Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DECEMBER DREAM: Review of Carson Daly and MySpace Secret Show

When it comes to the Cure, I am, indeed, a Hungry Ghost. My appetite is never sated where they are involved. The difference, of course, between Robert’s Hungry Ghost and mine is that RSX’s is more focused on materialistic gains, whereas I am concerned only with the spiritual sustenance that The Cure serves up in luscious abundance.

So when I planned my flight to California for the weekend of 12/12/08, it was merely to attend a mini-concert given by the Cure on the Carson Daly show, as well as to commune with treasured COF friends in La-La-Land. I had not yet learned about all of the other talk show events or even the KROQ festival. When I did learn of those events, I considered that I might change my flight in order to at least attend the festival. But I decided to wait on that decision until I got to LA.

Upon landing in LA on the night of Thursday, 12/11, and meeting up with my wacky twin Chris and the adorable Sara, we learned via Tina Marie that people were already camping out at the Daly show. This threw us all into a frenzy of nerves, as we had been hoping to catch some precious zzzzzzzzz’s before lining up early the next day. Agitated, we snagged our rental car and flew across town to our hotel. After checking in, we whizzed over to the NBC studios to find about 15 people camped out. These were hardcore campers, equipped with sleeping bags and blankets and prepared to suffer the LA winter chill in order to see their favorite band in action.

We hung around for a bit, mingling with lovely Cure peeps and being treated to The Curse’s rocking renditions of Cure faves. Being the near-senior citizens we are, Chris and I finally decided to doze for a bit back at the hotel, while vibrant youths Sara and Andy camped out. We felt guilty lest the hardcore campers feel resentful at our laziness, so we came back as soon as possible.

There are zonky drive-through stories to relate, but I won’t; suffice it to say that severe lack of sleep had taken its toll on all of us and we (perhaps especially I) acted like inebriated teenagers as we ordered our food. Indeed, I had to apologize to one of the workers: “We’re not drunk, I swear,” I stammered out amid guffaws. Oh, and there was the incident of the “big-ass diet coke,” which I am sure the order-taker appreciated very much. She seemed rather relieved as we hauled our car outta there.

There was also the fortuituous moment of turning on KROQ at the exact moment that Boys Don’t Cry started up, and of us grooving to it in the car as we made our way back to NBC. See incriminating video evidence here.

So yeah, back at Daly, we met up with more fabulous COF/miscellaneous Curey peeps.

And really, the wait in line went by fairly quickly, all things considered. There was much mirth as we mingled and phoned friends like DJ and so on. And of course, Keith Uddin and guitar tech Jeremy made an appearance, and so that was a treat. Time zooms by when you’re having fun with friends.

What was excruciating, actually, at least for me, was enduring the taping of the god-awful Carson Daly show. This was NOT the way to be initiated into talk show tapings. I have long wanted to attend a taping of the David Letterman show, and perhaps I will one day. But Daly could never dream to rise to the quirky caliber of Letterman. His show is pukeable, in all candor; the only highlight besides the Cure was when Rev’s husband, Sean, joined a dance contest and actually won, owing more to his easy charm and humor, perhaps, than actual dance skillz.

So throughout the insufferably bad Carson Daly taping, every time The Cure was mentioned, the audience erupted into giddy screams. The place was teeming with Cure fans, and even Carson Daly acknowledged that we were the best audience he had ever had. Yeah, dumbledork, it certainly wasn’t because we like YOU; Cure fans just happen to be a wildly fanatical bunch.

So anyway. The Cure finally came on, and zipped through three songs: The Only One, Sleep When You’re Dead, and Boys Don’t Cry. We were hoping that the Daly producers would allow The Cure to play longer, and indeed RSX was ready and willing, but noooooooooo. Not only did we have to suffer through the most staggeringly dumbed-down, embarassingly humorless talk show around, but they cruelly deprived us of more crunchy, gooey Curey goodness. Bastards.

But the songs sounded great, the Cure boyz looked fanfuckingtastically fuckable, and the audience grooved giddily. A good time was had by all, and several COFy peeps can be seen in the Carson Daly video, to be found here. The backs of Chris and me are to be witnessed at 1:35 - we were rocking like dorky dorks and slurping up every yummable Curey moment.

