Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer 2014 Playlist

Summer is ending, but you wouldn't know it in LA.  During these continuous warm temps, I've been using SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks XC headphones to put together an it-still-feels-like-summer playlist inspired by this year's FYF lineup.  Enjoy!

Headphones gifted to me for review.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

FYF Fest 2014

This year FYF got a new location, moving from LA State Historic Park to Exposition Park.  Here's my best and worst of the festival:

High Notes:
  1. The Lawn - my favorite stage had screens, cushy grass, and great sound no matter where you were.  I saw some of the best performances at this stage.  
  2. Real restrooms - being able to use something other than porta potties made such a huge
    Sports Arena
    difference in my comfort and hydration levels.  
  3. Water - free bottle of water for anyone who took the Metro.  Best. idea. ever.
  4. Sports Arena - with colorful lights, disco balls, cool air, comfortable seating (the second day), good music, and nonstop dancing, the arena made me forget I was even at a festival, at least when I could get in.  
  5. Grimes - before FYF I felt meh about Grimes, but I kept hearing about how great she was live.  After FYF, I am definitely a fan.  Her show was surprisingly energetic and entertaining even though it was mostly her and her two dancers.  Go was fantastic with her caped guest, Blood Diamonds.
  6. Les Sins - if Wing hadn't recognized Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick, I would've skipped Les Sins.  I'm glad I didn't.  Not only was sitting in the Sports Arena a welcome relief to the heat, but it was actually a good set.  I prefer the dance music he played over some of the electronic noises I typically hear from other DJs.  I could hear a hint of Toro Y Moi in some of the songs, but in a good danceable way.  He looked like he was enjoying himself as he was bobbing his head and dancing.  Other DJs I saw that weekend just kept their heads down and looked like they were working.  
  7. Built to Spill - often cited as an influence for many of my favorite bands, I knew I had to see them play.  I loved that they were quietly awesome.  There was no cockiness, just amazing guitar solos, vocals (slightly huskier, but still good), drums...  I only saw singer / guitarist Doug Martsch crack a brief smile once during Carry the Zero
  8. Haim - typically poppy with an R&B flavor, they were actually very rock 'n' roll live.  They were all talented, playing not just one, but several instruments.  Especially loved watching all three of them play drums on Let Me Go.  Also, this was one of the rare times the sound was good on Main Stage.  
  9. The Strokes' set list - this was my first time seeing The Strokes.  They weren't the best band that weekend, but they were better than their solo performances.  They didn't really talk much, which was probably for the best because their banter from the day before was kind of weird.  What was impressive was their set list.  It was like traveling through time, starting off with Barely Legal, then touring all of their albums.  Hearing the older songs transported me back to when I first heard them.  So nostalgic.  And I was excited I got to hear New York City Cops live. 

Low Notes: 
  1. Lines - okay, I actually walked right into FYF the first day, but I felt bad for everyone stuck in the long line wrapped around the very large block.  I don't even know why the long line even existed because once you entered, security and searches actually moved pretty fast and those lines were short.  Luckily, this was adjusted the next day and everyone got in quickly. 
    Main Stage
  2. Main Stage - it took 20 minutes to walk there from the farthest stage, The Lawn.  This made me dread having to see anyone at Main Stage.  With hardly any shade, it was located on hot asphalt and facing east, so you could barely see anything as the sun was setting.  This was the only time I was glad to see tall people because I used them to block out the sun.  Also, the sound was somewhat muffled compared to the other stages.  
  3. Future Islands - I don't deny Samuel T. Herring's enthusiasm and energy on stage.  What I don't get is his need to use death metal growls in his synthpop songs.  It was weird.
  4. Julian Casablancas + the Voidz - he did sound better than the first time I heard him live, but it was a douche move to use the screens to show crappy computer screensavers instead of the actual performance.  Not everyone can get close to the stage.   
  5. Daisy Dukes - how is it comfortable to have a wedgie so high you can see your butt hanging out?  When did these short shorts become festival fashion?  Ew. 
  6. People - the larger venue allowed for more people, and apparently more of the shoving, pushy, obnoxious kind.  I thought standing off to the side of Main Stage would be safe, but no, there's no escape from jerks who think that after the band is several songs in is the best time to make their way to the front of the stage, especially through an already tight crowd.  

