Brainwaves 2008

I had buckets of fun at the first Brainwaves festival in 2006, and Brainwashed is turning it up to 11 for the second festival on November 21-23..  Big name acts you may have heard of like Meat Beat Manifesto, Matmos, and Stars of the Lid, but the real cream of the crop may be the bands you may not have heard of yet (unless you read Brainwashed religiously).   Brainwaves is completely different from any festival I’ve ever attended, the Regent Theatre is a pretty intimate venue and the artists are often sprinkled throughout the venue (not squirreled away in some green room or hotel). 

The schedule was just posted, and at 79 bucks, the three-day pass is a bargain..   You can also buy tickets for the individual days, so if you really want to help one of the greatest independent music sites online (and a native Boston business), buy your tickets now!


and I headed over to the Orpheum to see Ween last night..  Neither of us had ever caught the band live before despite listening to them for years, and it was totally awesome.  They rocked out for 2+ hours, no opener, to a packed house..  The Orpheum is a lousy venue, but they made the best of it…  The crowd was totally eating up the show, and the band rewarded them with a good mix of new stuff as well as classics…   I would have loved the nostalgic “Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese”, but you can’t always get what you want… :)

New TV and a Rainy 4th

The new TV is totally awesome….  I’ve been totally binging out watching movies in HD…  Star Wars, Batman, Superman Returns, it’s been a real nerdapalooza..  I’m 9/12ths through the Star Wars series, having to stop halfway through Empire the other day out of exhaustion…  I’m sure the novelty will wear off at some point, but right now I’m really enjoying it..  Of course, this means being a total couch potato in the summer, but whatever.. =)

Yesterday, to celebrate the 4th,

really wanted to go down to the esplanade and watch the Boston Fireworks Spectacular(tm).  We are usually in Hopatcong for the 4th, but with it falling on a Wednesday and large amounts of my vacation already claimed for other things, it just couldn’t happen this year.  I really, really hate things like this, and I’m fairly ochlophobic, so while I do like a good fireworks display, I’ve never felt a desire to attend the Boston festivities.  But Corinna really wanted to go, and we really will likely only do it every few years when we can’t make it back to Jersey, so I figured what the hell…  I went along with the plan, whining and complaining, of course… :P

We got to the Esplanade around 3:30ish and it was already packed…   We managed to find a spot right down by the river really close to the barge, though…  It was on the river bank, so there were lots of reeds and some rocks, but the reeds were already matted down so we just tossed our blankets on top of them and settled in.  Fireworks weren’t until 10:30pm, so it was going to be a long day…  Unfortunately, that long day was rainy and miserable…  It rained on and off throughout the day, but it rained pretty constantly starting around 8pm and continued until about 10:30pm, when the fireworks started…  We were totally soaked to the bone…

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the fireworks were great…  But having to deal with all the bullshit just to see the fireworks?  I guess I’m just not interested enough in fireworks to invest that much in seeing them…   Maybe if it wasn’t raining it wouldn’t have been such an awful time, but I really didn’t have much fun at all… 

After the fireworks were over, all 500,000 people needed to get home…  We all needed to funnel through a few pinch-points to get out onto Storrow and start walking to the train..  People really backed up at these pinch points, and it was just a sea of people…  I got really freaked out, my heart started racing and at one point I felt like I was going to pass out.  It’s bad enough leaving a club after a show, but that’s only 500-1000 people..  This was a sea of people as far as the eye could see…  We eventually crossed the bridge and made it out onto Storrow, which was a relief….

Secret Chiefs 3 (live)

Last night I was finally able to see Secret Chiefs 3 live..  SC3 is a band with a rotating cast of players, but is the brainchild of Mr. Bungle founding member and guitarist Trey Spruance (He also played guitar on the Faith No More album “King for a Day….  Fool for a Lifetime).  Where as other members of Mr. Bungle, such as Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn are fantastically prolific, Trey has been somewhat reclusive, occasionally releasing an SC3 album and often doing limited touring behind it.  Anyway, I’ve long been fascinated by SC3’s records and have been itching to seem the live for some time now.  I was absolutely not disappointed..

