Aesop Rock “Coffee” Video

Whether or not you’re a fan of Aesop’s latest, None Shall Pass, you have to give the guy some respect for what he’s done this year. Releasing something unprecedented in the hip hop game, a forty five minute mix themed towards…runners…, releasing one of the genre’s most anticipated releases the year, None Shall Pass, and delivering a full fledged tour with the likes of The Octopus Project and Rob Sonic in tow isn’t something that the normal MC just shakes out of his sleeve. Add to his credits the brilliant animated video for the title track and this, director Ace Norton’s offbeat, tongue in cheek stab at B-horror. I’d say the man has had a pretty fantastic year. This is “Coffee”:

On Why Michael Showalter’s “Erotica” is Pretty Much The Musical Equivalent to Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”…Only Better

After literally dozens of times through Michael Showalter’s hot new single“Erotica” it began to dawn on me that the song’s theme, details and setting could pretty much pass for a Wes Anderson movie. Then reality smacked me boldly in the face and shouted “it is a Wes Anderson movie, retard!” And as it turns out, Michael Showalter’s “Erotica” is pretty much the musical equivalent to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Not merely through ridiculous settings, character names, remarkably unnecessary uses of terminology, grave plot twists, sexual overtones or quirky one liners however, but they both try to say something about life when all is said and done. And that’s what really matters.

First, the horribly fictional settings that both the movie and the song find themselves taking place in. “Erotica” bounces from Bermuda (deep sea fishing), to the Rare Book Archive at the Firestone Library to a simple hospital room where the song concludes. Not to be outdone however, The Life Aquatic spends most of its time on a submarine (The Belafonte), with countless tangents all about the Italian Riviera and beyond. In terms of mental visualization, the description given by “Erotica” is mute compared to the visuals given in the movie, but all the same, the comparisons are there.

Much along the lines of the comically absurd settings are the criminally laughable character names. By far the winner is The Life Aquatic even when only using some of the main characters’ first names (Eleanor, Klaus, Alistair, Oseary, Pelé, Vikram and Kingsley). The Life Aquaticdemonstrates not simply a reach for the unusual in doing so, but a thrust towards the presumptuous. Far from the same level of branding comes from “Erotica,” which simply explains one of the sailors as Edgar MacCabe, hardly a presumptuous name when you think about it. William Iverson and Margery the librarian do little in terms of adding to my struggle for similarities, but again, far from me to say that I find no comparisons.

The most blazing reflection between “Erotica” and The Life Aquatic comes with the overly detailed terminology and/or descriptions given to various (sometimes mundane) plot elements. For “Erotica” these details come from two primary sources, food and sex. Though not as sexually explicit as the descriptions of various sandwiches later in the song, Showalter reflects, “There’s this young librarian I know named Margery, she’s very shy, you’d hardly even know she was there under all those bangs. But there’s something about her. Something about the way she unbuttons her blouse that one extra button, just enough so you’d notice - if you were paying attention. There’s something about the way she licks her lips while she reads her books. Something about the way she crosses her legs under the desk and lets her skirt ride up past her thigh revealing the fact that she’s not wearing any underwear. So you can just barely see a hint, just a suggestion, just the faintest little whisper of her pretty little tea pot dripping boiling hot water all over the floor.”

While The Life Aquatic has ongoing sexual references and suggestions, it fails to do so in a way that is nearly as elongated and throbbing as Showalter’s cheeky itemizations. Rather, “sugar crabs mating before the solstice.” Not that hot when you think about it.

“Erotica” doesn’t detail the sea and in all its glory as Anderson’s picture (hydrogen psychosis, crayon pony fish), but at least it tries, “blue lobster, freshwater Harrison squid, barrels of Peterson shrimp, forkfish and kelp.” Again, not entirely the same, but all the same it is hard to contrast the two and not draw any comparisons.

Another one of the oh-so-glaring similarities between the two is the grave plot twist, which in both situations comes quite early in the plot sequence. Showalter describes, “little did we know that by noon the next day, half of us would be mangled, bloodied beyond recognition, a school of sharks would turn my boat and its entire crew into a floating bucket of chum” roughly a quarter of the way into the song. Likewise, the Jaguar shark’s attack on Steve Zissou’s best friend, Esteban, ultimately shines as the first key point to the plot of The Life Aquatic. Both grave, both descriptive, both in the sea…comparisons galore.

