Monday, October 31, 2005

Some notes.

- My cat is greedy and lazy and dwarfed by her own sense of entitlement. I will make a great middle-class parent some day.
- For some days I have been contemplating the meaning of Julianne's Flash Gordon reference in her link to my blog. As of right now: still no idea.
- Hip hop is starting to feel just like any other sport to me. I don't follow sports. Can someone start making me a highlight reel? I like highlight reels.
- A coincidence: I was writing a song today and working out what exactly it is about Karen O's vocals that I'm trying to rip off, and I took a break to go downstairs and watch Katrina from Celebration totally head-fake Karen O from a decade and half a continent away. I'm used to watching bands that aren't as good as Jaks, so now I'm all confused. Damn, Bloodsucker, indeed.
- Sub-note: I am only ripping off female musicians from now on. I mostly only give a shit about female musicians these days, and it will be less obvious to people that I'm ripping musicians off if they're women. (What kind of self-respecting male musician steals moves from chicks anyway?) Don't hate the player, hate the patriarchy.
- Sub-note 2: Indian Jewelry is playing at the Mutiny tonight (10/31/05). If you wanna add some real tribal freakiness (seriously on some Spahn-Ranch-scene-report shit) to your Halloween, or if you just like oversized glasses of beer, go check it out.
- New issue of Hit It Or Quit It available now at record stores and Insound. Home delivery is available for single females ISO SWMs into spicy food, hot tubs, and long, drunken diatribes about what the reemergance of acid house "really means".

Saturday, October 29, 2005

My morning in country music.

There is a certain note of emphasis in the way that Tad Kubler tells a venue security officer, "Yes, he will be drinking tonight," that can fill one with either intense dread or a terrible, terrible excitement. If drinking had a Pope it would be Tad Kubler. The bad news is that I had to turn down a night on the town with the dudes because I had to be up early. For some reason I volunteered to be at the Hard Rock Cafe at 9:30 this morning to spend the better part of a day watching would-be Toby Keiths and would-be Gretchen Wilsons audition for Nashville Star. It ended up that everyone there were total bros and everyone had a good time except for the people who were crying.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The bad song players.

I thought the whole point of professional DJs is that we pay someone so that we don't have to hear ugly transitions or "Tainted Love". Apparently RJD2 doesn't feel the same way. Dogg, if I want to hear 80s songs that I hate I would go watch my roommate's ex spin, which I don't do, because I hate them. Apparently Juelz Santana's Dipset anthem is the new go-gangsta jam for white kids...oh wait, Hopper just said that. Fuck it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The season of sweater-tugging.

I was in an emo mood today. I found myself listening to Cap'n Jazz, pitching a story on Norma Jean, and bitching with Teeter about the scarcity of non-totally-ugly My Chemical Romance desktop wallpapers, all while eating a tofu dog. And I am wearing glasses. Yesterday I had a white belt on.
Later on I was wondering if it's more emo to use a Mac or to have to use a PC but really wanting a Mac.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What up NPR?

Hey dudes: Don't be broadcasting spoken-word pieces about some woman's childhood sexual abuse at lunchtime. Seriously. That's fucked up. I am trying to eat some pasta, not get all depressed and grossed out.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On-stage production techniques go nuts; I don't

My first thought when I walked into the Jamie Lidell show was that I was happy that there were seats. The rightness of this idea, and the deeper truth of it, was revealed to me with the show's duration. I actually like Lidell's Multiply, despite the fact that it's a 1+1 genre-melding exercise, more match-up than mash-up, strictly delineated and something like the musical equivalent of a tv dinner tray; no peas in my apple cobbler and vice versa. My problem with his live show is the same as any show involving a dude and his table full of electronics gear: unless that dude is going to lay down serious beats and be mostly ignored by a roomful of dancing people, I'm not going to hang out and watch it.
Last night I played at a singer-songwriter showcase. Before 2000 the singer-songwriter was the most self-indulgent thing anyone could see onstage in a musical context (Performance artists are the single most self-indulgent thing onstage or off in any context). But now there is a new expectation from musicians that their audience should be utterly enraptured by their knob-turning and experimental Xaos pad-tweaking, that that should qualify as a show. I am not enraptured. If I was sitting in a friend's living room, stoned, and they busted out their one man band looped beatboxing project, I would probably be blown away, but I spent over half of Lidell's show trying to check the time on my phone without getting busted by the guy who caught me doing that about 20 minutes into it. I will admit that a dude beatboxing house beats instead of rap ones is a novel idea, but not one that can sustain my interest. Lidell's schtick is that he does half a dozen things at once: beatboxing, singing, tapping out soft-synth beats, playing a little keyboard. It takes a lot of concentration, and I doubt that I could do what he does. The thing is, I don't go to a show to watch someone concentrating. The best concerts that I've seen involve very little concentration on the part of the performer. Either they're too fucking good at playing their instrument or they don't give a fuck and spend most of their time onstage drinking and/or inciting the crowd and/or doing bodily damage to themselves. The performer's freedom from what the technical aspects of what they are doing onstage provides the transcendence that we as an audience do or should demand from a performance. Jamie Lidell's constant multitasking came off more like someone trying to catch up on their email before a meeting than anyone providing entertainment to anyone.
A share of the blame for performances like this come from the inevitable perfectionism that is the outcome of music's computerization. 808s begat Pro Tools which begat a demand, starting with producers and record labels, through musicians, unto the audience, of perfect beat-matched tempos and exact edits, whether in the studio or onstage. Anyone doubting the validity of a performer singing along to a pre-sequenced cd or computer file seems like a Luddite now, and even singers with session backing bands are expected to deliver on-the-dot renditions of their studio recordings. (Did you see Kelly Clarkson doing "Since U Been Gone" on Saturday Night Live? It totally blew my mind because someone seemed to have let the band go and let them do all the feedback and skronk that the song needed to reveal its debt to the Pixies' first two records. It felt super loose and electric and amazing. Seriously.)
The rest of the blame, albeit a concentrated and distilled part of it, lies in the current solipsistic nature of music in our present times. Genres and sub-genres inspired by techno and hip-hop have been a fertile culture for the reproduction and amplification of the cult of personality that superstar DJs and cribs-flaunting rappers developed, losing all sight of the crowd-pleasing elements that both styles of music were built on. When producers become superstars, we're supposed to be enthralled by the act of watching producers produce, a "look at me" tricksterism that's assumed to be entertaining.
I'd rather watch dudes do wheelies. In middle school there were always guys around busting wheelies on their BMXs on the sidewalk in front of the school for any audience who happened to be around for it. You could tell that, just like these me-and-my-Pro-Tools "performers" they had spent a lot of time working out their tricks in private, making all their mistakes where nobody could see them and waiting for the time for them to bust it out and impress everybody. The difference is that a good block-long wheelie on a BMX is like poetry made out of physics, every bit as enthralling and amazing as any modern dance you could cite, with a greater chance of blood being spilled for the sake of the performance.
The other difference between wheelies and watching a guy twiddling knobs is that a wheelie takes up 20 seconds of my time at best, and at the end of it I'd clap my hands and scream out for them to do it again.