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Archive for the ‘Rush’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CANADIAN GUITAR SUMMIT (RIK EMMET, ALEX LIFESON, LIONA BOYD, ED BICKERT)-“Beyond Borders” (Guitar Player Magazine, July 1987).

I was not familiar with this recording and just happened upon it this weekend while looking up Rik Emmet.  So it turns out that back in 1987, around the time of the release of the final Triumph album with Rik Emmet, Rik had created this instrumental composition.  It features four superb Canadian guitarists.  I didn’t know Liona Boyd (classical) or Ed Bickert (jazz), but if course I know Rik and Alex.

Evidently Rik wanted to do something which fused genres together (Rik plays all manner of guitar quite successfully).

Fusing different musical forms is hardly new in the guitar world: The marriage between jazz and rock has survived nearly two decades, while jazz and classical get together fairly often. Of course, the more styles you try to blend, the less probable success becomes and the greater the risk of producing something whose sum is smaller than each individual element.

Rik Emmett, leader of the rock power trio Triumph and the author of Guitar Player’s Back To Basics column, was fully aware of the artistic hazards involved when he proposed a Sound page recording to Editor Tom Wheeler in late 1986 that would fuse rock, jazz, and classical. While such a project promised to be the most complex one of its nature since the Sound page’s debut in the Oct. ’84 issue, after hearing Emmett’s concept and who he had in mind to fill out his guitar quartet-Alex Lifeson, Liona Boyd, and Ed Bickert-the go-ahead was given.

The resulting composition-Emmett’s masterful “Beyond Borders” -succeeds in melding its various elements on a number of levels. Although brilliant playing abounds, the piece is more than a vehicle for virtuosic displays as it integrates various styles and weaves in and out of different moods, textures, tones, rhythms, key centers, and time changes. The players receive ample solo space; however, the emphasis clearly is on interaction-a surprising outcome, considering the ever-present temptation to fall back on excessive blowing (Emmett discusses “Beyond Borders” on page 80; the Sound page and musical excerpts are on page 82).

It’s a really lovely piece with each musician playing to his or her strength but also doing some unexpected things.  I feel like Alex has the most fun with th epiece as he seems to create a lot more textural stuff that actual solo material.

This recording is available on line in many places, but I chose this one because the sound quality is quite good.

During this lengthy piece in Guitar Player, there’s an interview with all four guitarists as well as some background information about the piece itself.

There’s also this explanation from Rik about who plays what, so you can follow along:

“Beyond Borders” is basically 120 bars long, and it begins with an adagio section with a tempo of 72 beats per minute. I do the lead guitar off of the top, and Alex plays the atmospheric stuff in the background, which includes low weird things and floating sound effects. Ed comes in with a little melody that lasts from bar 4 into measure 5, and then Liona’s little melody enters at bar 6. The lead that comes in at measure 8 is Alex. In measure 15 Liona plays a little classical lick that Richard Fortin wrote. At bar 17 I play a long feedback melody that continues to measure 26.

Liona begins her classical tremolo solo at measure 22; in the background you’ll notice the feedback guitar part. Liona’s and Ed’s parts cross at bar 28, as Ed takes over with a rubato chord-melody solo. At measure 33 he kicks into an allegro tempo of 140 beats per minute. That’s where I back him up with a simulated bass guitar part that I play on my Yamaha arch-top. For the warm bass sound I rolled the treble back and played with the fleshy part of my thumb. Ed does a cadenza at measure 64, and Alex plays an atmospheric technique where he holds a chord and brushes the strings quickly with the fleshy pads of his right-hand fingers; Lenny Breau was the first person I saw use that.

Bar 65 has an adagio tempo of 70 beats per minute. I play the lead guitar, and Alex adds the arpeggiated electric guitar part behind it. That continues to bar 76, where Liona plays her Lenny Breau octave harmonic lick. That’s also where I begin using the Coral Electric Sitar, with echo repeats on it. Bar 77 is semi-country acoustic fingerpicking with an andante tempo of 90 beats per minute. I play the acoustic steel-string, and Liona plays nylon-string in unison, all the way to bar 102; sometimes I break into harmony, but it’s a unison part essentially. During that same section I also play the Dobro part and all of the electric fills that have a Pat Metheny-esque sound. Alex did the violin sounding swells in the background with a volume pedal.

