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)
Medio Core
Crazy town
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

Your Silent Face (New Order cover)


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.

Nine Inch Nails[remixed]

young trent reznor presents a remix

For nearly as long as there’s been an Internet, fans have been contributing to the nine inch nails experience. There’s something about the music that seems to inspire a devotional following (probably has to do with expressions of angst, contempt and alienation wrapped appealing pop sensibilities). Youthful rebelliousness and antiestablishmentism runs deep through both camps.

Indeed, the rise of nin and the net seems to have coincided perfectly with each other. There were discussions on Usenet about Pretty Hate Machine being one of the best albums of the year in 1989 and the earliest mention of a nine inch nails web site that I could find is dated Nov 1, 1994, shortly after the net was opened to the public.

1994, of course, was the year the The Downward Spiral took the world by storm, reaching #2 on the Billboard Charts and exposing nin to the mainstream. Long story short: Reznor took five years to release another album and while lost in the wilderness, the steadfast fanbase incubated around the Internet. Fansites came and went, trading bootlegs and rumors and tracking the handful of singles and soundtrack songs released in the interim.

By the time 1999’s The Fragile release cycle began, Internet culture had matured quiet a bit. MP3’s and broadband were just starting to be mentioned in mainstream, but the leading-edge nails fans had already adopted them. I downloaded my first fan remixes sometime in the 99-00 winter and some of them were really good (like The Day The World Went Away (peppy by ignorantLOSER). download it). On the official front, Trent made several remixes and exclusive tracks available at the nine inch nails website. There was even a remix contest held for the song The Big Come Down (the winner can be found here).

Fast forward another five years. The Internet and computer technology had advanced quite a bit further. The album With Teeth was released in the spring of 2005 and a month later, Trent posted the source files to the first single The Hand That Feeds to his website in Apple’s Garageband format, officially sanctioning home-brewed remixes of the song. Websites sprang up immediately to catalog and share the fan-created materials.

Which brings me to today. One of the predominant trends on the Internet is, to be sure, social networking and inter-site integration (some call it “web 2.0”). What happens when you mix web 2.0 with the nine inch nails online ethos?


Taking the home remix concept a step further, Trent Reznor has put together a site where anyone can sign up, listen to, vote on, make comments about and download nine inch nails remixes, both official (as in previously-released on CD) and fan made. It’s freakin huge. The more industrious fans can download master tracks and make their own remixes for community evaluation and sharing.

The site combines the nine inch nails community and do-it-yourself artistry with a heavy dose of modern social media technology. The entire site is built in Flash and follows the graphic spirit typical of a nine inch nails presentation. Music can be selected from a playlist showing the latest top rated songs or you can search or browse for a particular piece. When browsing, you can create your own custom playlists. I started to put together a complete instrumental version of Year Zero before I realized that Trent had already done it for me. Other available playlists include Top Rated Fan Mixes, Most Commented, Newest, and Most Listened to, among others. attributes

Once a song is selected, it begins playing in the browser and the song’s curriculum vitae is displayed along with it. If you enjoy what you hear, there’s a “download mp3” button next to the rating number. Users can also assign attributes to songs based on various continua such mellow vs aggressive or dense vs sparse.

Playlists as well as individual remixes can be shared. Playlists via RSS feed so you can publish your favorite tracks or keep tails on a favorite remixer. Individual songs can be shared via URL. Here is a decent remix of The Beginning of the End. The only thing that’s missing is embedable player, a la YouTube, for putting the mixes on your own site.

There is one thing I can’t help but grumble about (but good-naturedly): all those rare and unreleased songs for the downloadin’. Being the nails fan that I am, I’ve spent more a decade keeping up with all the loose-ended ephemera of the catalog. Imports, promos, versions, bootlegs and anything else rare and obscure. After all the work and effort, to my (light-hearted) chagrin, I come to find that a lot of it is now free for the taking. It took me six and a half years to find a copy of the Aphrodite remix of The Perfect Drug, but you can have it just by clicking on this link.

