Posts tagged "Grateful Dead"

Five Reasons Why Jam Band Fans Are Better Than Indie Rock Fans

I was skimming through this year’s Bonnaroo lineup as part of my usual round of cyber-stalking Neko Case, and I came upon an interesting discovery—this festival kicks ass! Although one of my friends described the layout as a desert of dust and piss, and the jam-centric lineup means stupid Phish is going to play for approximately 76 hours straight, I can pretty much get behind anything that brings together High On Fire and Janelle Monae (that isn’t made by the Hood Internet). Something this good could never happen on indie rock’s watch! Here are five reasons why the mud-caked hippies who will attend Bonnaroo are better than your sweater-clad ass!

1. Jam band fans don’t care about pesky shit like aesthetics.
Why does Bonnaroo get to have awesome, underrated thrash metal band Shadows Fall, but the Scion Rock Festival doesn’t? Because indie rock kids only care about fringe genres when they are fashionable. Shadows Fall, being a real metal band, bring a lot of zitty teenagers and honest-to-god longhairs to their shows, so indie blogs and mags don’t touch them. God forbid someone break up the steady stream of warmed-over stoner rock and black metal bands (only the ones Hydra Head endorses!) in your RSS, guys.

2. Jam band fans are loyal.
A jam band fan would sooner eat his hacky sack than give up on a band he loves. Who do you think kept the Grateful Dead alive until “Touch Of Grey”? Or between then and Devendra-fueled revisionist hipster appreciation? Ben Harper and Galactic and Moe are all playing this year, and who knows if I’ve heard a single note of any of them in a decade. Ben Harper could have been cryogenically frozen next to Walt Disney for all I know. In indie rock circles, bands are played out once their blog cycle ends. How did the Rapture lose all its fans before they even put out a follow-up to Echoes? Why does it seem like an eon since I’ve heard someone in a sweater vest tell me they’re “really feeling Dipset”? Who was in Goblin Cock again?

3. Jam band fans have better drugs.
OK, drugs are silly if you’re over, like, 19 years old. But I’m guessing the dude on psylocibin mushrooms who’s talking to a giant purple hot dog in the sky is probably going to have a more fulfilling night that the coked-out sweatball at the Late Of The Pier show telling me he knows Steve Aoki. Plus, who are you gonna trust to find you good weed? An Octopus Project fan?

4. Jam band fans support music from other countries.
I only hear indie-rockers tell me about African music if the hivemind is whispering that it’s OK to like Konono No. 1 this week, or Etran Finatawa the next. Meanwhile, when I go to the free African music fest in Prospect Park every summer, it’s overrun by hippies! They know the score. At this year’s Bonnaroo: Toumani Diabate, Amadou & Mariam, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Vieux Farka Touré, and the unstoppable King Sunny Adé & the African Beats.

5. Jam band fans waste their days away following bands and doing drugs and making arepas on the engine blocks of old VW vans instead of writing snarky blog posts all day.

311 Compare Themselves To Grateful Dead, U2, Phish, Your Mom

AP05082001985.jpgChad Sexton, the diminutive drummer for 311, made sure to leave no sensibility unoffended when searching for the correct group to compare his stoner-friendly crap-metal ensemble to in a recent interview with MTV. “I think we have the same appeal as a band like the Grateful Dead. We have some Deadheads in the band, and when they stopped touring, Phish kind of took over for them, and maybe Dave Matthews Band has some of that same appeal as well. We can jam on our [songs] like those bands, but I’d say we’re kind of a band between–and I’m not comparing us to these bands, but just in the level of status and accomplishment, and that they’re still together–U2 and Phish. It’s somewhere in the middle of that, and we’re hoping to define that a little better over the next couple of years.” While no one would call me a big U2 fan, I don’t think its fair to bring them up when trying to explain what a concert draw your shitty band is. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to place 311 between Phish and the Kottonmouth Kings?

It’s a weird phenomenon: We keep playing, and kids are having a great time every summer.

We’ve picked up a comparable following, I guess. We wanted to make sure we tour every summer, regardless of our records, because we’re here to play live music. We don’t want to spend a summer getting away from the people.

And soon the people will be blessed with another full-length, this one helmed by Bob “Some Kind Of Mixer” Rock!

