Sea Em Jay Blog: My Personal Super-Sweet Sixteen Diary
Oh boy, oh boy, so much to talk about. In the wee span of this day, I saw 9 (Count 'em, 9) bands. Lemme try and get it all down on uh, virtual paper before I crash and get a little bit of shuteye and then go out for another crazy day.
Got up around 9:30 AM, got all neat and pretty, had a bagel, set out for CMJ. We went to one very good panel today, entitled "Small stations, big obstacles", featuring the promotions director for KCRW (An NPR affiliate associated with Santa Monica College, probably best known for the program Morning Becomes Eclectic), a staff person from this college station in Kalamazoo (which she whined only has 100 watts - boo-hoo), the creative director from East Village Radio (these are crazy motherfuckers who broadcast online - and used to broadcast illegally - from a storefront next to a pizzeria), and a fellow who works at YepRoc and the Duke radio station. Really a useful panel, these guys were strumming my pain with their fingers. I got some good ideas from the panel, but this is mostly boring business stuff, so I'll save it for the DJs at the next All DJs Meeting.
From the panel, we got some pizza, then headed out to the Team Clermont party at Arlene's Grocery, where we ran into KWUR alum Dan Milstein and those crazy KSLU cats. Up first at the Team Clermont party was St. Louis favorites Pattern Is Movement. You might remember these guys from KWUR Week last year, and if you went to that show, you know how good their live show is. What amazes me about them is their ability to make music that is rocking and fist-pumping and yet also moving and oddly intimate. You feel like you're looking in on something private when you watch their show, and they make singing their songs seem like an act of great courage, just through their intensity. Great show, those guys have been touring all year, and are probably due for a nice long break. After that, my second favorite show of the day, Miniature Tigers, who sound like a slightly punked up, slightly indie-d Beach Boy revival. We've got the record in the station (in new releases, in fact, I think). It was good, toe-tapping music, the kind of thing that makes you feel warm and bubbly and happy about the world. It was especially up DB's alley, I think, but he can tell you that himself. We might get those guys for KWUR Week, so check out their myspace, and tell me what you think. Then, I caught the first few songs by the Broken West. I wasn't really excited for the show (that kind of fairly standard indie generally turns me off). But what can I say: they had good songs, and they played them really well (their bassist was especially impressive).
I took a brief leave of absence and then met up with the crew again at Bowery Ballroom, to catch Japanese Motors. By consensus, this was the only band we saw tonight we didn't care for, which was kinda funny, because it was also the only one any of us had heard before (besides Pattern Is Movement). It was basically a punk takeoff on surf rock, which just felt unnecessary, because *punk* already did a punk takeoff on surf rock, and the drummer was just mediocre, which is never good in a surf rock takeoff. The lead singer was also obnoxious, so self-consciously rawk, strutting and spitting beer and generally being a big poseur. I don't have much patience for that sort of thing.
DB, Kenny and I took off after Japanese Motors for the Knitting Factory. We stopped in Chinatown to have some coffee and Chinese pastries (Kenny got this weird thing that looked like a chocolate log). First band we saw at the Knitting Factory was Akimbo: pretty solid stoner metal, not my thing, but the kind of thing that would be my thing if it were my thing. After that, teh crazy! I went down to the Taproom, a smaller section of the Knitting Factory, not really expecting anything. All of the sudden, these nutso Japanese guys are strutting around the stage, spewing out garagey noise, swinging from the sprinklers, gripping the guitar between their teeth, running into the crowd, putting on a gas mask with a built in microphone and PLAYING THEIR DRUMS ON TOP OF THE CROWD. This is DMBQ. The music itself, I personally went back and forth on. It kind of sounded like the beginning and end of a garage rock song, but occasionally they got into a real cutting garage riff. It felt like a tribute to like, everything great about rock and rock and roll culture, or, alternatively, a noise parody of garage rock conventions. Really, really interesting stuff, a crazy show to watch.
Went back upstairs to the Main Stage and caught the end of An Albatross (not very memorable, but fully competent noisy psychedelic rock), and then watched the Mae Shi do their fun pizza-party punk with keys and chanting. These guys can lay down some vicious riffs and nutso drumming, and even get funky at times. It was one of the most positive shows I've ever seen, just smiles all around. At one point, they threw a big tent into the crowd. At another point, they shared birthday cake with us. One of the band members was wearing a t-shirt that said "I'm glad you're alive". Well, I'm glad you're alive too, Mae Shi, alive and producing some happy music. At times, the set had long lags between songs, which I don't like, but still, a good set.
Then, the best show of the night, Monotonix, a funk-punk, garage, MC5 sounding band from Tel Aviv. Let me tell you something about the kind of concert goer I am. I do not like heavy moshing or violent crowds and prefer to stay a way's away from the pit. I really, really, really do not like having beer spilled in me. Well, I left this show with my eye hurting from having a trash can thrown at my face, and I'm covered in other people's beer, but that was still one of the best shows I have ever seen. We knew it'd be a doozy when they set the drum set up in the fucking crowd (A short conversation between me and the girl next to me: "They're setting up the drum set in the crowd? Oh my gawd..." "That's what I said..."). I don't think the band ever got on the stage. Nothing but hard hitting, crazy funk, and insane (really, like mentally ill) antics. Beer cans were thrown everywhere, a trashcan got thrown around (and hit me in the face), beer was thrown over the whole crowd, the band played in the crowd. They abused the shit out of the drummer. The lead singer poured beer on his head not once but twice, and at one point started playing an extra floor tom on the drummer's head. The lead singer climbed a support pillar and was fucking around near a balcony, hanging precariously over the crowd, which led security to surround him and actually say to him "Get the fuck down", which is the first time I have *ever* seen venue security tell the artist to get the fuck back on stage. They even moved the drum set mid set to where we were. The whole thing was madness, no escape anywhere, it really was a dangerous situation, with some people bleeding (including the drummer). The venue staff and security were clearly flipping a shit. But that only made it one of the best rock shows I've ever seen. At the climax, the lead singer called for "All drums in the air", and the crowd lifted all extant drum sets - and drummers - on their shoulders, while the drummers played. Incredible. When we left, I saw two squad cars worth of police, apparently called by somebody to quell the kerfuffle.
Well folks, I got a big day planned tomorrow, and I'll blog about that one too when it's done. I've got some great photos too, which I'll post when I get back to the Lou. But I got to hit the sack now, it's 4:30 over here, I'm writing like it's 4:30 and I'm dooooone.