Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dex Romweber Duo, No Tomorrow Boys Show Review

last night seemed a little stranger than usual, not in a bad way, but just slightly askew, like a wider lens, it felt like watching a movie. too subtle to mention, but as we crossed the train tracks to get to the venue... i dont know, it amplified.
the story of dex romweber i have romanced and swooned over for years, but when you talk to most people, even the kids digging new "nth" resurrection of garage they have no clue who he is. i guess thats what i romance, the tragedy of someone so unique and talented being as unappreciated as they are, granted, hes not unknown, and he makes his living as a musician. its just, in my opinion, every show he plays should be sold out, they should be making any kid that touches a guitar go see him play. and its been like this for him since his first band, the flat duo jets, when fucking r.e.m. beat them out as the number one up and coming southern band of the 80s, seriously? also, watching jack white blatantly rip this guy off and become a millionaire from it just sucks, but at least he kinda admits it.
as we approached the venue, outside were friends, smoking, chatting, whathaveyou. i said my hellos and chatted a bit with the no tomorrow boys, then went to sit down. the bench my friends were sitting on had an open spot towards the end. as i sat down i looked at the man next to me. it was dex. he looked at me through his sunglasses and gave me a nod, i nodded back and cooly crossed my legs just absolutely freaking out on the inside. i thought about saying something to him, but just couldnt, afterall, what are you supposed to say to someone like dex romweber. "you're cool", "i like the music you make.", "heres my email. we should hang out sometime." ugh. i just sat there, not really conversing, but just listening to others and watching dex out of the corner of my eye. it was so strange, no one talked to him, no one looked at him. he just sat there for about ten minutes smoking cigarettes, he wasnt listening to conversations, everyone would laugh and he would just sit there stoically, he was in his own world. we didnt matter, to him we werent there and to everyone else, he wasnt either.
he left and people started going inside. we soon followed. after that experience, whatever that energy was, some of it latched onto me. i wasnt really in the mood to talk, but just observe. i got a drink at the bar mostly knowing that i needed to be a bit more extroverted than i was feeling. i drank away from the crowd looking at the stage and the equipment of the first band.
the no tomorrow boys began, and even though im friends with them, ill be honest... theyre pretty good. i dont think its been a full year since they started. line-up changes, and figuring out eachother are things new bands deal with, and they are. but the thing that comes to mind when i think of them is "moxy". they got moxy and plenty of it and i feel thats one of the most important things a new band can have. the drums are tough as nails swag, guitars are just dirty enough, and dannys voice, no matter the volume, has a shrill that always sounds like the speakers about to go. musically, theyre pretty corpses personified, looking like bastard sons of link wray, trying too hard is trying just hard enough. closing out with a switchblade as a slide on the guitar, total nerds on the subject of being cool. ive seen them a few times, now, and each time im more impressed.
after a couple more bands (dumb), a couple more smokes, and a couple more whathaveyous later, i still felt weird. i just couldnt shake it. i walked back up to the table my friends were sitting at and again, the only spot open to sit was right next to dex romweber, talking to another group of people. i sat down and barely paid attention to my friends. listening to dexs conversation. it was kinda awkward. the other people talking about the last time they seen him play. he was polite but still quite stoic. their conversation died and there me and dex sat. i decided to say something this time, our talk went something like this:
"excuse me."
"i dont really know what im suppose to say to someone like you but i just wanted to tell you i appreciate you and your music very much. not that it matters what i..."
"you know, its not like that, im not special, i have homicidal thoughts just like everyone else.
im dex."
"kyle." we shake hands. "yeah, i think i do the homicial, suicidal pact thing everyday... well, i just thought id letcha know you mean a lot to me, thank you."
he nods.
"well, i should go, looks like were about to be on."
"nice meeting you."
it was surreal, i felt like i was dragging him back to earth from wherever he was, every sentence he said had a strange pause to it like he was floating back to wherever and then coming back down.
we went to the stage area, and finally, the dex romeweber duo started! i stood in awe as they played. staring open mouthed, going back and forth between dex, and the drummer, sarah, dexs sister. honestly, sarah, blew me away. and i feel almost ashamed that i never paid that much attention to her, and i consider dex unappreciated. they were evenly matched, if she would have played with anyone else, she would stole the show. every bit of influence dex put in a piece, she matched it spot on, be it, surf, garage, 60s instumental, tiki rock, early rocknroll, blues, gospel. she nailed it, perfectly. preferring tom fills over snare, she was just as unique as dex. i want to try to explain this properly, every bit of toughness and strength that came out of those drums were hers. clearly, she only took in older influences and as they channelled through her you got something so raw and powerful. ive never felt so captivated by a drummer. she is the best drummer ive ever seen.
and then dex, he had an old beat up amp, not some classic vox or silvertone. just some shit box that looked like it was from the late 80s. no pedals at all. and a beat up old silvertone guitar. he was getting more tones and energy from that set up, it was just, impossible. ive never watched a guitar players right hand before. but he was moving it everywhere to get the exact sound he wanted. he knew that guitar and he knew exactly how to get what he wanted out of it. no one else will ever sound like him, because his sound is himself.
his voice was incredible too, making faces that looked like he was exercising demons. it truly was a great show. highlites for me, "brazil", and "grey skies". the whole thing was incredible though.

