Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Scene It: Queens of the Stone Age at the Dome

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2018 at 12:35 PM

You can’t deny the power of the riff. And frankly, why would you want to?

Royal Blood, opening up for The Queens of the Stone Age at The Dome on Friday night, spilt Rochester peasant blood as people clamored to get closer to the stage. Not since Morphine have I seen a band led by the bass over relentless drum thunder. Heads were removed and given back rapidly and unmercifully at the hands of this vicious duo. It was a band I didn’t know much about, but that didn’t matter when I just let the hooks sink into my skin and take me wherever they intended to go. A new favorite for sure, for sure.

Heroes of the evening, Queens of the Stone Age, followed with a blistering set, proving that they are the kings of rock, if not its lone saviors. The light show was garish on its own, but it plugged in well to the band's 90-minute set. It was relentless, big and boss. Melodic to the max.

Saturday night amidst the watfing temptation of barbecue, Steve Grills and the Roadmasters painted the Dinosaur walls red, white, black, and blue with Grill’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things blues and a mighty bang and a biting twang. This band will recharge your engine as it gnaws at everything’s rockin’ roots.

Later that night I saw what Mr. Monk would describe as “Ugly Beauty.” The magnificent Nod was on the Skylark stage with it’s cacophonous dichotomy of salty and sweet. The band does not play by the rules, diving head-first into the oblivion of Scrappy Joe’s guitar-fueled chaos and the quirky time signatures of the rest. Nod creates its own obscurity and it’s own music. It’s ugly. It’s beautiful. Catch them if you can, while you can, whenever you can.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

The F Word: Blown cover

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 6:08 PM

The F Word. An online column for Frank De Blase to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We'll have reviews and previews, we'll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we'll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let's get started.

Going out as much as I do, I see my share of cover bands and bands slipping a cover tune or two into their set. Sometimes it's ironic, like a string quartet playing a Metallica tune. Sometimes it's a jazz artist's interpretation of a master, or a blues musician will throw in some borrowed notes and quotes into an original song.

In the past, I've been a fierce advocate for original music and I still am to some degree. That doesn't mean I won't dance at your wedding, but usually when I see a band live, I want to hear its story, even if that story is augmented with the occasional cover.

However, there are songs that have been recorded that are so perfect it would be a mistake to try and tackle them. Some songs should be left alone — there are ones that can't be approved upon, songs whose original performer nailed the performance. If you can't add to it, don't play it. It's that simple. It's actually a long list, but I've compiled a condensed version below.

Elvis Presley's version of "Mystery Train" — which is itself a cover of the Junior Parker tune.

Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" — sure there are better singers out there and maybe you're one of them, but that's not the point here.

Them's "Gloria" — a garage band staple all over the world.

Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" — just don't.

Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" — this also includes a handful of Berry tunes that recycle the opening riff.

Frank Sinatra's "My Way" — this includes the Sid Vicious version. I'm sure your way isn't quite like Sid and Frank's. Step away from the mic.

Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" and "Crazy."

And here are a few that land on my ad nauseam list: once beautiful songs that shouldn't be touched at all, not just because they were recorded perfectly the first time, but because they've been driven into the fucking ground.

"Mustang Sally" — "The Commitments" almost saved this one, but still, let's give it a rest, just to be sure.

"Sweet Home Chicago" — take a blues song, change the key, the name of the woman, and the location, add in how many times you've been done wrong, and you've got a new song. Plus now you can call it an original ... Hey, I don't make the rules.

"Got my Mojo Working" — see above.

Anything by Led Zeppelin — you can thank WCMF for that one.

And the final nail in the coffin, the coup de grace, "Freebird" — it's a decent song, but just its title alone called out during a show fuels the urge to punch someone in the face.

Sometimes a song that isn't yours surprisingly mirrors your feelings. Or maybe it's an instrumental where anything goes lyrically in your head. Maybe it was playing on the radio when you met your next ex-true love (in that case you may have no trouble crossing it off your list of faves).

Songs are our truth and our soundtrack. It just gets sticky when you perform the ones that aren't yours as your own. So why not sit down and write a song, a salvo, a valentine. One thing is for sure: It'll sure beat hearing "Freebird" for the umpteenth time

I hope this helped. Share your own lists with me here.

I Scene It

I hadn't seen singer-pianist Annie Wells in quite a while but remedied that deficit with a trip to her performance at the Record Archive's Backroom Lounge last Wednesday. It was happy hour on the mellow side as Wells and her band wove a tapestry of original music punctuated by Wells' breathy vocals and wonderment. Great for sippin' iced tea to.

Friday night was The Jon Lewis Band's album release celebration for its new "Get Wild Somewhere" which the band covered top to bottom on the Three Heads stage. Lewis and his crew lacked any pretense as they let the songs kick out the underlying — and overlying — jams. Pretty, pretty cool.

By the Way

Who's going to see Queens of the Stone Age on Friday?

You can get in touch with me here at frank@rochester-citynews.com. F out.

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