Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anything Goes Musical @ Ahmanson Theatre

Photo via Center Theatre Group

Cole Porter songs.  Check.
Nautical setting.  Check.
Wanting to see Anything Goes because of my love for Midnight in Paris (one of my favorite films of last year), Boardwalk Empire, and the time period in general.  Triple check.

Jennio and I attended the Friday 12/7 performance and sat in the balcony, where a few other younger folks could afford to sit.  I was mostly there for the music, so I didn't mind the distance.  And fortunately, the acting, dancing, and humor made for a wonderful musical. 

Seeing the show for the first time, I imagined Reno Sweeney would have a voice more characteristic of Cole Porter's singing.  Although, Rachel York is very talented, her vocal style didn't quite sit right with me.   I much prefer Sutton Foster's vibrant voice on the Anything Goes 2011 cast album.  In the current run of the musical, Erich Bergen (playing Billy Crocker) does have the perfect voice for Porter's songs, but Alex Finke's (Hope Harcourt) singing was a bit quiet for me, especially during her duets (I could barely hear her voice).  

However absorbing the show was, there was one scene "that really took me out of it" (to quote the girl next to me).  During the couples dance number in It's De-lovely, it was hard to appreciate the lovely choreography when I could hear the abnormally loud "ee er ee er" of the squeaky floorboards.  I had to try hard to stifle my laughter along with a few other people in the audience.  I wonder if anyone sitting closer to the stage had to do the same. 

Song's Stuck in My Head:
  • You're the Top
  • Friendship
  • It's De-Lovely
  • Anything Goes

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sound Bites 2.1: Starry Kitchen Nights @ Tiara Cafe, DTLA

Starry Kitchen Nights is the return of Starry Kitchen in the form of a dinnertime popup (sort of?) at Tiara Cafe. Wing and I went Halloween weekend and, sadly, Nguyen Tran wasn't dressed up in one of his famous costumes, but it was probably for the best because he was crazy busy with customers, but not too busy to enthusiastically greet us (wonder if he ever has an off day because he's always such a ball of energy) and point out his f-ing favorite dish.

Unfortunately, there were only two of us, so we couldn't order the extremely popular (you have to reserve it ahead of time) Singaporean Chili Crab.  Being Wing's first time at Starry Kitchen, I had to have her try the other deliciousness on the menu.

What we ate:
Top: 1 - 2, Bottom: 3 - 4
  1. Singaporean Chili Crab sauce over rice - a fiery hello from Chef Thi Tran since we didn't order the crab.  The sauce was so spicy, but so good that I am currently gathering a team of eaters to return and obtain the crab in its entirety. 
  2. Pineapple Beer Chicken Wing Soup - my all-time favorite chicken soup.  I pretty much went back to Starry Kitchen every time they had this on the menu.  Just when I didn't think it could get any better, it arrived to our a clay pot!  It's probably their best version I've had so far.  Wing loved the fresh pineapple and oh so tender chicken as much as I did.  Nguyen thought I was coming in the day before when they had run out of soup, but, luckily, they had more that night.  I think I would have cried if they were out.  
  3. Claypot Carmelized Striped Bass + Pancetta - Wing has a theory that everything tastes better in a clay pot and I concur.  I'm used to having the catfish version, but Starry Kitchen's striped bass version is definitely better.  It was so delectable with the accompanying white rice.  And I'm so addicted to the sauce that even though we finished all the fish, I wanted to get the white rice packed up with the rest of the sauce poured on top.  What?  I ain't gonna waste no tasty sauce!  Jennio ate my leftovers the next day and agreed upon the savoriness.  Nguyen pointed out that this is his f-ing favorite dish on the menu and it's now definitely one of mine.  
  4. House-Cured Roast Pork Belly XO Fried Rice - okay, we probably over-ordered for 2 people by the time we got this, but it was good and, by the way, it tastes f-ing good with the Claypot Bass sauce.  

Song Pairing: 
Hip Hop Hurray - Naughty by Nature
Because I always hear something old school whenever I'm at Starry Kitchen

More Reviews:
LA Times
Marian the Foodie

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Presets, Flight Facilities @ Club Nokia

I was so glad Wing and I paid a bit more for pit tickets because people weren't as crammed in as they were when we saw them at El Rey.  Most people were in the back or seated at the balcony....suckers.  The pit had a great view of the stage and we were standing one person away from the front.   

The crowd was older than expected.  And I was shocked to find out from the guy behind me that most of the people he chatted with actually drove in from cities outside of LA.  Guess techno shows don't happen often in Orange County and San Diego. 

Flight Facilities
Photo by  Andrew Youssef via Stereogum
We had forgotten it was Halloween weekend, so it was cool to see all these people in costume at a show.  Outfitted as pilots from different eras, Flight Facilities, one of The Presets opening acts, fit right in.  We only caught the end of their set, but they seemed like they were having fun and they were an unexpected treat.  I will definitely be checking out their music in the future, especially after reading about all the research they put into making 4 mix tapes for triple j Mix Up Exclusive. Mix tapes are an art form. 

The Presets
I was surprised by their late set time (11:45pm), but it seemed like the whole show was set up to be an all night Halloween dance party, which it was.

The Presets were on tour promoting their new album Pacifica, which is one of those albums that gets better with each listen.  It has more of an 80s slant this time around, but definitely catchy.  

The Australian duo built up excitement with Push and kept the party going with my other new favorites Ghosts (sounds Native American), Youth in Trouble (crowd hit), Promises (if you see 2 glow sticks in the video -or any youTube from the show, for that matter- it's me and Wing!)

mixed in with some old favorites My People, clap-happy Are You the One, A New Sky, If I Know You, This Boy's in Love, and ending with über catchy Talk Like That.  It was a great show, I just missed some of my other loves Down Down Down, Girl (You Chew My Mind Up), Together

High Notes:
  • Kim Moyes' awesome dancing with a straight face made my night.  
Is it just me or does Moyes look like (Photo by Leslie Kalohi)
David O'Hara? (Photo via Harry Potter Wiki)
  • I find that people will usually let you stand in front of them if you ask politely (and you're shorter than they are).  So thanks to the nice guy who let me stand in front of him (I returned his kindness with the gift of one of my many glow sticks). 
Low Note:
Dear Girls with Long Hair:  PLEASE tie it back in a bun.  All that whipping back and forth is scary, especially when it hits me in the face!

