San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Day 'til Coachella - list of stuff to bring

Some of you virgins may wonder what you should bring to the festival.

Let me break it on down for you:
  • Tickets - don't forget these, dingus.
  • Anything that has to do with your hotel rezzers - have you confirmed in the last five minutes? I have.
  • Sunblock - This year it's going to be 98-100 degrees each day. Hehehe. Only the strong survive.
  • Cel phone and charger - 'cuz sometimes you get reception on the field, and when you don't, you can always text
  • ATM card, credit card, and ID
  • several pairs of shorts
  • several t-shirts
  • PJs
  • Unna-ma-pants
  • sox
  • shoes (not good ones, closed-toe, they're going to get dirty)
  • any medications you're going to need to make it a comfortable experience
  • toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, floss, and for chrissakes, deodorant
  • extra contact lenses
  • glasses
  • music (duh)
  • reading material
  • camera and case
  • $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
all other things can be begged, borrowed or bought, brothers and sisters.

It's Coachella time. See you on the other side.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Four Days 'til Coachella - Metric

OK, first, let's talk about the history.

I discovered Emily Haines, the lead singer for Metric, at Coachella when she sang with Broken Social Scene. She was good enough that I made myself remember her name and look her up after the festy that year.

It was then that I found the band's debut album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, which is actually a really fantastic debut album, especially if you're a teenage girl. OK, OK, so I've got of teen chick in me, you got me.

But seriously, it's good.

I listened to it a ton of times, liking it more on each listen. And then I went to see some friends in Detroit and suggested we go see Metric opening up for another band in that whole Canadian cult of bands, The Stills, who I'd only heard of.

Metric opened up and came out strong, Emily using her sex appeal as much as she possibly could during the show, which was fine with me. She's not unattractive. But then she started getting pissed off that the whole crowd wasn't screaming for them. My friends and I were dutifully bobbing along, singing and cheering.

But I guess that wasn't enough. She got more and more flustered throughout the show, and finally ended up storming off, taking her keyboard with her as she left the stage. I know Detroit audiences have a bit of a reputation, but I think the audience was so indifferent towards the band that it was a bit self-aggrandizing for her to even assume that the band would proverbially cross the street to piss on her synth if were on fire.

During the break, she walked into the audience. My friend noticed her and we flagged her down, complimenting her and thanking her for playing. She had this fucking look in her eye like she'd rather be anywhere else in the world at that time, literally tapping her foot as we tried to explain that we were cheering for her the whole time.

Then The Stills came out and blew them the fuck away. I'm always impressed when a band I've never heard takes the stage and completely holds your attention for the duration. The weird thing is, I haven't heard anything of theirs since.

Now, having said that, I saw them at Coachella a couple of years back, expecting to experiencing the same attitude from her. But Coachella is a weird bird. Everyone in a tent is generally there to see the band that's playing. If people don't like it, they have the choice of four other stages/tents, the food courts, the shwag stand, or even the bathrooms to choose from.

Metric really delivered at Coachella, and Emily was much sexier without the "come on, cheer for us!" attitude. I have to admit, I wasn't quite as into the second album as I was the first, but they really made that show at Coachella something to talk about.

And that time, it was about the music, not about the attitude.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Six Days 'til Coachella - Verve

When the subject of this band comes up, my best friends will tell you not to get involved. Don't discuss this band with him, they warn, you'll see the worst of him.

Let me tell you my tale.

Before they were sued (or whatever) by Verve records, "The Verve" was called Verve. When I first heard of them, I was going to Michigan State University, and I knew several people who worked in the local record store. These guys were the same crew that turned me onto Lush, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized, all the bands I've carried in my heart every day since the early 1990s.

Most people don't know that before Urban Hymns, which was total shit compared to everything else they've done, there was A Northern Soul, which was a masterpiece compared to Northern Hymns. Before that was the amazing debut album A Storm In Heaven.

I was introduced to the group when their first three singles came out, All In the Mind, She's A Superstar, and Gravity Grave.

All In the Mind was a bit of a jam for a shoegaze band, which they were back then. It was a great song, complete with driving yet psychedelic guitars and lyrics that were forceful without being angry. But the real surprise was one of the b-sides, A Man Called Sun. Listening to this song was liketaking mescaline in the desert, and even now, it conjures up the feeling of wind and sand blowing through your soul while McCabe's guitar and Ashcroft's lyrics drift through your head.

She's A Superstar is one of those power ballads that alternately soars and explodes. It's almost like Mogwai on quaaludes, a dream for underwater headbanging. Feel, the other track on the single, is even more subdued, and doesn't come close to anything like a rolling boil. It's a great, slow song, best saved for a slow dance with someone at the end of the night after a few bottles of good wine, or a few bowls.

Gravity Grave was the last single the band released before A Storm In Heaven, which was another head shaker. Not quite as rocking as All In the Mind, though more driving in a groove dimension. The b-sides on this weren't quite as strong as the others, including an even more slowed down live version of A Man Called Sun.

