Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Words "Pete Doherty" and "Hottest" Should Never Appear in the Same Sentence

Hm, when exactly was it that Christmas turned from a cherished childhood tradition into an extended military campaign? I think, for me, it was when the husband and I bought a house. Then someone in my family said something along the lines of "Why don't we have Christmas at YOUR house?" And I, underestimating the daunting task ahead, said, "Sure." So this turned into me at the last possible minute (because despite the approaching holidays they still expect one to work full-time) cleaning the whole house from top to bottom, decorating, buying and wrapping gifts, baking multiple types of cookies (as I have been the designated family baker for years now as well), picking up my mother from Indiana, taking her to church, and then putting my mom and husband in charge of dinner because by the time people actually arrive to celebrate the holiday I am on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion and/or a migraine. And everyone has SO much fun that Christmas at my house becomes another family tradition, and I have to go through this every year now.

(Conversely, New Year's transforms from watching Dick Clark on TV with your parents, drinking sparkling grape juice and going straight to bed at 12:01 into something considerably more interesting in adulthood. So there's that compensation at least.)

So that's why things have been quiet on the Maise front over here at PP. But I just had to post when I saw that the readers of NME have voted on "The 20 Hottest Men in Rock." (Quotation marks both to signify the title of an article and for ironic purposes.)

Of course, a certain someone we know is TOTALLY FUCKING ROBBED, and it is one of the great injustices on the internet, but I think these NME readers must be of a certain age and must be into a certain genre of music. You know, the kind where the guy threatens to steal your jeans. (barf)

So I'll comment on several of their choices:

I guess if I had to be stranded on a desert island with any of their picks, I'd go with the Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson, but only because he has certain Gabriel Miller-esque qualities that make my heart go all pitter-patter:



But in general, as noted on Jezebel, pretty much all of their choices look exactly like this guy:



(Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys)

I mean, it's not that I don't like skinny, pale English guys...Damon Albarn, YUM...but I think I'm just too much of a child of the '90s to embrace these anemic, anorexic hipster indie/emo types. I mean, most of them just look either too hungry or snobby to want to go to bed with a girl.

Now this guy on the other hand actually has actual qualities of sexiness, although I'm not too familiar with Muse, other than the singles I've heard on the radio, which are okay:



(Matt Bellamy)

As does this guy:



(Jared Followill, Kings of Leon)

Meanwhile, I don't think it's possible for them to provide a worse picture of Jack White of the White Stripes and Raconteurs:



And THIS is just fucking inexplicable:



Who the fuck wants to fuck sweaty, scabby old Pete Doherty? Okay, NME readers, you guys have fun recreating the withdrawal scene from "Trainspotting" with Pete. You can lovingingly caress his collapsed veins and open sores. Then, maybe when he passes out, you can steal his wallet or something. I mean, to each his/her own, but goddamn.

You can see all of NME's skin-and-bones, melanin-deprived picks here.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good News & Bad News

A few weeks ago Trent hinted at, but did not elaborate on, a change up not only for the stage production but also the current lineup as we now know it. Good news is that Robin is definitely NOT going anywhere. Bad news is that it can now be confirmed that Alessandro Cortini, along with Josh Freese, will be leaving the band after the first of the year.

From blindoldfreak.com, one of Alessandro's side projects, he posts:

thank you.

December 13, 2008

It’s been exactly 4 years since i joined Nine Inch Nails and the time has come for me to move onto new things.

I feel a need to explore other paths in music and life which leads me to leave the tour at this stage.

I am grateful of the chance i was given: it doesn’t happen every day to be able to work next to some of the most talented people on this planet.

Trent & Co. have been aware of this decision of mine for a while now and are prepared to take the band to the next step.

Thanks to all the fans who welcomed me at the beginning of my journey and supported me through the years: I hope to see you around here or there.

Alessandro

And from Josh Freese's MySpace blog:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Why I'm leaving Nine Inch Nails

So, I've been wanting to write something for a while now explaining why I am leaving Nine Inch Nails at the end of the year. Not that it's THAT big of a deal or important compared to other real shit going on out there in the world but I figured I'd take a minute out to explain anyhow. I know a few people are aware that I'm having my 3rd child in January and basically....that about SUMS IT UP!

I've just been gone too damn much lately and if I hadn't spent so much time on the road in recent years (between NIN, A Perfect Circle, Devo, Sting, The Vandals) coupled with having 3 kids (come January) then I'd still be out on the road in the new year. It's just that the rate that NIN has been touring (and will continue to tour in 2009) is something that I can't keep up with right now. My kids need their Dad around and I want to be around for them. I am definitely not retiring or "done touring" by any means though. I just need to be home a bit more next year.
I am not leaving because I got a better offer from another band or because I don't enjoy it.....it's one of my favorite situations I've ever been involved with and I already miss it (though we still have 5 more shows to play).

If you saw a NIN show in the past 3 years then you'll know that to say I LIKE playing up there is an understatement and that I give it my all every night. It's much more than a "job" or a "gig" for me. I'm a big believer in Trent and his music and feel fortunate and privileged to have had the chance to work along side of him and be a part of what he does for the past three years. It is something I am truly proud of and he makes most the other ones out there feel pretty small time. I have faith in the notion that we'll work together again at some point, in some fashion. But for now I need to go teach my 7 year old boy how to ride a bike.....nothing can really compare to that (except maybe an all night hotel coke session with some hookers.)

Josh
While it's nice to know that both are leaving on good terms, unlike the blowout with jeroME that landed Josh the job in the first place, they are leaving some big shoes to fill. Alessandro...Josh...it's been great watching you guys do your thing with Nine Inch Nails and you will be missed.

**EDIT**
Here's some video from the show last night in Vegas of Trent's speech to the audience.


And here's an interview conducted pre-show by a fan from the website Pink Is The New Blog. This is seriously one of the best Trent Reznor interviews I think I've ever watched. Subjects include end of the tour, what's to happen after, Trent's music listening habits, old videos that have surfaced via YouTube, and, what Maise will probably think is the best part of the whole thing, missing his dogs at home. Kudos to the boys who put it together for asking good questions and reasonably maintaining their cool. Enjoy.

Oh and if you're wondering about the link under the video (Trentisthenewpink) it's not a reference to El Rez. Just so happens that the kid who runs the site is also named Trent.

Checking in with Trent...

12.11.08: Regarding NIN music used at Guantanamo Bay for torture
It's difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you've put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture. If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary gains donated to human rights charities. Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason and we can put the Bush administration's reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us.

