San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Saturday, April 25, 2009

'twas the night before Coachella

Hard to believe that it's been more than a week since Coachella started. As usual, I've been listening to more than my fair share of music this week. Right now, it's the excellent I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness / Fear Is On Our Side LP that I finally found in my stacks this morning. Last night, I continued my Cure listening party with The Head On The Door, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, and Disintegration. I've been doing some shopping on the amazing Tonevendor Web site, but haven't had the guts to pull the trigger on what's in my shopping cart (vinyl copies of the first Scissor Sisters album and A Place To Bury Strangers, and a few other LPs and CDs). I'm thinking record shopping today, probably M-Theory. Luckily, San Diego record stores do not suck.

So Conner will kill me if I don't tell you the story of what happened the night before Coachella. We headed out into Indio, cruising Highway 111, looking for a place to eat. I suggested Chinese, he said no. I said no Italian. He said no pizza.

Fifteen minutes later we found ouselves at our usual haunt in La Quinta, The Beer Hunter. This place is great because it's got lots of sports up on the multiple TVs, and about a thousand beers to choose from. If anything could take our minds off of the wait we had to endure until the next morning, this was it.

So we eat and then head over to one of the area's many Target stores. I'd forgotton my all-in-one shampoo / body wash, so I figured I'd just make do with the cheapest bottle of shampoo I could find. This is a picture of it:

So we walk up to the counter where this pretty young girl is ready to check us out. I put the thing on the counter, she looks at it, she looks at me and says, "Is this for you?!" This amuses Conner to no end, as I immediately turn red and stammer, "Umm, umm, it's for my girlfriend."

She laughed in my face, but it was OK. There's not much that can spoil my mood that weekend.

So big gay mediaassassin's big gay shampoo bottle is sitting in my other bathroom, where it will be likely used by guests and such, and where I'll never have to see it again.

P.S. I am not gay.

P.P.S. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cure Retrospective and Post-Coachella Blues - Was it all just a dream?

Today, I worked from home. Normally when I do this, I check out the excellent podcast Deeper Shades of House, but today, I decided to pay homage to The Cure and listen to no less than their first six (American) albums back-to-back. As I suspected, these albums haven't lost a thing for me. I'm still in love with these songs, as much now as ever before.

First up, Boys Don't Cry, which they released as a three-piece, I believe. The band did several songs from this one in that final, infamous encore where they had the power turned off on them.

Next, 17 Seconds, from like 1980. The bands second-last encore consisted entirely of songs from this one, including M (one of my all-time faves), Play For Today, and the great closing song A Forest.

After that, Faith played itself out, and to this day it's one of my favorite Cure albums. I seem to remember that they played a lot of Faith material on the Bloodflowers tour.

The fourth album up was Pornography, which is also the first in the "trilogy" series (including Disintegration and Bloodflowers). Pornography has also long been a favorite of mine. The guts it took to put two nearly-identical songs back-to-back (The Siamese Twins, The Figurehead)! As similar as they are, I have to say I love them both.

Next up was The Top, which I've probably listened to in its entirety less than a lot of their stuff, but it's still a great album. I remember watching the movie The Cure In Orange on the big screen when I was younger, and when they opened it up with Shake Dog Shake, it was explosive, just as they open this album up with it.

Finally, I'm listening to Japanese Whispers, which was actually three singles and five B-sides that they released as an album in 1983. This one includes the high school favorite Let's Go To Bed that we'd always sing to girls at parties, and the all-time classic Lovecats that we used to play on the bass guitar and Glockenspiel back in the same era.

So I'm listening to all of this, and I decide it's time to see if the classic In Orange is available on DVD. Nope. Blu-Ray? Not that either. Well, hell, I've got a VCR/DVD burner, so I just threw that in. I'm not sure if it will work, but I'm going to give it a shot. It would make a great little present for any Cure fan, especially this one.

