Here we go. Raw and abrasive, Animal Lover is sounding more and more like the 2nd coming of Big Black the more that I listen. The squealing guitar’s harsh cut and ringing harmonics sound the part of Albini, but the rest of the band fleshes out the low end significantly better. What’s the same, though, is the passion, vitriol and energy with which they seem to attack their instruments, and the style of distancing the vocal toward the back of the mix. It sounds as if the singer is maybe being recorded live, sans-effects for the most part across much of the release.
After the screaming cloud of angular guitar noise that is “Plasme,” the opening track, we come to “Lucky Pastures” that immediately recalls the rhythm section from Liars’ first offering that aligned them to the dance-punk bands of the early 2000’s. That slightly crunchy, but still round, bass sound in combination with a punchy drum kit most definitely ties their sounds together. The spaciousness of “Lucky Pastures” provides enough of a contrast to the opening track to show a bit of their range. That toned-down (only a bit) idea is expanded on the album closer “Neighbors” that manages to only barely contain the previous barrage momentarily with a jazz backbeat, clean(er) guitar tone and delicate vocals before showing signs of wanting to blow everything to bits again.
By and large though this is quite a noisy offering. Visceral noise and feedback permeate a good portion of “Guilt” but there are moments, such as in the title track, where the bass and drums are left out in the open to lay down a thin sounding groove, only to explode back into the spiked assault from whence it came. As I keep listening I am hearing a bit of a likeness to Chat Logs, whom I wrote about a few months ago, which is worth a listen if you missed out the first time.
This one is going to be spinning here for a while. Get in on it. The 12″ 45 was just released and is currently available from Learning Curve Records. You can also catch Animal Lover live on the last few of their tour dates if you happen to be in the proximity of the Midwest. Check those dates below and check out the album above.
5-27 Washington, D.C. @ Union Arts DC
5-28 Columbus, OH @ Carabar
5-29 Louisville, KY tba
5-30 St Louis, MO @ MELT
5-31 Carbondale, IL @ Ski House
6-01 Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters
It’s safe to say that 2013, as far as music is concerned, is over. For the better part of a month every music blog has been writing about their favorite albums of the year, producing list after list after list of best song, best album, as well as separate lists for every genre under the sun. I’ve done my best to avoid it, choosing instead to do full album reviews of albums that I feel are worth talking about and that I had missed during the year. I thought that a better thing to do might be to write about some of the albums that I am hoping to see in the year ahead. There are a lot of artists that were silent in 2013, some of which haven’t produced in album in several years, which could be surprising depending on the artists. Here’s what I hope to hear in 2014:
When “Transference” came out in 2010 Spoon had felt like that reliable band that churned out album after album, with solid results. It’s not that they were predictable, per se, as much as they were completely dependable. Going back as far as “Girls Can Tell,” not just a classic Spoon album, but a classic album in general, Brit Daniel and Jim Eno have been turning out unshakably poppy, tuneful albums. From what I remember “Transference” seemed to take a step back from all that, not reaching to the heights of their previous, fantastic, ridiculously named, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.” Though I think that “Transference” is a fine album, it’s not necessarily my go-to when I pull a Spoon album off the shelf. Brit went off and did an album with a newly formed band, The Divine Fits, which was actually really good catchy retro-synth pop (can we consider music that is reminiscent of the 80’s retro now?). Here’s to hoping that Spoon returns to the fold in 2014 and that their nearly 4 years away from the studio allowed them to rest up and re-group to record some great new tracks.
Speaking of indie-rock stalwarts, Patrick Stickles’ New Jersey based punk rock band has three absolutely perfect albums under their belt. “The Airing of Grievances” is about as good as a debut album can get, and then they put out “The Monitor,” one of the best albums that I have ever heard. “Local Business” stripped back some of the high concept of those first two albums and delivered some straight ahead riff-based rock that shows the band easily churning out a full album’s worth or singles. Seeing the band this past September and accosting Stickles at the merch table (ok accost is a strong word, but I did talk to him when he clearly did not want to talk) he said that they would have a new album “ready to go in 14 months.” I remember this specifically because that was a strange number. Anyway, I hope that’s true, and I look forward to a new Titus album in November 2014.
