TOM WAITS almost certainly doesn't care what I thought of last night''s show at Chicago's Auditorium Theater. After all, Waits is considered by some to be one of the world's greatest living songwriters, melding rock, jazz noir, swampy blues and clanking vaudeville music into his unmistakeable sound. Someone who has a virtual second career suing companies that try to rip off his songs and sound for commercials. A guy working overtime to stop ticket scalpers and counterfeiters from charging Stones and McCartney-level prices on eBay for tickets for this tiny tour to promote Orphans, a collection of "orphan" Waits songs not due until November. A man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. But fwiw, I thought the show very cool indeed. Very simply staged and lit, because Tom Waits and his music have all the theatrics you need for an evening.
Let's go to the audio-video. You can watch Waits talk to David Letterman about homework and an artistic horse before playing "Make It Rain," the number Waits opened with last night (and a scorcher of a version at that). Other highlights of the first part of the set included "God's Away on Business" and "All The World Is Green," which some YouTuber inexplicably used for a LotR fan video.
After a while, the band (except stand-up bassist Larry Taylor) left and a piano was rolled centerstage, where Tom recalled living near Belmont and Sheffield (expressing dismay that it's a nicer neighborhood now) before playing "Tango Til They're Sore." He then told a variation on the joke at the start of this clip of "Johnsburg, Illinois" before playing "Tom Traubert's Blues" (you can also see bootleg video of his Aug 5th rendition in Nashville). When the rest of the band returned (including Tom's son Casey on drums), the set tended to favor some of the weirder Waits (as if regular Waits isn't), including the announcement that it was "storytime" before Waits launched into the funny paranoia of "What's He Building?" The latter part of the regular set tended to favor his bluesier side, with mid-tempo numbers like "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard."
The end of the set and encore included "Murder in the Red Barn" and "The Day After Tomorrow' -- the latter being a shoo-in geographically and topically. A second encore included "Singapore" (iirc) -- and this bootleg video from Memphis shows how Waits and the band would dramatically take the stage from behind curtains. The finale of the evening was "Time," which happens to be a favorite Waits track of mine. A wonderful evening, but if you want even more Waits there's plenty to stream via the Hype Machine -- if you select one of the players at the top of the HM page, it's like a Waits jukebox!
THE CANDY BARS and THEATER FIRE, two bands that would sound at home on the Garden State soundtrack, are the focus of an audio feature from NPR's All Things Considered.
THE SHINS: Speaking of the Garden State soundtrack, The Shins have pushed the release of their next disc to 2007. The band has ditched UK festival dates to keep recording.
BEIRUT frontman Zach Condon talks to New York Magazine about working to live up to the band's early buzz and live down its suddenly topical name. The writer describes Beirutís songs as "like the lush score to a movie about Gypsies and bohemians." You can hear them yourself via the Hype Machine.
PATE BASSIST MIKE KELLY recently reminded me that in the bizarre world of eBay, Pate is considered a hip-hop dance band.
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: Stereogum has great set of photos taken backstage at Lollapalooza with the Canadian collective and a minute of "7/4 Shoreline" taken from the press pit. You can see the whole song also, albeit from further back in the crowd. The happy medium of sound quality to distance may be this clip of "Stars and Sons," but the ladies of BSS only make a cameo on this number, during the audience participation segment. Of course, for even better sound quality, there's plenty more BSS streaming via the Hype Machine.
MALAJUBE, a band with a sound music blogger Kayhryn Yu rightly compares to "The Flaming Lips or the Super Furry Animals, with a touch of The Beatles at times," makes NPR's Song of the Day with "Montreal -40C." If only the band wan't French.
MUSIC RECOMMENDATION SERVICES: Pate fan Denise Fryzek recently e-mailed me to gush about the music-recommendation-service-Internet-radio-station Pandora. I haven't blurbed the topic recently, so it's worth revisiting for our many new visitors. Pandora streams and recommends music to listeners based on its Music Genome Project, which involves a team of musicians analyzing a song's inherent qualities -- melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, etc. -- as the basis of its recommendations. In contrast, competing services, such as Last.fm, use profiles generated by its users to make recommendations. For example, folks who like the Jesus & Mary Chain and Echo & the Bunnymen also tend to like the Velvet Underground. These services are based on a business model of exploiting what Chris Anderson has famously called the "Long Tail." Anderson argues that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough, a la Amazon or Netflix. Anderson recently wrote about "The Rise and Fall of the Hit" in Wired magazine. Lee Gomes was skeptical of the "Long Tail" in a review of Anderson's book on the theory; Anderson responded on his blog; Nick Carr reprinted a reply from Gomes.
