a weblog by Schuyler D. Erle
Sun, 25 Aug 2002
(Parenthetically, I broke up with Julia this week. E-mail me if you really want to know.)
A few weeks ago, Julia and I drove 650 miles to Portland to visit the good folks from the Personal Telco Project. While we were there, we got loaded up on imported Thai Red Bull with Jerritt Collord and Nigel Ballard, and went to the second performance of Beck Hansen's latest tour to promote his upcoming album, Sea Change. He's apparently playing small venues across the country, performing semi-acoustic sets, just the man himself, and occasionally an ever-patient sidekick by the name of Smokey.
I haven't heard the new album yet -- it's scheduled for release on September 24 -- but it sounds for all the world like it's going to be a country album. That's right. Somewhere between John Denver and the Allman Brothers. I guess it was about time.
I don't think Sea Change will disappoint Beck's fans, though. The two-and-a-half show certainly didn't, although I think Jerritt thought it was a bit slow. Beck's one of those lucky people who doesn't have to do anything in particular to entertain -- he's just fun to watch. You can find the set list on his website, but I don't think it's entirely accurate. He did play most of the new album, apparently, and a sizable portion of Mutations -- the latter unsurprisingly, given the acoustic tenor of the show. Beck did dust off a few tunes from Odelay, such as "Lord Only Knows", whose unplugged retooling provided the sort of refreshing moments that make live performances special -- the chance to hear a musician give a different take, a different perspective, on a song you've known and loved for years. Likewise, "Sissyneck" got a funky blues rendition given, which degenerated into some kind of electric organ / slide guitar jam with Beck riffing over it incomprehensibly about Portland and Kevin Bacon and tractors and who knew what all else.
The real showstopper, however, was Beck gettin' down with the One Man Jam, a kid's sampling toy shaped like a guitar and about half the size. The thing might have cost $10 new, but Beck has that knack, you know, he doesn't have to do anything in particular and he's still entertaining. At one point, he stopped playing music entirely and told a rambling but nevertheless hilarious story about his attempts to record backing vocals for Puff Daddy.
The only let down from my vantage was that he didn't play anything from Midnite Vultures. I mean, Smokey even had a banjo -- they totally could have down an acoustic "Sexx Laws". Ah, well. The tour still comes highly recommended, for showcasing what Beck does best -- just being Beck.
Thu, 01 Aug 2002
Other reads include the wry Sinfest, the often corny Diesel Sweeties, and the usually incomprehensibly homoerotic sysadmin humor of Jerkcity. Recently, Nessa and Daniel introduced me to Invader Zim, a fascinating cartoon which appears on Nickelodeon in 15 minutes episodes, courtesy of Jhonen Vasquez, the demented soul who brought you the unforgettable Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. "He's stolen their organs, and replaced them with... STUFF!"
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