Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Last night, I went to see Nine Inch Nails at the Izod Center. It was one of the most ambitious and least lazy concerts I've ever seen. 

Which was interesting: the upper section was more than half empty. And the energy level in the arena before they hit the stage was non-existent. It was weirdly quiet in the halls and in the arena before the band went on. Not a lot of teens or 20-somethings. 

But the floor was general admission and it was packed and that was the energy that Trent Reznor and the band fed off of. 

Whether or not Trent wanted to be part of any "scene," NIN was a big part of the "alternative rock" ... I don't want to say "movement," but you know what I mean. It was about not being overly retro, not relying on doing what arena rockers had done in the past, and it was about not losing you connection to your fans, even after you attain success. And not embarrassing your fans by selling out or giving up. 

Trent never betrayed the trust of his fans, and I don't think he's received credit for that. 

Anyway, last night's show was incredible. He drew a lot from The Slip, played a bunch of instrumentals from Ghosts and also drew from Year Zero. Of course he played earlier stuff too, but it wasn't like a "greatest hits" thing. And every song had its own lighting and stage design. This was the coolest stage presentation (you couldn't call it just a "light show," it was far more than that) I've ever seen, and I've seen Pink Floyd and U2's Zoo TV tour. It never seemed Spinal Tappy; rather it was Peter Gabriel-like in its way of making an arena show seem like art. It had to take a lot of work, and a lot of money, to create that show, and it would have been the easiest thing to just go out on tour without it, and to just play '90s stuff. 

So, much credit is due to Trent. I've been thinking about why he doesn't get the props that Radiohead do; he's as daring as they are, they sell about the same amount of records, yet they have been sainted, and he is sort of treated as yesterday's news. On the other hand, thousands of people at the show last night were as into the songs from The Slip as they were the songs from Pretty Hate Machine, so maybe Trent really doesn't need the attention from the mainstream. I'm excited to see what Trent does next, especially if it's the sequel to Year Zero

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I'm excited to be returning to the OutQ In The Morning Show With Larry Flick after two weeks off - first for Larry/Cynthia/Keith's vacation, and then for mine. This week, I want to talk about a few artists who were big for a while in the '90s, and then, for whatever reason, the media got tired of talking about them.

First off is Matthew Sweet, one of my favorite singer/songwriters. In the past few years, he has released a duets album with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles (Under The Covers Vol. 1), released an album with a one-off group The Thorns (which also included solo artists Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins) and quietly released two solo albums, Kimi Ga Suki and Living Things. His new album is Sunshine Lies: I've downloaded the title track, which I like but don't yet love. (I pre-ordered the album, and it hasn't come in the mail yet!) Matthew's '90s albums Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun are three of my favorite albums, but I don't think his albums since then have been quite as solid.

I've loved Joan Osborne since the first moment I heard "St. Teresa," the lead track from her Relish album. It took her a long time to follow it up, and by then, the world had moved on. The press were already calling her a one-hit wonder. But the follow-up, Righteous Love, was a really good album. After that she did a covers album called How Sweet It Is which was wonderful but unsurprisingly ignored. Since then she's done a sort of country-ish album Pretty Little Stranger which had lots of great songs, another soul music album Breakfast in Bed, and now she's released Little Wild One. I don't like this one as much as her recent albums yet, but I'm only starting to listen to it.

I saw The Verve on their reunion tour earlier this year, and was knocked out by how great they were. I like their new single "Love Is Noise" from their reunion album Forth, and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.

I got really into Juliana Hatfield in the '90s when she released Become What You Are. But I didn't like the followup, and kind of lost track of her since then. But I heard her new song, "This Lonely Love," and really like it.

Actually the two things that I like best that are new this week are by B.B. King and Motorhead, but I'll have to write about them later on.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Well, there's more going on in the world of Johnny Cash than goofy pop stars trying to attach the man's name to John McCain's campaign for four more years of bush.

His record label is reissuing the classic Johnny Cash At Folsom Prision. Again! This version will include the entire first show (including a bunch of previously-unreleased tracks), the entire second show (most of which is previousl-unreleased) and a DVD with a documentary. It comes out September 30.

