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50 Great Concerts: Part One, pre-2005

Posted on 2009.08.08 at 23:08
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Z-Rock Hawaii "The Meadow"
(crossposting LJ/FB because I can)

OK, here are the rules. Test your memory and your love of live music by listing 50 artists or bands (or as many as you can remember) you’ve seen in concert. List the first 50 acts that come into your head. So for all of you who may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at any point in your life you are allowed to look through your stuff to help jog your memory. But try to wait until your mind betrays you.

And because I'm me, I'll try to provide a few words of context for each one...

1. Beastie Boys - 1992. Memorable as my first real non-chaperoned concert. In a stripmall nightclub in Jacksonville with Rollins Band and Cypress Hill opening. Insane slam dancing.
2. Pink Floyd - 1993. The Division Bell tour, Tampa. Because everyone has to at least once.
3. Helmet - 1993. Jesus Lizard and a host of awful Florida metal bands opening. I set off a few 'screamer' fireworks in the parking lot and almost got a beatdown.
4. Nirvana - 1993. Christmas at the Masonic Temple, Jax. Breeders opened and got a shoe thrown at them, prompting the band to leave stage after 2 songs. 3 months later, Cobain blew his brains out.
5. Bad Brains - 1993. Milk Bar, Jacksonville. Very sweaty show. Among the host of openers was an unknown shock-metal band from Ft. Lauderdale with a blond singer called Marilyn Manson.
6. Nine Inch Nails - 1994. Jax Coliseum. Marilyn Manson opening again, making for twice I accidentally saw the band in their bizarre rise to fame.
7. Swans - 1995. Philly at the Asylum. Caught during freshman orientation, first show outside of Florida. For some reason nowhere near as good at the time as disc two of Swans are Dead would suggest.
8. Dead Can Dance - 1996. Some theater in suburban Philly. Played "Dreams Made Flesh" for an encore, which ruled.
9. Cocteau Twins - 1996. 9:30 Club, DC. Glad to have caught them before they disbanded.
10. Cranes - 1996. TLA in Philly with a then-unkown Rasputina opening who almost blew them offstage. Still a nifty show.
11. Current 93 - 1996. Two nights starting with Halloween. Formative experience for me and many friends I met for the first time that evening. The 1999 shows in NYC came off as smug and superfluous by comparison.
12. The Cure - 1997. Tower Theater, Philly. This during their "slightly smaller venues" abberation. Still barely a 'decent' show by a band who was mailing it in by that point.
13. Depeche Mode - 1997. MSG and Spectrum on the same tour (one set of tix was free). In contrast to Smith above, at least Gahan looked happy to be there on this tour.
14. Sisters of Mercy - 1997. Surprise show in Philly despite having no real new material to showcase. File under 'glad to have caught at least once'.
15. Portishead - 1997. Not the Roseland show that became PNYC (alas!), but the Hammerstein one a few months later which was awesome despite the lack of an orchestra.
16. Death in June - 1997. Twice on this tour (NYC and DC). The latter was slightly better due to them actually having time for a soundcheck, though the former degenerated into standup comedy from Boyd Rice.
17. Crash Worship - 1997. At the hilariously overwhelmed Coney Island High on St. Marks, which almost burned to the ground in a mess of excessive pyrotechnics, splattered watermelon, and sacks of flour.
18. Legendary Pink Dots - 1997. Wetlands, NYC. Played for almost 2 hours and we didn't want it to end.
19. Stereolab - 1997. The Dots and Loops tour. Was awesome until they decided to do an endless encore jam with openers The High Llamas which killed the buzz.
20. Bauhaus - 1998. The much awaited reunion show. Lots of fun, but little in the way of surprises.
21. Einsturzende Neubauten - 1998. Caught NYC and Philly on consecutive nights, which had the unfortunate effect of reinforcing just how canned most of Bargeld's stage act is. Still some beatific moments (i.e. the "Headcleaner" section).
22. Human Drama - 1998. At the venerable Pyramid in NYC, and returning the gesture of its inclusion on Shana's list. This was part of my 21st birthday barhop, and as such I was tanked for most of this set.
23. Kraftwerk - 1998. Another amazing Hammerstein show in NYC. Despite 90% of the music being on auto-pilot, this was one of the most dynamic and theatrical 'rock' shows I've ever seen.
24. Massive Attack - 1998. The Mezzanine tour, at Philly's hideous Electric Factory in 120 degree Summer conditions. Still a righteous gig.
