Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fields of Gaffney

guest post by Places Parallel reader, JR

Hey there.

So Maise and Iris are out of ideas, and they're dying to hear all about my holy-grail-that-is-Eric-Gaffney-performing-at-my-feet story, so I decided to set five minutes aside and whip a little something up to help them out. I'm nice like that.

If you've been paying attention, then you realize that I am a big fan of Eric Gaffney, the vastly more talented co-founder of Sebadoh - the other being the wildly overrated Lou Barlow, who is still pretty good, but not all that and a bag of chips...and who was kicked out of Dinosaur Jr by one J Mascis, who is totally dreamy and a living legend, and...where was I? Oh, right, Gaffney.

I won't drill down into the minutiae, but suffice to say that for nearly a year, Eric Gaffney and I went back and forth about him playing in my venue as a part of a new audience development initiative. I would pitch the idea, he would say no, they were no draw, no one knew who they were. I would write it off, only to hear from Gaffney two months later saying that his email address had been hijacked and that he was thinking now that it would be a good idea. Then he got into a drunken bicycle accident and had fractured like ten bones in his upper body and wasn't doing much but recuperating. When I had written him off completely, though, I suddenly received an email from him totally out of the blue, wondering about setting up a date. After all of the back and forth for more than six months, I was unsure about whether to make him a formal offer, but in the end I did and he accepted, and we had a show (it was a double bill with Edie Sedgwick).

There were some things about the show I would do differently if I had a chance for a do over, but really - that moment when Eric FUCKING Gaffney walked through the front doors of my theatre with his guitar case and asked my staff member "Where do I put this?", well...I really can't have asked for more than that. I had PMS and was pretty emotional and spent a large portion of the evening crying. Really. I was even walking around with a camera in one hand, a Kleenex in the other. JR is not afraid to show JR's emotions.

Now, for the real confession - I'm terrible at writing show reviews. When I'm there, I'm just there in the moment, and I tend to forget a lot of the details, and when it's a show at work, I'm paying a lot more attention to pretty much everything else happening. But through the magic of being JR, however, I was fortunate enough to get a recording of the entire event from the soundboard, and it's great. I promised not to share or swap it, though, so instead of songs, I give you the second best thing - stories! The FoG show was heavily punctuated by Eric's stories, and it was impossible to tell whether they were true or not, but that didn't diminish their amusing nature. (They also served to confirm the backstory that I had given him in my mind, that he is the indie rock version of Kramer. It's so totally true.) I've uploaded maybe half of them for your edification.

Before we get to the stories, though, let's take a peek at a few pictures, right?

The marquee outside my theatre; I caught Gaffney taking a picture of it on his cell phone (theatre name removed to protect the innocent).

Some staff (obscured so they won't steal the spotlight!), setting up the stage on the stage. This was a small event that took place entirely on the stage, as you'll see. We didn't use all those pesky theatre seats that you see...they were just a cool backdrop.

Eric Gaffney, looking up at the stage lights, perhaps wondering what would happen if one fell on his head during the performance. Did I mention that he was 45 minutes early for sound check?

Eric "Fields of" Gaffney on my stage within a stage. I know next to nothing about playing guitar, but he had something on this acoustic (a pickup?), that would allow him to switch it from acoustic to electric. He was actually getting some (intentional) feedback out of it, which was great. Overall, though, the performance was largely acoustic, with foot percussion (the drum in this pic is Edie Sedgwick's).

Eric Gaffney, telling one of the stories. The performance was lengthy, and as full of stories as it was of music. Most of his stories were amusing non-sequitirs. I bet you wish you were there.

This is sort of, visually, Eric Gaffney in a nutshell to me. There is something special about him; if I could read auras, I would probably see something good in his, and in this picture it's almost as if you CAN see his aura...he's just vibrating at a different frequency than other people.

