traumatic harmony
the pataphysical study of randomized sound
2005: live shows

In no particular order, my favorite concerts of 2005.

Sleater-Kinney/Dead Meadow - Trocadero, Philadelphia
If there was ever a time to see Sleater-Kinney, it was this past summer. And if you thought that the scuzzy, fuzzy sound of The Woods was just some fluke, think again. S-K were a glorious noisy mess, rocking harder than I thought possible. And seeing the riot grrls react to a 15 minute psych jam was worth the price of admission.

High on Fire - First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
Pet peeve: when the music between bands is the same as the music the bands play. This show was all metal and hardcore and that's all they played between sets. However, the big dudes who pretty much held court in the center of the room where the mosh pit would (should?) have been were pretty hilarious.

Comets on Fire/Growing/Gang Gang Dance/Bloodlines - Vox Populi, Philadelphia
The lineup here pretty much speaks for itself. It was the middle of July, the room was scorching hot, the music melted the walls, and I left satisfied. Gang Gang Dance was perhaps the highlight, since they were suddenly like a thousand times better than the last time I saw them. Growing was once again marred by a couple blown circuits mid-set (and my companion's hiccoughs throughout their set which mysteriously stopped the second Growing finished) but they still managed to be sublimely gorgeous. And Comets on Fire did exactly what I wanted them to do - monster riffs, full-body headbangs, and awesomenss in general.

Two Million Tongues Festival (Gary Higgins, Josephine Foster, No-Neck Blues Band, Jackie-o Motherfucker, etc) - The Empty Bottle, Chicago
I went to three of the four days of this mid-November festival. My first night was definitely the highlight with Gary Higgins and Jackie-O Motherfucker both being incredible as well as a couple pretty cool side stage acts. The second day was kind of a letdown, since people were talking loudly throughout Josephine Foster's set, and Whitehouse was more of a joke than anything (think Sprokets meets Merzbow). And day 3 had a fantastic set by No-Neck, a very awkward set by Ed Askew, and then I had to leave because I was dead tired.

Sufjan Stevens - The Metro, Chicago
Gone to skeptically on a whim, this show blew my mind, told me what I needed to hear, and was essentially uplifting at a time when I really needed it. I wrote more about it here.

Deerhoof - Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago
Their records have always been hit and miss in my book, but live, Deerhoof are massive. Alternately catchy and noisy, structured and freeform, sane and insane, the set of songs they did left me wholly satisfied. Not to mention that they're all incredible musicians who are in complete control of every sound they make.

Kinski/Bardo Pond - the Khyber, Philadelphia
I really only saw the Kinski set, but all I'm gonna say is that when they played "Semaphore," I nearly shit my pants.

Man Man - Terrace Club, Princeton, NJ
Ted Leo also played, but I didn't watch his set; Man Man was the main attraction as far as I was concerned. Despite the complexity of their studio work, it all gets rendered beautifully in a live setting.

MF Doom - Abbey Pub, Chicago
Some people I know have been less than impressed by the metal faced one's live show. Not me. His stage presence is something else, a very studied comic book villain, constantly posing with a hand on his hip or in the air. I was disappointed he didn't do anything from the Dangerdoom album, but he covered all the other bases/psuedonyms just nicely.

MIA/Diplo - some venue or other, Philadelphia
I really need to see Diplo play a real club. His DJ set, which lasted over an hour, was mind-blowingly awesome. The way he chops up and remixes already good songs is nothing short of amazing. Standouts include his reworking of Outkast's already relentlessly danceable "B.O.B." and his chopped up version of the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian." MIA was good, but not super-impressive.

Dungen - First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia/The Empty Bottle, Chicago
Saw these Swedish phenoms twice, though the Philly show was by far the superior. More thoughts here.

Bottomless Pit - Hideout, Chicago
A late entrant onto this list, Bottomless Pit is the new band of the two surviving members of Silkworm, a band that I unfortunately never listened to enough of. The show also included a book reading by Joe Meno and a slideshow by Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine which were both really entertaining - the slideshow especially because Ryan is a really funny, deadpan, nice kind of guy, but Bottomless Pit were clearly the highlight. Despite the somewhat unfortunate name, their sound is actually fairly demonstrative of a bottomless pit: deep, rich, and full, created by the interplay of a regular guitar, a guitar strung like a 6-string bass, and a regular bass. Tim and Andy from Silkworm know each other's style cold and play in, around, and through the gaps perfectly. The songs were earnest and honest and all remarkably studied without sounding at all forced. I hope they keep this going for a while, because they have enormous potential to do something great. They only played maybe a half-dozen songs, but each and every one was completely satisfying. Also of note: Steve Albini was sitting about 5 feet away from me during the entire show.

Sonic Liberation Front - Terrace Club, Princeton, NJ
Great jazz is hard to come by, and this group certainly does that. A combination of Yoruba and latin percussion with free-flying horns, they manage to cover all the bases sound-wise. But despite all their complexity, the most powerful moment was when they cut back to just a guitar and voice and sang a traditional Yoruba hymn to the gods of the sea.

Shows I missed that I'm still kicking myself over
Konono No. 1
Reigning Sound 
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Albums/Things of the Moment

Gal Costa - Gal
X - Los Angeles/Wild Gift
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
The Factums - The Sistrum
The Dark Knight
Jay Reatard - Matador 7"s
Sub Pop Singles Club III
Mississippi Records
Byard Lancaster

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lexicon devil
agony shorthand
keeping score at home
something I learned today
deadly tango
her jazz
strange reaction
god and a bottle in me
in case of mishaps
20 jazz funk greats
funky 16 corners
moon sash
mental archipelago
crud crud
just for a day
little hits
everything is fire

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all posts before december 2004 are old wprb playlists. I wish I could say I've been blogging that long, but that's simply not the truth.

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