Meat Puppets/Dinosaur Jr 09/25/08
Terminal 5 – New York, NY
Words by Jay Porks
An old review from the first time I ever saw the Meat Puppets back in September of 2008 at Terminal 5 in New York City.. This review is so old that there aren’t even any pictures and I had left the show before headliner Built to Spill even came on. By reading, this seems to be the first time I was ever front row standing room and this is also the piece referenced by the Meat Puppets in a blog post on their MySpace page here:
THE MEAT PUPPETS!!!!! Wow, now that was something else. That was like a whole other experience. I still feel my pants shaking from the vibrations of the show. Tonight was the night, the last official installment of the Jay Porks Summer Concert Series. A band called ‘Built to Spill’ was headlining a show which featured the opening acts being the Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr(Dinosaur with all three original member Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph) respectively. When I first got this ticket I was so psyched, so pumped to see them. This would be the first time I get tickets to a show because I’m more interested in the opening bands then the headliner, which is good because the first 2 hours don’t have to be boring. All this and now the night had arrived. The venue: ‘Terminal 5’, which is 610 West 56th street and like 11th avenue, right by that Saab dealership.
Doors open at 6:30pm and I make it to the place at about 6:20 and much to my surprise, there a line of like 30 people. Because in my eyes I thought everyone was there to see Built to Spill, that’s the only band even listed on the ticket. So I get padded down and walk in. Inside, its a really simple set up-just a hallway you walk down and which leads to the doorway of the standing room section by the stage. Its set up sort of like the Fillmore Irving Plaza was set up, there was an upstairs that you could watch from(there’s actually a 2nd AND 3rd floor to observe from), a balcony wrapping around the inside of the venue . Had the aforementioned third floor too, but I didn’t go up any stairs tonight. I grabbed my Meat Puppets shirt in the little vestibule between the doors and the stage for 20 bucks, (which wasn’t so bad considering I paid 35 for a Weezer shirt at Madison Square Garden last night). Grabbed a beer for 6 bucks, which again was not so bad, then I head over towards the stage because I noticed not many people were over there yet; the show doesn’t start for an hour anyway. So I walked over and landing myself a spot leaning right on the barricade about 5 feet from the stage. I reached out and touched the stage like, I thought to myself “Wow this is fucking sick”. Then I met a few cool people standing in like my area. We’re right in front of the microphone that Curt Kirkwood is going to be playing at (vocals/guitar). So the two kids to my right they saw me and were like “hey dude, just can I ask you a question, have you ever heard Built to Spill?, who are they?” I shook my head and told them “never even knew who they were until I saw they were playing with the Meat Puppets” and they’re like “yea man! Exactly, we’re just here for the Meat Puppets, they kick ass” and I’m like “-and we’re right fucking here” and everyone’s in agreement that this is going to be a kick ass night. We ask the kid to the left of me, who is he here to see. He says “ I’m here to see the Meat Puppets and Dino, I never heard of Built to Spill until this show” and at that point I’m thinking, finally some people I can relate too. We were just shooting the shit for like the whole hour before the puppets came on. We made fun of all the “hipsters” who are just showing up to see Built to Spill and didn’t even know there was opening acts. After about 5 people, we found a Built to Spill fan.
“And now the brothers Meat come up on stage..”, and here comes Curt Kirkwood with his Fender Stratocaster with little stickers on it. Looked like those things you get out of those 25 cent vending machines, and they appeared to be butterflies and turtles and stuff to that nature. Also, Curt was not only wearing pajama pants but the stains on them appeared as if he was just painting his garage or something. It was hilarious, then his brother Cris who plays bass came out looking like his same old fun self.. I hate when people sober up and forget how to be normal and fun-not the case here..he gets into these zones with the bass that look like a seizure that’s really cool.. glad he’s got it together.. . Curt pulls his pick out of the pocket of his very comfortable looking plaid pajama pants and we’re ready to go.
