Friday, September 25, 2009

This Might Get Loud

Been meaning to write up this review for a while now. I headed down to Houston Street to catch This Might Get Loud as soon as I could. It's a documentary produced by the same people who made "An Inconvenient Truth". Don't worry, it's not politically charged at all.

Basically they get three famous rock guitarists from three different eras together in a room, along with guitars and equipment, and see what happens. The three rock stars are Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White.

It starts off with some sort of vignettes, each of the three by himself, giving random thoughts about music and guitars. They go into each one's very earliest memories from childhood and how they first discovered rock and roll, and guitars in particular. They show some of the oldest film and video clips available. They even get Jimmy Page at about 12 years old, on British TV strumming an acoustic guitar singing skiffle style. The Edge takes you back to his high school and shows you the room where their music teacher let the band, later to be known as U2, learned to play. He showed the bulletin board where he first read the notice that Bono was looking for a guitar player. Jack White takes you to the streets of Detroit, in an Spanish neighborhood, where he and his seven siblings were among the few English speakers still living there. He explains that it was not the Mecca of rock music in the eighties.

The very first scene is Jack White building a make shift electric guitar out of a plank of wood, a coke bottle, a pickup, some string, and a hammer and nails. "Who need to buy a guitar" he muses. The Edge tells you about how he and his brother built an electric guitar from scratch when he was 10 years old, including carving the body and neck, carving grooves for frets, laying the metal frets into those grooves, winding the wire around the magnets to make the pickups...

There are lots of scenes of each of them on their own, in their own element, doing their own process.

Eventually, they all arrive in a sort of studio room... more like a movie studio than a music studio... but all of their own equipment is there, set up by their own people. They all talk about music, guitars, their experience in the business, their process... everything.

At one point you see Jack White and The Edge talking and doing stuff when Jimmy Page starts to rock out some recognizable Zeppelin riff. The two of them almost turn white as their jaws seem to hit the floor. Everything instantly stops as their attention is glued to the rock legend.

There's not nearly enough playing, in my opinion. But there is some... and what they have is good. They all jam out together on Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying". A great number for fans of gritty slide guitar, which is perfect for Jack White. The Edge puts his own technical, crisp, clean, non-gritty spin on it. Even blindfolded, you would be able to pick out each one's style with no problem. They wrap it up by working out a group version of "The Weight" by The Band.

I learned quite a bit about Jimmy Page. I didn't really know much about him except he was from England and played in The Yardbirds. I had no idea about his life as a studio musician, writing and playing jingles for commercials and movies, as well as Musak.

I was also incredibly impressed by Jack White and his story. I knew virtually nothing about him... wasn't even sure if his drummer was his wife or what... turns out it's his sister. I wasn't sure if he was all talk, playing up some sort of image, but he comes across as a real and authentic. He talks about having virtually nothing while growing up, but scraping together enough music equipment that his bed couldn't fit in his room anymore, so he slept on a mat on the floor. He loves working with old dented broken, half out of tune guitars and pianos. There are also some almost scary similarities between him and Jimmy Page in some really strange ways... like in the old records they both listened to as kids, and some of the songs they chose to play early on.

If you are a fan of rock guitar, or rock music in general, this is a MUST SEE.

ADDENDUM: It is now November 26, 2011 when I'm looking back at these old blog entries, and I felt I had to add that I have since found out that Jack White's drummer in The White Stripes IS his ex-wife, and NOT his sister. And while I still dig Jack White, I really can't believe a word he says.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MOTORHEAD at Roseland

Holy shit... what a fucking show !!! Don't write off The Goose 'till you see the box going in the ground. I STILL got some rock star in me after all.

Here was the lineup...
Nashville Pussy
Reverend Horton Heat

So I'm on line waiting to buy a ticket and some nerdy dude comes up behind me and starts talking... but talking in a way that made me uncomfortable. Maybe he was just nerdy, but did you ever get the feeling somebody is just being TOOO friendly? So he says "I'm here to see Reverend Horton Heat... I hear Motorhead is really good too." I'm like "YEAH !?!?!" (real douche bag like... sorry, I couldn't help it) He looks at the box office window and say "Oooohhh... I would NEVER name a band like that !!!" I said "Horton Heat or Motorhead?" He's like "No, the other one..." Then I couldn't hold back... I said "REALLY? What don't you like? Nashville or Pussy ????"

