Archive for the ‘Austin City Limits’ Category

SOUNDTRACKPEARL JAM-Austin City Limits (2009).

Pearl Jam records (and sells) most of their shows and they occasionally videotape them as well.  But they don’t do TV all that much (excepting the recent Late Late Show episodes).  There seemed to be something special, or at least different, about Pearl Jam on Austin City Limits.  Think of it almost like Unplugged Updated.

It opens slow with Eddie on an acoustic guitar and strings behind him.  In fact, the whole set seems less heavy than many of their sets.  But that’s not to say that the band doesn’t rock out, because they do.

The first six songs of the set come from Backspacer.   And then they bust out “Army Reserve” (which makes sense given who is in the audience, see below).  Then there’s a wonderfully raucous version of “Do the Evolution” (one of my favorite PJ songs).

After that riotous track, they bring the strings out for one more song.  It’s a rather funny little joke because it’s just the strings and Eddie on acoustic guitar playing “Lukin,” the 80-second song that is so fast you can barely hear the words.

For an extra treat, touring mate Ben Harper comes out to play slide guitar on “Red Mosquito” (which is always a treat).  And the set ends with an amazing version of “Porch” with a super long guitar solo in which Mike McCready really shows off his chops.  There’s even a moment where Mike and Stone are riffing off each other, classic rock style.
The set ends the Eddie talking about playing for the wounded veterans in the audience and how it was quite moving for him given all they have done for us.  Over the closing credits you see the band mingling with the veterans (including a guy who has lost a leg).  It’s all surprisingly touching for a rock show.

[READ: November 20, 2011] “Perchance to Dream”

A while back I read all of the Jonathan Franzen articles that were published in The New Yorker.  I thought I had read everything he’d published until I realized I had forgotten to read this piece (possibly his most famous) that was published in Harper’s.  It fits in well with this weekend’s theme because it was mentioned in Evan Hughes’ article that I talked about yesterday and because David Foster Wallace is mentioned in it.

As with most of Franzen’s non-fiction, it’s not easy to write about critically unless I want to argue with him, which I don’t necessarily want to do.  So instead, I’ll try to summarize.  Of course, this is a long and somewhat difficult article, so let’s see what we can do with it.

The first surreal thing is when you see the byline: “Jonathan Franzen is the author of two novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion, and is writing a third.”  It’s hard to imagine he got a huge article in Harper’s before he wrote The Corrections.

The second surreal thing comes in the text: It opens with “The country was preparing for war ecstatically, whipped on by William Safire (for whom Saddam Hussein was ‘this generation’s Hitler’) and George Bush, whose approval stood at 89 percent.”  And it is only a few paragraphs later when he mentions Patriot missiles that it clicked that this was written in 1996 and not 2001 and that he was talking about the 1991 Iraq invasion.  He mentions this as a prelude, saying that he was trying to sequester himself in order to start writing again.

Then he talks about Paula Fox’s novel Desperate Characters as a benchmark in terms of insight and personal conflict, even if it is so crazily outdated (that someone would throw an inkwell!).   He talks about this book quite a bit. I’m, not sure I found it compelling enough to want to read, but it’s always interesting to hear a fan write about a book I’ve never heard of.  He will return to this book throughout the essay. (more…)

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Like The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend only got two songs in this airing (this makes sense as they only had two albums out at the time).  The two songs were “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Oxford Comma” (Palladia faded out the “fuck” in “Oxford Comma” which always seems so subtle I don’t think I’ve ever heard it censored before). 

The band sounds great (something I’d wondered about as they seem like such a studio band–not that they use tricks or anything, but their music is so tight and sharp, it’s nice to know they can play it live, too).   Although their live show is not all that exciting visually and they seem kind of dwarfed on the giant stage. 

The real change comes from the vocals.  Not big changes, but the singer seems to having a little fun on “Cape Cod” but hitting some really high notes which are almost out of tune. 

It’s interesting that they chose to air two songs from their first album and none from their new album.  Regardless, theirs was a good set and I’d love to see more.

