Thursday, April 18, 2013
Better than: Savages' savagery at the Independent?
Thursday night at the Knockout, Mallard leader Greer McGettrick took stage and asked the sound engineer, "Can you make it sound like I'm in a cave?" He did, but the Mallard's final performance achieved that effect itself. The urgent and clamorous set drew heavily from the Mallard's forthcoming sophomore album, but the group is now broken up and won't perform to support its release. The Mallard retreated too deeply into its cave and expired. Deprived of light and indulging darkness with dissonance and cataclysm, the band's final show affirmed the Mallard's evolution into a savage live outfit that will be dearly missed.
As you may have heard, INXS broke up earlier this week, stunning music fans everywhere -- because music fans everywhere had no idea that INXS was still performing. In a statement announcing the "news," INXS went on to demonstrate their own inability to understand irony as a concept by saying things like: "We understand that this must come as a blow to everybody, but all things must eventually come to an end..."
This week, Whitney Houston became the first female artist to have three albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart at one time. In the two and a half weeks following her death, Whitney sold 2.7 million songs and 668,000 albums -- a massive increase. There's no doubt that if she were still with us, Whitney would have always sold records. But like this? It's extremely doubtful. So what is it that compels people to rush out and buy the music of recently deceased artists? Why is there always a sudden spike in sales?
During its 10-year run, the Distortion 2 Static hip-hop TV show graduated from profiling local upcoming artists to chatting it up with rap superstars. Started by Prince Aries, Ariel Nuñez and DJ Haylow, the show signed off on its broadcast run back in September; a farewell shindig will be going down at Mighty tonight. (Read this week's print feature about the show.) Before the big end, we snagged Prince Aries and DJ Haylow to reminisce about their favorite guests from Distortion 2 Static's vast interview vault.
5. Prince Paul
Prince Aries: "I actually get my name from Prince Paul -- that's why I called myself Prince Aries. I think we sat down for almost two hours; I was still new to interviewing and wasn't good at cutting it short, but I asked him [about] everything, from what equipment he used to Stetsasonic and De La Soul and Gravediggaz. He was a good sport about it and it felt like we were just kicking it. It was at the Hotel Triton in San Francisco.
"One thing that stood out from the interview was that I was asking him about the gear he was using to make beats. To me, coming up listening to Prince Paul, he's very innovative, so I thought he'd be kind of a techie and up on the new gear. But he wasn't! I think he said he had an MPC and a sequencing machine. But anything beyond that he didn't care or know anything about!"
Broken Social Scene
Oct. 1, 2011
Better than: All but a handful of other '00s-era indie rock bands.
It was billed as the last Broken Social Scene show for a long while -- maybe forever, as this populous Toronto rock collective plans to go on indefinite hiatus after a handful of live dates in South America. Whether it ends up being The Last North American Broken Social Scene Show or not, Saturday's nearly three-hour, sold-out performance at the Fillmore, following the band's afternoon set at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, had all the makings of a heroic rock band's grand exit.
There were famous guests, including Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock, and Amy Millan and Evan Cranley from the BSS-related indie-pop band Stars. There were many impeccable performances and a few unscripted bits of chaos, including a Brock-led version of Modest Mouse's "The Good Times Are Killing Me" that barely came together after three false starts. There was lots of emotional commentary, mostly from figurehead Kevin Drew. And there were a few good-natured jokes about whether this time Broken Social Scene would actually fulfill its long-threatened plan to go on hiatus.
Mostly, though, there were excellent songs -- 25 of them in the end -- played with the kind of desperate, heartfelt energy that happens when everyone believes this might be it.
Nothing gets you in the mood to start fresh in a new calendar year like a few last crappy things happening in the last one. Also, bad things come in threes. (Feel free to suggest any relevant truisms I've missed in the comments section.) Anyway, three more musical notables joined the ranks of Guru, Captain Beefheart, and Ronnie James Dio last week.
The biggest newsmaker is jazz pianist and prolific award-winner Billy Taylor, who died Dec. 28 at 89. Here he is explaining jazz improvisation on the television show The Subject Is Jazz, then giving a lovely example:
Coda, the upscale Mission music venue and restaurant that's played host to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Liz Phair, and some of the city's best jazz musicians, will close its doors Dec. 31, a victim of the tough economic times.
It's official folks: Coda Jazz Supper Club at Mission and Duboce is closing for good on Jan. 1, 2011.
Captain Beefheart, the noted experimental musician and painter born Don Van Vliet, died this morning in California following complications from multiple sclerosis. He was 69.
Van Vliet is best known for his 1969 album with the Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica, a work Rolling Stone recently ranked the No. 58 greatest album of all time. The record, and Beefheart's subsequent musical career, fueled the idea that rock music could be experimental and untethered to the limits of rhythm, tempo and key -- despite the fact that the skilled Van Vliet was known for a legendary five-octave vocal range. Born in California, Van Vliet found an educator and muse in Frank Zappa, who encouraged his evolution from visual artist to R&B harmonica/sax player to blues rocker to avant-garde luminary throughout the course of the Magic Band's career.