The Velocity Girl Mystery Show Bootleg Cassette

I was digging through a box of cassette tapes here at the tunequest compound and happened upon a handful of bootlegs from my tape trading days back in the 90s. Shows by “alternative” artists like Beck and Weezer early in their careers. Somewhat surprisingly, most of the shows have informative tape jackets, complete with show dates, venues and setlists.

But there is one which has no jacket at all. And the tape itself is simply labeled “Velocity Girl (live)”. I have no idea when or where this show took place. Having listened to the tape, there aren’t any clues or statements by the band or audience that hint at a time or place (though I think Sarah Shannon may have said “Thanks to the Dispatch” at the end of the show. Possible evidence there). From the song selection, I guess it’s a show from the group’s ┬íSimpatico! era, which would put it anywhere from late 1993 to early 1995.

And Google has been of no help. Velocity Girl may have been the second biggest band on Sub Pop, but in the 15 years since they broke up, the band has slid into the murky depths of obscurity. Information about the band’s history is scarce these days.

So I’m throwing this to the Internet. Hopefully, a fellow tape trader or Vgirl fan has this show or knows something about it. If you recognize the setlist, please let me know. Thank you!

The Setlist

Forgotten Favorite (joined in progress)
Rubble
Medio Core
Crazy town
Labrador
Copacetic
I Can’t Stop Smiling
Pop Loser
Tripping Wires
The All-Consumer
Audrey’s Eyes
Seven Seas (Echo & the Bunnymen cover)
There’s Only One Thing Left to Say
Drug Girls
Sorry Again

Encore:
Your Silent Face (New Order cover)

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A Bonus Mystery

This is unrelated, but after the end of the Vgirl show, on the unlabeled back side of the tape, is a live in-studio performance by the band Trans Am at WPTS radio in Pittsburgh. This is a recording which I do not recall having ever heard or known about. The performance is followed by standard on-air programming from the radio station until the tape runs out.

This existence of this recording is completely baffling. I started listening to Trans Am in spring 2002, which is about six years after I got the Vgirl bootleg. By 2002, I had already gotten my first iPod and was leaving the world of cassette tapes behind. But most importantly, I’ve visited Pittsburgh twice since then, and neither time was I packing a box of ten-year-old cassette tapes with me. So I’m certain that I didn’t make this recording myself.

It would help if I knew the date of the performance at WPTS, but once again, the Google fails me. I can find no references to this radio appearance anywhere. The DJ even mentions that they’ll be playing at a venue called “Cloud Nine” in the evening, but I can’t find any references to that either. I don’t think it exists anymore.

The only conclusion I can draw is that this Trans Am recording was already on the tape when I got it. But of course, I don’t remember when or from whom I got it. By all appearances though, it would seem that I had a bootleg in my collection for a band I wouldn’t actually discover until several years later. And the thought of that kinda blows my mind.

Well whenever and wherever it came from may never be known and it may forever be a tape of mystery.

The Breeders – Live in Atlanta

the breeders rock out live in atlanta

I just pulled in from midtown Atlanta, The Loft, specifically, where The Breeders just put on a hell of a show. I’ve been a big Breeders fan since the Last Splash days (14 years ago). Yet due to the band’s somewhat sporadic history, tonight was my first opportunity to see them play live. And what a great performance they put on.

The band was in good form and in good spirits, clearly having a good time.

This was the last show of the tour (or as Kim Deal said at one point “the last tour of the show”). Maybe it was just road exhaustion, but the band was positively loopy. Or maybe everyone was just in a good mood. Jokes were told, funny faces were made and anecdotes were shared. At one point, Kim introduced the band’s third guitar player Cheryl, mentioning that she was from Florida and asking who else in the audience was from there as well. In response to a number of “whooops” that erupted from the crowd, Kim said “We’re from Dayton Ohio, so we got you there” and merriment ensued.

The show itself covered the gamut of Deal-related material, including songs from The Amps side project. In fact, the show opened with Tipp City, which happens to be one of my favorite Amps songs. Last Splash got some good treatment, with renditions of New Year, No Aloha, I Just Wanna Get Along, Divine Hammer, a sublime version of Drivin on 9 and of course Cannonball. A house-collapsing performance of Saints closed the first encore.

The Breeders latest album, Mountain Battles, was also well represented. Bang On, We’re Gonna Rise, Here No More, Night of Joy, German Studies, Walk it Off and No Way all made appearances.

