Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 54: “Keep Calm and Carry On”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 54: “Keep Calm and Carry On”

“London Calling (live)” by the Clash

Set 1
“A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles
“Rip This Joint” by the Rolling Stones
“You Really Got Me” by the Kinks
“I Can’t Explain” by the Who
“It’s My Life” by the Animals

Set 2
“Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin
“Paranoid” by Black Sabbath
“Seamus” by Pink Floyd
“John, I'm Only Dancing (Saxophone Version) (Single - 1972)” by David Bowie
“Little Willie” by Sweet

Set 3
“God Save the Queen” by Jimi Hendrix
“God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols
“Neat, Neat, Neat” by the Damned
“I’m a Cliché” by X-Ray Spex
“Beat Surrender” by the Jam

Set 3
“Radio Sweetheart” by Elvis Costello
“Cruel to be Kind” by Nick Lowe
“England’s Glory (live)” by Ian Dury
“Whole Wild World” by Wreckless Eric

Set 4
“On My Radio” by the Selecter
“A Message to You Rudy” by the Specials
“London Girl” by the Pogues
“Thatcherites” by Billy Bragg

Set 5
“Warsaw” by Joy Division
“Cries & Whispers” by New Order
“Bigmouth Strikes Again” by the Smiths
“Inbetween Days” by the Cure
“Far Gone and Out” by the Jesus and Mary Chain

Set 6
“Girls and Boys” by Blur
“Connection” by Elastica
“Fucking in the Bushes” by Oasis
“Vertigo” by the Libertines
“Formed a Band” by Art Brut
“I Need All the Friends I Can Get” by Camera Obscura

Set 7
“Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
“Chasing Pavement” by Adele
“Cradle” by the Joy Formidable

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” by the Darkness

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 53: “2112”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 53: “2112”

“The Time Warp” by the Cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Set 1
“Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones
“Little Black Train” by Woody Guthrie
“All You Fascists” by Billy Bragg & Wilco
“Not a Crime” by Gogol Bordello
“21st Century Digital Boy” by Bad Religion

Set 2
“Robots” by Flight of the Conchords
“Erotomatica” by Servotron
“Paranoid Android” by Radiohead
“We Are All Made of Stars” by Moby

Set 3
“Electronic Behavior Control System Ver. 2.0” by Emergency Broadcast Network
“Rock Lobster” by B-52’s
“Beautiful World” by Devo
“Cool” by Pylon

Set 4
“The Wait” by Killing Joke
“Rocket USA” by Suicide
“Transmission” by Joy Division
“Leopard Man at C & A” by the Dirtbombs

Set 5
“Surprise” by Royal Headache
“Cold Shoulders” by Gold Motel
“Let Me Go” by Hacienda

Set 6
“You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)(live)” by Bruce Springsteen
“Left of the Dial (live)” by the Replacements
“The ’59 Sound” by the Gaslight Anthem

“Future Boys” by Electric Six

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I Stopped Taking Photos & Videos at Shows And Why I Finally Joined Twitter (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Split the Difference)

First reason I stopped taking photos and videos at shows was that the guards at Bowery Presents were instructed in about 2008 to enforce policies of which Bowery Presents used to look the other way. One night, Famous Steve the Whacky Bouncer at Bowery Ballroom said to me "I'm gonna take your whooooole camera away" before he did his usual yips and whoops to himself and downing McDonald's cheeseburgers from under the curtain. The second reason was that I just got plain tired of it.

The peak output for this blog was five years ago (though recently "reporting from" five concerts in three and a half days was a revival of those olden days). During that time, I attempted to go for broke. More than just review live shows, I wanted to bring the live shows to the blog, in some half-assed attempt at creating a mini media empire. I also did this because I suffered from an affliction that plagues many of my generation: the need to capture and enshrine every moment of every thing you witness. I didn't want to forget moments of what I knew would prove to be some of the best times of my life. But it had to stop. And I am glad I did. Because in the years since, this virus has only intensified, especially as our younger brothers and sisters start going to the shows. It's cell phone action all the time (I had the decency back then to stick to a digital camera). And while it is fine for someone to try to capture what may be an out-of-the-ordinary event like, say, a performance with a surprise guest, or a particular kind of incident, the mass need to record whole shows has gotten out of control.