So far, [the record is] sounding like 311, just with Bob Rock helping us get the roadmaps and the energy of the songs down, in how he’s recording it. We’ve experimented a lot in recent years and shifted this way and that way, and with the current climate out there, with record sales, it could be a coincidence that [our sales] just went down, down, down because of the Internet, or maybe we’ve been too experimental. Maybe we should get back to the basics — the 311 basics.

Judging by their drum sound on songs like 2004′s “First Straw,” Dr. Rock sounds like the perfect fit.

In high school, I wrote a two-out-of-ten review of 311′s Transistor for the teen page of my local paper, which ran the same day as their headlining show. Mark McGrath, of opening act Sugar Ray, actually called out the piece on stage, finding fault in claims like “bevy of crap,” “tuneless drivel,” and “Vanilla Ice performing at Disney’s Tiki Tiki Room.” Over ten years later, they’re still playing godawful reggae-metal, and I’m still being paid to say they suck. Some things never change.

311 Are The New Grateful Dead, Drummer Chad Sexton Says Before Tour With Snoop Dogg [MTV]
311 – First Straw [YouTube]

Ten Artists Who Should Be Very Glad They’re Not Axl Rose

AP060831049212.jpgThe attention the media gives to Guns N’ Roses and My Bloody Valentine may give young bands the idea that it’d actually be good for their legacy to record regularly for six years, then hold off for at least another 15 so that fan excitement can build and their myth can blossom. (Hey, if Sting and Joe Strummer had waited that long to record follow-ups to Synchronicity and Combat Rock, maybe people would have cared more about Brand New Day and Rock Art And The X-Ray Style!) So I looked at what would have happened to some of rock’s most legendary figures if they, too, had waited 15 years to release new albums once their first six years of putting out records were done–and found that extended absences rarely make later projects look much better.

1. The Beastie Boys
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Unwilling to repeat themselves after the left-field success of Check Your Head, the Beastie Boys wander through abortive sessions with Mix Master Mike, Lee Perry, Q-Tip, Miho Hatori, and others while promoting Tibetan Freedom Festivals, running Grand Royal, and raising families; Adam Horowitz’s glitchy BS-2000 and the peculiar Country Mike’s Greatest Hits make fans both curious and excited for what the group might eventually return with. Finally, after over a decade of waiting, Capitol Records and a nation of expectant stoners are blessed with… The Mix-Up.

2. Aerosmith
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Following the departure of Joe Perry during the recording of A Night In The Ruts, Steven Tyler descends further into chemical dependency, unable to complete sessions with new guitarists for several years. After his recovery from addiction in the mid-’80s, he is hesitant to return to life in the fast lane, preferring to raise his family and promote anti-drug campaigns. Finally, the original lineup returns with 1997′s Nine Lives, where a new generation, unprimed by Wayne’s World and Alicia Silverstone videos, is introduced to a group of decrepit transvestites screaming “Falling In Love (Is So Hard On The Knees).”

3. Grateful Dead
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Despite the success of Wake Of The Flood, things aren’t the same for the Dead after the death of Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and the band decides to abstain from the touring circuit. Attempts to hone a new sound are hindered by a series of exploding keyboardists, but the group finally returns to the limelight with 1989′s Built To Last. Then another keyboardist dies, and the band says “fuck it.” Meanwhile, Trey Anastasio is happily playing in a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band in Vermont, just happy that he doesn’t have to hold down a day job.

4. David Bowie
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After releasing Pin-Ups (itself The Spaghetti Incident?! of its day), Bowie grows tired of his hard-rock Ziggy Stardust shtick and fires the Spiders Of Mars. Rumors leak that the rock star is obsessed with “soul” and attempting to maintain cultural currency by working with Brian Eno (the Moby of his day), but year after year and release date after release date pass. Finally, cleaned up and ready to play ball, Bowie, joined by Peter Frampton and Charlie Sexton, returns for a massive world tour to promote his new album… Never Let Me Down.

5. Prince
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Even after his Hollywood dreams fizzled, Prince finds it impossible to follow up the monumental Purple Rain, retiring to his Minnesota home; he’s rarely seen after the failed non-musical version of Graffiti Bridge. Some say that the recluse won’t even answer to his name! Always up for a challenge, Clive Davis signs the artist to a one-album contract, teaming him with a variety of pop stars that had followed in his wake. He then presents the world with… Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic. The world is not impressed.

