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Monday, December 15, 2008

Concert Reveiw: The Meat Puppets w/ Oakley Hall and The Soviet Machines

         “I think we’re going to go on about 10:30-10:45” says Cris Kirkwood, bass player for the Meat Puppets. Here we are on the ninth installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series, and the venue is the Music Hall of Williamsburg which is 66 N 6th street in Brooklyn. The band: The “Meat Puppets” headlining the show with “Oakley Hall” and “The Soviet Machines” as opening acts. Doors are at 8pm and the show is at 9pm. So of course, I show up at the doors like at about a quarter to 6(the ticket says “happy hour 6-9”, a misprint I guess) and I see one person outside smoking a cigarette and one of the event staff talking to him then he goes in. So I walk up and I say “doors at 8 right?” and the dude was like “Yea. Your making me feel bad man its cold out here” I said I’d find something to do in the meantime, then I stopped and realized who I was talking to. I said “Wait a minute, your Cris Kirkwood aren’t you?”. He nods as he takes another drag. How cool is this? I’m smoking a cig with Cris Kirkwood, I got him to sign my ticket stub. Then I got into how I saw them a few months back at Terminal 5 with Dinosaur Jr. and we got into a little musically centered conversation for a minute. I mentioned how I saw Stone Temple Pilots in May and Cris started telling me about how the Deleo brothers called "us up"  and told him about the whole going on an hour late because of Scott Wieland being Scott Wieland situation . The Meat Puppets and STP go way back...  they have played a few recent shows over this summer/fall but way back when STP went on a US tour in the early nineties they had the Meat Puppets opening for them.. I mentioned that too and Cris started telling me “the Deleo brothers man… those guys can really play. Their good friends of ours”. Maybe it’s the whole brothers in a band thing. And that’s when he also said that Oakley hall had played with them the night before and they were really cool so that was another thing to get excited about. Then he says, get this, “we’re going to go on about 10:30-10:45, we’re doing an acoustic set; well Curt is playing acoustic I have my bass. We did it in Philly the other night and last night in Hoboken, I really dig the sound, it’s really cool man”. I was very impressed and suddenly more excited for the show when he said that. I started getting into how they deserve more credit then they get. I said “I tell people “oh man I’m going to see the Meat Puppets tonight” and they are like “who’s that”” and that’s when Cris says “yea that’s been the moniker of us like, we’ve had this band for what now?... 29 years…” I cut him off to say “yea man like almost 30 fucking years, people don’t realize that you guys rock and gets me mad” and he nods and takes a drag. “Well, it’s always been like that. We came out, then around that time MTV formed there were all these bands making videos and then all of a sudden its was like..” a bewildered look on his face “you know?” I agreed. I'll make the assumption that he was speaking about those bands we all see, hear and know that do whatever will get them on MTV or mainstream and it furthers the point that band these days only care about money. The sell outs. Of course, one can only wonder from implying,  he wasn't screaming sell outs on the freezing sidewalk of Brooklyn, but that’s what is inferred by the conversation we were having. Trying to keep words flowing, I said “At the Terminal 5 show I saw when the chord from your bass unplugged and you were like jamming it back in and shit”. Cris laughs and says “yea man Curt's been giving me so much shit about it, he told me to make sure I plug it into the top on the amp this time”. We shared a chuckle, then that’s when the cigarettes had reach their filters. He stuck his hand out and said “well it was good talking to you Jay(he had asked my name when I got the autograph earlier) I’ll see you inside later” I said “ thanks man seriously you have no idea. You guys are gonna kick ass tonight”. What a cool guy. There was no one else there, only one person actually passed by the whole time and it was a chick and when while walking by the heel of her shoe or whatever made a noise when it hit the concrete and Cris said “you see, in my mind I imagined that she just farted right there”. We were both laughing, he had already smoked a cigarette, he stayed out there to light another one seemingly because I lit one and to talk music with the first Meat Puppets fan that showed up, then again I was there like five hours before they went on. Now that's what I call an accommodating member of a band . You know, he probably would have  given me a cig if I didn’t have one, I bet he would e was that nice a guy. So that’s my “Conversation with Cris Kirkwood” . I didn’t do like a full court press interview the guy-I really  didn’t wanna  bother him I really wanted to hear his thoughts on things; still that’s like the first time I got to do some real deal journalism type stuff. Good start to a great night.  

