The set covered over a decade and five albums:
Heartburn, Diamonds Eat Diamonds, The Early Nighters, Blonde Exodus,
Ghost of a Saint, Twilight Shiner, Model Murmur, London Fields, Blonde
The concert was poorly promoted, the only poster announcing the show was put up in front of the venue while we were waiting to be let in. Regardless of that, quite a few people showed up, I would say about 150 to 200 give or take a few. This was a good amount of people for the size of the venue, it wasn't too crowded, but neither too empty.
When listening to The Young Gods' music, they may at first sound like your typical Industro-Metal band, with distorted guitars and everything. The bigger is the surprise when you see them live, and the only guitar used on stage is an acoustic one used to generate some feedback. Everything else is sampled and put to good use by keyboard player Al Comet. Add a drummer and singer Franz Treichler with his irresistible french accent, and you end up with The Young Gods.
I kind of pity the people who live next to or above the venue, the Westwerk. The amount of volume and noise The Young Gods put up on stage for the next 90 minutes was just insane. One of the loudest concerts I've ever been to. You wouldn't think that three guys can pull off noise like that and enjoy it. Apparently they do, as you could see that they were having an excellent time up there on stage.
During the show, the emphasis was on their current release "Second Nature". They played most of the songs from that album, mixed with some old classics. The slower songs like "In The Otherland" or "Laisser Couler" definitely benefited from the intimacy of the small venue. I can't imagine these songs would come across that well when being played in a big concert hall. Highlights of the concert were "Skinflowers", the stomping "Astronomic" and "Kissing The Sun". The performance was well received by the audience, so the band had to come back on stage twice before the lights finally went on. The show ended with one of the Kurt Weill cover tunes they do so well, which put a nice end to a fantastic show. Make sure you catch them live if they ever play a show near you.
Fortunately for these two shows, Mark was affable and tolerated himself and annoying audience members, for the most part. Mark is backed by a 3 piece band on this tour: Kristin Sobditch - keyboards and occasional bass guitar, Brian Gregory - bass guitar, guitar, pedal steel guitar and backing vocals and Andrew Clark - beats, electronics and mixing.
The sets drew mostly from the latest CD, "The Invisible Man", plus some American Music Club classics and two yet to be released new songs. Songs I'm sure were played at both shows: "The Boy With the Hammer", "Can You See?", "Sleep", "To The Sea", "Shine", "Steve, I Always Knew", "Bitterness", "Anything", "The Global Sweep of Human History" (nice drone finale), "Seeing Eye Dog", "Proclaim Your Joy" (very rocking, with customized anti-George Bush lyrics in Austin), "Greeting Cards" (new) and "Soap Opera Star" (new, solo). The band leaves stage during the solo songs where Mark plays with electric guitar. In Dallas the solo AMC songs were "Last Harbor", "Western Sky" and "Blue and Grey Shirt". I can't recall what they were in Austin, but it was only 1 or 2, plus "I've Been a Mess" (on acoustic guitar) at the very end. They played between an hour and hour and a half total.
Mark really gave his all vocally, moreso than on "The Invisible Man", and is quite animated while playing. Not to disrespect the band as they were solid and sounded great, but it's when Mark plays solo that I'm totally enthralled. He completely loses himself in the songs (the only other person I've seen like that live is Michael Gira of SWANS/The Angels of Light). He closes his eyes and tends to wander back away from the mic during instrumental sections and will begin singing again oblivious that he's off mic. But it doesn't matter because the audience is perfectly silent, entranced. I think he came close to crying during "Last Harbor" in Dallas. I felt all tingly during most of "Soap Opera Star". Just stunning. It must be difficult to draw upon that much emotion night after night. Surpringly, Mark announced on stage that he'd be selling CDs after the show. There were 2 for $10 apiece: "Eitzelsuperhitsinternational tour CD" (unreleased studio demos from 1999) and "Mark Eitzel - Live on WMFU NYC Solo/Acoustic 4/16/01", both of which will be available on an Eitzel web site after the tour.
Feeling silly that I hadn't heard them before, I purchased several of their CDs that evening [don't forget to support your favorite underground bands by buying their merchandise at their shows! The band gets a bigger cut of the sale price when you buy directly from them.] I picked out three CDs: In the Middle of Words, Hollywood, and their latest, Ears. They're all wonderful recordings, and they played songs from each of these CDs at the concert. Go see Uz Jsme Doma! They're touring North America through 7/15/01 -- click here for tour dates.
Merchandise: 3 t-shirts (girls baby t, 2 "Flow" designs) for $15 apiece, a 12" featuring Thirlwell for $6 and the Manorexia "Volvox Turbo" CDs for $13.
