Greetings from Sweden
About 2 this afternoon I decided to take a quick trip to Sweden. I arrived in Helsingborg by 4:30 p.m. Not bad time. I bought a flag and a beer. Time to go back to Copenhagen as the German girls are going to show me around. We're going to see a band called Tomahawk or some such.
It's a cloudy, ugly day.
Monday, June 30, 2003
Greetings from Sweden
Posted by David at 6/30/2003 10:51:00 AM
I survived the Roskilde Festival 2003
Well, I did it. I can cross Roskilde off my list of things to do for 2003 on the list hanging on my fridge in Minneapolis.
It was sad to see the festival wrap up though. If you've been involved with theater, it had the same sort of sadness as striking the set after an enjoyable and successful run of a show.
I won't be able to post any festival photos until my return home. In the meantime I found a site that features many photos here that appears to give a nice, fairly comprehensive, photo-journistic overview.
Bjork was the perfect choice as a festival closer at the Orange Stage. Attendance results are in for this year's festival, about 75,000 people. Most of them came together in the center of the festival grounds to watch the elven one, whose fabulous green hat was an early star of the show. Pictures will have to wait until my return, but imagine the outer leaves of a large sunflower with the middle cut out, except that the petals are green instead of yellow, and there is one of these wrapped around each ear with an opening towards the front. I'm sure that doesn't do it justice, but screw it, I just realized there's a picture of it on the front of her website.
Bjork's show also featured an onstage pyrotechnic's show that would scare the hell out of the Fine Line staff. (According to today's Strib the Fine Line will open again on July 9th with a performance by Lowen & Navarro. Jets of fire, similar to the effects that caused the Great White fire in Rhode Island that killed a hundred people this spring, but probably 5 times the size (and there were dozens of them) lined the stage as an actual fireworks display went off from behind the stage.
I figured I'd be a good boy when Bjork finished and just go on home on the midnight bus, despite the fact that there would be final shows featuring Filur, DeathDisco and Malk de Kojin playing in the Arena until 4:30 a.m. But this didn't mean my adventures were over.
Festival Safety personell had done a terrific job up until the end of the night of keeping people from lighting even small fires, burning mostly small wooden lawn chairs. No sooner would you get one lit than 4 to 6 workers in blue vests would run up and pour water on it.
However, once the festival ended and I was making my way to the bus at the edge of the East camping ground, the fires started to grow larger. I had more than an ample chance to watch due to a bus fiasco that I'll get to in a minute. The fires I could see at the edge of the campground were veritable bonfires. I watched as people threw erected tents, poles and all onto the flames. Billows of black ugly smoke started to waft across the sky.
Did I mention it never really gets dark in Denmark? The sun kind of goes down around 10:15 or so, but then you are left with a kind of post dusk/pre-dawn twilight for pretty much the rest of the night. I saw this lovely light as late as 3:30 a.m. Then, of course, the sun comes back up at 3:30...
The bus fiasco: Although the Danish were surprisingly rude in the beer and food lines, pretty much pushing their way around less agressive and overly polite folks by myself, the first time I worried about someone getting hurt was when trying to catch the post festival buses. I'm a little bad at crowd estimates, but let's just say about 400 to 500 people left through the East Exit around midnight supposedly to catch the night busses that run hourly. At midnight, there were no busses waiting as there had been the previous nights.
At 12:10 the first bus showed up. Have you ever seen a pack of hungry wolves attempt to devour a single piece of meat? The bus was swarmed, and not slowly, but in a big rush. There was no way that all those people were going to fit. There are times when the phrase "There's always room for one more" just ain't true.
Maybe 10 minutes later, another bus showed. Same result, but the crowd had grown. The bus was swarmed even before it got to the busstop, leaving those who actually were waiting in line suddenly at the very back of the list. 12:30, maybe another bus came. I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going anywhere soon. I found a comfy abandoned chair and simply sat and watched the Danish sky, the smoke from the growing fires rising in the distance, the lights of the festival looking like a small city. It was chilly, but I'd brought an extra coat and didn't care.
Some folks took cabs, but again there was swarming and some arguments. There was a line for taxis, but again people were swarming them up to 100 yards before they reached the stand. It was nearly 2 a.m. when I struck up a conversation with some girls from Germany who had asked me the time. We got to talking in half English, half German, and the little bit of Danish I have now picked up. (I'd noticed earlier when talking to the guys from the Isle of Man that my accent is all screwed up already. Being a social chameleon of sorts, I am now speaking English with a slightly Danish accent, which sounds a little bizarre.)
