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Pink Noise #7: March 30, 1994 - Axis, Boston, Massachusetts

March 30, 1994 - Axis, Boston, Massachusetts [Hijacked]

Time to go way back in the Pink Noise TARDIS to a very early Mellow Gold show: March 30, 1994 at the Axis in Boston.  The Axis was a relatively small club right next to Fenway Park, and Beck’s wave of “Loser” popularity was at an apex when his first ever tour started in March, 1994.  Mary Lou Lord, a popular Bostonian folk singer (I saw her busking in the street once when I lived there!) and That Dog, along for this whole tour, opened the show.

The bootleg is old and distant, the crowd is noisy, but it is still listenable, and enjoyable.

A few earlier recordings from Beck’s career exist, but mostly acoustic shows, or incomplete or terrible-sounding tapes.  This Axis tape, on the other hand, is (probably) a full show from near the beginning of his first actual tour.  Beck was still clearly finding the correct balance between his artistic punk tendencies and satisfying an audience.  (Honestly, this probably took him a few years.)  But that, above all, is what makes this recording so very fascinating to hear today.  It captures Beck at his beginning, in front of the world for the first time, as his immense talent as a performer was literally just starting to take shape.  His songwriting skills were always there, but as a performer, he was quite different than he would shortly become (and is now).

A DJ introduces Beck: “Tonight for the first time in Boston, it’s fucking Beck!!!” The enthusiastic exclamation is immediately tempered, as Beck strolls out alone.  He mentions that someone told him he was jaundiced, and the crowd looks jaundiced too, so he brought them vegetables.  In looking up information for this show, I read a memory from someone saying that Beck’s crew handed out cold cuts to the audience, so I guess that’s what was happening.

Beck then dryly announces, “This is called ‘Whoomp! There It Is,’” before playing “Mexico.”  Beck’s voice sounds quite nice, and there’s some fancy guitarwork in there, but this is definitely an awkward song to start a show with, especially at this time, at this place.  The Axis was a young, hardcore style venue and I’m sure the crowd was expecting more rowdiness, and Beck gave them a long hypnotic Woody Guthrie folk tale off the bat.  (You can hear audience members on the boot say things like “that was horrible!”)  I think at this point, Beck was still figuring things out, as well as being slightly confrontational (i.e., not giving a fuck).

Next, Beck sings a heavily distorted acapella “Special People,” the only known live version of the song.  It is very short, and after a long pause, Beck shouts “you goddamned motherfucker!” before Joey Waronker starts a skittery drum beat and Beck continues to lull the crowd with blues.  This unique “One Foot In The Grave” lacks the energy of its usual blues stomp pizzazz.  It doesn’t last very long, and slides to a lowkey stop.  Beck can do folk and blues in his sleep - even at this point, he’s pretty great at it - but the crowd wants more, and these three songs do not really provide any punch.  They don’t feel vital.

So, the band in full finally hits the stage.  ”This is called ‘Headgear Jockstrap’,” Beck tells the crowd with a laugh.  He does not talk much at this show, except a few song intros, which is surprising, having heard other 1994 shows.  This is also the only known recording of the song, a plodding heavy metal guitar instrumental riff that ends with a loud Beck scream.  Is he trying to get the crowd going? Or himself?  

Another awkward pause as the band re-settles before heading into a dynamic “Pay No Mind.”  The set sort of starts for real here, no more messing around with whatever, they jam through some of Beck’s better songs. The fire that was missing is finally lit.  Not surprisingly, the crowd starts paying attention.

Beck’s band at this point consisted of Chris Ballew on guitar (he was there for the first half of the Mellow Gold tour), and then Dave Gomez on bass and Joey Waronker on drums (who were there for all of 1994). These guys are all great musicians, but at this point, they’re playing it down (or maybe not there yet, I’m not sure). The early 1994 shows come off ragged and rugged, with a touch of Fluxus underneathe-like when Joey lights his drums on fire, or Beck hands out food, or shouts “Special People” at the crowd.

"Fuckin WIth My Head" comes next. I love hearing this song sound so dirty, and this show is definitely picking up steam. And listening now, I cannot believe this is Beck-his raw vocals sound literally nothing like the singer he would become. His singing ability may be the most remarkable evolution Beck has had. Here he’s mostly just shouting instead of singing, though his melodic songs help make that listenable.

"Fume" follows naturally after that, another wild one, and the band seems to have a good handle on this run of songs in particular. Someone in the crowd cannot stop screaming. A completely crazy "Soul Suckin Jerk" starts with a lighter touch, as Beck gets lost in the lyrics, but by the second verse, he is there and nails it and the song is just as noisy and intense as anything. It feels like it is constantly about to fall apart, but never does.  Best song of the night! It shows off more dimensions than most of songs at this point — rap, noise, rock, goofiness, slightly psychedelic.

Beck then goes into the two big centerpieces of his set, “Blackhole” and “Loser.” “Blackhole” on stage is a slowburning sludge of a song, still hypnotic, but not acoustic and gorgeous like the record. It has a different feel entirely, but still maintains the main core of the song.  Beck lets the music take over, and you can barely hear him.

