Friday, March 26, 2010

sigur ros- the vic- chicago, il- 9.27.01

this is the first sigur rós show i ever went to. i snuck in my tape recorder and recorded the set and shared it with a lot of people. i believe my recording is the only one that is in circulation. just like the mogwai show it sounds quite good considering the kind of equipment i used- the levels are a bit clearer and most of the sound issues were the results of sound problems at the show. for instance, during the beginning of 'njósnavélin' there is a bit of an overbearing bass issue and during 'deathsong' the organ is very shrill. both problems in the mix there. otherwise i'm very happy with how this turned out. i didn't have to add any eq.
on to the dirt. this was one of the first shows that stefanie and i ever went to out of town together (the other being radiohead at redrocks earlier in the year). i'd been in the habit of traveling to catch shows that i was eager to see that passed up kansas city (wow, were there a lot of them, too). in the summer of 2000 before i went off to london i went to see the cure five times as i was very fond of the 'bloodflowers' album and figured even if they were lying about the whole 'this is our last tour' malarkey (which they'd done a lot at that point) that it would be the best time to catch them as the likelihood of them putting out another record i would love as much as 'bloodflowers' was very low (again, i was right). the cure had never played in kansas city at that point, either (they actually did play there finally a few years ago before that newest record came out) so it had always been necessary to travel to see them. it was worth it. this show is another shining example of when it's worthwhile to drive nine hours just to see a band that you love.
9/11 had just happened and for whatever reason that fall season was one that was full of touring heavyweights. after the tragedy the vast majority of touring bands (especially the ones from the uk) started canceling their tours left and right. for example, we were going to buy tickets to see nick cave at the chicago theater, which was scheduled to be on the day after the sigur ros show, but they canceled. by 9/11 we'd already bought our tickets for this show and gotten the time off from work and spent the next few weeks checking their website obsessively, hoping that they wouldn't cancel. clear up until we walked in and saw the album leaf playing we were wary that this wasn't going to happen. at this point i'd gotten that second record and listened to it obsessively for months and months on end. this was the height of my sigur ros-mania. i'd also started playing the guitar with a bow after seeing photos of jon thor birgisson doing so, which became one of the main staples of the early shalloboi sound back in those days (i managed to figure out ways to do the bowed guitar thing in my own way). one would think that such lofty expectations and hopes would have to be too huge not to dash, but holy crap did they somehow SURPASS them! not only did they not cancel their tour, but they seemed to be capable of effortlessly harnessing the intense amount of emotion that everyone in the room was feeling and projecting it back at us- sort of a mix of that post-9/11 shock mixed with the pure elation that they had still come to play. have you ever heard a more ecstatic crowd? listening to the recording for the first time in years i was moved to tears listening to the 'fyrsta'/'samskeyti' couplet as well as the moment in 'svefn-g-englar' after birgisson sings through his guitar pickups and then launches into that really loud part. at this point the parentheses album hadn't come out yet and they played pretty much the entire record live. they were also there without the amiina string quartet- so it was just the four of them. i'd lived with this recording for so long that when i heard the parentheses album i was actually DISAPPOINTED because the recorded versions of the songs weren't as powerful as they were at that show. i know now that this is really just the mark of a truly great band.
it was about as perfect of a first time seeing a band as one could imagine. there were a few guys standing next to us who got a bit talkative towards the end. if you listen very carefully you can hear stefanie ask them to please keep it down- i think she told them we'd driven nine hours for this show. they were about as gracious as one could expect. no more, no less. in retrospect she should've told them i was recording the set. i recorded so much of the crowd noise at the end mainly because i'd never heard a crowd that hyped up before. people stood clapping and screaming for about seven minutes. they came out to take a bow twice. i still don't think i've experienced that at another show since- it's all such an obligatory thing now- oh, we're supposed to clap now because they're going to come out and play an 'encore.'
anyway, i'll shut up and just post the link- (192 kbps mp3s)
once again, i have the flacs but won't post them unless there's a specific request made. enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