After the show, Rev got a special treat. Before the mini-concert, she had given Keith her specially-made and frankly darling Nightmare Before Curemas t-shirts (to be seen here) to pass to the band. Upon exiting the show, Rev was handed one of the shirts, signed by each member of the Cure. She burst into joyful tears as all crowded around to bask in her ebullience.

So after the show and a bit of wild-goose chase stalking across LA, Andy, Sara, Chris and I decided to grab a bite of grub. While gobbling down our overpriced, puke-inducing munchables, we began discussing in cavalier fashion a few of the “hints” we had heard earlier in the day about The Cure’s Saturday activities. Keith Uddin had asked a few of us what we were doing on Saturday, and we replied that of course we would be seeing The Curse. Keith had slyly responded, “That’s what you THINK you’re gonna be doing.” And another person in line had said that someone had told her to “keep Saturday open.”

These tantalizing hints enticed us to check COF when we returned to the hotel. We furiously refreshed the page for about an hour as Craig naughtily teased us with post titles such as “Get Ready!” “It Could Be Anything!” and so on. Anticipation began to mount as it dawned on us that this was to be something truly magnificent, not a mere appearance at a record store or something akin to that.

I was actually becoming a tangle of nerves as I was starting to realize I would get very little sleep that weekend. Normally I can deal with a sleepless night once in a while, but an entire weekend of no shut-eye can really exact its toll. “Godfuckingdammit, I’m not gonna get any sleep this weekend, am I?” I shouted in mock annoyance.

So when COF finally announced that the Cure would be playing a Secret Show at famed LA club The Troubabdor on Saturday night, we all launched into manic shrieks - boisterousness that actually earned us a “visit” from one of the hotel managers. LOLLABLEZ.

And actually, truth be told, we immediately began feeling badly for The Curse, as we had been looking forward to seeing their show, and knew that they likely could not get out of their commitment to play, and that their audience size would severely dwindle.

So once we read the details that told us that the Troubador line-up would begin at noon, I suggested that we attempt to snooze for a while and start camping out at around 6 am. But middle-aged level heads were not to prevail that weekend - thankfully. The adorable and vivacious twenty-year old AndytheCurefan stated firmly, “I’m gonna camp out now. Drop me off.” After a bit of wrangling back and forth, we all decided that it would be best to camp out together, in the car, and attempt to doze there. It was about 1 am at this point.

Naturally, very little sleep was to be had in the car, as we were by turns delirious and anxious. Anytime we would finally sink into sleep, in my zombified state I would begin to sing verses from “The Reasons Why,” which would break us all into giddy giggles. And then of course there was Sara’s infamously vulgar pronouncement about Porl, which out of courtesy to her I will not reiterate here. Suffice it to say it was hysterically funny and became an oft-repeated phrase throughout the rest of the weekend.

As other people began showing up, Midnight and her Cure group devised a brilliant numbering system. Andy, Sara, Chris and I were the first to show up so naturally we were the first four numbers. Everyone who followed complied with this savvy system.

The wait for the Secret Show wristbands was fun in its way, but it also had its frustrating moments. At one point we learned that we might have to have a print out our MySpace pages that showed The Cure and MySpace Secret Shows in our top eight friends. Naturally this threw everyone into a frenzy, as people began scrambling to find ways to print their pages. But, alas, it was all for naught, as soon enough Keith Uddin nixed that idea.

Once we received our wristbands, we learned just how cruel the Troubadorians could be. Instead of allowing us to wait patiently by the side of the building according to our numbering system, they told us to scatter from the premises until 7pm, a mere hour before the show. This forced us into yet another anxiety mode, as we had waited eleven fucking hours for the rare privilege to be first in line! They had even told us that they would cut our wristbands if they caught us on the Troubador property. My natural feistiness kicked in at the mere mention of this inane idea: “What,” I demanded, “they’re gonna risk assualt charges just so they could prove a point about loitering on their oh-so-precious property?”

