11.29.2014

Future Islands - Seasons (BADBADNOTGOOD remix)

It'd be nice to think of BADBADNOTGOOD as a Toronto band but I don't think the world sees them that way.  Although Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums/ pig mask) were born here and met at the Humber College jazz program which has turned out a lot of good players and a lot of shit ones too.  As the oft told story goes they inspired by their love of prolific underground rappers like Lil B and more known artists like MFDoom and the Odd Future collective they thatched together a medley of Odd future songs for a playing test.  Their professors deemed the work of 'no musical value'.  Once Tyler The Creator saw the video they posted on youtube as the Odd Future Sessions Part 1 the rest was history (they followed with Odd Future Sessions 2 GOBLIN).   Only one is enrolled at the College exclusively for the dental benefits.  Without a doubt all of them will make more in their lifetimes as their own group, backing and producing other musicians and rappers than any of their dimwit professors.


By now they've backed Tyler Creator, the piano-illiterate Frank Ocean, created and composed music for the RZA's kungsploitation flick The Man With The Iron Fists.  They've put out two free mixtapes (you can download them free here- BBNG and BBNG2).  They've put out two live albums (BBNGLive1 and BBNGLive2) in addition to this year's proper full length III (2014).  They put out a track with Danny Brown and Ghostface Killah (Six Degrees) and word shortly dropped that they'd be backing Ghostface Killah (who has strong ties to Toronto through Raekwon and others) on a new album in 2015 called Sour Soul (the first track released was Gunshowers feat. legendary Detroit rapper Elzhi). 


One critic Jerell Tongson described excellently the BBNG sound writing that they "deconstruct the four bar loops, understanding how to work crescendos by stretching out and reshaping the music into their own vision of silky smooth key progressions, pounding drums, and tasty bass lines".   Now they've been given a brilliant opportunity to remix the song of 2014 Future Island's Seasons.  One dim critic described their sound on the Seasons remix as "a sort of cinematic jazz, to the extent that it could almost pass for an old James Bond theme."  No.  The sound they've clearly adoped for the Sour Soul sessions is just that- Soul- even more specifically an updated Funk Bros. or Stax Soul sound which is the perfect instrumental backdrop for Ghostface's dusty boom bap.  Call it GhoStax.  The Future Island's Seasons remix is cast in the same vein leaving the complete vocal intact but coming up with a soul backing line and melody progression that completely reinvents the song.  Things like this don't happen very often in remixes.  It's a magical thing.


11.28.2014

Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper leaked (tracklist)


We're neither Animal Collective fans nor particularly fans of their primary long term contributors Panda Bear and Avey Tare.   As far as we're concerned Merriweather Post Pavillion is the name of a historic shed in Columbia, Maryland where bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish have played legendary concerts (as opposed to the name of Animal Collective's critically acclaimed 2009 album).

That said the album grows on you even if after repeated listens it comes off as heavily front loaded.  The first two cuts Sequential Circuits and Mr. Noah are the strongest followed by similarly upbeat Crosswords.  It seems likely that Mr. Noah will be the lead single.  In fact after quick research it turns out Panda Bear has already released a Mr. Noah EP (October 22nd, 2014) in advance of Grim Reaper's January 13, 2015 release date.   The middle of the album lowers the tempo and ebulience a bit with cuts like Boys Latin that showcase the tenor that Panda Bear (born Noah Benjamin Lennox) developed in his high school chamber choir albeit washed in heavy echo and delay.  Tropic of Cancer with its plucked harp and haunting melody is a nice respite from the pseudo dance floor vibes.  Closers Selfish Gene and Acid Wash bring the album to a nice close and denouement.  It is hard to tell if this is single album concept or an EP rammed together with another EP of songs- it has that duality to it.

Both Panda Bear and Animal Collective are well known for their heavy use of samples, loops and synthesizers.  Panda Bear is deeply influenced by electronic music increasingly evident in his past few outings.  He predominantly uses a Korg M3 workstation synthesizer and a variety of samplers (the Roland SP-555, Elektron Octatrack and Boss SP-303 'Dr. Sample') to create his music. On Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper he is joined again (as on 2011's Tomboy) by former Spaceman 3 member Peter 'Sonic Boom' Kember.