This is one of the greatest "live" albums ever. It is really powerful. Cash goes to the prison not to glorify crime or to judge the criminals. He knew that, in other conditions, he could have been one of them. Folsom wasn't Cash's only prison concert: he also played San Quentin where an incarcerated Merle Haggard saw him. After doing his time and serving his debt to society, Merle became a singer, which worked out pretty well for him.

Can you imagine the flak Cash would get from stupid news pundits if he performed in a prison today?


So, last night's Olympics closing ceremonies were a bit weird, right? Jimmy Page performing Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with British Pop Idol champ and "next mariah" Leona Lewis. OK, she's no Robert Plant, but she's better than David Coverdale, and not as annoying as Mariah either. Still, the thing was goofy as a Simpsons parody of an Olympics ceremony, and only got goofier when David Beckham appeared.

I can't wait to read the next interview with Robert Plant.


Good for Roseanne Cash. After John Rich of the goofy country duo Big & Rich said that Johnny Cash (who really avoided affiliating himself with political parties, and who played for Democratic and Republican White Houses) would endorse John McCain, she responded on her blog.

She said: "It is appalling to me that people still want to invoke my father’s name, five years after his death, to ascribe beliefs, ideals, values and loyalites to him that cannot possibly be determined, and to try to further their own agendas by doing so. I knew my father pretty well, at least better than some of those who entitle themselves to his legacy and his supposed ideals, and even I would not presume to say publicly what I ‘know’ he thought or felt."

By the way, her last album Black Cadillac was pretty great.


First off, I can't believe that I haven't really written about the recent deluxe reissue of Otis Redding's Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul. I will talk about it on an upcoming OutQ show for sure.

The original album is a total classic, one of the best albums you could ever buy, one of the best things you could ever spend money on. The comination of gospel singing with popular music and rock and roll is totally taken for granted these days, but here's the guy who arguably perfected it.

Otis Blue is just an amazing album, everyone should have it. The reissue is a bit audiophiley, containing all the songs in mono and stereo, but the live tracks make it worth the price.
Here's some exciting news: Otis Redding Live In London and Paris is coming out on September 23 according to Antimusic. It will feature two performances recorded in March of 1967, backed by Booker T & The MGs and the Mar-Keys horn section. Classic Stax, classic soul.

It's good that Otis' legacy hasn't been belittled by crass commercialization of his image but at the same time, it's too bad that he isn't remembered as the true legend that he was.

And, as I often mention, historical context is often helpful in appreciating an artist like Otis Redding. But the real deal is that you could put on his records today at a back yard party, in your car, at the beach or wherever, and it rocks. That's the bottom line.


With all the excitement of Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV double album, The Slip album, and tour (which I am going to see on Wednesday), all the cool stuff that Trent Reznor did around the underrated Year Zero album hasn't been talked about much.

In a recent interview with the LA Times, Trent said that the story may be adapted into a miniseries for HBO, which makes lots of sense: obviously that channel is able to put on no-holds barred series that are edgy and daring. Here's hoping it happens (and that HBO also gets around to doing the Preacher series that has been talked about forever!).


Let it be known that a metal Christmas album is coming out soon. It has a lot of hair metal dudes on it, but the cool thing about the album is a cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" featuring Lemmy, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Dave Grohl. Now that's a frakkin' supergroup.

Also on the album: Alice Cooper singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," Ronnie James Dio (with Tony Iommi) doing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and Doug Pinnick of King's X singing "Little Drummer Boy."


A New York Newspaper is reporting that
George Steinbrenner wants to close down Yankee Stadium in rocking form - no doubt "inspired" by Billy Joel's recent concerts at Shea Stadium. Supposedly, he wants Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to play a concert (or concerts) there. It would make a lot of sense: in 2003, Bruce wanted to end his Rising tour at Yankee Stadium, but George wouldn't let him, so he did Shea instead. Now he'd finally get to play Yankee Stadium. Plus, there is definitely a lot of demand in the New York area for Bruce to do more shows - three shows at Giants Stadium wasn't enough. And this would be a great way to close down the Magic tour, which actually wrapped last night in Kansas City. They have another show in a week at the annual Harley Davidson festival in Wisconsin, but that doesn't seem like the way Bruce wraps up his tours.
But I still think that Bruce will tour in some form, solo or with E Street, in October and November around election time.


