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by Mike Breen 09.14.2012
Posted In: Reviews, Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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REVIEW: Tonefarmer's 'Helium 3'

Alt Rock quartet celebrates first LP in five years tonight in Northside

Local Indie Rock quartet Tonefarmer has returned with its first new recording in five years, Helium 3, which gets the “album release party” treatment tonight at the Northside Tavern. The band will be joined by Canoes and The Ready Stance for the free, 10 p.m. event.

Recorded with producer/bassist for The Afghan Whigs John Curley at his Ultrasuede Studios, Helium 3 is not only Tonefarmer’s first album since 2007’s Meanwhile, it’s also the first to showcase the band’s current steady lineup of Rob Hamrick (vocals/guitar, formerly of local pioneers Sleep Theatre), bassist Chris Mundy, guitarist Kevin Welch (The Underwoods) and drummer Todd Drake (Magnolia Mountain, Ruby Vileos). Given how impressive the band’s mature Dream Pop sounds on Helium 3, it’s a lineup they should probably stick with.

The album’s 10 tracks all hover in the same sonic realm — mid-tempo, emotive Pop/Rock songs buoyed by a swaying, hypnotic vibe and spacey atmospherics. But the lack of diversity from track to track is more than made up for in the strength of the songwriting and performances. Like the more grounded highlights of The Verve’s Urban Hymns album (think “Lucky Man” or “The Drugs Don’t Work”) or the softer, romantic moments of the Smashing Pumpkins, Hamrick and Co. have crafted a collection of compelling songs that stand as the best of their impressive discography.

Opening track “The Moon is Calling” sets the tone, beginning as an airy bed of string sounds and Hamrick’s distinct voice (like a smoother Frank Black) before building to Tonefarmer’s trademark style. The rhythm section’s rock-solid foundation allows the highly memorable and spine-tingling melodies and chiming, sparkling guitars to send the song into the stratosphere. Other highlights include the catchy “Weeds” (a single in waiting) and the lovely twilight-mellow and transcendent hopefulness of “Curious Longing,” the perfect closer.

Click here for more on Tonefarmer and here to preview and purchase Helium 3 (and other Tonefarmer releases). And check out this cool live clip of the group performing the album's lead track live at the Tavern late last year:


 
 
by Mike Breen 09.14.2012
 
 
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Daily MPMFer: Cloud Nothings, Shrub and More

MidPoint Music Festival news and recomendations as the countdown reaches 13 days

MPMF news and musings: Kick-ass longtime MPMF sponsor Dewey's Pizza is giving away a trio of special "Next Level Experience" passes for you and two of your closest friends (or, I suppose, you could give them to people you hate, though that would just be kinda weird).

If you win, you'll receive a three-day wristband and one night at the Dewey's Pizza/Grammer's stage in the best seat in the house (which appears to be a couch positioned very close to the stage). For more on Dewey's Next Level Experience contest, click here.

And now, with the countdown down to just 13 days, here are our daily MidPoint Music Festival 2012 picks, today featuring all Ohio artists …

BIG SHOT
Cloud Nothings (Cleveland, OH)
Punk Pop

From his parents’ basement, Dylan Baldi created and released several acclaimed lo-fi recordings as Cloud Nothings before his 2009 EP, Turning On, pinged the critics’ radar and scored positive reviews on all the right blogs. Almost immediately, Baldi had to assemble a band to play the gigs that were offered to him, resulting in lots of touring and his slightly shinier 2011 self-titled full-length. This year has seen the release of the even more expansive Attack on Memory and a string of upcoming opening dates for Silversun Pickups. Not a bad three years for a Hardcore obsessed kid from Cleveland.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: The idea of Tommy Keene and Kevin Seconds stirring up some Pop and some Punk for a Husker Du tribute. (Brian Baker)

Cloud Nothings perform at Midnight on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Cincinnati Club. Here's the official music video for Cloud Nothings' "No Future/No Past."