Killer Mike - Sunday Morning Massacres #1 (download)

Killer Mike is all kinds of reasons to love Hip Hop.  Who else in Hip Hop today could pull off one of the hardest and best Hip Hop albums of the year (Run The Jewels II), speak the truth about Ferguson and drop a bible inspired mixtape in short order.

Sunday Morning Massacres vol. 1 (also known as Ghetto Gospels) speaks to Mike's learnedness and southern upbringing.  This is one of those records you don't want to delete all the 'skits' on.  The skit, which is admittedly the bane of all Hip Hop albums and a faded concept, is here elevated to true street gospel.   On the intro Mike explains that as opposed to East coast and West coast gangsters- Southern G's (gangsters and the god squad) cross paths some times when the pastor sneaks into a juke joint or the gangster goes to church with his grandma on Sunday.  With production by DJ Greg Street this batch of songs actually dates back to 2008 and riding the crest of Run The Jewels popularity, fueled by indignation about racial inequality, Killer Mike undoubtedly thought it was timely to release this material now.

It's a very strong mixtape across the board and with the street sermons that precede every tune it's a necessary primer for street thugs who've lost their way.  His intentions may be a bit mixed.  Jockin' is a pretty standard call-out of Jay-Z  and 'fourth generation Jay-Z biters' - which shows its age with the reference to the song from Jay's 2008 release Blueprint 3Neva/ The Judas Theory evinces Mike's biblical knowledge about Jesus knowing that he would be betrayed and by who.  His advice at the end of the previous skit is straight street though:

"You need to start looking around you and seeing who gonna deny you once you behind bars. Or who ain't gonna stand up under the pressure and might turn you in.  Based on that you need to make different decisions."
It's hard to imagine Killer Mike post-Ferguson recording a track with the same message.  But Caine and Abel is particularly on point talking about the challenges Blacks face trying to run a business together.  One of the most insightful cuts similarly is Samson (Message to Young Black Athletes).  In the sermon that precedes the joint Mike makes the pointed observation that a lot of young Black athletes model themselves after street figures.  "I think morally a lot of them are making the wrong decisions based on the music they listen to rather than the discipline it took to get them where they're going."  The rest of the skit/sermon though switches to the figure of Delilah cast as a modern day athlete chasing bitty who will do what needs to be done to seperate you from your money. 


11.27.2014

Prince shuts down 3rd Eye Girl (Twitter acount, deletes all Youtube videos)

Prince is the greatest live act in the world today.  Like Nusrat Ali Khan and Jeff Buckley he has always struggled to find the union between the sacred and the profane.  He strikes a worse balance between the provocative and profoundly flaky.   3 weeks ago Prince cancelled a surprise show - one of his famous 'hit and run' concerts- at Massey Hall at last minute because he was 'not feeling it'. Virtually every TV, print and radio outlet in Toronto and the nation covered the melee in front of Massey Hall.   Most notably CP24's Kevin Frankish was reporting from in front of the venue right up until the sudden cancellation confirming details such as when wristbands would be handed out to the lucky few at the front of the line.  102.1's Josie Dye announced over the air that the entire station had only been allocated 4 tickets, later tweeted the same and of course deleted the tweets afterwards.  No media outlet has done any reporting on what in god's name happened and simply re-tweeted mea culpa's from his recent crop of female protege's 3rd Eye Girl's cell phone.  This is what passes for entertainment let alone journalism these days.  Now today the CBC is reporting that:

