Monday, April 30, 2007

Day-After Show Review: The Clash of the Gorillaz -- The Good, the Bad and the Queen

Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 5:05 PM

the%20gbq%20poster.JPG The Clash + Gorillaz + The Verve + Fela Kuti + Danger Mouse = something special in the Bay Sunday -- by David Downs As the fog rolled in and the remnants of the I-580 smoldered across the Bay, 2007's reigning music moment The Good, the Bad, and the Queen rebounded from an arid Coachella appearance to play a once-in-a-lifetime set at the regal Grand Ballroom in San Francisco early Sunday evening.

A night of top hats, chandeliers and $7 cocktails, the classy event starred Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, and Verve guitarist Simon Tong; arranged by DJ Danger Mouse. Stand-out supernova Simonon stomped across the boards and threatened the crowd with his cannon-like Fender Bass, while dark star Albarn's reedy voice wafted up from behind his protective piano. The set list and arrangements photocopied the January 2007, self-titled album, yet the erudite crowd seemed supremely satisfied. The GBQ would've recieved three encores from the enthused, nearly full ballroom, but they lacked the songs to keep playing.

Competent renditions of album singles "Green Fields," "Kingdom of Doom," and "Three Changes" became the crowd's favorite, and Albarn talked little as the band moved through its material with a professional non-chalance. "The Good, The Bad and The Queen's" piano-jam meltdown ending and the "Kingdom of Doom's" guitar rock outro jolted fans with electric chords and rapid drum breaks, but the night belonged to the broody, pensive outros and soulful chamber pieces like "Green Fields."

The album itself pays homage to the damp, quiet streets of storied West London, complete with specific street references and political overtures. It's the blessed routine of the good the bad and the queen Albarn sings on the title track, and the former Gorrillaz creator says he named the project after those lyrics for a reason. "I felt it was an apt summation of the characters in these stories," he says.

The album has been panned by some for its lack of groundbreaking new ideas and limpidness throughout. But get past expecting some Blur+Clash+Afrobeat mashup, and the band delivers something as equally unique while being rather unassuming. It's a very British trait, I suppose and Anglophiles just ate it up.

Setting the tone for the evening, local transplant Bonfire Madigan gave her cello a mean bowing as she got all breathy and mean about boys and setbacks. Band camp girl gone wild or victorian punk ingenue? Depends on who you asked that night.

Video: "History Song"


Video: "Three Changes"

Video: "The Good, the Bad and the Queen"

The Good, the Bad, and the Queen at the Grand Ballroom album link

the gbq at the grand ballroom

Duet: the%20gbq%20duo.JPG

Albarn Noir: albarn%20noir.JPG

St. Paul's Fire st.%20paul%27s%20fire.JPG

Simonon in Blue simonon%20in%20blue.JPG

Madigan madigan%20A.JPG

Mad Madigan B madigan%20B.JPG

The GBQ T the%20gbq%20ts.JPGs

Victim or Persecutor: Differing Takes on the MPAA and RIAA

by David Downs
Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Letters on Press Play's last antipiracy story are coming in. This one basically doesn't like my tone, and defends stealing music from bands like this. Read D.'s take. What do you think? RIAA = devil or rape victim?From: Your recent article on downloading was one-sided, uninformed, and just plain biased. David Downs goes beyond the common comparison between downloaders and murderous thieves of the high seas, and actually compared the tactics of peer-to-peer networks to Al-Qaeda's. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more loaded comparison. Declines in conventional album sales may be down, but online sales services like iTunes are picking up the slack and the MPAA, far from "fighting for [its life]", actually set records in 2006 for US and International box office numbers, as well as numbers of movies produced and movies grossing more than $50 million, all without increasing the cost to make and market movies. Christian Castle, who previously defended Napster but now makes his money as a "vigorous advocate for strong copyright protection and enforcement", argues that the RIAA has never had so many people "who are trying their best to destroy them". In reality it's quite the contrary. While music listeners have always and always will make copies of music they own and pass it on, the RIAA is petitioning the federal government to reduce the royalties paid to artists and songwriters while suing children, the dead, and those who don't even own computers. Until people realize that peer-to-peer technology is both legal (see the Betamax Case) and useful, articles like this vilifying downloaders and making the RIAA and MPAA out to be victims will continue to pass as journalism.

