© 2004 Jamie Zawinski <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For posterity, here are the various mini concert reviews I posted to my blog in 2004. (See also my 2005 list.) I wrote about shows that happened at DNA Lounge on the DNA site:
These are shows that I saw elsewhere:
The Dresden Dolls:
An illusion of which I have now been disabused: "Hey, the opening act is a puppet show, that might be entertaining." Unless by "entertaining" you mean "intolerably tedious." The second act was some godawful a capella off-key caterwauling that -- I swear -- might actually have been worse than Apocalypse Theatre.
So I was seriously starting to rethink the wisdom of this "leaving the bunker" plan.
But the headliner, The Dresden Dolls, were absolutely fantastic, and even made it worth suffering through the puppet show. They were two of them (drums and piano+vocals) and they played this aggressive cabaret kind of thing. She has a great voice, the music was really complex, and they were very tight; lots of changes within a song and stop-on-a-dime silent bits. Very entertaining lyrics too: "Coin Operated Boy" was especially funny.
They have CDs for sale on their web site; as your attorney in this matter, I advise you to purchase them.
I saw Dresden Dolls again last night. They were fantastic, but I think the sound was better at the last show. I was going to write something about the audience and how, uh, "special" they were, when I saw that confuseme has been reaching into my brain and STEALING MY THOUGHTS, so I'm going to just steal them right back:
"We saw The Dresden Dolls tonight. They're from Boston. Some alternate-reality Boston, that is, in which a terrible accident involving experimental neurotoxins and laughing gas fused Kate Bush and the Joker into a pair of twin marionettes. Their cover of "War Pigs" was really something.
"I enjoyed the band, despite their uncomfortably high Tori Amos quotient. The "audience participation", however -- which they encouraged -- was somewhat harder to take. I think about a third of the audience was composed of attention-seeking dorks in bad costumes. Why do people feel compelled to draw attention to themselves when everyone is trying to watch the band? Whoever that fucking was in the front row with the fucking pom-poms, for example, that person really got on my nerves."
I saw Tackhead, and they were fantastic! I was hesitant about going, since I only have two of their albums (Tackhead Tape Time from 1987, which I like, and Friendly as a Hand Grenade from 1989, which, eh) but exoskeleton and joeradio talked with such reverence about previous shows they'd seen back in the Jurassic, I figured I had to go. And they were right: they were definitely one of the tightest bands I've ever seen (which you'd expect, once you know the resumés of the people involved.) It was not an "industrial" show by any stretch; they were mostly a funk band. If you have the chance, do not miss them.
The opener was Tino Corp (the current project of Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto) who, to my great shame, I hadn't gotten around to seeing live until last night. They, also, were a lot of fun. It was really interesting watching the division of labor between the two guys: Dangers had a pile of gear on which he was doing the basic beats, and Stokes was layering on top of that with what was, as far as I can tell, the Emergency Broadcast Network Video Sampler! Great stuff.
Musically, Tino Corp was doing stuff that was much like the later Meat Beat (Subliminal Sandwich, etc.) I pretty much lost interest in MBM after 99% (I liked them when they were an industrial rap band, not when they got all ambient stoner dubby) but I've seen them many times (as MBM) in their later period, and they've always put on a great show.
Also of note was that the sound system at The Independent is very good; it's so much better than it was when it was Justice League or Kennel Club.
This was, apparently, old-timers weekend...
I've come to really hate seeing shows at The Warfield. The sound there is usually decent, but the staff are a bunch of assholes. Anyway, this show was a combo Creatures / Siouxsie and the Banshees show. The first four songs were recent-ish Creatures songs, and were really good. Budgie is one hell of a drummer. After the fourth song, Siouxsie had a tantrum about the fact that it was too cold on stage, and they stormed off for ten minutes or so. (Isn't this exactly the opposite of the complaint that most bands have?) She ranted about the staff some more throughout the set, and had a second ten-minute tantrum a few songs later. At one point a cartoon-stereotypical fratboy got up on stage and she tried to beat him with a swinging microphone (which was not nearly as entertaining as it sounds; it was just kind of sad all around.)