People constantly hate on Sheryl Crow. One reason is probably that her songs are so down-the-middle mainstream that it just isn't fashionable. There just isn't really a Carole King/James Taylor/Carly Simon type genre anymore. Another reason: well, she looks like a model, and most of the music media aren't models, and will never go out with a model.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion: but the fact is that Sheryl Crow isn't just a good singer and very good songwriter, she can also play guitar, bass and keyboards, and she can also produce (and check out Stevie Nicks' great Trouble In Shangri-La if you don't believe me).

Her heart is also in the right place. She is always involving herself in good causes: right now she's offering a free download of her song "Gasoline" to all members of the Rock The Vote mailing list. She's also offering a free download of her entire Detours album to anyone who gets three other people to register. I'm sure indie rock cynics and Republicans will be united in having field day on that one, but good for you Sheryl. And given that she is endorsing Obama, I'm sure some people will question whether or not it is fair for her to be working with Rock The Vote. But before they do that, they should also investigate whether or not Fox News should be able to use the word "News" in their name.

Anyway, Sheryl also released a brand new song, "So Glad We Made It" as a download to help raise funds for Team USA during the Olympics, and she has a Christmas album coming out.


The theme song for the
upcoming James Bond flick, Quantum Of Solace will be a duet between Jack White and Alicia Keys. This is first time that a Bond theme will feature a duet. I have high hopes for this one. Who knows, maybe it will pave

the way for more collabs between Jack and Alicia, two of my favorite contemporary musicians.

There are a bunch of great bond themes. My favorites are Paul McCartney & Wings' "Live And Let Die," Sheryl Crow's "Tomorrow Never Dies," Garbage's "The World Is Not Enough," Madonna 's "Die Another Day," Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" and anything by Shirley Bassey.


From the Dave Matthews Band website:
We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.
We would like to take a moment at this sad time to thank everyone for the outpouring of condolences and notes celebrating LeRoi’s life. Thank you for the many inquiries we have received about making a gift in LeRoi's name. A fund has been created in honor of LeRoi Moore in support of charities that reflect both his spirit and passion. Donations via check referencing the "Charlottesville Area Community Foundation for the LeRoi Moore Memorial Fund" may be mailed to:
Charlottesville Area Community Foundation PO Box 1767 Charlottesville, VA 22902
Donations may also be made online by clicking here.
Please make sure to reference “LeRoi Moore Memorial Fund” in the comments section if making a gift online.>>


Is there any band that people root against more than Metallica? There are a bunch of reasons why: the fact that they are just so huge, the napster thing, James Hetfield is seen as a brutish redneck, people hate Lars Ulrich, blah blah blah.

All I know is that I became a fan between Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets. I thought they made most other metal bands look silly. I saw them absolutely destroy Ozzy Osbourne when they opened for him (it was probably one of their last shows with Cliff Burton). I didn't love "The Black Album" (although I love certain songs on it, mainly "Sad But True" and "The Unforgiven"). Nor did I love Load or Reload. Or St. Anger. But I still am optimistic about their upcoming album. I just bought the single "The Day That Never Comes," which I like. I will buy the album in a record store the day it comes out, and I look forward to seeing them live next year.


So, AC/DC's new album Black Ice is coming out on October 20 through Walmart. I don't love having to buy something through Walmart, but I will make an exception in this case. I have every AC/DC album! I'm excited to hear this one, I think producer Brendan O'Brien was a great choice. I saw AC/DC a few years ago at Roseland the night after they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they killed it. So I look forward to seeing them tour in the '09.


The NME is reporting that Josh Homme of Queens Of
The Stone Age will be producing some sessions for Arctic Monkeys. Arctic Monkeys are one of the newer bands that I've gotten into (I loved their song "Brianstorm" from last year), and I think Josh Homme would be a great producer. I look forward to hearing this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Apologies for not posting this earlier: I wasn't able to do this week's OutQ In The Morning With Larry Flick show because I was returning from Hershey Park where I saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Tuesday night. Hey, I'm on "stay-cation!"

