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  MOJO NIXON AND THE TOAD LIQUORS w/ The Waco Brothers, Supreme Court, The Dismemberment Plan, and Myssouri  
  The Variety Playhouse  
  Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA  
Reviewed by:
  many minions  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

My minions are on the Cutting Edge of musical awareness. It's what they do, bless them and their little spinal cords. I sent them, en mass, to see the 30th Anniversary Show that WRAS Album 88 88.5 FM was throwing on Friday.19.January.2001. Here is the resulting e-mail dialouge that ensued as a result of their collective experience. I have tried to edit it into a coherent form as much as possible. It's a new experience in the genre of concert reviews at any rate. Enjoi! --Brendan.

Tracers: To start this discussion off, i'll throw out my thoughts (as sent to my friend up in Ann Arbor).
Walked over to The Variety Playhouse at 6:45, to see bands starting promptly at 7 (at 7 -- what the hell are they thinking?).
PostLibyan: 7 was a bit early. but in general i prefer early to "band not going on unil 2 AM" as you often see at other Atlanta venues. so i am going to encourage such behavior. early is better than late!
Zythos: But 7 is way too early. Considering they made the bands stick to the 40+- minute sets, there would not have been a problem with starting this concert at 8 or 9. If you are going to start a concert at 7, then make it on a Saturday.

Tracers: First band: Mysourri. Atlanta's version of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. They're very tight and entertaining, and have absolutely no sense of humor. In fact when given the choice between playing a "crazy cover" and another "serious" song, they chose the serious song. Considering everyone was sitting down, I think they chose poorly.
PostLibyan: "goths" in general, are not a humourful bunch!
Zythos: I think that was goth humor. They had no intention of playing a crazy cover.

Tracers: This is not a dance band, although I still like them . I just think they were a poor choice to start everything off.
PostLibyan: this was, for me, the real high point of the evening. Myssouri were tight and performed very professionally, as they always do. it was a good solid performance.
Malimus: tight, dark, twangy atmospherics. well-suited for mope-core or goth clubs. not well-suited for playing before the sun went down. not well-suited to "working an audience", which is the nominal job of opening acts for these types of multi-band shows. the obligatory Post-Script representative. shouldn't have been on the bill. would have worked as a "post-show show", i think.
with that said, they were very good at what they did. and i like what they did. i also like long, hot showers, but i don't take them while at work. some things are not intended for some places.
PostLibyan: in all fairness Malimus, Myssouri were added to the lineup AFTER the show was booked. i think that they asked to be involved (do they go to Georgia State?) and it was decided to put them up front. sure, they didn't work the crowd much, but there were only 30 or so people there -- so who cares!
secondly, Holli et al would NOT play Myssouri on Post-Script. Happy House, the show that comes on after Post-Script, might play them. this is a minor detail of pointless factuality though.
Brillo: No, they don't have a sense of humor, which is sad given the endearing duality of their sound/look. They have found an interesting niche that combines dark vocals, western bangly guitar, and driving drums. The juxtaposition is unique and unexpected, but I am left wondering if they recognize or appreciate their own quirkiness.
Tracers: I would agree with this; I also tend to agree with the other commentary -- they're well rehearsed and very very tight. However, tight doesn't necessarily equate extremely entertaining. I liked Myssouri's set and thought they played well to a very small crowd (which held very few friends or fans for them), but I often felt like I was watching them play their recordings -- they didn't have the spontaneous air of some of the other bands. This isn't exactly a criticism -- more of a personal taste in live music.
Zythos: I really felt that Mysourri was too tight. Musically, they played a great set, but it was very undead. I've seen more action in a George Romero film. They are not well suited for that type of venue as can be witnessed by the fact they only had one lone fan standing down front.
Silvergeek: i wish i hadn't missed Myssouri, cuz they had interesting comparisons in the booklet that we picked up. Something about Nick Cave is all i remembered.

