Archive for July 2006
Brant, Bronwen and I decided to travel south to Rhode Island last night to see Waterfire. Waterfire started out as an art installation by a RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) student a few years back, and was so popular that it has been continued and expanded upon each summer to the point of it becoming a cultural phenomenon.
We had no idea what to expect outside of rumors of street performers, a live jazz band, and fires burning along the rivery waterway that intersects the city. Upon arriving in Providence, I began to understand that it might just be a little bigger than that.
Providence is a neat city; it’s like Boston in it’s age and stature, but has an industrial feel that makes the city feel gritty and kind of blue-collar-with-European-aspirations. I liked it. It has a lot of neat old brick buildings and cobblestone roads, with some really beautiful spots around the RISD campus.
We parked and walked down to the festivities. The river, which was at the center of activity, was about 15 feet wide and seemed to run indefinitely through the city. In the center of the river, about every 15 feet, were metal baskets mounted on blocks that had (unlit) chopped firewood piled in them. These baskets seemed to go on way down the river.
There were vendors were selling food and hundreds of families were milling around prior to the opening ceremony of the show. Brant, Bronwen and I found a stand selling Indian food, and sat down near a statue to eat.
Halfway through my pakora, this weird, slighly ominious music started emanating from what seemed like the belly of the nearby river. It started out quietly and slowly, but began building with an intensity that was a little unsettling. There were gongs and drums and didgeridoo that was like something proceeding a cannabalistic cermony or a tiki sacrifice. Brant made a joke about the giant god of fire arising angrily out of the river to light each of the baskets of wood with his giant, flaming hand.
Young men dressed in striped shirts were rowing gondolas down the river, full of people sipping wine and coctails and enjoying the river.
The music only got louder and weirder and more intense, to the point where it was making me laugh or uncomfortable, I’m not altogether sure. These Providence people were taking the pre-lighting-of-the-fire ritual very seriously. Pleasing the god of fire was not something to be taken lightly.
After dinner, the three of us started venturing down the banks of the river further, and the sun was beginning to set. The crowd got more dense as we traveled down the length of the city and the music had a palpable effect on the mood of the people; I could feel the tension rising a notch everytime the mallet would strike the gong.
The wood baskets in the river went on and on, until finally we came to the mouth of the river where it ended in a large circle, sort of like the shape of a long thermometer. About 7 or 8 thousand people were gathered here, mostly sitting or milling through looking for places to sit or stand. In the river were a circle of firewood baskets, about 15 of them.
Once completely dark outside, the music had changed slightly to a lighter tone. Soon after we arrived at the circle, we saw a boat arrive filled with about 15 people all dressed in black. They began rowing around the baskets and lighting them on fire. Meanwhile, this man standing in this canoe dressed like a white ghost pirate was being rowed around, throwing long stemmed roses up at the audience from the river. He was theatrical, mysterious, and just a tad bit queer. We immediately dubbed him the Fire Spirt.
We braved the thickest parts of the crowd to take a some pictures of the fires and to catch a closer glimpse of the illusive Fire Spirit.
Shrouded in mystery, the Fire Spirit glides by as I desperatly try to capture some proof of his gossamer countenance. Without it, will we ever really know if he was real? Or just a product of our fire-addled brains?
Brant & Bronwen explain the story of of the Fire Spirit. Unfortunately, their voices are kinda drowned out by the rather loud music playing.
Soon after, we met up with Ashely and Hugo, to watch the rest of the fire lighting ceremony from a balcony on a clock tower. We had a pretty good view, but the show was pretty much over by then, as the lighing crew + Fire Spirit had moved down river to finish lighting the rest of the fires.
We decided to go in search of refreshment, and left the park and headed into the nearby mall, which is really really giant. We went to the food court for lemonade and a break from the crowds (not really).
Then, we went back out towards the river where the crowds were beginning to move out. We slowly wandered down the length of the river, about a mile or so, listening to the music, which had regained its eerie intensity post-fire-lighting. We traveled underneath some bridges, by some big chandeliers, really close to the fires, and for the first time, I think I got it: The combination of the rudimentary fires and the brooding tone of the music on the river gave Providence the feeling of an ancient city. Like a burning Rome. It was neat, and even a little romantic. Not having anyone to hold hands with, I instead pestered Ashley and Hugo, Brant and Bronwen.
We stopped to see a jazz band in an area that reminded me of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but the band was taking a break, so we didn’t get to see any music. We arrived at the end of the fires, where were had eaten the Indian food a couple of hours before, and stopped to watch a bunch of street performers. There were some really neat ones; people dressed up like a variety of mythical creatures & gods, such as gargoyles and some Egyptian gods (totally painted in gold!). There were Trojan warriors and girls dressed like dolls, dancing, and pirates swashbuckling out on patches of grass. A mish-mash of times and cultures for sure, but fun nonetheless.
