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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Vaselines!! w/ Adam Green @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 5/18/2009

Well here we are, at the SOLDOUT Music Hall of Williamsburg for the 12th edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert series to witness the greatest band to ever come out of Glasgow, Scotland: The Vaselines, with the opening act being Adam Green. I get to the door and am briefed with the event staff saying “Opening act is at 9, headliner is at 10 there is no re-entry”. I looked at the time it was a quarter after 8, so I let them scan my ticket and headed on in to the bar area. This is going to be fun.

Got myself a beer and was asked by the bartender “did you get that shirt at the show the other night?”(I was wearing my Melvins tee shirt). I said “Yea, and I’m hoping to get one here tonight too”. I guess hope doesn’t always spring eternal as when I made it to the merch section there was only CD’s. I asked the dude and he said they sold out of shirts and only have a couple more CD’s left being that this was the last of 6 US shows. He said “This is probably there last show ever in the United States being that Frances has three kids, she has a family how long can they do this you know”. But I did happen to pick up “Enter The Vaselines” the deluxe edition which includes re mastered versions of there only two EPs (Son of a Gun and Dying for It), their only album (Dum-Dum), and demos and live recordings from 1986 and 1988. Also it’s issued by SubPop; even though the Vaselines weren’t even on SubPop records while they were still together. Remember I’m here to see a band that broke up in 1990. 

Around 9 I was at the door smoking a cigarette(did you notice all that “no re-entry” bullshit?) when I heard the sounds of a live band at which time I walked myself inside, looked up on stage and said to myself “ who in the hell is the weirdo flailing his arms around up on stage like a flaming homosexual?” Well, turns out that was Adam Green. Former member of the Moldy Peaches; he’s a character to say the least. He flails around seemingly imitating a poor man’s version of Iggy Pop only funny instead of violent with the bantering with the crowd constantly. In between each song he’d pull out a bag of mushrooms (of the magical variety I would assume) and start eating-keeping pace with their set. Then he says “This a song called “the Crack House blues”” and busted into a bunch of funny songs. If you’re not paying attention to him, those songs are harder then you’d expect. They have a keyboardist to add to the goofness of it. At 9:30 someone threw a water bottle on stage, I don’t know why. This guy was a crowd favorite, and I’ll admit I laughed at a lot of his jokes. An attempted crowd surf left him on the floor, which I most certainly was laughing at, but he got at it again and crowd surfed for I would was 15 successful seconds. The set was funny, the sound of the band didn’t piss me off even though there was a keyboard dude. Ten o clock was approaching. The finale was a song called “Jessica”, which is about Jessica Simpson and just utterly hilarious not to mention kind of catchy. I’m not going out and buying the discography or anything, but I’ve seen a lot worse opening acts then that. 

People, let us get down to business. It’s 10:02, and here comes the roadie bring out the set of effects pedals. I’m getting my camera ready. During the Adam Green set I had actually been tapped on the shoulder by event staff and told to stop recording the set; pictures only, what the hell dude. I can’t get good pictures with my camera, I take the video so I could capture the image without having to take a damn picture. Like that stopped me, I recorded SEVERAL of the songs that were to be performed. At 10:11 was the first appearance of Eugene Kelly and Frances Mckee, who came on stage and tuned up for about five minutes and then headed off. Ten minutes pass and the whole band hits the stage to a rousing roar from the packed in crowd.