mogwai- lawrence, ks- the granada- 6.2.01

first in a small series. i'm in the process of moving and recently came across a box filled with tapes of various shows that i went to during the years 2000-2001. just before i went to london for my semester abroad i bought a tape recorder at best buy of somewhat questionable quality- it had a stereo microphone with a clip. i took it with me to london and recorded every single show that i went to (except for maybe one of two). once i'd started this process i couldn't stop and the taping continued until about the time we moved to portland. after finding this treasure trove of forgotten stuff and discovering that many of these old recordings made with this crappy tape recorder were of perfectly listenable quality i decided to take the time to convert the best ones of the bunch via the new ion usb turntable i have (it has an 1/8" input jack). the first show i converted was this one from my first mogwai show in lawrence, kansas at the granada. to anyone who doesn't live in the kansas city area basically what you need to know is that hardly any bands that a 20 year old into indie music would want to see ever bothered to stop in kansas city. this was true of most american bands but went double for british bands. the majority of good indie music within range passed through lawrence, kansas- the tiny, idyllic college town that is home to the university of kansas. 90% of the high school graduates from my class ended up at ku. i reviled the idea of following them, but once i moved back to kansas city from my year at columbia college here in chicago i spent most of my nights driving to lawrence to go see shows at the bottleneck (a dingy, dark, smoky, poorly-ventilated club that had about a 300 person capacity) and the much larger granada. when i think of a lot of my poetic show-going moments the lion's share of them happened at the bottleneck.
about mogwai. i continue to love mogwai. i still don't have 'the hawk is howling,' but was a fierce devotee and defender of 'mr. beast.' back in 2001, though, they were one of my favourite bands as they had been since 1999 when i bought 'come on die young' and 'young team.' back then i used to spend tons of time on the radiohead message board and one time struck up a conversation with someone about mogwai. the person i talked to was friends with barry, the keyboard player who was a new member at that point. i talked to him about how i was dying to see them live as i'd heard they were fantastic, but that this would probably never happen due to the fact that i lived in kansas city and that mogwai probably couldn't find the state of kansas or missouri on a map (fuck, i bet you could find plenty of people who live in new york, l.a. or chicago who couldn't either). the person i was talking to seemed to take it to heart and within two years they showed up to play at the granada. i don't know if that had anything to do with it, but regardless i went and it surpassed my expectations. i've seen them twice since and i think that nothing will ever surpass the amazing feelings that were stirred up for me at this show. so given all of that, here it is in all of its glory- (192 kbps mp3s)
if you want the flacs you'll have to ask for them and then i'll post them.
stay tuned for the next in the series. mogwai is a good jumping off point stylistically for the types of shows that i went to back then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

take care

r.i.p. alex chilton. can't believe this happened only a few weeks after mark linkous. i'm going to have to write my rambling entry on this later as i'm starting a six-day week tomorrow. in the meantime i would like to post the shalloboi cover of 'nighttime' which is one of my favourite big star songs from my favourite big star album, 'third/sister lovers' (although really i have about twenty or more big star favourites).


this isn't a great cover by any means, but i think the rough edges in and of themselves are an appropriate nod to mr. chilton. the music world is running out of overlooked/underrated/genius songwriters at an alarming rate...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

booking agent/nice, enthusiastic fresh-faced person for the band needed

yeah, i'm done. my energy for begging for shows is gone. i just don't have the moxie, likability, social skills to be bugging booking people all over town to add us onto shows. seriously, i've had it. i don't think i can send another email about this stuff... it's amazing to me that we have this amazing record we're sitting on and no one will let us play. i'm aware already that it doesn't have to do with how good the music, how well we play live or even whether or not we have a draw. it's purely that we don't know the right people and aren't social beings. we aren't going out to venues every night and befriending bar-tenders and ingratiating ourselves to the right kind of people who are running things. to be quite frank i still have no interest in it. if i were the type of person who were capable of such things, then by all means i'd be out there kissing as much ass as i could, but sadly i'm not a social person at all. i am not a charming person. i am a very reserved and humble person and it's just not in my nature to go around being witty, charming and sociable with people i don't know and probably can't trust. i'm convinced now that if i were we would probably be one of the biggest bands in the little indie underground. it's a bummer too because i know that the price for my introverted nature is basically that i'm going to have to resign myself to the fact that i'm just going to be relegated to releasing records on my own while supporting myself with a day job and accept that my music will barely reach anyone.
as i'm writing about this i'm just sick about it. it appears that we most likely will not be playing at the empty bottle on the 18th of april. i have nothing else going at the moment, i have no ideas as to where to go next- all of my reliable contacts have dried up and new venues that have cropped up won't even return my messages. what to do? not sure...
so now here i am with 300 newly pressed records and no shows to play to promote them. i'm not real sure what to do. i'd like to get some help with this dilemma, but who's going to bother to give me the time of day about my band in the first place, nevermind do all of our dirty work for us. i guess i shouldn't give up hope just yet, i'm just completely out of energy. i'm only one person and i can only do so much... i just got the screen for the back covers done the other day.
i'm thinking of doing some kind of film project like 'thee hounds of foggy notion.' but what good would that do? i don't know- it's just kind of weird. i'm just so out of ideas that it's not even funny...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

'may your shade be sweet...'