Trent Reznor

And from one of our own readers:
I'm sorry for saying this here but I fear if I say it on nin.com I'll be blacklisted but Trent has really annoyed me with his latest bit of political grandstanding (about 4 years too late) - his latest comments on Guantanamo Bay - [see above]

Really Trent, what about pregnant women being murdered to start race wars like Sharon Tate? I'm surprised he doesn't break into Guantanamo and nick someone's slipper as a 'really cool momento' like he did her door. He's also been known to say that he'd watch a snuff movie - so apparently on his list of outrages he'd care about, fundamentalist religious madmen are right up there - but pregnant women and poor innnocents tortured for the edification of rich men who want to wallow in the darkness are right at the bottom! Bah, sorry I had to get it out and I really want someone to say something to mitigate what I think is deep hypocrisy - because I do love his music but think sometimes he really should just shut up (you know what you get if you wallow in darkness for years, someone using your music for torture) - I'm really sorry to rant.
Now I'm not going to try and slay our reader here because I do think she has a right to be upset with Trent to a certain degree. He has been known to be a hypocritical ass in the past to lesser charges and I'm sure anyone of us could name multiple instances where we wished he'd shut the fuck up but I think he's got a legit reason for his public outcry on this one. True, he may not have the most pristine track record for saying no to violence having admitted to watching snuff films and, hell, even making the "Broken" movie might make one think that this sort of action is right up Trent's alley BUT I think there's a slight difference between a morbid personal curiosity and having something you created be actively used in the present day for the torture of others in the manner in which the US Government is doing so.

Was it the most mature or politically correct thing to keep a door from the Sharon Tate house as a memento? Probably not. But to say that he has no right to be appalled at this recent discovery and that he should instead just shut up is is something I'm going to have to disagree with you on. Actually I would be upset if he hadn't said something about this. Staying silent would be, to me, the same as condoning it.

I am curious how others feel about this, whether it be about our reader's comment or the situation in general, and encourage further discussion. I'm not out to slay anyone in their opinions unless, of course, you agree with bassist Stevie Benton of Drowning Pool (refer to pg2 of article linked above) who believes this to be "an honor." In that case, it is my civic duty to inform you that you are indeed retarded. That is all, for now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Hand that Feeds Amanda Palmer--Part II

Okay, so I needed some time to catch up on work and wanted to wait until we had all our audio-visual material uploaded, so that I can provide suitable examples, but now I can tell you all about The Coolest Thing the Places Parallel Girls Have Ever Done, Seriously.

So, on Wednesday, December 3rd, I weaseled my way out of work early, and Iris and I packed up all the food (in our Glad family of products...I felt just like a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef!) and a crock pot, just in case the Metro was poorly equipped, and we set off in a light but traffic-jamming snowfall to the Metro on Clark Street in Chicago.

Now, the Metro is located very near Wrigley Field, which is a notoriously rotten area to look for any sort of parking, but we were very fortunate to find an open meter just across the street from the venue. We were early, so we took to a bar for some liquid courage, as we were both feeling pretty nervous at this point.

But we arrived promptly at the doors of the Metro at 5:30, as requested. Steve, our contact, happened to be waiting outside, and he had us wait just inside the lobby for Kat, another member of the Danger Ensemble, who would escort us backstage.

The Metro is a tiny venue, so it's not surprising that the artists have a tiny area to themselves backstage. The walls are painted all black, and there is some curious decor:





All sorts of people were already backstage...including Amanda Palmer (gasp!) who was sitting in a recliner, being videotaped by someone. It was hard to tell who was who...performers, fans, etc., and to tell the truth, it was all pretty intimidating. Kat led us into a room that was loaded with food brought by fans, and I sheepishly realized that I could have probably gotten away with bringing hummus and pita. I asked her if there was any kind of microwave, and to my infinite disappointment, she said there was not. Seriously, Metro? You can get a microwave at Target for like $60. Kat assured us that it would be okay if the food were cold, but we strongly recommended that we go back to the car to get the crock pot and at least heat up the soup. But inwardly, I was fretting because the tacos would remain cold, and who really wants a cold veggie taco? In addition, although crock pots are very handy for keeping things warm, they're not exactly known for their speed in reheating things, so I then became The Girl Who Neurotically Fussed Over the Crock Pot for 90 Minutes. The only open space for said crock pot was right in front of a mini-fridge, so I was also The Girl Whose Fucking Crock Pot was in the Way of People's Cold Bottles of Water. Oh, why, I inwardly lamented, why didn't I just think to bring hummus and pita or sandwiches, like this guy Chuck who sat on a couch with his Sullen, Silent Female Companion? (Although I have to give props to Chuck for providing me with a ladle.)

The fans who provided food all sort of huddled together silently and terrified in a corner of the room. It was an awkward atmosphere, let me tell you, although it was also very interesting to be a fly on the wall backstage. I wish I could tell you that I was cool, but I'm not cool. I'm a total fucking dork, and when confronted by people I like and admire, my brain function decreases by a good 40%. When Amanda strolled by, doing her vocal exercises, my conversations with her were completely profound and scintillating, like this:

Me: So, did you get to enjoy Chicago at all today?
Amanda: No.

Amanda (lifting up lid of tacos): Mmmm, this smells good!
Me: Yes, they are veggie tacos.

(Note: I didn't actually see her consume any of my food, as she didn't want to be "too full" for the performance, which is understandable, especially since my food was very bean- and lentil-heavy.)

Nope, nope, nothing like "'Leeds United' is the most amazing song" or "The first Dresden Dolls album helped me survive a very difficult time in my life" (cheesy, but true) or any of the things I'd actually want to say if I were theoretically to encounter Amanda Palmer.

Also, she was doing warm-up exercises and flitting around here and there, and although we probably could have made her pose for pics or do silly videos, and I'm sure in her extreme generosity, she would have gladly obliged, but Iris and I were both struck by the desire to let her prepare for the show and relax in peace. So our documentation of our time backstage is, unfortunately, limited to some pics we took on the sly:





Although dreadful performance art group, Pony Spread, kindly posed for a picture with us. (I'm sure they're wonderful people beyond their dreadful performance art):



But Iris did get a chance to present Amanda with a t-shirt that she had made for her. As you may know, Amanda's had some problems with her record label lately. Among other issues, they criticized the appearance of Amanda's TOTALLY not fat stomach in the "Leeds United" video, sparking the online "Rebellyon," wherein fans have been posting pictures of their own less-than-whippet-taut bellies as a "fuck you" to the execs at Roadrunner Records. Anyway, in one of Amanda's blog posts, in response to the controversy, she threatened the life of a My Little Pony. Therefore, in Iris' t-shirt, the ponies get their revenge.



Amanda was delighted with the shirt and started showing it off to people, whereupon Iris' head exploded with joy, which was a little messy, but it was worth it.

So they had us hanging out awkwardly backstage for about 90 minutes, and then they informed us that it was time for the show! Now here comes the glowing part of this review. I mean, I'm not a professional rock critic, so I basically pay money to see the artists that I like, and more often than not, I like it. So the haters can suck my metaphorical balls if they're not happy to hear that this show fucking rocked our faces off!