Noticeably absent though was much of the material from Title TK. Huffer was brilliant, but other than that I don’t remember the band playing any other song from that album. Similar story with the songs from The Breeders’ debut album, Pod. Only a handful from there as well: Iris, Happiness is a Warm Gun (Beatles cover) and one of my most favoritest songs ever Fortunately Gone, which closed out the second encore, the show and the tour.

A perfecting end note for a wonderful experience.

Given just how great a band The Breeders are, the sporadicness of its output can be quite frustrating. But going to bed now on a natural musical buzz, I can say that after seeing the band perform live, I have accomplished a life goal that’s been with me for nearly one and half decades.

I leave you with Bang On, from Mountain Battles, performed Live in Atlanta, June 13, 2008:


Bjork & PJ Harvey playing Satisfaction [Stones]

I spent a portion of this Saturday going through my extended archive of music, the stuff that’s not in my central, everyday iTunes library. Most of those files are a bit old and for either quality or tagging reason, they’ve been left unincorporated. Some of these songs have been sitting untouched and unlistened to on cds and hard drives for years.

So I’ve decided to start sorting and evaluating them for re-inclusion into the main library, checking the ID3 tags, bitrates and such to make them conform to my standards.

And of course, I’m making sure I still actually like the song. In the case of this one particular song, Bjork and PJ Harvey covering the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No) at the 1995 Brit Awards, I was sure it would be gangbusters.

Turns out it was lacklusters. I didn’t much care for it. Somehow, they mangage to go over-the-top without doing anything at all.

So I’m deleting it from my collection. But not before I give it away. If eight-year-old mp3s are your thing, and the prospect of a Bjork/PJ Harvey duet makes you salivate in anticipation, download away.

Just so you know what you’re getting yourself into, there just happens to be a YouTube video of the performance:

Ratatat in Atlanta: The ringing in my ears

The ringing in my ears serves as a reminder that I have permanently lost a portion of my hearing, but I’m telling you it is worth it. I just got home from Ratatat’s show in midtown Atlanta and I have something to admit to you:

Seeing Ratatat perform live is one of my favorite things in the world. This show marks the third time I’ve managed to catch a performance and each time has been simply mind-blowing.

ratatat in atlanta april 10 2007

In studio, Ratatat’s synthesized beats are phenomenally addictive and their guitar melodies rock oh so much. But live, man, there’s this power and richness of atmosphere that creates a unique kind of sonic ambrosia that’s rare in modern popular music.

If I had the means, I would totally follow them around on tour.

For a good explanation of the Ratatat sound (and better photos of the show), check ohmpark’s write-up. Though I hesitate to lump Ratatat in with the 8-bit sound crowd. In fact, I think the band could hardly be farther from it. 8-bit operators rely on the primitiveness of early game music as the source and inspiration for their sound, whereas Ratatat is clearly coming from a traditional rock background (whaling guitars!) spiced with a danceable groove and almost baroque composition style.

::

Ratatat will play a few more date in the U.S. and U.K. throughout April. Go see them if you can.

For a taste of the Ratatat live experience, check out this crappy cameraphone video clip I shot during Lex, one of the rockin’ist songs in the repertoire.

For a better experience, try this video of the band performing in Seattle in September 2006. The songs are El Pico and Wildcat:

Do you know who Prince is? Good.

prince rocks our socks at the superbowl. best show ever?

OK. I like Prince; let’s just set that on the record. But after the recent Superbowl Halftime show, my respect for the man just tripled. I swear that was the best halftime show in recent memory, and possibly ever. Certainly much better than anything offered in the past few years, especially 2004’s infamous profligacy.

Prince’s performance was showy, but tasteful, spectacular, but not gaudy or opulent. But most importantly, his show reminded me of just how well he can handle an axe. Prince, as a celebrity and iconoclast, is notorious for many things, but one fundamental attribute that often gets overlooked is his mad skill on the guitar. Despite being noteworthy for it, few people when asked about the musician, would say “Oh yeah, he’s that great guitar player.” I’ll be sure to bring that little tidbit up in future conversations about him.

The show had everything: his trademark showmanship, an enthusiast crowd, excellent production values awesome stage and pyrotechnics, and a top-shelf marching band adding copious amounts of soul. But it was the eclectic and quite surprising set list that made the show: a medley of cover songs and a to-die-for rendition of Purple Rain.