Tracers: Next up: The Dismemberment Plan. They play an amazingly tight and rocking set to...50 people, maybe. I stood closer to the stage than I ever have with them, and I could still see. The Plan more or less nixed all their slower material (i.e Gyroscope, or even Ice Of Boston) and went with the harder, faster material like The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich. Considering the early hour and the lack of people, I was impressed with how much energy they threw at the show. Musically, the best set of the night.
Malimus: there were far more than fifty people up front for that show. (i know, i was sitting in the rows with a good view of the crowd.) The Plan put on a pretty tight set. it was unfortunate that they were limited to the "early" set length, which seemed to be 30 minutes. again, it was early, but they were much better suited to playing the crowd and working up some sort of energy level than Myssouri.
PostLibyan: i think Malimus has a valid point about the set length here. i don't think that The Plan really hit their groove in that short time period. as to their energy level being up from that of Myssouri, near as i can tell, The Plan were the SCHEDULED opener for the show. much as i like and enjoyed Myssouri, that whole arrangement might have worked better.
Brillo: I have never seen The Dismemberment Plan and just recently began listening to their music. Well, my first live experience with them was exciting and disappointing at the same time. The Plan's performance was explosive and earnest, and the lead singer admirably struggled to enliven the crowd, even commenting, "You know, I think we're doing a pretty good job here. Are you sure you don't want to come up and dance?" However, the blah reaction of many spectators, along with the timing (and short time span) of their appearance, prompted the band to rely on their bang-your-head-against-the-keyboard work at the expense of the more intimate ballads and melodies that truly showcase their talent. Perhaps they would have drawn in this sedate crowd more effectively with quiet coercion.
PostLibyan: ummm... they played The City as their second number, which is slower than Gyroscope (which i would never have considered slow anyway...). also, they played a really really good version of Timebomb, which is kinda slow. and that version of the song kicked butt! so i think that set had a little more balance between fast and slow numbers than Brillo. however, i think i must agree with the consensus here: the scale does tip slightly towards the "faster harder" numbers for this performance. they were quite energetic. it's what The Plan does.
however, i must disagree with Tracers. this was the third best Plan set i have seen, out of 4. their set list was, i think, not well chosen. the sound, of course, was pretty damn crappy -- what song was it where the sound doofus "accidentally" turned off the Mic for the first verse???? what the? anyway, i was not impressed this time. Myssouri played tighter....
Tracers: Oh yeah -- the sound did suck (but of course I wasn't far enough back to enjoy the mix). And, compared to the other performances, this wasn't one of their best. However, in the context of the other performances of the evening, I liked them the best.
Still, to grant you one, PostLibyan, I think Myssouri did play the most professional set of the evening.
Zythos: This was my first time seeing The Plan and I liked them. They remind me a lot of The Suburbs in concert. Energetic, a little whacky and very fun. I would like to see them perform a full set sometime.
Silvergeek: Me and a friend tried to sneak into this show for two reasons:

  1. we were broke and it was 15 bucks and we knew some WRAS folks so we thought we could get away with it.
  2. we work for rival Georgia Tech radio station WREK so it would be against WREK policy ;).

Anyway, we got there late and The Dismemberment Plan was already starting. We only caught the last four or so songs of their set (which is a pity because they were the reason i went in the first place). They played a kickass set, in my opinion. Not their best but close. As with all Plan shows, they were bouncing ALL over the place with their mad energy. The kind of energy you only see in wild kids. They ended the set with an excellent version of OK Jokes Over. It was worth the risk of getting caught while sneaking in just for that one song. But their set was over way too soon. the next two bands sucked.