"Twitter accounts for the artist's band 3rd Eye Girl (@3rdEyeGirl) and the New Power Generation account (@NPGOffical) have been deleted.  Prince’s official Facebook page and Instagram (Princestagram) accounts have also been shut down. And, as of Wednesday morning, all the videos on the 3rd Eye Girl YouTube account have either been pulled or been made private."
Anyone who follows Prince closely knows intuitively what happened.  Prince who favours total control in all endeavours, and for whom band mates are little more than muppets giving image and flash to his catalogue and new albums, flaked out and left everyone from the concert promoter, sound and lighting company to his band to dig them self out of the hole they dug together.   It's not particularly surprising that there has been no reporting after the fact.  Canada's journalistic world, as with all print legacy media, is shrinking by the day.  This shrinking job market, which keeps journalists fretting about their next paycheque and unlikely to call out a potential future employer, has been well defined by Jesse Brown who created the independent outlet Canadaland to allay this woeful situation. Only as an 'outside' journalist could he have broke the international story that CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi serially abused countless women over a period of years.  Just as comedian Hannibal Burress got the world to take rape allegations against Bill Cosby seriously by simply saying out loud as a man: "Bill Cosby Is A Rapist".  This is not to compare cancelling a concert to severe and life altering rape and sexual assault allegations.  It is a comparison of how Men in Power shield other men in Power from the repercussions of their actions.  It is an argument, by pointing to this colourful nonsense surprise rehearsal/concert, that consolidation of media ownership limits rather than multiplies the diversity of voices in the media landscape.  That and smartphones are making people, dumb, dumb, dumb.

So what did happen?  You won't find it in any 'news' article.  Maybe you'll find it on this blog. Sadly the best account comes from an anonymous poster 'Holly' in the comments of a miserably feeble 'article' on BlogTO:

"What kind of bullshit reporting was this!

Here's the details from someone with multiple inside sources: there were 2 shows scheduled (both Tuesday and Wednesday as confirmed by band members), Massey Hall had booked the show and planned for staff (all the ushers were emailed or called the day before to confirm schedules with 2 call times; one was for the Tuesday, the second was for Wednesday with most staff being under the impression it was a double show on the Wednesday since there was a 7 & 9 o'clock call time - they were then emailed around 3pm to be told both shifts had been cancelled), Prince was staying at the 4 Seasons in Toronto (staff were informed he was there but were told to keep it hush hush), the security detail got the call the night/day before and were told it was Prince (though they were given limited details and were told not to say anything), Prince was supposed to be staying in town for up to 4 days (2 performances at Massey - 1 secret, 1 known by the next day after it leaked, 2 shows at another undisclosed venue, both secret), the stage was set up 2 days before (sound check happened on Monday), and according to 2 of his crew members Prince just ditched at the last minute leaving everyone in the lurch to pick up the pieces.

Was also told one of his security guards mother passed away which may be why he cancelled (though that hasn't been confirmed).

You want leads for some real reporting... there you go, now follow up and offer something legit."
 

11.26.2014

Killer Mike pre-Ferguson Grand Jury speech


The United States of America's people of colour are suffering a profound moment of loss.  The extremely profoundly rare instance of a Grand Jury returning an indictment of the nature that set Darren Wilson free and left Michael Brown dead in the ground has left the nation reeling and taking it to the streets.  His death needless and wrought with profound meaning, consequences and upheaval.  It is not that many Canadians and Americans don't understand the significance of his death.  It's that they just don't care.  It is admittedly hard for white people to understand.  Because white people do not have to have a talk with their boys at a certain age about how they will deal with their first (presumably of many) police stops for walking or driving while being Black.  Killer Mike, who is a profound street prophet if nothing else, speaks to this horror in modern Amerika.  In a bizarre bit of happenstance Run The Jewels happened to have a tour stop in the nearest urban centre to Ferguson, St. Louis Missouri, the night the Jury's verdict was read.  As Mike explains they usually enter to Queen's We Are The Champions but that he doesn't feel like a champion tonight.  The very big man gets audibly choked as he explains best in his own words:

"No matter how much we do it, no matter how much we get together.  Shit comes along and kicks you on your ass and you don't feel like a champion.  So tonight I got kicked on my ass when I listened to that prosecutor.  You mutherfuckers got me today.  I knew it was coming, I knew it when funky Eric Holder decided to resign I knew it wasn't going to be good but I gotta tell you... (chokes) you mutherfuckers got me today.  You knocked me on my ass today because I have a twenty year old son and I have a twelve year old son and I am so afraid for them.  You mutherfuckers... trying to control our lives - you got me today."