Cloud Nothings - "No Future / No Past" Official Video from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

SLEEPER PICK
Shrub (Columbus, OH)
Reggae/Hip Hop/Rock

Reggae, Rock and Hip Hop have been brought together numerous times before and often there’s a weak link, with artists skimping on at least one of the three ingredients (or lacking the talent to infuse it properly). Six-piece Columbus band Shrub doesn’t have that problem — the Reggae jumps from the speaker courtesy of the air-tight groove, while the Rock comes from the band’s inherent power (and power chords). Meanwhile, the way the group (which has recorded with Ohio Hip Hop giant Blueprint) uses its Hip Hop skills may be most impressive, showcasing fantastic MC verses and a DJ who doesn’t just offer a few “wiki wikis” here and there, instead threading each track with clever samples and scratches.
Dig: Sublime, G. Love, Gym Class Heroes drop the Pop, smoke a blunt and indulge their Reggae/Hip Hop fantasies. (Mike Breen)

Shrub performs Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club. Here's a clip for Shrub's track "Supergirl."



LOCAL LOCK PICK
Brian Olive (Cincinnati, OH)
Rock/Pop

After honing his skills as an original member of The Greenhornes, then later joining northern Ohio’s Soledad Brothers for a spell, Brian Olive struck out on his own to showcase his formidable songwriting skills and his ability to inhabit classic Rock and Soul styles without sounding throwback. After earning international attention for his 2009 debut album, Olive released Two of Everything in 2011, topping himself and distilling his seeming encyclopedic grasp on vintage R&B, Soul, Rock and Psych into a powerful sound brought to life with help from co-producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. When not working on other projects (like the latest Dr. John album), Olive and his band of local musicians travel throughout the U.S. (and occasionally Europe) frequently in support of the release.
Dig: ’60s Pop, Garage Rock, Soul, R&B, Jazz and Blues. (MB)

Brian Olive and his band perform Friday, Sept. 28, at the Vitaminwater Room/Hanke Building at 10 p.m. Here's a very cool promo clip for MPMF.12 featuring Olive's great tune "Strange Attractor." The clip was made by Big Media Company and directed by David Morrison (who local music fans will remember as the former drummer for The Ass Ponys and Ruby Vileos).

MidPoint Music Festival 2012 from Big Media Company on Vimeo.

Click here for full MPMF details via the official MidPoint site.

 
 
by Mildred C. Fallen 09.12.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Blowfly!

Rap influence and naughty, naughty man Blowfly brings his XXX-rated show to Newport

Blowfly hatched from Soul songwriter/producer Clarence Reid’s depraved imagination as his alter ego who loves to make parodies about, well, getting off.

As Blowfly, he rapped nasty ditties decades before Too Short and 2 Live Crew. In the ’70s and ’80s, Reid released a slew of Adults Only party records as Blowfly on his own Weird World record label, all the while writing and producing for R&B artists like Betty Wright, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, KC & the Sunshine Band — and himself.

At the time, fans of Reid (and even his family) didn’t know about his career as Blowfly. His appeal remained underground. Like Rudy Ray Moore, who also built his following imitating the street culture of signifying, Blowfly’s poetic toasts were tall tales about size and strength. On “Rapp Dirty,” he spits an outrageous storyline of him as a sexual superhero whipping the Ku Klux Klan with his tool. A 45 spelled “Rap Dirty” from 1965, with him rhyming to a beat like Southern radio disc jockeys, is considered by many collectors to be the first Rap record.

Even bawdier at 73, Blowfly still makes music, and in 2011, he was featured in a documentary about his career, The Weird World of Blowfly. (The film is available on Netflix; check out the trailer below). In it, the caped crusader’s very elderly mother remembers that he said his first cussword when he was 9 months old and told her his okra tasted “ass-ty.”

Blowfly is currently touring the Midwest and Canada on his “Porno Freak” tour.


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.31.2012
 
 
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Post-Fireworks Party Sunday at MOTR

Two stellar Ohio Indie bands perform free Labor Day eve show

If you still have the energy after ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the fireworks on the river Sunday night — or if you're avoiding them altogether because you hate crowds (I'll be live tweeting the TV broadcast of the fireworks for all you homebodies) — two great Ohio bands are performing for free at Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub immediately following the big booms.

The fireworks after-party kicks off with Columbus Indie Rock crew Indigo Wild, a crafty, eclectic band that has built a nice following in Cincy thanks to frequent performances in the area (band members live in both Cincinnati and Ohio's capital). Here's a fun music video for Indigo Wild's song "Rowboats," featured on the band's debut release, the If By Sea EP (which came out last year around this time; click here to listen or purchase).



