Friday, May 28, 2010

Glee in Concert, LXD @ The Gibson Amphitheatre

is the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, a side project of Harry Shum Jr., who plays Mike "The other Asian" Chang on Glee.  We were running a bit late, so we only made it in time to catch Shum's (known for his freestyle and fusion type of dancing and also as a choreographer) solo performance and a group dance.  I was a bit confused because it seemed like they were some sort of dance crew, but they weren't doing anything like what I had seen on America's Best Dance Crew.  After watching their TEDTalk, I realized LXD was something completely different.

They're like a group of performers who mix ballet and street dancing.  The video showed an elegance to an unreal, gymnastic style of movement.  I'm disappointed I missed out, but I would definitely like see them perform again. 

Glee in Concert
I was SO tired from driving around all day and sitting in traffic, but as soon as the cast came on stage, a huge smile instantly appeared on my face and we were treated to something akin to sectionals...that lasted 90 minutes.  I was glad Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester made some sort of appearance, even if it was only in the form of videos interspersed in the concert, because it really added to the believability of the characters on stage. 

It was great hearing all the songs from the show, although, I could have done without Push It, but it was still funny.  Seeing and hearing Don't Rain on My Parade live in a theater setting was fantastic.  Sweet Caroline was a fun singalong song and I liked how they got the audience to karaoke to it, but I found Puck's voice to be noticeably weak on The Lady is a Tramp.   I loved hearing Defying Gravity (Kurt was fantastic, but Jennio says she heard Rachel mess up.  It wasn't too noticeable to me), could barely contain myself when I saw a car come out for Bust Your Windows, was in awe of the costumes and performance for Bad Romance (my absolute favorite song of the night.  At the time I hadn't even seen the episode yet, so the song came as a surprise.  And I loved how into it Kurt was!  Santana's voice sounded amazing!), and definitely shouted out loud for It's My Live / Confessions, Pt. II (who DOESN'T love Bon Jovi?!).

Photo by Adam Rose/FOX
When Vocal Adrenaline came out, I didn't quite know how to feel about them.  They were good, but they're New Directions' competitors!  Wing and Matt agreed that Jump was a lot of fun to watch.  All the encore songs were amazing and I was astonished by Jesse's sudden appearance for a duet with Rachel.  I must say, Brittany is an impressive dancer.  She was in practically every number.  And even though Artie plays handicapped on the show, I marveled at his proficiency with the wheelchair. 

  1. "Don't Stop Believin'"
  2. "My Life Would Suck Without You"
  3. "Push It"
  4. "Don't Rain on My Parade"
  5. "Beautiful"
  6. "Sweet Caroline"
  7. "The Boy Is Mine"
  8. "The Lady Is a Tramp"
  9. "Defying Gravity"
  10. "Bust Your Windows"
  11. "Bad Romance"
  12. "Dancing with Myself"
  13. "It's My Life" / "Confessions, Pt. II"
  14. "Halo" / "Walking on Sunshine"
  15. "Rehab"
  16. "Mercy"
  17. "Jump"
  18. "Faithfully"
  19. "Any Way You Want It" / "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"
  20. "Like a Prayer"
  1. "Hello" on certain dates with Jonathan Groff
  2. "True Colors"
  3. "Somebody to Love"

Zap2it review

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(500) Days of Summer Tour @ Downtown LA

I've always been fascinated with the old pre-war buildings in downtown, so for Jennio's birthday we decided to do a self-guided tour of sites from (500) Days of Summer (what other recent movie has celebrated the architecture of this area?).  So, here's the route we took along with some details (and pictures from moi) from the tour guide provided by Los Angeles Conservancy:

San Fernando Building
Green Chair
Nook in Old Bank DVD (video & record store in film)
I loved the DVD store.  It was really kitchy and had all these plants in old tins and a cute little dog running around.  I would definitely rent from here if I lived nearby. 
Location:  400 South Main Street (at Fourth Street)
  • Designed in the Renaissance Revival style 
  • Achieved local attention in 1910, when a series of police raids occurred on the sixth floor due to illegal gambling in the rooms
  • Redeveloped by Gilmore Associates; reopened in 2000 as seventy loft-style apartments - one of the early projects that sparked downtown’s current renaissance
Old Bank DVD located on 1st floor of San Fernando Building

