San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Monday, April 30, 2007

Coachella 2007 Review - Part 2 - Saturday

After arriving back at the hotel in Palm Springs after 2 a.m. and drinking like they were filming us for a feature-length film, we managed to crawl out of bed and drag ourselves to the car. Bought another ten pounds of ice at the liquor store to chill out our after-festy beers and waters. Those, in addition to the Tiger's Milk bars, saved our asses at the end of each blistering day.

The thermometer at the gas station in Cathedral City on the way into the event read 101. And that was at 10:30 in the morning. The windows and sunroof were cranked to allow the maximum amount of wind to rush through what was left of us. I felt like I could feel bone poking through some parts of my skin, but I figured we had two more days ahead of us, so I'd better push through it.

It was a good thing I went in with that attitude, because Saturday was, without a doubt, the best day for me. The headliners rarely make a difference to me, because to tell you the truth, I think most "big" bands just suck. Not because they're big, but because they suck.

To prove that there's an exception to this, I love Radiohead. But I wouldn't go to an entire festival just because they were playing.

Needless to say, no, I didn't see the Chili Peppers. Sorry. If that bums you out don't even think about reading Sunday's review.

We made it onto the polo field a little later than we did the first day. Added to the fact that the music started a bit earlier, it was a good move. We tested out our Coachella legs by walking around the field once, and quickly realized we were going to get pretty close to maxing out our water budget for the day (I think we each bought seven-eight on Saturday).

We started to pass by Mojave as Fields were starting, and I was immediately drawn in. I'd never even heard of this British shoegaze band, but their music was nothing short of spellbinding. We stayed for the entire set, and when it was all over, it was the best discovery of the festival.

We ended up in the Sahara tent, waiting for something to happen. Steve Aoki took the stage at 2:00, spinning a series of beats and mixing in samples from tracks like 2 Live Crew's family classic, We Want Some Pussy, an oft-misunderstood song about a beloved cat. Pretty skillful, but we were in search of something a little different, so we decided to walk around some more.

We walked around aimlessly for a while until The Fratellis started. We listened to the first three songs, which ended with the big hit song Flathead. They were ok, but nothing we wanted to stick around for, so we moseyed.

Roky Erickson and the Explosives played the Gobi tent, and so many people told me how great he was I had to check it out. They weren't bad, in fact, if we were looking to go out drinking Miller High Life and trying to get into fights, it would have been the perfect soundtrack. We didn't know of anything else we'd rather seen at that point, so we stuck around until I decided I'd rather have heat stroke than continue listening to it, and headed out for yet another bottle of water.

We passed by Hot Chip, and heard enough of their set to know that was the tent we should have been in. Damn. You can't win 'em all.

Caught The New Pornographers' set at the Outdoor Theatre, which was good but not great. I think they performed well, but the music just isn't my thing. It's weird, they're on the excellent Matador label, but their music just lacks something. I will give them the Funniest Band award though. At one point, the keyboardist picked up a container and announced, "I've got frozen yogurt. Do YOU have frozen yogurt?" As she started to eat it, one of the other band members quipped, "Did someone throw that on stage?" She almost choked, she was laughing so hard. "It's probably got GHB in it," another member joshed.

Dinner time. We headed to the "Panasian" area for some "teriyaki chicken" and "combination plate" dinners, though I'm not sure what they really were. Just filling enough, tasty, but by no means what they claimed to be. It was a good thing we got some sustenance, because we were about to hit the peak of the entire festival: four knock-you-on-your-ass killer acts back to back, nonstop.

First up was !!! (read chik, chik, chik), a California band that got the crowd screaming so loud it was happily deafening. The spoken word vocalist stirred up the crowd like a nest of hornets. "Have you been waiting for this? Yeah, we've been waiting for this too." Every time he paused, all you could hear was the sound of your neighbor's voice raised to a fever pitch. After the first song, the other vocalist smiled and yelled, "Man, you guys are louder than the fucking band!" Which we returned with another happy scream.