Michael Brown - May 20, 1996 - August 9, 2014

Prince Funk


Open Mike Eagle - Dark Comedy review

So many 'Hip Hop' 'albums' and even more 'mixtapes' come out in a year that you're excused dear reader if you can't make out the kernel from the chaff.  Dark Comedy by Open Mike Eagle is the sort of album, of any genre, that reaches out and grabs you after about 17 seconds and keeps paying off all the way through.

Eagle is an L.A. based rapper born in Chicago.  He's affiliated with the Project Blowed crew, a legendary group of west coast underground freestylers including the singular Aceyalone, Busdriver, Mikah 9 and Abstract Rude
Rather than adopt the affected pose of a rented-wardrobe second unit hip hop video he invokes and calls out all of these cliches in prompt order.

If he sounds smart-as-hell it's because he is.   Eagle, born Michael Eagle II, is a serious brainiac.  He's a former special education teacher and "he co-authored and participated in a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health that observed the locations of increased brain activity during freestyle rapping".  Plus anyone who namechecks Joe Walsh ('analogue Eagle Joe Walsh bandanna on' - Thirsty Ego Raps) and Little Lord Fauntleroy ("I changed my rap name to Lil' Wonder Boy/ You change your rap name to Little Lord Fauntleroy").  Little Lord Fauntleroy (the title of a 19th century children's novel and a term for an overly precious silly bloused nitwit) isn't exactly a name you hear checked in Hip Hop these days.  It's the sort of reference that sent fake feds running for fake notepads when they picked it up on a wire in Tony Soprano's basement.


It gets better.  If you like your brainy Hip Hop without the silly blouses a good mitigator is a healthy dose of comedy.  In that regard Eagle comes from the Kyu Sakamoto school of hard knocks. Sakamoto's hit song Sukiyaki (the name of a steak dish) was popular with GI's returning from the Korean war.  Really titled Ue o Muite Arukou it translates as: "I look up as I walk/ So that the tears won't fall".  Except Eagle doesn't seem to be getting over the heartbreak of a romance with a Japanese starlet.  He's too busy changing diapers and rapping about them.  Which is also a tired clichĂ© in Hip Hop these days everyone uses that schtick most recently from memory Busdriver who (produces Deathmate Black on Dark Comedy) also has a strong album out this year (Perfect Hair).  Except Eagle is aware of the cliche and exploits it to deft effect.

Then there's the references and referentiality; Dave Gahan, Jon Lovitz and Doug Stamper (one of whom is fictional).   It was the last one and you need to have seen House of Cards to get the reference (Stamper is Spacey's character Frank Underwood's chief of staff and sick fixer).  Even better on the song- appropriately titled Doug Stamper (Advice Raps) - Hannibal Burress (most famous recently for being the comedian who said out loud that Bill Cosby is a rapist becoming an ally to all the women he's raped giving them much needed legitimacy) is featured (although it's rumoured that Amy Poehler ghost wrote the verse).













11.22.2014

Dean Ween Group


Dean Ween plays Pink Floyd's Echoes (2.21.14) - John and Peter's, New Hope PA

Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween) has happily been keeping busy of late running his own Fishing Boat charter business.  Since the demise of the group Ween, the result of Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) hitting rock bottom and finding sobriety, Melchiondo has also kept busy with his other project Moistboyz touring in support of 2013's album  5.

Since March 22nd Mickey's been performing with his own newly inaugurated Dean Ween Group.  But on February, 21 in his hometown of New Hope, PA he fulfilled a childhood dream (according to Ultimate Classic Rock) to peform the Pink Floyd classic Echoes in its entirety live.  Deaner assembled in his words the 'ultimate cover band' to pull off the feat (Bill Fowler (guitar and vocals), Ray Kubian (drums), Sean Faust (keyboards)
Guy Heller (vocals), and Chris Williams (bass)).

Rather then base their version off of of Floyd's 1971 album Meddle (clocking in at 23 minutes) Deaner modeled their version off of Live at Pompeii ramming together the live Parts 1 and 2 that served as the beginning and ending of that film.  "We grew up watching "Live at Pompeii" all the time and finally got to execute this song properly," said Deaner.