The Life Aquatic holds much better one liners, both in terms of quantity and quality. That being said, Showalter’s quirks are far subtler and can quickly go by unnoticed, “And I tell Edgar about how Margery and I did a wheelbarrow in front of the mayor.” Here are just a few from Bill Murray’s Steve Zissou,

“How could you lay that slick faggot?”

“This bulldyke’s got something against us.”

“I’m going to fight it, but I’ll let it live.”

“Son of a bitch, I’m sick of these dolphins.”

“I’ve never seen a bond company stooge stick his neck out like that.”

Not as sly as Showalter’s, but a tad sharper all around.

After watching and listening, both the movie and the song, the similarities glow between the two with each bringing about its own strange conclusion. While Zissou’s journey to find and destroy the monster that killed his best friend concludes in him finding grace in the beauty of the beast, Showalter shamelessly resorts to blessing us with words of wisdom, “The moral of the story is this, don’t try to be someone you’re not, because life is too short. Just be who you are, because we only get one turn on this big blue marble.”

And unfortunately, this is where all of the comparisons end. While a joke, the song recalling a tale of sea misadventure that ultimately serves as a mask for hilarious pokes at romanticism and dreams concludes with a statement bearing significant weight (no matter how funny it may be). And the moral of The Life Aquatic…well, when it gets right down to it…might be plain and simple…

No matter how visually impressive their high spots may be, no matter how delicious their soundtracks might sound…stop wasting your time with Wes Anderson movies. (Further proof, The Darjeeling Limited)

Common “I Want You” Video

For all of its negative criticism, even through Finding Forever’s first three singles I felt that there was something strong buried deep in its essence. But even with the help of Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington, Kanye West, Serena Williams, Derek Luke and Sophia Luke they couldn’t make a rose out of this brutally dull track. Common: stick to rhyming about positivity, strength, power and raising people up…because love songs are not your thing.

30 Rock’s “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”

For those who are fans of NBC’s 30 Rock, especially those who don’t have cable, you can catch the show streaming online on their official site. And for those who have been keeping up with the show, I’m sure you remember the quick mention of Tracy Morgan’s character’s (aptly named Tracy Jordan) “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.” Out of sheer and utter joy (and in the spirit of the season) I couldn’t not post this, here is the extended version of the song:

“This whole premise is sweaty!”

Bloc Party “Flux” Video

With a sound seeded far deeper in mid-90s electronica than anything else in the band’s catalogue, “Flux” reintroduces Bloc Party as something far fresher than its typical indie rock typecast. The video’s theme is trapped somewhere between first or second season Power Rangers and “Intergalactic;” it supports the single that is set for release as apart of the band’s forthcoming digital re-release of Weekend in the City.

Stook’s “Seasonal Affective Disorder”

Nestled warmly in the pocket of his new release, When The Needle Hits The Wax, Stook’s “Seasonal Affective Disorder” quietly surprises as the finest piece of autobiographical poetry on the album. The precursor to the booming drunken jamboree “How Long We Gonna Dance?” and following his best Springsteen song on the album, “Diggin’ on You,” the track finds harmony in an avenue outside from his ever-outgoing, ever-rambunctious personality. “Seasonal Affective Disorder” projects an occasionally weak, sensitive musician; so, pretty much, he’s just like the rest of us, after all.

“I came out here to stake my claim, and I’m feelin’ like I lost my aim. The season is what I blame, but it’s probably me.” This is the heart of the song, the heart of its lonelinesss, and the heart of who it is that I’m beginning to understand Stook is as both a person and as a musician. Both Stook and myself have left the regions where we were born, both ending up here in Minneapolis, but the main difference is that he had a passionate goal in mind when doing so while I just sort of ended up here. Minneapolis is a long ways away from his Indiana upbringing, and in some regards I can understand the longing for familiarity that the song suggests. But has he lost his aim, or rather, has he just now realized his direction?

