SY BEASTIES SEATTLE ENDFEST
Driving Seattle - Salem
Here are some last minute things that I've been asked to say some words about. I'm up here in the northwest and it's just brilliant outside - highway - passed Mt. Ranier towering, and sparkling lakes, looming fir trees, etc. We played 'Endfest' yesterday in Seattle, the second of three gigs for Sonic Youth out here with the Beastie Boys - bum rushin' their tour a bit - and the first European style festival we've played in the U.S. Beastie Boys were headlining, SY, Mudhoney, L7, Posies and others. The festival thing is a gas, a welcome change from normal gigs - the midway backstage, everyone hanging out; getting onstage is just one part of the day, which leaves it both low-key loose (our turn!) and high-key exciting (there's ALL these people!). Thurston's missive "Suck my cunt, you dick" turned on Kool Thing, it was nice and loud, and all day long a haze of dust hung over the dry-field mosh pit up front. Kids in durty tee-shirts with dusty lips.
The Beasties at this point are the most amazing thing I've seen in a long time - does anyone not know this by now? The various things they're synthesizing - cross-cutting their (our) whole history, all the various strains, musical influences, loves into this massive feel-good montage - the vocals this amazingly structured who's in / who's holding the ball now deal that just underlines this spirit of comraderie, unity, I get from these three - the FRIENDSHIP involved is really what pulls this stuff off. And that fucking keyboard player!! - Mark Nishita - where'd he learn to play like that?? He's everything i'd ever dreamed about the beauty of a classic organ sound w leslie cab., astounding, really. But that Friendship thing, that's what I take away from it most of all.
Two books, The Heresiarch and Co, by Guillame Apollinaire, and The Blue Octavo Notebooks of Franz Kafka, have been brought to my attention. They are both published by Exact Change press out of Cambridge, overseen by Naomi Yang and Damon Krukowski, whom some of you may recall as the rhythm section of Galaxie 500. These are beautiful looking books, Naomi having a large hand in their design. This is historical stuff, I won't say academic (but I could) - the Apollinaire is a collection of the surrealist poet/impresario's early 'outrageous' stories, written mostly in the first dacade of this century, in Paris. The Kafka are a series of cryptic notebooks (8 in all) he kept 1917-1919 in lieu of his more straightforward diaries.
Although i didn't make it through either of these books - this stuff needs a calmer, more liesurely and focused read than I was able to give them (due to gigs, press tours, bike riding, videos, ‘Hanging w MTV’ and the general crazy days of lives and loves). I can say that the Kafka book drove me nuts because it's all the middles of unrelated tales - sketched - none of which seemed to have a beginning or an end, one after another. In the last notebook he further compounds this feel by excerpting lines from all these notebooks and creating a numbered list of even more cryptic and crypticly unrelated thoughts. It sounds like a good idea, conceptually, but I couldn't penetrate his brooding weary Eastern-European thought-density.
Apollinaire, on the other hand, is sitting in a bar, or a bistro, drink in one hand, fork in the other, gesturing regally, holding court and telling one entertaining stroy after another - erudite, authoratative, hilarious. This guy knew how to tell a story, and the stuff here (this book his literary debut and supposedly his fav. amongst his own wks.) is pretty entertaining. I meant to look up 'Heresiarch' but didn't get a chance...
DOG FACED HERMANS - Mental Blocks for all ages (DR Konkurrent, Amsterdam)
post anarcho-expressionist tone poem combustibles, w a heavy nod to the surrealists and others - this reminded me somehow of Liliput (CH), for no good reason. the vocals, talk-y and str uctural, didn't really do anything for me, but the music is pretty good. The graphix, etc, suggest that these guys are friends of The Ex, part of that Amsterdam free-spirit scene...
I saw the CELL/FUSE/COME gig at CBGB's a few weeks back, and wanted to say something about that night -- these 3 had become the latest little gigging item in NYC (since ended). Somehow at CB's this night everyone was there and it seemed to encapsulate for me a certain NYC era that I'd been party to - a time chip - stretching all the way back to the NoiseFest and up through various generational additions to the CB's / Downtown scene. I dunno, felt like some kinds small revelation. Julie Cafritz was there, David Linton, Gerard, Mike Lavine, Suzanne, Mark C. and Marnie, Lawton Thalia Keith, me there w Leah moviing through these various layers of people and time.
Anyway, CELL, w two members of SY's road crew in tow (Hi Keith! Hi Jerry!), came out after some early bands and basically inherited a corner of the CB's stage, w Jerry's T. Verlaine update informed by Keith's Insect Trust, Dave's Damen years and Ian's new haircut. All the girls came up front to sway and rock, and I had this idea that it won't be long before their stages will be overwhelmed w sweaty lingerie.
FUSE, next, Mark C.'s first public project, I think, since Live Skull, also included their early bassist Marnie (Greenholz) - also re-emerging - as well as Lynn
****??? on 2nd gtr (ex-Bite Like A Kitty - further NYC detritus) and - hey! - Jim "World Looks Red" Sclavunos, taking time off from stints w J Lee Pierce (who was hangin out copping Hendrix boots at the cool CD shop in Amsterdam when we were just there) and Kid Congo to 'commit' to the drums.
Well these guys are already defunkt (one 7" to come) due to Marnie's pregnancy and fairly rapid re-departure. Much as I wanted to really like these guys, I guess I felt it really was too much of a retread of Live Skull territory, esp with Marnie again the main singer and playing bass. I wish Mark the best as he and Lynn re-assemble this band, hopefully a bit more shuffled up.
COME - what a great name - headlined, and I guess all these industry types are drooling over them (the next Pavement, I heard). Thalia's a great singer and the 2nd Guitarist does an occasional nice (too infrequent) embellishment, but overall I found it pretty conventional - O well, just one opinion...
I saw this young band at a punk squat gig in Paris last month called SISTER IODINE and they were great, a chaotic crashing ddly tuned (on a good way) smashing jam. The French 'Heavy Noise' scene has finally emerged - a good place and time now for any failed or underappreciated Amer-indie noise rockers to revitalize their prestige, supplant Alan Vega and Lux Interior as France's notion of American rock. These guys and gals are ready to thrash! I've got my ticket...
orchestral electronic choral late night ambient industrial landscape, manipulated, pure, chrome, drifting. Pretty cool, it fit my evening.
GLEN BRANCA: SYMPH #2 (Atavistic, Chi.)
I recorded this and performed in it. This was '83, St. Marks Church, with Zev swinging his wild and chained percussion, Glen bearded and furious conducting this huge out of tune mass back and forth, across the ceiling, to ev'ry corner of that house - so ACOUSTIC, for all that volume. It gives me a weird feeling to hear it now. Yesterday I was thinking that now is not the time, quite, for such serious music in the world.