Love Emulator  2

Posted on Saturday, 7 May 2005 at 03:52 AM. About shows.

Hey, I'm still here. Way too tired to write anything clever now, so I will be plain in my phrasing--check out this local music show I caught last night:

OK, so that was just this guy I know's dog, but it was a major part of this barbecue I went to before the show.

I think I've written about them before. Ah, there we go. Tonight they pretended to be from Sweden.
My friend Joe's not part of the act any more, but it is okay, because this show I went to was just a graduation/record release party for the kids in...

Oh man, they are always a sure bet. They are basically channelling Devo except with newer music technology, but they know how to rock the house. Everyone up in that place was dancing--even the lead singer Dan's parents, who showed up to this crowded loft apartment packed full of hipsters to watch him play because he is graduating tomorrow, and they are totally cool people.
And, since I posted this basically everywhere else, I scored 7 Inch's sweet new single, available in 5 1/4 and 3 1/2 inch formats. (Just to be clear--the 3 1/2" floppy is an actual floppy containing an mp3 of one of their songs. Only two dollars!)

These kids are basically insane.
Two drummer/keyboardists, three guitarists, solid poppy rock and roll. They only played for I think a half-hour, but that was enough for ten back-to-back-to-back songs. Yeti does not mess around. I've been very excited about this act ever since they won our Battle of the Bands a few weeks ago, so it was nice to see what they actually look like.


But I had a good time. Had to cancel the radio show--oh yeah, it is online now sort of--to go attend, but it was worth it. A lot of people I've come to care about here are leaving forever, so it was nice to see everyone one last time on Thursday. Even if we were all a little tipsy. But that's a story not for print.

BONUS AUDIO THING: This keen British pop act Bearsuit has put four of their best songs up for download on their website under "music", or you can stream the stuff from their Myspace page... but listen to "Itsuko Got Married" if nothing else. It's the happiest pop song of the year, bar none.

Edit Entry  2

Posted on Friday, 24 December 2004 at 04:19 AM. About Technical. About shows.

Are you sure you want to delete the 45 comments?

Writing from South Dakota now, sitting up at 2 am on Christmas Eve (technically) clearing out the spam on This Old Web Site. It’s a big hassle. I'm thinking that once I get back to Iowa, I'll start testing out the new version of Movable Type over on the test site. (Note to self: this plug-in might work too.) Hopefully I can have something better figured out by the end of the year so that our site can actually be usable again--for us, anyway. But that's where that stands.


Otherwise: the last couple of months have been quite eventful, haven't they? I've been working like a bastard and not had time to comment on Current Events, but I've been reading the newspaper pretty closely and keeping track of things. My only observation that I don't think has been covered thoroughly is that in my home district, none of the twenty or thirty incumbents up for re-election--from the President of the United States all the way down to the county commissioners--was defeated. Despite all the fire and vitriol spewing forth from all angles about What is Wrong With This Country, it seems like we're pretty happy with things, at least around Iowa. I would hope that it is different elsewhere.


I'm going to try to keep it short for now but for the record, I stopped by the Ropeadope New Music Seminar when it stopped by Des Moines last month. I didn't catch all of it, but I did get to see Matt Haimovitz, Charlie Hunter, Bobby Previte, DJ Olive, Lyrics Born, the ever-charismatic Sex Mob the lethargic Benvento/Russo Duo and the main attraction: an extremely obese, middle-aged man in a tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirt bouncing around the joint like a giddy schoolgirl. Quality.

OK. I'll be in Rapid City through Monday; give me a call if you will too.

Four lesbians and a drummer  1

Posted on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 03:45 AM. About shows.

After work on Tuesday, I snuck off to another show at The Mews in Des Moines...

Ehh. It's Frankenixon. They finished just before we got there, and we didn't feel too bad about it. They'll be around for a while.

She played with her sister (??), who played the violin and one of those keyboard-harmonica dealies and some guy, who played drums, poorly. The first half of the set was pretty much phoned in... which is understandable, because they drove all the way from Wall, South Dakota that very day. Starting from there and driving for ten hours, just to go hang out with Iowa hipsters... I have done this. It's not the most enjoyable experience, so I'm sympathetic to the kids' plight. I'm assuming, however, that the Monday-night show at Common Grounds in Rapid was excellent. Someone should check me on this.

Tara Jane O'Neil
She didn't give a damn about Des Moines either. Played some good music, though. Joining her on stage was "[her] wife," who apparently enjoys the submissive role in their relationship. "I'll just set up this $2,000 worth of synthesizer equipment and spit-shine your boots, Ms. O'Neil."