I suggested a Taxi to the German girls. I'd been thinking of taking one myself as they did appear to be less popular than the bus. The bus was 65 kronen from the festival to Central Station in Copenhagen, about 35 kilometers. I figured the distance was similar to taking a cab from Minnetonka to downtown Minneapolis, something you wouldn't want to do unless it was an emergency, but it was getting to be nearly 2 a.m.
I had 400 kronen in cash, not enough for a cab, but the cabs did take credit cards. I ended up sharing a cab with the three German girls, Constantin, Kristin, Regina and Sara. We dropped them in a neighborhood referred to as the North Bronx of Copenhagen. My driver told me it was one of the more seedy areas of town, but somehow whenever I travel I manage to get myself straight into those areas. That's how it happened this time.
I ended up paying 80 percent of the 594 kronen fare (about 60 dollars). The girls had a 50 kronen note, a nearly full buscard, and some change. But hell, I'm on holiday, so the money's not that big a deal. Besides, I made some friends, and I had to get home. I gave them my "rock hack" card, and if they email me as promised I may have a place to stay next time I visit Copenhagen.
What does all this have to do with Rock and Roll? Well, the festival experience is much larger than the music for one. Even shy folks like myself do tend to meet people eventually, usually on the last day of the festival when people are worn down and more chatty. Festivals take a lot out of an old man like me, but you get out of things what you put into them. Flying to Europe to do something crazy like seeing rock shows is definitely something you don't soon forget.
Now I have two days to try and explore Copenhagen. But I got the cheesy and boring Museum of Erotica out of the way yesterday morning. I must say it's not worth the admission fee, though they do give you a handy guidebook as part of the admission. Making your way through the three floors of exhibits that chronicle the history of sex through the ages you get the strange and probably incorrect impression that sex was at its sexiest in around 1970. However, you also realize that Marilyn Monroe stands around across the ages as one of the most amazing women who ever lived.
Posted by David at 6/30/2003 05:34:00 AM
Sunday, June 29, 2003
They will kick us out of here eventually. 10 minutes of free, unfettered internet access from the festival site. I just saw Massive Attack, who had a light show that rivals the Matrix's special effects. Information overload to say the least. Before that, Queens of the Stone Age, with a near fully clothed bass player (surprise.) But it's freezing cold here, rainy and nearly ugly. Yo La Tengo didn't warm me as much as I hoped, but The Datsuns kicked ass (more later with tons of photos.) I got inner circle and enjoyed, enjoyed, enjoyed.
What next? There's an intentional sort of reverse diaspora here at Roskilde. In about 5 minutes, Bjork plays the Orange Stage. She's the only act scheduled for 10 p.m., so the idea is everyone goes there. I'm about 5 minutes walk from front and center, and will have more to report soon.
Met some English, from the Isle of Man. Nice folks. Chatted about Reading. Told them to check out Har Mar Superstar.
Think I'm drunk. Not sure. Maybe it's just the internet tent that's starting to sway.
I'm told they stop serving beer at 4:30 a.m. Damn. Only six and a half more hours to drink.
Posted by David at 6/29/2003 03:04:00 PM
Fu Manchu, Daniel Johnston and Blur
Yes, I saw those bands back to back, though not on the same stage.
Fu Manchu are the California band sometimes called the fathers of Acid Rock. Although they often get grouped in with that wishy-washy term "metal" there is rock and roll at the heart of their music, which made for an enjoyable experience, even if I was far from overwhelmed. "Godzilla" and "Hell on Wheels" were highlights, though they did play several new songs as well. After nearly every song, their Californian "Thank you very much" kind of grated on me after a while under the Danish sun.
My new prescription earplugs are doing the trick though. Fu Manchu is likely the loudest band I've ever heard in my life. (Think really loud, then turn it up 2-3 notches.)
Next was the American singer Daniel Johnston, an unstable 42 year old, who is currently receiving medical treatment. Beck and Bowie and Kurt Cobain have been fans. There was a lot of encouragement from the audience in terms of cheering and clapping along as he worked his way through his set. Clumsy, grey haired, and somewhat overweight, Johnston sang childlike songs accompanying himself first on a strummed classical guitar (that was miked, not plugged in), then on electric piano. The songs are catchy and do sound amateurish at first, or as if written by a child, but strangely woven into them is a lot of emotional wisdom that starts cutting to the bone after a while and you realize why this guy has 20 albums to his name and is appreciated by musicians and fans worldwide. Although I'm not yet terribly familiar with his music, I plan to educate myself upon my return. Lyrics like "No is just tomorrow to me and you" spoken in the context of love is something I won't soon forget.
