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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Last night my dad and I went to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds play at the Warfield. The band is on tour for their latest album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!.

There's Mr. Cave up there.

Anyway, what a KICKASS show!!!

After being fortified with Blondie's pizza,

we strolled through the dark, seedy streets to the theater. There were a lot of bums hanging out, plus a handful of scalpers. When we arrived, we found ourselves engulfed in a sea of what my dad would call "hipsters" who were queuing up outside the theater.

We were inspected and frisked before we could go in. I hate being frisked at concerts, because I am so incredibly ticklish that I end up emitting some giggling squeak, which only enhances the security guards' suspicions that I am either totally high or totally crazy. But last night I got through it without any problems. Upon entering, we encountered the hand-stampers who check your ID and give you a stamp that allows you to purchase alcohol. A bored-looking woman was saying, "Honey, get yer hand stamped so you can get yer booze." I told her, "Thank you very much, but I'm only sixteen years old." "Oops," she said, and went back to stamping more hands.

This was my first time ever being inside the Warfield. You see, I've only been to a handful of concerts in my lifetime. But the Warfield was amazing. Right when you walk in, there are framed pictures of people who have played there, everyone from Bjork to Iggy Pop. The interior has not changed much, according to my dad. It used to be a fancy movie theater, and it still has the grand staircase, the balconies, and gold detail on the ceiling.

The show started with Red Sparowes, a post-rock, soundscape-influenced experimental band from Los Angeles. They are mostly instrumental, which is nice. Nothing ruins a perfectly good song like a sucky voice. I would call their music dreamy and powerful, like perhaps the music that would play in the background of an epic slow-motion battle scene. Plenty of swinging rhythms from the drum mingle with the pedal steel guitar, and the finished product is beautiful. It was also tight that they had a screen behind them with images of Chairman Mao and water and beetles and other random shit like that. Overall, I liked them.

During the break between Red Sparowes and Nick Cave, I went down to the lobby to people-watch. My dad had predicted there would be a crowd of exclusively hip people in black clothes. He was wrong. There were those "hipsters" in their dark, Victorian-era clothes and lace-up boots and fedoras. Love the fashion. Love love love it! (It's the sort of thing I would love to wear out and about, but I can't because I guarantee everyone at school will think I'm a freak.) They smoked cigarettes and drank straight liquor and chatted while I eyed their wicked cool tattoos with envy. But there were also "normal" people. I saw middle-aged couples in jeans and knit sweaters. I even saw a little kid, probably the only person there younger than me, holding her mother's hand.

I left the lobby to sit down before the main attraction started. The Warfield has standing room downstairs and balcony seating upstairs. Although standing is probably more fun because you get to be up close and personal to the band and mosh and dance and all that other fun stuff, I was happy in my comfy chair as I looked down at all the beer-swigging people below who were probably getting sore feet.

Then they went on. It was epic! We were screaming like there was no tomorrow as the Bad Seeds strolled nonchalantly on stage and picked up their instruments. There was a pause. Then Nick Cave himself strode on to greet the roaring crowd. Even from a distance, there was no mistaking that skull-like face with sunken eyes and slicked-back dark hair. Mr. Cave was looking dramatically spiffy in his suit. He is incredibly thin. He picked up the mike and said hello in that characteristically low, gravelly, amazing voice and then got right down to business.

OH MY GOD. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are a great band to watch live. Their songs are often dark and depressing (and involve killing beautiful women), so I was half-expecting some sort of dark, somber performance. But no, on stage the band attacked each song with powerful energy and sometimes hilarious intensity. Nick Cave would do crazy dance moves and jumps and he kept knocking down the microphone stand in his excitement. Most of the songs were done differently than I was used to hearing them. "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" was the only song that sounded the same as on the album, and it was fucking awesome! Some other songs that stood out were:
  • "Today's Lesson" - performed with head-bobbing force
  • "We Call Upon the Author" - a wildly and violently executed song of religious questioning that had the audience head banging furiously
  • "More News From Nowhere" - a catchy song that rolled and swelled through the theater
  • "Red Right Hand" - amazing song about a murderous dude. The Bad Seeds slowed it down, which only added to its supreme spookiness. Then Nick Cave jammed on the organ with his right hand, which made me laugh
  • "Deanna" - always sounded like some song from the fifties on the album, but in concert it was sharp. Loved the way Mr. Cave growled in his primal voice "Ohhh, Dee Ann Na!!!"
  • "God is in the House" - completely sarcastic song regarding God. Mr. Cave plunked himself down at the keyboard and sang, then messed up, then apologized, saying he hadn't played that song in a long time. But not a soul in the audience gave a damn, and we cheered anyway.
  • "Stagger Lee" - swaggering performance by Nick Cave to tell the story of Stagger Lee, possibly the most badass guy ever. Mr. Cave's version of the old bluesy folk song was filled with profanity and performed with great gusto. The crowd was loving the lines, "Yeah, I'm Stagger Lee and you better get down on your knees/And suck my dick, because if you don't you're gonna be dead"/Said Stagger Lee/Billy dropped down and slobbered on his head/And Stag filled him full of lead" especially when Mr. Cave strutted to the edge of the stage and started executing some savage hip thrusts.

Yes. It was a great concert. A great concert performed by a great band.

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