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Category: whoopteedoo: concerts

October 22, 2006

Bridge School 2006: Trent Reznor

NIN at Bridge School

Photo from nin.com

This year's Bridge School was filled with many fun performances: older folks groovin' to Brian Wilson (probably the fan favorite of the night), Dave Matthews Band and Neil Young performing a 13-minute jam of "Cortez the Killer", an all-hands performance of "Rockin' in the Free World". But I think the show was stolen by Trent Reznor. Instead of muzak-ing up his music (e.g. the Foo Fighters performance), he got Martin St Pierre to arrange several of his songs for a string quartet and piano. I don't know if St Pierre had previously performed the arrangements, as all I can see from St Pierre's biography is that he's done a lot of Cirque du Soleil arrangements, but It absolutely blows Still (NIN's previous acoustic effort) out of the water. I can't believe they did this just for Bridge School -- if they don't make an album out of that it would be a shame.There was the goose-bump raising "The Fragile", a jazzy "Piggy", a haunting, slightly eastern, "Something I Can Never Have", and beautiful versions of "Right Where It Belongs" and the unreleased "Non Entity". NOTE: I didn't actually know the names of most of these tracks, but I was able to look it up using the video I shot video of every song. I would upload the low-quality video, except I have no desire to lose my Youtube or GV accounts.

As for the rest of the concert:

  • Gillian Welch did a great song together with Neil Young did a great song together that I don't know the name of; David Rawlings did some nice guitar solos but d says he was "off"
  • Death Cab for Cutie was rather boring acoustic. I've seen better from them
  • Foo Fighters was overly muzak-y even if Grohl went through the effort of having songs rearranged for violin, accordian, etc...
  • Pearl Jam gave a good performance but nothing amazing (cover of Tom Wait's "Picture in a Frame", a brief "I Used to Work in Chicago" ditty, an organ-accompanied "Betterman", "Crazy Mary" with piano solo)
  • Brian Wilson had even the security guards dancing. It was amusing to see old and young alike breaking out their best beach dance mooves. Wilson had the crowd esctatic even if he seemed like an unhappy puppet forced to perform his past hits -- he walked off stage even before the last song finished.
  • Dave Matthews Band was good even if Dave Matthews was a bit hoarse and I don't like their music. "Cortez the Killer" with Neil Young was awesome and I'm grumbling at my camera for running out of battery with 30 seconds left to record (still have 12 awesome minutes of it). It was as good as his 2001 All Along the Watchtower jam with Neil.
  • Neil Young was good but isn't the best closer. It is his concert, so it's only fair that he can close out the 20th anniversary concert however he wants.

The goods news is that Bridge School is finally releasing more of their back catalog on iTunes (November 14th). I've long wanted to buy many of the unique Bridge School performances (Billy Idol + Neil Young, Paul McCartney + Tony Bennett), but their previous release of 15 tracks doesn't do justice to Bridge School's 20 years of concerts. I'm hoping that will all the hyping they did for the iTunes release that it will be an extensive catalog of songs (and videos) to spend all my disposable income on.

December 10, 2005

Concert: Not So Silent Night

The White Stripes rocked the end of Not So Silent Night in SF. They came on stage like the Ramones: song after song, no breaks, furious, and rocking. It seemed that it wasn't until every female had been rescued from the frantic/violent pit in front of the stage that Jack White pulled out the acoustic to calm things back down. I'm convinced that some of the White Stripes songs only make sense live. It simply isn't possible to play the record loud enough on your stereo to hear it at the volume it was meant to be listened to: freaking loud.

We also saw Death Cab for Cutie and Hot Hot Heat. I was strangely entertained by how uncomfortable Ben Gibbard of Death Cab was with his guitar cable. About every two measures he would fling his guitar cable off his leg. Occassionally he would step back from the microphone and give the cable a good kick/fling. Some of his efforts resulted in bottles of water and gatorade being knocked over and stage crew running out to pick things up. Perhaps I was amused that someone with so many bands under his belt can't handle such a basic piece of musical equipment. Gibbard ended his set by kicking over his mics and his amps, then scrambling to set them back up again so that he could walk off stage to a good feedback hum.

