Monday, September 30, 2013

Indie Across America Web Series

I've always been a fan of former MTV VJ Dave Holmes, who is an encyclopedia of music knowledge.  Now he's back in a new web series Indie Across America, obviously sponsored by GEICO (lizard looks much bigger in real life), that just premiered last Tuesday.  Holmes travels across the country to hang out with indie bands and showcase their music. 

You can watch episode 1 of Indie Across America featuring indie band Stereo Crowd at  New episodes (along with music videos) will be released every Tuesday until November 12th.

Future episodes:
  • Episode 2: Baltimore featuring Sharkweek
  • Episode 3: Los Angeles featuring A House for Lions
  • Episode 4: Philadelphia featuring Norwegian Arms
  • Episode 5: New York city featuring La La Lush
  • Episode 6: San Diego featuring SanDollar
  • Episode 7: Boston featuring Quilt
  • Episode 8: Los Angeles featuring Dreamers Dose

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sound Bites 18.0: Beach Hopping @ Hermosa, Redondo, Manhattan Beach

Hermosa Beach

HC, Wing, and I started out with "mimosas in Hermosa" (the theme that inspired us to go to the beach in the first place) at Scotty's on the Strand.  Scotty's is a cute diner with a nice view of the beach and was the least fratty place (one pub offered 32oz mimosas! :x ) we could find.  Oddly, a waiter started putting down new place settings before we even paid the bill.  There were other empty tables around, so I didn't really understand the need to rush us out of there.  Maybe it was because we only ordered mimosas and a plate of fried clams, which were decent, but made me wish we had ordered their hash browns instead.

Redondo Beach

We decided to do our own lobsterfest with Quality Seafood's great September Lobster Special.  $18 for a 1/4 lb lobster, giant ear of sweet corn, large baked potato, and melted butter.  If you're thirsty, you can even add $2 to get a Pabst tallboy!  This is way more affordable than the lobsterfests I've been too AND you get bigger sides.  This is the last weekend before the special ends, so check it out, especially if you missed all the other lobsterfests.  Just make sure to go to the register where they sell the raw seafood.  We made the mistake of waiting in the long line for cooked food.  We just assumed the longest line would be for the affordable $18 lobster special.  I was surprised people were totally unaware of the lobster deal.

After lunch, we quenched our thirst nearby at Naja's Place.  With 88 beers on tap, it was hard to decide what to drink.  Apparently, it gets rowdy after lunch.  The bar was so crowded when we left, I almost ran into a girl dressed up as a cupcake.  I didn't ask...

Manhattan Beach

HC introduced us to Fishing with Dynamite.  I loved the seaworthy decor and the artwork, as seen behind my refreshing Innocents Abroad cocktail (the sparkling cocktail w/ Starr, passion fruit, lavender & Thai basil reminded me of a passion fruit mimosa).  In addition to our afternoon drink, we had a few "snacks"...

  • 1/2 Dozen Peruvian Scallops - some of the best scallops I've ever had
  • Sampler Platter - each oyster on the bar.  Wing and I raved about the Kiwi Cup and Coromandel oysters (both from New Zealand), so we were easily persuaded to order more.  Also, loved the ponzu sauce.  I want it with all my oysters from now on. 
  • 1/2 Dozen Kiwi Cup & Coromandel - I wanted to try the Kiwi Cup oyster as soon as I read the name.  It turned out to be my favorite oyster off the sampler.  It was crisp and clean.  Wing loved the Coromandel, but I found it a bit salty, though not as salty as the Sweet Petite, which made my mouth pucker.  It was not sweet, merely petite
  • Pretzel and Chocolate Bread Pudding - because HC can never leave without dessert.  I'm not really a fan of bread pudding, but this dessert changed my mind with it's mixture of hot salted caramel and cold house made ice cream.  Plus I love pretzels. 
    Scallops // Kiwi Cup // Bread Pudding
HC Recommended:
We were too full to try these since we did each have a whole lobster for lunch!
  • Maryland Blue Crab Cake - in - house dill pickles, whole grain mustard remoulade
  • Key Lime Pie - graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue
I see a lunch or dinner here in my future...

It was a fun beach hop, but due to scarce free parking, next time I would park at Manhattan Beach and then make my way over to the other beaches.  However, if we stop at Fishing with Dynamite first, we might never make it to the other beaches.  

Song Pairing:  High Living by Toro y Moi

More Fishing with Dynamite Reviews: 
Gourmet Pigs
Kevin Eats
LA Weekly

Fishing With Dynamite on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 2, 2013

FYF Fest 2013

I thought it'd be fun to try to sum up my FYF experiences with categories.  Let's see how this goes.  

First FYF:  
Yep, even though this was the festival's 10th anniversary, it was my first time.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was kind of like a mini Coachella, with the comforts of home at the end of a long day, the benefits of great local eats, and the convenience of public transit (one of the worst things about Coachella is the mile hike to the entrance and the traffic you get stuck in trying to enter the parking lot).

Best Vegan Food: 
The now closed Pure Luck Restaurant made an appearance at FYF in the form of a popup.  It was nice to eat something at a festival and still feel somewhat healthy.  Highly enjoyed their Jackfruit Burrito (jackfruit carnitas, beans, avocado, rice, salsa in a flour tortilla).

Biggest Merch Disappointment:
All the Ts were unisex.  Even though the shirts weren't super expensive, I'm a girl, so it would've been nice to see some girly Ts or a tank top.

Best Bands to Add to a Summer Playlist: 
  • Toro y Moi - smooth voice and silky jams.  Loving some of the R&B tendencies on his new album Anything in Return.
  • Devendra Banhart - I like to add a slow song as an intermission in my mix tapes.  Banhart would be it.  Simple and soothing. 
  • STRFKR - synthpop that made me want to dance from my blanket in the back even after a long tiring day. 
  • Poolside - pleasurable pool pop you can bounce to.  At the end of the show, Filip Nikolic was nice enough to jump down and sign some autographs and take pictures.  Unfortunately, I was up front, but not close enough to the middle to get in on that action. :( 
  • !!! - I've loved this band since college, so I was super excited to finally see them live...and they exceeded expectations.  It was hard not to dance to their disco dance punk, it was so unbelievably catchy.  And I loved the female singer (anyone know her name??) who dueted with him on a few songs.  She was a white woman with the soulful voice of a black woman.  Also, !!! was the perfect sunset band.  By day, the stage was a funky pool party, by night, a discotheque. 
  • Washed Out - I was afraid he would sound washed out and he did on certain songs.  The set list was a strange mix of his usual bedroom rock and then some good, sped up, danceable versions of his songs.  My favorite live song was Get Up.  I mean, look at him, he was probably at his most excited during that song. 
    I wish he would put out a live album because he definitely sounds better with a full band.  And surprise, his song Feel it All Around is the Portlandia theme song.  The full length song is actually pretty good.  
  • Holy Ghost! - I had heard one song before FYF and I liked it.  I just thought I might check them out and then swing over to My Bloody Valentine.  However, I found myself pretty close to the front before the booming bass and caught their electro pop infection that prevented me from standing still.  It was an amazing way to end the last day of FYF.  

Best Dancer:
Nic Offer of !!! somehow pulled off short shorts and had the moves to go with them.  He got the fans riled up by bouncing all over the stage (I like when singers do more than just stand in one place) and jumping into the crowd.  Despite the fact that he was dancing nonstop during his entire set (even hanging the mic around his neck to free his hands for some gyrating...and voguing), he never sounded out of breath. And how can anyone not get their groove on when he's dancing his ass off right in front of you?  If you don't get motion sickness, check out some of his great moves here

Best Line: 
When photographers started leaving the !!! stage, Nic Offer yelled out, "Where you going?  I'm only gonna get cuter!"