Tracers: Third band: ????. Egads! I don't remember their name, which is o.k. because I stood outside and socialized during the entire set. The only thing I know is that Jeff Calder from the Swimming Pool Q's was in this act.
PostLibyan: i too, stayed outside socializing during this set. one of the main reasons for that was the pre-announced Swimming Pool Q's connection. yuk!
Zythos: I missed them too.
Malimus: They were called Supreme Court. a bunch of old Atlanta-area scensters doing the jam band thing. with lyrics like "i need a little pony to ride", sung about the old fucker's need for a new teenage girlfriend du jour combined with the throwback mentality of the music itself (lots of guitar solos and noodlings, a la mid-80's Van Halen) just didn't get it with the indie-rockers. a couple of similar "old scenesters" could be seen enjoying the show from the seats, but the kiddies didn't get it. the only purpose this set served was to destroy whatever momentum or energy The Plan had created. completely unnecessary filler. dump them from the bill, move the start time back to 8 and give the other bands 30 more minutes to play. i think these guys are friends with the WRAS music director. otherwise, i don't know how they got on the bill.
Brillo: Due to illness, I sat in one of the movie-theatre chairs at The Variety Playhouse and quietly listened to this act, at least most of it. However, what I remember is not the music so much but the atmosphere: this act was a moment for a previous generation, one of which I'm not a part. It is the generation that helped build the Atlanta music scene out of a quiet Southern city. By millenial standards, yes, it was tame and forgettable. But those older fans who listened intently -- and the seasoned musicians who rocked in their own way absolutely deserve a place on the bill.
Tracers: I didn't see this band, but I can understand why they were on the bill. The crowd at the benefit was a mixture of young and old -- and it was nice to see WRAS add a band that at least harkened back more than 10-12 years time.
Malimus: yeah, i know all about the "30-year anniversary needs to have representatives from the first 15 years" theory, and i'm not against that, per se. but i think concert promoters/planners need to have a semi-fundamental grasp of their potential audience, and i think the WRAS people failed to get one of those. (exhibit 1: the size of the venue with relation to the crowd the bands involved could reasonably expect to draw.) despite the fact that Jeff Calder is a pivotal player in the local scene, the Jeff Clark of actual playing musicians if you will, it's just not going to grok with the shoegazer crowd. GENERATION GAP, spelled out in flashing neon letters, couldn't have been more obvious.
the actual band, banal lyrics aside, was incredibly talented. the lead guitarist had clearly spent more time with his guitar than with his kids. and i can respect that. but i can't justify putting them in the middle of this kind of show, unless the point was to mollify the kiddies early with The Plan set, and then hope the older crowd wandered in for the later acts.
Tracers: One could argue that there was a sort of schizophrenia in the choices of bands and the order in which they played. However, one doesn't need to limit their criticism to Supreme Court -- I saw enough of the older audience looking puzzled by The Plan or the young and hip looking vaguely uncertain about The Waco Brothers.