Headlining the show are The Ridges, an Athens, Ohio-based Orchestral Indie Folk troupe that has also amassed a solid following in Cincinnati. The MidPoint Music Festival vets — who perform in different configurations, depending on which members are available (including string and horn players) — return to play MPMF.12 in a few weeks. The Ridges are currently prepping a full-length album (recorded here in Cincinnati), so fans may even get a few new songs at the MOTR show.

The group performed at this summer's MidPoint Indie Summer concert series on Fountain Square, where they did an interview with CityBeat's John Byrne for a cool video feature. Learn more about the band and hear a few snippets of music in the piece below. (You can view more videos from Byrne's Indie Summer video series here.)

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.31.2012
 
 
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Music Tonight: Wussy, R. Ring, Rob Base and More

Your long weekend begins with quality live music options in Downtown/Over-the-Rhine

• Downtown at Arnold's tonight (Friday), catch influential cult hero Paleface, a man who has been on the cutting edge of contemporary music's continual fascination with traditional Folk music and an influence on some of the more adventurous musicians who seek to translate that vintage spirit into their own voice. Over the past 20-plus years, the singer/songwriter has been an Anti Folk torchbearer and an Indie Folk mentor, first learning songwriting and lo-fi recordings from underground legend Daniel Johnston in the late ’80s. From there he went on to teach a few tricks to roommate Beck (pre-fame), help the so-called "Freak Folk" scene grow freakier and folkier and collaborate frequently with pals The Avett Brothers. Whether directly or indirectly, if you dig today's "Indie Folk" — or any brand of slanted or subversive Americana — you've likely heard the results of Paleface's unique influence. Click here to read more.

Paleface's show tonight at Arnold's is free and — icing on the cake — great local Folk Pop group Shiny and the Spoon opens the show at 9 p.m. The gig will also be the first one for which Arnold's has commissioned a special concert poster. Crafted by talented local artist Keith Neltner (who has done commissioned poster art for Alice in Chains, Modest Mouse, Hank Williams III, The Avett Brothers, Cake, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and many others), the prints (pictured above) are available for $25 while they last (only 50 were pressed).

Here's Paleface's video for his ode to NYC, fittingly titled "New York, New York."


UPDATE: Arnold's just announced this afternoon that Paleface has cancelled due to illness. A rescheduled date is in the works. Shiny and the Spoon is still performing.

• After the best summer series yet, the final MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square goes down tonight at 7 p.m. And the every-Friday series is going out with a bang, featuring a flawless triple bill of local acts. Things get started with superb modern Soul translators The Guitars, who will be followed by the duo R. Ring, featuring Dayton, Ky.'s Mike Montgomery (longtime local engineer ad musician, currently with Ampline) and Dayton, Ohio's Kelley Deal (The Breeders). R. Ring spoke with CityBeat's Brian Baker about the project in this week's paper. Read it online here.

Headlining tonight's Fountain Square concert is Wussy, the now-veteran four-piece that is gearing up for some huge happenings on the horizon, including tour dates with The Afghan Whigs and Heartless Bastards and a trip to the U.K. by co-frontpeople/singer/guitarists Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver (playing as a duo) for several shows in support of the band's first U.K. release, Buckeye, a retrospective that came out to glowing reviews this summer. Read more about Wussy's many goings on here.

Here's the skate video by Kristian Svitak that R. Ring helped re-soundtrack. After DEVO's record label removed the video because it used the group's song "Mr. DNA," Svitak got together to record a new version with Deal and Montgomery. The song in the re-edited video was so popular, R. Ring released it as a limited edition single and local label Phratry Records released it digitally. (Click here to get your own copy.)


 
• Popular local Gypsy Jazz favorites and Django Reinhardt devotees The Faux Frenchmen celebrate the group's 10th anniversary tonight with a show at downtown's Blue Wisp Jazz Club. A decade ago this fall, the band (which features esteemed local musicians George Cunningham, Brian Lovely, Paul Patterson and Don Aren) made its debut, starting an every-Monday residency at former Clifton restaurant Tink's. Over the years, the band has only gotten more popular, drawing attention from outside of Cincinnati and performing numerous road dates (this fall they return for their sixth appearance at the annual Jazz at Chautauqua Festival in New York).  

The band's anniversary show begins at 8:30 p.m. and admission is $10. Here's a clip from the Frenchmen performing on another anniversary — Reinhardt's birthday (
taken from one of their annual appearances on WNKU in honor of Django).



