By David Goe
Friday, October 4, 2013
As an 11-year-old boy, sitting in my friend’s Paradise Hills basement, I didn’t understand what I was seeing.
A surrealist landscape of religious iconography ran on the tube in the corner while a crazed mess of blond hair screamed out about devouring cancer and man-eating orchids.
The bizarre imagery soaked into my vulnerable brain all right, but it hardly made any sense. A little girl dressed in the white cape and hood of the Klu Klux Klan, grasping for a fetus hanging from a rotting tree? A frail man lashing himself to a wooden cross while a murder of crows flap their wings, waiting impatiently? What’s a kid supposed to make of that?
When I close my eyes and think about that video now, I really only remember flashes of red and purple and those eyes.
Oh those eyes, those sharp, soul-piercing blue eyes.
Pause the music video at 1:20, and what you see is my burning first memory of MTV. A wild-eyed Kurt Cobain singing the chorus of “Heart Shaped Box,” the first single from Nirvana’s final studio album, “In Utero.”
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that song changed my life, but that singular moment, I’ll never forget.
Fast-forward 20 years and Nirvana once again is at the forefront of my mind. “In Utero” is getting the 20th anniversary treatment: the original album was remastered and re-released with B-sides and previously unreleased mixes and material.
As it turns out, “In Utero” is not my favorite Nirvana album, but looking back, it is the most compelling album the band ever released.
“In Utero” had the unfortunate distinction of following up “Nevermind,” the monumental recording that forever altered the course of rock history and instantly made Nirvana the biggest band in the world.
In the years leading up to “In Utero” Cobain was intimately involved with both Courtney Love and heroin. A reckless relationship on both accounts, Cobain’s personal life was a mess. That, coupled with the pressure to deliver another massively successful hit record, undoubtedly led to the wild mix of love, heartbreak and insanity on “In Utero.”
From the get go, “In Utero” was always going to be a different record than “Nevermind.” Cobain had developed a hatred for the diamond-selling album, saying it was too polished. The next album was going to be more primitive.
Recording began on Valentine’s Day 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minn., chosen partially because of producer Steve Albini’s familiarity with the studio and its isolation from known heroin dealers.
Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl recorded 17 songs in one quick week before Love paid a surprise visit to the studio, throwing the recording process into chaos. Despite her best Yoko Ono effort, Nirvana finished recording in just over two weeks and captured the powerful energy characteristic of its live shows.
“I love that record,” Grohl recounted in his biography, “This Is A Call.” “I like it more than ‘Nevermind’ because there was nothing in between the band and the tape. That album is about as pure as an album can be.”
Nirvana’s record label DGC and parent company Geffen Records hated the band’s raw mix of “In Utero.” It was too noisy, lacked mainstream appeal and was initially deemed as “unreleasable.” Eventually, two of the final 12 tracks were remixed for mass consumption, “All Apologies” and “Heart Shaped Box.”
After the album’s September 1993 release, the band was basically at an end. Following a disastrous European tour, Cobain was found unconscious in a Rome hotel room with $1,000 in one hand and in the other was a note that read “like Hamlet, I have to choose between life and death; I choose death.”
Of course it took more than 50 Rohypnol pills to officially end the band. Nirvana’s true death came at the hands of 1.52 milligrams of heroin and a well-aimed shotgun.
The 20th anniversary edition of “In Utero” is intended to sound more like the band’s initial cut. Listening to it now you get the rawness, but you also hear the complete narrative arch of Nirvana. You can hear both the brilliance and turmoil of a band caught in limbo.
By David Goe
Thursday, September 26, 2013
If you were at the Sage Francis show then you already know how insanely fun Wheelchair Sports Camp is. If you missed that show then you are in for a surprise. Wheelchair Sports Camp is a Denver based pseudo hip-hop band is fronted by the disabled, wheelchair bound MC/producer/weed aficionado Kalyn. They mix live music with produced electronic beats and form a jazzy, funky, combo that is so unlike anything you've ever seen or heard before.
Wheelchair Sports Camp is headed back to the Grand Junction, playing the Mesa Theater and Club this Saturday, September 28 with Rubedo, Strange Powers, Proficy the Iron Monk, and MC Entity. Wheelchair Sports Camp is a bit of a spectacle. The band is four seemingly unrelated musicians coming together to make unexpectedly fun and inspiring hip-hop. Their spirit is captured pretty well in the video below. Check it out and go to the show if you can. It's a band you'll be talking about for days to come.
