Wednesday, July 30, 2008

it's good to see you back in a bar band baby

It's been said often that The Hold Steady, especially singer Craig Finn, look like the guys who work in the cubicle next you. That's certainly true when Finn takes the stage in a short-sleeved polo shirt and khakis. However, Finn has 100x the stage presence of people who try 100x harder to look the part of a rocker.

Last night's Hold Steady show in San Francisco was, as is always the case when they play (or at least the times I've seen them) a loud, unabashedly celebratory, communal event. They are one of those kinds of bands that don't so much play *to* an audience as *with* an audience. There is no fourth wall with them. While some bands, like The National need the fourth wall to make what they do work so well, The Hold Steady need to tear down that wall and get down on the floor with you to celebrate the love of the music.

Finn's songs are full of references to a recurring cast of characters, most of whom would be at Hold Steady shows with the rest of us. At least when they aren't in jail, rehab, on a drug-fueled vision quest in the Sonoma, or hanging out at the banging "camps down by the Mississippi" smoking meth or inhaling nitrous oxide, or getting wasted in Ybor City. They turn up in song after song throughout the band's 4 albums. The newest, Stay Positive, continues the musical integration of keyboard player Franz Nicolay to the point where you can't imagine most of the songs written as they were without his presence. He's almost become as dominating a musical feature of the band as Tad Kubler's guitar or Finn's lyrics.

Though I got to the venue in a bit of a bad mood, I came away from the show in a great mood. The band did a great job of covering all four records in the set. The recurring "Stay Postive" theme would sound corny coming from any other band. But when Finn sings it so earnestly with his band grooving tightly behind him, it's hard not to have his songs be among those certain songs that get scratched into our souls.

Monday, July 28, 2008

if you close the door, the night could last forever

i hate stretches like this, when sleep doesn't come easy. the saving grace perhaps is that while work is busy, it's not as busy as it's going to get come late fall and into winter. also, I'm only 10 real days and 8 working days from vacation.

so since i'm up...

finally got around to watching the velevet underground documentary under review. not great, not bad. long-time fans will learn a little bit, novices will learn a bit more. it suffers from the total lack of lou reed's and john cale's participation, though it was cool to see mo tucker interviewed.

the hold steady are in town this tuesday and i can't wait. i missed them the last two times they were around. once i chose (unwisely) instead to go see voxtrot (liked the record, "eh" on the show, plus it was a second date that probably shouldn't have happened anyway). then last fall i was out of town when they came around, with art brut opening up. i'm really sorry i missed that one. this pitchfork review of the new record, stay positive, sums it up as well as anything else i've read. i expect the show will be the usual celebration of music and friendship and barroom camaraderie.

and how about this new song from the broken west? catchy. looking forward to the new album.

i don't have too many tv addictions, but mad men looks to be one. just now catching up on the first season (thanks to comcast on-demand). will need to dvr and catch up on season 2 asap. also on the horizon is the dvds for last season of the wire. kp and i cranked thru the first 4 seasons in a bunch of marathon sittings. i almost want to stretch out season 5 for a long while, if only so it won't be over too quickly.

damn. seriously, i gotta be up in three hours to go to work. tomorrow (well, later today) is gonna suck. hard. a shot or three on the snooze button may be in my all-too immediate future.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults

To the loud drunk jackasses outside my window at 1am...

Look, I'm sure you lead a much more interesting life than I do. Well, at least tonight when it seems like all my friends had something to do that didn't involve me. That's fine, I accept that, it happens sometimes. I stayed in, read, watched the movie I just got "A Skin A Night", a documentary about The National as they recorded Boxer.

So yeah, that means I was at home and in bed earlier than I'd like to be while the rest of the city as out carousing.

And yeah I know I live in a neighborhood (Mission/Castro area) where I should expect some night time activity. I get that.

But still..keep your gotdamned voiced down a bit. I mean, you see those buildings that *surround* you as you walk down my street? They are residences. Houses, apartments. People *live* behind those windows. And some of us were trying to get to sleep before you.

To the gaggle of LOUD annoying jackasses? When you walk in a pack of 12 you are going to be loud. Don't try and talk over each other because then you're REALLY GOTDAMNED LOUD. Your voices all echo in the 3-story valley that is my street.

And you drunk girl (who sounded like a bit of a fatass). The neighborhood does not need to hear your cigarette and beer-ravaged voice yell LOUDLY, over and over "first base, first base, first base". I don't care if your two girlfriends are faux making out (or for real). Keep your damned voice down. And to her friend? Your joke about having "first base" as an interest on all your social networking profiles? Not funny. Especially the way you said it, in that annoying hipster cadence/accent.

I know it's the city, but have some fucking common sense and common courtesy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

subpoenaed in texas, sequestered in memphis

it does seem i've sequestered myself from the blogging life for the last oh, 11 months or so. honestly not sure why. i suppose that for a few weeks i fell out of the habit and then just fell away from it altogether. and it's not like one less voice in the great wall of internet self-absorption is all that missed.

and not to say that this signals some return to regular posting, but this missive has come about because in catching up on a few other blogs i'd stopped reading, and getting to read a few new blogs, and in thinking about the microblogging that i guess i do on facebook (in the status updates) i got to wondering once again if there's something worthwhile i have to offer.

that is, does the world need more rants about how evil the fisa bill is or how great the national are or how great i'm sure the new hold steady record is, etc, etc. does the world need more navel gazing, or more personal life updates about my soccer-playing or my new music project or whatever else is going on?

i wouldn't mind posting more if only to keep my writing chops sharp. i've got a couple of scholarly writing projects that i'll need to finish in the next 3-6 months, so it's not like i'll just be number grinding guy at work. also, i've found that now firmly back into the music groove i want to keep up my creative chops in other ways (though my photography has fallen woefully out of regularity).

so anyway, yeah.