THE HIT FACTORY, home to recording sessions by John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Madonna and U2, is going condo.
PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer, recently seen again with supposedly sober supermodel Kate Moss, has done a painting in blood of himself a mystery naked woman. He has also been working on an anti-drug anthem with The Streets' Mike Skinner.
MAD MEL UPDATE: Apparently, the National Enquirer is prepping a story alleging that Mel Gibson has "indulged in years of cocaine and booze binges and torrid extramarital affairs." Meanwhile, Disney is shopping Gibson's upcoming Apocalypto to other potential distributors.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: Sources tell Page Six that Vanity Fair has landed the first photos of the Tom-Kitten -- taken by Annie Leibovitz and scheduled for publication this Fall.
JESSICA SIMPSON: The pneumatic blonde's creepy dad-manager, who reportedly told stories at an MTV meeting of helping her to fit for her first bra, is apparently close to getting the axe from both Jessica and sister Ashlee. Meanwhile, her post-divorce affairs seem to be fizzling (2nd item).
BRITNEY SPEARS looks much better heavily airbrushed. Teddy & Moo have the before-and-after shots.
ROBIN WILLIAMS has been admitted into rehab for alcohol abuse. He must have taken the flop of The Night Listener pretty hard.
VAUGHNISTON: US Weekly has Vaughn proposing to Aniston. Jen's rep denies it. Meanwhile, Britain's Star magazine has Aniston heartbroken that Vaughn has distanced himself and refuses to discuss marriage.
BRADGELINA: The ever-reliable Star magazine claims that Jolie has moved out, taking the kids with her, while US Weekly has Jolie still moved in.
POPE BENEDICT XVI wants to wear my red shoes.
BILL CLINTON is turning 60 on Aug. 17, but the birthday celebrations will continue for months, culminating with a private Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theatre on Oct. 29. Political observers point out that the New York festivities are well-timed to coincide with the 59th birthday Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, which is Oct. 26 -- just a week before Election Day. Of course, it will only be well-timed if Bill can keep his hands to himself. Or, more accurately, if he can keep those stories out of the media.
ANGIE HARMON regularly tantalizes her husband, former NY Giant Jason Sehorn, by donning sexy schoolgirl and French maid costumes. Excuse me; I'll be back in a moment.
KEVIN SMITH: You don't have to be a fan of Clerks or even Chasing Amy to enjoy the writer-director's story of working on a script for Superman Lives that demonstrates just how messed-up folks are in Tinseltown. You do, however, have to tolerate a Deadwood-level of profanity.
IRAQ: US troops arrested four Iraqi men in the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll, who was freed in March. Maj. Gen. Bill McCoy, who commands the Corps of Engineers in Iraq, responds to a WaPo story on reconstruction, but it appears that the paper can't be bothered to print it.
MIDEAST CONFLICT and the MEDIA: The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today finally noticed that bloggers are uncovering fraud and Hezbollah propaganda in the output of Reuters and other news outlets. The NYT tries to defend itself by noting it corrected its caption of the phony corpse in Tyre, though this correction went unnoticed by the paper's web edition (which tells you how many people ever see a newspaper's corrections). Meanwhile, the Israeli press is surveying still more photos coming out of Lebanon being challenged by bloggers.
IS HEED THE WORLD'S SMALLEST CAT? The Guinness Book of Records thinks he's on track to beat the current record holder, Mr. Peebles from Illinois...
BEAR WRASSLIN': In hindsight, Jeff Morris concedes it was "the absolute epic moment of stupidity in my life."
A SIX-FOOT SWORDFISH was caught less than a mile off the coast of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland --two or three thousand miles away from its natural habitat in the Mediterranean.
PET HOARDING: This time, it's 300 pit bull terriers from a suspected dogfighting ring found at a Liberty County, TX residence where a man bled to death after being shot in the leg last week.
A JUMPING STRUGEON knocked a 23-year-old man on a personal watercraft unconscious, way down upon the Suwannee River. You're gonna need a bigger boat.