When A Storm In Heaven was released, we couldn't believe it. It was at least as good as the singles, and was in line with the sonic flavor Verve had been cultivating throughout the first singles. Somehow, they played Detroit on a Thursday and Grand Rapids on a Sunday, so I knew it was possible to see them twice in four days. I didn't have a car at the time, but drummed up some interest with my roommate Smokey and two other friends, and we took the trip to St. Andrews' Hall. An amazing show.

That Sunday, I was still basking in the afterglow of the show, when another roommate Beth asked me why I wasn't at the show. I told her I didn't have a ride. She grabbed me and two different people and we hopped in her car and headed to the show at The Reptile House in GR.

I remember Acetone opened up, they had this song that blatantly ripped off a riff from Issac Hayes. When Verve took the stage, someone passed Ashcroft a joint. He stepped up to the mic and announced, "Look what someone gave me. Well, we can all share." He hit it, passed it to the band, then passed it back into the audience.

The Reptile House only held about 150-200 people, and makes The Casbah look like an arena. It was one of those shows I'll always remember.

When I saw the group again a few years later at The Palace in Hollywood (now known as Avalon), my friend Jeff and I were all the way up in the balcony. The band had gained quite a bit of notice since we'd seen them back on the first US tour. Something just fell flat with that album and with that show.

I won't go on about how I thought Bittersweet Symphony was one of the worst turns for the band's career ever, or how I pretty much swore them off after that, or what a prick I think Ashcroft is.

Last year, they released The Thaw Session through NME, a UK magazine on par with Rolling Stone here in the states. I downloaded it, and was delighted to hear that it sounded like the old stuff. Not the singles, but sort of like lost recordings between the first and second albums.

I'm actually open to seeing The Verve at Coachella. I know they're going to do some stuff I absolutely abhor, but I have high hopes that they're also going to play some of the amazing songs that I have inside of me despite the sell-out of UH.

I guess the sweet irony is that they never made a dime off of Bittersweet Symphony. Come on, if you're going to steal a song, at least make it good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

8 Days 'til Coachella - Stars

So tonight, I finally gave a proper listen to Stars, which is frequently referred to as a "Broken Social Scene side project." But let's face it, there's like 50 people in BSS, so it would be like referring to the USA as a United Kingdom side project.

I listened to the band's latest release (to my knowledge), In Our Bedroom After the War, and I have to say I liked it quite a bit. I probably should have listened to Set Yourself On Fire, which has been around longer, has a cooler name, and might be more representative of the group's sound, but fuck it. I'm going to base this review on this particular album.

What I like about it are the not-too-breathy-but-just-breathy-enough female vocals on tracks like The Night Starts Here and Midnight Coward, though same gets a little tired on My Favourite Book.

I like the arpeggiated basslines of songs like this one and the intro, The Beginning After the End. It's instantly catchy, sounding like you might have known this stuff all your life. Maybe that just means it's not the most original chord progression in existence, but if that's true, I don't care. What's original anymore anyway?

Take Me To the Riot sounds like the music Belle and Sebastian *should* be making these days, with its simple yet effective piano riffs and even simpler bass. I should probably comment on the lyrics, but on the first time through I'm just enamored with the catchyness of this track and I don't want to ruin it with too much analysis. I have no idea what they're saying but it doesn't really matter too much. Extra points for using "off" time signatures.

The Ghost of Genova Heights starts a little shaky, but hits strong at the chorus with vox reminiscent of Scissor Sisters, trippy detuned synth and slightly whacked-out delay effects. Yes, me likey that.

Personal is the first track that really gave me goosebumps. It's particularly effective if you've ever had a planned encounter with a stranger. The subdued piano complimented by the warbling pad sound perfectly capture that mixture of excitement and anxiety that accompany one to a blind date. At times it brings to mind that floaty, drugged-out feeling experienced when listening to BSS's Bandwitch.

Stars. Hell yes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

10 Days 'til Coachella - Bond do Role

Hmmm... not sure what the hell to make of these miscreants because they don't talk English and they sample stuff like Man In the Box by Alice In Chains. Plus they're from Brazil, which is the home of both CSS and the infamous Two Girls, One Cup (read: NOT a band).

Sure, I love samples, dirty words in foreign languages, and even the occasional Alice In Chains song if I'm really, really drunk, but somehow I don't see myself crossing the polo field to piss on this band if they were rumored to be on fire. Or "en fuego," if they spoke Spanish, but since they're from Brazil, I'm guessing they won't.

For those of you who like hip-hop, gabber, or other shitty music, don't miss this group. Me, I'll be staring into the sun to maximize my entertainment dollar.

Friday, April 11, 2008

13 Days 'til Coachella - Swervedriver

I don't know how I missed this, or when they were added, but Swervedriver is now on the roster for Sunday at Coachella 2008.

I'm still in shock. I mean, shit, it's possible that someone's hacked the Web site and that Swervedriver isn't really going to be there. It doesn't really matter to me anyway, it would just be a sneak preview of what we're in for at The Casbah on May 30. A welcome preview, nonetheless, but still. I'm sure it will be a much different show, for better or for worse, but I'm down to hear both, as long as they're not up against Love and Rockets or Spiritualized or Justice.