Favorite Stage: 
I spent most of my weekend at the Charlotte Stage (the stages were named after Sex and the City characters.  Have they done Ninja Turtles yet?).  What?  There was a ton of great music there.  Sunday, I was there for almost 8 hours straight, taking a short break near the end of the night for a soda, then coming back for more! That day, it was hard to leave the stage because we had such a good spot right at the front!

Most Unexpected Things I Saw:
  • I used to listen to Les Savy Fav in college and decided to swing by the Miranda stage to check out a few songs.  The songs were good, but the stage show got crazier and crazier.  While vocalist Tim Harrington performed, he wore a fluorescent kaftan, removed it, did a belly roll, wet willied his own belly button, put on tube socks as gloves, ripped holes into those tube socks for his fingers, removed them, and then removed his pants.  After he put on a silver gimp suit, including the mask (and managed to zip up most of the suit), and finished a song, I figured it was time for me to go.   
  • Two girls dancing with a giant blowup penis wearing a cape during the break between !!! and Washed Out.  Later at the Holy Ghost! show, the penis made an appearance on the big screen. 

Most Out of Place Band at Charlotte Stage:
The punk rock No Age was oddly sandwiched between !!! and Poolside.  They sounded like they should've been at the Miranda Stage instead, but maybe they were at Charlotte because of their surprisingly large fan base.  I was at the front, but relieved I didn't get too close to the center where all the high school moshers were crowd surfing towards the front of the stage.  Some good songs.  I preferred the ones with Dean Spunt on drums. 

Band I Regret Not Being in the Crowd for:
STRFKR made me want to dance from all the way in the back.  And the next day I saw confetti on the floor that MUST have come from their crazy colorful show. 

Shyest Singer:
It was amusing to see Solange grinding and sexy dancing on stage, and then shyly go to the mic and thank everyone for coming to see her instead of MGMT. 

Best Food Outside FYF:
We decided to have a big lunch at Chego to last us the day at FYF.  I mean, come on, look at that burger.  It was so delicious! 

Most Relaxing:
I got to enjoy Devendra Banhart's performance from a distance on a blanket. 

Only Band I saw at Carrie Stage:
TV on the Radio played faster versions of their songs live.  It didn't really sound like their albums, but it was still good. 

Bands I Regret Missing:
Sadly, I couldn't make it to Beach House because I had such a good place up front for Washed Out.  I'm glad I got to see Washed Out, but this is the second time I've missed Beach House :( 

Best Bands of Saturday:
  • Toro y Moi
  • TV on the Radio

Best Bands of Sunday:
  • !!!
  • Holy Ghost!

Best Backdrop at a Festival: 
Downtown LA's skyline

More Reviews: 
More Photos from Grimy Goods: 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Legends of the Summer: Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake @ Rose Bowl

Guess who I saw after the concert
Picnic in the Park was a nice idea and a good way to entice people to arrive to the Rose Bowl early to minimize congestion.  Side Note:  if Rose Bowl wanted to minimize congestion, why the hell did they charge so much money for offsite parking and shuttle?  It practically cost as much as parking onsite!  Luckily, the Metro was running later than usual for the concert and had police and employees to direct people to the right platforms.  Made it much easier and safer to be in Old Town Pasadena so late at night.  And the walk from the stadium to Old Town actually wasn't that bad.  There were a ton of people doing the same thing.  Cheers to public transit!  So, picnic = good idea, beer garden and indirect encouragement of tailgating = bad idea.  From the dumb drunk girls sitting behind me (I had to switch seats, they were so annoying) to the guy I saw being carried to his seat (did he even see the show?!), I've never seen so many ridiculously drunk people at a concert before (this excludes music festivals).  I guess it was to be expected since so many people started drinking early in the afternoon.

I hadn't read any reviews before the concert, so I wasn't sure what to expect, like who was opening for whom.  It was a good mix of singing and rapping.  The show started out with duets, smoothly transitioned into each others sets, and ended with a few more duets over the course of two hours.

With the release of Justin Timberlake's album 20/20 Experience, I was relieved he finally went back to something he was good at, singing.  Unfortunately, this album wasn't one of his best.  Although, I must say, the outros on all the tracks are probably the best parts of the album.  The lyrics aren't great (check out Spaceship Coupe and Strawberry Bubblegum), but I do admit to the beats growing on me after each listen (example, Pusher Love Girl.  Not that well-written, but somehow he made this song catchy and the "ju-ju-ju-ju-junky for your love" lyrics in the outro are ridiculously great, especially live!).  Some day I hope he releases an album that just contains outros.

Cheers were definitely louder when Justin performed hits off Justified and FutureSex/LoveSongs (although the screams for the Pusher Love Girl outro were deafening).  I'd almost forgotten how many great songs were on his first album.  Señorita, with the live audience singalong at the end, was a crowd pleaser.  Timbaland was a pleasant surprise on SexyBack, but he seemed so unexcited to be there.  He practically ran off the stage as soon as the song was over.  And if he was there the whole time, why didn't he show up for the rest of the second album songs?  Take Back the Night, a track off his soon to be released 20/20 Experience sequel, was enjoyable.  Can't wait to hear the rest of the record.  And his duets with Jay-Z were refreshing.  

Justin is a man of many talents:  dancing, singing, playing piano, rocking out on guitar, but singing a capella isn't one of them.  I never noticed how strange and nasally his voice was outside of a studio or a boy band, but it became very apparent during his rendition of New York New York.  It was still an interesting transition into Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind.  I was a little disappointed when Justin didn't stay to sing Alicia Keys' lyrics.  That would've been something. 

Justin really knew how to cater to his fans and was a ball of charisma, which came off a bit hammy compared to Jay-Z, who exuded effortless cool even by just standing there.  Jay-Z gave a great performance, but it seemed toned down compared to his show at Coachella, which I deemed much better even though he was losing his voice.  He just seemed to enjoy himself more that time.  Surprisingly, he didn't have any special guests.

As a finale, the stadium darkened and thousands of phones began to light up as Jay-Z and Justin made a touching dedication to Trayvon Martin to the tune of Young Forever.  You could feel the emotions swelling as everyone sang along with the two Legends of Summer.   



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alarms After Dark @ Good Hurt

LocationGood Hurt
BandAlarms After Dark - the latest musical incarnation from Xander Govan, whose other bands have included Near Death Photography Club and Siberian Summer Camp

After having listened to Xander's previous bands, I feel like he's finally found a musical style that complements his vocals.  Alarms After Dark is a good balance between rock and a moodiness that has been a constant influence in his previous bands.  Micah's use of reverb adds a dreamy atmosphere to AAD's sound, which is unique and appealing to a larger audience at the same time.

The only down side to the show was not being able to hear all the band members' voices on some of the songs because the sound was too low on all but Xander's mics.  The music was still good, but I wonder how different it would've sounded if I could have heard the supplemental harmonies. 

If Alarms After Dark had a single, it would have to be the polished and catchy Faults

I like the direction this band is going in and look forward to hearing more.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Package Tour: New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees @ Staples Center

Getty via The Hollywood Reporter

The Package Tour felt like a tour of boy bands for the generations, older than tween generations anyways...  Last week I got to live out a childhood dream and saw New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men in concert!  

Since The Hollywood Reporter already put out a good, thorough review of the concert (even with set lists!), I'll just list some of my reactions to the bands. 

