this ain't no banana republic

Before you take off for a long weekend of iced tea, barbecue & paying tribute to our fallen troops, stop on by Howard Dean's Democracy For America and sign their petition to make sure that November's elections are on the level. The controversy over electronic voting machines is downright scary, so do a little somethng to help out those that are trying to make the system verifiable. Be a patriot, my lovelies.

For more info: Verified Voting, Black Box Voting, Electronic Frontier Foundation

MP3 American Analog Set - "Million Young"
I stumbled onto Austin TX's drone-pop heros the American Analog Set a couple years back based upon a recommendations list by Noah from Sam Champion. I picked up 2001's Know By Heart cold, and thank god I did. It's a great bedtime disc, it's a relaxing driving disc, and it's a heartbreakingly earnest disc. "Million Young" is probably the most rocking track on the album (or last year's follow-up Promise of Love, for that matter), and it's the track I used to put on mixes last year. It makes me smile.

bonus MP3 American Analog Set - "Hard To Find" from Promise of Love

MP3 The Killers - "Who Let You Go"
I had to "seek" out this track by Las Vegas' The Killers since it wasn't on the copy of the upcoming Hot Fuss I managed to get a hold of, but only on the sold out Mr. Brightside EP (as far as I can tell). If blog buzz is any indication, these indie rockers may just blow up this summer, so be on the lookout. "Who Let You Go" is bouncy, confident & bold - you have to respect a song that makes "sha-la-la-la" sound so athemic. I also love the following lyric:
So tell me that's fantastic
And promise me you'll always say
I find it so romantic
When you look into my beautiful eyes
And lose control

And with that folks, have a festive weekend.

jesus & tequila

I just ran across a website for fellow NYU film alum Keith Schofield, which has some pretty cool music videos that I can only assume he directed. Very cool stuff. Back in the day, we had lots of fun in video class.

no jinx...

KG is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. That's cool, but I just hope it doesn't work against him tonite in game 4. He needs this one.

everything is cool, now that romeo is here

MP3 Blackalicious - "First in Flight"
I picked up Blackalicious' 2002 major label debut Blazing Arrow somewhat randomly shortly after its release, having heard a little bit about them from somewhere and liking the disc artwork a lot. Plus, what a great title! JRDN knows more about them, the Quannum crew, & really all things hip-hop than I do, & he was kind enough to supply me w/their earlier Nia LP as well. Thanks, buddy. "First in Flight" was the first track on the album to really grab my attention two years ago, & it's still one of my favorite hip-hop tracks in general.

MP3 Tom Waits - "Romeo is Bleeding"
I was at kind of a loss this morning of what to post today, but Tom Waits is always a good fallback position. This track comes from 1978's Blue Valentine & has always been a favorite Waits track for me since I stumbled upon him in college & proceeded to buy every Waits cd I could get my hands on. "Romeo is Bleeding" has a deadly cool shuffle to it, and it manages to feature a sax without sounding cheesy. Waits paints a word picture like no one else, & here he creates a perfect doomed James Dean vision in my mind. I love it...Tom Waits is the coolest man alive. He's readying a new LP for release this fall, so be on the lookout.

BTW: Said The Gramaphone has a great Killers track that I nearly posted today & does a nice write-up about it. Ch-ch-check it out, yo.

control for smilers can't be bought

Would you believe that this is 3/4 of RANA @ The Clifford Ball, August 1996?

Once upon a time, I listened to nothing but Phish. For years. Seriously.

During high school & on & off through college, I was a diehard Phishhead & proud of it. I saw a baker's dozen Phish shows from 1994-2000, including travels to Chicago for Halloween 1995 & upstate New York for their first giant festival, The Clifford Ball, back in summer 1996. I never fully got back into them after they returned from their year & a half hiatus on 12/31/02 - touring became more limited, ticket prices had gotten out of hand, & they weren't the same band I lost my sh** over at 15. Still, the Phish nation seemed strong. But today came this announcement:
Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways - most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.

So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.

