Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 59: “Let the Music Do the Talking”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 59: “Let the Music Do the Talking”

“Touch Me I’m Sick” by Mudhoney

Set 1
“45” by the Gaslight Anthem
“Black Mold” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
“Capricornia” by Allo Darlin’
“Only Child” by Moon King
“Stay Away from Downtown” by Redd Kross

Set 2
“Because the Night” by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
“Quarter to Three” by Gary U.S. Bonds
“Empty” by Metric
“Vicious” by Lou Reed

Set 3
“Kiss Me on the Bus” by the Replacements
“Sunshine” by Paul Westerberg
“Changes” by Sugar
“The Descent” by Bob Mould

Set 4
“That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” by Mission of Burma
“Soundtrack to Mary” by Soul Coughing
“You Can’t Sit Down” by the Dovells
“Everlasting Light” by the Black Keys
“All Day Long” by the Valdons

Set 5
“Keep on Dancing” by the Gentrys
“Look Wot You Dun” by Slade
“Let Me On Out” by the Raveonettes
“TV Party” by Black Flag
“The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff

“Work for Your Money” by Howlin’ Wolf

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band @ Met Life Stadium; Metric @ Radio City Music Hall

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
@ Met Life Stadium
East Rutherford, NJ - September 22, 2012

Metric; Half Moon Run
@ Radio City Music Hall
New York, NY - September 23, 2012

It almost happened. If there are gods, then the divine spirits almost pulled off an actual rock n' roll miracle. Months and months ago, your obedient rocking boy committed to see Bruce Springsteen at the Meadowlands on a Saturday, and to see Metric the next night. I immediately said to anyone who cared to listen, "if only the Dirtbombs would play the night before Springsteen, I'd have the ultimate triple of the greatest live rock bands in the world - I'd never ask to go to another live show again". (I felt slightly guilty leaving the Hold Steady out of this formula but it was all made up when first I got to see them free on the same bill as Superchunk and then came the news that they are playing New Year's Eve with Lucero - so there.)

Then came the news the Dirtbombs were going to be part of the three day All Tomorrow's Parties festival that same weekend! But it was in Asbury Park. Then it got moved to lower Manhattan! But then the Dirtbombs were booked for 5:30 on the Saturday slate. So it was not meant to be. Further adding insult to this first world problem among first world problems - Troy Gregory was back with the band for at least one night only. So it was truly sad to not pull off this trifecta. The life blood of this sham of a "blog" has been the live concerts of the rock n' roll sound this last near-decade. And through one prism or another, it is clear at this point, that these three acts: the Dirtbombs, Metric, and this young punk named Springsteen, really do constitute the best of the best when it comes to live performances (though the aforementioned Superchunk - also young whippersnappers - may very well be putting me on notice...).

So it goes.

I had to make do with the Boss' 63rd birthday eve celebration before the crowning of Metric as a big time deal at a little shop called Radio City Music Hall. This may seem like an odd juxtaposition even for this blog. If there is anyone else in Gotham who would think to put these two gigs in the same context, I don't know them. But the temptation to put these events through the grinder of "the scope of rock n' roll history" makes it easy. The Boss was joined on stage by Gary "U.S." Bonds and Metric were joined by Lou Reed. Talk about the scope of rock n' roll history.

When I saw the Boss and company in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I remarked to a friend that for all these years, and for all the mania of an immense fan base that imitated the mania of jam bands, there is something notably subdued and stripped down about all this: there is no band logo; there is no nickname for the fans (at least none of which I am aware). My friend said it made sense. The E Street Band are simply the World's Best Bar Band. No matter how big this act became, they have never lost the aesthetic of just some folks who play rock, pop, soul, and even a little funk and folk. The working man ethos of the dude up front replicated in the package of the E Street Band. That made sense to me.

Between Gary Bonds (they didn't do "Quarter to Three"!!?!), covering Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" and CCR's "Who Stopped the Rain?", doing their church thing, the work song of "Pay Me My Money Down", bringing back the thunder of "It's Hard to be a Saint in the City",  or blistering through that little ditty called "Because the Night" (of which an awful yuppie dirtbag in front of me took time out from her incessant chatting to point out that Bruce was 'doing the Cranberries'...and with such a know-it-all smirk...I can't even begin to...), this is the mighty essence, the be all and end all of everything. Screw it, it's true. The Alpha and Omega of Rock n' Roll is Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.

Then consider Metric. Electropop-infused modern punks. Neo-New Wave poets. Where does this overlap? It overlaps in Emily Haines' leadership. You don't have to "own" the stage, as they say in the parlance of our times. But you do have to command it. Few compare to Springsteen in this regard. Few can be imagined moving up from tiny club to Radio City to a football stadium. Emily Haines is one of the few. From the moment I got into this band, this felt like a band that is meant for the big time.There is no question of art vs. commerce here. This is commerce-ready art that works on any stage. For now, Radio City will suffice as that stage. (For long time fans, Metric headlining Radio City gives the same wonderful chill that was felt by those who saw Bruce move on from the Bottom Line, like Obie who was there in front at the Stadium on Saturday, getting a slice of birthday cake).

