One of the things that I like about listening to Rheostatics live shows is that when they play a couple nights in a row, they play such different sets both nights. In the two nights at Vertigo, they played 44 songs and only 5 of them were duplicated (all from the newest album and a song that was on the live album). That is a fan pleasing band.
It’s hard to even say which night is better. Night 2 had more deep cuts and yet, they’re not exactly rare tracks for them to play either.
Lucky’s notes for this one say that the band were given cell phone type gadgets and that Martin played with his throughout the show. You can hear that as the set opens and Martin is goofing off with his.
Overall for these shows I found that the band was playing a lot of songs in a bit more mellow vibe. It’s not the way I like to hear them, but I wonder what it was like live. However, “King of the Past” one of my favorite songs was played too slow on this night, as was “Christopher.” And “Northern Wish” sounded quite different–it had an almost meandering quality to it. Even “Stolen Car” has a slow moody quality (which Martin agrees with).
But the band is clearly having fun. On “Four Little Songs there’s a crazy drum solo. And as it ends and “The Royal Albert” starts, there’s some odd guitar sounds which Martin describes as change falling in an elevator.
The stage banter is certainly fun tonight, especially the talk about Sean Brodie and ordering a pizza (which was terrible).
The final song is a great version of “Aliens.” But before that they play a cover of Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers’ “The Midnight Ride of Red Dog Ray ” which is all about a guy who drove to Quebec when there was a beer strike in Toronto.
Here’s the original
Although I love the song choices in this set, I feel like its slowness makes me prefer the previous night’s set a little more.
[READ: March 2, 2015] “Invisible and Insidious”
Vollmann is one of the more prolific writers I know (or at least his one collection of works is over 3,000 pages). I sort of have designs on reading his output but there’s so many other authors I like and Vollmann has so much out there that I think my best bet is to keep up with his writing when I see it and just let it go at that.
So he occasionally writes non-fiction for Harper’s. And they are usually pretty dark and unhappy pieces about the state of the world–Vollmann is not afraid to go to dark places. In this article he talks about living in Japan and he reminds us that not that long ago (March 2011) there was a tsunami and a huge nuclear meltdown in that country. And how most likely we all assume it must have been fixed, since we don’t hear about it anymore.
I don’t wish to overwhelm with details–that’s Vollmann’s job. But he does a few interesting things in Japan. He explores locations that are off limits (or at least in the evacuation zone) and he talks to people who live and work in these areas. He also (of course) has a dosimeter (which I assume must be pretty common in a radiated site).
The nuclear utility that monitors the plant, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has issued various information over the years, although none of it seems verifiable. In August 2013, The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority said the leak was re-categorized from level 1(anomaly) to level 3 (a serious accident). And the Japan Times says a the radioactivity was about 100 times more than what TEPCO had been allowing to enter the sea each year before the crisis.
There has been a serious impact on the Japanese economy–many countries have banned Japanese fish outright because of fear of contamination. Not to mention 150,000 refugees who have left their homes. Some employees of TEPCO had been exposed to a dose of more than a hundred millisieverts of radiation (a maximum of one muillsievert per year is the standard safety amount). One sievert is the equivalent of 1,000 chest x rays.
Vollmann traveled to Iwaki (a city just outside the volunteer evacuation zone). The hotels were full, mostly with TEPCO employes. Although most of the people he meets seem merry and unconcerned about the radiation–it was far away–was the attitude. Even when he asks them about sushi and if they wonder where their food comes from, many people reply “I eat whats in front of me.” But much of this attitude stems from resignation–the people have no where else to go. Indeed, one of that analysts anticipated that the locations would be safe in about 500 years. (The Union of Concerned Citizens says that that data is optimistic).
He also travels to Tomioka (just outside the exclusion zone), which he says reminds him or Kirkuk in Iraq–each time he returns he feels less safe because he knows more and more about the place. His dosimeter said that his readings were 72 times greater than in Iwaki. Residents were told to evacuate but believed they’d be back soon so they took little. Their houses are overgrown because most only come back (if it all) to get a few things at a time, plus they are only allowed to visit for six hours at a time and only during daylight.
Despite the general sense of calm, there are many angry people there. One woman complains that those who make the decisions are not affected by radiation because they live in Tokyo. There are also anti nuclear protestors all around.
Nightly news can’t cover everything, and they can’t give a daily update about all the travesties around the world, but it’s also easy to lose sight of tragedies that are ongoing, like this one.