Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our Concert Could Be Your Life: Who's Playing Who? [Amended]

I should do a better job of googling pertinent press releases while blogging--though I observed in my last post that a mere nine bands were set to show at the renamed Our Concert Could Be Your Life (four shy of the thirteen profiled in the book), little did I know that Azerrad had posted the final billing on his blog at around the same time. Turns out there are now fourteen bands on the bill, meaning one notable double-booking, and now everyone, even Mudhoney, will have their chance to shine.

Color me excited, but slightly concerned that this concert may have been overstuffed as is. I'd never heard of any of the newly-added bands, so I won't be able to add much in the way of prognosticatin'. But in the interest of completeness, here they are.

Callers play Sonic Youth
Callers play what now? Turns out that Sonic Youth is either so monumentally important or so hard to cover that tUnE-yaRDs is getting it/herself a helping hand. Could it be that Merrill Garbus alone can't handle the Youth's 16-string wall of melodies, as I predicted? I'd never heard of Callers before, but they were recently described by my esteemed colleague as "an irritating three-piece" with "a female vocalist who sounds like Jeff Buckley," and given what I have heard on their Myspace, I basically concur. Most of Callers' tunes barely transcend their repetitive lite-shuffle rhythms, and while there are good instrumental ideas here and there, not many of them cohere into anything impressionable. Callers seem more well-suited to cover the Sonic Youth of Washing Machine and A Thousand Leaves than Daydream Nation or their other megaclassics. Maybe Garbus will aid them in injecting some soul into the proceedings.

Citay plays Mission Of Burma
I implored Azerrad to consider the amazing OBCBYL throwback band Yuck for the role of Burma on Twitter, but he obviously didn't like my idea, probably because Yuck is British. Instead, we have Citay, a collective of San Francisco psychedelic/garage players, meaning of course that they have a million members. Surely four or five guitarists can recreate the singular fury of one Roger Miller, right? If any of you know much more about Citay, let me know--nothing I've heard is as hard as vintage Burma, but they got the tunefulness part down, if not the noise. This song, for instance, sounds more to me like the Allman Brothers than Burma, with a bit of Feelies thrown in. As long as they keep in the overdriven bass, I'm good with whatever they choose to cover.

Grooms play Hüsker Dü
I can scarcely find anything about Grooms on their Internet--they describe their music on their Myspace page as J-POP/Nu-Jazz/Religious, which obviously isn't true. In fact, it appears that Azerrad has once again chosen a female-fronted band (or more accurately, co-fronted--there's a dude who sings on certain songs as well) whose recorded output rocks about half as hard as the Dü. Again, there's nothing wrong with that--it will just make it that more difficult to distinguish Grooms-on-Dü from Wye Oak-on-Dino Jr., and I hope they're up to the challenge. I still maintain that we'll see a cameo from Bob Mould at some point, so don't be afraid to collaborate where you can, Grooms (and I promise I will listen to more of your tunes later, once I can find them on the Internet). Meanwhile, check out this interview some members of Grooms did with Azerrad.

White Hills play Mudhoney we go. Check out the opening intensity of this track. I have no worries that White Hills will settle into anything approaching mid-tempo. The heavy riffs therein could have been dropped straight out of the 80s, and it looks like Azerrad has found the perfect group to cover Mudhoney, a band that in my experience gets a lot less respect than other OBCBYL artists. Though they were grunge pioneers, Mark Arm and co. also made far more experimental and radically-rocking tunes than most of their peers, and hopefully White Hills does a good job of demonstrating the depth of Mudhoney's repertoire beyond "Touch Me I'm Sick" (which, despite my reservations, I still think they should do). Of course a band called "White Hills" would immediately conjure the dirty stoner vibe of Superfuzz Bigmuff and the garage-psych melodic jewels of Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Reach for the deep cuts, White Hills!

Yellow Ostrich plays Beat Happening
I have no idea what to make of Yellow Ostrich, which again probably bodes well when covering what is inarguably OBCBYL's least-rocking subject. Lead singer Alex Schaaf's voice is about two octaves higher than Calvin Johnson's on average (in other words, normal), but his minimal approach to songwriting will probably suit most Beat Happening arrangements. Yellow Ostrich probably has more leeway than most to cover his band however he pleases...might I suggest super-fast and intensely? Just in case, you know, not enough of these other bands get the picture. Weirdly, I can't think of any particular Beat Happening song I especially want to hear covered right now.

That's the bill as it stands, a day or so before the concert is set to take place. Be sure to check out this recent Paris Review interview with Azerrad about the book--I found it intriguing and enlightening, as usual. If you want even more OBCBYL-related material, you can stream or download my latest radio show (featuring lesser-known artists signed to labels like SST, Twin/Tone, Touch and Go, etc.), and here are links to two other recent shows, as well. I'll be broadcasting tomorrow at 7 PM ET, one hour earlier than usual, so I can get to the Bowery Ballroom in time for the doors to open at 8:30. I'll probably be too wrapped up in the spectacle to live-tweet anything, but if some sort of newsworthy reunion happens, I'll find a way to notify readers.

Also, the hosts for tomorrow's tribute are apparently Eugene Mirman and Janeane Garofalo. I remember seeing Mirman many years ago at the M-Shop in Ames, IA, stumping for John Kerry with Yo La Tengo. This will be my first opportunity to see Garofalo in the flesh; here's a clip of her "covering" Dirty-era Sonic Youth.

Expect to see a comprehensive review (hopefully with a vetted set list!) by Sunday night or Monday morning. And a special thanks to Azerrad himself for letting me know about the augmented line-up.


  1. where is the review? it has been a week or more.

  2. Here it is, Anonymous!

    If I knew who you were, maybe I could send it to you directly...