25. Coldcut / DJ Spooky / DJ Krush - 1998. CMJ's flagship showcase for that year at the beloved Roxy, the moment where the indie and techno scenes awkwardly fused for better or for worse.
26. Autechre - 1998. As an extension of above fusion, their first ever Stateside appearance as part of the opening launch festival for Other Music's website in a huge Chelsea warehouse. I was sitting on top of one of the monitors for this, and my ass was vibrating for 3 days afterwards.
27. Curve / Dandy Warhols - 1998. I was a fan of both bands equally by this point, so I'll bill it jointly despite Curve being the headliner. Got to talk to Dean for a bit afterwards as he scarfed down 4 slices of pizza in the TLA lobby.
28. Tortoise - 1998. TLA again. One of the more understated 'perfect' concerts I've seen.
29. Saint Etienne - 1998. Yet again, TLA. This was the Good Humor tour, when they expanded into a 7-piece band with a killer rhythm section.
30. Godspeed You Black Emperor! - 1998. At Philly's tiny Khyber pass, where all 12 of them packed onto the pocket-sized stage and proceeded to blow our collective minds.
31. Man... or Astroman? - 1998. New Year's Eve show at a North Philly warehouse. Band showed up late and had 15 minutes to play, so they rifled through their set at double speed and did an exagerrated set-striking collapse at the stroke of midnight.
32. Mogwai - 1999. Khyber again. One of the loudest shows I've been to.
33. Boredoms - 1999. At Philly's Trocadero. This was the Super AE tour where they basically did 3 long jams with Eye climbing every available surface in the venue to yodel through several vocoders.
34. Angels of Light - 1999. At NYC's Tonic, this was a proto-AoL with Kid Congo Powers and Bliss Blood in the 11-piece band. Probably the best Michael Gira-fronted performance I've caught out of 6.
35. The Magnetic Fields - 1999. At Bowery Ballroom, previewing 69 Love Songs, which baffled the audience into heckling (to which Stephin Merrit responded in slow deadpan, "Fuck. Off.")
36. The Residents - 1999. The Troc again. Sort of a career-retrospective revue, which made it a bit too formulaic for what is normally a very unpredictable act.
37. Negativland - 2000. At NYC's Irving Plaza. Also a bit too much a career-retrospective, but the encore was priceless (Hollis bringing out an overhead projector with the transcript of Casey Kasem's summary "U2" outbursts and directing the audience to chant them line by line).
38. Antony and the Johnsons - 2000. At NYC's Knitting Factory. Opening for Genesis P. Orridge's Thee Majesty, but by far the most memorable performance of the evening.
39. Pet Shop Boys - 2000. Another near-perfect NYC Hammerstein show. 2 hours of NYC's most fabulous jumping like jackrabbits behind me.
40. Sonic Youth - 2001. Hammerstein again. Band were surprisingly really into it. Seemed to play the opening track from every album.
41. Yo La Tengo - 2001. At Syracuse University auditorium, opening for ... Sonic Youth, whom we had just seen. Still a great show by both bands.
42. Mercury Rev - 2001. At a theater in Toronto. Nearly religious.
43. Coil - 2001. In what would prove to be their only American appearance before Jhon lost his Balance. I helped put this show on and chauffeured the band up and down Manhattan and all I got was this lousy "God Please Fuck My Mind For Good" T-Shirt. :D
44. Black Heart Procession - 2001. In Washington DC, with a then-unknown Destroyer opening, and Calexico headlining. Three great bands at the peak of their powers.
45. Belle and Sebastian - 2002. Hammerstein yet again. B&S stretched out to a 13 piece, during which they somehow pulled off a pitch-perfect cover of "Stayin' Alive".
46. Tindersticks - 2003. At St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn waterfront with a 15-piece orchestra. Religious.
47. The Polyphonic Spree - 2004. At Philly's First Unitarian. As corny and bombastic as they can be, seeing the band nearly tear the roof off an actual airy cathedral was pretty amazing. We thought the floor was going to cave in from the sheer volume and dancing in the pews.
48. Xiu Xiu - 2004. In a student center at Cornell. One of the few times a cool indie rock act decided to make a pit-stop in Ithaca on their way to Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
49. Richard Thompson - 2004. Rochester. Great show, though the cannabis fumes were nearly suffocating.
50. Leo Kottke - 2004. At a high school gymnasium in Ithaca. Probably the best solo acoustic guitar playing I've ever experienced in person, but the pattern established by this and Thompson was the final impetus to get the fuck out of the sticks and move to NYC lest I spend the rest of my days seeing nothing but jazz and beatnik burnouts play to burnt out professors.