There was also a part where the Mirah troupe got on stage with Mrs. and Mrs. O'Neil and they all... um... jammed for ten minutes. The result had neither rhythm, harmony nor melody, so I suppose it was not, technically speaking, music. They were all in the same key, but that's about all I can give them on that one.

That review sounds pretty harsh, but it's been a long day. Really, Tuesday evening's show was not unenjoyable... just a bit disappointing, like opening a tin of flavored truffles and discovering all the tasty filling sucked out. But, again, this is all I expect from Des Moines, and I don't regret the trip at all.


System notes:

  1. The 'Fish is being bombarded by spam-robots. I have a couple of schemes in the works to fix that, but they will have to wait until I have more free time. I haven't heard from Jesse nor Joan in a while anyway, so maybe it's not that urgent.
  2. G-Mail is on the way, as soon as I figure out a good new-user screening solution and, um, I do all that other stuff.
  3. There is no 3. Hey, look, it's Jon Stewart on NPR's Fresh Air (mp3, 11 MB). Keen!

Station Break  1

Posted on Wednesday, 8 September 2004 at 11:49 PM. About shows.

On Monday night after work I hit up the tail-end of a show at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines...

These kids were playing for about five people when we walked in. I guess that's the peril of doing a Labor Day show. They didn't have a very distinctive sound--just another progressive rock band--but they sure worked hard at rocking out. Lots of strutting.

Servo almost came with us to this show, but right after I called him about it, he called back and said, "Wait, Sushirobo? I thought you said Seksu Roba. Now I'm not so interested... I think I'll write that philosophy paper instead."
What Sushirobo was--they were a well-dressed, four-piece space-rock band with lots of effects pedals. I counted eighteen in front of the lead guitarist; the other guitar player had at least a half-dozen, plus one of those nice multi-function digital boxes. And they really were well-dressed: tailored suits, nice ties, good hair. Even their guitars were nice. I can't imagine ever listening to their CD, but they were nice guys and put on a good show--Sushirobo is probably the first band I've called "space-rock" without being snide or insulting.

Bad grammar aside, the trip was a nice distraction between ten-hour shifts delivering pizza. The only real negative was the British pub Royal Mile being inexpliciably closed--on an American holiday, no less. My hunger for fish and chips is not sated, gov'nuh!

+ + +

I have a spot on Talkchat to rush to, so no multimedia content this time. Sorry, folks.

Monday  0

Posted on Tuesday, 13 July 2004 at 03:39 AM. About Ames. About shows.

OK. I still haven't fixed that clock, but it never worked right anyway. Let's move on to other topics. In the past two weeks, I have:

  • Learned how to play canasta and mah jongg.
  • Started learning how to write computer programs in Java.
  • Exploded explosives.
  • Seen Soulive, well, live, at a nearby jazz festival. (They even played a crazy, twenty-minute version of One in Seven, which was pretty good.)
  • Sampled a half-liter of authentic, imported alt bier (Schlösser Alt, I think), which changed my whole outlook on alcohol... until something called a banana margarita changed it back.
  • And oh yeah, I f--well, maybe I should set that aside for a few days.

Suffice it to say that there will be news, soon. But not all good news. Truth be told, I haven't had a lot of that lately, but let's edit the sad parts for now, yes? At least until I have crafted responses and initiated the proper contingency plans. I have another four days or so to do this, so I guess I'll have more word soon.

For now... hey look, it's peg-board beads for nerds! I fully intend to make some of these, as soon as possible.

Halcyon  0

Posted on Tuesday, 25 November 2003 at 05:56 PM. About shows.

Back on the ninth of June, I saw Phil Elvrum play his acoustic guitar in an apartment in downtown Ames. People left the place crying. I don't think anyone was near tears last Saturday at the Rapture/Shins show in Lawrence, but it was nearly as thrilling. Well, not so much thrilling as rock-the-fuck-out-ing, but quite moving all the same. Especially for me, seeing as how The Shins' first album got me through several lonely drives one summer.

Anyway, it was a hoot.

Quick link: I hope I never turn into this guy. I like the Times, but my addiction still hasn't quite cemented.

More name-dropping  2

Posted on Sunday, 16 November 2003 at 11:58 PM. About shows.

Let's see... there was this show last Friday:

Apparently Tim Kinsella--formerly of Joan of Arc and a bunch of other bands--has a new band. (Someone told me after the show that Make Believe is the same as Joan of Arc with one line-up change.) They were loud... and... I don't really remember. I know Kinsella wore an army helmet, and the band closed with a cover of "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield that sounded like even more of a funeral dirge than usual.