     The first band to go on was “The Soviet Machines”, a band from Minneapolis. Young too, the dude selling their merch said that two of the members we’re 15 years old. Maybe this is what it’s like to see Silverchair pre-“Frogstomp”. When they went on there was seriously, like twenty people in this place. Put it this way, we could have moved up and leaned on the stage, but didn’t. A whole bunch of people listening to this new band that they’ve never heard of; they won over the crowd by end of their set. They have this garage, punk sort of sound with heavy injections of pop sound as well. Lead singer “Jack Swagger”(that’s the name listed on their MySpace) has stickers all over his guitar ala Billy Joe Armstrong. And their drummer was good too, he actually thought it was hilarious when they got on stage and I said really loud “I hope their not communists”. It was good to have like dialect with the band sort of after the show, because no one was there. The band drove down here from Minneapolis, and had to take a week off of school to come to NYC and play a show with the Meat Puppets. How cool is that? Where did the brothers Kirkwood find these guys? How long can they have been playing together if two of the members are 15 is what I’m trying to say. And I’ve been seeing some really bad opening acts as of recently, so it was a breath of fresh air to have a band come through, play there songs to 20 people or whatever and just try to rock as hard as you can. No pretensions, no bullshit. When there set ended, I saw the drummer, Marcus Jones, packing his stuff up and I’m like “hey man your not throwing sticks?” because most of the bands I’ve seen have done that, you need to throw your drumsticks into the crowd. So he looks and he I guess caught by surprise when he says “ohh, yea man” and flips one to me. It hit me right between the eyes because I’m not the most athletic person on the planet, but I didn’t let anyone know at the time how much that shit hurt. I picked it up and got him to sign it for me. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand how long an actual drum stick is. So now I have a drum stick in my pocket for the rest of the night, plus the Cris Kirkwood autographed stub from earlier. So far this is a great night. Right when they were coming packing up there stuff I said to “Jack Swagger” something to the effect of “Seriously dude, I’ve seen some really shitty opening acts as of late, and that shit far from sucked”. He came over and shook my hand and said thanks, and it seemed pretty sincere. 

    Up next was a band called “Oakley Hall”, which I was able to read up about on Yes, I know it’s not a quoted unquote “reliable source”, but it worded things pretty well. I had never heard of them either, but since Cris Kirkwood said he “digs their sound” it can’t be bad. The group's songs seem to combine elements of hard rock, bluegrass sort of folk , and an old-time music, prominently featuring the male-female vocal harmonies stuff that I like, its sort of Pixiesque( the Pixies a personal favorite of mine) if I may invent a word. The lead vocalists Patrick Sullivan and Rachel Cox who also play guitar. Rather than imitating the style of commercial country cowboy hat, “lets try to sell records” sort of stuff. Actually the group's melodic tone that had me singing along I must admit, sounded like old American folk like ballads sort of, but at the same time there is a prevalent driving rock beat with elements of noise/distortion/acid-folk sort of stuff going on with guitars and the organ and keyboard. When I saw the organ I thought “ohh no here we go” but whenever the keyboard or organ was being played it was loud and fast and vicious. I didn’t know an organ can provide feedback to the point where it sounds like Thurston Moore’s(Sonic Youth) guitar. Seriously it was really cool stuff, I was digging it, my friend Joe who was at the last Puppets show I went to said they we’re like a Fleetwood Mac meets the Talking Heads way harder. It was a great analogy. Pat Sullivan had a “Bad Moon” tee shirt on and after the set when he was unplugging his pedals and switches he had from the amp he was like right there, because by this time I’m leaning on stage because I needed something to lean on. So I said “What, not giving out picks?” referring to his guitar pick, and he was like sort of had the same reaction the drummer from The Soviet Machines had, he said “oh.. yea man definalty” and reached in his pocket for it and gave it to me. Then I saw Rachel Cox autographing something and I ask her to sign my drum stick that I had in my pocket. She said “Are you serious?” sort of laughing and I when I said yea she signed it “Rachel from Ohio!”. That was pretty cool. They rocked, I told Pat that and he thanked me for it. These two bands were really cool, both musically and socializing with the couple of us who were up in front and out spoken. Good stuff.