Foot percussion. Yes, it's a tambourine, and he forgot his at home so we had to buy him one for the night. Since we bought it, it belonged to US not HIM, which meant that I totally swiped it after the show. I was going to take the set list, but went with the tambourine instead. I ended up with the set list, too, which came back with the recording of the night. Awww, yeah.

You might be asking, "JR, how come there is no picture of you and Eric Gaffney, both giving a thumbs up to the camera, or shaking hands like Elvis and Richard Nixon?" Well, kids, the reason for that is that it's not the nature of my relationship with him...yeah, I'm a total fan, but I wasn't in the role of fan that night, I was in work mode. We talked at the end of his set about the whole thing (and specifically about the size of the audience, how I wished it was more), and he was extremely supportive, wacky and totally cool. Exactly what you'd expect.

So, yeah, now you want to hear the stories? Enjoy.

John Cougar Mellencamp

Fields of Gaffney

Did you know that Gaffney's ex-wife is Peaches' manager?

Catharsis of Phlegm

How Kramer-like was this story? A friend named "MDR"? Remember Kramer's friend FDR, with the birthday wish?

Open D Is Tricky

Isn't it?

Or Whatever

Trucking songs!


This one might be my favorite.

Dr. Gene Scott

Pretty sure he's talking about a televangelist (look it up on Wikipedia). This is particularly nuts out of context.

I Was Eating A Lot of Captain Crunch

Acoustic Shows

Again, Kramer..?

Lucky To Be Alive

He breaks it down right about here. (And seriously, he didn't remember it? Whoa.)

Ink Spots

Paper or Plastic

This is at the top of the show, when he whipped out the merch.

The Wolf

I like when he howls in this.

Okay, okay, I caved, and I'll include a tasting of the music that was a part of the night.

Locket Love clip (Ramones cover)

So, that's it. My dream came true.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wave Goodbye to What You Were

If you've checked in to NIN.com lately (and who are you kidding, you know you obsessively F5 like the rest of us) there's news from the Big Giant Head.

2.16.09: A note from Trent and a wave goodbye

[edited for length, click above link for full update]

In NIN world, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of our first releases. I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while. Last year's "Lights in the Sky" tour was something I'm quite proud of and seems like the culmination of what I could pull off in terms of an elaborate production. It was also quite difficult to pull off technically and physically night after night and left us all a bit dazed. After some thought, we decided to book a last run of shows across the globe this year. The approach to these shows is quite different from last year - much more raw, spontaneous and less scripted. Fun for us and a different way for you to see us and wave goodbye. I reached out to Jane's [Addiction] to see if they'd want to join us across the US and we all felt it could be a great thing. Will it work? Will it resonate in the marketplace? Who knows. Are there big record label marketing dollars to convince you to attend? Nope. Does it feel right to us and does it seem like it will be fun for us and you? Yes it does. Look for tour dates soon and I hope to see you out there.

Shhh...hear that? It's the sound of thousands of fangirls and boys alternately crying and bitching about this announcement. But you're not going to hear any of that from these Places Parallel girls, or at least not from me.

I am a little sad to know the end is coming, but not surprised. Trent's been hinting at this for awhile now and, really, let's add it up: ten band members have made up and/or been cycled through the band (although I'm not sure Rich Frownes [aka Jeordie 2.0] should count since he never played live with them), five years of pretty much non-stop touring, four albums released, three sites launched (The Spiral, Remix.nin.com, and a massively overhauled NIN.com), two Grammys lost, and a Saul Williams album in a pear tree. Dude's earned the right to some extended vacation time. And this might be just the kind of down time he needs to finish up some other loose-end projects **cough, cough, Ghosts Film Festival, cough, Year Zero: THE MOVIE, cough, cough** Damn...got something in my throat. My point being, TR is seldom doing nothing for long and I'm certain there will be other goodies fans can appreciate/worship/piss & moan about.

