I've had a gmail account for some time, but have not yet made the switch from my primary yahoo-based one. One reason is that google requires at least six characters in the username, which means I can't have "xispo" as an option. Boo. Another is that it's a pain in the ass to change e-mails. So many accounts are tied to my e-mail and the thought of doing double duty for x number of months to ease the transition irks me. The last is that my google account gets a constant stream of spam. There's the usual V1@grA stuff, but I also get a decent amount of e-mails that are meant for someone else. Some of them are pretty personal, but not *that* personal, heh. My initial reaction to getting these was to send a polite e-mail to the sender, letting them know they had the wrong person. Some replied and stopped e-mailing my account. Others didn't.
So, in an attempt to resurrect mah blog, I'm going to start posting these missives to bizarro me. Some will be banal, others weird and others kind of funny.
Coachella Day 3
I don't feel as rough as I usually do on a Day 3, which is comforting. We take our time getting there, having a leisurely breakfast. Traffic is once more a non-issue (where are all the cars?) and we get to the polo fields in pretty short order.
It's supposed to be the hottest day of the weekend, but there's a little cloud cover that masks the heat a bit--it's actually quite lovely.
Have just enough time to catch the last two songs of Holy F*uck. They are great! Hypnotic, melodic, driving soundscapes; like a more kinetic M83. Great energy. I definitely want to check out more of them. B+
Heading over to the main stage, I catch the last two songs of the Shout Out Louds. They actually sound greatly improved from when I last saw them. Perhaps their live act has improved with some seasoning on the road. B
The Field was cancelled, due to problems they had getting into the country. Boo.
DeadMau5 wore a mouse stuffed head for a good part of the set. That didn't change the fact that the music sounded like all the other new hottness djs. Well mixed, but I think I'm already sick of the sound. C -
Stars are still on and I catch the last portion of their set. They also sound much better than the last time I saw them at the Fillmore. Go Canada! Get to hear a few of my favorites while lounging in the grass. B
Swervedriver look old, heh. They sound good though and I relive some college music days with JD. B
Does It Offend You, Yeah? had the place hopping -- electro dance party with good energy, but feels very flavor of the month to me. C
Gogol Bordello was a raucous gypsy dance party. Very impressed with their energy levels and though it wasn't really my thing, musically, it was fun to watch for a bit. C+
Metric overcame some tech issues (when do they not have them?) to put on a good show, though I have seen them better. I think they are probably more suited to an indoor show, where the sound can bounce around and fill the room a bit more. Still, it was quite enjoyable. Emily was working a space-disco leotard/skort thing and was her usual crazy freaked out ringleader self. B
Love and Rockets were the highlight of my day. They were loud and tore up the outdoor stage with a fantastic set that included: Dog End of a Day Gone By, Haunted When the Minutes Drag, Kunalini Express, Ball of Confusion, No New Tale to Tale, Motorcycle and a few others. There was also a surprise appearance by the Bubblemen that culminated in a pillow fight. I hope the do a tour because I'd like to see them again. A
Had a bit of a sit down after that and took in some of Roger Waters. Most impressive visuals -- huge projection(?) screen with very neat visuals (started with an old time radio with a bottle of whiskey and a hand would tune in different stations. Then huge balls of fire and other visuals. The sound was insane -- they had set up surround speaker cabinets all around the field so that as they were playing, weird ambient textures would wash up around/behind you. Very trippy. He played some different stuff off of different albums before an intermission and then Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. I had left by then, but caught a few songs, including Wish You Were Here, which was pretty special. I did come back to catch some of the Dark Side performance, which was pretty impressive as well. B+
Simian Mobile Disco were disappointing. I figured out what's bugged me about most of the djs and electronic performers this weekend: a complete lack of narrative -- it's all just song after song. Here's the formula: play decent to good track, get the crowd pumped. Drop the bass. Tweak the EQ a bit, maybe shuffle a beat or too. Drop the beat. Crowd goes wild. Chris get irritated and confused at why people seem to be satisfied with this. C -
Chromeo was even worse. They haven't changed much from when I saw them several years ago. Then they were like an electronic comedy act--more entertaining for the farce they perpetuate than for their actual music. Seems the kids really dig them now. "This is the new sound," he "sang." Uh, no. It's not -- it's old sounding and boring and you suck. D
At least Chromeo's suckage gave me the opportunity to check out Black Mountain, who were awesome. Huge, heavy sound -- sound as if they stepped right out of 70s guitar heaven. They had a keyboard too to add some interesting textures and a male and female singer. I very much plan to check out more of them. B+
Justice closed Coachella. They had some good beats/tracks, but see earlier above wine-a-bration about my thoughts. C
Overall, it was a pretty good weekend. I initially came for the electronic music, but it was the rock and roll that did it for me (plus Kraftwerk). Go figure. My faves for the weekend:
Love and Rockets
Coachella Day 2
It didn't take long (just a few hours) for today to eclipse yesterday. Overall, a great day!
