Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fight songs

I went to an Old 97's show this week! The last time I saw the full band was at Festa Italiana in Chicago back in 2007, so I was overdue.

The evening began with solo sets from Murry Hammond and Rhett Miller. Having seen Rhett solo many times in the past, I was very glad to see him again, but more novel for me was the chance to see Murry. I'm not the biggest fan of his solo material, but I enjoyed the set, which included a Julie Miller cover and a spoken word piece of Murry's own. His performance of "Valentine" was one of my favorite songs of the night. "Of all the many ways a man will break his heart / well there ain't none meaner than he pulls his own apart." Ahhhh.

The 97's blazed through a set of noisy, energetic songs, as befitted the rather boisterous crowd. A fight broke out on the floor in the midst of the show, but luckily Rob was nearby and kept things from getting utterly out of hand. I hadn't seen the band since Blame it On Gravity came out, and was once again reminded that I should buy that album. I've enjoyed what I've heard for some time now, and I'm not used to not knowing every song by heart. The show ended with a one-two punch of Four Leaf Clover and Time Bomb. I always know what I'm going to get from an Old 97's show: good, solid fun. They deliver.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Viper at the SnS

Friday night I drove down to Chicago to see Viper and His Famous Orchestra play one of my favorite venues, Hotel S'n'S. I love seeing shows at Hotel S'n'S because the music is only half the fun. Friday night also included doggies, drinks, pretzel rods, another appearance by Ted Kennedy, stories of Mr. Ben, discussion of cans, new nicknames, and Twilight Sweethearts (a.k.a. the worst-tasting candy ever, whose horror is apparently eternal.) But the reason for the gathering was, of course, the music.

Things got underway shortly after 9:00 p.m. with the first set by Edward Burch. LeRoy Bach joined in to play "Dad Says" and a wonderful rendition of "Special Day" featuring John Peacock on the tambourine. Ed chose an eclectic group of songs to round out the rest of the set. How many times do you see "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" played solo acoustic? For me, at least, I'm putting my money on just this once.

Eclectic was also an apt description of the Viper and His Famous Orchestra's main set. With a formidable arsenal of instruments at their disposal, the band shifted effortlessly between pop, rap, waltzes, and sea shanties. (Good thing Sam had duct tape handy to repair Ed's brooms earlier in the evening, because he made excellent use of them.) "Winnebago Bay" made me glad to be wearing a Wisconsin shirt, though I wished my Sheboygan Falls comrades had been able to make it down. "Wanna Be Startin' Something" inspired the loudest singalong of the night, which isn't a surprise. The actual lyrics of the song, however, were a surprise to many in attendance. ("You're just a buffet?")

Not to slight their originals, which were great, but two of my favorite Viper songs of the night were YouTube gems the band had adapted for live performance. I have no idea how they found these, but they're amazing. The first was a rap called "Drunk Bus," a song with which any state school attendee can identify:

The second was "Benny Lava," based on a phonetic transcription of a great video from India. An enterprising gentleman wrote down English lyrics that sound like the words being sung. The band sang all the subtitles you see here:

The Viper and His Famous Orchestra played a show today at Milliennium Park in Chicago. I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it for that, but I'm glad I got to see them at the Hotel.

Following a break, Ed came back to play a "secret encore" by himself. The songs were somewhat slower, and I loved the Bennett and Burch elements. He also appeased the crowd request for ELO's "Telephone Line," which was appreciated by all. Ed's bonus set was great way to close out the musical portion of the night.

By my count, Friday's show was the eighth I've seen at Hotel S'n'S. Here's hoping for many more.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Michael Jackson and the greatest sticker page ever

In memory of Michael Jackson, I'm linking to an entry I wrote in 2007 looking back on my childhood sticker collection. Only a four-year-old could create something as wonderful as this:

Click here for more in Stickers: 1984.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

First day of July

Oh right, I have a blog! Sorry, I nearly forgot. I'm afraid the past week or two will remain unreported here due to time constraints, but there were antics! Hijinks, even. Random quote: "I mean, he's not the star. The gerbils are the stars."

I'm looking forward to the holiday weekend, even though it feels like October here right now. I just realized I forgot to listen to "Last Day of June" yesterday. Damn it. I try to make it a point to listen to songs that reference specific dates on the appropriate day. Similar story with songs that refer to specific locales when I'm traveling. I already missed listening to U2's "Breathe" on the 16th of June, too. Saturday, though! "4th of July" and "Star Witness." It will happen.

And now you know another weird thing about me.

(What kind of flowers are these? They're all over Badger Prairie, or they were a couple weeks ago.)