I am definitely planning on seeing NIN again before their final farewell and I'm even contemplating attending the very last show of the tour wherever that lands. Hubby is trying to talk me into Bonnaroo this year since there are a few other acts playing the festival he'd like to see. I'm not exactly sold on that idea yet. Maise and I are wondering since NIN is currently touring with Jane's Addiction if that in anyway guarantees another Lollapalooza appearance. I suppose we can only wait to see what's revealed. I've never seen Jane's Addiction live so this ought to be a treat seeing the original lineup together. Dave Navarro slightly skeeves me out but Perry Farrell is just too much fun to miss. In the dream concert I've made up in my mind Perry comes out between each NIN song to tell a fun little segue.
"Oh all my little pigs...you've been such a beautiful, beautiful audience...but I've been a baaaad boy ...oh yes, yes my little piggies...ha ha ha...YEAH...and right now...I need your DISCIPLINE"


"You know, I love to color . Yeah. Coloring. Little coloring books, big coloring books, I love them all. But I can never stay in the lines. No matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I focus...I just can't do it. And the more I stare it down, well, the more the lines begin to blur."
Okay, so maybe you have to be in my head to see just how goddamn funny that would be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

blindoldfreak, Toronto, 020509

guest post by Places Parallel reader, Emerald

A week-long tour through Canada in the middle of February? “In what universe is this a good idea?” you might ask. Apparently, it made perfect sense to Alessandro Cortini (Modwheelmood, ex-Nine Inch Nails). Cortini is otherwise known as blindoldfreak: a man and his Buchla synthesizer.

As well fans know, he gave a lecture and performed at Concordia University in Montreal. Perhaps this is what led him to think that a Canadian mini-tour would be a good idea, but far be it from me to presume that I know what goes on in the man’s head.

The abundance of weeknight dates, as well as the distance, seemed to be prohibitive factors, and I’d resigned myself to being unable to go. I did entertain the idea briefly—I’m in Detroit, and Canada is only a bridge away—but decided in the end I just couldn’t hack it.

Until my Livejournal acquaintance Lacie, who lives on the other side of the state from me near the Indiana border, posted an entry stating her intention to haul herself and her sister Kristin to the Great White North to see everyone’s favorite Italian. This restored my hope, and I commented on the entry, stating my interest in joining her. She agreed to let me tag along, and we proceeded to plan. I also agreed to take CD and T-shirt orders from various acquaintances on nin.com and the unofficial Modwheelmood forum in an effort to spread the love.

It’s one thing to meet people from the Internet in real life, but quite another to meet them and THEN go road-tripping with them. Luckily, we all hit it off pretty much from the get-go and made good time driving through Michigan’s thumb. The only slight hitch in our harebrained scheme was when we crossed the Bluewater Bridge between Port Huron, MI and Sarnia, ON. Immigration, it turns out, wanted to have a little talk with us. It’d been a while since Lacie and Kristin were last in Canada, but my most recent trip was to Niagara Falls back in July. We were asked the same series of questions by three different officers, got our official slip stamped, and then we were allowed to go off on our merry way. The entire ordeal took up perhaps a half-hour of our time. We exchanged our greenbacks for Monopoly money and drove off into the Canadian wilderness.

After a quick pit stop in a little town called Delaware, we made it to Toronto with little trouble, marveling a bit at the sudden imposition of civilization after miles—er, kilometers of nothing and more nothing. We navigated through downtown traffic, got to the hotel, and freshened up before taking on the town. On the map , our hotel appeared to be a relatively short walk from the venue, the Drake Hotel. It was really a long, hard hike—perhaps ten city blocks at least. That’ll teach us to pay more attention to map scales.

