• Elliott Smith in 2003, seven months before his death.

    Elliott Smith: 'Mr. Misery' Revisited, 10 Years After the Singer-Songwriter's Controversial Death

    In the December 2004 issue of SPIN, we published Los Angeles journalist/musician Liam Gowing's detailed, empathetic look at the last years of Elliott Smith's life and the circumstances that led up to the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter's apparent suicide. "Mr. Misery" was difficult to read, a tremendous challenge to edit and fact-check, and one of the most remarkably intimate pieces in the magazine's history. On the 10th anniversary of Smith's death, it's now available for the first time on the site. Things did not look good for Elliott Smith in August 2001. If you were in the crowd the night that the acclaimed singer/songwriter headlined Los Angeles' Sunset Junction Street Fair and didn't know any better, you might have thought he was an indigent blind man who had wandered up the steps to the stage.

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    Jane's Addiction Play Intimate Surprise Show

    "Even in this tiny little room," said Perry Farrell to the 150 or so folks sharing the confines of Hollywood club Bardot, "I can feel an oceanful of love." It might have been a convenient way for the Jane's Addiction frontman to lead the band - appearing for the first time with GN'R alum Duff McKagan on bass - into its confetti-laden final number, "Ocean Size." But it also summed up the appreciative mood of the audience around him. For diehard fans, some of whom had been waiting since 10 a.m. for a wristband to the surprise show (announced two days before on the band's website) this was heaven: A chance to see the alternative rock gods play a room no bigger than a volleyball court. Hitting the stage with an exultant "Happy Cinco de Mayo! Ay yi yi yi!" Farrell set the celebratory tone.

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    The Dead Weather Paint It Black at Coachella

    Even in the desert, the Dead Weather hit the stage dressed all in black. And during their Saturday night headlining set at Coachella, it certainly suited the music. From the count-in of the first song, a cover of "Forever My Queen" by Virginia doom-metal band Pentagram, it was clear that Jack White and his bandmates -- the Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist and keyboardist Dean Fertita, and the Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence -- intended to take their audience on a ride to the dark side. And so they did -- with White driving from behind the drum kit and Mosshart supplying the lion's share of the lead vocals.

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    Johnny Marr Joins the Cribs for L.A. Tour Opener

    Legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr took time out from his gig playing in Modest Mouse to join the Cribs at the Roxy in West Hollywood on Monday for the first American date of the U.K. group's new tour. Heavy on material from the Cribs' just-released, Marr-abetted album, Ignore the Ignorant, the pounding 18-song set showed the pub-punk band in a whole new light as terms like "cameo" and even "collaboration" lost all relevance. Here was a quartet of fully integrated band members, singing and playing as if all four had been working together for years. Alternating between itchy, pinprick leads and gently shimmering vibrato chords, Marr shined on the raucous set opener, "We Were Aborted," but it was his vocal work on the next track that really stuck out.

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    The Flaming Lips Debut New Songs Live

    The Flaming Lips have always been about big ideas: In 1997, it was Zaireeka, an experimental release comprising four CD's designed to be played simultaneously; in 2002, it was Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a concept album so theatrical the band decided to adapt it into a Broadway musical with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin; and come Oct. 13, the big idea wil be Embryonic, the Oklahoma City group's first double-album. Through it all the Flaming Lips have held fast to another big idea -- that the rock concert should be a completely over-the-top, thoroughly interactive, audio-visual freak-out -- which is exactly what the group gave the crowd packed into the Greek Theatre Monday night in Los Angeles for the second stop on their 21-date tour in support of Embryonic. The concert began, naturally enough, with the Flaming Lips being born.

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    Death Cab For Cutie Perform with Orchestra

    It was right after a rousing version of "The Sound of Settling" from 2003's Transatlanticism, 12 songs into Death Cab For Cutie's sold-out concert at the Hollywood Bowl, that frontman Ben Gibbard made the big announcement: "We're going to take a quick break and then we're going to come back with 50 of our new friends!" Even for the Grammy-nominated Seattle quartet, this was a big deal: Fourth of July weekend; a capacity crowd; a gorgeous night under the stars at a historic venue; and one of the finest symphony orchestras in the country, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, on hand to perform backup. And if that weren't enough... fireworks! Opening the show some two hours earlier with a short set of feel-good power-pop, A.C.

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    Stone Temple Pilots Kick Off U.S. Tour

    "So this is the first show of our tour," Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland told the sold-out crowd at Los Angeles' House of Blues during the inaugural St. Jude Rock'n'Roll Hope Show, a new event to raise funds for children's cancer research. "Ready or not," he continued. "Ready or not." Coming from the larger-than-life frontman of an alternative rock institution, it was a nicely humanizing statement. It was also totally unnecessary. Having already played four songs flawlessly -- "Silver Gun Superman," "Vaseline," and "Big Empty" from the group's 1994 album Purple and "Wicked Garden" from 1992's Core -- Stone Temple Pilots were more than ready. Earlier, taking the stage to a chorus of "S-T-P! S-T-P!" the band seemed calm and collected, sober and sane -- a polar opposite from the days when Weiland's drug use and subsequent arrests hamstrung the band's progress.

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    Dinosaur Jr. Rock L.A. Like It's 1989

    Music fans are wise to be leery when they see phrases like "all-original lineup" and "long-anticipated reunion tour" followed by that cracked-out whore of the punctuation world -- the exclamation point. We all know what she's hiding: The fact that the band members are broke and temporarily putting aside mutual hatred for quick cash. And while that initially seemed to apply to indie rock progenitors Dinosaur Jr.'s latest tour, the trio proved otherwise Monday night at West Hollywood's Troubadour, limiting their onstage banter to a "thank you" here and a "here's a new one" there to allow the music do the talking.

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    Blink-182 Play First Reunion Show!

    "Hello!" yelled Mark Hoppus from a stage at Los Angeles' Paramount Pictures lot Thursday night. "We are Blink-182 and this is our first show together after four years of hating each other's guts!" (See a photo gallery of the show here.) It was a moment to remember: At February's Grammy Awards, the platinum-selling pop-punk band said they would reunite -- and here they were at a corporate launch party for T-Mobile's new Sidekick LX, playing a note-perfect three-song set, as Nicky Hilton and The Hills' Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt looked on lovingly from the wings. The trio jumpedright into Take Off Your Pants And Jacket's "Rock Show." The performance ignited a frenzy. Blink fans rushed the stage. A mosh pit formed. A fight broke out.

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    Liam Finn

    Unlike many celebrity spawn, 24-year-old Liam Finn is actually quite comfortable discussing his famous father, former Split Enz and current Crowded House tunesmith Neil Finn. "I'm proud of him," says the scraggly-bearded New Zealander, relaxing after a packed show at the Los Angeles club Spaceland. But that pride does have its limits. "I did an interview with this reporter in San Francisco, and his first question was, 'So, what was it like growing up in a house with a genius? Was it a crowded house?'" he recalls, sighing. "And for the next 20 minutes, 'Don't Dream It's Over' was all he wanted to talk about.

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