• The Passion of the Weiss
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  • It's the right thing to do
  • Something is wrong here, something is terribly wrong
  • There ain't no life for me on land
  • The greatest #8: The Dreaming
  • Still I walk in darkness
  • Home of the cheesesteak, the beef piled sky high
  • Blogiversary #2
  • Blood rain
  • The best 15 films of 2007
  • The best 30 albums of 2007
  • The best 30 singles of 2007
  • The best 30 songs of 2007
  • The Greatest #6: Veedon Fleece
  • Behind the blog: Blogs Are For Dogs
  • It's winter again and New York's been broken
  • Blogiversary
  • Up high and ugly: Xiu Xiu MP3s
  • The Greatest #2: New Skin For The Old Ceremony
  • Behind the blog: The Passion of the Weiss
  • The best 15 films of 2006
  • Good clean fun: Clean Guns MP3s
  • Behind the blog: Music Is Art
  • United 93
  • The best 30 albums of 2006
  • The best 30 songs of 2006
  • The best 30 singles of 2006
  • The chapter in my life entitled San Francisco
  • The Up Series
  • Review #4: Ys by Joanna Newsom
  • Happy Yom Kippur
  • Rock bottom riser: Smog MP3s
  • Justin Ringle
  • Dan McGee
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 2
  • Sebastian Krueger, pt. 1
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  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 2
  • Greg Goldberg, pt. 1
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 2
  • Benoît Pioulard, pt. 1
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    Location: Brooklyn, NY

    The MP3s available here are for sampling purposes. Please support the artists by buying their albums and going to their shows. If you are the artist or label rep and don't want an MP3 featured, let me know. Links will otherwise stay live for about two weeks before they vanish into the ether.

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    Friday, September 29, 2006

    Trailer park #5

    Deliver Us From Evil
    A film by Amy Berg
    Opens Oct. 13

    The Departed
    A film by Martin Scorsese
    Opens Oct. 6

    Shortbus (Full-length version)
    A film by John Cameron Mitchell
    Opens Oct. 6 (limited)

    Pan's Labyrinth
    A film by Guillermo Del Toro
    Opens Dec. 29

    Found photo gallery #7

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Stylin' under pressure: Busdriver MP3s

    I'm a big fan of So Much Silence. Kevin is consistently heralding independent hip hop over at his site, which is nice given how disproportionately little representation hip hop gets among music blogs (Palms Out and Status Ain't Hood two excellent exceptions). Another reason I'm enjoying So Much Silence today is because it alerted me to "Kill Your Employer," the upcoming 12" single from Busdriver's fifth album RoadKillOvercoat (due Jan. 20).

    Busdriver, AKA Regan Farquhar, is an MC from L.A. whose flow is completely one-of-a-kind. It's as elastic as his rubbery beats, as zany and kinetic and surrealistic as a Michel Gondry film. He abstractly zips from topic to topic, cramming more slippery syllables into a line than you'd think should fit. Like Kevin noted, he's sort of a thinking man's Twista, if Twista were incisive instead of just rapid-tongued. Judging by "Kill Your Employer," Busdriver is still doing what he does best on his next album: tackling race, politics and sociology from fresh, offbeat angles. One word of warning though: as addictive as this track is, you may want to hold off from blaring it in your cubicle or starting a singalong at your next office party.

    * MP3: "Kill Your Employer (Recreational Paranoia Is The Sport of Now)" - Busdriver [Buy other Busdriver]
    * MP3: "When There's A Will, There's A Whalebone" - Islands ft. Subtitle and Busdriver [Buy it]
    * Artist Website: The Official Busdriver Site

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Folsom Street Fair @ Folsom St., 9-24-06

    Mothers, hide your children. In fact, hide your children, your grandchildren, your grandparents and anyone who has ever considered voting for a Republican on any ballot in their lifetime. Because the Folsom Street Fair is back in town. After some deliberation, I decided to go, figuring this was yet another side of the San Francisco spectrum I should experience. I was expecting a celebration of all kinds of alternative sexuality, but as my friend Colin and I soon ascertained, it was mostly more limited in its focus.

