Glow in the Dark Tour

The first stop of Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour happened to happen within walking distance from my digs, so after some connection milking (i.e. unflattering begging), I was able to score tickets and witness it. Here are short recaps of the performers and performances involved:

Lupe Fiasco:
I like Lupe’s records, but he was absolutely terrible the first time I saw him. I didn’t expect much and keeping that bar low opened the door for him to impress me with a thoroughly workmanlike set. Matthew Santos was on board doing his cut rate Adam Levine impression, but if you were Matthew Santos, where else would you be?

N.E.R.D.
They sounded like Horny Rage Against The Machine. They also had more jams than I remembered.

Rihanna
I guess she’s a star, but young lady doesn’t have the stage presence to fill an arena. It didn’t help that she made some questionable wardrobe/set/choreography choices. “S.O.S.” looked like a showstopper number at Chippendales. Rihanna is either a sexy robot or a leftover from a Robert Palmer video. I can’t tell which.

Kanye West

His show had this ridiculous spaceship-crash-on-unknown-planet theme that was basically an excuse for him to drop seven figures on an admittedly awesome stage set. It’s hard to imagine another name rapper putting on a performance as solid as that, though. A personal highlight was an apocalyptic version of “Heard ‘em Say,” muscled up with a much harder beat, which sounded absolutely murderous on the massive system. My ears are still ringing an hour later. He was on stage completely alone for about 90 minutes (dude had a pit orchestra and Lupe didn’t even come out for “Touch The Sky”) and was captivating the whole time– even when the onboard lady computer of his crashed spaceship kept calling him the biggest star in the galaxy. The show was a spectacle–something I’ve really never experienced before. Absolutely worth seeing.

P.S. Not that all zero of you who read this care, but I moved to Seattle nearly a year ago and have been busy helping to launch and maintain this beast, so I apologize for neglecting this space for so long.

Wednesday April 16th 2008, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Music
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Two Indie Rock Singer/Songwriter Ladies Cover R&B Songs

Hear The Art

Pink Nasty – “Burn” (Left-click to Download mp3)
About once every two months I get a craving to listen to some Usher slow jams and wonder why Confessions isn’t on my iPod, then I realize it was one of those Sony BMG rootkit discs loaded with spyware, which prevented me from ripping it. That drives me to try to illegally download a CD I already own, which I eventually forget because I don’t have the patience to wait eight hours to unlawfully procure something I should be able to legally grab in a matter of minutes. It’s very frustrating.

What does this have to do with Austin-based singer/songwriter Pink Nasty? It’s usually hearing this cover of “Burn” that triggers those Usher cravings. Hearing her recontextualize this R&B song into something that sounds very adult alternative, like something that would sound at home playing after an epic Dawson-Pacey-Joey love triangle showdown makes me think about two things:

1) A lot of urban pop tracks are really not that far removed from contemporary country, which is interesting because there is virtually no crossover between fans of those genres. Maybe my memory is failing me (and it’s entirely possible, as I paid these genres pretty much zero mind for several years), but I haven’t spotted this kind of convergence since All 4 One and John Michael Montgomery both had a hit with “I Swear.” This could definitely happen again. If you’re telling me “When It Was Me” by Paula DeAnda isn’t waiting for some country chick to knock it out of the park, you’re out of your mind.

2) Maybe the ubiquity of “Burn” during the summer of 2004 had less to do with Usher’s voice, personality or abs and more to do with it being, at its core, just a damned good song, which is something I would’ve never guessed until I heard this cover.

Mara Carlyle – “1Thing/Hey” (Left-click to download mp3)
In much the same way, I always figured the only appealing thing—and don’t get me wrong, it is a very appealing thing—about Amerie’s “1 Thing” was the impeccable Rich Harrison beat. Amerie’s headache-inducing terrier-yip vocals on this song always drive me bonkers, but I never changed the radio station any of the thousands of times I heard it during the early part of 2005, and that had everything to do with the drums, man.

You might have heard Mara Carlyle’s solo ukulele version of “Game for Fools” at the end of Jamie Lidell’s remix album, Multiply Additions (which you can and should cop on the cheap if you get a chance). Here, she turns the Amerie song into a slinky makeout joint, ditching the hyperactive beat altogether, instead, matching it against “Hey,” by The Pixies. Surprisingly enough, it totally works. Amerie’s version is all about nervous sexual tension, while Mara Carlyle’s is all about lust and I definitely prefer the latter. Regardless, Carlyle’s cover made me realize there’s actually a song in here. It also made me reconsider the original, which is something any good cover should aspire to do.

Tuesday March 20th 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Music
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Actual ’90s R&B Videos Funnier than Fake ’90s R&B Videos

I’m happy to admit the video for “Dick in a Box” was funny, but the Blogosphere was oversaturated with it about fifteen minutes after it aired and it didn’t take long for me to tire of it. A little part of me died (mostly the area around my pancreas) every time I saw someone throw it up on a blog entry or a MySpace bulletin or in their AIM away message. I thought we’d moved past that by now, but even three months after it originally aired, blogs I read regularly are posting it.

Part of the reason this bothers me is that there are dozens of early ’90s R&B videos that are actually funnier than “Dick in a Box.”

For a good laugh, you don’t even have to go to easy targets like Color Me Badd or a nutball like R. Kelly, whose video for “Honey Love” features not only some prescient pee party imagery, but also headlamps fashioned into mock-headset microphones.

For a less likely but no less funny source, ou could turn to H-Town and their video for the classic, “Knockin’ Da Boots” instead:

My three favorite things about this video:

1) The definition of “Knockin’ Da Boots”
Dude claims it’s “two boots coming together to make tasteful lust.” I know he couldn’t just come out and say, “IT MEANS HUMPIN’,” but isn’t there a more graceful or at least comprehensible way to say that? I love how he slapped “lust” on the end of that instead of “love” to save himself from appearing too sensitive. Also, if you didn’t know what “knockin da boots” means and only had that definition and the video to go on, the shots of a baseball bat smacking the hell out of waterlogged Timberlands might lead you to believe it actually has something to do with shoe abuse.

2) They play strip 3-D chess
Seriously, this is on some Star Trek meets BET Uncut shit.

3) The Intermission
Right around the 3:50 mark, H-Town decides it’s time to take a little break to get up, do a little stretching, maybe hit the bathroom and, oh yeah, ladies, you go get a towel. H-town is going to need one to suggestively clean their sports equipment while leering at you, ’cause it’s laid out like that, y’know?

There are plenty of great ’90s R&B videos floating around out there on your pal YouTube. Next time you get the urge to post a video featuring JT and his junk, please think better of it and go with something from Bill Bellamy-era MTV Jams instead.

Tuesday March 13th 2007, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Music

 

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