The second part of that line reminds me of just how human it is to commit a passionate crime against yourself, whether it be damning yourself with the entire burden of your pain, or neglecting to take on any responsibility whatsoever and painting the blame on something else, the mind can never seem to adjust when depression comes crashing. I find this line beautiful in that I have thought something similar so many times, the line is about giving into whatever it is that haunts and assuming the responsibility for how you feel whether or not you could control the situation at all. It’s almost to say - the weather isn’t good, but I can hardly blame what I’ve done or how I feel on winter. Hope I remember that in the coming months.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder” is available on Stook’s recently released album When The Needle Hits The Wax. For anyone in the Twin Cities area tonight (Friday, October 26, 2007) I highly suggest heading down to The Varsity Theater and taking part in Stook’s co-headlining CD release party with Dan Israel. The Jukes will be backing him and it would be wise to expect many guests (including the likes of Molly Maher and Martin Devaney) throughout the show.

The Fiery Furnaces “Ex-Guru” Video

“Ex-Guru” is an awesome song and the video for “Ex-Guru” is an awesome video, doubt I can really put much of a critique on something so unique. The vintage transition shots are killer, reminding me of something ABBA would have put out in their prime. That being said, ABBA never sounded this good (sorry mom!).

Fu Manchu “Hung Out To Dry” Video

Aside from me drunkenly ruining Fu Manchu’s show for many other fans in attendance earlier this year I’ve had nothing but positive feelings surrounding Fu Manchu’s latest, We Must Obey. The album is fairly strong, especially in comparison to the band’s last outing Start The Machine. However the video for “Hung Out To Dry” detracts from the music with its low grade b-movie theme and…well, just its general ridiculousness; oh well, it was good while it lasted.

Henry Rollins at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

Just as I put off recalling the three hours in which I basked in Henry Rollins’ stories in form of a review for well over a week, it took me roughly ten years to finally nut up and risk seeing my idol in person. However easy it is for me to become wrapped up in pretty much anything Henry Rollins involves himself in, I have — for the longest time — been more than nervous to actually attempt removing Rollins from whatever pedestal I placed him on back when I was in junior high. Last week though, I gave it a try. And was it worth it? Did he present himself as the intellectually striving music geek that I loved in my youth or did he simply repeat politically based rants in some mildly fluent presentation? Henry said at one point during the evening that in general he is either “on or off.” While performing at First Avenue on this night, a venue that rarely sees a stand up or spoken word act, he was most definitely on.

Opening with a refreshingly personable story, describing one of Black Flag’s stops at the 7th St. Entry (First Avenue’s adjacent sister club), Rollins quickly rolled through tale after tale of personal experiences – something that I was actually quite apprehensive of prior to the show’s opening. How could ol’ Hank actually expand on his experiences in a way I’ve never heard before, or escape from actually repeat stories I’ve already heard before?, I thought.

Ever the current newsophile, Rollins discussed everything from an appearance on Fox News, to Sean Hannity, to global warming, to Larry Craig’s recent run in with the airport security here in Minneapolis, to the utter lunacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Comic Con, to a run in with Exorcist-star Linda Blair and everything in between.

But it was what originally drew me to his spoken word shows in the first place that paced his three hour rant-fest, allowing it to refrain from getting old: It was the detailed account of his time spent with the Ruts, in a position of fan boy-turned-reality, when he was asked to performed as a part of a one-off benefit show for guitarist Paul Fox. Detailing his account of first being asked and recoiling his excitement by assessing the situation and offering the caveat “we’re not going to give it 98% or 99%, we’re going to give this 100% or I’m not the guy you’re looking for,” to the stages of meeting the band and taking in the realization that they are all in pain over their fallen brother – it was heartwarming and surreal.

Recalling the night’s historic event, which was graced by Tthe UK Subs and a somewhat secret set from the Damned, he concluded that he knew he was right in taking pictures of the entire event, through every stage of the process, as he suspected that his new friends might not have too much time left with their ill brother. And less than a week after Rollins explained this story to his First Avenue audience, his fear came true as guitarist Paul Fox succumb to lung cancer.

But it wasn’t entirely a night based in harsh realities, there was some fun, too. Rollins spoke of his experiences where he further traveled the Middle East (around the time of Saddam’s hanging) where he met and stayed with a lovely family who took him in with open arms, his surprisingly good time spent in Beirut and his subsequent trip flying from that destination straight through to San Francisco to see the great Nick Cave in one of his rare American dates this past year with Grinderman.

Rollins was funny, hitting dead on with his Iggy Pop impression and explaining a brilliant anecdote surrounding Christopher Walken’s appearance on his Independent Film Channel program, aptly titled The Henry Rollins Show.

