Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rasputina at Maxwell's with An Horse

I've been a rather devout follower of Rasputina since I was the tender age of 14. It's been over a decade since I first heard the haunting drones of the electric cello and the eerie watery falsetto of Melora Creagor. They've had humble beginnings, a rather climatic career, and have since returned to the discreet settings of the small club circuit.

There are many differences between the Rasputina of today, and that of the Rasputina of my teenaged years.

First, please allow me to describe the "journey" I embarked upon with my dear friend, into the mystical town of Hoboken, New Jersey. We had to take the PATH to get there! A whole new form of transit- so similar yet oh so different from the familiar (dis)comforts of the MTA. We emerged from the station with a rather pristine view of my beloved city, an entire body of water away... and then we walked. In the bitter November cold, we walked. It was basically a straight line- that lasted only about 15 minutes... but we were in a different state and were without the hundreds of distractions of our NYC avenues. We finally arrive at our destination- a little restaurant/venue known as Maxwell's. Little doesn't BEGIN to describe this club. Yet, the ambiance was warm, the staff friendly, and the stage, intimate.

The opening act An Horse was already on by the time we arrived. They're a simple two piece from down under. At first sound you're not "too" impressed, but you're not disinterested either. It took me and my comrade a few moments to let their sound effect us. I knew they were a two piece, but my friend did not. When I made the casual remark that they had a pleasant sound, she shrugged. I was curious at that gesture, considering how impressed I was with the amount of sound being put forth. I said as much, and that's when my friend finally noticed that they were limited to 2. Her reaction changed entirely. "I had no idea there was only two of them up there- what a full sound!". They're certainly worth a go.

The most important of the aforementioned differences in my Raspy of yore and today would be the rotation of musicians in Ms. Creagor's ranks. It never effects the quality of sound. Ever. In fact, I feel the rotation of musicians adds a depth and a certain creativity that wouldn't have been achieved with the same string of players. I've seen them perform as a trio of female cellists, a two piece- the introduction of a drummer and a second chair changed the dynamic yet again- to the present lineup.

Two young folks probably not even older than I am held their own on a stage with a very gifted and grossly under appreciated woman. My biggest shock was not the fresh faces, but rather the role reversal. When the players graced the stage they took their places on either side of Melora. A young spritely looking girl in a corset picked up the drum sticks, and a young olive skinned man in a fedora with a feather in his cap and a chinese embroidered vest carried his cello. I do love those who mess around with gender roles! (on any scale) There was no backstage area to speak of, so they casually made their way through the crowd to get to the stage. My eyes followed them most of the way... but as they set up I took a moment to observe the crowd. Teens, older folk, androgynous youth, and only a smattering of those in costume. I even saw a young child! I was very happy about the variety I saw in this crowd, it certainly benchmarked the bands ability to adapt and take on a wider audience.

The show commences. The sound in this club is rather impressive (then again, I was standing right next to the speaker). They play with vigor and accuracy. I am on the far right (their left) and am silently singing along and doing my trademarked "dances". I'm very happy I decided to come! After the first few songs, Melora asks the crowd if we can see. A booming "NO" resounds, and she makes a simple request. Everyone sit down Indian style and harken back to the days of elementary school for storybook hour. Amazingly, almost everyone sits. Now everyone can see-we all win!

Melora's voice has maintained its haunting timbre, but the strength of it has increased a million times over. I would've once called her singing voice timid... not anymore. She has finally found her true voice, and boy can that canary sing! Her playing was of course flawless yet seemingly effortless, and I can say the same for the new boy, Daniel DeJesus. In keeping with tradition, he assisted in back up vocals which was yet another pleasant surprise- Daniel's voice is beautiful. It reminded me much of Jeff Buckley, or Nick Urata of Devotchka. Haunting, melodic, yet decidedly masculine. The drummer's techniques were simple, which was fine by me, because it really made the strings radiate. The show was a perfect way to spend a Friday night, even if it required a PATH train ride to NJ.

Here's the set list (from what I can recall)

Saline the Salt Lake Queen (opener)
1816 the Year without a summer
Draconian Crackdown
Choose Me to be the Champion
New Zero
Rose K.
Hunter's Kiss
American Girl
Girl Lunar Explorer
Bad Moon Rising
Wicked Dickie
Secret Message
Oh Bring Back the Egg Unbroken
Thimble Island
Cage in a Cave
In Old Yellowcake (Closer)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nine Inch Nails A Special Club Performance in AC

I am blessed. I can't stress that enough. This week was one of the best weeks ever. It all started when America FINALLY did something RIGHT and Barack Obama was voted to be the 44th President of the United States. This was only the start of great things to happen...

On Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 8 p.m. I found myself in my sister's company driving to Atlantic City to catch a VERY SPECIAL club performance at the House of Blues in the Showboat Casino on the Boardwalk of AC. The performance was for one Mr. Trent Reznor and his rogues in tow, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Josh Freese, and Justin Meldel-Johnsen. Nine Inch Nails playing a 2000 capacity No'leans themed club. Can it get any better? Oh yes, I think so.

First off, you must understand the JOURNEY that led me to this fateful night. I was IMMEDIATELY UNABLE to get tickets to this event the conventional superfan way-the NINOfficial Tickets presale was KILLED within seconds- I never had a shot in hell. I was determined to go. I discovered that there was a presale for AMEX cardholders... and all that was needed was a secret password. Not being a cardmember, it seemed like a long shot. Like a good girl I awaited the day for the presale with some major anxiety. I knew this was my only chance- because once those tickets went public I was screwed. I was at work, and should've been working, but I just had to try. I tried entering a few numbers from my mother's card. No go. On an impulse I googled "nin presale password" and came up with a website boasting presale codes. I saw "MYHARRAHS" and thought, "eh, why not try?" I typed it... and got in. I was exasperated. The search for tickets began, "Your request cannot be processed" was what I was greeted with. Damn. I refused to believe this was the end of it. It seemed like a miracle I even got in, and now it was REFUSING ME?! NO~ I reentered several more times... I was about to give up... I clicked "look for tickets" one last time... when BEHOLD to my utter amazement, I was with TWO balcony seats on the left. I purchased without hesitation, not sure how I would get there and who I could go with. I still couldn't get over my luck. I figured I would worry later.

Christmas came early for my sister. The ticket was hers as the awesomest gift I could ever bestow upon her. The deal was she'd drive. Beautiful. NOW back to the night. The great thing about seats is, they're assigned. No matter what happens- that is YOUR SPOT- as sweet as GA is, it is NOT convenient for those of us who are employed, and it's even worse for those who are vertically challenged. I happen to be both of those things. We arrived shortly after the doors opened. The Pit was already hundreds deep. Because we were 2 out of the lucky as hell 600 to have seats, we were able to buy merch and imbibe overpriced drinks (they were, surprisingly, quite generous with the booze though, so YAY). We slowly sauntered up to the balcony- only to discover that they were at an extremely angled position- another glorious attribute- I knew right then and there that I would be able to SEE! Wow! What a thrill!

Then... the show begins! HEALTH was the opening acts, and may I just say that they were one of the most SOLID openers I have ever seen for Nails. They were balls to the wall LOUD, the drummer was insane, and the beats were quite formidable for vigorous head nodding and pouting lower lips of approval. I am considering a purchase. No shit.

THEN the telltale guitar riff of Pinion floods the speakers. A sea of humans all stand up and cheer. and the show commences. They opened with Love is not Enough- perhaps one of my favorite latter day Nails hits. I was never happier. This was a stripped down show- the lights were simple, the set was bare- the band mates were clearly visible the entire performance. Better still was my VIEW. We were on the far left balcony- Trent positioned himself on stage right- which meant I saw him as clearly as I ever had without having to get injured in a pit. He is now built like a swarthy motherfucker- with the advantage of an angled seat, I could truly pause and take the time to appreciate how his physique has evolved to always pique my interests. 10 years ago I liked the skinny dudes, now that I am a bit older, I like my man with a healthy dose of MEAT. And, Boy oh boy, Trent is one meaty as hell sexy ass mother fucker. haha. Ok, enough about Trent's hot bod- on to the REAL MEAT- the show itself.

The room exploded in a fury as soon as Pinion came on- and it stayed that way for an explosive TWENTY SEVEN SONG LONG PERFORMANCE. You read it right baby. How Josh Freese's arms didn't fall off is still beyond me. The sound was stellar. The view was pristine- and I was actually able to dance and rock so hard I have bruises and a stiff neck to prove it. With each song I got a little more lost in the moment. It dawns on my right then and there that this is MY meditation. Screaming, thrashing, gyrating, pumping my fists in the air, and banging my head. Some people garden. Others take breathing exercises. I kick and scream. Go figure.

Before Nails came on, my sis and I discussed all the great Nails shows we've been lucky enough to see together. I reminisce and say with deep regret that I only saw the triple threat bill of Peaches, Bauhaus, and Nails once. She called me greedy. She was right, in a sense, but how often do I get to see Trent Reznor and Peter Murphy on the same bill?

