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NIN, Jane's Addiction, SSSC- May, 11 2009

Lakewood Ampitheater, Atlanta GA

Street Sweeper Social Club came on first. Not a very impressive show, but it's always good to see Tom Morello do his thing, especially outside of Audioslave. It sounded like the singer (whoever he was) was trying to mimic Rage's sound, but since we all know that there can't be another Zack de la Rocha, it was pretty hopeless. I ended up just watching Tom's fingering on solos and such.

Next came Nine Inch Nails, the reason I went to Atlanta that day. It was a damn good show. Smoke poured across the stage as Trent Reznor gripped his synthesizer/keyboard like a deranged maniac trying to block out a bad dream. Rocking back and forth as if battling inner demons (which he surely was), Trent began belching out song after song from my favorite NIN album, Downward Spiral. This even included one of my favorite songs, The Becoming, though, he failed to include the tortured screams that preclude the track on the LP. The show ended with "Head Like A Hole," always a crowd pleaser. No tribute to "Closer," which is unfortunate especially if this is indeed his last tour. However, if it is, he surely left a legacy within industrial metal. One thing that irritated me was that, having come on second, the sun was still over the horizon, so I didn't get the full effect of already sub-par lighting. Rare at a NIN show, but good nontheless. Reznor is noted for using different musicians on each tour, and the ones he chose for this one were fully capable. I was most impressed with the guitarist and the drummer, since most of Trent's stuff is laden with power riffs and percussion that is diffcult to copy outside of synthesis.

But nothing prepared me for the antics of Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction. References to sex, drugs, and rock and roll represented the whole reason why 98% of the crowd were there. I'm sure the other 2% were either offended or so messed up that it escaped them. Of course, the classics were played. "The Mountain Song," "Been Caught Stealing," and they ended on a wonderful beachy-sounding acoustic favorite, "Jane Says." The show might be the best one I've ever witnessed, though a sobered up Scott Weiland at last year's Halloween STP show in Birmingham might rival it. Farrell humped various things on stage, including Dave Navarro (with clothes still on). Mr. Perry prefaced most songs with a story: for instance, he talked about going to Southside, a shopping area in Atlanta, to get some clothes and said, "...but I didn't pay for anything." Thinking that the store "comped" him, we were all immediately led into "Been Caught Stealing" when he screamed out that he "fucking stole it." Splendid. The lights were also terrific, and the production seemed to offer more to the viewer than NIN did. It was interesting finally seeing Navarro live, too. He is one of the more underrated guitarists of contemporary music, and I was entranced by some of his fingering positions for stuff that I will never be able to play.

The place was packed, and I made a note to myself to sit on the green in the back next time and smoke a lot of weed. Not that people weren't smoking in the seats, but I want to be able to move around and not have people pushing by me when I'm trying to watch an artist who is already 100 yds away. Comfort and another 100 yds seems like a good trade off.

Altogether, well worth the drive there and the +$50 ticket.

0 Comments :: Permalink :: Wed 5/13/2009 1:30 PM
Damien Jurado/Laura Gibson concert in Birmingham, AL 4/22/09

The show was awesome. Local band went on first, and the most memorable thing was some weird fan reading a book about visions of the endtimes in front of the stage and then waving his hands as if in a trance as the band was winding down their final song.

Next came Laura Gibson, and man was I impressed. A voice sort of like a quiet version of Adelle (that "Chasing Pavements" girl) with an interesting band to back her up. Picked her guitar like modern singer/songwriters do, but the occassional strumming gave it a folkish feel to it. The music was simply ethereal. I felt inclined to close my eyes on a few songs, and only one was a little repetitive and maudlin, though, I can't remember which one it was. The songs were all different; something difficult for a single musician with skeleton percussion and effects.

But talk about monoability. Jurado came on by himself and played songs the way the songs were originally written anyway, regardless of their need for a band now. The acoustic set was intimate. I was literally 2 ft from Damien; I could have strummed his guitar for him. But I would never do that, because the set list was amazing. A few crowd favorites and pandora tracks, and also one song that he had written on this tour, which was a simple two-chord progression that I tried to learn when I got home at 2am. Couldn't mimic it.

I had taken down a poster before he show because the kind doorman at Bottletree (great local B'ham venue) told me it would happen eventually. I had a sharpie with me, and got Damien to sign the poster after the show. I was with a guy that I had met that night, and he approached Jurado to ask why he didn't play any Nick Drake. Damien looked at him silently (which is his expression anyway) and the guy apologized by blaming alcohol talking. I started up a convo with Damien about his influences. I wanted to know how his residency in Seattle afected his songwriting. He told me Seattle did very little; he already had a lot of material before moving there. Turns out, he lived in Selma, AL for a while, and other various small towns across the US. This suburban and even rural lifestyle had more of an impact on his songwriting than anything, and one can sense this in his music. Also prevalent is a confessional songwriting like that of John Lennon. Some say he writes about other's troubles, and this may be true of some songs, but one of the songs last night dealt with a story of his brother who was going insane and taken away by doctors, begging his brother (Damien) not to let them. Hypothetical, yes, but its still him in the story. By the end, we're struck by his conclusion that he would rather have his brother die than suffer the instiution, and he asks God to let this happen. Such songwriting is evidence of a life spent thinking quiet, personal, and often dark thoughts in the American wasteland of suburbia. At least Damien is able to share it with us.

0 Comments :: Permalink :: Thu 4/23/2009 9:27 AM
Modest Mouse March '09

I went to the Tabernacle in Atlanta on the 7th of March as a late birthday present to myself. I had never seen my favorite band in concert, an unforunate tradition that has haunted me for years with many bands. Too bad I didn't live on the west coast in the late 90s; I could have seen them when they had more heart and less members.

The openers were fucking amazing. Japanese Motors was a mixture of OK Go and something more subtle that I couldn't quite put my finger on, maybe Dashboard? No, probably not, but they had a lot of adolescent energy and the only bad songs were when the vocalist actually put his guitar down and tried to belch out lyrics. It was fine, but they played better as a group.

Mimicking Birds were terrific. There is this new sound now, reminiscent of The Beach Boys, that lost art of the harmonic, multi-vocalist band that has to pay close attention to every little sound. Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket have been popularizing the sound for a few years now, and the Birds are going to fall right into line. I dont know how much they will revolutionize the sound, but they will definitely add to it.

Then came Modest Mouse, that epic indy group from the greatest musical city in the nation. The opening chords of "Paper Thin Walls" sparked an energy from the sweaty, smoky crowd that even I didnt expect. A giant organism of convulsing teenagers, hopping up and down in time to the upbeat punk songs, and then swaying gently to the slower, hallucinogenic tracks. The band, though, seemed distant, indifferent, performing its task in a very perfunctory way. The connection that I have made to Isaac through the years by listening to every album over and over again was severed by seeing him in real life and not getting the same experience. The band's image is still holy in my eyes and Isacc will continue to be one of my lyrical heroes, but the feeling of completion that I anticipated did not arrive. As it turns out, my favorite band just isn't a good live performer anymore. However, considering what they have given me on their albums, I can live with that.

0 Comments :: Permalink :: Wed 3/18/2009 2:24 PM