A few years back I was given the opportunity to take a course in college that was was solely based on the life, mythology, and historical context of the existence of Jesus Christ. And given my ever increasing confusion surrounding religion in general – I decided that, as we were all assigned a final project consisting of a lengthy paper and a 10 to 15 minute presentation, I would attempt to do what historians and cynics have failed to do since the beginning of Christianity – refute the gospels through their blazing proof of inconsistencies.

It was a tough sell.

That being said, even after running through it a number of times I was eventually cut off dead in my tracks after roughly twenty six minutes, I found myself entirely caught up in my experience of researching and attempting to explain what I had found. Even if a stretch, I’d like to relate this to Henry’s performance. He is ever the enthusiastic when it comes to life and relating his findings and experiences with his audience through the medium of his stand up show. On this night he related his experience of travel to many people’s media-slanted outlooks and how people in other countries are viewed. He related his own fears to relationships, both his and ours as an audience. He related his loves and joys to those of everyone around the world – whether it be music, or books, or sex. But he also related his ideas on a variety issues that many in the thinking-public, myself included, are at fault for overlooking.

One such thought was his analysis of the Iraqi people’s reaction to the ridiculous dissolving of the their army by Paul Bremer. To paraphrase – “How would you like it, if you made your living by working in the armed forces (no matter what your feelings towards your boss, whomever they may be) and as an American were told by a French dignitary that you no longer had a job? You might not want to see anyone who is French for a while. You might not want to see anyone eating a croissant for a while. You hear someone say, bon voyage? You might want to kick their ass. And that’s what many Iraqi might be thinking in terms of this takeover.” Plain and simple, Henry really has his moments.

A hilarious rant on how mother nature (with wild animals leading the way) should declare a jihad on human kind, Rollins eventually concluded, neither with a story recalling his worldly adventures nor a run in with a pseudo celebrity… but rather a plea. A plea to support those who serve the country only to return home with a life hardly worth living. A plea to help those who are being abandoned by the broken system called democracy that they were fighting for. He closed by asking for support for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and after making his plea to the audience Rollins left the stage with a quick bow – leaving an impact far greater than could have been anticipated.

And while leaving the venue, slowly wading through the crowd of satisfied fans, I thought for a moment – “how cool would that be to meet Henry, if only briefly, for a moment, shaking hands and smiling before heading to my truck and driving home.” Then I thought of the story he told, about how he in his ever-fan boy mindset can’t seem to allow him to honestly engage in meaningful conversation with his idols due to the pedestals he has placed them on. “Maybe in another ten years,” I thought. "Maybe in another ten years.”

Dropkick Murphys: Footage of Pre-Game 7 Boston Red Sox Performance & National Anthem

While fairly oblivious to most sports these days, I’m far from it in terms of Boston’s own Dropkick Murphys. Following the Red Sox’s series defining game 6 against the Cleveland Indians this past week I received a brilliant email reading the following, “The Red Sox win over Cleveland tonight means the series goes to game 7 at Fenway tomorrow. We got a phone call tonight from Red Sox management asking us to come down to Fenway to perform on the field before the game starts.” Are you kidding me?

I can only imagine that it went something like this….”Well gentlemen, we need a band to get our fans and our team jacked as hell before the game. A game that will not only define our season but mean millions in additional ticket sales, advertising payments and merchandise payoffs. And it’d help if they were local…” And so on and so forth…

Again, brilliant!

The New Pornographers “Challengers” Video

The few times I’ve had the chance to spin Challengers I’ve been left with a strange feeling of being underwhelmed. A while back I had this idea that “The New Pornographers are becoming indie rock’s version of adult contemporary” and I can’t say that my view has been swayed since. I don’t expect the group to act like different than they have in the past in terms of releasing new material, I’m not asking them to rawk out all the time or anything, but my favorite New Pornographers material is full of life, entirely vigorous and bouncy…this album lacks those kind of moments. Either way, the video for the title track is beautiful, even without a bouncy soundtrack.

Gwar & Cradle of Filth at Myth Nightclub (Maplewood, MN)

Opening the show with Swedish sleaze rockers Vains of Jenna and closing with English death metal band Cradle of Filth, the Viva La Bands tour covered extracts from this world and beyond—the unearthly Gwar playing middle spot and entirely gorging its audience with hedonism and irreverence. While the highly anticipated CKY couldn’t make the bill due to illness, the other bands did not fail to take over, and in Gwar’s case, completely conquer.

