Seattle, USA (Deck The Hall Ball)
By MATT BOWEN
Deck the Hall Ball is a musical Christmas festival put on every year by a Seattle radio station called The End. This year's Deck the Hall Ball consisted of The Eels, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Stabbing Westward, Luscious Jackson, silverchair, The Presidents, and Orbital. The Presidents and silverchair were co-headliners, but The Presidents got to have the longer set.
At 5:00 p.m. a DJ for The End, Bill Reed, introduced each band with a pause between each of them to hear the applause from the audience. When he said silverchair, the crowd erupted. silverchair got twice the response from the audience than the Presidents did. Nothing went on schedule -- silverchair was set to go on stage at 8:20, but Luscious Jackson wasn't finished until 8:30 and then they setup silverchair's gear. Surprise guests Super Deluxe came on stage and played three acoustic songs through Daniel's amps. When they completed their set, the technicians began setting up the rest of silverchair's gear. It was taking a while and I could tell there were guitar problems.
Finally silverchair was introduced but they didn't come on stage. Reed was trying to keep the crowd entertained by shooting a super soaker and telling jokes. He finally told the crowd, "There is technical difficulty, technical guitar problems, they should be on in about five minutes." Well, it took longer than that. After 10 minutes, he said, "They are getting on the plane in Australia and they should be here in about 12 hours, no, just kidding, really, they are here!" After the long eager wait, Reed introduced them for the second time by saying, "OK, now here's silverchair, for real this time!" It looked like they weren't going to come out again because it took a while, but after a couple of minutes Daniel walked on stage, followed by Ben and Chris (with his newly shaved head).
Daniel didn't look very happy. He walked on stage rather quickly, and without any words they began Madman. Halfway through the song Daniel stormed across the stage at full speed holding his guitar like it was a machine gun, and his guitar cord fell out. Technicians ran on stage and 20 seconds later Daniel's guitar was plugged back in. Ben or Chris kept playing the song without Daniel.
After Madman, they played Leave Me Out, which was a little bit different than the other live versions I have heard. Daniel played more lead guitar, imitating the rhythm with lead. It sounded very good, but there was a lot of vocal distortion. Still without any words said to the crowd, they played The Door. This was a definite crowd pleaser, but there was still vocal distortion.
After The Door was over, Daniel said, "Sorry for taking so long to get our shit setup. This song is dedicated to all the people backstage," and then they played Suicidal Dream. The techs finally figured it out and turned the vocal volume down and the distortion was gone. Then Ben and Chris left the stage and Daniel played Cemetery, which sounded absolutely amazing. The pit was still crazy -- there was a very large circle pit during the song, which I couldn't really understand since Cemetery is a slow song.
When it was over, Ben and Chris came back on stage as Daniel was saying, "Thanks, thank you very much, keep jumping around, it's very inspirational, YEAH! This song is called 'Yesterday,' it's dedicated to you." Daniel slightly changed the lyrics to Tomorrow by saying "the water is did you know well very hard to drink." Before the next song, Daniel said, "Thanks, now we're gonna play well. The next song is our second single here, and our first single everywhere else in the world, off the new album, it's called Freak Show and it's not very good, this is called Freak."
The pit was fucking crazy, everyone rocked out to this one. I had only heard one other live version before this, but it was a lot different than the other version I have heard, I'm not sure if it was intentional or if it was a mistake, but I will explain what I mean.
Before, it went like this: "No more babies, your babies got rabies, sitting on a ball, in the middle of the Andes. Yeah, I'm a freak, of nature, yeah, I'm a freak. Try to be different, well get a different disease..."
And now it went like this:
"No more babies, your babies got rabies, sitting on a ball, in the middle of the Andes. Yeah, I'm a freak, of nature, yeah, I'm a freak. If only I can be as cool as you, as cool as you, body and soul I'm a freak, body and soul I'm a freak, try to be different, well get a different disease..."
The words are the same in both versions, but the song is now completely rearranged. During the song, Daniel was singing "as cool as you, as cool as ALL OF FUCKING YOU!" and pointed to the crowd, which got them going even more -- something which I thought was impossible.
Without a pause they went into Faultline and the pit remained heavy. After Faultline they played Slave and the pit was as big as it could get. Slave rocked as usual and there wasn't much of a change between this and the other live versions I've heard except that the pauses were a little longer and there was no "GO!" at the end. I don't know the exact lyrics to Slave; I read a while back on the Israel's Son website that this certain part was "a place where I can't die..." but anyways, when Daniel said that he raised his arms in the air and eyed the ceiling, like this was the place.