- Trey Anastasio

The end of an era. Coventry will be taking place in the rural Vermont town of the same name on August 14-15. I won't be there, but I'm sure it will be a blast for all who choose to make the trek (& pay the fee). For those who might pay a lesser fee, the band has also announced that it will be simulcasting its 6/17/04 summer tour opener from Coney Island, NY to movie theaters across America:

In conjunction with the release of Phish's new studio album "UNDERMIND" and the kickoff of their summer tourdates, we are pleased to announce that PHISH's June 17 sold-out show at Keyspan Park in Coney Island will be simulcast in high-definition video and Dolby surround sound to 47 select Regal, Edwards and United Artists movie theatres.

The show will be broadcast live: 7:30 pm Eastern time, 6:30 pm Central time, 5:30 pm Mountain time, and 4:30 pm on the west coast.

A full list of participating theatres will not be posted until the shows go on sale on Friday morning, but there will be screenings in or near New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Washington DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento, St. Louis and Baltimore, among other cities.

Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15.00 day of show (if tickets remain) and will go on sale this Friday, May 28 at 12:00 PM ET at the Regal Events website as well as individual box offices. A service charge may apply when buying online, but there is no service charge when purchased at the box office. Taping and use of cameras and videocameras will be strictly prohibited.

Perhaps I'll take them in one last time...maybe.

11/26/94 @ Orpheum Theater - Minneapolis, MN
10/25/95 @ St. Paul Civic Center - St. Paul, MN
10/31/95 @ Rosemont Horizon - Chicago, IL
08/16/96 @ Clifford Ball - Plattsburgh, NY
08/17/96 @ Clifford Ball - Plattsburgh, NY
11/13/96 @ Target Center - Minneapolis, MN
04/02/98 @ Nassau Colliseum - Long Island, NY
04/03/98 @ Nassau Colliseum - Long Island, NY
12/29/98 @ Madison Square Garden - NYC
12/31/98 @ Madison Square Garden - NYC
10/07/99 @ Nassau Colliseum - Long Island, NY
10/08/99 @ Nassau Colliseum - Long Island, NY
09/24/00 @ Target Center - Minneapolis, MN

That's my "phishtory". Here's the scary thing - I nearly did that list off the top of my head. Some things just stay with you no matter what, I suppose.

whoa doc, this is heavy

MP3 Murs - "Bad Man"
I'll join the chorus of mp3 bloggers pimping for the monthly Sumosonic compilation series. For $3.33/month (shipping), you get a new cd that mixes very cool rock, hip-hop, & electronic music & arrives in a very slickly-designed dvd-style snapcase. The production value is solid, and the comps feature a lot of great new artists. This track by rapper Murs appears on the latest Sumosonic disc, as well as the acclaimed 3:16 LP. Big thanks to (Radio K vet) Matt over @ Heavy for turning me onto this program.

MP3 The Unicorns - "Emasculate The Masculine"
From the Unicorns: 2014 cd single, here's another excellent indie pop/rock track from The Unicorns. Despite what Pitchfork says, I really like this little disc; I think they expected more than they should have (it's only four songs, guys - it's not an EP). Anyway, this is the most fun song I've ever heard that has anything to do w/threatening someone's genitalia. Enjoy.

the pit of ultimate darkness

Apparently the season 1 dvd set of The Kids in the Hall is selling so well that TPTB are already going ahead w/season 2! Go over to the official KITH website & fill out the survey - tell the dvd producers what you'd like to see on the next dvd set! The website will start taking pre-orders on June 6, with the second season dvd's shipping by July 6.

I ordered the original set from this site way back when (last year) & actually had the season 1 dvd's months before they appeared in stores (I have no idea if that's the case this time around). Check out this season 2 episode guide if you need a refresher course on what's coming our way.

In barely-related news, Dave Foley is hosting the next round of Celebrity Poker Showdown on Bravo (hey, it's a job), which I just learned (thanks EW) is executive produced by Sports Night veteran, under-used West Wing castmember & apparent card nut Josh Malina. The new tournament includes Big Ticket favs Maura Tierney, Lauren Graham, Michael Ian Black & others. Check out the July 22 episode, which features four cast members of Arrested Development, and Peter Facinelli of the late, not-so-great Fastlane. Way to fill out the table, Bravo (add sarcasm here).

random notes

Here's an interesting piece by journalist Jason Burke about many misconceptions relating to Al Qaeda (via Purple States). It's worth a read.

