Friday, July 23, 2010

The Dead Weather, Hollywood Palladium, July 21st 2010

That was indeed a weird show. I enjoyed it, but I'm going to rate it as "differently enjoyable".


(Teaser post yesterday featuring drunk Jack attempting to stand up and sing here.)

The support band was Harlem. I'd seen them supporting the Dead Weather in San Diego two days before and I thought they were good. They have an energetic retro sound that reminds me a bit of The Ramones and a lot of The Jam, but with nice clear 60s punk and R&B vocals over the top. Today was a different story. They played about four similar songs, endlessly tuning and talking between them. The sound at the Palladium is bad, and I couldn't tell what they were talking about. Possibly others couldn't tell either, or maybe it was just boring banter because most of the crowd didn't respond to it either. Eventually, one of the singers said, "We should have brought airplane pillows for you guys to rest your heads on." Yep, when music falls flat blame the audience.

They played some other low-battery tunes and eventually one of them said, "Hey, Palladium, is it because we're a tiny little band that doesn't matter?" In front of me one woman was doing wrist stretches and another was looking at a gallery of baby pictures on her phone. Then they tried the never-fail opening band standby, "Is anybody here excited about the Dead Weather?" LA knows manipulative speech when it hears it and didn't respond. Then they had a prolonged sotto voce discussion about what they were going to play for the last song. One of them suggested rock and roll, which they debated for literally a minute, but another recommended "the opposite of rock and roll". So they finished on a slow number and left quietly, as in you could have heard a pin drop.

Jack introduces the band with the comment about how he's hoping "gentlemen admirers" contact him while he's in California. (I think that can be arranged, Jack. Do you bottom or top?)

Then behatted suited men arrived and started arranging familiar things around the stage. Jack's Sam Kay drum set, half a dozen gorgeous guitars, boot-scuffed monitors. Behind Jack's stool was a Jacob's Ladder, staple of Frankenstein films. The young men behind me hadn't ever seen one before, although when I briefly explained it, they immediately saw the similarity to a Tesla coil, so Jack is certainly helping improve the education in this country when it comes to Steampunk physics. On top of four of the lighting towers were blue-horned animal busts. I'm thinking they were wild sheep, goat, oryx and bongo, though the latter could have been an antelope. During the support act they were covered up. One of the roadies came to the front of the stage, took a bow, and took off the cover of each one in turn while the audience screamed. This struck me as really weird. I mean I've known people who invented religions - no, I really do know people who have invented religions- and that's a bit weird. But getting 4000 people to scream at a goat within two weeks of the introduction of the idol is pretty good going.

For the first time in the six or so shows I've seen, instead of going straight from Captain Beefheart to racket to 60 Feet Tall (or other chosen opener) they messed around. Jack walked to the front with his hat on, ostentatiously popped a champagne cork and arrogantly chucked it into the crowd. He then pouted his way over to Alison, handed her the bottle, got behind his kit and then the band went into 60 Feet Tall.

60 Feet Tall with intro. You can't really see Jack hurl the cork, but you can see him swearily hand over the champage bottle to Alison.

60 Feet Tall.
Jack attempting to remove a champagne cork while off his tree.

60 Feet Tall
Good shots of the goat or whatever it is

The crowd erupted like a BP deep-sea oil well with an inoperative blowout preventer, and immediately there was no chance to take notes, no chance to even stay on my feet. Between and during songs there were at least three rants from Jack. The sound was so bad I couldn't tell what they were about until I saw the videos on YouTube the next day. I asked the guy behind me about one, and he said, "Something about the governor and money". It turned out to be a tirade about a plan to put Ronald Reagan's mug on the $50 bill. The words "motherfucking" and "goddamn" featured prominently. For You Just Can't Win, Jack was helped to the front of the stage by a bearded guy dressed as a roadie and was held up swaying for a moment like James motherfucking Brown before singing the song straight, if rather drunkenly. (See yesterdays post for a video.)

I Cut Like A Buffalo

By the middle of the set, I had to get out of there. I'd ricked my knee two days before, dancing in San Diego to the sounds of um, that would be The Dead Weather, and had no strength to push away marauders. Two tall skinny young ladies managed to force their way that deep into the crowd, squashed the woman in front of me and stood there with their cameras. One held it with her hand against her shoulder when not in use so the lit white screen was covering my view of the stage and blinding me at the same time. The crowd was pushing so hard - not moshing, just pushing - that I was lifted off the floor and my ribs were getting crushed. The squashed girl in front of me bailed - and I'd promised her she was going to have a good time seeing this band, too. Another strong, fit-looking woman gave up then. I couldn't see, and I was close to being injured, so I also made my way to the back, limped up to the balcony and watched the band from a distance. The sound was poor there, but not as bad as in the auditorium. I still couldn't hear what Jack was saying. At least I could watch Alison, who had hair the size of a B1 bomber (and it stayed that way - she must have solved her "entire can of hairspray" problem).

I stood next to the mixing desk at one point and watched the lighting man. He had a mixer almost as big as the sound guy's, with lots of sliders and knobs and sequencers. His fingers danced to make the banks of lights complement the music and action and I really admired him - his instrument looked at least as difficult as the musicians' instruments. When the song I watched finished, he jumped back and shouted "Fuck yeah!" completely in the moment.

I can't hear you
I've only watche
d it once, but it appears Jack falls over twice and jumps off the stage once. Or maybe he just fell three times.

Hang You From the Heavens

Die By the Drop

On the way home down the lovely concrete delta of 101 to I5, my mp3 player shuffled up Grace Jones' My Jamaican Guy, followed it with something else - actually Marilyn Manson's Beautiful People - and then Kid 'n' Play's Undercover, which samples the main riff of My Jamaican Guy. Sometimes it's like it knows it's doing this.

Hussle and Cuss

I Cut Like a Buffalo
With tipsy dance at the beginning and bonus rant. He looks a bit like a very large leprechaun.

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