Saturday, December 27, 2008

neil young & wilco, 12/16/08, msg, nyc

neil young & wilco, 12/16/08, madison square garden, nyc, ny

I knew about this concert months ago- it was a dream lineup, but the ticket prices were pretty obscene and I decided if it was meant to be, it would happen. Oddly enough, due to a very abrupt change of plans (I actually heard brakes screeching in my head-- that was odd) I found myself in front of MSG on a nasty, precipitous Tuesday night, bargaining down scalpers* with an intoxicated Caroline who had somehow made her way there from a company holiday party (open bar from 3pm-7pm, what kind of sick joke is that?) where she had the misfortune of losing her glasses. We got our tickets for $70 each (1/2 the face value, believe it or not) which is exactly how much I originally was willing to pay to see this show (not including "convenience" fees, so this was actually kind of a bargain) of Wilco opening for Neil frickin' Young.

We walked in during Wilco's first song and the music instantly soothed my soul. I needed something noisy that week and the Gene Ween Band gig at Highline Ballroom had been cancelled. While this was less drunk and less ruckus than the Gener would have been, it was fucking Wilco, so I was psyched (even though it was a total freakin' tease of a set). My friends that had seen the previous night's show had the same complaint- just not enough Wilco. We knew what to expect, but it didn't make it less of a shock to the system. At one point some women came on to help sing Jesus, etc. which was really pretty (we later found out one of them was Norah Jones, very cool!). Jeff Tweedy had the Garden sing Happy Birthday to his son, Spencer. He also announced it was their last night on the tour and thanked Neil Young, the bands, the crew, etc. They rocked for the entire short set and when it had to end we were sad, but everyone got over it cuz Neil Young was up next.

Let me pause here to update Caroline's condition because this was a key role in the night's adventure. She had either napped off or was just closing her eyes (because apparently she is blind without her glasses) for a portion of Wilco's set. Thus began the evolving stages of sobriety: SLEEPY. Then ANGER, "I can't believe I lost my fucking glasses!!!" Next was HUNGER, but possibly only cuz I thought that was a good idea, as in, "you should probably eat something." -> Hot Dog, Popcorn, and the bizarro setting of the MSG hallways during setbreak**. But back to the show INSIDE the arena.

Neil Young is Grandpa Rock n' Roll and when he hit the stage it was clear we were watching a legend. Well, I was watching a legend, Caroline couldn't even see the big screens on either side of the stage. BELLIGERENCE: popcorn was raining down on me for a while there.
Neil Young was wearing a splatter painted sport-coat (because he's Neil Young) and lookin' grizzled***. The stage was set up sort of like a movie or tv set with giant fixed spots facing the band and a staff of unlit letters in a random order hanging in back of them, it was a cool look. Dig it. There was also a ton of unmanned instruments scattered around the stage that band members slowly rotated around to. There was a painter working on a canvas with flourescent paints in back of the drums (he went all set). A giant music-video-type fan was slowly cycling behind the backup singers which was making me laugh for some reason. Totes dramz, Neil. Totes dramz.

He sang some old stuff, a bunch of new stuff. More folksy than loud for the most part, much mellower than I was expecting. There were a lot of songs about cars, but not so much the journey, more about the actual car. I guess when you quit the junk you have to turn your focus elsewhere. Whatever- it was a great fucking show. For the most part it was Neil Young, the legend before us. He was awesome and hell YES I was psyched when he did Heart of Gold and Rockin' In the Free World! Wilco actually came on and stood in as backup singers on Free World before taking a bow with Neil & his band. The painter's end product was some sort of cycloptic-sasquatch creature... Sure, why the fuck not? The random letters above the stage that had finally lit up during Rockin' In the Free World went dark when the bands walked off, except for a scattered N-E-I-L, a pretty cool effect.

Around this time we were in the midst of, PHILISOPHICAL: reminiscing about the Ominous Seapods and what could have been. The "Looking for Answers?****" years. Good times.