If you've been reading me even semi-regularly, you'd know that I have much love for Jersey rockers RANA. Well, Ramie over at Rockslide has published some of its library to the iTunes music store, including this show from last year's South By Southwest festival: RANA 3/15/03 @ iTunes

thermals of mass destruction

JRDN @ the Triple Rock Social Club, w/Slug from Atmosphere by the bar, 5/21/04

This past Friday nite, JRDN & I took in the early all ages Thermals set @ the Triple Rock. The Portland, OR trio did not disappoint during their 40 minutes-or-so on stage, so here are a couple worthwhile tracks from their new album (released 5/18/04). I just have to love a band that puts "profanity" in their album title - don't you?

MP3 The Thermals - "Our Trip"
The opening track from F**kin A gets things off to a rockin' start, showing no signs of straying from the driving lo-fi power-punk formula that made last year's More Parts Per Million such a tasty treat. A thrashing, yet simple ode to self-sufficiency (w/a take-no-sh** attitude).

MP3 The Thermals - "God & Country"
I couldn't help myself - I bought a Thermals t-shirt at the show. It was yellow, with a rocket slamming into a red blot-like explosion, "the thermals of mass destruction" written out in messy black typeface. I could not resist. So this is their rant on politics & religion, I suppose. I'm not sure I could bring myself to actually "pray for assassination" - but that's just me.

i've been listening to...
Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People, on repeat, all weekend, again

suck on this, eisner

The jury is in, and Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has taken the top prize at the 57th annual Cannes Film Festival, widely considered to be the most prestigious festival in the world. This is the first time a documentary has been awarded the much-coveted Palme d'Or since Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World in 1956. Naysayers will brush off the film's victory because of the festival takes place in France, but jury president Quentin Tarantino (in a first-time post-awards press conference w/the jury) brushed off the politics. "I knew all this politics crap would be brought up," said the Kill Bill writer/director, whose Pulp Fiction took home the Palme d'Or ten years ago. "We all agreed that Fahrenheit 9/11 was the best movie of the competition."

Moore's film, which was produced by Bob & Harvey Weinstein for Miramax, garnered attention just before the Cannes festival when it was announced that Miramax's parent company, Disney, was refusing to distribute the film in North America (despite the fact that they bankrolled its production). This past week, the film received a widely-reported 20 minute standing ovation after its first major screening, creating buzz that Fahrenheit 9/11 might take home an award. Moore was back in the U.S. 24 hours before the closing ceremonies to see his 22 year-old daughter receive her masters degree, when he was called back to Cannes w/no promises made.

While the film was likely to find American distribution anyway, the Palme d'Or should help the film receive more attention from audiences & media, not to mention a more lucrative deal from distributors. Moore thanked the jury in his acceptance speech for putting the "spotlight" on a film that people were trying to hide. Supposedly, Moore would like to see the film open in theaters over the July 4th holiday weekend. [Google news links]

i love juice!

I'll try to post some music later today or tonite, but for now I must spread the word that Fox has re-upped w/critical darling Arrested Development for another season, though I think they are silly for leaving it in its Sunday 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT timeslot. Still, I have to give the network credit for bringing back the funniest show on tv despite struggling ratings.

Speaking of timeslots, Fox will be moving 24 to Mondays, while making a play for the "Must-See" audience by scheduling The O.C. on Thursdays against the Matt LeBlanc spin-off Joey. This summer, Fox also will be premiering a single-camera Method Man/Redman sitcom, co-starring Beth Littleford (formerly of The Daily Show), which I can't help but be intrigued by. Gee, I hope it doesn't suck.

BTW: The horrible rumors are true. NBC will be going ahead with an americanized (aka bastardized) version of BBC's The Office. I've read terrible things about this remake, which will star Daily Show veteran Steve Carell as the new David Brent (that won't be his name). While I love Carell & think he's hilarious, I just know he'll play it too big - and it will be bad. Didn't NBC learn anything when Coupling tanked massively?

Reminder: Be sure to tune into Fox on Sunday, June 6 for Arrested Development's season 1 finale. The pilot episode will re-air the same nite.

wolves 83, kings 80

AP Photo/Andy King

I've been waiting all playoffs for this. Hell, I've been waiting eight seasons for this. Finally, on his 28th birthday, KG delivered on his enormous promise in a game that looked to define him as a player. With 32 points (14, including every Wolves basket, in the 4th quarter), 21 rebounds, 5 blocks & 4 steals, Kevin Garnett stepped into the spotlight of Wednesday nite's game 7 against Sacramento & took it over in Jordan-esque fashion, leading his franchise to victory. And it was a sight to behold.