Vains of Jenna opened the night with a feathered hair manifesto of drug fueled scum rock, something far from the ordinary when compared to their tour mates. Throughout the course of the evening the band slammed its way through their set, entirely specific to that of an atypical Hollywood sleaze rock; as was mentioned during one of the videos played during an intermission later in the evening “you have to go to Sweden to get a band that looks this Hollywood.”

It’s a bit off-putting to see a band of musicians on stage (in some cases shirtless) that make Tommy Lee look fat, but the boys in Vains of Jenna’s skin and bone physiques in no way hindered them from playing a lively set of rock and roll anthems. “This song’s about drugs” lead singer Lizzy DeVine muttered half way through the set; though such a statement could have been as easily been aimed at any number of songs throughout the group’s surprisingly talented performance. While by no means did they exert the same showmanship as would later come in the night, Vains of Jenna displayed an honest talent this evening proving that again Bam Margera (the tour’s spokesman, of sorts) knows a thing or two about international hard rock (having previously championed the likes of H.I.M., Hardcore Superstar and Children of Bodom, all who have now garnered a growing fan base in the States).

Saluting the crowd, as many returned the motion without blinking, DeVine called for a bit of middle finger friendship as the band played out its last track before exiting the stage. And as they left, drummer Jacki Stone in an N.W.A. cut off, bassist JP White in a similar Jack Daniels t-shirt and guitarist Nicki Kin looking ever-so-Izzy Stradlin, the band made its mark amongst a crowd that was likely not there to see them.

Throughout the intermissions in between bands, fans were given exclusive clips of Margera’s Veins of Jenna video shoot, Bloodhound Gang videos, Bam’s skate vids and backstage clips of Margera’s forthcoming feature Minghags (formerly titled Kiss a Good Man’s Ass), the follow up to the Jackass star’s stab at legitimate acting, Haggard.

After the stage was set and what could be covered in plastic was covered with plastic the lights dimmed, and the music played… it was time for Gwar!

For those who don’t know what Gwar is all about, no better description is there than that from Wikipedia, “Gwar is a satirical thrash metal and shock rock band formed in 1985. The band is best known for their elaborate sci-fi/horror film inspired costumes; raunchy, obscene, politically incorrect lyrics; and graphic stage performances, which consist of humorous re-enactments of scatology, sadomasochism, necrophilia, pedophilia, paraphilia, bestiality, pagan rituals, satanism or devil worship, executions, battle, torture, malice, rape and physical abuse, racism, anti-Christian messages, suicide, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and other controversial violent, political and moral taboo themes.” Gwar: one of a kind.

I’m not going to front: I have no frame of reference in terms of song titles, but there is no way that anyone can argue that Gwar is nothing if not for its spectacle; this night proved that sentiment oh-so-true. Looking to offend the entire evening, Gwar used costumes and masks to portray a Nazi pope, a Hitler-Jesus and George W. Bush (which is worse?), all of which were chastised then chopped wide open by singer Oderus Urungus’s giant prop sword. And just like the blood canon that was later unleashed, each “character” not only oozed fluid (mock ups of various bodily sources) but sprayed it with fire hose-like velocity.

Again, if nothing else can be said of the band, they are a show. They are offensive and filthy, but they’re also talented, smart and driven. It takes leadership to gain such a cult-like following, and after seeing the fans who arrived in droves on a Sunday night only to be drenched in fake blood and witness a show where a giant (and actually fairly detailed) foam dinosaur stomped across the stage it’s fairly apparent that Gwar might very well be a full blown cult.

After another series of video clips the elaborate setting was removed, mops whisked across the floor and the stage then ablaze in darkness with the exception of Cradle of Filth’s emblem stamped in light on the stage.

When the group played the Quest Club a few years back with Type O Negative there was no better show in town. Gargoyles and acrobats, spark-shooting dancers and costumes galore; Cradle of Filth were a literal black metal opera set to a stage of Cirque du Soleil regulars. This time however, some four years later, the group played a cut and dry set, no theatrics: just metal.