    Walking up to the gate, we were met with a mime troupe with white-painted faces and body-hugging black outfits. They were climbing a lamppost and throwing down postcards advertising their event. That was about as tame as it got all day. Once we walked into the event proper, all sense of limitations evaporated. At the first turn, people were being chained and spanked, their shorts bunched at their ankles. A few feet later, a man was being gagged and elaborately tied up with bungee cords.

    And the further up Folsom we went, the gayer it became. Leather daddies, bears and seven-foot-tall drag queens were everywhere. Shriveled up seniors paraded along wearing nothing but leery grins and nipple rings. Giant airbrushed ads for graphic pornos flapped in the wind. Full-on sex acts were occurring in plain view of anyone who cared to watch. And despite some of my pictures, women were about as remote as the prospect of the missionary position.

    The streets soon felt like a gauntlet, testing your tolerance with every increasingly outrageous sight. Colin and I reached the end of the fair, fairly dazed and disturbed. “I guess I’m glad a space like that exists for people,” I said, “but some of those things…” “Yeah,” he concurred. “I really didn’t need to see some of those things.” We walked back to his car as the naked and the leather-clad continued to arrive. Tomorrow, these people would mostly be back in their offices, back to their ordinary lives. But for one strange day in September, they came out to rule the street.

    * MP3: "Get Ur Freak On" (Drum 'N Bass Remix) - Missy Elliott [Buy other Missy Elliott]
    * MP3: "Folsom Prison Blues" - Johnny Cash from The Sun Years [Buy it]
    * Event Website: Folsom Street Fair

    Tags: , , , , ,

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Phoenix @ Virgin Megastore, 9-23-06

    Among all of the Technicolor madness of Lovefest, one sign-waver in the crowd especially caught my eye. He was in front of Virgin Megastore, raising up the cover art of Phoenix’s third album It’s Never Been Like That. Underneath, it said that the band would be doing an in-store there at two o’clock. Checking my cell phone, I realized that was in fifteen minutes. Ah, I thought, another sweet privilege of living in a major metropolis.

    Phoenix was in town to play at Slim’s that night, but this event was free and here and now. With no effort at all, I claimed a spot in the front row. Most of the people around me seemed like they were just curious Virgin customers. As the roadies set up, I watched the last few floats trickling down and the costumed crowds dispersing. A young French couple chatted behind me, giving the moment an extra touch of atmosphere. Then precisely at two, the band stepped on stage to a smattering of applause.

    Phoenix, a pop-rock band from Paris, has deservedly been gaining attention and respect in the U.S. They specialize in hooky, infectious tunes that are also smart and well-constructed. They can get you dancing one minute and rocking out the next and doing both simultaneously the next. Lead singer Thomas Mars performs in a English crisp enough to pass for local, but he speaks in the heavy accent you’d anticipate from a Frenchman. Add it all up and you’ve got a fun and distinctive concert experience.

    The band kicked off with “Napeolon Says,” sounding great and energetic but hardly moving from their spots. They continued on through their singles, producing worthy versions of “Long Distance Call” and “Consolation Prizes.” Still, they seemed too stationary to fully deliver the effect of their foot-tapping melodies. But as Phoenix got deeper into their eight-song set and the crowd continued to grow, they loosened up. They started having more fun and Mars took more advantage of the stage. The band even turned up the excitement and volume for “Rally” and United's “If I Ever Feel Better."

    After their performance, Phoenix stuck around to sign their new album and chat with fans. A line quickly congealed that included almost everyone in the crowd. And so it seemed that the band’s in-store was quite the success, as Phoenix now had a lot more fans in the room than at their set’s start.