But hey, the fact that it’s available at all is pretty freakin cool.

Mac OS 9 mp3 Abandonware: MusicVac


Something odd happened to me the other day while listening to my iPod. I was enjoying a bootlegged version of Jerry Goldsmith’s magnum opus, the score to the first Star Trek motion picture. One of the tracks is raw recording session featuring two takes of the now-famous main title.

The theme was just getting going when, at the 1:26 mark, it just stopped playing. The music went silent and the time counter stopped moving. The iPod itself wasn’t frozen. I could still skip to the next track, navigate menus, play other songs, etc, but this one file would not play all the way through.

The song played fine in iTunes and Quicktime Player, but for some reason, my iPod didn’t like it.

Using my troubleshooting “shinn” I surmised that the problem was with the file itself. In the past when I encountered problem mp3 files, usually the result of trying to play Windows-created files on my Mac, I turned to a little utility called MusicVac. The program cleared all the gunk out of the file, bad headers, corrupted ID3 tags, resource forks, etc, leaving behind a fresh mpeg stream. 99% of the time, MusicVac made the unplayable playable, succeeding where countless other apps failed.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find the program in any of my software archives. It must have been lost in a hard drive crash or during the move from one computer to another over the years. So off to Google I went, but I wasn’t hopeful. This program was written for Mac OS 9 and I’d not heard of any updates since 1999 or so. Indeed the first few links pointed to a dead site and everything else pointed to pages that looked like they hadn’t been updated since 1998.

It took a better part of the evening and more search strings than I can remember, but I finally found a downloadable copy, link intact, on an Italian ftp server. After moving the program and the troublesome mp3 to my G4 PowerBook (had to run in Classic and Classic doesn’t work on Intel Macs), I proceeded to “vacuum” the file.

A few seconds later, I had a brand new mp3, that I’m happy to report works just fine on my iPod.

Because MusicVac was so hard to track down and development seems to have ceased, I’ve decided to host a copy of it here. As I noted above, Classic or a booted version of OS 9 is required to use it. Sorry, Intel Mac users. The feature set from the Read Me is below.

Download MusicVac b9.

MusicVac currently offers these features:

  • Removal of info window comments (saved automatically to "Saved Comments" file, just in case you need them again)
  • Removal of the resource fork (saves some space by getting rid of unnecessary information)
  • Removal of a specified PC file extension if it exists (Blah.mp3 becomes Blah)
  • Removal of leading and ending spaces in file names.
  • Automatic repair of invalid file information bits. (invalid bundle bits, custom icon bits, etc. are fixed automatically)
  • Automatic repair of invalid file creation/modification dates
  • Find and replace in file names
  • Removal of Finder label for a file
  • Removal of non-standard headers
  • Save information about your MPEG files to a text file for easy viewing.
  • Creation/modification of ID3 and ID3v2 tags.
  • Change file type and creator. (Hold down the option key when dragging files to MusicVac to bring up the "Quick Change" dialog to temporarily switch file types.)

Other Notes:

  • Under VERY rare circumstances MusicVac can damage a file when removing a header – usually if the header is corrupt. If this happens, you can try to recover the file by dragging it to MusicVac while holding the command and control keys. You will most likely never need to do this.
  • ID3 editing works like this – MusicVac assumes the filename for the song title. If an ID3 tag already exists, it’s values are inserted into the fields automatically. If you click the "Recall Previous Entries" button (command-R), it will insert the artist and album you last entered. If you click "Skip", no ID3 information will be changed/added to this file. If you option-click "Skip", no ID3 information will be asked the rest of the current MusicVac session.

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)


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.

The Nine Beats of Ratatat

ratatat - 9 beats

It’s a bit of a cosmic coincidence that I happen to be on a huge Ratatat kick right now and a new Ratatat bootleg has happened to suddenly surface around the net. It’s titled 9 Beats and is apparently a rare look at the band’s early/demo work. How early? It doesn’t say, but it probably pre-dates their 2004 debut.

