I have a habit of becoming obsessed with comedians for months at a time. First, it was Mitch Hedberg, one of the great comic geniuses of our time. Lately, it's Kathy Griffin. She's catty and talks about people behind their backs, which normally aren't attractive qualities, but for some reason when she does it, it's hilarious. Most of the celebrities she skewers have it coming.
I have all of her Bravo specials memorized, and I'm finally getting into her Emmy-winning show My Life on the D-List. I love when she talks about Paula Abdul ("I don't know what she's on - I'm not a pharmacist") and the Olsen twins ("Those bitches are scary... have you seen them in pictures? The way they put their heads together, with those big eyes, like Children of the Corn?") Her stories of behind the scenes action from award shows and TV shows are priceless - my favorite is the near-battle between Sharon Stone and Rosie O'Donnell at an AIDS charity banquet.
YouTube: Kathy Griffin on Sharon Stone and Rosie O'Donnell
Kathy has just released a CD, For Your Consideration. It is so titled because the only reason she's releasing the disc is to try to get a Grammy nomination. That's brilliant! Now that she's won an Emmy (and pissed off the religious right with her acceptance speech), she's trying to move on to another award show. I predict she has at least a 50/50 shot of getting nominated in the Comedy category. Go Kathy!
MP3: Kathy Griffin - Oprah is a Deity (For Your Consideration) Amazon
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Ranking the 7 oddest moments I've encountered during concerts...
7 Black Dice make the case for ear plugs
Andy Warhol Museum, September 16, 2005
This was BY FAR the loudest show I ever attended. Not knowing the band's music at all, I dragged my friend Kristie along for what I thought would be a fun evening. Then Black Dice came out and played their freaky experimental music, with the volume cranked up to jet-takeoff levels. After about 3 songs, we had to get the hell out of there, lest we risk permanent hearing loss. So we headed up to the third floor of the Warhol - and we could STILL hear the band from three floors away! It was far more enjoyable from there.
6 Brian VanderArk goes Jesus on my ass
Club Cafe, October 28, 2005
This would be the former lead singer of the Verve Pipe. It also happened to be the smallest crowd I've ever seen for a show - about 20 people. I felt bad for the guy. Then, his first song was about Jesus-loving, and I thought, oh my God, he's become a Christian rock artist, and now I have to sit through 2 hours of this! I've been duped! This is going to be a miserable experience! Thankfully, the rest of his set was normal, old-fashioned mainstream rock. But for five minutes I was scared shitless.
5 Mike Doughty flips out
Mr. Small's Theatre, April 12, 2008
Doughty always asks audience members for requests, but 90% of the time he denies the requests, saying, "Not tonight" or "Maybe later." So you think he'd be used to people getting upset when he shoots them down. But at his last Mr. Small's show, some girl in the crowd evidently got mad that he didn't honor her request, and Doughty flipped out on her. "Are you fucking kidding me? Shove it up your hole, you stupid cunt!" Perhaps he should just not take requests anymore...
4 Insane Clown Posse break out the Faygo and glitter
The Bomb Shelter, April, 2003
I only went to this concert out of curiosity - and because the small agency I worked for had booked it. Those familiar with ICP know that during shows they have a habit of spraying red Faygo pop all over the crowd, then covering the audience with party glitter. I kept my distance from the stage but still left this show sticky and glittery. Equally strange was seeing the opening act - 2 Live Crew - play their infamous hit "Me So Horny" inside this small club in New Castle, Pa.
3 Slipknot inspire audience mayhem
Post-Gazette Pavilion, July 28, 2001
At Ozzfest 2001, Slipknot, wearing their trademark rubber masks and red jumpsuits, put on one of the most intense shows I've ever seen. As they came out for an encore, fans started heaving into the air everything they could get their hands on. They filled giant fishbowl-sized beer cups with giant pieces of sod and mud, and fired them towards the pavilion. These were seriously dangerous projectiles, and people who didn't have their head on a swivel ended up getting seriously hurt. There were literally hundreds of objects flying through the air at once. I was quite fearful at one point that a riot was going to break out.
2 Olivia Newton-John's comical ode to trees
Indiana University, October 26, 2003
OK, first I have to explain why in the world I was at an Olivia Newton-John show. I make a habit of telling friends that I'll go to pretty much any concert, any place, that anyone wants to go to. I had a friend at the time who for some reason adored Olivia, so off to Indiana University of Pennsylvania we went. The show was actually better than I expected, but there were two hilarious moments I'll never forget: One, her ridiculously earnest ode to trees ("Don't cut me down/I am innocent/I need room to grow/I am your friend".) And two, a so-serious-it-was-comical acoustic reworking of "Let's Get Physical." I had the church giggles during that one.
