Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Best Rock 'n' Roll Ups and Downs

See, the nice thing about being in school as opposed to having a job is that you have a good bit more freedom when it comest to deciding how to spend your days . . . you sacrifice a few hours of study time during the day and just do it later that night, or whatever. Anyway, on Wednesday of last week I adjusted my schedule a bit so I could go to Sin-E in the middle of the afternoon for a CMJ show. What CMJ show? Oh, just the first ever appearance by the Rakes in the United States. The Rakes, they're one of these UK bands with all sorts of buzz going on around them and a rather good first album, so the opportunity was a bit too much to resist.

Before the Rakes I caught a bit of She Wants Revenge's set.

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I thought they were awfully good. Dance-goth, or something. Later, when I downloaded a few of their songs at home, they sounded a lot like Interpol--but live, not so much.

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And their lead singer certainly had his rockstar swagger down cold.

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Okay. Here's a story. When I was a freshman at BYU I read an article in the school newspaper about a local band called "Thee Martinis" and something about the article just got me, I knew I really, really had to check this band out and the article said they had another show coming so one night my roommate and I wandered over to Mama's Cafe and something just clicked in me and I thought: "This is what I LOVE." The place (a deli, actually) was full of kids that looked a lot cooler (and more interesting) than anyone else I had seen around Provo and there was just such a great energy and when Thee Martinis played it just blew me away, I'd still say that that little college three-piece garage band is one of my favorite bands ever. It was just such a great feeling. Anyway, Wednesday afternoon, at Sin-e, I just had that feeling of totally loving a scene and music so much again for the first time in 10 years. I just loved being at a club with maybe only 60 other people (I'm serious about that number) and getting to hear absolutely great bands and all the kids were cool and enjoying themselves . . . maybe slightly more glamorous and famous then the kids in Provo, but there was this magnificently intimate feel to the show and club. I Loved Rock N Roll that afternoon.

Steve Aoki (son of Rocky Aoki, the man behind Benihanas) introduced the Rakes, calling them his favorite new band, saying that "Their new album is great . . . I listen to it around the house, I listen to it in my car, I listen to it when I'm chewing gum . . . I listen to it all the time." (Geeze, he was talking like some of us didn't already have the record or something.) Anyway, he and the rest of the audience were totally excited to see the band . . .

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And the band certainly didn't disappoint. They were absolutely great and deserve all their buzz. And I got to see them first! Ha!

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One thing you'll immediately realize if you see the Rakes is that their lead singer has a certain stage presence . . . a certain crazy stage presence. Just look into his eyes in some of these pictures . . . you should be able to get an idea of what I'm talking about. Or maybe download this video. (The sound quality is awful, don't judge their music by it.)

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Mark the Cobrasnake was there, but he didn't make me famous again.

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I'm telling you, he was different.

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The other members of the band were a lot more chill.

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Out on the street Mark the Cobrasnake totally caught me taking his photo . . . but, hey, if he can photograph people all the time without asking, why not me him? Mostly I wanted to get a picture of the girl he was with because, in real life, she looked like she was 13.

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All right. So, later on in the week it's Saturday and I've now seen the great Rakes concert AND the spectacular Arcade Fire show and I've just got this hunger for more music inside of me so I adjust my schedule a bit and go catch another afternoon CMJ show. Another buzzed about UK band is playing a first ever (or almost first ever? I'm not sure) show at an East Village club so I head over, because I've had a good run.

Oddly enough, She Wants Revenge is playing when I get there.

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This time their goth-dance music just seemed really scummy to me and their singer struck me as way too into his rockstar persona.

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At the beginning of my junior year of high school I went to my first rock show, it was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones with Cyclone Temple and the New Bomb Turks. When I was there I was just overwhelmed by all the old crusty punks and early mid-90's hipsters (maybe they were called "alternative people" back then?) and I couldn't believe that so many people were making being all rock n roll such an important part of their lives and that they were probably going to shows all the time and I just wondered what they were going to do with their lives and how they could stand bands like Cyclone Temple and the New Bomb Turks who just seemed like the lousiest groups in the world. I nearly never wanted to see a rock show again, except the Bosstones were totally fun. Anyway, catching this show gave me that same sort of "Is this what you want to do with your life?" sort of feeling, and I thought the band was absolutely awful. Were it not for my Bosstone-like experience with the Rakes and Arcade Fire (or that the club's DJ played went from "Blue Monday" straight into "Two of Hearts" during his between bands set) I might be saying that I never want to see another concert again . . . and also, I've got White Stripes tickets for Saturday, so I won't say that sort of thing.

Oh, wait. I forgot to tell you who the band was. Uhm. Their name was "The Test-Icicles." Heading to the show, I didn't know if the band's name was stupid, or if it was a stab at cleverness. After seeing the band, I've decided that their name was definitely stupid because they were a stupid band.

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Unfortunately, stupid bands sometimes make for good photographs.

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They were just a bunch of little kids.

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And they played their backing tracks through an iPod, which was something I had never seen before.

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The kid in the white t-shirt and the kid in the black t-shirt took turns "singing" and doing tormented and/or troubled rocker poses.

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I think they were just trying to create a noisy trainwreck for us to enjoy, but it just didn't stick with me. I've certainly seen noisy trainwrecks that I've enjoyed (like the Liars), but these guys just didn't do it for me.

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And while they kept being fairly photogenic . . .

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. . . and dramatic . . .

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. . . and rockstarry . . .

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. . . and totally young . . .

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. . . I just wasn't feeling it and left after three or four songs. A decision I don't regret one bit.

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So there you have it: Sometimes a concert is the best thing there is, other times completely ungratifying.

2 comments:

Genevieve said...

Your assessment of the Test Icicles is correct. I discovered them on BBC the other day: dodgy name, dodgy music. I'll certainly check out the Rakes. And I am so envious of your attendance at Arcade Fire. I'd better get over it soon though, green just isn't my colour.

gildedcage said...

Thee Martinees were fun, saw them at Mama's a few times, and other venues. I knew the drummer well. Lots of good bands in Provo that year.