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Archive for the ‘David Bowie’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 21, 2017] Phish [I’ll be attaching some video clips later]

I had imagined going to all 13 shows at MSG.  I knew it would never happen (maybe if I was single and lived closer to NYC).  I saw a number of people who did go to all 13 shows.  Some looked pretty good.  Others looked pretty beat.   Last night I sat next to a guy who went to 10 and a woman who went to 8–she looked much better than he did.

Each night on this run has been pretty spectacular.  The sets have been great, the band has sounded fantastic and their energy never flagged.  There were several shows in the run that in retrospect I would have loved to have been at.  But I assumed first and last night would be a fun way to go.

As soon as I saw that they weren’t repeating any songs, I decided to keep track of what had been played to see what was left.  I don’t normally like to “know” what a band is going to play so I wasn’t trying to guess the setlist, but I wanted to make sure that I was going to get some songs that I wanted to hear.  I joked that if they kept playing my “top rated” songs, the show would be a 45 minute “Minkin” with dips into “No2” and “Riker’s Mailbox” [Phish jokes… nevermind]. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 21, 2017] Phish

I really enjoyed the Phish concert I saw last summer.  I knew I wanted to see the guys again, and I was really surprised to hear that they were doing a 13 night residency at Madison Square Garden.  I briefly thought…could I do all 13?…and then reality came crashing down on me.  I took a chance on 4 shows in the Phish lottery and amazingly I got all 4.  But I decided to sell 2 and just go to the first and last nights (making that two shows three weeks apart).

One of my tickets was being delivered to a buyer before the show and I was running late, so I had to hasten to MSG and managed to get to my seat by 7:25 for the promised 7:30 start.  Well, I was kind of annoyed that they didn’t start until 8.  I mean, start at 8, that’s fine, but don’t say you’ll start at 7:30, especially given how stressed you made me.

At any rate, I knew the theme of the show was coconuts, but since it was the first night, I didn’t really know what that meant.  It turned out that they were going to play a few songs that had a coconut theme (and have continued that for each night so far). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 9, 2017] King Crimson

I was genuinely surprised to discover that my previous King Crimson show was nearly three years ago–it felt so much more recent than that.  But so it was.

I was pretty excited that they were playing in Red Bank, NJ at the Count Basie–a theater I’d never been to before. And I was pretty thrilled that my cousin Kate who lives nearby was able to get tickets without having to pay the bastard fees (especially since the tickets were so frickin expensive).  But she managed to get me a seat in Row G, which was just phenomenal.

Interestingly, since the theater slopes down (which is awesome, no one’s head is ever in your way), for this band’s setup, being that close meant that the drums blocked a lot of the view.  Because yes, the three (!) drummers were right out front.  The lineup was pretty much the same as last time except that since I saw them last, drummer Bill Rieflin took a sabbatical (and was replaced by Jeremy Stacey) and then came back.  So now there were eight performers!

The lineup: Tony Levin (bass, Stick, more); Mel Collins (saxes, flutes); Jakko Jakszyk (guitar, vocals),  Bill Rieflin (keyboards and effects–I’m led to believe he played drums earlier in the tour, but for our show he was just on keys): Three drummers: Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey (also keyboards).  And of course, Robert Fripp (guitar).

My seats were right in front of Gavin Harrison, which was awesome.  It was so much fun to watch him.  But being so close to him meant that I couldn’t always see Fripp (Harrison’s cymbals were blocking him!).  I couldn’t really see Stacey much (he was blocked on both sides by his gear) and Mastelotto was on the other side, which meant I could watch his expressions and see him bash the hell out of things, but could never exactly see when he did subtle things.

The main thing I wanted to watch this time was Tony Levin’s bass and Stick playing.  But just like last time, I never knew where to focus because someone was always doing something interesting and my attention was easily swayed.

I looked at my prior write up and feel like much of it is the same, and that’s fine because the show was amazing, and I was delighted to have seen it again. But there were also a whole bunch of different songs at this show–for a band who is playing such complex music to mix it up so much is pretty cool.

So here’s what I said last time:

(more…)

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[LISTENED TO: March 2017] The Organist

organistAfter really enjoying The Organist in 2015, the season ended and I hadn’t heard that there were going to be anymore.  So I stopped looking for them.  And then the other day I got an email reminding me about recent episodes.  Well, sure enough there had been an entire season last year and they were already part way through this year’s season.

So I’m playing some catch up here.  But they are timeless, so it’s okay.

Each cast has a section in brackets–this text comes from the Organist’s own site.  The rest is my own commentary.

The Organist is a free podcast from KCRW & McSweeney’s.  As of this writing, they are up to episode 82. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHOEBE BRIDGERS-“Smoke Signals” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 22, 2017).

Bridgers’ “Smoke Signals” is a beautiful haunting song that reminds me a little of Liz Phair in her delivery.  I had heard this song before and really liked it–I especially loved the arrangement, which had echoing guitars that reminded me of Twin Peaks.

“For this Tiny Desk, Bridgers and percussionist Marshall Vore came to Bob Boilen’s hotel room just before midnight to play the striking ‘Smoke Signals.'”  The music is great with Bridgers’ open chords, and Vore’s suitcase percussion, children’s toy bells and vocal harmony.  The cho and vibe are removed in this version which means you must really listen to the words–which are pretty intense.