After Daniel Johnston, I made my way into the "inner circle" at the main stage. This would be the spot where the fans were crushed as Pearl Jam played a few years ago. There was plenty of room to move around, but of course, it was still an hour and a half until Blur was due to go on and my bladder didn't hold out that long, so out I went to watch Blur from further back.
Songs like Beetlebum and Boys and Girls started off Blur's set. Lead singer, the dapper Damon Albarn set a serious tone when he said he was glad to be back in Denmark, "A free country" he called it. I couldn't help but feel there was a critical reference being made here to his home country of England.
I waited for my favorite new song, the single from Think Tank called "Out of Time." I got it about 6 songs in and was more than happy with the result. I managed to catch the entire Blur show plus 3 encores in between repeated beer runs. I was almost surprised at how huge these guys are in Denmark, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. This was a great show that definitely rivaled Coldplay from the night before as far as the reasons behind these crazy rock and roll expeditions to Europe go. Sadly, perhaps, I'm not able to find the same comraderie at US rock shows, despite the fact that I'm usually among friends. Sometimes, strangers are the best people to be standing amidst when you see a show, and when they're not even speaking English (except when they're singing along to the songs, of course) it adds an extra element of distance. And speaking of singing along, maybe I'm lame, but the Danish knew all the words to Boys and Girls where as I had a hard time keeping up even on the chorus despite the fact that I've been listening to it for years.
Blur will hit Minneapolis at First Avenue in a couple of weeks. I won't be back in time for that show, but I'm sure it will be a doozy. The 40 to 50 thousand screaming fans I saw appreciating them at the Orange Stage can't be wrong.
Oh, and speaking of singalongs, the busride from Roskilde station to the festival featured a dozen boisterous young Danes singing among other things, the lyricless theme from Dallas at the top of their lungs. The ride home at 2 a.m. featured more subdued music by some Danish teenage girls who were sitting just behind me on the floor of the bus (I was not only ahead of the yellow no standee line, I was allowed to sit on the bus steps.) The girls laughed through a couple bars of Edel Weis, and then tried to even get me to sing along to what was perhaps a Danish folk song I did not recognize. I did my best, but failed miserably. But successful or not in my singalong, that was a fun ride.
There's more, but I'm tired and need to get back out to the festival for Bjork. I will miss the Sounds because I didn't wake up until 1330 today for some reason. Perhaps I needed the rest.
As far as my typos and lack of the normal background info I provide on the music I see via pre-writing research, I'm much less worried about that today. I read my blog referral log today and noted that for the most part, no one is reading this except a couple of friends back in Minneapolis. Perhaps it's best that this amateurish, bloggish writing of mine stays hidden until I get a better handle on what I'm trying to do over here.
Oh, but one final note about the lack of trash at Roskilde. The reason the cup recycling works so well is that a beer costs a reasonable 18 kroner. Simple math shows that returning a mere 9 plastic cups to the refund station is enough to buy another beer. Enough said.
Oh, and I saw my first Husker Du t-shirt on a Danish festival goer today.
Posted by David at 6/29/2003 08:35:00 AM
Saturday, June 28, 2003
And now, live from Denmark....
The Danish lay out the computer keyboard much differently than I am used to at home (the punctuation keys are all over hell.) So that, combined with the fact that I will not have time to do much editing here at this internet cafe in Copenhagen, may make for a rocky read in spots. Forgive me for that.
After an uneventful trip from Minneapolis, I landed at Copenhagen airport on Friday morning about 0915. The two pints of Heineken I'd had in Amsterdam at 0700 was helping to take the edge off the tired eyes from lack of sleep.
There was time for brief exploration and a necessary short nap before catching a train to Roskilde.
I'm glad I chose The Roskilde Festival this weekend, which takes place the same weekend as the Glastonbury Festival in England as the reports from the BBC suggest a possibly rainy, therefore muddy weekend at the sister festival across the way.