Flight Facilities music videos
The Presets

Monday, October 29, 2012

EMP Museum @ Seattle, WA

Andy is not impressed by the architecture
EMP (formerly known as Experience Music Project) Museum, designed by Frank Gehry (it's supposed to resemble the vibrancy of music, but to me it looks like the Disney Concert Hall threw up on it), is what the Grammy Museum would like to grow up to be.  It features an amazing stage for concerts and impressive, interactive displays on music and pop culture.

If I lived in Seattle, I would definitely become a member of this museum.  Hell, I'd probably even volunteer there.  Hm, looking for job openings...

Favorite Exhibits:
  • Can't Look Away:  The Lure of Horror Film
    • Scream Booth
    October 1, 2012
    HC, Fiona, Sin, Andy's tongue
    • Philip Worthington's interactive shadow monster installation.  Monster parts grew and changed with our movements.  
      Me on the right
    • Old movie posters
    • Movie and TV props  
    • Rubert Giles' spell book in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
      Photo via EMP
    • Commentaries on Michael Jackson's Thriller and Evil Dead 2 (one of my fave scary movies).  Learned that Evil Dead 2 was one of the most successful horror sequels, which I found amusing because it's pretty much a remake of the first Evil Dead (commentary even admitted this right when I was thinking it!) 
  • Icons of Science Fiction
    • Putting on costumes to pose in the compositing special effects installation
    • So, this is how much of a nerd I am.  The Dalek (major recurring enemies in Doctor Who) was the first thing I rushed over to see.  I got super excited about it, and naturally no one knew what I was talking about. Looked much less threatening in person.
      Dalek from 1988 ep of Remembrance of the Daleks. Photo via EMP
    • Command Chair from Star Trek:  The Original Series
    • Neo's coat from The Matrix.  Didn't realize how tall Keanu Reeves is.  He's like a foot taller than I am!
    • Rifle from Men in Black
    • Superman suit.  So much spandex...
    • Concept sketches of Darth Vader's helmet
    • Displays of science fiction books that actually got me curious to read them.  Putting The Forever War on my To Read List. 
  • Nirvana:  Taking Punk to the Masses
  • Kurt Cobain during soundcheck 1992
    • An abundance of information on Nirvana and the Washington music scene.  
    • Personal photos, handwritten lyrics and letters, demo tapes, album covers gave insight into Nirvana.  There were remnants of a guitar smashed by Kurt Cobain that were reunited for the first time in years that gave me chills.  
    • Had no idea Death Cab for Cutie was from Bellingham, WA.  We were there the day before! 
    • The listening stations allowed me to check out bands I had always heard about.  And even though I'm behind the times, I think I could get into The Posies and The Young Fresh Fellows.
  • Guitar Gallery:  The Quest for Volume
    • Is a must for anyone who plays or loves guitars 
  • Jimi Hendrix:  An Evolution of Sound
    • Had no idea he used to play with Little Richard
  • The Rolling Stones
    • Because of my age, I've only ever known them as old, wrinkly rockers.  It's hard to remember they were actually young and attractive once.  
      Keith Richards before he was an old pirate
  • Sound Lab

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sound Bites 15.0: TasteLA 2012

Dinner & Drinks

Favorite bites of the night (clockwise):
  • Rustic Canyon's Grilled Loin Back Rib with cannellini beans & salsa verde
  • Haven's Cola-Glazed Berkshire Pork with smoked creamed corn, Garrotxa cheese, thyme
  • Chocolate Hazelnut (gluten free) and Blueberry Earl Grey Fonuts 
  • Tom Bergin's BBQ Oyster

Labor Day Picnic

Favorite bites of the day (left to right, top to bottom):
  • Sweet Rose Creamery's Bacon with Cinnamon ice cream sliders - okay, so I mostly ate the bacon and ice cream.  Still good!
  • Huckleberry's chocolate mini cupcakes
  • Bouchon's macarons and brownies
  • Haven's Lamb Slider with leek onion jam, tzatziki, onion sprouts, rosemary bun

More Photos:
Cocktail Confidential
Dinner & Drinks
Labor Day Picnic

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fun. @ The Wiltern - 8/17

I was a little concerned about auto-tuning occurring at the show thanks to the overuse of it on Fun.'s latest album Some Nights (it's hard to tell if they did that to to be entertaining or if they were trying to be artistic).  Luckily, there was no need to worry because the only time I heard it was when the crowd continued singing it at the end of a song, which was amusing. 

The Wiltern provided a great environment for tracks that encourage group singalongs, such as Carry On, One Foot, and We are Young (which was a dream to hear live.  I was hoping Janelle Monáe would be a surprise guest, but the song still sounded amazing.  Surprisingly, I discovered this song on a blog and later began noticing it was being played everywhere.  Shows how little I listen to the radio).  The Gambler was sweetly dedicated to the parents of Jack Antonoff (guitarist).  Other notable tracks included whimsical Walking the Dog and At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used to Be), Queen-inspired All the Pretty Girls, and one of my favorites, Light a Roman Candle with Me (It sounds like a cute date...that I would like to be on...with the singer, Nate Ruess, who is rather attractive in person.  He looks like a younger Guy Pearce).  

I've never really seen a band black out all the lights after each song.  It was rather theatrical, like each song was a new act, and their intermission was a short cover of Oh What a Night, befitting of Ruess' voice.  Adding to the drama was more confetti than I've ever seen in my life during 60s rockish Bar Lights (which was never one of my favorites, but after hearing them cover You Can't Always Get What You Want, it made sense) and a balloon drop, ending the night with the epic Some Nights.  People were still singing the chorus on the way out.

