Contrary to rumor, I was not "two-fisting PBRs" at The Sword show on Friday night (March 31). Granted, there was a guy there who looked an awful lot like me and, yes, this person was holding two deliciously cold Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles in his hands, while screaming at the top of his lungs and what's this? bobbing his head in a way that approached "banging." That was not me. I was the sober individual in the corner, studiously analyzing each of the acts and coming up with elegant ways to describe the night's entertainment.
And, like, the show rocked, dude. While The Sword was predictably awesome, I was equally impressed by the thunderous attack of Miami's Torche, a monstrously heavy band that could teach fellow Florida metallians a thing or three about smart riffage. (I offered them $5 to move to Orlando. They declined.) I thought this barrage would destroy Back Booth's PA, but a recent upgrade meant that my ears were ringing until The Sopranos came on Sunday.
IN OTHER NEWS
New Roman Times was excellent in their opening slot for Centro-Matic at Will's last Monday (March 27); a new lineup and some sonic recalibration has yielded a beefier approach to their moody indie rock. Great Lake Swimmers (on the same bill) is great on album but boring as hell live, despite the insistence of various of my friends that they were "captivating" or a thing of "ghostly beauty." Fuck that, I said. It was 11 p.m. and I wanted to get my rock on. So I headed down to The Social to catch putative revolution-rockers The Living Things. Despite having given away tickets for a buck apiece, the place was half-empty. The St. Louis combo's blustery, monochromatic rock makes Kings of Leon sound progressive and did little to make me feel like the crowd got their money's worth. Simple possession of Kick Out the Jams does not a revolution make.
Speaking of poorly attended rock shows, Little Steven's Underground Garage pulled into the Hard Rock last Wednesday (March 29), only to find about 100 people in attendance. Born from the success of the amazing radio show (and Sirius channel) curated by Silvio himself, the idea of a rolling garage-rock revue was great in conception, flawed in execution. Go-go dancers? Yikes! It was a phenomenally weird show, made more bizarre by Van Zandt's between-set ramblings, the general incompatibility of the acts (The Shazam clearly own more Cheap Trick records than Cramps discs, while The Fleshtones are, well, The Fleshtones) and, not least, all the kids running around.
I GET LETTERS
I received a particularly vituperative letter from the members of Plain Jane Automobile in response to the two sentences I wrote about them in last week's paper. (See Letters.) Being such Anglophiles, I would hope they'd have a more sophisticated sense of sarcasm and irony, but it appears they do not, as they seem to actually believe that I am of the opinion that Orlando is a shithole. I think they need to read their NME a little closer. Then they'll understand that the big trick is to start a fight in the media, not start a fight with the media.
They still don't seem to get that "influenced by" is different from "imitating," which makes their sub-Coldplay approach that much more disappointing. They're all enormously talented players who certainly know their way around a pop song, and I'd bet a cover story in this newspaper that if they stopped their seven-year run of chasing marketability and started focusing on being creative, they'd be a lot more successful, not to mention a lot less sensitive to mild criticisms.
As it is, they're looking more and more like Blue Meridian every day, an analysis that, sadly, they would probably take as a compliment.
HYPOCRISY R ME
OK, you know how I've gone on and on about how stupid battles of the bands are? Well, here's one that's so stupid, it's great: Online poker site Bodog.com is sponsoring a national contest, with a grand prize of a million bucks. You're right, that is an assload of money. It's so much money that it doesn't matter that winning a battle of the bands does nothing for your career. Forget a music career, you're a millionaire.
As further proof that this world is getting worse and worse, saxophonist Jackie McLean and alt-rock icon Nikki Sudden both died in the last couple of weeks. McLean's '60s work on Blue Note is along with Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill and Don Cherry the apotheosis of elegant freedom; if you don't own New and Old Gospel, go and buy it now. Sudden was the leader of the Swell Maps, the brother of Epic Soundtracks and one of the most idiosyncratic songwriters of the post-punk movement. Underappreciated giants firstname.lastname@example.org