Stale Urine Live at Caltech's Winnett Student Center, May 23, 1996
(Part of the continuing Caltech Y Noon Concert Series)
As variously interpreted by Mike Benedetti,
Kai-hsu TAI, and Alan
I will review the first half, if Alan will do the second. I would very much
encourage anyone from writing as many reviews as they want--it's not like
there can be an ``official'' review.
So there they were, the SU 6, out in front of Winnett on a sunny day. The
crowd varied from 30 upwards, maybe 50 at times, maybe even more. Not one
of the big crowds Winnett has seen. Usually the same folks watch the Winnett
concerts, but I noticed a lot of new faces this time--no idea who they were
or why they decided to show up.
The Urine had a drum kit (Radford) and a large pile of metal and concrete
blocks (Villani). Two makeshift microphones went to Dunn's horns and Benedetti's
squeezebox. Heidi hid in the back by the drum kit and speaker, and Geoff
was up in front. Here's a diagram:
XXXXXX Heidi Radford XXXXXX
speakers DRUMS speakers
XXXXXX Adam XXXXXX
Alex Benedetti Geoff People selling credit cards
THE VAST AUDIENCE a hat for $
MORE VAST AUDIENCE
Jim Krehl was here STONER DUDES
PROFS SCOWLING ON THE OLIVE WALK
Rob Cobb's Job
Went pretty well. This is our little techno song.
Went pretty well. The crowd was growing by this time, and people were starting
to get into it. Adam's vocals weren't really that inspired.
Kicker of Elves
This is our ska version of the Guided By Voices classic. It went well, although
my rap was a little limp. I told the story of my brother trying to buy the GbV
Yes! This actually worked! Grad students were bopping around happily. For those
of you unfamiliar with it, it's a peppy tune for accordion, clarinet, and bass.
Radford added some tasteful snare. Zito sez it sounds like a sitcom theme.
Geoff sez it fills his heart with joy.
Groping Ayn Rand
We sang the lyrics clearly, which is the main thing. This is a tune about
Ayn Rand as a sex object rather than as a writer (a radical departure from
the standard analysis). It is based on ``Turkey In The Straw.''
Alan was there for the rest. In fact, Kai-Hsu was there for the whole thing!
Maybe he should write a review, too.
I had bad memory, and I left around 12:45 for a lab (after ``I've Got a
Crush''), and inhaling organic solvents for 3 hours made me dizzy and
more importantly I don't remember much.
But in general it was an awesome concert.
Contrary to Benedetti's comment, I think this ``Wax Man'' is one of the
best version I have ever heard. It should definitely be included in
some album coming up. Villani did a great job.
Except for some coordination mistakes both versions of ``Rob Cobb's Job''
are cool enough. Maybe some cut-and-paste will give a perfect version.
``Borderline'' is one of the most crappy I've ever heard. Benedetti's
vocal sucked on this one. But it added some, uh, exoticity to the song.
So it is about 7 on a scale of 10. He did a good job on ``Horse in a
Too bad no one filmed ``The Moon.'' Benedetti was awesome. He should
have attacked the credit card clerks too. He did?
I forgot what the joyful new song was called. But it was cool. Maybe
one of the best after those in EIWY.
Among the first few songs Matters played, Mr. Bicyclist was the best.
He did cool jobs on other songs too. Radford kept the band running by
providing great percussion and did a great job on Mr. Bicyclist.
Dunn is the ``strong and silent type,'' except for his excellent sax and
(?, the other instrument). In the field of musical technique, he is the
best in SU.
Also, the microphone for Dunn was too loud, squeezebox microphone too
soft, and Hofer's amplifier just sucked. If it wasn't for that, Hofer
will get a better chance to show off her talent. Otherwise this was a
I am looking forward to SU's publishing of the recording of this
concert, and also to the next concert on Saturday.
Okay, I came in at the end of Groping Ayn Rand, which was pretty cool . . .
