Thank You, Boys.

I wanted to do my part in appreciating the show last night by posting a few thoughts and impressions that Perry and the guys left me with from their Glasgow gig. I haven’t spouted about my feelings regarding Jane’s Addiction in this journal, and while I’ve already discussed my very opinionated notions of the band with some of you, I see that this is an appropriate forum in which to discuss and perhaps bandy similar or disparate ideas, and also to offer a layman’s review of the show, to boot.

I’ve always been very enthralled with this band, for a couple of very important reasons. One is obviously their music. It would be foolish to identify with a band for other reasons alone. Obviously, the aural work of Jane’s Addiction invigorates, inspires, uplifts, sobers, sedates, and overwhelms. That’s what drew me in and what keeps me interested in the bigger picture of the group, what they’ve been through, and what they are to the musical world. Moreso, to me.

I guess I have such a great respect for Jane’s because of the place and time they came out of, and the fact they can bring us back to exactly that with the energy, vibrancy, and poignance encased in their music. The true genius of the band lies in their juxtaposition with anything else that was coming out of Los Angeles in the late 1980s. In a drudgingly morose and self-serving period of West-Coast glam-rock and hair metal, they broke out of what was “supposed to be” and created their own path, their own fans, and their own paradigm. When every other teenager and twenty-something was either in all morbid black or ripped jeans and t-shirts, trying to desperately identify with any genre they could, Jane’s refuted all notions of style and fashion by simply being themselves, and in that, they created a scene all their own. They were defects of the LA club wasteland: displaced surfers, punks, druggies, freaks, and art-fags. Each member was distinct and different, and somehow it just worked. And they brought an entire sub-culture with them.

They gave rise to so much, and are owed so much. Before them, who had such a distinct blend of funk, punk, etherealness, and groove? Who created such a distinct musical landscape with such passion and virulence? Hell, what other skinny white boys had dreadlocks and piercings and openly advocated their geekdom, hippie ethics, and recreational heroin use, all while inspiring their listeners to live life to its fullest, mocking mass media and current events, and in a very Warhol-esque method, critically questioning what is acceptable in the realm of music and performance through their own example? There would have been no Seattle scene without Jane’s Addiction, no San Diego avant-garde offering, and certainly no crappy Nü-Metal revival, currently plaguing the radio and television channels with their deep competition to be the most angst-ridden and eccentric. I remember seeing the original video for Alice in Chains’ ‘We Die Young” and being shocked at the visual similarities between Layne Staley and Perry. Before they went all flannels and jeans, I swear that Layne had a big head of dreads, lipstick and eyeliner.

Jane's 1989
This is the epitome of Jane’s eccentricity, and electricity, from 1989. Nice tights, Dave.

Finally, they weren’t just an aural band. Jane’s was an institution. Their LA shows were legendary, living art exhibitions. Dancing girls in various states of unfashion, make-out sessions between band members, and all-night parties, where everyone could be exactly who they were and just let it hang out. All freaks were welcome, and appreciated. Many of their fans, like myself, were just coming into their own then, and just learning about what motivated us emotionally, and iconically. And they mirrored both of those catalysts very well. Yet it went even deeper than this. They made movies, and life-sized art projects that Perry incorporated into the band’s character. These became symbols of how they presented themselves.

And to me, that’s where the story becomes sad. What Jane’s Addiction were, in much of their music and sentiment, was about the inextricable bond between Perry and his then-girlfriend, Casey Niccoli. She was the subject for his album covers, the director of their videos and movies, the muse behind his experiences and his lyrics. Arguably some of the greatest Jane’s songs are about her, and them together: Summertime Rolls, Three Days, and Classic Girl. Their Santeria wedding was filmed and put to music, as part of the movie Gift, which also was a visceral vision of addiction and social deviance. They created a genre, and it was centered on that relationship. Perry swore unyielding love and fealty to her, and then it just ended, and the next thing you know, he’s dating some other girl on the cover of the second Porno for Pyros album. To me, when they died, so did the possibility of creating new music with that certain Jane’s feel. There’s no judgment of Perry or the band here, just a personal observation that obviously holds certain opinonations about how they affected me at that time.

That said, the new album is excellent. Of course, much of it was obviously written before the original line-up split. In that, it carries much of the same older feeling, but I can’t help but think that they knew the formula for their past success and stuck in a few very typically Jane’s-sounding riffs and changes here and there on the newer stuff, just to be consistent. But all in all, Strays is powerful and absolutely worth getting. Dave’s a better guitarist, now more than ever.

