San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

16 Days 'til Coachella - it's not just about the music

My good friend and partner in crime recently wrote me to say that "Coachella could only impress" him at this point. I have to say, I know where he's coming from in a sense, but take heart, everyone. Keep in mind, I never thought there'd be a year to top Pixies / Radiohead / Kraftwerk, and yet in 2008 we got Kraftwerk / Portishead / Prince. Yes, I'm still talking about both of those, and I'll never forget either one.

This year, so far, I'm totally underwhelmed by the lineup overall. I mean, I'm starting to see the bright side in Friday now, and I really feel that Sunday is so filled with strong artists that there will have to be some overlap that leaves me pulling my hair out. But when I look back at my year in live shows last year, I know why I'm jaded.

This is the list of shows Mr. Conner and I saw last year. This doesn't include anything I forgot, or anything he saw without me:

22-Feb The Album Leaf The Casbah San Diego, CA
24-Mar Saul Williams The Casbah San Diego, CA
25-Apr Coachella 2008* Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
26-Apr Coachella 2008** Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
27-Apr Coachella 2008*** Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
30-May Swervedriver / Film School The Casbah San Diego, CA
24-Aug Radiohead The Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles, CA
27-Aug Radiohead Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre Chula Vista, CA
13-Sep The Juan Maclean El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
1-Oct Sigur Ros Copley Symphony Hall San Diego, CA
2-Oct My Bloody Valentine Santa Monica Civic Los Angeles, CA
3-Oct David Byrne The Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA
14-Oct Antony and the Johnsons Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
8-Nov Electric Six / Local H The Casbah San Diego, CA
15-Nov Mudhoney The Casbah San Diego, CA

* DJ Mehdi, Midnight Juggernauts, Sebastian, Architecture in Helsinki, Cut Copy, Mum, The National, Aphex Twin, The Verve
** Man Man, DeVotchka, Cafe Tacvba, Hot Chip, Kraftwerk, Portishead, Prince
*** I'm From Barcelona, Stars, Swervedriver, Spiritualized, Love & Rockets, Simian Mobile Disco, Black Mountain, Justice

As I said when I realized this, "It's been a great year, from what I can remember." I stand by that statement 100%.

But this is the thing: It's not just about the music. I remember last year when I started my drive up to Indio, as always, the day before the first day of the festival. I kept thinking, I am one with the cars, I am one with the traffic. I am just part of this great flow, and eventually, I'll drip off of one of these massive concrete petals and splash into my hotel room in the desert. NOTE: I do *not* normally think like this.

All the way up, we always listen to a compilation I make. It's always called Coachella or Bust, and it lasts the whole ride up there. This is all planned. We have victory beers in the fridge waiting for us when we get home, and we've packed the trunk of the car with as many beers, pouches of Pemmican, bottles of water and cans of Monster energy drink as we can fit. We get to the hotel, start drinking immediately, stumble to the nearest place to eat, and then stumble back to our shelter to pass out.

Each morning, it's a ritual. Wake up, drink a monster, get ready, find a decent sit-down place for breakfast where we can load up on salt, and head to the party as early as possible. "We've got an agenda," we say, and we stick to it. Each night, we stay as late as we possibly can, catch as many bands, art exhibits, conversations and do as much freak-watching as we possibly can. Then we head back to the hotel on the back roads, sit around and drink and smoke and eat jerky, reminisce about everything that's happened so far, that day, that year at Coachella, and every year before that.

Why do we do it?

Because even when the lineup isn't the best we've ever seen, when we're pining for a bigger, better Saturday headliner (which I still think we'll get), when we see the initial lineup and think, ehhh... it's still all the Coachella we're going to get for a whole year. You just don't find that exact je ne sais quoi you get, call it community or a shared delusion, when you're sweating, dirty, baked from the sun, tired, aching and having the best time of your life with 50,000 strangers, you don't get that anywhere else.