We went down to the river once more and sat along the edge, our feet dangling over, staring at the fires and listening to the music. I took this picture:
And Ashley took a picture of me, which I kind of like, even though it is not in complete focus and I look all sweaty:
Currently listening to Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins
Tuesday, July 25, 2006. Boston Paradise Rock Club. I showed up to the Paradise about 6:45, the doors were supposed to open at 7, show at 8. However, Jason & Co were running late from New York, and didn’t even arrive at the venue until about 8:15-8:30. The reason I know this is because they pulled up in front of the Paradise in Jason’s white Chrystler Town & Country (“which hasn’t seen a whole lot of country”), complete with Montana plates, and parked right in front. Jason and two guys immediately hopped out and hurriedly started dragging their equipment into the club. I thought it was neat that they were carrying everything for the tour, including themselves, inside the modestly-sized van.
Anyway, after about 30 minutes or so, the bouncers opened up the doors and the small crowd that had waited patiently outside, some of us for two hours, began to filter in.
It was interesting for me to see all the people that had come out for the show; I’m always interested in observing people who are Grandaddy/Jason Lytle fans, and interested in seeing what they look like. The crowd included a decently wide variety of ages, from probably about 18-55. It consisted of about 2/3 guys, and all the women that were there were attached to guys…I think I was one of the few (if not only) single girls there, and definitely the only girl there by myself. There were probably a total of 60 people for the show–which was pretty small, but I was glad that it was.
When I got inside, I was surprised to see folding chairs set up on the floor, which lent the atmosphere more towards an arty recital than a rock show–it caught my interest. On stage, in front of a sensuously-lit gorgeous red velvet curtain, was a table set up with a drum machine, a synth, some amplifiers and a mish-mash of other random instruments: a tambourine, guitars, cymbals, and two recorders among them. In the center of the table was a small, warmly-lit table lamp which had two set lists taped to either side of it’s cream-colored shade.
I ordered a Corona and sat down in the front row, to the left side of the stage. Nik Freitas came out shortly after and began singing. He was a sweet-tempered folk singer, dressed in a soft brown and white plaid shirt, the kind you see on kind suburbanite guys who spent lots of their free time fishing. He played an acoustic guitar and sang. He had sad, soulful lyrics and a voice that reminded me a lot of Paul Simon. He played about 8 songs or so. I liked him.
Jason hopped out on stage 15 minutes later with another guy I with whom I was unfamiliar, later introduced as Rusty Miller, a friend of Jason’s from California who plays in a band called Jackpot (must check them out later). Jason was boyish and timid, wearing sneakers, brown shorts and a white short sleeve oxford underneath a gray hoodie that covered his face and green farmer’s cap–the typical Jason Lytle uniform. Rusty was wearing a brown button down Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat that made him look like he had just come from a sea-side bar on a tropical beach.
Jason’s movements, as he entered the stage, were practiced but hurried, which made him seem a tiny bit awkward…could it have been he was nervous? Right away he took off his sneakers and lined them up and shoved them neatly to the side of the table, as if he had just walked in the door to his house–made me giggle a little. He sat down in a small director’s chair, with his feet fidgeting uncomfortably in his thin gray socks, and without looking at the crowd or saying anything, they started playing “Summer it’s Gone”.
Being the second time I’ve seen him play, I feel like I’m beginning to understand his playing style…he doesn’t really acknowledge the crowd much at first, but it never seems like he’s snubbing the audience; more like he’s trying to pretend they’re not there so he doesn’t get anxious? I’m not exactly sure, but it doesn’t come off as rude, more like he’s certain that the people are only there to hear the music, not see the guy playing the instruments.(But Jason, we came to see both!) Usually later he opens up a bit, as he becomes more comfortable, and begins telling little stories here or there.
The songs were stripped down and simplified, with Rusty accompanying him on vocals and percussion with the cymbals or tambourine. The concert, due to the seating arrangement, small audience, red velvety curtain, yellowy lighting and soft, gentle sound was very intimate and felt cozy and warm. The concert had both a similar and a different feeling from the Other Music show in NYC. It was great to hear the songs live. Due to lack of more people playing more instruments, it sounded less spacey than the albums, but was more visceral because of the close proximity I was sitting to the two guys and the instruments.
Next door, at the Paradise Lounge, some other band was covering Ozzy music and we could all hear the pounding of the guitar and screaming vocals coming through the wall. At one point, it was coming through so loud between Grandaddy songs that it made us all laugh, and Jason said something to the effect of it sounding “like a torture chamber over there”. Good stuff.
The set was pretty long, about 15 songs or so, and every minute of it was truly enjoyable. I was kinda sad they didn’t play anything from Under the Western Freeway, but oh well, maybe another time. (At least I got to hear “Go Progress Chrome” at Other Music).