Survivalism blares on in a wild fury and I am wrapped up in a moment. I notice in a calm meditative moment, that there is a lanky white gentleman perched on the edge of the platform of the drum set. I find it odd- and barely register what is about to happen... the music ends and cheers come all around. Trent gets on the mic to address us, the eager and devoted audience. He says something along the lines of, "You never know what to expect... here to perform with us is, our special guest and dear friend, PETER MURPHY"!!!! I begin a BANSHEE WAIL that NO DOUBT left some fans around me DEAF. I didn't even care- IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE! The signature "centipede synth" (as I have lovingly deemed it) comes on... and I continue to shred my vocal chords. I am about to hear PETER MURPHY sing REPTILE with Trent Reznor. Holy Mother of God, the ticket which I once complained about as being steep suddenly became GROSSLY inexpensive.

The show goes on... I am a furious ball of angst ridden energy. I have never felt better. As Head Like a Hole closes... the lights slowly come back on. The show ends, finally. I have a dramatic chesire grin drawn across my entire face. It didn't go away. In fact, it only got broader. Next thing I know we are making our slow descent downstairs. We are scanning the floor for people we know. We run into an old NIN Show buddy.. and are chatting it up. It is then that I see Rob Sheridan. Nine Inch Nails exclusive art director, graphic designer, and photographer. To put it simply, the guy is a personal hero of mine. He is young, gifted, and has a DREAM JOB. Basically, he's achieved a career I would literally murder for. My sister chides me on and on to approach him. I've gone up to him only once before- at the Fragility tour when I was a fresh faced teen. And from what I recalled, I was an ASS. I didn't want to make the same mistake. The sis won't let up though, and finally, we find ourselves approaching. She opens the floor for discussion with a compliment. Smart. He is openly communicative and not at all put off by our approach. I rack my brains trying to ask a question I have recently grown curious about... "Why hasn't NIN come back to NY?" He smiles and lets me know it is no vendetta against NY... it's simply scheduling and contractual conflicts he hopes shall be remedied soon. Thank god. He then let's us know that this was a good show to play because it reminded Trent of how FUN it can be to just play and not worry about all the effects, and that the intimacy of club shows is a great return to the basics. There is a subtle hint that more club shows may come into play. Oh boy...Then Rob reveals that Peter Murphy coming out was completely spontaneous. He was planning on hanging out... but then he showed up and said "I think I'd like to sing Reptile if you wouldn't mind..." WOW. Solid brass balls. I only wish I could show up at a show and sing along with Mr. Reznor. I guess that's what being the Godfather of Goth is all about.

We finally leave the venue. We hang around out front for a bit, not doing much of anything... when I register a girls face is lit up yet completely terrified in one instant. I follow her eyes... and see PETER MURPHY walking towards the casino. Holy Shit. All inhibitions are thrown out the window and I literally FLOCK to him. I say, "Thank you so much... I saw you perform in June in Manhattan and you were simply phenomenal!" We shake hands and he says in his rich beautiful English timbre.. "Oh, at the... Blender Theatre in Grammercy, right? Why, thank you." He smiles warmly while shaking my hand. I study his face, make up... I am simply BEAMING. I couldn't help myself. I am about to take my hand from his soft, lanky delicate yet firm grip, when another person stops him to speak. He turns, yet remains with my hand in his grasp... he switches the position of his hand.. but doesn't let go. I am HOLDING HANDS with Peter Murphy.

I bask in the glory of the moment before his friend tells him they really must be going. He smiles one last time at me before he departs. Wow. My sister tried to get a pic of us... but it wasn't meant to be. She DID however get a shot of the Man himself on her camera phone... This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. One I shall hold dearly always. Now... If I could only meet the Man that all these people know... there must be a reason unbeknownst to me why it hasn't happened. I stay blindly faithful that my time of intimate contact will come... when it's meant to..


1. Pinion

2. Love Is Not Enough

3. Terrible Lie

4. 1,000,000

5. Letting You

6. March of the Pigs

7. Piggy

8. The Frail

9. The Wretched

10. The Collector

11. Survivalism

12. Reptile (with Peter Murphy)

13. Closer

14. Discipline

15. The Beginning of The End

16. Ghosts 31

17. Wish

18. Head Down

19. Gave Up

20. The Line Begins To Blur

21. Only

22. God Given

23. Down In It

24. Hurt

25. Starfuckers Inc.

26. The Hand That Feeds

27. Head Like A Hole