[READ: November 6, 2011] “Visions Shared”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

I have been fascinated by synesthesia ever since I first heard of it a few years ago.  So when I saw that this article was not only about synesthesia, but was written from the point of view of an artist with it, I was really excited.  Sadly, while Steen may be a good artist (it is actually really hard to tell from the pictures in my print out–why are they black and white?) she is not a very compelling writer.

The most fascinating thing that I got out of this article was that by 2001, people were still not entirely sure of synesthesia and its effects on artists.  And that this is meant to be one of the first accounts from a synesthetic artist.  As such, she goes over a lot of basic groundwork and tries her best to explain exactly what is happening when she experiences these sensations.

The details are of course fascinating–she sees colors when she has certain experiences and acupuncture in particular seems to be a major source for her art.  In this respect I find her form of synesthesia less than satisfying because I am more interested in those who conflate words and sounds with colors, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Nevertheless, these acupuncture sessions have resulted in a number of art pieces.  In fact, she says she was painting these synesthetic colors long before she even knew she had synesthesia (her first painting, called “Orange Calipers” was actually synesthesia-inspired even though she didn’t “know” that at the time). (more…)

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It must be tough to take a festival like Austin City Limits and truncate it into 2 hours.  It must also be tough to be a pretty much headling band like The Flaming Lips and to be playing in the middle of the day when your cool stage stuff is probably less impressive (but good for them for going all out!).

Some fun things to see during their set: the camera mounted on Wayne Coyne’s microphone (huge close-ups of his face); the guns that shoot streamers, Cliph the drummer makes the sample sound effects that you need to make during the songs, tons of back up dancers (who I believe are fans that won a contest or something), the amazing multi-instrumental skills of Steven Drozd.

This broadcast only showed two Lips songs (criminally underrepresented, but I understand).  They played “I Can be a Frog” which is a wonderful audience participation song even if it’s nowhere near their best song. 

And “She Don’t Use Jelly” which I understand as it was their hit and the crowd (and even the band) always seem into it, but that song is like twenty years old and they didn’t play any other bands’ old singles.   I won’t complain to hear that song, but there are just so many good ones to choose from that it seems silly to play that one.

[READ: November 6, 2011] “The Mermaid of Legend and Art”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

I wrote the review of this article before I realized that I had only read part 3 of 3.  There were some clues (like the start mentioning “the first few lines of my opening chapter”), but since the link I was given went here, I assumed that the other chapters were not available (until I saw the tiny footnote that said this was continued from pg 172).

So, I’m including my original post at the bottom for history’s sake, but I’m going to write the revised review here.

I don’t quite understand why this article was broken up into three sections.  This is especially egregious because of the figures included in the articles.  They do not really correspond to the sections where they are written about.  So, for instance he mentions Figure 13 on the last page of the article when we are already up to Figure 36 (and Figure 13 is fifty-some pages away).  For most of the other figures, he always seems to be a few pages behind, as if they needed to put the pictures throughout the article rather than where they are mentioned–it was bad enough having it in three sections (in my print puts) but imagine having to flip back thirty some pages to see what the hell he’s talking about!  Of course, this was 1880, they had more free time.

So, anyhow, the beginning of this article talks about the history of the mermaid in folk tales and the Bible.  Evidently Brahma visited Menu (Aka Noah) in the guise of a fish–which is how he was able to build the ark.  There is also a lengthy discussion about the importance of fish in the Old Testament.  In addition to the whole IXTHUS thing, fish were a very useful form of currency.  So it is nor surprise that they used representations of fish and sea creatures in ancient Rome and Greece. (more…)

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Recently Palladia broadcast some highlights from the Austin City Limits Festival in 2010.  The bands they showed were Phish, The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Spoon and Slightly Stoopid.