Roskilde so far has been my second favorite European Rock Festival, next to the Witnness Festival in Dublin as far as friendly fun goes. Safety, convenience and good sense abound at this festival. Remember, this is the festival where several young men, mostly from Germany, died in the mosh pit at a Pearl Jam performance just a few years ago. These days, there's a red light/green light approach to allowing people into the front area up by the stage. When it's full, it's full. End of story. And this in no way seems to detract from enjoying the show even outside the frontstage area as it's an entirely transparent safety measure as far as the rest of the audience goes.
Roskilde is a cleaner festival than most. The bathroom facilities are not bad, and in many cases pissing troughs line the walls of the festival where people would pee anyway if they weren't there. Brilliant move. And as far as garbage? There's a 2 Kroner deposit (about 2 cents) on all plastic beer cups. Surprisingly, due to this there's almost no litter. If you don't return your cup, someone else will.
I arrived one day late to the festival which started Thursday, missing Thursday's headliner, Metallica. (I don't feel bad about that actually.) Ironically, the first act I managed to catch at Roskilde was punk rock polka stars Los Lobos, playing the main (Orange) stage around 7 p.m. Between songs, Los Lobos quipped, "Yes, we're Mexicans," to the joyful and enthusiastic crowd of maybe 25 thousand. It was a great set, and I was glad that so early in my trip I realized the real point of my pilgrimage. Los Lobos ended their set by saying, "Thanks a lot. Iron Maiden's up next." How often do you get to say that and have it actually be true?
A little later in the Arena the Raveonettes performed their psychadelic Sonic Youth-like music obscured almost completely by smoke and a light show. Jumping back to the Metropol stage I caught a few songs by The ska-influenced hip hop act, The Streets. Their latest UK hit segued respectfully into a faithful cover of The Specials "Ghost Town."
Then I went to Iron Maiden, and I never thought I'd say this, but you know what? They're fucking great. Their entire set was a high energy, wave the Union Jack, prance around, singalong fun time, especially a set highlight for me, "Die With Your Boots On."
I took a brief jaunt back to the Arena for a hauntingly beautiful set by Sigur Ros. Tears abounded, even my own. This show was probably the highlight of my first day at Roskilde.
Then Coldplay took over the English standard on the Orange Stage from the Maiden and performed another moving set that opened with Politik and God Put a Smile on My Face. Notably, Chris Martin spoke only Danish between songs for the entire duration of the set that I caught.
Of course the problem with this show was that Coldplay had gone onstage at 1 a.m., and since I had a 30 minute busride back to Copenhagen I figured I should catch the 2 a.m. shuttle in order that I'd be able to get up the next day and do this all over again.
Tonight, among others, Blur and the Sounds are on my "to see" list. Off I go again...
Posted by David at 6/28/2003 09:20:00 AM
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Ben Weaver's UK Tour
Erik Brandt and Dave Strahan of the Urban Hillbilly Quartet just wrapped up a UK tour this past weekend with a show in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday night. Their most recent album "Amelia's Boot" was picked up recently by Native/Fundamental Records and is now being shopped to European audiences. They've been gigging across England and Scotland supporting its release since June 13th.
Brandt and Strahan will be back in the US before I arrive in the UK. However, St. Paul resident Ben Weaver's UK tour is still in full swing. I'm looking forward to catching up with him on July 6th at the Windmill in London to do a live show review where he'll be supporting release of his album "Hollerin' at a Woodpecker." Weaver tells me that the UK tour is going well. The first date was last night at the Borderline in London, and today he heads to Sheffield to support NoahJohn (NoahJohn is essentially, Madison resident Carl Johns and a variety of musicians.) "Got into town at 6am and just caught some sleep last night," Weaver wrote in and email this morning. "English breakfast but left the beans. " (Sounds like he might have a similar distaste for the staples of the English diet as does Har Mar Superstar, who complained at his Minneapolis "Going Away" show on May 29th how much he hated Bangers and Mash.)
You can welcome Weaver back to town July 13th when he performs at the 7th St. Entry.
I've become obsessed with the 1960's television series, "The Prisoner." Filmed on location in Portmeirion, Wales the show is the perfect combination of camp and surrealism with a generous portion of mystery thrown in as well. An extremely influential element of 1960's TV, even the Beatles were apparently fans.
Most of the outdoor scenes of what is referred to in the series only as "The Village" take place in Portmerion, and I was elated to find out that it's only about an hour or so drive from Holyhead in Wales where I'll be catching the ferry to Dublin in two weeks. I most definitely plan a pilgrimage.