11.06.2014

Garth Hudson returns to Big Pink after 47 years

Garth Hudson is known for being as brilliant as maddening.  He comes from a long line of relations that lived well into their nineties and as he didn't share all of the Band members vices he may just get there.  In person he is spry if not exasperating as one might expect from a man of his age and stature.  His wife Maud is no minor figure in his life and the site of his frail frame pushing her along in her wheelchair is a sweet vignette of love.  Rolling Stone likely had to edit this well made 8 minute documentary on The Basement Tapes down considerably.   Garth's, known by his band mates as H.B. or Honey Bear for his ability to sweeten up the tracks, role is captured well with the Band's archivist Jan Haust describing well how Garth was operating.  There's interesting discussion about the nature of the materials (wood, concrete, and carpets) allowing Garth to achieve the sound he desired.  Garth also gives a stirring account of the composition and execution of Dylan's obscure Sign Of The Cross.  The mini-doc ends with a sprawling interlude on solo piano, what would have been called in their live show The Genetic Method.

11.05.2014

Prince cancels 'secret show' at Toronto's Massey Hall because he wasn't 'feeling it'.

(l to r) Donna Grantis, Ida Nielsen and Hannah Ford Welton
Clearly Prince thinks the bulk of his fans are stupid.  Or variously a good chunk of the Canadian music industry is worried about their comped tickets to the next surprise or announced show that they won't tell you the truth.

The fact is undoubtedly there was supposed to be not one but two 'hit and run' secret shows with Prince and 3rd Eye Girl at Massey Hall Nov. 4th and 5th.  Staff from the security company were told to arrive at 8:00 am and were informed it was for a Prince 'secret show'.  At the end of the day the common courtesy extended to people who'd waited over 17 hours in line was as simple as a crew member acknowledging to local cable outlet CP24 that two concerts originally planned for Tuesday and Wednesday nights had been "cancelled."

Likewise Josie Dye, a radio personality for Edge 102.1 said on air they'd spoken to a Prince crew member and confirmed that the entire station was only being comped 4 tickets to the clearly happening show.  The Purple Yoda is trying to pull a Jedi mind trick on his fans. While this sort of faux-mysterious behaviour is standard operating procedure for Prince the BS explanation he's had his band, promoter and ticket'master' trot out is offensive to basic intelligence.   The short and curlies of it are that he cancelled the show because, as Dye later tweeted: "Yes there was going to be a show! Prince decided moments ago he just 'wasn't feeling it' Sad." The tweet as with almost every tweet associated with this hype frenzy has been deleted.

The following morning in response to undoubtedly a huge volume of inquiries from news organizations and fans alike 3rd Eye Girl drummer Hannah Ford Welton has taken to Twitter with a post to the #PrinceArmy.  In it she states:

"2 The #PrinceArmy: Thank you so much for your love, support & concern!  We are safe & ok.  What happened today was a total mixup and there was never a show confirmed. We apologize for the inconvenience & look forward to the day we rock Toronto. We love and appreciate you."

Her husband and Prince's co-producer of Art Official Age Chris James, who DJ's under the cringe-worthy name Joshua A.M.,  followed suit with a story that seemed to line up:
 "We <3 you and apologize for the rumors.  No show was confirmed on our end but we look forward to playing in Toronto soon.  Thank you for your patience and understanding - when we arrive in Toronto we'll make sure it's worth the wait - Joshua"
Were you concerned about the safety and welfare of the members of 3rd Eye Girl?  I know I wasn't.  Similarly Live Nation Ontario (who were involved why?) is actually blaming the whole confusion on Ticketmaster:

"Live Nation wants to apologize for any inconvenience experienced by Prince and his fans in Toronto when Ticketmaster posted incorrect concert information on their website earlier today. The only reservation was for a production rehearsal. There was no concert scheduled for today."

So stop right there.  Live Nation overcame regulatory hurdles on January 25, 2010 that allowed them to merge with Ticketmaster forming Live Nation Entertainment.  The merger was described by The Economist as a 'union of pariahs'.  The monolithic entity which owns the majority of venues in North America and the unavoidable Ticketmaster operates on a scale that is hard to fathom- literally fixing and moving the price of their own entertainment commodities.  "The leadership consists of John C. Malone, chairman of Liberty Media as chairman and Michael Rapino (previously chief executive officer of Live Nation) as president and CEO of the company."