Where measure 101 crosses over to 102, I did a little lap steel thing with a volume pedal and echo that goes up from a fifth to an octave; it’s kind of a Steve Howe cop. Measure 102 is the beginning of the end. Liona plays the little classical part, and then I break into the harmonies above it. During this section I did all of the wire choirs, which are triads with some of the voices doubled, and I also played the 6/ 8 melody lead guitar fills on the tag right near the end.

It’s really great.

[READ: June 4, 2019] “Javi”

This was a wonderful, slowly evolving story that was one thing on the surface, but had so much more roiling underneath.

As it opens, Javier has knocked on the house of a “lady” in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico.  The person who answers the door doesn’t like that word and to Javi’s mind he’s not sure if the person is even a woman.  He clarifies that he’s looking for the painter.  She concedes that she is the only painter in the area.  He says that his moms heard she needed help.  She asks how old he is.  He replies “I’m four– I’m sixteen.”  The painter says she is 82, how can a young boy help her?  He lists the various things he can do for her–cook, clean, drive etc.  She is concerned that people are talking about her but he assures her it was for his benefit, not hers.

He explains that he walked the twenty miles from Pueblo.  If she’s impressed by this it’s hard to tell.  She is rather inscrutable.  She is supposed to go to an old age home, but if Javi can help her, she can delay that for a year or so.

There’s plenty of wonderful details that unfold slowly, because that is how she is: ‘watching her work is calming, hypnotic.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 24, 2019] Slayer

I have been a fan of Slayer since their debut album, Show No Mercy.  I was a major metal head in high school, always searching for heavier and heavier music.  Metallica was great but then came Slayer.   I more or less stopped listening to them after college.  Although in 2001 (with the release of God Hates Us All on 9/11) I reintroduced myself to their newer stuff.  And since then I have been checking out each release.

Their final album, Repentless, came in 2015 and they have been touring it ever since.  This is–and I assume it’s true–their Farewell tour.

They’ve had a remarkably stable line-up over nearly 40 years.  Drummer Dave Lombardo left and then came back and then left again.  I would have loved to see Slayer with Lombardo, but I was able to see him (and actually see him) when he played with Dead Cross (I was five feet from the stage).  I would never have actually seen him with Slayer (so much stuff on stage.  I never saw Paul Bostaph behind the kit).

The only other line up change came when guitarist Jeff Hanneman died.  That was pretty major, since Hanneman co-wrote so many of the songs.  But Exodus guitarist Gary Holt filled in and has been in his place for six years (he recorded Repentless).  Holt has a different playing style (his solos are more structured), but he comes from the same heavy, dense guitar background and fits in just fine.

I had actually been intimated about going to a Slayer show, especially as an adult.  I have seen my fair share of metal shows, but I assumed the Slayer audience would be a step more intense.  Just waiting online was intimidating with every other person shouting “SLAYER!” at the top of his lungs.

I finally decided to see them in 2017 at The Electric Factory, but when I called on the night of the show to secure my ticket it had literally just sold out.  So I figured I’d never see them live.

Then they announced this farewell tour.  It was going to be at an arena (which would be less insane than a club, in terms of fan behavior) and I was able to get decent seats.  [This show was better than that one for setlist, and I have to assume pyro as well]. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAJOR HIT-Robert De Niro at the Tony Awards Remix (2018).

Who is Major Hit?  No idea.

Is this remix very good?  Not really.  It’s only a minute or so.

Is it hilarious?  Yes.

Is it satisfying?  Hell Yes.

Will you listen to it more than once?  Probably not.

But will you feel a little bit better about your taxes after hearing this?  Well, probably not.

Actually, it might make you feel a little better.  And you probably find yourself quoting De Niro, too.

 

[READ: April 4, 2019] The Awakening of My Interest in Advanced Tax

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. For this particular book, proceeds to benefit Proceeds to benefit Granada House.