More reviews: 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fall 2014 Tech Essentials

Summer's coming to an end, so enjoy the last of it (or the beginning of fall) with these essential gadgets (in no particular order):   
  1. Mophie space pack - battery + case + storage = Mophie space pack.  Not only does this case protect your iPhone, but it can also charge a phone up to 100% AND can add up to 64 GB of extra storage for more music, photos, and videos.  
  2. Danbo external battery - there are tons of options for external batteries for non-iPhone users, but this is one of the cutest.  The eyes light up in different colors to show the remaining power, and it has two ports to charge two phones at the same time.  One of the ports can even charge tablets! 
  3. GoPro Hero3 - with a waterproof case and built-in Wi-Fi, you can capture your last summer trip, party, or any upcoming music festivals (ahem, Austin City Limits). 
  4. SOL REPUBLIC DECK - finally a wireless speaker that doesn't sound tinny.  Indoors, the sound is impressive, but switching to Outdoor Mode really boosts the acoustics, great for BBQs and pool parties.  A fun feature is Heist Mode, which lets up to five people connect at the same time.  It's beyond easy to pair phones and immediately start playing music.  Plus the speaker lights up with different colors, so you know who's DJing.
  5. FlipBelt - okay, so this isn't really a gadget, but it's great for holding one when you go on a run.  Work out and listen to music without your phone / iPod bouncing around, weighing down one arm, or slipping out of your hand.    

SOL REPUBLIC DECK given to me for review. 

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Dreamworks Animation Celebrating 20 Years @ Hollywood Bowl

    High Notes:
    1. Jack Black was a funny, energetic host and managed to recover quickly, and humorously, even when flubbing his lines.  Has he ever been considered to host the Oscars?  
    2. The amazing Judith Hill singing Prince of Egypt's "When You Believe".  Don't know how my friend's have never heard of this song, let alone the movie.  It was all over the radio and featured two powerhouse singers (Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston)!  
    3. The USC Marching Band lined up on stage to perform on The Croods. 
    4. Remembering how great the soundtracks were for Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon.
    5. Getting to see one of my favorite composers, Hans Zimmer, live AND on guitar! 
    6. Awesome fireworks during I'm a Believer with Jack Black on vocals and all the Dreamworks composers playing instruments. 
    7. All the popular Dreamworks characters coming out on stage to dance to I Like to Move It.  Jack Black shimmying with Po (it's like he's dancing with himself!) and Shrek was particularly amusing.  Life-size Toothless was so adorable!


    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Evening of Chinese Splendor @ Hollywood Bowl

    High Notes:
    1. Not just one, but FIVE dragons before the show even started,  

      one dragon during the show, 

      and a flaming dragon with fireworks at the end of the show.  
    2. Perry So conducted the LA Philharmonic and looked unexpectedly young for someone so talented.
    3. The concert brought together generations with classical pianist Rueibin Chen, beloved folk singer Song Zuying, and pop star Wang Leehom.  The lineup made for a fun family activity. 
    4. Wang Leehom's cover of his uncle, Li Jian-fu's, hit song Descendants of the Dragon  
    5. All the performers on stage together for Time to Say Goodbye.  Wow, Song Zuying's voice is amazing 

    Low Notes: 
    1. I know it was an outdoor concert, so you can bring whatever you want to eat, but stinky tofu definitely should not be one of them.   
    2. So this is just a personal low note, but seeing Wang Leehom play piano, violin, AND sing really made me wish I excelled at something, anything!
    3. I've never seen so many Chinese people in one place outside of China.  Having been to China, I know people don't seem to follow any traffic rules (or rules of courtesy in crowds).  It was a pushy, rough herd of people.  First time I've ever gotten stuck in the tunnel while exiting...

    • Can Leehom Wang transcend China and America's pop cultures? - LA Times 
    • Wang Leehom's video diary of that day