Not until next year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

17 Days 'til Coachella - Craze and Klever

It's no secret I'm no fan of hip hop, but this is turntablism, and I'm very into that. I can totally appreciate someone who can turn the turntable into an instrument, and make the rest of us DJs look like we're really "just playing rekkids."

If you know this site, you know I rarely post a video, but I think this best makes my case for checking these guys out, especially on Friday, when there's little else going on other than Morrissey and Sir Paul. And Ghostland Observatory. And Silversun Pickups, and possibly Beirut, though I haven't heard much from them yet. And Leonard Cohen.

Oh shit.

Friday just started looking up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

18 Days 'til Coachella - The Presets

I keep looking for reasons why I bought a three-day ticket when Sunday could easily suffice as my last day on earth, and I think I´ve found one for Friday, at least. Australia´s The Presets may have come to the rescue here, making for an interesting time the first day of a long, yet too-short weekend.

Or maybe not.

I´m trying to decide here. Pros include their hooky melodies and basslines. Cons include their similarity to the sound of The Killers, who I´m not huge on. Full disclosure, I really need to listen to more of both of these bands beforehand. But honestly, I´m going to be putting current Saturday headliners The Killers under a gigantic microscope in the days to come, and I´ll render my decision here.

I just can´t believe that The Killers are big enough to headline Saturday night. It´s almost like putting a picture of your grandmother on the dining room table for a dinner party when you´ve got the original Mona Lisa stuck to the wall in a half bathroom or something.

I´ll check out The Presets if there´s nothing else going on, but despite their electronic coolness, they don´t sound like a don´t miss to me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

20 Days 'til Coachella - The Cure

The Cure were my favorite band of all time, until a certain bunch of guys from Oxford put out a ton of great stuff in a row and took over the number one spot. Yes, Radiohead is arguably the best band of our time, but The Cure will always hold a special place in my heart.

I remember my journey to see them for the first time. It started in New Hampshire in June of 1989, where I was visiting my uncle. I was 18, it was the summer before I left for college, and my parents were determined to get some goddamn family time in before that fall even if it killed all of us.

"But I have tickets to The Cure!" I protested, when my mother told me of the planned vacation.

"We're going to see your uncle in New Hampshire, and you're going too!" she crabbed back.

"Well, I'm coming home early," I protested. I've always had this way of getting what I wanted, and deep down, she knew I'd bitch until I was coughing blood if that was what it took to see this band.

The compromise was simple: I'd go with the fam' to NH, but I could take a train from Boston the night before, have some friends pick me up at the train station, get dropped off at my house (sans car) and have my friend Barry pick me up for the show in Auburn Heights, about 45 minutes away from my parents' house.

We got to Boston and I managed to do a little CD shopping. I remember buying three CDs, including my first The The album, Mind Bomb, and my first 10,000 Maniacs CD, Blind Man's Zoo. Somehow, I didn't have a portable CD player with me, so all I could do was read the liner notes and lyrics all the way back to Detroit. If you've ever read the lyrics to Mind Bomb, you'll have a little piece of the puzzle of why I am the way I am.

After a brutal 18+ hours on the Amtrak with no muzzles nor restraints for screaming children, I finally made it to my hometown train station. My friends picked me up, dropped me off at my house, and I eagerly called my concert buddy.

"Are you ready to see The CURE!?!?!"

"I caaan't... I have footall practice," he whined.

"Barry, if I miss the fucking Cure I'm never going to forgive you!" I screamed, slamming down the phone.

I called the first person I could think of, my friend Jen from my high school. Thank god, she was home when I called. Her tone was ecstatic, perhaps she knew what I could offer her for that night.

"I JUST WON FRONT ROW TICKETS TO THE CURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" she screamed in my ear.

"Oh, great," I replied, "I'll be in the third row.


"Hey I've got a call waiting, see yo tonight," I hoped.

Luckily, the person on the other line was another Jen I knew, and she was willing to drive to the show, as long as I could get a ride to her parents' place in Plymouth.