After the loud and powerful ending of Slave, they played Pure Massacre and after it Daniel said, "Thank you all very much. Yeah! Seattle rocks! See now here we're having a good time with the crowd, in South America, Ben told the crowd they're all fucked and then we got, kinda, bottles thrown at us, etc. etc. YEAH! All right, go!" Then Chris began Israel's Son with a very distorted fuzz bass. They ended the song with a lot of noise as usual, and Daniel walked up on the the pedestal that the drums were on and began hitting Ben's cymbols with his guitar. Ben walked out and mooned the crowd and walked off with his shorts at his knees. Chris and Ben left the stage, but Daniel was making weird sound effects with his guitar, and then he put his guitar down and began crawling on the stage very slowly. He acted very worn out and out of breath. When he finally got up he went over and gave his guitar a couple of kicks and walked off the stage.
This was my first time seeing silverchair in concert and I was truly amazed with their live act. I've never seen anyone run around the stage dancing and headbanging like Daniel. He went absolutely crazy, he was shaking a lot, not out of nervousness, just shaking really fast and using all the energy he had. During Madman he went up to the amp and did this dance that looked like he was humping the amp -- it was hilarious!
Their sound was even better than their act. Five bands went before them and two after them, but silverchair's live sound blew every band away. The bass and bass drums were so powerful and the guitar sounded so clear. There were bands that didn't turn the volume on their amps up loud enough, and there were bands that cranked it too much, like Stabbing Westward. They were so loud that all I could hear was a blur in my ears because of all the distortion, but silverchair's sound was just right.
The Edge broadcast six songs from the show live on the radio: Tomorrow, Freak, Faultline, Slave, Pure Massacre and Israel's Son.
Leave Me Out
Deck the Hall Ball is an annual holiday concert sponsored by the local radio station here in Seattle. The '96 lineup included the Eels, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Stabbing Westward, Luscious Jackson, the Presidents, Orbital and silverchair. The 'chair and the Presidents co-headlined, but if I had it my way, silverchair would be on the very top.
Security started to let people in around 4 or so, as the Eels would hit the stage at 5:30. Before the show started, they did a little run-down of the lineup. When the announcer said "silverchair" the whole place just errupted! The 'chair got twice the crowd reaction of any other band mentioned.
A local band called Super Deluxe made a surprise appearance before silverchair's set and played a few acoustic songs through Daniel's amps. Believe me, Super Deluxe are a great band, but they're not so great when they're preventing silverchair from taking the stage!
It took a long time before the 'chair actually hit the stage because there were quite a few technical problems. FINALLY, the lights dimmed, about an hour off schedule. A local DJ came out in a Santa suit with a super soaker to announce, "Give it up for silverchair!" Nothing happened. so he squirted the audience for a bit. Still about 15 minutes later there was no silverchair, and the crowd was getting restless.
"Yeah, they're just getting on a plane from Australia, they'll be here in a few hours," the DJ said. "No, really, they're here!" After a couple more minutes the DJ announced once again "SILVERCHAIR!" but this time it was for real and the crowd roared! Daniel came out with black '50s style glasses on, and he ran across the stage while the DJ tried to squirt him.
The 'chair picked up their instruments and pounded away to start their 11-song set. During the first song, Madman, Daniel was going spastic and ran across the stage, causing his guitar cord to fall out. I'm not sure if he noticed, but Chris and Ben kept on playing. Bailey Holloway ran on stage and 20 seconds later, all was well. When stuff like that happens you realize how powerful Ben's drums really are.
Before Cemetery Daniel said, "OK, I'm going to do this one by myself. Can all you guys hear me?" He did it perfectly but not too many people knew the song.
Daniel introduced Tomorrow by saying, "This song is called 'Yesterday'." Before Israel's Son, Daniel told a story, something along the lines of "in South America they threw bottles at us, 'cause Ben told them they were fucked, et cetera... et cetera... et cetera..." He said that last part very slow and it was pretty funny.
Son, Chris just walked off stage and Daniel mucked around
with his pedals and amps. He got up on the drum riser and
hit the drums with his guitar. He rolled around on the floor
for a bit as well. Ben came out from behind the drums, walked
to the center of the stage, showed all 3,500 people in the
venue his big ass, and walked off stage with Daniel following.
The crowd went apeshit. End of show and climax of Deck the
silverchair were who the crowd had come to see. If nothing else, the teenage trio proved they can sound just like any mediocre grunge band twice their age. They opened with an ear-splitting thrash guitar instrumental that showed off plenty of chops -- but with nothing behind them. While clearly an accomplished guitarist, Daniel Johns' songs lack any depth or originality. Live, his singing voice reveals his age, though he has obviously graduated from Rock Star 101, striking poses and engaging in Spinal Tap stage banter. They stomped through their hits, but more interesting was a new track, Cemetery, which Johns performed solo.