Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rare Lost Video - Beme Seed "God Inside" (1989)

Beme Seed was a band I happen to have had the honor of playing in way back when. At the time they were somewhat obscure Boston/NYC based neo-psych band but were on the radar of all the major indie labels and headed for greatness based on their 3 outstanding albums (1 and a half of which I contributed to, which personally scared the shit out of me since I was originally a fan of the band and now had to actually co-create with them.) It's a crying shame that their  albums were never re-released, but I'm hoping the copyright owners (I'm talking to you Michael & Kenny) will get off yr butt and make a greatest hits album at least, if not a nice box set.  This is late 80's punk-psychedelia at its finest, and needs to be heard again.

The video here is "God Inside" from the first album.  the album was put out by Blast First! the uk label that handled uk pressings of Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Sonic Youth and more, but I doubt the label really had anything to do with the video, as they were pretty tight with money. The video was done for free by a guy who was trying to get on the butthole's good side (and who wasnt?) and features ex-Butthole dancer, now Beme Seed lead singer Kathleen Lynch and no actual other band members, which is odd considering the democratic nature of the band yet still effective.  Kathleen btw is portrayed in the video in her Butthole Surfers persona, which if a far cry from the reserved, demure and intellectual character she was in Beme Seed.  (She's great singer, and to me channels both Siouxsie and Janis Joplin at times).  Perhaps if you read this Kathleen, post some more stories about this video in the comments...

I think I may be one of the only people on earth with a copy of this video (banned from MTV for being too cutting edge in its day), and unfortunately mine is a second generation dub from vhs, digitized for yr convenience.  


(requires quicktime)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Butthole Surfers @ Webster Hall, NYC July 29, 2008

I first saw Butthole Surfers at Webster Hall (then called The Ritz) back in 1986 or so.  The show started with the quintessential angst/noise anthem "Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave", movies rolling, Kathleen naked and green center stage, strobes, smoke and colored lights all over the place, like some wickedly bad nightmare edge blotter trip, and then each member lit their guitar on fire, smashed it on the stage and threw the flaming pieces into the audience. They grabbed more guitars, lit them too, smashed them and threw even more splintered flaming guitar parts into the crowd.  All during the FIRST SONG. I was terrified.  I was in awe.  I was in love.

Now twenty+ years later, they fittingly come out of retirement to play here again. It's very odd how the Buttholes, the most revered and monumental underground band of the 80s (sorry Sonic Youth, you could never compete on this level) rose to become international indie rock gods only to go major label, get a gold record and then just disappear rapidly but quietly.  They never actually broke up, and we all thought they were just working on the next amazing album to end all albums, or planning their next tour, but it didnt happen.  A random smattering of shows here and there but almost like they just needed to please the record company contract.  The juggernaut seemed to have gone and with it did the entire underground rock scene.

But here they were again, 25 years a band, with the classic late 80s lineup of Gibby, Paul, Pinkus, King & Theresa, only missing Kathleen (are you still living in Jersey Kathleen?  Were you at the show?) and despite the spectacles on Paul and Gibby, and a few lyrics written down to jog the memory, the band were in great form and picked a perfect setlist to please the fans.

I felt the songs from the early albums had the most impact, great tribal dirges perfect for sweaty moshing, slow and steady and pulsing.  The younger kids, having only grown up on the later major label albums were happier when they played the higher speed thrash rock.  Tracks from most of their albums were represented, with the notable exception of "pioughd"  (damn, no "lonesome bulldog" or "blindman"?)  It was all a-list material, perfect for a greatest hits album.  (as cheesey at it sounds, the world needs a BHS greatest hits album, perhaps the band can use their genius to pull that off without it looking like K-Tel production? A truly dignified collection of their best work...)

Those of you who appreciated the Buttholes trademark mind blowing light shows may have been disappointed.  Video projectors have replaces 16mm (Kathleen once told me how she loved the effect of the projectors beams spreading out across the audience - none of that with the new gear, and the imagery now in more in the background, not nearly as overwhelming and frightening as it used to be). Besides some strobes and tiny puffs of smoke, the lights were very low key, but hell, we were just too happy to have the band and their music here.  Ask the aging fans risking hip dislocations in the moshpit, they were loving every second.

Technically I should add, the sound at Webster Hall is atrocious.  A bit muddy and not helped by the staff.  The band were apparently doing their own best to get sound out of bad microphones and dealing with the monitors and bad levels, which leads us to the next scene.

All good thing must come to an end and in true classic style as well.  Gibby was apparently arguing with the stage monitor sound guy, which led to a plastic cup being thrown, and suddenly the security goon pulled him offstage. Paul took over with "Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave" which he did magnificently if not menacingly, and the band called it quits while we waited and waited for Gibby to come back.  Which did not happen.  If the crowd had been younger, riots would have ensued and blood would've flowed, but after a half hour of haranguing the security staff's unwise decision, we just gave up and left the building.  It was sad to not hear another half dozen amazing songs, but this show had certainly made up for our needed fix of truly profoundly wonderful underground music as provided by the best of the best.  I hope they will come back and play more.  Sometime before we're all too old to enjoy a good moshpit.

-bobby bunny