Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Top Five Or Six Shows

I'm continuing a mutant variant of a meme I already answered, but was changed by Skyler's Dad and then propagated by Johnny Yen.

Here's my favorite live shows I have attended, in no particular order.

1. Os Mutantes - Pitchfork Music Festival - 07/2006 - Chicago, IL
This was the last music show I attended. My folks were gracious enough to drive up to our house and babysit our kids so my wife and I could attend this full day event. I enjoyed this show for a lot of reasons. For one, it was just great to get out, have some beers and relax in the warm summer day. Another nice thing was I was able to hang out with my friend Lance, who used his vacation to leave his current residence of Japan to visit friends and family in the US. And, not to forget, Os Mutantes, a band I only recently discovered -- a band that had broken up in the early 1970's. I read somewhere that Kurt Cobain tried to cajole Os Mutantes into reforming so they could open up for Nirvana in Brazil, but alas, it didn't happen. They put on a helluva show that night, lots of energy and fun.

2. Television - Cabaret Metro - 05/2001 - Chicago, IL
Here's another band that was over and done before I discovered their music. I believe Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo was the man responsible for getting these guys together to play in Chicago. I saw Ira and the other Yo La Tengo folks up in the balcony of the Metro during the show. It was wonderful seeing Television close up, and hearing the great guitar-playing of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Lloyd broke a string during their epic song "Marquee Moon" which eventually aborted the song. I was wondering if he was being passive-aggressive, as he had at least a couple guitars available to use. Either way, a great show.

3. Lambchop/Yo La Tengo - Cabaret Metro - 03/2000 - Chicago, IL
This was dubbed "An Evening With Yo La Tengo". The Metro, which usually has a large open area in front of the stage, had rows of folding chairs laid out for this show. I actually went to the show more for Lambchop than Yo La Tengo. I had stumbled across Lambchop's music in a weekly scan of the used bins at my neighborhood record store. There were over ten people on stage for Lambchop (it's a big, country-western/Curtis Mayfield-inspired concern). They were really fantastic, humble and just having a wonderful time playing their music. Then, Yo La Tengo came out and were also in terrific spirits, with lots of interaction with the crowd, ribbing them about Chicago-related stuff. They were happy to be there, and put on a nice, casual-kinda show. David Kilgour of The Clean was playing as supporting guitarist for Yo La Tengo on their tour. They did The Clean song "Billy Two" and afterwards Ira asked David, "Who wrote that song?" to which David replied, "I did." Near the end of Yo La Tengo's set the guys from Lambchop got on stage and supported them on a cover of the Beach Boys' song "Little Honda". After the show was done, I saw Lambchop's drummer hanging out in the lobby of the Metro. I went up and talked to him for 15-20 minutes while the bouncers were pushing everyone outside. A nice guy, a nice group of musicans, a nice night.

4. John Fahey - Unity Temple - Oak Park, IL
The Unity Temple, an impressive building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, has concerts from time to time that are used to finance the building's restoration and upkeep. I was lucky enough to see a great performance by guitar hero John Fahey. I can't really adequately describe the combination of the music with the location in which I was seeing the show. It was just Fahey and his guitar in this amazing space. Jim O'Rourke was also present at a small mixing board, occasionally twiddling knobs. After the concert was over and my wife and I were headed home on the Eisenhower expressway, we were in the process of passing a crappy compact car on the right. I glanced over and saw John Fahey riding in the passenger seat. Jim O'Rourke was driving. For some reason, I screamed "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" at the top of my lungs at them, and pumped my fist out the window. Fahey gave me a little wave and we sped on into the night.

5. Low/Luna - Rod McKuen's Birthday - St. Louis, MO
Luna was touring for their second album, Bewitched. At the time, I was attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Some friends of mine and I drove up to St. Louis for the show. The club was much smaller than I was expecting. We got in very early, and grabbed a table right in front of the small stage. I mean, like literally 1-2 feet from the stage. I never was able to see my all-time favorite band, The Feelies, in person, but I sat and watched as their former drummer Stanley Demeski started carting in his drums and set them up. Dean Wareham dragged in his amp, with "GALAXIE 500" still stenciled on it. It was a great show, despite some technical difficulties that Mr. Wareham seemed greatly perturbed by. It was an intimate enough venue that my friends and I went up after the show and talked with the band members. A friend of mine mentioned to Dean that it was Rod McKuen's birthday (Dean name-checked Mr. McKuen on the opening song on Bewitched). One of the guys with us asked Stanley what it was like being in The Feelies -- he replied, "They were difficult people to work with," and repeated this sentence several times as he was asked to elaborate on that comment.

6. Warrant / Ted Nugent / KISS - Rockford, IL
What the hell, I'll go for six. I really loved Kiss when I was a kid, and when a coworker of mine said he had an extra ticket a couple years ago, I jumped at the chance to see them live. I rode in a minivan with my coworker (a really nice guy who is very, very funny), his sister, his sister's metal dude husband, and two other metal dudes. It was really great being on a trip where I was sort of stepping outside of my usual experience. I stayed outside for the Sebastian Bach-less Warrant (I think Mr. Bach was on Broadway at that time, wow-ing audiences with his performance in Phantom of the Opera). I did catch the full performance of the Nuge, which was every bit offensive as I assumed it would be. A sample line -- "if you don't like [whatever stupid thing I'm saying about America], you can get the f*** out!!!" I did dig his final song, "Loaded For Bear", which ended with him shooting a flaming arrow into his guitar. The stuff he did with the Amboy Dukes is actually pretty good. Then, Kiss! Of course it was a synchronized, rigid performance with no wiggle-room for spontaneity, but it was Kiss! Plus, Paul Stanley rode on a metal ring over my head to sing a song in the middle of the audience. WOooo!