First up were The Builders and the Butchers. It takes a very special opening band to get me enthused, as many times I view opening bands as my punishment for arriving early. But this indie group from Portland, Oregon, is more than up to the task, with their heavy percussion, use of eclectic instruments (banjo, accordion, mandolin, etc.), audience participation (at one point, the lead singer passed out maracas and tambourines, so that audience members could play along), and infectious melodies. A lot of reviewers label their music as "dark folk" or "reminiscent of gospel," but it reminded me a lot of Irish rock, like Flogging Molly, but without the accents.



This is one of the few times that an opening band had me enjoying every note, as opposed to checking my watch and shifting my weight from my left to right foot, killing time before the opening act. I wish that their set wasn't so short, and I'm looking forward to their next appearance in the Windy City.



Next up was the amazing solo cellist, Zoe Keating. This woman is extremely coordinated, as she handled all the pre-recorded parts on her laptop herself during her performance. Her music is like the most mesmerizing, mournful soundtrack to all the movies in your head:



Zoe Keating is an amazing musician, with incredible poise, even when her computer crashes on her. ANOTHER opening artist that I didn't want to see leave the stage.

Then...we had Pony Spread. Like I said, I'm sure they're nice folks, and maybe it's just my personal bias against some of the more esoteric forms of expression, but I HATE HATE HATE the performance art segments of Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer shows. They had a Christmas-themed performance for us during which impish reindeer simulated masturbation, Santa was crucified, a girl was persecuted by women dressed like the Virgin Mary(?), the reindeer and the Virgin Marys attempted to force Santa to rape the girl, but they were thwarted by a woman dressed all in black who was the girl's true love or something, and Santa blessed their relationship, and it all ended happily ever after or some shit. I mean, I guess I just wish it wasn't so cliched...I mean, crucifying Santa? Zzzzzzzzzzz...give me more Zoe Keating.

Next, we had...oh NEIL FUCKING GAIMAN read a "eulogy" for Amanda Palmer IN PERSON. NEIL FUCKING GAIMAN! Apparently, he and Amanda are working on a book together to accompany the whole "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" murder mystery that I couldn't keep up with online. Hopefully it will all show up in the book, and we'll know who killed her in the end too.



Amanda came onstage in her usual dramatic fashion and opened with the infinitely awesome "Astronaut." Seriously, I'm, like, fucking OBSESSED with this song these days. And watching the video again gives me goosebumps.

Onstage, she was accompanied by the Danger Ensemble, backup dancers and performance artists who do it right (take note, Pony Spread). They managed to be thought-provoking and convey their interpretation of the music without being obtrusive.

Pretty much anyone who's into the Dresden Dolls would enjoy Amanda's solo work, and she's never less than electrifying onstage, banging violently on her piano, her leg flying beneath her. I'm probably more of a fan of her uptempo songs: "Runs in the Family," "Guitar Hero," and the superb "Leeds United," all of which made an appearance in the setlist. The one songwriting weakness of Amanda Palmer, I'm afraid, is that she's got just a few too many songs that sound like this:



But I do enjoy the lyrics of "Ampersand":



"The ghetto boys are catcalling me
As I pull my keys from my pocket
I wonder if this method of courtship has ever been effective
Has any girl in history said 'Sure, you seem so nice, let's get it on'
Still, I always shock them when I answer, 'Hi, my name's Amanda'

And I'm not gonna live my life on one side of an ampersand
And even if I went with you, I'm not the girl you think I am
And I'm not gonna match you, 'cause I'll lose my voice completely
No, I'm just gonna watch you, 'cause I'm not the one that's crazy..."


Or maybe I'm the only one who identifies with that, in a way. Anyway.

One of my favorite songs of the evening was one co-written with Neil Gaiman: "I Google You," which is meant to be an Ella Fitzgerald/Frank Sinatra standard for the internet age. We've got a portion of this recorded, but unfortunately, our nemesis for the evening, a particularly zealous Metro security employee, kept zeroing in on Iris (despite the HUNDREDS of other people taking photos and videos) and forcing her to stop recording:



Because of Our Nemesis, we are not able to bring you video of the chilling ode to school shooting, "Strength Through Music," the rousing "Guitar Hero," the playful lip-synching to Rihannna's "Umbrella," or the climactic, infectious closer, "Leeds United, complete with horn section.

Amanda was available to sign merch after the show, but we eschewed the long lines and made our way backstage to get our coats, signed posters, crock pot, etc. During the whole show, I had been brooding about the culinary disappointment of the evening...that I couldn't even get my damn soup sufficiently reheated. But then! Like a Christmas miracle, when we stepped backstage, we could smell the delicious, comforting aroma of my soup in all its glory. The crock pot had finally brought the soup to its optium temperature, and I started getting all kinds of compliments! Kat from The Danger Ensemble enjoyed a bowl, and the horn section were *particular* fans. I felt so vindicated and overjoyed, I can't even tell you. I hope that Amanda and the gang got to enjoy the leftovers as well as heat up the tacos in their microwave on the bus because seriously, those are some upscale veggie tacos...made with tawny port!





One of the horn players kindly provided some video testimonial with regard to the awesomeness of my soup (of which he consumed multiple bowls), but unfortunately, he uses my real name in the video, so it's not going up here. But trust, people...it was a success!

Iris and I left the Metro that night absolutely thrilled. We had had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cook for one of our favorite musicians, hang out backstage, and then see a kickass show that we'll always remember. So when the Amanda Palmer Experience rolls into your town, I can of course, recommend it, and I'd like to add that it's well worth it to bust out your wok, Cuisinart, baking pans, crock pot, what have you, to feed her as well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Hand that Feeds Amanda Palmer, Part I

So as a faithful fan of Amanda Palmer and the Dresden Dolls, I am of course on their mailing list. And towards the bottom of Amanda's U.S. solo tour announcement, I saw a curious plea:

"FOOD: you CAN help us with THIS....two different ways, even... feed me, The Danger Ensemble and our crew when the show hits your town! we had wonderful luck on the european tour, now it's time to try this in the states and we're getting ORGANIZED, baby.

we works hard. we tours. we's is hungry. we needs sustenance. we needs good food sourced from righteous places, prepared by YOU. we are hungry for HOMEGROWN ingredients: local, organic, sustainable, grown by family farmers or grown by YOU! yes!

the way this works: you bring food for us, we'll keep it backstage, we'll all perform, then we'll eat (with you, of course) after the show. obviously we'll hook you up with tickets and merch if you do this. and cover you with love, and probably give you some beer, and toast to the health of you and your progeny.
veggie options a huge plus, but most of the crew are carnivorous.
jason and i are both pescetarians (aka vegaquarians, aka fish-eating) kat from the danger ensemble will be your point person, but steven will be fielding the emails.

send to steven@amandapalmer.net and format your email like this:
FOOD: CITY. he'll pass it along to kat."


I like the people in my life to feel nurtured and well-fed, so I decided to answer this clarion call. I emailed the aforementioned Steve and offered up two of my favorite recipes: Giada De Laurentiis' Spicy Italian Bean Soup (chock-full of hearty veggies) and soft vegetable tacos with a tasty tawny port sauce. Dan will note that these recipes are not only delicious but also vegan-friendly (assuming you skip the cheese and use vegetable stock in the soup, of course).