High Note: 
Everyone there were hardcore fans.  They knew all the lyrics to songs off Fun.'s last two albums.  

Low Note:
Okay, not really that low.  Although, I got to hear most of my favorites, they didn't play Out on the Town, I Wanna Be the One, and All Alright.   

Set List (out of order)
Photos from
Reviews from

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sigur Rós @ Hollywood Forever Cemetary

Some drama took place before we even got to the venue. 

BLD Picnic Box

4 reasons why I think BLD hates me:
  1. They were late with my order - half an hour late to be precise, which leads me to believe that they forgot to make my order.  Maybe they forgot because I ordered it 2 days in advance instead of the requisite 6 hours (I was out all day the day before pickup and didn't have time to place the order), but HOW could they forget when I called 4 hours earlier the day of pickup to push the time from 4:30 to 5:00pm.  If I had known they were going to be half an hour late, I would have left it at 4:30.  
  2. They had me come in for no reason - I was waiting in the car at a loading zone because I thought Wing could just run in and retrieve the box since they had my card on file.  Apparently, my card didn't work.  Maybe there was some sort of miscommunication, but instead of simply asking her for another card, she came out to get me.  What did they do when I came in?  Ask me for another card.  He repeatedly apologized to me, but that only annoyed me more because he could have easily alleviated the situation for under $5.  He could have given my friend a free coffee for her long wait or thrown in an extra dessert for the trouble.  Just this past weekend, HC was given the wrong entrée at a restaurant.  The server was so apologetic, she offered him a free beer.  When the meal was over, she offered him a free dessert.  He didn't accept either, but they were thoughtful proposals. 
  3. Each item was boxed up individually except for 1 - even the cookie and brownie were in their own boxes.  Wing's Grilled Steak Sandwich was in pristine condition when she peered into her box.  And her individually boxed salad came with dressing.  My House Made Tuna Salad Sandwich, on the other hand, looked like someone punched the salad out of the sandwich.  Maybe my sandwich shifted on the walk over to the entrance, but why was my sandwich rooming with my salad while the dressing was away?  Fortunately, my sandwich was still delectable and I got to rebuild it with extra salad.  
  4. Cracked cup - BLD was kind enough to give us 2 cups for our wine.  I poured a cup of wine for Wing.  As wine dribbled onto my foot, I realized my own thin cup had 2 cracks in it, which allowed me to have a specific amount of wine drunken at a specific angle.  The cracks may have appeared during transport, but one or two extra cups would have been nice, thanks. 
I know there were quite a few complaints, but there would have been more had the food been terrible.  Luckily, everything tasted good.  There were a ton of House Made Pickles in a cup for Wing's $2.  She loved her Steak Sandwich and coffee-tinged Bittersweet Fudge Brownie.  Besides the tossed sandwich / salad combo, I found my meal + Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie pleasing, as well.  I've never really had a problem with BLD's food.  I've heard good things about their fried chicken and their drunken shakes are fun.  So this whole picnic box incident really came as a surprise to me. 

Domaine LA

Jill greeted us and knew exactly what to give us when I asked for a white wine for a picnic.  Her friendly and speedy service was refreshing after the whole picnic pickup ordeal.  The Picpoul, she recommended was light and crisp.  Wing was surprised we were drinking such a good French wine for under $15! 

Sigur Rós

I've only listened one of their albums a long time ago (I consider them to be the male version of Björk), but I do love Jónsi and I thought Sigur Rós would be the perfect soundtrack to a picnic at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Wing is a much bigger fan, so read on for her review.

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Opening act: Julia Holt
After four years, Sigur Rós is finally back on tour with the release of their new album  ValtariHaving missed their previous live performances in LA, I was excited when I found out they would be playing at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where audiences could bring their own blankets, food, and wine for a nice picnic, while enjoying a movie or other great musical events (kind of like a mini-Hollywood Bowl except that it's a cemetery).  I was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple of pre-sale tickets simply by signing up for the band's mailing list, which automatically placed us in the VIP/fan club line.  Awesome!

With picnic boxes from BLD and some wine, we were fully prepared for the Sigur Rós experience.  First up was LA-based Julia Holter, who provided a pleasant set to start the evening.  Then at 8:30, Sigur Rós came on stage and the cemetery was immediately turned into a seemingly magical place for the next two hours.  There was no stage banter, just song after song with beautiful instrumentation paired with Jónsi's otherworldly vocals.  It gave me chills every time Jónsi dragged his bow across his guitar, resulting in that majestic, distorted sound that is so hard to describe and even harder to capture with a recording.  I was happy to find out that the set was not just focused on their new material; instead they played various songs from their entire catalog.  The highlights for me were Ný batterí, Sæglópur, and my favorite, Untitled #8 - Popplagið, which is and always will be the perfect closer.  I would pay money just to see that song performed over and over again.

If you would like to get a sense of
Sigur Rós' spectacular live sounds, head on over to NPR for a full live stream of their recent performance at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Bandshell.

BTW, we're in one of LA Weekly's photos towards the left. :)
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff

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Photos - LA Weekly
Live Videos - Facebook

Friday, August 10, 2012

“Somebody” Music Video - Jukebox the Ghost

Love the flash mob-iness of the video.  Great, catchy tune from Jukebox the Ghost.

Favorite Line:
"I don't want any heartbreak. I'm tired of the sound it makes"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sound Bites 13.1: 1886 Bar @ The Raymond - Summer Cocktails

Since my last post, 1886 has become my favorite Pasadena bar and my go-to whenever a wedding ends early (there are A LOT of weddings in the spring and summer.  Also, why waste a good outfit?).  I love the food, cocktails, bartenders, atmosphere, and ease of parking.  So naturally, I was thrilled to reunite with HC and Fiona to try 1886's new summer cocktails.

