Live and Erect


Rock concerts are more social events than musical events, of course, and you can have a great time with horrible live music in the background and vice versa. So far be it from me to tell you which performances this spring to check out—just go to whichever ones your friends do, OK? That said, a number of gigs in coming months do present sterling opportunities for this or that. U2 and PJ Harvey at Madison Square Garden June 17 is clearly the season’s prestige ticket, if only because you’ve got the creators of maybe the two most overrated rock albums of the past year (beloved apparently because both artists have returned to comparably swell guitars after years of irritating cabaret kitsch) in the same place at the same time, even though you’d probably hear less pedestrian stadium rock seeing Everclear (MSG, March 16), Weezer (plugging a Christmas single and lotsa allegedly Napsterable tracks from their way-overdue third album at Roseland, March 5), maybe even Three Doors Fucking Down (Roseland, March 7). And if it’s an endurance test you want, you might opt for the Hammerstein Ballroom’s Pantera/Soulfly/Nothingface/Morbid Angel really-shitty-metal earbleed extravaganza March 8 through 10 or for the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre for a whole bunch of nights between March 15 and 24. (Maybe they’ll just do one really long version of “Whipping Post,” who knows?)

Best show for committing public sex acts? Probably either Bebel Gilberto at Irving Plaza March 1 or OutKast with Ludacris at MSG March 9, unless, say, Enigma suddenly schedule a comeback opera at the Bowery Ballroom, and you and your date get one of those little rooms beside the upstairs bar to yourselves. Which, of course, points to part of the problem with this sort of roundup: Lots of the best shows, as always, aren’t scheduled yet. So watch the club listings, and by all means keep eyes peeled for the following names-you-mostly-don’t-know, all of whom have put out really decent albums during the past couple months that they may well tour to support: Ashes to Ashes, Baxendale, Black Box Recorder, Buck 65, Causey Way, Chroma Key, Decoded Feedback, Ghoultown, Haystack, Hefner, Laptop, Lightning Bolt, Mellow, Opeth, Orange Peels, Peaches, Sea of Green, Thug Murder, Treble Charger. (Don’t you feel hip now?)

Three shows already on the calender by up-and-comers-supporting- 2001-albums-better-than-the-one-by-StephenMalkmus (Irving, March 30) are doom-horror space-metal stoners Electric Wizard March 5 at the Continental, verbose subterranean rap wit Aceyalone at Knitting Factory March 7, post-teen liquid troublegum dreams the Donnas at the Bowery March 10 and 11, and green-Guinness-glugging Boston Celtic oi! boys Dropkick Murphys at Wetlands Saint Patrick’s Eve. That last one should be especially interesting, since the Murphs will be joined by Rancid riffer Lars Frederiksen‘s sideband, since Shane MacGowan—who brogues out two songs on the Murphs’ new Sing Loud, Sing Proud—could always show up if he’s drunk enough to think Wetlands is Webster Hall and it’s already the 17th, and since Sing Loud is closer to both . . . And Out Come the Wolves and Rum Sodomy & the Lash than any leprechaun could’ve predicted.

Plenty o’ legends coming to town, too: insane avant-electronic lab coat wearers the AMM (Knitting Factory, April 28 and 29—35 some years after their famous gig on the London School of Economics roof), Jackie DeShannon (Bottom Line, March 3 and 10—25 some years after she invented “Bette Davis Eyes”), Bo Diddley (B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, May 31), Duran Duran (Beacon, March 1 and 2), Willie Nelson (Beacon, April 21), Eddie Palmieri (Blue Note, February 27 through March 4), Lee “Scratch” Perry (Irving, March 22), Wilson Pickett (B.B. King’s, May 10, 11, and 12), ? and the Mysterians (Village Underground, March 31), Ari Upp (Brownies, March 2). The biggest quantity of famous forgotten names to converge in one night will join host KRS-One March 2 at Irving Plaza; even if rap’s most edutainful blowhard gives a lecture or something, you’ll still have fun with U.T.F.O. and Force M.D.s and Whodini and Kurtis Blow, among countless other old-school alumni.

