Sunday, August 9, 2009

wow, too much rawk...

i just woke up from my post-work deathnap. i am completely wiped out- went to see the warlocks on thursday and friday night and the raveonettes last night. all shows at the empty bottle. i have a ticket to see deerhunter, dan deacon and no age at logan square auditorium tonight, but since there are three opening bands in addition to the three headliners (who will be playing round-robin style- not too keen on that as i'm really just interested in seeing deerhunter) i think i'm going to have sit that one out. it doesn't start until 10pm. both warlocks shows started at 9pm and had three opening bands and i had to be at work to open yesterday and today (6:45am and 7:15am)- you do the math and you can figure out how little sleep i've been getting. i did discover that it is possible to get to and from the empty bottle via mass transit.
first, the warlocks shows- we missed sadhu sadhu the first night, and grimble grumble and the vandelles the second night. we caught gliss and the morning after girls- neither of which were particularly remarkable. at first i thought my standards were just too high, but then once the warlocks took the stage it became apparent that music that pulls me is music that pulls me in. if it doesn't there's really no other explanation. that said the first night the warlocks were on fire the whole night- fantastic! the setlist was-

red camera (w/ an amazing jam as the end-section), isolation, so paranoid, midnight sun, shake the dope out, the dope feels good, caveman rock, angry demons, hurricane heart attack, zombie like lovers, stickman blues, worn thin (back to the 7+ minute version from logan square auditorium two years ago that oozes into a beautiful feedback-fest); encore- red rooster (hallelujah!!!), inside/outside

there were a few other songs that were extended with some nice jammy sections as well. i'm not 100% sure of the order, it was reconstructed from memory on the bus on the way home but it's pretty likely and all of the songs they played are included. i've always wanted to hear 'red rooster,''stickman blues' and 'so paranoid.' anyway, they were obviously really feeling it the entire night- there wasn't even a moment that wasn't heartfelt and going for broke.
the second night-

red camera (again w/ the jam at the end), isolation, we need starpower, midnight sun, song for nico, bleed without you babe, baby blue, shake the dope out, the dope feels good, caveman rock, angry demons, stickman blues, cosmic letdown; encore- standing between the lovers of hell, warhorses, worn thin