D. Olsen

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Green Day's American Idiot Banned from Wal-Mart

Sat, Apr 28, 2007 at 5:05 PM

... because it carries a "parental advisory" sticker and the huge retailer doesn't stock such titles. That's just one of many interesting points in Ethan Smith's Wall Street Journalarticle Friday titled: Can Music Survive the Big Box?

Other great points: 1. Big Box music retail marketshare jumped from 20 percent to 65 percent in ten years. "A tidal wave." 2. Sticker bans at Wal-Mart prevent the sale of Green Day, the Strokes, and Mos Def. Mos Def?! 3. Best Buy stocks 8,000 to 20,000 titles vs. the old Towers with 100,000. 4. Music is officially a commodity, says Best Buy. (This is the opposite of a study I read about the relative inelasticity of music. It has an elasticity value of 6.3, meaning that a 1 percent price increase loses 6 percent of the market's consumers. People can take music or leave it, it ain't gasoline.) 5. Final wisdom: Keep it cheap and clean, majors. Indies, keep it cheap and dirty as a counterpoint.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Day-After Show Review: DJ Shadow and Lifesavas

by David Downs
Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 5:05 PM

dj%20shadow%20headline%20art.jpg East Bay label Quannum unleashes "the hottest man on the ones and twos," DJ Dhadow, upon the Fillmore for a career-spanning, gilded set, after buzz band Lifesavas took minds down the Gutterfly. (Full story, video and pics after jump)Turntable titan DJ Shadow, his sidekick Lateef the Truth Speaker and Quannum labelmates Lifesavas electrified a crowd of 800 at the Fillmore Thursday night in a sort of pre-Coachella blue balls extravaganza that made audiences just want to get in their car and see Shadow again at the three-day outdoors festival in the SoCal desert.

Shadow threw down a career-spanning uber remix set list, encoring with deep cuts like UNKLE's "Rabbit in Your Headlights" with vocal samples by Thom Yorke. "That's how you know this shit is live," the 33 year-old Marin county resident said. Soundboard recordings of the hour and half-long set could probably move 50,000 units, minimum, with the high points including an "Organ Donor" remix and the sight of SF's pale and pierced attempting to hyphy dance to "Three Freaks."

Shadow got chatty, justifying his recent move into hyphy. "Once you learn something, you can't unlearn it. Hip-hop has taught me to appreciate all the types of rap. If I'm catering to people and not challenging them, then I'm not doing my job. I appreciate you coming along for the ride."

But mostly he was all love for the Bay. His stoic façade cracked and he covered a huge grin several times as the crowd cheered for more. There's a still-palpable sense that Shadow's a college kid from UC Davis, humbled at a room of people clamoring for his music hobby. His third show in 2007, Shadow said he realized he hadn't just gone out and done a solo tour since backing Massive Attack in late 2006, so now he's playing Portland, SF and going to Coachella.

Speaking of Portland, Pacific Northwest rap duo Lifesavas opened for Shadow at 8:30 p.m. to a mellow crowd in need of a good whipping. The thin, corn-row and mohawked Vursatyl and the big, blingy Jumbo as well as DJ Shines relished the opportunity to do so, blasting tracks off of their brand new Gutterfly album, out this March [Link to Gutterfly review]. Fresh instrumentals, bangers like "Resist," and crowd shouting battles got everyone oxygenated and lubricated. This band is indeed one to watch in 2007. However, their set only reminded you of the ensemble they assembled for the album itself.