So: not a sorry couple months at all. Still, the show most worth getting excited about and planning a party merely to celebrate its existence is, no contest man, the NYC live debut of Eurotrash glamour girls Chicks on Speed‘s ingenious neo-new-wave art project at Knitting Factory April 10 and 12. Don’t be surprised if the three of ’em can’t play any instruments, though. And wear your paper dress.

OLD 97’S

March 1

Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111

So pop by now they make Wilco sound like, I don’t know, Uncle Tupelo, Rhett Miller and his Dallas band have somehow survived the unjust commercial failure of 1999’s Fight Songs with yet another album of passionate trifles you can’t forget. Live they’re full of the boyish enthu-siasm that’s hard to maintain seven years after your first album. Go tell them to keep it up. (Christgau)


March 1-2

Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 307-7171

A Perfect Circle are coming ’round again, which proves that in a sea of names, Maynard James Keenan and friends are living up to theirs, forthcoming (or nonexistent) Tool record be damned. Some might label him a wiener for dallying so long with the lesser band, an accusation APC’s sleek, beautifully lit live act tidily rebuts—though the crowd they draw is pretty, well, square. (Rutigliano)


March 2

Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

Back in ’88, KRS-One proclaimed that “no one’s from the old school, ’cause rap is still a brand new tool.” Thirteen years later, he hosts this nostalgic megabill that spans the irreverent (Teddy Riley pal Kool Moe Dee, freak-obsessed ‘hos Whodini, b-ball-lovin’ Kurtis Blow), the street-rockin’ (Dougie Fresh and Slick Rick, mystery-accented Dana Dane, trash-talkers U.T.F.O.), and the not-dead-yet (operatic Prince Paul’s Stetsasonic, mad genius Kool Keith’s Ultramagnetic MCs, power-brokering Poor Righteous Teachers), plus the man who brought it to your speakers every Saturday night, DJ Red Alert. (Spartos)


March 7

Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

Unknown to most, Ground Control Records has quietly been amassing a nationwide roster of fine underground hip-hop talent. Representing Los Angeles, there’s Aceyalone. The former Freestyle Fellowship don has near cult status among polysyllabic MCs, and his work only gets more assured with time. From NoCal is Rasco, who’s more concerned with battling than backpacks. From the East, there’s Boston old-timer Ed O.G. and New York-via-CT duo Masterminds, both of whom should prostrate themselves before their left-coast peers. (Caramanica)


March 9

Theater at Madison Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, 307-7171

The runaway winners of this year’s Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll get props for creating their music live in the studio. Now we find out whether they’re up to convincing a pop audience just now figuring out who they are—two dynamite televised “B.O.B.”s have certainly primed the pump—that they’re the best band in the land. Like the man said, all, who says a funk band can’t play rock music? Opening: a dirty Midwesterner who will certainly be Southern enough to warm the Garden up. (Christgau)


March 10

Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

While she’s tried on a number of guises over the years—virgin, vixen, hipster Jennifer Lopez to Evan Dando’s indie Puff Daddy—Juliana Hatfield never fully recaptured the momentous musical mélange she manufactured with the Blake Babies. After a decade apart—in which ex-Babies John Strohm and Freda Love carried the torch in distorto-pop combos like Antenna and the Mysteries of Life—the trio set off on the reunion trail last year with a wedding-band gig that grew into a full-scale reunion. Hatfield has, thankfully, moved on from her Portrait-of-the-Artist-as-a-Young-Coquette phase, and the trio’s new album, God Bless the Blake Babies, tugs at both the heartstrings and the pogo-center often enough to recommend this gig as more than a mere nostalgia trip. (Sprague)


March 10-11

Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111

A trio of noteworthy young hard rock bands with the kinda songs that supposedly haven’t existed for decades: Local boys the Mooney Suzuki do OK by their nuggets nostalgia, but the stars here are ladies. Bratmobile have thankfully set aside riot tantrrrums for Cheap Trick and eating toothpaste; the Donnas just celebrated hitting legal age with yet another hilarious album, slightly wiser and more metal than the three before. Mooney Suzuki open March 11 only. (Eddy)


March 16

Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, 307-7171

Grunge goes AOR, and in two of three cases, it’s a damn good idea. Last summer Everclear put out the best rock album so far this millennium, and the best divorced-dad album in the history of humankind, and nearly nobody noticed. Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 has, over the course of two CDs and one Santana single, proved himself the smoothest if not quite the best rock-dude voice of his era. And Lifehouse wanna be Creed when they grow up. (Eddy)