They did A Day In The Life as one of the encores which was a great cover and all-- but... God Street Wine's version is waaay better... cuz that one was the bomb-diggity. To sprinkle a little authenticity on it, Neil totally fucked up the first verse and started over, so that's one thing it had in common with GSW's version.

Anyways, Neil Young & Wilco, 12/16/08: 8.25 HUZZAHS! I can cross off Neil's name on my list of artists to see before they die. In the realm of legends of rock who I've had the pleasure of seeing in the past few years, Neil's show was cool, but I definitely enjoyed Eric Clapton (w/ Derek Trucks!) a lot more (even though I had to sit through Tears In Heaven- ugh, gag me*****.). Neil does get points for having Wilco as an opening act. Bruce Springsteen's crowd was a lot more raucous- more drinkers, less smokers, more crowd participation, more Jersey. Not sure which of those two I preferred, but I do know I've gotta see a full length Wilco show very soon, cuz they left me jonesin'.

Wilco (and the crazy fansite that I got this setlist from-- well done, wackos!)
You Are My Face
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Handshake Drugs
A Shot In The Arm
Impossible Germany
Jesus, Etc. (w/ Norah Jones, Catherine Popper and Sasha Dobson on background vocals)
Happy Birthday (crowd sings happy birthday to Spencer Tweedy)
The Late Greats (w/Spencer Tweedy on drums; Glenn played either maracas or a shaker)
Hate It Here
I'm The Man Who Loves You

Neil Young (same setlist the entire tour)
Love And Only Love
Hey Hey, My My
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Spirit Road
Cortez The Killer
Cinnamon Girl
Oh, Lonesome Me
Mother Earth
The Needle And The Damage Done
Light A Candle
Cough Up The Bucks
Fuel Line
Hit The Road
Get Around
Unknown Legend
Heart Of Gold
Old Man
Get Back To The Country
Off The Road
When Worlds Collide
Just Singing A Song
Cowgirl In The Sand
Rockin' In The Free World

Get Behind The Wheel
A Day In The Life

Gallery... and SLIDESHOW!

* I rarely purchase tickets from scalpers. In fact, in my non-scalper-bid I had found some dude from Alaska with 1 extra, but we needed 2!
** You're not at a sporting event, but you feel like you're at a sporting event
*** Not as grizzled as Clint Eastwood
**** The "Looking for Answers?" Tour was a 1996 Rock the Vote sponsored 4 city show musical marathon fantasy of rotating sets, full band switch-offs, and guest musicians with: Ominous Seapods, moe., Moon Boot Lover, and Yolk. This was truly some sort of North Country traveling musical circus... and for some reason there was a question mark at the end of the name- we still don't know why.
SYRACUSE: moe., Ominous Seapods
***** Yeah, I read the book and I still said it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

VH1's Top 40 Videos of 2008

It's that time again and I know you've been waiting for it- it's time for VH1's Top 40 Videos of 2008. That's right peoples, set your dvr's and Tivo's, cuz this Friday VH1 is airing music related content! And it's better than just plain ol' music videos cuz our 2 hour countdown is made with the short-attention-spanned in mind (we're so thoughtful!)- we've cut our favorite videos together with smart, quirky, and occasionally insightful commentary from music journalists, whack-job comedians, and the musicians themselves. Now that's what I call classy.

Included on my to-do list for this one was: Weezer, All-American Rejects, Estelle ft. Kanye West, Jason Mraz, Gavin Rossdale, Sara Bareilles, David Archuleta, Daughtry, Mariah Carey, and the incomparable Matt Nathanson.

check for show times!

Brought to you by the letters: V & H, and co-sponsored by the number: 1.

Team Top 40 of '08
pic by Mike Huetz (not pictured: lisa ng, ximena lopez, and janet "she's having a baby" leung-brosky)

Friday, December 12, 2008

mercury rev, 12/7/08, highline ballroom, nyc

mercury rev, 12/7/08, highline ballroom, nyc, ny

I had been eyeing this show on the Highline calendar for a while but held off on buying a ticket because I wasn't sure how destroyed (or arrested) I'd be from the 2 Ha Ha the Moose shows in the days before, but let's back up a bit...

