March 12. 2010
B.R.M.C. Night 2 of 3
The Echoplex, Los Angeles
Robert Levon Been and Leah Shapiro
You can read about my 10-year love affair with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, as well as my review of Friday night’s show, here. Last night was night 2 of 3 sold-out B.R.M.C. shows at The Echoplex and they did not disappoint.
They’re supporting their new album, Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, so naturally they played some of the same songs during both Friday and Saturday’s sets. That said, having gone both nights, B.R.M.C. managed to make each show feel entirely different. It’s difficult to describe and I’m not sure I want to. Just know that last night’s show made me want to go again Sunday night. The music and their performance of it is simply, and consistently, that good.
Some of my favorite moments last night included performances of “Sympathetic Noose,” “Steal A Ride,” “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo,” “Ain’t No Easy Way,” “Never Known You,” “Shuffle Your Feet,” and of course, “Open Invitation.” As was the case Friday night, B.R.M.C. closed out Saturday night’s set in darkness, connected to the audience via a web of green lasers, with “Open Invitation.” In case you don’t know “Open Invitation,” the lyrics include the lines “Pull me up, on either side. Don’t leave me standing alone in the light. . .” The song in and of itself is beautiful and among my favorites by B.R.M.C, both lyrically and musically. Add to it the intersecting web of laser lights, each beam of light connecting members of the audience with the band and each other, cutting through the darkness and stillness, and the effect you get is that you no longer feel the slightest bit alone. And so my ten year love affair with B.R.M.C. continues.
Robert Levon Been
If you’ve missed them in L.A., you have one more chance to see B.R.M.C. this week and I highly suggest you do. They’ll be returning to the Echoplex for their third performance Sunday night. They’re also continuing on tour around the U.S., so if you live anywhere else in the country, check out their tour dates here.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Even after 10 years, I’m still learning new things about B.R.M.C. which lead me to love them even more. During a visit to their merch booth I purchased some limited edition vinyl and picked up a postcard that explains, in detail, the band’s commitment to responsibly sourcing their merchandise. In an effort to ensure they don’t support child labor in cotton fields around the world, B.R.M.C. has gone out of their way to research and partner with Continental Clothing for all their apparel merchandise. Continental Clothing uses only organic cotton and certifies its products are ethically produced. Looking forward to another decade with B.R.M.C.
Videos from last night’s show:
It gets even better beginning at 3:04 – watch it all the way through.
Tweet of the day: “Secured tix to the semi-secret Thom Yorke and friends show tonight. This is why I live in LA…they don’t do this shit in Kansas” (@brandonyano).
Thom Yorke and Flea
At 8:28pm Monday night, September 28, The Scenestar broke the news that Radiohead front man Thom Yorke had put together a new band and would be playing at The Orpheum in Los Angeles on October 4th and 5th. Actually, let me rephrase – Yorke broke the news on Dead Airspace (although many of us heard about it first from The Scenestar), stating: “in the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the Eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work! At the beginning of October the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. We don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!”
Thom Yorke singing a new song
Tickets for the October 4 and 5 shows went on sale Tuesday morning (September 29) at 10:00am and, as expected, sold out in minutes. Then, on Thursday morning (October 1), The LA Weekly posted a story surrounding a possible Thom Yorke and friends “secret show” at The Echoplex on Friday, October 2nd. Bloggers and fans speculated until Yorke posted another update on Dead Airspace late Thursday, confirming this additional, intimate show. Yorke’s post included a faulty link to purchase tickets, an announcement that tickets would go on sale at 8:15pm Thursday night, and the disclaimer, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That post has since been edited, because Yorke’s suspicions proved true and tickets did not go on sale at 8:15pm Thursday night. (Yorke also included a working link to buy tickets in his revised post.)
The band with no name
Instead, tickets were sold via TicketWeb at noon on Friday. The gap between the initial announcement and the actual on-sale gave scalpers (who later attempted to sell tickets for as much as $3,500 on eBay) enough time to ready their troops. Unfortunately, it seems TicketWeb may not have had enough time to ready their servers. Just minutes after the clock struck 12, there were hundreds of Tweets complaining of TicketWeb crashes and claiming “TicketWeb Fail”. I know it’s frustrating, but to be fair, some major ticketing sites (including Ticketmaster and Live Nation) have been reported to crash during high-profile on-sales. Furthermore, in this case, we’re talking about one of the largest artists in the world, playing at a very small venue (approx. 700 capacity). If the system did indeed crash, it should come as little to no surprise. As it happened, I was stuck in the “processing” queue for 12 minutes before the “sold out” message appeared.
Kind of a rehearsal
For the lucky friends and fans of the band who got in, well. . . we were lucky. Prior to the show I heard several audience members discussing the “little miracles” that allowed them to be there. Indeed, it felt miraculous to be introduced to new material and the formation of a new band led by Yorke, in such close proximity to the stage. This show was billed as a “warm-up,” as Yorke put it, “kind of a rehearsal.”