You know, as you drive back from Coachella, you get on the 10 West or whatever freeway, whatever direction you're driving. You start looking around at the cars around you, listening to that special set of CDs you've prepared for the long trip home, and you wonder, how many of these people were there with us? How many of these people was I standing next to last night, two, three nights ago, in the blistering heat of the Outdoor Theatre in the middle of the day? In the dark, warbling night of the Sahara tent?

As you check freeways off your list like peeling items of clothing before getting into the shower, you start to feel farther and farther away from it all. The reality of Monday is starting to seep into the cracks in this utopian time, displacing the all-encompassing feeling of living in this otherworldly society, this temporary, but very real existence. The people around you in the cars start to look more normal, like they actually could exist outside of the LA club scene, outside of The Casbah.

By the time you get back to your normal existence, you're naked. You're completely stripped of this coat of armor provided you by 50,000 other fanatics, the relative anonymity it provides you, and the total lack of responsibility with the exception of having a unique and memorable experience. You feel a little uneasy, it's startling how easy it is to acclimate to the heat, the dirt, the volume and intensity, the sound and the fury of it all.

It's all so surreal, it's a mirage almost. You get there, you can't believe you're there. Sunday night, you sit around talking about how you can't believe it's over. And Monday, and every day after that for about two weeks, you sit around wondering if it wasn't all just some illusion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Post-Coachella Blues, Volume 1

So today, I finally broke down and signed up for Twitter.

Let me be clear. I really think Twitter is to the Internet what some people thought punk rock was to The Decline of Western Civilization. Equivalent.

It just seems like such a stupid thing. You're limited to like 140 characters. The frosted side of me says, well, you just have to be concise. The whole wheat side of me says, it's just pure fuckwittery, and how can anything meaningful happen in 140 characters?

Anyway, I knew I needed to get on the Coachella Twitter thingy because that's how they're doing their updates. Now I actually have to check this shit. Fuck. Plus, Amanda Fucking Palmer asked me to get on her Twitter feed. Not personally, but since I was one of the perhaps 300 people who helped her safely crowdsurf from the stage to the sound booth, I feel somewhat obliged.

Goddamn you, Amanda Palmer. You're so awesome. I hate you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coachella 2009 Review - Sunday

Coachella 2009 - Friday review
Coachella 2009 - Saturday review

Sunday was the day we were looking forward to more than anything else. This was probably due to the fact that My Bloody Valentine, who Coachellans have been screaming for for years, were scheduled to do a 70-minute set. But Sunday, more than any other, provided fewer tough choices and a clearer path from start to finish than any other day. Let's review.

We get through the gates later than ever this year, as usual for Sunday, at about 11:45 a.m. We camel up with water, sit in the shade and wait until about 12:40 to make our move.

12:45 - We join the gathering crowd at the Outdoor stage for Mexico City's Mexican Institute of Sound. These guys prove what my best friend (who grew up there) has been telling me all along: Mexico City fucking rocks.

"Does everyone have everything they need? Sunblock? Water? Girlfriend? Ecstasy?" the singer asked. These chilangos had a good-sized crowd for an early Sunday afternoon, and had them moving despite the punitive heat.

1:30 - We head over to the main stage to check out The Knux. Their DJ was spinning a lot of classic stuff and warming up the crowd before they went on. To be fair, I'm not a fan of hip-hop, so it didn't blow me away, but it wasn't bad.

2:10 - We enter the Gobi tent for Friendly Fires. I'd put them in the same category as White Lies, but maybe not quite as good. They do sound like a band from the '80s that got lost in the shuffle, and they've got a great sound and great energy.

3:25 - We're still in Gobi, watching Sebastien Tellier. He was doing some really cool stuff with a vocoder on his voice, and even though he looked like the missing Allman Brother, I liked what I heard. Until he announced, "This is a song about my bisexuality," and then proceeded to start the song with the lyrics, "I'm..... aaaaa bi....sexxxxx....u....allllllll." Hmm. Not too subtle.

