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Classic Concert Review: Black Lips @ Mid East ’09

Bands: Mean Creek, Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Black Lips
Venue: Middle East Downstairs
Date: March 7, 2009

Act One – Mean Creek

Chris: I really liked them. I dug the hip attitude and appearance meshed with a somewhat sociopolitical commentary on our frail society….. or something like that. I think they had a great sound; the heaviness was just about right for what they were doing. They were fairly energetic and it definitely showed in their performance. And of course there was the cute female guitarist.

Glen: I second Chris in that Aurore Ounjian, the vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player, is very cute. Mean Creek played heavy power pop that was catchy and was almost a throw-back to ’80s and ’90s alternative rock/shoegaze. “Not to Dream” particularly stuck out as a great song with a hopeful message. Chris Keene, vocalist/guitarist, and Aurore called for America to dream about a society where money is burnt and freedom is free. Mean Creek reminded me of Faces on Film, another passionate local folksy band. They were very good and it will be interesting to see how they emerge in the coming months.

Act Two – Gentleman Jesse and His Men

Chris: Gentleman were okay. The volume was a bit unnecessarily high. Some bands can have the volume that loud, like the Black Lips, but for them it just didn’t sound right, in my opinion. Just noise that hurt my ears, not to sound like an old bitch. Overall, they were pretty good and I could see 70s rock elements underneath the wall of noise.

Glen: Heavy stuff. My hearing was shot about 30 seconds into their 10 song set. These Atlanta natives combined elements of punk, pop, and lo-fi with sweet guitar solos and choruses. They kind of remind me of a heavier Click Five. I can’t see why they aren’t bigger. I’m usually not a huge fan of their strand of garage rock, but it’s irresistably fetching. Check out “All I Need Tonight Is You.”

Act Three – BLACK LIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris: The Black Lips put on the best show I’ve ever seen. Very extraordinary, wild, and unpredictable. Of course, they garnered the most audience response and rightfully so. As soon as they stormed into “Sea of Blasphemy,” the crowd went into a frenzy, never remaining still or apart till the end. They played a fairly diverse set with songs from 4 of their 5 studio albums. In my opinion, the best performances were “Dirty Hands” (by far, the whole crowd was most united for this number, rocking back and forth and singing the chorus, def. a highlight of not just this show, but all shows in my somewhat brief concert going career), “Buried Alive,” “Fairy Stories,” “Bad Kids,” “Starting Over,” you know what they were all amazing…. I tried avoiding that, but I couldn’t. The band was more energetic and enthusiastic then most other bands I’ve seen, specifically singer/guitarist Jared Swilley, who often hopped into the crowd and shredded on his guitar. Excellent use of feedback, I must say. He was just a pro in stage antics. Overall, my favorite show by miles. I can’t wait to seem them again, whenever that is.

Glen: Obsessed with the Black Lips for well over two months, I was, for lack of a better word, pumped to see them. Chatting it up with guitarist Cole Alexander before the show was quite a treat. Cole talked to us about what kind of venues the Black Lips are capable of playing in, their lack of ability to play certain songs, and finally their snorting coke and partying with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich in England. When Alexander and his crew took the stage, the crowd erupted in shouts of “ooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh” — similar to the Mexican crowd on the opening track off their spectacular live album Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo. Then, in a blink of an eye, Jared Swilley picked up his guitar, and so did Cole and Ian St. Pe. Joe Bradley readied himself behind the drumset and the group opened with “Sea of Blasphemy.” The crowd erupted in a moshpit that involved lots of contact and screaming. The contact and the screaming never relented. Between songs, Jared kept remarking how he couldn’t hear the audience for shit (they were screaming out requests). Also between songs involved the tossing of multiple beers. Swilley dropped a pass and joked, “I didn’t play football in high school.” St. Pe, who a little later caught a beer pass, said “I played football in high school.” St. Pe was playing guitar in front of me the whole time. He was clearly inebriated but was still able to strum amazingly. He handed me one of the beers he caught and gave me a high five. Good man. The band was absolutely full of energy and lived up to their “one of rock’s best live acts” reputation. There was no mooning, making out, or pissing on the audience — and there didn’t need to be…crowd surfing and spitting sufficed. The Black Lips played a hodge podge of great tracks ranging from oldies “Bad Kids,” “Buried Alive,” “Dirty Hands,” “Cold Hands,” a 10 minute epic of “Hippie Hippie Hoorah,” “Not a Problem,” “Stranger,” “Katrina,” to songs off their 2009 release 200 Million Thousand like “Drugs,” “Short Fuse,” “Starting Over,” and “Take My Heart.” The last song came, at least for me, unexpectedly. I was having the most fun I’ve ever had and thus began “Juvenile.” Jared let the front row play with his guitar a little before full out diving into us. He was hanging onto the condensation-dripping wall while being pushed around. Beers were being spilled everywhere and everyone was going absolutely nuts. The security guards were getting so pissed that they cut the plug to the mics and started dismantling the band’s equipment. The crowds’ calls, “Encore! Encore!” were repudiated as the lights turned on and the background music played. I would have loved one more, but I can’t complain. If they were going to do an encore…the security were just assholes. It took almost 2 days for my inner-ear buzzing to stop, but it was well worth it and I’d relive the concert again in a heartbeat. Black Lips, if you read this…Boston loves you! Come back this summer…please!

