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Archive for the ‘The Distillers’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE DISTILLERS-Very Special Christmas Special, “Baby It’s Covid Outside” (December 18, 2020).

Despite going to many live shows, I haven’t watched a lot of streaming concerts. It’s not the same, and I don’t really like watching things on my computer anyway.

I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to buy a ticket for this one.  I saw The Distillers last year and enjoyed the show. But I feel like I didn’t get to fully appreciate it because the crowd was really rowdy and knew the band far more than I did.

So this seemed like a chance to see them “live” up close. The entire special was barely 40 minutes.  This is a bit of a bummer, but at the same time, it was really a perfect length for me.

In addition to the music, there were some skits.  As the show opens, Black Metal Santa unpacks some presents from his sack.  There’s a gun on a stack of presents, he pulls out a squeaking chicken dog toy and then a very adult toy.  He turns around, all Black Metal and says “Merry Fucking Christmas boys and girls, here’s The Distillers.”

On a well-decked-out Christmas-themed set The Distillers start to play.  There’s all kinds of Christmas things–blow up snowmen and giant stocking as well as digital flames.  And a full rig of lights. The band sounds great and the recording is well mixed.  The drums and bass sound huge.

They open with “Sick of It All.”  Brody Dalle is up front playing guitar and singing.  To her right is Tony Bevilacqua on guitar.  To her left is Ryan Sinn on bass.  All three are wearing Santa hats.  They all sing the opening verses and it sounds like a wall of vocals. Drummer Andy Granelli is not wearing a Santa hat, but he does have a knit cap on. The song sounds great–a blast of punk to celebrate the season.

They follow with the outrageously catchy punk of “Oh Serena.”  When I saw them, they opened with these two songs as well.  But this set list deviates somewhat. 

Up next is the quieter “L.A. Girl.”  It starts with everyone playing softly while Brody sings.  Then the whole band kicks in with massive drumming and some tasty bass fills. A martial drum beat opens “I’m a Revenant.”  Both guitarists play the lead riffs before Brody starts singing.  This song has some great sing-along moments as well as a brief part where it’s just Brody before the band marches in again.

“Sunsets” comes next.  They didn’t play this when I saw them.  Brody’s guitar is clean as the song opens.  She sings without a snarl.  The song does not turn into a balls out rocker.  It stays slow but gets very intense.  Bevilacqua makes interesting bendy sounds from his guitar in the middle jam section.  The song slows to a bass rumble before some Christmas music starts playing.

Black Metal Santa comes out and gives Brody a present.  It’s the album Faith by The Cure.  But there’s nothing inside–it’s just the cover. Black Metal Santa says, “Its my ‘Primary’ Christmas gift to you.  A cover.  Now play the damn song.”  It’s an amusing introduction to the song “Primary,” which I did not expect at all.  It sounds fantastic–close to the original, but heavier and obviously with Brody’s vocals sounding very different from Robert Smith’s.  She restrains her vocals until a loud snarling “oh remember” part.

Brody removes the Santa hat for “Dismantle Me” and the lights get brighter so you can see her more clearly.  This song has a great split with really fast guitars from Bevilacqua and slower guitars from Brody. 

The super fast chords continue into “Die on a Rope.”  This song also has some “Oh way oh” parts that are really catchy for such a dark song.  The middle jam is just bass and drums and Bevilacqua’s squeaky feedback while Brody sings.  There’s some thunderous drumming in the end as they jump into “City of Angels.”  This song is really catchy as she and the boys sing together.  There’s another cool middle section of just Brody’s guitar and noisy guitar sounds from Bevilacqua before the band roars off again.

The song ends and Brody looks off stage and says “Jesus.”  Granelli chides, “Brody, it’s Christmas.”  But she points off stage and Jesus comes out.  They ask what he’s doing there and he says it’s his birthday. They ask if he can make it snow.  Jesus says he makes miracles happen–he’s got a guy.   He calls a guy who comes down and the snow starts to fall.  Jesus and the guy get in a fight over who actually makes the miracles happen.  The guy says “ever since cofefe.”  But Granelli stops them, “we’re trying to do a Christmas show here, knock it off.”

Brody takes the mic and says “this year’s been a real ass kicker.  We’re looking forward to the new year.” 

Then they start Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).”  It sounds great and is a perfect set ender for a holiday special.

The show ends and they play the Ramones song over the credits.  The band takes bows and makes snow angels.