yes, i'm very bummed about the passing of mark linkous. to whit- unless you don't want to scroll yourself. i stand by my gushing sentiments about 'it's a wonderful life.' i did take the opportunity to revisit 'dreamt for light years in the belly of the beast' and (i'm sure this will be a huge surprise) found that it was a beautiful, overlooked gem. i do also really love 'good morning spider,' i just think that 'it's a wonderful life' is sparklehorse's (and mark linkous') crowning jewel. my friend james has asked me to submit a sparklehorse cover for a tribute he wants to release. stefanie is really not into the idea of tributes, but as i was walking around the morning after i'd heard about mr. linkous and listening to 'dreamt for light years...' i thought to myself, 'maybe we should do a sparklehorse cover in light of these events.' plus, i was kind of in awe of how great the songs on 'dreamt for light years...' were. it's basically a very valiant attempt at writing sunnier, poppier songs. in a way i think that the quality of the songs was so consistent that when you listened to the whole thing nothing really jumped out at you and it made you think that the album is flat, but there are some gorgeous sun-drenched songs on there. i do love 'don't take my sunshine away' and 'knives of summertime' and have loved 'shade and honey' to death since i first heard it in 'laurel canyon.' when it came out of the speakers i was delighted to hear that it was on the album. beautiful song. when we saw them at the double door it had always been my feeling that they weren't as great as a live act as they were on record and i also suspected that we caught them on an off-night. he did say that they were all sick with the flu. that said, the parts of the night that worked worked really well. i remember being thrilled to hear 'spirit ditch' (the song that made me fall in love with sparklehorse back in 1998), loving the live takes on the new songs (particularly the two previously mentioned songs) and also thinking they did a great live rendition of 'pig' to wrap up the set. i've never liked 'pig' that much, but when they did it live it made a lot of sense. they also played 'eyepennies,' which wasn't expected at all. there's also an amazing live clip posted on pitchfork of them doing 'it's a wonderful life' which was pretty amazing to me. it kind of highlights the fucked-up weirdo old analog keyboard aspect of the band, something which i don't think anyone else will ever do as well. listen to 'babies on the sun.' how the fuck did he do that?
while listening to 'good morning spider' i kept hearing a keyboard sound that took me back to when i was four years old because my grandmother had the same keyboard. can't remember which kind it was, of course, but i do wonder what ended up happening to that keyboard and how or why i didn't end up with it. fuck! i want to say it was an optigan, but i don't think that's right...
regardless the loss of mr. linkous is very sad to me. i'm hoping whatever he was working on at the time of his death ends up getting a release and i'm looking forward to the physical release of his collaboration with danger mouse because i haven't heard any of it as of yet.
i'm thinking 'spirit ditch,' 'shade and honey' or 'knives of summertime.'
we'll see...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

'i've never been so colourfully see-through'

not so sure what to write in here these days. i don't really care about much of anything- not real stressed about the whole touring thing, not real stressed about the entire playing live aspect of the band, not really stressed about much of anything. bought a giant screen and some new photo emulsion to make the screen for the back cover of the lp. printed up some promos (four are ready to mail out). still waiting on the confirmation of the empty bottle show. pretty weird that it's been taking so long- not terribly sure what that's about... i'm just going to try hanging back this time out and not do as much. a new approach, if you will. what i'm mainly planning on doing is mailing out all of the promos- to reviewing sites/blogs and college radio stations. it kind of occurred to me that for a band as out-there and weird as us that's probably going to be the best way for us to be heard- pretty much randomly on college radio/what have you. i am sending pitchfork an actual copy of the lp in the hopes that it might get reviewed. not holding out much hope that it would be reviewed positively- there definitely aren't enough hooks on it for them to give us one of those star-making 8+ ratings. the main hope is just to get a bit more exposure a different way. i was thinking about the fact that there are tons of bands around that people have heard of that don't tour. it seems to me that that might have to be the route we will have to go, because we don't seem to be able to connect enough to go out on tour and play tons of shows which is a shame because we are really good live. i am going to try to apply (again) for sxsw 2011. i might hit up stefanie's friend for some contacts to help make that happen and maybe we can finally go to the cool kids party at least once.
bonanza of extra moneys as well- i made a killing in tips on monday, tuesday and wednesday- $80 just from those three days. unheard of. i have a little monetary cushion so i should be able to afford all of my bills- having to do some tricky maneuvering after dropping so much money on getting the albums ready to go out- $40 for printer cartridges, $50 for a screen and photo emulsion and $60 on copies (and more to come, believe you me). not sure when i'll be able to burn a screen or how (it's really huge- 16x18). but i am really hoping to get some of the full lps finished next week. i have enough covers printed up for the first little box of 15- just need to mount them. as it turns out just printing them off of our printer at home is the way for them to look the best. i'd really love to be able to ship out copies of everything to billy by the end of next week. also- next week i'm working six days. i have to work tomorrow, which totally blows, but at the end of the six-day week i'll have a three-day weekend, which will be amazing. i have a ton of concert tickets to buy as well- woods, the big pink, the black lips and i am still pondering going to see the vivian girls at subterranean. it's more tempting now since it's on a friday night and i wouldn't have to slog my way into work the next morning on three hours of sleep. i severely doubt i'll go- i've seen them twice now and really enjoyed both times but i'm not so sure that i need to be seeing them every time they come through town. they do tour a ton, after all.
that's about all i have to say for right now. still working on the 7" series- hopefully stefanie will be able to do some recording tomorrow. i am in need of a few vocal tracks from her- possibly a drum track as well if everything works out alright.