Why American Idol is Evil

So, the following is an old rant of mine entilted, “Why American Idol is Evil” that I posted on my (and a few other KLAYMERS’) old blog, Wakefield Etudiant about three years ago. I wrote it in a notebook in a matter of 5-10 minutes whilst listening to The Replacements’ Stink EP. Then a few months later, I came across it and posted the basterd. Much to my amusement it received various comments, mostly hateful! lol After that it was posted on a forum or two and garnered even more (negative) comments. People seemed to take it way too seriously. I found it hilarious that readers actually thought I invested time and energy into making some sorta “journalistic endeavour,” when it really was just a written translation of my views on the show and the music industry with some exaggerations and strong language. Looking back at it now, I realize this rant is not my best piece of writing, but it sure is one of my favorites; after all it’s always a delight to piss people off. If I had written this piece today it would probably be different, but at the same time the general position is the same. Ok, so here’s the damn thang:

Music or art for that matter always meant to me, playing from your fucking heart, with no regard for who you offend. Some corporate bithces like to destroy this legacy and sell out for more money and more pussy. Fucke em’ I say. When I see Alice Cooper doing Staples commercials, I shake my head in disapproval, screaming to myself, “What happened to the ‘Parent’s Worst Nightmare,’ what happened to the snakes, the gory, torn apart chickens, ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ and ‘School’s Out For Summer.” Well, I hate to break it you Mr. Cooper, you (and countless others) are “nice guys” and are the parents’ perfect image.
Seriously, it’s like the fucking 80’s again where your parents like the same music you do. Where’s the rebellion? Fuck, the entire nature of Rock and Roll is gone. I mean, don’t get me wrong it’s been dead for a while. Disco took a huge toll on us, MTV melted our brains with intellectually dilute, unimaginative, videos (still does, but videos are even dumber, less creative, and worst of all safer) and of course the 21st Century has brought us the greatest, most unholy, derelict, stain on the music world, none other than… American Idol.
I don’t know where to begin with this fucking show! It is evil, morally incorrect, and worst of all: sugar coated bullshit, fresh fo children of all ages! “Warning! if you like to use your brain or think for yourself and would rather listen to true fucking rebels, please turn your televison off right now. Thank you and may God bless your soul!” This caveat should appear in big fucking bold letters before they air AI (acutally most TV shows for that matter) on Fox and bring their filthy, government approved, pussy, garbage into millions of American Homes.
People always say to me, “come on now Chris, AI isn’t that bad, it gives countless, young , aspiring artists a chance to make it in the big time and millions of people can witness them do what they love on national television…” Fuck that! it assists countless young singers (who are doing the same fucking shit we’ve seen for the past few decades) become even bigger corporate, little bitches; slaves to a machine, that they are sadly oblivious to. When these faggots hop around and do their stupid fucking dances I just want to strangle each and every last one of them.
If Rock meant rebellion, rebelling to “the man,” then AI contestants are sucking the man’s cock and letting his pearly black cum posion millions across the nation, whenever they open their mouths. All artists, whether they are singers or whatever must do it themselves and do what they feel like doing, not what three, dickhead, judges want them to do. I mean can you picture an AI in 1967. Lou Reed sings “Heroin,” I bet Paula would say, “Lou that’s not exactly a safe song.” Or Hendrix out of his mind on acid setting his instrument ablaze. The fat, black guy (shit, what’s his name?), oh yeah, Randy, can you imagine him telling Jimi to put out the fire, cause it may turn off some of our viewers. Now, of course that would have never occurred because those artists had balls. It seriously makes my blodd curdle when I hear that young kids yearn to be big stars on AI. It’s the fucking kiss of death! There’s nothing dangerous or controversial about it and it is a major sign of how we have lost our momentum, ultimately becoming complacent zombies, eager to chow down on the next, fresch crap they have to serve us. Bullshit! Never do we have to accept crap, just because it is popular or because all of our friends adore it. Do a little searching, broaden your horizons and you will discover numerous classic and contemporary artists that always play from their fucking hearts. The music/art I get the biggest hard-ons for, offer me insight and best of all, allow me to think for myself. If you or a loved one enjoy watching AI or even worse want to be on AI (yikes!) please seek help! You are already a sell out, you sold out to yourself.

Memory #2: Classic Concert Review: Shrines @ Paradise

Bands: The Homosexuals, Mark Sultan, King Khan
Venue: Paradise Rock Club

Act One
: The Homosexuals

Glen: The Homosexuals, or in this concert’s case Bruno Wizard and two members from the noise rock band Fiasco, started things off. Wizard, who has an affinity for saying ‘fuck’ and acting crazy as ‘fuck,’ didn’t fail at moving about the stage like an asshole. Wizard’s most notable song was “Hearts in Exile,” a lengthy and repetitive proto-punk jam that got the crowd semi-excited. He finally sang “Don’t Touch My Hair,” an obnoxious rhyme that was undoubtedly written while Wizard was under some form of narcotic. I give a lot of credit to Julian (drums) and Jon (guitar) for playing excellent music.