I don't remember if it was any better than the last time I heard it
live . . . has this been recorded in the studio yet?
You'll be Alone When I Throw You in Jail
This ruled, but then again it pretty much always does. Nothing too
unique this time. The metal on the drum set was pretty neat sounding.
The part where the audience is supposed to yell ``Jail'' kinda flopped,
as usual . . . people never seem to keep going after Mike stops prompting.
The band says it actually worked at the Midnight Pop Fest or whatever.
This was pretty cool, considering it was the first time they'd done
it in years, and the first without Jon. The drums and sax overpowered
the accordion a bit, and everyone was a bit disoriented. The song was
saved by Benedetti's passionate vocals, which seemed to keep the
audience pretty excited . . . he's gotta try to put this much energy into
the older stuff like Horse, which he seems to be just sleepranting
through these days.
1776 remade as a more standard self-referential rap thang. Pretty
cool, apparently with some weird nerd references or something. Might
develop into something cool, but sorta stale now. Doesn't have the
humor of 1776 which really carried it.
Pretty awesome version. No keyboard, just accordion and Geoff doing
the middle section ``beatbox'' style. They used the Ed Lover Dance
music, which rewled. I don't remember if they'd ever done this before
. . . I doubt I woulda missed it.
Next came a few abortive attempts at some Skynrd songs . . . seems like
a total flop, even if the flopping was deliberate. Sometime around this
point Godot came up out of the audience and started playing, which was
cool, even if he seemed to have forgotten how to play after so long.
Horse In A Smelter
Here the accordion was completely swamped by the other instruments,
which further directed attention at Godot's weird, everchanging guitar.
The rant was okay . . . pretty standard these days, though. At the
beginning of the song Mike told the story of the guy flipping them off
at the Seattle concert, hoping somebody would think they were cool
enough for it. Nobody did.
Rob Cobb's Job
``Here's a song we've never played before,'' Mike says before starting
this song. I wasn't aware that they'd played this before . . . freaky
idea. This version was a little sloppy, but still sounded pretty good.
Nothing much special again. Villani waved a metal sheet around,
which worked well, except when he chased Benedetti and his paper
cut-out moon away from the mics. The end of the song seemed a little
rushed, but that's okay, 'cause I don't think the audience was as
amused by Benedetti's antics as usual . . . maybe everyone was sleepy
from Ditch Day.
They tried a cool Smashing Pumpkins version of this, which was
really cool, even if not entirely SP-ish. Not everyone was playing
to the same rhythm, and the Pumpkinsesque guitar faded as soon as
they got into the high-speed part. Still, nothing can kill the
coolness of Lobster.
I've Got A Crush
This was just Benedetti singing and Heidi's ultra-fuzzy bass. I
have no idea what they were going for here. It was sorta neat. And
Really fast, drilling drums, screaming Benedetti vocals and great
jazzy sax. I couldn't understand a lyric, 'cept something about
Kenny G and ``cause you suck!!'' It was also pretty cool.
Venus In Furs
Another attempted Velvet Underground tribute, which worked a little
better than Sweet Jane from last summer. Someone later commented on
Adam's ``really good'' vocals.
From The Air
I thought this was one of their better performances of this song.
This is the first time I could really make out the vocals well, and
they seemed reasonably in character for the song.
Again, a pretty competent version. Nothing much special about it.
At the end, they brought out a jackhammer though, which totally ruled.
Apparently getting the jackhammer cost most of their earnings for the
gig. They only hammered some concrete blocks, instead of a guitar or
anything. Kinda disappointing.
This was a successfully weird polynesian voice piece. They should
do this one a few more times.
Anyway, that was it. Generally average. They never really seemed
to click, but there were no total failures. Maybe it really sucked,
and I was just biased cause I hadn't heard them in half a year.
What did everyone else think?
Independent Music Critic Extraordinaire
May 23, 1996