My minions are on the Cutting Edge of musical awareness. It's
what they do, bless them and their little spinal cords. I sent
them, en mass, to see the 30th Anniversary Show that WRAS Album
88 88.5 FM was throwing on Friday.19.January.2001. Here is the
resulting e-mail dialouge that ensued as a result of their collective
experience. I have tried to edit it into a coherent form as
much as possible. It's a new experience in the genre of concert
reviews at any rate. Enjoi! --Brendan.
Tracers: To start
this discussion off, i'll throw out my thoughts (as sent to
my friend up in Ann Arbor).
Walked over to The Variety Playhouse at 6:45, to see bands starting
promptly at 7 (at 7 -- what the hell are they thinking?).
was a bit early. but in general i prefer early to "band not
going on unil 2 AM" as you often see at other Atlanta venues.
so i am going to encourage such behavior. early is better than
Zythos: But 7 is
way too early. Considering they made the bands stick to the
40+- minute sets, there would not have been a problem with starting
this concert at 8 or 9. If you are going to start a concert
at 7, then make it on a Saturday.
Tracers: First band: Mysourri. Atlanta's version of
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. They're very tight and entertaining,
and have absolutely no sense of humor. In fact when given the
choice between playing a "crazy cover" and another "serious"
song, they chose the serious song. Considering everyone was
sitting down, I think they chose poorly.
PostLibyan: "goths" in general, are not a humourful bunch!
Zythos: I think that was goth humor. They had no intention
of playing a crazy cover.
Tracers: This is not a dance band, although I still
like them . I just think they were a poor choice to start everything
PostLibyan: this was, for me, the real high point of
the evening. Myssouri were tight and performed very professionally,
as they always do. it was a good solid performance.
dark, twangy atmospherics. well-suited for mope-core or goth
clubs. not well-suited for playing before the sun went down.
not well-suited to "working an audience", which is the nominal
job of opening acts for these types of multi-band shows. the
obligatory Post-Script representative. shouldn't have
been on the bill. would have worked as a "post-show show", i
with that said, they were very good at what they did. and i
like what they did. i also like long, hot showers, but i don't
take them while at work. some things are not intended for some
PostLibyan: in all fairness Malimus, Myssouri were added
to the lineup AFTER the show was booked. i think that they asked
to be involved (do they go to Georgia State?) and it was decided
to put them up front. sure, they didn't work the crowd much,
but there were only 30 or so people there -- so who cares!
secondly, Holli et al would NOT play Myssouri on Post-Script.
Happy House, the show that comes on after Post-Script,
might play them. this is a minor detail of pointless factuality
Brillo: No, they
don't have a sense of humor, which is sad given the endearing
duality of their sound/look. They have found an interesting
niche that combines dark vocals, western bangly guitar, and
driving drums. The juxtaposition is unique and unexpected, but
I am left wondering if they recognize or appreciate their own
Tracers: I would agree with this; I also tend to agree
with the other commentary -- they're well rehearsed and very
very tight. However, tight doesn't necessarily equate extremely
entertaining. I liked Myssouri's set and thought they played
well to a very small crowd (which held very few friends or fans
for them), but I often felt like I was watching them play their
recordings -- they didn't have the spontaneous air of some of
the other bands. This isn't exactly a criticism -- more of a
personal taste in live music.
Zythos: I really felt that Mysourri was too tight. Musically,
they played a great set, but it was very undead. I've seen more
action in a George Romero film. They are not well suited for
that type of venue as can be witnessed by the fact they only
had one lone fan standing down front.
wish i hadn't missed Myssouri, cuz they had interesting comparisons
in the booklet that we picked up. Something about Nick Cave
is all i remembered.
Tracers: Next up: The Dismemberment Plan. They play
an amazingly tight and rocking set to...50 people, maybe. I
stood closer to the stage than I ever have with them, and I
could still see. The Plan more or less nixed all their slower
material (i.e Gyroscope, or even Ice Of Boston)
and went with the harder, faster material like The Dismemberment
Plan Gets Rich. Considering the early hour and the lack
of people, I was impressed with how much energy they threw at
the show. Musically, the best set of the night.
Malimus: there were far more than fifty people up front
for that show. (i know, i was sitting in the rows with a good
view of the crowd.) The Plan put on a pretty tight set. it was
unfortunate that they were limited to the "early" set length,
which seemed to be 30 minutes. again, it was early, but they
were much better suited to playing the crowd and working up
some sort of energy level than Myssouri.