Chris: Well, the singer was a bit obnoxious and got really old rather quickly. Speaking of being old, he was middle aged, but tried to act like a buzz cock. Perhaps a bit more cock than buzz. His vocals and the songs themselves were average. He repeated one particular line at least 50 times. Ridonculous. With that being said, I appreciated his high energy, albeit a cliched, poor man’s Mick Jagger. Also, the guitarist and drummer had the musical chops and I suggest they find a new front man or create an entirely different group. [Editors Note: They are a part of Fiasco, which has a different lead singer. They were just filling in, bud.]

Act Two: Mark Sultan

Glen: Mark Sultan, or as the guy standing next to me said “the man they call B-B-Q” was very impressive. Complete with a makeshift drum kit and an old-school electric guitar, Sultan provided the audience with vintage rock n’ roll sounds. For me, Sultan’s highlight was “Waddlin’ Around.” The crowd really got into this song in particular. It was too bad Sultan only played for 30 minutes. That wasn’t the last of him though…

Chris: Mark Sultan or BBQ- Impressive. That’s the first word that comes to my mind when I think of his performance. For all ye musicians out there that merely play 1 instrument (I play none!), the BBQ has you beat! Simultaneously Sultan commands the microphone, plays the chords, and bangs the drums with the assistance of some handy dandy foot pedals. Sultan gave the audience a nice, little balance between slow, doo-wop echoing, love numbers and kick ass rockers you could rock your head and bop around to. A notable set to say the least.

Act Three: King Khan and the Shrines

Glen: I witnessed the soulful Supreme Genius! I actually noticed King Khan an hour before the show. I yelled “King!” and he stopped and gave Chris and I handshakes. Seriously, though, he puts on an amazing show. It couldn’t be done, though, without the help of the eight other members of the band. The cheerleader — unnecessary, yet unbelievably necessary — sprinkled glitter all over us in the pit. Her fine dancing was a great adjunct. The saxophone players don’t get as much credit as they deserve. They were instrumental (literally). The guitarists were fun, often interacting with the crowd (by jumping off stage). BUT it was the King who got everyone going. The minute he walked onto the stage, everyone just smiled, clapped, and knew that one hell of a show was in store. King’s swagger on stage is unprecedented. His gimmicks are vast and varied. Lying on the ground, sticking his head out to the front row, dancing over the cheerleader, whatever, you name it. His energy simply never relented. God bless him. He performed classics such as “I Wanna Be Your Girl,” “Welfare Bread,” and “Shivers Down My Spine,” before delving into a Gospel track — a brand-new 5+ minute epic that involved intensive crowd participation. King Khan came back on stage (thanks in large part to a certain energetic Shrines percussionist) after saying “this is our last song” and performed my personal favorite “Took My Lady To Dinner” followed by a few others, including a never-been-done-live-before song with Mark Sultan. Unfortunately, the experience had to come to an end. The keyboardist was doing crazy shit with his keyboard and having one hell of a time as he tackled it (which probably rendered it unusable). After slightly more than fifty minutes of moshing, sweating, and smacking King Khan’s helmet (yes, I got the privilege), the King, his underwear and animal teeth necklace, and his Shrines walked off the stage. The lights in the club turned on. We bounced.

Chris: I did not truly comprehend just how supreme the genius of King Khan and the Shrines was until Thursday night. Rarely have I ever seen such a build up to a band arriving on the stage. The Shrines, all in their black Shrine uniforms, began playing their various instruments, increasing the overwhelming anticipation of King Khan and his lady. Finally, our hero, accompanied by his ever-grinning cheerleader (pom poms and all!), hit the stage all decked out in his white suit and ready to go!. The crowd immediately danced into the “Land of the Freak,” which the Paradise Rock Club had transformed into by this point. The sensational opener was followed by even more notorious numbers including “How Do I Keep You (Outta Harm’s Way),” “Sweet Tooth,” “Shivers Down My Spine,” “Welfare Bread” (one of my favorite moments during the concert; the cheerleader sprinkled glitter all over herself and us!), “I Wanna Be A Girl” (I’d say the tune earned the biggest crowd response, at least from me anyway), “No Regrets,” “Took My Lady to Dinner,” and “Live Fast Die Strong.” The last 3 were performed as the encore in which the King appeared in his traditional golden cape, mask, and nothing but underwear!

Final Comments:

Glen: King Khan and the Shrines probably put on the best show that I’ve seen yet. It wasn’t quite a religious experience, but it was a genius experience. I’ve never gotten the privilege to see eight amazing musicians (plus one cheerleader) perform so amazingly together. I didn’t really listen to King Khan too much before the show, but now I’m absolutely hooked. But seriously this show has to be in its own category because of that. With the Black Lips and No Age, I pretty much recognized all their live music and that made seeing them so great. Bottom line: I absolutely can’t wait to see King Khan and the Shrines again!

Chris: Grade: A. Stage diving, crowd surfing, pogoing, and heartfelt singing insured one of my top 3 greatest concert experiences.

Damn, the anticipation…..