1 KISS show that face painters are patriots too
Post-Gazette Pavilion, July 4, 2004
The most surreal moment I've witnessed came during KISS's July 4 concert. I never expected this band with the scary makeup and rowdy attitude to be starting "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" chants, but they did. I was incredulous as Paul Stanley repeatedly encouraged everyone. "Come on, you love your country, let's hear it!" Over and over for two hours we were asked to demonstrate our patriotism with mindless chants. It felt like I had been dropped into a NASCAR event.
Posted by Scott at 8:05 AM
Monday, June 23, 2008
I missed this while I was away at Bonnaroo: R. Kelly was recently acquitted on all counts in his underage sex trial.
I have no opinion on this. It's no secret Kelly has a history - in 1994 he secretly married Aaliyah when she was 15 (how was that legal?) But I don't know the particulars of this case, and evidently the jury didn't have enough evidence to convict despite the alleged existence of a videotape.
The thing I love most is that after Kelly was charged, instead of sitting back and laying low, he continued to record music, and even released some of his most sexually explicit songs. "Ignition" came out not long after he was charged. He also put out the unintentionally hilarious "Trapped in the Closet" video series. He lived in his own parallel universe where he pretended he wasn't in any sort of trouble, and he pushed the "innocent until proven guilty" thing to the limit.
This probably won't affect his music career much. Except that I'm betting he won't be able to do Disney songs and Celine Dion duets anymore.
Posted by Scott at 10:41 AM
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Better late than never... Bonnaroo was a good time and an exhausting experience. After finally sorting through my notes, pictures, and memories, here's the recap.
8:50 pm MGMT
Bonnaroo put a lot of great indie acts on Thursday night this year. We got there around 5, sat in traffic for a couple hours, set up our tent, and hurried up to MGMT's stage about 30 minutes into their set. The tent was unbelievably packed. The high point was an extended jam of "The Handshake," followed by "Electric Feel" and the crowd-pleaser "Time to Pretend."
9:20 pm Nicole Atkins & The Sea
Frustrated by the sea of people at MGMT, we ventured to see our friend Nicole Atkins, the budding vocal superstar herself. She sounded great as always, particularly on "Brooklyn's on Fire," "Maybe Tonight," and her cover of Patti Smith's "Pissin' in a River."
11:30 pm Vampire Weekend
This is a band I couldn't get into for the longest time, but after giving their debut album a few more spins and seeing their show at Bonnaroo, they've won me over. "We're a jam band, we just play really short songs," said singer Ezra Koenig. "Oxford Comma," "A-Punk," "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"... pretty much every song they played sounded terrific. "M79" rocked even without the strings. Best show of the night.
12:30 pm Steel Train
Hand-clapping rock and power pop. They tossed in a decent cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979."
1:15 pm Fiery Furnaces
The Fiery Furnaces amaze me with their ability to play their intricate songs, which change time signatures with seemingly every other line. It would be amazing if they could simply replicate the songs as they appear on CD, but instead the Furnaces actually change up the arrangements when they perform live, speeding up the fast parts of "Clear Signal From Cairo," for instance. I don't know how they keep it all straight. They must practice for weeks before every tour. Very impressive.
The other sweet part about this show was that someone brought a half-dozen life-sized cardboard cutouts of the Furnaces and passed them around the crowd as if they were crowd surfing. It was hilarious.
2:15 Dark Star Orchestra
They opened with the least-inspiring cover of "Stir it Up" in music history. I couldn't take much more after that.
2:30 pm Tegan & Sara
They played most of The Con, including a nice version of "Nineteen" they dedicated to their True Colors Tour partner, Cyndi Lauper. My only complaint was the high number of slower songs, which comprised almost half their show.
4:30 pm !!!
Insane dance rock, just like when I saw them last year. Singer Nic Offer did his hysterical gyrating and crazy-man dancing. They closed with one of their best, "Heart of Hearts."
6 pm Umphrey's McGee
Completely fucking boring. I don't know how anyone can like this shit unless they're high. Then again, maybe that's the point.
6:30 pm MIA
When I saw her last year, she sucked, so I wanted to give her another chance. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for her), her tent was so unbelievably crowded that I couldn't even see the stage. This was the largest crowd I've ever seen for a small-stage show. She definitely wasn't as boring as last time; "Bucky Done Gun" was among the many songs that got everyone dancing.