The group of four begun quiet with shimmering three-guitar melodies which cut through the night. This is one of those bands any musician just sits back and watches with their lower jaw on the floor wondering "why can't I come up with melodies like this?" The group continued and with a style not entirely unlike Mogwai or Godspeed, the levels and energy built, higher and higher and higher. Taking steps back between songs, the motion of the night never ceased, with a blaring ending as their drummer loses his sticks, uses his fists and collapses over the entire set.
Baltimore-based Sonna headlined the night and in a similar fashion was a instrumental act with four amazingly skilled musicians who observedly have an uncanny ability to pay perfect attention to everybody else. The writing style of Sonna could very well be much more skilled and original than Explosions but the energy and drive of the Austin boys more than made up for any of those differences. Fans of godspeed, Mogwai or Tarentel shouldn't avoid this show - tour dates are posted at www.temporaryresidence.com.
Even so, his performance at Joe's Pub Thursday night, with guests Little Annie & Dr. Yasuda, was a surprise for me. It wasn't the show itself — anyone who's seen him perform knows what to expect — some exciting new songs, all fantastic, new arrangements and development of older works, increasingly skillfull performances from the band members, flawless presentation and constant innovation that keeps the audience returning and growing, to invariably sold out shows. The real surprise came after he left the stage. After enthusiastic applause he returned to the stage, and gently launched into one of the most intense musical experiences of my life. Nearly all of Antony's material is his own, composed on piano. But he does a number of covers as well: his selections, always startling, are given distinctive treatment, and songs which may have been familiar suddenly speak an entirely new & vibrant language, saying things which had somehow never been audible before. Sometimes his covers are playful, even mischievous, and sometimes they are markedly rearranged. But his cover of Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit" last night was nothing less than brilliant.
I suppose from the stage he couldn't hear the rumble of gasps in the audience when he started into the first recognizable parts of this radically transformed song. One man above me (I was squatting on the floor as the room was so packed) actually said "oh my god." I've without question never been among a more hushed and riveted audience! I've no reverence for Billie Holiday, but I had the most incredible feeling of exhileration, as if I were being witness to history being made. And I can only think that this is the gift of truly great and important artistry.
You may have seen him perform this song, but no one's heard him perform THIS song before. I won't attempt to describe what he's done, but suffice it so say that Antony has thoroughly digested this standard and given miraculous birth to something entirely new: a profoundly moving and heartfelt homage to an original which has been enhanced and ennobled by a respectful but radical translation. My hair was literally standing up from beginning to end, through wave after wave of applause, and even now as I think back on it...
The applause was thunderous, then stopped, then spontaneously began again with cheers and shouts, and he actually had to ask them to stop after several minutes. Once again Antony confirms my belief in the importance of his work. And as always, he and has meticulous band do it with the most effortless elegance and grace.
Antony enthusiasts will be pleased to know that a new album is forthcoming, as well as contributions to the long-awaited new Nature & Organization release. And New Yorkers wil be treated on August 9th to a tremendous double bill at the prestigious Summerstage series in Central Park: Antony & Bebel Gilberto. Show starts at 7:30 — come early or be left out in the meadow!
Amazingly in Planet K things were even more perfectly apocalyptic. The stage is bare, as if swept clean of life, but there's a massive headcleaning electric crackle resonating across the space as blue white rectangles flicker where performers are missing. The hum seems a logical stripping of Killing Joke to its essential wired core - Coleman's overloading synth. Occasional deep bass pulses shake the foundations at too slow a pace to register timing. Kevin Drumm is perched behind a laptop at the sound desk and is responsible for this overpowering purging noise.
This being Manchester, home of Buzzcocks, it could've been time to crack a bad Boredom pun about the Drumm hum but Mike Ladd wasn't allowing us any downtime. The band ambled on and launched as the Drumm fizzled out.
Was this the new dawn after the nuclear storm?
After Drumm's precise tones the sound was relatively muddy for the full on four piece with drums, raps, guitar/computer and turntables. Mike Ladd has a T-shirt emblazoned with the legend Afro Punk and gives us some spiel about his inspirations Bad Brains, Black Flag and Fishbone. Why do Americans in Europe eat at Pizza Hut? There are bigger questions but this between song joke exemplified the imperialist cloak of the 'free' market before Ladd scratched and funked his mark as an infesticon (opposed to majesticon).
It was a shame that Drumm didn't get another set before Tortoise did their thing. They did a professional set with much instrument swapping and it didn't really take off until the second half. I think they launched into what seemed like a freeform jam in the middle of TNT (or was it another track its hard to tell with all this lack of words) and Herndon was really giving it some at the drums. It was neat the way they almost seemed to lose control there...