OK, drop $50 f'n dollars at the box office. Same show was $30 in Atlantic City last week (which I didn't go to, though with travel it would have been a hell of a lot more... though with table games, it could have gone either way). Meet up w/ Anthony right away inside, belly up to the bar and hang w/ Hoboken Jay (from American Standard). Me, I'm not drinking, but I say hi to everybody and we're talking...

Check out Nashville Pussy. Awesome full speed ahead, no holds barred, kick ass biker-billy, rock and roll. Songs about drinking and driving and fucking and fighting... two amazon women on bass and guitar, a scruffy cowboy guitar/singer, couldn't see the drummer... loud, fast, distorted hard rock w/ Nashville roots. Short set, like 15 minutes.

Next chill for 15 minutes at bar, and Reverend Horton Heat comes on. Power trio... hollow body w/ twang bar, stand up bass, stripped down drum kit... the perfect setup for rockabilly... though much more punk oriented. They are the definitive psycho-billy band. Latest album they say is a bit more country than usual, but that's just a phase and they'll go back to their psycho-billy sound next album. These guys kicked ass. Fun band, amazing talent on the guitar and bass, great showmanship... some long rocking jams, some short funny songs. All around great entertainment. They played for a good 40 minutes.

Another 20 minutes, just long enough to strike Horton Heat and uncover Motorhead's gear. Quick sound check by roadies, and on comes Motorhead. Motorhead, the archetypal power trio... this time w/ guest drummer from The Cult and Guns and Roses.

Had positioned myself into a good spot in the center when the shit hit the fan. Fucking MAYHEM all around me. Quickly had to duck and cover, had to spring into action and take evasive maneuvers. Fists and feet everywhere... bodies flying through the air... about a minute or two later a pit was established as some of us veterans were establishing the perimeter. My new motto... "I AM the perimeter." (Or maybe "The Pit Starts Here.") Basically, anybody moshing behind me get's tossed in front of me, anybody in front of me not moshing gets pulled back behind me (usually welcomed with thanks and praise)... and from then on, it's a matter of pushing people back into the pit as they try to expand their area. Had to tell myself, "OK, this is MOTORHEAD... take this seriously." Took off the watch and eyeglasses. Next thing several full beers come flying overhead from far behind in the auditorium, and I got a half full beer down my back. For two seconds I was pissed, and then I just had to remind myself again... "It's MOTORHEAD... and you're in the fucking midst of it." Crazy insane moshing goes on for the next I don't know how long... people hitting the floor HARD and people scoop them up as soon as possible. One dude would fall back down two seconds later, then we'd scoop him back up and then he'd drop again... he did this like six times so I was convinced he was fucking with us... I got in his face and yelled in his ear, "STay on your feet asshole!" He was back on the ground two seconds later. Next time he got up, I took him by the scruff of his neck and his belt and gave him the bum's rush across to the other side... epic wipe out and major pileup over there. This sweaty skinhead was panting and weezing and said "I'm too old for this shit... I'm 31." I'm like "Dude, I'm forty-fucking-three !!!" Fucking lightweight !!!

MOTORHEAD KICKED ASS. They were right on tonight. Last time they sort of dragged for the first half of the show and then turned it on towards the end... tonight it was full steam ahead from beginning to end.

After a few songs, once the pit was established, I noticed a clique of young girls (around 25-ish) who sort of formed their own little world in my shadow. They were going apeshit among themselves, reaching past me to sometimes push somebody back into the pit, then retreating behind me again. They kept banging up against my back and pushing each other into me. Next thing they're climbing up my back holding onto my shoulders getting in my ear and telling me "DUDE, YOU FUCKING RULE !!!". When I'd look back at them, they were all fist pumping and head banging and going apeshit... rocking out to Motorhead... all in the relative safety that is ME. Next I know they're grinding and rubbing all up on me... and I'm fucking sweaty and full of beer... and the music was PUMPING, and their were strobe lights... and the whole thing was just out of hand... next I know I got one girl up on my shoulders. She's playing my head like a drum, and stroking my hair and rocking out. Me? I was doing the bobble head... I hope she enjoyed it.

When the show was over, they all split... didn't get any pictures or numbers or anything. Just good memories of a great show. Oh, and top three buttons on my shirt were ripped off. By the end of the show I was a sweaty, beer soaked, ripped shirt, girl-on-shoulder-having ...rock star.