And while my initial sentiments were those of disappointment, as it’s always fun to watch someone hang suspended from the ceiling by two mere pieces of expansive silk drapery, Cradle of Filth have plateaued their career and appear to wish to focus their act on a different level. This is also true in terms of the band’s last few albums, all sounding gritty and raw, but then again lacking that dramatic mind blowing feel that many have come to love them for.

After a fairly straight forward set the band returned with an encore of “Born in a Burial Gown” and “Her Ghost in the Fog,” two obvious fan favorites. But playing a show heavily favoring newer tracks left a feeling of dissatisfaction, though a band cannot stay fresh by playing the same songs for over a decade. (Maybe that’s just it though, maybe Cradle of Filth are no longer “fresh”…) Still though, as hard as it is to follow Gwar, it would have been cool to see a pair of lifelike gargoyles float about the stage.

Justice Remix Klaxons’ “As Above, So Below”

After seeing Justice live last week I can now testify that they can do no wrong, and with this recently remixed Klaxons track I stand by my story. The duo livens the original track up, whipping it into a discotheque friendly model of danceable splendor. The waving outro is absolutely brilliant, as is the entire track!

Justice at Foundation Nightclub (MInneapolis, MN)

The setting: a dark basement complex surrounded by a crowd of sweaty, dancing teenagers…an environment that could easily double as a cramped pool hall on any given night; but on this night two of the most elite electronic musicians in the world did what they do best - make people dance. Opening their set three hours after fans started making their way inside the club the duo played for two hours, and in the process Justice completely abolished any previous conceptions of the typical DJ. They use computers, but my friends, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are rock stars.

Setting and maintaining the night’s pace prior to Justice’s set were The Moon Goons, a couple of fairly average local DJs who played a varied set full of gaps; I think at one point in time I heard Freak Nasty’s “Da Dip.” There’s definitely a future in the city for them if they want it, but I think the boys in the group have to be a bit more selective in terms of their play list if they want to satisfy larger crowds.

After about two and a half hours of the Goons’ set a little action on the venue’s small stage picked up as the crowd sensed that their collective wishes would come true. After a few minutes of silence darkness produced Justice, who proceeded to introduce themselves via a snowballing track that lead into “Genesis.” I doubt any song would have served better as the booming thump of its opening beat, combined with the lighting of Justice’s well documented cross, lit that cramped basement on fire…and no one stopped dancing for the duration of the group’s set.

Playing much of their recently released † Justice delighted the sold out crowd with favorites such “D.A.N.C.E.” and “Let There Be Light” while continually teasing with snippets of “The Party” through the entire set. Wrapping up the show with a strange “Master of Puppets” mix Justice made certain that no one would ever be able to call them predictable…after all, who in their right mind would think that the two gents from Paris would end their set at two in the morning with Metallica?

Girl Talk & Dan Deacon at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

This past Friday Girl Talk rocked the post-adolescent audience late into the night, the performance culminating one of the most entertaining events First Avenue has seen all year. The term “sold out” doesn’t even cover it, as block-long lines continued to wrap around the venue a half hour after doors opened and the body of the club was already packed to capacity for the entire show. Dan Deacon kicked off the night with a set placing him in harms way as his gear was set up dead center amongst the rabid crowd. Despite Deacon & Girl Talk’s obvious draw, the night’s eye was collectively on YouTube phenomenon Tay Zonday however as he prepared to give his first public performance.

Deacon’s set immediately answered questions as to why he would be canceling a week’s worth of upcoming dates due to exhaustion. He crammed his compact gear on the floor of the venue tightly locked against the head of the stage, and within moments of his first hypnotic song the crowd became too much, Deacon began telling everyone to back up, “this isn’t a Pearl Jam concert.”

Deacon would later call for the house lights, walk to the center of the crowd and create a circle which would become the setting for one of his ongoing string of dance-offs. While this version was short lived and generally disappointing Deacon’s introduction was absolutely brilliant: a call & response between the crowd with the basic theme surrounding Deacon notifying a friend that he has lost his Netflix DVDs. Sounds surreal? The night was just beginning.

Completing his set prematurely due to the cramped surroundings Deacon lit off two of his most amazing tracks, “Silence Like The Wind” and “Trippy Green Skull” before escaping from the crowd. But it wasn’t a minute before he started to lift his gear onto the stage to make his exit that some sort of surreal anticipation began to build. Deacon had said earlier in his set, “I don’t want to disappoint Tay,” and the crowd seemed to feel a bit uncertain as the stage lay empty, hoping that it would be Tay that would not disappoint.