Boyz II Men
  1. They still look good for their age
  2. Loved the old dance moves, especially during Motownphilly (doing high five kicks, group dancing, and singing back-to-back), which brought back memories of when I first started loving them in elementary school
  3. Their short half-hour set could have easily been extended by an hour with the incredible amount of hits they've had in their musical career
  4. Wish I could have heard more songs.  This definitely makes me want to see them the next time they're headlining
  5. Sad to think that kids in high school now probably have no idea who Boyz II Men are

98 Degrees
  1. They aren't aging too well (except for Drew Lachey), but they're in great shape (except for Justin Jeffre.  After all these years, still don't care, huh?) 
  2. Jeff Timmons looks like a young, really hot dad
  3. Their dance choreography is, and always was, terrible.  Did they come up with these moves on their own?  
  4. What's up with Nick covering up the 98 Degrees tattoo?  I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of.  It was a very successful time in their lives.  Glad Jeff still wears it proudly 
  5. Being the buff men that they are, they made it less weird for grown women to be in love with a boy band
  6. Best part of their set was when they serenaded women pulled from the audience and were practically grinding up against them.  There were tears, shock, awe, and jealousy (okay, jealousy was just from me)

New Kids on the Block
  1. Since I usually attend smaller shows, the New Kids on the Block concert at the Staples Center was quite the spectacle with flames, raining fire, neon lights, and a revolving stage
  2. Their set made me remember how much I used to love them as a kid.  I had their posters on my wall, I was infatuated with Joey McIntyre, and watched their Pay-Per-View concert over and over again.  During Please Don't Go Girl, I could practically picture how Joey sang it in the PPV concert, I watched it so many times.  Yep, I was obsessed 
  3. Even though Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg have aged a bit, they are in amazing shape and might even look better than their younger selves (Donnie does for sure anyways)
  4. Joey still looks really cute and so does his adorable son (wow, Joey sure does make attractive babies), who was brought on stage to sing a song with him and walk through the crowd
  5. I know Donnie was the "bad boy", but I didn't realize how much of a hype man he was.  He got the crowd going, made out with a couple women in the audience, and wasn't shy about his six-pack.  I love that he's now a dramatic actor, but doesn't take himself seriously on stage
  6. The Donnie and Jordan cameras were hilarious.  At one point, the Donnie Cam zoomed in on Joey's crotch
  7. Due to their fans having grown up, the concert was definitely more sexed up.  Hence, Jordan's sensual, shirtless Prince cover, Donnie's constant ab-flashing, and a whole lot of crotch-thrusting all around
  8. Can't believe they've been around for 25 years!
Loved that Paul Scheer was at the same concert.  Some of his best tweets:

Concert review - LA Times
Photos - LA Weekly

Side Note: I was surprised Jack in the Box didn't try to sponsor the concert and do a tie-in with the Meaty Cheesy Boys.  Missed opportunity.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Coachella 2013 Day 3 - Weekend 2

We've finally reached the last day of Coachella with Doug's last guest blog post in purple, Chris in orange, and me in white.  

WIN:  The Pool.  Six Coachellas and I've never taken advantage of the pool at whatever motel I'm staying at. So some nice cold pooling to start the day out was the best ever. 

FAIL:  As hard as Chris and I tried to get to Coachella early, I still ended up missing The Airborne Toxic Event.  I got there just in time to hear them yell "Thank you Coachella!" at the end of their set.

WIN:  I thought I was going to get to brag to Doug about seeing JEFF the Brotherhood, but halfway through the set, we realized we were at the wrong stage.  We were actually listening to Thee Oh Sees (I haven't heard music from either of these bands.  Chris pointed it out) and they were actually good.  So cheers to accidentally discovering some new music. 

WIN:  Pedicabs totally rule! I feel foolish for waiting until the last day to take a ride on one of these things. Me and Hey Hey Scenesters rode one on the way in and it was luxurious and awesome. Totally worth every penny. But the end of the day when you’re totally wiped is when these pedicabs are the greatest. We rode one to the parking lot at the end of the night and I was really glad not to have to walk in a cloud of dust for what seemed like almost a mile back to the car. I’m now officially hooked and will ride pedicabs wherever they’re offered.

WIN:  BEST DECISION - Giving Up on the Shuttle.  I haven't commented on this but I didn't care for the shuttle. Seemed to take just as long to get there and get in through the gate and our $80 White Line shuttle had the least busses going.  So leaving the venue on Day 2 took like an extra half hour just waiting in line, plus the half hour to walk to the line, and I really had to go home and drop some kids off at the pool if you know what I mean. So Day 3 I decided to just drive there and back. Felt more in control of the situation. :)

WIN:  The Red Bull Speakeasy was air conditioned and looked pretty good for being in a tent out in the desert.  Too bad their drinks were all (understandably) made with Red Bull.

WIN: Grimes. She was cute and really down to earth with the audience. She even revealed that she was too self-conscious to ever dance in the daylight, so she was particularly moved by the courage of the crowd dancing to all her songs in the middle of the afternoon. Plus she wears crazy outfits that fall somewhere between Harajuku street style and electro punk so how could anyone not love that? I like that she builds a lot of her own equipment to get the sound she wants. Her musical style is hard to describe but I’d guess her influences are industrial, experimental and new wave pop.  

So anyways, we got in kind of late. Half the group was in already. Leading us to:

FAIL:  GENTLEST BAND - The Lumineers.  Let me just say, I don't find this old timey, folk/prohibition era music that's popular with the kids and the hipsters necessarily objectionable to my ears.  Like if they come in the radio I don't change the station like I do with Linkin Park or any song off the last Muse album, but what I do object to is that it seems like these bands are the faces of modern ROCK music to far too many people.  What happened to rock with attitude or severity? Someone I know made the observation that when we were 9 years old The Downward Spiral was a #1 selling album.  Could such an album do that kind of damage in this day and age?  No. The last decade or so has seen a huge pussification of mainstream rock music. And I hate it. And dubstep. I hate dubstep. Oh and Mumford and Sons, I do hate them.

As for the Lumineers, like I said, the music itself is fine and often catchy. I like that Stubborn Love song. But oh so boring. Their set was as energetic as music played with violins and banjos and washboards can possibly be. For having it in the background while chilling on the grass, it was fine.

Also, revelation: Their stage setup had some hanging chandeliers for some reason...chandeliers illuminate things...illuminating chandeliers...Lumineers...whoa...amirite??? I'll see myself out.

WIN:  I, unlike Doug, do like Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers.  I definitely agree with him that this type of music is not representative of rock (Dear Grammys, I like rock as much as the next person, but what in hell makes you think Mumford and Sons should be in ANY rock category???), but I'm all for the whole bluegrassy folk movement, anything that strays away from the terribly written pop music topping the charts these days (ahem, all Taylor Swift songs that sound like they came out of her high school diary). 

As overplayed as it is, I still like Ho Hey because it was used in a Bing commercial that I kept seeing after I came back from Hawaii, so I associate it with good times. Anyways, The Lumineers are the kind of band you listen to on the grass in the shade, which is what I did.  They sounded great and I liked the chandeliers on stage. 

After this, it was food time. A word on food...

WIN:  BEST FOOD - BaoHaus.  Those little fried chicken bao thingers from BaoHaus in New York were delicious. I had like 3 each day. They make me want to go to New York. 

HONORABLE MENTION - The Lime Truck.  The Lime Truck had this delightful ahi ceviche with some sort of edamame hummus. Glorious. Coachella really upped their food quality this year.

FAIL:  BAND I KEEP MISSING - Dinosaur Jr.  Second time I missed them due to eating or drinking. Caught two songs. Sounded great. I'll catch them one day...

WIN:  BEST OLD GUY WHO ACHIEVED NOTORIETY AFTER HIS FANS IN SOUTH AFRICA SET OUT TO PROVE HE WASN'T DEAD - Rodriguez.  I caught a few of his songs. At this point he was well into his 70s so his voice wasn't great and it didn't carry well all the way to the back where I was standing.
He's starting to get old man voice.  He definitely sounds better on his records, but I didn't think he was bad.
And his voice wasn't quite as unique as Bob Dylan, who a couple people compared him to when telling me to go see him. I left after a few songs but I did put seeing the documentary about him on my to-do list.
The crowd near the front was pretty rowdy and sang along to all his songs.  It was a little strange since his style of music is so mellow, but I think they just wanted to show their love for him. 

FAIL:  I hate people who spit on me as they’re talking. At Rodriguez, a guy named Josh stopped by for a chat. He offered me some of his half-eaten sausage filled paella, which I politely declined. I offered him mints. He showered spit all over my arm as he talked about his time in Germany visiting concentration camps. So gross! Good thing I had hand sanitizer on me. After alerting Josh to his spitting, I poured the hand sanitizer over my arm and wiped it clean. Someone later commented that it may have been rude of me to do that in front of him, but which is more rude? Spitting on someone with a mouthful of paella or cleaning your arm in front of the spitter? The spitting, of course, duh!

WIN:  BIGGEST RELIEF - Tame Impala.  In the months leading up to Coachella I had gotten really into this band and both their full albums were on heavy rotation in my car. Just a great psychedelic wall of sound that requires a great audio setup to fully bring it out.  However, I had seen them play on Jimmy Fallon and on the Coachella webcast for Weekend 1, and they sounded pretty light and boring. While the band itself doesn't exactly have a dynamic stage presence, with the full PA setup of a live venue, their music sounded great. They kinda just stand there like robots whilst playing this crazy music, but it was cool and they ventured into prolonged improvised jam sessions a couple of times. 

WIN:  La Roux's music makes lead singer Elly Jackson sound like such a pop princess that I tend to forget how 80s androgynous her appearance is.  Great set for a single singer on stage.  I couldn't help but compare her show to Janelle Monáe's lively set, but La Roux was still good in their own way.  Their synthpop style of music made me feel like I was in a Euro discotheque. 

WIN:  BEST BAND I DON'T DISLIKE BUT ALSO DON'T UNDERSTAND THEIR APPEAL - Vampire Weekend.  I honestly don't even know what to call this genre of music. Has some preppy hipster qualities and their songs can be catchy but at times they almost give off this tropical Caribbean vibe or the feeling that I'm at a luau. I listened to them as I drank in the beer garden. Can't comment much, but if you like their music at home then you'll like it live. It translates well and comes off just as polished.

WIN:  BEST BEER (and only option) - Heineken.  I drank a lot on day 3 :)

WIN:  After La Roux finished, I was surprised to see so many people leaving (thank you, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), but happy Chris and I were able to get close to the front (just a few people away!).  I've sadly missed several opportunities to see The Faint live, but this time they were amazing.  I had almost forgotten how many of their songs I had committed to memory until they came out and I couldn't stop singing and dancing along.  They kicked off the show with The Conductor and continued their high energy set with other favorites, such as Desperate Guys, Glass Danse, I Disappear, Take Me to the Hospital, Worked Up So Sexual, Let the Poison Spill from Your Throat, Agenda Suicide.  The Faint sounded even better live than on their already great records.  

WIN:  MOST OMINOUS SOUNDING - Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.  Not too familiar with their work aside from a couple songs. I watched them from the beer garden. I think they had a full orchestra. And they sounded dark and heavy. I liked what I heard and it made up slightly for missing Nick Cave's other band on Friday, Grinderman, which has many of the same members. On a side note, it would have been cool if it was Nic Cage and The Bad Seeds instead of Nick Cave. That's a money idea.

WIN:  '80S BAND YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU KNEW (Yay, my first category) - OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark).  Apparently, they've influenced The Killers, La Roux, Death Cab for Cutie, The xx, and LCD Soundsystem.  Most known for If You Leave on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, I had no idea they also sang Electricity, which I've heard many bands cover.  I have to say, the original sounds fantastic.  I couldn't not jump and dance around to it.  

WIN:  MOST FUNNEST - Wu Tang Clan.  I don't like much hip hop but I love these guys. The crowd was gigantic and I don't know why they got put on the side stage. They could've easily headlined. They ran though a nice medley of their hits and each member got their turn. They even did a little of Brooklyn Zoo in honor of ODB. Fun fun set, though not nearly as long as Weekend 1.

Some poor dehydrated white kid made it out of the pit drenched in sweat and asking me for water. I gave him a bottle I had just swiped from security. He gave me a dollar and would not take no for an answer. :)

FAIL:  BAND THAT SOUNDED THE WORST AS I WALKED BY THEM WHILE LEAVING - Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Caught a couple songs as I left and they sounded like shit. Anthony Kiedis can't sing. Only Flea is giving it his all. 

View from Ferris wheel
WIN:  A few firsts for me this Coachella.  First time I:
  • caught more acts at the tents than at the two outdoor stages - blogger obligation to see bands I've never seen live before
  • went to the Sahara Tent - I don't know how I managed to avoid the largest tent all these years of Coachella-going, but I can see how people can stay there all night.  I immediately became mesmerized by the lights and all the people as soon as I stood before it.  Thanks to Chris for pushing us to check it out
  • went on the Ferris wheel - Chris really wanted to ride it and it was surprisingly cool.  I was amazed by how clear Red Hot Chili Peppers sounded all the way at the top.  I was all nerves in anticipation of the height of the damned wheel, then later learned I get motion sickness instead 

Aaaaand that's a wrap. As usual, I am in doubt for next year but once the lineup is set I always seem to go. Until next time.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Coachella 2013 Day 2 - Weekend 2

Guest bloggers:  Doug writing in purple, Chris in orange, and me in white.

Okay so Day 2, I did a poor job of actually walking around the festival and mostly stuck to the main stage and the adjacent beer garden.  It was a relaxing day, but a sad day for adventure.  As usual, I fail as a Coachella goer.

FAIL:  BIGGEST SUPER FAIL ON MY PART - Getting there too late to see Savages.  So every year, it seems, someone plays at Coachella who is about to break big.  I miss their set, everyone says they were awesome, and I don't get that cool hipster feeling of finding a band/singer before they're famous and pretending like I discovered them.  A couple of examples:

In 2009 I missed Mastodon rocking the Mojave Tent at 11 pm when they played their latest album at the time, Crack the Skye, in full because...I don't even remember why. I'm looking at the 2009 set times right now and have no idea what I was doing at this time.  I THINK me and my ex didn't feel like walking anywhere and sat on some bleachers to watch f***ing Atmosphere.  Atmosphere! Jeez. Luckily, I've gone to a couple Mastodon shows since then and they're awesome but it's this kind of breakout performance I never end up catching at Coachella.  It's especially rare to have a metal band get to close out at a tent.  

Then last year, I missed Frank Ocean (actually I caught one song).  I don't remember who I went to see instead. But this was three months before Channel Orange would come out and holy shit I love that album (and I don't even really usually like R&B).  Plus he did a cover of Bob Dylan's Long Time Gone, which I would have just loved to see.  Missing this one was on me, I just make bad choices sometimes.

This year, I think my missed opportunity will be Savages, an all-girl British post-punk band whose debut album Silence Yourself just came out this week and is all sorts of great.  They were playing at the butt crack of 2pm (getting to Coachella at 2pm is the equivalent of getting up at 4am to go to work), so obviously I wasn't going to make it.  I'm still mad about it. *cries*

My BIGGEST SUPER FAIL will be a yearly tradition, I think.  This depresses me.

FAIL:  I don't know what about me screamed drug mule, but a security lady decided to make an example out of me Saturday and held up the line for a good 10 minutes rifling through every single item in my bag.  What did she find?  Vitamins in my Altoids case along with some mints.
"What are these?"
"They don't look like vitamins."
"You can throw them away if you want."
So she throws away the entire case in the trash.

I had no idea what to say about the manufacturing of vitamins to explain why they look the way they do.  So what else could I say?  BTW, amount of drugs I brought in all weekend:  ZERO.  And if I were to bring any in, wouldn't that be the WORST place to hide them?  Come on!  And she didn't have to throw away the entire tin.  Now I had no vitamins for the rest of the weekend AND no mints.  I was pissed.  Chris was behind me and security barely looked in her bag and merely asked "Do you have any drugs?" then let her through.  Seriously?!  I thought maybe Chris' innocent demeanor would transfer over to me, so at the second security checkpoint, I had her go first.  She got through pretty quickly and RIGHT when I got to security, a new grumpy lady came in and made me take everything out of my bag.  She even tried to make me toss my reusable water bottle.  WTF, I'll pour the water out, but I'm not throwing it away.  My day at Coachella was starting out terribly.

