Published on August 24th, 2013 | by Chris Laramee


Five Great Live Freakouts


(Or, last night your intrepid correspondent stayed up far too late with the headphones on and blew his mind six ways from Tuesday).

My Bloody Valentine – ‘You Made Me Realize’ – 1992, THE COMMODORE BALLROOM, VANCOUVER

Got this one off Soulseek YEARS ago and I don’t think it’s been bootlegged in any physical format, though it should be officially released ASAP. Taken from a ripping soundboard mix and even though channels drop in and out and things fluctuate like hell, this is probably one of the most hellish blasts of noise you’re likely to ever hear. They start the song like always and at around the 2 and ½ minute mark launch into the infamous ‘holocaust’ section that they were/are famous for. Ok, years ago when I first got this, I dubbed it onto a mix tape for my 4 am walks to this shitty warehouse job I had on the outskirts of town. Still drunk and/or high from the night’s hangouts, this is the only thing that could get me mobile and somewhat ready for the morning ahead. One word: SIGNAL. As in, redlined hot overload of what sounds like guitars and cymbal washes but is more like planes crashing in mid-air on fire. Free-er than fuck and beautiful to boot, when the song comes back in after the 15 minute mark, it feels like the noise has ended far too soon. Which makes sense that on this tour and at some of their more recent gigs they extend this part to 45 minutes or longer. Wicked.

Iggy and The Stooges – ‘Open Up and Bleed’ – 1973, THE WHISKEY A-GO-GO, LOS ANGELES

Released in 1996 on the Snapper (?) music label on CD, I grabbed this one in a bargain bin in 1997 for 5 bucks. Like the vast majority of Stooges boots, the sound quality here is “rugged” at best. But of all the live Stooges I dig, THIS IS THE ONE. The Ig blows some mean harp at the beginning before he sings the blues like only he can, which is to say it’s halfway between a harangue and a threat. This is one of the last gigs they did before the collapse and they are playing for their lives with switchblade intensity and sleazed refusal. Lots of push and pull with the quiet jammy bits that blossom full on into pure METAL breakdowns. James Williamson’s volume swells and gutter riffage very plainly states the case for him being one of the most gifted and versatile guitarists of all time. This one ends in pure chaos, just like The Stooges career would in short order soon after this show.

Suicide – ‘96 Tears’ – 1978, KANT KINO AUDITORIUM, BERLIN

A magical demolishing of The Mysterions classic from a German show, this one was appended onto the 1980 reissue of the NY duo’s seminal record. Retaining only the monumental main keyboard riff from the original, Alan Vega introduces the tracks as, “Written by a bunch of spics from Detroit,” while said keyboard melody swirls around him, wraith-like, along with hissing noises conjured by Martin Rev. Accompanied by pulse kick drums from some bad dream, Vega reduces the original’s lyrics to, “Yer gonna cry, cry, cry, cry, 96 tears,” repeated and interspersed with his trademark yelps and groans, until Rev’s keys warp into a sinister swooshing drone, and the whole thing is over in a couple minutes. The crowd chants and hollers for more but they won’t get it. Suicide has left the building.

Flipper – ‘If I Can’t Be Drunk’ – 1982, CRAWFORD’S WAKE, SAN FRANCISCO

This one comes from the Four Men With Beards reissue of what to my head is one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time, ‘Public Flipper Ltd.’ Sure, it’s a fuckin weird trip (some would say bad = horrible) but these guys went out on a limb and let it dangle like few others. If bummed out, hungover psychosis were soundtracked any better by anyone, drop me a line ’cause I wanna check it out. This asshole of a song creeps, stumbles, and lurches down a lonely road of self-loathing and doomed prophecy. REALLY. It’s that good (ha!)! Sing along with me. “If I can’t be drunk, I don’t wanna be alive!” Ted’s dissonant guitar chords bleed on the floor, what can only be described as a ‘sickly’ bassline from Bruce smears shit on the walls.  At least Steve keeps the car somewhat on the road with some solid sticks. What’s that Will’s yelling on the mic now? “If I can’t be drunk, I’m gonna beat my wife.” Alright then. Time for an intervention. Also, a foghorn sax rears its head randomly throughout the whole affair, pissing the straights off even more. Most people I know and respect think this song is a pile of stank garbage. With all due respect, you’re all fucked. This is declining beauty that is still about seven eons ahead of its time. Or is that behind? Ah, fuck it. Flipper rules.

White Hills – ‘Three Quarters’ – 2011, TILBURG (NETHERLANDS)

This track is from the ‘Live At Roadburn’ album that was put out by the fine folks at Roadburn/Burning World Records. This is the track that I saw them play at the Jim Jarmusch curated ATP fest in 2010 that made me a believer in their power to lift people UP, way up. I was hungover as Grover and they cleansed my soul and purified my body, leaving me a babbling fool post-set. Me wandering up to complete strangers outside going, “did you see that!!?? I mean, what the fuck?!?!?” Yeah, I was that guy.

This, to me, will always be one of my favorite tracks of theirs, and this recording tops out and keeps going higher and higher. RIFF POWER? In effect, as always. Scorched earth drums from Lee and Shazzula tickle the spine with key groans, Dave possesses and Ego decimates. Turn it up. They didn’t play it safe, why should you? One of the greatest bands currently operating. Hells yes.

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About the Author

makes a hell of a racket in bands like Shooting Guns, Wasted Cathedral, and The Foggy Notions. He contributes to sites like this one and Weird Canada.

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