City: New York Venue: Bowery Ballroom Date: 2002-03-11
S E T L I S T
Richter Scale Madness Mistakes and Regrets Mark David Chapman Gargoyle Waiting Homage Fake Fake Eyes Another Morning Stoner Baudelaire Relative Ways Aged Dolls A Perfect Teenhood Totally Natural
Clue yourself to the sound of Gene Wilder's voice arising from the darkness, the drug-manic Wilderzations of Willy Wonka, and the louder the voice gets, the more intense the anticipation gets . . . then the band, the Trail, The Dead, the four guys in black, they come on to make noise, loud noise, a thrilling noise.
"Richter Scale Madness" is the song, and the band turns it up . . . "Dream Machine, John and Exene, smear campaign and a swat team," and the place erupts. Shreds of guitar noise, pummeled along by a booming bass and trouncing drums. The band sings "This is a riot, right? Let's all riot riot, Let's tear this place to shit . . ." and dammit if they don't tear up the place later on.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Jason Reece starts out on the drums, but then he plays guitar and sings, then he goes back to drums, then later smashes a guitar. Conrad Keely rocks, and he's the man, you know, as Frank Booth would say, and the other guys, well Neil Busch rocks out on the bass, spread-eagled legs, waiting for the touch, or the thrust, or the rock, the Tony James Gen X of it all, then they go! Kevin Allen maintains the chaos on lead guitar, never straying far from his Marshall-situated beer or cigarette. They're cool and all, but you know the score and the score is Jason and Conrad, motherfucker badasses, feeling no pain, cranking it up for us. The faithful. The wanting. The precious. It's all v-e-r-y glamorous. And it rocks.
"There's no knowing where's going . . ." oh the words spark out in between songs, the band moves ahead, feeling its nuances. Interlocking guitar strands in between the bass and drums, building to a crescendo of blistering strength, the highs and lows, the shadows and tall trees, the jet black mattes. Where it goes, it leaves a trail of dead in its wake. I know. I just used it. The words.
The weed came out during "Mark David Chapman" and Conrad wanted some. Jason instigated the crowd to violence. He did it. Correcting himself, he then preached non-violence, and went into "Gargoyle Waiting". Screaming Joe and Micklike, the words rush out, "In all noir, you go for the kill." It's all v-e-r-y dangerous. Or is it?
"That girl wants it louder," spoketh Jason, and they launched into the heaviest song of their set (and the first one from the new CD Source Tags & Codes) -- "this song is called Under Death, Unwound, Sonic Youth and Slint . . . FUCK YOU!" and the new song "Homage" explodes! It's all v-e-r-y glamorous. And it rocks.
Then Conrad starts up the fluid guitar lines of "Another Morning Stoner" and it all makes sense. The lights, the passion, the imagery, the blackness of the hardcore leanings of the band. From Texas, holy fuck! Husker Surfing Buttholes! The audience laps it all up. These guys are big, bigger than your average jean-wearing hardcore band. The Trail of Dead Are It. They know it. They feel it.
Neil takes front and center on "Baudelaire" and it's cool. It's pop. It soars when it should and feels right in the rock when it has to! And Jason back to front for "Aged Dolls". His Morrison-esque take on the stage comes complete with another nod to violence and mayhem, a rampant rip through a top chick's silver chorded guitar, splintering, smashing, destroying . . . for us . . . "she's in the rear-view, she's in the rear-view, she's in the rear-view." It's all v-e-r-y glamorous. Hardcore rocks.
You still here? You waiting for the ending? The ending? You mean the fuck-it-all-up part? You mean the bait-the-crowd-part? You mean the trash-the-stage part? A Trail of Dead is a Trail of Dead is a Trail of Dead . . . .equipment. And almost dead bodies. Conrad nearly impaled Jason with a guitar fling whipped back toward the drumset. The body of the guitar . . . Jason's head . . . three inches apart . . . sheer force of guitar death, evaded, momentarily.
Conrad started it all with his fond remembrances of playing at Continental in the East Village, where "we'd have a bottle-throwing fight with the audience. Now, we don't want to go back to Austin and tell everyone that New Yorkers are a bunch of pussies, do you?" That started the logical conclusion to "Totally Natural" with Bowery Ballroom-supplied plastic cups a-flyin' through the air with the greatest of beer, water, wine, vodka and whatever else was left undrunk by the crowd. A sea of chaos, a mess of confusion, toppled monitors, thrashed drumset, mic stands hurled, bottled water tosses, feedback, cheers, relentless noise, the mayhem, the fun . . .
Ah, it was just like the good old days of early hardcore . . . It's all v-e-r-y glamorous. And it rocks.
Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.
Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .
Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.
Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.
"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"
The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".