FAIL:  Thanks to the holdup at security and the Coachella app update from the night before (my iPhone app was displaying Violent Femmes' time change before the weekend started.  After the update, it was showing the original set time), I missed the first song (the ONE song I wanted to hear most live) off the Violent Femmes debut album (they played the entire album), Blister in the Sun.  My anger and body heat was increasing, so I separated from Chris and Andrew and went straight to the Main Stage to hear the rest of the set and find some shade. 

WIN:  BEST MUSIC TO LAY DOWN ON THE GRASS IN THE BEER GARDEN WHILST DRINKING BEER AND CHILLING:  TIE - The Violent Femmes and Cafe Tacvba.  Obviously, everyone's familiar with the Violent Femmes from such hits as Blister In The Sun and Gone Daddy Gone, but me being a child of the late 90's whose first introduction to music was KoRn and Limp Bizkit (I've come pretty far, huh?) I'm not well-versed in the song catalog of the Femmes, who came a bit before my time, but they sounded fun and a refreshing counter to the more modern hipster crap that usually pervades these festivals.  It's nice to see earnest and non-pretentious at these things.  Also cool: they played their whole first album all the way through.  A fine time on a sunny afternoon and despite their age they still sound great.
Despite missing the first song, I did enjoy the rest of the set.  They sound great after all these years even though their looks and lyrics didn't really match up.  I still loved them and all the songs.  Gawd, I still can't believe the album is as old as I am.  And I found a new favorite shady spot: the fence along the VIP beer garden. 

As for Cafe Tacvba (I don't know why it's spelled that way if the V is not pronounced), this energetic Latin rock band from Mexico were a fine pairing to my Heineken Light that cost $9.  I don't know any of their songs, but they were pleasant and while I laid on the beer garden grass I found myself bobbing along to their songs.  Go me.  

WIN:  If you’ve ever been to a Make-Up show, you know how infectious their music is. But it’s not just their music, it’s the way they perform, the way they move on stage and totally suck you in, especially the singer, Ian Svenonius. That guy is crazy. The tent was packed and as soon as the band came out the crowd went wild. Of course, the entire band was dressed in black suits with collared shirts and ties in the heat I now refer to as the desert inferno, but that didn’t stop them from playing one of the best sets I saw all weekend.

WIN:  I was able to get right up front for Selecter. Where was everyone? I thought it would be totally packed, but people didn’t really start showing up until the band started playing. Even then, there was still lots of room in the tent which turned out to be great because everyone was dancing. I may have breathed in more dust at that show than at any other, though it’s hard to say now. Everyone at the front was older and the two guys beside me told me a story about seeing Selecter in 1979! I couldn’t believe they could even handle a festival like Coachella at their age, but at the same time it was really encouraging to see some old scenesters still hanging out. Plus those guys could dance! The Selecter show had a super high fun factor because of all the dancing. Even Pauline Black commented on how active a crowd this was compared to the week before. And because of that they played two extra songs! Total awesomeness.

WIN:  COOLEST BAND LEAD BY A GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE THE NERDY DUDE FROM THE OCEAN'S 11 MOVIES (I THINK HIS NAME WAS LIVINGSTON, YOU KNOW, THE GUY WHO HANDLED ALL THE COMPUTER STUFF) - Hot Chip.  I've heard the name Hot Chip but never their music.  To my surprise their singer is not a hot guy named Chip (See what I did there? ...I'll see myself out...) but their frontman is this little nerdy British dude and a bunch of his nerdy friends.  Their electro infused dance music made for fun times while the sun went down but after a while all their songs started sounding kind of same-sy to me.  It was also apparently the main guy's birthday (screw it, I'm calling him Chip).  Happy Birthday, Not-Really-Hot-But-Kind-Of-Average-Looking Chip.
Hot Chip's new songs were good, but I was disappointed that they didn't play more of my old favorites.  They played one or two and the rest were new.  I did enjoy the group of guys next to me bonding over the love of dance music and glowing objects.  I did not enjoy the guy next to me who thought he could dance without spilling his beer...

FAIL:  It was finally dark and I was trying to make my way towards where Hot Chip was playing. It was so crowded around the stage I knew it would not even be worth it for me to try and find anyone so I was just hanging out around the periphery. All of a sudden this guy grabs me by the wrist and starts dancing with me. He spun me around and out and he had such a firm grip on me that I couldn’t get out of the dance, nor could I hear what he was saying. It was particularly bad because he was trying to ballroom dance with me and I’m a terrible ballroom dancer. Finally, he stopped and bowed. It was over. Relief! I stood there for a moment trying to wrap my head around what had just happened when the guy grabbed me again. No! I couldn’t believe I was trapped in the same bizarre dance that I’d just escaped from. After what seemed like an eternity, the guy stopped and bowed again. What was with all this bowing? No time to think about that because I had to get out of there. Fast.

WIN:  BEST MUSIC TO PLAY WHILE STAYING HOME ALONE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT TO CRY INTO YOUR SOB JAR BECAUSE SOMEONE JUST BROKE YOUR HEART - The Postal Service.  I never bought or illegally downloaded Give Up, so I really only know Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, and really more so the first song because it was on The Garden State soundtrack and because KROQ never stops playing it, so I figured their music sounded all chipper but with kind of depressing themes, and that's pretty much what happened.  I also just realized I had no idea what Ben Gibbard looked like before I saw him on this day.  He was always that bastard who married my 2009-2010 celebrity crush, Zooey Deschannel.  And God damn it, he had great hair.  
I have to say, Ben Gibbard looks really good post-Zooey Deschannel and far better than he looked in the Death Cab for Cutie concerts I had attended back in college.   
But they're divorced now so I guess she's back in play...ANYWAY, Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley was also there to sing things.  She looks like an older more mann-ish looking Zooey Deschannel to me. 
Maybe it's because I've seen Lewis live back in the day, but I thought Zooey Deschannel was trying to be a brunette, less talented Jenny Lewis.  BTW Jenny Lewis looked and sounded fantastic.     
Anyway, I can't say I'm a HUGE fan of their music, this sort of computer pop isn't really my thing, but it was definitely a highlight of the night.  Being among a crowd of thousands who had obviously been waiting the better part of a decade to sing along to these songs being played live was very fun and since they only had one album I'm pretty sure they squeezed in every song they ever made, so you get that cool feeling where you somehow heard every possible song you liked. 
Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard had great stage chemistry.  The set really brought back memories.  I practically cried singing along to two of my favorite songs:  the playful Nothing Better and Clark Gable.

The show was amazing.  My grumpy streak was slowly coming to an end...

BEST NUDITY - This drugged out dude who walked into the crowd after the Postal Service, who just took off all his clothes except for his socks and then just walked around like this was normal behavior and then later wandered off.  I would post a picture, but this is a family blog.

FAIL:  BEST BAND YOU NEVER EVER NEED TO SEE LIVE - The xx.  Ok so I started listening to The xx a few weeks before Coachella.  I really like their music - it's very minimal and atmospheric and moody, but I also thought that minimalism wouldn't translate well live.  I was mostly right - seeing them live pointed out how much more layered their music is, but the singers are two depressing stiffs who are not fun to watch.  The guy looked kind of creepy, and the girl was wearing a large sport coat which was distracting to me.  Costume choices are always important.  It was nice to see them play bass and guitar live but the bulk of the sound was all Jaime xx in the back doing work on a large rig with various keyboards and computers and electronic percussion instruments.  Other than some fog and some lighting, they're not worth actually seeing.  I like their music, but man I needed a nap.  Also, I just saw the Postal Service sing about depressing shit while still managing to sound happy about it, so The xx just continued my Saturday downward spiral of depression and really need to work on their showmanship and stage presence.