Long story short, we finally made it. Walked in between the openers and the headliner, and it was one of the defining moments of my life.

Keep in mind, this was on Disintegration.

Since then, they've had some triumphs, some flops, and some stuff I've never heard. Smith is nothing if not prolific, so some of it can be forgiven. Here's a quick rundown of my ratings of every album since Disintegration:

>> Wish (1992) - a very good sophomore jinx to Disintegration
>> Wild Mood Swings (1996) - the first Cure album that could suck termites from walls
>> Bloodflowers (2000) - renewed my faith in The Cure, it took me a week of having it in the house to finally listen to it because I was so afraid it would suck.
>> The Cure (2004) - still haven't heard it, I took a pass on this one. I know, I suck.
>> 4:13 Dream (2008) - when I first heard it, I thought, it's one of their worst. I still feel that way, but it's so much better than so much other stuff out there that I think it's still more than 50% good.

So yeah, I'll probably be watching them, though I've seen them so many times, I think I'd be OK missing them for a couple of other bands. If you haven't seen them, this might not be the perfect venue for their show, but give it a shot anyway.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

21 Days 'til Coachella - MSTRKRFT

I recently picked up a bunch of CDs, and I have to admit, I bought it solely on a few recommendations. Then when I got it, I was like, Who told me about these guys again?

Whoever it was, let me take this opportunity to kiss your feet, because 2006's The Looks is fantastic. It sounds a little like Daft Punk doing progressive house music. It reminds me a bit of Vitalic's OK Cowboy too, but I think this album is more solid than anything either of the two aforementioned artists has released. It has a psychedelic edge I haven't heard too much in electronic dance music, and it works well.

Don't get me wrong, I love Daft Punk and Vitalic, but I just think that overall the eight tracks on The Looks maintain a level of quality that you don't see on every single track of, say, Human After All. OK, I know that's not considered DP's best effort, but still.

MSTRKRFT are playing Saturday, and given the lineup for that day, there are few acts I'd cry over missing to catch these guys. The Sahara tent will most likely be the site of the pummeling these Canadians are going to bring to the hump day of the festy, so be sure to do your drugs BEFORE you enter the big tent for maximum effect!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Demetri Martin is not Fucking Funny

Sorry. This guy fucking sucks. There's not even anything funny about criticizing him. It's just sad.

22 Days 'til Coachella - The Gaslight Anthem

There's something about these guys that doesn't suck, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I mean, they're not bad, and in fact, I can picture them being a decent late afternoon Sahara tent band, or even an early afternoon Outdoor Stage surprise. They've got that poppy, power-punky brewster kinda thing going on, lots of jangling and good hooks. And I think they've got some sort of Irish-type feel as well, but it's hard to tell.

And they kind of sound like The Replacements. Which isn't all bad, but hmmm. The more I hear of them, the more they sound like The Replacements, which isn't all good. It's always weird to see which bands are being referenced, but these guys definitely sound like those guys. Their AMG page compares them to Springsteen, too, and I can see that as well. More the Born to Run shit than the great stuff from Ghost of Tom Joad, fair warning.

So yeah, not something I'd normally listen to, but they would probably be fun live, and I think the kids will like 'em. But since they're on Sunday, they've got the deck stacked against them as far as I'm concerned. I just can't see going out of my way to watch them unless it's very, very early, or they've got naked chicks passing out free beer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

29 Days 'til Coachella - Crystal Castles

So I'm not totally sure what to think of Crystal Castles, the electronic duo named after the 80's video game. Some of their stuff is pretty cool (Crimewave, Magic Spells), and some of really sucks trailer hitch (Love and Caring, xxzxcuzx me). Like when did AIM become the way to name songs? Aah, you kids today, you don't know music...