7:10 pm Willie Nelson
Willie's a living legend. And at this point he's mailing it in. He played the two songs I was hoping for, "On the Road Again" and "Always On My Mind," but he sang maybe every other word, and tried to get the crowd to sing most of the lines. It was like he was sleepwalking. Forget his tax problems; the IRS should go after him simply for this awful performance.
7:45 pm Chris Rock
I once referred to Chris Rock as "the funniest man on the planet." I no longer feel that way. He's still funny, but he's gotten too preachy. His best bits tonight dealt with the presidential election. On John McCain: "Wasn't he too old ten years ago? Who's going to be his running mate, a nurse?" On Barack Obama: "He has one of the blackest names in the world. It's right up there with Dikembe Motumbo." On Hillary Clinton: "She would not get out. Leave the fucking party! A girl with class leaves the party an hour before the lights come on. But hoes wait for the lights to come on, and they roaming the parking lot like, 'Hey, where ya'll going? What's going on? Where's the aftershow at?'"
9 pm Metallica
The metal legends opened their show with several of their oldest songs, causing me to doubt whether they knew how to do this festival thing. At festivals, you're not playing to your hardcore fans, you're playing mostly to casual fans. So digging deep into your catalog isn't recommended; you just gotta play the hits. But Metallica rocked so hard, it didn't matter that most of the fans didn't recognize the early shit. And as their set progressed, Metallica did indeed bring out the hits. A tepid, powerless "The Unforgiven" was their only misstep. They tore through "Nothing Else Matters" and "Sad But True" before closing their set with the scorching 1-2 punch of "One" and "Enter Sandman," later returning for an encore that featured "Seek and Destroy." I'm not a huge Metallica fan, but I can objectively say theirs was the best show of the festival.
12 am MSTRKRFT
The Toronto electronic duo got the crowd dancing within seconds of hitting the stage. I've seen a number of DJ sets at festivals, but this one was on a whole different level. The thing that struck me most about this year's Bonnaroo is how much everyone wanted to dance, and these guys were certainly a catalyst for that.
2 pm Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
Old-school soul and funk at its best. I highly recommend this woman. She'll show you a good time.
2:45 pm Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck
We mainly went to this just to stay out of the sun. It was good background music. And Bela Fleck is the banjo king.
3:30 pm Gogol Bordello
I waited for this all weekend. This was probably the festival's most electric show. The fans knew all the words to every song, and the band members bounced around the stage playing their wonderful gypsy punk music.
5 pm Cat Power
A little strange. I was happy to hear the jazzy "Lived in Bars," but two minutes in she turned it into an up-tempo freakout. I wasn't impressed, but I have much respect for Cat Power. I found out later that Eddie Vedder and the Olsen twins were in attendance.
6 pm BB King
Another artist I can add to my list of "Legends I'm Glad I Got To See Before They Die." BB's show wasn't anything spectacular. "Rock Me Baby" was cool. I suppose the fact he can get on stage and play at age 82 is impressive enough by itself.
Wow, I didn't expect much from them (him), but was blown away by the beautiful, poignant melodies. Finally, a much-hyped artist lives up to his billing.
8 pm Jack Johnson
I spent most of this show lying on the ground trying unsuccessfully to squeeze in a nap. It was decent music, but there's nothing engaging about Jack's songs at all. I just wonder how in the world he got so popular. Bringing out Eddie Vedder for a duet was a nice touch.
10:15 pm Pearl Jam
I didn't see much of this show. Here's the thing about Bonnaroo - because the music goes so late, and because it's impossible to sleep in past 8 am due to the sun and heat, you get virtually no sleep. By the third day you're running on fumes, and you have to make some difficult sleep-related decisions. I made the decision to go back and nap through Pearl Jam so I could catch the shows later tonight.
I'd seen Pearl Jam last year at Lollapalooza and figured that was good enough. Then of course I hear that Eddie & company put on a 3-hour, 3-encore performance that some are calling the best of the festival. Good for those guys. But why didn't they do that at Lolla, when everyone expected them to?
1 am Sigur Ros
Sigur Ros was the number one reason I bought Bonnaroo tickets. They endured some ugly technical problems that marred the end of "Vaka," but Jonsi laughed it off and urged the crowd to be patient, in his endearing broken English. "It's a little bit messy on stage," he said. "We're playing new songs we're not used to playing." They played most of their upcoming album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, with "Gobbledigook" and "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" proving positively irresistible.