I’m a huge Shellac fan. I’ve written about Albini’s casual mention earlier this year of a new album being ready to go (and then I went on to write about something completely different, but trust me it’s in there somewhere). Who knows what the hell will happen though. It’s not like the band needs the money, or is even in it for that reason. Whenever they put it out they’ll put it out and then probably tour a little bit behind it and then lock themselves in the studio again to work. I know that this is probably an unpopular opinion, as their fans are pretty fanatical and unmutable in their view of the band, but I really didn’t like their last album “Excellent Italian Greyhound,” so I’m especially looking forward to the next one. Here’s to hoping that it is closer in sound to “At Action Park,” or whatever.
If you’re going to release albums that are barely a half hour long, I’m going to want more than one every few years. I know that they have said repeatedly that they hate being in the studio, but unfortunately it’s a part of life. Both of their releases have been stellar so far, and I’m sure that whatever they come up with next will not be disappointing, so I hope that they get on it.
My favorite album of 2013. But I have the same complaint as with Japandroids. I mean, the album was EP length at best. I hope that this group of young kids has another great album in them because “Sunken” was an enviable debut and if they can pull off another album that good I think their status will be solidified as a force in the music world, whereas right now they are just hopefuls.
Of course I’m going to say of Montreal. I’ve loved everything that they’ve done, and sure “Lousy With Sylvianbriar” just came out barely a few months ago, but Kevin Barnes has been on a good run, releasing a lot of music year after year and constantly taking his writing to new and exciting places. With every twist and turn I’ve been on board, so let’s see how much farther he can take it.
That just about sums up what I am hoping for in the coming year. Of course I’m also looking forward to the unexpected, the bands that haven’t released anything yet and therefore aren’t on the radar. That is always the most exciting part of writing a blog, the getting new stuff dropped into the mailbox, or linked to on soundcloud. So here’s to another year of new sounds by bands new and old, the expected and the unexpected.
According to The Onion A.V. Club Steve Albini has stated that a new Shellac album has been recorded and will (hopefully) be released soon. Apparently, according to Albini, there are more songs finished than will appear on the new album. Out of the 10 songs that are finished 8 or 9 will appear on the band’s yet to be named follow up to 2007’s “Excellent Italian Greyhound.”
This is good news for Shellac fans, while at the same time news that will probably be ignored by everyone else. What I mean is that there are two kinds of music fans out there: those that are fans of Shellac (rabid, obsessive, die-hard fans of the Slayer ilk [and to that end, I would love it if people started yelling “SHELAAAAAAAAAACCC!!!” at each other when spotted on the street wearing a Shellac shirt]) and those that hate Shellac. I don’t think that I have ever met someone that just “sort of” likes them. They really aren’t that kind of band.
And the band really couldn’t care less what you think. That is the way that they operate. I don’t know why I am bothering telling you this because if you have read this far then you already know. And reviews of Shellac albums are irrelevant to Shellac fans. So the best I can do is just say “hey, a new album is on its way” and that will be as good as saying that it is the best album released this side of the industrial revolution. I will say, however, that I never developed a taste for “Excellent Italian Greyhound.” In my opinion the two longer tracks “The End of Radio” and “Genuine Lulabelle” (clocking in at 8:27 and 9:17, respectively) really sort of ruin the pacing. I’m much more a fan of “At Action Park” and “Terraform,” not to mention their newest album at the time I was introduced to them, “1000 Hurts.”
Keep an eye out for the new album sometime in the fall, or perhaps the winter, or maybe early next year. Just remember this is the band that held off releasing “Terraform” for (I think) a few years because they were waiting for the artwork to be just right.