• The performers for the weekly "Friday Flow" concerts at Washington Park are always a bit of a surprise because the lineups have been announced within only a week or two of the performances. It's also a surprise because the featured act is usually something pleasantly unexpected. Dayton Funk greats Lakeside ("Fantastic Voyage") popped up one week and Neo Soul star Dwele launched the series this summer.

Tonight's free Friday Flow concert is another cool, unanticipated treat. Just announced earlier this week, the show will feature R&B singer Chrisette Michele, a Hip Hop hook-singer extraordinaire (with Jay-Z, Nas, The Game and others) who has also had a successful career on her own, releasing a handful of acclaimed, charting albums for Def Jam.

The other headliner is Rob Base, a Hip Hop artist most know from his 1988 hit with DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two."

Because of the volleyball tournament in Washington Park tonight, gates for the concert won't open until 7:30 p.m. Another change from the usual Friday Flow flow (also due to volleyball) — no food, drinks or coolers will be permitted (this weekend only). Extra food vendors will be on hand to feed the masses.



Click here for even more live music events going on tonight in Greater Cincy.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.27.2012
 
 
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CincyMTV: Recent Local Music Videos

New clips from Kentucky Struts, Buggs Tha Rocka, Shiny and the Spoon and Why?

• At this weekend's Whispering Beard Folk Festival in Southeast Indiana, masterful Cold Spring, Ky., Americana group The Kentucky Struts debuted their great new music video for the ominous, creeping and soulful tune, "Country Road," from their The Year of the Horse album. The band made the video with Keith Neltner and Brian Steege, who worked on the documentary Charlie Louvin: Still Rattlin' the Devil's Cage. (Read more about the Struts recent album from CityBeat here.)

The Kentucky Struts "Country Road" from Keith Neltner on Vimeo.

• Gifted local Hip Hop MC Buggs Tha Rocka (who, along with a solo career, also fronts the great live Hip Hop band Gold Shoes; read CityBeat's profile here) recently debuted the video for the third single (the previous two, "Hold Me Back" and "The Warm Up," also got the music vid treatment) off of his Wrath of Zeus album. The album is available for free download here. The latest video (made with Moxy Monster and PRES Productions) is for the track "Chicken Soup for Tha Soul."



• Late last month, local Roots Pop group Shiny and the Spoon released a gorgeous video for their gorgeous cover version of the ’80s hit by Norwegian Pop group a-ha, "Take on Me," taken from the band's LP, Ferris Wheel (download the a-ha cover and a few more songs from the album here for free). It's not the first time the band has made a video for a cover of "Take on Me." A low-budget version featuring only vocals and ukulele was posted in 2009 and became a modest viral sensation (particularly among ukulele fanatics); the video currently has over 300,000 hits on YouTube. (Read more about the group's evolution from CityBeat here.)

Check that version here and the new "Take on Me" (shot on Fountain Square and in Camp Washington this spring and directed by Josh Flowers and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo at Pinata Productions) below.



Pitchfork recently debuted the great video for "Sod in the Seed," the title track off of acclaimed and eclectic Indie/Pop/Hip Hop group Why?'s new EP (a prelude to the full-length, Mumps, etc., which is due in October). Cincy natives, Why? resided for years in the Bay Area and helped found the fantastic underground Hip Hop label Anticon, but returned to the Cincinnati region a couple of years ago. After a European tour, the group comes back to the States for an extensive run of tour dates, including an Oct. 18 show at the Contemporary Arts Center. (Check out our interview with frontman
Yoni Wolf here.)

Here's the fun clip for "Sod in the Seed," made with local video artist and musician (Culture Queer), Scott Fredette.


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.24.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Festivals, Music Video at 09:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Whispering Beard Folk Festival Starts NOW

Fifth annual celebration of Americana/Folk music new and old begins today

The summer music festival season is winding down, but area fans of Americana/Folk/Roots music of varying stripes have a big one to look forward to this weekend, as the fifth annual Whispering Beard Folk Festival returns to the Old Mill Campground in nearby Friendship, Ind., starting in just a few hours.

Founded in 2008, Whispering Beard has showcased both the old and new guard of Americana, mixing legends, contemporary favorites and lots of Greater Cincinnati area artists. This year is no exception; in fact, it may be the best lineup yet. Check the full rundown of performers below, as well as video clips from each day's headliners.