Upon finding the venue, we decided to get something to eat that wasn’t crackers or Fruit Roll-Ups at a “Chinese-Canadian” restaurant about a block away. We still had a ton of time to kill after eating dinner, so we went to scope out the venue, only to find this embarrassing sight just outside:

We shrugged it off and entered, where we were directed by the woman at the door to kill time in the lounge until the doors opened at 8:00. We took up residence at the far end of the bar and fired up our collective Cortini-sense. (Fun fact about me: I can nurse a beer for an hour.) We saw a few guys who resembled him in one way or another, but they were all clever decoys. When Lacie and Kristin came to their second round, the waitress asked Kristin what she’d like, and Kristin paused a moment to think. The answer was quick in coming. See, after the Nine Inch Nails show in Grand Rapids back in November, Kristin started joking to Lacie that she’d like a “Cortini Martini.” The joke was too good to pass up, and so Kristin asked the bartender to mix up something martini-like but citrusy. The result is this, a crazy delicious mix of strawberry vodka, triple sec, and orange juice:

Around 7:30 or so, we decided we’d killed enough time and decided to check out the basement (also the location of the show). In the restroom, we got silly pictures of all of us helicoptering, in a homage to this pic. There I am, look at me go:

On the way out of the bathroom, I nearly got knocked over by a venue staffer opening a door. The guy explained to us that the door time had been pushed back to 9:00, and we were at a loss as to how to kill the extra time. After a short period of hemming and hawing (during which we eavesdropped on a conversation about the feud between nin.com, The Spiral, and Echoing the Sound), we left and went to the Starbucks down the street. After about 45 minutes hanging out there, chasing alcohol with caffeine, we went BACK to the venue, where we were herded into the lounge yet again by the same asshat staffer! Our Cortini-sense tingled yet again at the guy sitting behind us with headphones and a book (who does that in a bar?!), but we suspect I might have caught a glimpse of the real Cortini heading through the lobby on his way outside, phone in hand.

Finally, we were able to enter the venue. When they said it was a basement, they weren’t lying. We estimate that the headcount must’ve been around sixty or so. There was a proper stage as well as a makeshift stage set up in the middle of the floor, the highlight of which was two Buchlas (Buchlae?). Protip: The smaller of the two was Alessandro’s,

though the other one closely resembled the one featured in this video.

We immediately spotted Alessandro across the room setting up his merch and fought not to freak out too bad. There was a line of people waiting to talk to him and buy CDs and shirts, so we hung back and waited until after the first set to approach him. When I was able to hear myself think and the urge to lose my lo mein subsided, we walked over to him.

Allow me to preface the following remarks by saying that Alessandro Cortini is probably the sweetest man I’ve ever met, and unfailingly nice to everyone, as far as I could tell. He introduced himself to each of us by name with a handshake and a smile, regardless of the fact that we knew damn well who he was (in the words of Lacie, “We’re here to see you”). Lacie did most of the talking at first, asking about whether the cold had gotten to him and prompting him to explain that the Guelph show had been cancelled due to him falling ill. Kristin piped up at one point with a joke about what would happen if we messed with the Buchla’s patch cords, to which I replied, “Terrible things, terrible things,” in an effort to reassure Alessandro that nothing would happen to it, not on my watch at least. We asked about the CDs, but they were sold out (damn!), so we moved on to other business.

I handed him my copy of Modwheelmood’s Enemies & Immigrants with the opening line, "I'd like this signed for my friend [Rowan] in Scotland." She’d emailed him asking how to get a physical copy, and I went ahead and bought it for her off Amazon. I'd placed a Post-It note with her name written on it on the front. He took one look at it and said, "Oh yeah, she's the one who emailed me about getting a CD." He proceeded to explain that Buddyhead Records is basically sitting on boxes and boxes of MWM CDs which they apparently can't be bothered to send to him! I told him that I’d bought it in an effort to “expedite the process,” and he took it from me to sign, asking where would be best to do so. He ended up signing it in multiple places (he’s a lefty, for you trivia buffs out there), even taking the CD from me to write a little note to her in the liner notes: “I didn’t forget to send it to you!!”

Alessandro also signed my copy of Ghosts I-IV and got pictures with each of us. Lacie told me later that she feared I would pass out, because I apparently went white as a sheet. Judge for yourselves:

The last order of business was getting some T-shirts: “One more thing, and I swear to God I’ll leave you alone,” I promised. Those stocks were running a little low as well, so I contented myself to fill what orders I could. I handed him the money, and he saw us off with another grateful smile. I don’t know how I managed not to scoop him up and take him home.

