Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Abstruse Goose does String Theory

Morrissey is The New Viz Character

Morrissey in Viz

(Morrissey recently walked offstage in Liverpool after being hit on the head by a drink thrown from the audience).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Short Film about Thrift Town, San Francisco

Thrift Town (2101 Mission Street San Francisco) is the best thrift store in the city (plus the best that I've ever been to). You can watch a cute film about it here. Also, admire two of my family's previous hauls:

What we bought on President's day What we bought in the thrift store

Why Pazz +Jop 2009 is so dull

Pazz + Jop is the end of year poll for US rock critics. It used to be interesting and authoritative. Now, with the decline of print journalism the poll seems to be dominated by bloggers and indie rock fans. There are some constructive ballots by old style writers like Robert Christgau, Kandia Crazy Horse, Jim DeRogatis, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Tony Fletcher, Frank Kogan, and Derk Richardson, but the results have Sunn O))) at a lowly 41st place. The trouble is that, despite its turnover of new bands, Indie is essentially a conservative genre. Probably most of the poll respondents just copied the Pitchfork end of year list. There is a nice article on Gaga (who ends up at a pathetic 31st place), but overall this is a disappointment.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Slits / The Go-Going-Gone Girls / Sassy!!! @ The Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, 10 December 2009

Ari Up is roughly the same age as me. We are pretty similar except that at age 14, when I was listening to Supertramp, she was forming The Slits. In this small club her confidence was overpowering, she is among the most charismatic performers I have ever seen. As often happens with British bands The Slits had lost a member to the INS, in this case a keyboard player. Despite this they made a full sound, anchored by founding member Tessa Pollit on bass and with San Francisco guitarist Michelle Hill (I am sure I have seen her in some other band) adding colour.

Earlier San Francisco duo Sassy!!! got a good reception. They dress a bit like 1975 Led Zeppelin, and sound a bit like them, or maybe The White Stripes. There's a young woman drummer, in white, with glitter and a young woman guitarist in black, with glitter. Both sing, I preferred the drummer's croaky rock'n'roll voice.

The Go-Going-Gone Girls are a sort of multi-generational, post-modern version of a girl group. They are clever, with some amusing shtick about different languages which included songs in Spanish, Italian, and Swedish (I think). When I am king, support bands will be limited to 25 minutes, and they went a bit too long for me (as it was a school night).

The show was not sold out, which surprised me. The crowd was a mixture of old and young, with several mother/daughter outings in progress. The older crowd looked good, with one person near me sporting a nice punky tea-cosy hat.

So the Slits were fantastic. A weirdness of modern life is that at every concert there is some loser who would rather play with a gadget instead of actually enjoy the show. So you can actually see one of the highlights of the show (embedded below), where Ari Up invites some members of the audience to participate in the backing vocals for their classic old song Typical Girls. The volunteer vocalists turn out to be Sassy!!!, who by this time have been celebrating their earlier success with a few drinks (I know as I was sitting by them in the back lounge). There is also a false start, just like on a very amusing Slits bootleg I have. And it was great. But of course watching the video is a bit boring. I guess you had to be there.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Regeneration of Doctor Who

Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner interviewed for BAFTA by the rather attractive Caitlin Moran, who used to write amusingly for Smash Hits.

Front page of The Times showing Britain covered in Ice and Snow

Dated 8-Jan-2009. You can see the major cities as gray patches. And that Led Zep interview? Boring. Except to learn that Jimmy Page can't be bothered to obtain and listen to his ex-bandmate's CDs.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lady Gaga @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, 13 December 2009

The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is owned by the city of San Francisco. In its time it has hosted an NBA team, the Democratic National Convention, and now Lady Gaga. last time I went to the Bill Graham it was a seated venue. Now that it is configured for standing on the floor area, plus seated bleachers, it has a capacity of about 7,000 which makes it San Francisco's biggest venue.

I took my teenage protege to this concert and she is still several inches smaller than me. She didn't want to venture into the seething mass of adults on the floor, so we initially sat up in the bleachers. We had an OK view, supplemented by video screens, but the sound was terrible. I think when you get up near the roof of these old buildings you get lots of sound reflections which mean you hear a fuzz. Later we descended to the floor where we could see and hear what was going on.

2009 was Lady Gaga's year. She seems like one of those talented sports figures who appear every so often and appear to be complete players even as teenagers. Even Madonna took years to achieve a similar mastery of all the elements of Pop: music, fashion, interviews, videos.

The concert was fun. It was definitely a large scale production with many dancers. There were occasional glimpses of musicians but I believe most of the music was pre-recorded. As with most of these type of shows, some of the vocals were also pre-recorded, with some parts of the vocals (especially the choruses) being also sung live. This doesn't offend me, Gaga clearly did sing some of the show, and it is surely physically impossible to dance, hang upside down and sing at the same time.

The only thing that Lady Gaga has not completely mastered is the talking to the audience bit. She has obviously read my unpublished article on how you have to suck up to SF audiences, but her stories do tend to ramble on a bit. Still, I did believe that she was enjoying herself as much as anyone can in such a situation. I felt much the same.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Rowland S Howard

I am reading How Not To Run a Club, that book by Peter Hook about the Hacienda (Thanks Phil). There are loads of great stories in it. They used to video all their concerts and then try to flog the recordings to the bands, who, in general, weren't interested. The tapes were supposed to be erased, but of course they weren't. Luckily for us as we can see things like this video of Release the Bats featuring Rowland S Howard who has recently died.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Noel Clarke in that Ian Dury Film

Good to see that Noel is not overacting in any way. There is a good interview with Andy Serkis in the Grauniad. At this moment I can enjoy the idea of the film, but it can never be as good as my imagination.