After that, Beck mentions again the cold cuts, so I guess more food is being passed out to people, while a blistering “Loser” gets them riled up again. There is always stories about how dismissive Beck was of the song back then, but fact is, he still performed it, and well. Sure, sometimes he changed the chorus (“I’m a softy, baby, so why don’t you rock/squeeze me?” tonight), but as confrontational and punk as he could be back then, “Loser” was the least confrontational and punk part of the show.

That said, a couple of Beck’s quick punk songs come next: “Chicas Punk” and “Burnt Orange Peel.” The first is a short blast, where Beck shouts “chicas punk!” a few times. A number of years back, a setlist was discovered with “Chicas Punk” listed on it. did some research and found that Ross Harris had given Beck a comic book called Chicas Punk, and Beck wrote a quick song with the title.

 ”Burnt Orange Peel” and “Sleeping Bag” are fun, as Beck digs into One Foot for a couple of songs. “Burnt” was never played all that often that we’re aware of, and “Sleeping Bag” comes off as a warped lounge singer song, but unfortunately the tape cuts halfway through the track. When the tape cuts back in, Beck is starting an aggressive and dimented take of “Truckdrivin Neighbors.” At the end, someone shouts, “Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash!” I am not sure if any songs are missed in that cut, but the tape is 55 minutes long, so if so, not much.

I have a note on Hijacked about how this show always feels out of order to me. The songs in the middle would later open or close shows (“Fume,” “Blackhole”) while the songs at the beginning and end would find better place in the middle (acoust stuff, “Sleeping Bag,” “Truckdrivin”). But that kind of flipped-out flow highlights that Beck as a performer was still learning on the fly.

It can be easy in retrospect to be like, “look how genius Beck was at the start!” I won’t go that far with this tape though. I am not sure there are too many signs here of who Beck would become.  Beck’s later skills in performing, storytelling, holding an audience enrapt all have yet to arise.  But even a young, raw, unrefined slab of Beck is an entertaining and worthwhile listen now and again.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (San Francisco, CA)

This is a day late, as Beck played San Francisco last night.  He is also playing Los Angeles tonight and tomorrow.  (I’ll be at the show tonight!)  I’m not going to city history Los Angeles though, because there are 115 in LA alone in our database (and that doesn’t count certain neighboring areas like Santa Monica or even Hollywood).  

Anyway, after this weekend of Cali shows, there’s another 10 days off before the final leg/week of the Morning Phase tour.  I’ve got a big wrap-up planned for when it’s done, that I hope I can have time to actually complete.  :)

Beck’s San Francisco shows:

1. April 18, 1994 - Slim’s - super early Mellow Gold show. know nothing else about it.

2. July 6, 1994 - Fillmore West - another MG show.

3. December 17, 1994 - Slim’s again - near the end of the MG tour. Sukia opened.

4. June 16, 1996 - Golden Gate Park - Tibetan Freedom Concert - Sonic Youth, Bjork, Rage Against The Machine, Yoko Ono and more all played this show. It was two days before Odelay came out. I have a note that says it was an acoustic set, but also that he played “Burnt Orange Peel” and “High 5” so I don’t know if that’s true. Guess I should look into that.

5. October 10, 1996 - Odelay! One review said that Beck came out with a glass of wine and promised a “night of wine and song in which we’ll touch the funk.”

6. December 15, 1996 - Cow Palace - Live 105 Green Christmas Ball - list of bands for this show is nutso: The Chemical Brothers, Sebadoh, Orbital, Mazzy Star, Fiona Apple, Lemonheads, Eels, Cake, Butthole Surfers and Allen Ginsberg (!).

7. May 2, 2000 - Bill Graham Civic Aud. - long time away from SF here, but Midnite Vultures brought him back.

8. September 24, 2000 - Golden Gate Park - some random thing called the Now And Zen Fest. Keanu Reeves band played before him (also The Go-Go’s).

9. October 12, 2000 - lots of shows in 2000. This was something called “WIRED Readers Rave Awards.” David Spade was the host, and Beck played a (long) set by himself.

10. October 26, 2000 - Warfield Theatre - oh remember this? Miller Genuine Draft would host concerts around, giving tickets away, but not announcing who actually would play. It was a total surprise until right before the show started. Tonight’s show: Beck and the Foo Fighters.

11. August 28 & 29, 2002 - Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre - Beck’s solo Sea Change tour. The second night was filmed for the MTV.

12. July 18, 2005 - Bill Graham Civic Aud. - Guero tour - don’t have a full setlist for this show. That afternoon Beck showed up and played guitar in the back of the Pancho Villa Tacqueria to a bunch of people eating burritos who didn’t care who he was.

13. May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore - Info tour - second show with Wounded Cougar as the band. I wrote about this show on Pink Noise last week, a bootleg just surfaced of it. 

14. August 22, 2008 - Golden Gate Park - Outside Lands - this show was webcast. Radiohead was also there.

15. August 31, 2008 - The Independent - small 500-person show announced just a few days before it happened. there’s a good bootleg, and I recall it being a memorable gig. 

16. May 19, 2011 - Pier 48 - this was a one-off gig for a charity, and Beck used a one-time mix of band members (Roger Joseph Manning, Joey Waronker, Bram Inscore, and Jason Falkner) as well as a local jazz band (Jazz Mafia) who added horns to a bunch of things. It was his first real concert in 26 months.

