The infrequently-updated site blog, featuring a range of content including show reviews, musical musings and off-color ramblings on other varied topics.
Steel Panther, Slash (feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators)
February 24, 2015
Satire is a lesson, parody is a game: Steel Panther are seasoned performers who parlayed Spinal Tap-ness into a full-time career. Their show celebrates everything that is both praiseworthy and ridiculous about rock music. Charisma by the bucket load, dirty jokes, histrionics, classic rock showmanship--and accomplished musicianship. An enjoyable show regardless of whether the recipient knows the source material. It works on its own merit as the protagonists are smarter than the people they are parodying, which is again a sure sign that less smart people are taking it for face value--which is when the gross yet admittedly funny jokery gets slightly uncomfortable. At least in theory. With Steel Panther even the ones on the receiving end of their over the top misogynist banter seem to be amused, which gives substance to the notion that the more unapologetically sexist characters are, the more women are attracted to them in person.
The Panthers' set list included songs from their entire three studio albums, the first of which was on constant rotation in your humble narrator's household after its release, laced with every bit of the rock theatre you missed out on in the 1980s.
After both the male voyeurs and females exhibitionists of all shapes and forms had ample opportunity to sate their appetites during the Steel Panther set, the appearance of the mere silhouette of the Sunset Strip survivor with the top hat and Les Paul sent the audience into a frenzy. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy, Slash backed by the Conspirators delivers a two-hour "best of set" with songs spanning his whole career, including the occasional round from the Velvet Revolver, a bite from the Snakepit and Gunner thrown in for good measure. Myles Kennedy was refreshingly humble for a lead singer and pulled off the old GNR classics convincingly without changing the style or trajectory of the originals. A solid Sidewave show.
Words: T, "era vulgaris"
Photo: Gothic Mario
Now that was a band that I did not really think I would hear from again. Named after the description of the Elder God, Azathoth, in H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmos, this experimental act had a huge impact. The three Blind Idiot God releases revealed some of the most intriguing work of the experimental music scene in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Still, it has not been since 1992 that we heard new material from the act. So not only they come up with a new album, but it also seems that it is their most ambitious in a long time. The band has stated that the songs of their newest albums do not follow conventional structures (not that this band ever did to be honest) and that there has been more emphasis on improvisation.
Blind Idiot God has been one of the most exciting acts of the ‘80s. The way in which the band merged punk, rock, noise, dub and funk was definitely ahead of its time. They initially formed in St. Louis by Andy Hawkins, Gabe Katz and Ted Epstein, who have been the core of the act since 1996. Soon enough they moved to New York in order to work with Martin Bisi, a producer that had worked with other amazing acts like Sonic Youth, Swans and John Zorn.
The result of this process was their self-titled album, released in 1987. To showcase their unique identity and outlook the instrumental trio actually kicks off the album with one of Stravinsky’s compositions. That alone grips you by the neck. From that point on the band goes on an insane display of post-hardcore sovereignty led by Hawkins distinctive guitar sound. Mathcore blends into funk and everything just fits together perfectly.
Sonic tidal waves come from the guitar amps when “Shifting Sand” is brought forth, and more dissonant offerings are conveyed in the form of “Wide Open Spaces” and “Subterranean Flight.” And there lies the true ingenuity of Blind Idiot God unravels. Suddenly the music takes the form of a desert rock anthem in “More Time.” Such a shift must seem quite surprising, but it is nothing compared to the dub trilogy of “Wise Man Dub,” “Stealth Dub” and “Raining Dub.” Suddenly, a band that has been named after one of the Elder Gods of Lovecraft’s world turns the table on us and starts to play, what practically is, reggae. It is not a surprise that the album got the attention of some serious names such as John Zorn and Henry Rollins.
The band would continue to work with Martin Bisi for the recording of their next two albums but that is also where Bill Laswell comes in. Laswell is a pioneering figure in the experimental music scene and has his fingers in many pies. He was the founder of Axiom a record label that started as a subdivision of Island Records and has been involved with other great acts such as Praxis, The Golden Palominos, Massacre, Material, Painkiller (with John Zorn) and Table Beat Science. He also recently launched M.O.D. Technologies. To this day, Leswell has been involved in the production stage of every Blind Idiot God album since their sophomore release, Undertow.
Undertow saw the band continue to move in the path they set with their debut album. “Clockwork Dub” and “Major Key Dub” reveal their dub tendencies in all their glory. Obviously the blend of post-hardcore, mathcore and free rock keeps on strong in this release. The two most interesting moments though have to be the appearance of John Zorn in the final track of the album, “Purged Specimen,” with a sick saxophone part, and the unbelievable Funkadelic cover “Alice In My Fantasies.”
Hawkins had already started to find different areas in which his musical endeavors could expand. With Azonic, Hawkins released two albums, based solely on guitar sound and sonic experimentation. The debut album of the project found Hawkins working again with Laswell on the production of the album, using experimental rock motifs and drones in order to push the boundaries. The second release of Azonic was in the form of a split album with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh, another great instance of experimental music. Unfortunately after the release of Cyclotron, original drummer Ted Epstein left the band, and Blind Idiot God went in hiatus.
