© 2005 Jamie Zawinski <email@example.com>
For posterity, here are the various mini concert reviews I posted to my blog in 2005. (See also my 2004 list.) I wrote about some of the shows that happened at DNA Lounge on the DNA site:
These are shows that I saw elsewhere:
The Epoxies at Café du Nord:
They were awesome, as last time.
This an incredible show; they did a really long set, and this time they had some really good acrobats (The Vau de Vire Society) 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.
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.
These guys were 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
Sure enough, two songs later, melodica.
I bought one of their albums, and it was such a pastiche of other, better bands that it made me angry.
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, Fugazi, Big Black, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The Strokes, White Stripes...
I saw them again the following night, and they were every bit as good the second time. If you did not go to these shows, 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.
All-girl indie-rock with dual vocals; I liked them a lot. They seem to get compared to The Breeders in reviews, which I can see after having listened to the CD I bought at the show, but while they were playing they reminded me most of early Veruca Salt.
This is Kristin Hersh's new band (of Throwing Muses) and they are awesome. They are much harder and louder, more punk, than Throwing Muses, and really tight. It's always hard describing music except by example, so I guess the best I can come up with right now is that the Nirvana song "Territorial Pissings" would not have been out of place in their set.
The Copper Tones at Islais Creek:
Surf rock. Pretty good.
Girl-fronted punk. Pretty good.
Technically, this was Justin and Dean doing a mostly-accoustic set. But they were fantastic, as always.
I liked these guys the last time I saw them, but this time they did nothing for me. It might just be that I'm that much more sick of mashups now, but I think they just didn't sound very good this time.
Ok industrial band. They are two guys plus backing tracks. The drummer is fantastic, and uses random bits of metal instead of actual drums. The singer is manic and entertaining, but screams in exactly the same style on every song, which I find irritating.
F-Space at Islais Creek:
I thought these guys were awesome (and not just because they use fire). One of the guys primarily played this thing that seemed to be a bunch of big springs stretched over a metal table that periodically spat fire. The music was heavily distorted and drumming heavy; old-school industrial, sort of in the Crash Worship vein, but less tribal.
And later that same night...
Invisible Ballet at The Independent:
Really great! Invisible Ballet is Rebecca and Ryan from Halou, doing more of a synthpop thing than the sorta-triphop of Halou. This time, they also had Evan and Shawn from Battery playing with them, which was cool.
This time they had the full band. They were great, but the club's sound was crap. This was unexpected, because it sounded fine for Invisible Ballet, and it sounded great there when I saw Tackhead there last year. Despite the sound issue, I think I prefer NMA's accoustic sets. They seem a lot more powerful and emotional.
She spun trance, which was a little surprising, and occasionally sang over it. It was not bad as such things go. It took about 30 minutes before the crowd realized that there was no need for them to all just stand there and stare at her.
I love Halou, but this show was fucking intolerable. There was this insanely loud hum through the entire show: it was almost loud enough to drown out the vocals. I think it was even harder to take because I knew and liked the songs. It was like this little hammer that kept whacking me in the head: "Ow, quit it. Ow, quit it. Ow, quit it." I can't believe they continued the show with this instead of just stopping and fixing it.
They finally got the hum fixed before he started, but by that time I think I was too annoyed to give him much of a chance. I only stayed for about 5 minutes of his set, which, as far as I could tell, was him playing the first ten seconds of "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd over and over and over and over and over again. And they weren't even selling heroin at the bar! What were they thinking!
Without question the best play I've ever seen! Ok, I don't see very many plays, but that's because so few of them spray the audience with blood! Oh, so great. They covered the major elements of all three of the Evil Dead movies, and the guy who plays Ash did an admirable job of having his ass kicked by his own possessed hand. A good portion of the show took place off stage, with the cast running up and down the aisles and even down the rows of the audience. Best play ever.
I enjoyed the stage production of Re-Animator, but I must say, I enjoyed Evil Dead Live a lot more. Part of that is that Evil Dead is a much better story (face it, the Reanimator movies sucked ass) but I thought the production was better on Evil Dead too. It felt like a lot of Re-Animator was "ok, now we get a chance to fire the super-soakers of kool-aid at the audience again" rather than them being effects that just happened to result in a lot of splatter. The "severed talking head" effect was handled really well, though!
Really awesome acrobatic dance performance. I don't know how to describe such things, really, but some of the bits they did were really impressive. One of the best parts was a big metal wireframe sphere, full of people: they'd hang symetrically on the outside and change its rotation by leaning in and out.
This was pretty great: lots of the usual kind of incredible acrobatics and cool set design that you expect from them. But, they also always tend to throw in some really boring parts. This time it was an interminable gag about Romeo and Juliette with midget clowns. Now that sounds pretty funny, right? Well, maybe for 30 seconds, but it just went on and on... The gigantic scale of the production they put on is impressive, but both Capacitor and Cirque Éloize were much better shows, despite being so much smaller.
He calls it "spoken word", I call it "stand-up comedy", but either way, it's not to be missed. He stands there and tells stories about his life for 3+ hours, and is absolutely hilarious, even when he's telling you the most horrible, heart-wrenching things. This time he talked about going on a USO tour, meeting horrifically wounded soldiers, the last days of Johnny Ramone, his trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and all kinds of things. I've seen him a bunch of times and never heard him repeat a story, and he always makes me hurt from laughing so hard at least once during the show. And want to blow up the world a few other times.
This was a nu-metal/punk band consisting of a tiny asian girl singer and three surfer-dudes. They were enthusiastic, but not very good. I guess the best thing I can say about them is that she looks like she works out a lot.
Southern rock. Absolutely intolerable. I guess the best thing I can say about them is that their music is timeless: in that a time traveller wouldn't have any idea which of the last four decades he had landed in.
The reason I suffered through the previous two bands, and oh yes, it was worth it. I'd never seen them before, and they were great. I was surprised at how much like the albums they sounded. I wonder whether that means the albums captured their live sound well, or whether it went the other way around. The between-song banter was pretty funny, too: "it's been a few years since we've been here, and I've had a few breakups in the meantime. You might know that, since I wrote an album about them... but it's ok, I'm over it now!"
A couple of times, the guitar player just passed his guitar out into the crowd and let random people bang on it. Then he'd wave, and it'd get passed back up to him. Brave man!