Thursday, October 30, 2014

Primus Only Play Six Songs at the Greene Space

"It's not your normal score to Willy Wonka.  It's Primus, so it's more of a Tim Burtony…"  I'll cut John Schaefer, the host of WNYC's Soundcheck, off there.  I should have seen the bad omen in his introduction.  Les Claypool has only said in every interview about Primus & the Chocolate Factory that part of his motivation in recreating the soundtrack was his distaste with the 2005 Burton remake, going as far as to compare it to feces.  I'll be the first to admit that was what intrigued me most about the cover album, considering I haven't listened to Primus that much, even though I appropriated their "Primus sucks" slogan for my Twitter handle.  But I do think the Johnny Depp version is fucking garbage, so I was onboard immediately.

About 100 Primus fans, some dressed in various Wonka-inspired getups, crowded into the small Greene Space, anxiously waiting for the band to take the prop-candy-covered stage.  The band emerged to cheers and proceeded immediately with their creepy take on "Candy Man," Claypool pausing dramatically before each utterance of the sweets purveyor's name.  The reunited Primus lineup was expanded by the Fungi Ensemble of Mike Dillon on percussion and Teddy Parker on cello.  Dillon's vibraphone solo on "Golden Ticket" was the clear winner for musical highlight, although Larry LaLonde's guitar work on "Pure Imagination" was a close runner-up.  Tim Alexander's drum hits transitioned out of the song as t
wo dancers donning giant Oompa Loompa heads emerged from stage right.  They bobbed up and down to the version that occurs right after Mike Teevee meets his Wonkavised demise.  It seemed a little strange to me to be playing that verse first.  Then the lights came up and Schaefer returned to the stage.  Okay, a short interview.  I get it.  But then they did something that was as giant a waste of time as it sounds: a costume contest on the radio.  Les and the band seemed bored as John questioned audience members as to their favorite adaptation of Roald Dahl's book (Obviously, everyone preferred Gene Wilder.) and then asked about their costumes.  The winners were a couple dressed as Wonka and Veruca Salt, but with rubber fish masks for faces. (I voted for the older guy dressed as Augustus Gloop because the Wonka-fish seemed totally unaware of his resemblance to Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica cover.)  Claypool pointed out that the winner for him was the child in the front row dressed as a box of Nerds.  I just wanted it to be over, so we could get back to the show.  Finally, Schaefer said the treat for us would be more Primus songs.  Claypool strapped on a bass that had glowing green guide dots along the top of the neck, which made it especially interesting when his hand would slide across it in the darkened room during "Fisticuffs."  They followed with the chant-inducing "Here Come the Bastards" from 1991's Sailing the Seas of Cheese.  But once it was finished, there went the bastards.  I guess the show is called Soundcheck because it's not a real show; just a little taste.  And while I enjoyed the performance I saw, it was way too short for the ticket price of $28.95.  They played six songs in just over 30 minutes, which means I paid $4.83 a song.  The runtime of the entire album is just over 40 minutes.  Why not play the whole thing and skip the stupid costume contest?  I'm glad I saw Primus.  I'm glad I saw them in such a small room.  But it's a crime to charge almost a dollar per minute for live music.  You can now stream the show on the Soundcheck page.  At least that's free.


Candy Man / Golden Ticket / Pure Imagination > Oompa TV

Fisticuffs / Here Come the Bastards

Jon Langford Revenge of the Mekons Afterparty at the Bell House Setlist

Review to come.

JON LANGFORD - 10.29.14 - THE BELL HOUSE (1 hour, 21 minutes)

Drone Operator / Pill Sailor / Haunted / Hell's Roof / Mars / What Did You Do in the War? / Millionaire / Oh No, Hank! / Youghal / Streets of Tamworth / Tom Jones Levitation / Tubby Brothers / Luxury / 1234ever / Sugar on Your Tongue / Streets of Your Town / Homburg

Big Eye / Delilah / Are You an Entertainer?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 25: The English Beat

The Next Round is finally back, and what an episode to come back on!  Right before the English Beat skanked up Brooklyn Bowl, Dave Wakeling invited me onto the group's tour bus to talk about diuretics, crowdfunding, and Johnny Cash's ghost.

Subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or stream below. (Subscribers on iTunes got this episode last Friday, so get on that shit.)

My first exposure to the English Beat was through the movie Kingpin, so what better venue to see them in than a bowling alley?  The Beat emerged from backstage, Wakeling in a polo shirt with a black-and-white checkerboard collar.  It was the perfect wardrobe choice, simultaneously representing his age and his two-tone history.  They kicked things off with "The Love You Give Lasts Forever," a peppy tribute to Dave's departed mother.  Sound issues plagued the set from the first notes, Wakeling walking over to the onstage tech to try to rectify the situation.  The bass wasn't loud enough, the guitars weren't audible, and Dave's banter was indiscernible through the reverb.  Sadly, the botched mix persisted for most of the show, creating a disconnect between the stage and the floor.