The new album will be coming out on the barely-operating-what-the-hell-happened-to-this-amazing-label Touch and Go. I know that I’m looking forward to hearing that Shellac guitar tone. That is what really hooked me on the band in the first place, well that and this chord that appears in “Wingwalker” from their 1993 Uranus 7″, which is interesting for a few reasons.
First of all the song is in D minor, which could probably be explained simply enough in that most likely the guitar and bass have their low E strings tuned down a whole-step. More interesting, however, is the arpeggiated chord that appears over tonic:
The pitches are E-flat, B-flat, C-flat, G-flat in a simple arpeggiation that cycles through in 4/4 over the predominating 3/4 meter in the bass and drums, resulting in a cycling of the downbeat E-flat from beat 1 in the 2nd measure to the upbeat to 2 in the following measure and the middle of beat 3 in the next measure before the entire pattern is shifted down a whole step. This could be notated in 4/4 and the same cycling would (of course) occur. The main thing to note is that the E-flat quarter note in the guitar moves against the bass line and the beginning of both patterns only line up every 4 measures.
Listen to “Wingwalker” below. The arpeggiation in question can be heard at :57 – 1:15
If the chord that is alluded under this arpeggiation is tonic (we assume so, as the bass focuses on D) while the repeated E-flat cycles through the guitar making it a different focal point (in addition to the off-kilter rhythmic element), then what is even going on here harmonically speaking? An E-flat minor triad (E-flat, G-flat, B-flat [a half-step above tonic, played over tonic?!]) with an added C-flat is truly curious in this context. Within the chord itself it is the C-flat that really gives the chord its flavor, playing against the B-flat of the triad creating a minor-2nd that rings out between the G and B strings. This is typically a chord used more by jazz players than by rock guitarists. I think that, considering Albini is the dude that cut notches in his metal pick when he was playing in Big Black so that he could get a purposefully abrasive sound, the added 6th (and consequent minor 2nd ringing that occurs) is used more to obtain an abrasive and dissonant sound than toward any voice-leading or contrapuntal concerns.
This chord, if re-spelled, sounds (well…is) the same as a major-major 7 chord (C-flat, E-flat, G-flat, B-flat). You can think of this sonority as a major triad and a minor triad embedded in each other. The major triad (C-flat, E-flat, G-flat) and the minor triad (E-flat, G-flat, B-flat) therefore have identical intervallic content, but serve two very different purposes. It’s a deep subject, and not one that I intend to get into here. Though I will add one last tidbit: Albini must have also found something interesting in this chord because he uses the exact same chord 14 years later on the track “Boycott” from “Excellent Italian Greyhound.” The one difference is that in “Boycott” the chord appears over a B-flat in the bass. This means that there is, one could say, another (or at least a different) layer of dissonance at work here as the bass support isn’t all that supportive. The B-flat is, remember, one of the pitches that creates that unstable (dissonant) interval of a minor 2nd. This, of course, is not to mention that “Boycott” is nearly atonal in its construction, but that is a discussion for another day.
Hear “Boycott” below, and listen for the chord when it appears at :14-:24
So back to the song “Wingwalker.” We would normally think that the bass would support the chords, or arpeggiations or melodies that appear above it. For instance, if the bass is playing a D, and the song is in D-minor then one might safely assume that the chord over top could feasibly be tonic (D, F, A) or maybe the sub-mediant (VI = B-flat, D, F), or the subdominant (iv = G, B-flat, D)…or some other chord with an actual D in it. Instead, what we get is a chord that not only doesn’t contain the pitch that is supporting it, but the chord has pitches that clash with that supporting D. For example the E-flat is a half-step away, and the B-flat and C-flat create a split third sounding a major-third and a minor-third away from the D (though the C-flat would technically be an augmented 2nd, but is enharmonically equivalent, for those keeping track).