"Typical Frenchman," Conner joked.

"Yeah, dick like a glass of milk," I retorted.

Sebastien Tellier was good, despite some stupid lyrics

But seriously folks, bisexuality is all well and good. Singing about it? Fine. But being so obvious about anything is pretty lame.

Speaking of alternative lifestyles, we wanted to make sure we had a good place to stand for Antony and the Johnsons, so we cut out early and caught the last few songs from Lykke Li. Another act that I liked more online than in person, but I still liked her (or them) and would be willing to check more out. She's got a great voice, and they did live electronic music very well, something I always appreciate (speaking of which, that MSTRKRFT set was almost definitely an Ableton Live thing, which is something I use for my own production as well).

A&TJ ran a little behind schedule due to technical issues with the computer (go figure). Normally, they don't do this type of music, and it's hard enough to categorize/describe this act, so I'll just let you take a look at the last song they did, which I captured in full. I will say Antony was spot-on vocally, trilling and nearly scatting like a great old jazz diva, and I'd compare him to a male version of Bjork as far as his vocal control. Maybe that's why they collaborated on Dull Flame of Desire on Bjork's last album, Volta.

We had just enough time to scarf down some food and almost enough time to refill our water bottles before catching seminal LA punk rockers X. We missed a couple of minutes of their set, but other than that, we were there for the whole thing, and between John Doe, Exene and Billy Zoom, these guys are just fantastic. I'm not sure why people call them punk, it's more like punkabilly. Regardless, they rocked, and the crowd knew it.

X kicked serious ass in the Mojave tent

As soon as X was done, we high-tailed it over to the main stage to get in line to watch the one, the only, My Bloody Valentine. As I've said before, Loveless is the absolute best album of all-time, and like my love affair with The Smiths, I discovered them *just* after they played in the U.S. for the last time. Last November, I got to see MBV, and they exceeded my expectations, which is pretty impressive considering I've been waiting since 1991 to see them live.

Once again, they didn't disappoint. They were loud, not nearly as loud as they would have been in a closed theater, but way louder than anything that's ever been on the main stage at Coachella, for sure. The crowd seemed to be there for them, and not waiting for The Cure, but I was curious to see how they'd handle that last song.

I took advantage to look around during their legendary / infamous set-closer, the 20+ minute You Made Me Realize. This song is about three or four minutes of great riffs followed by over 15 minutes of sheer sonic bliss / torture. Then the band kicks back into the riff and finishes the show.

The funny thing was, there was always someone, maybe only one person, but at least one person cheering, holding their hands above their head, during the mind-numbing psychedelic experience the band refers to as "the holocaust." I saw grimaces, confusion, smiles, and anger, all on the same faces. I laughed at them. I knew how long this storm was going to last, and that's how I managed to get this video.

After the set was over, people staggered out like swatted flies who didn't quite die. I hated to leave and miss The Cure, but I had an agenda, and I had to keep to the schedule. I immediately hit the water station near the big stage where I'd just seen MBV, and heard two girls working at the water booth having this conversation:

Cool Water Chick: "Well, if they SUCK then why have they been around forever and why do they have millions of fans?"

Uncool Water Chick: "I like MUSIC! That's just NOISE!"

I walked up, handed her my bottle to refill and stated with a smile, "They're the BEST!!"

UWC: "No they're not!"

Me: "You either get it or you don't."

UWC: "No, I get it! That's BULLSHIT! Why would they have that much noise during an INTERMISSION?!?"

Me: "That wasn't an intermission, that was part of the SONG!"

UWC: "What?! That's STUPID!!"

Me: "Hey MOM, you must be really smart and all, since you're filling my empty water bottles for a living, so maybe you're right."

She proceeded to hand me my water bottle back and spew a series of obscenities that I think must have been in her employee manual or something, because I think she recited it from memory. I honestly believe in live and let live, but when you're being disrespectful and catch me in one of my moods, well, you should know better.

