Saturday, February 24, 2007

Song of the Week 2/23/07

The Figgs - "Gonna Get Out (Live in San Francisco 2001)"

This week I finally got my act together to catch a Figgs show outside of the NYC area as I hitched a ride down to Philadelphia with The Figgs own master of the drum kit Pete Hayes. It had been almost two years since I had seen the guys out of town. And even worse, it had been eight months since I had seen the band play anywhere, which is the longest I have ever gone in between Figgs gigs in 12 years.

12 years!

No wonder my life has seemed fucked up at times! It's a simple equation:

No live Figgs = Steve's life isn't as good as it should be

On Friday afternoon I made the quick trip from Brooklyn to meet Pete at his office, listening to a great bootleg from the second leg of the Sucking in Stereo tour. Recorded at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco in March of 2001 the show is just smoking. They were in the middle of a lengthy tour, they were feeling ragged (Mike Gent even says he's exhausted on mic a couple of times) and the generator in their truck was on the fritz--yet they still deliver a great gig. I chuckled out loud on the C train when Pete Donnelly said, "We can play that, and I know Mike wants to do a guitar solo and he can do it in this song." The band breaks into "Reject," which at the time was the template for any lengthy jamming the guys did. And oh does Mike rip one balls-to-the-wall solo. It's a work of sonic riff art.

Back to the present: Friday night's show was at a place called The Parlor...which was a former funeral parlor turned into performance space/dance studio. (And Pete and I must have passed 20 funeral parlors going down Broad Street, which was kind of creepy.) The gig was a release party for a local band Pete D knew and The Figgs were headlining. And this was a par-tay--a great appreciative crowd into all of the night's music; free food, beer and wine; a girl wearing a low cut shirt that almost made me and my buddy Dave snap our necks staring at her; and a drunk (and I think kinda insane) woman yelling in my ear while I was trying to dig the guys cover of Talking Heads' "Love->Building on Fire."

The show was a blast, even if the guys were a bit sloppy at times. But the best part was when Mike said he wanted to solo (and yes, I did laugh to myself, think about my subway trip early in the day) and he started playing the riff to "Gonna Get Out." This version (which I estimate clocked in at around 8 minutes) was the best performance I have ever seen of this song. And I mean ever. Here's what we saw:

--Mike singing along to the slowed down riff of the tune, stating that he was doing it "like George Benson."

--Mike changing the line "we're not gonna be here" to "we're still gonna be here," as if it was a statement of defiance.

--Mike and Pete D jumping off the stage into the crowd during the solo, in which they did a kind of dueling riff battle in front of a bunch of worshiping fans.

--While that was going on, one of the people working the event brought a six pack of beer up to the stage. Pete H started yelling at the guy to get his attention and then motioned repeatedly for this dude to open the beer and then put it up to Pete's mouth. At first this guy was kind of thick--Pete had to yell what he wanted at least five times before the guy caught on. Once the precious beer was in Pete's mouth, he preceded to keep playing and at the same time downed more than 2/3 of the bottle. As a fellow beer drinker, it was a sight to behold. The crowd started yelling, which in turn caused Mike and Pete D to turn around and see what caused all the commotion.

--After Mike and Pete D climbed back on stage, Mike suggested that they switch instruments and that Pete do a solo. So we were treated to a great guitar solo from Mr. Donnelly, this one a wall of noise that made me think of Sonic Youth, of all bands.

Finally they switched back to their regular instruments and they brought the song to a thrilling conclusion. After that performance, I think The Figgs should just retire "Gonna Get Out." It's never gonna get more entertaining than that night.

As a Song of the Week bonus, right click on "Gonna Get Out" in the title of this entry to download a solo-filled version of the song from the previously mentioned San Francisco bootleg. Or if you want the whole thing, head to Captain's Dead.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It Took a Bit of Time...

...but The 17th annual Top 20 is finally archived on the site. Check it out on the sidebar below to the right, or just click here.

Song of the Week 2/16/07

Justin Timberlake - "What Comes Around...Goes Around"

This year was the 12th edition of the Grammys I had to cover and about the only thing I remember a few days later is that Justin Timberlake probably should have done more than just three songs. "What Goes Around..." is the third great single from FutureSex/LoveSounds in a row, and Timberlake's performance of it was the best part of the Grammys. And not to take away from this guy's talent (because it's obvious to even a jaded person like me he's got it in spades) but the fact that he was the highlight of the telecast is just a sad reminder of how bad the show had gotten over the years. When was the last time a rock band or artist gave a memorable appearance on this show? I seriously can't remember.

I will say that the above video is just so over the top that I expect the JT backlash to begin at the end of the sentence. And it's always nice to see Scarlett Johansson dressed in revealing outfits.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Song of the Week 2/9/07

John Mellencamp - "Hurt So Good"

This week I interviewed John Mellencamp for the first time. And surprisingly he was a cordial and funny man to talk to. So I knew that we'd have to open Live Band Karaoke with "Hurt So Good," the only Mellencamp (pardon me, John Cougar) song in our repertoire. It was a bit rough at a couple of points (which was par for the course the entire night) but it sounded much better the second time around when this girl Katie sang it late in the set. She changed the lyrics to a female perspective and did a damn good job of it.

Later on Thursday night I lived out part of these lyrics:

"Don't have to be so exciting.
Just tryin' to give myself a little bit of fun, yeah.

You always look so invitin'
You ain't as green as you are young

Hey baby, its you.
Come on, girl, now, its you.

Sink your teeth right through my bones, baby.
Let's see what we can do."

And who doesn't love a little bit of unexpected fun? I know that I do, and did.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Song of the Week 2/2/07

Steve Winwood - "While You See a Chance"

So tons of kids have hit songs as their cell phone ringtones--or at least that's what I've been told. I think only one person I know has had a "hit" song play when their cell rings. So this week was a first when someone's ringtone reminded me of an old song. A person who I work with (I'll let the guilty party stay anonymous) got a new phone and left the ringtone at the factory setting. When the phone rang for the first time, it sounded like some creepy song you'd hear in a dentist's office or an elevator. A certain way the keyboard riff faded in during the ring reminded me of some song from the past, and after hearing that painful ring a few times I realized that the keyboard tone was similiar to the one throughout "While You See a Chance." I downloaded the song and then played it every time my co-worker's phone rang.

Damn, that continues to be funny. And it caused me to listen to the entire song repeatedly during this week.