I haven’t even mentioned yet that an E-flat chord of any kind is not diatonic to the key of D-minor. Even if we consider it as a C-flat Major 7 chord instead of an E-flat minor add 6, there is still no C-flat anything in the key of D-minor. No matter how you spell the chord, or how you configure it, or what you consider a non-chord tone, there is no way to make this chord work in the context of D-minor.
It’s not some strange minor Neapolitan in root position with an added 6. This is for a few reasons: first of all, that’s just too odd, that never happens, and the reason that it never happens is because how would that chord even function? And speaking of function, a Neapolitan (normally a major chord built on the lowered 2nd scale degree, for those you that may not know) usually moves to the dominant, at least eventually. This chord moves to some other non-diatonic chord. The guitar never makes it to the dominant.
It’s definitely not a chromatic mediant of some sort. In order for that to happen you’d have to enharmonically respell the chord, which, fine, you can do that, I mean we are trying to look at all the possibilities here. Maybe it’s not C-flat Major 7, that is a bit odd, maybe it’s a B Major 7 chord. But if it was a B Major 7 chord that would mean in the context of D-minor it would be a Major 7 chord built on the raised 6th scale degree (#VI). No. Again, how would that function and that’s just too odd.
Lastly, what if we considered it as a secondary function? I mean, would it be satisfying by any stretch of the imagination to consider this chord as a Dominant chord with a Major 7 in the key of e minor (VM7/ii)? Well, no, because that would mean that the 7th of the chord would be the raised 4th scale degree, which would be some sort of Lydian mode type alteration.
This is all too complicated, and the purpose of music theory is to come to an understanding of how the music functions within its own context. This song, or at least this section of this song is not adhering to a tonal structure. It might be simpler to put this into the context of post-tonal analysis.
Remember how I mentioned above that the chords, no matter how you spelled them (either minor triad with an added 6, or a major triad with a major 7th) that they had the same interval content because they were the same pitches just in a different order? Well in tonal music the spelling of chords, and the classifications make all the difference. It’s all about the function of the chord. An altered pitch has a tendency, in the tonal sphere, to do certain things, to fulfill certain expectations. This leads to all sorts of great things like musical expectations and the thwarting of those expectations.
But how do we look at things if we find that the music is not functioning within a tonal realm; if these voice-leading tendencies are not considered in the context of the music? In that case we consider the similarities of the structures that are present in the music. Just like triads and 7th chords are used in the tonal language to contrast each other, collections of pitches that are built in a similar manner are used to give shape and meaning to non-tonal pieces.
Take for example a major triad. It consists of a note, a note a major-third above it and a note a minor-third above that. Now take a minor triad. It consists of a note, a note a minor-third above it and a note a major-third about that. So these major and minor chords have the exact same interval content, but in the context of a tonal composition they function differently, and because of other musical considerations (that are also within the context of tonal music) they sound different despite being essentially the same.
So let’s look at the chord: E-flat, G-flat, B-flat, C-flat. I will cut out all of the very laborious, confusing (you’re probably confused enough as it is) and complicated post-tonal theory stuff and you’ll just have to take my word on some stuff. That chord and the chord that follows in the example above, the final 4 measures where the chord simply shifts down wholesale a full step…because all of the pitches are moved the same distance, nothing about the intervallic content of the sonority has changed. It’s the same as moving, say, an A-major triad down a step to get a G-major triad; same exact content, different pitches.
Now, if we take all the pitches, including the bass: D, E-flat, G-flat, B-flat, C-flat and then after the guitar moves down a whole step: D, D-flat, A-flat, A, F-flat…well, there are ways of measuring the intervallic content. Perhaps I will return to exactly how that is done in another post, I don’t need to go on for another 1,000 words here. But, those chords, despite not functioning in a tonal context, are actually found to be, how we say in the trade, “maximally related.” This means that those collections of pitches have a lot of things in common in an intervallic sense. Basically, many of the puzzle pieces that fit together to form one chord can be taken out and fit into the other chord.
