i stumbled into hearing about the jarvis cocker shows at webster hall (review, photos), and am i ever glad i did: apparently he hasn't played in the states for nearly ten years, and his whole north american tour this time is teeny. joe and i were there last night, and it was one of the best concerts i've ever seen.* as i'd expected after seeing live forever (a 2003 britpop documentary), m. cocker's chatter** was endearing and odd; i was wholly unprepared, though, for the lanky-man-dance-hurricane. as another attendee noted, it was like seeing (skinny) elvis. no one seemed to mind the utter absence of pulp songs, though we did catch our collective breath when he announced that he'd run out of new material for the encore and would have to play older stuff. he meant older covers - talking heads' "heaven" and black sabbath's "paranoid"*** - and both were great. my one regret is that i couldn't pick up a shirt in honor of the best song of the night: where can one wear "cunts are still running the world" on one's chest?

i went to bed wondering if that was, in fact, the best show i've attended. i've been more emotionally attached to other performances - i saw the cure in high school, for example, and lou reed at a benefit a decade ago - but the venues were huge, and the showmanship was lacking. tell me, internets: what's the best performance you've caught? what earned it the gold star?

*even though i didn't see karl lagerfeld, who's supposedly BFF with jarvis's wife and topped my celebrity sighting wish list for the night. i hear wes anderson was all over the place, however.

**on webster hall: "i like this venue; it's a bit like being in the ark of the covenant, what with all the arcane symbols. we're like the contents of the box, and if you lifted the top off we'd be able to dissolve people, which would not be a bad power to have."

***i confess i felt terribly superior when the guy in front of me texted it as "IRONMAN!" to a buddy. i know jack about ozzy, but i know the bone lick for ironman; that wasn't it.


tom said...

Too tough. There were shows in Madison and San Francisco that were quite memorable. (Madison doesn't draw anybody consistently except for, say, Dar Williams, whose oh-so-folksy visits are like clockwork. But the rooms are small, so its almost just you and the band, which is cool in its own little way.) And shows I've seen here in the past four years have been extraordinary.

I'm going to have to pull one out of the pile, though. Oh, screw it. Three.

Magnetic Fields / Damon & Naomi / Aden at the Black Cat in Washington in the summer of 1998 was incredible. Hell: that venue is solid all around--best in town, if you ever go. But this was classic. Sen. Phil Gramm (who once said "I have more guns than I need, and less guns than I want") and his wife, Wendy, came to see their boy, who led the opener. It was surreal watching Sen. Gramm do the indie-rock head nod. Next was the duo, marred by Damon's incessant bitching about the guys playing pool in the back--he actually cut the set short on account of it. And the Magnetic Fields--just before their release of 69 Love Songs--were the Magnetic Fields. Jaws dropped when Claudia went into "Washington D.C." of course, but the entire set was remarkable.

Jenny Toomey, in her solo years, played the Subterreanean in Wicker Park a couple of years ago. I had a snack downstairs, nursing a bit of a cold, when who should pop by but Jenny, Franklin Bruno and other merry men/women to have veggie wraps. I moved my table over to meet theirs so that they had room. Small token for an indie goddess. The show was $6--an insane value.

And there was the Arcade Fire at the Riviera in Uptown, on their second visit to town, just after they exploded onto the scene. About 2,500 people in the joint, and you could just feel the energy of the place, just pulsating around. Apart from the fact that my estranged, and just plain strange, ex was there (on a ticket that I bought for her before we broke it off--chivalry demanded no refund on account of her being nuts), it was absolute perfection.

Hon. mention: Barbara Manning at the Club Tavern in Middleton, Wis., who played for over two hours without a break, covering the whole catalog with a smoke-breathing moosehead observing; Sleater-Kinney at the Regent Street Retreat in Madison, with Corin, Janet, Carrie and no more than 100 hardcore fans; Le Tigre at the Vic on Belmont, who were having an impossible amount of fun playing; Stereolab, also at the Vic, with Laetitia playing the trombone; meeting Jonathan Richman backstage after an acoustic show in Palo Alto, during my KZSU days.

