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recommended boston area events

tuesday, december 4th

kelly hogan

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 6th

conor oberst

@ converse hall, tremont st.

thursday, december 6th

jason isbell &

the 400 unit

@ the sinclair

friday, december 7th

the weisstronauts 14th

annual holiday jubilee

with guests tsunami of sound

preacher jack, & the derangers

@ the midway cafe, jp

friday, december 7th


moving mountains


@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

patrick watson

@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

the faint perform

"danse macabre"


icky blossoms

@ the paradise

sunday, december 9th

band of horses

@ house of blues

sunday, december 9th



@ the paradise

wednesday, december 12th

concrete blonde

jim bianco

@ the sinclair

thursday, december 13th

annual boston christmas cavalcade

benefit for the homeless

featuring tons of artists

(see fb event for details)

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 13th

nada surf

eternal summers

@ the paradise

thursday, december 13th

mates of state

in the valley below

@ brighton music hall

friday, december 14th

forgetters (blake from

jawbreaker's band)

& more tba

@ democracy center, harvard square

sunday, december 30th

sufjan stevens

sheila saputo

@ the royale

monday, december 31st

my morning jacket

@ agganis arena

monday, december 31st

deer tick

two gallants

@ the sinclair

monday, january 7th


@ the paradise

tuesday, january 8th


@ great scott

saturday, january 19th

mission of burma

@ the sinclair

sunday, january 20th

camper van beethoven


@ the middle east down

sunday, january 20th


@ the orpheum

sunday, january 20th

ra ra riot

@ the paradise

sunday, january 27th


@ great scott

tuesday, january 29th

kathleen edwards

sera cahoone

@ brighton music hall

wednesday, february 13th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

saturday, march 2nd

unknown mortal orchestra

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 12th

tame impala

@ house of blues

thursday, march 14th

jukebox the ghost

matt pond pa

lighthouse and the whaler

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 26th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

wednesday & thursday

april 3rd & 4th

they might be giants

@ the paradise

visit tourfilter for more shows

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Playing Catch-Up

MMmmmmmmMMmmm... ketchup...

The sporadic one-or-two-subject posts I've made of late have left a lot of randomness by the wayside, marked as draft, just waiting to be gathered and shared. That time has come.

So I saw the Pixies last week. And oh, how they did rock me. I didn't believe it was really ever going to happen, and it still hasn't quite sunk in. Did I really live in a world where the Pixies could get back together and play songs in front of actual live people? Could it be possible? Next thing you know, the Sox will win the Series or somethin'.

My anticipation for the show was tempered not just by complete disbelief, but by the venue (a hockey arena in Lowell?), and the blatant in-it-for-the-cash attitude of the band. But y'know, in the end, none of my doubts mattered. Our seats were ace, the sound was great (if kinda loud), and the Pixies were on.

After another inspiring performance by Mission of Burma ("The Pixies only asked us to open to make themselves look younger."), the Pixies' set got off to a pretty weak start, I thought... the first four songs were odd choices for appetizers. First came Winterlong, their Neil Young cover. A good one, sure, but not the energetic Pixies-style brilliance I was hoping for. I figured they'd explode soon enough, but instead we got the slowed down uk-surf version of Wave of Mutilation. Hmmmm. Ok, they're lulling us into a mood to smack us upside the head with... In Heaven? Another cover, and a mellow cover at that, this one from David Lynch's Eraserhead. Oh, how I love Kim's voice, but let's pick things up a bit. "You've got your good thing, and I've got..." Here Comes Your Man. Ugh. My least favorite Pixies song ever, from the moment I first heard it the spring of '89. Can't stand it, and the crowd is freakin' out with glee. Disillusionment starts to kindle...

And suddenly, they dish up the main course. "Is She Weird?" starts, and I'm the one in heaven. The energy doesn't let up until the very end. After every song, Amie and I look at each other smiling, mouthing the words "SO GOOD!" underneath the cheering 7,000. Since we were in the front row of the left side seats, we didn't have to stand up to see... but we couldn't help it. Whether it was pretend passion or not, the Pixies put on a show, they were tight, Kim sounded great, and Frank's howl was more insane than I expected, or had heard on the 'official' bootlegs from the previous shows. The yelps after the long guitar freakout of Vamos sounded better than I thought they could. And when he screamed "TAME!"... that was a dream, wasn't it? Musta been.