I like how she talks about musicians in such an interesting way:

Singing ‘Ace of Spades’ when Lemmy died / nothing’s changed LA’s alright

and then later

Its been on my mind since Bowie died/ just checking out to hide from life

The toy bells and harmonies are a really nice touch, but again, it’s those lyrics:

I went with you up to
The place you grew up in
We spent a week in the cold
Just long enough to
“Walden” it with you
Any longer, it would have got old

This song is a little too slow for my preferences, but it’s very beautiful. I’d like to hear more from her.

[READ: February 5, 2016] The Good Neighbors: Kin

This book was on the new shelf at my library.  And since I like Black and Naifeh I was grabbed it.  Then I saw that it actually came out in 2008. Whatever.

It also turns out that my library has book two of this trilogy but neither had book 3 (which came out in 2010).  What gives?

Holly Black is best known (by me anyway) as having written The Spiderwick Chronicles.

This story is actually a YA graphic novel and it definitely skews older.  But like Spiderwick, it deals with a normally unseen world coming into contact with out own. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DONNY McCASLIN-Tiny Desk Concert #589 (January 9, 2017).

Donny McCaslin’s band was responsible for the jazzy music that propelled David Bowie’s final album.  As the Tiny Desk blurb says:

David Bowie had long wanted to make a record with a jazz band, and on Jan. 8 of last year, he realized his dream with the release of Blackstar. Two days later, he was gone. Donny McCaslin’s band helped him make that record, and now, a year later, we pay tribute to Bowie and Blackstar by bringing McCaslin’s band

As a bandleader and sax player, [McCaslin’s] put out a dozen albums, the most recent of which is Beyond Now, with musicians Tim Lefebvre on bass, drummer Mark Guiliana and keyboardist Jason Lindner.

Beyond Now was recorded after Blackstar, features a few Bowie covers and stretches the band’s own usual boundaries. For this Tiny Desk concert, you can hear an extraordinary group playing extraordinary music — including an instrumental version of “Lazarus,” from Blackstar.

The band plays three pieces.  “Shake Loose” is 7 and a half minutes.  The music is great behind the sax—dramatic and interesting.  I think I just don’t care for the sound of saxophones as much these days, because I love the bass thumping and the great sounds from the keys but the soloing doesn’t excite me.  I love in the middle of the song that there are really cool spacey sound on the keys.   And the whole middle section where it’s the keys playing weirdo stuff and the drums keeping a groovy jazz beat–that’s awesome.

So I may be the only person in America who has not heard the whole of Blackstar.  I actually don’t even really like the one song I did hear (I don’t care for the jazzy parts).  So I can’t compare this six-minute instrumental version to the original of “Lazarus.”  I love that the keyboard is playing a very convincing grungy guitar sound.  I’m not sure if the sax is doing a vocal line or just playing around, but I love the music for this song a lot.

“Glory” is about the glory of the creation of the beautiful world that we live in “that will hopefully be intact as we move forward.”  This is an 11 minute song with all kinds of great swirling keyboard sounds.  I really like this song—the bass and keys together are great.  And either I’ve grown more used to the sax or its mixed a little lower, but it works so much better with the music.  About three minutes in there’s a lengthy trippy mid-70s Pink Floyd echoing synth solo.  Which is pretty cool.  So overall, I really enjoyed this set.  And maybe I need to go give Blackstar a listen.

[READ: March 25, 2016] Around

I really enjoyed Phelan’s Bluffton.  The story was interesting and I really enjoyed Phelan’s artwork–subtle with delicate coloring and very thin, expressive lines.

This book also contains Phelan’ wonderful artwork and the story (or stories) are also really interesting.  For this is a book about three remarkable journeys around the world.

Phelan gives a fictionalized (but accurate) history of the adventures of Thomas Stevens (Wheelman in 1884), Nellie Bly (Girl Reporter 1889) and Joshua Slocum (Mariner 1895).

I hadn’t heard of the two men and I found their stories quiet fascinating.  I knew of Bly’s journey but I didn’t know all of the details and I found it equally interesting. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 4, 2017] The Flaming Lips

I saw The Flaming Lips back in 2015 and I was thrilled at how much bigger their show had become since 2000 when I saw them the first time.  When I saw they were touring again for their new album and were playing The Fillmore, I knew that I had to see them again, and this time I needed Sarah to experience the show with me.  She doesn’t know their music very well (she liked a couple of songs and actively disliked a number of them (mostly their noisy covers)–but I knew they wouldn’t play those).  I couldn’t stop talking about that previous show, so I think her expectations were pretty high.  And she told me they did not disappoint.

Having clipping. as the opening band was unusual because if there was ever a show I couldn’t imagine Sarah at it would be a loud, screechy vulgar hip hop band.  But it served as a palate cleanser for The Flaming Lips.

I noticed that they added even more stuff to the previous set, but it was weird that they have all of this great stuff on stage, but then they tend to obscure it as well.  Between the lights in front of the stage (how weird to see all those lights dangling in front of the performers) and the fog machines, sometimes you couldn’t even see the cool stuff going on.  But it was all part of the sensory overload of the show.

Before the show started, Wayne and some of the other guys came out and checked some things. Its was funny to see Wayne walk out on stage and wave to us.  He even shot some hand-held confetti cannons at us.  But then they went back stage and it took another fifteen or so minutes for them to start.

In front of the stage were all of the strands hanging down.  It was impossible to know what they were, until the music started and we saw that they were light strands.  And as the music swelled, Wayne conducted the lights and the music.  It was very cool. (more…)

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