17. August 9, 2012 - Bimbo’s 365 Club - another “surprise” gig in SF, announced the day before it happened. they covered Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues.”

18. August 10, 2012 - Golden Gate Park - Outside Lands festival. Neil Young was playing after them, so Beck sang a little of “After The Gold Rush.” 

19. October 20, 2013 - Treasure Island Festival - yet another SF festival. Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells sang “Let’s Get Lost” with Beck.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Madrid, Spain)

September 13, 2014 - DCODE Festival, Madrid Spain

Beck is headlining the one-day festival in Madrid tonight!  It is the final show of the Morning Phase Europe tour too.  There’s a week off, then some shows in California, then another couple weeks before some shows in the Texas/Mexico area.

Beck has played in Spain 16 other times, but Madrid only 6 of those:

1. November 5, 1994 - The Revolver Club - late on the Mellow Gold tour, there’s a nice bootleg of this one which includes one of only 3 known live versions of “Outcome” and a particularly long acoustic medley.

2. March 27, 1996 - La Riviera - this was on the tour Beck did opening for Sonic Youth during the little break between finishing Odelay and its release.  He played a bunch of shows with them, all solo acoustic.

3. May 2, 1997 - This was a Madrid festival called Festimad.  For this year anyway, it seems like a particularly heavy lineup as The Prodigy were headliners, and The Rollins Band and Body Count were also there.

4. March 6, 2000 - La Riviera again - this was the Midnite Vultures tour show.

5. June 25, 2005 - Metro Rock Festival at the Parque Juan Carlos I.  Beck headlined the second day, though most of the bands seem to have been Spanish, with only a few international acts (like Morcheeba and Ani DiFranco).

6. July 9, 2008 - La Riviera again - the Modern Guilt tour… long setlist (25 songs).

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Paris, France)

September 11, 2014 - Le Zenith, Paris, France

Beck returns to Paris, for the 15th time (or so, didn’t include every French TV appearance.)

Will Air join them tonight?!  Or Charlotte Gainsbourg?

1. December 2, 1994 - Mellow Gold tour, right near the end of it.

2. August 29, 1995 - at Le Bataclan… Foo Fighters and Guided By Voices opened for him.

3. September 12, 1995 - after doing his own shows in Europe, Beck took a week and “sat around Spain for five days” and came back to France and did a short solo acoustic show opening for Sonic Youth.

4. March 21, 1996 - then a few months later, he opened a whole Sonic Youth tour across Europe doing his solo acoustic set. it was sort of a little breather tour after Odelay was done and before it came out, I think.

5. March 29, 2000 - Vultures tour.

6. April 1, 2000 - a TV show on Canal+… played a fairly full set, but mostly memorable because Air joined him on a few different songs (“Beautiful Way,” “Where It’s At,” and some others) and Jane Birkin (!) sang “L’Anamour” with him.

7. July 1, 2001 - a side show from a mostly festival tour. this is one of my favorite bootlegs actually. i need to dig it up.

8. April 22, 2003 - Beck’s solo tour of Europe for Sea Change, at Le Grand Rex. Air joined him again, and they did “The Vagabond” and “Whiskeyclone.” Also some guy from the audience came on stage and sang “Mexico.”

9. August 27, 2003 - Rock En Seine Festival

10. March 24, 2005 - at Le Nouveau Casino, but a small private show and tickets were sold with very short notice, but it was broadcast on the radio.

11. June 16, 2005 - Le Zenith De Paris… don’t have a setlist for this early Guero show.

12. August 26, 2006 - Rock En Seine Festival again, this time with Radiohead and Phoenix. 

13. July 7, 2008 - Modern Guilt tour

14. July 2, 2013 - last year he did that mostly solo show there, playing all sorts of crazy old stuff (“O Maria”, “Rowboat,” “It’s All In Your Mind”). Nicolas from Air played piano on “Sunday Morning,” and Charlotte Gainsbourg sang “Heaven Can Wait”. 

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Brussels, Belgium)

September 10, 2014 - Forest National, Brussels, Belgium

Beck’s Europe tour continues as they play the famous Forest National in Belgium tonight.

Beck has played Belgium quite often, but over half of those were probably the big rock festivals that seem to be quite popular in the country (Pukkelpop, Dour, Werchter, etc.).  Because of this, he hasn’t actually been in the capitol, Brussels, very often:

1. November 30, 1996 - also at Forest National.  We didn’t have this date listed in our database until 2012, when I turned it up doing a big search/quality fact check.  So really don’t know anything about it.

2. March 28, 2000 - Midnite Vultures show at the Halles De Schaerbeek.  Like most shows on MV, the setlist got posted to but this one didn’t have “Cold Brains” which for some reason he started the show with like thus (according to one newspaper review):

Beck finally arrived on a retro - futuristic stage, carrying only an acoustic guitar, and started to sing “Cold Brains”. One by one, the 10 (!) members of his band joined him adding each time an extra dimension to the song.” 

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

September 8, 2014 - Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Beck has performed quite often in The Netherlands (17 times), and been in Amsterdam itself for eight of those shows.  Those shows have often been quite memorable!