While many of the new Metric songs are too synthesized, even for an album named Synthetica, the boys in the band are not forgotten, at least not on stage. There is still something definitive about a rock n' roll band of four people. Something about that number. And there is no finer sonic relationship among four people working in this way than this one.

Half Moon Run opened for Metric with a professionalism and a politeness that was almost mind-boggling. Even their falsetto vocals, a style I normally abstain from, sounded right. When they joined Metric and Lou for "Pale Blue Eyes", it was a passionate punch.

But even with Lou Reed and Gary Bonds and Bruce and Emily and a big bar band and a tight foursome, there is one sort of rock n' roll moment that put this whole weekend together. It was Nils Lofgren during "Because the Night" and Jimmy Shaw during "Gold Guns Girls". The guitar solo. In the end - rock n' roll - the three chord riffs, the horns, the keys, the bass lines - comes down to that moment. This weekend, I had two.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 58: “The Sonic Parthenon Live Concert Spectacular! (of sorts)”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 58: “The Sonic Parthenon Live Concert Spectacular! (of sorts)”

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

Set 1
“Candy Ass” by the Dirtbombs
“Let’s Shake Hands” by the White Stripes
“Headin’ For the Texas Border” by the Raconteurs
“Hotel Yorba” by 2 Star Tabernacle

Set 2
“Combat Baby” by Metric
“Walk Idiot Walk” by the Hives
“Take Me Away” by Ween
“The World’s a Mess, It’s In My Kiss” by X
“You Belong to Me” by Elvis Costello
“Ask Her for Adderall” by the Hold Steady

Set 3
 “Hey Now! Hey Now!” by Les Sexareenos
“Girl” by Reigning Sound
“Get Tough” by the Woggles
“Break ‘Em on Down” by Soledad Brothers
“What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made a Loser Out of Me)” by Flogging Molly

Set 4
“Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash
“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” by Bob Dylan
“Someday Baby” by Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones
“Tell Me Why” by Neil Young
“Sweet Surrender” by Sarah Mclachlan

Set 5
“Looking for Love” by J. Geils Band
“Whammy Kiss” by the B-52’s
“New York, New York” by the Dictators
“Bessie Smith” by Norah Jones
“Dance for Me” by Southern Culture on the Skids

Set 6
“I Wanna Be a Good Boy” by the Ramones
“Tommy Gun” by the Clash
“Tired of Doing Things Your Day” by Husker Du
“September Guurls” by the Replacements
“One More Hour” by Sleater-Kinney

“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” by Bruce Springsteen

Friday, September 07, 2012

Bob Mould; Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Williamsburg Park

Bob Mould; Cymbals Eat Guitars
@ Williamsburg Park
Brooklyn, NY - September 7, 2012

Bob Mould pointed out during this concert that the neighborhood has vastly improved since he recorded on Richardson Street. The changes in this slice of Brooklyn, a statement usually accompanied by "for better or worse", definitely had a check in the "better" department tonight as this new concrete slab of a Roseland Ballroom-size outdoor venue played host to a free show by a legitimate legend. Playing all of Sugar's Copper Blue, followed by new work from Silver Age, and then a fast mix of stuff including some Husker Du classics, it was a smash gig as well as a fun lesson in the history of true rock n' roll as it has spanned the last 30 years.

But that wasn't good enough. Hearing some classic Hard Pop wizardry like "Changes", "Helpless", and "If I Can't Change Your Mind" wasn't sufficient. Neither was immortal, should-be-on-new-Voyager-missions-into-Outer-Space Husker songs "I Apologize", "In a Free Land", and "Makes No Sense at All". No - first off, Bob had to have your favorite pick-up drummer, Superchunk's Jon Wurster, on the skins. Then for the encore, he had to bring out a buddy who goes by the name of Craig Finn, he of the Hold Steady. And it was for "Something I Learned Today" from Zen Arcade. At long last, Craig Finn going bananas like the youth he sings about.

So right there on the stage at one time - three phases of blistering, fast, fast, fast rock music with a sense of melody - Husker Du, Superchunk, and the Hold Steady. Punk Manna from a Rock n' Roll Heaven. So obscenely perfect.