And what really bothers me is the robotic like nature in which these people are doing it. One big wake-up call for me was during a Quintron & Miss Pussycat show in Toronto that I attended a few years ago. The band had to physically stop the guy from filming. He had such a serious devoted look to recording, that I thought he would be a real prick when he turned the camera off. Instead he was really apologetic and even looked stunned. First I chalked that up to being Canadian. But then I realized it's because he sincerely didn't know it was something the band would dislike. And his seriousness while filming was his form of enjoying the concert. Which is scary. Much more recently, I stood next to a woman during the Hold Steady performance at the CBGB festival. She never wooed or clapped or danced or nothing. She just kept filming. Like a robot. Scary. I don't want to be like these people.

Recently, I joined Twitter (@SPElwood). I waited a long, long time on this. I hate myself for giving in. But as I've switched my principal music doings from blogging about concerts to doing an Internet radio show, I figured this Twitter racket was a good way of getting the word out. Also it allows me to spit out the random nonsense that drives the ladies wild, something I stopped doing much on Facebook after I realized the sinister plot of that website is for everyone to be Big Brother to everyone else (though I still use Facebook for many things...unfortunately). So I'm OK with it. For now.

I didn't think joining Twitter tied in to recording at shows but maybe it does. It's sort of the same afflicition. Instant sharing of instant something about something happening. I would love for the next sentence to be truthful. At least I don't "live tweet" in the middle of the thing that is happening. Not true. I did it plenty during the five concert run. Not good. I've become one of THEM. Again.

Which brings me to the last thing about all of this. Incessant Documentation is the most prominent manifestation of the unrelenting narcissism that has amplified among people who are really not that special - AKA seemingly everyone under the age of 40, and many people over 40 who seem to suffer from mental disorders and take their problems to the Internet.  I just finished reading Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story. Uh oh. That was a big mistake. While his obvious bitterness and fear over the Bush Administration may politically prove to be overblown (we hope), his assessment of the Youth of Today in relation to their Internet-fueled narcissism is so far panning out, with no end in sight. So now, after reading that book, I'm doubly sick when I take to Twitter, this blog, this VERY piece, and even my radio show.
Furthermore, this behavior can be tied in to a new label I have for this set of people. Thanks to another recent bit of literature, The Hunger Games, I identify Capitol people (I live in New York, remember). And recently I was reminded of my old literary analysis - this is behavior  that could be indicative of the Eloi (but in The Time Machine, the Eloi became the meals of the Morlocks, and in real life New York, the Eloi have trumped us miserable Morlocks, so Capitol People may be more apt).

Where was I? Recording and taking photos too much at shows followed by giving into Twitter =  triumph of youthful android-like narcissism. Right. So I cringe with every use of First Person singular (feel the goosebumps going on here). Of course I also cringe when I read my own heavy "this is about all of us" mega pseudo-philosophical pronouncements of false wisdom that made little sense when I was 11, and when I was 21, and still now at 31. So again, this VERY piece is full of it.

And boy is it full of it. But regardless of that, yeah, no more filming at shows. And here's to not twittering in the middle of the thing I am twittering about. Unless the ghost of Jimi Hendrix shows up to play one night at a gig I'm at, I'm keeping the cell phone in the pocket. Otherwise I am effectively endorsing the regime of President Snow. Get me?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

4Knots Festival: Nick Waterhouse; Devin; Bleached

4Knots Festival: Nick Waterhouse; Devin; Bleached
@ South Street Seaport
New York, NY - July 14, 2012

The Village Voice's replacement for their beloved Siren Festival has been their now 2nd annual 4Knots festival, the first year of which I skipped altogether (except to catch the Ted Leo "pre-show" show on a day before the event). The location at the Seaport meant a more touristy crowd to mix in with the usual array of crowd clowns drawn to the slate of bands. There was the same old beach ball bull that happens at these things but a noticeable reduction in the number of shirtless "men" sporting handlebar mustaches, which is a plus.