Now the tired, limping Wolves have drawn the hall-of-famer stacked & soap-opera racked Lakers to town for the Western Conference finals. For this Laker team, anything less than a title will be a disappointment after acquiring Karl Malone & Gary Payton, two players desperate to cap off their storied careers w/a championship, in the offseason. But does anybody outside of Los Angeles fans, ABC & maybe David Stern want to see these Lakers win another title? While the team is finally hitting on all cylinders on the court, they are still plagued by bitterness & dissention, with their four superstars playing together with little-to-no joy - who actually likes these guys? They certainly don't like each other.

Just as KG stepped up in game 7, he must take over this series w/the Lakers. His successful MVP campaign called Garnett "the best player on the planet," and he's going to have to be just that in order to advance to the NBA Finals. This is his opportunity to take his place atop the NBA by taking down an iconic Laker team that nobody likes - an evil empire, if you will - & ripping the "heir to the throne of Jordan" title from Kobe's dead, rapist hands. Despite home court advantage, which did a very different Wolves team little good against a very different Lakers team in the last year's 1st round, the Wolves will not be expected to beat Shaq & Kobe. Looking at the strategic match-up, I don't think the Wolves will prevail either.

But KG, who (war/gun-comments aside) represents everything good & pure about the game of basketball, has the talent, ability, & drive to lead his team to the promised land. Can you hear that? Can you hear what the basketball gods are chanting?




To quote Brad Pitt from Troy, "Do you know what's waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours!" And LA has lots of beaches.

advice to the graduate

In honor of recent graduates Rachel, cousin Scott, Dan & Minda, here is Daily Show host Jon Stewart's recent commencement address @ William & Mary (via stereogum), as well as a photo of him from ye ol' college days. I don't think my hair ever got quite that large when I was in school, but I did manage to sport a halfway decent beard for a while.

let's get gay married!!!

Yay! The gay marriage hoopla is back on thanks to the level-headed folks out in Massachusetts. Finally...members of the homosexual community can be legally recognized as boring married couples. Query: Isn't marriage usually cause for "gayness" (the happy kind)? Just a thought. Here's some really "gay" sounding music to help celebrate...

MP3 Phoenix - "(You Can't Blame It On) Anybody"
From Alphabetical, here's some chewy bubble-gummy pop from French band Phoenix. While the lyrics may be a little pessimistic about love & relationships, the beat is so catchy & joyous that I could care less. A bit cheesy - perhaps, but it certainly grooves. "Let me take you to the heart of the city, let me misunderstand you..."

MP3 Joy Zipper - "Christmas Song"
Here's another Joy Zipper track from American Whip, which I just found out was produced by DJ & composer David Holmes, which is a good thing in my estimation. "I love you more than a thousand christmases" - such a great line. And while my jewish upbringing may not give me the proper perspective, I imagine that is a sh**load of love, my brothas & sistas.

pac manhattan

Pac Manhattan - I had not seen this before, and I think this is pretty amusing. Check out some of the videos. I particularly enjoyed #1 and #4.

found @ hushreality through ultragrrrl

nyc barbecue benefit this saturday

From RANA’s email list (via Good Times Roll, since I can't seem to find it):
So we fuckin park by the Warfield in our buddy Sarno's Toyota Previa, go in to enjoy show, hang with Warren and meet the Dead. We return to the van only to find broken glass, no window, no les paul and pea bass along with Sarno's laptop and discman. Ouch. Chalk it up to crack. Here are the deets on a benefit to raise money for these stolen goods:

Robin's Roof Top (57 Pitt St #19, NY)
Saturday, May 15, (3:30 - 10:30pm)
Phone: 646.245.9827
$25 suggested donation for the band.

Please join us for the first (and hopefully last) Rock-Roll barbecue benefit. This sad and touching story has moved us to take action. Let's help the boys recover some of what they lost by throwing a bad-ass afternoon throw-down benefit.

WE will provide the food and all the fixins for a nice afternoon of eating in the sun and the bar will be stocked with plenty of mixers and ice, (we will also have some beer on hand to help the party get started). YOU should show up with your appetite and a bottle of whatever it is that you plan on mixing at the bar.

