My Bloody Valentine Concert Review: Austin 4/21/09

Last night, MBV played one of five US tour dates at the Austin Music Hall in Austin, TX.  I arrived with my girlfriend around 6 to wait in line for doors at 7, assuming the line would be around the block.  However, the show wasn’t sold out and the venue could hold 4,400 people so the line was only about 60 people when we arrived.  After an hour of waiting to get in, a quick dash to the merch table (only to be appalled by the $35 t-shirts) and then a long wait for the openers, the first band started up.mbv

I can’t remember the names of the opening acts so don’t ask me what they were, but from rumors in the queue outside and bits and pieces of information from people in the audience, the lead singer of the first band felt that he had some kind of holy spirit in him since and early age and expressed it in his music.  I had no idea what to expect from this and was blown away when a skinny hipster type dude walked out with a full on hobo wine-drinkin’ beard and super long hair.  My gf said he reminded her of an instructor she had when she worked at a Buddhist summer camp.

Surprisingly, the band was really good.  The guitar player pulled off a convincing MBV style of guitar playing while the drummer and bassist keep up with matched intensity.  The songs were too long for my taste (7 minutes at the shortest, up to 15 minutes total) and the singer’s rants about Jesus (obligatory lyric: how do you know there’s a hell?  Because Jesus ain’t no liar) basically made me tune out early on.  If they could drop about 5 minutes off of each song and diversify their lyrics a bit, maybe I’ll give them another listen.

The crowd seemed to dig them better than the second opener, however, who was the lead singer/songwriter for the Lilies.  He had a bit of a Teenage Fanclub/Big Star type sound, but you could barely hear his twelve string acoustic and singing over the general chatter of the venue.  He needed to be turned up a lot.  As a result, most people seemed bored and kept talking shit.  He was pretty good about it though, fininshing up his set without getting angry or responding to it, and his songs really were pretty well written.  He just didn’t really fit in with the ravenous fans waiting to see MBV.

Finally, when he finished his set, MBV came on.  Here is the setlist for the show:

I Only Said
When You Sleep
You Never Should
(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream
Cigarette in Your Bed
Come In Alone
Only Shallow
Nothing Much To Lose
To Here Knows When
Blown A Wish
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realize (with obligatory 20 minute 13 marshall stack jet engine noise solo)

A few notes about the performance.  The oddball musical parts that didn’t come from the guitars were sampled for the show; in other words, both guitar players basically jammed out the rhythm chords for almost every song and let the backing track do the harder sounds.  That being said, Colm Ó Cíosóig’s drumming was incredibly heavy and awesome.  He made simple beats sound complex and full of depth by really making use of the different parts of his drum set (for instance, staying off cymbals in some songs while focusing on the highhat and snare).  He provided a backbone for the show and his facial expressions brought a higher level of intensity to the performance.  Bilinda Butcher’s beautiful, reserved guitar playing and singing fit the sound of the records perfectly, although it was difficult to hear any vocals from near the front-center of the venue.  Both Bilinda and Kevin Shields played mainly a series of Fender Jazzmasters with a few oddballs thrown in, such as Bilinda’s Chavel Surfcaster.  Shields strummed his guitar using his Jazzmaster’s whammy bar on every strum, giving the chords that wavering, shimmering sound that gives MBV songs  their distinctive sound.  Bassist Debbie Googe also put on a great performance, mainly standing in front of the drums and looking awesome while adding a lot of intensity to the performance.  She and Colm looked a lot more into it than Kevin or Bilinda, who both looked nervous and at times uncomfortable.

Now let’s talk about the actual show.  The band has set up about 15 giant strobe lights, that went off in Loveless pink and every other possible color all throughout the performance.  The light was completely blinding and gave the show the same kind of effect of MBV videos; namely, that blurry, hard to see effect, bathing the band in light but at the same time making them harder to see.  The visualizations on the back of the board weren’t very interesting and only showed up for a few songs.  For the most part, the heavier songs were more interesting to watch, as a lot of the impact of the slower songs was lost on poorly amplified vocals and a loss of the heavy, earth-shattering wall of noise that you get on MBV albums.  Without it, a few of these songs fell flat.

The show ended with “You Made Me Realize,” MBV’s famous last song with a twenty minute noise solo (if you can call it that).  Basically, somewhere in the middle of the song, Kevin Shields turns on all 13 Marshall stacks he has behind him (and several other amps) and suddenly all you could hear was earth-shattering distortion.  I remember looking straight at the drummer and having no conception of what he was playing in the stream of sound I could hear.  Everyone was playing their instruments but the overall effect was like standing right in front of a jet engine when its going full steam; utterly mind blowing.  At one point I felt my chest and it was vibrating so hard that I had troubling distinguishing my heartbeat in the midst of the chaotic noise.

People stayed around waiting for an encore but Austin Music Hall promptly turned on the lights and shooed us all away.  I’d heard not so great things about AMH in the past and they were at least partially true (poor sound, not a fun venue) but really, MBV could have rocked any arena.  This was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time and I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t.

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Presidential Candidates as “Cool New People?”

If you’re like most Americans under the age of 40, you probably have a Myspace homepage that you check obsessively throughout the day. I, unfortunately, am one of these people. Recently, however, I noticed something that was too unlikely to be a coincidence. Go and see for yourself.