The only disappointment from the night was that the audience didn't bring the White Stripes back on for an encore. It seemed that an encore was in conflict with people catching the last BART out, so the set was a short 45 minutes or so.

October 24, 2004

Bridge School 2004

(photos over on flickr)
This is just a draft to get some stuff down before I forget. Assuming I have time, this will become a full entry later.

This was another fun Bridge School. Paul McCartney brought down the house at the very end, and in the three years that I've been there, I think only Billy Idol has come close to rockin' the place in the same way. McCartney does have the advantage with the entire Beatles catalog at his disposal, and he used it perfectly. There's something great about ending a long, all-day concert with a Beatles song. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that 20,000 people all know the words, so you get this tremendous chorus that gives you this buzz at the end of the concert. At the Bridge School Concert a month after 9/11, it ended with everyone singing a tearful "Imagine" (technically not a Beatles song, I know). This year the concert ended with everyone singing the na-na-na-na portion of "Hey Jude."

Tony Bennett was also awesome, and Red Hot Chili Peppers played a great set. I didn't care much for hearing Sonic Youth go acoustic, and Eddie Vedder's solo is a little boring, but hey, it was great to see all of them in one concert.

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June 26, 2004

Concert: Mike Doughty

We went to go see Mike Doughty perform last night. I would describe it as listening to all the slow (non-jazzy) songs on the Soul Coughing albums (e.g. True Dreams of Wichita) for an hour. That's not to say it was slow, but it definitely had an acoustic performance feel even if Doughty was playing his strat. Perhaps I'm biased from having seen Doughty onstage with in the Soul Coughing days with flashing lights, film reels of smoking cartoon monkeys, and samples blaring through the air. Doughty played with another drummer with an unspellable name and a keyboardist, though for several songs he played solo.

Several Soul Coughing songs were performed:

St. Louise is Listening
Super Bon Bon
True Dream of Wichita
Circles

I was hoping for a little Screenwriter's Blues, but that was a little too much to hope for given their arrangement.

Overall, a good show to be at, but the Soul Coughing comparisons were inevitable for me and I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't Sebastian Steinberg (of Soul Coughing) playing upright bass make this show awesome?

April 15, 2004

Concert: Mixmaster Mike

photo I saw Mixmaster Mike in SF last weekend. A friend got us in free, and you can't go wrong with a free show.

I would lump Mixmaster Mike and DJ Jazzy Jeff in a similar category, which is convenient for me, seeing as I've seen them both. Both are good DJs that got their celebrity by backing someone more famous, and they draw much of their fame from the late 80s and the 90s. The combination of these elements meant that both shows had a nostalgic view, and each featured climaxes of spinning skillz demonstrations. I remember being a little more impressed at DJ Jazzy Jeff's abilities, but perhaps time is playing tricks on my mind.

I'm not good at identifying pure electronic tracks, and there's this one hip-hop song that I keep hearing at so many shows and still don't know the name of, but what I think I remember was Mixmaster Mike having a good transition into Rage Against the Machine's "Know Your Enemy (?)", followed by a transition into Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." There was also the obligatory Beastie Boys with "No Sleep Til Brooklyn (?)" and "Intergalatic Planetary," the latter of which he transitioned into Steve Miller's "Rock 'N Me."

meta reminds me that in addition to the hip-hop, white boy rap, classic rock, alternative rock, and electronica, there was also a bit of bangra thrown in.

(?) Indicates songs that I recognized at the time, but I'm now unsure about because I listened to my iPod on random the next morning and it messed with my memory.

Update: meta informs me that the song was probably "Scenario" off of Low End Theory by Tribe Called Quest, which has Busta Rhymes on it, which would explain why I've heard it before in concert (Busta Rhymes concert at MIT).

