Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails, Gang of Four

Suddenly it's concert season!

The Epoxies at Café du Nord:

The Dresden Dolls:

    Tuesday at GAMH was an incredible show; they did a really long set, and this time they had some really good acrobats on stage with them. They also played a bunch of songs I hadn't heard before.

    Then I also saw them open for Nine Inch Nails on Wednesday and Thursday, and they were also great, but it was a very different experience. They sounded like a completely different band, really; I imagine it was just a matter of being in such a huge room, with the drums amplified up to "ROCK SHOW" levels. Somehow it made them sound a lot more... conventional? I heard a few people at the show going "what the hell was that supposed to be?" so I suspect that if you didn't know them already, you might not have gotten it.

Nine Inch Nails:

    This was a very good show. I wouldn't say it was the best I've seen them, but still a lot of fun. They seemed a lot more low-key and subdued than previous shows, where it seemed like someone was often getting hurt on stage. It was great seeing them two nights in a row, because I didn't have to make a decision: the first night I actually watched the show, and the second night I spent in the pit. They played pretty different sets both nights, too: a lot more stuff from the new album the second night.

    The album's good. I didn't think much of the first single, "Hand That Feeds" (it feels very poppy and overproduced, like it has "This Will Be Our Radio Friendly Hit Single" written all over it), but the rest of the album is growing on me. It was a much better song when they played it live.


    Heard one song, it was nasal and whiny. Went upstairs and had a really good ahi tuna sandwich.

Radio 4:

    These guys were really good -- in that, like so many bands, they stole everything they know from Gang of 4. Which is not in itself a bad thing: if you're going to steal, steal from the best. But when the second drummer percussionist started wailing on his bongos hard enough to break the drumsticks, I turned to Angela and said, "if this guy gets out a melodica, someone needs to just kick his ass."

    Sure enough, two songs later, melodica.

Gang of Four:

    Oh. My. Fucking. God.

    Being an old person, I have seen a lot of live rock shows. I have seen a lot of very, very, very good shows.

    And yet, after this show, I feel like I only thought I had seen good shows before. These four elderly punks kicked the ass of every rock band I've ever seen. Every song was a boot in the fucking teeth.

    When Jon King spends the whole of "He'd Send In The Army" slowly hitting a microwave with a baseball bat, it's like it's the first time it's ever been done. He hits that microwave and looks at you like "this is how you hit a fucking microwave!"

    Fate had conspired to keep me from seeing this, one of my favorite bands of all time, for many years. I have in fact held in my hands tickets to their shows twice before in the past, and both times the tour was cancelled before it made it to where I was.

    They played for maybe an hour and a half, and every song was my favorite song. I would have screamed along with them for another three hours.

    The most shocking thing about this show is that I ended up with a bunch of extra tickets, and I had a hard time giving them away, because -- to my great surprise and sadness -- so few people I know have even heard of Gang of Four. How is this possible?? Even though they've heard them in so many bands who came since. You like The Pixies? These guys invented The Pixies. And Sonic Youth, X, Fugazi, Big Black, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The Strokes, White Stripes...

    I'm going to see them again Tuesday night (I believe it's not sold out yet) and if you don't go to that show, you're a god damned fool!

    At the very least, I demand that you obtain a copy of Entertainment and/or the Brief History Of The 20th Century comp. Hop to it. Go.

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55 Responses:

  1. i hate you, i hate you, how i hate you. this sounds fucking awesome, and i hate you.

    at least i saw the dolls. that made me so happy.

    also: what's a melodica? and why is it bad? (yeah, i know i could google it. more entertainment potential here.)

    • jwz says:

      A melodica is a goofy little foot-long plastic toy instrument with a keyboard that you blow into.

      The reason this is notable is that Gang of 4 uses one.

      I will see you at the show tomorrow night, then?

      • i see! how.......sassy.

        no, it is unlikely that you will, unfortunately (and of COURSE you're going to both nights, aren't you. feh).

        actually, answer me THIS, oh great-oracle-of-jwz-ness:

        if you had to pick ONE show to go to this week, would you choose pigface (at your own lovely venue with your own on-hand liver assassins), or tomorrow night's show (at the fillmore, which tires my poor old bones)?