Go to the Myspace homepage. Not your personal Myspace homepage, but the generic one that is filled with advertisements and other spam. For the past two days in a row, I’ve noticed that among the “cool new people,” the third person listed is a candidate for the presidency. Coincidence? It must be, considering how far any of them would be from my description of cool new people.

Today there was the conspicuous head-shot of a white haired octogenarian named “Chris.” You quickly find out, upon clicking his link, that he is a Republican candidate for president named Chris Dodd.

Yesterday the third cool new person was “Mitt Romney,” next to Kristal and ❤ Sarah <3. I guess the advertisement people at Myspace believe that if they just move the name over the the third and last in the cool new people section, users won’t notice the the product placement. However, they have misunderestimated us.

Myspace is selling ads outside of traditional adspace and creating an environment where we live and breathe advertisements. Send a message to Myspace’s contact page telling them you don’t want spam in your cool new people section!!!!! Here is a link.

UPDATE: Joe Biden is up there now.

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Why Standing Up To Your Boss Works

Below is an email exchange between my girlfriend and her boss. She works an internship at a magazine twice a week for 5 hours each time, writes for her campus newspaper, works this job (that sucks and pays her meagerly) and is taking a full time, three class load. Her boss had the nerve to send her the following letter:

On 4/11/07, H.W.(the boss) wrote: Hi N.,

As you are now working split shifts of two- and three-hour intervals, it is not appropriate to eat lunch during that time. California law provides that employees must receive a 30-minute meal break if they work in excess of five hours.

It’s fine if you’d like to stay for a few minutes after you finish work at noon, or come in early before you resume working at 2 p.m.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or questions.

Best, H.

My girlfriend, being the extremely intelligent and no-bullshit person that she is, promptly responded. She had been wanting to quit this job for months as the work was tough and her new boss was especially crabby. Instead of apologizing for eating her lunch at work, she responded with the following:

—–Original Message—–
From: N.E.

Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:00 AM

To: H.W., K.N., A.K.
Subject: Re: Work Thursday

Hi H.,

I appreciate your concern. I do have my own to contribute.

When I leave after my two hour shift, I go to class. I don’t have time to eat. On those days when my professor ends the class early, I will, for now on, take those minutes to eat lunch.

On the other hand, on those days when my professor doesn’t end the class early, it doesn’t take me more than ten minutes to eat lunch, and I usually can do it while I’m working. I do not think it interferes with my work or dampens my overall productivity. Furthermore, I think that an atmosphere where an activity like eating is not strictly monitored would allow for a more positive work environment simply because it gives me, or whoever is working, a sense of autonomy.

I understand that my past with !@#$% has been checkered. I’ve had quarters with frequent absences, I usually eat while I’m working, and I sometimes check my email a little too frequently. While interning for !@#$% has taught me a lot about marketing and publicity, I also feel over the past two quarters, I’ve stopped enjoying it as much. For that reason, I would like to resign.

Please inform me of how you would prefer I do it. I understand this resignation is mid-quarter and I would like to accommodate the two departments as much as possible. Thank you for listening,


This was the response she got not long afterwards:

From: H. (the boss)
Date: Apr 12, 2007 12:07 PM
Subject: RE: Work Thursday
To: N.E.,
K.N., A.K.

Hi N.,

Thanks for your message and for helping us understand your feelings.

First, I’d like to apologize for my message regarding eating while on the job. It’s was unfair on my part, and I’m very sorry. We want you to enjoy your time with us and be comfortable having lunch, as well as taking personal calls and emails.

We’d very much like to work out something that might be agreeable to you within the dual aspects of the position. As I mentioned yesterday, our press mailings for the 06-07 season are complete and – thanks to your help – the clippings are, too. We really appreciate all that you contribute and for looking at the “bigger picture” while helping us with work that may not be as challenging for you.

Perhaps you might consider staying on to help Marketing? A.’s looking very much forward to speaking with you.

Kind regards, H.

This just goes to show that if you are being mistreated at work and believe yourself to be important to the company its your prerogative to stand up for yourself when threatened by your superiors. My guess is that when her other bosses saw the letter of resignation they made HW apologize for her letter. That’s why I love you, baby.

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Yahoo’s Republican Bias Part II

  by anti-folk hero

Once again, Yahoo! has shielded America from a gruesome truth by altering a main headline on their news feed. The story was originally entitled, “Attacks Throughout Iraq kill at least 65,” but was changed later today to “Attacks Throughout Iraq Kill Dozens.” From 65 to dozens, eh? Softening the impact of the war is not in the interest of the American people. This is media censorship at its worst.

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Bush Reinstates House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC)

Thought to be a relic of McCarthyism and witch-hunts, Bush brings back one of the most shameful institutions in American history. Amongst those being spied upon are hippies, children of hippies, the “hip,” those with hip replacements, hippos and the ones they love, hipsters, rohipnol users, and non-aryan-christian-white-republican-heterosexual-caucasians.

Beware: the HUAC could be that friendly fellow at the Mest concert, or that waitress that gave you the eye at Denny’s the other night. The government will not stop until enemies of the state have been imprisoned and short-shackled to the ground in foreign army bases. Don’t like Bush? It could be YOU that they come after next.

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Judge: Beverly Hills H.S. Did Not Cause Cancer

Read the story here.  Frankly, I don’t think the judge’s decision was a good one.

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House Approves Roves, Miers Subpoenas


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