Tracers: Fourth band: The Waco Brothers. Sometime early last year, I saw these guys and they were amazingly on and cool. Alt-country with some punk attitude to boot! On this night, they did not disappoint -- they were rocking and so was the crowd. It seemed like they focused on mostly new material, but I don't think the crowd noticed. Very energetic, although not as edgy as The Plan.
Brillo: OK, this is the band I don't get. They were a fun "hard working" rock band with great one-liners and some nice instrumentation. However, I don't understand why their sound is any more groundbreaking or earth-shattering than that of Supreme Court. Solid American Rock, with a slight Irish twist and beautiful vocals on a few songs by Sally Timms. I agreed with the political commentary by the lead singer, but their music doesn't necessarily energize me.
PostLibyan: ummm, Brillo -- i am pretty sure that The Waco Brothers are from Leeds. that's in England and NOT Ireland.
Malimus: it's rock n' roll. it's not earthshattering. if i was looking for earthshattering i'd plop in a Godspeed! CD. this isn't about expanding the boundaries of art, it's about the momentary liberation a perfect rock band can bring you (for about 40 minutes.) kick-drum beat in 4/4, ride cymbal and accent snare. guitar. guitar. bass. yelp to the wind and moon about the one that done ya wrong or the one that done ya right, it don't matter. it's rock n' roll. it ain't brain surgery.
PostLibyan: <rant>OK. i don't get using the "country" label on these guys. they ROCK. they do not twang. they are not Garth Brooks or Hank Sr or anything at all vaguely like that. they remind me more of The Rolling Stones (circa Honky Tonk Women) than any country act that i have ever heard.
so: all of you people who read this and, like me, go "country, yuk" look at it this way: they have a slide guitarist who i could only barely hear. one guy (the slide guitarist) was wearing a cowboy hat. that's as "country" as it got. they are a rock band. and not even as "southern-fried" as The Allman Brothers. they rock. ignore the "country" label that they are harnesssed with. </rant>
Zythos: Since I don't own any Waco Brothers CD's I can't say what the rest of their music sounds like, but I would agree that for this short set they rocked. But this holds true for most of the alt-country bands: Wilco, Son Volt, Jayhawks, Old 97's, etc, in general they rock more in concert than what you hear on the CD's. I guess that is what makes them alt. Although I can't remember having seen these guys before, they looked familiar to me. I guess that synaptic connection has been killed by too much beer.
Postlibyan: ranting aside, The Waco Brothers did seem to get the people going. but again, the sound was mixed so poorly. this was my own fault though -- in the 6 feet or so nearest the stage at The Variety Playhouse, sound sucks eggs. when will i learn to stand farther back?? sigh... anyway, Waco were not as edgy or energetic as the Plan, but they were more energetic than Myssouri. an enjoyable performance.
Malimus: they played relatively new material. mostly from Electric Waco Chair and Waco World, though they did do Do You Think About Me? their set was not as edgy as The Plan's, but much tighter, much more in control of the crowd, and better. i liked The Plan show. i like The Plan. they do some really funky percussion work and make odd yet catchy punk-pop. The Waco Brothers are the greatest rock band alive. there's a subtle difference.
PostLibyan: i think that Waco are a COMPETENT rock band. they are not the greatest rock band alive.
Malimus:name a better, touring, active, rock band. one. not punk-rock. not post-rock. no hyphens. no qualifications. just *rock*. i challenge you to find a better act. the best you're going to do is Superchunk, and i don't see any reason to claim that 'Chunk are any better than The Waco Brothers.
Zythos: From what I saw at the concert I wouldn't call them the Greatest touring band, maybe a DAMN GOOD touring band.
Brillo: My vote would go to the John Doe Thing. As I told PostLibyan (and in the paraphrased words of David Letterman), "Now, this is tear-down-the-bar-and-take-home-the-waitress rock and roll!" The John Doe Thing is one of a very few bands that I saw live, remembered lyrics, (not just songs but lyrics) and wanted his music when I left. And, his work is just *rock.* Had I been a Minion at the time, I would have given this show a high rating.
Tracers: As to a better touring rock band: For me, it's The Poster Children, or Superchunk, or hell, even The Rock*a*Teens. But those are my choices, and they're just as good as yours. The Waco Brothers talk to you -- they resonate with you and for you, they're great. For me, they're fun but effervescent -- they don't stay with me any longer than the average Catfight! or 6X show. They're not transcendent.
Malimus: nothing's transcendent. rock music that tries to be transcendent *sucks*. and i really do think that The Waco Brothers are the best live band i've ever seen perform. Superchunk puts on a pretty close second of a live gig. and i've never said The Waco Brothers's recorded catalogue was "transcendent". they are the perfect rock band for me to go see live. they encompass most everything i can think a rock band should encompass.
PostLibyan: but that's not what you said. you did not say "best rock band for Malimus to see live", you said "Greatest Rock Band". entirely different.
Malimus: this is splitting hairs. and i must ask you, what on earth is the difference between those two statements?!? we're reviewing a *live show*. we're talking about how we reacted to this *live show*. i say The Waco Brothers are the greatest rock band alive *in the context of this discussion about our reactions to a live show* and it's not obvious i'm talking about their live show?!? i'm unable to grasp that
Tracers: Hrrm....I'm not the best person to answer this one. I find their live shows really energetic and enjoyable, but their music doesn't stay with me. I don't think they're groundbreaking or the greatest rock band -- they're fun.
Malimus: precisely. they're fun: thus, they're the greatest rock band alive. no pretense. no agenda. guitar/guitar/rawk! that's all. it's beautiful in it's simplicity.
Tracers: Precisely. And for you this is the definition of great rock band. For me, it's something different. And for Brillo, PostLibyan, Zythos, and Mrs. Malimus, I'd guess it's something else differently entirely!
Malimus:well, i never said *anyone else* had to cowtow to my preferences, did i? i simply put forth my judgement and the reasons therefore. i don't expect everyone (or anyone, for that matter) to throw away their Vangelis cd's just 'cause i tell'em the Truth of the Wacos, any more than i really expect someone to expect me to toss my Superchunk collection because Godsmack are just so hardcore....
PostLibyan: no, but the IMPLICATION is there. when you say "Waco are the GREATEST rock band ever" you are implying a sort of moral high ground. now, i understand that YOU like to use superlatives when you make purely opinion-oriented statements. however, your statement about Waco being the GREATEST is, well, it's Platonic. it's like you are saying that Waco are the Platonic Form of Rock Band sitting in that cave, and all others are but imperfect reflections therefrom. heck -- you might be implying that. i dunno. but that is so totally NOT the opinion of anyone else here...
Malimus: i am doing no such thing. you are *inferring* a moral high ground. i just stated my opinion as a listener and nominal critic. that's what criticism *is*, isn't it? and do i really need to underline everything i say with a disclaimer? "the opinions expressed within this review and/or criticism are the opinions and views of the author and are not meant to reflect the beliefs or policies of The EvilSponge collective at large....?" c'mon, PostLibyan. i understand that you're all wrapped up in that semi-solipsism of modernity where you feel morally obliged to point out to everyone that this is just what you think and they're free to express themselves alternately, for fear of offending the slightest of possible minorities or whatever, but i think that's a bunch of hypersensitive shite, all things considered. people who read the shit i write, assuming there are people who read the shit i write, will know that they are free to agree, disagree or just ignore me at will. this is just an assumption i make, of course, but really, if we can't assume the reader has the nominal intelligence of a fruit-fly, why are we even bothering to write to them?
PostLibyan: well, given what you just said i must point out that at least three of your Peer Group Of Minions do not, by your definition, have "the nominal intelligence of a fruit-fly". myself, Tracers, and Zythos all took umbrage at your "Greatest Rock Band" statement. i just think that some sort of disclaimer, even if it does come in the form of The Dialouge, is called for.