But on to the show, which was wonderful. They are older and wiser. That translates as less youthful, fuck-everything energy, but more comfort and enjoyment at what they’re doing. The song choices for the night ran the gamut from their catalogue of three-and-a-half-albums. Interestingly enough, none of the three aforementioned songs were played. Perry was tittering around mirthfully all night, and I got the distinct impression that he was really happy to be there, and just loving playing music again. The Glasgow crowd was incredibly responsive, and Perry never stopped smiling for one minute. In a sort of ritual of appreciation, he gave the crowd a bottle of Jaegermeister, and then went back to the dressing room to get a few bottles of Champagne and a stack of plastic cups. So he’s still creating the exclusive party, then.

The most indelible moment of the night came during a break in between songs, when Perry said, quite unegotistcally and with arms raised to the sky, “We are the Frank Sinatra of our generation! That’s what I told my mom. And she asked…um, did Frank have a penis piercing? And I said, uh, yeah…I think so. Right?” That’s vintage Perry, and he’s absolutely right about at least the first part of his claim. They’re that influential, and that inspirational. Perry spent much of the evening posing with roses in his teeth, brought by a fan near the front; he made sure to let her know how wonderful she was for doing that, and by dedicating Ocean Size to her. I feel from them a love towards the fans and the performance itself that they couldn’t possibly appreciate under the influence of so much heroin back in the day. And though clearly not as youthful or athletic as he used to be, Perry still is rail-thin and sinewy-muscled, and he spent a good ten minutes in the crowd during Jane Says, hugging people and swimming in a sea of what Jane’s Addiction has wrought, for so many years before.

We all thanked him and the rest of the guys, unequivocally and in our own ways.

9 Responses to “Thank You, Boys.”

  1. agntprovocateur Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 10:07 am

    what a joy to read.
    let me ask you something, do you just sit in front of the computer and type this stuff out?
    <—-facetious (read the subject line.)

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 10:20 am

    Re: what a joy to read.
    Yeah, pretty sad, huh?

  3. agntprovocateur Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 7:26 pm

    heh. i was not clear. i was commenting on your eloquence.
    Jane's addiction is one of the bands i never got into. i've heard a couple of their Cds, but never quite had a chance *really* sit and listen to them. looks i need to even if it's a little late.

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    November 8th, 2003 at 2:49 am

    I got it. I was playing dumb. 🙂
    And it's never too late for any good experience.

  5. evils Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 10:20 am

    "they broke out of what was “supposed to be” and created their own path, their own fans, and their own paradigm."
    A huuugge "Amen!" to that! I'm glad to see that their talent, originality, honesty and ability to inspire has not dissipated over the years like so many other bands. I'm sooo gutted that I missed the gig but thank you for mentally taking me there with your post!
    I still fondly remember the first time I ever heard "3 days" – *cue-big-dirty-smile* 😀

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 10:23 am

    Rock. So glad you're in the same place.
    And glad that you're in it like I'm in it.
    And on it, and under it.

  7. fraulein_doktor Says:
    November 7th, 2003 at 10:24 am

    *wiping the tears from her eyes*
    Thanks for that! 🙂

  8. velvetdahlia Says:
    November 8th, 2003 at 8:45 am

    a drag… nice pun! There is nothing better than Perry in a corset. I love me some foppish rockers!
    I haven't really listened to them since 1989. I remember the first time I heard of them– it was an interview in Flipside, 1986 and Perry with his wild neoHippie trip, in a sea of derivative punk rockers really hit home with me. The heroin probably helped darken the flowerchild nimbus around them, but I knew nothing of it at the time.
    Interesting that you see that shift in the band related to that breakup. In that Spin article, isn't there a picture from their wedding, where they are in their underwear? Or did I dream it? I remember she looked uncomfortable. I thought, well, clearly, that was his idea!

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    November 8th, 2003 at 9:23 am

    Hell, you're so clever. I didn't even get my own pun! Damn.
    That Spin article was incredible. All the pictures were from their original photographer (and part-time diaper girl); the one of Perry and Casey was actually re-enacting her mother's wedding, I believe. Theirs was documented in Gift and performed in Mexico, if I remember correctly.
    The article is a fitting tribute to the Jane's paradigm. As well, the editorial in the front is very similar to what I've said here. I felt a real understanding of what they were saying about the band. See if you can get it; it's absolutely worth a read.

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