Nick Waterhouse is a devotee of classic 60's soul, notably of the Ray Charles variety, as opposed to the Stax sound. He is just the latest in a long line of tribute acts, acts that run the range from really hard driven (the Heavy) to a little slicker (Fitz & the Tantrums) to the authentic and well-paced (the Daptone Records family). He falls somewhere in that spectrum. On occasion his outfit sound like something that would have just been a pleasant local weekend act in your humble home town, but then the band will spike it up, especially on Nick's slam-bang "(If) You Want Trouble". I hadn't intended to dance but "Some Place" was so infectious I started moving before I realized it. It couldn't be helped.

I walked around the way to see Devin on the smaller Pier 16 stage. Devin is the love child in look & sound of Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and Jim Carroll. His Voidoids-sounding rock n roll is the kind of pure stuff that can't be faulted though some of the songs wore thin. Still, it was all worth it for "Masochist", his should-be-a-hit.

Once Devin finished, I could hear the next band on the main Pier 17 stage and they were doing a cover of the Ramones' perfect song "Today You're Love, Tomorrow the World". It turned out to be Bleached, a California beach bunny band that wound up sounding almost exactly like the Dum Dum Girls, which is A-OK (certainly at this show and mostly in general).

Then I left and about an hour later, the waterfront side of the Seaport caught fire, half of the festival still to go. know...there's that.

What? Do I have to wrap up these reviews with a narrative-tying conclusion each time?

Eleanor Friedburger; Ex Cops @ South Street Seaport

Eleanor Friedburger;  Ex Cops
@ South Street Seaport
New York, NY - July 13, 2012

When Eleanor Friedburger was part of the Fiery Furnaces with her brother, I respected their Zappa-like commitment to artsy farsty sonic dischord but it wasn't my bag. But as a solo artist, Eleanor is not just now a student of the pop-rock school, she's almost head of the class. Last summer, she put out Last Summer, a record so clearly devoted to the late 70's and early 80's sounds of punk, new wave, and the Rolling Stones, that it was more than a special treat. It appeared to be her stock-in-trade. Carrying on in support of that sound, she took the Seaport crowd on a shoe-shuffle-bop, with the kind of music that people who go on about needing a "summer strut" song could make do with. With new musicians behind her, including a sharp saxophonist, she got into a real rhythm and her declaration of love for good time rock n' roll was about as fine a thing for the summer as can be.

Ex Cops had nice songs in their power-pop set list though the girl in the band could do without the bored-dead expression.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 2: Neko Case; Charles Bradley; George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic @ Rockefeller Park

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 2: Neko Case; Charles Bradley; He's My Brother, She's My Sister
@ World Financial Center Plaza

George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
@ Rockefeller Park

New York, NY - July 12, 2012

This was not intended to feel like a two stage festival but considering the venues were a few blocks apart and the timing worked out right, yours truly got two big helpin's of the funk around the second day of the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival.

He's My Brother, She's My Sister seemed alright from what I heard. But I was distracted. Something was calling me. Something making me walk away from the festival and up along the water's edge, bringing me to Rockefeller Park at the other end of Battery Park City. It was the funk. George Clinton had arrived with his cast of characters (including that bastard Cyranno), staring right into the sun, in white cap and some long, gray pajama-type garb. Introduced by the telethon man from Channel 13, and after a reminder from the venue lady that this was a drink-and-drug free zone (did someone tell George?), this was shaping up to be an odd cohesion. In fact, when you're told the port-a-potties must be used before 9 and to "plan accordingly", you know that George had no choice but to tear the roof off the mothersucker. This was one uptight set-up for the freewheelin' P-Funk.

