Shoegazer

Dead Leaf Echo say "Boo" on new single paying tribute to fear and loathing and Madchester

With spooky season culminating tonight it’s fitting to feature Dead Leaf Echo’s latest single “Boo” a song that's equivalent to an audible shudder and thus highly Halloween-friendly—which let's face it everyday is Halloween these days so you can keep listening to it after tonight—with lyrics about fear and loathing in a modern-day surveillance state and/or in the current state of modern-day relationships (“I know / they know / a thing or two / about boo / but I know they’re / gonna get to you”) with front-ghoul LG Galleon & Co. proving themselves adept once again at alchemizing Sensurround sounds bounced off multiple walls of reverb and digital delay, flange and chorus, tremolo and who knows what other forms of sorcery into headphone-hospitable majestic sonic sculptures that somehow don't crumble to pieces…

…all of which makes "Boo" sound pretty serious but unless you're a member of the undead army it should have you shimmying as much as shuddering since when you peel back the MK-Ultra-ready swirling psychedelic surface there’s an ass-shaking Madchester groove underneath driving the whole thing forward not to mention a galvanizing gospel-infused vocal hook written to satisfy a dare issued to LG to make a Hacienda-friendly Manchester type song that got transmutated over time into a tribute to the late, great Denise Johnson (RIP) who herself lent many a galvanizing, gospel-infused vocal hook to songs by Primal Scream, A Certain Ratio, New Order, and The Charlatans UK to name but a few…

…which isn't to say that dread and dance are mutually exclusive cuz there’s nothing like a shiver up the spine to make you wanna cast your demons out onto the dance floor and I haven’t heard it done like it's done on "Boo" since circa the Cure's unveiling of Wish in 1992 which saw the Batcave-dwelling Backcombed Boys in Black augment their late-to-mid-80s goth-pop mastery with an infusion of baggy beats (think Happy Mondays or Stone Roses), Britpop whimsy (resulting in a future karaoke staple) and disassociative “Wall of Haze” shoegazery all of which was ascendent at the time and if you were to refer to the resulting hybrid style as “boo-gaze” we wouldn’t hate you for it…

 …but rest assured you need not be into Clinton-era deep-cuts by the Cure to be into DLE’s “Boo” by any means—for instance one could draw a closer contemporary parallel with Dirk Knight’s Hamburg-based SEASURFER project not to mention Dark Orange—but either way if you're sympathetic to “atmospheric guitars, distinct percussive momentum, cathedral inspired vocal harmonies and dramatic build-ups” (quoting directly from a Deli writeup on DLE some years ago) then you should be into their new one too as long as you don’t mind some new wrinkles, or if you don't know old from new you may wanna peruse this deep historical dive or read brief pieces on a couple of albums here…

…and here at the Deli we don’t mind wrinkles new or old which we feel bodes well for the upcoming Boo EP slated for release in early 2023 and speaking of new wrinkles DLE’s most recent EP Milk.Blue.Kisses.And.Whalebone.Wishes from earlier this year had plenty of them too but less in terms of race-ready grooves and more in terms of free-floating-blissed-out-but-with-underlying-animating-anxiety ambient soundscapes…

…with lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter LG noting that the previous EP was a by-product of the extended peak-period COVID isolation with tracks laid down in LG’s home studio with remote contributions by bassist Steve S and drummer Kevin K and if you wanna check out a track-by-track listeners’ guide why not consult with our good friends over at a rival blog by clicking on the preceding link…

…but sticking with my self-regarding frame of reference I’d lay claim that if “Boo” is akin to a Wish album track then the six tracks that make up (five of them instruments0 M.B.K.A.W.W. is more akin to a collection of Wish-era B-sides widely mythologized by fans as specimens of etherial otherworldly beauty hidden away from all but b-side fanatics—check out “Twilight Garden" and “Play” for starters—and could it be mere coincidence that the Cure are releasing a 3-CD expanded edition of Wish this November including all four tracks from their fanclub-only Lost Wishes cassette in digital remastered form for the first time I think not…

…and while it’s possible I’ve devoted too many of my brain cells to Cure b-sides there could be a larger point to be made here about how dreampop and shoegaze are all about exploring interior mental-psychological states in sonic form (consider how both genre names are meant to evoke a dreamy disposition) spaces that are strongly shaped by memory and imagination


