Friday, August 25, 2006

The storm before the calm before the storm (the last storm is figurative)


"I like my beers cold, my cars fast, and my lips fa-laming!"


"First Homer Simpson steals my pig, then Cypress Hill steals my orchestra, and now Sonic Youth are in my cooler...get out of there, you kids!"

Yes, Sonic Youth opening for the Flaming Lips at the Minnesota State Fair.

I'll give you a moment to do a double-take, rub your eyes, and then snuff out the joint. For yes, these two bastions of alt/noise/psychedlia rock were in full force at the MN State Fair, even despite the torrential downpour that preceeded the show.

And it was a damn good show, indeed. Even my grizzled, rock-show vet older brother was amazed at how tight Sonic Youth sounded. Looks like in their older years these kids have put in a bit more rehearsal time. Even though Kim's voice sounded terrible (she must have a cold or something, because I've never heard her sound that bad), the group sounded pretty damn tight for what is ostensibly a noise band at many points. And in her defense, she's still pretty energetic (and foxy) for a woman of her age.

Highlight: Thurston and the guitarist who isn't Thurston (I'm obviously not that big of a Youth fan) playing their guitars by slamming their fretboards into each other and then rubbing their guitars wildly against one another.

It was just as sexual as it sounds.

Poor Magic Numbers. When it was announced that their equipment was "saturated" from the rain and that they would not be playing, the crowd errupted in cheers. Poor kids. But eventually, the Lips let them play two songs during their set, which actually probably gave them much more exposure than playing a full set to those few of us dedicated/bored enough to show up that early.

As far as the Flaming Lips show goes, it's hard for me not to sound like a fawning pre-teen girl at a Beatles/Backstreet Boys/currently-overinflated-talentless-pop-act show when talking about it. Their live show has been so hyped by now that I thought there was no way I wasn't going to be dissapointed by it when it inevitably failed to live up to expectations.

But I was quite wrong. The Flaming Lips stage show really does deserve all of the ridiculous hype it receives. Wayne is the consumate showman, and I can't believe how much time it must have took to plan it all out.

Though one beef I had is that setting up the show takes approximately 19 times as long as the actual show itself.

Higlight: The Lips seem to be really humble folk. During Sonic Youth's set, they simply stood stage side in full view, clearly enjoying a good band doing a good show. They gave up a portion of their show so that the opening act could get some stage time. And most shockingly of all, the Lips were right there setting up all of their equipment next to the roadies, lugging amps and heavy equipment that stars of half their stature would refuse to touch.

The only downside to it was the fact that every time Wayne stepped near the microphone, people thought the show was going to start, despite the fact most of the instruments weren't even on stage. The very loud cheers for no reason started to get rather annoying. But at least there was a humorous moment when one (hopefully) drunk fan yelled at them to "turn that shit up" when a roadie was doing a sound check on the bass.

All-in-all, I think the night was best summed up in the many times Wayne just stood at the mic, looked around, laughed to himself in amazement, and said "You know, there were never shows like this at the state fair when I was growing up."

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