Fishbone, George Clinton, dead prez, Vernon Reid of Living Colour and many others brought Gutterfly's "found blacksploitation soundtrack" concept to life, and that needs to happen live, pronto. The odds of such an event are long, because Quannum isn't loaded. Vursatyl said it may happen yet. Follow-up interview with him to be posted later.

Shadow "Midnight" video:

Shadow "Organ Donor" I:

Shadow "Organ Donor" II:

Lifesavas Video:

Lifesavas Video II

Clips from Photo Album:




Crowd I

Crowd II

Crowd III


Whole Album

DJ Shadow and Lifesavas at Fillmore

Damon Albarn: Gorillaz Fired, Sent to Terry Gilliam

Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 5:05 PM

GorillazFeelGoodInc.jpg Ear Bud just finished an interview with Gorillaz lead singer Damon Albarn. His announcement regarding the cancellation of Gorillaz is true. He said the platinum-selling cartoon band isn't dead ...

When pressed as to the liklihood of that dream project coming true, Albarn says, "We're very patient. This last record took me like four and half years to finish. It might take us that long or even longer to do the film. I don't see us doing it in any other way. It's work. You can't finish until you've done something which represents all the mad thoughts in your head."

Ear Bud will have full interviews with Albarn and Clash bassist Paul Simonon Monday morning in our "Last Night" review of the Good, the Bad and the Queen at the Grand Ballroom in SF Sunday. Don't know who the GBQis? Read our CD review here.

Now, sample some fine video from Austin.
David Downs

Thursday, April 26, 2007

High on Fire Returns to Studio

Thu, Apr 26, 2007 at 5:05 PM


Hometown metal heroes High on Fire announced Friday they're entering the studio in late May to record the follow-up to 2005's Blessed Black Wings. Perhaps on the referral of their new bassist Jeff Matz (of Zeke fame), HoF recruited producer Jack Endino (known for his work with grunge-era rockers Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and also Zeke) this time around to record at Avast II Studios, while mixing will occur at Soundhouse Studios, both in Seattle. This will be the third producer the band has used since 2000's The Art of Self-Defense, and the follow-up, Surrounded by Thieves, which were recorded by stoner-rock purveyor Billy Anderson. Steve Albini produced a much cleaner, fuller effect for Blessed Black Wings, so many are speculating how Endino will affect the band's seemingly indestructible sound. The as-yet-untitled album is set to be released this fall. After playing a free show at Soundwave Studios on Friday, the band hits the Northwest for three dates in mid May. Check their MySpace page for more details. -- Kathleen Richards

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Video Session: Gamelan X

Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Oakland's Gamelan X bears the distinction of being a fifteen-member world music ensemble comprised (solely?) of European Americans. Part circus, part National Geographic Explorer, the Ethnomusicology-oriented Gamelan X mashes together sounds of Indonesia, the Balkans, India, and the Americas into a "theatrical dynamic hybrid world music orchestra for the 21st century."

The troupe's visually arresting performance also incorporates African dancing and aerial acrobatics, while their "Bali-Bass" grooves induce funktified head-bobbing among its ilk. The ensemble plays at Ashkenaz on Tuesday, May 1 and at the Nimby Warehouse on Saturday, May 5. Get a taste of the Gamelan X experience in this recent promo video. --Kathleen Richards

Rapper Saul Williams Defends 'Ho' to Oprah

Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Saul Williams just e-mailed around a too-long think-piece about expression in rap or some bullshit. Highlights: "In Hip Hop, every emcee is automatically pitted against every other emcee, sort of like characters with super powers in comic books."

"50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th)."

"There is no true hatred of women in Hip Hop." "The emcees of my generation are the ministers of my father's generation."

