Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Troops Oops

An oldie but a goodie.

No One Wants an Alien

Looking from the inside you feel nothing on the outside is real.
Does it really show?
All the other kids put you down.
No one ever wants you around.
No one wants an alien.
Never never thought you could feel cause everything around you stands still.
But will they ever know?
Dreaming of a place far away.
You know you were born here astray.
Does it really show?
Can't make it playing their game when everyone plays it the same.
No one wants an alien.
Never never thought you could feel cause everything around you stands still.
But will they ever know?
Looking from the inside you feel nothing on the outside is real.
Does it really show?
The vision keeps coming at you still cause something deep inside of you is real.
But will they ever know?
Never never thought you could feel cause everything around you stands still.
No one wants an alien.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Show review / "Do you listen to punk?"

I went to see Bad Religion two weeks ago, no wait, last week, on October 26th. It was the second night of their "30 Years of Bad Religion" deal at Irving Plaza, where they broke up their career into three shows. The first was supposed to be How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Suffer and No Control. I didn't go to that one because, while those records are great, and the last two are basically perfect, I was way more into the idea of the second night and I didn't have the money ($27.50 plus $12 in service charges) to spend on two shows. I guess it turns out for the better, as they played a boatload of new songs and some hits from the 90s, although I did miss "Billy Gnosis," which I suppose was not really Billy Gnosis, as they had no keyboard and how could it be Billy Gnosis without that Bruce Springsteen breakdown?

So the second night was Against the Grain, Generator, Recipe for Hate, Stranger than Fiction, The Gray Race and No Substance. People, including Bad Religion, called it 90s night, but thank fucking Jah they left out The New America. That means that they could only play really good to unbelievable songs. There are no bad songs on those records, at all. I was real psyched on the idea.

I got there shortly after eight PM, as I live anywhere from one to two or more hours away, depending on traffic. It only took me a little over an hour, so I was there a bit earlier. I knew the show was sold out and I wanted a good spot to watch from the balcony. I walked in just after Off with Their Heads went on. Boring as hell mid-tempo punk stuff that I've heard a thousand times. I thought maybe it would be something decent as they were recently on No Idea. They had nothing to say for themselves, with the exception of "I have bedbugs" and "So who's excited for Bad Religion?" Oh, and the head-shakingly pointless "How is everybody doing out there?" Boring boring boring. Four dudes in black t-shirts and jeans trying to look cool while they played. They don't seem to be all that into what they play, in their hearts.

After they finished, I very quickly realized that while I had an excellent vantage point from which to watch Bad Religion, I was stuck next to this witless dude pounding (what I found out were $11) beer after beer who felt the need to talk to everyone, yet paradoxically had nothing to say. His story will continue.

The Aggrolites were up next. Musically, they are fucking bad. Funk-ska. However, in spirit and energy, I enjoy them. Those dudes are real into what they are doing and play it cause that's exactly what they want to be doing. There is no funk-ska scene, and accordingly, they will not be able to capitalize on their popularity within it. They are also super tight and the singer can work a crowd. The keyboard player was so happy to be playing, smiling and bopping his head the whole time.

The drunk dude, the witless one from above, absolutely hated them. He made sure everyone around him knew, as he kept pretending to shoot himself. He bonded with the bro next to me over their distaste for the band. They both agreed that the Aggrolites really "suck." Yeah man, they sure suck. Then these men's respective girlfriends got in on the action, so that there were now four people reassuring one another that the Aggrolites suck. It was deep. The drunk man's girlfriend, in an act of extreme daring, yelled, from the balcony, while the band was playing, mind you, "You suck!" Well let me tell you, that went over extremely well within a one-foot radius. Her boyfriend damn near fell over with laughter. The other couple ate it up as well. You would think we were watching Sinatra in 1943 by the reaction they had. It was as though the woman had made an incredible breach of etiquette that had never been seen before. They acted as though it was so outrageous, and at least as creative.

The longer the Aggrolites played, the more joy I felt from watching the empty-eyed gang around me aggravate themselves. It was great. There was another "You suck!" from the girlfriend, and it had about the same effect. Hooray for the Aggrolites.