All I can say is that they were very charismatic. Well, Ted Leo was very charismatic. The bassist looked pretty stoned. The drummer seemed pissed off. And the keyboard player just wasn't there... but everyone in the crowd had a good time. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have a new EP including a cover of The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town," Frank Lloyd Wright which I was hoping they would play sometime during their set Friday in the spirit of that famous Frank Lloyd Wright quotation--

"I doubt if there is anything in the world uglier than a Midwestern city."

--but I had no such luck. The band did play a double encore, though, despite the constant heckling from the crowd. Some of it was positive heckling, which the hecklers and Ted Leo had a nice discussion about... but most of it was just this guy being drunk. All in all, it was a fun night.


Also a fun night was the Friday before that... November the seventh, I suppose. Playing at the Indonesian restaurant/bar/nightclub/place in Campustown was...

...some guy who left a message on my voicemail inviting me to come and watch him play. So I went and watched him play crazy, experimental music with nothing more than a multi-track delay pedal and a bunch of random instruments that may or may not have been in the toy bin at Goodwill last month. One composition involved the looped approximation of a swarm of bees, quickly building in intensity as Charlie bounced around on stage, paper triangle clutched to his bum. Another featured both beatboxing into the microphone and the beating of a box containing a microphone. Charlie only played--is that the right word?--for about half an hour, but left us mesmerized and wanting more.

Apparently Ames has its own post-rock band now, consisting of a drummer and bass guitarist. Someone once explained to me that Steps' unique sound comes from a special bass guitar effects pedal, and that if that very expensive piece of gear ever broke, the band would be finished. So the pedal broke, and now Steps is going on hiatus. Their show of November the seventh was their last of the year, and even when operating on reduced gear, the duo was pretty solid. They need a broader range of material, to be certain, but they have the talent and the creativity to really... do whatever it is post-rock bands do, I suppose. Massage, perhaps, or engross. Chirm. Yes. Chirm is the right word.


Anyhoo, there's an update on what Rob's been listening to. That, and this band Jesse recommended to him called the Apparat Organ Quartet. If you haven't heard of them, you need to click on that link--DO IT RIGHT NOW--and download their song, "Romantika." It's vibra-tastic!

Iceland sure would be a swell place to live, wouldn't it? Besides the volcano, of course.

Jumble  0

Posted on Monday, 20 October 2003 at 10:36 PM. About shows.

Bands I caught bits of over the weekend:

Damn, they are awesome. Imagine a Charlie Brown special by Steve Albini or something. I don't know.

The only four good words are "Indie-rock dance orgy."

One of those bands that sounds exactly like their recordings. They even played the songs in the same order. I used to think that had to be a bad thing.

I would call them pompous assholes, but the lead singer liked my Hackensaw Boys shirt. Besides, they probably just played all those covers because they respected us and felt like experimenting that night. Right?

Randomness: strange coincidences.

Ibid  1

Posted on Monday, 13 October 2003 at 11:12 PM. About shows.

Oh, right. So the show Thursday was okay. The Plus Ones? Decent. Ozma? Less rocking, probably because they don't want to be forever known as "Weezer Lite." Nada Surf? I only stayed for three songs, but those three were bouncing around in my head all day Friday.

Tuesday is coming. Did you bring your coat?

Knee Poems  2

Posted on Saturday, 4 October 2003 at 05:00 AM. About shows.

I slept sixteen hours last... Thursday night, on into Friday morning. I think my body just stopped working. But I eventually woke up, so I went to Omaha for a few hours. A show:

I think that's what they were called. They were a post-rock group who still need to come up with a message. Three drunken assholes walked up halfway through the set and started yelling bigot-Spanish at the guitarist/violinist, because he looked Hispanic and they were drunken assholes. (To wit: the violinist's last name is Hatanaka.) Fortunately, he was a very nice guy who spoke no Spanish at all, so he didn't seem to mind the heckling.

What can I say? Even better than the other two times I saw them. (video?) Amy charged into the middle of the crowd at the start of the song and completely bowled me over, because I am dense. Then she started dancing in the back of the room, and there was much freaking going out in the indie fashion of the day. Dan traded the MIDI-theremin for a MIDI-xylophone gadget on this tour, which disappointed me. More bands need the theremin.

Just fun. There wasn't much in the way of instrument stands, and I noticed that their characteristic electric organ was covered with duct tape. I wonder how many more recording sessions it will survive.
Topics of discussion: Warren Buffett, Kori/the sound guy/somebody's birthday, some drunk girl molesting a guy I rode with, and why the hell Sokol Underground (the venue) closes at 1 am.