FRIDAY
11:30 a.m. Easy Tom Eby
12:20 p.m. Red Cedards
1:10 p.m. Ben Knight
2 p.m. Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound
2:50 p.m. Rattlesnakin' Daddies
3:45 Kentucky Struts
4:40 p.m. Sassy Molasses
5:35 p.m. Al Scorch
6:30 p.m. Frontier Folk Nebraska
7:30 p.m. Charlie Parr
8:30 p.m. Pokey LaFarge and the South City 3
9:30 p.m. Whiskey Bent Valley Boys
10:30 p.m. Langhorne Slim

Langhorne Slim - The Way We Move from Langhorne Slim on Vimeo.

SATURDAY
11:30 a.m. Jive Creek Ramblers
12:20 p.m. Billy Catfish
1:10 p.m. Terminal Union
2 p.m. My Brother the Bear
2:50 p.m. Shiny & the Spoon
3:45 p.m. Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s
4:40 p.m. Josh Eagle and the Harvest City
5:35 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers
6:30 p.m. Bloodroots Barter
7:25 p.m. Chicago Farmer
8:20 p.m. Caitlin Rose
9:20 p.m. The Tillers
10:20 p.m. Justin Townes Earle

SUNDAY
11 a.m. Rabbit Hash String Band
11:50 a.m. The Blue Rock Boys
12:40 p.m. Mt. Pleasant String Band
1:30 p.m. Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers
2:25 p.m. Uncle Mike Carr
3:20 p.m. Magnolia Mountain
4:20 p.m. Ramblin' Jack Elliott (check out CityBeat's interview with the Folk legend here)

Weekend passes are $70 (it’s $40 for just Friday and Saturday and $20 for just Sunday). All-weekend on-site camping costs $40 or you can camp off-site for free (while spaces last).

Old Mill Campground is about an hour west of downtown Cincinnati. Here's a map from Fountain Square to Friendship.

View Larger Map

For complete info on this year’s Whispering Beard Folk Festival, visit www.whisperingbeard.com.

 
 
by Brian Baker 08.23.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Why Steve Earle & John Hiatt Make Ideal Tourmates

Hiatt and Earle (plus his Dukes) perform together at the Taft Theatre tonight

There isn't a huge stylistic gap between Steve Earle and John Hiatt, so it makes sense that they would make a good tour package (one that hits the Taft Theatre tonight for an 8 p.m. show). They're both moderately successful Americana artists with slavishly loyal fan bases and solid bodies of work over long careers (Hiatt having the earlier ’70s start).

To the curious mind, the billing begs the point: What else do Earle and Hiatt have in common?

• They both began their careers as staff songwriters and launched performing careers after one of their songs became a hit for someone else (Johnny Lee for Earle, Three Dog Night for Hiatt).

• They've both been covered extensively by other artists, Earle by Travis Tritt, Robert Earl Keen and others, and Hiatt by Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and many more.

• They both signed with Epic Records for their first deal; Earle never recorded for them, while Hiatt did two Epic albums which sold poorly and expedited his release.

• Their second contracts were both with MCA; Earle had a pretty decent run with the label, including his 1988 hit Copperhead Road, while Hiatt's was a repeat of his Epic experience.

• They've both been nominated for Grammys, but Earle has a commanding lead with 14 nods and three wins, while Hiatt has been nominated twice with no mantle bling to show for it yet.

• They've both been married multiple times, but again Earle has the lead with seven marriages; Hiatt has only had three.

• Both have successfully dealt with substance issues.

• Both are balding; Hiatt has the lead here with more hair, but Earle compensates with a ZZ Toppish beard.

• Both will kick your ass in the live setting, so bring an extra ass.

Here's a clip for Hiatt's "Damn This Down," off his latest LP, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.

And here is part of a documentary filmed during Earle's sessions for I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (also the name of his novel and, yes, both are based on the Hank Williams tune, which he covers on the album as a bonus track. The novel is centered around Williams mysterious "doctor" who traveled with the singer until his death, then disappeared).


 
 
by Reyan Ali 08.20.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: Shonen Knife

Japanese Punk/Pop icons perform tonight at the Ballroom at the Taft

Irony is not a concept usually shared by international cultures. Case in point: cats.

The Western (internet) world shows its adoration for felines by churning out pointless LOLcat YouTube video after LOLcat YouTube video, gilding this love with a patina of wink-wink jokeyness, as if to say, "Sure, we obsess over and anthropomorphize these cute beasts that don't do very much, but since we're making a gag out of it, it's OK to openly enjoy it. This is how we've earned our pass."