Swervedriver went through a progression, like all good bands do. Listening to the transition from Raise to Mescal Head was logical and invigorating. Although Duel was no Sci-Flyer, it's still one helluva track, and has moments of sheer excellence. In fact, both albums have so many killer tracks it's hard to pin the peak of the band's existence on either of the two releases.

Ejector Seat Reservation was much more subdued, but not necessarily in a bad way. I have fond memories of Bring Me the Head of the Fortune Teller, the title track, and especially Last Day On Earth. Progression's a good thing, and while it wasn't quite as rockin' as the band's previous offerings, it was still in line with what I was hoping for, and still kept my interest.

I have to admit a few things here. First, I only own copies of EJS and 99th Dream, their last album. Also, I went to catch them live with a dear friend of mine one night at The Casbah. I offered to drive, and once we parked the car, we decided to get a bit irie. OK, well, more than that. We figured we wouldn't be walking, much less driving anywhere else for some time, so we kinda blew the doors off.

We stumbled several blocks to the venue and saw another band's name on the chalkboard on the door. I asked the doorman, "Isn't Swervedriver playing here tonight?"

He replied, "Dude, I think I'd know if Swervedriver were playing here tonight."

Sadly, we'd misread the San Diego Reader ad for the show. It turned out they were indeed playing that night, but across town at another club. Being far too intoxicated to drive, we decided to kick around the finer alleys of midtown until I was sober enough to navigate us back to his place in Sherman Heights. We drank homebrew and listened to Raise until we passed out, hoping they'd be back again.

Karma has a strange way of paying off. Now we have tickets to see them at Coachella AND The Casbah.

To quote that kid in Animal House when the half-naked girl flies through his window, "THANK YOU, GOD!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

14 Days 'til Coachella - Prince

What the fuck?!

Prince was added today as the "Saturday headliner." I immediately checked the page to make sure Portishead was still on the bill. Thankfully, they are.

I'm actually really happy that Prince has been added, but I would have loved him to be added to Sunday, the day that everyone's STILL saying has the weakest lineup. Despite such heavy-hitters as Love and Rockets and Spiritualized, Sunday's headliner of Roger Waters is pretty fucked up.

So now we get Prince on Saturday. Prince was the first concert I ever went to. I was in junior high. I bought a white Hanes t-shirt and dyed it purple with RIT in a pot on my mother's stove. My parents made a lot of jokes about that I didn't get at the tender young age of 14.

My friend Phill's mom's boyfriend took me, him and my friend Dean to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit for the seventh show of seven sold-out shows in Detroit. It was the final night of the engagement and the final night of the tour, and we were in the nosebleed seats of the middle "upper bowl," which is JLA terminology for "shitty seats."

This was 1984, the Purple Rain tour. Shiela E opened up, and rocked the place down to the foundations with a ten-minute percussion solo. Gotta love a chick that can bang. On the drums, I mean, hehehe.

Prince delivered one of the most memorable shows I've ever seen, complete with ejaculating guitar solo. seriously, his guitar sprayed some sort of gizlike substance into the audience. I guess that's when I learned that it's not always the worst thing in the world to be out of the spooge range of a rock star's instrument.

Prince plays Saturday, but in my opinion, Saturday is now totally overbooked.

Keep hope alive for My Bloody Valentine making a surprise appearance on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Swervedriver / Film School to play Casbah!! May 30, 2008

Helllllllllllllllllll yess!!!!!! Swervedriver at The Casbah in San Diego.

Back when grunge music was taking over this stupid country, my friends and I were listening to bands you'd never heard of back in 1991. Verve. My Bloody Valentine. Lush. Chapterhouse. Radiohead.


Swervedriver was always the dark horse band of all the Shoegaze artists we listened to, but damn, they were something else. And then, before I could see them live, they broke up.

I saw Spiritualized two nights in a row at London Hammersmith on a somewhat misguided trip to catch up with my friend Bill back in like 2001. I remember he didn't show up the first night, but then I hung out near the will-call window the second night, stalking his ass, and heard his unmistakable voice heading in my direction. We spent an hour outside with some distinguished guests trying to get rid of extra tickets, and saw one helluva show from the balcony.

After the gig, Bill caught up with Tim, the keyboard player, who he'd known for some time. Tim got us all backstage for the afterparty, but while we were waiting, Bill pointed out a person of interest to me.

"See that guy," he said, "you know who that guy is, right?" he asked, somewhat rhetorically.

"No, who is he?" I replied.

"That's the lead singer from (the then-defunct) Swervedriver."

"Really?!" I was amazed. "I'm going to go talk to him. You wanna go?"

"Nah," he scoffed, "I got nothin' to say to that guy."

I walked up to Adam Franklin, a little chuffed, and simply said, "Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for all the great music."

He looked at me quizzically and asked, "Who do you think I am?"

I replied, "You're the lead singer from Swervedriver, right?"

He just kind of smiled and admitted, "Yeah, I am."

That was cool.

Now they're back together, and touring with Film School, who proudly and reverently carry the tradition of shoegaze into the modern day.

To quote our own Three Mile Pilot:

"What is the lesson in this? Bliss! Bliss! Bliss! Bliss!!!!!!"