For the record, this is the first time I ever went to show on a guest list. Also for the record, the person who scored my spot on the guest list was not himself on the guest list for some reason unknown to us. The guest list is a strange beast, beyond my puny human comprehension.

Final record note: between the show, gas, food and the vinyl copy of Einstein on the Beach I found at some record store Servo knew about, I have exactly fifty cents in my name until Monday. It's the happy kind of broke.

Yo la tuví  0

Posted on Saturday, 27 September 2003 at 03:55 AM. About shows.

Dressy Bessy did, unfortunately, not happen. No one I talked to went, and I talked to a lot of people. I hope the band managed to draw a crowd anyway.

Not much else happened for a few days until this evening's show in Grinnell: indie-rock wellsprings Yo La Tengo, playing for free at the... center... building... at Grinnell College. Those people have a one billion dollar endowment. They can afford to do this shit all the time, and regularly proceed to do so. Motto? "Grinnell College: We ran out of stuff to buy."

Anyway, the show was great. I think the show was great. I had to double-check, but I know the opening act was called "The Aislers Set." Their fashion sense was simple, so to speak; from my hipster perch atop the mixer console, it took me a few minutes to verify that we weren't watching some Partridge Family gig, and that everyone in the band was in fact older than I am. I blame it on electromagnetic radiation emanating from a faulty patch cable hooked up to their $10,000+ mixer console (but I digress.)

Yo La Tengo was nothing short of awesome--the ur-indie-rock act, so powerfully enchanting that already I remember none of their two-hour set. (Well, it was longer, but we left as the second encore started.) My hip-hop loving roommate informed me after the show that he recognized at least five distinct musical styles. I'm presuming he's correct. All I can remember is that at one point, Georgia Hubley and James McNew jumped up on something and started doing swimming-fish hand guestures while singing "sha-la-la-la-la-la..."

The only other distinct image I have is J...ehosephat using the Aislers Set's 45 minutes to down six bottles of Amberbach in parking lot with "the Organ Donor guy." Now, Papa Toasty may have left us in body, but he is ever with us in spirit, urging us to do unwise things for the amusement of our comrades. God bless him!

So passed Friday night. Next Iowa show is perhaps the Cougars gig Tuesday at the M-Shop here in town.

Sects, drugs, and rockets' role  1

Posted on Sunday, 21 September 2003 at 02:17 AM. About shows.

The other day I was trying to remember if I had seen this band play with that other band once, or if maybe I had seen them separately--wait wait no, that must have been that time we went to Grinnell, yeah, this band was opening for a third band. The other band I have never seen play live. Right.

The other day I decided that when I went to shows, I would write something about it here so that I could look back later and know for sure what bands I saw where, when. And of course inform the esteemed reader about new and exciting musicians. Right. This is the first such entry.

Tonight I went down to Des Moines to see the All Girl Summer Fun Band play at the Vaudeville Mews. The Mews, it should be noted, is a newish up-and-coming venue in downtown Des Moines, the kind of midwest concert spot that shows up in a place once every few years, spends a few months coming and being up, and then folds because of either management ineptitude, liquor license violations, police "encouragement," or a combination of the three. From what I've read, this establishment is apparently leaning towards the second option--"we may have to either lose the alcohol or lose the minors"--but for the time being, it's a nice place. Imagine a large shoebox with a lid made of tin foil, a cardboard "balcony" covering one end of the box and a little stage at the other end, cut out of the side of the box. The shows are well-booked and well-attended, the drinks are reasonably priced, and the vibe is okay. Sound and acoustics leave a bit to be desired, but that comes once a few checks make it to the bank.

(I mention all this because I will probably have many more opportunities to drop the name, and I thought I would get it out of the way.)

Anyway, the show was a good time, more or less. The opening bands both had to pause to deal with broken guitar strings, and the pianist/guitarist from Envy Corps had a hell of a time with his synthesizers. They sounded good, though.

The All Girl Summer Fun Band, meanwhile... they were an all-girl, summer fun band. I still don't know how else to describe them. It does raise a couple of interesting questions--like why didn't they suddenly disappear when autumn began this afternoon?--but they are what they are: a small indie rock band trying to make a living.

Tonight their usual bassist was sick, so a blue-haired friend was stepping in, but otherwise they sounded about how they sounded on their newer album, "2". Their set was very short, though... perhaps an hour long, perhaps because they don't have much material. The group's recordings combine for maybe eighty or ninety minutes of music, and with each song an average of two minutes long, it is apparently hard to come up with enough songs to play a very long show. I understand this, I feel sympathy, I emote, I arrive early for a nine-o'clock show, I leave the club at midnight. What is there to do in Des Moines at midnight? Even the bums go to bed at ten.