Performing three more songs than I knew he had (with his five song set), Tay Zonday didn’t so much disappoint as he stunned. Performing in street clothes, Tay essentially stood alone on stage, backed by a DJ off in the shadows manning the computer that played his backing tracks and lit up the TV screens around the club with Tay’s lyrics as he sang (partially for his benefit, partially so the audience could try and follow his unknown songs). Relative to other footage of him floating around the same circles that originally made him quasi-famous, he did wonderfully; especially given it was his first show ever, he’s not a performer and he was following Dan Deacon. But out of context, the set was a flop.

Instead of manning a keyboard Tay took to twenty minutes of makeshift dancing and was met with little positive response from the recently Deacon-ized crowd. Given his position he couldn’t have done better, but the performance of spotty novelty tracks and spastic dancing was disappointing all the same.

Just as the crowd began to resolve a sense of what they had just seen Gregg Gillis took the stage accompanied only by his computers and silenced everyone. Gillis’ time alone on stage would be short lived however as he invited the audience up to join him to truly kick off Girl Talk’s set. The performance delivered pounding energy from the very start as the crowded stage grinded and thrusted about all throughout Gillis’ heart pumping set.

Though Girl Talk’s delivery was both brilliant to watch and dance to, the night belonged to Deacon who honestly gave everything he had for the sake of his performance, entertaining while neglecting to take himself nor the situation too seriously. Enjoy your break Dan, you deserve it.

"The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-1971" DVD Review

A deeply toned narrator introduces footage of Woodstock and Altamont, peace and war, comparing and contrasting various struggles and glories that the world, culture and art were facing through the late ’60s to the early ’70s; but who was there as a voice of reason? Johnny Cash. A tad on the dramatic? Absolutely. But no matter how dissenting any cynic would tend to react to such an introduction, after witnessing only a sampling of the series does a sense of truth begin to weigh far heavier than the sensational introduction’s suggestions. And if anyone could create a setting for such a historical series, blending such a diverse range artists and voices during from that period in a commercial setting it’s Johnny Cash.

Testimonies as to the significance of the show come primarily from likely sources: Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams II and Waylon Jennings, but a far greater example as to the show’s historical significance comes from the segments that are highlighted throughout the set. From a Bob Dylan who had yet to find his voice, to a rhinestone-clad Loretta Lynn. From Neil Young’s “The Needle and The Damage Done” to Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Best Of takes time to highlight the strange diversity showcased during each and every episode.

In today’s digital age, where all aspects of media and culture are only as close as as the nearest computer it’s hardly startling to think of the diversification that Cash prided his show on. But while straight laced hosts such as Ed Sullivan still held the airwaves, a former drug addict took his stance in Nashville, hosting a show that featured music by the day’s best artists - no matter their genre, race or affiliation. Creedence Clearwater Revival's “Bad Moon Rising” one week, a sequin studded June Carter Cash the next - no where else on television did this disparity exist at that time, and when the context is appropriately considered the gravity of the matter fully sinks in.

One of the most startling moments comes from that of Ray Charles, performance on his 40th birthday. After Cash celebrates the date, Charles breaks into a makeshift version of “Walk The Line” before further discussing his new release of country covers with Cash. What follows is one of the most amazing covers of “Ring of Fire” that I have ever heard in my life.

In his heart, Cash wasn’t a commercial artist, nor would he take bland corporate orders in spite of his beliefs. As such discussion on the show ranged from Cash’s spirituality to his history with drug abuse; again, banal topics in today’s society, but in the context of the show’s era - powerful.

For as much emphasis as The Door’s “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” moment on The Ed Sullivan show gets, in comparative terms Cash hardly takes second place. Aside from the frowned upon subject matter, Cash stood by his beliefs and when he was set to perform Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” he was told to censor himself for the sake of the network. “I don’t give a damn what they say, I’m gonna sing it how Kris wrote it” said Cash, recalls a friend… Cash continued as he said he would, recalling the song’s offensive line “Wishing Lord that I was stoned.”

Cash is a legend, no matter Hollywood’s recent influence and no matter Rick Rubin’s presence late in his career, this compilation proves just another solid chapter to his otherwise fabled history.