…and just to take it one more level the name Dead Leaf Echo itself steeped in long and memory being taken from a passage near the end of Nabokov’s Lolita with Humbert-Humbert professing his fondness for a distant but yet still vivid memory, a memory that can’t be recreated but only recalled, but which reverberates all the stronger now even if it’s original animating force no longer exists…

 

…but enough of my blah blah blah. Rather than straining to make out distant echoes kinda like it feels like I’m doing now why not instead hear directly from the source with “the source” in this case being LG and what he has to say about Dead Leaf Echo and creativity and lockdown and the tribute to Jinsen Liu (RIP) from 28 degrees taurus that he helped put together a little over a week ago and luckily I got to speak with LG a little before the show in question and here’s some of what he had to say rendered to the best of my abilities. (Jason Lee)

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LG from Dead Leaf Echo: In 2008 or so we were booked for the first time ever in Boston on a show with 28 Degrees Taurus and they were very friendly. We ended up doing three of the Deep Heaven Now festivals that Jinsen Liu (from 28 Degrees Taurus) put together. They super fun with a bunch of good bands. Brief Candles from Milwaukee are now dear friends.

The festival started in the ‘90s under different producers until Jinsen revived it. It features psychedelic, shoegaze and indie rock bands from all over the Northeastern Cast and Midwest. We’re made a lot of friends from different scenes and played more shows as a result.

We never got to do a Deep Heaven in New York City so as a tribute to Jinsen we set up a show with Footlight Presents at the Windjammer with both Brief Candles and Ceremony (Ceremony East Coast) on the bill. Ceremony are a two-piece who both just joined A Place To Bury Strangers last year. The next night we’re playing a Deep Heaven Now bill in Boston with a couple other local bands on the bill. Anna Karina [from 28 Degrees Taurus] booked that show and I organized the one here.

Me and Jinsen shared a love for music and for finding exciting new bands that we may went to tour with and thanks to knowing him and to Deep Heaven we’ve been able to network with bands from Boston and to see those bands and set up shows.

Right now I’m finishing up a record that was originally supposed to come out 2020. Everything’s just now getting back up to speed. I’ve got a new song [“Boo”] and music video coming up, and then hitting the West Coast in December. Lockdown was tough but on the other hand it helped a lot of artists and creative people even if it hurt in other ways.

I saw how it damage a lot of relationships around me. Saw other people suffer for it. Me personally, I thrived. Being a creative person—devastated by not touring, album being dropped by label—but I could at least use the extra time to create more. Any creative type found it useful in some way. It put me on a very set schedule. New York City is a very busy place and your time’s so valuable. And not having anywhere to be is a privilege.

That’s when the last EP [Milk.Blue.Kisses.And.Whalebone.Wishes] was made. It’s a concept album. All the albums are concept album. And collective—working with outside designers, musicians who come into the band, creating a total package of art. Milk.Blue.Kisses is built around themes of winter, isolationism, and the basic idea of not selling yourself short of your full potential. I have a more minimal setup at home compared to a professional studio, but it made me up my game. I used pandemic relief money to save up and get equipment, a much better mic for vocals and a new interface.

“Boo” is a bit more dealing with surveillance, paranoia. Coming out of the pandemic, the residual effects of it on the psyche.

It’s like a weight being lifted off our chests, after over two years. Playing live is a big part of it. Working in the studio and playing live and like the two sides of the brain musically, left and right brain.

Speaking of touring we got to tour Latin America for the first time this summer—visiting Mexico for second time but then to Guatemala, El Salvador, and back to Mexico City. We’ve been to Europe four times, it’s a whole different scene. Latin America isn’t saturated with this type of music. It’s a whole new style and people are really excited for it, It’s like an event with something new coming into town. You could feel it at every show. It also helped with upping my very basic Spanish a bit, and we got to meet lot of bands we’ve never heard of before.

