In this age of diminishing print media sales, blogging has snowballed into an ever increasing alternate source of information. It kind of horrifies me to think that people look to blogs for, like, real journalism. If you want further proof that bloggers just don’t quite cut it as fully legit journalists, consider this: I had every intention of documenting last Friday’s Montu/Rad Shades/Digital Beatdown show in a semi-professional manner. However, when it became clear that I wouldn’t be required to drive that night, all hope of sobriety (and good photography…and totally coherent thinking) gave way to gin & Sprite. And goofy dance movez.
Digital Beatdown got things off to a good start, from what I saw, but I have to admit that I was preoccupied with getting my order taken at the bar. And my other order. Bartenders rarely recognize my beauty and always seem to take orders from girls in short skirts first. Whatever.
Montu actually played two sets, broken up by an intermission patrolled by Rad Shade’s beat dropping. Brother’s is not a huge venue, but every spare inch of space was filled with sweaty, grooving collegiate body parts. Montu’s dexterous, intricate instrumental fusion seemed even more on-point than the last time I saw them. My friend Colby Cowart happens to be their drummer, so maybe I’m not completely without bias, but this is a group well deserving of bigger and better things in the near future. They already appear to have quite a local following, and for very legit reasons.
Rad Shades is the DJing duo Miles Compton and Will Krause, two other friends of mine. Before the show they warned me that they had thrown the night’s mix together about an hour prior, but to my ears (and my shaking drunk ass), it was a tightly performed set. The crowd was completely won over by their charismatic presence and solid mixing abilities. Even when Will’s laptop crashed to the floor with an Apple-smashing thud, momentum was quickly regained (and said computer seemed to recover from the tumble).
Fortunately, our friend (and expert artist/photographer) Zay Shaeffer was there to pick up the visual slack, capturing some dope shots for you cats.
Rad Shades (By Zay):
Rad Shades (By Chris):
Montu (By Zay):
Montu (By Chris):
I have been dreading writing anything about last week’s My Bloody Valentine concert, not because it was anything less than awe inspiring, but because I don’t have the verbal aptitude to do the experience any kind of justice. What I’m about to say will come off as cosmic hyperbole to those not in attendance and bland understatement to those who were.
Loveless, as it was to thousands of others, was a touchstone in the development of my musical tastes. Like The Velvet Underground & Nico, Daydream Nation, and Wowee Zowee, it was an album that completely shifted the way I heard music as a kid. Having the opportunity to see MBV live was not something I ever considered to be within the realm of possibility. Kevin Shields seemed like a man way too far lost in personal mythos and perfectionism to ever pick up where he left off with this band. So when it was announced that MBV would be playing a handful of dates in the U.S., including Dallas, I was ecstatic.
While waiting for the show to start, a guy walked over to us and, with a look of clear anxiety, asked just how loud this thing was going to get. We couldn’t tell him for sure, but any time the venue’s staff hands out complementary ear plugs at the door, it’s safe to assume you aren’t at a John Tesh concert. The entire day I had a mixed feeling of genuine terror and fantastical elation.
To be completely honest, I was disappointed when I heard that there were going to be opening acts. MBV are simply too monolithic to give anyone else a fair shot of not sucking by comparison. Josh Pearson, formerly of Denton’s Lift to Experience, did a decent job, despite his obvious nervousness. However, the choice to play a MBV cover was a bit of a head-scratcher.
In the spirit of charity, and since I like his band The Lilys, I’ll keep my thoughts about Kurt Heasely’s set to myself.
Anticipation was ratcheted to an unbelievable level as we waited (and waited) for MBV to take the stage. The Velvet Underground’s narcotic “Ocean” evaporated into the onstage fog and would’ve been the perfect overture for MBV’s entrance, but instead we were forced to wait a few minutes longer.
As per their reputation, the group’s stage presence was entirely swallowed by their massive sound and eyes-on-the-floor mystique, being the very definition of anti-charismatic. MBV have never been showmen/women; they are rock’s equivalent to the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odysey.
The sound at the beginning of the show was certainly rumbling, but as someone who has had his hearing damaged by Sonic Youth, it wasn’t quite to the notorious jet engine levels. However, the decibel range slowly crept up throughout the night, and wearing ear plugs made it easier to distinguish the intricate melodies being frequency fucked onstage. I was almost lulled into believing the infamous “Holocaust” section would be manageable. Almost.
The Palladium is notorious for being one of the least sound-friendly large venues in Dallas, but the reportedly doubled P.A. system seemed to work magnificently. For a band with such a brief but consistently brilliant discography (ok, maybe minus a few really early tracks), there were sure to be a couple songs sadly missing from the setlist, but the territory traversed was impeccable. There were a few murmured complaints about the submerged vocals, but vocals are not the primary ingredient in this sonic stew, so I had no problem with that. I was utterly awestruck by Colm Ó Cíosóig’s drum pummeling. I was even more blown away to experience elements of the songs that are imperceptible when listening on a home system. The sheer volume brought forth countless additional tonal layers. The hypnotic “Soon” could have spiraled into the abyss for an extra twenty minutes and I still would’ve been in a euphoric trance.