We hope to see you there...

In case that wasn't clear, my favorite Jersey rockers RANA got their tourvan burgled while in San Francisco this spring (I mentioned the incident briefly last month), so Saturday's BBQ will serve to help the band restock their gear & will hopefull send some nasty karma out to the f**kers that robbed them. I'm pretty sure that Les Paul was a christmas present from Ma & Pa Metzger - so sad. I encourage all my NYC folk out there to drop by if you've got the time & are feeling generous. Lend a hand to a solid bunch of guys & a great band (whose new LP should drop any day now).

This will be my final day of shilling for Upper Class Recordings. Early North American is the second LP from Girls Are Short, a techno-pop duo from Toronto (though their first album, Contact Kiss (2001) was recorded while splitting time in Brooklyn) consisting of two guys named Alex and Daniel. Being mid-May & all, I thought this album was appropriate to plug, since it just screams "SUMMER!" - which should upon us any minute now. Here are the album's first two tracks:

MP3 Girls Are Short - "Earlynorthamerican"
The title track from Early North American pretty much sums up the carefree feel of the rest of the album. The mixture of dance beats, computer voices, & vocal samples will hopefully set the tone nicely for the rest of your summer. It makes me want to put on shorts.

MP3 Girls Are Short - "Sunshine"
This is blatantly infectious pop music that cynics & jaded hipsters will likely scoff at. "The new girl sound is where it's at" - what's up with that? Well, to such critics I would suggest that they lower those eyebrows & relax a little bit. It's the weekend - go grab a volleyball & fire up the BBQ. "Get outside!"

bush-hating @ its best

I found this hilarious animation from through the blog @ (flash required for both). So what if it's just a bunch of silly name calling? I laughed & laughed & laughed...

tap in

According to the good folks over @, the best damn show on television (IMO) is finally coming to dvd, where it belongs. I'm talking about The Wire, the most involving & uncompromising (where Homicide: Life on the Street lost me at times) crime show I've ever seen, will release its 1st season on August 31, shortly before the fall premiere of its 3rd season on HBO. Each episode of The Wire, created by journalist/author David Simon (who literally wrote the book that Homicide was based on) and former Baltimore homicide detective Edward Burns, unfolds like a chapter in a novel, which makes the take-home dvd format just about perfect for watching the show. I cannot wait to pick this set up.

Anyway, it's day two of my Upper Class Recordings celebration. Today, I've got two tracks from The Cansecos' self-titled LP. Here are a few album reviews that speak more eloquently than I ever could: Pitchfork, Delusions of Adequacy, Stylus:

MP3 The Cansecos - "Faster Than You Go"
The Cansecos are not the former baseball-playing brothers, but rather Upper Class head honcho Gareth Jones & "sometime filmmaker" Bill Halliday as the dynamic duo behind the music. Listening to their album, its no surprise that Upper Class is also behind The Russian Futurists (see below) - they're clearly on the same page stylistically. There is a great driving force to this song that keeps it propelling forward - it will sound great in your car.

MP3 The Cansecos - "What It Was You Said"
According to the liner notes, this album was "recorded between September 2000 and September 2002 in various bedrooms in and around Toronto," which once again goes to show how much one can accomplish these days without ever leaving their room. This track breathes a little more than the one above, and it's always good to breathe. It's also always good to make a hobo reference in your song lyrics (listen for it).

finally...rock is back!

According to this article from Newsweek (via catbirdseat), it sounds like this "indie rock" thing is a pretty big deal. Wow. I ought to check out that whole scene - maybe I'll stumble upon the new "class president"! Oy vey.