So I waited and waited and waited for a reply, wondering if I was going to be called to cook for the December 3rd show at the Metro tonight in Chicago. Finally, last Sunday, I received a reply from Steve:

"This sounds awesome if still availabile.. let me know if you can.. but basically the deal is.. if it's possible for you.. come to the venue at 5:30 the night of the show (ask for Kat from The Danger Ensemble) and then 1 of 2 things usually happen : either we bring the food into the venue and you witness the craziness that is backstage at that time of day - which usually includes people running in and out and not really have time to chat.. people being incredibly grateful for the food you've given us and all of us trying to have a moment to connect with you.. or the food goes on the bus and we eat it after the show.. then we try to find a time to introduce you to Amanda and if that can't happen before the show (sometimes as a result of press and soundcheck times) I will introduce you to her during the signing and make sure she knows that you are the one who so generously fed us. When possible we love to eat with people but as I've discovered on the european tour that isn't always possible depending on venue policy and blah blah boring..

I think that's really everything.. oh.. except where possible - if the food is able to be transported in vessels and things that you don't need returned to you like takeaway boxes etc that usually makes things easier..

We will also hit you up with a some merchandise to say thank you.

Let me know if you are still keen to do this and thank you so much!

Love S."


I excitedly reported this news to Iris, who made some hasty arrangements to get some time off. Then yesterday, I set about purchasing ingredients, making my kitchen sanitary for food preparation purposes, and cooking, cooking, cooking!

Fortunately, the cooking part went well, I thought. I mean, I've made both of these recipes before, to rousing success, but it's nervewracking to cook for a stranger whom you admire! I was not told how many people I'm supposed to be cooking for...I would presume that several fans are contributing to the potluck, so I made one big batch of the soup and a double batch of the tacos. Will they be able to properly reheat the food backstage on the Metro, or will they have to use the microwave on the bus? Who knows?

I had neurotic visions of burning the shit out of onions and peppers at like midnight, when I would be near my breaking point. Or maybe I would be sitting in the middle of a dirty kitchen, overwhelmed and paralyzed. But I actually found it all quite enjoyable. And these recipes really couldn't be simpler...it's just time-consuming to chop everything up.

So I hope that Amanda and the Danger Ensemble and Crew enjoy the food...it was made with a lot of love! We will have lots to share with you soon! In the meantime, let's trade some favorite recipes in this thread!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NIN in Cedar Rapids, IA--11/20/08

So this review is only slightly delayed due to the holiday and the debilitating bout of bronchitis and a sinus infection that I endured in true martyred, moaning-and-groaning-and-leaving-used-kleenex-everywhere fashion. But I am still excited to tell you all about this show because it ranks very near the top of all-time favorite NIN performances, and I've seen quite a few at this point. It is not only worth seeing when the tour rolls into your town, but it was definitely worth crossing state lines and driving on VERY long stretches of I-80, surrounded by cows and cornfields.

We reported to the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, IA, at the appointed time. I don't know if Iowa crowds are particularly tough, but to be admitted, we had to experience the most thorough and gruelling personal search for contraband outside of being arrested. We were subjected to the typical patdown and purse search, of course, but I wasn't expecting the strict, but otherwise friendly, staff members to insist on inspecting my beltline and the tops of my shoes. Cameras were verboten, but Iris managed to sneak hers in under a layer of used, diseased kleenex.

Sadly, tragically, heartbreakingly...the batteries in her camera as well as her spare batteries were on the verge of an untimely death. So we do not have as many A/V goodies for you this time, but Mr. Iris saw our dejected faces and came to the rescue...acting as the Battery Whisperer and somehow keeping the camera going far longer than we would have expected. Apparently you can keep dying batteries charged up just a little by warming them in your hand! That's our science lesson for today, kids. Seriously, though, we are extremely grateful to Mr. Iris for keeping hope alive, and he's the whole reason we do have some video clips to present to you.

Other than the arduous strip- and full-body-cavity searches, I think U.S. Cellular is a great concert arena. It's large enough that tickets will be readily available for most shows, but you don't feel miles away from the band. They have a General Admission area on the floor, of course, but I also appreciated the General Admission concourse area overlooking the floor, but with arena-style seating. From this perspective, we were actually able to see the stage and the terrific production, which really makes all the difference if you're going to see the Lights in the Sky tour.

Our opening band that evening was Japanese experimental trio, Boris. Now, Trent picks opening bands that either become my favorite bands (Saul Williams, Ladytron, The Dresden Dolls) or bands that I tolerate at best (Queens of the Stone Age, Moving Units). This time he outdid himself with Boris. I don't have words to convey my hatred for this dull, overly loud, tuneless, droning jam band, so here's a picture of my dog:



Ahhhh, that's better. Now I feel my blood pressure going down. On to the main act!

The setlist we had was very similar to that we heard at Lollapalooza. But what a difference the change in venue makes! Not having to compete with Kanye West for volume is a definite plus. But indoors, the music can envelop you, mesmerize you, and speaking of mesmerizing...oh my God, those screens!

Trent obviously spared no expense on these toys, and it really enhances the entire show. Even songs that rabid NIN fans have heard 7,000,000 times in concert are greatly enhanced by the stunning visuals. Take the obligatory "Closer," for example. The ladies will appreciate that when Trent sings the chorus, he snarls into the unblinking eye of a camera, and projected 100 times larger than life onto the screen is what I can only refer to as the "Trent fucks you cam." He also employs this camera during "The Greater Good," as I recall. I could only reflect on how much I miss Wearing These Chains' Dierdre as I looked upon all the super-close-up shots of Trent's ferocious teeth. But it's not just all admiring Trent's tortured visage...for "Only," a large screen in front of the band flickers static that is broken up whenever Trent approaches the screen. Unearthly landscapes shimmer during the "Ghosts" instrumentals.

Here are some brief clips of some of the songs I mentioned. Unfortunately, zooming in strained the camera's batteries to the breaking point, so this is the best we can do. Better than nothing, right? Besides, I really think you need to experience this show for yourself...videoclips don't quite capture the saturated colors and the special effects in all their glory:



Trent did a nice mix of the old and the new...and as controversial as Year Zero was as an album and a concept around these parts, all of those songs sound great live. He's really putting so much energy into "Survivalism," it's one of the songs that I really look forward to hearing.

When you go see this show, and you really must go, you can expect to hear most of your old favorites: "Gave Up," "March of the Pigs," "Wish," "Head Like a Hole," etc. But Trent and co. do not shortchange the new songs, even though we all got The Slip for free. Here they are, playing "Echoplex":



Not sure what the deal is with Josh Freese playing Vanna White at the beginning of that song. But anyway.