The plan, as I posted the other day, was for me to come on today (Thursday morning). Larry has too many guests, and didn't want me to come in from NJ if he was going to have to shorten my segment, which was cool of him.

So, next week I will make my very highly anticipated return to the radio airwaves. I'm holding off on discussing the new James Brown DVD release and the Otis Redding Otis Blue reissue for a minute. This week, I'm going to talk about new releases from a few artists who have been off of the mainstream radar for a bit - Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield, The Verve and Motorhead.


(photo from

Yes, I saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band on this tour three times already. (Read about it here, here, and here.) But my wife missed all three shows because she was out of the country, so we "had" to see the band when they played Hershey Park (of all places).

Odd too see Bruce and the band playing a venue that will be hosting the Journey/Heart/Cheap Trick tour, but there you go. It was a beautiful night, with lots of fans making the trip from the great state of New Jersey to catch one more show on this leg of the tour. And the band (minus Patti Scialfa, who apparently has missed most of this part of the tour to tend to parently duties) didn't disappoint.

I was thinking of making a sign with a song request - this tour has seen Bruce actually go into the crowd and take signs with song requests from fans. I was thinking of the electric version of Nebraska's "Reason To Believe" that he was playing on the first leg of the tour, but not since. Or one of my favorites, "Part Man, Part Monkey," a song about "intelligent design" before it was called that - a song they performed at my first Bruce concert on the Tunnel of Love tour, and which Bruce eventually recorded as a b-side for Human Touch's "57 Channels." (I was going to attempt to draw a picture of George W. exaggerating his monkey-ish features).

Alas, I never got around to making a sign, and I wasn't in the pit anyway, so I wouldn't have been close enough to hand it to the man. And yet, he played both of those songs! "Part Man, Part Monkey" was particularly amazing, as the band haven't played it since Tunnel Of Love (20 years ago!). Bruce said that the band didn't know it anyway, but asked them to follow him, and they pulled it off flawlessly. Another great moment was John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom." Just as Max Weinberg was starting the drums to "Light Of Day," Little Steven grabbed a sign from the audience asking for "Boom Boom" and the band played that instead.

Of course, there were great moments of the non-rarity variety as well: "Born To Run," "Badlands," "The Promised Land," "The Rising," "No Surrender," "Thunder Road," "Jungleland," "She's The One," etc., never lose any of their power, especially when played by The E Street Band. (I do have to say, "Out In The Street" seemed weird without Patti). And it's great to hear so many newer classics: "Livin' In The Future," "Long Walk Home," "American Land." I wish he played "Girls In Their Summer Clothes."

I can't imagine that Bruce will sit out the election season without touring: here's hoping he keeps the E Street Band on the road for a few more months into the fall.

Monday, August 18, 2008


As I've mentioned before, it's a great time to be a Neil Young fan. Neil is touring again this fall, with pretty much the same band he used last year. The difference is that Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina is out, Chad Cromwell, who played on Prairie Wind and Living With War, is in. Chad has been on the European tour, which has seen Neil play some (seemingly) brand-new songs. This tour will be hitting arenas (instead of small theaters): in NYC, they're playing Madison Square Garden, with Wilco opening. And the floor is all general admission. That's pretty cool, I'll definitely be going to this show. Get more details, as always, at Thrasher's Wheat.

Although I still hope for a Neil Young & Crazy Horse tour.


I'm actually on vacation this week (or, "stay-cation" in the parlance of the times), but I will be doing the OutQ show. Larry and the crew were on vacation last week, and I don't want to miss two shows in two weeks.

So, this week, I'll be talking about the late, great Isaac Hayes and his body of work - not just as a solo artist, but the stuff he wrote for Sam & Dave. Also, the newly released James Brown DVD box set: I Got The Feelin': James Brown In The '60s. And finally, the deluxe reissue of Otis Redding's classic 1965 album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. It is one of the greatest albums of all time, no doubt. The reissue is cool, but a bit audiophiley: not everyone cares to have both the stereo and mono mixes. But there is some cool live stuff included as well. I do wish more people knew how great, and how influential, Otis Redding was. Listen to one of his albums and then see Bruce Springsteen in concert, it'll all make sense.