Subway mashups

Posted on 2009.06.30 at 16:32
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Skinny Puppy - "Blue Serge"
Yes, it's crass, but a crassly marketed flavorless beer deserves nothing less:

Not only was this one pretty ambitious in its undertaking, but was performed on one of the most obscure stops on the most obscure line of the entire system (namely, mine).


Brooklyn Grand Prix, Reprazenting...

Posted on 2009.06.03 at 16:06
Current Mood: draineddrained
Current Music: Virgin Prunes - "Pagan Lovesong"
Before (Well, During)


Official time: 1:35:41. Almost a minute slower than last year's Brooklyn Half. But I blame the tougher course (of course).

Images c/o Brightroom Photography, used without permission (of course)


The choices of a Brooklyn bike commuter: a Tale of Three Bridges

Posted on 2009.05.22 at 10:53
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Judee Sill - "The Pearl"
As I settle into Summer and my new post at W. 34th St near the Hudson River, I've been trying to ride in at least 3x a week when weather and evening activity schedule permits. One of the most underrated factors of why Brooklyn living is superior in every way to New Jersey (even if you are lucky enough to be near the shore in Hoboken, Jersey City, et al) is the myriad of East River crossings open to non-drivers.

It's almost an embarrassment of riches, especially given how each of the principle 3 bridges presents different risks and rewards to cyclists. Moreover, the bridge you take often dictates the ensuing optimal route to get to the extreme West Side arounc 34th Street. Here then are my findings after a month of shaking my route up each time:


Pros - Best access from Brooklyn side. The footpath opens right off Bedford Ave and requires no tricky negotiation of a busy 5-6 lane behemoth. Manhattan side access might also be the best, with straightforward descent to the East River greenway by doubling back under the bridge on the mellow wide expanse of Delancey. Soothing pink railings. Hottest and hippest biker chicks use it.

Cons - Only useful for East River access, which in turn is only practical for going north and using 20th/21st streets to get West, which in turn means taking the crosstown brunt of ALL of Manhattan at its widest apex. Steepest climb on the Brooklyn side, further complicated by frequent clusters of Hassidic women pushing double-wide prams.


Pros - Theoretically the straightest route and "middle" compromise of the three. Really fun spiral ramp on Brooklyn side that feels like a velodrome for 4.3 seconds. Strictest separation of pedestrians (south path) and bikers (north path) means less slalom dodging of clueless gawkers.

Cons - Manhattan side is a total clusterfuck in the epicenter of Chinatown with no easy way down to the East River. Any attempt to access Hudson River means competing with 10000 delivery trucks en route back to the Holland Tunnel. Weird metal plates on downhill of path are optimally designed to throw my chain off if the back wheel bounces too hard over them.


