a trail of the dead review

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead @ The El Rey Theater (Los Angeles, CA) 04.05.02

The last time I was genuinely frightened at a rock concert was when I was a teenager at this old punk rock place near Lawrence, Kansas called The Outhouse. I was there to see a death metal band called Cannibal Corpse. The place was crawling with skinheads in steel-toed Doc Martins that were ready to kick anyone’s ass. Then there was the Trail Of Dead show last night.

Despite being a little frightened by the evening, which was nothing short of stellar, Trail Of Dead put on one of the loudest and most aggressive shows I have ever seen. The energy that they put into their show is insane, and I mean that in the best possible way. Prior to seeing them live, I had only read reviews, so I kind of knew what to expect. Reading about it and witnessing it were two completely different things. I don’t mean to make such a stink about the show part of the concert, because they are an immensely talented bunch of Texans, but their live show is very much a part of appreciating them.

Their new album, Source Tags & Codes is somewhat of a really loud rock opera. I’ll go so far as to say that if art has a sound, this band is channeling it quite well. It’s Sonic Youth meets At The Drive In meets Public Enemy. Trail Of Dead turn out some of the most agro melodic music that I have heard in years. Listen to the opening track, "It Was There That I Saw You," and tell me you don’t hear it.

Conrad and Jason trade off between drums and guitars/vocals. If Jason were any more full of energy, the El Rey Theater could very well have blown up. Actually they damn near tore down the place. Yelling at the top of his lungs while Neil (on bass) thrashed about lending his own vocals on occasion, Jason stood on the monitors and speakers taunting the audience. They wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time, and as far as I could tell, they were.

It was clear that not only are these guys a band, but they are collaborators as well. It all just went so well…until they invited people on stage with them. The crowd was already pretty rough. A few people even jumped off the stage into the crowd, including band members. It was all so moving on many levels. I loved the whole experience. The evening ended with the band destroying everything on stage. Nothing was left, but a trail of dead [instruments]. Beauty in chaos.

a few words about kurt

April 5th will mark the 8th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. As I sit here thinking about what to write, I’m filled with sadness. I’m afraid of coming off as a little cheesy, perhaps a little cliche, about what it all means to me. Whatever.

I was living in Kansas, attending college the day that it happened. I don’t really remember the order of events that day, but I cried a whole lot. Nirvana was, and continues to be, one of my favorite bands. I remember going home and being glued to MTV as everything was happening. Kurt Loder was teary-eyed as he anchored MTV News throughout the day and evening. DJs from Seattle were interviewed, rock stars voiced their sorrow and the fans just wept. Everyone was stunned. I just cried and shook my head. I didn’t understand then and I don’t fully understand now.

Then there was the vigil in Seattle. Thousands of people crowded a park, making shrines to their hero, consoling one another, and crying. Then Courtney addressed the crowd, reading Kurt’s suicide note and commenting on it as she read. It was heartbreaking. More crying ensued. I cried myself to sleep that night, knowing that the same way Nirvana changed music with their birth, Kurt’s death would change music again.

I’ve read a lot about Nirvana, own quite a few bootlegs, and often listen to their music. One of the last books I read was Heavier Than Heaven, by Charles Cross. It’s the best book on Kurt’s life. He was granted access to Kurt’s personal diaries and conducted over 400 interviews for the book. I cried a lot when I read it, especially towards the end of the book. I also laughed at Kurt’s incredible sense of humor and his candor.

One of the things that I was so blown away by, and somewhat angered by, was the fact that Kurt was a fake in a lot of ways. He was so bright. He knew exactly what he was doing and from what I could gather, knew exactly how it was going to end. Many fans have been, and will continue to be, infuriated by the book. The truth hurts. Kurt wanted to be famous and he did everything in his power to make sure that he was. He relished in the drama on many occasions. That said, and told in gross detail in the book, I’m quite certain that his stomach problems and drug addiction are what killed him. There was no conspiracy. No one murdered him.

Like I said, I feel a little stupid even writing all of this, but I needed to say something. His music means the world to me and it still rips my heart out that he’s gone. He was so selfish. He didn’t have to go. I will most certainly remember the day for the rest of my life.

a few words about kurt

April 5th will mark the 8th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. As I sit here thinking about what to write, I’m filled with sadness. I’m afraid of coming off as a little cheesy, perhaps a little cliche, about what it all means to me. Whatever.

I was living in Kansas, attending college the day that it happened. I don’t really remember the order of events that day, but I cried a whole lot. Nirvana was, and continues to be, one of my favorite bands. I remember going home and being glued to MTV as everything was happening. Kurt Loder was teary-eyed as he anchored MTV News throughout the day and evening. DJs from Seattle were interviewed, rock stars voiced their sorrow and the fans just wept. Everyone was stunned. I just cried and shook my head. I didn’t understand then and I don’t fully understand now.

