Monday, August 31, 2009

Modest Mouse, Live at the Aragon 8/25/09

Omg, yo. You know what I think about when I think about Places Parallel? I think of Lucy Ricardo, working at the candy factory, unable to keep up with the assembly line, stuffing chocolates in her cheeks like a squirrel. There is *so much shit* we have to cover from this summer: the last of the last NIN shows (until Trent and Mariqueen and their eight kids tour America like the Von Trapp family), which I know is the only thing you're really interested in reading about, but Iris and I feel compelled to cover Lollapalooza (which is like 50 concerts all in one) and anything else we happen to see because we are Places Parallel, and that is the sort of thing we set out to do here.

The problem is that in addition to the 150,000 words I have to write, we have TONS of awesome photos and video footage, and ideally we'd have both available at the same time, but the fact of the matter is, Iris and I are both very busy people living in two different states, so the coordination of all this material is difficult. And sadly, I am NOT spending all this time sucking Trent Reznor's physical cock, as alleged. Though I wish I were! I mean, honestly, is that supposed to be some sort of insult? I hope our Anonymi curse me with a lottery win as well!

Anyway, an easy show for me to cover is the recent Modest Mouse concert that I attended with Ro and Mr. Maise and another friend (name withheld to protect the innocent). I wasn't sure of the camera policy, so I have no AV goodies for you, and it was a short, shitty performance anyway.

I think what may be difficult for the Anonymi to grasp is that I am not a professional concert reviewer. I am not forced to attend all shows in my area, good and bad. I generally buy tickets for acts that I enjoy, so probably about 90% of the time, I enjoy what I see. If I get cranky and dissatisfied, it's usually in regard to whatever opening acts imposed upon us, the audience. So it's somewhat of a novelty to me to give a negative review to a show.

Not that I would give Modest Mouse a negative review in general. I love their pessimistic outlook paired with infectious melodies. No one sings, warbles, and roars quite like Isaac Brock, and what I think I love about this band is that they are distinctly American. This band is not trying to be the 10,000th rip-off of Joy Division. Their sound originates in dark pine forests and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The songs acknowledge the dangerous wild places of the world and of our minds with a resigned shrug. It's like those frenzied seconds in the middle of a car accident, when you realize what's going on, recognize that you're flying through the windshield, and then you think, "Well, this is exactly what I expected would happen."

There is something very cathartic about giving in to Isaac Brock's passions, thinking about someone who has fucked you over by being absent and withholding, and singing, "Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? God, I sure hope you are dead." The only problem with this show was, was Isaac Brock dead or sleeping himself?

Modest Mouse was preceded onstage by The Duchess and the Duke, but I can't tell you a word about them because this show started at 6:30, and us hard-working 30-somethings who are stuck working in the burbs have to commute in and grab a bite to eat. In fact, Modest Mouse themselves took the stage earlier than we had anticipated (between 7:45-8 p.m.), so we missed the first song getting our tickets scanned and receiving the usual strip-search from venue staff. Here's the setlist (via the Modest Mouse website):

King Rat
3rd Planet
Black Cadillacs
Gravity Rides Everything
Shit Luck
Satellite Skin
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Baby Blue Sedan
Life Like Weeds (Lyric Tease)
Guilty Cocker Spaniels
Blame It On The Tetons
Wild Packs Of Family Dogs
The View
Satin In A Coffin


Paper Thin Walls
Parting Of The Sensory

Well, it wasn't all bad. Highlights of the show for me included the following:
--"Shit Luck," a hard-hitting, bleak song that really wouldn't be out of place in Trent's catalogue;
--The radio-friendly (but not dumbed down) and energetic "Dashboard";

(credit must go to Rockerachick88 on YouTube for the video)

--"The View" which features this chorus, which will resonate with anyone who's lived through tough times, "As life gets longer, awful feels softer/Well it feels pretty soft to me/And if it takes shit to make bliss, then I feel pretty blissfully."

(credit must to go tkreuser on YouTube for the video)

--"Satin in a Coffin," the menacing chorus of which I quoted above

(credit must to go tkreuser on YouTube for the video)

--"Parting of the Sensory" with its unforgettable, hypnotic primal ending: "Well some day you will die somehow/And something's going to steal your carbon."

So looking at that list of highlights, it's going to be hard for me convey what exactly was wrong. I think the problem was not what was there, but what was missing. I've seen Modest Mouse twice before, and on those previous occasions, they had a lot more energy and verve. You know how at an awesome show, you totally lose yourself in the music and the joyful vibe of the crowd around you? Instead, my friends and I felt oddly disengaged. My friend, a true blue Modest Mouse fan *long* before I had ever heard of them, turned to me and asked me my opinion about tattoos during the proceedings. We just couldn't get in the zone.

Perhaps it had something to do with the inside temperature being somewhere around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps the heat led to the concert's end time of 9:15p.m. A band of their caliber and extensive catalogue could have done a lot least throw us newbie fans a bone with "Float On" or something. Maybe if the show itself had been more intense, we wouldn't have felt let down. As it was, it felt like an hour of foreplay with nothing really happening. Should I blame it on the Tetons?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trent's Alternate Career Options #1...

