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Archive for the ‘Ween’ Category

[POSTPONED: September 24, 2020] Joe Russo’s Almost Dead [moved to October 7, 8, 9, 2021]

indexI don’t actually know Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.  The only thing I really know about them is that Marco Benevento is the pianist for the band.  Honestly that’s good enough for me.

They are playing three nights in Montclair and two of them sold out almost immediately.

It didn’t actually occur to me that the Dead in the band name is a Grateful Dead reference.  But I see that JRAD is like a Grateful Dead cover band plus more.  They are known for their intermingling of the Grateful Dead’s recognizable folk-rock and Americana sound with more contemporary Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion influences.

Formed by drummer Joe Russo, the band also includes Ween’s bassist Dave Dreiwitz, keyboardist Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger on guitar and Tom Hamilton on guitar and vocals.

This Dead-connection makes me want to see them less, although this description from Wikipedia is pretty exciting:

Keyboardist Marco Benevento is known for having at least one extended solo during each show where the band will stop playing entirely. During these solos Marco has led his solo improvisation to tease many different songs such as Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place”. These extended solos, after exploring a different sonic space, often build in energy and lead to the band rapidly joining in, leading the improvisation to a peak and getting quiet again rapidly.

 

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

2016-08-31 22.23.17I saw Primus back in 1990 or so.  I’ve been a fan ever since but I’ve never seen them live again.  In 2015, Primus was touring with Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (who are really good, too) but my schedule conflicted so I couldn’t go.  When I heard that The Claypool Lennon Delirium were playing in Philly, I snapped up tickets.

During the above tour, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon got together to make a song and they enjoyed playing so much that they made a whole album.  And it’s as trippy and weird, as you might expect.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from them live.  I mean, it seemed like it would be an insane spectacle (Primus had recently toured Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was a real spectacle).  In comparison to what I imagined the show would be like, it was pretty subdued.  The backdrop was three (non-changing) banners, and aside from switching guitars and basses a few times, there wasn’t a lot of shenanigans.  In fact, the usually loquacious Les barely said more than a few words the whole night.  When he first came out he said Hello Philly and commented that we were all staring at him.  And that was pretty much it.

Because it was all about the music.  And the music was really freaking good.  There was a ton of jamming–with each guy showing off.  Les was Les and Sean really wailed on his guitar and effects.  From the picture you can see what appear to be tablets in front of them.  Were they for lyrics or chords or were they playing Pokémon Go?  Who knows. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] Marco Benevento

2016-08-31 20.40.39I’d never heard of Marco Benevento before this show.  I looked him up before the show and listened to one song and thought it sounded okay.  Because of a tight security force (understandable in light of recent events), I missed the opening few minutes of his set, but he played for nearly an hour, so I got a full taste of Marco’s music.

And Marco is a performer. Sitting at a modified piano in a black and white striped suit, he conducted his trio through long, groovy songs.  Andre Borger played drums.  And I was struck as soon as I walked in at how great and wild the drums were.  Many songs had a click track of some sort (I think more just electronic noises on repeat), but Borger dominated the rhythm–playing great fills and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.

But the real star of the show was bassist Karina Rykman. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 20, 2015] Gene Ween

2015-07-20 19.31.35I knew and liked Ween back in college. I stopped following them once they released their country album, so I was surprised to see just how many records they had released and just how respected they had gotten (relatively of course).

Dean and Gene Ween are from New Hope and they released dozens of records as Ween. Gene Ween (real name Aaron Freeman) quit the band in 2012, which basically dissolved the band.

Freeman released a few records under the name Freeman and some under Aaron Freeman and one or two under Gene Ween (not to be confusing or anything).  It seemed like he wanted to dissociate himself from Ween a bit, although since hardly anyone knew his real name, it seemed like a hard thing to do, which explains why he is touring as Gene Ween now.  And given that much of this show was made up of Ween songs, he’s clearly not ashamed of it or anything. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH-“Dumb” (1988).

About five years ago I mentioned all of The Beautiful South records in one post.  But I didn’t really talk about them all that much.

This comes from one of my favorite Beautiful South records–I like all the songs equally, but I often have this song in my head.  And the reason I picked it right now is because Paul Heaton sings about a bunch of things each one ending with “either you are simply beautiful or I am simply dumb.”

And these are: “It doesn’t take a mathematician to add a simple sum”; “It doesn’t take a labrador to show a blind man sun”; and this one: “It doesn’t take Robert The Bruce to see the web you’ve spun.”

I had no idea who Robert the Bruce was and I never bothered to look it up.  And yet, as you will see below in the post, Robert the Bruce is mentioned in JR!  I was flabbergasted.  And this song immediately popped into my head.

And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a pretty piano ballad with a seemingly negative chorus (dumb, dumb, dumb) despite its positive message.  There’s also a beautiful ending: “The sun, the sky, the moon, the stars/Jupiter, Neptune and Mars/All these things I clearly see/It don’t take a telescope for you to love me.”  The songs ends with Jacqui Abbot’s lovely echo of this stanza.

The Beautiful South were a great band, they broke up a few years ago.  Paul Heaton has a number of solo albums out but they’re not available in the states, so…

[READ: Week of August 6, 2012] JR Week 8

This week’s read finds us primarily in the apartment.  We see bast return home and fool around with Rhoda before he goes off on his trip to the funeral.  We see Gibbs come in and try (in vain) to get work done.  We actually get to see Gibbs’ magnum opus (or parts of it), and we see him fall off the high that he felt with Emily.