The whole thing drives at one central point: Saul Williams has fallen the fuck off. The whole screed after the jump. --David Downs Dear Ms. Winfrey,

It is with the greatest respect and adoration of your loving spirit that I write you. As a young child, I would sit beside my mother everyday and watch your program. As a young adult, with children of my own, I spend much less time in front of the television, but I am ever thankful for the positive effect that you continue to have on our nation, history and culture. The example that you have set as someone unafraid to answer their calling, even when the reality of that calling insists that one self-actualize beyond the point of any given example, is humbling, and serves as the cornerstone of the greatest faith. You, love, are a pioneer.

I am a poet.

Growing up in Newburgh, NY, with a father as a minister and a mother as a school teacher, at a time when we fought for our heroes to be nationally recognized, I certainly was exposed to the great names and voices of our past. I took great pride in competing in my churches Black History Quiz Bowl and the countless events my mother organized in hopes of fostering a generation of youth well versed in the greatness as well as the horrors of our history. Yet, even in a household where I had the privilege of personally interacting with some of the most outspoken and courageous luminaries of our times, I must admit that the voices that resonated the most within me and made me want to speak up were those of my peers, and these peers were emcees. Rappers. .. Yes, Ms. Winfrey, I am what my generation would call "a Hip Hop head." Hip Hop has served as one of the greatest aspects of my self-definition. Lucky for me, I grew up in the 80's when groups like Public Enemy, Rakim, The jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and many more realized the power of their voices within the artform and chose to create music aimed at the upliftment of our generation.

As a student at Morehouse College where I studied Philosophy and Drama I was forced to venture across the street to Spelman College for all of my Drama classes, since Morehouse had no theater department of its own. I had few complaints. The performing arts scholarship awarded me by Michael Jackson had promised me a practically free ride to my dream school, which now had opened the doors to another campus that could make even the most focused of young boys dreamy, Spelman. One of my first theater professors, Pearle Cleage, shook me from my adolescent dream state. It was the year that Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" was released and our introduction to Snoop Dogg as he sang catchy hooks like "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks..." Although, it was a playwriting class, what seemed to take precedence was Ms. Cleages political ideology, which had recently been pressed and bound in her 1st book, Mad at Miles. As, you know, in this book she spoke of how she could not listen to the music of Miles Davis and his muted trumpet without hearing the muted screams of the women that he was outspoken about "man-handling". It was my first exposure to the idea of an artist being held accountable for their actions outside of their art. It was the first time I had ever heard the word, "misogyny". And as Ms. Cleage would walk into the classroom fuming over the women she would pass on campus, blasting those Snoop lyrics from their cars and jeeps, we, her students, would be privy to many freestyle rants and raves on the dangers of nodding our heads to a music that could serve as our own demise.

Her words, coupled with the words of the young women I found myself interacting with forever changed how I listened to Hip Hop and quite frankly ruined what would have been a number of good songs for me. I had now been burdened with a level of awareness that made it impossible for me to enjoy what the growing masses were ushering into the mainstream. I was now becoming what many Hip Hop heads would call "a Backpacker", a person who chooses to associate themselves with the more "conscious" or politically astute artists of the Hip Hop community. What we termed as "conscious" Hip Hop became our preference for dance and booming systems. Groups like X-Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, Arrested Development, Gangstarr and others became the prevailing music of our circle. We also enjoyed the more playful Hip Hop of De La Soul, Heiroglyphics, Das FX, Organized Konfusion. Digable Planets, The Fugees, and more. We had more than enough positivity to fixate on. Hip Hop was diverse.