PostLibyan: i think Malimus has a valid point about the
set length here. i don't think that The Plan really hit their
groove in that short time period. as to their energy level being
up from that of Myssouri, near as i can tell, The Plan were
the SCHEDULED opener for the show. much as i like and enjoyed
Myssouri, that whole arrangement might have worked better.
Brillo: I have never seen The Dismemberment Plan and
just recently began listening to their music. Well, my first
live experience with them was exciting and disappointing at
the same time. The Plan's performance was explosive and earnest,
and the lead singer admirably struggled to enliven the crowd,
even commenting, "You know, I think we're doing a pretty good
job here. Are you sure you don't want to come up and dance?"
However, the blah reaction of many spectators, along with the
timing (and short time span) of their appearance, prompted the
band to rely on their bang-your-head-against-the-keyboard work
at the expense of the more intimate ballads and melodies that
truly showcase their talent. Perhaps they would have drawn in
this sedate crowd more effectively with quiet coercion.
PostLibyan: ummm... they played The City as their
second number, which is slower than Gyroscope (which
i would never have considered slow anyway...). also, they played
a really really good version of Timebomb, which is kinda
slow. and that version of the song kicked butt! so i think that
set had a little more balance between fast and slow numbers
than Brillo. however, i think i must agree with the consensus
here: the scale does tip slightly towards the "faster harder"
numbers for this performance. they were quite energetic. it's
what The Plan does.
however, i must disagree with Tracers. this was the third best
Plan set i have seen, out of 4. their set list was, i think,
not well chosen. the sound, of course, was pretty damn crappy
-- what song was it where the sound doofus "accidentally" turned
off the Mic for the first verse???? what the? anyway, i was
not impressed this time. Myssouri played tighter....
Tracers: Oh yeah -- the sound did suck (but of course
I wasn't far enough back to enjoy the mix). And, compared to
the other performances, this wasn't one of their best. However,
in the context of the other performances of the evening, I liked
them the best.
Still, to grant you one, PostLibyan, I think Myssouri did play
the most professional set of the evening.
Zythos: This was my first time seeing The Plan and I
liked them. They remind me a lot of The Suburbs in concert.
Energetic, a little whacky and very fun. I would like to see
them perform a full set sometime.
Silvergeek: Me and a friend tried to sneak into this show for two reasons:
- we were broke and it was 15 bucks and we knew some WRAS folks so we thought we could get away with it.
- we work for rival Georgia Tech radio station WREK so it would be against WREK policy ;).
Anyway, we got there late and The Dismemberment Plan was already starting. We only caught the last four or so songs of their set (which is a pity because they were the reason i went in the first place). They played a kickass set, in my opinion. Not their best but close. As with all Plan shows, they were bouncing ALL over the place with their mad energy. The kind of energy you only see in wild kids. They ended the set with an excellent version of OK Jokes Over. It was worth the risk of getting caught while sneaking in just for that one song. But their set was over way too soon. the next two bands sucked.
Tracers: Third band: ????. Egads! I don't remember their
name, which is o.k. because I stood outside and socialized during
the entire set. The only thing I know is that Jeff Calder from
the Swimming Pool Q's was in this act.
PostLibyan: i too, stayed outside socializing during
this set. one of the main reasons for that was the pre-announced
Swimming Pool Q's connection. yuk!
Zythos: I missed them too.
Malimus: They were called Supreme Court. a bunch of old
Atlanta-area scensters doing the jam band thing. with lyrics
like "i need a little pony to ride", sung about the old fucker's
need for a new teenage girlfriend du jour combined with the
throwback mentality of the music itself (lots of guitar solos
and noodlings, a la mid-80's Van Halen) just didn't get it with
the indie-rockers. a couple of similar "old scenesters" could
be seen enjoying the show from the seats, but the kiddies didn't
get it. the only purpose this set served was to destroy whatever
momentum or energy The Plan had created. completely unnecessary
filler. dump them from the bill, move the start time back to
8 and give the other bands 30 more minutes to play. i think
these guys are friends with the WRAS music director. otherwise,
i don't know how they got on the bill.
Brillo: Due to illness, I sat in one of the movie-theatre
chairs at The Variety Playhouse and quietly listened to this
act, at least most of it. However, what I remember is not the
music so much but the atmosphere: this act was a moment for
a previous generation, one of which I'm not a part. It is the
generation that helped build the Atlanta music scene out of
a quiet Southern city. By millenial standards, yes, it was tame
and forgettable. But those older fans who listened intently
-- and the seasoned musicians who rocked in their own way absolutely
deserve a place on the bill.
