Grinderman Exit Festival Novi Sad, Serbia July 10, 2011
The well-known adage that all roads lead to Rome may not be entirely true when the Exit festival is happening, as all roads seem to lead there. For four daystaking place at the Petrovaradin fortress near Novi SadSerbia welcomes floods of people from all over the world who are attracted by its exotic location, good food and excellent music. Considering its history and things that have happened there, there is nothing like it and nothing can be compared to it. It really is an enormous city-within-a-city, its guests constantly on the move, looking for various hidden music treasures at various corners of the fortress. Nick Cave's Grinderman concert was one of the highlights of the festival's twelfth edition, one that absolutely floored the audience.
As a band, Grinderman has been spewing its sweaty mix of noisy punk blues for the last five years. One thing is certain: the band is brutally direct, evil and scary. No wonder Pitchfork has called it "Cave's schizophrenic and sloppy midlife crisis project." It takes everything that is despicable, ugly, dangerous, vile and tasteless in rock and runs with it, magnified even further in a live setting, where its potent cocktail of raw improvised sound is explosive.
Grinderman represents Cave's attempt to try something different in order to shake off stale routine and do things that his flagship group, The Bad Seeds (despite three musicians being common to both) could not. Cave's creative spark has clearly been relit after the foul and uninspired Nocturama (Mute, 2003), with better output such as the twin album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (Mute, 2004) and, eventually, this Grinderman side-project.
Throughout its 60-minute set, Grinderman struck a perfect balance between theatricality and its raunchy, noisy, lo-fi and sometimes bizarre blues-rock assault. The show was cathartic fun from the very beginning. Cave was always in motionjumping, bouncing, crowd-diving or playing a guitar (an instrument he had never played before) or keyboards. Certain bands or people truly embody the spirit of the music that they play, and certainly Cave didn't have any problems living up to his ferocious reputation onstage. It often seemed that he was channeling the weird and manic energy of a demonically possessed man and, as such, was a sight to behold, playing and singing with furious intensity. This was a prime example of a charismatic rock front man, backed by seasoned musicians with the fire and drive to prove themselves.
The band went from song to song with a sense of reckless abandon, as Cave and guitarist/violinist Warren Ellis traded off beefy guitar riffs and noise. It seemed that Ellis served as both a musical and sparring partner, the two sometimes screaming, and often crashing and bouncing off each other. Drummer Jim Sclavunos was an animal behind the kit, pounding out both brutal and delicate rhythmsm while bassist Martin Caseywhose birthday was that nightserved as the anchor around which all of the music and improvisations revolved.
The set list featured exclusively songs by Grinderman, including "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man," "Worm Tamer," "Get It On," "Heathen Child," "Evil," "When My Baby Comes, " "Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)," "Kitchenette," "No Pussy Blues," "Bellringer Blues," "Grinderman," and, as an encore, "Love Bomb."
Few in attendance could have predicted such energy. The band seemed to be indefatigable, indulging in a demanding physical performance that defied the onset of the supposed old age. It took a bunch of men in their fifties to show an entire generation of young bands how it should be done. Grinderman was a perfect example of the way 21st century rock music should sound: raw, unpolished, unpredictable, unbalanced, dangerous and mad.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.