And really, it was the out-of-character selection of cover songs that truly made the show unique. We will Rock You, and All Along the Watchtower I can understand; those are classic standards these days. But watching Prince play Proud Mary, well, that was pretty much mind-blowing. But of course, the biggest surprise of the night was hearing a song that is far too new to be considered a classic, and not new enough to be considered a recent hit: Foo Fighters’ Best of You from 2005’s In Your Honour. A high honor, indeed, for Dave Grohl and the Foos, but it kinda validates some of my past criticism of the band.

Then there was the grand finale: Purple Rain in the pouring rain, a more perfect setting could not have been found. And that silhouette pretty much sums up The Artist himself, projecting himself larger than life.

If you missed the show or just want to relive the experience, check out this video. Do it quick before the NFL has it pulled off the site.

Pearl Jam: I Got a Feeling [Beatles cover]

Back before all this digital music and internet mumbo jumbo, finding a live recording of a band’s performance was a tricky proposition. There were basically two ways to go about it. One, if you someone who was in a bootlegging circle, you could ask to trade a copy of their recording for a copy of one you had. These were the days before CD burners, so any copy you received was on lesser-quality cassette tape. Or two, you could stumble upon one in the racks at used music stores, finding a quasi-legal, imported recording.

Sometime in 1993, I happened upon a CD, imported from Italy, called I Got a Feeling, via that second method. It’s a high-quality recording of Pearl Jam, live at the legendary (and recently closed) CBGBs in New York City, November 8, 1991 (about 2 months after the release of Ten).

It was a surprise gig that ran about 40 minutes and was attended mostly by fan club members. That explains why the audience on the recording seems to know all the words, despite the fact that Ten wouldn’t enter the Billboard 200 (at #155) for another 2 months.

For comparisons sake, Nirvana’s Nevermind was already at #17 on the chart the week this was recorded.

Still, the show itself is an illustrative overview of that early period of the band’s history. The best part however is the final song of the set: a fantastic cover of The Beatles’ I’ve Got A Feeling with some nice ad-libbing from Eddie.

Download: I Got A Feeling (iTunes m4a file)

Enjoy.

Bill Evans – Up With The Lark

bill evans tokyo concert

Widely cited as the most influential post-1950s jazz pianist, here’s Bill Evans (with Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums pay attention to those) from The Tokyo Concert, recorded at “Yubin Chokin Hall,” Tokyo, Japan, January 20, 1973. The song is Up with the Lark.

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Flickr, Bootlegs, Live Recordings and iTunes Album Art


Tortoise at the Independent
Originally uploaded by Luiza.

Whereas my previous iPod, a 3rd generation model, could not display album art, my new one, of course can. So I spent a portion of my morning going through my library, searching for albums that were missing their covers. During the process, I ran into a couple live shows that, since they aren’t formally-released albums, obviously don’t have album covers.

Specifically, I had a Tortoise show in San Francisco from October 2005 and a Mouse on Mars show in Toronto from October 2004.

Most music clubs I’ve been to in recent years seem to have a laid-back “we-don’t-care” policy toward shooting photos of the acts that roll through, so it is not uncommon to see folks with digital cameras snapping away. Heck, I even saw someone with a video camera (or possibly 8mm) at a recent Ratatat show.

Even if a venue does prohibit recordings and photography, the rise of cell phone cameras and pocket point-and-shoots almost ensures that some clandestine pictures will escape.

Knowing this, I went over to Flickr, where a good portion of the world’s digital pictures eventually end up. I hoped to find, if not pics from the specific shows, something close enough for displaying on my iPod.

The mission was a success. A couple searches later, I found a really nice shot from the exact Tortoise show at The Independent shown above. I did not, however, track down anything from Mouse on Mars’ performance at Lee’s Palace. But I did get a nice one from the show in Montreal the day before and that’s close enough for rock and roll.

Those two shows now have some nice iTunes artwork.

Viva Flickr.

RATATATL*

Ratatat ATL

I just got home from Ratatat’s performance at The Earl in East Atlanta. Awesome awesome stuff. This band is phenomenal, from concept to execution, and they kick it ten ways live. I can now add Ratatat to the list of bands I’ve seen more than once. Hoorah.

I would have liked to record the show, but my dinky Maxell voice recorder for iPod was overwhelmed the sheer amount of volume as was themodernista. I got nothing but noise and static from it.

Boo.

Hopefully, I got some decent pics from my cell phone (i doubt they’re that good though), but it’s late now and I’m off to bed.

The show was fronted by Panther and The Envelopes.

* coined by themodernista at the show.