Get between the ears of Daniel Lanois during Antithesis, a genre-eliding evening curated by the artist-producer. Consisting of four complete sets, Antithesis is reminiscent of rock impresario Bill Graham’s legendary and adventurous all-night Fillmore bills. Lanois will perform his new Flesh and Machine, a transposition of the recording studio to the stage involving hard and soft electronics accompanied sometimes by live drumming. The Antlers will represent Lanois’s mellow side with drifting, melancholic numbers from their recent Familiar. Wrapped in robes and headscarves, Tuareg tribesmen Tinariwen bring the bluesy nomadic sounds of their West African desert homeland. And Alabama artist Lonnie Holley has translated his practice of “improvisational creativity” from found plastic art to the audio realm on 2013’s Just Before Music, an album of droning metaphysical meditations.

Mon., Nov. 10, 8 p.m., 2014



Whether she’s playing stalker fan Mel on Flight of the Conchords or embodying a disgruntled whoopee cushion at her weekly comedy show “Hot Tub” at Littlefield, Kristen Schaal is fearless when it comes to taking risks on stage. Of course, most experiments rarely succeed the first time. And tonight at Kristen Schaal: Going Blue at UC Beast, that’s where you come in. Before she heads to San Francisco for a one-hour taping at the Fillmore, she needs a willing audience that she can test her new material on to ensure maximum laughs out west. At just five bucks, we’re sure she won’t have trouble finding guinea pigs.

Tue., June 12, 11 a.m., 2012



In the ’60s and ’70s, New York native Joshua White created some of the most visceral imagery in rock music—although it was mostly appreciated by people too zonked to remember. The Joshua Light Show squirted out all those goopy, liquidy, bleary, tripped-out, acid-engorged light projections that backed the bands at the Fillmore East—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and maybe some other people you might have heard of. He returns for four days at the Abrons Art Center to help create an enveloping, synethasiac world with eight modern psych misfits. Tonight is a bad trip and fever dream where White backs creeptacular horror-disco wildman Steve Moore and local drone-drifters itsnotyouitsme. Tomorrow scrapes the soil of new weird America with local psych-jammers Woods and stoned-to-the-bone reverb-folkies MV + EE. Saturday will be awash with White’s purples and pinks, as it transcendently matches ex-dreampoppers Dean & Britta with ex-spacepopper Spectrum. But Friday night’s lineup is probably the most true to the acid-eaters of yore, as ’60s-era groove-‘n’-chug electro-psych pioneers Silver Apples are joined by their most loyal offspring, Brooklyn’s endless jammers in Oneida.

Wed., May 12, 8 p.m., 2010



Currently on a befuddling blitz of press for their 25th anniversary (seriously, when was the last time Gwar was in SPIN?!), the original costumed scumdogs will be spraying blood, puke, and Zog-knows-what all over the insides of the hapless Fillmore. With a Democrat in the White House, their show on this tour will probably be less about decapitating Dick Cheney and more about some cosmic space nonsense of their 11th album, Lust In Space. . . but no less awesome.

Sun., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., 2009


The Avett Brothers Mix Maudlin Sentiment with Punk Ferocity

Last year, I read this article in Mental Floss called “The Sine Wave of Funny.” It argued that awkward jokes that aren’t particularly amusing at first can suddenly become hilarious upon aggressive repetition, then not so funny, then twice as funny as they were before, etc., following a pattern mirroring, well, a sine curve. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Family Guy or heard Jeff Tweedy scream, “Nothing!” over and over during the climax of Wilco’s “Misunderstood,” you’re probably aware of this general effect. The theory is a celebration of insistence: If you have the right object, the idea is to keep sticking it in the public’s face until they become transfixed by it—which may explain why the Avett Brothers get away with more maudlin sentimentality than the James brothers got away with loot.

These guys commit to their sap: One of their songs actually has a whole verse condemning the use of cuss words. Sometimes, bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon (who complement the titular, actual brothers Scott and Seth Avett) will play their acoustic instruments back-to-back, wincing like hair-metal maniacs. The rough-hewn Americana crew’s last LP was even called Emotionalism. The next one, a forthcoming major-label debut produced by Rick Rubin, is entitled I and Love and You—a conjunction-spliced oath that doubles as the chorus of Friday night’s set-opener “Headed North.” That song has a second refrain in its bridge—”Brooklyn, Brooklyn, please take me in”—and the adoring Fillmore crowd sang both lines loudly and happily, as if there were no ideological tension inherent in singing “I love you” and shouting out the jaded hipster nexus of the universe in a three-minute span.

Sine waves aside, there are a few plausible reasons why the Avetts can pull this kind of thing off. One is that their more ham-fisted emotional gestures are offset by a tastefully simple approach to melody and arrangement. Another easy theory is that in a time when irony and cynicism have become forms of cultural currency, the simplest sentiments have suddenly become nourishing and redemptive again. What really helps, though, is that the Avett Brothers have managed to locate one of the last uncelebrated youth demographics in American music: a confluence of kids who grew up loving both folk songs and domestic punk bands. According to a banner hanging from one of the Fillmore’s balconies, “This is Avett Nation,” and if it ever becomes part of the union, expect it to be a hotly contested swing-state loosely resembling Oregon. The truth is that this band is now popular enough to feel local wherever they are, so it’s no surprise that their songs work best when directed at a specific place, e.g., the new tune “That’s How I Got to Memphis.”