    • remaker says:

      We like Lazyweb: melodicas.com

      The Melodica was popular in the 1950s, but had a resurgence in the 80s when bands like Gang of Four and the Hooters re-discovered them.

      From the Hooters FAQ:

      [A Melodica is] a keyboard harmonica, a somewhat popular instrument, German in origin, made by Hohner. The story is that the first time Eric and Rob were in the studio doing a demo tape, they had borrowed a melodica from their friends who helped them write "Hanging on a Heartbeat", the Rangos (Glenn Goss and Jeff Ziv). The engineer at the session, John Senior, kept yelling 'Give me more Hooter' and the name stuck. At first they thought it was a lousy name, a joke- "right, we'll call ourselves the Hooters!"- but everybody liked it.

      I grew up in Philadelphia, where the Hooters got their start in the 1980s. The Hooters were an early MTV poster child back when MTV still played music videos, and the odd instrument had a surge in popularity that caught Hohner by surprise. As I understand it, they had destroyed the manufacturing capacity for Melodicas years before and were scrambling to figure out how to meet the sudden new demand for the quirky instrument.

  2. bonniegrrl says:

    yeah I'm beginning to wish I went to see Gang of Four instead of nin.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, you were up in assigned seating for NIN... I've found that the Warfield is no fun unless you're on the floor. You might as well be in an arena. That's the nice thing about the Fillmore; it's huge, but it's still all general admission. (And the sound is better, and the staff is friendlier, and and...)

      • bonniegrrl says:

        yeah i'll never go to the Warfield again....
        I dig the Filmore... heck even Great American is better.

        I may just be spoiled by Bottom of the Hill and DuNord...

  3. Oh my God, Gang of Four!

    Thank you. I will try to be there tomorrow. Even if I have to go without the wheelchair. Gang of Four is enough to heal my sorry ass.

    I haven't bought tickets because I am hoping to Christ someone will come with me and because I need to ask around about the gimp seating options at the Fillmore. (And because I don't trust myself with credit cards at 3 am, especially since the sleeping pill I got up to take is kicking in.)

    Wow. Thank you so much.

    • wealhtheow says:

      I'm going tonight and will meet up with you if you like, either before or at the show. From the Fillmore's FAQ:

      "Question: Do you have wheelchair access?
      Answer: Yes, our staff will escort you to our elevator and facilitate your entrance to the room."

  4. marmoset says:

    Don't underestimate the amount of Liquid Liquid robbery happening out there, as well (I was fortunate enough to see those old men rocking the fuck out of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival a couple of years back.)

  5. ciphergoth says:

    No GoF UK tour dates?

    Wikipedia lists nine different Gangs of Four: the original Chinese politicians, the band, the founders of the SDP, some Australian politicians, the Design Patterns people, comic book characters, a set of countries, a card game, and a network protocol...

  6. For the months where I was writing this censorware series for Slashdot, I was driving back and forth from my hometown to Holland, Michigan every week or so, and the Entertainment and Yellow EP was in my tape deck. Whenever I hear "Return the Gift" or "Not Great Men" I think about driving up M-89 and wondering what the Family Research Council was up to that week.

  7. frumiousb says:

    Jealous lurking reader. I have also have almost seen Gang of Four three separate times without actually seeing them. (2 times they cancelled, one time i was out of town). I suspected that they were actually that good.

  8. el_olvidado says:

    Gang of Four did not invent X...I was there...But yeah thats sad you couldn't give tickets away. I just don't have a desire to ruin my memories by seeing a band that i already experienced.

  9. gordonzola says:

    yeah, that show was amazing. AMAZING. Good to finally meet you. Nice Shriekback shirt!

  10. holy shit! gang of four??? i'm not of the generation that knew them back when I was smaller, but a friend introduced them to me and i love them. just brilliant music, bought both of those albums, and i'm completely jealous of you for seeing them. FUCK and i would have been in SF if it weren't for school finals. HA and they play in Boston 4 days after I leave. wonderful.