Now consider also the fact that Prince and Michael Rapino are friends despite the rocky relationship Prince has had with Live Nation as an entity.  They are such good friends that Prince added Rapino's hometown (population 120,000) of Thunder Bay, Ontario to his Welcome 2 Canada tour - a feat of logistics and routing that is hard also to fathom.  In short for Live Nation to blame Ticketmaster for this whole 'secret show' confusion is baldly false.  They are one in the same.  To imagine also that Canuck Rapino would not move mountains (or clouds) for Prince one of the few artists in the world capable of doing what he does, is woefully naive.

But to give the whole thing a bit more of an air of reality some guy named Trevor Guy (from a sound and lighting company 3EG) also tweeted and was retweeted by Prince fan feed @PrinceMuseum as saying something similar:

" - sorry for the confusion today surrounding the reported Massey Hall performance. 3EG’s sound and lighting crew is set-up for production rehearsals at the venue; contrary to reports, there was never a confirmed show. To all those who waited. in line, thank you for your time and patience. It is very appreciated and never taken for granted.
In hindsight to the passing eye this all sounds pretty plausible suggesting blame should lay on over-excited fans and the legitimate media outlets that jumped on the story.   Admittedly most outlets ran versions of  'Is Prince playing a surprise show?' articles until they had confirmation it wasn't happening at which point they jumped on the opposite story.  However this writer definitely saw the ticket listing on Ticketmaster sometime between 10:30 and 11:00.  So in order a mysterious tweet goes out around 4:30 AM and is immediately deleted, but catches the attention of a super fan woken to the alert he'd set.  A queue begins to form around Massey Hall.  A security company somehow arrives on site miraculously at 8:00 AM.  Metal barricades are also delivered to the site despite the concert that's not happening.  Ticketmaster lists then removes the listing of the show taking place.  So far this all sounds like a carefully planned publicity stunt.  Media outlets are alerted or become alerted to the mounting story and are buoyed on by details such as photos of the stage set up within the venue, the Ticketmaster listing, crowd, security, barricades etc.  Global Television went so far as to somehow get the impression that the show was not only going on but that wristbands would be handed out at 6:00 for an 8:00 show start.

And then in the end it's the international concert promoter Live Nation and Live Nation Ontario who are apologizing around the confusion of a rehearsal/ show.  These 'hit and run' shows Prince does are high risk and high reward for both the audience and as this instance shows artist alike.  Still the prevailing widom is (and this writer boldly concurs) that if you ever have an opportunity to hear Prince play live in your life you should take it.  Wherever you are.  This is only a hunch, but Prince who favours control in all situations, likely was not pleased with the amount or type of attention the show was getting, felt he couldn't quite pull it off or conversely he'd already accomplished his goal (admittedly pissing off thousands of diehard fans in the process) of promoting his new release with 3rd Eye Girl Plectrum Electrum.  Unfortunately in the process he's tried to play his entire fanbase and the media as the fools here. But since they're all owned by the same companies and worried about their own access you're not likely to hear quite this version of events.