Posted by David at 6/25/2003 12:52:00 PM
Monday, June 23, 2003
Roskilde Here I Come
"Wenn Woodstock irgendwo weiterlebt, dann hier in Roskilde"
(Sammy Hagar / Van Halen, 1995)
I found the above quote on the Roskilde Website. I find it difficult to believe that Sammy Hagar speaks German, but hey, more power to him if he does.
Fleetwood Mac at the Excel Center
Friday night I saw Fleetwood Mac at the Excel Center and I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised. Trip preparations prevent me from writing a full review, but with or without Christine McVie, Stevie, Linsday, John and Mick put on quite more than a nostalgia show, despite the fact that as a friend put it, "No Christine, no Songbird." The remaining band was still heavy on star power, showcasing Stevie's still tremendous singing, Buckingham's extravagent, if not long-winded guitar solos, and Mick Fleetwood's being the lovable character that has endeared him to millions for so long. I must admit I admired his red elvish shoes, and if not impressive, his final drum solo, played on electronic pads on his vest as he paraded on the stage was fun and amusing, if not still remarkably deft.
The band that played President Bill Clinton's inaugural party did not let the evening slip by without a political comment by Buckingham. "When love is gone there's always justice, and when justice is gone there's always force," he said by way of introducing "Peacekeeper," the band's first single from their new album "Say You Will."
Perhaps the most moving part of seeing the Mac live at all was seeing them work together so well knowing what they've been through over the past 25 years. Those of us old enough to remember when Stevie and Linsday really were in love might have been touched to see her put her hands on his shoulder during a tender moment.
And speaking of hands on, for some strange reason, my ass was apparently open season for the women at the end of our row as I moved in and out several times during the show to go to the restroom and such. Not to complain; they were damn cute. And the two fellows from work who attended the concert with me didn't get this special treatment. On my last pass back to me seat I decided to edge through the other direction to avoid another pinch, and was told, "We just think you're darling!" (And yes, if they read this I'd gladly accept an invitation to their next party.)
Public Service Announcement: Always wear earplugs!
After the Jayhawks holiday show at First Avenue in December, my left ear started ringing. No big deal, I figured at first. Although I usually wear earplugs, that was one of few shows of the hundreds I've seen in the past year where I failed to wear them. (It only takes one night to do permanent damage.) Nearly seven months later, my left ear is still ringing, no more loudly, nor any more quietly than before. I'm growing used to it.
The good news is that after a hearing test today I have found out I have no permanent hearing loss in that ear. (I'm as surprised about this as I am happy about it.) The other good news is that I picked up a pair of ER-20 High Fidelity Earplugs which will protect me from further hearing damage without the drawback of plugs that I hate: I can't makeout human speech well enough. I plan to give the new ER-20's an adequate road-test at Roskilde and the Witnness Festival.
Don't mess around. See http://www.tinnitus.com for more information on hearing losss and what you can do to prevent it.
Posted by David at 6/23/2003 05:51:00 PM
Monday, June 16, 2003
R.I.P. Lost Cause
Well, I guess there won't even be a July issue of Lost Cause. Too bad for many reasons, not the least of which that I spent 5 hours this weekend finishing up a couple of articles for that issue. Anyone interested in 500 print-ready words on Raven's CD release and Har Mar Superstar's going away show?
Here's the email I got from Mark Baumgarten this morning to show you just how Lost of a Cause Lost Cause now is:
Sad to say, Lost Cause: Minnesota's Music Journal will be buried later
this afternoon in an undisclosed cemetary in Southeast Minneapolis.
After an autopsy, coroners have determined that the cause of death
was a stroke caused by a financial and creative blockage in one of the
beloved magazine's arteries. The heart, the coroner's report states, is
healthy, bloody, red and still beating, but everything else is in
shambles, leaving the magazine clinically deceased.
"I wish there was something more I could do," said publisher and
editor Mark Baumgarten, "but I guess I just wasn't prepared to run a
successful magazine for the long haul. A year isn't bad though, is it? I
mean, oh God, why didn't I take a few business courses in college!"
Baumgarten vows to "get his shit together" in the next few years so he
can "do this shit for real." He did not state whether, when he "gets his
shit together," he will relaunch Lost Cause, or if he will give life to a
"I will be back, though," the shaky and trembling publisher said.