All of this lead up to “You Made Me Realize”, the climax for which we had been preparing ourselves. I began to brace myself for the aural ambush around the corner. All of the sudden I was hit with an indescribable wave of very real and very physical sound; we were in the belly of the beast. This is where all words will fail to describe the truly surreal experience of the next fifteen minutes. All sense of time simply evaporated as the crowd was thrust into an intensely hallucinogenic state of consciousness. I traveled through all manner of feelings, beginning with a dopamine rush that eventually ceded to an almost oppressive fear that my body would simply be crushed by the force of the sounds enveloping us. Then I think the entire crowd simply gave themselves over to catatonic bliss. When the coda came crashing back in, it felt as if my body was lifted into the air, the same way your arms float skyward after pressing against a door frame for a few minutes. After the song ended the entire crowd stood dumbstruck before any attempt was made to exit the venue. For a few moments I wasn’t sure my legs still worked.
We stumbled into the night as zombies, our brains feasted upon by one of our planet’s most justifiably exalted rock bands. None of us will ever be the same, and some of us will never hear the same. We had just survived the greatest sound sculpture ever erected.
“To Here Knows When”
“Come in Alone”
“You Made Me Realize”
One thing you can’t call Dan Deacon is boring. That much was made abundantly clear this weekend as he and his “big band” ensemble turned the Ft. Worth Modern’s sculpture garden into a bizarre makeshift playground studded with trippy green skulls, crystal cats and mass foot races. “If he had brought a giant parachute,” a friend of mine noted, “he would have perfectly replicated Kindergarten.”
As succesful as the live-band approach turned out, I’m pretty sure Dan will never be invited back to the Modern. At one point, he organized a crowd-swallowing bastardization of London Bridge which, he stressed, should stretch through the museum itself, past the bathrooms, through the exhibits nearest the sculpture garden, and back out through the other entrance. Needless to say, security put a stop to that. The game stretched out through the garden into what began to resemble Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, but was rightfully not allowed in the doors of the Modern itself.
The set was airtight and, despite an understandably long set-up process, was executed masterfully. The drummers from highly percussive, noisy post-rockers Teeth Mountain (who, it should be said, were absolutely terrific) helped bring Bromst‘s organic assault full circle into was was a staggering explosion of rhythm and guttural energy.
It goes without saying that seeing Dan Deacon live is a sort of draining experience: beyond the organized sprinting, “sassy-as-fuck” dance contests and massively executed childrens’ games, just being in the presence of such staggering walls of sound is enough to make anyone feel a bit spent afterward.
Unfortunately my camera died just as the first band (Denton’s own Fight Bite) took the stage. Luckily for us, it’s 2009:
“Baltihorse” and “The Crystal Cat”
“Silence Like the Wind”
…and today Silence in Architecture morphs into TMZ Lite.
As was already reported by Gorilla vs. Bear, Crystal Castle’s scheduled concert in Dallas last night hit an Axl Rose-sized snag when said band decided to pretend they were actual rock stars. That is to say, they kicked SiA-approved openers VEGA off the bill for allegedly jacking equipment and proceeded to cancel the show altogether, citing the Grenada’s supposed lack of an adequate sound system. As someone who has witnessed a few (great) shows at the Grenada, I’m having a tough time swallowing that swill. In addition, Alan Palomo of VEGA adamentally denies the former accusation. Taking into account that the Grenada backs Palomo’s version of the story and he is a friend of Jezy, I’m much more apt to discount CC’s frankly ludicrous statements.
While I’m sure the crowd was quite perterbed by CC’s diva-ish behavior, we can fortunately report that the situation didn’t escalate into a Montreal-style Guns ‘N Roses riot; perhaps because the ironic mulleted fan is less hopped up on testosterone than the real deal. In any case, the Grenada and VEGA appear to come out as the more mature participants in this rather silly, yet unfortunate, drama.
So here’s my brief lecture for Crystal Castles: It is unwise to begin acting like Rock Stars hopped up on diva juice before you prove yourself capable of actual stardom. At least when Lars and Axl decided to shit on their fans they had already sold millions of records. Most people stole your debut and the recycle bin is just one mouse click away.
Suck on that 8-bit shit, fuckas.
“So Young” was the first song on Suede’s classic self-titled debut, and the following is taken from the concert video “Love & Poison”. Suede and the follow-up, Dog Man Star, are two of my favorite albums. Whenever I watch their live performances I’m reminded of the dearth of legitimate rock stars left on this planet. They certainly had charisma out the arse.
The basilisk is a Latin American lizard that can walk on water for close to 15 feet before sinking, thus earning the nickname “the Jesus Christ Lizard”. The Jesus Lizard were a Chicago-based rock band (formed by Scratch Acid‘s David Yow) who crucified their audiences with spikes of sound. If you don’t own any of their albums, grab either Goat (1991, Touch and Go) or Liar (1992, Touch and Go) immediately. Then work your way into the rest of the band’s somewhat patchier discography. The band has reunited and scheduled a few shows for 2009, so if you have the chance, go out and see them do this thing in person: