Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Richard Swift, Cold War Kids @ Henry Fonda

I must warn you that my review may be affected by being worn out from:
1. work
2. one too many shows this week. Hopefully, I'll recover in time for ACL
3. lack of sleep

First Band

Ok, so I have no idea what the name of this band is. All I know is that we were extremely lucky to have arrived late and miss all but their last song. I didn't get them AT ALL. It was like they all decided to play at random and hoped for the best. Everything just sounded so noisy and off key. They were completely out of sync.

Richard Swift
He started out sounding really good, but I think it was just due to the horrid aftermath of the previous band because after awhile it started dragging on. He would stretch out his songs forever with lyric repetition much like the musical stylings of Robin Thicke (first album. Not sure what his new stuff sounds like now). He was talented and some of the music, probably because of the piano, sounded old timey, but got tired eventually. Couldn't wait for it to be over.

Cold War Kids
I hadn't listened to their new album at all, so I was a bit disappointed that they played so many new songs. Also, the new songs didn't have as much piano. They sounded more radio friendly and didn't stand out as much in my mind. The old songs they played were great, but came out near end. I was eagerly anticipating hearing St. John, which they played at the end.

Cold War Kids took way too long time setting up. I have no idea why. I don't think there should ever be 3 bands playing on a weeknight. It's just too many bands and it gets really late and tiring. Otherwise, they should start the show much earlier.

Hot Chip @ The Wiltern

So, I went a bit show crazy this week and was crazy enough to want to go see Hot Chip 2 days after Beck, but couldn't find anyone to go with. Miraculously, my sis' friend was also a fan and decided to round up some people and I ended up going, which I'm glad I did because the show was beyond what I imagined.

So, I haven't really been to The Wiltern since Death Cab played there a few years ago back when I was in college. Maybe my memory fails me, but I totally don't remember it being sectioned off into 3 tiers of exclusivity in the general admission area. The mobility restriction sucked.

They played all their catchy songs except The Warning, which was a bit disappointing because I really like that song. It was an older crowd, which made a huge difference in comparison to the seemingly all ages crowd at Henry Fonda for Ratatat. I prefer older crowds over the kids. Sometimes kids can be so obnoxious in their immaturity.

There were giant white balloons that got smacked around up to the stage and strobe lights, which gave it a nice club party atmosphere that went well with the music.

The lead singer's voice was so great. I loved the reinterpretations of some of of their classics. They still sounded great in their own ways. I thought it was really cool that for one of the songs people in the crowd started climbing onto the stage and the band actually let them stay. Eventually, they filled up half the stage and were dancing around the band members. It was so awesome. I wish we could've gotten on stage, but we were in the 3rd level and couldn't get past security. The group of people I went with made the show more fun because they all liked to dance. I think the music would be really enjoyable to someone who has never heard their music, but loves to dance. We saw one guy who seemed to think he was in a rave, but his dancing was so great, we started imitating him, which made the show more fun. Dancing ALWAYS makes shows more fun. I wish I didn't suck so hard at it, but it's still fun, especially after drinks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

MGMT, Spoon, Beck @ Hollywood Bowl

played about 5 songs. It really wasn't enough for them. I was hoping they would play for much longer. I loved hearing Time to Pretend, Kids, Weekend Wars, and Electric Feel live. I wish they played Pieces of What though. They were fantastic on stage and sounded even better than on CD. They seemed like they weren't that used to playing in front of so many people because they messed up a bit on one of their songs, but it was cute. And they did some awkward dancing to go along with it, heh. I really regret not seeing them earlier on in the month when they were playing at a much smaller venue.

was kind of loungey. They're just not really a good stadium band. I remember seeing them at Henry Fonda awhile back and they rocked the place. At Hollywood Bowl though, I'm not sure what they were thinking. They pretty much played all the songs from their new album, which really isn't as good as their old stuff. I guess they felt like the venue was just a good place to advertise their new album when they really should have used it to their advantage and sucked them in with their good old songs and have the people come across the new album. On the new album, there really aren't a ton of catchy songs, so they were also playing really slow music, which isn't very good with such a large crowd. I'm a huge fan of Spoon and I even I was getting sleepy after awhile.

He played all his greatest hits: Girl, Loser, Nausea, Devil's Haircut, E Pro... He sounded great live, as good as the CDs. He also played with the LA Phil string orchestra (David Campbell as the conductor), which was amazing. Too bad they were mostly slow songs, but they still sounded good. Beck had this amazing female guitarist. She was extremely talented. I'm always impressed with female guitarists because I so rarely see them. As Beck ended the show I said he just couldn't leave without playing Where It's At, and then he came back out and did it as part of his encore. He got the entire Hollywood Bowl to sing along with him. I've never heard so many people singing the same lyrics at the same time in my life. It was surreal.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

E*Rock, Panther, Ratatat @ Henry Fonda

Everyone seemed surprised when he came out on stage wearing sunglasses over a black t-shirt on his head, but he won them over by being really energetic and entertaining. He seemed talented (I say seemed because I'm not really into that kind of computer noise electronica, so I can't really say how good he was. After awhile it all gets kind of repetitious) and, curiously enough, integrated a Wiimote into his act. I did love the end though where he used the Wiimote to (it sounded like) fight off a bad in Contra and he got attacked by all these explosions. Great last song.

Not many guys can pull of a gold lame cap in the pattern of a Louis Vuitton bag and Panther definitely isn't one of those guys. That was probably one of the reasons why he got heckled, on top of the lack of singing skill, and Justin Timberlake wannabe dancing. I felt kind of bad for him, but then he started making weird jokes about the crowd being mostly jocks or something. He was a bit of a douche. I didn't think he deserved to be heckled, but in the end, he was far worse than I had originally thought. I couldn't wait for him to get off the stage. It just got worse as the show went on. And he had this weird video playing in the background of this fake burning head. It was all so weird. I didn't get it.

Honestly the crowd was kind of crappy. There were a lot of kids there (high school kids can be so obnoxious. They always think they're the sh**. Wait until you get to college or get a real job. Jeez) and surprisingly, a large number of frat boy types. They were really rude. This Asian guy actually pushed me aside and stood in front of me. I was thinking "Are you serious? I've been standing by the front of the stage since the first act! You're TALLER than me, you ass!" I've actually taken to asking tall people, who seem to think they can just stand in front of short people about 5 minutes before the show starts, to please move aside so I can actually see. It's really unfair and completely rude to just move in front of someone, especially when you're so tall. Look around before you decide to stay. Luckily, this usually annoys those tall movers so much that they eventually leave. His dumb friend actually had the tenacity to try to shove his way to the front. I stood my ground and didn't let him through. Luckily, there were some nice (or just stubborn) people around me. I almost got knocked over by the jerk and the guy next to me made sure I was ok and didn't let him through. The guy behind me started blocking the same pushers from getting in front of him. So, that was helpful and very unusual to find such nice people at shows.

Finally, the big moment came. I had always thought they group just had two people, but they also had this keyboardist with crazy hair who was bobbing his head so hard to the music that I thought he would bash it into his keyboards! I never realized how much guitar was involved in their music. I always thought it was a lot of keyboard. The guitar playing, I thought, was amazing! It was like hearing an electronic symphony. I was just blown away. It was like he was doing these ridiculously long solos that went on forever. I don't know how he had the stamina to keep going for so long, but all of it sounded as good as the CD.

High Note: Hearing Shempi (my fav Ratatat song) live
Low Note: Having to waste my hearing on Panther, dBag frat boys, pushy high schoolers

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Library Bar

So, we tried to go to The Standard on Labor Day. C said we could get in for free with RSVP. So, we get into the elevator to get to the rooftop. The elevator already looked pretty shabby and rundown and the floor was bright red plastic. J says it makes it easier to clean up all the vomit, which is probably true. Then we get off on the 12th floor to take the stairs to the roof. I thought this hotel was supposed to be really swank, instead it smelled rank, like old cigarettes mixed with something else disgusting. It was like walking through the corridors of Circus Circus. We took the stairs to the roof and the guy at the door kind of gave us attitude and told us we had to get a wristband at the parking lot. We took the dingy elevator back down and walked through a colorful modern lounge area to get to the parking lot.

We were told the rooftop was filled to capacity and to wait in line. We were at the front of the line and saw about 5 groups of people get wristbands. Apparently, you have to be really skanky or dirty to get in right away. The line was getting a bit long. After awhile, the rude hostess started charging people $20 per for wristbands. We took that as a sign to leave. I didn't need to see the rooftop badly enough to part with $20 that was obviously going into her pocket. The Standard was a pretentious craphole.

We ended up walking across the street to the Library Bar, which was a hip little bar with walls lined with books and good music (heard 80s, 60s rock, and The White Stripes. Just glad it wasn't the typical Hollywood pop / dance music). The bartender was friendly and they had nice leather couches. Their website says it's "the perfect escape from the Hollywood bar scene", which was definitely true. It felt like it would be a cool place to get drinks and hang out with your friends.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jack Johnson @ UCLA

It was kind of like a green festival, which I thought was cool. There were booths set up to tell you about the environment and a photo booth (they displayed the photos on the big screens right before he came on) and food booths (disappointed that there was no grilled corn). For some odd reason they didn't allow blankets into the area (which was a giant field, so I don't know why they did that). My sis has a theory that Jack Johnson has a fear of blankets. Maybe a bad experience with a kidnap attempt? Some people suck them in anyways. Once we got to the merch booth, I found out they were selling Jack Johnson towels, so the restriction was probably to motivate towel sales. Also, maybe he doesn't have a fear of towels.

Culver City Dub Collective
Paula Fuga, a Hawaiian songstress who has been touring with the jazz band on the Jack Johnson tour, has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard. Her voice is so big and full. You would never imagine that to come out of her when you see her. Seemed like the type of music Jack Johnson likes. I love love the duet they did called Country Road. I find her singing style very interesting. It's a mix of jazz and Hawaiian.

Rogue Wave
Their background and shirts were really cute: Stars and parachutes or a keyboard with marionette strings of the letters spelling out their band's name. They have a very good designer...and that's about it. I was THIS close to buying a t-shirt because it looked so cute, but after I heard them play, I'm extremely glad I didn't. They played mellow Keane-like music, but not as catchy or as talented. They seemed really into their music though. I have to give the band members credit for acting like they were playing punk rock even though it was actually slow and Travis-ish. They were playing the singer's favorite song and I thought it was going to be fast and catchy and they started out, and it was like the slowest song of the bunch. Why is that your fav?! And they were jumping in the air and running around on the stage. My sis said that the girl standing next to me (who looked like she was 15, but she was dating a college student. Gross!) said that was her favorite song too. I was thinking to myself "Seriously? Someone actually knows who this band is? Not only that, they actually LIKE this music?!" And the singer came off as kind of cocky to me, like he thought he was playing the best music in the world. Then he said it was their last song, but he LIED! He started getting political and singing "Bust Them Out" of the white house as soon as their supposed last song was over! Ugh. It was torture. I was so glad when it was over. All their songs kind of sounded the same after awhile and they would've blended in together if he didn't stop in between all of them to say something or make a joke.

Jack Johnson
OK, so a lot of people seem to be surprised that I like Jack Johnson. I don't know all the words to all his songs or anything (like my sis, heh. The show was mostly for her), but I must admit, I'm a total sap when it comes to his songs. I absolutely adore the In Between Dreams album. There are soooooooooo many sweet songs that appeal to the hopeless romantic in me (which I think has been growing due to watching too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother). My fav songs he played off this album:
- Better Together (merged with the end of Angel played during the encore. Even though I think Angel has some silly lyrics, when I heard it live with Better Together, I almost cried because it was so heartachingly romantic. Made me wish I had a guy who could write me songs like that!)
- Banana Pancakes
- Good People
- Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (1 of my all time fav Jack Johnson songs, but even I admit that a lot of his songs sound similar, so I couldn't even tell he was playing this song until it got closer to the chorus)
- Staple It Together (1 of the few distinct songs he has)
- Breakdown (great chorus)
- Do You Remember (which also pokes at my heart. It just reminds me of college crushes)
- Constellations (because I love looking at the stars in the sky)

That album is so fantastic. That's the only Jack Johnson album that contains songs that have 5 stars in iTunes. Anyways, I'll stop gushing about this album now. Other songs he played:
- Sleep Through the Static (the first song)
- Flake (which was fantastic live)
- Bubble Toes
- Fortunate Fools (love this song too. A bit disappointed he didn't play F-Stop Blues, but I guess it's too depressing)
- Gone

He had Zach Gill sing backup vocals for him, who had an amazing voice, and he played a mean piano and accordian. You should've heard him play Devil Went Down to Bavaria. It was so awesome and that will be the only time I think you'll ever hear me saying the accordian is awesome, ha.

I was a bit worried about how Jack Johnson would be live because he tends to just do acoustic music. I was afraid he'd be the only one on stage, but he was fantastic. His voice is even better live and Zach Gill provided great support.