11.04.2014

Prince Massey Hall surprise show cancelled

Photo taken of Massey Hall stage set up by @stazie_15 at 10:41 AM Nov. 4, 2014
At 8:30 AM Prince's current backing band's Twitter account @3rd Eye Girl posted a cryptic tweet:
4th day of November, we need a purple high: OTNOROT CALLING…
Although the tweet was quickly deleted it was quickly retweeted and a cue formed around Massey Hall.  Further uncomfirmed details came out over the course of the day as a cue of acolytes, hard-core fans, scalpers and ticket brokers continued to surge.  Reports ranged from a rumoured ticket price ($10) to only the first 200 people being given wristbands.  But this wasn't just a loose rumour.  Metal barricades were delivered to Massey Hall and people in the line described a strong odour of 'incense and breakfast sandwiches' from the load in area.
By 10:41 every imaginable print and radio outlet in the city had picked up some version of the story with Global Television going so far as saying that wristbands would be handed out at 6:00 and the show would start at 8:00.  With Massey Hall being a union house known for its acoustics and a hard 11:00 close all of those facts lined up.  Further a Prince fan twitter feed @PrinceMuseum which was posting reliable updates and photos of the swelling line announced that this was the first of two shows (confirmed by a personality on Talk 1010 @MooreintheAM stating "Confirmed. Not one but two shows by Prince in TO.")  Then word began to get out that people were being turned away without either tickets or wristbands and Live Nation had to begin the mea culpa's first from their Live Nation Ontario account:
In response to inquiries, we can confirm that Prince will not be performing at tonight.
And then from the Live Nation account:

Hey! Sorry, Prince will not be performing tonight or tomorrow night

Bliss, a quick internet search reveals, while she seems to be employed by Live Nation works as a journalist and has written for Rolling Stone and Billboard (reporting on Live Nation no less).  But most importantly she's way Christian which might give her some insight or more likely access into the mind of Prince.  Being Christian and having Christian values (particularly those aligned with Jehovah's Witness) is a pre-cursor for any professional involvement with Prince these days.

It's not as if his multitude of fan's went off half-cocked though.  Even Ticketmaster had the show listed as happening today and then the listing also disappeared.  Further, serious fans know that Prince is close with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino and included a Thunder Bay date, Rapino's hometown, on his Welcome 2 Canada tour having "PROMISED 2 COME 2 HIS HOMETOWN 2 DO SOMETHING HISTORIC."  Given that Prince did play that town with a population of 120,000 it didn't seem like such a stretch that a few days after his whirlwind SNL appearance that he would play a surprise date in his former hometown after all.  As we know no concert can happen in North America without the explicit go ahead from Live Nation and/or Ticketmaster how did everyone have it wrong?

Prince fans know he does and has done these sort of secret or surprise shows for years.  The immediate precedent is that he did two back to back shows at Camden (home of vocalist Lianne La Havas) at the Electric Ballroom for 300 fans on Feb. 5 and 6th of this year to promote the same albums (Art Official Age and Plectrum Electrum) he's actively promoting as recent as his jawdropping 8 minute SNL appearance this past Saturday (November 1).  La Havas who appeared in the SNL set though not a member of 3rd Eye Girl figures prominently on Art Official Age.  It's more than likely that the show had it proceeded it would have been a show of this nature- for a very small audience irrespective of the venue capacity and not a 3 hour sweat drenched run through of the catalogue.  Why you ask?  For one thing 3rd Eye Girl, with Toronto's Donna Grantis on lead guitar, does not seem like the kind of group that could hold down a three hour set with Prince (the Electric Ballroom setlists bear this out).  His collaboration and album with them - Plectrum Electrum - seems to be an extension of his Sly and the Family Stone inspired desire to have multi-racial gender diverse bands as well as a desire to record a certain 'dirty' if you like rock & roll sound live off the recording studio floor.  Basically the other side of the EDM coin that he flipped on Age.  With all due respect to the Girl's they are not the sort of touring band that Prince has used for ages - with stalwarts like Renato Neto (keys) or John Williams (drums) or Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer (saxes).

What it seems happened, and uncomfirmed sources have conveyed similar versions, was that Prince clearly had some sort of performance and marketing stunt planned for Plectrum ElectrumArt Official Age is a solo album Prince's first since 2010 (although sadly with help from a Deadmau5 affiliate Chris James or Joshua A.M. who is married to 3rd Eye drummer Hannah Ford Welton).  Prince also likes to keep it in the family.   Let's not forget either that Prince lived for a period in Toronto in the luxury neighborhood the Bridle Path while married to Toronto native and former Paisley Park employee Manuela Testolini.  The Bridle Path is also referenced lyrically on his last memorable release Musicology. So Prince's ties to Toronto run pretty deep.