The Deli: And finally, also speaking of touring, come December you can check out Dead Leaf Echo touring the West Coast (including a date in Vancouver, BC) plus a 11/12 blowout at the Polish Club in Phoenixville, PA and an early January 2023 date ushering in the New Year at TV Eye in Ridgewood, Queens…




 

   

Celebrating the life and legacy of Jinsen Liu (RIP) and 28 Degrees Taurus

Readers’ note: If you're inclined to skip straight ahead to the interview with Ana Karina Dacosta from 28 Degrees Taurus then by all means scroll down a few pages and you can’t miss it. Otherwise, The Deli invites you to enjoy the following misty-eyed reminiscences... 
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Glasslands. Death By Audio. Cameo located behind the Lovin' Cup Cafe. Cake Shop. Goodbye Blue Audio. Trash Bar. If the names above ring a bell it probably means that you were a live music junkie 10-to-20-years ago forever looking for a fix on the mean streets of turn-of-the-millennium Williamsburg and Bushwick and maybe even Manhattan's Lower East Side and East Village...

…and while your average schmuck on the street today may have very well read Meet Me In The Bathroom and be able to tell the Strokes from the Interpols, Vampire Weekends from Moldy Peaches, it still doesn't mean they're experts on that particular chapter in New York City music history and I'd ask the nameless schmuck a couple questions like these as a litmus test: Did you see 28 Degrees Taurus when they played with You Aren't My Mother and The Soundscapes at the Trash Bar on 11/19/2006? Or did you see them when they played with June Moris and Quiet Loudly on 10/28/2007 also at the Trash Bar?  



I'm guessing the answer's "no" and not to humble-brag too much but I was at both of those gigs and that's why I'm paid the big bucks to write for the Deli instead of some schmuck on the street who probably doesn't even have a real name but I digress...

...with the larger point being that the bedrock of New York City's indie-rock aughts salad days was less rooted in familiar names that anyone would know and more so rooted in names that are long forgotten or never on the radar. I mean, just consider the hundreds upon hundreds of bands and other musical artists who play NYC venues week after week, month after month, at glorified dive bars like the aptly named Trash Bar...



...a bar known for its adventurous and/or simply anarchic booking practices and its ratty basement couches and its glistening tater tots served up fresh out of the deep fryer from behind the bar and...suddenly I'm flasing back to the time I watched a highly inebriated woman assume a reverse cowboy position over a men's room urinal at the Trash Bar and take a long, no-doubt satisfying piss without a single drop hitting the floor and that's about as "indie sleaze" as it gets isn't it...



...and while I don't pretend to be any better at remembering names than the next functional alcoholic—somehow or other I've managed to retain a few of them despite partaking in a few too many "5 Jägermeister shots for 10 dollars" drink special at the Continental (talk about your trashy bars!) back around that same time—I do clearly remember Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun and Coyote Eyes and 28 Degrees Taurus with 28dt being a personal fave around the years 2006-09, a Boston-based duo with rotating drummer and occcasional additional collaborators, that played up and down the Eastern Seaboard on a regular basis...



...not to mention how 28dt played on bills with one or two bands that my own band "back in the day" also played with which is pretty cool and all (apologies for all the not-so-humble bragging) but the point here is that I'd be willing to wager five Jäger shot that a few of you or more are less than "six degrees of separation" away from 28 Degrees Taurus too...

...seeing as how the band's main songwriter/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/backing vocalist/record producer Jinsen Liu is someone who knew lots and lots of people and who was positioned as a central node attached to some of coolest of musical entities and events across New England and beyond but he was never one to brag or even to humble brag about it...

…and when it comes to the actual music 28 Degrees Taurus has been described as “explosive, intense, dreamy, ultra romantic neo-psychedelic/ambient/indie rock walking the thin line between darkness and light” with live shows described as “loud, ultra high energy, psychedelic, chaotic freak out session usually done on mass quantities of alcohol” but whose recorded output occilates to the other end of the shoegaze spectrum with “dreamy, intimate and romantic influences including 60s pop, Japanese noise, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Slowdive, and The Bee Gees” as described in what I'm guessing may have been their old MySpace band bio... 

...but plagiarism aside if I had to guess how 28 Degrees Taurus got their name I'd say "Taurus" reflects their Taurus-like embrace of warmth and earthiness and sensuality, but then there's often an underlying chill, or even a haunted quality, that also frequently present what with all the woozy near-ASMR vocals and the eerily chiming guitars...