Sadly, we had to split after the first three songs to catch The Arcade Fire. As usual, they blew us all away. I'm not sure what it is about this band, but every time I see them I just tear up. It's the same with Bjork. There are certain acts that just tear a hole in your soul.

The biggest difference I saw between Arcade Fire's last Coachella appearance was Win Butler's vocals. I understand he just returned from sinus surgery, but you'd never know it. His voice was steadier than I've ever seen it live. The one downer about this set was that the meathead factor was much higher than when they dominated the Outdoor Theatre two years ago. Win even made a joke, saying, "We appreciate your patience, and as you know, manners are the cornerstone of a prosperous society." Highlights included Laika (Neighborhood #2), Haiti, and Antichrist Television Blues and Ocean of Noise from Neon Bible.

(pic from

After it was over, we had to hurry all the way across the field to the Sahara tent to catch LCD Soundsystem. We got to catch the last 15 minutes of Justice's set, which was pretty damn good. I'm not sure what they were doing, but it was more than just DJing.

When LCD finally took the stage, I thought they started a little rough. I didn't recognize the first song (I assume it was from the new album) and then did Daft Punk is Playing at My House, which was sped up and sounded thin to me. However, as the set progressed, they won me over. The set eventually culminated with a cross between the two versions of Yeah from the self-titled album that seemed to build like a time bomb and explode orgasmically.

I still don't get why they didn't just walk off the stage after that (they finished with the ultra-mellow New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down), but I can only guess it was some sort of strategic move. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but hey, it's LCD Soundsystem, and they seem to be leading the wonderful, yet ass-backwards movement of making killer electronic remixes of a band that sounds completely different live. Namely, themselves.

Finally, we rounded out the evening with Cornelius, a band / artist from Japan that we knew we'd never see again. It was tough to stay until the whole thing was over for a second night in a row, but we knew we had to. We were treated to The Cornelius Band's Fully Synchronized Audio and Visual Show.

How to describe this? Oh shit. Just take a ton of ecstasy and listen to their albums, and you might have an inkling of what we experienced. The entire show was spot-on, totally technically accurate, tight as hell, and fantastically fantastic. Each song they performed was perfectly paired with a set of visuals that made you ask which came first, the song or the movie? In the end it didn't really matter. The tent was loosely filled, which was a perfect setting to see them. There was no claustrophobia, no panic, no pushing nor pain. Reminicent of the Kruder & Dorfmeister DJ set of years ago, where everyone was there to see THIS artist, and possibly nothing else.

"Dude, that was worth the $240 ticket price right there," Mike remarked to me on our slow walk back to the increasingly dusty car. I just smiled through dusty teeth, breathing a heavy sigh, knowing the worst, and now, the best, was over.

Coachella 2007 Review - Part 1 - Friday

I have to say that there's nothing in the world quite like Coachella. You get to do things you never would in the real world, like poking girls you've never met with empty water bottles. And they smile and thank you for it.

That's because one of the greatest innovations this year was the 10-for-one recycling program for water. The idea is simple: return ten empty water bottles to one of two recycling centers and receive a full bottle of water in return. Between that and the few dozen people employed to walk around collecting cigarette butts, the polo field was cleaner than ever by a mile.

First off, we caught Noisettes, who kicked off the Mojave tent at a bewilderingly late 2:30 in the afternoon. Their high-energy poppy punk got the crowd going pretty well, and it was good to catch a whole show from them. They had recently opened up for TV On the Radio at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, but we missed the first part of their set.

Next up, we stayed in Mojave for Toronto's Tokyo Police Club, who have to get the "Band Who Sucked In the Most Original Way" award. Part of this has to do with the fact that the refrain to Cheer It On, the first track on their A Lesson In Crime album has the name of the band in the chorus. For me, that's as bad as if they had a song named Tokyo Police Club. Also, I got sick of hearing others around me repeat the name of the band over and over. Besides that, they wore thin pretty quickly, all their songs sounding pretty much the same.