Japan's Shonen Knife, on the other hand, has willingly dedicated an entire song to the same animals while keeping a straight face — a move that would definitely earn mockery if they were an American band. The 31-year-old Pop-Punk trio's "I Am a Cat" off 1993's Let's Knife is an autumnal, simple tune where the narrator steps into an astral "timeless zone" and finds a cat's whiskers and ears. After attaching them to herself, she observes, "In a moment, I become a sweet little cat/And I dance on a flying saucer."

It's silly and a bit dumb, of course, but the total absence of irony —especially since this comes from an underground Rock outfit — is a true gift. Shonen Knife has long championed frivolous music about frivolous subjects, and the trio’s childlike earnestness yields great charm.

With that being said, it's somewhat surprising that Kurt Cobain of all folks supported Shonen; but, hey, even the guy who wrote "Rape Me" needed some relief from pain and aggression, too (see: heroin addiction).

Shonen Knife's tour behind its new album, Pop Tune, comes to the Ballroom space inside the Taft Theatre downtown tonight. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.; doors open at 7:30 p.m. Opening the show is red-headed sibling rockers White Mystery (from Chicago) and Cincinnati greats The Harlequins. Tickets are $13.

Here's the video for the title track off of Shonen Knife's new LP.


 
 
by Mike Breen 08.13.2012
Posted In: Music Commentary, Music Video at 06:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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NBC-Ya Later: U.S. Network Does Best to Ruin Olympics

Final thoughts on Olympics 2012's sights and (mostly) sounds (if they weren't edited out)

First let me say that I'm not what you would call a huge Olympics fan. This isn't an essay on sports. I'll tune in occasionally for things like basketball, soccer and Brazilian women's beach volleyball (LOTS of Brazilian women's beach volleyball), but it's hardly Must-See-TV for me every four years. If I had more patience, I'd probably watch more — but researching how the scoring works in water polo (and where they hide their horses) kind of takes the fun out of things.

I do love the drama of sports. I grew up the music nerd who didn't like sports because it was for jocks. My stance softened thanks to the 1999 Cincinnati Reds. Living just a few blocks away from the old Cinergy Field, I probably went to 50 home games that year — paid five bucks for a cheap "Top 6" seat (before they'd stop you from moving closer if there were open seats, which there usually were). Some of the dramatics of that season (cut short by a devastating one game playoff loss to the Mets) re-made me into the sports fan I was as a 10 year old.

The way drama in sports moved me reminded me (and still does) of the way music moves me. Though quite different experiences (sports is "thrill of victory/agony of defeat" exciting, while music moves me to my very core, caresses my heart, soothes my pain, gets me pumped up, etc.), they both give me a somewhat similar tingle in my brain.

As this year's Olympics progressed, I began to notice a lot of complaints about NBC's "tape delayed" coverage, whereby the network would hold back all the key, shining (mostly American athlete-oriented) moments for its prime-time broadcast. Of course, as pretty much every person with the ability to communicate online noted, this meant hearing that, say, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt just made Olympic history … then turning on NBC to hear "tune in at 9 p.m. to find out how!"

Anyone with access to a radio, TV with channels other than NBC, a computer, smartphone or an excitable Olympics superfan BFF usually found out what happened up to 10 hours ahead of time. In some ways, I felt bad for the piling-on of NBC's Olympic events coverage. I mean, they did broadcast hours upon hours of live footage from London on their multiple Olympics platforms (iPad apps, Android apps, websites, additional channels, etc.).

But some people are busy, work strenuous jobs (without access to the aforementioned fancy devices) and want to come home, have some dinner, maybe smoke a doobie and THEN see what happened earlier at the Olympics. I'd be curious if anyone was actually able to avoid all spoilers — every time someone won a medal, I received a "news update" alert on my smartphone or would find out instantly on a British news website or within my Twitter or Facebook feed.

So I cut NBC the slightest of slack for fouling up some of the tape-delayed broadcast decisions (but there was no excuse for promoting Today show interviews with "new gold medalists" right before viewers actually saw said gold medalist win the top prize, something NBC did multiple times). If you really wanted to see an event live, you could do so.