Cymbals Eat Guitars were not obscenely perfect. Mainstays of the last few years, kudos to them for not imploding like 95% of all bands in a hip wave. But that's all about I can say that is nice. I did like one song enough.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Summer 2012

Royal Headache - "Surprise"
King Tuff - "Bad Thing"
Metric - "Youth Without Youth"
Clare & the Reasons - "The Lake"
Kelly Hogan - "We Can't Have Nice Things"
Henry Clay People - "Everybandwe'veeverloved"
Devin - "Masochist"
Bahamas - "Lost in the Light"
Cold Specks - "Winter Solstice"
Blooper - "Secret Song"
Fly Moon Royalty - "The Birthday Song"
Rebecca Ferguson - Mr Bright Eyes
Gemma Ray - Runaway
Allen Stone - Sleep
Diamond Rugs - Big God
Nick Waterhouse - (If) You Want Trouble
Holograms - Chasing My Mind
Alejandro Escovedo - Man of the World
Whirr - Junebouvier
Future of the Left - "Failed Olympic Bid"
Melody Gardot - "If I Tell You I Love You"
Bombay Royale - "You Me Bullets Love"
Bad Veins - "Dancing on TV"
Ondatropica - "Linda Mañana"
Antibalas - "Dirty Money"
Soul Asylum - Gravity
Family of the Year - Diversity
Fidlar - Got No Money
Fletcher C Johnson - Messin Up My Mind
The Bamboos - Medicine Man
The Tallest Man on Earth - 1904
The Spinto Band - The Living Things

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Metric - Synthetica

And because of my increasing laziness, check out this episode of SPS to see what else.
Also consult this one.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 57: “End of Summer 2012 or an Ode to Labor Day Having Nothing to Do with Honoring the Toil of the Workers of America”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 57: “End of Summer 2012 or an Ode to Labor Day Having Nothing to Do with Honoring the Toil of the Workers of America”

“Watch the Corners” by Dinosaur Jr.

Set 1
“She Owns the Streets” by the Raveonettes
“Octopus” by Bloc Party
“Longevity” by Yeasayer
“Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Darkness

Set 2
“I Found My Heart” by Langhorne Slim
“Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Get It” by Stars
“Patron Saint” by Regina Spektor
“My Love is Real” by Divine Fits

Set 3
“Let Me Go” by Hacienda
“The Birthday Song” by Fly Moon Royalty
“Lost in the Light” by Bahamas
“Dancing on TV” by Bad Veins

Set 4
“For the Love of Ivy” by Japandroids
“Every Band We Ever Loved” by the Henry Clay People
“Medicine Man” by the Bamboos
“Cold Shoulders” by Gold Motel

Set 5
“Sisterly” by Fang Island
“On My Way” by Ivan & Alyosha
“Busman’s Holiday” by Allah-Las
“Failed Olympic Bid” by Future of the Left

Set 6
“New West” by Cult of Youth
“If I Tell You I Love You” by Melody Gardot
“Linda Mañana” by Ondatropica
“Dirty Money” by Antibalas

“I Don’t Recall” by Lavender Diamond

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ Citizens Bank Park

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
@ Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, PA - September 2, 2012

Three years after my first dance with the E Street Band, a sudden opportunity to head down to the old college town to see the gang again was offered. I took it - with the specter of a Meadowlands show in a few weeks already in sight.

It was good to take the trip down to see how Bruce handles the other side of his Jersey stronghold. When he's in the realm of Gotham, he's sort of the chief ambassador of rock n' roll not just for his generation but for all time. But he isn't bigger than the metropolis. He is part of it. Down in the Delaware Valley, he holds the same position but as this area has the biggest chip on its shoulder this side of Cleveland, he seems to hold an even more sacred spot. Unfortunately, he also seems to have to share it with Bon Jovi, the poor bastard.

So it goes. But more important than that, maybe more important than relishing in the concert itself, maybe more important than finally seeing Max Weinberg with the band, certainly more important than hearing the new songs, even more important than finally hearing "Rosalita" and "Tenth Ave Freeze Out" live, it was how to handle it all now without Clarence. In looking back on my review of the 2009 show, I made short mention of Clarence Clemmons except to point out that he was not the heart and soul of the E Street Band as many thought. Little Steven had become the heart and soul of the band. Rather, Clarence Clemmons was the heart and soul of Bruce Springsteen. So it was going to be a trying but needed task to see how the Boss would still be the Boss without his musical essence. He got through it. And so did the band. Jake Clemmons, son of Clarence, is more than up to the task and all those other cliches you can write up. He's in. It's done. He's good. We can't ask for more. How I got through the pause after the only verse line in 'Freeze Out that I understand is a miracle.

Speaking of miracles, Elwood D Pennypacker is not a godly man. Far from it. Maybe if churches were really like the one James Brown ran in The Blues Brothers, I'd sign up. But Springsteen's church routine, going on for a decade now, is addictive, even as it wore thin from the get-go. The fact that the Divine Spirit of Rock n' Roll and Soul is the purported deity at work, clearly makes it OK. If there was more of the increasingly Celtic side of the new sounds, that would have made it perfect.

And speaking of James Brown, it's nice that Bruce has taken up the mantle from that legend, of being the Hardest Workin' Man in Show Business, right down to a "I'm done, I'm done...NO WAIT!" sequence. Just like in the transition of the Clemmons family, there couldn't be a finer successor.