thinking about the worst songs of the 1990s. Now I'm thinking, why stop there? Let's go through every decade.
My nominee for the 1960s is "Spinning Wheel," by Blood, Sweat and Tears (note the omission of the Oxford comma).
It's a ridiculous song with too many jazz influences. I get the feeling that the members of this band all sat around and said something like, "hey, the kids love psychedelia--let's give 'em some of that!"
Here's a video. Enjoy the awfulness.
Okay, if you watched that video you probably realize that was just someone who added their own audio track over a real video. It's an intentional goof. But really, what's the difference from the real thing?
Please submit your vote for worst song from the 1960s in the comments.
I worked at Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle in the mid-90s. If you've ever worked anywhere that has a jukebox you'll know that no matter how good the songs on the jukebox are, if management doesn't rotate the CDs you'll hear a lot of the same songs over and over. And that will make you insane.
One song that was played relentlessly back in those days was "Cantaloop" by Us 3. Jesus, what an awful fucking song. I really hate "crossover" hip hop music. It's not crossover, it's "watered down to the point where it's acceptable to white people." Invariably, I would hear this stupid-assed song as much as three or four times a day.
And you haven't been in hell until you see a bunch of douche DC lawyers bobbing their heads soulfully to a shit song like "Cantaloop."
I have nothing against lawyers. I later worked at a law firm and found that most of the people there were fairly normal. But get them in a group, add alcohol, and fucking hell, you'll be reaching for the nearest blunt instrument, either to kill them, or to use on yourself. Add "Cantaloop" to the mix and it's enough to send anyone over the edge. Another favorite was Arrested Development's "Mr. Wendell," which also fucking blows.
I guess the Nazis were the same. Individually they may have been fun guys but get more than two of them together and suddenly they're occupying Krakow and they aren't leaving.
After I worked at Buffalo I was lucky enough to start bartending at Bedrock Billiards. As I no longer had a manager looking over my shoulder, the jukebox would often "break" during my shift and I would just put on one of my own CDs. The same thing would happen to the cappucino machine. I mean, really, what sort of asswipe goes to a poolhall and orders a cappucino?
Jesus, just thinking about all this puts me in a bad mood.
Anyway, "enjoy" Us 3: