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Denver Friday

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At The Bug Theater in Denver

At The Bug Theater in Denver

Yeah, dude, I was there.

The last Jandek post I made seemed to get people’s attention and, shortly thereafter, I got an email from Marshall: OH OH. I was just reading on Wikipedia about Jandek. It was mentioned he is playing a show in Denver on the 25th. Between moving, working and all sorts of other drains on my watch and my wallet that have come lately, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go, a thought that bummed me out a good deal. Sure enough, though, last night found me signing out of work and strolling my way up to The Bug Theater in anticipation.

The Bug is in the Highland area, just north of downtown, from where I was walking. Walking up Navajo St, one passes through a close group of small-looking houses, a few sort of seedy bars and a large Catholic church before coming upon the theater, on a corner surrounded by small art galleries, like a little cultural jewel. I got there at about six to find the theater doors closed. There was, however, the nondescript sign pictured above, handwritten on what appeared to be scrap paper. The whole thing was perfect.

As I waited for my friends to arrive, small and diverse groups of people began to collect in the area around the theater, from long-haired skate-punk looking kids to middle-aged socialite art-circle couples. The box office opened at 6:30, by which time a small cloud of people had formed on the corner of Navajo and 37th. A man pulled out his wallet for the cash-only tickets, saying he had never heard of Jandek, just came to check it out. A long-haired guy laughed and told him he was in for an experience.

My friends showed up around 7 and we hung around outside, one of several little clusters of people having a cigarette for a little while. Finally, at 7:30, we went in.

There were no tickets–our wrists were stamped with a face that looked like a screaming man. There was a minibar at the rear of the theater, near the entrance, that offered several varieties of bottled beer, candy, nuts, all for “suggested donations,” rather than actual prices. We got some beer and turned to sit down.

The theater itself is small–200 or so capacity; 20 ten-seat rows, perhaps. One of my friends expressed surprise there were seats–I think he expected a more “normal” show environment. At the front of the theater was the stage itself. To one side was a huge pile of amplifiers, mixing equipment, etc. A drum kit was set up in the middle. Several guitars and basses were lined up on one side. The whole thing was framed at the rear by two huge, white columns and a white crosspiece, from which dangled red curtains. The curtains were slightly open in front of a spacey, blue background. The whole thing felt both small–like existing in a little diorama–and out of time, as if a fragment of a past era. Three cameras were set up–one at the rear of the theater, one towards the middle and one at the foot of the stage.

The crowd buzzed and hummed. From the talk, some people seemed to be fans but a fair amount didn’t know what was going to happen. Tom Waits’s Swordfishtrombones clunked along under the murmur. By ten to eight, the tiny theater was nearly full, when a large, excited-looking man took the stage. He announced that the show would begin shortly and that it was “last call” at the minibar. We, along with a number of other people, grabbed one more beer and sat back down.

After a moment, the lights dimmed and the sound of the crowd died out as someone nearby commented it was like a movie was about to start. There was a long and pregnant pause.

Then, 5 people filed out onto the stage–4 men and a woman. Four of them were faces people in the Denver art scene–particularly that associated with Rhinoceropolis–might know. A young, somewhat lanky man took a seat in the front left–this was Karl Zickrick who initially picked up a red guitar, but alternated between guitars and basses. Behind him, the somewhat owlish woman in a blue flower-print dress–Brittany Gould, whose only weapon was her microphone. To the right of her a bearded man–Andrew Lindstrom–sat down at the drum kit, a wild look in his eye. A disaffected looking young man in thick glasses–Kevin Richards–sat next to him and picked up an electric guitar. And in front of him stood the Man from Corwood himself. He looked exactly as I’d expected him to look–the usual button-up shirt, slacks and fedora, and moved with an almost inhuman presence, like watching an alien being. For this show he manned a sleek, black, fretted bass.

Without a word, the songs began to snake into existence, and this is where things begin to get difficult to describe. Put simply, I hope this show gets released on DVD (as “Denver Friday,” presumably), because I’m not actually sure what really happened. For a while, I seriously thought I was having an especially strong acid flashback–the howling sounds took on an eerily organic quality and everything became alive (microphone stands were insect limbs, the instruments were shrieking animals, etc). I was drifting in and out of reality, people around me and onstage were disappearing and reappearing, crawling, snaking moving–the whole room seemed to be growing and shrinking. There was a point where people were trees and the sound was a cloud of spiders moving over them, or a point where the notes were being played on the ligaments and tendons of the collective body of everyone present–weird shit like that. Something would ground me in reality for a moment and then the music would carry me off into this weird inner imaginative recess I didn’t even know I could tap into.

Put simply, it felt like my mind was broken down and reassembled piece by piece. I’ve never experienced anything like that, especially not while (reasonably) sober. Hell, even drugs don’t quite get to the level this did.

In a more grounded sense, I do know there were some cool things going on. The drummer was running chains over his kit, scratching his ride cymbal with the end of his stick, bowing a hand cymbal–all sorts of other nutty stuff. The patterns of the either one or two guitars wound around each other, the female howls added a spookily etherial quality to the whole affair, etc. For the most part the light was dim, but on at least two occasions, it was refracted off a disco ball above the stage that rotated and cast flecks of yellow glow in a spinning vortex around the room.