By David Goe
Friday, September 20, 2013
Tomorrow evening Seattle based the Jill Cohn Trio and local boy wonder Will Whalen play the Radio Room at KAFM.
Continuing to offer more diversity in the Radio Room, KAFM brings in the Jill Cohn Trio. The Jill Cohn Trio has a diverse sound, playing everything from warm ballads to quirky pop tunes. They recently opened for Dave Matthews at a Biodiversity Forest Rally in Seattle and Cohn was a top 5 finalist in the Lilith Fair National Talent Search in Seattle, Portland and Phoenix. Whalen on the other hand is one of Grand Junction's hardest working singer songwriters, playing weekly shows in and around the valley. Check out his music below.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and may be purchased at www.kafmradio.org.
By David Goe
Friday, September 20, 2013
Dirtylektric playing a street corner at last year's SXSW. The GJ band plays tonight at Localpalooza.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article pleading for the formation of a local music showcase in Grand Junction. I argued a local showcase would be good business. It’s good for bands, good for venues, and most importantly, good for fans.
Since publishing that piece there has been important headway in developing a showcase for local talent. Just last May, the WestCO Music Fest blazed the trail at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens with a three-band show: The Williams Brothers Band, Pineapple Crackers and Jack+Jill.
Friday night, Sept. 20, we are on the cusp of the second all local showcase with LocalPalooza at the Mesa Theater and Lounge.
LocalPalooza takes what WestCO established one step further, featuring four bands: Zolopht and the Destroyers, Shotgun Hodown, Dirtylektric and Jack+Jill. Throw DJ Dusty Thunders and his mix of deep house and nu disco jams into the mix and you’ve got an eclectic collection of Grand Junction’s best.
On the surface LocalPalooza looks like a pretty decent show. The lineup is tried and true and each band is individually strong enough to carry its own gig. What is really exciting about this showcase, though, is what it means long term for Grand Junction’s music scene.
What I didn’t fully understand a year ago, and now realize, is events such as LocalPalooza and WestCO need to happen for the long term success and stability of our music scene.
The unfortunate truth about Grand Junction is we generally don’t care about music beyond a casual interest. We’ve seen it time and time again, when it comes to our festivals and live shows, the quality of performer and crowd attendance varies wildly and only a select few seem to care about doing anything about it.
Curing these inconsistencies and making the local music scene a dynamic part of our community is not an overnight fix but should be a priority. The quality of any local product is a reflection of the community it comes from. So I ask this question: Are you satisfied with Grand Junction’s local product? I’m not. Our indifference bothers me.
When approaching this issue, there are various factors to consider, but I think the solution and the focus of our attention should be on what we can immediately control, our own local talent.
Growing interest in our scene starts with events such as LocalPalooza. Grand Junction is very cliquey when it comes to music, and it is segmenting our interested music population to death. The genius behind a local showcase such as LocalPalooza is it brings everyone, fans, bands and DJs, together under one roof.
Fans following their favorite group to the showcase now have the opportunity to discover a different band they otherwise wouldn’t have heard. Maybe they fall in love with that band’s sound and go to shows twice a month instead of just once. Or better yet, while watching a set someone thinks, “I can do better than that,” and starts his or her own band.
Bands benefit by getting to see their peers’ live performances, stoking a competitive fire and hopefully creating some friendly competition. To some extent, all musicians are driven by ego and watching another band strike the perfect balance between showmanship and musicianship should spurn envy.
With just one event, you can create a cycle that begins to drive a healthy local music scene. The good news is we are already seeing this happen. Just look at how LocalPalooza already hasraised the bar over what WestCO started.
A healthy, vibrant local music scene needs events such as WestCO and LocalPalooza. Without our fixed attention to local music there’s no accountability, no reason for current bands to improve and, worse, no reason for new bands to form.
As with any product, the power lies with the consumer, the fans. The cycle starts Friday night with your attendance at LocalPalooza. Your attendance makes a difference. Our collective interest begins with you.
By David Goe
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
BBC Radio 1's YouTube channel is incredible. If you hit play any plans you made today will be totally ruined. With over 60 live performances from the biggest artists in the world, the live lounge is essential viewing.
Usually each band visiting the Live Lounge plays a couple tunes, one of which is a random cover of a pop song. For example, in this playlist you've got Kings of Leon covering Robyn. Thirty Seconds to Mars covering Rihanna. Arctic Monkeys covering Drake. It's fun to see each band's take on songs out of their wheel house. Take a look.