It’s a fun special and totally worth the $15.

[READ: December 25, 2020] “The George Spelvin Players”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fifth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America.

This year’s slipcase is a thing of beauty, too, with electric-yellow lining and spot-glossed lettering. It also comes wrapped in two rubber bands to keep those booklets snug in their beds.

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

It’s December 25.  Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers, could’ve sworn she left that porridge bowl right over there [Click the link to the H&O extras for the story].

I started this story and thought it was so familiar that I was sure I had read it before.  But as it went along, it didn’t seem familiar anymore, so maybe there is a similar component of it that I had read in another story. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: August 27, 2020] Hella Mega Tour: Green Day / Fall Out Boy / Weezer / The Interrupters [moved to August 20, 2021]

indexWhen this tour was announced I knew that I’d have to get tickets for the whole family to go to.  We haven;t all been to a big spectacle show and I thought this sounded like a great one.

My son likes Green Day.  My daughter likes Fall Out Boy.  We all like Weezer.  No brainer.

Neither of them have been to a big stadium show before.  I don’t love a stadium show really, but getting decent tickets would make it more fun to be sure.

The tickets were pricey, yes, but I managed to get pretty good seats (on the ground but near the back of those seats) and I thought it would be a great way to end the summer (even if I have no idea what Citizens Bank Park is like it was better than trying to get to CitiField in New York).

I was bummed that this tour was postponed since it was at the end of the summer and seemed so far away.  But they need to postpone a tour like this early and it was decided on May 19, so there was no waiting until the last minute.

There’s not much to say about any of these bands.  They’re all huge.  Musical purists don’t like any of them, but they write catchy songs and all of the songs are fun.

I have only seen Weezer, and if they put on the kind of show that they have been playing, that alone would be a great night.  But I’m pretty sure all three bands were going to pull out all the stops.  I think we were in for an exhausting night ( I assume with traffic we wouldn’t be home until like 2AM).

The Interrupters are a ska band with whose lead singer Aimee Interrupter sounds a bit like Brody Dalle from The Distillers. The rest of the band is three brothers: Jesse Bivona on drums, Justin Bivona on bass, and Kevin Bivona on guitar.  I’m still a fan of ska so I’m glad to see its (apparent) resurgence.  I hope it’s still of interest next year since i;d love to hear a new ska band.

I’m glad the show is being rescheduled.  The kids will all be one year older, which makes it even more fun for us all.

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[ATTENDED: October 7, 2019] The Distillers [rescheduled from June 1 & August 14]

The Distillers and Starcrawler were supposed to play a show at Union Transfer on June 1.

I bought tickets because I wanted to see Starcrawler–a band whose live show is becoming legendary.  I thought I didn’t even know The Distillers.  This turned out not to be true.  About a year earlier I had watched an NPR Field Recording with Brody Dalle.

Dalle (who is Australisn, which is hard to imagine given her speaking/singing voice which has no accent) has been in a bunch of bands.

First was The Distillers who broke up in 2006.
Then she formed Spinnerette who put out a couple of records until roughly 2011.
Then she did a solo album in 2014.
She has done all kinds of guest appearances, especially with Queens of the Stone Age.

Then she reconvened The Distillers in 2018.

I listened to a couple of their songs and was pretty excited to go to a old good punk show with a legendary singer. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 7, 2019] Death Valley Girls [rescheduled from June 1 & August 14, replaced Starcrawler]

I had the opportunity to see Death Valley Girls twice in August.  The first time was with The Distillers who had to cancel their second show at Union Transfer due to a different injury.  The second (and it probably happened because of that cancellation) was with Sharkmuffin, a band I really wanted to see but wasn’t free that night.

So I was pleased that they were opening for The Distillers again a few months down the line.

I actually didn’t know much about them before seeing the show.  I had an idea of what they sounded like but, for instance, I had no idea that they were founded by Patty Schemel, the original drummer for Hole.  I also had no idea that there was a man in the band (Larry Schemel–Patty’s brother).  Patty Schemel has since left, replaced by Laura Kelsey.

So what exactly do the Death Valley Girls sound like?

Well, they’re sort of a fuzzy rock band with goth leanings.  The goth leaning come primarily from their look and their lyrics–not their sound. (more…)

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[NOT ATTENDED: August 14, 2019] Death Valley Girls/The Distillers [rescheduled from June 1, moved to October 7]

On June 1, I drove to Union Transfer to see Starcrawler and The Distillers only to learn:

“Brody has a herniated disc and can not stand. She’s at the hospital getting treatment now.”