It definitely sounds like music from and/or inspired by the video game, or at least video games of that era. It's definitely better than those soundtracks out there to shitty movies that tell you it's got "music from and inspired by the movie" - those are almost always throwaway tracks by second-rate or sucky artists trying to get out of a contract. And then there would be like one good song from one of your favorite artists on there, so you had to tape that song and even then it never sounded as good as all the other stuff you had, so eventually you had to break down and buy it just for that one song...

This is why I love the Internet. If something sucks, fewer people pay for it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

30 Days 'til Coachella - Drop the Lime

I wanted so badly to write, "Don't drop the soap when you profess your love for Drop the Lime," but I just can't.

I have to say, it blends two genres I don't love, but I have a special place in my heart for. <--- oooh I ended a sentence with a preposition, somebody SPANK ME!

I'm bad.

OK, so the two genres it blends are R&B and old school breaks. It does the latter with a bit of a jungle feel, and the former feels a little phoned in, but I still can't trash these guys. I think they're worth checking out if you're a junglist.

"A junglist will jack ya." - RJ

"Yeah, well the trancers have stolen more than any other group!" -Trae Ann

"TRANCERS?!?! What the fuck?!?" - ix, RJ, Matty

Friday, March 13, 2009

34 Days 'til Coachella - Late of the Pier

I don't know from under what freak rock / pier these freak rockers crawled, but as far as I'm concerned, don't ask, don't care.

Let this be a lesson to all your font-point-spotters who only look for the big names in the large point type: I've never heard of these guys, don't know a thing about them, don't know where they're from, and have never heard their music before tonight.

They fucking rock.
They take electronic music and make it the math rock crazy shit it can be.

And why shouldn't it be? After all, if there was no math, there would be no electronic music.

They sound like Scissor Sisters stuck their genitalia in an electric socket. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Monday, March 9, 2009

38 Days 'til Coachella - Band of Horses / Cloud Cult

I've heard a lot about Band of Horses. I heard I'd probably like them. So tonight, I decided to check them out.

Hard to compare them to anything, I'd say they remind me more of Sunny Day Real Estate than anything, though much less emo. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though the reason I love SDRE is that they're so absolutely pouring of emotion, you can't help but get swept up in what they're doing.

Band of Horses takes a slightly different approach, and in a different time, they might be called simply pop or something else.

However, I have to say that I'm a little disconcerted by them being part of the, "Oh I've heard their stuff on the Brand X commercial!!" bandwagon. I mean, it's ok, but at the same time, this is the second band I know of that's contributed to some pretty major commercials this year (the other one being Cloud Cult for the eSurance commercial).

Now, I have to admit that Justice did sell out to Cadillac, but let's face it, Cadillac's use of Let There Be Light was just absolute genius. Ford's use of BoH's The Funeral wasn't quite as visceral or successful, but it was still pretty effective.

But I'll reserve judgment on Cloud Cult until I hear more than the song for the animated car insurance commercial. I consider this a favor to them. I mean, come on, neither of the aforementioned commercials had to print "Music By" on the screen.

Then again, if it wasn't for that visual on the eSurance commercial, I never would have known it was them. Then again, after listening to them on youtube, I can say they get points for the electronic stuff and the live cello. I really want to hate them but the more I hear of Happy Hippo the more I really want to like them. Jury's out. I just hope they don't talk as much as they did on that live clip from YouTube. It was like a 5 1/2 minute clip and the song was like two minutes long. Hey, I'm open-minded, if you can shut the fuck up long enough to sing a good song you might actually get a nod.

Ut oh, spoke too soon. Now listening to Chemicals Collide on YouTube and it kinda sucks. Not as much as their incessant talking, but more so than Mexican radio. But then the stuff that sucks more than Mexican radio could fill a spectrum of bandwidth taller than Johnny Socko's Giant Fucking Robot.

I am blathering like an idiot, so I'll just say that Band of Horses could be worth checking out, especially if you have one of those special passes that let you drive around the polo field in a Ford Edge.