Originally appearing at the heart of The Pale King, David Foster Wallace’s posthumous semi-novel, this extended monologue brilliantly rambles its way around the circumstances that brought its narrator out of his ‘wastoid’ childhood and into maturity at the IRS. Along the way, he falls under the spell of a fake Jesuit, considers the true meaning of a soap opera station break, and narrowly escapes a gruesome death on the subway.

This is the final Madras Press book that I had left to read.  Since I has already read The Pale King, I was in no hurry to read this one.  But now it’s nice to say that I’ve finished all of the Madras Press books.  And that I could post this just in time for the massive Republican tax scam in which thanks to trump and his evil puppet mcconnell, my tax return dropped over $3,000.  Bastards.   May they all rot in prison.  And then hell.

Interestingly, back when I read this during Pale Summer (2014), this entire section was one week’s reading.  So my post from that week is still relevant.    It is posted almost in its entirety below:

This book is an excerpt from The Pale King.  In the book, it is almost 100 pages of one person’s testimony.  Without the novel for context, this excerpt stands on its own just fine.  It is basically an unnamed person’s introduction.  This narrator is so detail oriented that everything gets the same amount of importance–snowfall, the way to score drugs, the effects of drugs, Christian roommates, his father’s death, his mother’s lesibianism, oh and taxation.

So much of it is “irrelevant,” that I hate to get bogged down in details.  So this is a basic outline of ideas until the more “important” pieces of information surface.

For the most part, this is all inside one man’s head as he talks about his life in college, after college, and into the Service.  Mostly this is simply a wonderful character study, full of neuroses and problems that many people face at some point (to one degree or another).  The interviewee states that “A good bit of it I don’t remember… from what I understand, I’m supposed to explain how I arrived at this career.”

Initially he was something of a nihilist, whose response to everything was “whatever.”  A common name for this kind of nihilist at the time was wastoid.  He drifted in and out of several colleges over the years, taking abstract psychology classes.  He says that his drifting was typical of family dramas in the 1970s–son is feckless, mother sticks up for son, father squeezes sons shoes, etc. They lived in Chicago, his father was a cost systems supervisor for the City of Chicago. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Y&T-“Mean Streak” (1983).

In the early 1980s Y&T had a couple of albums that made it onto my radar.   This one, Mean Streak, had this song which I liked enough. It’s got some cool riffs and Dave Meniketti’s raspy but distinctive voice.

I remember liking this song, even though I really had no idea what was going on in the lyrics.  The chorus where everyone sings “mean streak” behind his lyrics was certainly the catchy selling point.   But this is hard rock more than metal and is not really my thing.

I may have bought this album, but I know I have the follow up In Rock We Trust, which was more poppy (and they were more pretty).  I had forgotten all about “Lipstick and Leather” yet another cheesy pop metal song about, well, lipstick and leather.

People who were fans of Y&T (like Posehn) were die-hards, but even listening now I see why I never really got into them, even if I liked them for a bit.  Maybe it was a California thing.

[READ: January 2019] Forever Nerdy

S. got this for me for Christmas after we saw Posehn on a late night show and he talked about his nerdy obsessions, including Rush.  It seemed like an obvious fit.  And it totally was.

Posehn is a few years older than me, but if he had lived in my town we would have totally been friends (except I would have never talked to him because he was older).  Anyhow, we had more or less the same obsessions and the same nerdy outlook.  Although I was never really picked on like he was so perhaps I was a little cooler than he was.  Although I never smoked or drank when I was in high school so maybe he was cooler than me.

Things to know about before reading this–Posehn is a vulgar dude–there’s not much kid friendly is in this book.  Also this book isn’t really an autobiography exactly. I mean it is in that he wrote it and its about him, but if you were dying to find out fascinating stories about his crazy life, this book isn’t really it. I t’s more about the things he was obsessed with–in true nerdy fandom.

Although, Brian, what nerd doesn’t have an index in his own book? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 18, 2018] Geddy Lee book signing

When I heard that Geddy Lee would be publishing the Big Beautiful Book of Bass, I thought it was kind of neat.  But I didn’t really need a 7 pound coffee table book of bass guitars.  And, no matter how cool it was, I definitely didn’t need the $900 Ultra Limited Edition.

I thought it might be fun to look through, but I even told S. not to get it for me for Christmas.

