Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Afro Punk Festival: TV on the Radio; Janelle Monae

TV on the Radio; Janelle Monae
@ Commodore Barry Park
Brooklyn, NY - August 26, 2012

I'm going to leave the authenticity debate, and any other debate, about the Afro Punk festival alone, except to say that I don't dig skateboard culture. Nevertheless this year's Afro Punk fest was the tool by which I finally righted a long wrong: the drought is over - I have now seen TV on the Radio. After 8 long years - I've seen 'em live. One of the missing links in the fever pitch of the last decade's live show pilgrimages (outdone only by the Strokes - 10 years and counting and counting and counting...), it just hasn't been right that this band - makers of major, important music, album after album - eluded my live gaze.

Unfortunately, this moment was diluted by a poor sound system that lost the band's sound in the big open air of the park. Much of the instrumentation was faded. Dave Sitek may as well have not been there. Tunde Adebimpe's vocals were also hard to hear. And really terrible - I couldn't make out Kyp Malone's hair. The elements the band had to fight against included of course, you guessed it, Frank Stallone (kidding and credit Norm MacDonald). The chatter. The chatter drowned out a band. The chatter drowned out a loud band. In a large park. It's a good thing I knew "Wolf Like Me", "Dancing Choose", and "Caffeinated Conciousness" by heart or I'd have thought the whole thing blew. Damn.

This was not the case just a little bit earlier on the other side of the park - the smaller playground side of the park. Janelle Monae had the technical works all in her favor as she also made her first appearance before Pennypacker's concert eyes. She (mostly) commanded a crowd (there was still a lot of chatter) that was amped by the appearance of a popular individual named Pharrell (who I believe once produced a Hives record). The crowd robotically stampeded to get this chap's image on their mobile phones. The phones mostly went away during Monae's set, which was an incredible, elastic, scamper of her Cylon Ziggy Souldust persona mixed with down-to-Earth redo's of the Jacksons' chance song and "Little Wing" by Hendrix. It was all worth it for the queen-making encore, a Cab Calloway-meets-Rockabilly-meets-B-52's epic I have just learned is called "Come Alive (War of the Roses)". Whatever one wants to think of the idea of Afro Punk yesterday, today, and forever, let it be this and think well of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show - Episode 56: “Anger”

The Sonic Parthenon Show  - Episode 56: “Anger”


“Putin Zassal” by Pussy Riot

Set 1
“Killing in the Name of” by Rage Against the Machine
“The Rage” by Judas Priest
“Look Back in Anger” by David Bowie
“I Don’t Care About You” by Fear
 “Mean Talkin’ Blues” by Woody Guthrie
“Out of Step (with the World)” by Minor Threat

Set 2
“I Hate My Fucking Job” by M.O.T.O.
“Stupid Fuckin’ People” by the BellRays
“Naked Pictures (of Your Mother)” by Electric Six
“B is for Brutus” by the Hives
“God Damn Job” by the Replacements

Set 3
“Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green
“You Fucked Up” by Ween
“No Pussy Blues” by Grinderman
“Words that Hurt” by the Dirtbombs
“I Really Hate You” by Ko & the Knockouts

Set 4
“Warthog” by the Ramones
“I Can’t Stand It” by the Hard Lessons
“Dead Souls” by Joy Division
 “Some Kinda Hate” by the Misfits

Set 5
“Shotgun Blues” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
“I’m Mad Again” by the Animals
 “Mean Mean Mama (from Meana)” by Light Crust Doughboys
“John Bitter” by the Krunchies
“Everything Goes to Hell” by Tom Waits

Set 6
“White Riot” by the Clash
“Riot” by the Sounds
“Never Been in a Riot” by the Mekons
“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” by AC/DC
“Riot Act (demo)” by Elvis Costello

“Rise Above” by Black Flag

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 55: “The Pennypacker Shuffle, Vol. III”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 55: “The Pennypacker Shuffle, Vol. III”

*Don't ask why it's in 3 parts - it was a mistake-filled episode.


“Two Minutes Till Lunch” by Wall of Voodoo

Set 1
“Tunnels” by the Lonely Forest
“Back Seat Confidential” by AC/DC
“Summer Town” by Blitzen Trapper
“Surprise, Surprise (Live)” by X

Set 2
“Graveyard Shift” by Scott H. Biram
“I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline
“We Care a Lot” by Faith No More
“Elevator Love Letter” by Stars

Set 3
“Heart of Mine” by Norah Jones (The Peter Malick Group)
“Exactly Where I’m At (Live)” by Ween
“One Step Up” by Bruce Springsteen
“Strange Overtones” by Talking Heads

Set 4
“Baby Please Don’t Go” by Muddy Waters
“Dancehall” by Sean Bones
“Bleeding Heart Blues” by Bessie Smith
“Diddy Wha Diddy” by Captain Beefheart

Set 5
“Don’t Come Back” by James Hunter
“Who’s Making Love?” by the Blues Brothers
“Me & My Chauffeur” by Memphis Minnie
“Run Chicken Run (live)” by Southern Culture on the Skids

“Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home  Then)” by the Decemberists

Friday, August 10, 2012

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts @ Coney Island

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
@ Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY - August 9, 2012

One year ago, Joan Jett rocked Coney Island at the annual Seaside Summer Concerts on a bittersweet day which saw the demise of the last multi-style rock radio station in New York. One year later, Joan is back, and so is that station, so today was a little more triumphant. Furthermore, the Blackhearts sounded faster, tougher, and louder this time around, so it was even more of a good time.