Trent was in a pretty good mood--no microphone-throwing tantrums, although I suspect those days have largely passed him by. I think all of the bandmembers are starting to get a little tired of being on the road, if this speech is any indication:



Immediately after that, Trent introduced the lineup by saying, "And now I'd like to introduce you to the guys I'm sick of...just kidding," he halfheartedly added. Here's hoping that they all get a nice holiday break because I really like this lineup. Sure, the ever-competent and amazing Josh Freese is, as Fleetwood Mac would say, going his own way. But oh my God, is Robin Finck ever an improvement over the showboat-y Aaron North!

The show ended on a poignant note with "In this Twilight." As the screen projected scenes of explosions above an evening cityscape, each band member got a moment to take a bow and walk offstage.

Now, you all know that I'm Trent's ultimate cheerleader (and some would probably say "apologist" or "sychophant,"--WHATEVS!), but as I said before, this is really one of my all-time favorite NIN shows, and I'm really hoping that he can make one more stop in Chicago before sequestering himself to create the next album. (Or at least make a DVD out of this tour, asap.) Although it was a pretty awesome birthday present to see him in Cedar Rapids.



And, as always, more pics to be found here.

You know, I'm not sure how I feel about the adequacy of this concert review, but that's because I'm STRESSED OUT. Do you know why I'm STRESSED OUT? Because tonight, I need to slave over a hot stove so that tomorrow evening I can feed The Danger Ensemble and AMANDA PALMER when she plays a solo show at the Metro. No, seriously. Iris is making the long drive yet again, and we will be documenting as much as humanly possible. With lots of brand-new batteries this time! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Currently Absorbing: Melody Gardot

For a momentary change in pace from the usual music we promote around here, I present Melody Gardot. What? We're not always all NIN, all the time. Anyway, I've been listening to her album, "Worrisome Heart", all night and I just can't get enough. Sweet and soulful, a mix of blues and jazz that for tonight I can only describe as "perfect".

You know how there are some albums you have to listen to a few times before they really sink in and then there are those that you just feel it from your head to your toes the first spin through? This album definitely falls into the latter category. It's the kind of music that has inspired drunken emails to friends at 3am. I'll share more about the song that was in reference to another time. For now though, grab a glass of wine (or non-alcoholic beverage of choice) and sit back and enjoy. And if you want to read a little background on on Melody, this is a great article.



Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We should have our Cedar Rapids NIN show review posted here "soon" so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On the Road Again...

Ro and I are heading out to our neighboring state of Iowa to visit Iris tomorrow, and we'll be seeing NIN in Cedar Rapids just in time for my birthday!

I've never been to Iowa, but I imagine the drive will look a lot like this:



So although we'll be absent for the next couple of days, I'm sure we'll have plenty to report upon our return.

In the meantime, you can use this thread to do what you guys do best...

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Must Be Pointed Out...

So given that Sasha and Malia will be moving into a Presidential fishbowl, I fully believe that they should be able to pick the puppy they've wanted for so long. However, just in case the Obamas weren't aware of all of the options...



(photo courtesy of Barbara Karant)

I mean, come on...how HOTTT will Barack look walking a sleek greyhound? Sure, get the girls their goldendoodle puppy, but the White House is pretty big. There's room for more than one dog, right?

Retired racing greyhounds make wonderful pets. I currently have two (and would probably have at least a couple more if I had the room in my house); they are among the great loves of my life, and they have turned me into a greyhound adoption activist. The breed isn't for everyone, to be sure, but a lot of people either have just never considered one or have some misconceptions:

1) They won't necessarily eat your other pets...it really depends on the individual dog, and it depends on the dog's "prey drive." Some greys should not be around smaller dogs, cats, birds, small animals, etc. Other greys will be happy to curl up with your kitty or will even make friends with your pet rabbit, although with the latter, I would NOT recommend unsupervised conduct. They are a hunting dog and do have an instinct to chase. But again, it depends on the individual dog's temperament, and a good rescue organization will check to see if a greyhound is "small dog-friendly" or "cat-tolerant." My husband and I have two chinchillas. I NEVER leave them out of the cage, unsupervised, with the dogs. However, our dogs pay almost no attention to the chinchilla cage and will even take a nap in the same room without bothering the chins. Even Anubis, who wants to chase every squirrel and bunny he sees outside.

2) A greyhound's ability to get along with small children really depends on the individual dog...just like with every other breed. Through my work with Cleo and Anubis' adoption group, I've met many families with children and greyhounds, and everyone seems to get along just fine. A lot of it has to do with supervising kids' contact with ALL pets and making sure that a curious toddler doesn't molest a pet beyond its tolerance level.

3) They do not need any more exercise than any other dog. Some people believe that you need to walk greyhounds for hours and hours...they're racers, right? Actually, greyhounds are sprinters and can only maintain their incredible speeds (up to 45 mph!) for short periods of time. Greyhounds do need exercise and walks, like any other dog, but mine are happy with two 30-minute walks a day. They enjoy longer walks, of course, but they aren't bouncing off the walls if you don't provide them. Which brings me to my next point...

4) Greyhounds are LAZY. A lot of people, again, assume that because they are racers, they must have lots of energy. Well, from what I've seen over the past two years, greyhounds can sleep up to 20 hours a day, and what they most want in the world is a soft bed or couch to curl up on. The largest grey has a lot more in common with a housecat than a Jack Russell terrier, which really will bounce off the walls without tons of exercise.

5) They are larger dogs, but they have longer lifespans than many big breeds. 12-14 years is the average. Hopefully mine will live forever, or at least will inspire some blogger to keep their memory alive via online alter ego...ahem.

6) Greyhounds are quiet (except for Cleo, when she wants something), have short hair, and do not shed as much as other breeds (which makes them a better breed for allergy-sufferers)...so clearly, they would make good Oval Office companions. ;)

All that being said, there are two things I should point out:

1) Greyhounds must either be fenced in or MUST MUST MUST be on a strong leash. A runaway greyhound is much faster than a mere human can catch, and they could wander miles before they stop running. Also, a runaway greyhound is at serious risk of being hit by a car or other terrible injuries.

2) Once you get one, it's really hard not to get more. :)

If you have any questions about this wonderful breed, please leave them here, and I'll be happy to answer them!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

YouTube Discovery of the Week

Another weekend comes to a close and another video demonstrating just how others waste their time...ahem...I mean, embrace their creativity. Stick with it 'til about the 1:30 mark.


It's also noted at the end of the video that this kid cannot play the drums or piano. But who needs music lessons when you have Adobe Premiere at your disposal?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Something peculiar is afoot...

Email thestrangeriswatching@gmail.com to let them know just how much you'll miss the Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer.

I will say no more.

--maise

P.S. Oh, and if you choose to delve into the mystery, please tell us what you find in this thread...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Today's Juicy Internet Read...

It's a dreary October day here in Chicago...the sky is dark gray, the red and gold leaves are starting to blow off the black tree branches, it's starting to get too chilly to comfortably walk the dogs...

In short, it would be a perfect day to stay at home and curl up under the covers with a good book. Except it's Monday, and I'm stuck in the office under soul-destroying fluorescent lights. Still, I take to the internet when I can to find a good afternoon read.