But yeah, I stayed the hell away anyway. I am, after all, a wimp.

Late in the afternoon, clusters of people began forming at various spots close to the Troubador. Finally, at one point, we all gathered across the street, and when the sacred hour of 7 pm tolled, we made a mad dash to the Troubador line. It was really quite humorous, but ulimately egregiously ridiculous, as there was no coherent logic in the Troubador staff forcing us to make such fools of ourselves, and risk injury in the process.

Once inside the venue, Chris, Sara and I quickly found coveted spots in the front on Porl’s side, since Sara is enamored of him and his playing. And really, at this point, we all are. This feels weirdly disloyal to say, but for me these days Porl somewhat eclipses Robert. And if you manage to eclipse Robert Smith, that is nothing short of a miracle. There is something so charismatic and yet so REAL and grounded about Porl: his lusciously inked physique, his punk-glam sartorial style, his sweet smile and shimmering eyes, and of course his flamboyant fret-shredding that is mesmerizing to witness up close.

Andy, on the other hand, was hankering for some Simon action, so he positioned himself in front of the sexy bass-chuggers’ stage spot. Later on during the show, however, Andy worked his way to Porl’s side to be with us.

As we waited for The Cure to make their appearance, we humbly took in our surroundings. The Troubador plays host to up and coming bands, normally, or at least bands that have not yet made the huge-time, and as such, is a fairly intimate venue. It does feature balconies, but other than that, it resembles your typical neighborhood bar, imbued with maybe a bit more class - but definitely not the type of place you would expect to see a band of the Cure’s caliber. Unless, of course, a band of the Cure’s caliber decided to play a secret show to 200 people that was abruptly announced the night before.

The Cure finally sauntered onto stage about an hour after their appointed time slot. As they descended the stairs that led up to their tiny dressing room, shrieks and shouts bellowed forth from the euphoric crowd. And as they launched into the first transcendent notes of the lushly delectable Underneath the Stars, we collectively swooned. Here we were witnessing a 30-year old legendary iconic fucking band - the band that practically invented post-punk and that certainly became an indelible cultural influence, the band that pioneered the minimalist sound that later swerved into crushing nihlism that later veered into warped territory that later U-Turned into sunny pop textures that later swayed into a toxic combination of any and every genre imaginable - in a tiny intimate venue that allowed one to shower in the sacred salty sweat of Robert Smith, if one so perversely chose. Or at the very least, enabled us to discern the details of Porl’s elaborate tats, or ogle Robert’s yummable chest hairs and gaze into his sensually cerulean eyes, or, hell, if you were audacious enough, slap Simon’s skinny sexy butt as it writhed around in his PHTs.

So yeah. It’s about the music, of course, and by the end of the night, our eardrums were busted clear through, owing to our being practically on top of one of Porl’s floor amps, plus being about two feet from his other amps and of course, from the guit-god himself. Make that about one foot, if even that much. We were so close we coulda touched his shoes - which I refrained from doing, out of respect, of course, but mostly out of fear of being kicked out and humiliated.

It was truly astonishing, though, to be in such precious proximity to this criminally underrated fretboard freak, as he worked his wizardry on the coiled strings. Our eyes were focused mainly on him for much of the night, and it was sheer joy to watch Sara, a burgeoning guitar player herself, bask in his glittering glory. We made lots of intense eye contact with Porl throughout the night and gleaned many shining smiles from him. Indeed, I was a bit, um, orgasmic at times, screaming to him that, “you fucking rule!” and so on, to which he responded with happily baffled grins. Ah, to be looked at askance by Porl Thompson - a dream realized.

So yeah. The band tore through a scorching set laden with new songs and tempered with old faves. They played ten songs from the new album, which was a real treat since 4:13 Dream has rapidly evolved into one of my top 5 Cure albums. Highlights from the new album (besides, UTS, of course) included the rockin’ The Reasons Why (see Chris, Sara, and me rocking out to it here), the groovy Freakshow (another vid featuring the trio of dorks), the Pornography-era-tainted The Scream, and the frantically mad Baby Rag Dog Book. Indeed, the latter two, so searingly manic, inverted my nipples and I have not been the same since. Mmmmmmmmmm concave nipples. Kinda hurts, though, but I’m sure they’ll snap back into place one day.

