Thursday, October 7, 2010
Matador 21, or Doom To All Ye Who Enter Here...
With just a few hours respite to pack and (ahem) sleep, the weekend continued. After rolling north to home from the Hollywood Bowl, the new day started by tacking eastward across the state, through the mountains toward the desert. Destination: Las Vegas! Mission: 3 days of bands and love to celebrate the 21st birthday of Matador Records, a.k.a. 'The Lost Weekend'. (Insert your favorite Ray Milland riff here).
Due to the sheer hell of driving into Vegas on a Friday, needless to say our arrival was somewhat delayed, missing the Opening Ceremonies, and sets by Guitar Wolf and Chavez. Word of mouth was that Chavez did a killer set. File under d'ohh!
After finally getting lodging squared away, it was a seamless jaunt through registration, then double back to hit the floor.
Action time started with Fucked Up (from Toronto), fittingly named to meld perfectly with the day.
They unleashed a hellish storm of their own particular brand of noise, spurred on by the antics of lead instigator Pink Eyes (Damian), who took every cue to leave the stage and walk the earth like Cain, dispensing sweaty bro hugs, continuing to sing, and generally having a good old time.
Highly enjoyable, and the high point of the set was bringing out his toddler son Holden, complete w/ear protection, to hang out with dad for a song.
A band that made an impact, and it would not be the last we heard of Fucked Up over the course of the weekend.
The remainder of the evening in some ways mirrored the previous, and in some ways not...
The final two acts of the regular schedule were: Sonic Youth and Pavement, reprising the previous night's entertainment, but with slightly different results.
Sonic Youth, if it were at all possible, came off even heavier, staying in the same songbook parameters of the previous eve, (i.e. before 1994, for the most part), but spreading the love across albums more evenly, rather than focusing on any one.
Their set culminated with Thurston in the audience with Lee and Kim piling on to trigger feedback the ravaged the hall. Truly memorable.
Pavement also, it can be said, was truly memorable, but not the kind that inspires postcards back home. Standoffishness and seeming sniping amongst the troops could not salvage the periodic outbreaks of enthusiasm, and the show, (and the U.S. tour), fell apart at the end, with Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg), stalking off stage due to what was reportedly 'monitor issues'. This reunion was always a gambling proposition, and the cool part is that whatever internal issues still exist, they held it together until the very end. Aside from this show, the previous three I saw ranged from good to great...a testament to a band that historically was never noted for its live consistency. All one can say is 'Thanks for the memories', and when i dwell on the group, I shall surely be thinking of the first US show of the tour, a brilliant gambol through their history at the Fox Theater in Pomona, Ca in April. The stuff of which dreams are made...
There was still more to come, with a special ballroom performance of Ted Leo V. Fucked Up, wherein the bands traded cover versions, as well as a quieter afterparty with James McNew from Yo La Tengo manning the decks. Peeked into both, but at that point my body was in shutdown mode, and it was time to retire semi.gracefully.