Today's Juicy Internet Read is Karen Schoemer's revised look at Nancy Spungen, who was best known for probably being stabbed to death by junkie boyfriend and Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (who OD'ed himself four months later). The tale of Sid and Nancy is one of those stories of drug-induced mutual destruction that is often mistaken for a sort of passionate rebellion fuelled by amour fou.

Still, youthful mutual destruction makes for a pretty good read, so I do recommend this article, which poses the question of whether Nancy Spungen was unfairly dismissed and vilified as a mere groupie, the cause of the Sex Pistols' and Sid's destruction. It's hard not to think of Courtney Love, who is often accused outright of murdering Kurt Cobain--such is the lack of lost love between her and Nirvana fans. It's also interesting that Courtney Love and Nancy Spungen share a remarkable physical resemblance.



Perhaps I just am not inherently very punk, or maybe it's because I was a mere babe in the '70s and am in the prime of my life in the Golden Age of Snark, but I typically have a hard time taking punk icons very seriously. Especially now, when they're in their 50s and 60s, sitting around in their black leather jackets, pining for the good ol' days of rampant urban squalor.

And there was a certain element of hypocrisy to the punk movement even in its prime, as Nancy Spungen realized: "But Nancy was too extreme even for a movement centered on extremeness, and she never gained the acceptance she craved; she was an outcast among outcasts, nicknamed 'Nauseating Nancy' behind her back. 'It was jealousy,' says Roberta Bayley, who worked the door at CBGB. 'There’s no more competitive thing than who can fuck these musicians. Maybe Pamela Des Barres tells the story of female solidarity, but there was a lot of backstabbing.' According to Polk, 'The other girls shunned her and were mean to her. And that made Nancy worse. She became vengeful. She kind of reacted to them putting her down by doing even worse things. The only people who didn’t shun her were the guys that were getting drugs from her.'"

And so this article attempts to remind punk fans of the vulnerable humanity behind the wasted life. The way that she "could be very, very nice," according to Legs McNeil. The way that she demonstrated her musical knowledge and committment to the genre in a live interview. The way she embodied the spirit of punk with her obnoxiousness, her aggressiveness, and her delight in pissing people off.

I don't feel that anyone need be overly sentimental on Nancy's behalf. Her addiction, her murder--all of these things are to be pitied or mourned, perhaps, but not romanticized. There was a certain alluring chaotic energy to be found in her relationship with Sid Vicious, but it can't be called love...or at least not some pure love that anyone should aspire to. (Amy Winehouse, please take note).

For more Sid 'n Nancy fun, check out their appearance on this interview, where they field live questions from callers. I think this is the clip Karen Schoemer is referring to in her article:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Countdown to Release: For Reals This Time?


Seems that Axl is working to make good on the deal with Dr. Pepper signed earlier this year.
October 9, 2008 -- More than a decade after its conception, Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" will finally see the light of day before year's end, sources close to the situation confirm to Billboard. As first reported here, the set will be a Best Buy exclusive and will be available Sunday, Nov. 23, rather than the usual Tuesday.

Beyond enticing pre-Thanksgiving shoppers, the move is tied to the structure of Best Buy's sales week, which runs from Sunday to Saturday. As such, "Chinese Democracy" would not be eligible to chart on The Billboard 200 until the week of Dec. 1, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

I'm going to ignore the whole Best Buy tidbit for now and just say "I'll believe it when I see it."

But out of curiosity, did anyone listen to the nine tracks that leaked back in June? Thoughts? I may or may not have gotten my hands on them but it's only now I'm feeling interested enough to actually unpack and give 'em a spin.

Monday, October 6, 2008

YouTube Discovery of the Week

Ancient Egyptian-themed death metal step aside; there's a new sound in town. Say hello to agriculturally inspired heavy metal.




Music class would have been a helluva lot more interesting had Old McDonald sounded like this when I was a kid. Can you just imagine Mrs. Larson, the second grade elementary school teacher, saying "Now children, sing with me...

Old McDonald had a farm.
E-I-E-I-OOOOOOOOO!
RAAAAAAAAWR!"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LIVE!

Check it out! NIN is streaming LIVE from Buenos Aires, Argentina on 10musica.com like RIGHT NOW!

CLICK ME for streaming video
.

CLICK ME for just audio.

Okay,well, the video is a little sketchy and the audio leaves much to be desired but if you click the "just audio" link it seems to be coming in great.

**EDIT**
Shows over folks but I did get a couple halfway decent screen grabs. I'm sure there will be video uploaded on YouTube by plenty of others who tuned in. I'll try to make sure to update as I find them so be sure to check back with us.


**EDIT 2.0**
So I've searched a bit for some decent quality video of this show and it does not appear to exist. I figured someone with the know how would have recorded the web broadcast but so far I've only found some shaky, in crowd cam footage. Still, if you're feeling up to it, you can see a few songs here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where The Hell Did You Get That?

Okay, so this afternoon Maise and I had worked out an idea to throw together a hilarious photoshop of D:Angel, Angelcat, and Trent together on their hot air balloon ride that Angelman claims to have won from filling out the survey from the previous post. In our heads it would have been really funny (picture the three of them in this balloon) but tonight my hubby has trumped us.

Hubby is always the prankster and is pretty supportive when it comes to my NIN enthusiasm. Remember a few years ago when he mowed the downward spiral into our back lawn? Yeah, I thought that was cute. But I was not prepared when he came walking through the door tonight with this:


We are now the owners of a 24" x36" (61.0 x 91.4cm for our metric friends) oil portrait of Closer's Bondage Trent, otherwise know to the artist as "Trent. Ooh, baby".

Apparently this is what happens when hubby is left on his own and has time to kill between appointments in Iowa City. He tells me he found it in some consignment shop basement behind an assortment of beer lights and other discarded pictures. For $15 he said he couldn't resist a joke and laughed when it earned him a raised eyebrow from the blue-haired old lady working the register.

I laughed my ass off when I first saw it and have been giggling all night. Not that it isn't a pretty good rendering of dear Trent (much better than anything I could come up with) but what the fuck am I supposed to do with it now? Should I go total fangirl and hang it up with a candle shelf shrine below? Ironically enough it does go with the some of the colors in my recently redecorated "home office". Or should we hold some sort of Places Parallel contest in which this will be the prize? Or should I lug it along with Maise, Ro, and I to the next NIN show we attend, in hopes that we can get The Man to come out and autograph it and then return it to the artist, E.M., as a "Surprise! Guess where this has been?"

Hmm...decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

Hello again all. So as our own D:Angel pointed out, an email from Trent has been making its rounds asking NIN fans for a little help via a survey. Apparently I wasn't on the guest list for said email, although, I did find a link to it late last night by other means. A recap of the contents:

Hello everyone.