So anyway. Robert’s deliciously drawn-out “screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam” during The Scream pretty much ripped up the room and we all exploded into a gazillion tiny screamables; Simon’s bass during Baby Rag Dog Book thundered away like Thor on steroids; and Porl’s freaky fingers fancily shredded his fretboard during the glimmering guitar parts in The Hungry Ghost - which actually was the most disappointing song of the night otherwise, attributed mainly to Robert’s oddly toned down vocals. On the album the vocals take on a quasi-falsetto, yearning tone that complement the lyrical subject matter about our never-sated materialistic society, but live Robert has taken to singing the song in a more whispery way, which would be fine except that he seems to barely exude any enthusiasm in his performance. It’s a bit bizarre, but I am assuming he is merely trying to rest his voice - and he did finally pick up the tone a bit later into the song.

As far as the old songs, there are really too many highlights to enumerate; suffice it to say everything was a fucking highlight, as the concert was insanely intense from start to finish. It is all still such a blur - I have yet to fully process it, as the show had such a startlingly surreal quality, owing to its abrupt nature and to the Troubador’s quaintly cozy confines.

But okay, fine, you want highlights, you Vampire of the Vicarious? I got yer highlights right here!

The Edge of the Deep Green Sea was a gorgeously blisering rendition that had everyone bouncing feverishly and thrusting our “hands in the sky”; Wrong Number was a surprise treat as usually I dislike that tuneless tune, but live it really tears up and Porl’s magical effects make it one scrumptiously sexy song; One Hundred Years always manages to blow my boobs clear off my chest, except that this time I had nailed them down so they couldn’t come loose, but they sorta shook loose anyway and I had to pick them up off the floor and re-attach them - and this was AFTER, of course, The Scream had inverted my nipples, so it was kinda awkward re-attaching concave-nipple boobs - and with rusty nails, no less.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, Primary owned my ass and took first AND last names - such a post-punky gem that really set the mood for the old skool encore which always succeeds in flaying my skin straight off. It’s tough to be me, really, with flayed skin and nailed-on boobs and inverted nipples. I must work on rectifying my physical appearance.

But the old skool encore, really, is what makes a Cure show so dementedly transcendently euphorically bouyant. By the time the old skool encore came on I was just about wiped out from perilous dearth of sleep and ecstatic lunacy at seeing the Cure so up close and personal, and then they had to go and taunt us with plucky punkiness, which started hauntingly and seductively with The Forest, slid playfully into Boys Don’t Cry, then dove frenetically into the Jumping Someone Else’s Train/Grinding Halt/10:15 Saturday Night/Killing an Arab mania that sets everyone aflame and then crassly leaves us for dead, mere crumbling skeletons of our formerly fleshed-out selves.

So fuck yeah, Chris and Sara and Andy and I are by this time madly pogo-ing like freaky fools and not giving a shit - at one point I about bounce through the ceiling but manage to temper my deranged effervesence, somehow, some way. But then the Cure lads screech into their psychotically psychedelic version of Killing an Arab, and my nipples are being further inverted and my skin is melting off and I’m about to crash through the ceiling of the famed Troubador.

It’s too much, really; it’s like being in a hyrbid Cure-Heaven/Hell, where it’s ethereally blissful to be watching the Cure but so infernally intense that your psyche and your soul feel tortured by the cunning magic of it all. The Cure are paradoxical bi-polar devil-angels who play with beatific vengeance. They whip you into an elated fervor and then slay you with their sinister sorcery.

It was, indeed, a 12:13 Dream, to see these insane icons in such intimate environs, in much the same setting as ones they played when they were young and unknown, and to joyfully bathe in their cosmic presence, one that uplifts and devastates and energizes and surprises ... again and again and again and again.

And then It’s Over and everyone goes home. It’s not same you, and it never really is.

Cureyness FOREVER, yo.

More Troubador videos can be seen at COF.

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