two friends and i followed unwound for a couple of days prior to the two chicago shows. although the setlist didnt change much, each show was spectacular, running the gamut of emotions and tones as you would expect. below the salt and no tech! were personal live favorites. i only caught xbxrx's 15 minutes of mayhem twice, but they definately had me proselytized.
from bob chapman:
Unwound did play DC last night, at Black Cat's new location (six doors down the block from where they used to be). The space is bigger and slightly less cozy, but still nice. Not to rub salt for the Boston and NYC listers (hi Brad!) but I'd have to say it was the best I'd ever seen them, despite the crazy guy jumping on stage during "Scarlette" and falling into the drums (restart #1) and something happening to Vern's bass during "Corpse Pose" (restart #2, with keyboard-powered trombone solo while we waited for the fix). A lot of stuff off the new album, and a few older gems ("Arboretum" being the highlight).
Then they came out for an encore with Justin on saxophone, threw a bunch of noisemakers into the audience, and played "No Tech!" plus an oldie (won't give it away, but 'twas off "Fake Train"). Then they came out for a second encore, Vern staying backstage and the keyboard player (was that Fisk?) on bass. "OK, you asked for it," sez Justin and they launch into a cover of... I won't spoil it in case they do it again, but I was blown away.
In Philly they were a five piece (weird, that). One of the two "extra" players was a somewhat heavy-set guy looking very slightly like Philip Seymour Hoffman and playing only keyboards; I think that was Brandt Sandeno. The other was a thin hipster looking guy (glasses, tight shirt w/collar) who played mostly second guitar but also some keys. Don't know who he is.
i was at the dc show. pretty damn shweet. the keyboardist was indeed brandt sandeno of replikants and chorea fame. the extra guitar player was david stone of slug and more recently get hustle.
im not so sure about the addition..on some songs it worked...but overall i enjoy unwound more as a three piece. i guess it was necessary to make the songs sound like they do on the album...a lot more "complete" than they sounded in nyc last september.
Unwound did play Maxwells in Hoboken on Thursday. I was going to go to both that and the Bowery Ballroom show, but the former, I assume, was cancelled.
They played as a five piece. The full sound of two guitars was nice, but overall I would have preferred a three piece to hear the purity of Justin's guitar. And I've never been a keyboard fan, though they were reasonably done.
They said nothing about the attack, and played a dark, moody set. All from the new album except Lifetime Achievement Award (slow, dark version), Corpse Pose and one other. No encore. Didn't rock out really at any point. I guess that was appropriate, but for some of us, some hi-energy catharsis would have been appreciated. Overall it was very satisfying to see them, especially in this context, but I preferred their show last year. from Rawls:
I asked Vern [what the punk cover song was] afterwards, he said it was the Sex Pistols' "Bodies." I have a very low percentage of successfully recognizing covers for some reason.
I had no idea who he [Dave Stone] was so I simply accosted him and said, "Who are you?." He's very nice and polite. He said he lives in LA and has been touring with the Melvins for the past year doing sound manipulation stuff. Our conversation about that went as follows: "Oh, so the Melvins are a four piece live now?", "No it's still a three piece." "But...you plus them equals four." "No, it's still a three piece."
I guess he's really loyal to the Melvins as trio legacy.
With unwound, he uses an apparatus called a "Surf Box" (for reverb and echo effects I assume?).
In DC unwound played at the NEW Black Cat, yet they luckily still have that guy that stands outside yelling, "BLACK CAT BLACK CAT." The Thrones and Mecca Normal were fine, but it seemed almost like unwound's set was three different bands itself. They did the first set, so if you read "CrazyBob's" post you get the idea...when that guy fell into Sara's drum set, he also according to Justin managed to mess up the amp chord input on his guitar, then Justin forcefully shoved him off the stage, yelling, "Fucking moron." "Arboretum" was the oldie of that set.
The second incarnation was the encore, where Jusin strapped on a saxophone. When they started throwing noise makers into the crowd and joking around, the sight of Justin holding a sax next to Brandt's keyboards made me think they were going to do a ska song (what would make me think such horrible things?). Alas it was some fine sax squealing on "No Tech" and "Valentine Card" after which they left the stage.
The third incarnation was as a sloppy, four piece punk band. Vern sat this one out, Brandt strapped on the bass (I was thinking maybe a Worse Case Scnario song), Justin just sang on the Sex Pistols' "Bodies."
Oh well, so I gave away two surprises CrazyBob tried to hide...The next night in Chapel Hill, there was no second encore and no Sex Pistols. The set was pretty much the same, except I think they did "Lifetime Achievement Award" which I don't recall from the previous night. "Corpse Pose" illicited loud yelling from the audience. The somewhat larger than usual crowd they draw in Chapel Hill seemed to disperse as the set went on, and oddly enough when the crowd dwindled down to the usually small size, the shenanigans started in the encore, sans noisemakers this time. "Valentine Card" spawned lots of hands in the air and people jumping for joy (haven't seen that since I saw Outkast).
Some star gazer/stalker notes: At the Black Cat show Ian MacKaye seemed to be working. It looked as if he was a side stage assistant carrying boxes of water and noisemakers to them and helping with sound tech issues. At the Chapel Hill show Dale from Steel Pole Bathtub/Milk Cult (he's been a local citizen for a while) and Ashe Bowie were in attendence, unfortunately they just watched and didn't contribute any sounds.
Another note: on Tuesday, the night of the bombing, unwound were sound checking at the show in Boston. The club owner informed them the show was cancelled mainly due to bomb threats. You see the club is called the Middle East, and various knuckleheads felt the name "Middle East" means only one thing, and they see this Middle East place in the paper and because they're dumb they have to call in bomb threats.
The band said they were very close to calling off the rest of the tour. Vern has a kid at home, on Tuesday they were looking at a definite cancellation in NYC, weren't sure about Hoboken, Philly's always sketchy anyways (just kidding, I like the Illadelph) and then DC (coupled with that a new venue there that wasn't entirely finished). But the band played on and I'm grateful.
more from bob:
No, they definitely played that ["Lifetime Achievement Award"] in DC. My fave song off "Challenge..." Last time I saw them do that it was sans lyrics and verrrrry slowed down, so I was glad to hear a proper live version.
So yah, it was a Sex Pistols cover. I'm really surprised so few people recognized it, even if it is somewhat obscure, and pro'ly my least favorite SP song, being that the entire thing is a screed against abortion and the women who have them... all the same I was screaming right along with the delightful bridge:
FUUUUUCK THIS AND
FUUUUUCK [entirely indecipherable]
I don't wanna baby that looks like that!
SHE don't wanna baby that looks like that!
But that was McKaye? See, I'm new to DC and that night was what I'm sure will be only my first round of the fun game: "Is that Ian McKaye, or just some guy who looks a lot like Ian McKaye?"
I'm also pretty sure that the guy who helped Justin throw the "dancer" off stage was one of the boys from Q And Not U. Either that, or tattoos of the WDC flag are more common than you'd imagine...
this document was last updated 21 September 2001 while i was eating a doughnut.