Review: Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End

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Weezer is a band I have loved, and a band that I have loved to hate. When I heard about the new release, I stood at the sky and asked the gods of the musical universe “WHY oh why should I care about this? After Raditude? After freaking BEVERLY HILLS? After EVERYTHING you’ve done to me, Weezer!? Why should I care?” I didn’t even listen to Hurley, even though some people said it didn’t suck, and now another album with a positively ridiculous album cover?”

OK, so it’s produced by Ric Ocasek, who did the Blue album. OK, so the first single contains some kind of apology for the last 6 + years. OK, so it’s been 20 years since they formed as a band, created a genre, and attained one of the biggest cult followings ever – so it might be time for something awesome to happen, especially considering that whole “Last 9 Years of Bizarre MegaPop Striving Mixed with R&B Mediocrity” thing.

Around the time that the Red Album came out, I publicly ranked Weezer’s albums in that oh-so-professional venue of a Facebook status. It said “Weezer Albums: #1. Pinkerton. A VERY close #2: The Blue Album. #3. Maladroit. #4. The Red Album. #5. The Green Album.  #1,000: Make Believe.” It was inconceivable to me that an album could be any worse than the tripe that was “Make Believe” and the rest of that hollow-y plastic amorphous, depressing prepackaged formulaic shlock called an album.

So, for me, all of the hype of EWBAITE is kind of hard to take in, since the same voice that is giving us “Sorry guys, I didn’t realize that I needed you so much/ I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks/ I ended up with nobody and I started feeling dumb/ Maybe I should play the lead guitar and Pat should play the drums” also gave us “I eat my candy with the pork and beans.”

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Up Jumped the Devil

I have to admit that in my unemployment I have preferred some darker tunes. It seems to resonate with my existential frustration – a catharsis of sorts. This song was one of the first that “jumped” (ahem) out at me from a recent mix a friend made. Nick’s growl-y Tom Waits style delivery and the brutal lyrics make it a perfect companion for rain, clouds, and the under-the-surface angst of autumn in the PNW.

O My O My
What a wretched life
I was born on the day
That my poor momma died
I was cut from her belly
With a stanley knife
My daddy did a jig
With the drunk midwife

Who’s that yonder all in flames
Dragging behind him a sack of chains
Who’s that yonder all in flames
Up jumped the Devil and he staked his claim on me

O poor heart
I was doomed from the start
Doomed to play
The villain’s part
I was the baddest Johnny
In the apple cart
My blood was blacker
Than the chambers of a dead nun’s heart

Who’s that milling on the courthouse steps
Nailing my face to the hitching fence
Who’s that milling ’round the courthouse steps
Up jumped the Devil and off we crept

O no O no
Where could I go
With my hump of trouble
And my sack of woe
To the digs and the deserts of Mexico
Where my neck was safe from the lynching rope

Who’s that yonder laughing at me
Like I was the brunt of some hilarity
Who’s that yonder laughing at me
Up jumped the Devil – 1, 2, 3

Ha Ha Ha Ha
How lucky we were
We hit the cathouses
And sampled their wares
We got as drunk
As a couple of Czars
That night I swallowed my lucky stars

Who’s that dancing on the jailhouse roof
Stamping on the ramping with a cloven hoof
Who’s that dancing on the jailhouse roof
Up jumped the Devil and said “Here is your man and I got a proof”

O no  O no don’t go
O slow down Joe
The righteous part
is straight as an arrow
Take a walk
And you’ll find it’s too narrow
Too narrow for the likes of me

Who’s that hanging from the gallow tree
His eyes are hollow but he looks like me
Who’s that swinging from the gallow tree
Up jumped the Devil and took my soul from me

Down, down down we go Down we go Down we go
(The Devil and me)

Down we go down down down we go

Jack White @ Edgefield Historic Manor – Troutdale, OR – 8/27/14 (Part 3)

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* – This handflip. It makes the crowd go wild.

The “Encore”

 Leave it to Jack White to capitalize on an exquisitely painful tension at just the moment when it couldn’t really grow any more tense. He left the stage from his main set relatively early (after only an hour or so) and then *stayed* off stage for a solid ten minutes. He knew we wouldn’t stop clapping until he came out, so he just let us cheer, yell, scream,  and chant for probably twice as long as most artists would at this point in the show. I’ve known some performers to leave the stage only to come back out within less a minute or so, and say “screw the formality and pretense – what songs do you want to hear?” and play a couple of requests, then bow, wave, and bring the lights up.

 Not Jack White. No, Jack White makes you beg for it. He wants you to want it, and he’ll come back on stage when he’s damn well good and ready. Fortunately for us, he came back completely recharged and fired up after a more loping, rambling finish to the main set. His band retook their positions quickly, after which he basically sprinted to the front mic to spit out a ridiculously punk and in-your-face version of “Fell In Love With a Girl” which totally put me over edge (again with the spontaneous exclamations and jumping). It’s not the White Stripes song I ever cue up at home or anywhere else, but there’s something about hearing a song that been culturally everywhere since I was 18, and witnessing it done with such unbridled power that was just incredible.

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Live Review: Jack White @ Edgefield Historic Manor – Troutdale OR (Part 2)

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The Opener

Here I’ll give a quick shout-out to Curtis Harding. His set was short, but enjoyable. He started the evening’s music at 6:30 and was done by 7:05. He seemed to do a good job of captivating the crowd with his Lenny Kravitz-meets-Buddy Holly sound, and definitely consciously knew he was in the shadow of a much larger guitar phenom about to take the stage. Even so, he delivered a straight-shooting guitar rock that stood out and filled up the amphitheater well. Check him out.

The Show

About ten minutes before Jack and company took the stage, a man came out in all black, suspenders, fedora, and an electric blue bowtie to formally explain that “it looks like you’re all very relaxed tonight in your lawn chairs. I’m here to let you know that you won’t need them – this, after all, is a rock ‘n’ roll show, not a poetry reading” which received warm laughter and applause. He then made his humble request that since this is a live rock ‘n’ roll show, it is going to be best experienced live, and not through a 3” digital screen. That received less applause, and didn’t stop the guy in front of me from later taking a complete 360 degree shot of the stage and crowd (although the segment of his panorama which included me featured a very well-placed middle finger).

The emcee/stage manager then wished us well, said Jack would be up soon, and left the stage while the rest of the roadies (donned in similar attire but with electric blue straight ties in place of the bowtie-of-authority) finished setting up. Then the lights went down, the crowd fired up,  the band took their positions and immediately starting pounding out a driving preamble, hinting at all the bombast and revolutionary things that were about to happen. The drums crashed and vamped, the bass churned, the fiddle squealed and the effects table crackled and spun space-age sounds.

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