by Ben OswestSat, 13 Oct 2007 16:11:32 +0000http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.1enIn a Green Man Minute: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
http://boswestblog.com/2007/10/13/in-a-green-man-minute-stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks/#commentsSat, 13 Oct 2007 16:11:32 +0000BenY & BAbergavennyBaby CmonBaby Come OnBrecon BeaconsChelmsfordCrickhowellFace the TruthGlanuskGreen ManIndie RockJanet WeissJoanna BolmeKasabianMike ClarkMusicPig LibSleater KinneyStaffordshireStephen MalkmusThe CribsThe Green Man FestivalThe JicksThe WhoThe WireV FestVideosY & BYouTubehttp://boswestblog.com/2007/10/13/in-a-green-man-minute-stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks/
The Who? **
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. Festivals, like all closed social systems, have rules. One of them is that the last band - the very last band, the band that headlines the final day, the band that enjoys the number one ranking - gets to be the loudest band, gets to tell the sound technicians to push the levels to the proverbial “eleven”, and stand over them as they do it.
The Jicks availed themselves of this privilege. During his interview the day before, Stephen Malkmus said of Joanna Bolme (base), Janet Weiss (drums) and Mike Clark (synth), “these guys can really shred”.
They took the stage; they didn’t fear the noise; they blasted this folk festival back to the rock age. They were the loudest band I have heard. I wore earplugs, but after the gig, after I had removed the plugs, normal sounds drowned in my ears like whispers in a wind tunnel. (For a taste of just how loud they were, see the second video clip below.)
The intervals between numbers were as entertaining as the songs themselves (new stuff; Pig Lib stuff; and, as an encore, “Baby C’mon” from Face the Truth). Malkmus did a slow striptease as he heated up: off came the hoodie; off came the lumberjack shirt. He told jokes, and dissed the rival V Fest, underway in Chelmsford and Staffordshire - “you need Viagra to get through Kasabian… but we endorse the Cribs!” He also endorsed the Wire, in another moment of banter that Your Correspondent was able, after earlier fumbling, to capture for Boswest TV: see the first clip below.
After the set, as we stood in a near-empty Green Man beer tent, holding pints in plastic cups, my Lovely Assistant wondered aloud whether the drumming of Janet Weiss (ex-Sleater Kinney) didn’t imperil the Jicks’ sound, by nudging it too far, ontologically, in the direction of the Who. But it was a contented wondering-aloud - or, perhaps a better term, a sated wondering-aloud, the wondering-aloud of a person who had got everything she came for. The Green Man Festival’s stakes were being pulled even as we sipped, and yet our ears were ringing with it.
* Stephen Malkmus on England’s third best band:
The inaudible Jicks (aka the mic that couldn’t cope) - clip from “Baby C’mon”:
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. To be honest, the only reason we were standing that close to Banhart was to stake out a good position for the next act, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
“He sucks,” my newfound Italian friend Marco hissed in my ear about two minutes into Banhart’s set. The assessment was spot-on: the Banhart gang is a collection of musical frauds. They were out of tune, off key, utterly without spirit or direction, and generally about as interesting to watch as a punctured air mattress. The last time this many people so devoid of talent were granted “opening act” status at a major festival was probably during the era of The Troggs. Cross The Doors at their most turgid with Spinal Tap and you’ll have some idea of what we witnessed.
No offense to the Banhart faithful - many of whom were cawing his name and clawing the air in genuine adulation during his set - but Newcastle’s seventeen-year-old Beth Jeans Houghton, whom Banhart plucked from the crowd for the obligatory guest song, was a better performer, despite the inability of the sound people to cope with her sudden appearance. The practice is Banhart’s single saving grace, though something smelled fishy about this particular choice, as Beth Jeans - with her foot-long eyelashes and flesh-baring rockette suit - was more than prepared for the stage, and seems to have been wearing an artist’s white wristband in the first place… See pics of Houghton below.