For my money, the four most perfectly sequenced opening songs on any album are Debaser, Tame, Wave of Mutilation, and I Bleed from Doolittle. And they played all four of 'em. Here's the complete setlist, from the December 1st Pixies show in Lowell, MA...
Winterlong (neil young cover)
Wave of Mutilation (uk surf)
In Heaven (eraserhead song)
Here Comes Your Man
Is She weird?
Bone Machine
I Bleed
Monkey Gone to Heaven
No. 13 Baby
Mr. Grieves
Gouge Away
Broken Face
Isla de Encanta
Something Against You
Nimrod's Son
Planet of Sound
Ed is Dead
Wave of Mutilation
Encore: Where Is My Mind?
Defy Unlearn has some excellent photos from the show, and so does Sooz, over at the Exploit Boston! Flickr pool.

Three minor bummers: 1. No Alec Eiffel, the song I obsessed over when Trompe Le Monde came out. I didn't expect it, but still. 2. DiscLive, the company that's been recording every show, got fired mere hours before the Pixies hit the stage. I was really looking forward to owning a disc of that night. Ah well. Good news for the final 12 shows, though: the Pixies created their own little company called PixiesDiscs just to record them & sell 'em. Heaven forbid they lose that cash cow, right? I kid, I kid. 3. I'll be missing their recently announced gig here in Boston proper, tomorrow night at Avalon. But I've got the best excuse ever: Ted Leo, Vague Angels, and Matt Pond PA. Can't wait. Word is that Ted has just about sold out that show, at the Middle East Downstairs. If you wanna go, order up, or check out tonight's gig (with different openers) instead.

Speaking of Ted's openers, one of the bands in tomorrow's lineup is Vague Angels, the latest project from his brother Chris (Van Pelt/Lapse/Smiles). Been a very long time since I've seen him play, been looking forward to it since the show was scheduled.

Also been looking forward Chris' recently-released first novel, called "White Pigeons", available from Fifth Planet Press. The book actually contains his new disc (it comprises chapter 7), recorded by Vague Angels under the name of the fictional band from the book. I was hoping to grab it at the gig tomorrow, but last word was that Chris sold all his stock during the first three shows of this tour. Hopefully my Fifth Planet package arrives today or tomorrow, so I can check out the songs before I see 'em on stage.

It's official: My flight is booked and the Black Cat tickets are bought for a February trip to Washington, DC for the three Teenbeat Records 20th Anniversary shows. Leaving on Wednesday morning the 23rd, returning on Sunday the 27th, with gigs on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. Versus, Unrest, Tuscadero, Eggs, +/-, and more. Pretty dang excited.

Money's tight (I can thank work-related frequent flyer miles for the free round trip), so I'll be relying on the kindness of D.C. friends & family for sleepspace. If you're one of 'em, and don't mind putting me up for a night or two, let me know. Or consider this a warning so you can go into hiding that week. Choose your own adventure.

While I'm on the Teenbeat tip...

A second volume of collected Teenbeat Records tribute tracks is in the works (jump on the Teenbeat mailing list for details, or to contribute even), so it's a good time to remind you to download the first one. Click here to grab all 23 songs from Amateurs On Plastic: A Tribute to Teenbeat Records.

From TV to my PC to yours: Guided By Voices made their final television appearance (*sniff*) last week, performing Everybody Thinks I'm a Raincloud on Conan O'Brien. Badly Drawn Boy and his big honkin' backing band also played live on Last Call, so I grabbed that, too. Enjoy.

Why didn't anyone tell me that Dark Horse followed up their republishing of all 28 gorgeous volumes of Lone Wolf & Cub with its predecessor, Samurai Executioner? Volume 2 (out of 10) is out next week, and I'm happier for it.

The 12th and final issue of Brian Wood & Becky Cloonan's DEMO series hit the comic store shelves today, and it's a perfect, poetic ending to what was a really rewarding ride. I recommend reading this one perched on a bar stool, pint at the ready. Worked for me, anyways. This issue's for everyone who's ever found a love way too good for this world. Or at least were convinced they had. Or maybe it's not. Could be it's just about hope. Added bonus: Brian handles art duties on the epilogue, which Becky wrote, and it ties up the whole series with a nice little bow.