And then Geddy announced he would be doing book signings.  And one of them would be at Bookends bookstore in Ridgewood, NJ, just ten minutes from where I grew up (but an hour away from where I live now), I jokingly said that my teenaged self would have been there in a heartbeat.  But I knew I’d have to take a day off of work and, really, was it that big of a deal?

Then my sister-in-law, a huge Rush fan herself, said, I should go just for her and I got to thinking that it would be pretty cool to sort of meet Geddy Lee.  I couldn’t imagine how else that would happen.

So I took the day off and drove up to Ridgewood.  I had it planned that I would get to the bookstore fairly early (the signing was at 5), get my wristband, go to the IKEA that’s near by and then come back and wait on line.  I got to the store later than I meant to and they told me the line was already forming.  So I wound up, completely underdressed, standing in the cold for an hour an a half (I thought there were only 100 tickets sold, but there were actually 1000).

Geddy was still in NYC when we got online, and they gave us occasional updates as he was driven here.  When he parked the car behind the store, we all got the briefly glimpse of him.  And then he quickly hustled inside.

We were all abuzz by then, even if it still took 45 minutes for us to get inside. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2018] Death Cab for Cutie

I can remember listening to a compilation CD [I believe it came with Future Dictionary of America] in my car and “Title and Registration” was on it.  I couldn’t stop listening to the song.  I had heard of Death Cab for Cutie but didn’t know them.  And this song set me on a years-long path of enjoyment.

So I’ve liked the band for some 15 years but I’d never seen them live.  I was pretty much okay with that because from videos I’d watched, they didn’t seem like they were very dynamic live.

Then they announced this show at the Tower (which sold out and they announced a second).  When WXPN played the extended version of “I Will Possess Your Heart” and S. said how much she liked the intro and that was enough for me to get us tickets for the show.

The seats were great (3rd row mezzanine) and we could fully enjoy the lighting spectacular.

Yes, lighting spectacular.  I never assumed that Death Cab for Cutie would have a big light show.  It just doesn’t seem to fit with them.  And it wasn’t crazy big or anything but it was pretty dramatic and worked very well with the music.  There was a video screen above the band too but it just seemed to be projecting nonsense so–whatever about that.  Occasionally there were colors which added to the visuals, but mostly it was half images of static.

DCFC’s latest album Thank You for Today (I enjoyed this welcoming video) had recently come out but I hadn’t had much opportunity to listen to it (except for single “Gold Rush”).  They played 7 of 10 songs from it, so there was a lot that was unfamiliar to me.

But here’s the thing about DCFC for better or worse.  A lot of their songs sound similar.  Not that they are indistinguishable, but that the opening chord patterns and playing style are pretty much the same before they turn into their own animals.  So a number of times I thought they were starting one song bu it turned out to be something else.

They interspersed those new songs with songs from nearly their entire discography, which was awesome.  After playing two new songs, they played one from 2015’s Kingusti which I realized I hadn’t listened to very much.

But then we got into really familiar territory.  They played the wonderful “Long Division” (to be a remain… remain…. remain… remainder) from Plans.  And then they played “Title and Registration” and I was instantly swept back to that day driving in the car.

The new song “Gold Rush” is fun to sing along to but they went really far back into their catalog (2001’s The Photo Album) for the delicate “A Movie Script Ending” (I was on the high-way… high-way… high-way).

They followed this with two more songs from Plans.  First was the tremendous “Crooked Teeth” (I love that bass line).   Then Ben Gibbard moved back to the piano for the lovely ballad “What Sarah Said.”  They followed it with another piano song, the new “60 & Punk” which I was sure was an older song–it must have sunk in when I listened to the record. It’s a great melancholy song.

Gibbard played piano, electric guitar and acoustic guitar. And the overall sound of the band was fantastic.  I loved that you could very clearly hear Zac Rae on guitar–especially when he played some crunchy chords.  Which was often.  I was delighted with just how noisy the show was.  Not ugly…just not polished and sleek.  It was also cool that Dave Depper on keys also played guitar from time to time–there could be three guitars on stage at once.

Then came the moment S. and I were waiting for.  That awesome bass line of “I Will Possess Your Heart.” “Not only did they play the extended intro they jammed it for about 10 minutes and it was fantastic.