There were two other performers before the blindoldfreak set: the first being a duo, the female half of which played an impressive but obtuse thing called “The Persephone,” and then the owner of the larger Buchla. None of the performers, Alessandro included, took the stage with any amount of fanfare, and it wasn’t until after the show that I got any indication of names and performance order. I noticed Alessandro hanging around in the crowd during both sets, getting pictures and video like any other appreciative fan.

And then it was his turn. Of all the performers, the blindoldfreak set was probably the most tuneful and concerned with musicality rather than just sound design. The show was billed as being in “quadraphonic sound,” and because I was standing between two speakers, I could feel as well as hear everything. There were no discernable songs—it was like one long song, but with transitions from one movement to the next.

It’s remarkable how much sound can come out of one machine. More remarkable still is the fact that with the turn of a knob or the press of a button, the entire mood of the room changed, and changed again. Videos, unfortunately, cannot do the experience justice. As much as I’d like to joke about how goofy the phrase “quadraphonic sound” seems, it truly added a whole new dimension to the performance. I didn’t really understand it until I moved around to get better pictures.

Also, gotta respect the dedication. He did the entire show while kneeling!

We left not long after the set, due to being profoundly tired. I wanted to say something to Alessandro as I left—after he left the stage, he was standing behind us, talking to some people. But I didn’t want to interrupt, and besides, we had a long walk ahead of us. I hope he saw my little wave in his general direction as I walked away.

We left Toronto the next morning, driving back through the Canadian bleak, but unable to shut up about how wonderful the previous night was.

You can check out more photos here and here courtesy of Em, Lacie, and Kristin. And be sure to check out Alessandro in action via some video Lacie was able to capture.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Checking in with Trent...

So the photoblog portion of NIN.com is running again and Trent's been posting some teaser pictures of the band rehearsing. Tonight if you checked in though he posted a picture of what I'm assuming is him trying to prove he actually logs into NIN.com but there are those of us who know better and know what he was really checking up on.

Oh yeah, bitches. Trent reads.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fingers Crossed

So as you may or may not know NIN has been nominated for a couple of Grammys this year. Best Rock Instrumental Performance for 34 Ghosts I-IV and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package also for Ghosts I-IV.

We all know Trent has never been much of a fan. Remember last year's short blurb posted to nin.com? Seems he feels the same this year as he posted on his Twitter account a few hours ago:
"... and of course, I'm NOT going to the fucking Grammys."
But who can blame him? He usually gets snubbed and so far this year, unfortunately, seems to be no exception. Rob Sheridan is currently twittering from the Grammys and we've learned that so far NIN has lost to Radiohead in the Boxed category. Such a shame because Ghosts really is an incredibly lovely set. I still keep my copy protected in the original shipping box and plastic bag it came with from any haphazard spills, pet hair, or other accidents that could ruin it. One of these days when I'm not such a slob or so accident prone, I'll put it on display. Maybe.

Rob has taken it pretty gracefully (considering his previous displays of maturity) responding to someone on Twitter who said he should have won:
"I tend to agree (as objectively as possible), but Radiohead are Grammy darlings this year so that was completely expected."
Trent also weighs in on the loss:
"Ghosts DESTROYS In Rainbows deluxe package. No debate.
And I have to agree with him. I mean just look at them. Radiohead's kinda looks like something you would display on the fridge next to your children's other drawings brought home from school.

Whereas NIN's looks like something you'd actually want to display, perhaps in your living room under protective glass of course (remember I'm spill prone).

I think we still have a while before they get to Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Fingers crossed that NIN gets it or, at the very least, that Metallica doesn't win, although, they are rumored to be the favorites. *eyeroll*

Stay tuned...

Well fuck. NIN didn't win the other category either. It ended up going to "Peaches En Regalia", Frank Zappa. -sigh- Guess there's always next year.