I think that in later posts I not only want to come back to some more post-tonal analysis of rock tunes, but I also would like to specifically investigate the way that Shellac’s “Boycott” is put together.
Thanks for reading this far. I know that this is all very confusing for those that are uninitiated into the world of music theory, but stick with me. I’m going to do my best to bring you up to speed and take the scariness out of it as best I can.
You wouldn’t think that the abrasive and angular music of Shellac would have much to do with Marnie Stern’s music, or that either of them could be linked to one of the most prolific, brilliant, thought provoking and curious concert pianists of the 20th century, but they are. Canadian pianist Glenn Gould has influenced generations of pianists, but I don’t think that anyone has ever discussed his influence on artists outside of the concert hall.
Gould was a Canadian pianist, born in 1932. Even those with just a passing knowledge of his work are at least somewhat familiar with at least one of his recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Those recordings work like the bookends of his recording career. When he was first given a record contract he decided that the then seldom heard, obscure Bach piece would become his debut recording. That was in 1955. Some 26 years later his re-recording of the same piece would lead to heated debates in the music community for decades. Those two recordings only give a tiny bit of insight into the way that Gould’s mind worked. He was constantly deep in thought and concerned about his role in the interpretation of the works that he performed. Without a doubt the man was a genius.
Not only was he obsessively driven toward pushing himself, he was intensely interested in pushing the bounds of how music could be realized in the age of new recording technologies. Gould would often remark that the state of recorded music (keep in mind when he was alive, from 1932 to 1982) would not only allow musicians to push the bounds of music, but that people at home would soon be able to create and modify those recordings through their own “knob twiddlings.” Of course he was talking about the way that music could be manipulated on home stereos via various volume, balance and equalizer controls.
It was his contemplations on the effect that the recording studio would have on music that drove him to be one of the first true “recording artists.” In documentaries such as The Alchemist viewers can watch as Gould endlessly annoys the recording engineer, constantly telling him where to cut the tape while referring to the score. Gould’s score had indications for not only the usual dynamics and articulations, but also indications of where the sound would be. Would part of the score sound distant and reverberant while another sounded more up front? How would those things be able to work together. Gould was truly able to use the recording studio not to simply preserve his performances, but also as an extension of his abilities as a pianist and musical mind.
Gould was not only interested in recording the works of Bach, Webern, Scriabin and others, but he was also interested in composition. His compositions came in the form of a 3 part “contrapuntal radio documentary” called the Solitude Trilogy. “The Idea of North,” “The Latecomers” and “The Quiet in the Land” explored Gould’s interest in the northernmost part of Canada, which reflected his own comfort in solitude and singularity.
When Steve Albini says that Shellac only writes songs about two things “Canada and baseball” it could very well be true, most notably in the song “The Idea of North.” This one is kind of obvious, being that the song takes its name directly from Gould’s radio documentary. Perhaps the same desolate mood of isolation and prohibitive environs that Gould explores in his documentary are interpreted by Shellac in the opening of their song. The sparse, spacious bass line invites listeners to consider the ambience that surrounds it. Perhaps Albini’s vocals that near complete obfuscation are meant to evoke the image of someone thinking outloud (barely) to themselves as a representation of the inquisitive, often self-obsessed way that Gould would.
On the other hand we have Marnie Stern, with her song “Patterns of a Diamond Ceiling,”takes the idea of Gould’s radio documentaries a bit further. In this song Marnie creates a tone poem of sorts where after narrating the actions of characters those actions are then assigned an idiosyncratic sound or motive. She begins by explaining “I will paint you a picture that’s inside my head.” Following that introduction she begins to describe that you are now standing in a room while “around you is a solitude trilogy,” and a bit later “you sit down and start to think of ideas of the North,” which is followed by it’s sound that is a chromatically ascending line. After the narration is complete and the scene has been set she begins to place the motives on top of one another, creating a contrapuntal sound collage much in the same way that Gould did with his intercut ambient sounds and multiple interviews at once. In this way Marnie is creating a bit of a miniature homage to Gould’s radio broadcasts.
