San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Moogfest 2019 Review - Day 1



After the demise of Coachella, I thought, let's do something that's basically the polar opposite. While Coachella now attracts the lowest common denominator, Moogfest's crowd were brainy, respectful, and fragrant. It was a completely different class of people, let me tell you, and I came out of it a better person for having attended.

I arrived in Durham, NC at lunchtime and hit up a Mexican place I’d researched online called Gonza Tacos Y Tequila. I’ve never been to Lucha Libre in San Diego, but it reminded me of what I’ve heard about that place - lots of wrestler masks and other over-the-top decor.  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Had some tacos that were decent but too juicy for my taste.  

Drove across the way to the American Tobacco Campus, a former compound that apparently used to be dedicated to the stuff.  Gigantic, neat space with several of the venues for the fest as well as the hands-on Moog-sponsored area and a Guitar Center pop-up Moog store.  Moogs at 25% off?!  Yes please.  Messed around with a Mother 32 and DFAM combination for a bit, while I could get sounds out of the DFAM I decided it’s not really what I’m looking for, but confirmed my interest in the Mother 32.  Purchased.



Went off to the hotel next to check in.  At 1:00 it was a bit early but I figured I’d give it a shot.  Turns out the 4th rate travel agency Google booked me through CANCELLED my reservation.  Oh, fuck.  Luckily the lady was super nice and they still had a couple of rooms.  The rate was different each night but turned out to be about as cheap as I was hoping it would be.  Folks, go with a major site like Hotels.com, or just don’t go.  It’s not worth it.  Can you imagine if you showed up to Coachella the day of without a reservation?  You’d go to sleep in your car and wake up in your car in a tow yard somewhere in Cathedral City at best.

Checked in and grabbed the hotel shuttle to the first venue to see the three-hour A Place To Bury Strangers show.  This was listed as a “durational performance,” which I had to look up.  Basically it means “long”.  They started with a 15-minute drone piece, solid feedback expertly manipulated.  They then opened with Alone, the opener from their album Worship, and song I was hoping they’d open with, so that was a good sign.  They did a couple more songs, then another drone, then a set of maybe six songs.  That was the first hour.  



The bassist left the stage and we were all kind of wondering what was happening.  We turned around and saw him and another guy at some sort of mobile rig, manipulating switches, playing bass.  So the whole perplexed crowd walked over to the back right corner of the venue and stood around while the singer worked the mic and the others worked instruments, knobs, dials, faders, and whatever.  Then they started moving this contraption around in a slow, wide circle, while the crowd shifted around them.





After a while one of them walked to the OTHER back corner of the room and got onto a DIFFERENT mobile rig, so there were two sets of them on two rigs, doing weird shit.  Eventually all of them ended up on this second mobile thing and slowly, very slowly, walked it to the front, back to the stage.  They took the stage again and played until the second hour was up.  




For the third hour, they started by leaving their instruments in a state of ambient feedback while they moved the drums near the edge of the stage, the bassist and singer moving their amps to the edge of the stage while they decided to stand on the floor with the audience.  They were doing literal mic drops, dropping the head of the microphone onto various things - guitars, the floor, switches on pedals.  More drone and then, a final, blistering set including the title track from their amazing album Exploding Head followed. At the end of it there were still about 100 people who’d stuck around for the entire thing, applauding as the band smiled at us, stupefied, giving us a thumbs-up.





In the bar before the show I overheard a conversation between a guy from Detroit and two guys from San Diego.  I got in on that conversation pretty easily and ended up hanging with Josh from Detroit for that entire show.  Nice, big dude named Josh with glasses and a super long beard who was probably the most into the show of anyone, he’d yell, “FUCK YEAH!” About once an hour and get the crowd yelling and applauding.  We ended up drinking rye whisky the whole time together and generally getting our minds blown.  Afterwards I said, "See ya later man!", to which he replied, “I’ll be around, I’m the dude with the beard!”

Went over to Quarterhorse, another venue around the corner (everything’s right around the corner here) that was an arcade with DJs.  Mamis and the Papis were playing some housey Latin-inspired tracks, and by the time I headed out about 20 minutes into their set, they had a decent-sized crowd.  It was a free event, as were all at that place for Moogfest.   I wanted so badly to head back to at least play some pinball (they have many machines) but never made it.

Then onto Pinhook, a little Casbah-sized place for Dudadius, a guy who’d mentioned he had a set on Muff Wiggler (I know, the name sucks, but it's a great community of wonderful modular synth folks).  Excellent combination of (I assume) mostly modular synths sequenced by something like Ableton.  That’s a direction I’m exploring so it was great to see how he could put together a 50-minute set with that stuff and make it compelling and feel like it had movement at the same time.



I’m ashamed to admit that it was 8:30 and I was beat.  I would have liked to have seen Matthew Dear, but I figured I’d rather rest up on the first night to have energy for Friday, which is the big night with Tim Hecker, The Field, and if I can stay awake, Daniel Miller, then Arabian Prince of NWA at Durham Fruit Company (aka "Fruit") until 2:45 AM.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Flashback - Mercury Rev @ 'Cane's - June 10, 2002

I fired up All Is Dream tonight.  I've heard it more than a lot of things over the last five-or-so years because I had it on my phone and it would come up in random a lot.  So maybe it wasn't so random.  Anyway.

This was an amazing evening.  I was with two of my best friends of this time who remain two of my best friends today.  The Shins opened up, and back then I wasn't too impressed, to be honest, so that was wasted on we, the front row Joes who'd shown up super early to get full-on front row for some of our sonic heroes.

At the end of the night, we chased down everyone but Jonathan for an autograph, then hung out outside listening to the surf pound the sand.  We agreed we'd that he had to come out at some point, but we didn't want to seem stalk-y or anything.  There were two other people kind of milling around when he finally came out.  The others ran over to him immediately, but we hung back.  After they'd had their couple minutes with him, we cautiously approached with our Sharpies and rekkid covers.

"You don't have to sign it if you don't want to," I said, offering him both.

"Oh, you know I'm gonna sign it," he replied, mostly exhausted but I'd like to think with a little smile for us.

'Cane's was a venue like no other.  It was literally on the Pacific Ocean and literally a stone's throw away from the roller coaster at Mission Beach's Belmont Park.  It had this rooftop bar where we'd all go and chill on holidays, the drinks and eats were beach prices, but we never felt like they were gouging us.

I saw some amazing shows there.  Spoon.  Spiritualized (in a fucking torrential downpour).  Mogwai (where I met one of said best friends).  Tortoise.  The The.  Front 242.  I'm sure I've forgotten more shows I attended there than I remember.

Anyway, here are the pictures I took that night with my shitty gigantic HP digital camera.


The Shins (1 of 2)

The Shins (2 of 2)


Jonathan Donahue

Jonathan Donahue walking away

Most of Jonathan Donahue

Just the right amount of cowbell

"i remember when i saw them with you & [mediaassassin] at 'Cane's, that was an amazing show!! first row and all... and why? why? why? 'Cane's doesn't exist anymore? :("
-BW, March 2013





That was indeed a great evening, BW. I can clearly recall us being at the front of the stage, directly below Jonathon Donahue: The pickup switch on his Stratocaster remained in the treble (3rd pickup only) position the entire night...and I was constantly wondering if the moisture on the side of my neck was sweat or blood from my ear.
 
[mediaassassin] and I met and talked to Jonathon outside the venue. He told his he'd be back...that was June 2002 and we're still waiting.

-BY, March 2013



"He told his he'd be back...that was June 2002 and we're still waiting."

never believe the empty promises of a rock star BY!! they'll break your heart... and now he's seen pictures of you hugging Wayne from the Lips!! he's NOT coming back ;)

-BW, March 2013



I was reminded as I got my copy of 'Priest Driven Ambulance' out on the drive home that night that he had been in the Lips. Totally forgot about that.

-BY, March 2013

Grasshopper

Saw

Setlist

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Coachella 2019 Headliners Supposedly Leaked In October



There's nothing officially from Goldenvoice yet, but back in October, it was supposedly confirmed that Childish Gambino (meh), Justin Timberlake (eh), and Kanye West (oh fuck no) were headlining the festy this year.  2018 was the first year I didn't go in nearly 16 years, and honestly I have no regrets.  The more I tried to find even a few acts I really wanted to see, the more disappointed I became.  And while I wouldn't mind seeing JT and I thought This Is America was brilliant, I can't imagine sitting through more than a few minutes of Childish Gambino.  It's just not my thing.

I really felt like the last two years have been a turning point for the worse for Coachella, at least for me.  I not only think they're not trying to book acts that will appeal to me, I think they're actively trying to book acts that will make me run screaming in the other direction.  Between the ever-rising cost of tickets, the now mandatory cross-country airfare (I moved), and this shit show of a turn towards pop and especially rap music, I'm out.

But that just makes better fodder for this blog.

And who knows? I could be proven wrong. It's happened before.  But honestly, Coachella has completely jumped the shark for me.  I think it's past the point of no return, and maybe that's OK.  Mostly I think it sucks, because it used to be something I looked forward to year after year.

Until the true lineup drops, here's an AI-generated poster from The Awesomer / Botnik.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Coachella 2017 Weekend 1 Review - Friday

Coachella 2017 Weekend 1 Review - Friday

The series of poor decisions this little band of malcontents makes every year has concluded, and somehow we are still without a single fatality.  Yes, the events that lead up to (and directly result in) the city of Indio, CA being completely sold out of Tecate and pork rinds, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 2017, weekend one, has concluded.  The Denny's is once again safe (tip Annie well, she's the best), the Food 4 Less is no longer replete with the stench of thousands of hungover pie-eyed club kids trying to figure out if you can use Sterno to cook a fucking Pop Tart, and the roads are no longer filled with enough inebriated drivers to book jails full in every contiguous county for hundreds of miles.

You're welcome, City of Indio!

And with that, let's get onto the music!

FRIDAY


BANKS at Coachella 2017

Friday's highlight, unbelievably, was BANKS. It's only hard to imagine her being my highlight because I've been waiting to see her for so long, listen to her pretty much daily, and had unrealistically high expectations.  Sometimes the patient are rewarded - the high bar I'd set for her performance, she summarily shattered.

It was nearly a dream set, and although there were a few tracks I really was hoping she'd play that she didn't (This Is Not About Us, Brain), I couldn't argue with any of the set choices.  Perhaps one of the greatest things about Banks's set was that she started off with one of my favorite songs, Poltergeist, using two microphones - the "good" and the "evil" one.  This is the same song that Pitchfork panned in their review of her latest album The Altar, calling it "overproduced."  To me, he using this as her set opener was a well-deserved "fuck you" to the snarky hipster site.  I do check Pitchfork, and I do respect some of their opinions, but I also know that they worship some real turds (e.g. Kanye).  And if you think this is a snarky hipster site, you're wrong.  It's a snarky asshole site.

After the opener, she continued on to do a great representation of the new album (Fuck With Myself, Gemini Feed, Trainwreck, and Mind Games) as well as awesome tracks from Goddess (Begging For Thread, Waiting Game), ending the set off with 27 Hours, the CD-only "bonus" track from The Altar, I guess.

There were so many "Coachella moments" during this show, it was mind-blowing.  People singing along to parts of pretty much every song, and she had these two dancers with her, they all did these very precise, jerky movements that were perfect given the setting and the songs.  Virtually a flawless performance from start to finish.

Banks was actually the 7th act we caught Friday, here are one to six and the rest after BANKS:

Klangstof at Coachella 2017


Klangstof - I really liked what I heard, they sounded like they could open for Radiohead.  I have no idea who they are or where they're from, but with a "-stof" at the end of their name, I'm betting it's fucking cold.

Joseph at Coachella 2017


Joseph - Three sisters from Portland, Oregon.  Two were twins, one was not.  I think they were all hot but don't quote me on that.  Regardless, they were a little too Partridge Family for me, but they were talented.  Their harmonies were really good, at least.

Nora en Pure - Blatantly Stolen from Facebook


Nora En Pure
 - When I finally snaked my way through all the damn gates to get into the Yuma tent, I was treated to a couple of great tracks this female DJ was spinning.  I love her production, I've got several of her tracks, including You Make Me Float, Venice Beach, and Iceland, and these first few sounded a lot like her productions.  She kind of started going astray after that, I wasn't really digging the next couple of tracks and so I decided to head back to Coachella Stage to catch the rest of Preservation Hall Jazz Band's set.


Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Probably the most talent pound-for-pound of any band on the roster.  Could have been up to an eight-piece combo band.   When I first started watching (a few songs into the set), none of the band members were singing, but all were trading off on solos.  A few songs in, it turned out they could all sing, the stand-up bassist with the funky hair, the sax dude, and the rest of 'em, I'm pretty sure too.  Great stuff, and totally under appreciated, so I was able to get right up front.   Which put me in a primo spot for Bonobo.

Bonobo - I've seen Bonobo several times before, and this appeared to be a stripped-down version of what he's brought with him before.  While usually I remember him having up to a dozen musicians on stage, but this time I think he peaked at maybe eight, if you don't count the seven or so dudes he brought out to chant on one of the songs, to great effect.  I think the stage kind of swallowed them up - they're usually playing on the Mojave or Gobi stage, if I'm not mistaken, and I think despite the visuals they had going, they didn't quite command that stage the same way they did in the tents.



Glass Animals Singer Enters the Crowd at Coachella 2017

Glass Animals - Probably the most fun-type entertaining vocalist of the weekend.  Dude was carried in on the shoulders of two roadies because he'd recently broken his ankle.  When he spoke to the crowd, he pointed to the giant prop television in the middle of the stage and said, "They got me this so I could sit on it, but I think I'm gonna stand on it.  Fuck it.  It's Coachella!"  I was prepared for a set where he didn't move around much (a la Florence of Flo and the Ma', Axl Rose of Guns 'n Roses and A-shoulda-C-hired-him-/-D-long-ago-C), but this guy was NOT following doctor's orders.  He bobbed around on that massive idiot box (old-school style, btw) for a song, and then jumped down and gimp-shimmied all over the stage for the following tracks.  For the climax, he had the roadies bring him down into the crowd and sang the last song while they fed him mic wire so he could get passed around the crowd like an ever-wetting joint.  Finally, when he came out of the crowd, he stood on the artists' side of the barrier, directly over me, and sang the last couple of minutes of the song.  He was less than a foot from me which made it basically impossible to get a really good picture of him, but I tried.

Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (1)

Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (2)
Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (3)


BANKS - Well, we've already covered her, now haven't we?  OK one more time.  She was AMAZING.






Ritchie Hawtin - Hawtin was doing something called "Close" as in he's closer to the audience because he split the mixing desk into two racks of drum machines, synths, and mixers, leaving a hole between them where the audience could see his stomach.  I was expecting him to move around the stage and use various handheld (or even mounted) equipment at various different stations, all a lot closer to the audience than he was for this whole performance.  When he started, I didn't like the kick drum, and didn't really like the sounds he was creating.  I'm really glad I stuck with it, because about halfway through the set, I got the kick I wanted, and he proceeded to add some more melodic elements to the set.  By the end, I was pretty stoked, I knew he'd been making some very, very slight changes to a lot of the sounds throughout the set (like the kick drum), and Mike confirmed it.  "That was incredible, he's just making such slight changes to the sounds, and he does it over the length of the entire set!" he lauded.  So... "Close," it was not (really), but good, it was. An epic journey of filters, delays, reverbs, and frequency tweaks.

The xx - I can't figure out The xx.  They sound like a band I should really like, but I just don't.  I did like the more house-sounding tracks they played Friday night, but overall, I wouldn't trade a trip to the beer garden to go see them.  I think they'll probably be headlining in a year or two, so I'll watch what they do to see if I feel differently about them in the future.  They've got potential, but I've been saying that for so long I wonder if I'll ever say "I like them" and not just "I like some of their stuff."

Radiohead - Ah, Radiohead.  This would be my 10th or 11th time seeing them, and unlike most bands I've seen in the last 20 years, I've seen the bulk of their shows at actual Radiohead shows, not Coachella.  So when I write this, it makes me sad, but hear me out.  Of all the Radiohead shows I've seen over the years, I'd have to put this one dead fucking last.  And it was all because of the sound kicking totally out twice.  By the time they came back on stage that third time, they'd worked out the sound issues, and they were able to finish their set.  However, given that we were all just waiting for the sound to go out again, it was hard for any of us to really enjoy the music.  

I will say, it was an interesting choice to open with Daydreaming from the new album, but it was great that they actually made it through that one all the way.  The sound issues started in the next song, and totally knocked out the main speakers after about the fourth.  Another quartet of songs, the same problems, and they walked offstage again.  I was bummed mostly for the people there who'd never seen Radiohead, who thought maybe this would be the way to catch one of there legendarily awesome shows, but we got this instead.  Again, i don't blame the band one bit, but whoever was working with that sound and causing those problems should be dealt with accordingly.

After Radiohead, my feet felt worse than they had after any day of the festy in memory.  It was hard to believe this was my 16th time attending, but the way my dogs were barking, it made me feel like I'd been at 16 in a row.  I never doubted I'd finish this one in style, but a little part of me started LOUDLY telling me that, even though it's all but my religion, this might be my last Coachella.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

34 Days 'til Coachella - Banks




Banks first played Coachella back in 2014 in support of her first album, Goddess. I can't remember how I heard about her, but I was curious to check her out.  I don't think I'd heard the album yet, but I wandered into the Mojave tent, sat down in the sweltering heat, and waited.

As the band started, I thought it didn't sound like what I expected.  By the time I realized that Banks was actually playing in the next tent over, it was three songs into Bombay Bicycle Club (who were mediocre at best) and I decided that maybe I should just go check out CHVRCHES instead.  Yeah, I was a little fucked up, and I missed out on what I heard was a pretty amazing performance.

Bitchfork panned the first album, which I couldn't understand, because once I got home from Coachella the first thing I did was order the 2xLP of Goddess, and it was on my turntable pretty much constantly for months after that.  When I heard she had a new one coming out (2016's The Altar), I was ecstatic.  I managed to download the video for the first single, Fuck With Myself, long before it was supposed to be available, and played it in my most important DJ set of the year.  Ears definitely pricked up when that one hit, some people knowing exactly what it was, others coming up to the decks to inquire.

When The Altar finally came out last September, I snapped up a copy, despite knowing it would be something else I'd have to pack for the move.  Once again, it's been on heavy rotation.  It's a much more focused effort than Goddess, and while it still covers a lot of territory and spans a dark rainbow of emotions, it's infinitely listenable, definitely danceable, and catchy as hell.

I have no idea why critics don't absolutely love her like I do, and I don't care.  Bitchfork gave it the lowest review (51/100) while Sputnikmusic gave it the highest (98/100).  Metacritic shows that the 17 critic reviews are "generally favorable" at a modest 70/100, the fan reviews put it at essentially 84/100, based on 113 reviews.

Add one more glowing review to that, mine:

A logical progression from Goddess, Banks' dark, mysterious and soulful style continues.  She still spans a lot of styles, sounding a little abstract like Bjork or FKA Twigs at times (Fuck With Myself, Poltergeist) and more like an old soul spilling her guts at others (Lovesick) but it's a roller coaster of emotion all the way through.  Those who say she hasn't grown or progressed as an artist aren't listening for growth.  If they're looking for flaws, they're not impossible to find, but why focus on minor imperfections when you really should just be dancing?

Banks plays Friday, April 14 and 21, like just about every other fucking great artist this year (and every other year, pretty much).  This will be the one must-see for me.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

45 Days 'til Coachella - Lady Gaga Replaces Beyonce at Coachella 2017

Well, I was right.  Again.  When will y'all learn?

Daft Punk would have been AMAZING, but let's face it.  We needed girl power this year.  If Beyonce couldn't bring it, I knew Gaga could.  And she will.  So sayeth the Innernets.


I'd never heard much by her until the time I unexpectedly had to drive several hundred miles for a family emergency.  A combination of circumstances that made me realize it was more than just a coincidence arose, and we were off, driving through shit weather in summer.  Before we left, I looked through my dad's CD collection (he was the one who played me Bjork's Medulla over the phone before I had the chance to tell him about it).  One of the CDs I grabbed was her 2009 album The Fame Monster.  Yeah, it's pop, but it's good pop.  There is such a thing, and that album helped take our minds off of the task at hand.

Truth be told, I'm totally stoked she's playing, and I think she's long overdue for a headlining set in the desert.  It will be interesting to see how everything else falls around this development but hey.  The show must go on.

And we must get fucked up.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Coachella 2017 - Beyonce Drops Out




Well, this is a first.  I think.  Or is it?  I know there was one year where someone pretty big dropped out late, and Beck came to save the day.  I also seem to remember that Goldenvoice was trying to get some major act as a headliner that fell through at the last minute, and had to go whining with their tails between their legs to Red Hot Chili Peppers, but it was BEFORE the poster came out.  Another shocker was Prince snagging the headlining spot from Portishead just days before the 2008 show (2008 was also just the second time the festival was a three-day affair).

But nothing this big has ever happened this late.

And so the rumor mill starts up, slinging shit full steam ahead like some mixed metaphor dopeman working at a McDonalds in Gary, Indiana.  Here's our take on the rumors:

Daft Punk - Never gonna happen.  For all the whining pussies who lament Daft Punk "never" playing Coachella, YOU MISSED THEM.  They packed the Sahara tent in 2006 and THEY WERE AMAZING.  And you missed them.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I pray to GOD, ALLAH, BUDDAH, MOHAMMED, and THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER that this won't happen.  Coachella finally stepped out of the box just a tiny bit this year with Beyonce, and it would suck the biggest balls available to backslide to these guys just because they're convenient and could be there quicker than many other choices.  I'd rather watch Kurt Cobain's hologram bugger Sly Stone for 80 minutes than have to sit through an RHCP set at this stage in their "career."

Rhianna - Now we're talkin'.  Not only is she the rumored artist closest in many ways to Queen Bey, she's pants-soakingly smoking hot.  She was rumored to headline before B's name was printed on the flyer, but one can only hope she's available and willing to step in and make things suck less for everyone who really, really wanted to see Mrs. Knowles this year (she's headlining 2018, which makes this the earliest we've ever known about a headliner for the festy).

Katy Perry - She would also be awesome.  And is hot.  Plus, she wrote like 9 out of every 10 songs you've heard for like the last 50 years, so you can sing along (or preferably, shut the fuck up and watch her in silence).

Justin Timberlake - I used to think I hated this guy, until I listened to him.  Turns out I love him.  My main problem with him for this spot is that he's got a penis.

Adele - Who doesn't love Adele?  She sells out every show she does, her tickets are on the order of several hundred dollars and a testicle, and she's one of the biggest stars and best singers out there.  Which is why it's not going to happen.  Too bad, I'd love to see her if I could keep my Benjamins (and my boys) in tact.

Lady Gaga - Wow, this would be something, wouldn't it?  Hopefully she won't do too much country shit, but if they wanted to, GV could just book her the following weekend for Stagecoach too, and let her go whole hog with that.  Actually, the one song I heard didn't suck too much, so overall I'd much prefer her to a lot of Paul Tollett potential picks that would portray a poking of my pee-pee with a pine cone.

Jay Z - Oh, come the fuck on.  Just because he's her husband?  Really??  Totally unimaginative idea, and if it actually goes through would at least mean we could go back to the hotel and start drinking earlier on Saturday night / Sunday morning, so it wouldn't be all bad.

Kanye West - I really liked My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and I kinda liked 808s and Heartbreak.  But Kanye West is one of the most disgusting, idiotic, ridiculous pieces of shit that ever tried to pass for a human being in the history of time.  And that includes Shit Man.

There are a few other rumors out there, but really, the fact that just about every single site out there (including this shitty one) is talking about the same 5-10 artists shows you how truly awful the state of music is these days.  At least at the top.  Coachella hasn't been about the headliners for me for quite some time, so if you're pissed off about this situation, just listen to some of the undercard acts and discover some new music.