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614Live: The Dream of the ’90s vs. the Dream of the ’90s

There has never been a better, more fitting slogan for a band than “Primus Sucks!” The San Franciscan trio had the nearly packed LC Pavilion chanting in unison, realizing that the dream of the ‘90s was alive and well and that most of their fans hadn’t changed their cargo shorts since 1993. That was actually [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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There has never been a better, more fitting slogan for a band than “Primus Sucks!” The San Franciscan trio had the nearly packed LC Pavilion chanting in unison, realizing that the dream of the ‘90s was alive and well and that most of their fans hadn’t changed their cargo shorts since 1993. That was actually the last time that I saw Primus, at a Lollapalooza that included Alice in Chains, Tool, Fishbone, Arrested Development and this night’s opener, the mighty Dinosaur Jr. Those were obviously different times. A time when Primus’ quirky convergence of proto-nu-metal riffs, sputtering percussion, aggro-chromatic funk, and goofball whimsy was considered “alternative” and was actually a profitable endeavor. But now? Though the crowd was a strange mélange of jam band fanatics, Big Lebowski faithful, and subscribers of Bass Player Monthly, I myself was not thrilled. I racked my brain the entire, lengthy set, trying to figure out another band in rock’s history where the bass playing was the focal point. I could not identify one.

Les Claypool though, was the locus of all that was off with Primus. Borrowing their stage set-up of inflatable mushrooms from what must have been a Flaming Lips yard sale, the band muddled along with the visuals that played sad and distracting in the background. It was one bad trip after another. Eventually, after what seemed like deep cut after deep cut, the band launched into a spirited “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” a song that does in fact highlight the best parts of Primus, namely the frenetic, mosh-inducing guitar playing of Larry LaLonde and the precision of drummer Tim Alexander. The latter’s raging solo was perhaps the highlight of the show, though the late addition of “Too Many Puppies” did display a heavier, industrial version of Primus before they got too into their own crowded headspace of pork sodas and Willy Wonka motifs.

I had come to this show for one reason only, simply to bask in the guitar hero glory of J. Mascis. Mascis and the “original” Dinosaur Jr. line-up of bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph, blasted through a career of melodic choogling that included the sludgy psych of “Freak Scene” and “The Lung,” songs that were never played with the Lolla-iteration of Dinosaur, and the MTV-ready, mellowed hits of “Feel the Pain” and “Out There.” It was a thrall that showed both versions of the band were under complete direction of Mascis’ soloing whimsies. Though Barlow went onto minor successes with Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, and shouldn’t be downgraded as a songwriter or an artist, this was the Dinosaur Jr. show, and in the crunch of Masicis’ Marshall wall, the trio’s rendition of “Just Like Heaven” was a particularly transcendent moment for any fan of the band.

Like Primus, this was only the second time I have seen Dinosaur Jr. The first being that fateful day at Lollapalooza ‘93. As a metric it seems something like Dinosaur Jr. fades and ages well, where my reunion with Primus kind of reeks of CD longboxes and the smell of a Spencer’s Gift shop at the mall. It’s telling that Mascis headed to the Summit later in the evening to play a set of Stooges burners with his road crew. That Mascis obliged and basically reveled in just jamming for the sake of jamming (which he did with witchy aplomb — boy was it epic) in front of a crowd 1% of what he just played for hours before is a testament to his eternal ‘90s iconic slacker cool.

Post-Script: Though I did get to meet the mythical Sean Lennon (who was in attendance at the secret Summit show), I did not get to see his band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, because they started before the line of ticket-holders were in the venue. Perplexing.

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Arts & Culture

What’s Open: Venues slowly start to roll out live music

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When it was announced in mid-May that wedding venues and banquet halls would reopen at the beginning of June, the next question became: When will music venues be next?

Although the rollout has been slow and will be gradual, Columbus venues and attractions that regularly house live music are making their comeback. When the high-spirited, good-feeling cover band Popgun graced the Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen on May 27, many people’s greatest fears of being robbed of live music for the rest of the year were eased maybe a little.

The only way for us to get currently get down to live music is to sit down, which is a fair trade-off given the times.

Check out a few Columbus venues that are set to reopen or have reopened under strict coronavirus guidelines.

  • The Forum Columbus -- The Forum welcomed back live music on May 29 with a tabled RSVP DJ showcase. For this event, guests were required to come in groups of no more than 10, be seated six feet apart from other groups, and remain seated unless you have to use the restroom. There are no future events planned as of this publishing.
  • Otherworld  -- The immersive art installation that took Columbus by storm in 2019 is set to return on June 11, according to the venue’s webpage. Otherworld will be operating at a capacity of one visitor per 160 square feet, or around 20 percent of the regular admittance. It’s unclear when the next time Otherworld will host live music, but this is a giant step in the right direction in terms of venue re-openings.
  • South Drive-In -- It’s not a venue in Columbus that traditionally holds music, but it’s become one and may stay one for the time being. Viral DJ Marc Rebillet will be bringing his sold-out drive-in show to the South Drive-In on June 14. With these types of performances popping up all around the country and the South Drive-In owner getting plenty of event requests, we will hopefully be seeing more shows of this nature in the warmer months.
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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause

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To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need

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Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here: https://sendaconcert.herokuapp.com/request

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b45abaa22a4fb6-curbside

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