Vacation Cocktails: 
  • La Brigada - spicy chicharrón, smokey mezcal, homemade agave liquer, fresh pineapple and lime served over crushed ice with a shard of frozen coconut water. 
    When Lacey vividly described the inspiration behind this drink (a family trip to La Paz), I was instantly transported to Hawaii and all I could think was "this tastes like a luau..." and extra chicharrón please! 
    La Brigada / Tranquilizer (this cup is larger than it appears)
  • Tranquilizer - overproof rum and Batavia Arrack with coconut and pineapple. 
    HC calls it a boozier piña colada.

Not for Kids:
  • Strawberry Paleta - "pop shot" made using -300°F liquid nitrogen, fresh CA strawberries, cream and rum.
    I love this alcoholic dessert.  I'm glad we each got our own.  
  • BBC - Bols Genever Basil Collins. 
    Reminds me of a soda...with my one of my favorite spirits.

Drinks on the Porch:
  • Rosebud -  homemade hibiscus liqueur, Benedictine, fresh lime juice and Reposado tequila, topped with Fever Tree’s lite tonic water. 
    Everyone likes a pink cocktail, says Brady.  After having this and his version of a Cosmo (with hibiscus liqueur, people!), I concur. 
  • Pimm's #6 - Karlsson's potato vodka and their summer Pimm's recipe topped with homemade sparkling lemonade.
    Pimm's #6 / Southern Belle Whistle
  • Southern Belle Whistle - hand-crafted soda pop with fresh yellow peaches, floral, sweet black tea and 1886 Buffalo Trace bourbon. Sealed with bubbles in a bottle and served with a wedge of lemon.
    There's a time and a place for this and it's a warm late afternoon on 1886's patio.  

Something a Little Stronger:
  • Xocolate - Reposado tequila, Italian vermouth, crème de cacao and a hit of Mexican mole bitters. 
    I was impressed by how chocolatey it tasted even though I knew it was all alcohol.
  • Dutch Kills - Bols Barrel-Aged Genever, Italian vermouth, bitters and a dash of apricot liqueur.

  • Yellowtail Collar "Hamachi Kama" - miso glazed, soy sauce to dip, roasted shisito peppers. 
    We've had this before, but I don't know what they changed because this time it was downright addictive.  We were trying to pick every last piece of meat off the bone.  
  • Crisfield Bay Soft Shell Crab - crispy blue crab with jerk sauce and seasoning.  

Song Pairing: 
Lilikoi - Paula Fuga

Better photos in Caroline on Crack's post

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mixtape 2.0: Ni Hao Hawaii

These are the songs we heard every day on Oahu's top 40 island station Island 98.5.  I have to say, island music is instantly relaxing.  This mix always puts me in a good mood. 

Ni Hao Hawaii Mix
  1. I Feel So Good - Collie Buddz
  2. It Will Rain (reggae remix) - Bruno Mars 
    So he usually sounds like he's crying when he's singing, and the chorus sounds like Adele's Chasing Pavements, but for some reason I never get tired of this remix.  He should really put out a reggae remix of his greatest hits.  I would buy that. 
  3. Wade in Your Water - Common Kings
    Love the shoutouts to landmarks in Oahu.
  4. Pumped Up Kicks (cover) - Cris Cab
    Just when I thought this song was overplayed, Cab put a twist on it and I actually like this version better.  I wish he would release an album of cover songs.  
  5. Not Too Fast - Teki
    He's the island John Legend
  6. Set Fire to the Rain (reggae version) - Adele
  7. Give it Up - CRSB
  8. Gotta Be - The Green
  9. Get to Know You - Teki
    I love his silky voice so much I sprinkled the mix with his songs
  10. Higher than the Clouds - Anuhea
  11. Young Wild Free (reggae remix) - Inner Circle ft. I-Octane Bizerk
  12. Somebody that I Used to Know (Jr Blender reggae remix) - Gotye
    WAY better than the original
  13. All - Teki
  14. Falling - Iration
  15. All of the Lights (cover) - Cris Cab
  16. You Da One - Rihanna
  17. Waiting for You - Teki 

Food Pairing:
Soundbites 14.0: Oahu, Hawaii

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sound Bites 14.0: Oahu, Hawaii

My first time in Hawaii was filled with eating, beaching, and exploring.  I was surprised by the Japanese influence on architecture (some of those apartments and houses looked like they were imported from Tokyo), the lush vegetation (Oahu felt like buildings and streets were just plopped down into plant life, whereas LA has always felt like greenery was struggling to survive in the city), the strong sunshine (I got sunburned sitting in traffic on the way to North Shore), and the beautiful, blue, smog-free skies. 

Here are some of my fond memories of full bellies:

  • Coco Puff  (Lilha Bakery) - I'm not usually a fan of coconut, but my friend said this bakery was famous for coconut cream puffs and, I have to say, they were deliciously sweet with a chocolate surprise in the center.  
    Right: Coco Puffs. They are larger than they appear
  • Portuguese Sausage Breakfast (McDonald's) - after my first time having Portuguese sausage, I instantly became
    Top: McDonald's. Bottom: Sunny Side Bakery
    a fan.  I still can't decide which I love more:  SPAM or Portuguese sausage. Unfortunately, I accidentally ordered the meal without SPAM, but it was still good.  I love how rice is offered almost everywhere on the island.  The included soy sauce was great on the eggs! 
  • Fried Rice Special with Vienna Sausage, Portuguese Sausage, Scrambled Egg; Pear and Peach Combination Pie (Sunny Side Bakery) - 3 of us shared this.  I can't even imagine one person finishing the Fried Rice Special alone.  In hindsight, we should have ordered the egg fried instead, but the scrambled style didn't detract from the tasty fried rice.  Surprisingly, it was the first time we had seen a different preserved meat on the menu:  Vienna sausage.  The bakery is known for their pies and no surprise, we ate it all in its flaky goodness before I could snap a shot.  First time having Hawaiian Sun (I tried Passion Orange drink).  I'm officially addicted.  

  • Udon with Okra, Curry Udon with Chicken & Eggs (Jimbo's Restaurant) - friend
    Top: Udon w/ Okra. Bottom: Curry Udon
    loved her cold thin udon (first time I had ever seen thin udon).  The simplicity of my Udon with Okra allowed me to appreciate the fresh noodles (made daily, says their sign) although it would have been nice if the okra pieces were cut bigger or left whole.  Jennio's Curry Udon was divine in scent and flavor. 
  • Poke (Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors) - not only do they have a good selection of wine, beers, and liquors, but they always have delicious poke!  Wish we had had more time (and stomach space.  This was pre-lunch) for a rice bowl. 
  • Long Rice Chicken (Helena's Hawaiian Food) - one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes.  I could eat a huge bowl of it and have this as a replacement for chicken noodle soup. 
  • Shrimp Scampi (Giovanni's Shrimp Truck) - best shrimp scampi I've ever had (so good we ate this at both locations) and loved how they topped the rice with garlic.  We could have scared off vampires after this meal.
  • Steamed Ahi Belly (Sushi Ten) - never seen this on a menu in LA before.   I was unused to the
    oily sauce the fish was sitting in, but by the end, I wish I had more belly and sauce. 
  • Hula Dog (Hula Dog, formerly Puka Dog) - they were very friendly there even though we rushed in 10 minutes before closing.  How did I order my dog? 
    1. Taro and bacon bread:  this was a special.  I don't usually like taro, but for some reason I loved taro everything in Hawaii, especially this bread with bacon bits!
    2. Polish sausage
    3. Garlic lemon secret sauce - mild
    4. Pineapple (love pineapple anything!) relish, lilikoi mustard:  sweet and tangy sauce that burst out with the first, and ensuing, indulgent bites
  • "Award Winning" Side Style Famous Fried Rice, Pan Fried Island Pork Chops (Side Street Inn) - a mountain of delicious fried rice with char siu, Portuguese sausage, bacon, and veggies.  I regretted not ordering the "Works", which included lup cheong and kim chee.  Ketchup seemed out of place on the pork chops plate, but worked surprisingly well with the crispy chops.
  • Dole Whip (Dole Plantation) - wish Disneyland served whips with fresh pineapple pieces and in a pineapple cup / coin bank!
  • Passion Fruit, Lychee, Raspberry with Dark Chocolate Chips Mochi (Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream) -
    great flavors and loved that some of them were dipped in chocolate.  Don't know why I haven't seen that here. 
  • Pineapple, Coconut, Lemon Flavor with Azuki bean, Vanilla Ice Cream Shave Ice (Matsumoto Shave Ice) - cute shop (yes, we all bought something there. Great merchandise!) and featherlight shave ice with flavors you can actually distinguish, so it's not just coloring. 

  • Mai Tai (La Mariana Sailing Club) - lovely tiki hideaway that made a great Mai Tai.  Luckily, they start serving drinks early (11AM).  Unluckily, they close early (9PM).     

Song Pairings:
Mixtape 2.0: Ni Hao Hawaii

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cover Wars 1.0: Glee vs. Smash

They covered Florence and the Machine's single Shake it Out.

Winner:  Smash

Loser:  Glee.  It just seemed kind of awkward.

Glee's music choices of late have been pretty off, but I highly enjoyed Boogie Shoes.  The dance number was really well-choreographed and Alex Newell had a great voice.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Coachella 2012 Day 3 - Weekend 1

Again Doug will be providing his colorful commentary in purple with elements of moi.   

So I have to say, usually when I go to Coachella I am wishing for the sweet release of death by the time Sunday rolls around, but I don't know what it was this year in my old age, but I just had more energy by the 3rd day.  Go me. Let's get right to it. Once more into the fray...

FAIL:  It started to feel like a desert...  So I guess I got spoiled from beautiful breezy Saturday, but by Sunday it hit the mid-80s, and getting there at 3:30pm lead to the first feelings of heat stroke I had all weekend.  Stupid sun.
Felt like past Coachellas, but at least all the sweating allowed us to avoid the frightening porta-potties.

FAIL:  We missed Band of Skulls.  They were playing a bigger stage this year, but come on, 2pm?!  They were on WAY too early to be properly appreciated. 

WIN:  I had actually seen Santigold once before by accident and she was really fun.  We walked right into LES Artistes and she played some songs from her new album.  She had her usual two dancers by her side keeping it funky; and, at one point, she invited about 30 people from the crowd onstage to dance with her. Good times.
I was surprised at how early they had her on the schedule because she definitely packed the....lawn with sweaty dancers.  Great show.  Loved the outfits.  Music was extremely danceable.

WIN:  Fitz, of Fitz & the Tantrums, had great hair (and wore an amazing tomato red suit).  I have one song of theirs on my iPod I got from some magazine promotion, I think, but their happy blend of soul and indie pop made the sun tolerable. 

The live Amsterdam version of Don't Gotta Work it Out (original here) (OK and maybe the awesome band tee) made me fall for the band.  Not only did Noelle Scaggs have an amazing voice, but she also had an amazing stage presence and knew how to stir up the audience.  I loved how humble the band was about being there and, honestly, I don't even know how they got a better set time than Santigold, but I definitely can't wait to see them live again.
And immediately after listening to a YouTube playlist of their top tracks, I ended up buying their album. 

WIN:  We decided to half nap on the grass during Wild Flag's set, but I managed to stay awake to witness their awesomeness.  Girl power RAWR.
I was surprised they didn't have a bigger crowd (Hello Portlandia?), but they still rocked out.   

WIN:  Now I haven't heard anything The Hives have done since Veni Vidi Vicious came out when I was a senior in high school, but I have to say frontman Howlin' Pelle was the consummate showman and had the crowd eating out of his hand.  Decked out in a suit and top hat, he was having some real fun out in the desert.  They played songs from their new album along with their more well known stateside hits like Main Offender (I play that song in Rock Band!) and Hate To Say I Told You So. 
Loved how Pelle was cocky as hell and knew it.  He sounded like an old-timey traveling salesman.  