We can now see how these two artists have made their influence blatant, but it still remains to be seen why they chose to do so. What is the deeper connection between Gould and his work and that of Marnie Stern and Albini and Co.?
Gould’s singular personality broke down a lot of the barriers that existed between classical music and popular music in his day. He was famously quirky and thoroughly interesting, not to mention self-aware. He knew that people were sometimes more interested in the spectacle of Glenn Gould, the character that was Glenn Gould perhaps more so than they were interested in the performances of the man himself.
Glenn Gould was punk rock before punk rock was punk rock. He did things his way and he couldn’t possibly care less what people thought of that. He knew that he was brilliant enough to do his own thing, to do things his way, and not to let anyone else dictate to him how his art should be presented. He was obsessed with his own perfection and never stopped wondering how he could better express himself. This much is clear simply by listening to (as mentioned up a few paragraphs) his two renditions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. He didn’t just perform and record a piece to leave it behind. No, those pieces, everything that he played, stayed with him and he was constantly thinking about them and learning to think about them in new ways.
This sort of work ethic and perfection is mentioned several times by Marnie Stern across all 4 of her albums. Obsession and a focus on her passion are a consistent theme in Marnie’s lyrics. In “Grapefruit” the lyric “keep on keep at it, keep on, keep at it” is repeated like a mantra. On her most recent album “The Chronicles of Marnia” in the song “You Don’t Turn Down” she states, nearly a cappella that she’s “Got to get obsessed and stay there now.” “Keep on, keep at it, keep on, keep at it” from “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket!!” cover these themes in both its lyric and the song’s very title.
I think that Shellac’s awareness that they are a band unlike any other band around today, and that they staunchly disassociate themselves from the music industry as much as they can, supporting Touch and Go since the begining. And I think that this anti-industry stance is pretty well known because of Steve Albini’s famous tome against the corporate music world. In addition to all of this It seems that they relate more to Gould’s overall attitude, whereas Marnie Stern relates more to his obsessive desire to improve.
I’m sure that there must be other examples of Glenn Gould’s influence, even in slightly more indirect ways, can be found throughout independent rock music. It’s clear that, as Alban Berg famously said to George Gershwin, “…music is music.” It doesn’t matter how it is classified or how it is created, and perhaps the clearly constructed borders between genres that one imagines are in fact not there at all.
For more information on the life of Glenn Gould, and to hear the entire Solitary Trilogy follow these links:
“The Idea of North,” “The Latecomers” and “The Quiet in the Land” can all be heard in their entirety at the CBC’s site as part of their legacy audio collection. “The Idea of the North” was commissioned by the CBC as a way of introduction for themselves and have become a large and important part of Canadian culture, just like the man himself.
There are several books on the life of Glenn Gould. The first “biography” written about him was less of a biography and more a study of what made Gould the genius that he was. His habits, his practices, how he thought about music. It’s by Geoffrey Payzant and is called “Glenn Gould: Music and Mind“
You should also check out the documentary by Bruno Monsaingeon called “The Alchemist.” He actually did a whole series of documentaries about Gould, but this one is my favorite for showing Gould at work in the studio after he had permanently left the concertizing life to focus on his recording career.
Finally, my favorite movie of all time “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.” It mixes interviews with Gould’s contemporaries alongside vignettes depicting his life. Colm Feore does an incredible job at portraying Glenn Gould.
I have been waiting to see Shellac for several years now. The opportunity came and I seized it. I didn’t even have to go to Chicago, like I planned on doing back in 2007. Shellac came to Buffalo on their way to ATP in Monticello and brought Helen Money with them, not to mention Tortoise who played the same night at a different venue across town.