Who the fuck are Mercury Rev? Mercury Rev (from Buffalo, NY) are everyone's favorite band that you've never heard of. The indie musicians you listen to are probably loyal fans of Mercury Rev. Their name seems to appear alongside the Mountain Goats as top favorites. Could I have told you what they sounded like last week? No. But for years it was always "Mercury Rev THIS" and "Mercury Rev THAT" and "If this humus were a cookie and that cookie were life blah blah blah...", you get the idea. I knew eventually I was going to see these guys play. So when I read the Highline newsletter last week and saw "if you would like to win a free pair of tickets to the Mercury Rev show this sunday, email us" and I scored a pair, I knew it was meant to be*. It was going to be a long weekend and after 2 Ha Ha the Moose shows, things might** be messy- but at no point did I consider skipping this stars-alligning-with-planets event. I was FINALLY going to see Mercury Rev. Hot damn!

Damn, seriously like none of you locals have ever fucking heard of them? Big fat whatever dudes, cuz Steve the Greek was on that like gyro sauce on a fucking gyro!

Hell, he even knew who the opening band were (Dean & Britta), unfortunately we only saw about a minute of them cuz we walked in after throwing back a pregame at the Hog Pit. I stood next to the lead singer of Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue***) at the bar and admired his plaid pants but didn't know who he was until he got onstage (with a bottle of wine) and flailed the night away. It's almost the same way I met the Old TP. Almost. Anyways, I didn't know what to expect, I had thought maybe Wilco-ish, but then Hern told me Flaming Lips (a band Donahue was previously in), which actually got me really nervous due to a "bad time" I had at moe.down a few years ago. Aside from the heart palpitations and cold sweats it gives me, for some reason the Flaming Lips music also sounds kind of artificially manufactured: musical aspartame. I didn't need any of that again.

Immediately I could see the comparisons to the Flaming Lips in Donahue's flamboyant stage presence, the visuals, and some of the driving dramatic/atmospheric sounds. Fortunately for me, there were no bleeding nun puppets through a fish eye lens while Wayne shoots a confetti gun over the audience and a stage full of people dancing in giant foam bunny costumes on some sort of horrible Willy Wonka boat-ride. So that was good. Very good. Instead of sensory overload it was sensory satisfaction and I was able to enjoy it all. Thanks, Mercury Rev!

But for realz, the band was great! Some of the songs were slower and moodier than others, but mostly it felt masterfully orchestrated and brilliantly pulled off. The stage show was energetic and Donahue was constantly running around to the various band members and zapping them with power while they tore through the songs. Occasionally they would sound like the Doors but the next moment they were covering the Talking Heads. They connected most of their songs in a way that specifically reminded me of moe.'s Wormwood album, very beautifully done.

I will definitely see Mercury Rev again and will most likely be more pro-active about it in the future. Now I know why so many respected musicians are fans of these guys. It was a great fucking time. Another successful night at the beautiful Highline Ballroom. The perfect show for a cold Sunday night after 2 nights of sheer madness****: mellow enough to take the edge off. Last Sunday night at least, Mercury Rev were the Vicodin of live music. Just what I needed. 8.5-9 HUZZAHS! Solid.

Gallery for Hi-Res DL's and SLIDESHOW!


Snowflake in a Hot World

* and that ticket sales were probably bad so they needed to fill-house.
** Odds were yes, they would almost certainly be messy.
*** I just looked that up.
**** 3 if you count the New World Holiday Party.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc, ny

Oooh, I was ever so excited when these shows were announced! The timing made them kind of my very own personal VH1's Top 40 Videos of 2008 wrap party. Except that I had to pay for booze and Ha Ha the Moose were playing. Ha Ha hail from the vast nether-regions of your mind and feature the unenviable talents of:

Dr. Guano

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

Jeff Von Kickass

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

and Sludge

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

Their sound can best be described as head-trauma-drooling-lunacy, inspired by bands like GWAR, Zappa, & the Holiday Ramblers.