Barclay Hotel
It's a shame they don't seem to have enough money for the upkeep of the exterior and interior because you can tell how beautiful it once was. 
Location: 103 W. Fourth Street
    Barclay Hotel exterior
  • In the film, the lobby serves as the hangout for Tom and his buddies
  • Designed in the Beaux-Arts style with Romanesque features (which are less detailed and ornate than the more formal Beaux-Arts style)
  • Look up to the top of the building to see "The Van Nuys Hotel" (commercial venture by Isaac Newton Van Nuys, one of L.A.'s wealthiest businessmen and landowners)
  • Opened in 1897 as the Van Nuys Hotel, one of the finest in the city with the latest amentities (first hotel to provide phone and electric service in every room)
  • Fourth Street lobby has many original elements, including ceiling decorations, columns, arched doorways, stained-glass windows with old-fashioned scenes
  • Oldest continuously operating hotel in Los Angeles, now a low-income residential hotel

Continental Building
Continental BuildingAs much as I love fire escapes, I was a little scared of stepping out on the 12th floor fire escape just thinking about how old it might be.  The 2nd floor Continental Library was very cute.
Location:  408 S. Spring Street
  • In the film, this is one of Tom's favorite buildings, as viewed from Tom's bench; identified by him as "L.A.'s first skyscraper."
  • One of the first examples of the Beaux-Arts business block
  • At 175 feet, considered the city's first skyscraper
  • First floor has been altered, but the second story retains its stone block design
  • Notice the row of lion heads on the projecting cornice made of pressed galvanized tin
  • Served as office space and later housed many banks
  • Now owned by Gilmore Associates, which converted it into 56 loft-style apartments, which opened in 2001

Bradbury Building
Hydraulic elevators originally powered by steam-derived boilers in basement
One of my favorite buildings in DTLA.  I always thought it odd that the exterior was so plain, but the interior was so ornate. I've always felt there was a steampunk feel to the place.
Location:  304 S. Broadway
  • In the film, this is the site for an important meeting for Tom
  • Built in the Victorian Romanesque style
  • Simple sandstone and brown brick exterior gives way to 5-story interior court willed with light from the glass roof, cast-iron railings, and open cage elevators
  • Oldest commercial building in the center city
  • Has long been a popular filming location, probably best known for the 1982 sci-fi epic Blade Runner

Million Dollar Theatre
IMG_1661It's sad that the halls of the apartments look like modern day offices and don't resemble anything like the elaborate exterior.  I was disappointed the theater lobby was closed, so I didn't get a chance to see any of the original detailing (at least I HOPE there is still some vintage decor). 
Location:  307 S. Broadway
Longhorn skull over apartment entrance
  • Sid Grauman's first L.A. theatre
  • One of the earliest movie palaces in the U.S. and, with 2300 seats (originally), one of the largest
  • Designed in the ornate Churrigueresque style
  • Lavish exterior terra-cotta ornamentation by Mora includes bison heads, longhorn skulls, and allegorical figures representing the arts
  • The name Million Dollar comes from the combined original costs of the land and building
  • Originally had a 2-story exterior foyer/lobby; has been altered over the years, though some details such as murals remain underneath
  • Upper stories originally housed office space; now apartments

Grand Central Market
This was the perfect precursor to the end of the tour.  We grabbed a banana split from Jose's Ice Cream Corner.
Location:  315 S. Broadway
  • This was the site of a deleted scene from the film in which Tom and Summer are shopping for fruit
  • The city's first fireproofed and steel-reinforced structure
  • Market opened in 1917
  • Today has over 50 vending stalls, each privately owned and operated
  • Project removed a tile facade added in the 1960s to reveal the 2nd-story windows and many of the original Beaux-Arts details

Angels Knoll
I've driven past this park so many times and have always wanted to visit and check out the view.  It's surprisingly nice.  Too bad there are a few ugly parking structures and unattractive buildings. Still, it's a very peaceful spot.  I've always had the same sentiment as Tom about the streets being kind of unappealing, but surrounded by towering beautiful old architecture.
Location:  Hill Street and Fourth Street, go all the way up the 100+ steps
  • In the film, this is Tom's favorite L.A. spot, offering a great view of (mostly) pre-war buildings.  As Tom shows Summer the architecture, he says words along the lines of, "There's so much beauty here.  Sure the street level isn't much to look at, but if you look up, there's some exciting stuff going on.  If it were up to me, I'd get people to notice!"

We did a driveby of the rest of these places: 

Fenton Building (aka Roseland dance hall)
Location:  833-835 S. Spring Street, between Eighth and Ninth Streets
Fact:  In the film, this is where Tom works as a copywriter for a greeting card company

Fine Arts Building
I only got a quick glance at it, but it looks like it would be amazing.  What other building in DTLA has reclining figures on the exterior?!  I must return because I think the lobby will be just as impressive as the exterior.  
Location:  811 W. Seventh Street
Fact:  This is one of Tom's favorite buildings; he singles out architects Walker and Eisen

Eastern Columbia Building
Definitely one of my favorite buildings in city.  It looks absolutely gorgeous and my dream is to one day live there.  I'm still trying to find the time to visit and explore the building
Location:  849 S. Broadway, across from The Orpheum Theatre
Fact:  Another one of Tom's favorites

Map of some key sites from the movie

View Los Angeles in (500) days of Summer in a larger map

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Savor the Sounds 1.0: LudoBites 4.0 @ Gram & Papas

I was fortunate enough to win a seat at LudoBites 4.0 last Thursday through a raffle The Scenestar was having on Twitter.  Whoever replied first would get the spot.  I was shocked I won and was slightly worried it might be awkward to have dinner with a stranger I followed on Twitter, who was a pretty big deal in the music blog world.  Turned out I was worried over nothing because the only thing the dinner lacked was wine (I forgot it was BYOB).  Conversation was great, fun, and insightful.  It was like chatting with a friend who loves music as much as I do, and I received a ton of tips on how to improve my own blog.  He also told me about how the blog was built on him wanting to fill a void a previous blog left behind when it shut down.  I'm so glad The Scenestar was created because, honestly, I find out all my info about tour dates, presales, and shows from him. 

So, it was my third time attending LudoBites and The Scenestar's first time.  It was a great meal and he said it was one of the best meals he's ever had next to his mom's cooking (awww, how sweet!).  Since I can never take photos as good as food bloggers do, I will be borrowing pictures from kevinEats, Kung Food Panda, and Mattatouille.  Here's a list of my favorite dishes of the night:
  1. Tartine Plate, Warm Baguette (Honey Lavender Butter & Smoked Lard):  like Kung Food Panda said, there must have been crack in that lavender butter because I love it.  I even wanted to take some home with me.  I could eat that every morning!  The Scenestar mentioned it was tasty to mix the butter and lard together.  Maybe I'm a purist, but I still prefer to eat the lavender butter alone. 
  2. source
  3. Foie Gras Black Croque Monsieur, Cherry Amaretto Chutney:  I have been dreaming about this sandwich since LudoBites 2.0 at The Breadbar.  It might look alien with its black squid ink bread exterior enclosing a rich foie gras heart attack, but it is absolutely one of the best sandwiches I've ever had in my entire life.  
  4. source
  5. Squid Carbonara, Pancetta, Poached Egg (63 degrees), Parmesan Snow, Chive Flowers:  the egg was perfectly poached.  Chef Ludo, can you please make me eggs for breakfast every morning?  It was just unfortunate that I was so busy talking to The Scenestar that the egg started getting overcooked on the squid.  The squid wasn't overly chewy and I liked the look of the dish.  It did look just like pasta but with a slightly chewier texture.  
  6. source
  7. Dark Chocolate SoufflĂ©, Vanilla Whipped Cream, Hot Chocolate Ganache:  I adore dark chocolate, so I had to have this.  The souffle was perfectly light, fluffy, and rich.  It was bigger than I thought it would be and halfway through, it was too rich for even my dark chocolate worshiping palate.  
  8. source
  9. Strawberry, Macaron, Lemon Verbena Meringue:  taking a cue from HC, we ordered a second dessert and it was absolutely worth it, especially after finding out there were Pop Rocks candy in it!  It was kind of like having a deconstructed strawberry pie. 
  10. source
After reading the Yello! Smashbox interview with Ludo (I was especially interested in the part where Ludo discussed his musical interests.  Also I loved the hip hop playlist he had at dinner), meeting The Scenestar, and having a discussion about blogs with Matt, I got inspired to make some changes to my blog.  This is the first of a series of posts where I will be combining my two favorite things: food and music.  

More Reviews:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Conan O'Brien @ The Gibson Amphitheater


Seeing as I lost the battle to a fever that night, I'm a little fuzzy as to some of the details that occurred, so I figure it's best to let some real journalists do the talking on LAist and LA Weekly.  From what I can remember, I really enjoyed the inflatable bat and found O'Brien to be in excellent form and absolutely hilarious.  Reggie Watts opened for him and had a slow start, but towards the end was actually really funny.

You can see bits and pieces of the show on 60 Minutes, as well as his first interview since he left the show. 

Coachella 2010 Day 3

FAIL:  I was really hoping for smaller crowds for the third day, but I guess since people were forced to buy three-day passes, everyone just ended up showing up for the last day, so it was just as packed as Saturday.


FAIL:  Despite Julian Casablancas' amazing voice (that somehow manages to like he's singing through a bullhorn even though he's not.  He has some sort of naturally lo-fi voice), his solo stuff was kind of mediocre.  The only thing that was good his most popular track, 11th Dimension, and that just sounded like a remix of a Strokes song. Speaking of The Strokes, I really enjoyed getting to hear Hard To Explain and I'll Try Anything Once live because I'll probably never be able to see The Strokes play in a small venue ever again. 

WIN:  I was so disappointed by Julian Casablancas that I didn't mind having to leave early to catch Jonsi.  I've always thought of him as the male Bjork, and I was reminded of that once again when I saw him on stage with his elaborate Native American getup.  It was nice to lay on the grass and listen to his music in the late afternoon, but his last song, Grow Till Tall, made me sit up and pay attention to it in all its epic glory. 


WIN:  I have to say Phoenix was absolutely one of the best acts I saw during the entire weekend.  For playing such poppy music (which they played PERFECTLY, by the way, set list and everything.  They just sounded fantastic live), they had one of the rowdiest crowds I had seen all weekend.  There were tons of crowd surfers, giant beach balls, smaller beach balls, and an inflatable monkey.  Just like LA Weekly, I was also really surprised that the audience knew all the lyrics to Phoenix's songs.  Also they were in the best time slot: it was the perfect soundtrack to a gorgeous sunset.  I thought the band was so simple in music and in lighting.  I was kind of surprised that their lighting was so minimal for being on the second largest stage, but I really liked that it didn't distract from the band or their music.  I was told later on that their lighting technician wasn't able to make it to Coachella, so they had to keep it simple.  I don't even want to know how they usually illuminate the stage because in my mind, the show was flawless. 


WIN:  Thom Yorke's music was much better suited to the outdoor festival crowd than the indoor theater crowd at The Orpheum.  The set was very similar to The Orpheum show, so it didn't seem that new to me, but what was new was the way Yorke really got the crowd going.


WIN:  I was half-expecting The Gorillaz to be on stage as cartoon projections, but all their human counterparts actually came out, dressed like their characters. They put on a good show, got the crowd dancing, and sounded just like their albums.  I was a bit disappointed there weren't insane fireworks or something because they were the last big band of the festival. 


Coachella Dos and Don'ts for Next Year
Coachella 2010 Day 1
Coachella 2010 Day 2

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coachella 2010 Day 2

WIN:  Band of Skulls may have played in the smallest tent (Gobi), but they performed like they were on the main stage.  They sounded great live.  I was surprised to find out there were only three band members, but they were all very skilled.  Russell Marsden (vocals) was amazing on guitar.  His voice blended perfectly with Emma Richardson (vocals). 

WIN:  I got so into Band of Skulls that I forgot Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' set overlapped.  We rushed over there and got to hear one other track before getting to hear my favorite song of theirs, Home.  Gotta love songs with whistling and it sounded great live.  I just wish I had gotten a chance to listen to more of the set.  I didn't realize Sharpe was such a hippie until I saw him dancing barefoot onstage, looking like Jesus. 

FAIL:  Overprivileged high schoolers who think they can be rude and shove their way to wherever they want in a crowd just because mommy and daddy paid for their overpriced tickets. 

FAIL:  I heard SO much hype about The XX up until the very moment they came on stage.  I agree with a lot of what LA Weekly said about them: The XX should have played in a tent after sundown.  Maybe they should have also been backed by live drums instead of an extremely low drum machine.  I admit to enjoying Intro and the last song because I could finally hear drumming from Oliver Sim physically on a (still electronic, but at least it was audible!) drum.  At some points, I found myself wishing I had gone to see Corinne Bailey Rae instead.  They seemed awkwardly shy as they left the stage with no goodbye, merely a whispered "Thank you." 
On CD, I gave the XX another chance and they did sound much better than they did live.  I understood the kind of sound they were going for and it's just something that would play better in a small club.  I enjoyed the dreamy new wavey music, actual audible beats, and Romy Madley Croft's breathy (as opposed to live whispery) singing. 

WIN:  Hot Chip was fantastic live, as expected.  They got everyone up and dancing and brought in a huge crowd.  They were just as good as when I saw last them at The Wiltern

WIN:  MGMT sounded clean and professional, VERY different from the last time I saw them at Hollywood Bowl.  I have to admit they sounded really good.  I guess their just-like-the-CD sound comes from all the touring they've been doing and from actually having a band back them up instead of just them two on a big stage, but I found that I kind of missed their previous nervous awkwardness and found it endearing. I enjoyed hearing all the old songs.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about the tracks off the new album.  They don't really have that same electro pop feel that I fell in love with on their prior album.  The new songs just sound like the usual pop songs.  I'll have to listen to their album some more to get a better feel for it.  Either way, I think they put on a great show for anyone who was seeing them for the first time.  My friend particularly loved the Brian Eno song.  

WIN:  Everyone says Muse is douchey, but you know what?  They know how to put on an amazing show.  Everyone knows their songs and it's impossible not to go wild over their excessive, hilariously pretentious, entertaining performance.  They are definitely a stadium band that knows how to put on a flashy show with flamboyant clothes and stage antics (like spinning a guitar around and playing behind his head.  At one point, Matthew Bellamy just finished up a song and merely held his guitar in the palm of his head, into the air, and people still cheered!).  Bellamy knows knows how to arouse the crowd.  I guess the band can get away with this kind of absurdity because really, every member is just ridiculously talented at what they do. 


FAIL:  The same annoying lights I hated back when I saw The Dead Weather at The Wiltern seem to be a permanent part of their act.  If it weren't for the screens, I'd never know what they were actually doing on stage.  The lights were horrible, flashing in people's eyes, blinding them.  WHY?!  The band doesn't want to be seen on stage?!  Otherwise, the music was good and they played some new songs from their upcoming yet to be released album that had a very similar sound to their previous album.

FAIL:  Tiesto was SO loud that you could hear him even in the farthest corners of the field.  He was at the main stage and managed to drown out Jack White's normally fantastic guitar solo during The Dead Weather set.  We went to the Sahara Stage and FINALLY couldn't hear Tiesto anymore ONLY because he was being drowned out by whichever DJ was on at that tent.  We could even hear him as we were leaving Coachella for the day because he went over his set time. 

Coachella Day 2 WINs and FAILs - LA Weekly
Coachella 2010 Day 1
Coachella 2010 Day 3