Well, while you all are waiting for Iris and me to get our metaphorical shit together and review the terrific shows we witnessed at Lolla, and since you all are obsessed with Trent Reznor no matter what we intend to discuss, I figured that here might be a good place to discuss the question "What next?".

Sure, Trent talks about making more music and helping to change the way we buy and listen to music and maybe even putting together a "Year Zero" TV series, but we also think he should branch out into other areas while he's at it.

For example, my musical obsession, Trent, should consider a recurring role on my TV obsession, True Blood. How perfect would that be? He's hot enough to join the hotttttest male castmembers of all time, and it would bring him back to his once-adopted home of Louisiana, and people have thought he was a vampire for like 20 years now anyway.

For those of you unlucky enough not to have experienced this HBO serial masterpiece, True Blood follows the adventures of Sookie (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress in a small (but *very* eccentric) town in Louisiana. Vampires have "come out of the coffin" so to speak and have joined society, so there is lots of tension between the town's human and vampire residents. Sookie has a vampire boyfriend, Bill (Stephen Moyer), who has a hilarious Civil War-era accent and is prone to exclaiming, "SUH-kie!" when he's being all paternalistic and condescending like he usually is. She has a couple of other admirers: Sam (Sam Trammell), a shapeshifter who is not only super-hot as a man but turns into a DOG and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), an older, more powerful, volcanically hot Viking vampire who is pretty ruthless and manipulative but in recent episodes is also revealing his more vulnerable emotions. And that's not even getting into the half of it. All I can say is, if you enjoy your horror mixed with Southern gothic melodrama and humor and if you enjoy looking at attractive men, this show is for you. And I think it's right up Trent's alley.

See, wouldn't he fit in just perfectly here? (Although he'd probably have to gain a little weight for the part)

So to Alan Ball, Trent...make this happen! Especially if Trent would be able to say the line, "I'd like to make a withdrawal."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lolla preview!

Wow, is it August already? How the hell did that happen?

In just a couple of days, I will clean the shit out of my house to make it habitable for Iris and Mr. Iris, and then we will set out on our yearly Lollapalooza marathon. So get prepared for reviews and photos and videos (maybe not all in a timely fashion, but eventually). I'm swamped at work presently, but I'll give you guys a cursory list of some of the acts I'm looking forward to:

1) The Builders and the Butchers: I instantly fell in love with this band when they opened for Amanda Palmer, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing them again. As I recall, they kind of sound like what would happen if Flogging Molly and Modest Mouse had a baby.

2) Ben Folds: I haven't paid much attention to him since his late '90s heyday, but he's always been an engaging storyteller with his music, and he did just produce Amanda Palmer's latest album, so maybe she gave him a few tips re: grinding against the piano.

3) The Decemberists: I can't decide whether their latest concept album, "The Hazards of Love" is the coolest thing ever or the most pretentious thing ever, but they're definitely worth checking out.

4) Peter Bjorn and John: Remember that "We don't care about the old folks" song that was on the radio a year or two back? That was pretty good.

5) Kings of Leon--I wouldn't mind seeing them, except we can't. Because they are scheduled against...

6) DEPECHE MODE! If Ro doesn't kill them with the previously mentioned Ro Curse, that is. God knows she's tried, with gastroenteritis and a malignant bladder tumor and torn ligaments. Why do you hate Dave Gahan, Ro? Why? I've been listening to "Sounds of the Universe" all summer, so in addition to the old favorites, I'm really looking forward to hearing "In Chains," "Wrong," and my ultimate FAVORITE from the album "In Sympathy." I'm not, however, looking forward to that part of "Peace" where either Martin or Dave gayly shouts, "It's an INEVITABILITY!!!"

7) Thenewno2: I don't know a thing about this band, really, but I've blogged about them before because they are fronted by Dhani Harrison, son and veritable clone of George Harrison, and how awesome is that? I'm really looking forward to finally seeing them in person.

8) TV on the Radio: This will be their second Lolla appearance, and I hope it will be as good as the first. I just remember being sort of entranced during this song:

9) Tool: Well, I'm not really looking forward to Tool. But my husband is! And I think the Irises are too. I probably would gladly have skipped them for the Beastie Boys, but alas, that was not meant to be. Get well soon, Adam Yauch!

10) Airborne Toxic Event: Gosh, I probably have downloaded a ton of albums before seeing these bands in concert, but I'll happily attend this band's set just to hear "Sometime Around Midnight."

11) Lou Reed: The man is a legend, and frankly, he has got some big shoes to fill after Iggy Pop's unforgettable, chaotic performance.

12) Neko Case: I'm not terribly familiar with her work, but she's a huge supporter of greyhounds! Anyone who is a friend to the greys is a friend of mine.

13) The Killers: Always entertaining, but I won't be able to see them because I'm saving my last Lolla show of 2009 for...

14) Jane's Addiction: Chicago didn't get a full NINJA show because JA was scheduled to play Lolla, the event that they started. Looking forward to Parry Farrell writhing like a snake and talking crazy and Dave Navarro running around without a shirt.

But really, more than any of these...I'm most looking forward to the bands I have yet to discover. The performances that make me an instant fan, move me to download the albums and have me singing along in my car the rest of the year.

More to come!