Wizard called DEMO the "Indy of the Year", but early adopters already knew that, right? And I'm not just sayin' it because I'm in issue #11. Well, my name is, anyways. Mama Searles didn't raise no slacker. When you're going to pick up your own copies, might as well pre-order January's DEMO scriptbook while you're there. Then start pestering AiT/Planet Lar for a complete DEMO collected edition.

Also due in January: a brand-spankin' new Ida album. Details here. Oh, how long I have waited.

I've been on a bit of a Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon) kick lately. He's a wintry kind of songwriter, y'know? On that note, I just discovered Sad Reminders, a nicely-done and oft-updated Kozelek fansite. Oh, and if you never did grab it from me, here's another chance to download the seldom-heard full-band version of RHP's Wop-a-Din-Din, off the rare Devil in the Woods 7'' from a few years back. Best love song to a cat ever.

Back in August, Amie and I checked out the U.S. premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Exhibition on opening day here at the Boston Museum of Science. I was pretty blown away by it at the time, and had a nice review in progress that I just never got around to posting. Seems silly to write about it at this point, especially since the traveling collection of movie props and technology has already headed to Australia, but I thought these goofy photos of Amie & I were worth sharing...

Take note that no matter what my relative size is, I'm the one on the defensive.

A lot of randomly cool things have happened thanks to this little home here on the web (which I'm stunned to suddenly realize is nearly five years old now); long lost friends getting in touch, new friends made through comments, and most often, new music discovered through shared links and recommendations (startlingly, a couple bands I like have dropped notes of thanks for kind words).

This latest little occurrence deserves a mention, mostly because the Rough Trade promo guy responsible deserves a raise.

A couple weeks back I posted some comments on ILB's Top 40 Bands in America list, in which I mentioned that I've yet to hear the Fiery Furnaces. Just haven't gotten around to it.

I didn't connect this to an email I got a few days later from a guy named Alex at Rough Trade America, asking if I accepted promo discs. Not being one to refuse free stuff, I gave him my address and thought no more of it.

Until I checked my mailbox a couple days afterwards and found a package that contained, you guessed it, a Fiery Furnaces disc. No bio, no note, no other press materials, just a copy of their upcoming singles collection, out in January. I've been listening to it quite a bit since, and yeah, it's excellent.

So to Alex's boss: It's Christmas bonus time. An offhand comment by a random blogger that he hasn't heard a certain Rough Trade band... and Alex remedies that in super-fast fashion. Very nice.

I can't stop listening to the new Sixth Great Lake LP, "Sunday Bridge". And when I say LP, that's exactly what I mean... 12 songs, two sides, vinyl only. Four songs each by Mike, Chris, & Zach, self-released on thick blue-colored vinyl. Side one ends, flip to side two, side two ends, flip it again. Repeat repeat repeat. It's become my late autumn soundtrack. I swear, I could listen to Zach's Fool incessantly, which is crazy considering I've been loving different versions of it for 10 years. This is probably the best recording of it yet, though. They've pressed just 500 of 'em, so go and get one before they're gone, especially you Essex Green fans.

To infinity and beyond: Take a gander at the Infinite Cat site. If you make it through all 600 or so cats, well, you're nuts and need a real job. Once you're done there, check out the Zoom Quilt. Two more little reasons to heart the internet.

Laura (Depuy) Martin is the best working colorist in comics. Fact. Her work on Planetary, Astonishing X-Men, JLA, the Authority, and so much more... always quality. She's got the awards to prove it, but the only proof she really needs is the books themselves, and maybe this little online directory I stumbled upon. Some really pretty stuff in there, scanned in before logos and bar codes could get in the way.

Feeds you should be following, if you aren't already: Gibson, Rogers, Lee, Ellis, Braff, and Vaughan.

An online collection of Adult Swim-related downloads? Mp3s and wallpaper from Sealab 2021, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and more? I'm so very there.

And finally, the world lost John Lennon 24 years ago today. Mark the day by downloading a long-buried live cover of his "Cold Turkey", performed by London's the Godfathers. It was recorded way the hell back in '88, and comes from the b-side of a promo-only 12 inch that I dusted off and encoded over the weekend. It's much faster, and far better, than the studio version from their 1986 debut. Play it loudly.

I feel like I've forgetten to mention something, but honestly, at this point, we're all better off moving on with our lives...

featured mp3 download
neil halstead
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011

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