Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Books @ Hailey's

Since I started writing this blog a few months ago, there have been many moments when I have started to feel that going out to shows was turning into a job. Some nights, such and such hipster band is playing at this and that place, and I feel like I have to go see them so that I can do a little write up on the blog and earn a couple scenester points and make everyone happy. Most of the time, it isn't that I don't like the band or don't think their show will be good. Its just that I'm tired, or not particularly inspired that night, or whatever. Sometimes I go because I feel like I have to.

Last night started off as one of those nights. Yes, I do like The Books. And yes, I had heard that they put on a good show. But it was in Denton, I was getting over a hangover, and I just wasn't sure what to expect. And when I drove by Hailey's and saw the biggest crowd I have ever seen standing in front of the place, there was a part of me that was excited that the Books could attract so much attention, and another part of me that was like, "Man, how long is it gonna take to get a beer in this place?" The show did in fact sell out, and it took a really long time to get a beer. But after seeing the Books play one song, I just didn't give a shit.

Last night I found out that the Books are an absolutely mesmerizing live band. And really, I don't even know if you can call them a band, at least in the traditional sense. Yes they play instruments on a stage and release albums, but nothing else they do seems to have anything to do with rock n roll. In fact, I don't even think that you can analyze the Books using any of the same criteria that you would to judge the White Stripes or Man Man or something like that. In one of the comment threads the other day, someone tried to draw a distinction between "art" and "artsy." I get that. "Artsy" is Thurston Moore name dropping Marcel Duchamp in an interview. Art is something entirely different, and although I'm not going to sit here and try to define it, I would say that the Books fall into the "art" category, however you want to label it, because they don't really seem like a "band" to me.

The Books live show consists of the two members playing a few different instruments at different times (including some that they have invented themselves, like a horn that blows smoke rings) and singing. The Books' songs also contain sound clips from a variety of different sources that I can't even begin to list here. But lets just say that most of them are human voices talking, some of them are funny, some of them are creepy, and all of them are very effective and well researched, like these guys went through the Library of Congress archives to find motivational speeches, interviews with sociopaths, history books on tape, religious ceremonies, and just about anything else that could affect a listener on a pseudo subconscious level. Take those sound samples, mix in some live music and pre recorded music, and then throw a huge video screen on to the front of the stage and press play. That is the Books live show. And of course, that kind of thing has been done time and time again, but never quite like this. The band's music is apparently based off of these videos, because they all coincide precisely with what is going on in the songs. You often see the people that you hear speaking on their records, and it really adds to the effect of the music. Many bands throw random psychedelic clips onto a disk and play them during their shows, but all of these videos were carefully edited and extremely well thought out. Each told its own story, if only a loose one, that kept me and everyone else in the place interested throughout the night. Really, even though there was the usual gaggle of scenester kids talking in the back, I have never seen a Hailey's audience so attentive.

Sometimes I even got a little emotional (not to get all emo on you) during the set. The song "Take Time" is beautiful on its own, but throw in a video of old people square dancing, mixed in with images of random violence, Charles Manson, people falling down America's Funniest Home Videos style, and random religious celebrations from different parts of the world, and you've got something that should have an emotional impact on anyone that has a brain. Really, there were several very moving moments throughout the set, which is something that "art rock" seems to rarely accomplish this well. This all probably sounds pretty stupid on paper, and I'm not even going to try to explain it any more, because I just feel like I'll just dig myself into a deeper hole. But I really just wanted to write this to thank the Books. I wanted to thank them for reminding me why I actually give a shit about music in the first place. Because trust me, I needed it.


Blogger jonofdeath said...

I went to this show. It really was absolutely amazing. But I have one beef: the venue. I can't think of a worse place to do this sort of thing. Maybe I was just angry because I had to stand in line for 45 minutes and miss the first band. I mean, I don't even know who they are, but I really like to see new music. So I was pretty upset about not seeing Grimfeather. Then I had to pay $10 instead of the advertised $7. I don't mind paying $10 for the Books. Like I said, they were amazing. But I really did feel a little cheated by Hailey's, not the Books. Also, since the stage was so low, I couldn't see the members of the band. I think if they would have played somewhere other than Hailey's it would have been a better experience for me.
I think they should actually do a tour of museums with theatres in them. That way they can set up in front of the movie screen and play with the films. That way they could also be considered more of an art-form than "artsy." God I hate that term. Anway, that's just my opinion. I could be way wrong, especially judging by the shouts and minute long applause sessions in between songs. That was amazing in itself as well.

3:18 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

agreed. They could do some great things at non traditional venues, and I really couldn't see them on stage last night either. However, the sound was good, and Hailey's, for its faults, didn't really take away from the show in my opinion.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haileys doesnt set the price. the promoter does. blame daughter if it upsets u.

6:47 PM  
Blogger jamo said...

I stand by my statement, "artsy" was a term created by people that don't understand art. that's it, that's all it will ever be.

the books are art, yes, last night's show was one of the most spectacular live experiences of my life. but I would say the same about sonic youth, an who's to say that thurston moore doesn't have a well of knowledge about dadaism and all of its implications?

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote the huge blog defining art and artsy, and I completely agree that The Books are amazing pure art.

8:10 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

wasn't trying to dis Thurston or anything, just using it as an example.

11:24 PM  
Blogger jamo said...

what the fuck is pure art??

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JAMO hates anonymous. Anonymous loves JAM.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we have decided you understand what art is, now let us define pure. (pure: Complete; utter. Having no faults.) I'm not trying to be demeaning Jamo. Please understand this. But whether it is defined for Jamo or not, Jamo is free to interpret however he would like, whether he be incorrect or not. I can't stop interpretations. I can only attempt to defend and define everything I say, but your interpretations still belong to you. I will always answer your questions as clearly as possible. I hope this help your "what the fuck is pure art" quandry.

3:55 AM  
Blogger glen said...

my pussy hurts.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't be such a whore and your pussy will heal.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous glen said...

the tiny pussy at the end of my penis hurts. it's because i'm artsy and posteverything.

1:02 AM  

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