Tracers: I didn't see this band, but I can understand
why they were on the bill. The crowd at the benefit was a mixture
of young and old -- and it was nice to see WRAS add a band that
at least harkened back more than 10-12 years time.
Malimus: yeah, i know all about the "30-year anniversary
needs to have representatives from the first 15 years" theory,
and i'm not against that, per se. but i think concert promoters/planners
need to have a semi-fundamental grasp of their potential audience,
and i think the WRAS people failed to get one of those. (exhibit
1: the size of the venue with relation to the crowd the bands
involved could reasonably expect to draw.) despite the fact
that Jeff Calder is a pivotal player in the local scene, the
Jeff Clark of actual playing musicians if you will, it's just
not going to grok with the shoegazer crowd. GENERATION GAP,
spelled out in flashing neon letters, couldn't have been more
the actual band, banal lyrics aside, was incredibly talented.
the lead guitarist had clearly spent more time with his guitar
than with his kids. and i can respect that. but i can't justify
putting them in the middle of this kind of show, unless the
point was to mollify the kiddies early with The Plan set, and
then hope the older crowd wandered in for the later acts.
Tracers: One could argue that there was a sort of schizophrenia
in the choices of bands and the order in which they played.
However, one doesn't need to limit their criticism to Supreme
Court -- I saw enough of the older audience looking puzzled
by The Plan or the young and hip looking vaguely uncertain about
The Waco Brothers.
Tracers: Fourth band: The Waco Brothers. Sometime early
last year, I saw these guys and they were amazingly on and cool.
Alt-country with some punk attitude to boot! On this night,
they did not disappoint -- they were rocking and so was the
crowd. It seemed like they focused on mostly new material, but
I don't think the crowd noticed. Very energetic, although not
as edgy as The Plan.
Brillo: OK, this is the band I don't get. They were a
fun "hard working" rock band with great one-liners and some
nice instrumentation. However, I don't understand why their
sound is any more groundbreaking or earth-shattering than that
of Supreme Court. Solid American Rock, with a slight Irish twist
and beautiful vocals on a few songs by Sally Timms. I agreed
with the political commentary by the lead singer, but their
music doesn't necessarily energize me.
PostLibyan: ummm, Brillo -- i am pretty sure that The
Waco Brothers are from Leeds. that's in England and NOT Ireland.
Malimus: it's rock n' roll. it's not earthshattering.
if i was looking for earthshattering i'd plop in a Godspeed!
CD. this isn't about expanding the boundaries of art, it's about
the momentary liberation a perfect rock band can bring you (for
about 40 minutes.) kick-drum beat in 4/4, ride cymbal and accent
snare. guitar. guitar. bass. yelp to the wind and moon about
the one that done ya wrong or the one that done ya right, it
don't matter. it's rock n' roll. it ain't brain surgery.
PostLibyan: <rant>OK. i don't get using the "country"
label on these guys. they ROCK. they do not twang. they are
not Garth Brooks or Hank Sr or anything at all vaguely like
that. they remind me more of The Rolling Stones (circa Honky
Tonk Women) than any country act that i have ever heard.
so: all of you people who read this and, like me, go "country,
yuk" look at it this way: they have a slide guitarist who i
could only barely hear. one guy (the slide guitarist) was wearing
a cowboy hat. that's as "country" as it got. they are a rock
band. and not even as "southern-fried" as The Allman Brothers.
they rock. ignore the "country" label that they are harnesssed
Zythos: Since I don't own any Waco Brothers CD's I can't
say what the rest of their music sounds like, but I would agree
that for this short set they rocked. But this holds true for
most of the alt-country bands: Wilco, Son Volt, Jayhawks, Old
97's, etc, in general they rock more in concert than what you
hear on the CD's. I guess that is what makes them alt. Although
I can't remember having seen these guys before, they looked
familiar to me. I guess that synaptic connection has been killed
by too much beer.
Postlibyan: ranting aside, The Waco Brothers did seem
to get the people going. but again, the sound was mixed so poorly.
this was my own fault though -- in the 6 feet or so nearest
the stage at The Variety Playhouse, sound sucks eggs. when will
i learn to stand farther back?? sigh... anyway, Waco were not
as edgy or energetic as the Plan, but they were more energetic
than Myssouri. an enjoyable performance.
