June of 11

What a month. I can't remember another time in my life when I got to see so many and such diverse bands in a 1 month span. Though, if I go from the 15th to 15th from November to December of 94, I got to see Bikini Kill, Trenchmouth, Ween, Kyuss, Helmet, Today is the Day, Sick of it All, Quicksand, Orange 9mm, Die 116, The Metroschifter, Face To Face, Carrier (pre-Jimmy Eat World), The Jesus Lizard, Pegboy, Kepone, Shudder To Think and Sunny Day Real Estate. That was my introduction to going to shows solo, a past-time I've grown accustomed to since then. I was in my freshman year at ASU in Tempe, AZ, and up until that Bikini Kill show, I'd only gone to a few mediocre shows since moving there. I did not have a car and had thus far been relegated to shows that the few friends I had made would also be interested in. Then I realized that Boston's, a little dive bar that had all ages shows just about every night, was only about a 45 minute walk away. Kind of a hike, but in the Arizona weather, where it's 75 degrees at 9pm in November, I didn't mind at all. Besides, I was walking that far for decent pizza and chicken parm heroes anyway, why not for kick-ass rock and roll.

Going to shows alone became a ritual after that night. I met some great people, got to have conversations with both Kathleen Hanna and Fred Armisen, and felt an even more enhanced personal connection to the music. I went back the following night to see Ween and Kyuss, and got to talk to Josh Homme a little bit.  He went on and on about how amazing Ween was, but I just couldn't bring myself to stay through their whole set. I've always been a fan of their music, but at that moment, Kyuss was my favorite band in the world. And in my mind, no one could follow them.

So, anyway, June of 11. There was a re-united "classic line-up" version of Guided By Voices at McCarren Pool,  R. Stevie Moore at the Bell House, which I'll get to later,  as well as 'Bob and the Monster', a film on Thelonious Monster's Bob Forrest and the mid-80's L.A. underground rock scene, but I'll focus on June 11th.  I started the day, excited to see Adrian Belew for my first time. The waterfront shows in Williamsburg are always a good time and I've been a fan since the King Crimson days, so I was ecstatic.

Since he and his band were opening for Coheed & Cambria and the show was free, the line was around the corner, but I managed to get in just in time to catch the opener of his set. While I'm more a fan of his singer-songwriter material, his focus seemed to be the heavier prog-rock stuff, which was fine by me. Adrian was phenomenal as were bassist Julie Slick and new drummer Marco Minnemann. The highlights for me were Writing on the Wall, Three of a Perfect Pair and Dinosaur from the King Crimson songbook, and the title track from Belew's 1990 album, Young Lions.

I tried to tolerate Coheed & Cambria, and while musically, they were more interesting than I'd expected, the whiny vocals and lyrics seemingly stolen from a 13 year old girl's diary were just too much to overcome.

So I got out of there. On to Saint Vitus Bar.

With the night still young, I figured I'd head over to Greenpoint and check out a band I've been meaning to for a while now.


Grandfather first came to my attention about six months ago when they opened for Mission of Burma at Maxwell's.  I was planning on going to the show since I rarely miss Burma anytime they're within reasonable driving distance. Upon looking into Grandfather, I discovered that they recorded an album with Steve Albini that was available for free download on their website. I figured I would download the mp3's and eventually purchase the vinyl if I liked it. I suggest you all do the same. http://grandfathermusic.com/  I was basically impressed on every level, from the music to the artwork to just the way they present themselves, they seemed like a band that knows exactly what they're doing. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it that night, but knew I would make an effort to catch them as soon as possible.
I got there just in time to catch Your Skull My Closet, an energetic three-piece I'd never heard of and was thouroughly impressed. Great rock music a-la early QOTSA. Loved it.

Grandfather then came on and completely blew me away, total pros. Rock music the way it should be made; tight, heavy, challenging, artistic and completely original. I wouldn't call them derivative in any way, but they really harken back to some of the great bands of the 90's like Failure, Tool, Shellac, Chokebore and Quicksand. Not to date their sound either, it's just that artistic rock bands that are able to gracefully walk the line between heavy and ambient are all too rare these days.

Here's a video I shot of 'Tremors' from Why I'd Try. Not the best sound quality with the overdriven bass, but a great song that incorporates everything I love about them as a band.

So I left Saint Vitus Bar feeling revitalized and not yet ready to make the drive back to Long Island. I called a few friends and figured I'd head to Union Pool, thinking it was a good central location to have a 3 dollar beer and figure out where to go next. By then it was a little after midnight and with the pool as depressing as ever, I walked into the back room to see if there was a band or a dance party or anything more interesting than the taco truck and the rude foreigners that seem to frequent that place.  I walk in the back to find an insanely loud ruckus. My first thought was 'These guys are good. They kinda sound like Unsane.' Then they played Scrape. Holy shit! It is Unsane. I just saw Adrian Belew. Then Grandfather, and now I just inadvertently stumbled onto an Unsane show. I only got to see the final 4 or 5 songs of the set, but all in all, I left feeling pretty satisfied. Not a bad day.

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