I had not yet begun writing poetry. Most of my friends hardly knew that I had been an emcee in high school. I no longer cared to identify myself as an emcee and my love of oratory seemed misplaced at Morehouse where most orators were actually preachers in training, speaking with the Southern drawl of Dr. King although they were 19 and from the North. I spent my time doing countless plays and school performances. I was in line to become what I thought would be the next Robeson, Sidney, Ossie, Denzel, Snipes... It wasn't until I was in graduate school for acting at NYU that I was invited to a poetry reading in Manhattan where I heard Asha Bandele, Sapphire, Carl Hancock Rux, Reggie Gaines, Jessica Care Moore, and many others read poems that sometimes felt like monologues that my newly acquired journal started taking the form of a young poets'. Yet, I still noticed that I was a bit different from these poets who listed names like: Audrey Lourde, June Jordan, Sekou Sundiata etc, when asked why they began to write poetry. I knew that I had been inspired to write because of emcees like Rakim, Chuck D, LL, Run DMC... Hip Hop had informed my love of poetry as much or even more than my theater background which had exposed me to Shakespeare, Baraka, Fugard, Genet, Hansberry and countless others. In those days, just a mere decade ago, I started writing to fill the void between what I was hearing and what I wished I was hearing. It was not enough for me to critique the voices I heard blasting through the walls of my Brooklyn brownstone. I needed to create examples of where Hip Hop, particularly its lyricism, could go. I ventured to poetry readings with my friends and neighbors, Dante Smith (now Mos Def), Talib Kwele, Erycka Badu, Jessica Care Moore, Mums the Schemer, Beau Sia, Suheir Hammad...all poets that frequented the open mics and poetry slams that we commonly saw as "the other direction" when Hip hop reached that fork in the road as you discussed on your show this past week. On your show you asked the question, "Are all rappers poets?" Nice. I wanted to take the opportunity to answer this question for you.

The genius, as far as the marketability, of Hip Hop is in its competitiveness. Its roots are as much in the dignified aspects of our oral tradition as it is in the tradition of "the dozens" or "signifying". In Hip Hop, every emcee is automatically pitted against every other emcee, sort of like characters with super powers in comic books. No one wants to listen to a rapper unless they claim to be the best or the greatest. This sort of braggadocio leads to all sorts of tirades, showdowns, battles, and sometimes even deaths. In all cases, confidence is the ruling card. Because of the competitive stance that all emcees are prone to take, they, like soldiers begin to believe that they can show no sign of vulnerability. Thus, the most popular emcees of our age are often those that claim to be heartless or show no feelings or signs of emotion. The poet, on the other hand, is the one who realizes that their vulnerability is their power. Like you, unafraid to shed tears on countless shows, the poet finds strength in exposing their humanity, their vulnerability, thus making it possible for us to find connection and strength through their work. Many emcees have been poets. But, no, Ms. Winfrey, not all emcees are poets. Many choose gangsterism and business over the emotional terrain through which true artistry will lead. But they are not to blame. I would now like to address your question of leadership.

You may recall that in immediate response to the attacks of September 11th, our president took the national stage to say to the American public and the world that we would " no sign of vulnerability". Here is the same word that distinguishes poets from rappers, but in its history, more accurately, women from men. To make such a statement is to align oneself with the ideology that instills in us a sense of vulnerability meaning "weakness". And these meanings all take their place under the heading of what we consciously or subconsciously characterize as traits of the feminine. The weapon of mass destruction is the one that asserts that a holy trinity would be a father, a male child, and a ghost when common sense tells us that the holiest of trinities would be a mother, a father, and a child: Family. The vulnerability that we see as weakness is the saving grace of the drunken driver who because of their drunken/vulnerable state survives the fatal accident that kills the passengers in the approaching vehicle who tighten their grip and show no physical vulnerability in the face of their fear. Vulnerability is also the saving grace of the skate boarder who attempts a trick and remembers to stay loose and not tense during their fall. Likewise, vulnerability has been the saving grace of the African American struggle as we have been whipped, jailed, spat upon, called names, and killed, yet continue to strive forward mostly non-violently towards our highest goals. But today we are at a crossroads, because the institutions that have sold us the crosses we wear around our necks are the most overt in the denigration of women and thus humanity. That is why I write you today, Ms. Winfrey. We cannot address the root of what plagues Hip Hop without addressing the root of what plagues today's society and the world.