    The video for Phoenix's "Consolation Prizes"

    * MP3: "Long Distance Call" - Phoenix from It's Never Been Like That
    * MP3: "Rally" - Phoenix from It's Never Been Like That [Buy it]
    * Band Website: We Are Phoenix

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    San Francisco Lovefest @ Market and 4th St., 9-23-06

    The Love Parade, a massive party celebrating electronic music and dance, started out in Berlin in 1989. It quickly became a phenomenon and exported to other cities worldwide. San Francisco, never one to miss an event, caught on to become the American nucleus for Love. But then rave culture started to die out, electronica lost its fad status, and the original Love Parade was cancelled due to financial problems. Fortunately, it was resurrected in Berlin this year and still lives on in Acapulco, Santiago and Tel Aviv. It's still going strong here in San Francisco as Lovefest, attracting crowds in the tens of thousands.

    So on Saturday, the dark suits downtown were replaced with parachute pants and neon rainbow necklaces. Float after massive float crept down Market Street on buses and flatbed trucks. Girls in vinyl halter tops tossed out handfuls of confetti and laminated postcards. Everyone danced together along the curbs to whatever was being offered that minute: house, drum ‘n bass, techno, jungle, trance. People in T-shirts and jeans mixed in with people in ten-inch heels and twelve-inch wigs. Anything went and everything did.

    For two hours, it was 1999 again, and the whole world was a neverending party. The only things that mattered were how hard you could dance and how incredible your outfit was. The gentrified length of Market was a musty warehouse in the middle of nowhere. The sunlight on a clear day was our drug. And we all still believed for a few glorious moments that we could dance away our pre-millennium tension in a storm of glitter and glow sticks.

    * MP3: "Block Rockin' Beats" - Chemical Brothers from Dig Your Own Hole [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Out of Control" - Chemical Brothers from Surrender [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Brown Paper Bag" - Roni Size and Reprazent from New Forms [Buy it]
    * Event Website: San Francisco Lovefest 2006

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    A wolf in sheep's clothing: Josephine Foster MP3s

    With all of the frenzied attention Joanna Newsom’s forthcoming album has been getting, one artist who deserves more attention is Josephine Foster. The similarities between the two women are striking and manifold: they’re both part of Devendra Banhart’s ever-growing collective, they both energize and enliven folk in vexingly fresh ways, they're both talented instrumentalists, they both have voices that cling to you like Krazy Glue.

    Foster is probably even the weirder of the two, leaping into every album as an experiment. Her 2006 release, A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, found her improbably singing German songs composed by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. On leadoff song “An die Musik,” her operatic vocals float ghostily over a fuzzed-out moan of electric guitar. Her previous work, Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You, featured her playing everything from dulcimer to kazoo to sitar to ukelele.

    Folk's renovation and expansion is one of my favorite developments of recent years and Josephine Foster has played an integral part in it. She's always doing something fascinating, unexpected and off-kilter, and I have no inkling where she'll veer next. Joanna Newsom may have raised the bar considerably with her five-song, fifty-five minute opus Ys, but Josephine Foster is probably already plotting something equally dazzling for 2007.

    * MP3: "An Die Musik" - Josephine Foster from A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Good News" - Josephine Foster from Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You
    * MP3: "Crackerjack Fool" - Josephine Foster from Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You [Buy it]
    * Artist Website: 100 Songs I Sing

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    News item o' the day: Benefit concert for Rogue Wave's Pat Spurgeon

    Having gone through most of this year uninsured, I know the looming fear of getting sick. One visit to the doctor or one prescription alone can be enough to substantially dent your savings. It's a concern hitting most working musicians too, who can't afford or aren't covered by decent insurance plans. For Pat Spurgeon of Rogue Wave, the fear is far worse and the need is far more pressing. Here's a statement from the band, who'll be playing a hometown benefit show with guests at The Independent:


    On September 30th 2006, San Francisco band Rogue Wave will host a benefit concert to raise money for their drummer Pat Spurgeon, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.

    The benefit concert will feature performances by Rogue Wave, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Ryan Miller (Guster), John Vanderslice, and other special guests. Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snickett) will MC the event.