"I did not create this magazine for naught," he added. "We all went into
this not knowing what would happen -- if the magazine would die after
the first couple issues, or if it would find a way to live on forever. It
looks like we came in somewhere in between. I mean, physically, it's
gone, but I think we did something really special. We showed music
fans in this town how great this scene is, and proved that well-done,
creative coverage of a scene can occur on a grassroots level. Now, if
someone can take that knowledge and pair it with some good
business sense, or a business partner, I think another publication
could step in and fill the hole left by this one."
Asked whether he predetermined the magazine's demise by titling it
"Lost Cause," the publisher replied, "lay off, naysayer."
Baumgarten plans to continue writing and editing for other
publications, as do the magazine's other editorial staff members.
Anyone wanting to drink their sorrows away with Baumgarten while
listening to some soothing tunes should convene at the Triple Rock
Social Club for the Superhopper show tonight. A more formal sendoff
is currently being planned by the staff of the magazine.
If you would like specific back issues of the magazine to complete
your collection, contact Baumgarten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In musical items of note, both Josh Ritter and Gemma Hayes put on lovely shows at the Entry Saturday night. (I arrived too late to see Dana Thompson because I was foolishly finishing my Har Mar review for Lost Cause.) Dana was a little under the weather though, and cut her set a bit short.
Idaho's Ritter tamed the crowd to the point where you could hear a pin drop at times. The only thing I can compare his magic to is Martin Sexton. And if Ireland's Gemma Hayes is this good at 23, look out. She's tough for her size, her songs are top notch, and she can rock when she needs to.
Posted by David at 6/16/2003 02:23:00 PM
Saturday, June 14, 2003
This is definitely the life. I'm lying in a hammock in my back yard under my sun shelter with a bottle of Sam Adams by my side, and an American Spirit dangling from my lips (though I'm not a smoker, really). Laptop in lap. Sunshine. My cat Yemen (aka Dum Dum) grazing on the grass by the firepit. Laptop on lap, complete with wireless internet access.
A week ago today this yard was the site of my fabulous First Annual 39th Birthday Party, which was complete with music by XFM being piped in live over the internet (and keeping everyone quite happy) and an invasion by the Lee's Liquor Lounge after bar people. It's not a party until you see 15-20 tatooed and greasy-haired rockabililly musicians and fans coming around the side of your house at 2:30 a.m. When the sun came up, people were still playing guitars and singing around my firepit and drinking wine from one of many bottles I'd received for my birthday. (During party cleanup I noted every bottle had been opened and half consumed, so I was required, of course, to finish them all off myself over the following few days.)
I believe I'm finally recovering from that, though today I must recover from too much beer and sun at last night's Wilco concert / 15 Year anniversary of the Sculpture Garden celebration. I'm still working on a short piece for howwastheshow regarding that event.
For some reason the Joe Walsh song "Life's Been Good To Me So Far" seems to apply today. Although "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies is a close second.
I changed my plane reservations today to fly out of Dublin on July 14th instead of London on my return from Europe which short of finalizing my Witnness tickets helps assure I will be catching up with Har Mar Superstar when he plays the festival there on Sunday, July 13th (though his website for some reason indicates that is a Wednesday. You will be reading my account of that concert somewhere I am certain, possibly even in a well-known local arts and entertainment weekly.
Talking about procrastination, I finally (today) developed the film from the disposable camera I used at last year's Witnness Festival (they took the batteries from my digital camera away from me.)
Here are a couple shots, one of the main stage at 2002's Witnness Festival, the other of me and my Irish friends Pete and Rich whom I will be hooking up with again this year. I met Rich, Pete and Pete's girlfriend Laura in 2001 in England while we were all desparately trying find the Reading train station to catch the "last train to London" after the Reading Festival. It's so easy to get turned around in that town.
Cheap camera pictures from 2002's Witnness Festival. Click 'em for full size versions. I'm the guy in the black Bobby Conn t-shirt on the left.
My intention to try and see fewer bands and save money in preparation for my trip is failing. I'm glad though that I caught a bit of the consumate and charming Dale Watson at Lee's last night. Tonight if I venture out it will be to see Dana Thompson open up for Josh Ritter and Gemma Hayes at the Entry and then perhaps over to the Turf Club for All the Pretty Horses.