There were so many good bands at this festival (why is Richard Thompson in such small print?) that I won’t really complain about the inclusion of Slightly Stoopid and LCD Soundsystem on this best of (but they could have included Band of Horses, Yeasayer, Broken Bells, Gogol Bordello (the list goes on!).  (I’d never heard of Slightly Stoopid and although I like LCD Soundsystem, live they were less than stellar).  Although I am glad they didn’t include the Eagles, thank you very much.

I’m trying to get actual set lists of these airings (they mentioned the song titles during the show but I didn’t write them down).

This was a 2-hour broadcast and it was really good.  If they re-air the episode, it’s worth watching.  The quality of the broadcast is excellent (even if the HD format does take up way too much space on a TiVo).

[READ: November 6, 2011] “Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

And to start of the holidays, I present you with this–a loving history of the beer can (for archaeologists).

This is a fairly fascinating look at the development of the beer can from 1935 to the present.  The selling point of the article is that archeologists could use beer cans to date the timeframe of an excavation.  I agree with this; however, since they only date back to 1935, I’m not entirely convinced of its long-term usefulness.

The problem with the article is that page two shows a chronological timeline.  This in itself is not a problem (although it is odd that it goes from present to 1935 instead of chronologically forward); the problem is that the article itself more or less sates exactly the same thing as the timeline.  For although this article is 20 pages long, there are tons of photos and very little in the way of text beyond what was in that (very thorough) time line.

Nevertheless, you can see the morphing of beer cans from ones that you had to pop open with a can opener to ones that finally had self opening cans.  See the switch from tin to aluminum, and even learn why the tops of cans are a little narrower than the sides (called a neck-in chime, it evidently saves a lot of money). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:THEM CROOKED VULTURES-Live on Austin City Limits, Feb 13, 2010 (2010).

This set from Them Crooked Vultures is outstanding. I really like the album, but in a live setting these three (technically 4) guys are on fire.  They extend the songs a bit but are always tight as a drum.  Josh Homme is a great front man, even if he’s not that animated.  He shares guitar duties with Alain Johannes who is not on the album, but who gets some great sounds out of his guitar.

Dave Grohl is in his drum-pounding glory back there.  Man, he hits the drums hard.  And he seems to be really enjoying himself .

 And the biggest surprise (sort of, but not really) is John Paul Jones.  He fits in perfectly with the two younguns, and he really shows them how it’s done.  His bass work is phenomenal: fast, furious and accurate to a fault.  He also plays keyboards, an LED pulsing 12-(at least) string bass and a fascinating purple electric slide guitar contraption on “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I”.   Matt Rosoff from cnet explains this guitar here:

It looked like some sort of slide guitar with an electronic screen. I’d never seen anything like it before, so I did a little digging and found out from a March interview in Bass Player that it’s a custom-made axe created by Hugh Manson, who has been Jones’ tech for some time and who owns a renowned guitar shop in England. It’s essentially laid out like a lap slide guitar, modified so Jones can sling it over his shoulder and carry it around on stage, and with two extra bass strings at the bottom.

So what about that rectangular screen? According to a forum post on the EMG pickups site, it’s a MIDI controller that Jones can use to trigger stage lights. I imagine it could also be used to trigger various effects, similar to the modified Korg Kaoss controller that Manson built into a guitar for Muse’s Matt Bellamy.

If you’re already a fan of the band, you really need to check out this live show; they are amazing.  And if you’re not a fan, you will be after this show.  This is how I first heard  them and I was blown away.

You can watch the show online on PBS.

[READ: July 27, 2011] Five Dials Number 20

I didn’t expect to get caught up to Five Dials issues so quickly (has it really been 20 weeks already?).  This is the most recently releases issue!  They aren’t getting published as often as I expected.  Which is fine.  But the funny thing with this issue is that there were several printing errors in the initial run of this issue.  I don’t know if this has happened before, but it seemed so noticeable to me, that I had to wonder how it slipped by everyone.  The most obvious was that the front page had many ƒƒƒƒ characters (these were also evident in the Word Cloud later on).  There’s a word missing from the fiction “the thin cold stillness you got [  ] this part of the country” and there’s a crazy typo in the Fiction story later on. The errors have now been fixed.  But, the letter to the editor (and this has not been fixed) promises us a picture which isn’t there. “Here’s a photo of Doni at the reading – he did a brilliant job.”  I’ll assume they were partying too hard at the Port Eliot Festival to make sure  the issue was launch-ready