1. December 4, 1994 - Melkweg: there’s a bootleg of this show and it’s one of my favorites from 1994.  Nothing too unusual about it or anything, but it’s just a really great show (and an hour of it was broadcast on the radio).  

2. July 21, 1996 - Paradiso: I wrote about this show for the Pink Noise series, and as I said, it’s up there as one of my all-time favorite gigs.  Very early on the Odelay tour, the band was young and raw and hungry and basically set fire to the world.

3. November 19, 1999 - at the Felix Meritis… this was a short, secret show during some promotional appearances for Midnite Vultures.  Tickets were given away on, and it was broadcast on the radio.  They only did 7 songs.  Beck says the show was a “high impact presentation that benefits your thighs and abdomen.”

4.  August 22, 2000 - Paradiso again.  And again, the Paradiso gets a memorable show.  I’m going to have to Pink Noise this one at some point.  Out of nowhere, they just sort of changed up their set big time and did the first 17 (!) tracks as full-band acoustic, playing a wide range of things from Mutations, One Foot, Stereopathetic even.  It was sort of the “country” half of the set.  Than the “rock” half was 13 more songs, mostly Vultures.  The whole thing was loose and fun, and I think they only did the show this way a couple of times on this tour.

5. June 8, 2005 - Heineken Music Hall - my Hijacked note begins with “this a very fun show!” so again, Amsterdam wins.  Beck tells the crowd that he ate a “very large Dutch meal” and feels fortified.

6. August 16, 2006 - Paradiso again, in the middle of a bunch of festival gigs, they used the opportunity to play a few other things.  Probably the live debut of ‘No Complaints,” and other ‘rarer’ Informations songs included “Motorcade” and “Movie Theme.”

7. June 30, 2008 - Melkweg - another cool show, includes the live debut of the rare (on stage) “Volcano.”  

Pink Noise #6: May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, California

May 25, 2006 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA [hijacked]

Beck finished recording Guero in the beginning of 2005, and toured behind it until October.  He then took five months off from touring, and went and finished The Information, which he had begun prior to the Guero interruption.  After finishing Info, Beck returned to the road in May 2006.  This bootleg is of their second show back.  It is a ‘new’ bootleg too, that just surfaced recently, so I’ll be writing as I listen to it for the first time.  Not my usual Pink Noise M.O. here, but I am always stoked for a new boot!

First, how cool is this poster?  I love it, it’s one of my favorite show posters ever.

May 2006 brought a couple of notable changes, as most new tours do.  One, Justin Meldal-Johnsen returned to the band to play bass, as he was not there in 2005.  That makes this the second show ever with the guys who would end up forming the infamous Wounded Cougar: Justin Meldal-Johnsen (bass), Brian LeBarton (keys), Matt Sherrod (drums), Justin Stanley (guitar), Ryan Falkner (dancing).  I always really liked the youthful, mad energy that this group brought to Beck’s songs.  Also this tour saw the debut of the puppet band, as well as some other strange things like bear suits.  And not to mention, they could not resist playing the new Info songs, though it would not be released until October.  

The show sort of begins with “Loser,” though in actuality, it was just the PuppeTron band mimicking playing to the Mellow Gold recording.  Beck and the real band don’t show up until after that.  If you never saw the puppets, Beck had little doppelganger marionettes for each band member and throughout the entire show, they mimicked the actions of their live counterparts.  So fun!

The real band then comes on stage with “Black Tambourine” and “Devils Haircut” (in that order), which should sound familiar, because in 2014, almost every show begins with “Devils Haircut” and “Black Tambourine” (in that order).  Beck likes to start his shows explosively, that’s for sure, and these are his go-to songs for that.

The band eases into “Soldier Jane” next, a new song for the audience.  The most evident difference here, and probably in the first two songs as well, is the percussion.  The band really experimented with percussion-from multiple drummers sometimes, to bongos, to Brazilian shakers, to various whatever.  And this bootleg is clear enough for all that to stand out, making the songs feel extra lively.

"Paper Tiger" feels similar to "Soldier Jane," not as seductively smooth as later tours, but still groovy and alive.  Beck is sort of invisible though, but the band sounds great.  Beck then introduces the band, especially glad to have JMJ back after five years.  (JMJ did a short tour or two in there, but had not been a long-term band member since 2001.)

This leads into Beck blues jamming on his acoustic guitar, which somehow becomes a totally janky, sweaty funk medley of “Hotwax,” “Nicotine & Gravy,” “Hell Yes,” and “We Dance Alone.”  The rare 4-album medley!  It feels spontaneous, but it was listed on the setlist as “Wax / Nic / Hell Yes / Dance” so clearly it was planned this way.  Beck makes up for being invisible on “Paper Tiger” by taking charge on this medley, rapping with gusto and feeling.

"Minus" takes a brief trip back into Beck’s early works before a couple more new songs.  "Nausea" comes next, which always impresses me on stage, an intriguing mix of fired-up energy with acoustic, raw instruments.  "Elevator Music" follows, which never had much stage life, but tonight sounds great as Beck nails the rap and .  The band clearly enjoys digging into some new songs, bringing them to life for the first time.  There’s a junkyard feel to them, which separates them from the record.