That said, I met up with the hernsottos and we had some stellar dinner and cocktails at TONG in Union Sq. (I had curry puffs, the salmon confit, and a Dulce Fresca- muddled strawberry & mango martini *that's how I roll* - everything was sublime, I will definitely be going back for more) before busting our fucking guts open laughing at a great movie: Role Models. I don't typically endorse films, but this David Wain joint was a masterpiece. Sometimes it wasn't even the dialogue but just the look on the actors face that delivered the brilliance. Top notch performances by the main cast (Paul Rudd can do no wrong, but all 4 were great) and supporting cast like Matt Walsh (I couldn't even look at him without laughing), Jane Lynch (another superb performance), Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, and of course Seth Herzog in a tree (spectacular). Go see it.

We collected ourselves, met up with Jay and Gullo before hitting Kenny's Castaways for a pregame drink but wanted to make sure we got good spots for Ha Ha-- so off we went to Sullivan Hall where the doors weren't even open yet... and we stood there close to the front of the line and waited while they soundchecked some Simple Minds (our first taste of the Geighties theme).... MOOOOOOOOOOOOSE! Finally inside, we scored some top notch spots at the very front, Dr. Guano side and were visited by the best waitress in NYC, she's always so good to us- Amelia.

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

I also ran into Salvo who was setting up his mics for some taping action (ah, how long since we've actually used "tapes" for this?). Werdup. Jon Merin set up a cybercast of the shows and the mics were set up right in front of us... So, we may or may not have had some fun with the people listening on their computers and that's all I'll say about that.

There's something about a late night show that peaks the experience over the edge. Especially when it's at the end of a long week. Especially when it's Ha Ha the Moose. Those motherfuckers didn't hit the stage til almost 1am. They play better when the crowd is angry! We have no choice but to take it! MOOOOOOOOOSE!

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

I had seen the setlist from the night before in Boston, so I knew what some of the surprises were, but since I wasn't in Boston, nothing was spoiled. They made their way to the stage via flashlight security escort and BLAMMO- the Magnum PI Theme- but a rockin' out extended version of it. Couldn't NOT laugh but they totally rocked it! Awesome Gary, old skool and loud, love it. 10 Things, BRAIN TUBA. A Ha Ha standard, Tijuana Donkey Show. A little Nena with 99 Luftballoons, deftly handled by Jeff VK. Thirsty Carbuncle and the Ha Ha the Moose Theme, complete with Dr. Guano scolding the audience for premature participation. I gotta say- Jim Sludge really went to town on 20 lbs of Shit in a 2 lbs Bag. He was truly hardcore, singing and drumming-- totally metal. moe. should cover this. Don't You Forget About Me, I really believed Dr. Guano when he was singing those words and I will never forget you, Dr. Guano, when you walk on by, I will call your name. I don't believe I'd ever had the pleasure of hearing Christmas in Mooseville before and I'm not normally a fan of Christmas music, but this could be my FAVORITE Christmas song EVER-- I love custard... Devil Toad, Our House, and then...MAGNUM PI THEME to close out the set! What a sandwich! The encore was 88 Lines About 44 Women and then the Redneck Trilogy, which includes a cameo by yours truly to declare I'd beat up Chuck* in the name of freedom** (some gobi girl told Dr. Guano that she'd do his mom in the butt in the name of freedom which deeply disturbed most of us present).

From ha ha the moose, 12/5 & 12/6/08, sullivan hall, nyc

I also picked up a copy of the Ha Ha EP, "alce en vivo de los muertos" (translated: moose live from the dead) like a good little indie rock fan (I'm the best). "Bailout the Moose!" - El Herno

I got to sleep at 6am... and then I got to wake back up at 3pm and do the whole thing all over again***. That's right. Can't get enough of the Moose. Did I mention that Thursday night was the New World Holiday Party? My liver thinks it's college again! MOOOOOOSE!