     Of course now on to the main event, the Meat Puppets!! The second time I get to see them(See show review 9/26/2008).The acoustic set that I had heard they were going to do I was interested in seeing. Especially since a roadie laid down a who set of pedals and switches and all these knobs I started to think that this alleged acoustic set was going to be short and maybe Curt Kirkwoodwould switch to electric like half way through. To tell you the truth, If I was blind, I wouldn’t have even known that Curt was playing an acoustic, its sounded so loud with all these weird noises and just amazing solos a lot of the times “fingerpicking” as they call it, which is sort of self explanatory and the way Curt’s eyes are closed and he’s in this zone like. And at the same time you have brother Cris on bass and he’s just doing all weird funny ass stuff. His bass chord didn’t unplug this time, but Curt busted a chord like a song or two in. So he ran off stage to get it fixed, at which time he and Ted Marcus the drummer, would jam and Cris would say dumb funny stuff and try to make up songs. Really cool. So Curt gets back on stage, and they get into “Commin’ Down”, I love that song they didn’t play it last time they came around so that was cool and they got into “Up on the sun”. I was trying to copy down songs but I was only able to get ten because I was right there, again only this time like two feet from Curt as oppose to the five I was at Terminal 5 because they had a barricade at Terminal 5, as where here at the Williamsburg Hall of Music I could have basically got up on stage I’m leaning on the amp the whole night. Another reason you can’t get every song they play is because it’s seriously like a trip being there, hearing their music live. It’s an experience that I think everyone needs to do in life, you wouldn’t regret it I promise. Anyway I believe it was after Up on the sun, maybe one of their ten minute jam sessions where you have no idea what’s going on; it’s so intoxicating, Curt broke busted two chords on his guitar this time, leading to him running off stage again. Cris says “okay, Curt quit the band, but we got some stuff we wanna play” and they just start jamming as Curt goes to put two more strings on. At this point I’m wondering how a band that’s been together for almost 30 years doesn’t have like an extra guitar, but some musicians have pet peeves about that sort of stuff and its not like he got all pissed of and stormed out he was laughing, I bet he wanted to break the strings. That’s the type of intensity he plays with. The played “Why” before getting into “Oh Me”, that song “Oh Me” rocks man, it was so musically fulfilling to be at this show. They did “Plateau” somewhere in the first 5-10 songs, hard to place where it was I didn’t write that down I was singing. Later on one of my favorites “Look at the Rain” along with “Severed Goddess Hand” and “Flaming Heart” Through all this craziness and totally rocking out as the venue is now completely packed of course as soon as the Meat Puppets came on I notice it was approaching 1 AM. So I knew “Lake of Fire” was coming up, and it did. And then they did a song that I was dying to hear that they didn’t play last time I caught them was “Backwater”. Hearing it acoustic, if we’re even going to call this acoustic because throughout the set the sounds that were coming out of this thing was unbelievable. I didn’t know an acoustic guitar can produce similar sounds to a police siren, just out of space sort of stuff. That’s what they are, they’re from space. They bring you up to their spaceship when they play live, which is the reason why it’s a seemingly hallucinogenic experience being in the crowd, losing yourself in the music. They really are like the Grateful Dead, every show is different. I didn’t see an acoustic set in this night, and when I heard it was acoustic I thought we were going to all sit on stools and sip hot coco. But that wasn’t the case of course, because once again the Meat Puppets prove why they’re so far and beyond a large majority of the music that it out there today. 

     That was most defiantly the best show I’ve attended in my life. Not only just from a Meat Puppets blowing the roof off stand point but overall, all the bands were good. The whole atmosphere was great, I got to talking to some really intelligent and musically intellectual people. So check this out I’m going to give you links to The Soviet Machines and Oakley Hall because they’re two pretty cool bands. 

Photos taken By me, Jay Porks via AT&T Pantech Matrix 

    Next up on the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series is a band called 'Witch',  I've recently gotten into them and they friggin rock. Its like this dark sort of sound but includes all the distortion and feedback driven guitars to keep me entertained. The opening acts are 'Earthless' and 'Children' is what the bill says, It's back at this same location, The Music Hall of Williamsburg on Feburary 26th.. Catch you then...


Self-Referenced said...

Good writeup my man, was a really kickass show, better then the Terminal Five show. You could hear lyrics this time!

Oakley Halls studio work is sort of disappointing, I mean they we're machines live, real intense, some of that was sort of lost on the album, still great though.

This is joe by the way.

Jay Porks said...

Thats exaclty wat I said when I got home and started listneing to them online I was like "this is definalty not what i saw live". deifnaty a great show tho, e-mail me if any good shows are comming up