What a set they did. Most of the songs there was no pause in between, just played straight through to the next one. And the Meat Puppets do things live so much differently then they do on record and not one show is ever the same. Someone I was talking to on Pandora.com who has seen the Meat Puppets 14 times once described them as “the Grateful Dead, for people who hate the Grateful Dead”. Now I like the Grateful Dead, but I understand the analogy. I think they maybe paused between a song once, and during that 10 seconds one of those kids who are on my right while everyone is screaming requests screams “SLAYER!!! …” laughs and says “yes, I’m going to be that guy”. That was great, that’s when they went into “Severed Goddess Hand”. Great song- Also played an effervescent version of “Look at the Rain” The guitar work during these songs is god-like. A classmate of mine was showing me on the ferry how to use the pick and strum up with your pinky like and I thought that was insane(coming from somebody who owns, but cannot play guitar). But Curt Kirkwood at one point was strumming with three separate fingers while cuffing the pick between his middle and ring finger. It might have been four fingers at times, dude is just that amazing. And he would constantly adjust the feedback and turn it all the way up causing this fuzz and distortion which was like the living end; it was like when Grant took Richmond. “Plateau” was outstanding, truly incredible. I was screaming the lyrics along with the rest of the apparent crowd. I wasn’t too sure what the atmosphere of the crowd was because everyone was behind me; I could smell the fact that Curt didn’t brush his teeth, that’s how close I was. They played a few songs off their latest 2007 album ‘Rise to your Knees’ as well.. It’s as if whatever Curt feels like messing with distortion wise with his guitar he just goes, and its freaking incredible. “Oh Me” was great when they got into that, my little posse was rocking to that. They finished it off with “Lake of Fire”, which included a solo that lasted about 10 minutes and made everyone think they were starting like a different song. It was a really fast version of it, far from the one on “Meat Puppets II”. It rocked, during it Cris Kirkwood’s bass unplugged from the amp and he was like jamming the shit back in there. After that they went off, I don’t even think I they said one word to the crowd. In previous shows I’ve been to, the opening act spends half there night thanking the band for letting them open for them. Not the Meat Puppets, their epicness precedes them. They’re the effin’ Meat Puppets, been around since like 82. Interesting thing after their set, Cris and the drummer headed right off stage but Curt was on stage with the roadies packing up his own gear. Unplugging all the amps and his various fuzz box pedals. He had to lean over to unplug a wire right by me and I was right there and I didn’t know what to say, so I blurred out “Curt! You fucking rock man!” and he didn’t even look, good thing too, because I sounded like such a loser. What a performance, nothing could top it. The Meat Puppets!! I saw them!!! I could die happy now.
Let us not misinterpret what I’m saying here. Because Dinosaur Jr put on a set that kicked ass to the fullest extent as well, J. Mascis is very meticulous with his guitar and amp set up with 6 amps set up almost surrounding him, and every amp on stage has a microphone up against it which just continues in to the theme of distortion and feedback heavily used in songs. A great band to possibly set the tone for Dinosaur Jr seems to be the Meat Puppets because both bands use similar elements in their music. Not only that, but J had some big tall like control panel sort of thing next to him that he kept messing with. Wish I was closer to Mascis. See, I was near the microphone that Curt Kirkwood was at, but J.Mascis uses the opposite one. They kicked off with “Tarpit” which rocked and made me realize in person how good J.Mascis plays guitar even if it was from 20 feet instead of 5. Lou Barlow plays a mean bass though, he was right there and I mean right there because he kept leaning over to look at the piece of paper to see what the next song was. And the drum set was much closer too, Murph was like right there, and he’s a pretty powerful drummer. One of Lou’s bass strings snapped during like the first or second song, he looks to pick up his extra-but its not there.. So he like runs behind the amp looking for the roadie with his other bass. Murph was drumming and he looked up and didn’t see Lou, he made a face as if to say “wow, we’re gonna break up again already?”. It was great, Lou runs back and I’m thinking wow he got a new string on there pretty quick. No, he came back with it playing three strings. I guess he didn’t see his other one, which was brought out during that second song. Lou’s bass sound differs from Cris Kirkwood’s because his is a lot more relevant in the structure of the song, it’s much harder, nosier and more distorted. He was rocking out, I got some pictures of him on my phone but they suck because my phone sucks. I was hoping he’d throw one of his picks out into the crowd because Murph threw his drum sticks to someone. but he didn’t, he let the roadies pack it up. They closed with “Just Like Heaven” but to tell you truth I didn’t know the names of most of the songs they played because their vocals went virtually unheard the entire set.. I know the Mic was on because I heard J say “here’s a song” followed by noise.., I think the extent of the noise they use made it so loud that it was just overpowering. Or, maybe I was just so close that I was hearing the guitar and bass at such loud, blistering volume that it was just me who couldn’t hear it well. I felt my teeth vibrating in my mouth that’s how friggin’ loud it was. It kicked ass.
I did end up getting the set list of the songs they played, but I didn’t have to search online to find it. while the roadies were cleaning up the stage I kept screaming “DUDE!!! Let me have the set list!! Its right there I need it for my blog!!! Come on!!!”. The list was literally just a inkling out of my reach from grabbing, it was duct taped on the amp in front of Lou. I saw them put it there before the show, and I wanted it bad. And one of the roadies finally saw me while he was ripping it off the thing and he tossed it to me, still with the purple tape on it and everything. I HAVE THE SET LIST!! How freaking awesome is that! Celebrity memorabilia right there. I was in fucking awe at the fact that I was holding that in my hand, something to always remember and not just the ticket stub and wristband. This is going right on my wall next to my Slash poster. As written on the paper, I will write it here. Some of the songs don’t have the whole title. It says: Tarpit, Been There, Back to Heart, Out There, Feel Pain, Wagon, Swan, Freak, Sludge, Heaven.
Oh yea, Built to Spill played too right? Well, I really wasn’t sure because I was out of there once I got that set list.. I have just seen the Meat Puppets-a band that I wanted to know more about since they climbed upon that MTV Unplugged stage back when I was 7 years old.. I figured it would be best to cut my losses at this point and chalk up the night as a win…And besides, I have school the next day. Can’t be out all night partying..