It was during this time that the drunk man and the bro really bonded. They talked about Pennywise. The drunkard (who also consumed a shot of Jaegermeister, which likely brought his alcohol bill upwards of $100 for the evening) informed the bro that he had recently seen them with their replacement singer, and it was good, "but it wasn't Jim." It sure wasn't. Then he asked the bro if he listened to punk. The bro indicated that he did. The thirsty man inquired as to whether or not he had ever heard of the band "Minor Threat." I haven't. Sounds dangerous. He said that, yes, he had heard of them. The guy with the big wallet took much delight in telling him that one of the guitar players used to be in that band. This, of course, is precious knowledge, limited to a select few from deep within the underground. During Bad Religion, he identified himself as being one of the lucky knowing ones by yelling "Minor Threat!" Wow. That guy was probably at the first show of every band.

After a while of listening to these people talk about nothing, Bad Religion came on. Finally. They opened with "The Gray Race." It was good. I was into their current drummer being able to play proper fast beats on the cymbals, instead of doing that cheat shit that Bobby Schayer became increasingly fond of over time, where he hits the cymbal and snare at the same time instead of double-timing the cymbal. However, I did not like Brooks' (the current drummer) changing of songs, which was pretty major in some cases. He changed a lot of fills, which is alright, I guess, but he just straight up changed beats in other songs. "Generator" was perhaps most demonstrative of this. "A Walk" was also notable. Fact of the matter is that Pete Finestone was the best drummer that band ever had. That dude was sick. If you doubt this, listen to Against the Grain once more.

Also, Brian Baker, who now looks like an older, more bloated version of this dude Matt I used to know, was pretty into inserting his own rock dude solos into songs, replete with wah pedal. Not cool. He put some solos where there weren't any and changed a bunch more. I'm just not into that. These songs were fucking fantastic when recorded. They really cannot be improved. It works in other situations, but not here. However shitty Brian Baker's life may or may not have been, there is absolutely no way he can channel the desperation that Brett expressed in the opening lead part to "Modern Man." Anyone other than Brett trying to play that song just cannot do it justice. Impossible.

Here are the songs they played, from memory, in chronological order, as recorded:

  • Modern Man
  • Turn On The Light
  • Anesthesia
  • Flat Earth Society
  • Generator
  • No Direction
  • Atomic Garden
  • Recipe for Hate
  • Struck a Nerve
  • My Poor Friend Me
  • Stranger than Fiction
  • Infected
  • Marked
  • What It Is
  • The Gray Race
  • A Walk
  • Come Join Us
  • Hear It
  • Sowing the Seeds of Utopia
  • The Resist Stance
  • Wrong Way Kids
Then they played a three-song encore:

  • American Jesus
  • Fuck Armageddon
  • Sorrow
If you want to find out the actual order, my housemate told me there is a setlist website. There may have been another new song in there, not sure. Maybe I forgot another song or two as well.

Yes, it's true, they played neither "Cease" nor "Skyscraper." Granted, they would have had to play a five hour set to sate my needs for this era of their existence, but fucking come on. Those are two brutal, devastating songs and they played neither. They know those are incredible songs. Fucking shit.

The entire set, the big guy with the appetite for consumption next to me did this really weird thing where for every song (except the couple he didn't know cause the words were sung too fast) he would lean forward, bend down, put his elbow on the balcony railing, and emphatically mouth the words into his girlfriend's ear. It was strange and distracting. I noticed at one point that she had her hand over her ear. Later, she just got out of the way and stood behind him for the rest of the set. Why didn't I move, right? Cause it really was the best spot I could get. I would have wound up standing behind people anywhere else. It was the only spot on the balcony that wasn't already obstructed when I got there.

Final random thoughts - not a huge fan of Brooks' style. He is an excellent drummer, but he plays around with the songs too much. I wish he would be more true to the originals. It's not like they had boring, shitty, incapable drummers before. I'm glad that Greg and Brian got off that Mesa kick. The guitars on The Process of Belief sounded not so good. Greg is using Mesa cabinets again, but both he and Brian are using Marshall heads and Jay has one of those reissue vintage SVT heads with matching 8x10. I approve.