...not to mention 28dt's frequent use of Eastern scales and Medieval-like parallel intervals, basslines that chase the guitar's shadow and lyrics that are tap into a guile-free immediacy, so with all this in mind I figure the “28 Degrees” part of their name could be a reference to the body temperature (measured in Celsius) that's the lowest you can go without catching hypothermia so in other words it's chilly...

…but a little chill never deterred the Taurus-like perseverance of 28 Degrees Taurus who released five full-lengths plus a remix EP over the course of a dozen years culminating with 2019’s Lost & Found singles compilation but then in March 2020 Jinsen Liu tragically passed away at 42 years of age which besides being an unfathomably terrible loss for his friends and family and for longtime bestie-bandmate Ana Karina Dacosta, is also a terrible loss for the the Boston music scene and beyond...



...in light of his unyielding work (though I doubt he ever thought of as "work") supporting emerging artists, booking shows, and generally acting as a hub of Boston's local music scene, and I haven't even mentioned Deep Heaven Now yet, a a multi-venue festival and meetup that Jinsen instigated and curated in 2010 (and also in subsequent years with later editions) catering to psych/shoegaze/ambient/experimental artists not only from Boston and Massachusetts but also from across the Northeast and Midwest regions and the whole thing was a tribute of sorts to similar gatherings held in '90s Boston that helped shape Jinsen's own musical tastes and his hyper-local perspective...

…but on Friday 10/21 it's Jinsen Liu's turn to be on the receiving end of a musical tribute taking place at the Windjammer in  Ridgewood, Queens as presented by The Footlight Presents, and despite the tragic circumstances that led to the show it's sure to be a barnburner because that's how Jinsen would have wanted it...

...with producers and participants looking to put on a raucous celebration of Jinsen's life, because rumor has it that his life was pretty raucous at times but in the best possible sense, and it'll feature the music of 28 Degrees Taurus as performed by Ana Karina with special guests (in keeping with the band's collaborative ethos) plus a stacked lineup with sets by Dead Leaf Echo, Ceremony (the East Coast Ceremony) and Brief Candles visiting all the way from Milwaukee so here's your perfect chance to get caught up on what was happening at the Trash Bar in 2006 and '07...

…and one last piece of sliver lining to this dark cloud is that I got a chance to speak to Ana Karina, Jinsen's partner and collaborator in 28dt across its entire lifespan, so check out the transcription below where A.K. was kind enough to share some compelling memories of Jinsen and 28dt...

...and in closing The Deli offers our deepest condolences to Jinsen Liu's loved ones, and raises a glass for all the great music he created and facilitated, not to mention all the lives he touched and enriched, and we hope that at this very moment he's looking up some old contacts who've likewise passed over and planning his next musical blowout in that great DIY space in the sky, but until you get a chance to check one of his Deep Heaven Afterlife shows we say "get thee to the Windjammer" for a sneak preview... (Jason Lee)


 

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Ana Karina Dacosta: I have the best memories of driving around in Jinsen’s shimmering pastel green Honda Civic listening to the Bee Gees , and a lot of other music he loved or was currently working on. A lot of his friends remember doing the same thing with him as well, it was a real era! It was definitely some of our personal best times, Without fail it always built up to us driving aimlessly listening to "Alone." We shared this deep and ridiculous respect for how undeniably cool Barry Gibb sounded in the opening lines to that song and all of the songs he sang....."I was a midnight rider on a cloud of smoke, I could make a woman hang on every single stroke"---like, what kind of badass says that?? A lot of our bonding came from overanalyzing Bee Gee's lyrics.

That era was also spent at a lot of house shows and open mics, consistently and possibly the most fruitful was the All Asia (RIP) on Wednesday nights, where he made so many true friends, it's hard to describe how many but a huge core of his life were friends he made there.

In our first iteration we were called Red Skies, Let’s Die with me on cello playing through a reverb/delay pedal. They were all instrumental songs. Eventually we had a keyboard player named Dan, who was brilliant on keys, and Alyson on drums. She was and still is an amazing drummer and percussionist,and a lot of our later songs carried over that sound. 