In other news, if you haven't read it elsewhere, Mark Baumgarten will be leaving Lost Cause Magazine after the July issue. What happens after that is still a bit up in the air, although current plans appear to be for the publication to take a one month hiatus to regroup and then return in August. It's not determined yet, but yours truly may be taking on a bigger roll at the magazine in the months to come.
Posted by David at 6/14/2003 03:11:00 PM
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Bush/Blair Gay Bar
I just got this email link from Kate Chapman over at Plasma Entertainment. It's definitely one of the funniest emails I've received since the Idle Hands sent out their "Apology." Check it out at http://www.gaybetamax.co.uk/flash2.html Damn, just when I thought I could get that Electric 6 song out of my head.
Har Mar Superstar has hardly been in England a week and he's already landed himself in hot water with the British authorities for his supposed "obscene" and "disgusting" posters. Read the developing story here.
So, 12 Rods have an NYC show lined up. If you're in the neighborhood they'll be playing at Piano's at 8 p.m. on June 16th. I have a hunch they'll take the city by storm.
Tonight, Raven has his CD Release Party at Lee's Liquor Lounge. I plan to make that show where locals Bottlehouse will be opening. (Read my review of The Bottlehouse' last show here. )
Tomorrow night (Friday) is musically nuts. Many people will be trying to make two shows, both Wilco at the Sculpture Garden, then Bellwether and friends will rock the Entry.
Here's what Dave Campbell had to say:
"Friday, June 13th promises to be one of this summer's finest evenings of shows. First, the heavily anticipated return of Wilco (with local shapeshifters Fog and super-jazzers The Bad Plus) will take place outside of the Walker Art Center. The upside of this event has always been the dazzling line-up, all the pretty people, and the traditionally great weather. The downside is the notorious line for beer and the event's imminent conclusion at 10:00. However, this year, 10:00 will bring only an intermission; a brief break in the action during which concert goers can travel the short distance to the 7th Street Entry. Upon arrival, they will find a discounted ticket price, access to all of the booze that they can afford, and three of Minneapolis' finest ready to rock onward. Opening up is Mike Gunther, sans his restless souls. Following Mike, indie rock super group First Prize Killers will blast through all of the hits from their recent release The Powdery Parade. Country rockers Bellwether will finish the job. Most recently, Bellwether has been in the studio where they are finishing the recording of two albums simultaneously, some of the material from which they will undoubtedly preview. Not to be missed! For more information about Bellwether, visit www.bellwethertheband.com. For more information First Prize Killers, head to www.firstprizekillers.com. To learn all about Mr. Mike Gunther, head to www.mikegunther.com. "
Posted by David at 6/12/2003 11:19:00 AM
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Lifter Puller, The Mountain Goats, Monarques (Friday, June 6th, 2003, The Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis)
Monarques, publicity photo.
I feel a little sorry for the folks who waited in line outside the Triple Rock Friday night for the 100 or so tickets that were to be sold at the door and still didn't get in. All three days had sold out right away, but if you were paying attention, you were forewarned.
On opening night the club was so damn clean that I felt bad putting cigarettes out on the floor. Even with a packed house, the drink lines were't too bad, and the place was roomy enough that it didn't feel over-crowded. However, I did find myself wishing for larger bathrooms and for drink racks on the rails along stage left. And speaking of those rails, it looks like they might need a better method of being attached to the concrete floor. Some seemed a little loose by the night's end. All in all though, the club has great sound, a great sight line, and a friendly and capable staff.
Although Lifter Puller was definitely the main attraction Friday, and the whole weekend for that matter, I was also there to catch up with the Monarques, having been hooked on their sound after seeing them open for Har Mar Superstar on May 29th in the First Avenue Mainroom. The Monarques creep up on you just like their 2003 demo that starts out unassumingly and before long carries you away. The first track "No Rewind" doesn't really rock out so much as it gnaws at your ears in a sort of Clinic or Radiohead kind of way. You can't help but realize that itâ€™s good, and that a lot of rock and roll know-how went into the crafting of these songs.
Monarques are Nathan Grumdahl, formerly of Selby Tigers, Sean Na Na and Arm on vocals and guitar; Jeff Brown, of Grotto and Sean Na Na on drums, Trenton Raygor on bass and Matthew Rezac on keyboards.
Dressed in white shirts and jeans, Monarques will go down in Minneapolis music history as the first band ever to take the stage at the brand new Triple Rock. Good-naturedly teasing them about their uniforms as they took the stage someone shouted, "Did you use Clorox on your shirts?" Bassist Trenton Raygor shouted back, "No, Tide."