Malimus: they played relatively new material. mostly
from Electric Waco Chair and Waco World,
though they did do Do You Think About Me? their set was
not as edgy as The Plan's, but much tighter, much more in control
of the crowd, and better. i liked The Plan show. i like The
Plan. they do some really funky percussion work and make odd
yet catchy punk-pop. The Waco Brothers are the greatest rock
band alive. there's a subtle difference.
PostLibyan: i think that Waco are a COMPETENT rock band.
they are not the greatest rock band alive.
Malimus:name a better, touring, active, rock band. one.
not punk-rock. not post-rock. no hyphens. no qualifications.
just *rock*. i challenge you to find a better act. the best
you're going to do is Superchunk,
and i don't see any reason to claim that 'Chunk are any better
than The Waco Brothers.
Zythos: From what I saw at the concert I wouldn't call
them the Greatest touring band, maybe a DAMN GOOD touring band.
Brillo: My vote would go to the John Doe Thing. As I
told PostLibyan (and in the paraphrased words of David Letterman),
"Now, this is tear-down-the-bar-and-take-home-the-waitress rock
and roll!" The John Doe Thing is one of a very few bands that
I saw live, remembered lyrics, (not just songs but lyrics) and
wanted his music when I left. And, his work is just *rock.*
Had I been a Minion at the time, I would have given this show
a high rating.
Tracers: As to a better touring rock band: For me, it's
The Poster Children, or Superchunk, or hell, even The Rock*a*Teens.
But those are my choices, and they're just as good as yours.
The Waco Brothers talk to you -- they resonate with you and
for you, they're great. For me, they're fun but effervescent
-- they don't stay with me any longer than the average Catfight!
or 6X show. They're not transcendent.
Malimus: nothing's transcendent. rock music that tries
to be transcendent *sucks*. and i really do think that The Waco
Brothers are the best live band i've ever seen perform. Superchunk
puts on a pretty close second of a live gig. and i've never
said The Waco Brothers's recorded catalogue was "transcendent".
they are the perfect rock band for me to go see live. they encompass
most everything i can think a rock band should encompass.
PostLibyan: but that's not what you said. you did not
say "best rock band for Malimus to see live", you said "Greatest
Rock Band". entirely different.
Malimus: this is splitting hairs. and i must ask you,
what on earth is the difference between those two statements?!?
we're reviewing a *live show*. we're talking about how we reacted
to this *live show*. i say The Waco Brothers are the greatest
rock band alive *in the context of this discussion about our
reactions to a live show* and it's not obvious i'm talking about
their live show?!? i'm unable to grasp that
Tracers: Hrrm....I'm not the best person to answer this
one. I find their live shows really energetic and enjoyable,
but their music doesn't stay with me. I don't think they're
groundbreaking or the greatest rock band -- they're fun.
Malimus: precisely. they're fun: thus, they're the greatest
rock band alive. no pretense. no agenda. guitar/guitar/rawk!
that's all. it's beautiful in it's simplicity.
Tracers: Precisely. And for you this is the definition
of great rock band. For me, it's something different. And for
Brillo, PostLibyan, Zythos, and Mrs. Malimus, I'd guess it's
something else differently entirely!
Malimus:well, i never said *anyone else* had to cowtow
to my preferences, did i? i simply put forth my judgement and
the reasons therefore. i don't expect everyone (or anyone, for
that matter) to throw away their Vangelis cd's just 'cause i
tell'em the Truth of the Wacos, any more than i really expect
someone to expect me to toss my Superchunk collection because
Godsmack are just so hardcore....
PostLibyan: no, but the IMPLICATION is there. when you
say "Waco are the GREATEST rock band ever" you are implying
a sort of moral high ground. now, i understand that YOU like
to use superlatives when you make purely opinion-oriented statements.
however, your statement about Waco being the GREATEST is, well,
it's Platonic. it's like you are saying that Waco are the Platonic
Form of Rock Band sitting in that cave, and all others are but
imperfect reflections therefrom. heck -- you might be implying
that. i dunno. but that is so totally NOT the opinion of anyone
Malimus: i am doing no such thing. you are *inferring*
a moral high ground. i just stated my opinion as a listener
and nominal critic. that's what criticism *is*, isn't it? and
do i really need to underline everything i say with a disclaimer?
