Hernando Cortes was unable to attend

  • Hernando Cortes was unable to attend

Last Wednesday, January 4, Neurosis singer and guitarist Scott Kelly played a solo set at the Empty Bottle. The crowd was small but devoted, and those of us who stayed till the end got a surprise: Yakuza front man Bruce Lamont, who’d opened with a solo set of his own, joined Kelly for a mostly acoustic rendition of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer,” adding a tenor sax part, looped horn drones, and harmony vocals. On Tuesday somebody put a great-quality video of the performance up on YouTube.

In retrospect the chord changes are totally familiar, but at the time I puzzled over the long instrumental intro, trying to place it—all I knew for sure was that it wasn’t a Scott Kelly song. Two lines after Kelly started singing, I leaned over to Monica Kendrick. “Jesus,” I said. “This is ‘Cortez the Killer,’ isn’t it?”

OK, so I’m not the world’s biggest Neil Young fan. It’s not because he isn’t great—there was just so much other stuff to listen to when I was growing up, you know? At any rate, the video is after the jump.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.