You see, Ms. Winfrey, at it's worse; Hip Hop is simply a reflection of the society that birthed it. Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation. 50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th). For a Hip Hop artist to say "I do what I wanna do/Don't care if I get caught/The DA could play this mothaf@kin tape in court/I'll kill you/ I ain't playin'" epitomizes the confidence and braggadocio we expect an admire from a rapper who claims to represent the lowest denominator. When a world leader with the spirit of a cowboy (the true original gangster of the West: raping, stealing land, and pillaging, as we clapped and cheered.) takes the position of doing what he wants to do, regardless of whether the UN or American public would take him to court, then we have witnessed true gangsterism and violent negligence. Yet, there is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch by censoring the leaves.

Name calling, racist generalizations, sexist perceptions, are all rooted in something much deeper than an uncensored music. Like the rest of the world, I watched footage on AOL of you dancing mindlessly to 50 Cent on your fiftieth birthday as he proclaimed, "I got the ex/if you're into taking drugs/ I'm into having sex/ I ain't into making love" and you looked like you were having a great time. No judgment. I like that song too. Just as I do, James Brown's Sex Machine or Grand Master Flashes "White Lines". Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is how the story goes. Censorship will never solve our problems. It will only foster the sub-cultures of the underground, which inevitably inhabit the mainstream. There is nothing more mainstream than the denigration of women as projected through religious doctrine. Please understand, I am by no means opposing the teachings of Jesus, by example (he wasn't Christian), but rather the men that have used his teachings to control and manipulate the masses. Hip Hop, like Rock and Roll, like the media, and the government, all reflect an idea of power that labels vulnerability as weakness. I can only imagine the non-emotive hardness that you have had to show in order to secure your empire from the grips of those that once stood in your way: the old guard. You reflect our changing times. As time progresses we sometimes outgrow what may have served us along the way. This time, what we have outgrown, is not hip hop, rather it is the festering remnants of a God depicted as an angry and jealous male, by men who were angry and jealous over the minute role that they played in the everyday story of creation. I am sure that you have covered ideas such as these on your show, but we must make a connection before our disconnect proves fatal.

We are a nation at war. What we fail to see is that we are fighting ourselves. There is no true hatred of women in Hip Hop. At the root of our nature we inherently worship the feminine. Our overall attention to the nurturing guidance of our mothers and grandmothers as well as our ideas of what is sexy and beautiful all support this. But when the idea of the feminine is taken out of the idea of what is divine or sacred then that worship becomes objectification. When our governed morality asserts that a woman is either a virgin or a whore, then our understanding of sexuality becomes warped. Note the dangling platinum crosses over the bare asses being smacked in the videos. The emcees of my generation are the ministers of my father's generation. They too had a warped perspective of the feminine. Censoring songs, sermons, or the tirades of radio personalities will change nothing except the format of our discussion. If we are to sincerely address the change we are praying for then we must first address to whom we are praying.

Thank you, Ms. Winfrey, for your forum, your heart, and your vision. May you find the strength and support to bring about the changes you wish to see in ways that do more than perpetuate the myth of enmity.

In loving kindness,

Saul Williams

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Girliest Rap Song Ever: My Lip Gloss Is Cool, My Lip Gloss is Poppin'