Johnny Yen said...

Those were great!

I will own up to having owned two Ted Nugent albums in my life-- Freeforall and his eponymous first album-- on vinyl, of course (though maybe eight track would be even more approriate). I have "Stranglehold" and "Just What the Doctor Ordered."

I've been getting in touch with my inner metalhead again as I've entered middle age.

Are you old enough to remember his mother's great rock column in The Illinois Entertainer?

"If you don't like [whatever stupid thing I'm saying about America], you can get the f*** out!!!"

And that quote brings me to my favorite quote by my grandfather:

"Everybody's entitled to his own stupid opinion."

Have you ever seen the movie Detroit Rock City? I'm not even a big Kiss fan, but I love that movie!

Have you heard the "Kiss My Ass" collection? It's a bunch of covers of Kiss-- everything from The Might, Mighty Bosstones doing Detroit Rock City," Lenny Kravitz doing Deuce (with Stevie Wonder Playing harmonica), Garth Brooks doing Beth, Dinosaur Jr. doing Going Blind... it's pretty cool.

Johnny Yen said...

Doh-- Garth Brooks did "Hard Luck Woman" on the Kiss tribute album.

If you have ever seen the movie "Something Wild," The band in the reunion scene is The Feelies.

When my friend Mark and I saw Lou Reed on the "New York" tour in 1990, Yo La Tengo, a band he loved, opened for Lou.

I saw Galaxie 500 several times-- an old girlfriend loved them, and they played at the Caberet Metro frequently. For some reason, I always associate them with another band from that era, the Fetchin' Bones. I think they may have both been from Raleigh, NC.

Splotchy said...

I think I caught the tail-end of Mama Nugent's column in IE.

Haven't seen Detroit Rock City. I'll check it out.

I remember the cover of that Kiss My Ass tribute album when it came out, but hadn't partaken of it. I think it was the Garth Brooks that kinda spooked me.

That reminds me, Peter Kriss got absolutely no respect when he did "Beth" in that concert. Nobody in the band played the song, he was just singing with a backup tape.

I think soon after they kicked him off the tour. I have heard he has a problem with the al-kee-hol.

Splotchy said...

I have seen chunks of Something Wild, but missed the part with The Feelies. I think I read somewhere that they do a couple covers, like they do "I'm A Believer", but are only in the movie very briefly. I really liked the parts I saw, so there's really only a matter of time before I catch up with it.

I'm not a diehard fan of Yo La Tengo, but I have a couple albums by them. I particularly like the "I Can The Hear The Heart Beating As One" album.

I took a look at Trouser Press for Fetchin' Bones. On that page they mention a band called Galaxy 500, which might be the one you saw?

The Galaxie 500 band I'm talking about started out in Boston. They're kinda remniscent of stuff from the 3rd VU album ("Candy Says","Jesus").

A pointless piece of trivia -- the drummer for that band got his drumset from his roommate in Harvard, Conan O'Brien.

Phil O. said...

I was at that Television show, too. It was my birthday, and the first time I ever saw Television live. When Lloyd's string broke, Verlaine and Ficca managed to turn the end of "Marquee Moon" into a rave-up -- it seemed like something extra, not a disappointment.

lulu said...

I totally heart Yo La Tengo.

Kiss played at River Trails Middle School in Mt Prospect when I was in 6th grade. My brother has been dining out on that story for 35 years; I really should get him to do a guest blog about it.

Splotchy said...

phil, I totally agree that the rest of the band made the most of Marquee Moon while Lloyd was fiddling with his guitar.

The thing was, Richard Lloyd is a professional musician, and he can't handle a broken string? Like I was saying, it's not like it was the only guitar he had up on stage. I was just inferring from his behavior that he was being a little pissy about playing the song for whatever reason, though I could certainly be completely wrong about that -- just giving my impression.

The song did eventually just halt when Lloyd clearly was not going to come around and rejoin the band for it.

lulu, you defintely haveta get your brother to share that story.

Johnny Yen said...

I think Galaxy 500 is the one I was referring to-- I didn't realize that there was a simililarly-named band. Very cool story about Conan.

Great story about Conan!

I knew Conan's sidekick Andy through my friend Tommy Blacha, who ended up writing on Conan's show. Tommy was one of the funniest and nicest people I've ever met.

Yes, "Beth" was a really lame song (no disrespect Beth!)

Lulu-- that story was great, and either you or your brother need to share it.

Johnny Yen said...

Oh, and yes, I'd heard that about Peter Kriss too.

Splotchy said...

D'oh, it's Peter Criss, not Kriss.

I regret the error.

He's prolly not an alcoholic, either.