During the show I decided I didn’t like my view of the side of the stage, so I walked up behind the chairs and stood next to the bar for a better view. While there, I took a bunch of pictures, and filmed them playing “Levitz”.
Overall, it was a very chill, very laid-back concert, and after it was all over, I left feeling really relaxed and content. After they left the stage, people clapped for a long time, but they didn’t come back out for an encore. I guess it would have been nice, but I didn’t mind that they didn’t.
I thought about trying to go talk to him afterwards, cause I know he’s good about talking to the fans, but honestly, what could I say but thank you? I never have the right words to say to musicians…especially ones I love.
I was so happy to just jump on the T and be home within 15 minutes; and I relished the fact that I live in a city where awesome musicians come through town, so that I don’t have to drive forever to see them. That’s one thing I’ll miss about Boston when I leave…
Here’s the set list, in no particular order:
summer it’s gone
jed the humanoid
what can’t be erased
jed’s other poem (beautiful ground)
ghost of 1672
a valley son (sparing)
go in the go for it
protected from the rain
the crystal lake
Also, here is the video I took of “Levitz”. I didn’t get the first few seconds of the song, sadly, so it starts a bit abruptly. Jason has an effect on his voice, so you’ll notice it sounds kind of spacey/robot-y here…
Currently listening to my live version of “Levitz”.
Last night I went out bike riding. Met up with Maggie just outside of Harvard Square. We made a mad dash down Mass Ave, darting in and out of traffic like drunken kamikaze bike messengers. Woo hoo! We rode all around Cambridge, and ended up in Somerville to see Merlyn and Jenny for a bit at Rudy’s Café in Teele Square.
Although Boston isn’t the safest/friendliest city for street biking, it sure is one the most exciting! Traffic, pedestrians, other bikers and buses galore!
We went biking last Wednesday too, with Ariana. It’s so fun just to get out there and spend three hours riding until you’re completely, completely exhausted. My bike got a flat last Wednesday, so last night I took Ariana’s sweet new Jamis bike out cause she’s out of town, so wasn’t around to use it. I love her bike; it’s so strong and powerful. I need to get my flat fixed and get a tuneup, my bike is great but it really really needs to be tuned. Anyway, biking is a satisfying sport…I’m thinking of maybe joining a biking group once I move to Las Vegas.
Oh, and on a side note: it turns out, Merlyn might take my job when I leave! He’s going to meet with Justin when Justin gets back from his boxing tournament in Kansas City. If they get along well, he’ll probably just start working here towards the end of August.
Currently listening to “For the Dishwasher” by Grandaddy
The way I act when I am in a terrible amount of pain is always awful. I am at my lowest as a human being. All my movements are purely reactionary; I will give into whatever I think I need to make myself feel better. I scream at stuff, get super angry, and punch the wall.
This morning I woke up at 4:30, with a really bad case of menstrual cramps. I haven’t had them this bad in a couple of years. It was 4 hours of unending, escalating, cyclical pain and horrid nausea. I was screaming at the top of my lungs at the pain, vomiting, and cursing God for making me go through this awful shit. It’s especially unfair, these pains of fertility, because I’m not even certain I want children, but yet I have to suffer through this anyway.
This isn’t a “poor me” blog, but rather a sort of embarassed analysis of how base of an animal I become when in pain. I used to think I was a tough person, but I think the truth is I can’t handle pain.
I become a red faced, meat-fisted, sweating pig of a beast that can’t regard anything around me but the intense layers of my pain.
Currently listening to Amnesiac by Radiohead. Oh, and I feel better now, in case you were wondering.
There are few things in my life that I think about on an almost-daily basis. My trip to Venezuela is one of them. What a wonderful time! It was fall 1999, which is coming up on 7 years ago, I can’t believe how much time has passed, yet how vivid my memories are from those two months. I was 19 when we left, and 20 when returned to the US, and what happened to me while I was in that country is something I’ll cherish forever–nothing sudden or sweeping or big, but rather a series of small, delicate changes that have altered the way I think about everything.
How I would love to return to Venezuela, or South America. I think my next trip should be to Peru. I desperately want to see Machu Piccu.
I’ve always loved the idea of traveling…leaving something you know for something unknown…it’s exciting and addictive. Although I haven’t had a chance to venture outside of the US since 1999, I still have big plans to travel (once the government stops taxing the hell out of me and I can gain some ground.)
Anyway, that trip to Venezuela is treasured and adored. I’m glad we were required to keep journals on our adventures…
Principia still has up the site dedicated to our abroad containing a few of our journal entries…I was reading through them today and I found one that I always think of when I remember writing about Venezuela:
By Sarah Nichols
5:45 a.m. the roosters wake me up. But I’m not angry. They are the perfect alarm clock. I slowly and leisurely get out of bed and get dressed. I take my camera and head out to explore Los Nevados, a small pueblo in the Andes accessible only by mule or four-wheel drive jeep.