Too many wins so far, I need a fail to spice it up...but the day is going so well...I'll dig deep.

FAIL - The Beats by Dr. Dre tent.  I guess as a headliner, Dr. Dre got a deal to pimp out his overpriced headphones.  Now I'm not just saying that to be snobby, they really do suck for the money you're paying.  I have a pair I'd like to get rid of if anyone wants to buy them.  I bought a pair of Solos a couple years back and they sounded mediocre.  Weeks later I bought a pair of the cheapest headphones imaginable from Koss.  They were formed by a thin metal band and had foam over the cans:  straight out of the 80s.  They looked like headphones you used to have with your Walkman when you were a kid.  And THOSE sounded better than Dre's headphones.  Also, to even try the newer models in the tent, you had to give them your ID.  So we just sat there on this vibrating couch like dummies.  Yeah, they had a vibrating couch.

FAIL:  Missing The Weeknd.  EVERYONE was talking about how amazing he was and where were we?  On a vibrating couch, watching him on a big screen in the Beats by Dr. Dre tent, waiting for Gotye (waste of time described below) to come on.

FAIL:  I'm already pretty sick of Gotye's one song and his non-pronouncable name.  He had a CRAP TON of people spilling out of the Mojave tent he was in, waiting to hear how they were "just someone that he used to know..."  We gave up after 10 minutes and left.  I'm calling him a one-hit wonder right now, along with that other band Fun., with the song about being young and setting shit on fire. Why? Because shut up, that's why.
Apparently, Somebody that I Used to Know was the most played song by DJs all weekend, so why did they put him in the second smallest tent?!  Plus the audio was terrible, so you couldn't even linger outside the tent.  I overheard someone saying it sounded like a terrible YouTube video.  Maybe it's because I don't really listen to the radio, but I didn't even realize he was that big a deal.  The only reason I recognized the song was because I heard it covered on Glee (I know I must be the only person still watching the show...) and Jennio loves it.  I agree with Doug about Gotye probably being a one-hit wonder since I heard Jennio and someone else describe the rest of his album as eclectic (plus everyone immediately left after he played his hit song halfway through the set.  Bad decision), but Fun. doesn't deserve to be compared to him.  Luckily, We are Young hasn't really been overplayed for me yet (it's so anthemic!), but I did get a little sad when I heard it in a commercial once and then as a rude girl's ringtone. :\  Anyways, I have listened to both their albums and there are a lot of fun, catchy melodies.  Nate Ruess has got a Freddie Mercury / Mika -ness about him.  I just wish his second album didn't have so much auto-tuning.  Why couldn't THEY be at Coachella instead of Gotye??

WIN:  I only knew Justice's one song D.A.N.C.E. and for some reason I thought they'd be black because of this.  But they were white and French and one of them looked like Jesus.  Their stage of a big computer set with a lit-up crucifix took a bit to set up, but man they actually sounded really awesome.  Pleasant surprise, I don't typically like this type of music, let alone in a live setting. 
Yeah, I admit to being a little embarrassed that I only knew that one song, but I was pleasantly surprised to find two DJs putting on an amazing stage show with great dance music.

Photos by Natalie Kardos via Pitchfork
WIN:  At the Drive-In was the MAIN reason I came this year.  They were awesome.  From the drum-pounding that opened Arcarsenal to the haunted sounds of Napolean Solo, these guys delivered.  Cedric Bixler Zavala was his usual frenetic self, hopping all over the stage and humping amps and spitting at the cameras.  Omar Rodriguez Lopez looked like he was taking a rare backseat and let his old bandmates handle it.  He had a workman-like performance on guitar, just making the weird guitar noises he's known to come up with, while Jim Ward took lead and backing vocals.  The rhythm section of Paul Hinojos (on bass) and Tony Hajjar were f'ing amazing. At times they dominated the sounds pumping out into the desert air.  The only downside was that it was only 50 minutes when a band this good deserved to headline.

Okay, so next came Dr. Dre and Snoop, but for me to quantify their whole set into a simple WIN or FAIL would be stupid, as it had waaaaay too many guest spots for someone to call it purely Dr. Dre and Snoop.  So let's divide these up into a series of WINs and FAILs.

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - an exercise in excess

  • The entrance.  Sorry, if you rose up out of the stage with a grim look on your face, you're awesome.
  • Deep Cover.  This song's a classic.
  • Wiz Khalifa's performance of Young, Wild and Free was the most feel-good moment of the set.  What a fun happy track.
  • Eminem.  I was a HUGE fan of his in my youth so it was great seeing him show up for 3 songs.  
  • Overall, the whole set was just an amazing spectacle.  They literally turned the whole stage into a giant screen and had various CGI and film images projected onto it:  from some hot women I wouldn't bring home to my mother to pictures of Nate Dogg during his tribute.  It was really cool.  Add the aforementioned cool entrance and bevy of guest spots and you got more than your money's worth.  Good times had by all. 

  • Snoop Dogg dominated in what would become a running theme.  Even though Dr. Dre's name is on the set list he really took a backseat to Snoop and all their guests.  They didn't even go back to anything from The Chronic, choosing, instead, to focus on his many duets with everyone in this century and tracks from 2001.  If you liked the soundtrack to Training Day, you'd be satisfied.
  • 50 Cent forgot the words to his own songs and mumbled through them.  His hype man was also annoying.
  • Again, Dr Dre disappeared.  He spent probably half of the set time backstage.
  • Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar.  I guess their one song is off Lamar's new album.  I wasn't particularly impressed.