The last trio of songs nailed it. A silence still at their instruments then BLAM! Senceca unleashed that dual guitar duel and the fire and fury was in their eyes and hearts. If only they could make a whole album like that first two minutes of free falling two turning pluck'n'strum'n'drum! Then the much requested Djed was an eye opener that faded like the setting sun as McEntire and Herndon decelerated their vibraphone runs.
Where Drumm had sparked off a cleansing fire and Ladd had the diatribes and plans and notions to free nations, Tortoise were embracing visions of post-apocalyptic utopianism - a new dawn after the flood that will wash away the masters and leave the servants what is left of the world. Ladd was back with a vision to take into the night as the final bars of the Tortoise European leg faded into the smoke.
The meek shall inherit the mirth.
Don't burn the flag, lets burn the Bush.
The audience was then asked to leave briefly after Hayward's performance in order for the stage to be prepared for Coil, allowed to return 30 minutes later. On stage, technicians were setting up the gear and dispensing a row of lights, each one hanging from a long rope coming from the ceilings. A big screen was floating high on the wall behind the stage. Someone brought a white chalice and lit the incense inside it. The incense smelled like the kind used in churches, and it slowly started filling the concert hall. On stage were two Dutch-built Fenix modular systems, an EMS vintage synth, an analogue synth, and a digital Kurzweil keyboard.
Right on schedule, a uniformed four-member incarnation of Coil entered the stage, greeted by an appreciative audience. John Balance was on vocals, Thighpaulsandra on synthesizers, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson performing 'manipulations', and Ossian Sex/Shop (Simon Norris?) was on keyboards. Balance addressed the crowd with a "bonjour", and immediately the opening mantra on Music to Play in the Dark 2 started: something, something, something, something,... The light accompaniment produced a tranquil visual rhythm.
The video show held the audience's interest, perfectly matching the music for the entire night, despite an alleged disappointment from Coil, due to the lack of a professional beta machine at the venue. The graphics evolved in captivating paths, including the proverbial sloth slide show which premiered in September at the Royal Festival Hall. Balance questioned the audience with: "What kind of animal are you?". Later, he informed us at that he was personally a dog!
The set continued with the same songs reported from the London show, including the much appreciated classics "Titan Arch" and "Blood From the Air." Classical percussionist Tom Edwards briefly joined Coil onstage to play marimba and various other percussive instruments, then slipped away just as quietly as he had entered when he finished.
Balance, Thighpaulsandra and Ossian Sex/Shop kept the audience entertained with their stage movements, by either dancing or walking to the row of lights to make them go on. Thighpaulsandra frequently visited the chalice between songs to re-light the incense. When he wasn't singing, John was either dancing, taking prayer poses, moving his hands around his body, or playing with the lights. I feared he would end up burning himself at some point, as their movements were quite unpredictable. Later in the show, Thighpaulsandra jumped on Balance's back, and the two rolled onto the floor, playfully fighting like puppies, strangely reminiscent of John's earlier self-identification with dogs.
An impressive rendition of "I Am The Green Child" was prefaced by John announcing that he was going to assume another personality. Indeed, his voice became decidedly lower as he adopted the 'Green Child' persona. After this finished, "CONSTANT SHALLOWNESS LEADS TO EVIL" flashed on the screen, noise blared, and the lights intensified, creating new patterns. Coil began flashing us with big strobe lights that were dispersed all around the back of the stage. Balance shouted a couple times that he needed it louder. Phrases pulsated one after the other on the screen, such as "GOD PLEASE FUCK MY MIND FOR GOOD," "PERSISTENCE IS ALL," "RESIST THE THINGS YOU CAN NOT FIGHT," and a looped repetition of "COLOR, SOUND, OBLIVION." Around the end of "Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil", John seemed to be experiencing a lot of agitation, smashing his microphone support to the ground and re-positioning it. At one point, the white chalice was struck and fell, the incense spilled out of it into a pretty line of powder on the stage floor. The chalice rolled towards the front of the stage, precariously approaching the edge when John Balance stopped it with his foot. He stood there for a moment, striking a memorable pose.
As the end was approaching, the bright lights dimmed. I wondered how my vision would readjust to the normal lighting of the room. Waves of applause and shouts burst out. The musicians came to the front of the stage and John took their hands. They briefly saluted us and then quickly vanished, visibly happy.
Arriving at the show, which was the only date in the country that did not sell out, I was faced with an extremely eclectic crowd: from teenaged goths to swanky yuppies to drunken 40-something assholes. The show started with Kelly Hogan, who had a strange country-esque shoe-gazer style. The highlight of her show was her performance of the Magnetic Fields' "Papa was a Rodeo," though even that was overlooked because everyone wanted Nick Cave.
The stage looked simple: grand piano, drums, electric violin, electric bass, and an accordian. And hanging from the ceiling were four glowing stars set to nice blue curtains. The mood was definitely not hardcore Birthday Party/Bad Seeds rock'n'roll.