After about 15-20 minutes, meaning about two songs, into the set, I ambled back to the festival to catch Charles Bradley, yet another lost-&-found treasure from Daptone. Steeped in Stax-style soul, this was a calling to church. In fact, Mr. Bradley appears to have a mission all laid out and was holding a meeting. The down times of the last few years weigh heavy on Mr. Bradley's mind, whether it be heard in "The World is Going Up in Flames" or his stirring finale of "tryin' to make it in America". Even the stunning version of Neil's "Heart of Gold" spoke to the state of affairs. This could have been a solemn set, especially as we heard actual devotions to a specific Lord God, but the screamingly on-key voice of CB, backed by some real cats in the Extraordinaires, made it a good time.

But the funk kept calling me back. And so I went back. Hearing how P-Funk wanted to funk us. Speaking of churches, what was this? George Clinton is the best damn cult leader to walk the face of this godforsaken rock in this podunk solar system in an anonymous spiral galaxy in this thing called the Universe. The man and his apostles hadn't finished yet. The crowd had exploded in size and the park was awash in hands and bodies jumping up and down. Who knew "the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire", the last good catchphrase ever uttered by the human race, was still a hot commodity? It almost pained me to leave as the gang got into "Atomic Dog" but if the actor who played poor Gale Boetticer on Breaking Bad could jog by without surrendering to the funk, who am I to give up?

Neko Case started a tad late (probably also trying to extricate herself, or more likely Kelly Hogan, from the funk), and the speaker blew, and it wasn't shaping up to be smooth sailing but hey, look who pulled it out, all aces? Of course she would. She has the voice and the band to do it. Not to mention the songs, though the set had to take a more unexpected quiet turn. Still, "People Gotta Lot of Nerve" "Hold On, Hold On", and  "Margaret vs. Pauline" were in full effect among other workhorses. And yes, goodly Kelly Hogan was there to sing along, though she herself has a nice new record to support (listen to "We Can't Have Nice Things" immediately). So everything was just fine.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 1: Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan, and John Mayall

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Day 1: Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan, and John Mayall
@ World Financial Center Plaza
New York, NY - July 11, 2012

Nothing says the blues like the World Financial Center, in the heart of Battery Park City, with massive VIP pens of suits and their female equivalents. PJ Clarke's was too crowded for a nice blues-food meal to gaze upon this scene, so I had to go all the way to a typical fake Irish pub where the bangers in the bangers & mash were Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages (I am not making this up).

You don't need me to tell you really how this gig went. What can I tell you about Buddy Guy and John Mayall? These are padres of respective kinds of the blues. This is major historical legendary territory. Who am I to wax any kind of authoritative narrative about these men and what they do? I can tell you a little bit about Quinn Sullivan - 13 years old and plays the blues guitar (and the git in general) like another Kenny Wayne or D. Trucks. We can say we saw him when...I hope. Oh I can tell you one thing about Mr. Guy, who I think is still soloing on "Hootchie Cootchie Man" as I write this the next day (I am making that up): he had to sass the crowd for not even being with it to shout "son of a gun" during this top 5 blues classic. "I played India 3 weeks ago," he said, "and they didn't fuck it up as bad as you", he told the crowd.

My eye-fracking of the VIP corporates came to an abrupt halt when one of them, in a Hawaiian shirt (a kindred spirit perhaps?) asked me if I wanted to join the VIP's or at least be fetched a drink? I declined but shiiiiit....maybe these folks ain't so bad after all?

