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We got a few responses from both sides of the fence with regards to last episode's commentary. Oddly enough, half agreed with the commentary, half didn't. We started to recount them but the supreme court forced us to stop, saying there was no fair way to do a manual recount before this episode was due to broadcast. That, or I accidentally deleted all of them in a cold medication induced haze...

Thursday we stood outside in the freezing cold for an hour waiting to be let into the "Planet Jam Cotton Club", formerly just The Cotton Club, for the PJ Harvey show. At the rate the line was moving I figured they were strip searching each person as they came in the door but when we finally got to the end of the line we slid through easily with our tickets in hand so I don't understand what the problem was. I'll get to the music in a moment, first let me continue to bitch about the venue.
What bothers me the most about the new Cotton Club location, in the basement of the Tabernacle downtown, is not what a crappy venue it is, but what a great venue it COULD be if they'd have given it any thought. There are huge empty areas on either side of the stage - empty because you can't see from there. Why not put the bars there? Instead, they're at the back of the room where everyone is trying to congregate to see the show, which makes the bars inaccessible and if you're back there watching the show you're constantly being trampled by folks trying to get a drink. So if they pulled the bars out to the sides of the stage, that would free up a good fifteen feet at the back of the room so you could put in grandstands or steps or something to solve the other issue - the flat floor. A large mass of folks lurk on the steps to the balcony because there's a great view from there. The problem is that's a fire code violation so it's some poor shmuck's job to go around and tell people they can't stand in the one place in the room where you can actually SEE. Everyone ignores his pleas until he gets so irritated that he gets in their face and folks finally slink off, but not far because as soon as his back is turned they're back again. The balconies are a great idea, but unfortunately you can only see if you're one of the four people that can fit along the front of them. Along either side there's a huge heating duct that blocks the view from anywhere but the prime spot. I don't know how hard it would be to move the damn duct but you could double the number of folks able to see from up there. In fact, you could double the depth of the balcony in the first place and put a bar in the back of it and folks would flock up there, leaving more room on the floor. Space issues aside, the sound wasn't bad. It wasn't noticeably GOOD, but I didn't flinch as I often do at other venues in town (The Masquerade comes to mind.)
Speaking of the sound PJ was good. She ranges from Patti Smith serious lows, to Kate Bush lilting highs while the band clangs and bangs along like a machine on the verge of breaking down, but the breakdown never comes, it just keeps rolling along terrifying the innocent bystanders. Good stuff. She wasn't exactly personable - I don't think she said more than "Thank you" to the crowd during the entire set. But standing on a chair in the balcony I enjoyed the show. The lesbians sat on the chairs behind me not even trying to see, just sitting, eyes shut, mouthing the words and rocking forward and back. A guy passed out on the couch behind them, his hood covering his face like a lost monk. In the front near the stage the hardcore fans jumped up and down during every song, yelling between songs for their favorite. PJ, in a mesh tuxedo shirt, black vinyl mini skirt and black boots, and that bad haircut with the uneven bangs that looks like your six year old brother cut your hair that is so popular at the moment, plowing through song after song. She bends over to pick up a tambourine or something and all the guys and girls lean forward, hoping to catch an intimate glimpse. Good show. Lousy venue.
Friday we had a half dozen places to be, but my throat was sore and I could feel a cold coming on so I stayed in while degenerate SW hit Smith's Olde Bar to see Color, a friend's band from Austin. "It wasn't bad." She said, summing it up. "99X style top 40 slop. The crowd liked it." Meanwhile, I stayed home slaving over a hot stereo assembling a soundtrack for our annual New Year's Eve Carnal Carnival. Between my extensive collection, SW's collection, and the heaps of stuff we've dredged from thrift stores in the last year I've got an AMAZING audible experience assembled.

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