Wednesday · Bogart's
During the past few weeks, several bands that played the stand-alone, three-day Lollapalooza festival in Chicago have been routed through the Cincinnati club circuit. Wednesday night, Papapalooza himself, Perry Farrell, swings through with his band Satellite Party, promoting the band's debut, Ultra-Payloaded.
At Lollapalooza, Farrell was, as would be expected, everywhere (he even did a set on the kids' stage, where he played "Pets" and "Whole Lot of Love" for the little ones). Lolla has been Perry's baby since the very beginning. Based on one of those "big ideas" Farrell seems to get and run with every once in a while, Lollapalooza was as synonymous as the words "Grunge" and "Nirvana" when it came to the "Alternative revolution" in the early '90s, as years of hard work put into the underground by Punk pioneers, New Wave legends and "College Rock" heroes finally pushed "Alternative" music into the mainstream.
Farrell, of course, was already doing legwork for the revolution with his band Jane's Addiction, a magical group of Rock & Roll musicians who seemed like the Led Zeppelin of our time when they first started. But big dreams and big ideals can sometimes be followed by big disappointment. Jane's Addiction, also one of the best live acts of their era, imploded under a haze of ego, burnout and drugs, never reaching their full potential (despite leaving behind a trio of seminal albums). And Lollapalooza made a last ditch effort at survival by putting more commercially viable bands on the bill (Korn, Metallica and other groups whose fans would rather kick the shit out of "Alt" music fans than hang out at a concert with them). Alternative music had its foot in the door (a good legacy for Farrell, regardless) long enough that it was co-opted to the point where, today, radio stations play Alice in Chains and Goo Goo Dolls and then call themselves an Alternative station. The AltRock revolution didn't die -- it just went back underground.
An attempt to reunite Jane's Addiction a few years ago resulted in some great live shows, and that's about it. The band's return album, Strays, sounded like a band desperately trying to copy Jane's at it's peak, but instead it ended up sounding like every other band that has nicked Jane's trademark sound and then turned it into something heartless and forced. I've been watching the HBO TV show Entourage since it has been on and just had to do a search to make sure that the theme song was indeed performed by Jane's (it is, but it sounds like a copycat). Thankfully, the band just stopped after that disaster of an album.
I never fully gave up on Farrell. Despite where his music has been, I've always loved reading or watching interviews with Farrell. I love his approach to art and how he sounds like an idealistic mystic when he talks about music. When I heard about Farrell's next project, Satellite Party, I was cautiously pessimistic. In 2005, I got a chance to see the band live (two years before Ultra-Payloaded came out) and, while the music didn't rock my world, I enjoyed seeing Perry be Perry. His maniacal energy has toned down a bit, but he still has a weighty presence on stage. Perry tried to tell the sun-sick crowd about the concept of Satellite Party -- something about a big party in outer space in the future -- but most of the people there were just happy to see him on stage again.
Ultra-Payloaded was finally released a few months ago and the reviews haven't been glowing, though some critics have found the concept album entertaining. There are some interesting musical ideas (Farrell flutters between heavier Funk/Metal to more danceable Electro and Disco moments), curious guests players (including Nuno from Extreme and Fergie from Black Eyed Peas) and a few good songs, but nothing with the staying power of Farrell's previous work.
But if his most recent Lolla appearance a couple of weeks ago with the Party is any indication, Perry is still something to see live -- a genius frontman who can enrapture an entire field of people with a smile and silly/uplifting affirmation or two. And he's playing Jane's songs live again (including "Mountain Song" and "Stop").
So if you were ever a Perry fan, catching Satellite Party is still worth the effort. While his new album might not get glued into your car's CD player like Nothing's Shocking, a chance to see Perry perform on stage is something not to be missed. (Mike Breen)
Glorytellers featuring Geoff Farina
Wednesday · Southgate House (Parlour)
Three things are readily apparent about Geoff Farina: he is almost supernaturally driven to create music in a wide variety of forms and across a broad spectrum of styles and applications; he is insanely talented in this particular regard; and he doesn't like me.
Well, not me personally but music journalists in general. Some of his pointed observations durning interviews about the sad state of music criticism and the people writing it made me want to either return to graphic design or open a vein in a warm tub with a nice pinot noir and a joint.
But that would be counterproductive to the task at hand, which is to persuade you in a few hundred words to experience Farina's hushed solo presentation in a live context. To this end, you should know (if you don't already) that Farina was the frontman and guitarist for the Prog/Jazz-flecked indie Rock unit Karate, a group whose sound was forged at the intersection of intensity and quietude. Additionally, Farina has been active for years with downtempo Folk/Pop duo The Secret Stars which he maintains with musician/painter Jodi Buonanno. Farina also boasts membership in an Italian Folk/Punk outfit called Ardecore (which translates to "Burning Heart") and has composed for an amazing number of indie films and film projects.
During the past decade and a half, Farina -- who received his bachelor's degree from the Berklee College of Music and his master's from the University of Massachusetts -- has toured relentlessly, performing more than 1,000 shows in nearly two-dozen countries. He is an accomplished equipment designer and he writes regularly about guitars and related gear for TapeOp magazine. In addition, Farina and Buonanno rehabbed a historic building, converting it into the Grange Hall, a gorgeous space featuring recording studios, art studios and living spaces.
And if Farina should be out there reading this and further grumbling about the decaying state of music writing in the new millennium, it should be noted that his surname is also the nickname of one of the Little Rascals. That's the kind of trivia that wins bar bets. (Brian Baker)