  11. postmaudlin says:

    couldn't agree more with your Go4 assessment. Holy shit, Jon King. Pretty amazing to hear a whole room singing along with "Damaged Goods".

    And yes on Radio 4 too -- down to the melodica. Come on, now. Also, could the lead singer have cribbed Joe Jackson's vocals any more thoroughly?

  12. rsalerno says:

    Have you ever seen (or heard much) Floater? I kind of assume your experience to be basically boundless, so more to the point: do you have an opinion of Floater?

    • jwz says:

      Hadn't heard of them before. The two samples on their web site are ok, but a little wanky. (I think I smell "Tool"-like art school?)

      • rsalerno says:

        Their first album came out in 1994 and is much much heavier and more what I was expecting you to be familiar with. I'd be happy to provide/upload copies of/samples from the first two discs if you care.

        For the sake of talking about the same thing since you took the time to check into them and respond, I encoded a more representative track here:
        Floater - Peter the Destroyer [ 12Mb .mp3 ]

  13. otterley says:

    I agree completely with your assessment of last night's show.

    A couple interesting shows coming up: Out Hud at Bottom of the Hill on June 3, and Gogol Bordello at Slim's on July 12. Might be worth your while to check them out.

    • wealhtheow says:

      Gogol Bordello is going to be a blast. Missed them last time around, will not make that mistake again.

    • jwz says:

      Hadn't heard of either of them before, thanks! Out Hud sounds interesting, but I dunno about Googol Bordello... is the stuff on that page representative?

      • otterley says:

        Re: Gogol Bordello - I frankly don't know. However, a trusted friend of mine constantly swears up and down that their shows are totally awesome, and that they always sell out when they play NYC, their hometown.

        So, I'm willing to check them out solely on the basis of their reputation.

  14. wealhtheow says:

    Fuck yeah. I'm going to tonight's Go4 show, and now I'm even more excited than I was already. The Dolls last Tuesday were awesome. Rosin Coven & the Vau de Vire Society are doing another show on 6/30.

  15. nosrialleon says:

    I flew in from LA, went to the show, slept in the airport, flew back out this morning.

    I'm really tired, and I don't particularly like to fly, but it was totally worth it.

    I really liked Menomena, but Radio 4 sucked ass and needed to be destroyed. They were slaves to their older brothers' record collections, all of which had far too many Stranglers albums. The bass player couldn't play, yet did so really loudly, and couldn't sing, yet sang all the songs. Total ego trip.

    As for Gang of Four. Wow. Just... wow. As <lj user='substitute'> remarked to me mid show, for an old man Andy Gill still has an awful lot of 'fuck you' left in him.

    We talked to one of the roadies after the show, and they had to scour LA to find a microwave that could have been made back in that era, and he thinks they'll have to do it again in Portland - it's just not going to survive many more beating like the one it took last night.

    • jwz says:

      That is just the coolest thing ever. Such attention to detail!

      "These modern microwaves, you see, the accoustics are just all wrong. It's the shielding."

  16. bodyfour says:

    > The most shocking thing about this show is that I ended up with a bunch
    > of extra tickets, and I had a hard time giving them away, because -- to
    > my great surprise and sadness -- so few people I know have even heard
    > of Gang of Four.

    That's exactly the same problem I had with the Tackhead show — I never did get rid of my extra ticket for that one. That show was for me what this Go4 show was for you.

    But yeah you were right — Go4 were fucking awesome. My schedule really doesn't permit me to go to the show tonight but damn is it tempting.

  17. ghosthacked says:

    You couldn't.. give away gang of 4 tix?? I can't buy them anywhere!! Augggh.

  18. skimmer718 says:

    Just wanted to weigh in from New York... I saw Gof4 at Irving Plaza and had pretty much the incandescent experience you describe. I'm 39 and I was just flat levitated by these guys.

    They were right up there with the Clash and D.Boon/Minutemen in the "rock heros I would go see live had I a single trip through through a time machine" category. And then here they are all the sudden, determined to plain rip it as hard as they did in 1979. I have never seen Irving Plaza transported quite like that, with a large pit moshing and pogoeing up front (me amid it, to my own happy bewilderment).

    What a gift from the gods.