WIN / FAIL:  The Tupac Hologram was at first cool; then when they put it on the screens it looked like a cutscene from Def Jam Vendetta on PS2.  And then when you looked on stage it looked like a real person was up there.  It was frightening, and it felt wrong in some way, like when Kurt Cobain was in Guitar Hero 5 and you could make him sing songs by No Doubt.  It was like a morbid Weekend at Bernie's.  At the end, after he exploded into some sparks and went back to the dark realm from whence he came, Dr. Dre came out and nonchalantly asked us to "give it up for Tupac" like this was the most normal thing ever.  Just really weird.
When Doug told me he had heard there was going to be a hologram, I imagined something straight out of Star Wars.  I didn't know it would be so lifelike.  I was shocked when Tupac came out, but I wouldn't say the entire audience was horrified.  It looked technologically impressive, just kind of creepy when I saw him interacting with Snoop.  It was definitely an amazing end to Coachella and had people talking the entire week until Weekend 2.

Best of Coachella, Sun - LA Weekly Coachella photos
Coachella videos
Coachella 2012 - Pitchfork

Coachella 2012 - Grantland
Santigold photos - Losanjealous
Fitz & the Tantrums - OC RegisterThe Weeknd - LA Times
At the Drive-In's full Coachella set - Pitchfork
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg setlist - Brooklyn Vegan
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg photos - Losanjealous

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg - OC Register 
Dr. Dre's Coachella message to fans

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coachella 2012 Day 2 - Weekend 1

The magic continues...  with Doug in purple sprinkled with some of my own commentary.

Seared Ahi Tuna Wrap
WIN:  A hearty vitamin-enriched breakfast thanks to Jake's in "downtown" Palm Springs. I refuse to believe a town so small has a downtown, however; felt more like a Village Square.
Surprisingly large portions.  Doug could barely finish his plate of tacos with salad and he paid about the same price as he did for the tiny ones at Coachella the day before.  We felt very healthy afterwards. 

FAIL:  We missed Childish Gambino because we were unable to get up before 1 pm and they decided to change up the parking on Day 2 and we had to take a few laps around the Indio Polo Field before they finally guided us into the newly opened lot next to the camping area.  On the bright side, the lot was pretty close to the entrance, so less walking. As a consolation, on the way there, I played Gambino's Camp album in the car. Hey Hey Scenester seemed impressed. 
Thanks to the Disneyland-style line to parking, we missed AWOLNATION, and Childish Gambino's nerd rap.  
I was impressed by what I heard of Gambino in the car.  Creative use of hipster and skinny tie in a rap song. 

WIN:  The day after rain made for probably the prettiest day at Coachella I've ever had.  The sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy and white, and there was a happy breeze rolling through.
I was especially happy about the weather when we were packed into the Radiohead show and no one was sweating on me and I could feel a lovely breeze.  

WIN:  We only caught the 2nd half of The Buzzcocks' set upon our arrival into the grounds, but damn, they were awesome. This is the 2nd time I've been at Coachella and a group of old fogies well past their prime showed everyone how it's done (first time was Devo in 2010).  Bonus - when you recognize a song you've heard a million times and finally learn who the band is.  It was a good start to the day.  English punk rock FTW.

WIN:  Noel Gallagher and his Birds played half Oasis songs. That's enough for a win, but they weren't the songs I knew.  I only knew Don't Look Back in Anger (written by Noel) and that song's awesome so that guarantees them a win. Other than that they were...whatever.  I think Noel Gallagher secretly hates himself and really wishes he could write a song that is even 5% as memorable as anything Oasis did in 1994/1995. His self-loathing came through with his poor, disinterested stage presence. 
Too bad the rest of the set sounded like generic versions of Oasis songs without the unique vocals.

FAIL:  The free water refill station was just a sink...and it was far.  The water was of questionable potability.

WIN:  I've always thought of The Shins as that pleasant-sounding band from Garden State and that's pretty much what they were here, an enjoyable set.  They played songs that I recognized, like New Slang and that other one I know, and they get an EXTRA MILLION BONUS POINTS for an excellent cover of Pink Floyd's Breathe.  That was a nice surprise.

Their lead guitar player is also a girl but I'm undecided if she was actually cute or just cute because she plays guitar. I get easy crushes on girls who play instruments. I've gone off on a tangent now...moving on...
The Shins (aka the singer James Mercer) sounded great despite the completely new lineup from when I saw them years ago.

FAIL - Some a$$hole left some gum on the barrier I was leaning on.  My track jacket now has a sticky white glob of gum on the back. And napkin bits. F**k that guy.
Don't understand why people put gum all over the barriers.  There were trash bins everywhere.  Maybe the garbage situation got out of control...

WIN - Burgers, hot dog, and a bag of fries for dinner.
The hot dog and fries cost the same as those stupid cage-free / grass-fed tacos and we couldn't even finish the fries!  Still angry over the tacos?  Yeah...

WIN:  The 10 minutes of Flying Lotus we caught.  I'm not that big on the whole DJ / remix / electronic / computer music thing, but sometimes with a good crowd, and an actual live band behind you, it can sound really good. I was intrigued enough to get some tracks once I got home.  

FAIL:  Now, admittedly, catching 10 minutes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's set is not enough to pass judgment on this prog-rock band, but they didn't grab my attention in that amount of time.  But for the sake of full disclosure - their songs often span 20 minutes and, in fact, during this 50-minute set they only got through 3 songs. So my need to leave early and get a good spot for Radiohead really ruined their chances. So I guess really it was a fail on my part.  But I choose to blame others.
I was curious about them, but it all sounded the same after awhile.  

FAIL:  Bon Iver.  Stop it.
The only reason to see him was because he won a Grammy.  Luckily, we missed most of his sleepy music. 

WIN:  Can Radiohead ever not be awesome?  Their stage was well-designed with several cool screens portraying each band member transposed against another.  Their sometimes polarizing songs from their latest album, King of Limbs, sounded great live.  By adding extra members to the band (at one point, 4 people played drums), their new songs were able to come very close to sounding like the album; when they didn't, they were often more interesting.  They also played older tracks (nothing earlier than OK Computer though), like Lucky (a personal favorite) and also a couple of new songs and B-sides like The Daily Mail and Identikit. Great great stuff. Their slower more subdued songs, such as Pyramid Song and Give Up the Ghost, were hauntingly beautiful in the desert night.  Bonus - Thom Yorke's brief cover of Neil Young's After the Gold Rush that segued into Everything in its Right Place. Beautiful. I can't possibly gush further.

