Thursday, October 2, 2008

full disclosure

alright folks. i hope you are comfortable in your seats wherever they may be. i now finally have a few hours to myself so that i can write about all of the happenings of the return week. when we got home on saturday morning at 4:30 am, we got to bed after unloading the car at about 5:30am. we heard a couple arguing. the woman was quite loud. they walked down the street and the woman was giving the man shit about something, not sure what, the man was saying nothing. once we were done unloading i heard the woman walking back up the street toward the train station crying very loudly and saying 'don't you do that fucking shit!' to herself. the man came out and followed her asking her to wait and her yelling back 'leave me alone!' etc. an interesting thing to witness at such an early hour after a 17 hour drive and two week tour. the amount of interesting scenes i have witnessed from our window while on the computer boggle the mind. it's kind of a beautiful thing i guess. saturday afternoon was the couple walk. i saw about five in a row walking down the street arm-in-arm.
the my bloody valentine show. i can safely and honestly say that i have never seen anything like it in my entire life- the sheer physical, sonic and visual force of the thing is something i continue to process to this moment. i've listened to my recording about twice. my conclusion is that it's a decent recording of a bad-sounding show. i'll still probably post the flacs but i don't feel like anyone's going to hear it really. i like hearing it- it's the ultimate souvenir of what was probably the best show i've ever seen. yes- it was ridiculously loud. i actually read the earplugs. i might have braved the thing without them had i not been going to two other shows over the next two nights. the cautionary tales i've read served enough to put the fear in me. at first i thought 'man, this doesn't sound very good with these in' during the first song and i didn't really realise how well i was hearing them until i started clapping and couldn't hear it at all. that's how loud it was. i did take out the earplugs occasionally throughout the night. i listened to all of 'cigarette in your bed' without them and that was kind of nice to get the full impact of the sound, but it was easier to enjoy with them in. it sounded about what a normal show sounds like, but probably a bit clearer even with the shitty cavernous sound of the aragon. while it sounded like a normal show the music was a physical force throughout- the bass beat on your chest, my jeans flapping as if in the breeze the entire time. phantom calls emanating from my cell phone in my pocket. quite a feeling. what no one has talked about at all- which is quite upsetting- is how stunning the show was visually. yes, they don't move around at all except for deb googe the bass player- she is incredibly animated and obviously very lost in what she's playing- she deserves a good deal of credit for how the band sounds- it adds a bit of visceral energy as an undercurrent to all of those sighing vocals and sensual waves of loud, loud, enveloping guitars. colm is a fantastic drummer as well. deb and colm prove to be quite the formidable rhythm section- not an easy task when they had kevin shields' guitar to contend with. i read that 116 db of the 129db or so that they normally play at is kevin shields' guitar. this is why his vocal is usually practically inaudible in the mix- he has about twelve amps running behind him at insane volumes. at least eight of those are marshalls, the rest are vox amps. he switches between different combinations mostly to get the volume. the key ingredient really is that volume- there is a point at which no matter what kind of effects you have on at a really squalling volume the effects even become overpowered and a bit superfluous. it was amazing. jaw-dropping moment- when he switched to that ungodly droning siren-like lead part in the mid-section of 'you never should.' it was amazing the amount of power that he could unleash. amazing.
back to what i'd interrupted myself about- they also had a dazzling light show. it was incredibly ornate and didn't really repeat itself. i've noticed that british bands are always much better with the light show than american bands are. i wonder why that is? this was probably the most amazing light show i've ever seen. they also had some beautiful projected loops that changed for every song. reading in the 33 1/3 book on 'loveless' kevin shields related a time that he was playing with primal scream and a strobe was going off in front of him and he closed his eyes while it was going and it elicited a reaction in his brain that is very similar to a psychedelic drug experience. it's a similar effect to the dream machine experiments of william s. burroughs and bryon gysin. naturally i tried it a few times. what happens is that the light starts to take on the form of swirling shapes below your eyelids and they swirl and evolve around the changes of the lights. some of it is done by the lights from outside, but at a certain point your brain begins to take over and it basically starts to create shapes and colours that aren't there. it was an amazing thing to do throughout the show- with the music and the force of the sound pounding against your body it made for a really beautiful experience. i did this throughout most of 'soon' which was a song i wasn't too excited to hear live but that turned out to be a total highlight.
