I'd been sick last week. Sort of fighting it with various potions, and feeling sort of okay, actually. But uphill battles. I'd been hanging around with sick people, though. Hard 2 avoid.
Friday night I went to the Knitting Factory and I saw the Raincoats. The opening acts were Viv Albertine from the Slits and Soft Power, Mary Timony's new band. I saw the lead singers of Sleater-Kinney in the audience. Pretty mind-blowing.
Viv Albertine was fucking transcendent. She told some stories in between her songs, which were so beautifully arranged. Some of her stories seemed at first like she was maybe free-associating, but then she'd arrive at these little points, right before her songs, and everything would click into place. Really genius stuff. She began onstage by talking about how so much has happened in the 25 years since she stopped playing music (in the Slits). Saying (I'm paraphrasing) "There's so much to write about. So many things have happened." One thing she spoke about is her father passing away a few years ago, and realizing how heavy that was, how her relationship with her father has affected her love life, and how her current love life isn't really working for her. She said "Yeah, so now I don't believe in love. I only believe in things I can see and feel." and began playing her first song. Really smart, and very heavy. She looked fucking amazing. She mentioned her clothing in a story involving Sid Vicious, saying "Y'know, by the way, that look, I started that. Y'know, Madonna, nobody wore combat boots with a tutu before I did, and I wore them to run away from trouble I got into with Sid." Kind of surreal to hear b/c actually Viv Albertine did in fact "start that look" and a million others. The sounds she makes on her guitar, the way she thinks about music have influenced generations of other artists up to and including yours truly, of course. A wonderful set. Here she is performing on Friday night, the song "Confessions of a MILF"
I was really amazed. Soft Power was next and they were so good! I got their 2-song CD but I haven't listened to it yet. But they were pretty heavy. I would definitely use the word "groovy" to describe them. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I had never actually seen Ms. Timony perform live before. Pretty magickal.
Then the Raincoats took the stage. It was a totally perfect set of nearly every Raincoats song I could ever dream of hearing them play. They sounded fucking fantastic. They played a couple gems off of my favorite of their albums, Odyshape, including my favorite Raincoats song ever, "Shouting Out Loud". There was only one song I couldn't place (and not to brag but I have every Raincoats record ever, just saying). Vice Cooler was drumming and did, I thought, a really fantastic job. The crowd was not so huge that it was intimidating, but I definitely had the sense that we all knew the words to nearly every song. It was really a trip.
I never in a million years thought that I'd see the Raincoats perform. Really. I had seen Gina Birch do a solo set, playing some of the brilliant Hangovers songs in 2000 and I figured that was as close as I was ever likely to get. This was amazing.
A lot of people listen to the Raincoats because of Kurt Cobain. He was seen as largely instrumental in helping to get their first three albums reissued on DGC, and encouraging them to reunite, and ultimately make 1996's brilliant and underrated Looking in the Shadows. Personally, I listen to the Raincoats instead of Nirvana. They are, to me, the bread and butter of punk-rock. Theirs is the standard to which I measure almost everything else. They're like basic elements to me. I am as surprised as anyone else that there wasn't a bigger deal made about this recent reunion tour, though I suppose them selling out the Knitting Factory sort of kept the event quiet. We all felt so lucky to see them. I sort of assume that everyone else likes the Raincoats too, and we all know everything about them. There seems to be little to add here. They're brilliant. They're the Raincoats. Duh.
The next night, I opened for Ana Da Silva and the Hawnay Troof each doing a set at Starr Space. We all went out to dinner with the really amazing organizer Joseph before the show. It was something of a trip to be talking about music with these folks. Vice Cooler / Hawnay was really inspiring and amazing, both personally and onstage. Ana's set, comprised of songs from her solo album The Lighthouse, was really beautiful. The always correct Anthony Thornton DJ'ed the event. It was pretty much a wonderful time. Viv and Anne Wood (Raincoats violinist) joined Ana onstage for two songs: "Adventures Close to Home" in which they had googled the lyrics and projected them onstage (so we could all sing along) and their cover of "Lola". Everyone in the crowd seemed to feel like we were all part of something special. After the show I had a chance to tell Viv Albertine how much I enjoyed her set, and she had watched mine and said we were similar because we both talked a lot onstage. We also spoke breifly about clothes. My mind is kind of blown. Sort of a really amazing special night.
Went out for some ill-advised drinks with the crew, ill-advised cuddle and late sessions ensuing. Spent Sunday foraging in Chinatown for various condiments and went home and got very ill. Spent all of Monday laying in bed and then, now, feel sort of okay again.
But I still have a cough.