3 am Ghostland Observatory
I arrived during the extended dance rock jam "Midnight Voyage," which was followed by electro-craziness with glow sticks flying everywhere and laser lights shooting out from the stage. The crowd wasn't huge because a lot of people went to see Kanye, but Aaron and Thomas rocked it hard.
4:30 am Kanye West
I've already written a separate blog about Kanye's performance. Read it here. Yeah, he went on late and quit after only an hour. But it wasn't nearly as bad as people are saying, and everyone who saw it will be talking about it for years, for better or worse.
2:15 pm Broken Social Scene
This is a band I've tried to get into because bloggers rave about them. But I left after a few songs due to extreme heat. And boredom. As always, I'm open to having my mind changed, but the next good song I hear by these guys will be the first.
2:45 pm Ladytron
If you've heard the first 30 seconds of a Ladytron song, you've heard the entire thing. Even the really good songs - like "Seventeen" and the new single "Ghost" - got old after a couple of minutes.
3:15 pm Jakob Dylan & the Gold Mountain Rebels
Jakob is playing low-key rootsy folk rock these days. He's not likely to make an appearance on the pop charts anytime soon, but it's decent stuff. The only Wallflowers track he played was a slowed-down "3 Marlenas."
4:30 Aimee Mann
I'd forgotten Aimee Mann existed until I saw her name on the schedule. She's drifted into irrelevance while others of her ilk, like Cat Power and Feist, have seen their popularity explode. Based on this show, I can't say her popularity dip isn't deserved. Aimee isn't bringing a whole lot to the table when it comes to live performances.
5:30 pm Solomon Burke
No other festival would invite a 68-year old rock and R&B legend who can barely walk, but that's what makes Bonnaroo great. Solomon Burke had one of the smaller crowds of the weekend, but delivered one of the most powerful shows. Seated on a custom-made throne, the Rock N Roll Hall of Famer belted out hits of his own, and a medley of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "Mustang Sally," dedicated to his fallen friends Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, and Bo Diddley.
Alison is one of my favorite singers, so I was thrilled to end the weekend with this show. Things started off very mellow, sounding almost exactly like their CD Raising Sand. But it kicked into high gear as the set wore on, with "Nothin'," which showed up Krauss's violin playing and Plant's wild vocals. They closed with powerful versions of Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore" and their own duet "Gone Gone Gone."
BEST SHOWS I WITNESSED:
2 Sigur Ros
3 Gogol Bordello
4 Vampire Weekend
6 Solomon Burke
7 Fiery Furnaces
8 Iron & Wine
10 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
11 Nicole Atkins & the Sea
12 Ghostland Observatory
14 Kanye West
15 Tegan & Sara
Posted by Scott at 10:50 PM
Monday, June 16, 2008
I've got a full Bonnaroo review of 30 bands coming in the next couple of days, but tonight I don't have the energy. But I have to address the show everyone's talking about - Kanye West's late night set on Saturday.
I had resigned myself to missing most of this show, since I wanted to catch Ghostland Observatory instead. After Ghostland finished at 4 am, I sprinted over to the main stage, hoping to catch the last 10 minutes of Kanye, but when I saw hundreds of people streaming out, I thought I was too late. Then I spied the message on the big screen: "KANYE WEST UP NEXT!" It turns out Kanye hadn't even started. My guess is he wanted to wait until the other bands had finished, so he could be the only one playing. That would fit his personality.
At any rate, there was a lot of booing and yelling while people waited, but I was selfishly thrilled because it meant I'd get to see the entire show. Not only that, but because so many people had left, it was easy to get nearly all the way down front. When West finally came out at 4:30, maybe 10,000 of the 50,000 or so attendees remained. All was forgiven when he opened with (appropriately) "Good Morning," one of the many brilliant songs on Graduation.
Initially, this had the makings of being a fun show. The highlights were many: The crowd eagerly obliging when Kanye ordered them to throw up diamonds; there was the computerized/distorted vocal microphone effect on "The Good Life," which also featured my favorite Kanye lyric, "Now my grandmama ain't the only girl callin' me Baby"; the brooding, powerful "Can't Tell Me Nothing"; and the crowd-pleasing "Gold Digger," which turned into a sing along as fans shouted the money lines like "he'll leave your ass for a white girl!" Kanye commanded the stage despite being the only person on it - unlike most rappers, he doesn't need to bring out dancers or guest rappers to hold our attention.