"the opinions expressed within this review and/or criticism
are the opinions and views of the author and are not meant to
reflect the beliefs or policies of The EvilSponge collective
at large....?" c'mon, PostLibyan. i understand that you're all
wrapped up in that semi-solipsism of modernity where you feel
morally obliged to point out to everyone that this is just what
you think and they're free to express themselves alternately,
for fear of offending the slightest of possible minorities or
whatever, but i think that's a bunch of hypersensitive shite,
all things considered. people who read the shit i write, assuming
there are people who read the shit i write, will know that they
are free to agree, disagree or just ignore me at will. this
is just an assumption i make, of course, but really, if we can't
assume the reader has the nominal intelligence of a fruit-fly,
why are we even bothering to write to them?
PostLibyan: well, given what you just said i must point
out that at least three of your Peer Group Of Minions do not,
by your definition, have "the nominal intelligence of a fruit-fly".
myself, Tracers, and Zythos all took umbrage at your "Greatest
Rock Band" statement. i just think that some sort of disclaimer,
even if it does come in the form of The Dialouge, is called
Tracers: Last band: Mojo Nixon And The Toad Liquors.
Confession: I stayed to see Elvis Is Everywhere, although
perhaps I shouldn't have. You know, when I was 18 I thought
this guy was hysterical. Either I've got over his humor, or
it's changed (I'm thinking the former). Still, considering the
number of people screaming along with him, Mojo's a big ole'
hit with the drunken college kids.
Zythos: It's still a good song, but unfortunately it's
his best. To use a well worn cliche' we are no longer laughing
with him, but at him. His show reminded me of seeing Iggy Pop
at Music Midtown a couple of years ago. He was on a large stage
and there were only a few hundred people in the audience who
were more or less there to see what had become of the icon and
less interested in the music. He has become a caricature of
Malimus: confession: i didn't stay. punk rock's answer
to Weird Al and they're falling all over his schtick? as much
shit as we give Squid for
his novelty-act habit i can't see where anyone can justify this
guy. Elvis Is Everywhere was funny in 1994, or whenever
i heard it. I'm Gonna Tie My Pecker To A Tree is not
funny anymore. if it ever was.
Brillo: Hmmm... yes, I must agree that Mojo's humor is
getting outdated just as jokes about UFOs and the Anti-Christ
are kinda stupid. Such "scandalous" humor now seems... quaint,
at best. At worst, the bathroom humor is not subversive; it
is repetitive. In the 80's, Mojo was a radical, but now he seems
more like a dust-covered lounge act without the sequins. That's
too bad, really, because it prompts me to wonder if anything
is out-of-bounds, if anyone can find power in controversy.
PostLibyan: is it really controversial to talk about
your penis so much, or is that just self-centered and egotistical?
Brillo: Final note: props to Mojo's drummer, the first
person I've heard to criticize the lack of real booze at The
Variety Playhouse. His "time-killer" monologue, intended to
hold the crowd while Mojo restrung his guitar, was the least
affected humor of the show and became the highlight of the act.
PostLibyan: two comments:
Tracers: Props to Kerry for calling this one!
- who knew that Mojo was the role model for Beavis? i liked
him when i was 18 -- now he is boring.
- as i was driving her home [non-Minion associate] Kerry said
to me, "i bet Mojo really gets off on the fact that there
were lots of people who knew every word to all of those songs
about his dick!" that pretty much sums it up!
Zythos: That is Mojo in a NUT-shell.
Brillo: I think Mojo does enjoy many people thinking about
his pecker, and I bet he really enjoys the $$ that come with it.
If he's still getting paid to repeat those crusty jokes, why not?
Now, that's practical humor.
Silvergeek: Mojo Nixon was funny. People were telling me of his "country punk" style and i didn't think that was possible until i saw him pull it off... Well,
there's not much more to say about Mojo Nixon. If you like him and are humored by him, then you like him. If you don't, then you don't. There's not much to be discussed in that area.
Brillo: Let me be the first to state: props to WRAS,
Album 88-- 30 years of excellent college radio and the hosts
of the show. I fondly remember being a teenager and finding
salvation on Sunday afternoons while listening to Best of
PostLibyan: okay, so on the whole i would give this
4 sponges. sound gets 3.
Tracers: I'd agree, strangely enough.
Zythos: I concur.
Silvergeek: Overall i'd give it about 4 sponges also, but i do have one huge complaint about this show: the order of the bands. It should've been the two shitty bands, then Myssouri, then Mojo Nixon, then The Dismemberment Plan. That's the only way to go :) at least for me.
Brillo: Finally, the ratings: Overall: 5 (mostly for
nostalgic-you-go-WRAS reasons) Sound: 3 (the size and hollow
quiet of the venue reminded me of a sound check in a large arena)