almost immediately after they finished playing, dex came up to me and asked for my lighter. he went outside and i, along with two others, misha and stella, followed. i reached out my hand to ask for my lighter back, before i could say anything he shook it and said "kyle, nice to see you again." i very awkwardly asked for my lighter and told him good show.
i found myself for the third time sitting next to dex, watching him. saying nothing. i, briefly being in conversations with friends, he briefly being in conversations with fans. after our smoke my friends and i went inside to see the boys in the band and find out their plans for the night. they were in the green room, well it was actually all red, with graffiti everywhere and a bench against each wall. we were bullshitting, making plans, throwing switchblades as they were packing up. and then dex came in.
he sat down, said nothing. briefly talked to the boys. told danny he had a bitchin shirt on. and asked for my lighter again. the boys left and misha, stella and i just sat on one bench as he sat on the other. we played with a chinese finger trap for a little bit and proceeded to have a 45 minute to an hour conversation with dex romweber about love, death, time and space, coffee, god, ptsd, other planes of existence. it was intense. luckily, for him misha and stella are great people to talk to, cause mostly, i just listened. im still trying to wrap my head around him and that conversation. i guess thats why im writing this. it was so, unique, to be sitting there with him wearing his sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, in an all red room. it felt like a movie or as he would probably put it. a dream. the strangest part was how earnest he was. ive never experienced anything like that and ive never experienced anyone like him. i feel like i got something out of that night, but i still am not sure what it is.
at one point the tour manager of the band snapped a picture of us talking, later that night we found out that apparently he and sarah (the drummer), were in awe that he was talking to people, i guess he typically just signs a couple autographs and leaves. they took the picture as proof.
maybe im just looking into it too much, though, if anything, i feel its a story to share.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm an Idiot

when i initially started this blog i only imagined there would be two page viewz, my girlfriend and my parents, but it was a very nice surprise to see that some friends had checked it out and even had some positive things to say. thanks pals!
my parents have strangely gone out of their way a few times for my "art".  for example, braving from the midwest to seattles gay pride to watch their sons "queer" band play to hundreds of drunken lesbians, i actually got a call from my mother making sure that my sister wasnt going to be beat up/made out with to death. adorable. but i think my favorite was when a friend and i made a split record of country noise remixes from the early 90s. my mother had asked for a copy, which i imagined was just going to go in some keepsake thing, but when i visited, they wanted to hear it. after me repeatedly telling them that they, in fact, did not want to hear it, we all sat down together and literally listened to 45 minutes of pure noise with bits of "boot scootin boogie" and "amarillo by morning" melted through. if anything, that proves to me that they actually care.
after writing my last post i realized there was a few things i forgot to mention. one, being that tony visconti also co-produced the idiot, it was the only thing i actually looked up because i couldnt remember his name, but then i forgot to write him in the post. i just wanted to give credit, and not let bowie take it all. hes a pretty big deal producer, i only knew him through producing T. Rex and bowie stuff though. i guess hes quoted by saying that producing the idiot was pretty much a "salvage job."
namely what i wanted to say and didnt though, was that my friend eric told me about this really great krautrock documentary. i recently watched it and loved it. too many music docs made now about old bands do this thing where they associate those bands with new cool bands to make it relatable, "kill your idols" comes to mind. or they use fucking bono and flea, who must be the most bored dudes on the planet, because theyre in documentaries that arent even music related.
but this one does not do these things. it focuses on the social political challenges of the artist in post war germany, and the use of electronic and ambient music to make something new and their own. iggy and david are both in it, too,  so is brian eno, and theres nazis! its like a summer blockbuster. and its on youtube...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Iggy Pop- The Idiot