Traffic was really light and we ended up arriving pretty early. Caught a few songs of VHS or Beta on the main stage. They sounded good, like an upbeat and updated Cure. B
Then witnessed some rock-n-roll history in Carbon/Silicon, Mick Jones' (and Tony James') new project. They were great -- Mick was convivial and entertained the crowd with witty banter and spot on tunes. Good old rock-n-roll. B
Freakfest time in Man Man, who seem like a group of band geeks who took one too many hits of acid, adopted a drama student as their frontman and decided to spread their percussive madcap message to the masses. Their stage arrangement was very interesting -- five of them in a tight cluster, the main anchor being a ton of drums, but they would pull other instruments into the mix: guitars, horns, pots and pans, keyboards. The "singer," adorned with facepaint, would alternate on keyboards and running around, causing havoc. They had a nice Louisiana swing to their sound as well. Great energy. B
120 Days are Norway's answer to Underworld, albeit with a bit more screeching. They came on pretty late, due to tech difficulties and never really seemed to recover. Good beats, but not feeling it, really. C
Some DJ action with James Zabiela, who played some decent records and mixed them really well. Also incorporated a Kaos pad (or something similar) to throw some nice scratching action in the mix. B-
Poked my head into the Sahara tent to see what was going on with MGMT. Way too crowded and not really justified, I think. Flavor of the week. C
Blown away by Boyz Noize. Dude demolished the dance tent with crazed mixes of insane techno. Master use of effects on the mixer to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Most impressive. B+
Kate Nash started late (an unfortunate pattern today) due to sound check issues. They didn't seem to solve them as there was something amiss with someone's instrument (loud crackling). The audio mix was pretty bad too -- drums and bass way too loud, making Kate's voice hard to hear. I was disappointed, but it wasn't terrible. B-
I jetted Kate early to recline in the grass and catchy the last bit of Stephen Malkmus' set. He really can't do wrong in my book, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nice to get off the feet for a bit too. Did a good Who cover (can't remember). B
St. Vincent was an interesting experience. Like Chan Marshall channeling Feist with more schizophrenia and some twang. Good stuff. B
Cinematic Orchestra also started late -- they are an 8 piece outfit that plays soulful easy listening. Nice, but not really my cup of tea. B-
Another bit of reclining and caught the last bit of Death Cab. They played some pretty rocking stuff--'twas a nice way to wish the sun adieu. B
After some grub, hit the main stage for Kraftwerk. Their show hasn't changed much, but it wasn't any less impressive and enjoyable. They have done such a phenomenal job updating the underlying beats behind their seminal music. I especially enjoyed Radioactivity. A
Portishead was better than I expected -- very dynamic with some fairly upbeat tempos (just some). The vocals were great too. B
Prince was amazing. He didn't fail to entertain. He was late to the stage, but still played an hour and a half. There were about 20 people on stage, including a horns section, drummer, keyboards, three back singers. Then there was Morris Day and Sheila E. He played a bunch of stuff, both old and new (Lil' Red Corvette, 1999, Controversy) and had the crowd into it the whole time, singing, clapping, waving hands, dancing. He shredded on guitar, played "Creep," a great version of "Come Together" before sending us home with "Let's Go Crazy." Fantastic. A
Coachella Day 1
The weather is actually quite bearable (high of 93) -- a nice breeze escorts us through the mile or so of parking lots. I had lost my tickets in my last move, but I guess those "convenience" charges do amount to something as it was no problem to get replacements at the box office. (First and only) kudos to T-master.
The line to get in is pretty short and we soon emerge onto the polo fields. We catch the last few songs of Rouge Wave, including a great version of "Bird on a Wire" that descends (like a vulture, heh) into a freak out drum jam in which all members are furiously banging on percussion. Nice. I rate them a B.
it should be noted that my rating system is entirely subjective and dependent on my whim and surroundings. Overall the first day was merely ok. It was actually my least favorite day, musically, at Coachella ever. Still, a mediocre day at Coachella beats a lot of things.
Head over to Sahara tent to catch Midnight Juggernauts. They lacked a certain energy that I would expect from a teched out electronic band -- perhaps it was the leather jacket the singer kept on in the heat, but I wasn't really digging them. C+
Caught the last song for Porter, which, to me, sounded like a Mexican Jane's Addiction with a metal drummer. Pretty cool, actually. Didn't get enough to give them a rating, so I'll give them a "pass" (as in Pass/Fail).
Next up was Redd Kross, who I'm not actually very familiar with---I just know that they have been very influential to many different bands over the years. They were really good--I especially liked "Crazy World" and "After School Special" -- wry lyrics and good rock sensibilities/melodies. B.
After that, I cruise over to see Battles, who entertaining a very full Gobi tent. They are a pretty strange set up. Three guys -- two guitarists who also manned keyboards/samples/computers and a drummer. We decided they were like a mathy Wire with extended songs. Layers of samples, angular guitars, the odd vocal loop with driving drums. Very interesting. B.
Les Savy Fav was freaking out on the Outdoor Stage. The lead singer looks like a punk rock santa monk and was squeezed in to pair of red shorts. He was all over the stage, pouring gatorade down his pants, climbing all the way up the rigging, under the stage. Though the music wasn't quite there for me (C+), I give him a B+ for his showmanship, especially in the heat. My favorite moment though was watching a little girl on stage-- she was barely walking and had these huge yellow sound protectors on. She was standing on the side of the stage and would take a few steps toward the mayhem before her and start bobbing up and down to the be beat. So cute.
Caught the last two songs of Black Kids. They sound like The Go Team with Robert Smith on vocals. C.
Dan Deacon was disappointing. I give him props for pulling his act onto the floor, but his sound was that of someone playing someone else's music through effect pedals and overdriven bass and adding some wry crowd banter and audience participation. I wasn't feeling it. C-
Listened to Busy P play a few records -- some good tracks, well mixed. B -
Architecture in Helsinki was also disappointing for me. I guess it's hard to bring so many people together and have it work live (another reason why Arcade Fire rock). Definitely more of a studio band. "Do the Whirlwind" was really disappointing. C
The Breeders met their (very low) expectations. At first I though Kim Deal was a roadie up on stage adjusting equipment. She looked kind of like Wayne from Wayne's World. They had some stops and starts, but were in good spirits with playful banter. "New Year" into "Cannonball" into "Happiness is a Warm Gun" was pretty great though. C+
I must have been standing in the audio dead zone for Vampire Weekend because they sounded really hollow to me. They were there musically, but the sound was just not very rich. C+
Cut Copy was moving the crowd with their neo-new wave synth dance party, but were a little too generic and derivative sounding for me. Good energy though. C
Mum offered pretty harmless music for the Fey that just barely rose above the stench that was emanating from the port-a-potties. Ups to them for asking the crowd "who farted?" though. :) C
My first happy surprise was Tegan and Sara -- they were on the big stage and carried it extremely well. The cute lil' mice had a rich sound and were totally on point. Great show. B+
Caught one song -- Letter from God to Man, which is a spoken word rap over a Radiohead mash-up/sample, from Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. Not enough heard to rate though...
Goldfrapp were less dancey than I expected, but they had a nice stage set up and sounded very lush, with harps and violin accompanying the chanteuse vocals. I quite enjoyed them. B
Was disappointed to learn that Aphex Twin was only playing a dj set, but was still good to catch. He started on a very melodic tip, but quickly bent it toward techy realms and then into breaky, drum and bassy sounds before taking it into more twisted Aphexy territory. Extra bonus was watching people attempt to dance to the well mixed schizophrenia. B
Watched a few songs from Oscar-winning Swell Season. The guy was remarking how chuffed he was to have seen Kim Deal/Wayne backstage at the food tent. He then played a pretty great cover of "Cactus" from Surfer Rosa. Then was joined for some songs by the drummer from The National. Was a good acoustic break before heading over to the Verve. B
Richard's voice was a little hoarse as compared to their show at the Warfield, but it was a still a great performance. B
Spank Rock was sick. :( Amanda Blank tried to carry the show without him. C-
Second best surprise of the was Black Lips. They were great! They sound like a punk band if punk had emerged in the 50's from the deep south. Great southern fried punky action with a 50's sensibility weaved into some tracks. Bonus for Har Mar Superstar doing some backup dancing. B+
In all, a pretty ok day. Looking forward to Kate Nash, Cinematic Orchestra, Kraftwerk and, of course, Prince tomorrow.
Sex Pistols -- When I was in high school, I sang "Anarchy in the UK" at the church my family went to. It was a friend's band and the singer didn't know the lyrics, so I hopped up on stage to help. Which is a strange as I can't carry a tune to save my life. Not that it matters, given the material, I suppose. I remember freaking when I realized I was about to sing "I am the Anti Christ" at a place of worship, so I quickly substituted "Bad Boy" instead. I was involved with Youth Group (at my Mom's insistence), but I didn't really get it. Anyway, I think it scared them...
Lush -- I've always been a sucker for girl vocals and the combination of Miki and Emma's angelic voices coupled with layers of shimmery guitar was aural perfection for me. I think I felt even more of an affinity due to their Abba cover of "Hey Hey Helen" (Abba was my favorite band when I was little).
Ride -- Zig to Lush's zag. I went to see Lush and Ride play together the day after my mother died. For a few hours, everything was ok--I was able to bliss out in the beautiful deafening roar of textures at the 9:30 club. I remember Andy Bell played the hell out of his guitar -- beating a 12 string down to two or three strings.
Pavement -- Slanted and Enchanted is still one of my favorite albums. Lazy erudite summer guitar rock perfection.
Radiohead -- I admittedly came somewhat late to this party. I didn't discover how brilliant Ok Computer was until well after it was released. I did make up for lost time though. They are probably the most important band still making music. I still sometimes just lay in the dark and listen to them on the headphones. And it's still amazing.
Highlights from my trip in November - December last year. Pics are here. Bangkok We arrived at BKK via Taipei (worst airport for layovers evar), snagged a cab and found ourselves dropped off rather unceremoniously in Banglamphu. Specifically, we were...