So I went home with the knowledge that the show was going to be rescheduled for August 14.

Then on August 3rd, I received this email

Hello Distillers fans,

Unfortunately another member of The Distillers was recently injured and they have to postpone their Philly date again. They are dedicated to make it back to Philly and play for you!!! So all tickets will be honored. Including tickets originally purchased for the original June 1st date.

(more…)

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[NOT ATTENDED: June 1, 2019] Starcrawler/The Distillers [moved to August 14]

I got a ticket for this show more for Starcrawler than The Distillers.

I have heard that a live Starcrawler show is not to be missed and I was ready to watch them!

I wasn’t even really sure if I knew who The Distiller were, in fact.  Then I remembered I had seen an NPR Field Recording with Brody Dalle.  I didn’t love her solo song, but it got me to listening to a few songs from The Distillers, which I liked a lot more.

So I was pretty excited to go and I made sure that I got there early since I assumed there’d be a lot of Starcrawler fans there, too.

But when I drove past Union Transfer, there was a huge line out front.  Was I earlier than the doors opening time?  I found a parking spot and as I walked to the venue I saw people walking away.

When I got up to the doors, I saw the merch all set up, but the guy at the door politely said that Brody had herniated a disc in her back and the show was postponed.  And not for later in the night–she was in the hospital. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BRODY DALLE-“Dressed in Dreams” (Field Recordings, July 15, 2014).

For this Field Recording [Brody Dalle: Raging Into the Light], Brody Dalle plays in an Indian Restaurant!  I fancy myself a knowledgable punk fan, but I’ve never heard of Brody or either of her bands.

Throughout her career, punk icon Brody Dalle has embraced her aggressive side. Best known as the lead singer of The Distillers and Spinnerette, Dalle has a sandpaper- and velvet-tinged voice that speaks to rebellious young punks who are curious about the world yet vulnerable to its sharp edges. “I’ve never understood why there was such a fuss about aggressive women in music,” Dalle says. “To me, aggression is a human instinct. … I’ve felt provoked for most of my life, especially as a child. I guess I’ve carried those feelings into my songs.”

So it was a pleasant surprise that Dalle was open to the challenge of crafting a stripped-down version of her song “Dressed in Dreams.” An anthem about getting back up when you’ve been kicked down, the song is personal to Dalle: After overcoming addiction, she almost immediately faced a brutal bout of postpartum depression. “I had a hard time getting myself up and running before I wrote this record,” she says. “I felt worthless. I was embarrassed and lost.”

Luckily, Dalle was able to use her songwriting as a way to fight back. Earlier this year, she released Diploid Love, her first solo album, and she says she happily embraces her day-to-day life as a working rock mom and wife. As Dalle set up her gear at New York City’s Panna II, we noticed the way the chili-pepper strands that covered every surface of the restaurant bathed her in a weirdly fierce yet serene red light. They provide a nice little visual metaphor for the way raging against the darkest points in life can help bring you into the light.

I love the fuzz she gets on an acoustic guitar.

But I have since listened to the recorded version and I like it a ton more.  The extra guitar really helps make what is an otherwise simple and repetitive song far more interesting.  Her voice also sounds a lot better on the record.

But the weirdest thing is how long this song is.  The Distillers songs were proper punk songs, last about 3 minutes or less.  This one, running over 4 doesn’t have enough variety to sustain that length.

[READ: February 5, 2018] “A Failure of Concern”

I wrote this about a Ben Marcus story published in Harper’s in 2011:

It goes on for several pages.

There is some degree of amusing shock value in the way he speaks … but as with much of what I’ve read from Marcus, I feel like I could have read half of this and gotten enough.

No explanation is given for the problem (and, fair enough, it is only an excerpt) and anyway, by the end, I didn’t really want one.

And I feel exactly the same about this story.

The nutshell story is that the narrator’s father and a lodger in their house are both missing, possibly murdered.  There is a detective there looking for clues.

The narrator is a lunatic, a mental case, and idiot, a deviant, a murderer, something, whatever.  The narrator gets common quotes and facts wrong. The narrator seemed to hate both his father and the lodger and seems likely very guilty. (more…)

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