brucespringsteen.net (Tour Notes) — Even setting aside the Tennessee hot, the sprawling carnival-world landscape, and the frequent need to avoid people who are hula-hooping where you need to be walking, it’s safe to say Bruce Springsteen has never played an environment like the one he burned down Saturday night at Bonnaroo. The night was jammed full of Bruce-time idiosyncrasies: it was only the band’s second-ever festival date (after Pinkpop), and it unfolded not in the relative safety of an arena but on a lush, pastoral and almost entirely inaccessible farm that 48 hours prior had been prolifically drenched by what amounted to a freak one-night hurricane season (and spent all of Friday being dried out by a sultry sun that seared the grounds and turned the place into a wonderland for fans of the smell of fast-drying mud).
Read the full review at brucespringsteen.net (over in the Tour Notes section).
• Phish (with Bruce Springsteen) — Glory Days.mp3
Photo: Sarah Welliver
Island Packet — The good news about Snoop Dogg’s sold-out show at the Shoreline Ballroom on Sunday night is that everyone appears to have emerged largely undamaged, that the island survived a music concert without plunging into sub-apocalyptic anarchy, like how things are in the new “Terminator” movie, or in Texas. Unless I was in the wrong parking lot, this concert did not result in flash-mobs in the streets, a terrorist attack, swine flu, or the return of Frankenstein (although it did mean bad things for the pinheads who banked on cops not noticing them smoking weed outside a Snoop Dogg concert — kids, if margaritas were illegal, do you think police might be on alert at Jimmy Buffett shows?).
The bad news: I was pulling for “Pump Pump,” but that’s from his debut record. I’m kind of old.
Billboard — The closest thing the live music industry might have to a stimulus package, Elton John and Billy Joel’s Face 2 Face tour kicked off on March 1 to a packed house in Jacksonville, Fla. This latest incarnation of the pair’s tour operates under a simple business model: maximize reward, minimize risk.
Since its 1994 inception, John and Joel’s co-headlining tour has been as critic-proof as AC/DC lyrics and a reasonable backup option for the United States Mint, which probably explains its current revival — one that John indicated could continue on and off for two years. It’s a customarily full-bore nostalgia trip that’ll likely move tickets as fast as it does oversized souvenir sunglasses.
All About Jazz — If you are The Bad Plus, and you’ve spent your acclaimed and wacky career dismantling pop and jazz tunes down to their barely recognizable components—spreading those components around like bike pieces on a garage floor and building them back together into a state that bears only occasional resemblances to its source material—it is not the easiest thing in the world to advertise for helpers.
But when the band found itself looking to employ a singer for the first time, the hiring process was surprisingly speedy. “We felt like it was time for something different, (but) we didn’t want to get a jazz singer,” says bassist Reid Anderson. “We wanted someone with a direct approach, because that’s really what we do as well.”
The Extended Review, over at All About Jazz.
PopDose — There’s no way around this: Tone Lōc’s 1989 debut, Lōc-ed After Dark, is COMPLETELY ADORABLE. The elementary, dubious and occasionally tortured rhyme scheme (”lax-adaiscal’ with “that’s the way to go,” “night” with, uh, “tonight”)! The sustained reports about how skilled a rapper one can be without actually rapping anything! The neurotic reliance employment of the first four break-beats in the history of the world! Lōc-ed After Dark may be the only album with the word “motherfucker” in it you sort of feel like you could play for your kids.
The full review, via the extremely good people over at PopDose.
Popdose — Unless you spent a lot of time in the company of William Shatner, “Chinese Democracy” will likely be one of the most ridiculous audio recordings you ever come across. It is sprawling and stupid and ludicrous and hilarious and will make you shoot milk out of your nose and cringe and it is not very good and sometimes extremely terrible, and just when you think things cannot possibly get any more extraordinarily strange, that’s when Axl Rose drops the MLK sample on you.
Originally slated for release in 1948, “Chinese Democracy” comes out Sunday exclusively for people shopping for Black Friday-sale plasmas at Best Buy, a wise promotional stunt and kind of an all-in proposition — if putting this record out this week doesn’t create interest or move units, nothing will. Because one thing is sure: The songs won’t sell it. Read the full review via the good people at PopDose.
Billboard — To say that local music fans were surprised to see Against Me! and Ted Leo booked on Hilton Head is to substantially repurpose the definition of the word. If they’d have woken up tomorrow with their head sewn to the carpet they wouldn’t have been more surprised.
It’s tough to overstate how weird it was that an agit-punk show featuring the left-leaning Ted Leo + the Pharmacists and the lefter-leaning Against Me! occurred at all Hilton Head, a lovely and moneyed barrier island known more for its well-manicured golf courses, unmanageable traffic circles and superb landscaping than punk, or rock music, or music. Frankly, watching the smokers from the sweaty, multiply pierced punk crowd mingle outside with the Polo-and-khaki-shorts set from the adjacent swanky tourist piano bar was kind of worth the price of admission alone.
Billboard — Jimmy Buffett has dubbed his 2008 summer tour “The Year Of Still Here,” a title that denotes a bemused disbelief about the 61-year-old troubadour’s continued success that is, needless to say, profoundly insane: Barring some sort of catastrophic crash in the grass-skirt industry or the subprime blow-up pool market, what possible reason could there be to get this show off the road?
Buffett’s beach blanket blowouts are as reliable as the waves, the stars and – to be slightly less breezy and escapist about the whole thing – the gross receipts at the end of each prove that. The shows are sellouts and the songs are staples. Sure, pavilion seats – and beers, alcoholic squishies and goofball plastic cups – are expensive as hell, but Buffett has held face value for the lawn seats to around a relatively ridiculous $30 for years. And the continued spot-development of small, friendly hamlets built from inflatable items, pickup truck pools and insta-tiki bars in parking lots across the land is also an annual spectacle.
Billboard.com — A lot of ground is covered at Drive-By Truckers shows these days. In addition to the band’s typically roaring takes on lives, politics, the broken social contract, Southern and Northern identity, violence both domestic and in foreign sands, whiskey-fueled sadness and fast-fading hope, they’ve now expanded to take on soldiers returned from overseas, revenge and the various horrors involved with family (so much so that in this Charleston stop, they tossed an abrasive cover of Springsteen’s already-abrasive “Adam Raised A Cain” into a little mid-show mini-set about Father Issues).
That they continue to pull it off in such hammering, consistent fashion is not only a credit to their staying power (and ability to weather waves like the departure of Jason Isbell last year), but, as they showed on a sweaty and Jack Daniels-fueled 25-song set in Charleston, proof that it still might make sense to buy completely into the notion that rock n’ roll is the literal answer to many, many things.