March 7, 2004

Concert: Matt Nathanson

To be honest, I still don't know who Matt Nathanson is. When we first got to the show we tried to peg the demographic, but all we could come up with was "20-30 something non-hipster San Franciscans that are of above-average height."

meta got tickets after her friend Joe recommended the show to her, so we went over to Slim's last night to watch him perform. He provides amusing commentary between songs that keeps the audience laughing and throws in some funny covers here and there (Prince, Neil Diamond, James, etc...). He's also a local boy and is pretty talented, but, alas, he's not my type of music. Joe has a quote on his blog that says, "Matt Nathanson-Beneath These Fireworks: This CD will go head to head with John Mayer and Howie Day!." Well, I don't listen to John Mayer or Howie Day aren't my type either, but I imagine if you like those two then you'll like Nathanson as well.

Joe also recommends Victor Wooten, who is playing tonight at Yoshi's (it's actually a Mike Stern show, with Wooten and Dave Weckl). Unlike Nathanson, I have heard Wooten before, and he appeals to my "amazing (bass) guitarist" interest. If you were lucky enough to have tickets to the Wooten show, I hate you, but you should post a description of the show because I'm still wondering how in the world Wooten plays some of his amazing riffs without growing an extra set of arms.

March 2, 2004

Concert: Liz Phair

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meta, honeyfields, and I saw Liz Phair last night. meta already beat me to the post, but here's goes my thoughts.

First off, I'm not a huge Liz Phair fan, but spend enough times in meta's car on trips up to Tahoe and you'll have heard all of her old stuff multiple times over and it will start to grow on you. This also means I haven't heard any of her new stuff, with the exception of the lame video on MTV. So judge what I say accordingly.

The Good

My favorite performance of the night: 'Supernova.' This goes against the grain of everything else I will say in this review, because this song was cranked-up, full-ensemble-blasting rock performance. It ended the first set beautifully, and I think her guitarist may have even played the riff better than she does on the album.

In general, Liz Phair's best performances were with her older lo-fi material ("Flower," "6'1"", "Supernova", "Chopsticks," and even throw in "Polyester Bride"). I say this with an extreme bias, but her older material mostly shared the quality that the rest of the band didn't play as much. She was strong and charismatic enough to carry the song on her own, and her voice goes much better with her barely amped telecaster.

meta broke out the biggest grin when she figured out what Liz Phair meant when she said, "We like to bookend our sets. Sauce at the beginning with 'Flower' and sauce at the end," leading into the final song. I'll leave it to your amusement to figure out which song, but I will hint that you don't need to know the lyrics to guess the song (not 'Flower' obviously).

honeyfields also broke out an occassional grin or look of surprise when she understood the lyrics :)

The Bad

She mentioned during the concert that she had played at the Warfield before with just her and her guitar -- I wish I could have gone to that concert instead. This is the only time I've seen her perform, but I imagine that concert must have been better.

Like meta's review pointed out, Liz Phair and her backing band don't mesh. While meta approached this from a chemistry standpoint, I think the idea of having Liz Phair stand onstage with a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist and drummer just doesn't work, and the dynamics were terrible. Liz Phair, while a good performer, does not belt out the type of vocals that can soar over blasting distortion and bass. For some reason, who ever engineered her sound interpreted this conflict as an excuse for pushing Liz Phair's vocals through this boosted reverb that turned her vocals into a mix of clipping and echo whenever she sang the chorus. During the verses there was the opposite problem that the band members didn't know how to use volume pedals or strum more lightly, so her voice dodged in and out.

October 26, 2003

Concert: Bridge School 2003

I was wiser this year and didn't go at the very start, though I probably should have delayed even a bit longer. I didn't really pay attention to Incubus or the Indigo Girls (we missed the bands before them), as I was really just waiting for the final three acts (Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson, CSNY).

Willie Nelson covered a couple of Hank Williams' songs, played a couple with Neil Young, and did his typical fare (at least from the last time I saw him). He was good, though I wish he did some more high-energy songs. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, given their varied collaborations, did some CSNY (Teach Your Children, Our House), Buffalo Springfield (For What It's Worth), and Stills-Young (Long May You Run).