Apparently what was supposed to take place was a soundcheck/ rehearsal.  Bands (like the Rolling Stones and comedians like Dave Chappelle recently) like to use Toronto as a staging ground for their extensive preparations for tours, either through a connection to a mega-promoter like Rapino or in the Stones case Michael Cohl or simply because it's a small market where they can make mistakes without too much notice.  When Chappelle played a similar, hotly anticipated and hype-swirled, set at the Winter Garden Theatre it was also a let down as he was clearly working up material (for a much cleaner airing at his Carnegie Hall shows).  Sadly all the people in line who were fans went through the ringer today, even those who weren't in line did.  On the upside a bunch of scalpers had their whole day wasted in the cold November rain no less.  Not purple, but maybe just a little bittersweet.


 

Stones play Loving Cup for first time in 8 years in Perth, Australia


The Rolling Stones are not known for mixing up their set night after night.  Particularly where huge staging effects and lighting cues are involved everyone on the crew needs to know what's coming next.  Still you'll notice five songs into their set in Perth Australia (10.29.04) they dropped in Loving Cup (by request).

The Perth Arena only holds a scant 15,000 and the cheapest tickets were going for $380.  But the opportunity to see the Stones at the end of their life cycle in such a small venue was undoubtedly viewed as priceless especially since they may not make a trip across the pond to the penal colony again. 

As Jambands.com has reported the song Loving Cup (popularized in the last ten years as a dutiful cover Phish plays often as an encore) has only been played 21 times between 1969 and 2006.  Also of note to is that Karl Denson (Greyboy Allstars, Lenny Kravitz, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe) is filling in for longtime saxophonist Bobby Keys on the Australian leg of the tour. 

Wilco - I'm The Man Who Loves You (backstage The Tonight Show)


Here's a lovely acoustic take on Wilco's I'm The Man Who Loves You from their sonic and popular breakthrough album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

11.01.2014

Phish - Halloween Las Vegas, NV (MGM Grand, 10.31.14)


Phish
Las Vegas, NV
MGM Grand Arena
10.31.14

Set 1: Buried Alive > Ghost, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar, Reba, 46 Days, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Lawn Boy, Saw It Again > Tube, Wolfman's Brother

Set 2: The Haunted House[1], The Very Long Fuse[1], The Dogs[1], Timber[1], Your Pet Cat[1], Shipwreck[1], The Unsafe Bridge[1], The Chinese Water Torture[1], The Birds[1], Martian Monster[1]

Set 3: Punch You In the Eye > Golden Age > Tweezer -> Heavy Things, Guyute, Sand -> Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Is This What You Wanted[2], Frankenstein[3]

[1] Debut.
[2] Phish debut.
[3] Page on keytar.


Note: For the second year in a row Phish has broken with their musical tradition (dating to 1994 and their full rendition of the Beatles White Album as a 'musical costume' during the second set, followed by the Who's Quadrophenia in '95 and perhaps their finest accomplishment The Talking Heads Remain In Ligh in '96) of covering an album from classic rock history in its entirety as the entire second set of a 3 set concert.  Last year fans were greatly disappointed when instead of following tradition they broke the social contract and debuted their new album (of largely awful material) Fuego.  

This year the band loosely based their sound around the 1964 Disneyland album Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House as reported on Phish.net:

"Prior to the start of Set II, the stage was cleared of all band equipment, and a graveyard set was brought out.  At the start of the set, smoke filled the stage, and zombies appeared behind the gate.  When the gate opened, a large haunted house with the band inside was brought to the front of the stage.  The sound effects and narration were played on the PA, while an undead narrator would emerge from a crypt inscribed with "ESTHER" prior to each song for the introduction.  At the end of The Fuse, the sides of the house came down while sounds of an explosion were heard, and the band was revealed inside, dressed in white tuxedoes and with zombie face paint.  Several zombies came to the front of the stage and danced during Martian Monster.  At the conclusion of the set, the band members came down from the Haunted House riser, slowly walked to the front of the stage, and took bows, along with the entire cast of zombies.  All songs during the second set were debuts, with the titles taken from the first ten tracks of Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House.  Is This What You Wanted (Leonard Cohen) was a Phish debut.  Page performed Frankenstein on keytar, which was played for the first time since July 1, 2012 (100 shows)."