They kick the night off with ‘Son of a Gun’ which is one of the three songs of there’s that Nirvana covered (by the way, did not spot ONE Nirvana tee shirt. I really thought I would) and from opening strands the tone of the night was set. The riffs were melodic yet so fused with noise and distortion but in a controlled sort of way. And with the male-female vocal harmony dynamic, it was abrasively blissful to say the least. They had a third guitarist with them to add to the boisterousness sound. Once Frances starting talking (being from Scotland) some dude screams out in the ultimate ‘drunk dude at a rock concert’ voice “YOUR ACCENT MAKES ME FEEL SENSUAL!!” It was funny, but even more hilarious when Frances responds with “well, I’m feeling a bit moist me self I’ll tell you what” and then got into the song “Monsterpussy” followed by “The Day I was a Horse”. The Frances says something to the effect of “we had the oral sex discussion when we played a couple years ago right? Eugene, have you learned how do to it yet”. Eugene, not paying attention says “Learned out to do what?” and when she says oral sex he says “Oh no, no I haven’t” paused while tuning and then said “but I’m pretty sure I understand the concept and am capable”. We’re all just cracking up at this point when Eugene is like “what Frances, you want me to just bend over and suck your cock now?” That was all before getting into “Molly’s Lips”, because Frances had added “we didn’t know exactly what it meant when we penned it”. Then she said “You know, we’ve been broken up for almost 20 years already and we have our entire recordings on sale at the back-we’re really milking this aren’t we? Anyway, a special treat for you, here’s a new song. The song rocked too. I didn’t think I’d hear any new songs from them, they’ve only played a handful of gigs since sort of re-uniting in 06. After the new song they get into “Oliver Twisted” and that’s when I look down (I’m up on the side ramp like three steps up from the floor leaning over) to notice the crowd in an absolute frenzy, and a frenzy of the good variety. Heads nodding with circles of people just running into each other just getting totally loose to the loud, exciting punk rock that the Vaselines ensue into you. The show just totally kicked ass overall. After Oliver twisted they played “Jesus Doesn’t want me for a sunbeam”, and it sounded really cool with the added guitarist playing the riff in a different style. I hope I can upload the video. Then came “LoveCraft” followed by yet another really good new song, another one of which they didn’t tell us the name of. Then “Slushy”, a sort of lovey dovey song but beautiful in terms of musical excellence. After that they played “Teenage Superstars”, “Bitch”, “No Hope” and “Sex Sux (Amen)”. After that Eugene says “I’d like to thank you all for coming out. this is the last song of the evening….well you know how the industry goes I saw it’s the last song we run off stage and come back and do a few more” and follows it with “Dying for it” which is one of there best unknown songs (well, most of there songs are unknown) and head off stage at 11:27.  When they come back out and they're tuning up for the next song someone screams "Who are you guys opening for?!!". Everyone chuckles, then Eugene hits him with a: "Who are we opening for? We're opening for your mother." Then followed by the ceremonial "ohhhhhhhhh!" from the roaring crowd and the energy level in this place is floating at the top of the radar.They then proceed rock out hard with the song “Rory Rides me Raw”; I mean the tongue and cheekness with them is so great. They sing in harmony very sweet sounding to a song with the lyrics “rory rory ride me rory/ rory rory ride me slowly/ ride me raw raw raw”. The Eugene is like “Okay, is disco time”, referring to their reworked version the song by Divine “You think you’re a man”. That song is fucking cool man, its got the greatest riff ever. A must listen. And then last but not least they played “Dum-Dum” the title track to their only actual studio record, released in 1989. everyone in that place was jumping at that point-total rocking and the only problem was that they hit the last note, unplugged the amps bowed and said good night. That was the end. We’re going to call it at 11:45. The end to night where I couldn’t have asked for more

What an absolutely amazing show. I loved it from 10 minutes in until the end. Once I realized that he wasn’t retarded and Adam Green was just a funny musician-from that point on the night was marvelous. The Vaselines played every song they have in their catalog plus two new songs, which by the way who knows if those songs ever make it to an album-remember they’re broken up, this is more a reunion tour. These 6 shows they played in the US was their first US tour. The 2006 show at Maxwells was their first time performing IN the united states; so they’ve played 7 US shows in 25 years almost and I’ve was at one. And if I did my job correctly, you too the reader kind of feels like you were at one. Well, we have a week and a half off before I hit up Terminal 5 in NYC to catch the band “Cake”, most popular for their song “The Distance” but are a well oiled machine and have tons of great songs. Catch all you concert goers there. Thanks for taking the time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Melvins! 25th anniversary show 5/15/2009

Thank you for all patiently waiting but after almost a three month lay off we’re back in business. I would like to welcome you all to the eleventh installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending

Concert Series which brings us back to Webster Hall to witness The Melvins on their 25th anniversary tour advertised as playing “Houdini in its entirety”.


Shocked by the turnout; utterly stunned is more the phrase. Doors are set to open at 6:30 with the Melvins hitting the stage at 8 and I’m on line at 6 o clock, on a line that is stretching down the block just about to 4th avenue (The door is closer to 3rd avenue on East 11th). I seriously thought that it would be me and about seven other people there. I didn’t know the Melvins were big in NY, considering that for four months I’ve been telling people I’m going to see them and there response would be only a puzzled look.