Pros - Softest incline of the three. Best skyline view of Manhattan when cresting center span. No subway trains rattling entire bridge as they boom over. Tosses you onto Centre Street at City Hall, at which point you're already almost halfway to the Hudson River via Chambers Street. The fierce pride of conquering one of NYC's biggest icons every morning.

Cons - As one of NYC's biggest icons, it comes with 10,000 turistas looking every which way but at approaching bikes whose lane they blindly spill onto. Wooden main deck is quaint on foot, but rattles the shit out of you at 11 mph on 2 wheels. Brooklyn side access from points East requires 4 blocks of sheer hell that is Tillary Street, culminating in the nightmarish intersection with Flatbush Avenue. Chambers Street is flooded with delivery trucks, World Trade Center tourists, and stressed out motorists who got lost trying to find the Holland Tunnel.


All told, I think Brooklyn Bridge might be the winner. I clocked in at 36 minutes this morning, a new record. If I can figure out the whole Tillary/Flatbush mess on the Brooklyn side and tame the Chambers Beast on the Manhattan side, it looks like a go. For some reason, I do enjoy always going home via the Williamsburg Bridge, mostly due to the distractions it offers once I'm back on my side of the East River.


Grit + Will + Bludgeoning Stubbornness = San Francisco

Posted on 2009.05.10 at 23:10
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
Current Music: Belle and Sebastian - "The Rollercoaster Ride"
Sunday morning, 10:30 am. teratologist needs to get some birding in, and I need to get my training up for Summer's race season. We both need to work off last night's lamb burgers.

A few perfunctory stretches later, which normally suffice for these sorts of lazy afternoon runs, and I'm off on Prospect Park's East Drive loop. Except I'm sluggish as hell. And my heels won't come off the ground to lift me into the toe-run stroke that gives me the sub-8 pace I know and love. Several clumps of people pass me up the Northeastern hill. I round the bend and suddenly break into a walk after a measly 2 miles.

Normally, this means I'm toast. It isn't happening today. When you stop running, you don't start back up at anywhere near a full heart (figuratively or literally). I ran an 8 mile 2-bridge loop into Manhattan and back via the Williamsburg Friday night, but that was almost 36 hours ago. Am I really getting this old. I have 2 hours until my rendezvous with teratologist, and I'm already bailing?

I'm almost near tears and ready to beat the shit out of something. I wander into the meadow near Center Drive and proceed to do some half-assed yoga. A few loops of downward dog, warrior 1&2, grab the ankles and make a pretzel or three. Stand up and tiptoe through the tulips. Except there are no tulips, only wet grass from a week of near-constant rain.

I walk back to the Drive and reset my watch. The 18 minutes and 2 miles of heel-running never happened. Hit the start again and break into a sprint, suddenly feeling it all on the balls of my feet. I literally yell out loud "there it is, there it is, go!" before rattling off 3 consecutive loops of the drive for 10.6 miles at a 7:25 clip, each lap faster than the one before it.

So, it looks like the tibia is holding up. I need more foam rollers on the tortured calf muscles, and more half-assed yoga for the general demeanor.

This means that I'm going to fly out to San Francisco and run the marathon at the end of July. Why the hell not? It's all gravy until the NYC Marathon in November.


My Summer Concerts (or, why I love the Mercury Lounge Box Office)

Posted on 2009.05.08 at 14:21
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Current Music: PJ Harvey - "C'mon Billy"
Pink Mountaintops at the Merc: $12.00
Camera Obscura at Webster Hall: $20.00
Explosions in the Sky at Central Park: $25.00
TV on the Radio at Prospect Park: $30.00
Jarvis Cocker at Terminal 5: $35.00
Total "convenience charges": $0.00
Hot curry from cab stand across the street: $4.00

Taking a nice trip downtown at lunch to ensure Ticketmaster gets exactly none of my money in surcharges: PRICELESS.