All the Creatures songs were great, and all the Siouxsie songs bored me, but that's to be expected, since I'm totally uninterested in almost everything they've recorded as the Banshees post-Hyaena. All things considered, had I left just as she began her first tantrum, I would have had the optimal experience for this show.
Also: when did goths start smoking so much pot? I liked it better when your stereotypical goth was a tweaker, because then they didn't smell as bad unless you got really close. The stench tended not to roll off them in great clouds, at least.
This was a great show -- the sound was a lot better than at the show in Davis a few months ago. We got there a little late and didn't feel like fighting our way into the sea of people, so we sat on the grassy hill at the back. The sound was surprisingly good up there, and we got to spread out with nobody bumping into us the whole time. It's been many, many years since I've been to a place as big as the Greek Theatre, and I'd forgotten that arenas don't have to suck. So between those two shows (one close up with crap sound, and one far away with good sound) we can sorta cut-and-paste together one optimal show.
The Distillers opened, and they were surprisingly okay, given that what I've seen of them on MTV has been utterly despicable.
Funniest thing about seeing a show in the People's Republic of Berkeley: standing in line at the security pat-down surrounded by great rasta-like plumes of pot smoke.
Um, hello? If you are so incompetent at running your door that you can't get your customers into the building, you do not start the show until you've gotten the people in! What the fuck!
The Grand is basically a hotel ballroom, not a concert venue, so the whole thing had the feeling of "hey, let's rent out a room at a convention center and have a show there." We were still in the process of trying to figure out whether all the bars in the place were implemented as a pile of bottles on card tables, and whether any of them had rum other than Barton's, when Thrill Kill Kult started. I said, "let's go up front, it can't possibly sound this bad everywhere in this room." Angela noted, "since we're standing in front of the sound board right now, it probably does."
She was right. Halfway through the third song (which I thought was "The Devil Does Drugs" but Pineapplehead says was "Daisy Chain for Satan"; whatever) I'd had enough; I decided that I'd better go wait out in the lobby just in case they decided to play another song that I used to like.
This wasn't totally unexpected; I've seen TKK at least a dozen times, and they're always hit or miss (more often miss.) I've seen them be excellent, and they've also been among the worst shows I've ever seen. This was probably the second worst TKK show I've seen (the worst being during the "13 Above the Night" era, when their show was Groovy and a couple of strippers lip-synching over a DAT.) They were a full band this time, and they seemed energetic, but it just sounded so bad. And that, plus the bright lighting, made it hard to overlook their general horrific dirtbaggyness.
So then Ministry. This is the first time I've seen Ministry since 1988 (that's how much I hated them on the "Land of Rape and Honey" tour) so I didn't have very high expectations. There were three reasons I went:
So, I went to the Ministry show hoping that it would actually be a RevCo & Lard show instead of a Ministry show. Well, turns out, it was a Ministry show after all. We left after the fifth or sixth song, and every song thus far had been from "Molé" (actually, the first song might have been "Deity," but I couldn't tell.) I understand that Jello came on later, but I can't say I regret that we cut our losses when we did.
I guess the sound quality was a bit better for Ministry than it was for TKK (or maybe I was just getting acclimated) but they were doing the whole "undifferentiated wall of guitars" thing that they do, and frankly I think I would have enjoyed a Motörhead show more.
This was my first time seeing a show at The Grand, and definitely my last. The spirit of Maritime Hall lives on there.
She was fantastic. She's always great, but this latest show was definitely one the best performances I've seen her do. She talked a lot about her time as NASA's Artist in Residence, and about war. Open questions:
Saw The Faint at Bimbo's, and they put on a great, energetic show. They sounded a lot like their recorded material, yet were much more of a live band than I expected; the electronics were still there, but they felt more "rock". They also had really great visuals: they played videos on two screens behind the band that were synched with the music, and it integrated really well. It felt more like a "stage backdrop" than like "there's a band, and also a movie."