    Pat was born with one kidney and it failed. He had his first transplant in 1993, which served him well until now. After 13 years, it has started to deteriorate. He has been on dialysis since April and is hoping desperately to find a donor. Some of their friends have gotten tested to see if they are a match, but Pat has yet to hear good news. Provided he finds a donor, there will be an enormous amount of costs that both Pat and his donor will incur.

    In a logical world, medical insurance would cover his donor's and his expenses after the procedure, but it does not; so he and his family must carry the financial burden. The expenses can be huge. We are trying to raise money for costs like: donor's travel, care, bills, lost work wages, etc., as well as Pat's expenses, care, bills, etc. while he is in recovery.

    If you cannot attend the show, we encourage you to donate whatever you can.

    Thank you for your love and continued support,
    Rogue Wave
    (Zach, Pat, Gram, Evan)

    The Independent
    628 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117
    Doors: 8:30pm; Show: 9:00pm
    Tickets available now: click here

    Do your best to come to the show and support a very necessary cause. If you can't make it, donate directly to help Pat at Rogue Wave's website.

    * MP3:"California" - Rogue Wave from Descended Like Vultures [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Debaser" (Live) - Rogue Wave (via Largehearted Boy)

    Mixtape for my sweetheart, the drunk #10

    1) "Pig" - Sparklehorse from Good Morning Spider [Buy it]
    2) "Dog" - El Perro Del Mar from El Perro Del Mar
    [Buy it]
    3) "
    Sea Lion" - Sage Francis from A Healthy Distrust [Buy it]
    4) "Rattlesnakes" -
    Lloyd Cole and the Commotions from Rattlesnakes [Buy it]
    "Bees" - Caribou from The Milk of Human Kindness [Buy it]
    6) "Tigers" -
    Division Day from Beartrap Island [Buy it]
    7) "Lions" - Chavez from Ride The Fader [Buy it]
    8) "Dragonfly" - My Brightest Diamond from Bring Me The Workhorse
    [Buy it]
    9) "Sharks" - Cadence Weapon from Breaking Kayfabe [Buy it]
    10) "Rats" - Sonic Youthfrom Rather Ripped [Buy it]
    11) "*C*A*T*S*" - His Name Is Alive from Detrola [Buy it]
    12) "Jellyfish" - Ghostface Killah from Fishscale [Buy it]
    "Kangaroo" - This Mortal Coil from It'll End In Tears [Buy it]

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Today I started celebrating again: Bonnie "Prince" Billy MP3s

    In my fantasy life, I would be as prolific as Will Oldham. Every year would promise a new offering, a new grace note to shade my already deep and rich body of work. And somehow, in this hypothetical realm, I’d always keep at the top of my game, whether I was plumbing the dark waters of the Styx or the dappled shores of West Palm Beach. Until that happens, I’ll continue to be amazed by Oldham in the meantime.

    Because as sure as autumn’s onset, Oldham has returned to us again. Maintaining his annual output, The Letting Go is yet another impressive addition to his canon. And Oldham, recording under his Bonnie “Prince” Billy alias, is as solid as ever. His weighed down voice still ebbs and collapses. His songs are still suffused with longing and gravity, making even boring lines like “Every time we kiss/ We find ourselves in love again” feel slightly shattering. His lyrics are still mostly spare and mysterious.

    There are a few new elements to distinguish The Letting Go though. First, there’s the fullness and sweep of “Cursed Sleep,” probably his best single to date. There’s the constant presence of Faun Fables’ Dawn McCarthy, whose voice is as vivid and haunting as a ghost-ship shanty. There’s also a little more rock and blues informing the folk and country, to give “The Seedling” an added swagger and “Cold and Wet” a touch of juke-joint traditionalism. But Oldham is still Oldham, and there’s no mistaking this for the work of anyone else. His stamp on the songs is as assured as his inevitably welcome return next year.