They followed it with the oldest song of the night, 2000’s “Title Track.”  I have always liked this guitar riff and it was great to hear it live.  Then back to the new album with “Autumn Love” and then to Kintsugi with the awesome “Black Sun” (I guess I have listened to that album a bit).

Then it was onto Transatlanticism for “Expo 86.” The crowd went nuts when we heard those opening notes (they had recently played all of Transatlanticism the other night in Chicago, but I’m glad they didn’t for us (kind of).

I was intrigued that they kept playing new songs throughout the night.  Sometime the end of a set can get hits-heavy, so it was nice to keep everyone on our toes.  I was amazed at how much “Northern Lights” and especially “Doors Unlocked and Open” sounded like a Rush song circa Grace Under Pressure–the way the bass and guitar intertwined.

Next up was “Cath…”  It was on this song that I was really aware of how great the drums from Jason McGerr sounded.  It sounded terrific, but it was nothing compared to the excitement the crowd felt during “Soul Meets Body.”  The crowd sang along perfectly to the bah bah bah bah bah part (and pretty much everything else).

A few songs earlier I realized that I didn’t know how long they had been playing and I didn’t know how long the show was going to be.  I assumed that DCFC would not play a super long show, and yet they have been around for 20 years, so they could play forever.  And as they played “Soul Meets Body” I realized that there were probably a half dozen songs that I loved which they hadn’t played.

Turned out they were ready to end the main set and they returned Transatlanticism (they played 5 of 11 songs) for “The Sound of Settling” (bah bah, bah bah, this is the sound of settling).

After a fairly short encore break, Ben Gibbard came back out with an acoustic guitar.  The lighting was great and Ben started singing the opening to “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”  The sound was great and the crowd was initially respectful as Ben started singing.  But it was hard to hold back and soon everyone was singing along with him.

It was a beautiful moment and could have easily ended the show.  But they were not done by a long shot.

A recent trend, it seems, is to include a new song in the encore.  It’s disappointing if you are expecting a favorite hit, but it usually means that there will be a few more songs.  So you can sit back and enjoy a song like “Near / Far” and appreciate it and want to listen to it more.  Once the other songs are done, of course.

They ended the night with two more songs from Transatlanticism (which was great).  The first, “Tiny Vessels,” a sad but lovely song (“she is beautiful, but she don’t mean a thing to me”) that builds to a pretty big rocker in the middle.

Then came the slow buildup of the title song “Transatlanticism.”  It starts on piano and effects.  Then the beautiful guitar riff–two three note melodies and a big slow chord  that propels the song forward.  I have always like this song because of that riff, but I never expected what they would do with this song.  It takes about three minutes for the drums to begin–a slow steady rhythm which is joined by the bass (Nick Harmer).  Then Ben came from behind the piano and picked up his guitar.  The band began jamming the middle of the song–repeating that guitar riff and the lyrics “I need you so much closer.”    And the song just kept getting bigger and bigger and louder and louder.  They must have repeated that section for three or for minutes just getting fuller and fuller until was almost unbearable.  It felt like the walls might come down.  I still get chills thinking about it.

It was one of the best endings to a show I’ve ever seen.

SETLIST

I Dreamt We Spoke Again ¥
Summer Years ¥
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive  ℘
Long Division ⇑
Title and Registration ™
Gold Rush ¥
A Movie Script Ending ∏
Crooked Teeth ¶
What Sarah Said ¶
60 & Punk ¥
I Will Possess Your Heart ⇑
Title Track ϖ
Autumn Love ¥
Black Sun ℘
Expo 86 ™
Northern Lights ¥
Doors Unlocked and Open ⊗
Cath… ⇑
Soul Meets Body ¶
The Sound of Settling ™

Encore:
I Will Follow You Into The Dark ¶
Near / Far ¥
Tiny Vessels ™
Transatlanticism ™

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ϖ We Have the Facts And We’re Voting Yes (2000)
∏ The Photo Album (2001)
™ Transatlanticism (2003)
¶ Plans (2005)
⇑ Narrow Stairs (2008)
⊗ Codes and Keys (2011)
℘ Kintsugi (2015)
¥ Thank You for Today (2018)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2018] Naked Giants

I had never heard of Naked Giants before this show.  But apparently I was in the minority, because everyone in the club seemed to know these guys (even though they apparently have never played Philly before?).  The dudes next to me knew every word of every song and slammed and pogoed through the whole set (and I was pretty far back so this was irritatingly out of place–keep the slamming to the pit, dudes).