The tracks on the album aren’t songs per se. They’re mostly extended loops of beats and melodies that last between one and two minutes. Then, just as you’re starting to really get into them, they just stop. Most of the unnamed tracks don’t even get a fade out. Banagale has more info.

It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Here’s a taste for you. It’s track “two.”

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Update 3/29: Some tracks from 9 Beats have turned up as the backing music on Ratatat Remixes Vol 2. Specifically:

  • Beat #1 is used for Memphis Bleek’s Alright.
  • Beat #2 is used for Young Buck’s Shorty Wanna Ride.
  • Beat #3 is used for Notorious B.I.G.’s Dead Wrong.
  • Beat #4 is used for Young Buck, T.I. & Ludacris’s Stomp.
  • Beat #6 is used for Slim Thug, Bun B, and T.I.’s 3 Kings.

Rock for Choice: Pearl Jam in Pensacola

Rock for choice poster

On the evening of March 9, 1994 I attended my first and only Pearl Jam concert at the Pensacola Civic Center in, you guessed it, Pensacola Florida (where PJ guitarist Mike McCready happens to have been born). I was a freshman in high school at the scampy young age of 15 and, having just discovered the full breadth of grunge six months before, I reveled in the notion that one the top bands in the scene would be swinging through my podunk.

(so as not to forget my roots and to illustrate how far I had come, I’ll mention that the civic center is the same venue where I saw new kids on the block just a couple years before. Funny story there. I received tickets to the show as birthday present at the height of the group’s popularity. For some reason though, the show was postponed and by the time the rescheduled date rolled around, the group’s "Cool" Factor had dropped considerably. Still, it was fun; They had lasers. Freakin’ lasers!)

Anyway, the Pearl Jam show rocked. However, the occasion that brought them did not. This show was held as a benefit in response to the murder of Dr. Gunn by an anti-abortion nutjob in pensacola the previous year and is an early example of pearl jam’s nascent politicism. Dr. Gunn’s death was also one in a series of news stories that garnered national attention for pensacola, but always in a negative spotlight, including a second doctor killing, hurricane ivan and the pensacola: Wings of gold tv show.

I remember in the weeks before the show, there were rumors about L7, who were opening for Pearl Jam and there was a constant buzz about more religious nutjobs issuing death threats and staging a massive protest of the concert. Despite that, or maybe because of it, the show was a huge community event. I stood in line for hours on a cold february morning with my dad at a ticketing booth on pensacola nas hoping that the show wouldn’t sell out before our chance to buy tickets. We did, thankfully, manage to get a couple, even though the show was the fastest selling concert in the history of the city at the time.

By the day the show arrived, the excitement was palpable. There were additional rumors that the band had been spotted at a local guitar shop. This was never confirmed though. That afternoon brought one of Pensacola’s notorious thunderstorms, which continued until almost show time. This had the effect of dampening the enthusiasm of any would-be protesters. However, security at the Civic Center was still heightened; Everyone going in had to show their ticket and empty their pockets to prove that they were not carrying any weapons.

I had arrived late, taking my seat at the rear of the venue as the first opening band, Follow for Now, concluded its set. My seat may have been in the back of the venue, but I had a direct view of the center of the stage and a wide vantage point from which to observe the entire experience. I swear I’ve never seen as many people inside the Civic Center as I did that night at the largest Rock for Choice concert ever held.

Most of my memories of the show are a blur, these 12 years later, but I still sharply recall the iconic image of Eddie Vedder, lit by a single spotlight, gently singing Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down. Fortunately for my memory, I found a bootleg recording of the show a number of years ago (the date on the files say september of 2000. It’s a little disconcerting to think that it took me six years after the show to find the recording, and it’s been another six years since I found it). It happens to be the only recording that I own of a concert that I’ve attended. The sound quality on the recording is quite good, the only unfortunate part being it cuts off 54 seconds into Porch. Still, whenever I want to travel back in time, all I have to do is press “Play.”


Download pearl jam live in pensacola.