June 2008

A quick round-up of recent photographs:

  • The Cure show in Charlotte from nowhere near the stage. I could see a lot better than these suggest.
  • The Furniture Follies Parking Lot Sale from 6/21/08. It started raining just as we got there so I had to snap fast.
  • An unbelievably sweet 1973 Mercedes for sale at a local thrift shop. Yes, a thrift shop. No one seemed to know how much the cars were going for so I have no idea how much they want. Unless I’m mistaken that’s a hard-top convertible. It has just shy of 300,000 miles.

Pants Wilder and I drove down to Charlotte yesterday to meet up with bascha and goodtofu to see The Cure play at Bobcats Arena. I’ve never seen The Cure in person despite long years of loving them. It was completely rad and I’m very glad I went. Some brief observations:

Robert Smith is a huge dork who started a band thirty years ago and it all worked out. He’s not a big rock star, he’s not all slick and aloof. He’s a fat dude with dumb hair who gets up there and does silly little dances that have not been choreographed to death and he is awesome. This was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen and one of the least staged live performances I’ve ever seen. It felt like spending time listening to Robert Smith kind of rock out for a while and I can’t really ask for better.

I really want their new album to come out because I really like Sleep When I’m Dead, which they played.

Cure concerts are, apparently, the intersection of all demographics. We were seated next to Patchouli Monster goths on the one side and yuppie 40-somethings on the other. In front of us were 20-somethings in frat tees and heavy makeup who looked like refugees from a Dave Matthews Band festival and they were totally into it. Pants Wilder told me later of overhearing a towering redneck say to his smaller, less redneck friend, “Well DAYUMN, nobody told me they was a ROCK band!” There were the old, the young, the drunk, the gothed out, the trashy, the glam.

Robert Smith can totally rock out at seven million years old. He has completely got it.

Bascha pointed out afterwards that one of the things that always impresses her is how much Robert Smith live sounds like Robert Smith recorded. His voice doesn’t get fucked around with during the production process when they’re working on albums. It is very clear that what we hear on an album is his voice, period. He is a very talented singer who doesn’t require a lot of whatever to make his songs listenable. At the same time, they seemed to do some tweaking of their older standards for modern ears. I commented to Pants Wilder that their concert version of Three Imaginary Boys sounds like The Cure covering The Faint covering The Cure, what with a more aggressive bass line and a more driving tempo; I found this to be true pretty much across the board with the older stuff and the version of Killing an Arab they played in the third(!) encore was downright speed metal for all intents and purposes.

I am kind of babbling at this point but that’s in part due to excitement and in part due to lack of sleep. My one criticism is that the opening band, 65 Days of Static, kind of grated on me when they would stop playing lovely melodic things and abruptly cut directly to noisy thrash. Every song would break down into four or five ridiculously skinny kids with hair in their eyes raking their fists across the strings of a tortured electric guitar. My first observation about them was that it’s a wonder their moms would all sign the release forms to let them go on tour; the other was that I like to imagine them going backstage after they’re done, filing past Robert Smith. “Another great show, lads,” he intones at them and they, in unison, drone back, “Ta, Mr. Smith.” As soon as they’re off-camera we hear Robert Smith mutter disgustedly, under his breath, “Bloody noise.”

I just used my credit union’s car buying service website to ask them to find me a Prius with the options I want. Tomorrow morning I’m getting up early to go into my local branch because SECU just started a program to offer very low interest rate loans on hybrid vehicles.


Just got back from taking The Boyf to see R.E.M. at Walnut Creek. Modest Mouse opened for them (and the Nationals opened for them but I’m afraid we missed them). It was for The Boyf’s birthday; I daren’t say which, as it’s not my place, but it’s one some people take to be a big deal. We had originally gotten lawn tickets but then, at the very last minute, I searched again and found tickets in the center section, very front, ten rows back from the stage. R.E.M. is for The Boyf what he himself calls one’s “spirit band,” that band whose songs and development have factored and fit neatly into one’s own personal history. For me it’s kind of a toss-up between The Cure and Erasure; for him it’s R.E.M. every time.

Modest Mouse were extremely enthusiastic but largely unintelligible. I was slightly surprised, though I don’t really know why, to learn that when they perform live they basically sound nothing like their recordings. They didn’t sound bad by any stretch – quite the opposite – but they sounded different, looser, less polished, more desperate, hungrier. They did The Good Times Are Killing Me and Satin in a Coffin, however, the two songs I most wanted to hear, and they were pretty fucking fabulous.

R.E.M., well, there aren’t words. It was worth buying whole new tickets to have that experience. I am deaf as a post but it was worth it. There were guest performances, acoustic numbers, two guys suspended from the lights in weird chairs so they could operate the spotlights. It was pretty wild. It was also extremely hot but after the sun went down a cold front moved in, the heat broke and when we got back to the car – way, way back to the car – the line to get out was so bad that the lovely night and no real need to burn gas for the sake of burnin’ gas led us to roll down the windows, kick back and just relax in the breeze while everybody else honked and hollered to get a spot in line.

It was, I have to say, a lovely night.

mrh has started what is basically the coolest thing ever: a blog that tracks pundit predictions in order to gauge the (in)correctness of pundits. Today he lines up a couple of posts about Apple’s now-present-future and some older political predictions we can now properly measure.