    * MP3: "The Seedling" - Bonnie "Prince" Billy from The Letting Go
    * MP3: "Cold and Wet" - Bonnie "Prince" Billy from The Letting Go [Buy it]
    * Artist Website: Bonnie "Prince" Billy

    Also, be sure to
    check out his recent Daytrotter session, featuring new performances of "The Seedling," "New Partner," "Goodbye Dear Old Stepstone," "The Sun Highlights The Lack in Each"

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Video Tuesday #8

    "Chinese Translation"
    M. Ward

    "Doctor Blind"
    Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton

    "Le Métronome"

    "Bucky Done Gun"

    "Deep Sea Diver"

    Grizzly Bear

    "Like A Pen"
    The Knife

    Turn on the bright lights #1

    A new feature spotlighting some of the hottest tracks from unsigned artists.

    1) "Blood Bank" - Whalebones [Visit them]
    They've already toured with Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes and if there's any justice, they won't remain under the radar for long. Whalebones plays a kind of old-school rock which they describe as "a jam band in the only good sense of the word."

    "Complex Sharing" - Orka Veer [Visit him]
    A thoughtful musician creating atmospheric and affecting electronic music. He's making his entire album Sam's Solutions available for free download on his MySpace page. Get it now.

    3) "Slow Down Chicago" - Canasta [Visit them]
    A six-piece pop band from Chicago, Canasta have the kinds of hooks that will be trapped in your head for days. They more than earn the clear New Pornographers comparison.

    "Art Book With Explosions" - Cagey House [Visit them]
    Cagey House makes interesting and experimental instrumental music with an edge, sometimes throwing in tinges of rock and psychedelia. Their sound is ever-changing but always worth checking out. They have a new EP, Drawing Monsters, out now.

    5) "What Happened To NY?" - Donny Goines [Visit him]
    An up-and-coming rapper calling out all the trendchasers and fashion-followers in his hometown who should be innovating instead. He's got enough fire to lead the way.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Trailer park #4

    A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints
    A film by Dito Montiel
    Opens Sept. 29 (NY/LA)

    Little Children
    A film by Todd Field
    Opens Oct. 6 (limited)

    Paris, Je T'aime
    A film by 22 filmmakers
    Opens in 2007

    District B13
    A film by Pierre Morel
    On DVD now

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    News item o' the day: El-P blogs/previews new tracks

    I'll Sleep When You're Dead, El-P's follow-up to the epic Fantastic Damage, has long been my most anticipated album of 2006. Problem is I'm still not sure it's even coming out this year. Information has been scarce and midway through Septemer, there's still no release date in sight. Plus, El Producto has been in his usual workaholic mode, producing for Mr. Lif and Cannibal Ox, heading up Def Jux, and remixing everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Hot Hot Heat to TV On The Radio.

    But things have taken an encouraging turn of late. El-P has begun blogging about the last stages of his sophomore record on a page he likes to call I'll Sleep When You're Dead. Though there's still no release date, the fact that it's near-finished should be some relief to diehard Jukies. And in the meantime, we get the fun prospect of seeing El-P the blogger. His writing so far has been loopy, messy, cryptic and raw, not unlike the contents of his formidable catalogue. And wait, that's not all...

    On El's MySpace page, he's streaming some worthy new shit: "Everything Must Go" and the instrumental to "Drive," both of which are expected to appear on ISWYD, plus "Take Hold Fire," his hot guest spot on Mr. Lif's Mo Mega and his aforementioned NIN remix for "Only." At least now we know what El-P's doing when he's not sleeping.

    * MP3: "We Can Build You" - Techno Animal (w. El-P and Vast Aire) from The Brotherhood of the Bomb [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Dead Weathermen" - El-P (with Cage, Camu Tao, Copywrite and Vast Aire) from Fandam Plus [Buy it]

    The writing on the wall #3

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Mixtape for my sweetheart, the drunk #9

