Monday, February 23, 2009
It dawned on me a few days back that the Almanac passed its 9th anniversary on Sunday, February 15th. Or at least that was the date, in the year 2000 (cheers, Conan), that I registered this here domain name. While it would be a couple years before the place morphed from a personal site into a bonafide blog, I started shouting my musical obsessions into this series of tubes from the get-go.
To mark this minor occasion, I thought I'd share up what may be the most treasured live set I own, a document of one of my favorite bands on their last-ever tour. A performance and recording that, in a way, inspired me to do what I do... to share my own recordings with others who might find them as valuable as I find this one. I didn't record it myself, but I owe a debt of gratitude to the person who did.
In late April of 1998, some friends and I made the long drive down route 7 from my then-hometown of Burlington, Vermont to Bennington College, about 120 miles straight south. Truthfully, the distance didn't matter, because the band performing was Bedhead. I was, and still am, deeply in love with their work, and to that point had never seen them play in person. I instantly adored all three of their three long players, still place them high in my desert island discs, and will forever follow the musical output of the brothers Kadane, whatever form it takes. Soundtrack work, collaborations, or with their current band, The New Year... I'm on board for any and all of it. It would take total hearing loss or their retirement to shake me loose.
By the time we showed up to the woody Bennington campus, it was already pitch dark, and we wandered aimlessly until a student directed us to the Carriage House, which was one not just in name, but formerly of function. The large open barn had no stage to speak of, just instruments on the floor at one end, and a relatively sparse crowd leaning against the walls during the opening band (who I believe featured the student who made this recording, but I've long since forgotten his name). After so many years listening to Bedhead, and the emotional impact their songs had on me, they'd become near-mythic figures... they seemingly resisted most press coverage, didn't have many photos out there, and their ultra-spare album artwork and minimal liner notes left an aura of mystery around them that bands rarely have nowadays. So when they walked up to their instruments that night, I was about as excited as I could have been. A let-down would have been easy, but it never came.
Methodically, magically, the band played their entire latest (and unfortunately, final) album, "Transaction de Novo", from start to finish, track one to track nine, from the first note of "Exhume" to the last strains of "The Present"... and then proceeded to take requests for the rest of the set. From relative oldies "Haywire" and "Bedside Table" (the first Bedhead song I ever heard), to all-time personal favorite "What's Missing" (my request) and their seldom-played cover of Joy Division's "Disorder", it was far more than I could have hoped for. Two months after that show, I left Vermont for Boston. And two months after that, Bedhead broke up.
While I've long traded for this set, I've never posted it to the 'Nac (preferring to only share what I record myself), so I took this opportunity to clean up the original, maximizing volume levels and doing some EQ work. I think it's a marked improvement over what's out there, so enjoy...
Live at Bennington College
in Bennington, VT
on April 20th, 1998
02. More Than Ever
04. Half Thought
09. The Present
10. The Dark Ages
11. What's Missing
13. Bedside Table
14. Disorder (Joy Division cover)
15. Losing Memories
16. The Rest Of The Day
To learn more about the band that was Bedhead, visit their official site at Brainwashed, MySpace page, Wikipedia entry, and Touch & Go page.
To stream the songs shared here, visit the Hype Machine.
the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Live sets (are usually) recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. This set was recorded by someone else, but delivered to me on a cd made from the source files, edited, then converted to Mp3. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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