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Secret Machines, Dresden Dolls Inject Rothbury With a Bit of Darkness

July 5, 2008 11:45 PM ET

The three members of the Secret Machines, outfitted totally in black, looked as though they might wilt in the midday sun Saturday afternoon at Rothbury. But the trio's droning dirges — best experienced in dingy clubs long after nightfall — proved a nice tonic from the crunchy festival fair. "Alone, Jealous and Stoned" was a swirling, psychedelic monster, driven by drummer/man-beast Josh Garza's earthshaking clatter. "Sad and Lonely," by contrast, slowly emerged from a barbed-wire scrawl of guitar, the group gradually locking into a hypnotic groove.

Over on a neighboring stage the Dresden Dolls didn't shy away from addressing political or social issues during their blistering afternoon set. The pair performed a sneering cover of Fugazi's "Blueprint" because, as drummer-singer Brian Viglione was quick to note, "That band managed to combine political action with beautiful music... and that's what this festival is about." Elsewhere, Amanda Palmer (keyboards-vocals) and Viglione sang about boosting lawn ornaments on the punk cabaret of "Night Reconnaissance" and mimicked a skipping record on the Mattel-meets-Mannequin waltz of "Coin-Operated Boy."

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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