Retrospect: Toadies at The Magic Stick

To those of my detractors who may say, "At age 29, 5'7", and 135lbs, Roy is too old, too small, and too skinny to mosh," I can only reply by screaming, "I find a window in the kitchen, and I let myself in..." whilst barreling 'cross the room, shoulder lowered at unsuspecting rib cage.

The Toadies concert last night at The Magic Stick was absolutely boffo baby! I wear my scraped Achilles tendons and bruised forearms with a glowing pride and great personal satisfaction! I haven't been to a concert so damned good in... ever. So let's get to it:

Despite my deep satisfaction with the evening's entertainment I can't but be harsh with the local opening band, whoever they were. They lowered the bar substantially at the show's onset with a barrage of, albeit ably-performed, light-rock schlock more suited to an Emily Osment concert than a deep, down, dirty, 90's grunge experience like the Toadies. (And if you don't get the 'Emily Osment' reference, Wikipedia that shit -- I'm proud of it.) Perhaps they were simply out of place, and suffered for it; but we, the crowd, suffered more, through an entire set's worth of musical predictability. The songs were simple, unlayered, open-chord 'meh,' relying wholly upon the lead singer's vocals - and perhaps a popularity amongst teenage girls - to interest the audience; which they did not.

American Idol: yes. Toadies concert: no.

The real opening act - the touring opening act - came on stage as 'Gringo Star,' and proceeded to kick ass for an hour or so. Starting off with their highly palatable single, "All Y'all," Gringo Star didn't really fit the grunge, 90's mold laid down by the Toadies either. But they deftly overcame the natural affinities and discriminations of the crowd with a historically relevant, vocally cultured sound and brand of American music that I, at first, find hard to categorize. ...That and a great quantity of sweat sprayed o'er stage by a shaggy, profusely perspiring, guitarist.

I pause here to say: It's nice to go to a show of this caliber and not be force-fed the genre and sub-genre of the lead act all night in the form of carbon-copy opening performers. I appreciate the variety. May this trend continue.

Every man in Gringo Star served as a vocalist of some measure and all passed the performance by perpetually passing their instruments off to one another: swapping drummers, keyboardists, guitars and vocal duties as was their wont. You've got to be impressed by a rotating band! All the moreso when they sound as good as these guys.

In describing Gringo Star's sound I can't avoid that glaringly obvious reference, try though I might to protect my ever-faltering self-image as word-smith. They really do sound like an early era Beatles, with hints of 50's beach rock, Van Morrison's jazz, and modern lo-fi punk. But whatever you call it, call it "good," because that's what it is and that's what it was last night.


But onto the main act. That's what we're here for, yes? As Gringo Star retires the stage to a hail of cheers and applause; as I retire to The Magic Stick's outdoor, rooftop seating for a breather and a beer, an anticipatory crowd tightens and throngs at stage's edge. Sound check... "Randall!"

The Toadies opened with a crowd-pleasing performance of "Happyface" off their '94 album 'Rubberneck,' reminding us, lest there was ever any doubt, just what these guys do for a living: growling, squealing, disharmonic, minor-chord beauty. (And heavily-veiled songs about stalker-rapists.)

In the interests of fair disclosure I should say that Toadies ranks in my top five all-time bands. The energy inherent to the music, placed alongside my personal history with their mid-nineties catalogue: those youthful memories of frothing teen angst, my early high school years; it all resounds of a time in my life that was...

Really kind of horrible, actually.

Despite that, the Toadies have never ceased to sate my sensibilities, nor to answer any call I might sound for a thoughtfully raging, musical psychopathy. This is grunge, hardcore, and in its most purely distilled state.

But I'm maybe making them out to be heavier than I should. For you can certainly bang your head to the Toadies, but it isn't head-banger music. And yes, I found many an opportunity to present the two-fingered salute at their show last night; but you might as often have found me, eyes closed, listening intently, picking apart the subtleties of thoughtfully constructed overlapping guitar riffs, or taking note of the Toadies' trademark shifting time-signatures. Mostly though, you would have found me making friends and dodging elbows in the mosh pit. (...At least when not uncouthly straddling the girl in the leather jacket standing in front of me at stage's edge whenever the crowd lunged suddenly forward. "Nice to meet you," I say as my pelvis cups her ass.)

Toadies presented a number of songs off their new album, 'Feeler:' An album, I'm told, was written some decade ago but kept from the presses by evil, nasty, cold-hearted record label bastards. Feeler, in its present state is supposedly a distinct reworking of that original intellectual property, so as to avoid the aforementioned capitalist, pig-dog, swine's claims that they own it, and no one plays with their toys but them! Yeah, suck on it Interscope.