But however sweet these songs (a combination of roguish self-deprecation, lovelorn laments, and Bible wisdom) are, the Avetts play them with the ferocity of a punk band, strumming them out with a hard locomotive chug, hopping in place, harmonizing in one moment and screaming hoarsely in the next. Whereas punk employed anger to conceal its more earnest underpinnings, these guys more or less turn that logic inside out. They’re so earnest it can almost be grotesque: Not even death can derail these good country people. “If I get murdered in the city,” Scott Avett sings in the aptly chosen encore, “Don’t go revengin’ in my name/One person dead from such is plenty/No need to go get locked away.”



Rather than ponder why it took this long for a musical figure as prominent as Krautrock legend Manuel Göttsching to make his U.S. debut, let’s celebrate that he’s doing so under such auspicious circumstances as this Wordless Music evening titled 800 Years of Minimalism—The Spiritual Transcendent. Following the 12th-century composer Pérotin’s “Beata Viscera” (a paean to the Virgin Mary’s womb and breasts) and Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars, Göttsching will perform his 1981 piece E2-E4. It’s been argued that Göttsching’s hour-long, chess-inspired work for slowly evolving beats and a playfully deployed electric guitar truly provide the template for the Detroit house sound, ambient chillaxation, and everything in between. Accompanied tonight by the latest iteration of the Fillmore East’s fabled Joshua Light Show, Göttsching’s masterpiece may actually reveal itself to be the missing link between acid rock and the neo-psychedelic sounds of the Disco Biscuits, Sound Tribe Sector Nine, and their trance-rock ilk.

Fri., Aug. 15, 7 p.m., 2008


MONDAY | 5.19



Joey Ramone lives

His corpse lies in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and the street that the city named after him sits 13 blocks south of tonight’s venue, but Joey Ramone still has his birthday celebrated in New York City. The 2008 Joey Ramone Birthday Bash will be the eighth since his death in 2001, and, as always, the focus is on the survivors: Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, featuring most of the remaining Dictators; the Shangri-Las’ Mary Weiss, passing up the opportunity to feature songs from last year’s surprisingly good Dangerous Game in favor of heritage tunes like “Leader of the Pack” et al.; and Television’s Richard Lloyd, unveiling his new band, the, er, SmuftyDogs. Truly bold/reckless attendees can play the CBGB drinking game—for every mention of John Varvatos’s semi-hostile takeover of the Ramone’s old playground, help yourself to a drink. Last man standing wins. At 7, the Fillmore at Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Plaza, 212-777-6800, $25




Preaching to the choir

Burlesque isn’t so virginal, but then was Mary, really? “I’ve never been one to disagree with Catholic doctrine,” says La JohnJoseph, who, as the Madonna, preaches against abstinence-only education (“It doesn’t work—I’m a virgin mother, for goodness’ sake!”). La JJ can’t prove that Mary was unsullied, but with America’s Next Top Mary, we see she certainly didn’t lead a boring life. Highlights include Julie Atlas Muz (as God) doin’ it with Jo Boobs; Dirty Martini giving birth to a chicken; Legs Malone in a “morning-after” routine; Darlinda Just Darlinda seducing baby Jesus; and Tigger! doing “something hilarious and acrobatic.” At 10, Galapagos Art Space, 70 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-782-5188,



Rock of Ages

Kid Rock is a Great American, and the Last Superhero of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Fillmore stop of the Rock Sermon Tour saw the Michigan Messiah mackin’ and profilin’ through a crush of vintage gear and winking red and white candles (perhaps from an East 116th botánica?), conjuring spirits of electric churches past.

We jumped up with the boogie and tried to mellow down easy during the divine country soul of a swath of new
Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus gems, while our Kid onstage got busy with everything from vocoder to two-turntables-and-a-microphone. The evolving Twisted Brown Trucker band ensured we would survive the hotbox, as their frontman swung through multiple guises: the stoned pimp of “Sugar,” the cocky rocker of (the apt) “So Hott,” an outlaw balladeer on “Only God Knows Why,” and Right Reverend Robert exhorting the crowd to join him in an “Amen.” This latter incarnation was most intriguing—surely so for the bleached blonde dead center in the crush below, who lustily brandished her crutches, anticipating a laying-on of hands. We were taken to the Mountaintop, as new guitarist Marlon Young’s possession by Southern-rock ax angels like recently deceased Hughie Thomasson bridged blessings during the mash-up of “Sweet Home Alabama” and Warren Zevon on “All Summer Long.” Then came Rev. Rock’s interpolation of “Midnight Rider” and David Allen Coe’s “Call Me by My Name” on the ever-majestic “Cowboy.”

