By David Goe
Friday, November 1, 2013
Last Sunday, I was in the Mile High City catching a matinee showing of “The Book of Mormon.”
I’m not usually a song and dance kind of guy, but every once in a while I can get down with a little Broadway. This is especially true when said material is profanity-riddled satire from Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, the genius behind “Avenue Q,” my all-time favorite musical involving simulated puppet sex, Gary Coleman and Absinthe Daiquiris.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to break down scene-by-scene “The Book of Mormon” for you (although exploring the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream would be quite fun). Instead, I’m offering up my take-aways after seeing a truly professional production.
Unfortunately, it had been too long since I had gone to a top-notch show, musical or concert. I had forgotten how much I miss a show. I’m talking about the entire production from stage plotting, lighting and musicianship to the pure skill of a performer to capture and hold an audience.
Finding this total package at a Grand Junction show of any kind is rare. Living here, it’s easy to forget what a great performance looks like and, as a result, it becomes even easier to accept mediocrity. That’s part of the curse of living in Grand Junction, where the entertainment production generally grades out as a B, as in “barely adequate.”
We occasionally are treated to high-end entertainment such as Chris Isaac or the spectacle that is Gwar, but more often than not one if not more of the essential elements of showmanship are missing.
I understand it is unrealistic to expect a nationally touring production such as “The Book of Mormon” to stop in Grand Junction, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking note of what they do well and replicating it here.
I, we, want to be entertained.
On a local level, there are a number of people raising the bar on showmanship and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they also are the most popular performers in the area.
Take a band such as the Shift, which clearly puts in extra effort into make its live shows more dynamic. The Shift nails it on musicianship, sound quality and stage presence, and fans love it.
Another young crew, Starship Romance, is unmatched in stage lighting and entertainment value. Its light shows alone are reminiscent of scenes from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and worthy of its chosen moniker.
You can’t talk about light production and not mention Lucid Visions Video. Anyone who was at Zombie Prom last week knows what lengths Lucid goes to make sure the stage plotting and lighting are top notch. Hands down Lucid is the best in the biz, and I for one am most appreciative of its talents and what it has done to improve the quality of shows in Grand Junction.
In terms of pure entertainment, look no further than Bronco Country. Lead singer Matt Zurek is a character study in the art of the front man. Nobody is more ridiculous, more audacious and more entertaining than Zurek. It is can’t-miss theater as you eagerly wait to see what he is going to do next.
Thankfully, these groups are self-aware and recognize the importance of putting on a good show.
The thing about performing in Grand Junction, though, is anyone can gig but nobody offers a truly accurate critique of the performance. This presents a problem, as there is basically zero accountability and motivation to get better.
I see performance potential in this town, but fear that lack of accountability will continue to hold us back. Asking for more showmanship isn’t an unreasonable request.
If we can look to our peers and idols for inspiration and incorporate even a few new ideas into productions, the entertainment value will improve drastically in Grand Junction.
By David Goe
Friday, October 25, 2013
Here is Arcade Fire's new album "Reflektor," in full, set to the movie "Orpheus." LCD Soundsystem leader James Murphy produced the album which is out October 29. Enjoy.
By David Goe
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Sorry for not posting more regularly here, I've been on vacation for a week and now I'm busy gearing up for Zombie Prom. Now that things are getting back to normal I've got a little treat for you.
Here is Mark Ronson playing a 38 minute, hip-hop heavy DJ set at the Boiler Room. Ronson is one of the more interesting people in the music industry and someone I look up to. Not only is he's a superbly talented multi instrumentalist and DJ, Ronson is the producer behind recent albums from Amy Winehouse, Duran Duran, the Black Lips, Lily Allen, and Rufus Wainwright. Ronson also hosts radio shows on EVR and the BBC. Basically his hustle is tight.
As far as this DJ set is concerned, check out his style of mixing classic hip-hop samples and vocals together for a unique mix. His approach is something that I strive for in my own DJ and radio sets.
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.