let's just have some fun / let's tear this sh*t apart

let's just have some fun / let's tear this sh*t apart

Greetings, welcome to the newsletter. Today we have...

recaps of recent shows by Of Montreal + Ethel Cain

Blog Posts of the Recent Past

a New Graphic Design Initiative in the I Enjoy Music blogiverse

a teaser of something fun and new....hmm...

two live shows in Sunny Los Angeles

Justin Timberlake got arrested for a DUI after drinking a Vesper Martini, so we decided to drink some before the Ethel Cain concert. A hallmark of my thirties seems to be "getting the wrong message"—re-reading Dorian Gray and thinking the opium den didn't sound so bad, watching The Bikeriders and wanting to start a gang, stuff like that. A drink so potent it got JT pulled over? I will have what he's having. Don't worry, I wasn't driving.

We poured the martinis into plastic cups and walked from my friend Joel's place in Los Feliz up a big hill to the Greek Theatre. I moved to Los Angeles 13 months ago, and somehow the Greek was one of the last real marquee venues on my to-do list. I tore through so many big ones—the Hollywood Bowl, the Troubadour, the Walt Disney Concert Hall—like I was running out of time, even though I just got here.

The hill was steep and once we saw a critical mass of young people wearing black veils and camouflage baseball caps, we knew we were close. The Ethel Cainiacs dressed like they were going to a church that was taking place in a deer blind. I was getting my cardio in, and the Vesper was strong. I saw how James Bond's drink of choice might have taken Justin out. What tour? The world tour. Man, the internet moves fast. I feel like we forgot all about the world tour and now we're just coconutposting for Kamala Harris. A good martini kind of sits on your head, helmeting your brain, becoming a cushion against which thoughts can bounce dully, making it a little easier to exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you.

Wow, the venue was lovely. It was like a less vast Hollywood Bowl, nestled into the dry hills of Griffith Park. I was sweaty but the day was already turning a little cooler, and then the band Teethe started playing. Not reeealllly my thing—I'm basically the opposite of a slowcore lady, though if I live long enough, I may one day calm down enough to enjoy a more relaxed pace of music. The main thing the band did that tickled me was play their instruments with the least possible amount of visible physical exertion. An electric guitar still makes a great deal of noise even if you don't slam on it like you're chopping down a tree. Still, I like the artifice of maxing out one's effort, really giving 'em what for, which I guess makes me like an elementary schooler, tapping on the aquarium glass, stimulating the guppies: c'mon, do something.

It takes real skill to change the air in the room when the room is an open-air amphitheater, but that's what Ethel Cain did when she walked onstage. She was wearing an Edwardian dress, funereal and modest, but you couldn't even see it at first because the lighting blacked her out and turned her into the dark outline of a silhouette portrait. Bright white light blazed behind her, and everyone stopped chatting and started listening. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a more locked-in audience—even the rapt folks in the crowd for Joanna Newsom's Kilby Block Party set had to contend with a couple of chompers.

The whole show was an exercise in the power of minimalism—she mostly just sang, holding her microphone, sometimes making hand gestures, occasionally sweeping up and down the stage, at most bopping a tambourine against her hip with studied elegance for one song. At one point she held a front-row fan's hand for what felt like minutes; I was reminded of the photo of her in the front row of a 2018 Florence + The Machine show, with Florence Welch in the position of sanctified star. That energy was clearly absorbed, Ethel Cain now wielded the same power, and seemed much older than 26. Her voice was so beautiful, clear and expressive without any extraneous showiness, like water finding its way down a hill. When she came back out for the encore, she was wearing a sweatshirt, short shorts and cowboy boots.

I waited in line for the bathroom after the show with a host of ladies in looks that I'd describe as "nun escapes convent, immediately attends Coachella." Then we all walked back down the hill and tried to put in words what we'd just seen. Sometimes my favorite part of a concert is what happens when it ends, when you try to discuss the undiscussable. A Christian would probably just throw up their hands and say "Amen" or something similar—And As It Is Such, So Also As Such Is It Unto You—but ha ha ha, I cannot leave well enough alone.