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Cable Street and General Interests
There were some serious race riots on Cable Street back in 1936.  Indeed,the head of the British Union of Fascists, Mosley, and his aggressive supporters were turned back by a noisy crowd (Irish women throwing fishy potatoes at them).  The rest of the magazine he says is general Interest, an anachronistic term from the 20th century before all magazines had to specialize in something.  I mentioned in my introduction that there was a photo error here.  Doni Gewirtzman performed a reading at the launch of Five Dials 19.  They couldn’t out the picture there, so they added it here.  Perhaps in Issue 21? (more…)

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We watched this Steve Martin performance on Austin City Limits last night.  Who knew that Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) won a Grammy in the bluegrass category!  I’m not a huge fan of bluegrass–basically I like it enough for a few songs, but a half an hour is a bit much.

Nevertheless, Steve Martin is an amazing banjo player.  Anyone who has his comedy albums from the 70s knows that.  He used to play banjo between jokes (“Oh…death and grief and sorry and murder).  Now he tells jokes between banjo songs (the joke about the Grammy is very funny).

This song does not feature his amazing banjo playing but it is very funny indeed.

I just love the crazy notes that Martin hits near the end, which sounds so out of tune and yet fit very well together.

[READ: July 27, 2011] Five Dials 18b

The bulk of this short special issue is the five poems by Michael Robbins, a poet with whom I am unfamiliar.  The only other items included here are Craig Taylor’s Letter and Laurence Scott’s Currentish Events about Galliano and Gaddafi.  Since Five Dials issues are of varying sizes to begin with, it was unclear why this issue was a “b” and not the next issue, but Taylor sets us all straight.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Spring and Robbins
They got into the publishing gig to be able to comment on things as they occur.  So this special issue is designed to usher in Spring and to introduce the world to the new poet whose title “Aliens v Predator” so impressed them that they asked him for five more. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ARCADE FIRE Austin City Limits (2007).

Recorded in support of Neon Bible, this concert blew me away.  I enjoyed Neon Bible quite a lot, but seeing the band in this concert setting was really amazing. The band was so exciting live.

From Win Butler’s intense performance (both on stage and in the audience) to his wife, Régine Chassagne’s multi-instrumental extravaganza (even if she does look like Susie Essman when she’s about to go off on a foul-mouthed tirade).  To the exhausting and exhaustive rest of the band.  They never stop.  Even when they’re not playing anything, the are happy to join in on a random drum or cymbal.

Plus, how many bands do you get to see play the hurdygurdy?

There’s just so much going on onstage with this band (and of course they throw in little video screens as well!).  And when Win grabs his mike stand and moves literally into the audience to finish one of the last songs, it was really invigorating (and would have been very exciting to have been in the front row there).

Even though it was televised, I felt like I was there.  Oh, and it wasn’t just the theatrics, the band sounded amazing too.  If I ever get the chance I hope to see them live, myself.

[READ: February 11, 2010] Wet Moon 2

I finally received Wet Moon 2 & 3 in the mail the other day.   I was quite excited to get to them.  And Volume 2 did not disappoint.

It is very apparent from Volume 2 that Campbell is in it for the long haul.  Which is one way of saying that not very much “happens” in this book.  Several plot threads from book 1 are teased out a bit, but nothing conclusive happens anywhere.

But that’s not to say that nothing happens at all.  We learn the identity of the long-haired person whom Cleo runs away from in book one (an ex). We learn a little back story (and about a curious upside-down contraption from the person with no hair (who is named Fern).  We learn that Wet Moon is full of more and more bizarre characters, and that there’s an FBI agent around town.  We also learn that another Cleo Eats It sign has been found, although we don’t know anything more about who did it.


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