Speaking of Bruce, I may also talk about his concert: I'm going to see him again tomorrow night in Hershey, PA. Yes, I saw him three times this summer (read about it here, here and here) but my wife didn't because she was in Africa. I may also talk about last weeks' Rancid concert, which was pretty great too.


You can always depend on Rancid for a great show, and they didn't disappoint last week when they kicked off a five night sold out stand at the Fillmore. (by the way, I didn't take this picture, I found it online, and saved it without remembering to note where it was from, and now I've forgotten - apologies to the photographer).

They kicked off the show with my favorite song of theirs, "Radio," which is where the lyric in the title of this post comes from (but it is a reference to Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock"). They cranked out about 30 songs in less than an hour and a half. I have to say that guitarist-singer Tim Armstrong didn't seem to be in top form, but guitarist-singer Lars Frederiksen more than made up for it, and no matter what, the two guys have a great chemistry between them, kind of like the way The Beastie Boys bounce off of each other. I heard pretty much every song I had hoped to hear, and a version of Operation Ivy's "Knowledge" was a bonus.

I saw Rancid for the first time probably in 1994, when they'd released Let's Go, and every label was chasing them. They were opening for their then-Epitaph labelmates The Offspring, who at the time were the biggest commercial success story from an indie label. I wasn't that into Offspring, but I thought Rancid were awesome, I became a fan right there. I've seen them many times since.

One time, a few years ago, they played Roseland. Through some industry connections, I got into the V.I.P. section, which was mostly empty. The show, though, was totally sold out with kids who knew every word to every song. You get the point, and that's the deal with Rancid.

Last week, I doubt many "industry" people were attending the Rancid shows - which is fine, as Rancid doesn't need those people anyway. Long may they run.


I just finished watching The Night James Brown Saved Boston, a VH1-produced documentary that is one of the three discs included in this DVD box set.
From a musical perspective, this box is a must have: you really need to see James Brown in the '60s to appreciate his power.
But whether or not you like his music (I find it hard to identify with someone's taste if they don't), this documentary is awesome. It basically centers on a concert that Mr. Brown performed in Boston right after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The concert was scheduled before the assasination, but Boston's mayor rightfully figured that the concert could help keep things calm in the city, and he arranged to have it televised. The problem with that (other than it was unusual to televise concerts, as opposed to performances on TV shows back then) was that they couldn't get in touch with James Brown's people to ask permission, and when news got out that the concert would air, for free, on TV, people started asking for refunds.
The doc doesn't saint-ify Mr. Brown: he demanded 60 grand from the city to play, and he played hardball with the mayor over his fee. In the doc, James manager points out that they were only in fact paid 10 grand.
Money aside, it shows James Brown to be someone who wanted to do good by his community and by his country. More than that, it showed the incredible power he had as a performer and as a figurehead. I wonder if any artist in any genre has that kind of power on stage, and over an audience, as James Brown did back then. I kind of doubt it.
This is a great collection and well worth the thirty-whatever dollar price tag. The sad thing: it isn't really well publicized. I only knew about it because I check out new CD and DVD releases every week. This box set is an important historical document, and most people don't even know that it's out. So spread the word.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


A few things I learned from the "It Was Forty Years Ago Today" concert, which paid tribute to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album:

1. Those who say that rock and roll music can't scare or offend anyone is a jaded industry person. I attended this show - not the most rock and roll night of my life or even of my week - and people were leaving because it was "too loud."

2. Christopher Cross is still alive. For real! He performed "Theme From 'Arthur,'" "Sailing" and "Ride Like The Wind" as well as a few Beatles songs.

3. A good way to make Foreginer songs sound rocking is to have their lead singer perform right after Christopher Cross. But, man, Lou Gramm ain't looking so great. But he still sings pretty well. I'm not sure about his math skills though. At one point during the show, he said: "There's a lot of you out there. A lot of you!" It wasn't that crowded.