* Clip from “I Feel Just Like a Child”, performed at the Green Man Festival. Courtesy missyhate.
The performance, which was a ghastly bit of bar-raising on the self-indulgence front, featured a pantomime in which a alien airplane hijacker (about 10 feet tall) met his end at the hands of the epic’s eponymous hero. The song is punctuated by the chorus, “Define thyself” (”pursuer of musical folly” in Rhys’ case, one wants to say), and toward the end the singer blew on a vuvuzela (pictured), which was about the most interesting thing he did on stage.
Here’s a clip from LordAlfreston of the very performance, showing the key moment when the hijacker is felled:
Abergavenny, Brecon Beacons, Candylion, Crickhowell, Glanusk, Green Man, Gruff Rhys, Indie Rock, LordAlfreston, Music, Skylon, The Green Man Festival, Videos, Vuvuzela, Wales, Y & B, YouTube
]]>http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/30/in-a-green-man-minute-gruff-rhys/feed/In a Green Man Minute: Stephen Malkmus Talks to Phil Sutcliffe of Mojo Magazine
http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/23/in-a-green-man-minute-stephen-malkmus-talks-to-phil-sutcliffe-of-mojo-magazine/#commentsSun, 23 Sep 2007 15:52:28 +0000BenY & BAbergavennyAmerican WaterAT&TBlack FlagBrecon BeaconsBrighten the CornersCircle JerksCrickhowellCrooked RainDavid BermanDavid Foster WallaceDead KennedysFairport ConventionFreedoms ChildrenGlanuskGreen ManIncredible String BandIndie RockJacob JavitzJames MeekJicksMDCMojoMusicPavementPeoples Act of LovePhil SutcliffeSilver JewsSmashing PumpkinsSocial DistortionSouth AfricaStephen MalkmusStone Temple PilotsSuckThe Green Man FestivalThe JicksTSOLVideosWalesY & BYouTubehttp://boswestblog.com/2007/09/23/in-a-green-man-minute-stephen-malkmus-talks-to-phil-sutcliffe-of-mojo-magazine/
Glass tent. **
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. The festival’s “Literature Tent”, designed more for poetry readings than interviews with rock stars, could barely house all of emperor-of-indie Stephen Malkmus’ fans. Fortunately, Your Correspondent and his Lovely Assistant had arrived early - with all of the UK’s Sunday papers to tide us through the wait - and had literally the best seats under the canopy for the Malkman’s interview with Phil Sutcliffe of the British music rag Mojo.
It was a desultory conversation, with Sutcliffe’s pack of ultra-mild questions inadvertantly exposing a parochial streak in his subject - Malkmus is strong on music, but suffers from the West Coast mutation of intellectual apathy on other fronts - an inkling of which is appreciable in the following clip from the interview. Here’s the Malkmovich in his default ‘tude, sarky-but-not-seriously-so, relating his one and only night in jail:
* What Manner of Place is Stockton, California? (or, “The Night Malkmus got Arrested”; 1:39)
One hesitates to give the Malkmeister the bullet-point treatment, but since, as Sutcliffe said, Mojo plans to run the entire inverview online - though it hasn’t yet, as far as I can tell - perhaps a highlights reel makes more sense than a seamless write-up. Here, then, are further notes gleaned from SM in the big top:
Factoid: SM would rather be stuck on a desert island with an ape than a talking robot. (As long as the ape was female.)
Early influences: Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Social Distortion (”before they went really rock”), Dead Kennedys (”the perfect band”), TSOL and MDC (”Millions of Dead Cops”).
Quote: “The Fairport Convention is one of the best English bands ever.”
Follow-up: SM also likes the Incredible String Band.
Confirmation: It was, indeed, his playing for the Silver Jews on American Water that proved the watershed moment for SM, and opened his mind to life beyond Pavement. The freeness of that records’ production led him to conclude, “Don’t be afraid to play with someone else.”