I don’t know how many songs were played–seven or eight, maybe. I do know that the actual performance went on for about 2 hours and 15 minutes and that afterwards, I almost couldn’t breathe. The performers filed off as wordlessly as they had appeared, the lights went up and the crowd milled outside. Talking on the sidewalk, the friends I went with were all surprised at how intense the experience had been–that it came on so strong and didn’t let up at all. As we drove home, none of us could really think of a comparable experience.

Basically, if you ever get the chance–and it is long odds, but still–go see a Jandek show. The next (and only other announced) one will be in Columbus, OH on 10/10. Even if you have to drive a couple hours to get there, it’ll be worth it.

Damn, son.

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Written by Sarah K

July 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Concerts

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Serious Thurston is serious.

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I forgot to mention that Thurston Moore took up the bass on the 13th to play a show with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.

Somewhat frightening is how poorly Lydia Lunch has aged.

Was she into hard drugs or something? Because she seriously looks not-so-well for only being… 49. That’s right. She’s younger than Thurston. But dude, you know what she looks like? My least favorite internet meme in the universe!

Written by M

June 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

My Bloody Valentine’s first show in 16 years!

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My Bloody Valentine’s first show since forever ago took place tonight. There are few things I would not do to be able to see one of their reunion shows, preferably the whole All Tomorrow’s Parties thing they’re putting together. (I did see the Meat Puppets and Built to Spill, though — part of ATP this year.)

So they went out with twenty minutes of this:

Written by M

June 13, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Concerts

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Blogging is good for you, and so is Cake

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Here is the news on how blogging is great for you. This is definitely a sign everyone should write more here!

As for Cake, I stood 5 feet from John McCrea, Cake’s vocalist, sometimes guitarist, and wicked vibraslaper.

Vibraslap

Cake played a rad set list, including War Pigs! War Pigs is a song every band should play. It owns just that hard.

McCrea threatened the audience as it got dark and people were using flashes on their cameras (I never do that because it’s very rude). I’m going to write a blog on photography at concerts later, but with Cake, McCrea said, roughly anyway, “Hey, it’s distracting when you guys use flashes on your camera. If you keep it up, I will stop in the middle of the song and yell at you.”

It was a very Anton Newcombe moment.

McCrea also did something Cake did last time I saw them. He had the audience sing along to a few song and pointed out that when he made the audience fight to out “ohhhh!” the other side (he divided the crowd between left and right) was much louder than the first side. Then the first side would get louder, then the second, and so on. And his point was basically people are much louder and interactive when they have to compete against someone else. Everyone singing along is much quiter than people competing. He went on this whole thing about how there are, “Winners and losers. Good and evil. People who work hard and succeed, and people who don’t work and complain.” It was pretty epic.

They brought this tree on stage and no one could figure out its purpose. So later in the show, during the encore, they come back and McCrea starts mess with the audience about the tree. He then decided he’d ask everyone how long the civil war lasted. It was awesome because there were some really loud guys standing behind us and I think McCrea was directing it completely at them when he said anyone who yelled the answer would not get the tree. Dude was hella serious. He said you had to raise your hand and if he picked you, you’d give him the answer — if it was right, you’d get the tree. So this couple ends up getting the tree. Oddly enough, they’d been shopping for the same kind of tree (a crabapple) the same day.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Clicky to make biggie.

I didn’t realize what good musicians they are until I saw them close. Their drummer (who also plays with Les Claypool) is awesome. Their guitarist is just… wow, he was so fast. It was something else, man. It was a great show. Standing nearly completely against the stage is awesome. If you ever get the chance to see them, do it.

Written by M

June 9, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Concerts

Spiritualized opens for Lenny Kravitz!

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This is a WTF? moment for music.

Spiritualized is opening for Lenny Kravitz on Kravitz’s European tour.

It’s a good thing for Lenny Kravitz this is taking place in Helsinki and Estonia. I think he’s run out of lewd songs to write about women in the States and the rest of the world. Estonia may well be his last refuge — but what will he do if the Estonian female swimming team is in China for the Olympics?

Sigh.

Written by M

June 8, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Just got back from seeing The National, Modest Mouse, and R.E.M.

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It was a fun show! I got there late and only saw the last couple songs by The National, but I saw all of Modest Mouse and, of course, all of R.E.M.

I’ve never been able to really get Modest Mouse. What I heard of The National was pretty tight, though.

R.E.M. did a great set, although I was a bit disappointed they didn’t play Radio Free Europe. But they didn’t do Everybody Hurts, which is great, because it is one of the few R.E.M. songs I absolutely despise.

One of the cool things about Modest Mouse was their two drummers. I didn’t know they did that! I’m a sucker for dual drummers.

Anyhow, here are some pictures and some video.

Forgive the video quality. I had to shrink the file size and that reduced the FPS by half, plus uploading it changed the format to .flv which sort of weakens the quality further. The sound on the originals actually isn’t that bad! That surprised me.

Anyway, here goes:

A short Modest Mouse clip here.

R.E.M. – Living Well’s the Best Revenge here.

R.E.M. – Fall on Me here. (This should be longer, but apparently my camera’s battery decided to die and cut it off early or something?)

Sorry about the picture quality too, by the way. I can’t bring my nice D-SLR into Red Rocks (or most venues), so once it starts getting dark the camera starts to blow. I’m going to have to think of a way to sneak my D-SLR in in time for Monolith! :p

Written by M

June 4, 2008 at 4:12 am