Tracers: Last band: Mojo Nixon And The Toad Liquors. Confession: I stayed to see Elvis Is Everywhere, although perhaps I shouldn't have. You know, when I was 18 I thought this guy was hysterical. Either I've got over his humor, or it's changed (I'm thinking the former). Still, considering the number of people screaming along with him, Mojo's a big ole' hit with the drunken college kids.
Zythos: It's still a good song, but unfortunately it's his best. To use a well worn cliche' we are no longer laughing with him, but at him. His show reminded me of seeing Iggy Pop at Music Midtown a couple of years ago. He was on a large stage and there were only a few hundred people in the audience who were more or less there to see what had become of the icon and less interested in the music. He has become a caricature of himself.
Malimus: confession: i didn't stay. punk rock's answer to Weird Al and they're falling all over his schtick? as much shit as we give Squid for his novelty-act habit i can't see where anyone can justify this guy. Elvis Is Everywhere was funny in 1994, or whenever i heard it. I'm Gonna Tie My Pecker To A Tree is not funny anymore. if it ever was.
Brillo: Hmmm... yes, I must agree that Mojo's humor is getting outdated just as jokes about UFOs and the Anti-Christ are kinda stupid. Such "scandalous" humor now seems... quaint, at best. At worst, the bathroom humor is not subversive; it is repetitive. In the 80's, Mojo was a radical, but now he seems more like a dust-covered lounge act without the sequins. That's too bad, really, because it prompts me to wonder if anything is out-of-bounds, if anyone can find power in controversy.
PostLibyan: is it really controversial to talk about your penis so much, or is that just self-centered and egotistical?
Brillo: Final note: props to Mojo's drummer, the first person I've heard to criticize the lack of real booze at The Variety Playhouse. His "time-killer" monologue, intended to hold the crowd while Mojo restrung his guitar, was the least affected humor of the show and became the highlight of the act.
PostLibyan: two comments:

  1. who knew that Mojo was the role model for Beavis? i liked him when i was 18 -- now he is boring.
  2. as i was driving her home [non-Minion associate] Kerry said to me, "i bet Mojo really gets off on the fact that there were lots of people who knew every word to all of those songs about his dick!" that pretty much sums it up!
Tracers: Props to Kerry for calling this one!
Zythos: That is Mojo in a NUT-shell.
Brillo: I think Mojo does enjoy many people thinking about his pecker, and I bet he really enjoys the $$ that come with it. If he's still getting paid to repeat those crusty jokes, why not? Now, that's practical humor.
Silvergeek: Mojo Nixon was funny. People were telling me of his "country punk" style and i didn't think that was possible until i saw him pull it off... Well, there's not much more to say about Mojo Nixon. If you like him and are humored by him, then you like him. If you don't, then you don't. There's not much to be discussed in that area.

Brillo: Let me be the first to state: props to WRAS, Album 88-- 30 years of excellent college radio and the hosts of the show. I fondly remember being a teenager and finding salvation on Sunday afternoons while listening to Best of Britain...

PostLibyan: okay, so on the whole i would give this 4 sponges. sound gets 3.
Tracers: I'd agree, strangely enough.
Zythos: I concur.
Silvergeek: Overall i'd give it about 4 sponges also, but i do have one huge complaint about this show: the order of the bands. It should've been the two shitty bands, then Myssouri, then Mojo Nixon, then The Dismemberment Plan. That's the only way to go :) at least for me.
Brillo: Finally, the ratings: Overall: 5 (mostly for nostalgic-you-go-WRAS reasons) Sound: 3 (the size and hollow quiet of the venue reminded me of a sound check in a large arena)

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