The crowd comes to life with the more familiar “Girl” eliciting a big cheer.  Beck then surprises them again with a ripping new song, “Inside Out,” which didn’t make the final cut for The Information (and at this point was still called “Remain”).  I’m surprised just how many new songs they played here!

"Broken Drum" creeps up next.  The way this band played "Broken Drum" will become one of my favorite things Beck has ever done, but it’s not quite clicking at that level yet.  A sort of dissonant growl leads the song, and the dark song feels a little out of place.

Beck then starts his solo acoustic set by doing a short version of “Lonesome Whistle,” which leads to a similarly short version of “Lost Cause” and a pretty “Guess I’m Doing Fine.”  Beck murmurs the opening line of “Satan Gave Me A Taco” in there for some reason too (someone probably shouted for it).  An image of the setlist lists the acoustic set as merely “Lost Cause” and “The Golden Age” (which wasn’t played), so Beck seems to have gone rogue there for a minute.

Next, the dinner table scene!  Always memorable—as a non-musician, I’m impressed at the band doing this.  The band would all sit at a table, with silverware and food, while Beck did his acoustic set.  By the end of it, they would be tapping their forks and plates, adding accompaniment to Beck’s songs.  They usually joined him on “Clap Hands” and one other song.  Tonight that one other song was a cool “One Foot”/”Grinning In Your Face” mix, which Beck even starts singing to guitar instead of harmonica!  (It kind of ends suddenly.)

After that, the set closes out with straightforward runs through “Que Onda Guero” and “Where It’s At.”  In fact, any criticism I may have of this show is that the whole thing feels fairly straightforward.  Like I said, this band had instant chemistry (and would go and record their own album without Beck!), but at this show, with a new bassist and after five months off, they are not quite hitting all the heights.  The new songs sound good, everything sounds good, but there’s a feeling of trying to get it down that pervades this show.  In time, when things become second nature, that’s when this group would take off.

The encore closes with the nightly PuppeTron video, in which the puppets went around the city they were in and filmed a silly video at various local landmarks, raising a ruckus.  (It’s not as entertaining to listen to the bootleg audio as it was to see the films in person.)  Next, a tape of the new “1000 BPM” played, while the band came out in bear suits and danced around, raising a ruckus.  These shows, with the puppets, dinner table scenes, bear suits, always had a cool artistic fluxus-y WTF vibe to them.  The band then closes with “E-Pro” and Beck totally messes up the lyrics.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Portmeirion, Wales)

September 6, 2014 - Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Wales [hijacked]

Beck is headlining Festival No. 6, a super scenic festival in Wales.  Seriously, it looks amazing!

Beck has never played in Portmeirion before, and actually has only been in Wales one other time: March 3, 1997.  It was the height of the Odelay tour, and they did a show at the student union of Cardiff University.  Don’t know anything else about the show, but it’s about time Beck returned!

Ten Commandments but I haven’t read them 
One says “I command you to dance” 
Two: tell me what you want to do 
Three: you wanna see me? 
Four: you better get on the floor 
Five: you got a face like a hive 
Six: it’s like a Faith Hill remix 
Seven: your name is Nevins! 
Eight: I don’t give a shit about eight! 
Nine ten eleven twenty 
Fuck your Commandments 
Give me some money!

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Newport, Isle Of Wight, England)

September 4, 2014 - Bestival, Newport, Isle Of Wight, England [hijacked]

Beck’s short UK tour brings him tomorrow to the first night of Bestival.  Beck is a headliner, but is part of the shorter first day, Thursday lineup in the Big Top stage tent with Jenny Lewis and a couple of other bands.  (A few of the other stages don’t open up until Friday.)

Beck has never played on the Isle Of Wight before, which is a little island off the southern end of England.  He has, though, played a few other English festivals in the south of the country (usually Reading Festival).  (Apologies if I missed a city that’s considered the south, I think I caught them all.)

1. August 25, 1995 - Beck played a bunch of Europe festivals that summer, and one was Reading Festival in Reading.  The headliners that year: Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, and Neil Young.  20 minutes of Beck’s set was broadcast on the radio, but besides that I have no idea what else he played.


2. August 26, 2000 - Beck again plays the Reading Festival, this time behind Midnite Vultures.  Beck still wasn’t a headliner (Stereophonics, Pulp and Oasis were the top), but he moved up the list.

3. August 23, 2003 - Reading again!  Sea Change summer tour hit some festivals and rocked pretty hard, ironically.  Scared to tell you who the headliners were, but yea… Metallica, Linkin Park, and Blur led the show and fortunately Beck was on Blur’s day.

4. May 28, 2005 - Winchester, England.  I take this to be in the south as well, and it was at a venue called Cheesefoot Head for a festival called We Love Homelands.  I gather that it was a giant gorgeous natural amphitheatre in the English countryside.  Other bands included Babyshambles, Buck 65, Roots Manuva, The Bravery and The Streets.

5. July 1, 2008 - Southampton Guildhall, Southampton, England - not a festival, Beck played his own show there on the Modern Guilt tour with Yeasayer.  If I recall correctly, Beck told an interviewer once that he was considering moving to Southampton.