We could only get shows with the local Goth community, who were all of these amazing people and bands Jinsen had followed or knew from some place or another. We made a lot of meaningful friendships during that time, such as Kris Thompson who is an anchor and beloved scene captain and musician in Boston with so many bands I would need to make a loooong list!! We played all over the place as Red Skies. I’d nearly forgotten but we were pretty active. 

When 28dt was forming, Jinsen had recruited his "Gemini friend" from High School in Andover, MA, Erika, to play bass with him. He said astrologically it was perfect and that she was maximum rock'n'roll which she really is. I just happened to be at his parents house on the first day they were supposed to practice. The night before though, at a 28 Degrees Taurus show, she’d met a guy named Dan who later became her husband. So for obvious reasons she blew off the rehearsal! I said I would try to play along since I had played the cello and it had four strings, how bad could it be?!

When we transitioned to 28 Degrees Taurus I’d never been the singer in a band before so he would play the demos and I naturally altered my singing voice to mimic his. He loved to sing, but also just wanted to play guitar and come in and out of singing. It’s funny how truly haphazard it was in the beginning. He didn’t really set expectations and as far as I remember–never gave much advice or directives on how I or anyone should play anything, EVER! 

I really loved doubling his guitar parts on bass which made me feel very heavy metal, and Jinsen loved Black Sabbath and lots of multi-metal genres which is probably why he never said anything. The band was never just the two of us because we always worked together with drummers and with other collaborators sometimes, although I would say it was all him running the show. But he would always say it was me. The truth is it was really whoever was drumming for us at the time. 

It was always the drummers who kept the band functioning, shaped the sound and kept things moving in all ways. Every single one of them. Barry, Kyle, Greg, Ian....Max. Who else? Has to be more! I only wanted to take over drumming for Lost & Found, since Jinsen used a drum machine to record all of the drum parts and there was no bass on it. Chrissy Prisco, aka Chris Face, is legendary in our history as well. She went everywhere with us for years and was a huge part of the band dynamic. Our sister for sure. It was always her and the drummers who kept the band moving forward. We were so lucky 

And the words you hear in a lot of lyrics were just things that Jinsen would say like “ “I wanna party! I wanna drink! I wanna feel like this forever. I don’t wanna fuckin’ think!” but with a big hint of humor. These were just his thoughts rolling off his tongue. Another person may’ve said “we need to rework these lyrics,” but we would just laugh at the thought and keep going with it. 

Jinsen was such a social butterfly, so it was easy for him writing from experience. He loved being out at night. He loved to pretend he was a werewolf! He loved meeting new people. He was a local nightlife icon, he called himself the Paris Hilton of Allston, MA for a long time, it was funny!

There are a lot of endearing and wild stories with Jinsen. One night he stayed out for the entire night in New York City and when he finally came back to where we were staying he’d lost his glasses and told us this whole story aboutI hanging out with some new friends and losing his glasses, getting lost and feeling his way along the curb and finally passing out and getting bitten by a rat which elated him, like it was “a great night out in New York” by anyone’s standards!! 

And then he revived the ‘90s Boston psych-rock fest Deep Heaven, with the name tweaked to Deep Heaven Now. He Jinsen was always inspired by watching and observing other people and how they, went about supporting the scene. And he was nostalgic for the people who had guided him along when he got into playing. Jinsen was very sponge-like, always taking in information and inspiration from others, with a mind like a trap for retaining information and remembering people. He must have had a mental Rolodex the way he could keep so many people’s names in his brain. 

It was really impressive and admirable how many people he communicated with in his life and how he could instantly remember the name of an old online friend he made on GeoCities Chat in 1996.It was a valuable skill to have when a lot of music was being shared between people on physical media all over the place, sending CD's through the post office to each other. Remarkable!

He organized all of our tours and lots of other tours. He made all our records. There’s all these Midwestern bands that I am sure would give him credit for the group of likeminded bands and a whole scene that came out of meeting at Deep Heaven Now. Speaking of which, Brief Candles from Milwaukie will be playing the Brooklyn show.