In which I moonlight as a street art culture jammer...

Posted on 2009.05.03 at 18:48
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: Sun Ra - "I am the brother of the wind"
Last month I found myself at Bushwick's Eastern District gallery with my buddy Tom to see the latest Poster Boy exhibit. In talking with the curator about our favorite subway ad mashups, it eventually came out that April 25th 2009 would be a day of reckoning. To wit, most unauthorized NPA billboard ads that clutter the side of buildings and fences everywhere in Manhattan below 30th St. would be painted white and covered with art from various underground luminaries. As he is often wont to do, Tom immediately replied "that sounds awesome, and we can help".

Fast forward 3 weeks and I arrived at the corner of Grand and the Bowery on the fateful morning armed with 4 day stubble, hideous wire-framed sunglasses I found on the street a few years ago, and the same shot clothes I used to paint most of my loft's bookcases. We were ready for anything.

Lotta of multimedia lies within...Collapse )


Throbbing Gristle at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple

Posted on 2009.05.01 at 23:50
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: dead silence
This one had been on my calendar for awhile. I was dubious, for sure. Tickets were expensive ($35) and sold out immediately. Reunions of classic acts are always dicey. And when I arrived at Masonic Hall on the day of reckoning at the ripe hour of 6:15, the line was already wrapped around the block of balding paunchy ex-anarchists in black.

My fears were not quelled after an hour of waiting at the stage (balding ex-anarchists were more prone to take the mezzanine, leaving the good camera views for me and spinal endurance), nor were they dissipated by this visual 30 seconds after the four Gristlers finally took the stage:

But, things definitely picked up from there.

Well, what are you waiting for, press PLAY to continue...Collapse )


Phosphorescent at the Bell House

Posted on 2009.03.09 at 00:04
Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: Melvins - "Teet"
Even though it's winter, it's still a season for new discoveries. My encounter with Phosphorescent is a perfect testament to the utility of last.fm. Having spotted them high atop the charts of a random "neighbor" among a bunch of stuff I knew and love, I inquired as to what they were like. The response was quite gushing, so the next logical step was to pirate it off what.cd (I know, I know, but read on through the denouement). I also was floored by *this video*, which brought to a head memories of wintry upstate farms past.

Flash forward to last month, and I'm at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg helping a friend scope out the venue for the ensuing Williamsburg Fashion Weekend. As I'm idling in the upstairs loft with my whiskey, a guy plops down next to me with a Budweiser. I glance over, and damned if he doesn't look just like the guy from *that video*. Not being especially talented in the art of meeting established musicians, it took every ounce of the bourbon in my cup to finally turn to him and blurt out "Hey, are you Phosphorescent?!". He looks a bit taken a back, before responding "uh, yeah!". We end up having a nice conversation about *that video* (among other things) and I get news that he's playing February 28 at the Bell House, a new venue down off the Gowanus Canal.

Long story short (ha), I attended the venue and bought his succinct backcatalogue in order to make good on pirating his current album. Following are some pictures (and a video clip) of the show...

more pictures of our torn up, ah, you know...Collapse )


Our Multi-Fork East End Getaway...

Posted on 2009.03.01 at 23:49
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Rain Parade - "Kaleidoscope"
People who know me know that I have a special visceral hatred for Long Island. But I've learned over time that this hatred barely extends beyond the borders of Nassau County (it does extend a tad, being as Screwy Startup's original office was just over the Suffolk County line in East Farmingdale).

The hatred positively dissipates once you get out into the East End with its quaint farms and quainter villages. Even the opulen Hamptons have their charms when you approach 'em as a bemused tourist.

All this plus a recession-minded stinginess led teratologist and I to spend our 10th anniversary armed only with a pair of bikes, an LIRR permit, and Valentine's Day reservations at a converted motor lodge cum French bistro in the North Fork. Here follows some of the photographic highlights.

All Aboard (Watch the Gap)...Collapse )

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