Naked Giants is a three-piece from Seattle.  Sure they play grunge, but they mix in some pop elements and a full dose of indie rock as well.  Both the guitarist and the bassist sing lead.  The drummer is a maniac and he left his kit several times to walk around–sometimes mid song.

They are one of the most fun bands I’ve seen live in a really long time.

The band came out and they played a huge intro of noise.  It went on for quite a while–noise and flashing lights and everything and then they settled into “Dead/Alien.” Both guitarist Grant Mullen and bassist Gianni Aiello sang lead on.

It was followed by “Regular Guy” which is indeed about a regular guy–but with a wicked guitar solo–because even though they play indie rock, Mullen totally shreds.

They played a new song called “TV” which has a very new waves-sounding staccato guitar line.  It is sung in a detached new wave style until the bass and fuzz guitar kick in and it turns onto a heavy grunge song for a few measures before reverting to the new wave sound.  The middle has a long noisy jam/freakout section which was a lot of fun.

They were jumping around like lunatics during most of the show with Aiello doing a great left/right jump kick through one of the rocking sections.

On one occasion when Henry LaVallee got our from behind his kit, he walked around the drums, hit one cymbal from the other side and sat down.  Another time he got up and engaged with the audience.  I love this picture in which he was showing the audience his phone (no idea why), but it looks like the guy in the crowd is holding a tiny light.

When they announced the song “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows),” a kind of bratty surf punk song, the guys near me went berserk.  They sang along and even added their own call and response to the vocals (which you can hear in this clip).  The band really appreciated it and waves to the guys.

Then they played the title track from their recent album, Sluff.  About this song, Aiello told Billboard

“I just needed a word for the chorus of that song,… I knew I wanted to shout something, but I didn’t know what. I was hanging out with my girlfriend and I said, ‘Hey, what’s a good grunge-sounding word?’ She thought for a minute and then said ‘Sluff!’ I said, ‘That’s perfect!’ It sounds like something Soundgarden might do. It’s just a nonsense word.”

And he is totally right, it is a ton of fun to sing along to “oh oh oh oh oh sluff!”

Toward the end of their set they played a song called “Twist” which was in fact, more or a less a twist (Aiello turned and faced the crowd and shook his butt at us twist-style).  There was a middle part that had a solo or two from each guy.  In Aiello’s solo he did a bass line from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” which was pretty cool.

It was followed by ta total freak out called “Green Fuzz.”  This song went on for about ten minutes.  There was a middle section that involved all of them making as much noise as possible and Mullen ultimately lying on his back, feet in the air, doing whatever it was he was doing (I couldn’t really see him).  He stayed down there for a good five minutes while Henry LaVallee went bonkers on the drums–it was like a drum solo but without the pretension.  Meanwhile, Aiello was keeping things mostly under control with his bass, although he was also playing behind his head at one point.

They ended with “Ya Ya” an incredibly fun song and perfect set ender with the wonderfully deep chorus of “Oh, ya ya ya ya hey, Whoo hoo!”  It’s basically one more wild jam before the set crashes to a conclusion.

They were fantastic and I’d definitely see them again.

It turns out that Naked Giants are also part of Car Seat Headrest’s live band.  They became friends with Will Toledo several years ago  “I think it’s been pretty fun, though, kind of like a big boost. We get to play way bigger shows than we would by ourselves. We open for them, too, so it’s a lot of hard work. We’re playing two and a half hours a night, but it’s worth it. It’s what we signed up for.”

Setlist

  1. Dead/Alien $
  2. Regular Guy
  3. TV $
  4. Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows) $
  5. Sluff $
  6. Slow Dance II $
  7. Twist ¥
  8. Green Fuzz
  9. Ya Ya ¥

 

¥ R.I.P. EP

$ Sluff

 

 

 

 

 

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