4. Bo Bice is a singer who was once on American Idol.

5. OK, I knew that, I'm just being a contrarian. No Expiration readers know I'm rarely negative, so you've got to indulge me when I hate just a little bit.

6. The Beatles music is incredibly enduring. My wife (who dubbed the show "a soft rock nightmare," hence the title of this post) watched this show with my cousin's kids (age 13 and 10) and both of them knew almost all of Sgt. Pepper's. Why? The film Across The Universe.

7. The music of Foreigner, Christopher Cross, et al, doesn't hold up quite so well. Although Todd Rundgren's solo songs, notably "I Saw The Light" and "Bang On The Drum All Day" entertained my young relatives.

Yes, my wife and I caught this so-unhip-it's-camp show. I didn't care: the tour hit the summe resort where my family spent a few days, and it sounded like it would be fun. I was hoping that my little cousins would enjoy The Beatles' music, and I was delighted that they did. Rundgren stole the show every time he hit the stage (he was the only guy with any sense of self-awareness) but overall, it was good, in a high-school musical production kind of way. You really can't miss with those songs unless you're really bad, and say what you want about the "cool" factor of the lineup, these guys are all pros. But now I'm looking forward to seeing Paul McCartney tour in the fall - or at least The Fab Faux.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


You can read obits of Isaac Hayes all over the web. By now, everyone knows that he died from a stroke over the weekend.

Most people know about his late '60s/early '70s material -Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses and the Shaft soundtrack. But before he went solo, he was one of Stax Records' best writer/producer/session musicians. Some of the songs he co-wrote include "Soul Man," "Hold On I'm Comin'" and "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby."

A few years ago, I interviewed him for some South Park thing he was promoting: maybe it was the new season. At the time, I was a bit annoyed that so many people knew him because of that show, rather than because of his catalog of incredible music. But then I realized, anything that brought people to the party is a good thing. He seemed to feel the same way. Anyway, I didn't care too much about South Park, so I asked a question or two about it and then cut right to the chase and started asking about Stax in the '60s. Seemingly surprised he asked me "How old are you?" Not old enough to remember that music, but I do have the Stax/Volt box set, and the music is incredible, it doesn't matter that I didn't live through it. That seemed to make him pretty happy.

Rest in peace, Mr. Isaac Hayes.


Apologies for being a bit behind. Last week, I saw Eddie Vedder's solo concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark (great venue). I've actually seen two Eddie solo gigs in the past: once opening for The Who at the House Of Blues in Chicago in 1999 (awesome experience) and another time at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Wisconsin (I think that was '99 also). Both times he had a bass player and drummer though. This was mainly a solo gig (except for when he was joined by opener Liam Finn).

It was an incredible show. As I mentioned when I wrote about Pearl Jam's MSG shows in June, Eddie seems much more comfortable with his popularity and status these days. At this solo show, he seemed to be having a great time, mixing up really obscure stuff (Pearl Jam B-sides like "Don't Be Shy" and one of my favorites, "Drifting") with more well known songs ("Porch," "Soon Forget," "Sometimes"), most of the songs from the Into The Wild soundtrack, and a bunch of cool covers (Dylan's "Masters Of War" and "Forever Young" and Springsteen's "Growin' Up"). Comparing this to a Pearl Jam show would be like comparing Bruce with and without the E Street Band or Neil with and without Crazy Horse. Just two totally different animals. But both are well worth checking out.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Last week things got really interesting on the show when we discussed whether or not politics and music mix. I feel they do in a certain context, others felt that they just don't pay $100 (or $10) to hear what's on an artists mind. Others felt that if an artist (like Mel Gibson) has views that offend them, they don't want to support anything he or she does. 

My take is that I like to hear that an artist actually has something to say, with the caveat that if they talk about something, they better be able to back it up. Most artists that I like tend to have similar political views to me. But I don't love KISS any less because Gene Simmons thought that draft-dodging cokehead male cheerleader bush would do a better job defending us than war hero/hockey player/rock and roller John Kerry. Even the fact that Lemmy wears German army uniforms hasn't kept me away from Motorhead's music (although it does bug me, I gotta admit). 