Considering how infrequently the band plays out, it was amazing how tight they were..  Especially given the unusual time signatures and tunings they employ..  SC3’s music is a bit difficult to describe, and you can hear some samples over at their label, Web of Mimicry, who describes their sound as follows:

What does this all end up sounding like? You will hear a kick-ass surf band playing in Arabic/Persian tunings, and then switch over to a wall of Penderecki-style orchestral chord clusters accompanied by AC/DC. Then, perhaps the traditional sounding, pseudo-folk Turk/Central Asian imaginal band will hit center stage with Dhol, Saz, Rabab, Esraj and rock drums and start whacking out to the original, catchy songs that no one knows or cares are in 19/16 time. This might be followed by a totally pummeling, nightmarish, not-kidding one bit blast-beat Death Metal band that employs Boulez-ish atonal serialism, played in dastgah tunings, which of course will naturally segue into a band that specializes in Hindi Film Music from the second Golden Era… you get the picture. We’re scratching the surface here, not exaggerating.  And again, it’s no joke.

Anyway, the band played a song or two as a trio, and then expanded into a 7 piece group for the remainder of the show.  My view was partially obstructed, but I was very close to the stage..  They played for about an hour, switching instruments and roles throughout…  And even though they were the opening act, they even had an encore (perhaps that makes them more of a ‘special guest’ than an opening act)..  Afterwards, Trey was manning the merch booth, and I thanked him for the great set and bought a t-shirt.  He seemed like a very pleasant man and was very gracious. 

Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to stick around for the main act, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, who I hear is wonderful..  Fortunately, they tour all the time, so I hope to catch them in the near future.  But I went to the show to see Secret Chiefs 3, and I wasn’t disappointed;  It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

Strontium 90

I got pretty nice tickets to see The Police at Fenway Park (Right Field Box, Section 9-2, Row G).  I normally don’t like big shows, and I normally don’t like paying so much ($100 per) for tickets, but I doubt the band is going to be playing the The Middle East any time soon, and I was so young when they split up that I never had a chance to see them.  After seeing them on the Grammys last Sunday, I was sold…

Beside You in Time

Went out to the Middle East last night to see a screening of the new Nine Inch Nails video release Beside You In Time.  It was gorgeous, but I ended up leaving after just a handful of songs…  The problem was that the Middle East’s downstairs has a really low ceiling, therefore, the screen wasn’t placed that high, therefore, I spent most of my time looking at the backs of heads as opposed to the screen.   The video quality was really good, especially considering they were using a Dell projector, which probably wasn’t tuned as well for video as a nice HDTV set would be.  The sound was amazing, the one big plus for doing the screening at a club as opposed to a theatre.

There was a deal where if you preordered the DVD, you got a lithograph, but I passed on it..  Their preorder prices were way too high ($18 for the DVD, vs. $14 on Amazon), and since I’ll be getting an HDTV in the near future, I’d rather buy one of the HD formats.  Unfortunately, I have no idea which HD format (HD-DVD or Bluray) to support, so I think I’ll just hold off on buying this one until I actually have the gear available.  But once all those questions are answered, there’s no doubt that I’ll be buying this release, it is simply gorgeous.

The Dresden Dolls

and I caught The Dresden Dolls last night at the Orpheum. It’s crazy to see a local band go from tiny little clubs to (apparently) selling out the Orpheum. We got there just as the second opener, Humanwine was finishing their set… Totally not my thing, and I believe that every one of their songs had the word “bone” in the lyrics, but hey, whatever.