"You want the best, you want contests
Where everybody loses on purpose by mistake”

"I’ll save my best for last
And after that don’t even ask me”

"Holding a lifeline, using my best defense"

"Personality test I’d failed with the best"

"We do the best with the souls we’ve been given"

"Afraid of what pain might do
To the pleasure we knew
Before we had to move on
I did my best for you”

Habitations & The Towns We Know (London, England)

September 2, 2014 - Roundhouse, London, England [hijacked]

Beck is playing a semi-private show for iTunes tomorrow at the Roundhouse in London.  I say semi-private, because I believe tickets weren’t sold, but given away; so it’s possible general fans could be there, but it was a tough get.  Also, the whole thing will be streamed live on online so I guess that’s good.  :)

On to the city history!  Beck has of course played in London a TON of times.  I’ll leave off all the BBC/TV appearances to make this a little shorter to read.

1 & 2. November 28 & 29, 1994 - Two shows in London at different venues (Astoria and Splash Club).  Don’t know anything about Splash Club gig, but the Astoria one (the 28th) has a bootleg and a crazy bizarre setlist.  Beck played a large amount of unreleased but normal 1994 stuff like “Maximum Potential,” “Megaboob,” “Touch Of Class,” “Good Stuff,” and the only known version of “Protein Summer.”

3. March 31 1996 - Beck played a solo acoustic gig at King’s College, with the band Papas Fritas.  ”Heartland Feeling,” “Leave Me On The Moon,” cool stuff like that.

4. December 10 1996 Brixton Academy - Back with the Odelay tour, this show was broadcast on the radio so the bootleg is awesome.  :)  

5. March 2 1997 Kilburn National Ballroom - Beck returns to Europe yet again on the Odelay tour, but this time for just two shows.  (There was some odd scheduling on the Odelay tour sometimes.)  Apparently there’s a video bootleg of this show, but I don’t have it.

6. May 10 1997 - Odelay tour still going strong, and Beck returns again to the Brixton Academy.

7. March 23, 2000 Wembley Arena - During Beth Orton’s opening act, Beck came out and they sang “No Expectations” together.  Then during the last song of his own set, Beck got “impaled on the top of Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s bass,’ which hurt pretty bad and he got rushed he hospital, but it was just a deep bruise and no shows were missed.

8. June 25 & 26, 2001 - Brixton Academy again!  I wrote about one of these shows for Pink Noise, the second night which was filmed for the TV.  The first night doesn’t seem to have been bootlegged, but has a cool setlist (“Forcefield,” ends on “Beercan”).

9. April 26, 2003 - Royal Albert Hall - Beck’s solo acoustic tour of Europe.  This show is overlooked because of the two nights later, but this show had a super long setlist (27 songs).

10. April 28, 2003 - Union Chapel - Also a solo acoustic tour, but this one a “secret show” which ended up being filmed in its entirety for TV.  And thus, it’s one of the more famous Beck bootlegs/videos.  Super cool to see Beck play shows by himself sometimes.

11 & 12. August 20 & 21, 2003 - Beck comes back for yet again two more shows at  Brixton Academy, this time with his Sea Change Summer band.  At the second show, they apparently covered The White Stripes “Black Math”!  I believe a bootleg exists of this, does anyone have it to share?

13. March 14, 2005 - Islington Academy - Beck was in town for some Guero TV promotion and did a spontaneous show, announced the day of.  Only room for about 800 people, and sold out instantaneously.  Strange setlist though, almost entirely Guero (just released) and Information (not out yet) (except for “Devils Haircut”, “Where It’s At,” and “Get Real Paid”).  

14. June 1 & 2, 2005 - Hammersmith Apollo - Beck back for the proper Guero tour.  Brendan Benson opened.

15. September 2, 2006 - Information still not out yet, but they came back around for another show.  Girl Talk opened.

16. July 4, 2008 - Hyde Park, O2 Wireless Festival… first festival gig in the city of London.  Morrissey was also there.  

17. July 7, 2013 - Union Chapel - last year Beck was in town for a London Song Reader concert, and did his own show.  Mostly solo, but he did use a piano and bass player for some songs (Vincent Taurelle and Rory McCarthy respectively).  Also Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream came out and they duetted on a Hank Williams and a Rolling Stones song.  Beck also played a brand new song that to this day is otherwise unknown.

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Stradbally, Ireland)

August 31, 2014 - Electric Picnic Festival, Stradbally, Ireland [hijacked page]

Beck takes Morning Phase over to Europe for the first time today.  Over the next two weeks, he will be doing shows in the UK and then western Europe.

Tonight Beck is headlining the Electric Picnic Festival in Ireland.  Though two of the headliners are performing on the same day, and the mighty Outkast are playing after Beck.  (Check this out.)

This is Beck’s eleventh show in Ireland, though he has not played in Stradbally before, so no city history today.  (As I understand it, there would be no reason to play there except for the Electric Picnic festival.)

