- Brian happily reports that the version of Plasticland that opened for Blue Cheer was good. "Glenn's revisiting his Stooges-era youth," he said of the sound, which means they're more rock, punk, than psychedelic. Now I'm sorry I missed it. "Sammy Hagar" (known to everybody else as Leroy) isn't a psychdelic-trippy and effects-laden as that other guy, but his guitar style fit in well with what Glenn Rehse is writing these day. "Lots of new songs, good to see," Brian reports. This must have boded well for the headliner, Blue Cheer, who by all accounts still has "it." I suspect most people expected a rehash of the hits, and an audience of people who were just glad to be able to say they caught Blue Cheer once in their life, but according to Brian, they didn't rest on their laurels and put forth a damn fine show.
- So after an afternoon of pre-Turkey day errand running, I donned a simple outfit (my typical going out wear would have been inappropriate) for "Kneel to Neil" -- the Neil Young tribute/birthday/fundraiser at Linneman's. I really had intended to stay the entire evening, but it was so dang smoky in there my eyes were burning and I was actually getting a headache. This hasn't happened to me before at Linneman's. Either the place was really packed and it didn't seem like it, the smoke eaters or ventilation weren't working, or perhaps the propensity to smoke is just statistically higher amongst Neil Young fans. I'm going with the latter -- seemed everybody in there was puffing away. Either way, I caught plenty of excellent sets, but by the time Knit Delicate/Testa Rosa were getting ready to hit the stage, not even a few minutes outside could shake my secondhand nicotine headache. Nevertheless, there were plenty of good performances, interspersed amongst the numerous versions of "Helpless" "Cinnamon Girl" and such. (Stage door bouncer Craig Fansher and I had a snarky time counting the "After The Gold Rush"s and the "My My Hey Hey"s. Come on people, Neil Young has this gigantic catalog of gems and, well, couldn't you have all just gotten together and agreed who was going to do what so that there were no repeats? I like a chorus of "Old Man" just as much as anybody, but I think once every three hours is my limit.) I got there in time to catch Smile Machine and Vega Star and socialize a bit with artist-musician Mike Fredrickson, whose set I shamefully missed, but I got him on camera anyway.
The stage room was set up like a lecture hall -- rows of chairs with no tables and I'm not sure what the point of that was. It seemed to strip away the rockin' portion of Young's music, and turn it into a dry lecture for me. I thought the poster that hung stage left reading "What Would Neil Young Do" was perfectly ironic -- I'm pretty sure he wouldn't set up a show to be like this.
Nevertheless, the band I fully intended to see and shoot -- the Aimless Blades -- did not disappoint. In only 20 minutes they managed to convince me that Neil Young is a good starting point to incorporate Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and good ol' Milwaukee underground music know-how into a compelling act that stands on its own. I am really looking forward to a full night of them when they release their CD, which guitarist Blaine Schultz assures me should be in the next month or two. (Artwork's finished, a few other things to tie up, and the official scheduling of the CD release party should be on the books soon.)
The smoke was killing me so much, after that set I was ready to go, but something told me to stick around and see the next act -- something about the familiarity of the name Wendy Bugatti and then bam -- I remembered. Could this be Wendy of Bugattitype 35, a band I once opened for back in the mid90s? Three words into her set and the I could tell by the strong voice and confident electric playing that this was! And she started with an atonal, but angrily rocking take on "Helpless" that made me forget all the acoustic versions I ever heard. I shook her hand on the way out -- she didn't particularly remember my band but we both talked about how we haven't played out in a while. I sure hope this is the beginning of seeing her play out more often. Before I went home (and fished out that CD she put out with Bugattitype 35 and marveled at how great they were), I stuck around for Juniper Tar's set and yes, Blaine, they've grown on me. Much more together, much less meandering, much more vaired dynamics. Good job, gentlemen.
- I spent that dreary gray cast of a Saturday running errands and getting all my ducks in a row for Thanksgiving, since it's our house playing host to the family. We've decided to take a crack at trash can turkey -- which should free up my oven for various baked goods (including a recipe for popovers that I tested and while too salty, had the texture of those ones you get at Coast on the Lake). It's all a part of my self-styled role as The Punk Rock Martha Stewart. Of course Home Despot doesn't have metal trash cans. So I ran over two blocks to the Bay View Ace Hardware and learned why they're still in business despite being a stone's throw away from a big box discount place: customer service. They didn't have any metal trash cans in stock, but instead of just shrugging it off and giving me a look as if to say "And why would you want one anyway when we've got these 55 gallon Rubbermaid bins?", they instead got on the horn, confirmed that the 13th and Burnham location had them, and told them to hold one for me. Anyway, everybody who's done Trash Can Turkey insists it's the best turkey they've ever had, and the process seems simple enough. "Plus," Melody at work (who told me about it to begin with) said, "It gives the men something to do."
- I was ridiculously tired after a day of running around, but still managed to rustle up the energy to at least catch a couple of bands at Points East, and I'm glad I did. For one thing, it confirmed to me that Crumpler really is that good -- they were as consistently engaging and fun to watch and play and try to figure out what the hell their genre was as they were that night out in Waukesha when I drove out only to find I missed the band I wanted to see. Amy from Independent Idols was also there, and also to see her old bandmate Binky Tunny crank out a solid set of songs that should be hits. (They'd run out of "I Am A Delicate Flower" bumperstickers by the time I arrived.) Binky has a great combination of stage presence, musicianship, and songwriting skills that range from funny to angry to sexually charged, and I really don't know why she's not at least a regional fixture yet. Maybe the right person hasn't discovered her yet, but I suspect its only a matter of time, something I have precious little of these past days.
- And why am I so short on time? Partly because my band, Loblolly, is getting ready for one of our rare performances. Mark your calendar, this Saturday the 24th at the Stonefly. We're going on first, so get there early. After us is the all-fresh Guido's Racecar, and then Dr. Chow's Love Medicine. Rest assured I'll be plugging this right here in this blog all week. We had a deadly rehearsal on Sunday and Binky has inspired me to kick your aaaaaaass, maaaannnn.