Without being further exposed to the new album's content I can say that what I heard at The Magic Stick last night was, more or less, more of the same. And we're all quite pleased at that. May the Toadies continue to epitomize grunge! They need only keep it up for another five years or so. At which point the 90's will have finally edged the 80's out, becoming a retro fad. Wherein the Toadies can again reign at the top of the charts, where they so deservingly belong to be.

DIY Street Fair

I saw two bands at the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale last night. If the DIY website is to be trusted, the name of the first band was 'Outrageous Cherry.' A particularly suggestive title considering both the drummer and bassist appear to be of fetchingly non-consensual ages.

Once you pop the fun don't stop.
(Oh, that's really bad. I actually feel ashamed.)

Then came 'Goober and the Peas.' I don't know how to feel about this one. They were an entertaining act, and yet...

The band thinks less of the crowd for showing up.

Afterwards we stopped in at a bar where they didn't serve my kind. Ordering a beer turned out to be too complex a transaction for me to complete without assistance and since no one had an abacus and there was only one copy of Lenin's summary of Hegelian dialectics to go around, I remained thirsty.

Another Goober advertises his wares.

In conclusion: Someone needs to knock Ferndale down off its high horse. And I'm just the man to do it!

Flo TV

For those so impossibly, hopelessly, helplessly addicted to the pandering, ignorance, falsehood, egotism, and slow-death of television: Now you can take your killer with you!

Durrr... I like TV!

Another 'something' for you to stare vacantly at in the public space while breathing through your mouth and failing to interact with reality. That is when you aren't breaking conversations to stare slack-jawed into your palms, while thumbing a few 'lols,' you fucking twat.


'Away' by The Toadies

[UPDATE: I've deleted this video because... I don't have to explain myself to you people.]

It's a banner day for recording. First 'I'm Impressed' by TMBG, now a mad Toadies cover!

Atop which its the first video from my new pad, as well as the first to feature the trashy little electric guitar I'm holding in stead for my sister, who will almost surely never get it back. Muahaha.

I've been training my voice up to this Toadies cover. I still have some difficulty keeping my throat open throughout the whole song to hit those highest highs, as you may or may not notice here. It's one of those performances that I can only do successfully once or twice a day. After that my larynx mumbles something derisive about the recording artist's union and walks off.

Anyway, this was the first take and the most successful. The vocals are a little back in the mix, but I'm satisfied. Note to audiophiles: The reverb heard here is natural. My new apartment has awesome acoustics. Though I admittedly didn't put them to grand use here.

And as always, watch out for white-guy knees!

'I'm Impressed' by TMBG


Ah, They Might Be Giants... When do you fail to entertain?

While I open myself to an all too obvious criticism by posting this, I do so both heedless and regardless. Here's an acoustic cover of TMBG's, 'I'm Impressed,' aided much by my present suffering under seasonal allergies. Seriously, more than one have remarked that my vocals sound better when I'm congested. If I'm ever going to make it in this business, it's going to take a lot of influenza!

Don't mind the inauspicious little coda. I'll find something better for future performances.

Touch my Muffins

I expanded my baking pedigree today when I attempted some simple from-scratch muffins. I was only planning to make a loaf of bread, but when I got to the second rising, I thought, "as long as everything's already dirty, why not use this next hour of thumb-twiddling to try something new." Those were my exact thoughts. Verbatim. Note the quotation marks.

But I quickly ran aground when I found I had no baking powder. I had baking soda on hand, but no powder. "What's the difference anyway?" I asked the internet. "Well," says the internet, "baking powder is really just baking soda, but with a palette-neutralizing acidic agent added to enable a steady release of the gases that promote rising; usually cream of tartar."

"But I don't have any cream of tartar, internet-sama. Would lemon-juice work? That's acidic. I've got that!"

"Uh, maybe."

So, I substituted 3/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda, added to the dry mix, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, added to the wet mix, in place of the 1 tablespoon of baking powder called for in the recipe. Then, for a filling, I threw in some raisins and brown sugar. It tasted good as a batter anyway. Let's see what we get:

In the pan.

Out of the pan.

That golden brown booty.

So we may have overshot the rising agent a tad. Still, they taste pretty good. At least my pantomime seems to think so!

I made pastry!

Was there ever any doubt?

They could be sweeter, actually. But what do I want for raisins and brown sugar? Anyway, next time we'll go 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and maybe they don't all come out looking like breast implants.