Fortunately, with a legacy act like the Beat, the crowd was quite familiar with the material and able to piece together the gaps in their heads.  Well, maybe not the heartfelt "Said We Would Never Die."  The new number will be on the upcoming For Crying Out Loud, the Beat's first LP in over thirty years (and you'll have to listen to the podcast to learn who that one's about.)  Dave recommended "I'll Take You There" to those looking for a bid at the White House in 2016, as both Clinton and Obama had used the song on the campaign trail, both elected to two terms.  As you'd expect, the set focused heavily on tracks from I Just Can't Stop It, but a pair of General Public tunes, "Never You Done That" and "Tenderness," had fans giddily dancing, fully earning their late-set placement.  But that was nothing compared to when "Ranking Full Stop" dropped into "Mirror in the Bathroom" with the scorching howl of Matt Morrish's saxophone.  A cheer erupted from the crowd as the floor turned into a gyrating punky reggae party.  
Although they are known to play a two-hour-plus set, the band turned in early without an encore, most likely a result of the frustration over the sound issues.  Bittersweet, sure.  But damn, I loved what I saw in that "Mirror."

THE ENGLISH BEAT - 09.17.14 - BROOKLYN BOWL (1 hour, 39 minutes)

The Love You Give Lasts Forever / Rough Rider / Tears of a Clown / Twist & Crawl / Happy Birthday / Hands Off... She's Mine > Children Crying > Hands Off... She's Mine / Best Friend / I'll Take You There / I Confess / Click Click / Save It for Later / Said We Would Never Die / Whine & Grine/Stand Down Margaret / Two Swords / Can't Get Used to Losing You / Sole Salvation / Never You Done That / Tenderness / Ranking Full Stop > Mirror in the Bathroom

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vacationer Set a Whale Loose in the Marlin Room

The most common reasoning I hear from people as to why they don't go to concerts is that it doesn't sound as good as the record, specifically the vocals.  Last night in Webster Hall's Marlin Room, Vacationer's Kenny Vasoli put those naysayers in their place, with every lyric sounding at least on par with its studio version.  The band began with "Trip," set against a projection of waves crashing on a Pacific shoreline.  As he played bass, Vasoli turned to the backdrop to watch his shadow dance around like a silhouette in an iPod commercial.  They followed with a trio of songs from their latest LP, Relief, including the plucky double-guitar groove of "Shining," which had Kenny "woo"ing a few more times than the album cut.  "I'm gonna give you the world," he stated, emptying a trashbag full of globe-emblazoned beach balls onto the audience for a sprightly "In the Grass."  "I'm glad you're down with the chillness.  Here's some old ones for you," Kenny offered, easing into "Summer End."  There was a marked change in energy as the band found their way back into songs from their debut, which could be identified by the lack of air-filled planets bouncing around.  After "Be with You," Vasoli remarked, "They gave us a long-ass set.  We're gonna have a lot of fun in this room."  That is, if your idea of fun is a large, inflatable "chiller" whale being tossed around the floor during "The Wild Life."  If we'd been in the main ballroom upstairs, there could have been some real Free Willy--err, Free Chilly moments of the whale soaring high above the crowd, but the lights rigged from the Marlin Room's low ceiling made it damn near impossible for the pool toy to get any air.  If the whale came close enough to you, you got stuck hitting it repeatedly against the shit hanging above you.  When Chilly came back around during the second chorus, the guy behind me dropped his beer, drenching the back of my legs with a sticky pumpkin stench.  And I actually wouldn't have minded as much if this had happened during another tune, but this was the jam I've been bumping almost non-stop for two weeks.  A gentle "Glimpse" provided a satisfying reprieve from all the whale-beating before Vacationer finished out their set with the opening salvo from Gone: "Everyone Knows" and "Good as New."

I sat down for a beer with Kenny on Friday to tape an episode of The Next Round, so look for that in the next two weeks.


Trip / Stay / Paradise Waiting / Shining / In the Grass / Summer End > Great Love / Be with You / Farther / Warmer / The Wild Life / Glimpse / Dreamlike / Everyone Knows / Good as New

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Delta Spirit Mercury Lounge Setlist

Review to come.

DELTA SPIRIT - 09.30.14 - MERCURY LOUNGE (1 hour, 37 minutes)

From Now On / Devil Knows You're Dead / Tear It Up / Empty House / Strange Vine / Live On / Hold My End Up / People C'mon / Take Shelter / Yamaha / Bushwick Blues / Language of the Dead / Trashcan / California / Children / White Table / Parade / Into the Wide / People Turn Around