Fuck Elvis, Iggy Pop is the king of rock n roll, don't believe me, just ask Henry Rollins... Thanks Henry!!! get that reference, and you're way cool. also, i hate capitalizing things and using all the right punctuation and stuff, so im gonna quit that now, im too dyslexic, it just gets in the way, i hope thats cool with you...
this is my favorite record ever and i talk about it way too much, i guess thats why i figured it might as well be my first post. i know theres a cult out there that feels the same way i do, but i also know theres a lot of dudes and dudettes that overlook or feel underwhelmed by it. its unlike anything else by iggy, and honestly, its kinda unlike anything else in general, except bowie's "low" and "heroes" and, i guess, the early krautrock that inspired the record (kraftwerk, neu!, and can, being my favorites), ill get to that stuff in a second though. what i really want to say in this paragraph is the fact that i know and understand that its weird, and thats why its so amazing. iggy himself said that this album was "freedom."
some general information before we really get into it, gonna keep it light because you can just look this stuff up yourself.
david bowie and iggy pop moved to west berlin in '76. "low"by bowie,  came out first, but really, they were working together on songs for the idiot first. basically, bowie was experimenting with the new influence of krautrock and used the idiot as a guinea pig for his later works. which in reality, is a total dick move, but the corners cut, the quick one takes and experimentation that took place on the idiot just adds to the record. strangely enough, the freedom and carelessness bowie allowed himself on the idiot, that he wouldnt allow to go on his own records, i feel, made it the best out of the three in the berlin trilogy. well, that and iggy being a complete fucking genius.
i dont really just want to just say "this record is cool" or write like some rock journalist that uses metaphors on top of metaphors to explain things, so lets just listen to the tracks and ill point out stuff i think is cool, ok?

1. Sister Midnight
i cant imagine what those stooges fans in detroit felt when they heard this first track of the new "iggy stooge" record in '77. ill admit even i would have probably immediately just thrown my headphones off and yelled "what the fuck is this?!"
its droney and repetitive, but least of all is it boring. a love ballad to the night and the introfucktion to iggys new deep, monotone voice thats carried throughout by layers upon layers of drunken synths, noisey, high trebled guitars, deep ambient guitars, and a subtle but driving rhythm section. my favorite parts are the little bleepy bloops in the middle and how much tension gets created throughout the song. it feels like inviting some friends over for a little pre-party before a big night, but then you just end up shitfaced by the time you step out of your house.

2. Nightclubbing

first things first, that drum machine track, which wasnt intended for the actual song. it was just used while writing, but iggy insisted on keeping it instead of getting a real drummer. awesome. so awesome, in fact, that its been sampled a billion fucking times "closer" by nin anyone? actually, i dont want to get started on how much trent reznor bit this album and made a career off it. trent, i dont hate you but ... 
theres a million songs about going out nightclubbing with your gal pals, but nothing like this. its a parody on the cliche. if i didnt know english i would think this song was about drudging through toxic waste. one of the toughest songs ever and the contradiction between the feeling it excretes and the subject matter are perfection. also, its the only song on the record david wasnt just backing vocals on. he knew it too, this song was special.

3. Funtime
funtime is just nuts. its my favorite song on the album and for me epitomizes what this album was about. the production alone is insane. i feel like there were years of me listening to this and everytime i heard this song i heard something new. there's those big guitar noises, and then the low volumed guitar rocking back and forth. that pretty electronic bell thing. super simple, heavy as fuck bass and driving toms. and then the cacophony of noise at the end, theres things in there you just quickly catch for a second and then it goes away. 
then theres iggys lyrics which are just as perfect as the music and production. "last night i was down in the lab, talkin to dracula and his crew." so cool... his lyrics are poetic and totally individualized, with humor and sarcasm, and a unique ability to be philosophic and deep, with dumb guy words, completely on purpose.
...and the delivery of his words, apparently david told him to sing like mae west. 

4. Baby
the bass steals the show here. mixed with the pretty synths and davids backing "hoohs." another atypical song with a classic premise. just soak this song in. stop reading and just soak.

5. China Girl
david covered this for iggy to get him out of a finacial jam. what a friend. its a good cover too, big hit. he threw in disco bass and said "shhh." a lot more, but a polished disco hit doesnt compare to the grit of the original, and the toy piano, and that screech of iggys at the bridge. thats heartbreak, apparently he wrote it about a crush he had on another mans babe who was recording at the same studio. iggy gave her his heart and she gave him the "shhh." 

6. Dum Dum Boys
an ode to the boys in the stooges. iggy even references himself at the beginning "what about james? hes gone straight." this song feels like, as the listener, ive taken just as many drugs as the stooges. its walking around barely able to stand up. wasting away in a pile of booze and junk. 
it used to be my least favorite song on the record. i used to find it kinda boring or maybe a little annoying (which probably sums up his relationship with the boys in the stooges at the time) but for some reason the guitar riffs would get stuck in my head. and everytime i would stand up and realize i had a few too many this song would play in the back of my mind. its grown on me.

7. Tiny Girls
i love this track. the softness of the saxophone and the organ and the ride of the drums. then the sharp edge of the guitar and the lyrics. this song hits you somewhere. its too honest. its another one that im just going to shut and let you listen to. 
wait, hear that low volumed, low pitch distorted guitar. neat. 

8. Mass Production
what an end. everything just melts together.