"The static in your mind leaves you hollow and unkind
With a shock electric wave turns you on”

"A perfect stupid cardboard reject overfed electric comatose riding in the air invisible socks…"

"Pointing a derelict finger at you
Pulling out electric chairs under you
Nowhere to hide your disappointment”

"Ghost electric telephone bones"

"Electric hands gropin’ for a feel
'Cause you need love and some vitamin pills”

"Flamethrower TV dinner electric frozen grin
Dragstrip, bullwhip, rocketship tailspin”

"And if it’s only me who is scared
Strap into electric chairs
Ring the moon like a broken bell”

Pink Noise #5: June 6, 1998 - Saratoga Springs, New York

June 6, 1998 - Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York [whiskeyclone]

Beck recorded Mutations over a couple of weeks in April/May, 1998.  He then immediately went out on the road, playing some shows in June, to some of the bigger non-festival crowds of his career.  But since Mutations had not been released yet, Beck did not really have anything to promote, and the shows were freewheeling and fun.  He would return from this June tour and promptly begin recording Midnite Vultures.

This particular concert in Saratoga Springs was sandwiched in between two even bigger concerts, where Beck opened for Dave Matthews in football stadiums.  But this was his own show, and Beck had Ben Folds Five and Elliott Smith along to open for him.  The band, of course, was the guys who did Mutations: Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Smokey Hormel, Joey Waronker, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and the Brass Menagerie.

My memory of this bootleg is that it is very good—I recall it being a lot of fun and Beck being super goofy, so I’m excited to hear it again! And looking at the setlist today, quite a few of the songs have long been left off the stage (and probably will never return).

The show begins with a funky space jam, as Beck whispers some seductive stuff about his unit (band).  This leads into the band playing a sort of elevator music-y version of the “Loser” intro, while Beck sings the hook from Ahmad’s “Back In The Day.” The spirited “Loser” then ends with Beck doing his Puff Daddy collaboration: “Like a fake ID all the people know I’m steppin’ / Like Chico & El DeBarge giving you a vocal lesson!” and then showing of his (only) “six octave range” as “Novacane” starts.  Just look at this paragraph!  Beck is all over the place tonight, and the show is a blast.

As all this shows, many hints of Beck’s yet-to-be-recorded Midnite Vultures persona shine through tonight, like the ideas were in his head and he just had to get them out.  ”My name is MC Self Help and I’m helping myself to some vitamin-D milk tonight. I prefer mine homogenized,” he announces and one can only lament that MC Self Help didn’t really make it on to Midnite Vultures (or did he? Mmm hot milk, cover you in butter, peaches & cream).

The madness continues: “I want you all to visualize naked dolphins,” Beck commands in the middle of “Beercan” as DJ Swamp scratches up a storm.  ”I wanna defy the logic of all sexx laws!” he exclaims (at this point, just an Ol’ Dirty Bastard reference!), and then the band starts chanting “Whoomp! There It Is.”  I mean.  Come on, now.  The opening of this show is a party.  A wonderfully nonsensical party, but definitely a party.

"Debra" sounds sharp, and the new "lovely lady, girl you drive me crazy" ending is finally in place.  But honestly, I think tonight, Beck oversings the song.  That probably sounds ludicrous because this is "Debra" we’re talking about, and the crowd is eating it up, but singing the whole thing in full falsetto is a bit much, and lacks the usual dynamics.  Soul music is all about building to those moments, not sitting on them the entire song.

Beck then digs out “Electric Music and the Summer People,” an Odelay b-side, though he had recently re-recorded it for Mutations.  New songs on stage are always welcome, and “EM&TSP” was only ever played live a small handful of times (probably under five). That said, the song seems to be lacking a bit of a spark, like the band is focusing hard on it.  Beck drenches the song in harmonica, and Roger adds some cool effects to the song (or maybe that’s DJ Swamp?).

This leads to more summer-y fun, as they break into “Deadweight,” which to this day I’m surprised is not a stage regular.  Released at the end of 1997, this was the new-ish song that people new, and it sounds alright.  Like “Debra” and “Electric Music,” it feels slightly lifeless, especially after the wild opening three tracks.  The show is still a party, but there’s a brief lull here.  ”Sissyneck” doesn’t really help.  The songs sound solid, the band is at the top of their game, crowd into it, but some spark has been slightly lost for four songs.

However, the band finds it again quickly, as they “step into some experimental shit,” as Beck puts it.  That’s right.  ”Diamond Bollocks!”  ”I hope you’re all with it,” Beck warns, “If you’re not, then just eat a hot dog.”  If Beck sounds worried about freaking everyone out with this insane new song nobody has heard before, he should be, because it’s even crazier live.  Joey drums like mad, which the crowd really gets behind, and all the echoed vocals, heavy psychedelic riffs and strange transitions make quite a performance.

After “Diamond Bollocks” screeches to a halt, things slow immensely for another new song, “Nobody’s Fault But My Own.”  I often prefer solo acoustic takes of “Nobody’s Fault,” but the band here really fills it out, and it’s hard to believe they are the same group who just raced through “Diamond Bollocks.”  Beck sings it beautifully too.  His voice on this whole show sounds quite strong.  Beck mentions that they won’t be touring behind the next album, so they wanted to play the songs for them now.  (That said, only “Nobody’s Fault” and “Diamond Bollocks” are played from the upcoming album; though you could also could “Electric Music.”)