WIN:  Franz Ferdinand's lead singer, Alex Krapanos, rocked a leather jacket and the Mojave Tent.  The band played the tent as if it were a stadium.  How they didn't end up on one of the outdoor stages, I'll never know, but they absolutely killed it with such danceable tracks as Michael, The Dark of the Matinée, No You Girls, Do You Want to, The Fallen, Can't Stop Feeling, Outsiders, and the hit Take Me Out (which I've always wanted to sing along to live.  It was magnificent!).  It was hard for me to pull myself away from the music and miss the rest of the set, but I had to run over to the next tent to catch Janelle Monáe. Thank you for helping me decide when to leave (they had last weekend's set list posted). 

WIN:  The Gobi Tent could hardly contain the powerhouse that is Janelle Monáe.  Great singer, great dancer, great theatrics.  I loved that it felt like a party on stage with her and her band.  Everyone was dancing.  I was impressed by the amazing sound that came out of this small, energetic woman.  Her voice was perfect for I Want You Back (even though that Jackson 5 song is a bit over-covered, she did a great job).  I really wanted to hear Wondaland live, but it probably wouldn't have fit well with the rest of her high energy set.  Lucky for her fans, she went over the allotted set time and closed the night by singing Come Alive, in which she got the crowd to sing along, lower themselves to the ground, rush to the front when she jumped off the stage, running back and forth (she brushed past my fingers.  I turned into a squealing fangirl).  She then SWAM over the audience to the back.  My heart was racing afterwards.  Amazing.  This was the highlight of my night.  I would've been happy if she was the last performer I saw that day, which is probably why...  

WIN:  I was too exhausted to get back into a crowd for Phoenix.  That and Chris and I kept barely missing each other several times until I finally gave into Baohaus, which Doug kept recommending.  I wasn't going to NYC any time soon, so why not try it at Coachella of all places.  I had their version of chicken and waffles, Coffin Bao Fried Chicken (a large fried bao stuffed with their fried chicken and topped with chili condensed milk syrup, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro).  It sounded like a weird combo, but taste-wise made complete sense.  I don't know how Eddie Huang comes up with these flavors, but it was delicious (besides the bao being a bit dense).  I picnicked at the fringe of the Main Stage and enjoyed my late night snack to the soundtrack of Phoenix.  I didn't mind not being in the crowd since I had already experienced a pretty much perfect performance a few years back at Coachella

WIN:  AND LASTLY, I COULDN'T THINK OF ANOTHER FAKE CATEGORY, SO HERE'S WHAT I THOUGHT OF...Phoenix.  My Saturday night ended with Phoenix and me finally having to use one of the Porta Potties.  Phoenix was pretty good.  I only know their most recent singles.  I liked their new songs "Entertainment" and that one about being cool.  Can't really say much here.  They were crowd pleasers.  Alas, neither R Kelly nor Daft Punk showed up, so us Weekend 2 kids got the short end of the stick there.  My friends were super impressed that the singer crowd surfed at the end.  They thought it was the most awesome thing ever. I thought that was cute.  They need to go to more concerts...

So that's my Saturday.  I did a poor job of adventuring, but I had fun.  It was definitely a day of hearing a lot of computer music though. 

FAIL:  We had to walk through a Disneyland-like maze to get to our shuttle and wait in a line that also felt like we were at the theme park.  The delay felt like forever compared to yesterday when we immediately boarded the shuttle.   


Monday, May 6, 2013

Coachella 2013 Day 1 - Weekend 2

This year I have not just one, but TWO guest bloggers!  6-year Coachella veteran Doug, who helped out with blogging duties last year, will be returning in all his snarky glory in purple.  Chris, 1st-time (and probably last-time) Coachella attendee, will be drawing up her new experiences in orange.  I will be chiming in here and there. 

Another year, another exhausting weekend in the desert.  Why do I do this to myself? This year's lineup did not get me very excited.  While there were plenty of acts I would be happy to see, none of them screamed out CAN'T MISS for me.  As far as headliners go, this was the worst in all the years I've gone in terms of selling me on going.  I like/own one Blur album (13), I know one Stone Roses song (one more than most people apparently), I kind of like Phoenix but don't know much of their stuff, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers just screamed of last minute desperation for a name after they couldn't get someone better (and I'm not a fan of their post-1999 work).  So the intent for me this year was checking out some smaller acts and hanging out with fun people.  As usual, I got lazy and didn't feel like walking around too much. Meant to see way more than I ended up seeing, and for this I am displeased with myself.  Anyway, let's get to steppin'.

It was my first time at Coachella. I had already mentally prepared for the heat, the crowds, and security. But what I soon discovered was that you can never be totally prepared for a festival of this scope, so when I got there the first day, I didn’t exactly hit the ground running. It turned out ok though, and as the days wore on, I got more into the swing of things.

WIN:  Digging the postcards of past Coachella posters that came with the wristband.  Brings back memories...

FAIL:  The hotter than expected .7-mile walk to the shuttle.  We all tried the shuttle this year.  Doug's friend set the trend by accidentally purchasing them along with their Coachella passes.  Anyways, I once did an insane 3-mile walk to Coachella thanks to terrible car traffic trying to get in the first day, so I thought less than a mile would be nothing.  We were all caught off guard.  This stretch felt like a 5-mile walk in the shadeless 90-degree heat.  We seriously considered driving to the shuttle the next day. 

WIN:  The shuttle was nice and air conditioned.  It even had bathrooms in the back! 
The shuttle bus was clean, but atmospherically it was like an absurd comedy. Coachella had issued the driver mix CDs to play during the ride, and from the look on his face, it was clear it wasn’t exactly his cup of tea.  The riders for the most part were loud and pumped for the fest. Everyone seemed so hyped and I was already starting to feel my 5am wake up call. I needed lunch. I ate a mint instead. It was a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the weekend. Why am I here? Oh yeah, Stone Roses. 

FAIL:  The walk from the shuttle drop off was a terrible dusty maze, which I understand is helpful to separate and direct the crowds to their shuttles at the end of the night, but extremely unhelpful in the day when there is a shuttle full of people every so often.  It's even worse to walk through all that dust knowing that the shuttle entrance is a few feet away from the first security checkpoint.  Also they tried to disperse the crowds with colored roads.  Sorry Coachella, still crowded and on top of that, very dusty.  Thank goodness I was paranoid about the dust storm from Weekend 1 and brought a handkerchief.  It was a lifesaver all weekend.  I don't know if I was spoiled by cooler weather last year Weekend 1, but I don't remember Coachella ever being THIS dusty.   

FAIL:  Due to the Boston Marathon bombing right after Weekend 1, we saw that security was not messing around. They were searching people much more thoroughly than I had expected and this caused a long wait in line in the hot sun. From there it was another long, dusty walk to the second security check point where there was a second search. We saw bike taxis along the way, but it hadn’t hit me yet what a valuable service they provided. Two security checks and we’re finally in. I was delirious from hunger and the heat.
I know Coachella was just trying to keep people safe, but it seemed a bit disorganized.  I was told people entering from self-parking got through pretty quickly.  Maybe I was just getting grumpy from the heat and waking up so early. 

FAIL:  Thanks to the long security lines, we missed Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.  At least I caught some of their set streaming from Weekend 1.  They would've been good.