6. Bruce Springsteen
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Darkness On The Edge Of Town, while a critical hit, isn’t really the sequel to Born To Run that Columbia was looking for. So for years Bruce struggles with synthesizers and drum machines, hoping to craft a surefire hit. Off the road and not meeting supermodels and back-up vocalists, Bruce lives a long, lonely life before finally releasing The Ghost Of Tom Joad, after which Columbia decides this man is no longer the future of rock and roll.

7. U2
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Torn between their desire for fame and their belief in Christian humility, the members of U2 are more than happy to finely hone their follow-up to The Unforgettable Fire with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. But after a decade-plus of work, it becomes clear that they’ve lost the script. So instead, the band looks both to the past (their original producer Steve Lillywhite) and the future (Nelle Hooper and Jackknife Lee), creating How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which the group promotes on an ’80s Flashback Tour co-headlined by Simple Minds.

8. R.E.M.
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The Green tour takes a lot out of R.E.M., with the band first attempting to create a grand follow-up with mandolins and string sections before scrapping the sessions to try and regain their rock energy. Finally, with both producer Scott Litt and Bill Berry no longer involved, the remaining trio makes an album everyone is comfortable with. An album named Around The Sun.

9. Rolling Stones
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Let It Bleed is a surprise triumph after the loss of Brian Jones, but drugs overcome the band and it isn’t long before replacement Mick Taylor is gone. It won’t be until after the failure of Mick Jagger’s first solo album, She’s The Boss, that he’ll get the old band together for a new album titled Dirty Work. While they knew Mick Jagger was capable of anything, it shocked fans of the enigmatic Keith Richards, long rumored dead, to see him dancing with cartoon cats in the video for “Harlem Shuffle.”

10. Stevie Wonder
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With Motown refusing to let him run his own albums, Wonder boycotts his label following the release of For Once In My Life. When Berry Gordy finally relents in the early ’70s, his concerns are proven tragically valid as Wonder toils unsuccessfully to capture his “inner visions,” desperately trying to create songs “in the key of life.” The singer could have been forgotten–but Gene Wilder gets in touch with him in hopes that he’ll create a soundtrack for The Woman In Red. America is shocked as Little Stevie Wonder returns to the limelight with “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” with Rolling Stone declaring it the Least Welcome Comeback of 1984.

There is one alternate history Axl could take heart in. If Paul Simon had waited fifteen years to put out an album after Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Graceland would have been even more of an impressive wtf than it was at the time. But will Axl Rose’s adventures in the diaspora (“Madagascar!”) have the same zeitgeist as Simon’s?

Hell no.

Grateful Dead To NPR: You Scratch Our Back, We’ll Lightly Pat Yours

bears.gifFormer Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein blogs at NPR, and her latest post has a fully cleared MP3 mix that has tracks by the likes of Pylon and Wire, and is appended with a note: “This mix was supposed to have the Grateful Dead on it, whose music I really love, but they refused unless we promised to do a piece on them on All Things Considered. In addition, we would need to run a feature on The Dead on the site. Here’s a sentence I’ve never written: Someone needs to take a bong hit and chill out. Just a simple ‘no thanks’ would have sufficed. Are The Dead really in need of publicity? Because I swear there’s a dancing bear sticker on every third car I see in Portland.” Hey, they’re just trying to take blog payola to the next level! Never underestimate those dancing bears’ marketing savvy. [Monitor Mix; HT BV]

Led Zeppelin, Doors, Grateful Dead Members Get High On Legal Fees

zepp.jpgIf your name happens to be Eddie Trunk, today is the most exciting day of your life:

Some of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest names have teamed up to sue the owner of a Web site that specializes in streaming rare concert recordings. Wolfgang’s Vault offers thousands of recordings of rare audio and video music performances collected over 30 years by Bill Graham, a famous concert promoter who died in 1991.

On Monday, major rock names including Grateful Dead Productions, Carlos Santana and members of Led Zeppelin and The Doors, sued the current owner, claiming it was illegally offering recordings to stimulate sales of other products.

We can only imagine how the conference call went for this one, but we’re pretty sure Jimmy Page politely snoozed his way through, and that Ray Manzarek kept the Jim Morrison mentions to a reasonable (for him) eleven name-drops per minute.

Led Zeppelin, Doors members sue concert video site [Reuters]