We drove back to Ames to eat some of my roommate's cheesecake and turn in, stopping briefly to rock the fuck out to a song off the forthcoming Rapture album that came on the radio.

But that's the way it went. Next up on the concert sheet is Dressy Bessy coming to town next Tuesday. I hope I can make it to that one...


Posted on Friday, 9 August 2002 at 11:31 AM. About shows.

Before I begin, I'd like to say "Ow," because my teeth hurt. At last I've overcome that silly childhood fear of dentists, and have learned that in the long run, overcoming fear isn't half as painful as submitting to it.

Anyway, Modest Mouse and company were a blast. Some highlights from each of the artists, straight out of the mouths of myself and those I was in the company of:

KINKY: "mas y mas mas y mas mas y mas MAS Y MAS mas y mas..."
"What, the guy in the blue?"
"Isn't that Isaac Brock?"
"It looks like him... but he's just standing there, tuning that guitar with the roadies. Shouldn't he be preening backstage or something?"
HACKENSAW BOYS: "You know, it's strange, but banjos and fiddles are perfect for warming up a crowd to a hip-hop act."
DE LA SOUL: "No, I don't smoke pot, but that's very generous of you, man."
"Err, no, I'm good. Those girls behind us might appreciate a kind bud, though."
"Hey Robert, what is it people smoke if it's in a tiny metal pipe like that?"
THE FLAMING LIPS: "I think the smoke's coming from the smoke machine... wait, isn't the smoke machine off to the side?"
"I think so. Oh, there's a fire in the amp racks!"
CAKE: "Hey, if we left right now, I bet we'd beat the traffic..." an aside, no one was expecting the 'Lips show to be quite that crazy, but I suppose that when you mix that many drugs, college students, pieces of electrical equipment, and Battle Royale clips, the unexpected is to be expected.

Other than that... my teeth hurt. I leave for Iowa again in two weeks or so, and I'll try to post more between now and then, just not right now. Maybe I'll include a diary of my Quest for Financial Aid! But maybe not. For now, you'll just have to divest yourself on this fine collection of regression candy - Square 1 Television.

I will have "Less Than Zero" running through my head all night now... blast...

Hipster comma period  

Posted on Tuesday, 23 July 2002 at 04:33 PM. About shows.

First and foremost: when I was seven or so, I liked cartoons. And every morning, the USA television network would show good cartoons. Not like that crappy Nickelodeon, which just pumped out game shows back then. No, USA had the proverbial goods. And just before each show, they would play a little short called "In A Minute" spotlighting activism of children around the country. I would try to get up early just to see In A Minute... it never worked, of course, because I've been a chronic oversleeper since perhaps before I was born, but I tried. I remember this so vividly now... it's strange.

Perhaps it's seeing a television laying outside of my front door that brought these memories so vividly to the surface. When I was seven or so, my parents bought a brand new Toshiba nineteen-inch television, and I utilized it in my watching of cartoons. It has rested in the living room ever since... until tonight, when I found the aged Toshiba sitting on the concrete outside the steps leading down from the portal. I thought for a minute that perhaps my parents were finally breaking the bonds of the television, that they were determined to bring my sister up free of its curse!
But there in the living room sat the television from my parents' bedroom. Oh well. I guess the old activists' cry of "Kill Your TV!" is redundant when the TV has lost its will to live.

Anyway, on to more salient events: I Am The World Trade Center is a very good live group. So very, very good. I'm still not sure how they found themselves driving eleven hours to play to a sixteen people in a big, empty retirement center dining hall in South Dakota, but there it was, and there they were. Thirty minutes of solid beats and upbeat fun -- inspired by some newly-tweaked choreographing; I noticed a notebook full of it on a chair -- was ended awkwardly with the words, "Well, thanks for coming out here. We hope it was as weird for you as it was for us."

And so it was. The cover band, Cleavage, didn't show, forcing the other "cover band"--two kids with a Yamaha synthesizer and a microphone--to waste two hours by going through all of the rhythm presets on the box, one by one. They seemed to take it rather well, though, given the circumstances.

Bottom lines: I Am The World Trade Center has upgraded their equipment since cutting their last recording and improved rather well. My speech in class was apparently a failure, as none of them showed up. And now I go back to work for the tourists in the Ice Cream Mines of Keystone.


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