It’s hard for me to say it, because I feel so close to him still and I know his many many friends do as well. I feel in my heart that he would not live a life with any guard rails. He always told me that we have to accept people for who they are and how they live. He was not afraid of dark waters. He worked hard to be a spiritual warrior despite any demons, and he was exceptional at his core essence. He was quite magical.It was the only way for him. Jinsen had a lot of seasons in his life and that will be visible at these shows. But it won't even do him justice because no one else could possibly be another Jinsen and I love him for that. Even when we weren't getting along, we loved each other and the music too much to consider ending 28dt.

If he didn’t have demons, and didn’t confront his demons head on, Jinsen probably wouldn’t have made the music he did. And we all wouldn’t have had the intense relationship we had with him and with each other as friends. A lot of folks call me when they’re thinking about him. I love that. I feel lucky that I knew him. I didn’t even mention how metaphysical Jinsen was. He read people’s charts all the time. You can hear it in the music. He thought we were all here to teach each other and to learn from each other. 

At his memorial in 2020, the bar tab for his wake came to $666. He would have loved that!

   

Shoegazer

Time: 
20:20
Band name: 
Stony Sugarskull
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/stonysugarskull
Venue name: 
The Blue Lagoon
   

Shoegazer

Time: 
22:30
Band name: 
The Shining Hours
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/TheShiningHours/
Venue name: 
Rockwood Music Hall
   

The true meaning of Hello Mary "Sinks In" with latest single

photo by Nolan Zangas


The first time I heard the name Hello Mary I instantly assumed it must be the name of a Christian puppet show like the ones put on by the inimitable Tammy Faye back in the day (RIP) on her TV programs (PTL Club, The Tammy Faye Show) with the phrase “Hello, Mary!” being the first words out of the resurrected Jesus’s felt mouth after He has risen from the dead, waking with a start and one hell of a hangover, and then taking a stroll outside his tomb to see what’s up nevermind that pesky giant boulder in the way only to find Mary Magdalene and “Big Mama” Mother Mary right there outside waiting faithfully for Him to whom He speaks the aforementioned salutation.

Anyway, it’s a theory. Except in this case the reality is even better than the theory because in reality Hello Mary is a young and upcoming NYC-based-indie-alt-rock trio whose combined age is probably less than the age of Axl Rose’s oldest hair extensions and, I’ll just go ahead and say it, each one of Hello Mary’s songs to date rocks harder and more convincingly/compellingly than the entirety of Chinese Democracy.  

Take their latest single for instance released just days ago, “Stinge” backed by “Sink in,” or “Sink In” backed by “Stinge,” these things are difficult to parse in the streaming age. But anyway “Sting” comes first in the running order, a song addressed to a mercurial character who “may be the one for good” but who “leave[s] just as it gets fun” which is precisely why “they said I should run” and sometimes “they” know best and yes I realize there's an unreasonably large gap between the Bandcamp embed above and this text which I blame on the new Spotify-people owners.

Meanwhile the music of “Stinge” (definition: a person or other entity who is stingy) ably captures the emotional whiplash of the narrator’s romantic longings and loser-induced frustrations flipping back and forth between the grinding riff of the song’s intro, the jangly shoegazy float of the verses with some nice off-kilter chords, and the bridge section that sounds something like an underwater waltz. 

“Sink In” comes next which is quite possibly a song about the stark reality of the previous song fully sinking in where “it starts to drift and fall away / mostly from saying all I had to say” which I gotta say jumping straight to the fifth stage of grief in the second song is an encouraging sign of psychological health and if this is what acceptance sounds like then sign me up because this song rips starting off with a James Iha-esque alternation between a contemplative riff and head-drubbing power chords (the “sink in” part) before bursting open like an overpollenated flower full of “oohs” and “ahhs” ascending to the heavens (one of my fave musical moments of the year so far) and oh yeah there’s a guitar solo too with heavy reverb and note bending and more oohs and ahhs over some altered chords and it’s a pretty exciting ride and a pretty one too.

Across these two songs Hello Mary continue to hone their appetizing mix of heavy musical dramatics spiked with an enticing sense of play (cuz dammit these young ladies know how to write a catchy hook that’s for sure just see "Ginger" below) and a trippy psychedelia-adjacent vibe (see “Take Something” above for another example) and when you put together this mix of heavy and light and just plain weird it’s not entirely unlike (wait for it…) a bizarro Christian puppet show or a close encounter with Axl Rose’s dreads. (Jason Lee)