For the rest of this week, I think I'll try to feature artists from Canadian label Upper Class Recordings, (since Toronto is bound to become this decade's Seattle!). Today, lappop sensations the Russian Futurists (flash required):

MP3 The Russian Futurists - "Let's Get Ready To Crumble"
While "Precious Metals" from this same album keeps showing up on the mixes I make, I think it's available somewhere on the net as a free download (sorry, couldn't track it down). So here instead is the title track from last year's excellent Let's Get Ready To Crumble, whose opening lyrics seemed appropriate given the above article:
I do pop 'cause that's what my heart goes, I don't call it art, no sir
That denotes that when I wrote it I had other motives
We're never saying what we mean, it's all Silver Screens and lights
And new heights of drama comma tension and clenchin' fists
Love consists of on and off and a built for two coffin
When it's summed up, the rest is a hoax and some jokes
That's been drummed up by the suits and
They're choking out your life in chunks from nine to five and
You ain't never gonna get a second back

MP3 The Russian Futurists - "The Hall of Fame of Things I Despise"
Okay, I fibbed a bit when I referred to these guys as "sensations" - because it's really just one guy doing the whole thing in his bedroom. This track comes from 2001's The Method of Modern Love, which was written, performed, & recorded by Matthew Adam Hart all by his lonesome. I have to wonder, has any song that sounded so chipper ever claimed to be, "the loneliest song in the whole world"?

Wolves 114, Kings 113 (OT)

The Wolves nearly collapsed in the final minutes like the Kings did in game 2, but they managed to hang-on for a overtime win @ Arco Arena very early Tuesday morning. KG & company lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 heading into Wednesday's game 4, which will be another late nite affair. Damn you, TNT - let me go to bed!

MP3 The Exploding Hearts - "Sleeping Aides & Razorblades"
This is another one of my favorite tracks of 2003, from the outstanding Guitar Romantic (which I found through Pitchfork). Of course, what should have been a banner year for the Exploding Hearts became a horribly tragic one, when a car accident claimed the lives of three band members. I dedicated every mix I made during the back half of the year to those guys, and this track was on every one of them.

MP3 Oxford Collapse - "Totally Gay, Totally Fat"
Here's a dose of "dance-punk" from NYC trio Oxford Collapse. Their new album Some Wilderness came out last month, and it's pretty solid in my estimation (if you like this sort of thing). Drummer Dan Fetherston was a classmate of my in college, yet another NYU Film grad who has gone on to rock stardom. Am I in the wrong line of work?

Catch the "Empty Fields, Empty Rooms" tour - coming to a town near you:

May 14 Brooklyn, NY
May 15 Boston, MA
June 01 Philadelphia, PA
June 02 Kent, OH
June 03 Cleveland, OH
June 04 Chicago, IL*
June 05 Minneapolis, MN*
June 06 Bismarck ND*
June 08 Seattle, WA
June 09 Portland, WA
June 10 San Fransisco, CA*
June 11 Sacramento, CA
June 12 Los Angeles, CA*
June 13 Los Angeles, CA*
June 14 Pomona, CA
June 15 San Diego, CA
June 16 Los Angeles, CA
June 17 Albuquerque, NM
June 18 Colorado Springs, CO
June 18 Denver, CO
June 19 Omaha, NE
June 20 Lawrence, KS
June 21 St. Louis, MO
June 22 Nashville, TN*
June 23 Jacksonville, FL
June 24 St. Augustine, FL
June 25 Athens, GA*
June 26 Atlanta, GA
June 27 Chapel Hill, NC*
June 28 Washington, DC*
June 29 Baltimore, MD*
June 30 Boston, MA

*="shows are unconfirmed, please get in touch if you want to help out"

"the older you will get, the more perverted you will get"

It took me nearly a week to sit down & finally write out some kind of show review, but alas it is finally done. I took in the triple bill of the Get-Up Johns, Mike Gunther & the Restless Souls, and Gogol Bordello last monday nite (5/3) @ the 7th Street Entry, an unusual line-up which made for a diverse & highly enjoyable evening.

The Get-Up Johns (see the 1st pic) were a straightforward bluegrass duo, featuring two (local, I think) suit-wearin'-dudes on guitar & mandolin (w/a fiddle substituted @ times) sharing a microphone. The place was pretty empty when their set began except for Gunther & his Souls, about 5 people presumably there to see the Johns, and me, though a few more people did manage to filter in during the set. The Johns were pleasantly surprising, harmonizing nicely on their pretty much traditional numbers, which were performed w/what I can best describe as hopeful zest. They were a nice soothing, yet quite enjoyable appetizer for the following two bands, who likewise would bring a different flavor to the rock club.

Let me say that Mike Gunther is the older brother of Tom Gunther, my senior class president @ Robbinsdale Armstrong High School ('97). Mike & guitarist Aaron Larson are featured on page 23 of my freshman yearbook. The caption is my favorite part - weren't we funny in high school?!?