    1) "Police and Thieves" - The Clash from The Clash [Buy it]
    2) "The Admiral" - White Whale from WWI
    [Buy it]
    "All These Governors" - The Evens from The Evens [Buy it]
    "Piazza, New York Catcher from Dear Catastrophe Waitress [Buy it]
    "State Trooper" (Live at Vegoose) - Arcade Fire [Buy other Arcade Fire]
    "Astroman" - Hilotrons from Bella Simone [Buy it]
    7) "A King And A Queen" - Okkervil River from Black Sheep Boy [Buy it]
    8) "Cold Criminals" - Pink Mountaintops from Axis of Evol
    [Buy it]
    9) "Undertaker" - M. Ward from The Transfiguration of Vincent [Buy it]
    10) "Confidence Man" - Oakley Hall from Gypsum Strings [Buy it]
    11) "Hotline Operator" - The Constantines from Tournament of Hearts [Buy it]
    12) "Talk Show Host" (Live at Glastonbury) - Radiohead [Buy other Radiohead]
    "I Am A Cinematographer" - Palace Brothers from Days In The Wake [Buy it]


    Us bloggers have a reputation for overhyping things, but I can comfortably say this is the best news that I've ever heard and will ever hear for the rest of my life...


    LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13, 2006 - The critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning HBO drama series THE WIRE has been renewed for a fifth season, it was announced today by Carolyn Strauss, president, HBO Entertainment. Created and executive produced by David Simon, the show just kicked off its 13-episode fourth season last Sunday, Sept. 10, and debuts new episodes Sunday nights (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT).

    "We are delighted - though not surprised - at the initial critical response to the new season of THE WIRE," said Strauss. "David Simon and his remarkable team have created a riveting and thought-provoking series that's unlike anything else on TV."

    Having depicted an American city over the course of 50 episodes, THE WIRE will use its fifth and concluding season to examine the role of the mass media within that city.

    The new fourth season has already prompted resounding critical praise. The New York Times said the show "is the closest that moving pictures have come so far to the depth and nuance of the novel." Daily Variety observed, "When television history is written, little else will rival THE WIRE," hailing the show for its "extraordinary depth and ambition." Entertainment Weekly called the series "a staggering achievement," while the Washington Post described it as "electrifying and disturbing...a gripping saga," and the New York Post termed it "the single finest piece of work ever produced for American TV."

    Season four of THE WIRE centers on the lives of four young boys as they traverse adolescence in the drug-saturated streets of West Baltimore. The new episodes of the series examine their world through the theme of education, asking viewers to consider the world that awaits these boys, and to consider further the American commitment to equal opportunity.

    The third season of THE WIRE ended its run in December 2004. The first season looked at the dysfunction inherent in the national drug war through the microcosm of a West Baltimore housing project, while the second season addressed the decline of the working class by focusing on a longshoremen's union and its struggle to survive. In its third season, the drama further developed its portrait of a fictional Baltimore by exploring the role of the political leadership in addressing a city's problems or reforming its institutions.

    Says Simon, a former newspaperman and the author of two books of narrative nonfiction, "The last question we want to ask is this: For four seasons, we have depicted that part of urban America that has been left behind by the economy and by the greater society, and chronicled entrenched problems that have gone without solution for generations now. Why? What is it that we see and sense about these problems? To what are we giving attention, and what is it that we consistently ignore? How do we actually see ourselves?"

    THE WIRE was created by David Simon. Fourth season credits: executive producers, David Simon and Nina Kostroff Noble; co-executive producer, Joe Chappelle; producers, Edward Burns and Karen Thorson; consulting producer, Eric Overmyer.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    The Silver Jews @ Mezzanine, 9-10-06

    I bought my Silver Jews ticket approximately three minutes after it went on sale. After twelve years and five albums, this was the band's first-ever tour, a momentous and unexpected event I wasn't about to miss. Even beyond their terrific music, I've always felt a special connection to the Jews. They got started at the University of Virginia, where I went to college, and while ninety percent of my campus embraced the Dave Matthews Band as Charlottesville's best homegrown act, I knew better. The only David that mattered was Berman.