As time passed Blind Idiot God remained in a state of slumber, but there was still some progression. The addition of Tim Wyskida (also of Khanate) in the line-up seemed to signal the return of Blind Idiot God after ten years of inactivity. The band was said to be working on new material, giving more room to improvisation and their free rock identity. Around 2006 they started performing live around New York. Before Ever After, the much awaited follow-up to Cyclotron, contains material that the band has been working on since their reunion back in 2001. Unfortunately the original bassist of the band, Gabe Katz had to also leave the band in 2012, with Will Dahl being announced as the newest addition to the band.
The hope is that Wiskyda and Dahl will bring an air of rejuvenation to Blind Idiot God and that Hawkins will keep pushing the boundaries of experimental music. Before Ever After might be the album that fans have been waiting for decades from Blind Idiot God. Hopefully it will not be the last we hear from them.
Bombay Sweets, Pink Mink, Swami John & The Blind Shake
St. Paul, MN
February 19, 2015
No review, see photo gallery below.
Shonen Knife @ The Factory Theatre
January 24, 2015
Grin-inducing Japanese energetic, upbeat and catchy all-girl pop punk entertainment with the ingredients of a classic rock show: Shonen Knife are an infectiously enthusiastic trio and a lot of fun to watch. Songs with Descendents-esque novelty value about what food and drinks had been consumed earlier (“Banana chips” the entrée, “Ramen” was had for lunch, washed down with “Green Tea” – Osaka is not for nothing known as “Japan’s kitchen”). Their well-rehearsed live shows are a polished affair with choreographed dance moves, synchronized devil-horn throwing and headbanging in unison. Bubble-gum punk influenced ‘70s hard rock meticulously performed in a light hearted and upbeat manner. Enter Ramones, AC/DC, Buzzcocks infused with saccharine sweet 1960s pop group melodies, peppered with a lyrically simplistic content.
Band member introductions and polite explanations of how much they enjoy meeting us in “insert name of town of the night”-rock city. The politeness of the three ladies clad in shiny dresses was reciprocated by the audience who respectfully lapped up stage banter. Smiles all around.
Words: T, "era vulgaris"
Photo: Mike Higgott
How does one go to a show of a band that has been around consistently for longer that you have been alive and not have expectations? This along with possible experiences with the band could shape ones' perception of how good or band the band may be regardless of skill or consistency. Regardless this tour was announced and contains a little bit of everything in metal. 5 bands that play varied corners upon the genre spectrum. So with open ears but a bit of experience with each band prior i filed in to see what could be a very interesting night overall.
To begin the band that i knew the least overall about, Black Crown Initiate. The Pennsylvania band had just released their first LP and devoted their relatviely short set time to it. What came as a surprise it the band has quite varied but substantial sound. Deeply rooted in death metal but using atmospherics, acoustic instruments and various vocal tones to convey a strong spacious style of metal without going too far into the ether by the time the band finished thy had only played 4 songs but with the variance of styles contained in those songs it felt full.
Shortly thereafter Iron Reagan came upon the stage and anyone with prior experience in seeing some of the members prior (or other current) band, Municipal Waste, would be able to confirm the party hard fun as hell trainwreck that is on display. Iron Reagan doesnt change that part of the formula. This idea is only bolstered by the further lack of pretension in the bands songs and faster tempos overall. The band clearly had fun and made it hard to not have fun seeing them.
Exhumed is a band that has existed for quite awhile and has stayed true to frontman Matt Harvey's vision more so than nearly any other band. That is to say proper old school death metal with bits of grind played with ferocity and a griesome attitude. The band played through mostly old songs as they are touring upon a re-recording of their first album and this let everyone see what this band is from front to back. Best of all, considering the small size of the stage, the band kept their theatrics having a friend play a chainsaw wielding doctor and eventually using a guillotine to take off the guitarists head. While not on the massiv scale of say Gwar the theatrics felt consistent with the band.
Voivod came next, and while i fully respect and undderstand their place in metal (particularly of the Canadian variety) they have never really been my thing all told. There is certainly nothing wrong with this and honestly was waiting to eat my words. Meanwhile the most surprising thing was the energy the band showed while playing. The songs, were played with a strong sense of accuracy to the original recorded versions but did little to sway my initial though process. The band deftly switched from varying eras of their existence and closed with a song for their fallen member Piggy in their rendition of "Astronomy Domine" by Pink Floyd.
Finally came the final band Napalm Death. It is really tough to say something that hasn't already been expressed about this band (they have been around since 1981). Meanwhile they are a band that is relentlessly interesting, intelligent and energetic. So without much segway the band burst into a set of songs that kept the forward movement without sacrificing a broad spectrum of their songs. One thing worth noting and respecting is that within the week prior to this show Barney (Napalm's vocalist) broke his arm. Now as a band of older guys (main memebers Shane and Barney were born in the 60's) it shows tremendous will and respect for their audience to continue the tour and play as hard as ever. The band played some songs that one would expect (Scum, You Suffer) as well as songs off of their new album. While the band has never fully deviated from their initial grindcore style this type of set shows how much they've gornw and what kind of thoughts they've managed to insert within their initial framework.
Overall this tour is a must for any metal fan with varying types of styles on display and a list of bands that all play hard and show off their styles well. Regardless of age or overaching interest this could be a show worth seeing as it proclaims the forebearers of the genre and shows a deep interest in it's newer bands as well.
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