I'd like to thank everyone for a very successful year so far in the world of Nine Inch Nails. I'm enjoying my couple of weeks off between legs of our Lights In The Sky tour and got to thinking... "wouldn't it be fun to send out a survey to everyone that's shown interest in NIN?" Well, that's not exactly how it went, but regardless - here it is. As we've moved from the familiar world of record labels and BS into the unknown world of doing everything yourself, we've realized it would benefit us and our ability to interact with you if we knew more about what you want, what you like, what you look like naked, etc.I know it's a pain in the ass but we'd truly appreciate it if you'd take a minute and help us out. As an incentive, everyone who completes the survey will be able to download a video of live performance from this most recent tour (and I know what's going through your little minds right now: "I'll just grab this off a torrent site and not have to fill out the survey!!!" and guess what? You will be able to do just that and BEAT THE SYSTEM!!!! NIN=pwn3d!!!)
BUT
What if we were to select some of those that DO complete the survey and provide them with something really cool? I'm not saying we'll ever get around to it, but if we did maybe something like signed stuff, flying someone to a show somewhere in the world, a magic amulet that makes you invisible, a date with Jeordie White (condoms supplied of course), you
know - something cool. See, you'd miss that opportunity AND be a cheater. Do the right thing - help us out. You'll feel better.

Thank you and I've had too much caffeine this morning,
Trent

Click here to take the survey

Seriously, how cute is [Caffeinated_Trent]?

As Maise mentioned, the survey is really looong. But being the good little fangirl I am, I diligently filled out each and every question. That isn't to say that I didn't have some issues with a few of the inquiries though.

1. Favorite OVERALL Nine Inch Nails song & Favorite LIVE Nine Inch Nails song.

Just one of each? What the hell, man? Favorite overall song was easy since I'm still head over heels for "Lights in the Sky" but picking one favorite live version is damned near impossible. "Burn," "Survivalism," "Mr. Self Destruct," and yes, even "Only" (for the light show as well as the song) have been fantastic the times I've been lucky enough to see them. I think a Top 5 in the live category would have better served those fans who have a hard time whittling this down to one.

2. Have you ever downloaded a Nine Inch Nails release from P2P or other non-retail download service? If so, which ones? (check all that apply)

The short answer to this is "well duh" but even after checking off the options I don't feel that I was able to answer completely honestly since the album "Purest Feeling" is not listed. Come on, Trent. You didn't think we'd forget about that little gem, did you? After all it was "Twist" that lent WearingTheseChains its moniker. And I suppose it wouldn't be relevant to what he's trying to do here but for the record, I also picked up the Option 30 and Exotic Birds albums via Demonoid.com a while back. What can I say? I am a collector. I was glad to see "Closure" listed but what? no "Broken" movie love? Granted, it didn't take me three days of torrenting to download it like "Closure" did but I still feel it's worth an honorable mention.

3. Favorite 3 TV shows? ONE PER BOX

I cringed at this question because, like Maise and her movie selections, I don't feel my choices are up to snuff. How does my watching bad reality TV affect your marketing technique, Trent? Are you going to be appearing on America's Next Top Model anytime soon? Jesus, I hope not but maybe, just maybe, you can be the anti-Tyra Banks and teach the models how to "scowl wit yo eyes".

4. This isn't really a complaint, per se, but I did feel a little naive, or maybe it's just out of touch with the youth these days, that I'd never heard of several of the sites listed for music services, upcoming concerts, or music retailers. I feel shamed for listing my meager sources for finding new music: the nin.com/forums, lollapalooza.com/forums, and for my guilty pleasure dance/pop trash, perezhilton.com. Yeah. I know. But I do plan on trying to redeem myself by checking out these other sites. I'm constantly looking for new music to listen to for the 6.5 minutes it takes me to get to work so if any readers out there have suggestions, please pass them along.

True to his word, upon completion of the novel-length survey, there are two download options for a video filmed at Red Rocks. One of these days I have to catch a show there. It just looks like such an awesome venue.



This video backs up "1,000,000" as my official choice in the Favorite Live Song category. Whether it's being played live or just cranked in the car, this song really gets me pumped up and rearing to go. I'm assuming Trent feels the same way judging from the foot stamping and the I-can't-contain-myself jog he does at about the 1:04 mark. But the synchronized rocking Robin and Justin do immediately after is slightly distracting. First the skipping and now this...do these guys do everything in tandem?

As for Trent's other suggestion that there might be some other cool token of appreciation for those who fill out this survey...well...I'm not going to hold my breath or update my vaccination record for the "date with Jeordie White" prize. While I admire Trent's good intentions, I have a feeling this will go the way of the Ghosts Film Festival. He is a busy guy after all so it's forgivable. Still, I would recommend taking 15 minutes out of your day to fill this out, if for no other reason than it would, in a trickle down method, help support the label-free cause Trent is rallying for.

And if you haven't checked out the new NIN.com then get on it. There are loads of new features including new ways to listen to NIN, forums, profiles, and chat rooms (where band members occasionally show up) . Oh my!

Why It's Impossible for Me to Hate Eddie Vedder...

Jesus H, does everyone feel as frazzled as me? As usual, I've got the two jobs going, and I can't stop reading election coverage, and I've been devoting my time to some exciting creative projects in My Real Life, and I've been volunteering for greyhounds, Barack Obama, and overly expensive, but exciting, gourmet food festivals. But even with all that going on, I haven't forgotten you, Loyal and Long-Suffering Places Parallel readers.

So I thought I'd take a moment to explain why I can't hate Eddie Vedder, as much as I'd like to. Here are the reasons I wouldn't like him, if I had a choice:

1) Looks unwashed.
2) Mumbles when he sings slooooooooow dirges.
3) Tends to get preachy onstage.
4) My Worst Fucking Enemy--I mean my Fucking NEMESIS--in college LOVED him.

But here's the reason that it's impossible for me to hate him:



Any man who's a Cubs fan is all right by me.

Perhaps--just maybe--2008 can be our year. An African American president?* The Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 100 years? Talk about the audacity of hope...Go Cubs Go!

*I'm going to overlook the fact that Barry is a South-Sider and a fan of that OTHER Chicago baseball franchise that shall go unnamed here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Congratulations to Hot Lixx Hulahan!!!!

The world may have been transfixed by the Olympics in Beijing this month, but in Oulu, Finland, a much more important international competition recently took place: The 2008 Air Guitar World Championships.

And who brought back the title to the good ol' US of A? Why, our very favorite Friend of a Friend, Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier!



I don't know this guy, but I'm so proud! I'm sure our Dan must be ecstatic.

Let's all take a moment and celebrate Hot Lixx's triumph in pleather...the culmination of years of training, sacrifice, pain, and suffering (those windmills come with a price, my friend).

Hot Lixx Hulahan...a true American hero with a rocking haircut.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RIP LeRoi....

I got laid to your music quite regularly in college and blame Dave, not you, for DMB's recent suckitude.


From the Dave Matthew Band website:

We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Back...