March 16

Fashion Institute of Technology, 227 West 27th Street, 545-7536

Forget all the horrible things you think you know about Gypsy music, and all the boring ones you think you know about Balkan music. The lautari in this transgenerational Romanian ensemble are rougher than the usual export versions of either. Highly professional, toasts of Europe in fact, they don’t fetishize rehearsed tightness. And I want to hear the deep creak of their large cymbalum live. (Christgau)


March 17

Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, 65th Street and Broadway, 545-7536

Weston has been focusing on the deceptively simple harmonic structures and trance-inducing rhythms of North Africa since the early ’90s, and his most recent album documents a 1999 Brooklyn concert with his Gnawan colleagues. His elemental chops are expansive and self-effacing enough to both embrace and elevate the Gnawans’ bluesy steamroller momentum. (Gehr)


March 17

Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 307-7171

Roni Size’s Reprazent collective is one of the few outfits able to take electronic music from the studio to the stage. This is a feat not to be taken lightly when you consider that most live PAs consist of two dudes bobbing their heads behind a bunch of wires. Aided by a drummer, a bass player, and his three coproducers (Suv, Die, and Krust), plus Bristol-bred singer Onallee and the suave MC Dynamite, the Reprazent live experience is a rock-solid exploration of scattershot breaks and bumping sub-bass—the grooves locking as solid as James Brown’s rhythm section. (Romano)


March 22

Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

Madman Scratchie isn’t behind the controls these days (that would be his excellent disciple Mad Professor, who’s on the bill with Silicone Squad); he’s the spacecase with the microphone up front. Perry’s not especially together these days, but he never especially was—even the copious reissues of his ’60s and ’70s productions flip-flop between crazy like a fox and plain bonkers. Charismatic, though: Can’t take your eyes off the guy. Maybe even oracular if you’ve inhaled enough of the sacrament. (Wolk)


March 23

Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703

To celebrate the umpteenth reissue of their career high point, Underwater Moonlight, the rele-vant (circa ’80) lineup of Robyn Hitchcock’s muscular, whimsical psychedelic band has recongealed for a full U.S. tour. There’ve been Soft Boys reunions before, but this one includes guitarist Kimberley Rew, the only effective foil Hitchcock’s ever had, who could probably retire on the royalties from “Walking on Sunshine” alone. And they always had enough instrumental firepower that they could get away with underselling their jokes, which just made them funnier. (Wolk)


March 30

Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

Complete with “Who the fuck is Stephen Malkmus?” T-shirts, the gone-solo Pavement principal will do what you’d expect well, not what you’d hope brilliantly. Even with his solos cambering far off kilter, this is a singer-with-backup act rather than a band. And when they want to rock, they’ll boogie, just a smidgen ironically. That’s the backup way. (Christgau)


April 10 and 12

Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

Not quite a band—more like workaholic performance artists whose pieces involve being a band. They’ve got homemade scrap leather outfits, objet d’art props, slide and video projections, and general site-specific hilarity, as well as MiniDiscs full of beats from Euro-electro’s finest forges. Also: excellent songs, including the one that rhymes “they say I’m vermin” with “got more faces than Cindy Sherman,” and a covers repertoire that centers on the B-52’s. (Wolk)


April 28-29

Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

A unique chemistry makes this British improv group the champagne of free improvisation. They’re austere yet inventive, relentlessly avant-garde, and one of their starker vinyl releases became a surprise bestseller in Britain years after its release. Keith Rowe plays guitar and electronics, John Tilbury plays piano, and Eddie Prevost plays drums, but they’re just as likely to play pencil sharpeners and radios. Come hear who make the “free” in free improv an existential proposition. (Gann)


June 17 and 19

Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, 307-7171

June 21-22

Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 307-7171

Having just released one of the best arguments for mainstream rock in years, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, U2 come to town for a concert that might be more surly than usual: Word is that if you want to see them up close, you’ll have to go the general-admission route. Opening is PJ Harvey, who would dearly love to see where her art could go with a taste of the popular acclaim that U2 can’t leave behind. Her newest critically hailed album, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, is her most audience-friendly since she raised (and then ignored) expectations with 1995’s To Bring You My Love. (Weisbard)

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2001

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