So I’m inside, it’s about 7PM. After I hit coat check I head upstairs to the floor area and I  begin to notice the subtle difference between this show and other. I can honestly say that I didn’t see not one person I would label as a “hipster” but instead saw a sea of people from all shapes and sizes: Long hair with skull caps, bald guys with Santa Claus beards and most importantly- saw a few dudes in flannel. I was taking note of the band tee shirts I saw fans sporting as they came in. From the likes of Kiss and the Ramones to the token Led Zeppelin tee shirt on Mr. Macho Man over there downing his beer. I mean, I knew I’d see a Nirvana tee shirt and even the Sonic Youth, but I wasn’t expecting to see the Wu-Tang shirt. I like the eclectics. But what I’d like to know is where in the world did that one dude get the Devo shirt? That shit was one hundred percent cool. I even saw a Wipers tee shirt. I swear, besides the $7 draft beers and the balloons hanging from the ceiling along with the chandeliers; I now feel as if I’m at a true Melvins show.


So it’s about 8:10, 8:15 and the place is packed to the point where I am leaned up against a wall bent over some....some… thing-I can’t even name it, it was like a big block sort of, with like a foot of space between it and the wall. That’s what I was using to write my notes on. Note to self: don’t take notes in the dark because it all makes no sense when you read it later at home.


     And the clock strikes 8:16, and here they are ladies and gentleman: THE MELVINS! There’s Buzz Osbourne with his crazy hair and nutty looking self.  He plays a Les Paul Custom, as usual. Over the years the Melvins have undergone some line-up changes if you will, but this is the original Melvins line-up from like 1983. Buzz puts it “The original, original drummer Mike Dillard! Who has just gotten out of prison”. Mike Dillard drummed on a demo for Kurt Cobain’s first band, “Fecal Matter”. “On bass we have Matt Lukin who has just gotten out of prison-and needs a place to stay”. Matt Lukin would go on to form the band Mudhoney after leaving the Melvins in 1988. Buzz to start off the night says something to the effect of “This is our 25th anniversary tour….and uhhh…I was thinking man that’s a long time. Why the hell did I do this?  I could have done anything. I could have been a fucking lawyer like three times already!” while the crowd laughs he says “ We’re going to first play some stuff that we used to play like way back in 83, 84. back then I used to be totally drunk performing these songs so…”

      Those first couple of songs, the old school ones before they went into Houdini was some really cool sounding stuff. More punk rock-ish, but at the same time not as punk as advertised. It was faster paced too, unlike a lot of their later stuff. But man it was hard rocking. I bet Buzz couldn’t play those songs like THAT back in 1983.  It was so rocking that I hadn’t noticed Lukin leave the stage at about 8:40. The absence of the bass was a non factor, Buzz and Dillard were just getting at it, as if they didn’t just recently reunite after 20 something years. Also not to be lost in translation here, there is an extra drum on each side of the stage, and at times the drummers get going into cool beat sessions. Then 9 o clock and Lukin is back and they get into the performance of Houdini (which I’m certain they threw other songs in there) starting off with “Hooch”. I have to say throughout the set, the drumming from beginning to end was intensely vicious, and they had a hug cymbal behind the drum set which was used in one song. At first hit you can tell this thing is going to fall over. Sure enough a few minutes later, I think it was during “Hag Me”, that the thing fell over backwards and the crowd, of course, we all cheered loudly in love with destruction. My opinion, from the roars of the crowd on each song, “Set me Straight” and “Lizzy” were the biggest fan favorites of the night. It’s a great song. Lots of quiet-loud-quiet dynamics there. Both Dillard and Lukin sang lots of harmony(can you call it ‘harmony’ when it’s as sludgy as the Melvins?). To put it to people who don’t know much-imagine Black Sabbath with a  Fuzz box. Buzz riffs heavily while maintaining elements of experimental noise and lots and lots and lots of feedback. Towards the end Buzz walks off stage at about 9:48 and two drummers drum along with Dillard (I’m assuming one of them in Lukin, but I’m stuff in a corner) and they jam for a while. It’s extraordinarily continuous and that’s when I look to the far left and notice that Buzz hasn’t really left the stage, he’s just chillin out behind the amp watching them rock. Around ten he came out and they did their last song and after that Buzz thanked the crowd and said “and now we leave you with a killer bass solo” and he walks off as Lukin plays a pretty cool solo. I noticed he faded out around 10:08 and they unplugged the gear as we all filed out.  


What a show; what an atmosphere. True Melvins fans rocking out to Melvins tunes. No one left disappointed. I hopped took a cab to the ferry, first time I ever hailed a cab in my life. I’m a high roller now I do those sorts of things. I kid, of course. Anyway, it’s a very quick turnaround as the Jay Porks Never ending Concert Series moves to the Music Hall of Williamsburg for the “Vaselines” May 18th. Thanks for reading if you did.