Off to the Outdoor Theatre for Of Montreal, whose lead singer Kevin Barnes gets the Lead Singer Who Accessorized Best with His Eyeshadow Award. Overall I'd say they were about 70/30 on the good to weird ratio, which is pretty good considering how weird they were. The music is hard to pin down, but I'd say it could be best-described as "sexually ambiguous disco". Not a lot like the Scissor Sisters, but let's just say they wouldn't make strange bedfellows.

(pic by m.conner)

Next, we headed to the main stage to check out Arctic Monkeys. They were a little disappointed that the crowd didn't cheer any louder than they did, but they did a very good set, consisting of approximately half of stuff from Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and half of the new album Favourite Worst Nightmare. Brainstorm, the first track from the latter, and I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor were definite highlights. Here's a link to a YouTube video I took.

(pic by m.conner)

We stuck around the main stage for The Jesus and Mary Chain, one of this year's big reunion acts. I'd seen them back on Lollapalooza a long time ago (#2?), and thought they were pretty good. This time around, they sounded great, but I came to the conclusion that all of their songs sound pretty much the same. My friend, however, felt that this was one of the highlights of Friday, and I've seen other reports to that effect, so what do I know? Good, not great in my opinion.

(pic by m.conner)

We decided that there was no way we'd be able to get to see Bjork at all if we left where we were standing, which was right up against the barrier of the second section back, so we decided to cling to it and stick around for Interpol. Mike had never heard them and I hadn't seen them for some time, so it seemed like a good idea. While I really liked Turn On the Bright Lights and was tepid on Antics, I'm even less sure about the new material. They've added some keyboards, which does contribute some extra texture to their music, but it largely feels stagnant. It wasn't a bad performance, but I can think of a lot of other acts that should have held that spot, and would have held it better.

(pic by m.conner)

Finally, it was time for Bjork. As always, she was absolutely breathtaking. The set, which included the *first* encore I've ever seen at Coachella, opened with the new single Earth Intruders and went through a lot of stuff from Homogenic and Post, including very hard renditions of Army of Me, Hyperballad, and Pluto. Encore was a super hard techno-type track, where she kept chanting "Don't let this happen to you" over and over.

(this was prolly lifted from a professional s0urce, but isn't it a great picture?)

The coolest thing for me about Bjork's set was the fact that her computer manipulator had a Lemur, which is one of the coolest inventions ever. Also, I'm not sure what the other graphically-based MIDI controller was, but it was circular, and had about two dozen little chips sitting around the edges that resembled sine and other types of waveforms. The engineer would place these runes onto the middle of the circle, which would generate a beam of light between them. He would then turn them and twist them, which would make the beam of light fluctuate and vibrate. It was hard to tell exactly what this was doing (other than tripping me out) but it was a very, very cool effect. I managed to get a very shoddy-quality video of All Is Full of Love, it's on YouTube here.

The worst part about Friday was, as usual, getting through the cattle grind in the parking lot. It seemed like an hour, though it was only fifteen minutes that we were stuck idling in the car. Actually, that's not too bad at all for leaving Coachella at midnight, but I chocked it up to the fact that it was Friday, and anticipated that Saturday would be much, much worse...

Saturday and Sunday to come!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Coachella - Set Times Are UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I've only looked at Friday and I'm already PISSED AS F**K!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU DIRTY BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Slint are Back on the Radar?!?!

According to Pitchfork, it's true. They're supposed to perform their classic early-90's post-rock masterpiece Spiderland, in its entirety, July 13, 2007 in Chicago. It's part of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park.

I managed to catch Slint at their reunion tour after they headlined All Tomorrow's Parties a few years back in LA at Avalon, and it was absolutely mindblowing. I heard they sold their instruments on eBay after that as a sort of "we're done" statement. I guess not.

Also of note, Sonic Youth will be playing Daydream Nation front to back on that same day. Sonic Youth is supposed to do the same show at the Greek Theatre in LA as well, exactly one week later on July 20.