Helen Money was the opening act. She is a Chicago based cellist that seems nervous on stage on a personal level, but completely dominates with her musicality. She creates complex songs alone on stage with the assistance of several effects, looping layer upon layer of sound structuring dense music that can seem as though it is improvised except for the clear direction that each of the compositions lead the listener. Money is a phenomenal talent and the audience remained in rapt attention throughout her set, silent and leaning forward in the already small room in order to catch all of the nuance of her music. Her set was varied with music that went from aggressive to subtle, distorted and layered to simply stated. It’s always amazing to hear such forceful and confident musical expression from such a seemingly soft-spoken individual.
Quite to the contrary is headliners Shellac. There is very little to nothing subtle about their music. When asked by friends to describe their sound the words that came to mind were abrasive, confrontational, and aggressive. I don’t think of these descriptors as negative, though I suppose I’m alone in that thought. I think it sums up their sound pretty well though.
First off you have the notoriously outspoken and opinionated Steve Albini on guitar and vocals. The astoundingly accurate drumming of Todd Trainer beating the shit out of the drums with all of the force he can muster and Bob Weston on bass, vocals and director of in between song Q & A that seems to be just a way of being able to verbally abuse the audience or give otherwise smart-assed answers to stupid questions:
“Are you going to play Copper?”
“Sorry, we’re not taking requests.”
Of course the next song was Copper.
I worked my way up to the very front, well the very side of the stage right next to Albini and his famous Harmonic Percolator. Since I know all of the songs really well (when I first discovered their music I used to listen to their entire output daily….and I did that the morning of the show as well) I didn’t mind that the sound kind of sucked from where I was standing. My mix was mostly guitar and drums, but that was just fine with me.
I didn’t bring a camera, so all that I had with me was my phone, with which I took several pictures and one video of terrible quality. Here’s one of the photos that displays Albini’s “Rainbow Trout” shirt.
They played all the crowd pleasers: Copper, Squirrel Song, Steady as She Goes, The End of Radio, My Black Ass, Canada… the only song that was missing, in my opinion, was Prayer to God. I thought that they were going to do it because I was privy to all the in between song banter that goes on between Bob Weston and Albini due to my position next to the stage. They don’t use a set list, they just hop up on stage and figure out what they want to do. At one point Weston turned to Albini and said, “What you want to do?” which was followed by his hands coming together in a prayer-type gesture. The crowd reacted positively, but Steve must not have been into it that day.
There’s really no point to reviewing a Shellac show. They are such a cult act that I’m fairly positive everyone at the show, myself included, was loving every minute of it. The audience was, not surprisingly, made up mostly (90 – 95%) of males, though there was one woman in the audience that found herself at the receiving end of a fairly scathing comment courtesy of Mr. Albini. Now, before I go into the exchange you must understand one thing: The venue, Babeville, is named so because it is owned by Ani DiFranco. Also, this venue that is owned by Ani DiFranco is a converted church, a beautiful, gothic church that was lovingly restored with a significant amount of money.
So…during those Q & A sessions in between songs there was one woman in particular that seemed preoccupied with Steve Albini’s shirt. She was more interested in having a conversation with the band than in asking any questions. After a few songs, with Weston trying to stop her from talking, Albini steps to the mic and says, “Could somebody stuff a cock in this woman’s mouth, please?”, to which Weston immediately turned and said, “Dude, you can’t say that here man! We’re in Ani DiFranco’s church!” I was surprised to see that Albini actually looked like he was sorry for what he said, as if he felt that he had gone too far. Not because of what he said, or that he may have offended the woman, not at all, but rather because of where he was when he said it. He quickly changed his tune and said, “uhhh I mean, could someone please stuff a sparkly gel dildo in her mouth, please?” which elicited a lot of laughter.
Suffice to say that it was an excellent show. No encore. I was really happy to have finally had the chance to see these guys. I did muster up enough courage to have a 2 minute super awkward conversation with Steve Albini as he was packing up his gear. At the end I got to shake his hand. Mission accomplished.