We did a pregame drink at the Pinch and crossed the street to meet our fate. Rocked the same spot as Friday night taboot. Can't get enough of that Dr. Guano- there's just something so mysterious about him and I can't quite put my finger on it (ha ha it). I'd be lying if I said I remembered the whole night because I don't. MOOOOOOSE! Highlights: Long Island Girls Rule, Don't Fuck w/ Flo, 10 Things Vin's Most Likely to Say- they absolutely nailed this one, it created the late night nyc gig "space" that kind of fills the room with a warm glowy happiness, I miss that space. I applaud 10 Things Vin's Most Likely to Say. Sadly, the show was over shortly thereafter. Oh yeah, and an awesome Magnum PI to club sandwich the run. MOOOOOOOOSE!

Ha Ha the Moose perform, 99 Luftballoons, 12/6/08, Sullivan Hall, NYC

Ha Ha the Moose, double the pleasure is twice as nice: 9.5 HUZZAHS! -.5 because those fuckers SUCK! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!


Magnum PI
Awesome Gary
10 Things Vin's Most Likely To Say
Down Under
Brain Tuba
Tijuana Donkey Show
99 Luftballons
Thirsty Carbuncle
Ha Ha The Moose Theme
Money For Nothing
Mr. Her
20 lbs. of Shit in a 2 lb. Bag
Don't You Forget About Me
Christmas in Mooseville
Devil Toad
Our House
Magnum PI

88 Lines About 44 Women
Rednecks Are Everywhere>
Fishing With Dynamite>
In The Name Of Freedom



Magnum PI
Don't You Forget About Me
Land Down Under
88 Lines About 44 Women
Long Island Girls Rule
Thirsty Carbuncle
Don't Fuck With Flo
Mr. Her
20 lbs. of Shit In a 2 lb. Bag
99 Luftballons
Christmas Time In Mooseville
Redneck Trilogy
In The Name Of Freedom
Our House
Awesome Gary

Money For Nothing
10 Things Vin's Likely To Say
Magnum PI

DOWNLOAD THE SHOW (taped by TJ Samulus)

Gallery for Hi-Res DL's & SLIDESHOW:

* Who's Chuck?
** I totally would.
*** Allow me to take a distracted moment and say: I love the Venture Bros.

Monday, December 1, 2008

when black friday comes, i'm gonna dig myself a hole...

Black Friday deaths… Shocking? Not really. I’d kill for a fucking flat-screen any day. You would too, don’t even lie. Nothing would make my holiday season complete like a blood-tv. That way, every time I picked up the remote to watch cartoons taller than me, I’d remember the selfless man-floor I had to run over, who gave his life so I could make my way to the Wal-Mart Electronics department at 5am to save a few bucks. Then I’d remember the best part which was when I threw that baby towards the asshole dressed like a cop who told me to stop shopping cuz somebody died. Stop shopping? “Are you on crack?” I’d say! And then I’d laugh and throw that stranger’s baby in their faces. “HA HA” to them and STRANGERBABY to their skulls! If I were to stop shopping than that man’s death would be in vain. I NEED MORE BIG TV’s.

Man, those were good times on a Friday morning.

CEO’s everywhere heard about the Black Friday deaths and heaved a sigh of relief knowing that America’s lust for STUFF was alive and well despite an economic and moral downturn.

Actual footage of CEO’s last Friday:

DISCLAIMER: seriously though, that herd of fucking animals disgusts me, who does that??? There’s store footage of the Valley Stream incident online and I was morbidly curious but could not go through with watching it, it’s just the lowest form of human scumbaggery. Just fucking horrible. These stores set up Black Friday exactly for this sort of mob mentality and should share blame along with the actual trample-ers. It’s shopping as sport. A race to the finish. To the victors go the spoils- or ya know, the chance to spend money so they can save money.