Emilie Autumn Live NYC 2008 Review

This is an example of what I did NOT see

This is an example of what I did NOT see

Emilie Autumn’s 2008 show in NYC was one of the worst evenings I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her music, she’s basically a violinist, though she can also play harpsichord, guitar, and viola; and has composed music for cello and bass. She’s been playing violin since age four and was considered something of a child prodigy.  She went on to be admitted into several prestigious music schools, but her tenure at same was abbreviated due to her unwillingness to conform to the musical and aesthetic tastes of her professors.  Oh, and she’s also a pretty damn good costume designer as well.

So why the harsh criticism of the show?  Well, it’s like this: I went to go and see an accomplished violinist.  Instead I saw five girls on stage singing while Vogueing and waving their arms around.  The more astute among you may have noticed that there’s something missing from that description: I didn’t say anything about any instruments.  That’s because, except for one song where Emilie played her violin, there were no instruments at this concert. The girls were all singing along to a karaoke machine.  The reason I knew they were singing, and not lip-syncing, is because of the atrocious feedback that persisted, more or less, throughout the whole set.

This performance was more like something that some sad little black emo kids in highschool might have done in their talent show.  I shall now attempt, dear readers, to enumerate some of the things they did.  In this way do I intend for you to suffer as I did:

  • Touching of One’s Forehead with the backside of One’s Hand, whilst rolling Both Eyes Heavenward, evoking Tragedy of Epic Proportion
  • Providing the Masses with a Benediction in the form of Several Stars, covered with Glittery Paint, Hung from a String, Attached to the Ends of Rods, thence to be Waved About over the Audience’s Heads
  • Swaying and Stumbling, as though Overcome by some Dark Madness
  • Elegantly Waving and Posing with Feathers, Scarves, Handkerchiefs, Stuffed Animals and other Accoutrements
  • Rehearsed Flirting with the Audience, reminiscent of what One might find in a House of Ill Repute

The whole time I felt like I was watching some female Spinal Tap, certain that at any moment Druids or a Stonehenge or some shit would appear on stage.  I kept wanting to laugh, but then stopped out of shame at actually having bought a ticket to this mess.

They were essentially trying to do something Victorian, but they are not actors and it was overdone to the point of embarrassment.  And, unfortunately, since there were no instruments, this absurd performance is all I am able to review.

Update: Thanks to whoever linked to this on Emilie Autumn’s site.  I’d recommend against reading the comments here unless you just want to hear a bunch of whiny art school dropouts tell me how wrong I am and how kareoke singalongs are actually what real concerts are supposed to be like.

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Sisters of Mercy – 2008 Tour – NYC Irving Plaza

patriciaThe Sisters of Mercy is one of my favorite bands.  I have all of their albums, several of the live videos, and know the lyrics to almost of their songs.  I bought tickets to their 2008 tour at Irving Plaza in NYC hoping for the best.

The lineup was the following: Andrew Eldritch; Docktor Avalance (a drum machine) which was responsible for the drums, bass, and keyboard; and two unknown guitarists.

I’ll start with the guitarists.  Raised from the ashes of Poison, fermented in the fumes of RATT, and breaking through the wind of Grim Reaper – these guitarists were pure cock rock. They did all of the following: windmill guitar strumming, synchronized pointing and winking at each other, hair flips, and pelvis thrusts. The overall suck of this was amplified by the feeling that they were not even playing their instruments. The good Docktor took over so much of the music that there were times when it felt like the (real) band should have been playing, but the guitarists were doing nothing more than winking, posturing, and doing tight little pirouettes.  This is why I mostly avoid going to see shows with laptop bands.

Andrew Eldritch, at least, was real.  His voice is shot to shit, but there was no way it was being faked.  On the other hand, he was constantly being overpowered by the backup singer (one of the guitar players) who belted out lyrics like a drunken fratboy at a cheap kareoke bar.

Overall this was a complete failure.  It’s obvious that they are hurting for money and they’re biting the silver bullet.  Seriously guys – you had your day in the sun.  Now record something new, or go get day jobs like the rest of us who learned that you can’t fake being a rockstar.

My Bloody Valentine 2008 Tour: NYC Roseland

The show was perfect. Much like the sun, My Bloody Valentine projected all the energy and chaos of a perpetual atomic explosion, while still maintaining a cold mechanical precision underneath. For all their noise and effects, they are fundamentally nothing more than an incredibly tight rock band at their core.

Loveless was a singular phenomenon. Nobody else has ever made an album like it, so even though it was old it seemed like something brand new upon seeing it live for the first time. In this way MBV lost nothing over the years. The band members were even considerate enough to retain all of their former glamour; they look exactly the same as they did when they broke up some sixteen years ago.

They didn’t play anything new, which I didn’t mind given the complexity of their music. With most bands, seeing new stuff live is definitely the preferred means of initial exposure. With MBV though, their music has such an elemental complexity that you really have to let it grow in your brain for a while before you can appreciate it live.

If you’ve heard anything about this tour, you’ll probably have heard the phrase “world record for the loudest concert”. I’ll just say that this so-called “holocaust section” was painfully obvious. It was basically a coda to “You Made Me Realise” and was a 20-minute assault that had people jamming fingers in their ears to push their earplugs in deeper, and a few people squatted down on the floor, bomb shelter-style, to escape the noise. Overheard after the show: “That was like being in a jet engine”. I’ve never been one to use earplugs, and though MBV made a very strong argument in their favor, I doubt they would have made any difference.

By the end of the show, everyone’s face was wiped blank with an awestruck unpreparedness that comes from seeing something once dead rise again. Or their brains were just too rattled from the wall of noise. In any case, definitely check them out if they come to your town.

David Bowie Trumps (Insert Name Here)

Reasons why:

– Masterful musical, fashion, and cultural adaptation for every period since 1969

– Never sacrificed quality for quantity and image concerns

– But was able to merge quality, quanity, and image without compromising his art

– Refuses to represent anyone besides himself

– Clever, creative, sophisticated, and dedicated

– Lyricist, musician, performer (acting and musical), and avant garde specialist

Internal brilliance meeting physical, mental, and verbal expression:

– “Life on Mars”

– “Ziggy Stardust”

– “Starman”

– “Golden Years”

– “Young Americans”

– “Slip Away”

– “The Man Who Sold The World”

– “I’m Afraid of Americans”

– “Under Pressure” w/ Queen

– “Queen Bitch”

– “Let’s Dance”

With the ever-growing dependence on manufactured pop acts, it’s nice to remember some of the true artists.  Without the assistance of statistic-driven image creation, Bowie managed to define himself with as an authentic talent.  Cheers, dude. Time for another tour!

Closest Musical Relative: Trent Reznor

Fraudulent Bowie Opportunist: Marilyn Manson

Equally Talented: Prince

Silence is Sexy

So I’m listening to Flugufrelsarinn by Sigur Rós, covered by the Kronos Quartet in an arrangement by Clint Mansell.  I highly approve of this sort of thing.  But why is it that whenever anything is recorded in a concert hall, some dicknose keeps coughing or sniffing or farting or shuffling his feet or whatever?  Seriously, don’t these people know where they are?  Didn’t they see all of the signs letting them know that they would be recording?  Or do they just not care, preferring to have their every sniffle immortalized in the recording?

Also, very related: check out the cover of Radiohead’s Exit Music done by Miranda Sex Garden.