Last year I referred to the "Battle of Brooklyn" playing out in the crowd. It happened again this year, at least in the back of the crowd. Ramones t-shirts won the day amidst a crowd of working class stiffs, non-working class stiffs, loner old men, Russian equivalents of Ma & Pa Kettle, Pratt brats, and spoiled teens and twentysomethings high off their rocker going topless and having to be restrained and losing it on the tattle tales (her mother is a big investment banker you know, so how dare you!). Considering some of Joan's new songs were about the modern age: "TMI" and "Reality Mentality", there was an unfortunate sense of irony abounding. Though when she got "flash mobbed" during "TMI" with signs, the irony was made a little more charming.

If there is one lesson from this show it is this: There isn't a man, woman, or child alive that doesn't love "I Hate Myself for Loving You". More so than "I Love Rock n' Roll" which of course drove the crowd wild as well but not like this. There was more dancing, more singing, more moving among more people. Even the yarmulke-wearing Jewish teens loved it, singing it before they even walked into the show. Who knew? A shonde for the goyim perhaps but perhaps there is hope for rock n' roll after all.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

WILD FLAG; Mission of Burma; Ted Leo @ Prospect Park Bandshell

WILD FLAG; Mission of Burma; Ted Leo
@ Prospect Park Bandshell
Brooklyn, NY - August 3, 2012

Your obedient servant knowingly and willfully overhyped this show for weeks. Though being of the opinion that much of Mission of Burma's later work is what the youth call "dicking around", and though some of the more arena-rockish avenues taken by WILD FLAG leave me a bit cold, I felt it necessary to peddle this show in service of a greater purpose. A purpose to remind my fellow lovers of rock n' roll that it is still possible to get excited by an upcoming concert that brings together everything that is still right with The Sound. The Sound of course defined by not just the actual sounds, but the spirit. And certainly when Ted Leo was added to the bill, this became a rallying cry, as Ted Leo is...well...Ted Leo!

No matter how much cynicism is justified in the world of rock music and the experience of going to a rock show, there is still something exciting about the put-together bill of bands you would have booked yourself if you had the money. Earlier this summer, the incredible announcement of a sudden free bill featuring Superchunk and the Hold Steady sent me into fits (the good kind). I hadn't been that excited for a "Did I book this show in my sleep?!" program since the time the Dirtbombs and Blanche got together in Cleveland. And even though that CBGB day show was managed as poorly as could be, the fact that it came together at all made it all worth the efforts.

This free program for Celebrate Brooklyn had to face the usual assortment of problems in 21st Century concert going: chief among them being the incessant chattering of the noveau riche yuppie scum who appear for the sake of appearances and don't have any interest at all in the very reason for which they were prompted to appear. It turns out that the Yunnies (as Jeremiah of Vanishing New York calls them - Young Urban Narcissists) believe live music is the background sound to their endless insights into whatever it is they can say as they get an Internet-fueld ego-boost from hearing their own voices, and by god they will be damned if the music will get loud enough to overtake their own voices. They fight back! And worse yet, they drag me down with them. I was the only person in attendance telling myself to shut the hell up already.

But despite that, and despite my musical misgivings mentioned above which did indeed play out, it was again all worth it. WILD FLAG is SUCH a ROCK N ROLL BAND, it never gets redundant to point it out - in capital letters. And in some ways the best thing about Burma is just watching them play. They make a lot of  music that would not seem to indicate a bunch of guys having fun being in a rock band - and yet they are very clearly having the time of their lives on stage being in a rock band. And Ted Leo - despite missing the wallop of the Pharmacists - opened his songs up for dissection in a guitar-only set. One of my friends in attendance said it recalled Billy Bragg, which is spot on, shanties included.

But perhaps the best part of the night was a conversation I had with a stranger after I picked up the special WILD FLAG/Burma split 7" sold at the show. I don't know who he was but he had some stories to tell of 90's Indie bands he ran with in New England, and the records put out in those days, including one bit of  magic on Chunk Records, a 2-disc special of Love covers called Unloved featuring the Lyres, the Veronica Cartwrights, the Supreme Dicks, and his pals New Radiant Storm King, who themselves did a split with their friends Guided by Voices and one time Bob Pollard said...and you saw where this went. These are the little things that make these kinds of shows worth it. It always will.