About the lateness... did you expect anything else from Mr. Massive Ego? I couldn't help but smile when Kanye rapped in "Stronger," "You should be honored by my lateness!" The real problem with this show wasn't that it started late, but that it ended early. Less than 60 minutes after hitting the stage, he walked off without a goodbye or an encore.
His much-ballyhooed Glow in the Dark show turned out to be nothing more than a few video screens and a roleplay scenario in which he was supposedly stranded on a strange planet with a spaceship named Jane. But because Kanye left early, he never finished the story. Did he make it off the planet? I guess we'll never know...
During his final song, Kanye kept freestyling about "touching the sky." I was certain that would lead into the actual song "Touch the Sky," with a likely guest appearance from Lupe Fiasco, since Lupe was at the festival and had finished his set just a few hours earlier. Instead, Kanye walked off at 5:30 a.m. and the house music came up immediately, leaving woozy, incredulous campers to wander back to their tents in disgust. "Fuck Kanye!" became the official Bonnaroo slogan on Sunday, echoed from one end of the camp grounds to the other.
I suppose this might go down alongside Madonna's infamous 30-minute Coachella performance. It was frustrating, but I'm very grateful for having seen the show. When do you ever get to see a concert that starts in the dark and ends in daylight? Years from now I'll still be telling people about the time I got to see Kanye West play as the sun came up.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Some random thoughts, with one week until Bonnaroo...
-I'm not as anti-Jack Johnson as I once was. Earlier this summer, when it was announced that he would be headlining pretty much every summer festival, I joined in the nationwide backlash. But his single "If I Had Eyes" has grown on me, and I'm kind of digging his mellow, early Dave Matthews kinda vibe. That said, I'll be skipping most of his set to catch Kanye.
-I'm really excited about the opportunity to see B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Solomon Burke. Bonnaroo always invites these kind of acts, and it adds a lot to the festival. They're people I'd never normally have the opportunity to check out, and now I'll always be able to say I saw these are legendary acts.
-I'm bummed about the MGMT vs. Nicole Atkins conflict, but both are also playing Lollapalooza, so I'll have another chance to see them.
-I can't wait to see Ghostland Observatory play until 4 a.m. How often do you get to see bands play at 4 in the morning?
Bands I'm most looking forward to:
1 Sigur Ros
2 Ghostland Observatory
4 Chris Rock
5 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
6 Tegan & Sara
7 Gogol Bordello
8 Kanye West
9 Nicole Atkins & the Sea
10 Fiery Furnaces
MP3: Battles - Ddiamondd (from Mirrored)
MP3: Fiery Furnaces - My Egyptian Grammar (from Widow City)
MP3: Ghostland Observatory - Heavy Heart (from Robotique Majestique)
MP3: !!! - Infinifold (from Myth Takes)
MP3: Grand Ole Party - Nasty Habits (from Humanimals)
MP3: Gogol Bordello - Troubled Friends (live)
MP3: Iron & Wine - Boy With a Coin (from The Shepherd's Dog)
MP3: MGMT - The Handshake (from Oracular Spectacular)
MP3: Rilo Kiley - The Execution of All Things (from The Execution of All Things)
MP3: MIA - Hit That (unreleased)
MP3: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - 100 days, 100 Nights (from 100 Days, 100 Nights)
MP3: Tegan & Sara - Back in Your Head (from The Con)
MP3: Willie Nelson - On the Road Again (from Honeysuckle Rose)
MP3: Vampire Weekend - A-Punk (from Vampire Weekend)
MP3: Cat Power - Metal Heart (from Jukebox)
MP3: Mason Jennings - Fighter Girl (from In the Ever)
MP3: Two Gallants - The Hand That Held Me Down (from Two Gallants)
MP3: Rogue Wave - Every Moment (from Out of the Shadow)
MP3: Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook (from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust)
Posted by Scott at 9:34 AM
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
submitted by Deena
Paraphrased from an article on ign.com:
Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, is joining the Season 2 cast of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, says the Hollywood Reporter. Manson will play Catherine Weaver, described as the CEO of a "cutting-edge high-tech company" and will be a series regular on the show. The Scottish singer has no previous acting credits, but this isn't the first time the show has made some doubtful casting choices (read: Brian Austin Green) that have pleasantly surprised audiences. Season 2 of Sarah Connor debuts at the end of the summer on FOX.
Guess I have to start watching this show now...