the second night was definitely sold out- the first night was packed, but not sold out and people drifted off as they kept playing (don't know what's with that, but it happens at every warlocks show i've been to- a shame because the songs at the end are ALWAYS the best ones). we left before they were done the first time we saw them because it seemed to us that bobby hecksher was in a bad mood and that they probably wouldn't do an encore- he seemed pissed and walked off before 'we need starpower' was over so we figured they wouldn't play any more songs and we left. anyway, the second night he seemed to be in a bit of a bad mood at the beginning- it seemed like he thought it wasn't going well and after 'song for nico' he put down his guitar and said 'i'll be right back you guys, hold on a second' and then he came back, they played 'bleed without you babe' after which he perked up and said 'thanks for fixing the vocals- it sounds a lot better' and then they started 'baby blue' which he told us they hardly ever play because they usually mess it up when they play it. well, they played it perfectly and from there the show kicked into high gear and by the end of the main set they were on fire! naturally the encores were fantastic and 'worn thin' was even longer. the sound was MASSIVE- incredibly loud- my ears were ringing most of the next day. thick and sludgy. mmmmm, good! stefanie made a little knitted alien for bobby hecksher and she put it on his pedal board during the last song. he came out from the back room too and we were talking to him a bit- he was very nice! stefanie did most of the talking, though. it was a great night. the next day i felt okay at work as well despite only getting about four hours of sleep.
last night was the raveonettes show, also at the empty bottle. we met up with kylie at sultan's market and hung around at her house in humboldt park before walking to the show from there- we went through the park around the lagoon- which i had no idea even existed. it was very beautiful! we got to the empty bottle right at 10pm and hung around listening to the dj and people watching- the place was full of people who had obviously been at lollapalooza that day- a lot of boners and trixies (basically tan girls in a variety of skimpy dresses and stiletto heels or gladiator sandles). not really kind of the crowd i thought they would draw- the crowd at the warlocks was an interesting mix of people, but this crowd was more homogenous- as in made up of the kinds of people i just described in some very sensitive stereo-types. everyone was very duded up at the raveonettes show. after a while the opening band started- living things. they are huge contenders for worst opening band that we have ever seen. it was just kind of sad to watch- there's nothing worse than an opening band playing and acting and posturing like they're playing in a giant stadium full of people. at the end of the set the singer had a huge american flag around his neck and was singing some cheesy trype about 'keeping the peace, u.s.a. is number one' or some other such bullshit. these people obviously thought very highly of themselves. they had two girl singers too who danced the whole time. it was awful. the sad thing was that they were good musicians and played their music well- it was just a completely wretched style and wayyyyy too much undue posturing. their little keyboard/sample-player dude doubled as the 'band roadie'- stopping whatever it was that he was doing to immediately pick up the microphone stand that was cast off by the singer as well as handing the singer his guitar and returning the mic stand to its place. once their set was over he was the one that tore down most of the equipment and the rest of the band just disappeared. he even carried the guitarists' gigiantic cabinet by himself.
what happened next begat a new show-going rule for me. another roadie with a parliament funkadelic t-shirt set up the raveonettes equipment- moving the bass cabinet and head to stage right, setting sune and sharon's twin reverb amps, tuning their guitars (each guitar was tuned a total of at least three times), putting towels and bottles of water in easily accessible areas (which i didn't see either of them use at any point during their set), leaving the stage for periods of five minutes, then coming back and fiddling with something, leaving again, coming back to make another small 'adjustment.' it's the charade to justify an hour between bands- which is now something that if i witness at a band's show i will never go see them live again as it is so blatantly disrespectful and rude to the audience- like we're just expected to sit there in a crowded room like cattle for a fucking hour despite the fact that the equipment is readied in about 20 minutes. i usually think that the venue is what forces this ridiculous transition, but i know for a fact that this is not a policy that the empty bottle has. all of the members of the warlocks were onstage setting up their own equipment (except for bobby) and were ready to play in 20 minutes and did so rather than make us wait a fucking hour! same with bjm when they played at the metro. fuck, even spiritualized was onstage and ready to play after a 20 minute break. so the mix would probably be really good with that much prep time right? well, one would think that this would be a benefit of such a ridiculous bullshit (and sadly time-honored) rock 'n roll tradition. when the raveonettes finally got onstage to play the guitars were almost completely inaudible and this was only fixed somewhat after some yells from the crowd to turn them up. they played a bunch of stuff from 'lust, lust, lust' my favourite song from 'pretty in black' and the old standards that they play at every show ('attack of the ghost riders' and 'my tornado' for instance) and then they started playing some of the new songs that are on their new album that's supposed to come out in mid-september. this is one of the main reasons i wanted to go to this show because i knew they'd be playing a bunch of these new songs that i was excited to hear. well... the new songs were all pretty bad. quite disappointing- very consciously poppy. quite a letdown as they'd just made those two digital eps that hinted at a world of possibilities for new directions they might take. instead it looks like they're just trying to make a really commercial record and ramp up their popularity (which they already owe to doing what they do best and that doesn't mean that i think they should just stick to ripping of the jesus and mary chain- which i don't even think is true to begin with). they were kind of like the poppier moments of 'chain gang of love' mixed with the most misguided tracks on 'pretty in black' (which is without question their weakest album). it was a HUGE disappointment. at first i thought that i probably just didn't like them anymore or that the warlocks were so good that my standards had been set too high for what i was expecting to see. they played 'lust' after the new songs and i realised that this was not so- i like the raveonettes, i just thought that they would build on what was their best album 'lust, lust, lust' and felt like my suspicions were correct after hearing the aforementioned eps (which do just that). so then they get to 'aly walk with me'- which is their shit-hot all-out noise-fest set-closer. i figured 'at least this will be good.' well, sadly when the guitars are mixed so low in the overall mix it kind of makes a knock-down drag-out noise-fest impossible so what was supposed to be the high point of the set fell flat on its face. it was made all the sadder by the boners in the crowd yelling in ecstacy like they were witnessing something transcendent. i'm sorry but the knock-down drag-out noise-fest is not something you can water down- that kind of ruins the whole point. so after that we all decided we should leave because we really didn't care to hear an encore. we'd had enough. once outside we were airing our grievances (which were all the same) as the band played a two song encore- 'that great love sound' and some other song i couldn't quite place from out on the street. in the end they played for 45 minutes- 15 minutes shorter than they made us wait to hear them play. i'm sorry but this is complete bullshit and i will never see the raveonettes ever again.
however, the warlocks have my undying devotion for playing the best two-night stand i've seen since the cure in new orleans in 2000. the bands that deserve to be famous never are. i guess that means we should cherish them all the more.

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