then there's the noise section of 'you made me realise.' yes, it went on for over 20 minutes. a lot of what happened to me is what people describe- i was anxious and a bit scared for its arrival- knowing it was coming almost made it worse. i love noise, but i wasn't sure i was prepared for this. once it started the first few minutes were mildly panicked. i had a similar experience at spiritualized in portland when they stopped during 'this little life of mine' and kicked up a bit of formless noise for a few minutes while a chain of strobes progressively shot off faster and faster- i began to panic and feel a bit scared as the lights gained momentum. it elicited a very primal reaction. this noise break continued to gain strength and the light show continued to evolve. eventually an eerie calm came over me and a strange bending of time and space- it seemed like i hadn't been there at all for an hour, that this had been going on for around 10 minutes, and it seemed like it could go on forever and i actually kind of wanted it to. you'd think you'd get bored during something like that and your reaction to such extreme noise should be to run away or cover your ears or something, but it was incredibly hypnotic. it was a calm that you don't arrive at much in life. during this section i heard the overnotes and subtones that people talk about- they didn't sound like what i thought they would and i even began to see things in the lights that weren't there. stefanie saw them too- we were talking about it later- at one point i saw these revolving halos of what i would describe as tiny bats spinning around the lights as they moved and they were coming off of every light that was on stage. pretty weird shit. weird, but amazing. the biggest shock came when they finally launched back into the song. people did leave during the noise section. one guy in front of us actually held his ears the entire time. and then just like that they went back into the song and the show was instantly over. i could only imagine what the throng of people coming out of that place looked like- an unending sea of dazed faces.
a couple side-notes- getting in was a bit of a to-do. when i was searched i was searched really thoroughly and the security guards ended up finding my recording equipment, but they still let me in. when i went to will-call they didn't have my tickets there at all and the will-call girl sent me to the woman in charge of the guest-list for some weird reason. the guest-list woman was a bit of a gruff, hard-ass lady and i was sure she wasn't going to let us in, she just looked at my receipt kind of sighed, then just shrugged her shoulders and went 'go on in' and opened the door. i was shaking i was so worried we weren't going to get in. what a nice lady. you have to respect someone who will just take the reins and make an executive decision like that- i was sure it was going to become some long drawn-out red tape kind of grind that would result in us being turned away after a half-hour while we would be able to hear the band playing inside, but thanks to that lady she just let us in. awesome. i almost didn't bring a print-out of the confirmation email with my confirmation number and everything. if i hadn't brought it we wouldn't have gotten in.
so then i had to go to work the next day which kind of sucked, but whatever. nick cave and the bad seeds was that night. i think that the sunday night show was probably better than the monday night one. the setlist was a bit better- seemed a bit more spontaneous and had a bit better of a flow. they started with 'night of the lotus-eaters' which is one of my favourite songs on the new record. they played a decent amount of really old material, putting a fresh spin on what i'd always thought to be clunkers in the studio like 'tupelo.' nick cave and the bad seeds are best seen as a live band- all of their material sounds better live than it does on record. all of it. they got into a groove of playing a few real rocky numbers starting with new songs from 'dig, lazarus, dig!!!' and working back and then they'd pull out a real restrained song (they played 'love letter' for example- very unexpected) and then work back up to the rocking songs and continued that way. it was an awesome set. they ended with 'stagger lee' which i was singing to myself while i was riding my bike home that day. i didn't think they'd play it, but they did and it was so fucking awesome!
i also recorded nick cave both nights. getting my recorder in at these shows was easy. i finally found a good hiding spot for it- in an envelope of photos that i've had in my bag for ages- security guards never open it up. never.
the second night was marred a bit by the crowd- it was a very obnoxious one. it had been quite a while since i'd been at a show with that obnoxious of a crowd. it was kind of like being back in portland. lots of excessively drunk people being loud and annoying throughout the show- tons of floaters and it was impossible to see. there was a couple behind us who talked the entire time. the man in the couple felt the need to loudly explain to his girlfriend what every song was about and which album it was on. at one point they were talking about a friend of theirs who should play the saxophone. stefanie gave them the death glare and it actually worked. right next to them was the 'whoo!' girl. why do these people go to shows? i really don't get it. the second night they did play 'jesus of the moon' and 'more news from nowhere' though which are two of my favourites from the album that seem to scream out 'you will never hear this song live!' but there i am- proven wrong again. bless you mr. cave.
i wish i could've seen more of mr. warren ellis- he is someone who is incredibly fun to watch at work, as is nick cave. greg kot described ellis as a deranged santa claus. yeah, i'll agree with that. it kind of made me hope that he finally goes back to the dirty three and they make another album and do another tour- talk about another band that's a joy to see live.