There was some of the usual circus antics between them and the Dolls. Our seats, which looked great on paper, were terrible. Although we were only four rows back from the stage, Amanda was almost completely obscured by the amps, and so we spent the whole show leaning over to try and see both members of the band at once. Brian hit as hard as ever, and Amanda’s voice was about as “on” as it’s ever been. They seemed to play for like 2 hours, playing tons of covers as well as most of their new album, “Yes, Virginia”. It was a fantastic show, even if it went way past Corinna’s bedtime… :)

Armed Audio Warfare

This weekend was hectic! I left Saturday at 5pm with Jon Whitney to go down to Manhattan for the midnight Meat Beat Manifesto show at BB King’s in Times Square. Jon hosts the official MBM website over at Brainwashed, so we had VIP passes which was cool. We rolled into town and met up with and his roommates/friends, who were kindly letting us crash at his place. Luke and Christina (? God i am terrible with names) came with us to the show, and met up with us as well, which was awesome because I haven’t seen him in like 3 years.

We got to the show just as the doors were opening, god it was cold in NYC… Went backstage to say hi to Jack, but I don’t get off on the whole backstage thing, so I just said hi and then went back out to the room to catch the opening act, Dalek. I guess they split with their DJ (whose name was “Still”). To be honest, without Still I just wasn’t interested in the band.. It’s a shame, because they are really nice guys and I’ve really enjoyed them the other times I’ve seen them… This time I was just waiting for them to leave the stage. When Jack and crew got on stage, though, it was like magic. I saw them back in June and it was amazing, and this was no different… Similar setlist, but the crowd was much larger at this show so the whole room just had more energy… The venue sucked (would have been great for old white people listening to Jazz or Blues), but the show was out of control… After the show we said thanks to Jack and Jon got a live CD for Luke as a thanks for his hospitality and we rolled back to Luke’s place at like 3:30am..

Sunday morning we caught breakfast with Luke a few blocks from his place and then parted ways with him… I’ve got to get down there more often to visit my friends in (or, in Kyle’s case, near) the city.. When I go back to NJ I usually plan on making it into NYC but because I am having so much fun with my friends and family there that I usually don’t make it. I think the plan needs to be seperate trips for NJ and NYC, because otherwise it’s too hectic. That way and I can visit with her friends Sara and Dave, who live there too. Anyway, Jon needed to meet up with his friend, musician Little Annie Anxiety to pick up some material he is releasing on Brainwashed. She was in the middle of packing for a trip, so it was a little hectic, but she seems like a wonderful person and she has a very cute chiuahua. I was even called in as nerd support when she had a problem with her iBook… :) On the way out of town we said hi to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons fame, who lives in the same neighborhood, and who Jon is also friends with… He had just gotten back from a trip, so we didn’t visit long with him, but he seems like a really nice guy.. After that we hit the road and got back to Boston around 5pm…

Corinna and I immediately turned around to go to the film club to see Kairo (Pulse), which is the original Japanese movie that the upcoming (disaster) Pulse was based on. Oh my god was it terrible… It never felt like it went anywhere, and there were so many unresolved or unexplained plot points.. It seems like they were constantly rewriting the script.. So many things were never paid off… And christ, shouldn’t a horror film be at least SOMEWHAT scary? At some point Corinna gave up grabbing my arm when tension was building just because she realized that nothing was actually going to happen.. But even though the movie was shitty we had a great group of people show up last night, including a few new faces. We’re getting more regulars and semi-regulars coming, which is awesome because it means I’m not scaring people off anymore. ;)

Edge of No Control

Last night’s Meat Beat Manifesto show at the Paradise was fantastic. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the show since I hadn’t seen them in a very long time (a decade plus?) and the past few albums have been mostly good but not great. But Jack and gang blew the doors of the place and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves… They played stuff from their whole backcatalog, but seemed to focus on the more upbeat stuff as opposed to the mellower stuff… It was a pretty intense 2+ hours…

Jon Whitney shot a bunch of video and did an interview with Jack for The Brainwashed Brain video segment “The Eye”, which will probably be up in a few weeks, and his friend Dan shot a whole bunch of stills of the show which came out great.