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Apr 24, 2007 at 11:25 PM

A seventeen-year-old twiggy Brooklynite recently took commercial radio by storm with what has to be the girliest rap song since L'Trimm's "Cars That Go Boom ." Lil' Mama 's brilliantly spare, infectiously percussive new single "Lip Gloss" has the nyah-nyah cadence of a double dutch chant: Whachu know about me, whachu whachu know 'bout me? Whachu know 'bout me, whachu whachu know 'bout me? They say my lip gloss is cool, my lip gloss be poppin'/I'm standing at my locker, and all the boys keep stoppin'. The beat, which combines a boom-chuck sound - presumably of hubcaps being banged against locker doors - with a repetitive clap-clap rhythm sounds uncannily like the drumline rhythm that worked so well in Gwen Stefani's "Holla Back Girl." But tiny, big-eyed rapper Lil' Momma conveys a kind of girlish innocence that would be impossible for Gwen Stefani to shore up this late in her career - she's a fashionable bad girl whose main exploits happen in the hallway of a New York public high school, with most of her senior class watching. Fittingly, the video for "Lip Gloss" - which includes a hot a cappella section in which Momma raps while the ensemble claps a syncopated pattycake rhythm - features all the visual cues of a high school coming-of-age story. It opens with a dowdy-looking Lil' Momma complaining to her fairy godmother that she'll never be part of the cool crowd, at which point the elder Momma bequeaths a magical talisman in the form of bubblegum lip gloss. There's an implied abracadabra as Lil' Momma applies the shimmery goo, and ... presto! She reappears with trendy hoop earrings, a purple hooded sweatshirt, and a superfly weave. In the end, Lil' Momma returns to the fairy godmother, who assures, predictably, that the magic was inside her all along.

At this point, Lil' Momma is pretty much just rocking the same song over and over again - even the "hard" track on her MySpace sampler doesn't sound all that hard, since it features lyrics about how she manages to look good with no makeup. But now that dorkiness is starting to make a comeback in rap music, her gossipy double-dutch rhymes might stand a chance. And if the emcee's main goal is to get all the boys at her school to utter her name as though it were some new kind of hyphy energy drink, then hey, she's got it made.

Day-After Show Review: Understanding Oakland's Xiu Xiu

by David Downs
Tue, Apr 24, 2007 at 11:25 PM

headline%20xiu%20xiu.jpg Chips of drum sticks fly off of Jamie Stewart's bash-filled hard ones April 23, while hecklers quip at his soft Morrissey delivery. [Full review, photos and video after the jump ]Noisy Oakland art rockers Xiu Xiu blasted and whispered through new material off of their late 2006 outing The Air Force, as well as prior work during an hour-long, heckle-marked set at a three-quarters full, four-fifths drunk Bottom of the Hill Monday night.

High points included a breathless "The Wig Master" (which is also excellently remixed by Oakland's Why? On their new Reximed and Covered album) as well as more rocking songs like "Vulture Suicide".

Both extremes verify the band's sonic breadth. They do the mournful and abstract, as well as the vengeful and direct. On "Vulture Suicide", drummer Ches Smith just detonates his kit over Caralee McElroy's synth and lead singer Jamie Stewart's overdriven Fender guitar single coils. Whereas "The Wig Master's" gaps of silence oddly complement the Zornian arrangement of flute, accordion, effects pedals and xylophone bowing. We at Ear Bud were unaware one could even bow a xylophone.

Now, Ear Bud recently said "we don't get / can't fucking stand" Xiu Xiu, but a retraction is in now order. You got to think of the band less as a band and more as piece of art. Art does not always rock you, as evinced by Xiu Xiu's t-shirts on sale stating "Fun is for assholes."

Several assholes wanted to have fun Monday night, so when the lead singer started doing his avant jazz shtick, one of them yelled "Dissipation!"

Stewart responded with a middle finger, and the crowd cheered.

"Dude, you put the mic in your mouth, bro. Weird!" one heckler yelled after an emotional song that did include a mic sucking.

No response.

"Do Aneurysm!" one heckler said after Stewart mimed smashing his Fender.

"And out come the bros," Stewart parried.

The bros had a point. The band never looked the audience in the eye, and Stewart's breathy Morrissey stylings lack dynamism. However, terms like "obscure" and "inaccessible" are not always a bad thing. Stewart and crew seem to wake up every morning and say, "What can we do different today?" The Xiu Xiu answer is, of course: a fucking helluva lot.

Besides, when they're not being "creative," this band can rock so hard that the audience goes into seizures and the drum kits just keel over and die.

Photo and Video Set: photo%202.jpg


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