What’s a “jick”?? In cards, it’s slang for a “jack”. But it sounds to SM more like a bug: a mosquito, or tick… “or any kind of head lice”.
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. Battles, who headlined the Green Man’s Folkey Dokey stage on Saturday night (playing opposite Robert Plant, who was on the main stage in front of arguably fewer people), provoked the first encore I witnessed at the festival. The audience simply howled until they reappeared.
We deserved the extra number, for we’d never seen anything like Battles: multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton’s eerie, sampled, chipmunks-style singing (utterly incomprehenisble, but very compelling in a pre-verbal kind of way); drummer John Stanier’s possessed assault on his instruments; and the great, glorious, semi-tribal thrash that the full ensemble hammered out were quite overwhelming. Battles were the second-loudest act of the fest, and the most fun to watch.
The band is clearly at its best live, however, as those who’ve both seen them on stage and listened to their somehow pasteurized (read: overproduced) recordings can attest. Battles owes its life to Trans Am, but doesn’t match the latter’s in-studio finesse. Still, every honest lover of indie rock owes it to himself to listen to “Atlas” - whether the recorded version on the album Mirrored or, better, via YouTube (see embedded video below).
“Atlas”, performed live at Chicago’s Empty Bottle (8:05; uploaded by rainbovideo)
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. Briefly. Plant was, quite frankly, worse than Donovan last year, who at least provided comic relief. Led Zeppelin’s reforming for a “one-off” gig is doubtless meant in part to make up for all the wrongs committed by the Strange Sensation.
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. “This is going to be our last song for some time,” said Adem Ilhan; then he and friends Kieran Hebden and Sam Jeffers (plus one more: who?) post-rocked into the night.
Abergavenny, Brecon Beacons, Crickhowell, Festival, Glanusk, Green Man, Indie Rock, Music, The Green Man Festival, Vetiver, Wales, Y & B]]>http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-vetiver/feed/In a Green Man Minute: Six Organs of Admittance
http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-six-organs-of-admittance/#commentsSun, 16 Sep 2007 11:50:29 +0000BenY & BAntonio GramsciSix Organs of AdmittanceY & Bhttp://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-six-organs-of-admittance/
Scritti politti. **
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. Why “scritti politti” - ? Well, for one, we were in Wales (home of the band that invented the phrase); and, as a second point, a Six Organs performance is an uncompromising war on the dictatorship of soft, flabby rock (see next entry) - one of the few acts today that verges on the scary. They grittily grind it out, just like Antonio Gramsci. You find yourself somewhat awed.
Antonio Gramsci, Six Organs of Admittance, Y & B
]]>http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-six-organs-of-admittance/feed/In a Green Man Minute: Gwyneth Glyn
http://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-gwyneth-glyn/#commentsSun, 16 Sep 2007 11:34:47 +0000BenY & BAbergavennyBrecon BeaconsCrickhowellFestivalFolkGlanuskGreen ManGwyneth GlynMusicThe Green Man FestivalTonauTu ChwithWalesWelsh Childrens Poet LaureateY & Bhttp://boswestblog.com/2007/09/16/in-a-green-man-minute-gwyneth-glyn/
Outside in. **
** Seen at the 2007 Green Man Festival. Glyn, the 2006-2007 Welsh Children’s Poet Laureate, was performing songs from her album Tonau in the Green Man’s “literature tent” - a session sponsored by the Welsh literary magazine Tu Chwith*, and stumbled upon by your correspondent only because of the vile weather outside.
* Here is a computer’s tranlsation of the Tu Chwith homepage, for readers’ pleasure and fun:
-side y cooked
Magazine experimental is inside out. Magazine who’ is heartburn give opportunity I artistic I go literary men Wales present time radio I do he’ were to be heartburn have you go announce crookedly any place other. Magazine who’ is heartburn push boundaries I go magazine who’ is heartburn invite everyone I be crookedly he shares he’ group world artificial in would forbear.
Inside out they are being able he is being see the world.