I go straight up because our inn is located at the bottom of a steep slope. The town is quiet. It is a very basic town with ancient buildings — only electric lights signal modernity. Rock roads and stucco buildings line the street. Everything is quiet except for the birds and the water rushing somewhere off in the distance. It is still completely dark.
I observe a farmer who has come out of his house to feed his mules. I climb to the road that hangs above the city. I watch the sunrise and the tiny town wake up as women begin to take clothes off the line. Children feed chickens and dogs are roaming. It is 6:45 now and I wander around to take some pictures. I walk back and encounter some Europeans in the Bolivar square. They think we are from Scandinavia. I talk to our guide back at the inn. He says I look like a friend from Australia.
We’re served an excellent hot bread of wheat, called an arepa, with blackberry jam, eggs and sugarcane juice, topped off with café con leche. I eat as much as I can; I know it’s going to be a long day.
We all mount our respective mules, donkeys or horses. I laugh at Gretchen, knowing she is hating this moment. Carly rides a donkey literally one foot off the ground. She reminds me of Sancho Panza. Michelle is scared of her horse, which realizes this and takes over. We travel in groups of four: me, Jace, Marnie and Bekah (plus our mule man, who hisses and haws at our beasts of burden to keep them going). The mules are incredibly strong and we make great time in the early sunny morning. We pass a flock of green and black parrots. I had forgotten that three-quarters of the way back is straight up. Although we give our mules occasional breaks, they lug us pretty much the whole way. Our group meets about 50 others at a bridge for a rest. We continue, now in overcast weather. Instead of taking seven hours, like our hike the day before, we reach the high point of the mountains in about 4-1/2 hours. I get off my mule and can barely walk. But our group begins walking the rest of the way, about an hour journey back to the cable cars, which take us back down to Merida. Half of our group goes to a hot springs but I am exhausted. I stick with the group going back home in the back of a big jeep. I sleep from 4:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day. Although this trip was treacherous, I feel great! When can we do it again?
Currently listening to…nothing, but instead remembering the lazy, relaxed way the locals said “Buenos” to us as we entered the village, as if life were something simple and undemanding.
For some reason, Night Me always says stuff or writes stuff that Day Me is consistently ashamed of. I stay up late on nights like these and have these thoughts…thoughts of nasty gender roles, horrid lonliness, self hatred, delirious hope, giddy enlightenment, happiest love or scariest fear. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, Night Me always thinks in absolutes and hyperboles. Day Me, especially Morning Me, is so way more sensible and less prone to extremes than Night Me, especially Late Night Me.
I don’t know why, but I always get all worked up and start writing this stuff down, or emailing long drawn out feelings to people. Something about being up late makes me feel all sentimental or smart or at least wordy. Allovasudden, I hit the irrevocable, irretrievable “send” button, and suddenly, it’s gone. It’s kind of like drunk dialing.
Then, I go to sleep. Then I wake up, and Day Me rolls eyes at Night Me and thinks to herself,
Jeesus, Day Me, you should never ever let Night Me write stuff again.
Day Me goes and re-reads what Night Me has written, and thinks to herself “Wordy, ostentatious, predictable, emotional, trite.”
But then again, Day Me doesn’t write a whole lot. Day Me leaves all the writing up to Night Me. And it’s Night, so I guess…
Achk, I’ll probably delete all this in the morning.
Going to see Jason Lytle at the Paradise tomorrow. I was going to go see the show with Tyler but he’s backed out now, says he has a prior commitment. Whatever, I don’t really care. I thought Chezdan might be coming, but it looks like he’s backing out in favor of a Kansas concert. Man, where are the real Grandaddy fans? None in Massachusetts, at least none that I know.
I whine, but, truth is, I don’t mind going to these concerts by myself. It’s always a very personal experience when Jason Lytle is involved. I get all wrapped up and reclusive and don’t want to talk to anyone about why I feel the way I do. It’s probably pointless to try to take anyone else with me anyway, cause it’s not something I’m really willing to share with anyone.
I don’t feel as nervous about seeing him play live as I did at the New York show. We’re not filming this one, and Bon won’t be there, and I don’t have to drive 5 hours to see the show. Don’t think I’ll get a chance to say hi to hims, but maybe at least I’ll be close enough to see how his face looks when he sings these songs. I guess I don’t even need to say hi to him again. I think it’s probably best that I keep a safe distance from him anyway, my adoration might be creating something out of him that he is really not, and if he is not that thing which I think, well then, I’d just rather not know.
I hope he plays First Movement/Message Fade.
Roses are red
Violets are not
Words are so clunky
But what else have I got?
Currently listening to I Got All Dressed Up to Record This, and other wonderful things by Jason Lytle