Monday, March 31, 2008

Howlin Rain @ the Khyber March 30 2008

Weird Sunday night in Olde City. Rolled down with coworkers and walked into an almost empty Khyber. So bizarre, I was totally thinking this show would be sold out, people falling out of the door, etc. While it was nice to have a lot of space, a little more crowd probably woulda been nice. Caught one song from openers Heavy Hand and it was decent, kinda like a slicked up Birds of Maya?

About 3/4s of a cookie were eaten, so I nursed some porters while waiting for the second band to finish. Didn't catch their name, but they played a very long folk/rock type set that really didn't keep my interest at all.

Howlin Rain took off with a full five member band, two guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, just like their recent killer album Magnificent Fiend. Going right off the deep end with "Dancers at the End of Time," a perfect opener, fuzz shred guitar riffing mixing with the B-3 sounds and some tight tight drums. The general vibe of the band was a tad tense, what with sound problems and the second guitarist's strap breaking during the second song (and not a replacement to be found, he wound up finishing the set with one leg on a chair, propping up his axe). It was hard to tell if the lack of audience came into play; they seemed to be having a decent time on stage and the music didn't suffer at all. Basically it kinda sounded like the Howlin Rain songbook put through the computer program that generated the first High Rise record plus a little bit of the Allman Brothers' Live at the Fillmore East. Not a bad thing at all, maybe the best thing ever, at least in this house. Anyway, my cookie did seem timed pretty well with their set, and I was head bobbing right along.

That said, they played a crazy short set, clocking in at only 40 minutes, which is barely enough to get going. It probably seemed even shorter, what with seeing Acid Mothers Temple play twice as long only a week earlier. What they did play was fantastic, though. Just what I wanted/hoped for. Raw fuzz burn mixing with the acid sear of the B-3 in a wash of chaos, only to come out of it with some Allmans style dual guitar action! Always a huge sucker for that sound, and those fractal jams were totally right on in my cookie filled brain. They did jam out the songs, making them longer and giving them deeper noise/space out portions, and even some honest to god improvisation (I think so anyway, god). Just wish they had played like 3 hours, alas! Anyways, I guess this stop was early on their tour and hopefully they will tighten it up and add some jams. Oh yeah, the cover of the Vanilla Fudge version "You Keep Me Hanging On" was pretty damn strutty and boisterous. Nice. And yeah, the lead dude does look like Earl Hickey.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Acid Mothers Temple @ Johnny Brenda's March 24 2008

Another fantastic Acid Mothers Temple (& The Melting Paraiso UFO) show... Monday night in Fishtown with the best freakout/trip band in the world today, baby! Here are some pics. Full review forthcoming... but rest assured it was great! The best bet there is, always delivering. Yeah!

UPDATE: So I rolled down to the show with Prophase main man Mike and met up with Acid Mothers Temple vet Susannah and her dude Josh. Beers and such and blather about The Wire (tv show, not the mag). Caught some of Danava's opening set, about two songs... quite tight rifforama that seemed to give up the goods quite well.

This time around it was the core group of Kawabata, Higashi, Tsuyama and drummer Shimura Koji on their "Recurring Dream And Apocalypse Of Darkness Tour." The last few AMT tours I have hit at least two or three shows, but this time around, due to so many shows coming up, this one was the only one I was gonna catch. Anyways, since I drove, prob the most sober I have been at an AMT show. Johnny Brenda's is defintely a great place to see them, the sound was pretty good and with the balcony there are a lot of vantage points. They took off with a cool improvisational opening jam as they are wont to do. Some low mumble vocals from Tsuyama led to a little bit of "Douchebag."

For the last few years, despite releasing two, three or four full lengths a year, the band's live shows concentrate on basically three songs: "Pink Lady Lemonade," "La Novia" and "Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky (aka Dark Star Blues)." That said, the jams and arrangements change regularly and new aspects are added and discarded, making their standards substantially different each tour, hell even each show. This show was no different. The heavy throb of "Dark Stars..." followed up and always feature some great vocals from Tsuyama... this one ended with a little bit of what may or may not have been "Pussyhead Man From Outer Space."

A new arrangement of "La Novia" was next, after some whistling and such. This seemed to be a more serious Tsuyama night, no puppet shows or Pete Rose impressions. There is definitely something to the "if Phil is on, the band is on" deal with Tsuyama and AMT. This arrangement was very quiet and subdued compared to the overwhelming riff of the usual "La Novia" and it also included a bit of "La Le Lo." The band interplay was really starting to gell and it was pretty easy to get lost in the spiral solos Kawabata was spinning against the almost dub bass action. By the time of the final "real" riff, the heads were bobbing and rocking out. Some hippies rocking out too... man, next stop Bonnaroo for AMT! Fingers crossed.

At this point the opening riff of "Pink Lady Lemonade" was unfolded to a nice cheer and I snuck out of the Tsyuamazone for a little awesomeness and a bathroom break. Some almost sound effect comic snorting in the stall next to me followed by some puking! Wow. Just like a Dead show! Where is overalls guy?

"Pink Lady Lemonade" was the highlight of the night, for sure. The main riff went on forever, totally hypnotizing, only to be taken over by a crunching (but with wings!) solo from Kawabata, swinging with Shimura perfectly. Things eventually got fuzzy and spacey... refocusing on a very Krautrock influenced jam: motor drumming laced in with a pummeling but simple bassline; Kawabata's three note climbing riff blazing in wah wah as the jam went faster and deeper... the music just flying off of his fingers. Incredible. One of thee best versions of the song I have seen ended with them slamming full on into "Speed Guru" with Kawabata spinning his guitar by the neck and then hanging it off the balcony in a wash of feedback as people flipped out and screamed and clapped. Finally everyone else fizzled out and left the stage. Whew. Alas, no crazy encore to report, but it was an hour and 20 minutes well spent for sure.

Always pushing the boundaries, always taking the frame up and out. Amazing. Here is a recording of "Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky" from the Philly show. Thanks to Zappa Penguin for recording the show. While this jam is awesome, it is a lowish bit rate and I highly recommend you track down the full show on a torrent site or when it gets posted (posted now, along with three other shows from the East Coast tour, be sure to read ZP's reviews of the shows too)... And go see AMT!

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso- Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky live @ Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia PA March 24 2008.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

upcoming shows

A bunch of great bands in the next few weeks....

March 24- Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. @ Johnny Brenda's

March 26- Vincent Black Shadow @ Danger Danger Gallery

March 30- Howlin Rain @ the Khyber

March 31- Phillies Home Opener vs the Nationals @ Citizen's Bank Park

April 2- Boredoms @ the Starlight Ballroom

April 8- Ya Ho Wha 13 & No Neck Blues Band @ Knitting Factory NYC