Then there was the vigil in Seattle. Thousands of people crowded a park, making shrines to their hero, consoling one another, and crying. Then Courtney addressed the crowd, reading Kurt’s suicide note and commenting on it as she read. It was heartbreaking. More crying ensued. I cried myself to sleep that night, knowing that the same way Nirvana changed music with their birth, Kurt’s death would change music again.

I’ve read a lot about Nirvana, own quite a few bootlegs, and often listen to their music. One of the last books I read was Heavier Than Heaven, by Charles Cross. It’s the best book on Kurt’s life. He was granted access to Kurt’s personal diaries and conducted over 400 interviews for the book. I cried a lot when I read it, especially towards the end of the book. I also laughed at Kurt’s incredible sense of humor and his candor.

One of the things that I was so blown away by, and somewhat angered by, was the fact that Kurt was a fake in a lot of ways. He was so bright. He knew exactly what he was doing and from what I could gather, knew exactly how it was going to end. Many fans have been, and will continue to be, infuriated by the book. The truth hurts. Kurt wanted to be famous and he did everything in his power to make sure that he was. He relished in the drama on many occasions. That said, and told in gross detail in the book, I’m quite certain that his stomach problems and drug addiction are what killed him. There was no conspiracy. No one murdered him.

Like I said, I feel a little stupid even writing all of this, but I needed to say something. His music means the world to me and it still rips my heart out that he’s gone. He was so selfish. He didn’t have to go. I will most certainly remember the day for the rest of my life.

its all in the rider

I’m not talking trucks here. I’m talking about the legal document that promoters get from bands that cover what they want, when they want it, how they want it, where they want it and a lot of other senseless things. Think your favorite band/rock star is beyond such nonsense? Think again. What would be included on your rider?

an open letter to matthew (opening band for starsailor)

Dearest Matthew,

I had heard good things about your music, so I was interested to see what you had to offer. I mean, you guys were opening up for Starsailor. You have to be doing something right to get that slot, right? Well, at the very least, you have to be a new artist on the same label or something. Anyway, how you got the gig isn’t really important.

Your music is good. It’s not great, but it’s good. Nice melodies, a lead singer with range, which he uses wisely, and judging from my initial exposure to your band, fair songwriting. Oh, and the name of your band, what wit! Matthew is the name of one guy, but you have four people in the band. It’s kind of like Ben Folds Five being three guys. I like a sense of humor.

Now, explain to me why your drummer wasn’t wearing a shirt, from start to finish. Sure, the El Rey can get warm with all of those bodies packed in for a sold out crowd, but the temperature hadn’t reached anywhere near warm when you took the stage. I wasn’t up there, but I was about thirty or so feet away and there couldn’t have been that big of a difference in temperature on the drum riser. Walking on stage with your shirt off just isn’t right. Stop it. You are not Lars from Metallica and you don’t rock all that hard. That’s not to say your music is bad, but it’s not take-your-shirt-off rock ‘n’ roll.

As if that weren’t enough, Matthew, the fact that your guitarist felt the need to remove his shirt a few songs into the set just added to the silliness and otherwise distracting antics. If anyone should be removing their shirt, it should be your drummer, but we’ve already gone over that faux pas.

All of this shirt-removing made the experience sub par. I wish I could have spent more time enjoying your music, but your novice showmanship brought out the snobbiest of my music snobbery. If you learned anything while being on tour with Starsailor, it should have been that you can still be cool with your shirts on, no matter how hot it gets up there. Sweat-soaked shirts, drops of perspiration dripping from your hair…that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

All The Best,

Brad Barrish

an open letter to matthew (opening band for starsailor)

Dearest Matthew,

I had heard good things about your music, so I was interested to see what you had to offer. I mean, you guys were opening up for Starsailor. You have to be doing something right to get that slot, right? Well, at the very least, you have to be a new artist on the same label or something. Anyway, how you got the gig isn’t really important.

Your music is good. It’s not great, but it’s good. Nice melodies, a lead singer with range, which he uses wisely, and judging from my initial exposure to your band, fair songwriting. Oh, and the name of your band, what wit! Matthew is the name of one guy, but you have four people in the band. It’s kind of like Ben Folds Five being three guys. I like a sense of humor.

Now, explain to me why your drummer wasn’t wearing a shirt, from start to finish. Sure, the El Rey can get warm with all of those bodies packed in for a sold out crowd, but the temperature hadn’t reached anywhere near warm when you took the stage. I wasn’t up there, but I was about thirty or so feet away and there couldn’t have been that big of a difference in temperature on the drum riser. Walking on stage with your shirt off just isn’t right. Stop it. You are not Lars from Metallica and you don’t rock all that hard. That’s not to say your music is bad, but it’s not take-your-shirt-off rock ‘n’ roll.

As if that weren’t enough, Matthew, the fact that your guitarist felt the need to remove his shirt a few songs into the set just added to the silliness and otherwise distracting antics. If anyone should be removing their shirt, it should be your drummer, but we’ve already gone over that faux pas.