The same can be said for the Closing Ceremonies, which streamed live on the Olympics many media platforms. But when it came time for editing it all down to a tight two-and-a-half hour or so prime-time broadcast, NBC had to cut some material out of the Closing Ceremony to make it fit and leave room for McDonald's  and Coke commercials.

During the Opening Ceremonies, NBC shamefully cut away to show Ryan Seacrest interview Michael Phelps instead of airing the ceremony's tribute to the 52 victims of the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London.

There's editing for time and then there's just rude ethnocentrism. If New York City hosted the Olympics and the BBC cut away from the broadcast to show Simon Cowell interview legendary British track cyclist Chris Hoy, I wouldn't be shocked if the U.S. immediately began discussions about when to start the bombing of London.

Thankfully, nothing quite that insensitive occurred during the Closing Ceremonies.

The Closing Ceremonies piqued my interest the most of all of the Olympic happenings, mostly because I'm a proud Anglophile when it comes to music. Of my favorite artists ever, I'd be shocked if half weren't from the U.K. (if not more).

So I was fairly excited when I heard that the Closing Ceremonies would be titled "A Symphony of British Music" (look, you can already buy a CD) and focus primarily on England's greatest export, alongside comedy (which was spotlighted cleverly in both the opening and closing events) and Cadbury Creme Eggs. (I was only "fairly" excited because these things can often be cheesier than a Super Bowl halftime show with Up With People)

I had a slightly busy Sunday (well, busy enough that I couldn't watch stuff on TV or online all day), so I checked a handful of performances from the Olympics live stream, figuring I'd be able to catch the whole thing later.

There were some great moments. The John Lennon/"Imagine" salute was touching in a pure, unforced and restrained manner (not much else was, but that's not what ceremonial, once-in-the-lifetime, music-driven ragers should 
be about, especially in London).

It was interesting to see athletes from other countries singing along to Oasis' biggest hit, "Wonderwall," in seemingly their own languages (not sure how Noel Gallagher felt about his little bro's band Beady Eye playing it, though; Noel did turn down a chance to participate).

The unfussy cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" was serviceable, but gets bonus points for bridging a generational gap by bringing together hot new singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran and RIchard Jones from young Brit band The Feeling with PInk Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford.

Meanwhile, the only thing missing from Eric Idle's perfectly nonsensical performance of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was a chorus line of singers nailed to crucifixes (a la Monty Python's Life of Brian, the film in which it first appeared).

And, cheesy as it may have been, Freddie Mercury (in video projection/hologram-ish form) leading the stadium through a chant proved he is STILL the best frontman in Rock, even in death.

There were also, as is to be excepted, several cringe worthy moments.

The Spice Girls were a big deal for a few minutes, but did they deserve to perform more than one song at a global event like the Olympics? What exactly did they give the world besides a lady-friend for one of the planet's (former) greatest soccer players? I know, I know — it was a "rare" reunion (though it feels like they have "rare reunions" ever six months or so). I kept hoping for a five-olde-timey-taxi pile-up as they zoomed around the performance area at seemingly dangerous speeds.

Singer Jessie J must now be bigger than Princess Diana in the U.K., because she was able to perform multiple songs as well, like her big hit "Price Tag," showing the U.K.'s contribution to crappy Pop music, and "We Will Rock You" with Roger Taylor and Brian May, presumably because Paul Rodgers either wasn't available, passed away recently or refused to wear a nude, bedazzled unitard.

Ms. J also jammed with the artists during the segment where the London Olympics showed the world that there are indeed black people in the U.K., though Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah are essentially carbon-copies of crappy American R&B/Pop singer/rappers. They did do a fun, mercifully short cover of the Bee Gees's "You Should Be Dancing," which probably pumped up views of the Bee Gees' Wikipedia page thanks to all of us who could have sworn the trio was from Australia (they were born in the U.K., moved to Australia, then back to the England where their career kicked off in earnest … in case you don't get Wikipedia).

There were a few glaring omissions from the parade of British Music stars, but the ceremony director gets a pass for that. How do you fit a century of music into three hours? Still, I could have done with seeing The Cure play (anything but "Killing an Arab") or New Order do a Joy Division/New Order mini-set or even Def Leppard (at least!) representing the influential New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement in lieu of Russell Brand singing a Willy Wonka tune and miming "I Am the Walrus."  