in short even though the second night wasn't as good as the first it was still a nice solid show. if we'd only have seen that show it would've been just fine. stefanie didn't get to hear everything she wanted to hear. they strangely didn't play 'albert goes west' or 'lie down here and be my girl'- both of which she wanted to hear. they did play every other song off of the album. 'we call upon the author to explain' is a fucking beast live- not a huge surprise- but it's true. they also played a grinderman song, which i wasn't sure they would do. one of my favourite people to watch onstage besides warren ellis was thomas wydler- the drummer who has been in the band almost as long as mick harvey (who's been with nick cave since the birthday party). lately jim sclavunos has become the main drummer in the bad seeds where he used to mainly just do percussion and occasionally play the drum set during one of the 'boatman's call' songs live. basically wydler mostly shook maracas and then would play along with sclavunos- so they had kind of a double drumset warlocks kind of set up- which was bad ass. watching a little german dude shake maracas is pretty awesome, i'll just say that.
so that was an unbelievable run- probably won't be matched ever again- we each got to see our respective favourite bands play right in a row right after a two week tour. unfortunately that night when we got home stefanie gave seth a pumpkin treat that unfortunately made him sick. he kept us up until 2am whining in really weird ways that we'd never heard before and continually coming over to us at the bed- very uncharacteristic. i moved down to the futon for a while, but he came down and continued the whining and weird behaviour. finally i figured he must really have to go outside and pee or something, so at 4am i took him outside and he puked three times and tried to poop several times. he was not in good shape, so then we took him inside and called a 24-hour vet to see what they said and he went back to his normal behaviour so they told us he'd probably be fine. by then sleep was pointless so we laid around until it was time to take me to the train station to go to work. kind of a shame as i had wanted to go see jim's band play at the horseshoe and possibly go see born ruffians with everyone from beans and bagels at schuba's, but after struggling through the day i knew i couldn't possibly make either one. kind of a shame. we went back and slept like logs clear up until 6am. nice. last night was will's welcome party/birthday party for his girlfriend sido who just moved in with him from louisiana. that was a really fun night- i ate two bowls of green chicken chili, about five or six jalapeno corn muffins, drank three beers and got nice and stoned. very stoned. a good night. quite nice.
today after i'm done here i am going to go back to the apartment and attempt to finish up a recording/collaboration for one of james' songs that he asked me to do and i got a lot of awesome ideas from hearing it. the only rule is no guitars. the loop-hole- 6-string bass. i might bow some pots and pans and such as well- possibly. it's going to be fun, i'm really looking forward to it.
i'm hoping to get some shalloboi stuff going again too- hopefully i will be able to fit in a recording session with chris, the violin player. i hope he remembers. i haven't heard from him- i'm hoping that no news is good news. he couldn't make it on the 11th of september, but i looked at that as kind of a blessing since we were so over-extended getting ready for the tour at that point.
speaking of the tour it almost seems like it was all a dream. i really wish that we'd been able to play more shows- we were really in fine form the entire time. jim is talking about throwing a halloween show and if that comes together i'd definitely like to do that. i'm still tossing around the podcast idea- just in the interest of a little bit of closure on the tour- which i didn't really feel like we got so much. the finances seemed to have worked out so far. the payment on my credit card for the car took care of that hurdle for the month- not only did we pay for the card, but now i don't have to scrape together $100 somehow to pay the monthly payment for it and it instantly dropped the balance in one fell swoop. we did pretty well on the tour- if not for the kansas city trip we would've come through without having to charge anything on my credit cards. as it worked out i think that i ended up charging about $340 in gas. that sounds like a lot, but it could've been much much worse. we actually did make enough money from cd sales to pay for gas to get us from portland to seattle and while the minneapolis show was considered a disaster by us for the most part it got us some gas money as well. my parents gave us some money for gas as well, but not very much and jackie and sandor bought t-shirts from us as well- so all in all we did pretty well. we sold something at every show we played. in the past we would show up, play, not get paid at all and not sell a single cd. we must be getting better live. i was always happy with the reaction we got as well- it was always encouraging.
i've put the strings show on hold for now. i'm still going to try. maybe it'll work out in the spring or something. i'm just going to keep bugging them until it comes through. no reason to give up just yet.
as if all of that weren't enough i have a recording session with billy that i'm completely prepared for- the nice thing about the strings show was that it made me sit down and write a ton of sheet music including tons of stuff that needs to recorded. now it won't be saved until the last minute. yay!
today when i woke up i felt extremely tired, but i am feeling much better now- which is a good thing- i was getting a bit whiny. i had to take tilly to the vet this morning as well. we only have a few more days of housesitting left. it made up the difference for the rent just perfectly. i think we might land on our feet pretty easily. it actually worked out that i have an extra paycheck. i thought that it would just work out and i wouldn't miss a beat, but i actually might have some *gasp* extra money. tips were very good last week. i have some money to hold onto for whatever i need it for. if i use the tips to pay my other credit card or my insurance or something it just becomes more money from that paycheck that i can use for whatever. i might start looking at reel to reels for the impending mixdown. it will be nice to not have some huge trip looming overhead to save money for. we might get to relax a bit for the next few months before christmas. imagine that.

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