[So that's eight. Way to blow through the internet meme, Tom.]

sara said...

best concert? a toughie for sure. multple choices...ideally, the venue is small or the seats are close...

daniel lanois: complete with famous guests like emmylou harris and edge.

jason falkner: intimate venue. amazing performance.

i was awestruck at sigur ros when they played the hollywood bowl october 2005.

elbow was another one at the avalon in hollywood about a year ago: the mix was awesome.

imogen heap: lots of energy. lush. weird costumes, crystaline voice.

beck: ohmygosh, beck at the universal amphitheatre was awesome. perfect.

best venue: gibson (fka universal) amphitheatre. the quality of the sound for a live mix is pure. shows at that venue have amazing success in my history of attendance: tori amos, lyle lovett, and even sarah mclaughlan and sting.

dave matthews & friends tour: an awesome blend of talented musicians like emmylou harris and daniel lanois and trey anastasio, etc.

best kitsch factor: tom jones in vegas. what life wouldn't be complete without watching grown women--old women--toss their knickers at tom?

honorable mention: paul mccartney. the stadium venue sucks in general, the sound quality always leaves something to be desired, but it felt great to be there.

soon to be added: the police @ the mgm in vegas. yes, folks, we've sold our first born or signed a wager with mephistopheles on this one: floor seats promise us a a once in a lifetime time on their reunion tour. i need to buy me some platform shoes...

i realize i didn't follow the rules altogether well here, but i just get so durn excited!

baby jo said...

lauren, i have to say the beck concert that em and i went to with you at mem aud when i was in 7th grade. going to a concert with your college age big sister is already cool, but being able to tell the weenie wall story during homeroom makes it even cooler.

really, though -- why the cowboys at the beginning?

lauren said...

the "weenie wall" to which jo refers, dear readers, was an artfully placed amp that prevented the opening band (sukia)'s surprise saxophonist - who had 1) no damn clothes on, 2) a cock ring, and 3) an erection - from compromising my sisters' innocence. mostly.

thanks for the props, sis - techno/country notwithstanding, i was hoping you guys would have a good time.

sara said...

wait...cowboys you say? did they have the tv sheriff back when you saw beck, too???

lauren said...

no no, this was the odelay tour (in '96-'97): sukia were just dressed as cowboys. they were scary, scary guys.

uncle paul said...

You guys were there too, eh? I had a right-on view of that cock ring.

Recent standouts round here were Gang of Four and the misty mysterious Radiohead show at the Greek Theater. Guided By Voices rocked Iowa City. Sunny Day Real Estate in the college years.

Jay said...

"i was wholly unprepared, though, for the lanky-man-dance-hurricane"

Well now, that sure brings back memories. In September 1994, the start of my sophomore year at UGA, my roomate and I saw Pulp open for Blur in Atlanta. I was only a little familiar with Pulp, reading Select and then the Melody Makers in the school library. It was fantastic and there was indeed a hurricane, highly imitable and yet........completely INimitable. It was Jarvis's birthday and there was a gift basket from a local place called Blooming Cookies. They'd put a cookie on a stick and wrap it up in plastic with a bow around it and the effect was like a basket of flowers. These were oatmeal. For years I kept one I'd gotten off the stage that he'd rubbed around his sweaty dancin self. I guess eventually I thought "yeah, it's sealed...but it's still a nine year old cookie isn't it?". Not that one could tell. My foggy memory says that they played "Common People" since I believe it *had* been written by then and I'd read the title somewhere, but I could be wrong. Setlists get faint in the mists of time.

And they were never to return and in time I felt very privileged to have been there. Blur were great too and I owe 'em one for being big enough to tour the South and bring Pulp with 'em who'd never headline south of DC.

Boy do I miss the 90s sometimes.

Jay said...

Sorry, I should've added that the greatest performance I ever saw was Guitar Wolf at the Star Community Bar. This was the most UNSTOPPABLE band I've ever encountered. There's a sort of bar island halfway out into the floor to stand around and the leader got on it, fell off and kept playing his guitar on his back, completely unfazed. They encored with a broken English version of "Satisfaction" and they just didn't want to let the night end. I've never seen a band so goddamn into it. SANK YOUUUUUU!!!! ATRANTAAAAAA!! It was stunning.