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Archive for the ‘Wire’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Spoon

I have been a fan of Spoon for years.  I’ve never seen them before, including when they played at XPN Fest a few years ago.  Since the song “Hot Thoughts” from the new album is so damn catchy, it seemed like a great time to see them live (especially at TLA).

It took the band quite a while to get going after Sneaks went off.  And I gather they were having technical problems throughout the night.  But it sounded fantastic out by us.  Brit Daniel said he’d tell us the story later in the show.

They played a great mix of new songs and old songs.  Daniel’s voice sounded perfect and he was full of energy–interacting with the audience–high fiving, making faces–and jumping all around the stage.

On my side of the stage I was just a few feet from bassist Rob Pope.  I enjoyed the way Pope came really close to the edge of the stage a number of times, practically leaning out above us.   Just behind him was drummer Jim Eno.

The other side of the stage, obscured by fog for the first half of the show was Gerardo Larios on keys and guitar and Alex Fischel on guitar and keys and all manner of sounds.  He opened the show with some interesting noises while shrouded in fog.  As the blue lights zoomed around the rest of the band came out and they started “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: fIREHOSE-Live Totem Pole EP (1992).

Listening to Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” reminded me that I knew a live version from somewhere else.  And, with a little help from the web, I remembered it was here.

fIREHOSE is Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen band, and they are a lot of fun (and even managed to get a major label deal before breaking up.  This (apparently really hard to find) EP is a great, weird collection of covers: Blue Oyster Cult’s “The Red and the Black”; Public Enemy’s “Sophisticated Bitch” (yes you read that right); The Butthole Surfer’s “Revolution (Part 2)” (with the repeated coda of “Garry Shandling, Garry Shandling”; Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” and Wire’s “Mannequin”.  There’s two Watt-written songs, “What Gets Heard” (from fROMOHIO) and “Makin’ the Freeway” (from if’n).

The covers are universally solid.  The band sounds punky and kind of sloppy and fun (not so terribly virtuosic on the solos), and they bring an amazing vitality to these songs.  The Public Enemy song is probably the biggest surprise as it sounds fantastic in this rocking band set up (although the original rocks pretty hard too, frankly).  And “Slack” is possibly even faster and punkier than the original (it sounds awesome here).  Interestingly to me, “Mannequin” sounds completely like an SST track (which if you know the label will make sense and if you don’t, it won’t) even though it’s a Wire song (and not released on SST).

I’d always known that Watt was a mean bassist, but man, he is wild on this disc.  The runs and fills he puts in all over the disc are great.  “What Gets Heard” has some great slap bass and “Freeway” is one of Watt’s weird and delightful spoken rants with fantastic bass fills.

fIREHOSE may not have always been brilliant, but they had moments of awesomeness.

[READ: October 16, 2010] “The Failure”

This story is part of the 1999 New Yorkers‘ 20 Under 40 collection (it’s the first story that was not included in that issue).  Its also the first story by Franzen that I have read.

It’s tempting, since I’m in a David Foster Wallace mood, to think that DFW was some kind of inspiration for Franzen (they were friends, after all).  The opening of the story talks a bit about cruise ships.  And Wallace’s “Shipping Out” was published in Harper’s just a couple of years before this.  Having said that, aside from the fact that the protagonist’s parents are taking a cruise (and there’s some cruise-mocking), the story doesn’t have much else in common with the piece, so we’ll get past that.

The story was excerpted in the main 20 Under 40 issue (the first few paragraphs), and I was intrigued, although the excerpt didn’t really indicate where the story would go at all.

Chip is a midwestern guy who has moved to New York City. He has lost a teaching job (for a very bad reason) and is now trying to survive as a writer.  His parents are in town briefly because they are taking a cruise out of New York.  And as he updates his mother and father on what he’s been up to, the list of minor failures (the ones he admits to and doesn’t) grows and grows.  And it’s clear from his mother’s talk that she’s more than a little disappointed in his reality. (more…)

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