But what about the bread?

Even my bread looks sexy.

Best tasting loaf yet! Though I need to work on my shaping method. This rolling it up and tucking it under business gives the ends more lift than the middle.

That's going straight to my hips.

Space Band Live - Track 5


I'm living on 4th Street in Detroit where local artists known as 'Space Band' practice/jam/perform occasionally. Space Band is a percussion-oriented groove band that creates sound and music spontaneously using a myriad of instruments; and certain other objects that don't really qualify as instruments. I've quickly fallen in love with their music for its depth, layering, and unapologetic art.

Before I start sounding any more like some douche-critic, I'll get to the point. Last week I heard Space Band tuning up down the block, so I came sailing out of my apartment building and down the sidewalk with a Zoom H4 handheld digital recorder mounted atop a monopod in tow. I placed my recorder in an out of the way spot, sat down, and enjoyed the show. The H4 captured the performance startlingly well and after a four-hour mastering session, it sounds like absolute gold.

So: despite having yet to provide the band with a chance to vet my work, I am summarily jumping the gun and proudly presenting the world with track 5 off the album I'm calling:

'Space Band - Live From the Mothership'

Goodnight Fishes

Why, that didn't last long at all. Either the female population is getting less appealing or I'm getting wiser in my old age, because I've already closed up shop on the personals hunt. However, I couldn't leave the floor without airing some selfish commentary on my way out. (I never can.) I changed my profile title to "Nevermind." and learning from Kurt's mistake, aimed the shotgun at someone else.

My parting words follow:


I guess I'm just not cut out for the online personals scene. Honestly, the way things are going I have to wonder if I'm cut out for interaction with females at all. I don't seem to know how to talk to you. I know I'm being funny, witty, and intelligent. I try to start off on a resoundingly upbeat and positive note. Yet every attempt I make seems to end in some form of dejection.

I think my problem lies in the effort to represent myself fairly. I try to be honest and to the point with you, and you almost always recoil from it. Apparently you prefer a little more horse sh*t up front; a little more of the magic kingdom treatment when things first get started. And I suppose I must be coming off too real and uncomposed; too interested when I'm interested; too in love when I'm in love.

Therein lies your problem too: You want honesty in the long run: a truthful, straight-talking guy who won't walk around on you. But in the first instance you want someone to play a little coy; be a little aloof; make you wonder; get you excited. In other words you want a guy who'll lie to you on the first date, and be absolutely truthful by the six month anniversary. The problem with that is: most guys who will lie to you on the first date will lie to you on your wedding day and all the days thereafter. So you mostly end up picking ***holes, because ***holes are everything a girl wants, if only for the first two or three months.

No, I haven't had much luck on this site. I'd like to say that most of that is your fault. I read the ads on here and I can't believe the ignorance, simplicity, and repetition of it all. You have no idea how many of you say the exact same things in your profiles, nor how frequently what you say has absolutely no substance to it whatsoever. Otherwise at least half of you aren't really looking for anything out of these ads other than a fluff to the ego, or the sense that you're "trying" when you really aren't. And atop that a great lot of you are unabashed, outright liars, marketing yourselves in a light that couldn't be reproduced with a twenty kilo-watt bulb beaming down from a low cloud in God's heaven.

Seriously, the most physically attractive lot of you are obviously only on this site to stroke your own vanities. You give me three hollow lines of text that tell me nothing whatsoever as your description, and then pair that with eighteen pictures of cleavage, tattoos, exposed mid-riff, and bathing-beauty shots. Gee, what a great personality you've presented here. I really want to get inside your mind . By the way, is that mind of yours a 'C' cup or...? These girls are just collecting emails from horny morons as a testament to their physical dimensions. I'm sure it's a real boost to the ol' ego, ladies, but some of us are here for a reason, and you're just getting in the way.

And while I'm near the topic, what sort of double-standard is it that the women 'round here feel so free to post shots looking confirmedly down their push-up-bras, but meanwhile deride any man who dares post a picture displaying more than his hair and teeth? So wait: you can show me the tattoo that starts at the bottom of your right breast and disappears at the base of your inner thigh, but if I post a shirtless something, taken at a beach, I'm some kind of jack ass? You're in a sun dress with back-lit silhouette detailing every line of your nude body, but if I'm featured in a snap wearing bike shorts, that makes me a prima donna? Only the girls get to be pretty, then? Is that it?