Beck takes a quick harmonica “One Foot” break, before the band closes with a run of Odelay songs.  Obviously at this point, they know Odelay backwards and forwards and they can (and do) kill them all.  Often the fun of bootlegs is hearing the rare, the new, the slip-ups, but the best songs tonight are these because of the familiarity and chemistry.  ”Jack-ass” is over too soon.  ”Has anyone seen my milk?” DJ Self Help asks before a powerful take on “Derelict.”

"Thunder Peel" goes out to the "jacuzzi cowboys and hot tub heroes of the Great North Way."  Adding the Brass Menagerie into the fast punk makes a fun, noisy mix.  The fun noise continues into a by-the-numbers but still rowdy "Devils Haircut."

I’m about to rock a beat that’s never been rocked before!
I’m about to kick some rhymes that’s never been rhymed before!
I’m about to flex some muscles that’ve never been flexed before!
I’m about to freak some freaks that’ve never been freaked before!

The band sings this together, and pretty much sums up Midnite Vultures in one verse, if anything does.  Get Beck into a studio ASAP!  Somehow this leads into a frenetic and awesome “New Pollution.”

DJ Swamp then takes the spotlight for his famous and impressive turntable jam, before everything ends wildly on a 12-minute “Where It’s At.” By this point, they’ve started doing some of the “Make Out City” remix live, which I’ve always loved.  It’s interesting how the do it too.  Basically, they play “Where It’s At” all the way through, quite normally and similar to the record.  But then instead of stopping, they just keep rolling into the “Make Out City” jam, with all the horns and exciting craziness.  It’s almost not even a medley, just the same song twice in two different ways (though they are connected).  As the song continues rumbling on, Beck fortifies himself with some vitamin-D milk and introduces the band.  It refuses to end for awhile.  It is massively entertaining, and the crowd is REALLY into it.

This is an impressive show, with a very good recording that gets the excitement across.  Beck and his band in 1997-1998 were as incredible as ever they will be, and they would roll off that time into recording Mutations and Vultures.  This show, coming literally right in between recording the two albums, is special for that timing.

My one minor criticism of this show is that the lack of an album behind the tour (since Mutations wasn’t out yet) seems to have pulled some focus from the show.  Obviously, an unfocused Beck is a fun thing in its own right, and worth hearing.  But I think that kind of focus is what can make a very good show like this one great, or a even a great show legendary.  

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Monterey, California)

Saturday, August 23 - First City Festival, Monterey, California

Once again, this is the first time that Beck has played in Monterey, so no city history to share.

Beck is the headliner of the first night of the First City Festival, an apparently carnival-themed festival.


After tonight, Beck is taking a week or so off, before the tour moves over to Europe.

"I first met you down on Lover’s Lane
The birds were insane, flapping all about”

"Did you ever even think about the first impression that you gave?
To the pigs? To the kids with the hazardous waste”

"You’re the last thing on my list
But you’re the first thing I’m gonna remember
When I wake up”

"In the first act, there was a jester with an apple and a mango and some wine…"

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Troutdale, Oregon)

Thursday, August 21 - McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale, Oregon

Again, tonight is the first time Beck has played in Troutdale, which is not far outside of Portland.

Also, according to wikipedia, the venue tonight is reportedly haunted:

The Multnomah Country Poor Farm, also known as the Edgefield Poorhouse and Edgefield Power Station, located in Troutdale, Oregon, is supposedly haunted. The construct, built in 1911, operated as a poorhouse, and also housed the mentally challenged, the disabled, and the elderly; since death was common in poorhouses, many people were buried on the property in unmarked plots. The property later served as a sanitorium and a reform school for troubled kids before falling vacant in 1990. It is now a hotel operated by McMenamins restaurant and brewery, and has several restaurants and bars on the property as well as an outdoor stage for concerts. Hotel guests have frequently reported hearing a woman’s voice reciting nursery rhymes, as well as unexplained crying in the building. A woman dressed in white is also often seen roaming around the property.

Be careful if you’re going tonight!


"Learn to see around the edge / follow the avalanche / turn away"

"Love looks away in the harsh light of the day / on the edge of nothing more"

"At the edge of the ledge, something’s said…"

"Take the time to find the edge of where the darkness ends"

"You and I delirious
A curious vice
A half-off price
Running on the edges
Of an amateur delight”

"Smoothing out the barrel and scraping off the edges"

Habitations & The Towns We Know (Redmond, Washington)

Wednesday, August 20 - Marymoor Park, Redmond, Washington

Beck’s short tour of spectacular scenic outdoor parks in the Northwest US/Canada continues tonight in Redmond, Washington (just outside of Seattle).

Beck has performed in a bunch of cities in Washington (Seattle, Olympia, George, Bremerton, Auburn) but this is the first time in Redmond.

Sorry I started this series on this leg, when it’s mostly Beck’s first time in each spot.  This will be more interesting in a few weeks when he hits Europe, and on in the future.


"A switch in my brain / the battery light washing away / gaping at the oceans below"

"Ammunition souls shooting holes in the ozone / widow’s tears washing the soldier’s bones"

"I was born in this hotel, washing dishes in the sink"

"I ain’t washing dishes in a ditch no more"

"Smiler was looking for handouts
Sleeping in an abandoned lighthouse
Down at the minimall, shaking his hat
Washing windows with his bare hand”

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