Day 1
Day 3
Best of Coachella: Sat - LA Weekly
Top 10 Awkward Coachella Dance Moves

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Coachella 2012 Day 1 - Weekend 1

My music savvy Coachella companion, Doug, will be guest blogging in purple ink, while I occasionally chime in.   

So this is my 5th time at Coachella and the 4th straight year I've gone. As always, it was an exhausting weekend.  I almost didn't go this year due to the quick sellout and the festival finally hitting that mainstream sector of society, where people will go just to be part of the big party in the desert regardless of what acts will be performing. Getting tickets and a place to sleep was the hardest it had ever been, but I'm glad I went.  Despite the pain in the ass it can be, going to Coachella is always a fun experience.
FAIL:  Two Weekends? WHY?  Still seems unnecessary.  This first weekend was just as crowded as ever. What was the point? (Other than making more money) 

WIN:  Last minute hotel booking.  Once I decided I would join Hey Hey Scenester, thus began the quest for a reasonably priced hotel room.  Last year I had some luck buying a reservation from someone on Craig's List, and was able to split it with 4 people.  This year there was just two of us, and Craig's List's cost for reservation and hotel rate made it almost not worth it. However, thanks to Expedia, we found a reasonable room in Palm Springs that was much nicer than the bed bug receptacle I stayed in last year at the Motel 6 next to the Del Taco I refused to eat at. 

WIN:  Even though I felt like I was in Gattaca, the futuristic wristband scanners did make it much quicker to get into the festival.  Also, the cloth wristband was a huge improvement over the uncomfortable plastic one from 2 years back. 

FAIL:  Admittedly, the iPhone app was better than the one from two years ago (I appreciate the alarm feature.  I still think there needs to be some sort of indicator if you have favorite bands with a time conflict), but I still don't understand why they didn't link the band favoriting under Schedule and Lineup.  I had to favorite the same band under each section.  Who wants to do that twice! 

WIN:  Watching in amusement as kids shiver because they dressed inappropriately for the weather.  Don't know why people still stepped out in the rain and wind wearing barely anything.  Maybe I'm just an aging hipster

FAIL:  Rain.  The first time it ever rained at Coachella.  It made Friday horribly cold and it made me sleepier than I already was. But it wasn't all a fail (more on that in Day 2).  

WIN:  Rain.  I was in 3 layers of clothes and still freezing, but at least it lessened the size of the crowd, and I didn't have to deal with being pressed up against sweaty, smelly people.  

WIN:  Mid-afternoon power nap music.  Because we're old and lame, the first thing we did Friday was head to the Outdoor Stage, plop ourselves down on the floor and take a nap to the sounds of Neon Indian.  I can't really remember what Neon Indian sounded like, but I remember it being very pleasant and conducive to a nice, refreshing power nap in a field.

FAIL:  The sound for the Outdoor Stage is terrible unless you're right in the middle towards the front.  I don't know why it's so difficult to fix this because the sound is great for the Main Stage almost everywhere.  The audio almost ruined The XX for me 2 years ago and I still can't tell if I like Neon Indian or not.

WIN:  Arctic Monkeys.  Having lost track of these young Brits after their first album, my friend James made sure I was up to speed by giving me their last two albums a couple of months before the festival. I'm glad he did.  It's always better to see a band knowing more than one or two songs. They were very fun to watch and even more fun to sing along to. Highlights of their energetic set included Brianstorm and Fluorescent Adolescent

FAIL:  Overpriced food.  $4 for one chicken taco or $5 for one "grass fed" beef taco? Not cool, bro.  On the upside, someone had forgotten two sealed shrimp cocktails by the register.  
We took that as a sign to enjoy 1 of them as compensation for waiting in the wrong line and paying over $10 for merely 3 tacos.  

WIN:  Pulp.  I'm not super familiar with their music but the half hour of their set that we saw was very fun and frontman Jarvis Cocker's warm-happy-to-be-here sense of humor was a nice counter to the cloudy weather.  

WIN:  The Rapture.  I can't dance for shit so when I find music I can bob and weave to, and not draw much attention to myself, I am happy. Added WIN for being in a tent with a warm crowd. As for the actual band, I probably looked up their music about 10 years ago because they had a cool sounding band name but I didn't remember it well.  Fun dance punk and easy to get into.  I was most pleased.
One of my favorite bands and they always put on an amazing show.  Even though I just saw them last year, I still can't get enough.  Wish they could have played a longer set. 

FAIL:  The Black Keys.  After seeing their third performance in four years, I'm just kind of sick of them and their music still never impresses me.  We also caught the more boring slow part of their set.  I'm just over them. I can't even really give a good reason for disliking them other than I think The White Stripes did this retro, blues-infused southern rock music thing better.  They just don't click with me. Sorry.
I may have overplayed their albums because by the time I got to Coachella, I was a bit burnt out by their music.  I had been looking forward to hearing them live, but once I saw them, it felt like they knew how to cater to their fans, but not to a festival audience.  Their newer songs translated well to the outdoor stage, but their older duets didn't work for me. 

WIN:  Refused.  Some nice aggressive punk to end the day. Their first big show in well over a decade.  They have not lost a step.
They are still very punk rock and anti-government at their ages.  Too bad we experienced Titanic-like temperatures by midnight and had to leave halfway through the set. 
We be old.  This is a young person's festival.

Day 2
Day 3 
Coachella 2010
Photos - Pitchfork
Photos - LA Weekly
Pulp's Entire Coachella Set
Best of Coachella:  Friday - LA Weekly
SpiritHoods (Reading this and being at Coachella kind of made me hate all things furry)