The Monarques' set at the Triple Rock on Friday night began in the same kind of unassuming way their CD does. Some songs live sounded bouncy and Clash-like, others were slow and ambient sounding in a kind of American Analog Set sort of way. What Monarques are best at is getting your attention and keeping it without ever getting in your face.
Their 2nd song of the night, Black Helicopters was a real highlight. Hear it for yourself by downloading it from their website's media page here.
Also on their media page you can watch the video from this show for "Typesetter."The sound quality is pretty bad, but you can catch a bit of the vibe these guys give off and what I mean by the fact that they creep up on you.
The Day the World Turned Pink shows Monarques are more than capable of playing the kind of pop-rock that already made Revolver a household name in Minneapolis.
The last song featured genuine sleigh bells. How can you go wrong with that? Or a disco ball for that matter.
The Mountain Goats played the middle set. Actually a solo acoustic artist named John Darnielle, the Mountain Goats didn't play the divorce song that's been getting tons of Radio K airplay ("I hope you die / I hope we both die") they/he did play the infamous "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton" and a song about a love hate relationship with methamphetamine. Although someone by the bar shouted out something to the effect of "play some rock and roll" The Mountain Goats was an awesome and perfect middle set, and the ordering of rock / acoustic / rock was oddly correct.
Finally, Lifter Puller took the stage to a roar of applause. Vocalist Craig Finn , now based in New York, LP said out this was the coolest club they'd ever played. Nate Grumdahl of Monarques pretty much posted his own review of the Lifter Puller show and the evening on the Monarques website and since he covered it so well Iâ€™ll just quote him here to finish off this review:
"I cannot fully express my satisfaction with being included on that show last night, it was like a dream. We blazed our set in all white jean suits and badly blacklit effects (see the Media Section), and the Mountain Goats followed us up. By the point that the headliners hit the stage, the anticipation in room was palatable. With the opening chord of 'LBI', Craig was once again the furious lyrical faith healer our souls all needed to hear. Dan beat the piss out the D4 drum kit (thanks New Skins), Steve was rocking the 'magic triangle' riff and whipping out his trademarked 80's ski jump kicks, and I think that Tad can play his bass parts blindfolded, in a straight jacket at the bottom of a 500 gallon tank of bourbon. I call it skills to be able to play the show they played last night. Big ups to LFTR PLLR, Erik and Gretchen and all the people who burnt it on both ends of the candle to help open the doors of this fabulous new club. Thanks to all the press folks, the rockers, and all who helped sell out our first run of tee shirts. Hurray! ...Wait, this just in Monarques w/ Jets to Brazil at the First Avenue Mainroom on July 24th. Come on down! Nathan/Monarques."
Cool. I'll be back from Europe by then!
Posted by David at 6/11/2003 03:35:00 PM
So, it's Wednesday already. I'm finally giving the Monarques demo I picked up from Nate Grumdahl at Friday's opening festivities at the Triple Rock a serious and uninterrupted listen. (Or as uninterrupted as possible given the fact that I'm at work.)
Two weeks from tomorrow I board a plane for Denmark and the Roskilde Festival. Much of the time I might have spent going to shows or writing reviews is being devoted to important details required before leaving the country. This new blog is the solution.
Howwastheshow started as a blog anyway, some 15 months ago now. What comes around goes around. This blog will also give me a way to disseminate information to those who remain statesite whilst I trampse through the green fields of Denmark, Germany, Belgium, England and ultimately Ireland to see the fabulous Har Mar Superstar perform at the Witnness Festival on July 12th.
The Monarques disk calls itself a demo. But it's much better than that. This is a collection of songs by a band that clearly knows what it's doing. It's one of the best local demos I've heard in a while, and it's no wonder Har Mar chose them to back him on his rendition of Whole Lotta Love a few weeks back. For now I can only say I think Monarques are going big places. If you don't start paying attention to them now, in a few months you're going to find yourself wondering where the next great Twin Cities band came from.
Friday's Triple Rock opening was something I wouldn't have missed for the world. I'm usually there on the last days of things, so I thought it would be nice to get in on the ground floor for a change. I was there the last night of the 24 Bar back in 1994. I was of course there in the Fine Line fire and am still waiting for that club to re-open.
Next stop a review of the Triple Rock's opening night on Friday, June 6th.
Posted by David at 6/11/2003 08:49:00 AM