Speed! Nebraska at 10; Live Review: Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men

Category: Blog — @ 12:35 pm June 28, 2006

This week’s feature — a lengthy history lesson of Speed! Nebraska Records — went online last night. Read it here. You will discover how a band of merry men pulled their precious time and resources together to create an opportunity for Nebraska bands to be heard using a medium known as the vinyl 7-inch 45 rpm record. A quick aside: I recently discovered that not just a few, but many people don’t know what a 45 is, never heard of records, and don’t understand the concept of record players. Within the past day or so I’ve come across instances of two people in their 20s who had never heard of the term “45” or “7-inch.” One of these encounters was first-hand. It’s just more evidence that either 1) I’m getting old, or 2) the next generation is clueless. I guess we should never assume anything, especially details regarding music that seem obviously matter-of-fact. I still remember how baffled I felt the first time I talked to someone years younger than me who had never heard of Tom Jones. How could this be? Didn’t they grow up hearing “It’s Not Unusual” and “What’s New Pussycat?” and “She’s a Lady” on KFAB like everyone else? Laugh all you want, reader, but this painful reality will happen to you sooner than you think. I would love to see the expression on your face when you run into someone years from now who never heard of U2…

What to say about last night’s Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men set at O’Leaver’s (no longer the Wind-Up Birds, apparently)? Joyner and Co. came off like a band of Nashville veterans coming to after a three-day bender. More drone than I’ve ever heard from this ensemble, it reminded me of the Velvet Underground at their most atonal, with Joyner doing his best postnasal Lou Reed impersonation. It was downright mesmerizing in its cluttered, jambled genius. Bassman Mike Tulis kept the chaos together, god bless him, while everyone else glowed warmly within their own personal dissonance, lost somewhere between Hawkins’ and McManus’ improvisational experiments or Mike Friedman’s layer of shimmering pedal steel. Deden’s drumming continues to be defined by its minimalism because anything more would get in the way. I recognized favorite “One for the Catholic Girls” and one other oldie. And I’m sure there were a couple that will be forthcoming on the anticipated Jagjaguwar set, but I’m betting they won’t sound like this. The final number was a 10-minute drone factory that featured the lyric “final solution” emoted by Joyner like a shrill proclamation. It was 45 minutes of sonic anesthesia followed by the inevitable hangover, but like I always say, you never know what you’re going to get when Joyner takes the stage, and that’s what makes his sets so essential.

Opener Miracles of God was a ’90s punk-scream throwback to Sonic Youth and whatever SST garage band that your friend included on the end of that mixtape you used to play in your Datsun on the way to school that was at first annoying than catchy than annoying again, but, strangely, always the song you looked forward to most. They were energetic. Unfortunately their chutzpah wasn’t contagious.

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, Unwed Sailor and Spring Gun (Mr. 1986’s Micah Schmiedskamp’s band). Tomorrow on this Internet space, comments on the new Cursive CD in a column that also talks about homerism of a no-so-Simpsons variety…

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