Gunther did plenty of howling during his Entry performance, which was the first time I had heard or seen him perform (before which, when I saw his cd @ the Fetus, I would remark how his brother Tom still owed people their senior t-shirt). It's difficult for me to describe Gunther without mentioning that how much he wants to be Tom Waits. IMO, he really wants to be Tom Waits - which is not a bad thing. In fact, I'm not sure if I can think of a better role model for a musician to emulate. But here's the thing - Gunther does a pretty darn good job channeling that inner-Waits into his own brand of blues/rock that demands both your attention & your respect. There are plenty of other influences brewing around within Gunter & the Souls, don't get me wrong. But w/drummer Suzanne Scholtzen blasting out on the trumpet on one song, then smashing a steel barrel with a big metal chain on the next, all the while Mike is belting out the oddball vocals - well, Waits is the only artist that seems to fit. Gunther's set was mighty impressive - I'd certainly check them out again.

At the end of Gunther's set, the Entry got mighty smoking, though not in the good way. A curtain in the doorway to the venue somehow caught fire, creating an unexpected cloud of smoke in the venue. It was put out in a hurry, & they brought over a big fan from 1st Ave to blow out the smoke, but I have to admit it was a bit unnerving. Perhaps the Ween DVD release party next door got out of control - I don't know. Perhaps it was merely a sign of things to come.

I was pretty excited for Gogol Bordello to come on, and after downloading more music from their website & watching the short documentary there, I was expecting a lot. By the time the band came out, the Entry had assembled a respectable crowd, at least enough to fill up the main floor space & into the bar area. The band started into their first song without frontman Eugene Hutz (that's "hootz" folks), who came onstage fashionably late a couple minutes later, flanked by the "Gogol Dance troupe" (Andra Ursuta & Pam Racine). It was at this point that things got a bit nuts...

Do a lot of Gogol Bordello's songs sound alike? Sure. Do most Gogol Bordello songs have potential to break out into a drunken eastern-european dance party? You betcha. It didn't take long for things to get going, with Hutz's Iggy Pop-like (post-Stooges) stage personal galvinizing support quickly, helped nicely by punk-rock violinist Sergey Ryabtsev catchy riffs & bold Russian stare. A few people (including yours truly) hit the dance floor immediately, but by halfway through the 3rd song, "When the Trickster Starts A-Pokin (Bordello Kind of Guy)" the floor was nearly full with good-hearted folks having a good time. There were punkish chicks gettin' down, average-lookin' fellas stomping around & letting their limbs fly where they may, even some hotties strutting their stuff. Sure, there were jaded hipsters in the back just taking it all in, but I even saw Mike Gunther grooving our w/a ladyfriend over by the bar. This was an all-out party for those who chose to get involved.

It didn't take long for Hutz to literally lose his shirt, as he was strutting his stuff pretty intensely for most of the night. The Dance Troupe was in & out of the show, returning to the stage w/new costumes & props (including an awfully big drum) every couple songs. Whether sling-shotting crumpled GB posters into the crowd, pretend-knitting a "think locally, f**k globally" sign, or providing washboard support, these gals seemed to earn their keep (they also were in charge of merch after the show) while helping create the sense of chaotic burlesque in the stage show. They have to make the accordion player (Yuri Lemeshev, who somehow looks like any generic eastern-european guy you might have seen in the movies) look cool somehow.

The band did a good job keeping the audience in a frenzy through to the end of the show. The set closer, "My Sacred Darling" had its share of false endings, each time drawing in the audience before setting them off again with another run-through of the chorus. After a stripped down version of "Through the Roof 'n' Underground", this same pattern continued on in the final encore tune, the nine minute centerpiece of GB's 2002 album Multi Kontra Kulti Vs. Irony, "Baro Foro". The tune was extended even further, as Ryabtsev would always jump in with the song's signature riff just when you thought the song was over. By the end, the audience was exhausted - it was after 12:30am, and some people had begun to leave the floor. The die-hards, of which there were plenty by the time the band finished, stayed until the end, giving the band a well-deserved screaming hand.

I am now convinced that Gogol Bordello needs to be experienced in person, otherwise I can't see how you can possibly grasp the madness that this band channels. Of course, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong.