Monday, May 25, 2009

...the right thing...

Hard to believe it's been twenty years since Spike Lee dropped 'Do The Right Thing'...
Someone put a lot of time & effort into this tribute...enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Coachella 2009, day two, part one
















i.e. Saturday...Saturday...Saturday...
Final word about day one…in case I forgot to mention, it was (mid 80’s) the most temperate day ever in years of Coachella going. The move up of the festival one week forward really paid off, and by the time McCartney hit the stage that night, the temps had backed off to around 60, which means chilly out in the desert when one is dressed for 100. Veterans, of course, always stash a hoody, (especially skinny veterans).
Saturday was a return to form, in every sense, with temps reaching for the century mark at midday, and a lineup that wouldn’t quit from the word go. None the worse for wear from Friday’s adventure, I hit the tents to open Saturday, picking up post position in the Gobi Tent for Norway’s contribution to culture, Ida Maria.
The crowd in the tent was huddled toward the front, scavenging all the available shade, which was just as well, since the main stage featured Billy Talent, Joss Stone, & Paolo Nutini consecutively…making a stellar case for shade, if not vast quantities of alchohol. The tent was about half full when Ida Maria hit the stage, raising the curtain on day 2 with an energetic set, mostly her debut album from last year (in Europe), or brand new (here). Her band came full throttle, 3 deep & her, and they brought an extra edge to the songs, notably a spirited run through ‘Oh My God’, and ‘Stella’, but the highlight, interestingly enough, was a heartfelt take on ‘Keep Me Warm’, which despite the slower tempo, gained a rough intensity among all the rockers…
First conflict of the day sprung up next with the Liars on the outdoor stage…but, having just seen them open for Radiohead last fall, (and the fact that it was outside), made the decision to maintain my hard earned spot at the front of the stage for Bob Mould an easy one. Mr. Mould has already lived a few lives, what with notable bands in both the 80’s (Husker Du), and 90’s (Sugar), and a steadfast solo career in between them and since, so in terms of a set, I had no idea what to expect, but I was pretty sure, given the bootlegs I’ve heard, that intensity wouldn’t be an issue.

First red flag went up during soundcheck…I had made a point not to be directly in front of his stack of Marshalls, but when the drummer test.cracked his snare a few times, I felt my hair move. Uh oh…It was then that I remembered a vintage Mould quote where he stated that his idea of a perfect show was a stadium with his band Sugar at one end, and My Bloody Valentine at the other. I hastily went digging through my pockets for earplugs, but they were safely nestled in the suitcase, since MBV, (the one time I knew I would need them), wasn’t on until Sunday. Failing that, and with no shame whatsoever, I quickly improvised, tearing off the filters from two cigarettes, shredding off the paper and wadding them into my ears, gaining an approving nod from the grizzled hipster behind me. Sometimes you have to do it old school style…
Other generational note…at this point, I noticed a covey of teen girls, (14ish), materialize in front of me, which was odd to say the least. I felt like Marlin Perkins, and loosened my ‘earplugs’ in an effort to overhear the conversation and gain clues as to what could possibly explain there appearance here, of all places. I recognize Mr. Mould as a kingpin of the college rock era, a towering figure in the indie.nation, and a building block of the culture that helped first spawn Lollapalooza, then give birth to this very festival, a veteran of the ‘D.I.Y. tour the country in a van ethic’, but how had this possibly crossed down to the teen generation of today? Interesting…
My answer came when one of the irrepressible sprites pointed to a quiet figure curled up against the stage next to me, roughly my age, slouching under a baseball cap pulled low. She then pronounced, ‘I’m here for Dad’s band, but I’ll meet you…’
Hee hee. Dad rock, sweet…It’s all relative, I guess…

My reverie was interrupted by the emergence of the band, Bob bounced out, now gray of beard, but buff and ready. He strapped on his guitar, smiled at the crowd and said ‘hey’, and proceed to blow the doors off the place. He opened with ‘The Act We Act’, the first song from the first Sugar album, then proceed to mix up Sugar and solo tunes, including two from his brand new ‘Life & Times’. His backing band was ferocious, and kept up w/him through the changing tempos and moods…

When he did break into the Husker Du songbook, it wasn’t just surfing the greatest hits…’I Apologize’ from New Day Rising was the first salvo, followed so closely by ‘Chartered Trips’ from Zen Arcade, that it’s captured as one…at this point the middle of the tent was absolutely frothing bedlam, and he eased off the tempo (somewhat) with a heartfelt shredding of ‘Celebrated Summer’, also from ‘New Day Rising’, then shifted into ‘Makes No Sense At All’ from Flip Your Wig, and brought things to a close with the title track of ‘New Day Rising’…exiting the stage in a hail of feedback.

Drained and confused, I stumbled to the back of the tent & collapsed, sweat soaked and thoroughly sated. Half an hour later, Blitzen Trapper eased into their set of tunes with a slower Southern gothic vibe, and in all fairness, I tried. I tried hard…I had been looking forward to them, and I wanted to like it, but…Mr. Mould had reduced me to rubble, and I just wasn’t taking, so I wandered off in search of the next thrill…

And to plot and plan…Dr. Dog didn’t make the cut either, and the sunshine kept me away from the Drive By Truckers, so it turned into a food/refueling break to get back some badly needed energy, and in the spirit of Morrissey, I sought my solace in Big Willie’s BBQ.

The five o’clock hour offered the worst pileup of the whole weekend, in terms of tough choices…at five minute intervals, Henry Rollins, Amanda Palmer, and Superchunk. Oh the humanity! Just saw the first two of the three last year, so I choose Amanda over Henry, (sorry big guy!), then drifted down to brave the outdoor stage for Superchunk. Amanda was in fine form, the strains of 2001 serenaded a parade of bodypainted volunteers whose torsos spelled out AMANDA FUCKING PALMER, and then she appeared, and it was on…

I guiltily snuck away to catch Superchunk, and was not disappointed. They hit the stage with a high energy level in the peaking sun, and tore up a set that spanned their whole career. Even I was dancing across the back lawn to our generational anthem ‘Slack Motherfucker’…

Meanwhile, back at the Gobi…I arrived right in time for Miss Palmer’s endgame…diving into the crowds to the tune of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkries’, and ending up propped up on the crowd at the back, whereupon she proceeded to whip out a ukelele and lead the crowd in a rendition of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to…

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Coachella, day one-part two

Ah sweet sunset…the field imperceptibly grew more dense as dusk creeped in, and suspense built. A collective breath was let out when the band emerged, dressed to the nines, and then a roar went up as Leonard Cohen emerged. He seemed momentarily taken aback by the response, but quickly fell back on his seemingly unending reservoir of grace and charm, and kicked off the set. Despite recent business misfortunes that put him back on the road in his mid 70’s, there was no bitterness or unwillingness in the performance.


It was the master at work, spinning out the classics in that barely there, but utterly commanding voice. An astringent reading of ‘The Future’ really seemed to touch a chord with the festival crowd, which by now had swelled out back to the food tents. It was with great regret that I tore myself away to achieve the proper positioning for St. Morrissey. The most impressive part of this set was the love shown on both sides, a soul connection, and a special moment.



Morrissey started out in vintage form, bringing verve & gusto to the lead off run through “This Charming Man”. Red flag went up a few songs in with a pre.emptory whine about the sound, (this would be the main stage that just had a kazillion $$ upgrade knowing mccartney was coming), and then further down the road layed out the soon to be legendary plaint: ‘I smell burning flesh, I hope it’s human’
and finding room to wah about the sound, and multiple whines about having to smell cooking meat! Vintage moz…leaned heavily on his new album, and seemed somewhat disengaged from the other Smiths songs he played…Good set overall, but mirroring his recent tours, and nothing special for this occasion.


After the last notes of Moz sounded, I made the trek towards the front of stage, angling in from the bottom left, stalling out right under the video screens. I took some time to ruminate on all the press coverage on McCartney’s impending visit, and stared at the crowd around me…seemed to have more of a show.me attitude than the blind devotion of Cohen’s audience, and the average age definitely skewed up from the rest of the day. I wondered how the folks who came specifically for Macca made out during the parched freakshow that must have been the rest of the day for them…was it worth it?

The time crept closer & we were serenaded with a dj mixing up beatles songs, falling back delightfully on heavy soul covers, i.e. Otis Redding (hard days night), Wilson Pickett, Booker T & MGs, Billy Preston, etc. Worked a lot better than it had a right to…
The smoke rose, and the crowd shuffled in place until finally the lights came up, and the band danced out, McCartney in particular not looking 60 something, lit into ‘Jet’, and it was like 1976 again…

He mixed and matched, interchanging Beatles, Wings, and solo work, bringing more energy than tightness to the proceedings, but not a complaint was to be heard. The band itself was very sharp, and Macca appeared to be having the time of his life, and seemed to relish the opportunity to win people over. His catalogue just can’t be denied, and he pushed on past the midnight curfew with not a second thought, pushing on an extra 51 minutes, (at a Grand a minute it should be pointed out…)

video video

In the final consideration, I would say Mr. McCartney made his points for continued relevance with the gathered hipsters and faithful alike, turning in a powerful case for good old melodic rock & roll.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

timesuck(s)!


Funny thing happened on the way to that Coachella wrapup...not one, but two gigantic timesucks...
#1) and into my life drops an IPhone...you knew it was inevitable, no matter how much i mocked, it was going to happen sooner or later. Word, believe the hype...if you can wrap your head around AT&T, ( i wuz already in da family...), it really is the greatest thing since sliced bread...sure there's some small navigational issues, (and that pseudo. keyboard....), but damn!!!

So, needless to say, I've spent the last week playing, getting my contacts in order, sussing out apps, and generally wayne.ifying the bastard. Too cool, and a funny back.story to boot, but at the risk of public embarassment, we'll keep that private for now....

#2) in the old time.suck category, my old pal Heather introduced me/suckered me in to the joys of internet radio, specifically: Blip.FM

We'll use THAT as a general link for stuff mentioned in here if you want to hear it right away, until i get mo' sophisticated...At the moment i just threw up some random stuff that's pretty indicative of my IPod...all over the place. I'll probably specialize in fun cover, weird themes, and stuff i mention that one probably hasn't heard of or heard.



Next time: back to Friday @ Coachella...