The Austin music scene through the eyes of a programmer/music enthusiast/show-goer

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Beck Live: Hell Yes!

Beck and Jamie Lidell played The Backyard on the outskirts of town last week, and I have to say it was one of the most imaginative shows I've ever been to. It was my first time to The Backyard since the once amazing view behind the stage was replaced by a giant mall. Way to go big business. Sad really, but hey we need more Best Buys right? Bitches.

After that sour taste in my mouth was replaced with sweet sweet Lone Star it was time for the show. We rolled up to Jamie Lidell's bizarre set of techno and beat boxing, infused with a couple of his soulful tracks from the Multiply album. I can't really say I enjoyed his set. His big hit, 'Multiply', closed the show and it was a decent song. I did also enjoy his odd wardrobe choice, which consisted of a silk bathrobe and a white towel around his neck. Not sure if he was rushed out of the shower before the show, but he should have taken his time. The majority of his set being taken up by a mess of electronic sounds thrown together under his beat-boxing + a couple of real songs in between just didn't do it for me.

Strike one against Beck and his $40 ticket price. But luckily the man himself was just around the corner to make it all worthwile. Not only did we get to see Beck and his band of funky looking cohorts, including a dancing Napolean Dynamite knock off, but we got to see the band twice over because they were doubled as puppets. PUPPETS! And it didn't suck. Seriously. It was quite good.

photo by shadoflamex

Imagine every concert you've ever been to, but instead of the drum kit being back-center stage, there's a small version of the stage you're looking at, but with puppets comprising the band. Every band member, including Napolean who didn't really play an instrument (except for a sweet banjo-syncing display during one song), had their own puppet performing along w/ them. The puppets were being video taped and displayed on a large screen behind the band, as well as on a tiny screen behind the puppet band. Freaky. The video would switch between regular live footage, and music-video-ified special effects that would turn Beck Puppet into a drugged out kaliedescope version of himself.

Beck took the stage asking where all the "Guero's" were. For those not in the know, that's not just a taco bar on South Congress. Guero is Spanish slang for "white boy" -- which apparently Beck was labeled growing up in East L.A. A large number of classic Beck hits were performed, including snippets of my favorites 'Beercan' (best Beck song ever) and 'Hell Yes'. He hit just about every album he's put out with at least a few tracks, including the down-tempo Sea Change, which was book-ended by the more upbeat electro tunage. During one of the Sea Change numbers performed by Beck and his bass-player (the one w/ the huge white boy fro) on the acoustic guitar, the rest of the band were joined by Jamie Lidell for a "conceptual meal," as Beck described it. They sat at a wooden dinner table adorned with plates, dishes, and glasses full of water. They joined in on the song by having their own ho-down -- banging spoons on all of the dishes and the table. The puppets played along on their own tiny version of the table. It really made the song.

Beck also gave us some insight into his love for R.Kelly, which was quite amusing. He explained how one day when he was cruising in his car scanning tradionally crappy radio in L.A. he passed on the usual top-40 and grunge mailaise and stopped on R.Kelly's ghetto-fied R&B because he found it much more entertaining how it's all about gettin' freaky and what not. I can't remember what song he morphed into his own R&B sex-fest, but it was hilarious.

The puppets provided some quality pre-encore entertainment as the crowd watched a video of their exploits in Austin earlier that day. They went running at town lake, which included 2 puppets chasing some girls down and another doing situps w/ a sweaty exercising dude. Some other puppets paid homage to Stevie Ray Vaughan at his statue. They also dined on some Amy's Ice Cream. Beck puppet made an appearance at Guero's Taco Bar where he asked where the "guerolitas were at". The puppet band regrouped at The Backyard where they did some lounging in hammocks before gathering together for some band love before hitting the stage. You know that scene in Almost Famous where Stillwater gather in a circle and sing that song they always sing before running out of stage? Imagine that, but w/ puppets, singing lines from Soundgarden's 'Black Hole Sun', Pearl Jam's 'Even Flow', and Alice In Chains' 'Rooster'. They came to snuff that rooster. Quality stuff. The puppets went back onstage where they performed 'Loser', sans real band helping out.

The show's closer, 'Where It's At', featured Napolean walking on stage w/ a boom-box that got progressively larger every time he returned to the stage until he finally returned w/ airplane light sticks directing a massive boom-box onto the stage. The big boom-box didn't really do anything, but it was impressive to see such a big f**king boom-box. And that was it. All in all $40 well spent I say.


Anonymous Sean said...

Seriously, the R Kelly story was dubbed into Debra from Midnite Vultures, which I must say was one of the highlights of the show. It was nice to see him bust out so many songs off of M.V. given that it's just a bizarre favorite of mine.

But seriously...I wanna get with you
And your sister
I think her name is Debra

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Oh yeah, one more thing, the song they were singing in a circle was Creed...not that I know any Creed...damnit

12:09 PM  
Blogger sam said...

oh what is UP! i totally forgot about the Debra action. "i met you ... at JC Penney!"

good call sean. JC Penney and R.Kelly. now THAT is a good time.

1:06 PM  

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