I left after that and walked my way to the subway but not before coming across Zuchotti (Liberty) Park and upon another scene of protesters and police. Was Occupy Wall Street back in business? The protesters were playing the part. An unharmed, even bored-looking woman was being treated by fellow protesters as if she just got whipped with batons.Then I saw the signs. Apparently it was a Crusty/Neo-Hippie/Anarchist protest for emotions (I am not making this up). There were signs about wanting to be able to love and protecting happiness. One Fawkes mask. Then I saw the sign that I didn't belong with this set. White folks in dreadlocks. I can't stand white folks in dreadlocks.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 52 – “Celebrating Ten Years of Indie Rock Snobbery”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 52 – “Celebrating Ten Years of Indie Rock Snobbery”

“Last Nite” by the Strokes

Set 1
“Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground” by the White Stripes
“Hate to Say I Told You So” by the Hives
“The Desperate Man” by the Black Keys
“Pull a U” by the Kills
“Round and Round” by Mr. Airplane Man

Set 2
“21st Century Fox” by the Dirtbombs
“I Can’t Sit Down” by the Blanche
“My Little Birdie” by the Nice Device
“I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing” by the Sights
“Scotch Love” by the Paybacks
“Hey Sailor” by the Detroit Cobras

Set 3
“Gay Bar” by Electric Six
“Formed a Band” by Art Brut
“I Live for Speed” by the Star Spangles
“Holding My Own” by the Darkness

Set 4
“I Woke Up This Mornin’” by the Mooney Suzuki
“Black Tongue” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“In the Modern World” by Jesse Malin
“Gimme Gimme” by Mondo Topless
“The End of the Night” by the Greenhorns
“Walk a Mile” by Holly Golightly

Set 5
“Call It a Day” by the Raconteurs
“Waddlin’ Around” by the King Khan & BBQ Show
“16 Military Wives” by the Decemberists
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
“Don’t Let Him Come Back” by Jay Reatard

Set 6
“Girls Like Status” by the Hold Steady
“Squalor Victoria” by the National
“Tears for Affairs” by Camera Obscura
“Front Row” by Metric
“Depth Charge Ethel” by Grinderman

Set 7
“Dancing Choose” by TV on the Radio
“Old White Lincoln” by the Gaslight Anthem
“Come Saturday” by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“These Days” by Sea Monsters
“Juarez” by We Are Augustines

“Where Was My Brain?” by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists

"Remember Lenny, develop a sense of nostalgia for something, or you'll never figure out what's important." - Gary Shteyngart

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The CBGB Festival: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; The Hold Steady; Superchunk; Duff McKagan's Loaded

The CBGB Festival: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; The Hold Steady; Superchunk; Duff McKagan's Loaded @ Times Square New York, NY - July 7, 2012

In the true spirit of the old CBGB & OMFUG club, the organizers of a multi-venue festival put on a two-stage free show in Times Square and damned if it wasn't a mess. Who's on the bill? Who knows! When are they playing? Some time today. For how long are they playing? Not very long at all. At least that's the sort of sloppy imagery of which you'd think in regards to the founding punk club in New York. But anyone who remembers the later years of Hilly Kristal's club will remember it was a machine, it ran like clockwork, packed bills that were managed tightly, and all the packaged, polished grime you could muster to go with that. So I don't know what these guys today were up to.

Nostalgia is big. Especially for folks of a certain age. You can find nostalgia in just about anything. Indie and Punk Rock are no exceptions. People of this hack's generation are nostalgic not just for days they missed out on but are already nostalgic for earlier waves of nostalgia. So in that mold, this CBGB festival may be the right idea. So with that came this hastily put together, fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants two stage showcase, which had some reminders of the old Siren Festivals of yore. And what a Siren Fest it would have been with some of the bands on the bill.

I caught the last song of Duff McKagan's Loaded as I stood under the Father Duffy statue. I do believe this was the first time I've seen a one time member of Guns n' Roses so there's some weight in that. And who was with him on that last song, a howlin' rendition of the immortal Stooges' "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog"? Glen Matlock. I do believe this was the first time I've seen a one time member of the Sex Pistols. My cynicism - itself a sort of phenomenon that deserves a counter-rebellion - dampened any notion of "OH MY GOD!!!" coursing through my veins so I met myself somewhere in the middle.