WIN:  Doug decided to come up with his own categories.  Enjoy!
BEST FELLOW MORRISSEY HATER - Johnny Marr.  Just for reference, we got to Palm Springs around noon, somehow didn't get into the venue until 3, and didn't really see anyone until 4.  That first act was some guy from The Smiths named Johnny Marr.  I don't listen to The Smiths.  Not that I think they suck, they just never did it for me. BUT I really really really hate Morrissey , like as a human being.  I can't stand militant vegetarians. I saw him at Coachella 2009.  He really seemed to hate being there and twice stopped his set because he had to say something about the smell of cooked meat and leave the stage because he had to compose himself. F THAT GUY.  So anyway, Johnny Marr was in The Smiths or something and I guess they all hate each other and Morrissey doesn't like when they play Smiths songs without him.  So of course Johnny Marr plays Smiths songs.  If it gets Morrissey upset, I fully support this.  As for his set, I stuck around for about 5 songs.  He had a respectable turnout (with a much older crowd than I'm used to seeing) and seemed to be enjoying himself. Good for the old guy. He came out with a rose in his mouth and then strapped it to his guitar.  British people...Anyway, this was a nice appetizer to start the day.
Where am I? The festival grounds are massive. It made the map I’d been studying online look like a joke. After a little rest and hydration, it was time for Johnny Marr.  Johnny Marr hit the stage strong with The Right Thing Right. It was a great opener and the crowd responded in a sea of undulating bodies and bobbing heads. I was right there with them. He’s an awesome live performer, a real showman with the kind of natural charisma that always made me wonder why he was never a front man. His talent as a guitarist is unquestionable as he’s proven time and time again in all the bands he’s played in (The Smiths, The Pretenders, TheThe, Electronic, Modest Mouse...) and now with his solo work finally out after all these years, I was overjoyed to see just how truly great he was on his own. Unfortunately, that song was followed by a gratuitous Smiths song, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before. Luckily, after that, I was rewarded with Upstarts.  Energetic and catchy, it was a real pick-me-up and I soon forgot about how hot it was and remembered why I love going to shows in the first place. But too soon again, he played another Smiths song and not knowing how much more of that there’d be, I decided to get out of there with Hey Hey Scenesters and headed to Divine Fits.

Johnny Marr's songs were good.  He's very talented, so I don't understand why he needed to play songs that made him sound like a bad Smiths cover band.  It was weird.  It's not like last year's Coachella performer, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, who definitely needed to play Oasis songs to keep people around.  Their original songs sounded kind of like bad Oasis songs. 

FAIL:  Morrissey.  Did i mention I hate him?  He wasn't there, but he somehow still bothered me.

Giant Snail loved Divine Fits
WIN:  Divine Fits was already playing when we got to the Outdoor Stage. They sounded really good, though I thought Like Ice Cream was a ridiculous song. It’s summery sounding, but lacks substance lyric wise. Baby Get Worse was better with heavier guitar and a more appealing bass line. The keyboard and synth backing this song really picked it up for me and I found their performance on this one to be dramatic. It turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser and for good reason. They’re a good live band and I’d gladly see them again, though maybe not as a headliner. That said, I did enjoy the rest of their set and did not leave disappointed.
This was a good start to my Coachella weekend.  Divine Fits sounded great live, as good as their album A Thing Called Divine Fits.  Their songs are catchy even if most of the time they sound like either Spoon or Wolf Parade (I haven't listened to them, but I'm guessing they are heavy on the synthesizers).  My Love is Real and Baby Get Worse are some of the few songs that sound like they actually collaborated. 

WIN:  BEST BAND THAT HAD A SONG OR TWO ON THE SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD SOUNDTRACK - Metric.  I have a genuine like for Metric's indie electro-y pop music and Emily Haines' voice.  They played at like 4:45 at the main stage and I had time to catch just three songs - and they were all songs I knew!  The main stage audience bounced along nicely and seemed into it.  And Emily brought the swag with a gold mic.  They sounded good and I heard them play a couple of their hits right off the bat - Help I'm Alive and Youth Without Youth.  Wished I could have heard Black Sheep but I had to leave to go see...

WIN:  BEST CANADIAN BAND WITH THE NAME OF ANOTHER COUNTRY IN THEIR NAME - Japandroids.  I was very eager to see The Japandroids.  I have their latest album, and while it has a fun spunkiness to it, it has this very strange sense of polish that seemingly robs it of the full blast of raw punk-infused energy I feel is trying to burst through.  As I suspected, their live show is the best way to experience them. The energetic duo, playing only guitar and drums, just tore through their songs (and guitar strings and broken drum sticks) and really got the Gobi Tent rocking.  They were genuinely happy to be there and it showed in their performance.  Their songs were very catchy and fun to sing along to.  The crowd doing the "OH OH OH OH OH OH OH OHHHH" refrain during The House That Heaven Built was a joy.

BEST STAGE CRASHER - This man-lady in a dress (I couldn't tell, he/she was very androgynous) somehow rushed the stage during the Japandroids set and lasted a good 30 seconds of ridiculous dancing before one of the band techs got 3 security guys to grab her and take her to the back. Rock 'N' Roll.
WIN:  WORST BLACKOUT - I don't remember what I did for the next hour...and no I didn't take any drugs. 
Doug seems to have forgotten that this was when he and friends double fisted cups of beer and had dinner.  I must say, there has been a huge improvement in food offerings this year.  I was never so relieved in my life to see a Kogi truck.  At that moment, I felt like I was eating the best tacos in the world.  This was also when Doug began his love affair with Lime Truck's Ahi Tuna Poke Nachos (fresh tuna, pickled veggies, and edamame hummus served with fresh chips). 
Later, I found myself at the Green Truck. This was sadly one of the best parts of the evening for me. I had a fantastic vegan burger from Green Truck. It had a flavorful homemade patty topped with fresh vegetables and a terrific focaccia bun. They also make their own ketchup which I used liberally. I sat down on my orange mat (it folds up really small and turned out to be a great accessory to have at the fest) and had the best burger I’d ever had at a show. Plus finally being able to sit down was awesome. I could hear Stone Roses playing in the background. They sounded great and I really wanted to see them, but hunger and fatigue took precedence and I was content to just scarf that delicious burger while listening to them in the distance. At the time, it all seemed just perfect, but in retrospect I wish I’d planned better.

WIN:  BEST BAND WITH A JOSH HOMME FROM QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE LOOKALIKE - Modest Mouse.  I've never gotten super into Modest Mouse but the songs I do know I have always liked.  I thought they put on a pretty good show.  They had a pretty huge band with all sorts of instruments up there.  A fine start to the evening hours and made me make a mental note to get more of their stuff on my iDevice to listen to at my leisure.
I was so excited to see Modest Mouse live, but a little disappointed that they didn't play more songs from The Moon & Antarctica (reminds me of college).  They played one song from that era.  It was good.  I did love hearing This Devil's Workday live.  Otherwise, they sounded like what I thought they would sound like.  Not a band I would HAVE to see again.  Hm, I don't know if this was a WIN after all...  I don't think Chris was a fan.  I can see how their singing style could be hit or miss for people. 

WIN:  BEST USE OF CHEERLEADER POM POM MATERIALS TO MAKE A SCARF/BOA THINGY - Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  I've seen her wear crazier outfits, but I thought this one was a success because when she bounced on stage some of the pom pom stuff got in her mouth before she started singing and she had to pull it out as if it were hair.  I laughed. Rock 'N' Roll.  Side note: I don't care for her new blonde hair.
Everyone kept telling me I HAD to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs for Karen O's outfits.  Her outfit was crazy alright.  Kind of reminded me of when I saw Björk at Coachella.  She definitely has stage presence. 