Finally Nick Cave came out, put his cigarette out, and sat at the piano. Someone shouted the question "Can we smoke too, Nick?" and he replied "Absolutely not-this is a NO SMOKING venue," and afterwards chain smoked throughout his whole performance. He opened with an assaulting version of "West Country Girl," which he played alone.
Soon he was accompanied by Jim White (drums) and Warren Ellis (accordian/violin) of the Dirty Three and Susan Strenger (bass) of Big Bottom, and played mostly recent Bad Seeds material very low-key styled, though he did throw in an old Birthday Party song, "Wild World," which picked up the pace on drums and electric violin, while Nick pounded harder at the keys and shouted a bit. My highlights were definitely "Stagger Lee," set to a cabaret-style beat with the harsh, shrill ending sounds being replaced by electric violin. The line "I'd crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole." definitely threw aback the uptight old men serving as ushers to the rather unpredictable crowd.
Throughout the whole show you could hear Nick Cave's mental tempo being tapped out by his foot below the piano. With that known, no one could really understand why some fucking asshole kept talking loudly during the first half of the performance. Eventually security was called to deal with him, and to deal with the massive amount of people who ignored the "NO SMOKING" signs because of the "NO RE-ENTRY" signs. It was a strange show.
Along with classics like "The Mercy Seat" and "Into My Arms," he played a few new tracks from the new album, I Sat Sadly Beside Her, including "No More Shall we Part" the great "God is in the House," which is a mock-Christian anthem about a town where they "bred all our kittens white so we can see them in the night, since God is in the House." The crowd responded with a "Hallelujah!"
It was definitely a great performance. Nick Cave's amazing stage presence shined during the encore, where he played "Henry Lee," "the Ship Song," "Loom of the Land," and "Straight to You." Lastly he performed "Little Emtpy Boat" from King Ink II to end the night with a "fuck you" to the audience that left everyone laughing their ways to the exits.
Friday, March 16th, at
the Mermaid Lounge was an odd combination of music that was almost
accidentally placed together. Mice Parade alone were originally booked
for that particular night, and then, somewhat out of the blue, Kid 606
and Blectum from Blechdom started slowly showing up on the flyers and
lists of events as playing on this same night. There was some confusion
as to the validity/truth of this amongst New Orleanians, but it turned
out to be an interesting show.
First up on stage was local act, Nocturnal Transmissions, which is one guy who fiddled with a 303 for about 20 minutes, making some really nice waves of melodies despite the drunken idiots who danced in mockery amongst the crowd. He stepped off, and then Kevin Blectum (from Blechdom from Blectum from Blechdom...), took to stage with her Wesley Willis-esque styled mock cabaret tunes. She started with a song in which she screamed her love of "BAD MUSIC, BAD MUSIC!" in a truly horrible voice, while her backing laptop kept shutting off at wrong moments and she seemed a little distressed. Despite this, though, her show was highly entertaining and she definitely woo'ed the audience and sold more merchandise than the others because of her hilarious performance skills. Her shining moment was her "love song" to boyfriend, Kid 606, in which she sang lyrics such as "... and it's only getting better, cuz my pussy's getting wetter! ... this sexual sensation is rockin' the nation!" and kept making references to her love for some Kid named Miguel.
Her set ended at about 12:30am, and it took Mice Parade a while to set up, as they had a wide array of unidentifiable instruments that seemed difficult to cram all onto the Mermaid's small stage. They managed, though, and their set began at about 1am, with 6 people on stage, including Adam Pierce and Him/June of '44's Doug Scharin. The instrumentation was beautiful just to look at, with electric violin, a dulcimer looking thing, something that could have been a bouzouki, along with drums and keyboards. Unfortunately, the audience was torn between being really intensely entranced by the nice music, talking about the latest sales at JC Penney's and the new Tortoise album, and wandering out as it got really late.
They ended at a little after 2am, and at 2:20am — late even for a Mermaid encore — Kid 606 finally brought his two apple laptops up on stage to rape the audience's eardrums with killer beats which morphed in and out of flowing sinsister noiseS (note: not noise). The sounds seemed surprisingly tame (much less glitch-oriented) for Kid 606. Although, considering it was about 3am, the audience seemed somewhat appreciative of the slight change. He ended at 3:20am, and all was quiet. The night was over and the audience was worn - but in a good way, like comfortable shoes or sleepiness after a hard night of listening to awesome music for over four hours. -
For two nights in a row, loads of folks made their journeys, some near and some far, through the blistering cold temperatures to witness Stephin Merritt and company perform all 69 Love Songs. Both nights sold out long ago at the classical-style Somerville Theater in the Boston area. On stage in addition to the four core musicians were the three guest singers who appear on the albums. For the first night I witnessed something rather unexpected.