All of this shirt-removing made the experience sub par. I wish I could have spent more time enjoying your music, but your novice showmanship brought out the snobbiest of my music snobbery. If you learned anything while being on tour with Starsailor, it should have been that you can still be cool with your shirts on, no matter how hot it gets up there. Sweat-soaked shirts, drops of perspiration dripping from your hair…that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

All The Best,

Brad Barrish

Sugar Comas and The City of Angels

It was just a couple of days. Saturday and Sunday are just like any other day, really. With the exception of not receiving mail or the inability to walk into my local Bank of America branch, which I never do no matter what day it is, what’s the difference?

This weekend was one of particular laziness. A degree of laziness and lethargy that I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. The weather was gorgeous. I should have gone hiking. I watched more television on Saturday than I have in the last month. I ate a lot of candy and slipped in and out of sugar comas. I fell asleep watching “Pulp Fiction” and woke up to a documentary on Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records. Drifting off towards the end of that, Holly woke me up wanting some exercise and dinner.

After a walk with Holly and subsequent feeding, I layed back down on the sofa, flipped through the entire channel lineup, read the latest issue of NME, read some of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and then drifted off again. When I woke up I was exhausted from being exhausted.

I love photographing Los Angeles at night. It was nearly midnight and I decided to drive to the Hollywood Hills for a nice panoramic view of the city to photograph. I gathered the camera and tripod, gassed up the vehicle and headed for the hills.

A friend once took me to a clearing in the hills that was perfect for such a thing. I couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but I had a pretty good idea. About an hour later, after passing the same houses over and over, with little to show for my late night jaunt to photograph the city, I decided to go back home. On my way home I thought perhaps I would sneak into Runyon Canyon and just take some photos from there, but that would have been too much effort. I was so disappointed (and lazy).

It was nice to get out of the apartment for a while, drive around and listen to music. There’s something quite charming about driving around Hollywood at night, looking at the people in the cars next to you and snapping some photos along the way.

Sunday wasn’t that much different, no matter how hard I tried to make it so. I did take Holly to the Mulholland dog park, which she always enjoys, despite the fact she never plays with other dogs. She just hovers around me and takes it all in. I wonder where she learned that.

Sugar Comas and The City of Angels

It was just a couple of days. Saturday and Sunday are just like any other day, really. With the exception of not receiving mail or the inability to walk into my local Bank of America branch, which I never do no matter what day it is, what’s the difference?

This weekend was one of particular laziness. A degree of laziness and lethargy that I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. The weather was gorgeous. I should have gone hiking. I watched more television on Saturday than I have in the last month. I ate a lot of candy and slipped in and out of sugar comas. I fell asleep watching “Pulp Fiction” and woke up to a documentary on Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records. Drifting off towards the end of that, Holly woke me up wanting some exercise and dinner.

After a walk with Holly and subsequent feeding, I layed back down on the sofa, flipped through the entire channel lineup, read the latest issue of NME, read some of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and then drifted off again. When I woke up I was exhausted from being exhausted.

I love photographing Los Angeles at night. It was nearly midnight and I decided to drive to the Hollywood Hills for a nice panoramic view of the city to photograph. I gathered the camera and tripod, gassed up the vehicle and headed for the hills.

A friend once took me to a clearing in the hills that was perfect for such a thing. I couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but I had a pretty good idea. About an hour later, after passing the same houses over and over, with little to show for my late night jaunt to photograph the city, I decided to go back home. On my way home I thought perhaps I would sneak into Runyon Canyon and just take some photos from there, but that would have been too much effort. I was so disappointed (and lazy).

It was nice to get out of the apartment for a while, drive around and listen to music. There’s something quite charming about driving around Hollywood at night, looking at the people in the cars next to you and snapping some photos along the way.

Sunday wasn’t that much different, no matter how hard I tried to make it so. I did take Holly to the Mulholland dog park, which she always enjoys, despite the fact she never plays with other dogs. She just hovers around me and takes it all in. I wonder where she learned that.

zach is cool

I waited in line for at least two hours in the unseasonably warm Los Angeles weather. I tried to dress “hip,” because that’s what the invitation called for. I didn’t wear shorts or anything white. No. Because according to the invitation, none of that was allowed. After all that waiting and putting up with, quite possibly one of Los Angeles’ filthiest men, I was in. Oh, and I was seated next to Mr. Filth, who in addition to not washing his hands (and who knows what else) for the last decade, also neglected to apply deodorant.

It was all to see Zach Galifianakis. He’s the host of a new show on VH-1 called Late World With Zach, and he’s damn funny. Okay, I’m lying. I was there to see the Foo Fighters, but Zach is funny and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Make sure you watch it. It’s on VH-1 every evening at 11pm. Consider that an endorsement. If you live in the Los Angeles area and have an available afternoon you can get free tickets by going to www.ocatv.com.