Well, I always imagined Yorke held himself to extraordinarily high standards, but if that show was a rehearsal, then a “rehearsal” has made its way into my top concerts of all time.
The band is comprised of exceptional musical talents: Thom Yorke (of course), Joey Waronker, Nigel Godrich, Flea , and Mauro Refosco. To kick off the show, the as of yet unnamed band played Yorke’s solo album, Eraser, start to finish. Yorke also debuted some brand new songs, solo, during one of two encores. He then invited the band back to join in on the remaining three songs.
Yorke gives the bird to requests for "Freebird"
If you were fortunate enough to find a place toward the front of the venue (under the high ceiling), you were treated to great sound, enjoyed watching Yorke lose himself in dance (although, you likely couldn’t miss that, regardless of where you stood), and watched closely as Yorke masterfully created and replicated the magnificent sound he’s known for. The intimacy of the venue was further appreciated as Yorke joked, interacted with, and flipped off the audience.
Yorke didn’t flip off everyone, just the handful of people who were requesting “Freebird!” between songs. Surprised people still do that? Well, so was Yorke, “Shouldn’t you be calling out Stone Temple Pilots or something more current? Freebird is so 80’s!”
Thankfully, ignoring the audience (after showing them how he felt about the “Freebird” requests by giving them the bird), Yorke kicked in to more of his own songs. “That sounded great!” yelled a fan, following the next song.
“Thank you,” Yorke replied with a smile, “it’s my job.” Then, with another smile (bordering on a smirk), Yorke added, “sometimes I get paid for it.”
And therein lies another small miracle of this show, tickets were only $20 each. Thank you, Thom and the unnamed band. Seeing as that was the rehearsal, I think you’re ready for the shows on Sunday and Monday.
Videos from the show:
New Song “Skirting On The Surface”:
New Song “Open The Floodgates”:
Next time, dance like you mean it, Thom 😉
Since it was a special show, here’s the set list (via At Ease).
01 The Eraser
03 The Clock
04 Black Swan
05 Skip Divided
06 Atoms for Peace
07 And It Rained All Night
08 Harrowdown Hill
09 Cymbal Rush
Encore one [Thom solo]:
10 Open the Floodgates
11 Lotus Flower
12 Skirting on the Surface
13 Judge, Jury, Executioner
Encore two [full band]:
14 Paperbag Writer
15 The Hollow Earth
16 Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses
A few things were going through my mind as I entered the Echoplex tonight:
In a week and a half I’ll be standing in this same room, watching Nine Inch Nails perform their last show ever. . . or until Trent changes his mind.
I hope Conor’s show isn’t as boring as the last one I went to (several years ago). I want him to captivate me again.
How is the sound in this room?
I know that victory is sweet. Even deep in the cheap seats.
Here’s some history about Conor and me: I love Conor. I think he writes great lyrics. He’s written some of my favorite lyrics. Conor chooses words with precision and I have deep appreciation for that. Words are extremely powerful. And while I believe it’s important to say what you feel, the words you use to convey that feeling are even more important. Just one seemingly innocuous word can mean something entirely different to two people, depending on each person’s perception of the word and the previous experiences and meaning they associate with it. This is why I’m a fan of non-verbal communication. . . and Conor.
So in 2003, in New York City, when Conor asked me if he could write something in my journal, I didn’t waste time saying, “yes” – I simply placed the journal in his hands. He took a breath, looked toward the ceiling, looked back down toward the paper and wrote the following words before closing the journal and handing it back to me:
Never go to sleep. Always lie for love.
There’s a double entendre in there of course. For the past 6 years I convinced myself he meant one thing. And then 3 weeks ago I understood it differently. And that’s the thing about words – their meaning in an individual’s life can change over time.
Sometime prior to that moment, we were sitting on a couch, vowing to stay awake until we die so that we wouldn’t miss anything.
Even after all that, I’m able to remain objective about his live shows. And I will tell you this – the last time I saw Conor play it didn’t move me at all. In fact, I left the show early (which rarely happens).
Thankfully, he won me over again tonight. First with his lyrics, then with his band (unassuming talented musicians from around the country), and then with his lyrics again.
I know I'm alone if I'm with or without you
In fact, I was so in tune with the lyrics that when Jenny Lewis came on stage and performed “Portions For Foxes” with the band, I heard things in that song I had never heard before.
During dinner my friend and I (both having recently seen The Dead Weather) were talking about how shows really don’t need to be longer than an hour. Just give us one solid hour when every song you play hits hard. The Dead Weather nailed that. But after seeing Conor again (and knowing that I’d like NIN to play all night), I changed my mind. Just as I changed my mind about the words Conor wrote to me in 2003. . .