FAIL:  BEST BAND WITH WORST NEW SONGS OFF DISAPPOINTING NEW ALBUM - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  Ok so I hadn't gotten Mosquito yet before I saw them play on Friday, but the new songs off the album that they did play were very hit or miss.  The use of the choir for Sacrilege was cool and I liked her crazy vocals on title track Mosquito, but the other songs slowed their usually energetic set list to a crawl.  I've since gotten the CD and given it a few listens.  It's definitely my least favorite of their albums, and I really enjoyed their other 3 (and the EPs).  These new songs just didn't click for me live, and they haven't really clicked for me yet listening in the car.  It felt like half their set was new stuff and I was missing some of their crowd-pleasers like Date With The Night or Phenomena.  But regardless, I'm still a huge fan of theirs and Karen O is like a crazy girl version of Iggy Pop.  Just a great frontwoman. And you can tell she still loves the hell out of singing Maps
WORST NEW CATEGORY I MADE UP (The last one, about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I'm not even sure it makes grammatical sense. But I'm committing to it.)
I tried really hard to like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I just don't.  Karen O's voice is a bit screechy for me sometimes.  I still think she's talented and a great live performer.  Their music is just not my thing.  Also, I couldn't really see anything, so I zoned out a bit.  Makes me kind of regret not going off on my own to see Beach House and Band of Horses.  I was a little scared to separate from the group on the first day. 
By the time Yeah Yeah Yeahs went on, a wave of fatigue had washed over me. This was partly from having not eaten and also from having been in the sun and on my feet for way too long. I learned a valuable lesson here.  Eating and resting somewhere between bands is a must. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but with all the action going on and running from one place to another, it’s easy to forget or just not have time. They were probably great, but I was so tired I couldn’t really tell.

FAIL:  I think at this point we were pretty tired and totally lazed about and missed the Stone Roses.  Whatever, I don't think anyone cared.  I'm also sad I missed Grinderman because I didn't want to walk from the beer garden all the way to the Mojave tent.  I also missed a potential high school flashback by not going to the Outdoor stage to see Jurassic 5.  So....

WORST COACHELLA GOER - Me. In my defense, Friday is always the longest day between getting up early to make the two-hour drive and just being there for like 9-10 hours. I'm old, okay??
Could also be me.  Halfway through Blur I was starting to get grumpy from being cold and tired from being on my feet all day and being awake for 18 hours (I didn't even get a chance to nap!). 

WIN:  MOST FUN I HAD SINGING ALONG TO SONGS I KNEW - Blur.  Despite the thin crowd at the main stage that turned out to see them (Seriously, if I had more interest I could've waltzed right up to the stage), Blur put on a fun set.  
If I hadn't been so tired I would have gotten a little closer to the stage least to keep myself warm..    
I loved singing along to Coffee and TV and Tender and Girls & Boys and also made my own fun by going "WOO HOO!" after every song until they performed Song 2 (a song I'm sure we're all pretty sick of, but hey I've never heard it live).  However, I got this sense like they really were just dragging along by the end and they didn't even do an encore. Hmph! >_<  Again, to reiterate, I like Blur, but I don't think most people know them past "that band that does the WOO HOO song."  I don't think they OR the Stone Roses were very strong choices for co-headliners.
Fueled and slightly rested, I was ready for the final band of the night, Blur.  They opened with Girls & Boys, one of their classic hits. The sound of the keyboard followed by the bass line starting the song was exciting and that energy could be felt through the crowd. There’s No Other Way was next up and is one of my favorite songs from their first album. They played this song a little faster live, but it was still great and Damon Albarn was in full force, belting out the lyrics like a man possessed. I like that they played a lot of slower songs in the middle like Coffee & TV, Beetlebum, and Tender.  Perfect songs for the last set of the night and the end of a long day. They closed with Song 2 and a dazzling light show that zoomed off the stage. It was a sight to see even in my spent state. A totally amazing performance and a super way to end the day.
I think people know more Blur songs than they realize, especially once they hear them.  I loved Coffee & TV, Beetlebum, Girls & Boys, and even Song 2 was great (I actually haven't heard it in a long time since I stopped listening to the radio awhile back, so it was awesome!  They rocked it live).

WIN:  Finally napping in the soft, comfortable seats on the shuttle after a long day at the fest... and free water. 


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Idyllists Record Release for The Grave & Unfortunate Life of Lord Hoffway & His Magnificent Piano @ Bar Lubitsch

Aaron Mohlo

was one guy on a stage with a looping machine, who seemed nervous and sounded like he hadn't rehearsed much.  I have to say, it takes balls to get up on stage alone and perform.  His voice wasn't bad and he's actually in a band, so I'm curious as to what he would sound like with a full band.  I give him props for being a fan of Walter Meego (love their first album.  Haven't really listened to the second one much) even though he didn't exactly choose the best style to cover their songs.  And I do agree with his sentiment that Walter Meego wrote songs like 5th graders, but executed them excellently.  Sadly, the duo has disbanded like he mentioned.  

The Idyllists

Photo by HC
Since I'm so shy, and HC and I had to run off to dinner after the show, I didn't get a chance to ask Ian Webber, vocalist of The Idyllists, any questions.  He was surrounded by friends anyhow.  And for good reason, the band sounded great on the tiny stage.  I'm sure they could have easily filled a larger venue such as Hotel Cafe, where they had previously played.  At Bar Lubitsch, the band was crammed onto a small stage, where two pillars kept two members hidden from view.  It looked like the band barely had room to move, but that didn't stop them from playing an enthusiastic, albeit short, set.

With keyboardist Matthew Barge and bassist George Mohler back in town, I was hoping to hear some of the classics like I Think it's Going to Rain and Let's Fly Away in a longer set, but the show abruptly ended at 10pm.  I'm not embarrassed to admit that I was the one who yelled for one more song.  I meant it!  However, walking by the bar after dinner, I'm guessing the place immediately turned into a club at that time. 

Their new album The Grave & Unfortunate Life of Lord Hoffway & His Magnificent Piano, is a melancholy departure from their previous albums' Britpop style.  Maybe it's because it was recorded over the course of several rainy weeks in Laurel Canyon.

Favorite songs from their set:
  • Good Red Wine
  • Rose Coloured Glasses
  • Afterglow - has been stuck in my head lately
  • Old Fashioned
  • Midnight Alley Run - okay, so they didn't play this live, but they should have!  It's one of the best songs off the album! 

Ian Webber was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions by email. 

HEY HEY SCENESTERS:  How did The Idyllists come up with the title of the new album?

IAN WEBBER:  The album title was a combination of studio recording and chatting.  Sam started putting on a Brit accent and calling Halfway House, Lord Hoffway's House. That's where Lord Hoffway came from. I always liked grand old novels such as Agatha Christie or Ronald Dahl, and even childhood books that had long imaginative titles. We chatted and grave and unfortunate came.. Then naturally the piano was the main instrument this time round so that had to have a mention. Hope this solves the riddle!

HHS:  Why did you decide to play at Bar Lubitsch instead of, say, Hotel Cafe? (since you definitely had a ton of fans there)

IAN:  Bar Lubitsch is a place I book weekly and has become a really cool and alternative place to host live music.  We had time to set up early, not have other bands play and basically do what we wanted. It was a natural place to play given we also had not performed for a while. Plus the room sounds great!  Size wise I always prefer small rooms, so everyone is closer to us.. :) 

HHS:  Yea, I didn't even realize the bar had a stage back there.  The sound is actually pretty good and the intimate space is nice. 
Why such a short set?  Was there a time limit?  (I really wanted to hear I Think it's Going to Rain ;) ) 

IAN:  Short set? We had limited rehearsal times as Matthew lives in NYC, George in San Fran. So that's really why. Wanted to be fully rehearsed on a few rather than less rehearsed on a lot of songs. We decided to keep it to just the new LP as it has its particular mood. Didn't want to spoil or interrupt the flow with a fast happy song haha. Maybe if we get together more frequently older songs could get performed. We still love 'em.

HHS:  Well, that's true.  I'd still love to hear a happy song next time, maybe as an encore? :P 
Was it difficult to put this record together since some of your members live out of town? 

IAN:  It was easy to pull the LP together actually. 3 studio get togethers, everyone flying in, intense rehearsal and then record! Of course we did file share to get a feel for the song structure which helped. 

HHS:  Will there be future albums? 

IAN:  Future albums? But of course my dear! We all know each other so well now that we trust each others playing, and songs can get finished fairly quickly once we are together..

HHS:  Whew, so glad to hear that.