Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

84° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Hot show doesn’t retreat softly into the night

The Flaming Lips are the best band in the world, but to really understand you have to see them live.

Last Thursday at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., the Lips demonstrated their uncanny ability to strike a perfect balance between humor, innovation and sincerity. You couldn’t avoid being swept up in their spell.

The three-member band, Wayne Coyne on vocals and gong, Michael Ivins on bass and Steven Drozd on guitar, piano and drums (which he prerecords), is touring for its latest and greatest album, The Soft Bulletin.

On stage they weren’t much to look at as the two instrumentalists sat expressionless and the “drummer” only appeared sporadically on prerecorded video projections. But the Lips sounded huge, and the stage show was unreal.

Each song was presented originally with its own video accompaniment on a large screen behind the band. Coyne also had an array of stage props, ranging from a spark-shooting, smoke-blowing megaphone to fake blood smeared on his forehead.

What made the show shine was the band’s repeated attempts to commune with the audience. To avoid the bass-heavy muddle common at live shows (i.e. Smashing Pumpkins — r.i.p.), the band distributed headphones and portable radios to pick up an FM broadcast of a special “treble heavy” mix. Coyne also related his inspiration for some of his puzzling lyrics.

The high point of the concert was the band’s pseudo-hit “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Coyne explained that even though a band that plays its big hit could seem “ingenuine,” the Lips love the song and play it as if “it [is] a big birthday party.”

With confetti and balloons flying, the band, the crowd and my heart all raced, and I was about to lose my mind to happiness. Suddenly, standing right next to me was a giant teddy bear dancing his ass off. Looking over the crowd I could see that this “birthday party” also had been invaded by giant bunnies and frogs. At that moment I was driven over the top and experienced true euphoria one glowing shallow breath at a time.

The show’s only downside was the lack of “livestock onstage” promised on the band’s Web site. nyou

Weinberg senior Chris Vlassees is an nyou staffer.He can be reached at [email protected].

Richard Buckner creates mood music for poetry

By Sam IvesI’m not quick to sy

mpathize with 100-year-old stories about 30-year-old women who are forced to marry 60-year-old men to cover up their pre-wedlock affairs that led to pregnancies. I’m not saying I haven’t sympathized with such stories in the past, it’s just been a while since I have.

Yet the ever-depressing Richard Buckner renewed my sympathy for such situations and other dated scenarios on his new album The Hill. The record consists of several character sketches, with lyrics taken from the 1915 “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters. Buckner adapts the poems into a style similar to those of his past albums Devotion and Doubt and Bloomed, with members of Calexico helping with the musical arrangements.

The success of this album and Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue volumes (that added music to Woody Guthrie lyrics) makes one wonder how many other artists might follow this example. I’m not anxious to hear Pearl Jam make an album version of “Leaves of Grass” or for Limp Bizkit to update Rilke poetry for the 21st century. You never know, I guess. I’m sure that the first time Art Garfunkel sang Paul Simon’s songs he felt like a chump, but he made a career of it.

All of the songs on The Hill, however, are originals in some sense — the arrangements breathe new life into the “Anthology” without coming across as a pointless homage. And Buckner’s emotional voice can affect even critical skeptics with the reality of the fictional Spoon River, Ill., they’ve never known. nyou

Time takes toll on musical pair visually, artistically

By Krystian Bigosinski

Damon and Naomi are no longer the most beautiful couple in indie rock. After the 1991 break-up of their former group, Galaxie 500, the pair’s pleasant European look took the indie world by storm. During a period of gaunt leather- and denim-clad rockers, Damon and Naomi were considered diamonds in the rough. Nine years later, however, age has taken its toll, and the two wouldn’t even hold a candle to the now-defunct Cat Power and Smog partnership.

Although time has not been kind to the pair’s likeness, their music is as well-crafted as ever. For their fourth release, Damon and Naomi with Ghost, Damon and Naomi have teamed up with psych-rockers Ghost from Tokyo.

The result is a skillfully produced album with a dreamy aesthetic. In the magical realm of indie rock, however, craftsmanship does not always relate to excellence. Unfortunately, the sound of Damon and Naomi has hardly evolved since their days as Galaxie 500, disproving any theories of indie-Darwinism.

Furthermore, the couple’s vocal tracks have become more distorted. On the new album, it sounds as if the couple is singing down the hall and to the right of where the rest of the band is playing. While novel in the late ’80s, this gimmick has lost its effectiveness.

All said, the new Damon and Naomi album is a treat for die-hard Galaxie 500 fans. For those new to the world of sleep rock, I would suggest checking out early Galaxie 500 albums instead of Damon and Naomi with Ghost. The music is slightly more interesting, and the photos of the band in the liner notes will be much easier on the eyes. nyou

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Hot show doesn’t retreat softly into the night