Tomahawk- God Hates A Coward
[Skwerl says:] I’m delighted that Johnny picked my Tomahawk selection to lead off the mix, because it’ll help me articulate an important difference between experiencing music via iPod, versus the live experience. There are bands- Tool for example- that are “great” live, in that everything is so tight and calculated, you get to hear the music exactly how you expect it, with the benefit of the full dynamic range only a live band in front of your human ears can produce. Many are immensely satisfied by this, but not me. I’ve been to many concerts, and when I try and pick out the top three or five most amazing experiences, the ones that surprised me bubble to the top. Also, many factors that have nothing to do with the music factor in for me- how crowded the venue was for instance, or how anal security was. I saw Tomahawk at the Trocadero theater in Philadelphia in 2001, and it remains ranked among my top concert experiences of all time, for a number of reasons. But most of all for the energy this band has, led by the non compos mentis Mike Patton is nearly unrivaled among today’s working bands… The (International) Noise Conspiracy being the only exception I can think of at the moment. This video is a pretty good example.
My intention was to include Radiohead’s performance of Idioteque from their SNL appearance a bunch of years ago, for the simple fact that Thom Yorke flails around like an epileptic elf monkey the entire time. Then I found this version, from a show they did in Paris, which effectively kicks the shit out of the one I had in mind. The delivery, the frantic energy, the lights, the atmospherics- it captures everything that’s awesome about a live Radiohead show.
The White Stripes- Ugly As I Seem
[Skwerl says:] I knew Johnny already had a great White Stripes track picked out, but I couldn’t cut this selection. There are guitarists more technically skilled than Jack White, but few can communicate through their instruments with such flair, with such soul. I get chills when the chorus hits.
Jane’s Addiction- The Price I Pay
[Skwerl says:] I should hate Dave Navarro- he’s entirely too good looking to be a respectable musician. But Jesus Christ. This is magical. I saw this lineup of Jane’s Addiction in 2003, and they fucking killed.
[Johnny:] Goddamn right. These guys wrote the book on hedonistic junkie gypsy rock.
Pete Philly & Perquisite- Womb To Tomb
It blows my mind that so few people are familiar with this hip-hop duo from Amsterdam. After two impressive albums of inimitably smooth flow over sick breakbeat / jazz / soul instrumentals (Mindstate and Mystery Repeats), Pete Philly & Perquisite are a bright red blip on Antiquiet’s radar. We expect big things for them in ’09.
Nine Inch Nails- The Becoming (Still Version)
[Skwerl says:] So many bands try to be Nine Inch Nails by stacking up layers of distortion and noise on 128 guitar tracks, screaming through filters and hiding behind effects. What makes Nine Inch Nails so fucking awesome is that they can unplug everything and be just as powerful.
Queens Of The Stone Age- Long Slow Goodbye
[Skwerl says:] If I could pull up a high quality video of any performed version of a particular song, my first choice for this one would not be this version from Sessions@AOL, but the one dedicated to the late Natasha Shneider that closed her tribute. It was the most emotional moment I’ve ever experienced at a show. Regardless, this has always been a great song, and this is a great performance of it.
Pearl Jam- Given To Fly
Easily the most difficult selection of the batch, for the simple fact I can rattle off a good 25 unforgettably awesome Pearl Jam performances without a moment’s pause. This is from the band’s Single Video Theory mini-doc, which chronicles the making of their nearly flawless 5th album, Yield. The song is a personal favorite- not necessarily for the Going To California melodic nod or Christish narrative, but because of the arrangement and passion behind the delivery. It helps set the inner compass.
Mos Def- Close Edge
I remember seeing this on Chappelle’s Show a few years back and losing my shit. The stupid grin on Dave’s face said it all as he drove around town with Mos Def riding shotgun, spitting rhymes over a backing tape and making it look easy enough for anybody to do. The casual performance made the track that much more captivating, because it comes off like a freestyle (it’s not- you can find it on The New Danger).
The White Stripes- Death Letter
It may be a cliche, but that doesn’t make it untrue: to fully appreciate the White Stripes, you’ve gotta see them live. On a bad night, Jack White’s a six-string demon waist-deep in delta blues- but when he catches fire onstage, there’s no stopping the guy as he tears off solo after squealing, stuttering, frantic solo, throwing verses from other songs into the mix and generally acting like a man possessed. Their Coachella set in 2003 changed my life, due in no small part to the fact that Jack was furious that he couldn’t hear himself in the monitors, and channeled his frustrations into a jaw-droppingly blistering performance that easily ranks among the top live shows I’ve ever seen.
Clutch- Profits Of Doom
Finding a good live Clutch video was no small feat, as the band’s had a nasty habit of touring shitty clubs for the nearly two decades that they’ve been together. Doesn’t exactly make for good audio/visuals in replay. I was determined, though, and found this tasty gem off their landmark Blast Tyrant record. You can find this version on the Sounds Of The Underground Vol. 1 DVD.
Ben Harper & Eddie Vedder- Indifference
Nevermind that this performance took place at an ill-fated Nader rally at Madison Square Garden in 2000. There’s no mistaking the humility and respect between these two musicians as they play the final cut off Pearl Jam’s Vs. By the look on Harper’s face as he introduces the song’s author, it’s clear that this is a special moment for him. As a huge fan of both artists, it was for me as well.
Sigur Rós- Staralfur
This song reduces me to iridescent jelly every time. It could serve as a doorbell chime to heaven or a soundtrack to crushing heartbreak, or both, depending on the listener. This version is from their Heima documentary, a must-see for anyone curious about the best thing to come out of Iceland since Bjork.