Immediately after that final song, on cue, five blocks away up Broadway, Superchunk began their set. Introduced by John Norris (who along with fellow emcee Matt Pinfield made for a very nostalgic 90's MTV rock day), the founders of Merge Records, the musical captains of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Superchunk delivered the set I promised myself in my heart I would see some day. Superchunk is one of many bands that escaped my attention until just the last couple of years. Majesty Shredding possessed such fine songs that I soon found myself living in No Pocky for Kitty. The rest is not-quite-history but may get there. Live is another matter. This was INSANE. Superchunk had more energy and more intensity than just about almost any other band I've ever seen do anything ever. And the fact that they are completely excellent musicians helps things. Mac McCaughan is a rock n roll machine, which is fitting considering he is essentially the most all natural frontman you could ever want in a band. Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur, and Jon Wurster did their parts like it was no skin of their backs, yet I was sweating just from watching (and jumping up and down like a lunatic while a CBGB fest photographer snapped away at me because he thought he saw the ghost of Hunter S.)

Then there appeared to be a two hour lull in the concert so... Lunch was had at Marky Ramone's meatball truck. I had, of course, the pastrami balls. There could be no other way.

Then came a band that could be considered an old friend of this blog and the radio show. Except of course that Elwood doesn't know a single member of the Hold Steady. The closest he ever came was when he wound up suddenly standing next to Craig Finn at a gig - a gig that not minutes before, I had thought had an opener fit for a Hold Steady opening slot (and it turns out Craig thought the same thing). But the Hold Steady, through their relentlessness, their ubiquity, and the very essence of their music, are meant to be old friends. Running through a score of hits, the band put more guitar muscle into songs that now lacked a keyboard. Steve Selvidge is a full flung member of this operation and he's helping find new ways to appreciate old favorites. The contrast now between the live show and the records is increasing. How this band is sounding STRONGER after all this time, is remarkable. But hey if Superchunk can be more powerful then ever, then why not the Hold Steady? There was a fine taste of some stuff to come too...the story continues with our old friends...

Finally there came Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Talk about nostalgia. The original buzz band of the current era. Discovered and hyped by the initial waves of Indie Snob Blogs. The first prominent self released album. The first Internet-based success. The waves made since then have lessened considerably but the news that today is the last day on the job for two original members hit Scene 2005 in 2012 like a hammer. Who knew? I always thought this project was essentially Alec Ounsworth. It's on me that I didn't know he had a consistent band so far throughout. At some points in the set, this was a rocking, substantive affair. At other points, the band started to drift like Ounsworth's mumblings. Which is essentially why this band has remained foreign to me despite having several songs of note. Nevertheless, it actually made for a fine cap to the end of the day. A strange, odd, nostalgic day.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 51: “Summer Night Dance Party 2012”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 51: “Summer Night Dance Party 2012”

“Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night” by the Hold Steady

Set 1
“Here Comes the Summer” by the Undertones
“Celebrate Summer” by T-Rex
“Summer Days” by Bob Dylan
“Summer Sensation” by Hawaii Mud Bombers

Set 2
“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran
“Noisy Summer” by the Raveonettes
“Summer Shoulders” by the Prime Ministers
“A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” by Leon Redbone

Set 3
“Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones
“King of the Beach” by Wavves
“The Only Place by Best Coast
“Cedar Point ‘76” by the Dirtbombs

Set 4
“4th of July” by X
“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen
“Take Off” by Bob & Doug McKenzie
“The Void” by Metric

Set 5
“Midnight Shifter” by the Hives
“You Me Bullets Love” by the Bombay Royale
“Masochist” by Devin
“Surprise” by Royal Headache
“Secret Song” by Blooper

Set 6
“Man of the World” by Alejandro Escovedo
“First Time I Met the Blues” by Buddy Guy
“We Can’t Have Nice Things” by Kelly Hogan
“Misfire” by Neko Case & Her Boyfriends

“Dance Pattern” by Electric Six