Police vs. Motormorons

So in case anybody is remotely interested, here's the follow up to my previous post about the Police (or, as Adrock from the Beastie Boys repeatedly referred to them, "the PO-lice") show -- or, the show that had the Police at the end, on Saturday.

The Police are okay. They started off with a pretty muscular version of Message in a Bottle, which really sounded great. More rock, less finesse, kind of a best case scenario, given that their sound can get a little ska-lite radio-friendly, to say the least. From there, it kind of slumped off to what I expected: good songs done well, nothing spectacular. You know, The Police. I also realized that I know every word to every goddam Police song, something that I think was unavoidable if you grew up when I grew up. They sounded great -- actually, everybody sounded great, the sound people at the Virgin Festival did an amazing job -- and Sting made us all wonder why we're not actively doing yoga. Motherfucker looks fantastic. Still, it was kind of underwhelming, and my general impression was unchanged. It was the Police. They sang a bunch of good, solid pop songs. They're not embarrassing by any stretch of the imagination. They're really good, in fact, and you really can't argue about the quality of their overall catalog. But they're not spectacular, either.

My favorite comment was from some random girl, on her way from the direction of the Police stage to the Modest Mouse stage, who said, "who's playing next over there, Crowded House?"

In contrast, the Beastie Boys were pretty spectacular. I'm a Beasties fan, but even I was very impressed with their tight, hour and a quarter set. They came out in matching tailored suits, with hats, despite the hundred degree heat (Adrock on the temperature: "it is hot as a mofo out here..."). They hammered out a hardcore/punk/hip hop set that included a lot of Check Your Head, a few instrumentals, and a few old faves from way back in the day (Shake Your Rump, Brass Monkey). They were tight and super energetic and seemed to be having a hell of a time. Even if I was toned and worshipped and one-named, I would not have wanted to follow those guys onto that stage.

One interesting note is that I suppose the transition from Beastie Boys to Beastie Men has wrought some changes in some of those old school tunes -- for instance, "MCA's in the back 'cause he's skeezin' with a whore" became "MCA's in the back [doing something not as creepy as skeezin' with a whore]," and like so throughout. Can't blame them, I suppose.

Some other random impressions: Amy Winehouse is a hell of a singer, and a truly lackluster performer. She really looked like she couldn't wait to get backstage and start drinking. She is tiny, tiny, tiny. As my friend Marc said, "I felt like I should take her off and buy her some pancakes." Really, it was all hair and boobs and voice up there, and that doesn't actually work as well as it might sound.

Ben Harper sounded fantastic, and focused, rightly, given the festival setting, on the reggae and funk part of his catalog.

Cheap Trick sounded great, although we didn't get a chance to see them, since there was a bit of a line to get in. Same with the Fratellis, who sing just about all the songs that I thought I liked from the new Arctic Monkeys album.

We were in Baltimore, though, and one of the highlights was a local band that summarizes a lot of what I like about Baltimore, mainly the John Waters, willfully eccentric spirit of the city. The Motormorons play punk/hillbilly/country with a don't-give-a-shit flair and, well, tools. The lead singer was playing what I guess you'd call a grinder, or a sander, and she was playing it by grinding coffee cans up in it, complete with sparks. There was a "percussionist" who was playing, alternately, a drill, a dual weed-wacker (as our friend Chris said, "anybody can play just one weed-wacker, but to play the double barrel, you really need to be a musician"), and a sander. The bass player had one string on his instrument. All the songs were about trucks and drinking and trucks.

By far, the most fun band at the entire festival. Check them out, you won't regret it.

1 comment:

bob_vinyl said...

The Motormorons were great. I caught the end of their first set and was sure to be back for the second between the Ben Harper and the Beastie Boys. They were insane. Kinda like Flipper with power tools. If you're interested, I wrote a review of the first day here.