There’s a lot of funny stuff in this week’s read.  It seems like the darker the story gets, the more childish jokes Gaddis throws in there.  Seeing Gibbs unable to work on his manuscript because of all of the (real and fake) distractions is simultaneously hilarious and spot on.  And also, the plotlines are really revving up now.  JR Corp is starting to see some pushback on their deals, and a number of outsiders are starting to get angry.  There’s bound to be a collapse of some sort soon.  I’m also starting to think that with all of the ellipses in the book that it will end with a dot dot dot.

As we resume, Davidoff and Bast are still talking.  Davidoff tells Bast “Don’t worry about” something [Thanks to Simon for pointing out this expression–I recognized that Davidoff always says “brush fires,” but not the don’t worry about it].  He is concerned that Bast’s hearing aid isn’t turned up (ha), but that the Boss [JR] wants Bast’s signature on any expenditures over $2,000 (It was originally $200, but Davidoff said Bast would get writer’s cramp).  He explains the title change in the magazine from Her to She–passive to active readership–will cost $14,000.  There’s also $27,000 for a new logo.  And the logos are awesomely cheesy–hard to believe they paid $27,000 for them.  They revolve around the dollar sign, with the least offensive one making a J and R out of the top and bottom of the S–the others have a snake, or breasts or thumbing your nose or even someone behind bars.  They pick the least offensive one that says Just Rite in a dollar sign (“something patriotic about the dollar sign”).  They’re going to put them on half a million matchbooks. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TALKING HEADS-“Life During Wartime” (1979).

I ain’t got time for that now.

Talking heads were many things, a weird band, a noisy band, a new wave band with poppy hits, and underneath it all, a punk band that rocked.  If you know Talking Heads from their great later songs, it might be hard to imagine how raw this song is. Byrnes’ voice is intense, the melody is staggered and frantic and the whole enterprise just feels like it could fall apart at any moment.

It’s a great rocking song, and if you haven’t heard it for a while it’s worth checking out again.

Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?

[READ: Week of July 23, 2012] JR Week 6

This week’s read was the first time so far that I found a section tedious.  True, it could have been the time of night that I read it, but the whole section with Gibbs and Tom (which I call the “God damn” section) while providing some recap–and some very useful stuff at one point), was also rather redundant, both internally and in the story as a whole.  It was also quite a downer.  (Infinite Zombies has a post about this book being a comedy or a drama, so I won’t get into that here–I will get into it there though).  Although as with most Gaddis, it was a very accurate portrait of two men wallowing (and would probably be funny to hear out loud), I was happy when Tom finally left the scene.

When we left off last week, Gibbs was coming into Bast’s room holding a bottle.  Bast was just finishing up his videophone conversation with JR (Bast says he was just talking to himself).  Gibbs says he is meeting a man named Beamish here in a little bit. But he interrupts himself “Listen!”  Bast explains that the tub is running non-stop as well.  And Gibbs launches into a poem:

Through caverns measureless to, where the hell…   Bosom where the bright waters meet, like living in Pittsburgh Bast  –confluence of the Mongahela [sic–should be Monongahela] and the vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet to form the mighty Ohio (383).

I’m not entire surely where all of this comes from although As the vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet comes from a Thomas Moore song. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEN-Push th’ Little Daisies (1992).

So Ween broke up back in May (this is the year of seemingly one-hit-wonder bands breaking up after decades of playing).  I have a bunch of Ween’s earlier stuff, but stopped listening after their hits.  I’m told some of their later records are quite good.  This song from the album Pure Guava was my introduction to them, and it is weird and kind of irritating and strangely catchy and perfectly encapsulates Ween.

The melody is simple and poppy, but the vocals are, if not sped up, then crazily falsettoed.  And the repeated refrain of “push the little daisies and make em come up” is, if not annoying, certainly infectious (in many senses of the word).

The other fun thing about Ween is that in addition to pretty much none of their albums sounding alike, pretty much none of their songs sound alike.  So you can’t tell if you’ll like any other Ween songs based on this one.  A nice trick, that.

And if, like me, you haven’t see the video in twenty years, check it out

And there is a tangential tie in to JR with this post, by the way.

[READ: Week of July 16, 2012] JR Week 5

I realized that, unlike in previously long weekly posts, I haven’t been including tangentially related photos (I rather liked putting them in the Gravity’s Rainbow posts).  I blame it all on my time constraints.  There also aren’t quite as many picture-worthy things in this book.  GR had lots of locations and historical photo-op type things.  JR is more about money and sex, and the internet doesn’t have many pictures of either, right.   So instead, it’s all block text.

When we left off, JR was trying to persuade Bast to help him out some more.  And, holy, he needs Bast to meet Mister Piscator out by the Egyptian stuff in the museum (JR can’t do it himself obviously–I love that he is using a handkerchief on the phone and everyone asks if there’s connection troubles).  Bast barely says anything but JR is on a roll: he got him the briefcase and that alarm clock (which runs backwards) and the business cards (which Simon pointed out I’ve been missing the typo on) and “I’ll call up that Virginia and fix it up where you get her to take telephone calls at the cafet…” (302).  JR is also going on about the kind of massive tax breaks he (and Bast) will be able to declare.  I can’t decide if he’s right or not (or if it simply won’t be relevant for what he has–indeed, a lot of this financial stuff, it seems like JR is more knowledgeable than anyone else because he has actually read the material–something nobody does.  And Bast is a musician, what does he know about money, right?).  Although his ultimate plan (potentially ingenious, but practically preposterous) is that they buy one share of all the big stocks, get their prospectuses and read them all.  And if anyone is doing anything illegal they can file a class action suit like they did with Diamond Cable. (more…)

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