I know, I know. I'm late but I've finally finished working through all that was captured at Lollapalooza this year and have rounded out the individual photo galleries for the PlacesParallel Photobucket. Several of the pictures are still frames from video while recording the large side stage screens so I apologize for the less than stellar quality but I still think they're worth a looksie.


A few favorites (coincidentally also my favorite acts of the weekend):

Jamie Lidell


Rage Against the Machine






Saul Williams


Nine Inch Nails










Now in searching through all this footage I found a...let's say..."interesting" bit in a video clip Mr. Iris captured. Without further ado:




It's okay, Trent. We still love you. Even if this is the gayest thing I've ever seen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Maise is Haunting Facebook!

Okay, so I just got back from Part I of My Summer Vacation, it's really late, and I should be in bed already because I have to work tomorrow (the part-time gig), but the Real-World Me recently friended someone on Facebook who has a lot of compromising details in his profile. Because I'm the paranoid sort, I wanted to make sure that his profile was set to "private" because we've got some mutual friends who would be none-too-pleased by said compromising details, were they to discover them via a link from my profile. And the only way I was going to successfully test the security of his profile at 1:30 in the freaking morning so that I could get a peaceful night's sleep was to create a new profile, one unbefriended by the compromised person in question.

Sooooooooooooooooooo...

The point of all this is that your own "Tragic Maise" is on Facebook! If you have a Facebook account of your own and would like a NIN fanbitch as *your* friend, then by all means, look me up!

I had a lovely time on holiday, but my internet access is (fortunately for me) short-lived, as this ghost dog will be heading to the Caribbean this coming week! (It's a veritable orgy of used annual/vacation leave around here, but the one solid perk of my job is that they give me lots.)

So while I'm gone, please continue to discuss all things musical, or more likely than not, nonmusical. Or make it like Monty Python's "Argument Clinic" in here...doesn't bother me while I'm sitting on a beach, drinking a fruity drink.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lolla Roundup—Ro’s First Day Out

When the Maises and the Irises were busy fixing the electric, my friend JC and I headed out to Lolla early in the hope of catching Rogue Wave at 1 P.M. Now you’d think because we arrived at Grant Park by 12:20 that we’d have PLENTY of time to collect our bracelets, be strip searched, and make it across the park in time to catch Rogue. You'd think. However, I at least thought wrong. The massive swarm of hot, sweaty Lolla-goers had us in line until about 2 P.M. We couldn’t even drink our water lest they confiscate it at the gate. Ugh ugh UGH. Dear Lolla organizers, can we please forgo the pointless searches that do nothing to keep contraband out but only create a sweaty, crabby mass people? Is that really too much to ask??? Grrr....

JC and I did made it across the park in time to hear Rogue Wave’s last song, “Harmonium.” The crowd seemed energetic and appreciative. I was bummed to have missed their set, but in any event, I’d highly recommend their latest CD, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, one of my favorites from last year.

Following Rogue, JC and I headed to the wonderfully shady BMI stage to catch Electric Touch at the suggestion of one of JC’s friends. Their first CD is due out later this month. They were pretty amusing to watch prior to the show as they were ready to play a full 15 minutes before their scheduled time, and they just kind of milled around on stage not quite sure what to do with themselves, plucking at their guitars, their natty clothes, even their hair. Their music is along the lines of Franz Ferdinand or the Strokes, but perhaps a bit more pop than either. I don’t know that I’d recommend running out and buying their CD, but they were a fun live band and definitely gave far more energy to the performance than the crowd returned.

Next up, we headed across the park (again) to catch Duffy’s set. A cleaned up version of Amy Winehouse (and not quite as good either), after about two songs, she left me feeling really blah. I’m not sure if it’s her music or the fact that her style of music doesn’t fit well with an outdoor festival. For me, acts at an outdoor festival require a lot of energy and vibrancy to grab one’s attention and hold it, especially when they’re competing against not only other bands but a number of other factors, including the heat, the concessions, the amusing frat boys who are already too drunk to stand by 3 P.M. Plus, acts that rely heavily on dramatic lighting or pyrotechnics are at a disadvantage, particularly when they have to play in the glaring afternoon sun. But I digress. Duffy had both JC and me bored to tears, so halfway through, we trekked across the park (again) to catch the end of the Kills set, which we only caught a very brief snippet of but seemed to be far more fun than Duffy.

At this point, JC and I decided to camp out in a shady area near the main stage and grab a good spot for the rest of the evening. That’s when Gogol Bordello, the gypsy punks, took the stage. Goddamn, they are a manic bunch, and any lethargy I was feeling at the time quickly dispersed. Their set was a frenzied mix of ethnic punk music that’s difficult to describe but a lot of fun to listen to. Their performance is exactly what Duffy’s wasn’t: interesting, fun, energetic, and charismatic. They didn’t slow down for a single song and quickly attracted the wandering attentions of Free Sol listeners. I would definitely recommend seeing them live even if their music isn’t your thing.

Following Gogol, Mates of State had no chance of topping that performance, and they delivered a rather bland performance that really isn’t worth talking about. I was excited, however, when Bloc Party, a favorite of mine, finally took the stage. Their set was heavy on songs from their first (and by far superior) album, Silent Alarm, and touched on all of my personal favorites. I’m hoping they return to Chicago soon as I think they too suffered from the outdoor festival-itis, but I enjoy their music enough to forgive them.

Though we were sitting across from Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks stage, we didn’t really pay much attention to their drowsy music. Their set felt generally uninspired and did little to peak my interest. But thankfully, from where JC and I were sitting, we were able to hear (though sadly not see) the performance of CSS, the Brazilian quintet who fuses pop, reggae, and dance music. JC liked them enough to buy their latest self-titled CD, which is a great listen. And they offered a far more interesting performance that Stephen Malkmus, even if we could only listen to their show.

Next up was Radiohead. Unlike Maise, I have no love for the band. I find their instrumentals to be interesting and enjoyable, but as soon as Thom opens his mouth, I want to stick ice picks in my ears. It’s like fucking nails on a chalkboard and grates on me like nothing else. And believe me, I’ve tried to like this band. I had a coworker who would listen to Radiohead at least once a day, and he convinced me to give them a whirl. When I went out and bought Amnesiac, I forced myself to listen to it any number of times and wound up giving it to him instead. He made me a copy of The Bends, promising me that I would most certainly LOVE this one. I listened to a few times as well and promptly lost (and not on purpose either). If Thom just shut his mouth, I’d be all up in that shit, but seriously? Why do people like him? Beats the hell out of me….

Anyhoo, even if I were inclined to like Radiohead’s music, as with any number of the other bands this year, they did not translate well to the outdoor arena. Even with a quite gorgeous light show, I was half asleep by the midway point. Every song sounded exactly the same, and Thom's singing was largely unintelligible. So JC and I packed it in after about an hour and decided to beat the crowds home. And apparently we weren’t the only ones bored stiff because there was a large stream of people doing the same. Thankfully, Rage and NIN nicely made up for the ennui Radiohead inspired in me. But that’s a story for another day….