Despite a new release shot straight from the eye of Hurricane Katrina, Kid Rock mirrored some fans’ reticence in embracing sonic introspection, tentatively delivering soulful songs like “When U Love Someone.” Like the aforementioned candles, his ruddy “Anglo-Saxon ass” mightily recovers the African powers of warrior god Shango (who harnesses thunder, lightning, and many wives), yet the vulnerable revelator behind these masks still hovers in the wings live. Sho ’nuff, I love Kid Rock: He’s been my favorite artist of the past decade for brave, relentless hard labor in rebirthing this hybrid nation of ours, fearlessly reconciling our African and European selves via twang, beats, and metallic mysteries. And RRJ‘s best is no exception, but brothaman, revelation requires sacrifice.

Upon hearing “Half Your Age,” one feels heartache at what Kid Rock must be suffering. Everyone wants to be loved, not resented or manipulated, for their true nature. Still, while the kiss-off to his personal woes is amusing tabloid sing-along, such songs do not ultimately serve his Muse nor RRJ‘s honoring of Ahmet Ertegun. Compared to what remains his best song, “Picture”—delivered here as bittersweet duet with veteran drummer Stefanie Eulinberg, a/k/a the Woman in the Red Satin Pajamas—this will not cement Kid Rock’s rightful place in the hallowed halls of the House That Miss Rhythm built. One hopes that over the course of this wonderful theater tour, he will unleash daring material like “New Orleans” and truly take the Holy Ghost to the stage.


A Confederacy Of Idiots

The Idiots came from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Some came alone; others arrived with spouses and children. Many brought musical instruments; many more brought food. Agewise, they spanned generations— from early Boomer to late Gen X­er. They gathered at New Jersey’s Tourne Park to partake in IDD BBQ 4, the Fourth Annual Idiot’s Delight Digest Barbecue.

What makes an Idiot an Idiot? Basically, it comes down to this: the ability to experience an endorphic surge in response to Idiot’s Delight, the eclectic blend of talk and music presented by radio host Vin Scelsa over WNEW-FM from Sunday evenings into the wee, small hours of Monday mornings. Scelsa’s
career, rooted in the glory days of free-form commercial radio (coincidentally, the early years of ARPANET), has been built on denying the conventional wisdom that broadcast radio is a mass medium.

“I’m doing the show for one listener— that listener’s probably me,” Scelsa is fond of saying. “But when I envision the listeners, I envision people alone in a room.” Hence the announcement that summons Idiots to each overnight show: “Attention artists, cabdrivers, and melancholy waitresses: the following program is being brought to you as a public service. . . .”

Yet cyberspace has enabled Idiots to do what they somehow never managed to during years of sequestered Scelsa worship and participation in one-shot “listener events”: communicate among themselves on an ongoing basis, building a vital online/offline community in the process.

The Idiot Internet revolution began in February 1995, after Scott Perschke, a Scelsa listener since the early ’70s, asked the grok jock for permission to start the listserv now known as the IDD. Scelsa, then on WXRK, put Perschke on the air to announce the launch.

“At that point,” Perschke remembers, “I had not really met anybody that shared my passion for this, even though I knew they must be out there.” He was right: the list acquired 70 subscribers overnight. Today, the Idiots have increased tenfold, with the majority residing within WNEW’s broadcast range. (Because Idiot’s Delight is neither syndicated nor available on the Internet, outlying Idiots use snail-mail ‘tape trees” to get their Scelsa fix.)

Most of the Idiots at IDD BBQ 4 belonged to the active hub of the IDD subculture— the people who post the most, who frequent Idiot chat rooms, who join other Idiots at lunches, parties, hikes, clubs, concerts, festivals, and other events year-round. They share Idiot lore: tales of how plans for a September 1995 “virtual barbecue” morphed into the first real-space IDD BBQ, how a subsequent New York reunion inspired the Idiot song “We Stood Before the Fillmore,” how the Idiot family bonded after WXRK’s reformatting deleted Scelsa’s program in January 1996.

“That’s when everything came together,” says Perschke, “because he was able to communicate with the listeners. It wasn’t like ‘One of our DJs is missing— where did he go?’ We knew where he was.”

Scelsa appreciated the cybersupport. “The Digest was very instrumental in getting me through a difficult time,” he recalls. After finding a new home at WNEW, he celebrated with hundreds of subscribers at a kind of Idiot rave in Hoboken that became known as the Hobobash.

But Scelsa found that IDD interaction cramped his style: “When I was reading the Digest daily, I was almost influenced to do or not do things on the show depending upon what was going on.” The specter of this influence, compounded by sensitivity to finding criticism of Idiot’s Delight on the Internet, led Scelsa to unsubscribe.

These days, Scelsa maintains a respectful distance from the IDD community, preserving the sensibility that attracted his listeners in the first place: “The main listener is somebody not online, not connected . . . but who’s just out there listening to the show, alone in a room somewhere, alone in a car somewhere. . . .” But perhaps, as online audio improves, Scelsa’s signals will find their way into other, more far-flung, rooms—
to delight another bunch of Idiots.

One of five articles in our Cyber feature.