This week is an even more controversial topic: are solo albums good for the health of a band? Do you get mad when someone from your favorite band does a solo project? I'm not talking about guys like Paul McCartney or Curtis Mayfield of Chris Cornell or Aimee Mann, who went solo after quitting their bands or after their bands broke up. I thought of this because Amy Ray of The Indigo Girls and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes (I actually thought he sort of was Bright Eyes) have solo albums coming out this week, and I'm going to see Eddie Vedder do a solo show.  I actually chatted with Amy Ray informally today. She says that in the case of her band, her solo career has been a good thing. I heard that there was some tension in Pearl Jam over Eddie doing solo stuff (odd, as every other member of the band does their own thing), but I'd argue that it's been good for him to do some solo stuff. We'll probably also talk about Stevie Nicks, who maintained a very successful solo career for quite a few years while Fleetwood Mac were on top of the world. Apparently, there are some Stevie fans on the Larry Flick show! By the way, I'll be on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week. 


The Rock The Bells 2008 tour was a great time, but before I talk about it, I gotta thank my friend Angela Yee from Shade 45 for getting me in, and my friend Su for getting me a ticket! 

The behind the scenes stuff was a mess, and the waiting time between artists was way too long, but why dwell on that. It was a great show. I got there a few hours after it started, but as I got to my seats, dead prez were wrapping up their set with their classic song, "Hip-Hop." They are group who definitely have something to say: I wish I liked their music more. Speaking of having something to say, the next artist was Immortal Technique. He's a little bit to the left of me, but I liked his tracks and definitely appreciated that he has something to say. I may not even agree with everything he says, I don't know, but I am at least interested. 

Then de la soul came on. de la was the first hip-hop group I ever saw perform: it was at The Ritz in New York City back in like '89 or maybe '90, they were opening for Living Colour. Back then they came off a bit goofy, but I don't feel bad saying that: a few years ago, I got to interview Pos, Dave and Mase and when I mentioned that show they were all like "Oh no!" But they've toured so extensively since then, they've got their thing down, and they are one of the tightest live hip-hop acts that you'll see.  It was tough for them to squeeze their set into 35 minutes or whatever, but they did good. Q-Tip joined them for a bit of "Buddy," and Dres from Black Sheep joined them, yes, for "The Choice Is Yours." Say what you want about "one-hit wonders," it must feel good to have thousands of people chanting along with your big hit from 15 years ago. On the other hand, it was clearly a bitch to have to follow that song up. 

Raekwon The Chef and Ghostface Killa were next. Here's my problem: like quite a few hip-hop crews, these guys let everyone they know come on stage with them. That might be cool at a club (I'd argue that it isn't cool even in a club). But at a huge venue, it doesn't work. I was so far away, I couldn't really see who was who. Most of the people on stage didn't even have mics. So why did they need to be there? But the performance was mostly tight. I like Ghost's new song "Be Easy." But the old stuff like "Ice Cream" and "Incarcerated Scarfaces" of course got everyone out of their seats. 

Then Mos Def. For my money, he's one of the most talented cats out there, but I sometimes think he needs some focus. The guy is a great lyricist, has awesome delivery, can sing soulfully, but also do rock and reggae, and has lots of presence. He's always got so much going on: hip-hop, his rock band, his big band, spoken word, acting, etc. I think he's had some great cameos, but other than the Black Star album and his solo debut Black On Both Sides. And that was kind of the deal with the beginning of his set: there were these weird scenery videos going on, and the performance wasn't too gripping. Then Talib Kweli hit the stage. Next level, how ya doin'? I know those guys aren't too anxious to do another Black Star album for fear that it won't live up to the first one, but I don't know, if they really focus, maybe they can do it. "Respiration" was great. Too bad Common wasn't there (it would have been cool if he'd joined de la as well). 