The night before, I went to a different show—Of Montreal at the Regent. I've been an ambient fan of Of Montreal for a really long time but it never occurred to me to go see a show until my friend Betsy rallied the troops. Definitely the opposite of the Ethel Cain show in every way: rather than one lady in a black dress performing a single-handed emotional exorcism on the audience, we were treated to a big team of...well, clowns, basically, clowns delivering bonkers electropop before a backdrop of spandex suits, freakish masks, LED butterfly wings, and eventually a super long sausage-link-like string of balloons that wound its way through the audience multiple times. The economy being what it is, it's funny to watch a full band + multiple backup performers do their thing, knowing how fucking expensive it must be to bring everyone around the country for a tour. I'm glad Of Montreal has committed to this maximalism. Kevin Barnes' breath control is insane.

They closed with a long and lacerating rendition of my favorite song of theirs, "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal." Live, the insistent jab of the guitars had a profoundly physical effect. I've been trying to pay more attention to how live music physically affects my body—basically a post-peak-Covid thought exercise after the long period of time in which music was not played at a volume that rattled my bones or disturbed my soft tissues. I was entranced, kind of dancing, but in a very fixed and limited way. When I was in high school, I played lacrosse (poorly), and once during practice we were being punished (due to lack of hustle) with a conditioning exercise, being made to run in various diagonal patterns, and we did it for so long that I somehow 'broke through', and was no longer tired; I was ecstatic, because I was no longer punishable; I could run in this patterned interminably. That's kind of how I felt dancing to "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal." Danse macabre shit, I guess. You don't want it to end, because you don't want to end.

Blog Posts of the Recent Past

Three Music Thingz with Riggings
My my, it’s another rendition of Three Music Thingz, the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their music-making. Today we have Riggings! Riggings is the stage name of Alex Riggs, who just released her album Egg on June 21st via Horse Complex Records. Holy
a post-Zest Fest chat with dj ellie
There’s nothing I love more than an exciting internet-based musical journey. Imagine me jumping from hyperlink to hyperlink, discovering a wild new musical zone and bugging out entirely... ...this is what happened the other day when I visited albumoftheyear.org for the first time, which is a thing I did
Three Music Thingz with Gender Warfare
Ooh la la, it’s another rendition of Three Music Thingz, the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their music-making. Today we have Gender Warfare! Gender Warfare are a London-based trio—Zoe Oxymoron on vocals, Mia Thunderska on vocals/guitar/bass/synths, and Maeve Westall
“culture is a thing that anyone can make happen” - a chat with Temporary State’s Jordan Michael Iannucci
Concerts. Shows. Gigs. We love them, right? Yes we do. What if we all learned how to put them on ourselves? This is the very basic premise of Temporary State, a new non-profit organized by NYC do-it-yrself veteran Jordan Michael Iannucci, Hannah Pruzinsky and Ceci Sturman (the latter two run
stand by your jam: a jam band fan’s take on the scene’s recent history
It’s Fourth of July time. Happy birthday, America, we are doing so good, we are truly killing it. In my opinion, as the sun beats down on us and the hot dogs sizzle, now is the perfect time to publish a mega-treatise on the State of the American Jam Band.

a stunning design update

My talented friend Wagner Koop did some design work for the blog—may I present the BRAND NEW I ENJOY MUSIC SOCIAL SHARING GRAPHIC. Gotta try to defeat the anti-URL brigades of our current social media platforms somehow. They don't want u to link away...I say, link away, you can link away, link all day if you want to.

p.s. that's for this great piece on the current state of the American Jam Band by guest writer Jerry Koenigsmark!

you heard it first...I Enjoy Music PDF Club

Sneaky sneaky, the subscribers to I Enjoy Music will enjoy this news first...I have always been a fan of the humble .pdf as a file format, and now I will test its limits as a miniature digital zine offshoot of this blog! I Enjoy Music PDF Club will be an ongoing publication, each issue a "duet" between me and another writer, both of us tackling a particular personal essay topic, creating a bébé zine that, if you printed it out, would fit on a single sheet o' paper, front & back.

The first one will be a duet with Michele Catalano, who you might have last seen in "these pages" writing about the song "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight" by The Jam...

“Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” - The Jam
Today I am thrilled to publish a new essay by Michele Catalano! She last wrote for I Enjoy Music about her youthful new wave escapades, and now she’s back to recall a memorable experience with a particular song that still haunts her after all these years...sometimes a chune just

The issue will be out...real soon! I'll publish a preview on the blog, but the full PDF will be on sale for a mere $1. Just a buck, a simple dollar. I hear some candy bars cost this much now. 𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕪 𝕥𝕦𝕟𝕖𝕕...