And, hey, remember how Britain co-invented Punk Rock? Beside awkwardly copping "London Calling" as a sort of unofficial anthem (before people apparently listened to the lyrics) and a mention of designer Vivienne Westwood, Punk Rock wasn't very big in the U.K., I guess. And Fatboy Slim apparently invented the British rave scene and U.K. dance music (while living inside a giant inflatable octopus).

Finally, in the spirit of mixing British humor and music, it would have been hilarious if George Michael would have appeared with former Wham! mate Andrew Ridgeley clasped around his leg ("I let go once — never again!").

The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sex Pistols, Kate Bush and others reportedly turned down invites to be involved in the ceremony, though at least most were given props during the ceremony (Bowie's "Fashion" soundtracked the tribute to British fashion through the years, while a remix of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" was used as the music for a dazzling dance number spotlighting the tune).

The biggest blunder of the Closing Ceremonies, though, came once again courtesy of NBC's prime time broadcast.

I'm an editor and I understand that sometimes you can't fit every single thing you want into the tiny box given to you; tough calls must be made sometimes. 

But what network exec's 14-year-old niece was given control over the U.S. broadcast's final cut on NBC? Whoever made the tough decisions made a few seriously bad ones and the internet has been screaming about how much it SUCKED ever since.

The Kate Bush-soundtracked performance was cut, but I get that. Kate's not a household name in the States. I caught rockers Muse — who wrote and recorded the official song of this year's Olympics, "Survival" — and can forgive that one too — their performance was a bit lackluster and the song has an oddly ominous tone, like something Mussolini would have commissioned had the Olympics ever come to Italy during his reign.

Ray Davies' performance might have been spared if he'd playing "You Really Got Me" or some other U.S. FM radio staple. But Davies could play nothing but his gorgeous ode to London, "Waterloo Sunset," because it was the perfect time and place for the beloved British hit to be performed.

(Click ahead to the 1:35 mark to see it, until NBC removes it)


When I realized NBC cut "Waterloo Sunset," that's when my head-cocked bemusement turned to "WTF!" annoyance. A peek at the internet revealed I was not alone (I think the Davies cut was the hardest for most true Rock fans to take).

That is, until the end of the broadcast.

The absolute worst cut from NBC's primetime broadcast was the deletion of The Who, the perfect British band to provide a grand finale. If you were watching live, you saw the extinguishing of the Olympic flame and then, while Bob Costas was allowed to blather on about nothing over the allotted air time a day or two earlier, causing the show to "run over," Costas signed off with a very quick, "We'll be back from Olympic Stadium in about an hour for the London closing party featuring The Who. But stay tuned now for a full episode of Animal Practice, the new NBC comedy presented commercial free."

The network switched over to Monkey Doctor (or whatever it's called) and then followed it with local news.

THEN The Who's impressive eight-minute medley — touching on proudly anthemic and quite British tunes like "My Generation" — was allegedly aired, an hour after prime-time programming had ended. Pete, Roger and their ringers kicked things off with "Baba O'Reily," with its perfectly dramatic, almost always spine-tingling opening keyboard riff, which would have made a perfect segue way from the flame being put out. Instead — Hospitals for Monkeys (or whatever it was called), commercial free!

I left NBC as soon as Marcus Monkeypants MD started and ultimately fell asleep, mumbling to myself about how I'll never watch another episode of America's Got Talent or something like that. Then I spent today looking up what I missed on YouTube and other sites … when available. There was some good footage posted for a few minutes, but NBC and the Olympics yanked them faster than Fred Willard in a movie theater.

The nbcolympics.com site DID have The Who segment up by this evening. But they called "Baba O'Riley" by its not-actual-title, "Teenage Wasteland."

See — 14-year-olds are running NBC!

Ultimately, it's not that big of a deal — today there was another sad, tragic, inexplicable shooting in public near Texas A&M University. We STILL have not seen what Paul Ryan's abs look like. And NBC says the Olympic games were the most watched in history; one ad exec went so far as to suggest the high ratings in the U.S. were BECAUSE of the weird tape-delay approach. It created excitement (not hair-pulling-out frustration?).

So keep it in perspective and start getting ready for the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil. I'm already plotting how to watch it all as it should be watched — on a live stream, on Brazilian TV or in person (CityBeat, I'm volunteering my services). Because you just know NBC is going to shoot 90% of it from "above the waist." Some of those amazing booties over there are definitely NSF-NBC.

 
 

 

 

 
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