Friday, April 20, 2007

One Step Above the Elevator

As an electronic musician (the music's electronic, not me, dumbass), I use MIDI quite a bit. However, it would be remiss of me as a pain-in-the-ass-quasi-journalist not to highlight some of the totally awful things that can be produced with MIDI.

To that end, here's today's arbitrary MIDI link:

California Dreamin'

Aah yes, fit for a porno.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Worst Romantic Comedy of the Year

My vote has got to go to "Lucky You." It's got all the makings of a really shitty cliche stuffed into a poop puff pastry of the most disgusting kind.

I know there's a place for cliche, but NOT in the commercial for the flick. Jeez. Yuck.

Oooh, I'm folding. Ooh, all you do is gamble?

I'm sorry, but fuck this movie. I don't even have to see it. Just fuck it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Japan's Mono to play Casbah Sunday 29 April 2007

"Mono is making the music that Mogwai should be making."

That's how my friend Pinche's friend Jaime described this band before we saw them last May. If Coachella gets cancelled, I'm there. And if you're not going to Coachella and you miss this, you'll miss two amazing shows in one night.

Check out One Step More and You Die for some of their fantastic sonic dirge.

Mini-Dorms in PB

What are these Pacific Beach wussies bitching about? Public urination? Noise? Drinking?

Come on people, it's a BEACH TOWN!

Is this not what San Diego was founded upon?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Coachella - Research - Amy Winehouse

This is the reason I go to Coachella.
And the reason I subscribe to Napster.

Come to think of it, Coachella is my one true vacation every year. I get to drive a mere two hours, NOT to LA, to see up to 100 bands in a weekend. This year, the third day might actually present me the opportunity to see that many.

I'm all about quality over quantity, and that's why I'm finally starting to research the bands I'll be seeing this year. Tonight, I realized that Amy Winehouse is one for the must see list. The AMG write-up alludes to the fact that she's done some jazzy stuff, but her Back to Black offering, which I'm listening to now, is heavy on the Motown influence. But there's something else here, something almost Beck-like, that I can't quite put my finger on. It's not quite that weird, but the beats are just infectious.

And you've gotta love an album that starts off with the hook, "Try to make me go to rehab / I said no, no no!"

Sunday, April 8, 2007

U.S. Air Guitar Championships @ The Casbah

At first, when I saw this announcement for the 30 June 2007 show at San Diego's fantastic venue The Casbah, I thought Tim Mays had lost his mind.

Then I saw he was charging $15 USD to get in.

Aaah, capitalism. You can even make money off stuff you hate.

Love ya Tim.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

TV On the Radio - Belly Up Tavern - 1 April, 2007

I have to admit that I'm a relative newcomer to this band, and I can't really call myself an avid fan. I was glad that we got tickets back in early February, before Sparklehorse played at Belly Up. By the middle of February, the show had already sold out.

I don't know the names of most of the songs, and I'm only familiar with their 2006 release, Return To Cookie Mountain, but I have to say that they were very impressive live. A four-piece, from what I could tell, I'm not sure if they had any synthesizers or if they were using DAT for some of the more eclectic sounds, but they managed to pull off the cacophony of sound in a live environment very well.

I do know that they played I Was A Lover and Wolf Like Me from the Cookie Mountain album, which was very highly regarded by in last year's roundup of the best albums of 2006. I hate Pitchfork sometimes, but I have to admit, with these guys, they were right on.

This is a picture from the show. It was forbidden to take any pictures, but you know us.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Pretty Girls Make Graves

Their farewell tour is coming to The Casbah on Thursday, May 31. I'm not sure how serious they are but I'm going to check it out.

I wanted to see them a few years back at Coachella, but my travellin' companion was a bit of a lazy bastard, and I wasn't too much a prime mover that day, so I missed 'em.

If I'm not too lame, I'll make it this time. Even though I've sworn off school night shows.