Pearl Jam did a much better set than I saw them do two years ago. They stuck with older material and covers (Dylan, Beatles, Victoria Williams). Eddie Vedder's voice was sounding a bit restrained, but the performances were tight. They had an organ player playing for the first half the set that was actually quite good and made the performances a bit more distinct.

Continue reading "Concert: Bridge School 2003" »

September 14, 2003

Concert: White Stripes in Berkeley

I got to see the White Stripes perform in Berkeley. It was one of their first shows back after Jack White broke his finger, and it was fun, good, and rocking, though as a note to self, the show probably feels more energetic if you probably aren't sitting down on a hard concrete slab - the pit is where it's at. As a tribute to the late Man in Black, Jack read the lyrics to "I Got Stripes" between songs (I've posted the lyrics in the complete entry).

We were also treated to an opening act by Ima Robot, which seems to be a revival of nearly every 80s act that we could think of (Cure, Cars, Duran Duran), combined with a bit of Johnny Rotten. I didn't listen to music in the 80s, so I don't have much else to say about this.

Continue reading "Concert: White Stripes in Berkeley" »

June 14, 2003

Mixmaster Mike

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February 11, 2003

Concert: Willie

I took Amanda to a Willie Nelson concert as a present. I'm personally not much of a fan, but, man, that dude is four times my age, ten times a better guitar player, and is in two times better shape than I am. I was getting tired just standing there for the length of the set, while he was standing there playing guitar and pumping his arms. After the set was over he took the time to shake the hands of everyone who could make it to the front and signed anything that was handed to him (boots, tickets, bras). I managed to be the last person to get something signed before he launched into a two song encore, with Amanda and I in the front row. We were close enough that we were looking at the "Willie" embroidered into his New Balance shoes. We could also read the signatures on his guitar (I only remember "Annie" and Paul English).

On another note, the Fillmore is a great concert venue.

August 10, 2002

Concert: The King

Just saw BB King at Shoreline Amphitheater and it was awesome. The man can still play it with the masters. Instead of selling CDs they should sell DVDs - the amount of emotion BB puts into every lick and bend is awesome.

I also got to see George Thorogood - he may still play the same stuff as always but I still dig it.

October 21, 2001

Concert: Bridge School

My first Bridge School concert. Worth every penny/hundred dollar bill. Bring pants next time. Pearl Jam was a big disappointment, seeing as I came mostly to see them. They hadn't played together in awhile, and it showed. They were also playing some new songs that I didn't think were particularly good, and they were also in a rush to get up to Seattle with REM for another concert.

Billy Idol was definitely the highlight of the night, especially for his theatrics and for the way that he performed for the Bridge School children, performing his sexually charged lyrics directly to them. In an acoustic concert where most artists interepret that to mean their hit songs, but slower, having Billy Idol going full blast was a big energy booster and got everyone going.

Neil Young
Sugar Mountain and Blowing in the Wind (how many cannonballs´┐Żbefore they are banned?)

Jill Sobule
Kathie Lee loves me
Slutty Mouseketeers (Bitter song)
Survivor

Ben Harper
songs to sleep by
Song w/ mother

REM
The other song from automatic for the people
Everybody Hurts
Sugar of life (or whatever that crappy song is called)
Losing my religion

Dave Matthews
Song w/ Tracy Chapman
Sometimes I find its better to be somebody else
Crash
I did it
w/ Neil Young: All Along the Watchtower. This was actually cool.

Pearl Jam
The Kids Are Alright
Wishlist
2 new songs (last hope? Written by Mike). Very appropriate for acoustic
Lowlight (first live performance)
Nothing as it Seems
Black
1 unidentified song (truth)
Indifference w/ Ben Harper
Soldier of Love

Tracy Chapman
More songs to sleep by

Billy Idol
White wedding
For What It's Worth w/ Neil Young (in cowboy hat) - Buffalo Springfield cover
Rebel Yell
Mony Mony

Neil Young
Blowin' in the Wind
Imagine