Then we have the obese contingent - no small population (PUN!) - who simultaneously lay bear the desire to receive honesty and forthrightness from potential mates and suitors, only to then post the most deceptive and misleading self-photography they can lay hands on. Pictures from high school; from three years and thirty pounds ago; pictures taken in fun house mirrors; pictures shot with vertically distending lenses equipped to the cameras. And my god! how you women manage to find the exact poses, angles, and lighting that will mask acknowledgement of your own heaving third dimensions... The 'hard-lit, downward angle, neck up, sucked-in cheek shot' is just prolific on this site. You don't think that makes you a bit of a liar? a bit of a game-player just like you claim to hate with such passion? when you display a picture that says, "Hi, I'm 130lbs," and then show up on our date with a body that confesses, "eh, more like 180." Might I suggest you don't ask others to provide you with levels of honesty you can't be bothered to bring to the table yourselves?

In fact, there's something creepy about most of the photography on this site. It's become more and more conspicuous as I've browsed more and more profiles that most women know exactly their best side, angle, pose, and facial expression. If you look carefully you can see them making the same face in every shot; turning and lifting their heads by exactly the same slight degrees. To think that women, en masse, as a race and gender, have spent that much time preening before mirrors in the pursuit of their most favorable likenesses, and once found, then trained themselves to adopt that pose the instant someone brandishes a camera... What wretched fate is this? What self-inflicted egoism! What hitherto unfathomable vanity deigns turn truth to fiction and kill the spontaneity of a simple photo!

And the content of these profile descriptions! Sweet lord, was my entire generation's female population spoon fed lead paint chips throughout childhood. The retardation here is perverse.

So, you love your friends and family, eh? They "mean the world to you?" Is that right? See now: that's actually the kind of thing you don't have to say aloud. "I like my friends," is a statement that tells me you aren't too damned bright. See: because, everyone likes their friends. That's why we call them 'friends,' and not '***holes.' Now, if you told me you loved ***holes; that ***holes meant the world to you; well then I'd be impressed for you are truly an evolved being who has overcome the childish discriminations of humanity. As it is, though: telling me you love your friends and family is kind of like shouting, "I eat food!" and it sounds as dumb.

Besides which it is one of the many things you all say in near unison. I can only hope that you have no idea how many other women have written the exact same sentences in their profiles. I but pray that you are not intentionally being this redundant. Though even if you are unaware it speaks poorly of the whole gender that so many should categorize themselves so similarly; not to mention with such shallow, empty statements.

"I love my friends," "I like to have fun," "I like to go out, but I also like to cuddle on the couch with a movie," "I like pretty much any kind of music," "I enjoy travelling."

You see how all these statements are actually non-statements. They're what we call filler. They express and reveal nothing about you as an individual. Most of them amount to saying, "I enjoy things that are enjoyable." So when you use these phrases, you are wasting everyone's time displaying a mock aloofness that you're not even conscious of -- and no one wants to date the semi-conscious. Except, of course, the semi-conscious.

And what's with this trend of putting up a personals ad wherein you expressly tell me that you are too busy to actually have a relationship with me? Every third person on here is going to school while working full time and volunteering three nights a week somewhere, and they expect someone to voluntarily attach themselves to this scheduling quagmire as some kind of perfunctory Boy-Friday. Listen, I understand that you want it all, ladies, but if you can't make time for finding it, then you don't get to have it, okay -- case closed. Move on. Don't waste our time. What you're telling me when you put up ads describing your own lack of availability is that:

a.) You expect me to do some kind of magnificent, wooing, dance of the gods that will impress you enough to make a hole in your otherwise impenetrable schedule, just to try me out. And:
b.) If after that herculean effort to sequester a first date, we should actually hit it off, you'll only be immediately available to me in tiny increments, leaving me to await patiently the whims of your date book.

Gee, I can't wait to dive head first into that relationship. Let me make all the effort for both of us, so that you can have the convenience of occasionally pulling me down off the curio cabinet to play house for a spell. Awesome!

Intelligence is a big factor for me when I'm looking through these profiles and, to date, the female population of this site has represented itself rather poorly on that field. From the quality and content of your profiles I can only glean that you are at least not so intelligent as to bother displaying that intelligence when trying to attract a mate. That elucidates your priorities pretty vividly for me. Clearly the majority of you are not looking for smart men. If you were then you would unruffle and display some of your own IQ-feathers as lure, and I say here, once and for all, you have not done that.

Well, I sort of started out maudlin and turned quickly caustic, didn't I? I've been watching a lot of Dennis Miller comedy specials, so... Anyway, I say all the above to say this: I think we're done. You're just not good enough for me and this has already been a great waste of time.

Goodnight fishes.