    When the night of the show finally arrived, I faced that ancient dilemma of the concertgoer: What time to get there? Catch the tailend of the second opening act? Midway through the first for the sake of seizing front row territory? Take in both acts and hope for the best? I went with the last option, feeling optimistic. The evening kicked off with local band Continuous Peasant, led by former Silver Jew keyboardist Chris Stroffolino. They were all right, basically fulfilling the traditional role of opening act: be good enough that people will listen and clap politely but not good enough that they'd see you on your own.

    But then, oh then, everything went batshit. The next band, Monotonix, started setting up. Instead of bringing their equipment onstage, they put it against the stage, standing face-to-face with the audience. They were from Tel Aviv and spoke in Hebrew. Yonatan Gat stood so close I narrowly avoided getting hit with his guitar on multiple occasions. The singer, Ami Shalev, looked like a drugged-up Yakov Smirnoff. Whatever was about to happen here, it was going to be memorable.

    And from the first note, it was. The two instrumentalists, Gat and drummer Ran Shimony, battered away at a sea of thrash and noise. Shalev, wasting no time, started throwing himself at the first semi-circled row of the audience. He was yelping into the microphone, the words unintelligible under the melodic cacophony. A few people in the crowd started headbanging along but many more seemed out of place. As Shalev climbed up anything he could climb up or hung from anything he could hang from, the looks on audience members' faces were a show unto themselves. The reactions alternated between confused, frightened, cautiously amused, overjoyed, disturbed, and a few that looked like they'd swallowed something poisonous.

    Monotonix's desire to literally be in your face and their commitment to be as loud as possible reminded me of hardcore's heyday. Shalev's total disregard of his body (crowd surfing, stage diving, falling to and flailing on the floor, throwing himself against objects) was, for better or worse, punk down to its nihilistic essence. Trying to outdo Angus Andrew at his own game, he was intent on disconcerting the audience. And through it all, Gat and Shimony, glazed in sweat, kept cranking out the thunderous tunes. This was performance as performance art and rock as confrontation. No matter where you stood in the sharp divide (I bought a T-shirt if you're wondering), you wouldn't soon forget seeing Monotonix live.

    A very lo-fi video of Monotonix in Tel Aviv

    And then it was time for the main event. We wailed in unison as Berman took the stage. In a red Fall T-shirt, he was tall, bearded and bony, with a few slicks of hair slitting down his forehead. His wife, backup vocalist and bassist, Cassie, smiled shyly. She was unprepared for the shouts of "We love you, Cassie," offering back a meek wave and saying, "Um... thank you." Berman, who doesn't have all that much more performing experience past his poetry reading, was more at ease, tossing out casual asides between songs. (At the outset, he informed us his instrument was from Guitar Center and that it was going back tomorrow.)

    Highlights for me included "Time Will Break The World," "New Orleans," "Random Rules" despite or because of a flubbed key line, and closer "There Is A Place," all of which gained a rocking vibrance in their live arrangements. The set leaned a little too heavily on Tanglewood Numbers for my taste, while only wading into American Water. But overall, the catalogue was well-represented, with enough small picks to give the diehards their mouthalong moments. And it still felt slightly unbelievable to be hearing these songs live, to witness David Berman singing his singularly affecting poetry at all.

    Berman seemed pretty happy during his set, which leads me to hope another Silver Jews tour will follow in the future. It's impressive to see a band with little road experience pull off a rousing show like they did. It'll be even cooler to see where Berman will go next as he continues expanding his range, both on record and on stage. For now though, the crowd settled for the brief encore, which included "Punks In The Beerlight." When he sang, "I love you to the max," we sang it back to him, grateful for the chance to share in the wild kindness for an evening.

    * MP3: "I'm Going To Love The Hell Out Of You" - The Silver Jews from Tennessee EP [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Animal Shapes" - The Silver Jews from Tanglewood Numbers [Buy it]
    * MP3: "I Remember Me" - The Silver Jews from Bright Flight [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Dragon Zoo" - Monotonix [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Heartbeat" - Monotonix
    [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Summers and Autumns" - Monotonix [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Make Me Hurry" - Monotonix [Buy it]
    * Band Website: Silver Jews
    * Band Website: Monotonix