Two years ago when Blonde Redhead performed on the Amoeba stage in San Francisco
, they graciously agreed to sit down with me and submit to a few questions. I remember the experience as one of the most awkwardly delicious moments I've ever winced my way through, however giddily. From the first listen I've loved Blonde Redhead's melancholy music in all its precious, tragic beauty; to me they are the snow white choking on the poison apple of "indie" rock. And so there I was, sitting across from this trio of "damaged lemons," three persons whose music had so phenomenally impacted my life in ways I could barely discuss without donning a veil of embarassment (nerd alert!), trying to be cool, calm and collected. The silence in the room was uncomfortably palpable, until drummer Simone Pace
cracked a joke.
I have adopted from a friend a habit of cataloguing my music according to the weather or the seasons of the year. For example, a band like the Descendents,
with their anything goes punk rock songs about life, love and fishing ("and stuff") could only be categorized as summer
music, whereas something like Blue
by Joni Mitchell
would be played habitually during the winter and/or on brisk, rainy days. I asked Blonde Redhead where they thought they'd place their music within the confines of such a classification system and, after Kazu
explained her way to the conclusion that perhaps winter favored their "cold" sound for all its detatchment and sadness (anyone could agree with that, I feel), Simone offered with a sigh, "c'mon guys, we've been trying for that summer hit for years!" The moments that followed flowed free of tension, with a good amount of laughter. That interview, however clumsily conducted on my part, was a pleasure that I'm as likely to never forget, as Blonde Redhead is capable of ever cranking out a number one summer jam, but I could be wrong.
Or I could be right. Last week the Bicycle Film Festival
sponsored a show at the Independent where Blonde Redhead played nothing but sullen, sober "winter" jams from their latest two albums (plus two hits from their fifth record, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
) without packing anything like a heat wave inducing rocker or hippy hippy shaking big bopper of a punch. Local band Thee Oh Sees,
on the other hand, who opened the show for Blonde Redhead, totally slam dunked a summer-sweat dripping set of fuzzy, fuck-off rock rattlers --- nothin' but net! Having listened to their new record Help
to the point of fatigue, I found it hard not to get excited about their live performance. Their stage presence is perhaps best described as geeks pogo-ing the border between self-destruction and pro-active party crashing; or, what you get when you pay whatever you think a 100% f-u-n rock n' roll show is worth. Plus they "rode their bikes" to the venue that night --- way to be supportive ya'll, A+. And Blonde Redhead, on their part, designed one of a kind Bicycle Film Festival t-shirts especially for the occasion, A++.
So, in conclusion, Bicycle Film Festival: they put together killer events (thanks guys)! Thee Oh Sees: absolutely fantastic live rock show; see them soon or whenever you possibly can because why? It is so
worth it. Blonde Redhead: I've said it repeatedly in the past and I'll say it again, I can't wait to see them again when they come round next time. I'm still holding out for a slice of their possible summer sounds even if the pursuit is fruitless, and I'll champion them 'til the end regardless. Hopefully when they return they'll have a new album beneath their wings and a penchant for playing some of their older songs which, sadly, I have to say, have been absent from their live set lists for more than long enough. Suimasen