Considering how much Method Man and Redman seem to enjoy blowing trees, it's surprising how tight they were. Meth kept yelling the same "The same amount of energy you give us, we'll give back to you!" thing he yelled at last year's festival, when he played with The Wu-Tang Clan. He seemed to have more fun with Red, though, and the crowd seemed more into them. They're plugging Blackout 2, the sequel to their first album, Blackout, from 1999. But they hardly played any songs from that album; too bad, it was really underrated. Other than "Da Rockwilder" (which they did play) I liked "Mi Casa," "Cereal Killer" and "1,2,1,2." Ghostface joined them, which was cool. And Erick Sermon and Parish Smith (a.k.a. EPMD) also joined them, which was cooler. They did "You Gots To Chill." Slick Rick also popped on stage for a second or two to recite the hook to "La Di Da Di." 

Nas is kind of having his moment right now: his untitled album is at #1 despite controversy over its original title. I was surprised to see that he was backed by a band, along with DJ Green Lantern. (GL calls himself "The Evil Genius," which - no disrespect - makes no sense. Why doesn't he call himself Sinestro if he's evil? That's some comic book stuff.) They opened with a new song "Slave/Master" which was pretty powerful, and then went into the title track from 2006's Hip-Hop Is Dead (a great song to play live with a band). Then he kicked into a bunch of songs off of his classic debut Illmatic, followed by other his from his career (including "One Mic" and "Hate Me Now." And Jay-Z joined him for "Black Republicans." Predictably, people went nuts for the former President of Def Jam. I'm not a fan, but I had to admit, it was pretty cool. A lot of people weren't feeling the band thing. I thought it worked at some points, and others it didn't, but it was overall a good set. 

Next, Q-Tip hit the stage with DJ Scratch and did stuff from his upcoming album (but not the cool song "Work It Out," some Tribe stuff, and his earlier solo hits like "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe And Stop." He had a band but no drummer, which was pretty weird. It didn't totally work for me as much as I wanted it to. Still, I believe Tip may have a few classic albums in him, his mind is in the right place. 

It's probably almost too easy for Tip to play with A Tribe Called Quest again. Still, they are so awesome together, it would be a shame for them not to do it anymore. I hope that he can balance his solo career with Tribe - even if it is just Tribe concerts and not new music. They were awesome, and when Busta Rhymes joined them for "Scenario," it just tore the place up. 

Great night, and thanks to Shade 45/Flow TV personality Angela Yee for getting me through the gate and my pal and former intern Su for hooking me up with a ticket.  I took some pictures, but they were from far away, I gotta look at them and decide if I want to post them. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008


(this picture taken from

It was another incredible show by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. At some parts of the show, it felt like watching a group of daredevil skateboarders. "We just pulled off that stunt, let's try a crazier one!" In this case, it was playing songs that were (seemingly) barely rehearsed, like "Pretty Flamingo" and "Blinded By The Light." I can't think of many bands who play stadiums who would pull stunts like that. But it worked, it was fun watching them get through the songs. 

Again, they were so powerful. It's really awe-inspiring to watch them these days. I know two people who were at the show, they were both seeing Bruce for the first time. Both of them had chills just talking about the show the next day, they're now converts. (one of them was the cause behind this post.) 

By the way, you can see a few performances from each Giants Stadium show here. And Backstreets has a more in-depth review

Friday, August 1, 2008


First, the correction. I actually misheard the lyrics in Bruce Springsteen's "Girls In Their Summer Clothes." It's not "I ain't got my shoes but I still got my feet," it's "I ain't got much sense but I still got my feet." OK, I still love the lyric. I wish he played that song tonight at Giants Stadium. 

Speaking of which, it was a sort of legendary show. Started an hour late due to an oil spill on the turnpike creating huge traffic problems. But he cracked the midnight curfew and the 3 hour mark (again) with another incredible show. I'm too tired to write about it tonight, though, so it will have to wait for tomorrow. 

And a big middle finger to the Meadowlands, who charge $20 to park, yet the security guards have no idea whether or not there are shuttle buses to take you to your parking lot that they forced you to park in over a mile away from the stadium, and no traffic control in said parking lot, resulting in a huge mess. 

But I don't want to end on a negative note, it was another mind blowing show. Thanks Bruce and thanks to the mighty E Street Band