I headed off to Public Enemy, who rocked. It sounded like it was the original trifecta of Chuck D, Terminator X, and Flavor Flav. FF kept jumping into the audience. "OK, left side? I jump in you gonna catch me? OK, here I come!" Repeat this with the right and middle and you get my drift. Chuck D asked the crowd to hand him back, "He's 50 years old y'all!"

Chuck D also said, "Now that we've got President Obama, it's more important than ever to PAY ATTENTION. We're living in the age of misinformation, people, so any information you get, QUESTION IT! Attention is the cheapest price you can pay in this country, America."

After that, I headed over to check out the last half of The Orb. I'm not sure what it is with me and The Orb, and I know some of my friends won't love me as much for saying it, but I'm not sure I get it anymore. I need to try to listen to some of their newer stuff. I didn't recognize a thing, and it didn't sound that appealing to me, honestly.

10:10 - I'm in the Sahara tent, waiting for the fathers of industrial music, Throbbing Gristle. I figured there would be a huge, weird crowd of people, and I was wrong on both counts. Despite the band starting late after a prolonged soundcheck, the number and freak factor of the crowd were both low. These were very normal-looking people in here. I didn't see a single tattoo nor giant earlobe plug amongst the onlookers. What I did see that freaked me out were a lot of younger people DANCING to TG. I did not expect that.

I also didn't expect to actually find beauty in their music. Sure, some of it is noisy, banging, clanging aggression, but some of it is actually very melancholy and wonderful. The song Hamburger Lady used to freak me out until I heard the lyrics for the first time last night.

I saw a good bit of TG and then headed over to the Sahara tent to catch part of Etienne de Crecy. This guy is like a precursor to Daft Punk and Justice, and I loved what I heard online of him. When I made it inside, he was doing one of the tracks I knew, so I was stoked. His light show was pretty cool, but it was pretty mellow for a Sunday night. I didn't mind, and neither did the thousands packed into the tent, but it didn't seem like he got the crowd going to the level that Justice did last year, for instance. But that's just what I saw.

After a few songs, I realized I'd probably rather check out some more Throbbing Gristle, so I headed back to Mojave. It was getting pretty weird, with Genesys pulling out one of his fake breasts and showing it to the crowd, but he also played to the VIP area on the stage. This was interesting because every other performer had ignored the VIP area to this point.

At this point, I decided to head back to the main stage to see if I could find Conner. It turned out to be pretty easy, and I was happy to catch the last part of The Cure's set. I managed to catch the last two songs of the last encore, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep and probably my favorite Cure song of all time, The Kiss. Both songs from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. Notable.

Next, second encore. At Night, M, Play For Today and A Forest. I thought that was it, but then they came back on. Robert Smith said, "We're only allowed to play one song. Fuck!" Then they proceeded to play Three Imaginary Boys. We thought it was over. It wasn't.

They played Boys Don't Cry. The small crowd of dedicated fans started to sing along. The festival organizers cut the power to the PA. The band kept playing. The entire crowd sang at the top of their lungs to compensate for the fact that we couldn't hear Robert's voice anymore. We thought they'd stop after that.

They didn't.

Conner turned to me at this point and said, "They said something at the beginning like they'd play until we left."

They started playing Jumping Someone Else's Train. The crowd tried to sing along, but fewer people knew the words. They tried anyway. The organizers cut the power to the amps onstage. The drummer kept playing audibly, and the rest of the band kept playing silently. The crowd cheered. They screamed. They clapped. They sang LOUDER. It was no use.

Coachella was over.

It didn't matter in the end. This crowd was the type of dedicated fans I love to be around. There's nothing quite like having like-minded people around you. When you've got thousands of them around you, all the better. It sucked that we didn't get to hear everything that Smith and the guys had in store for us, but it didn't matter. What really mattered was that we were surrounded by all these people, these men, women, girls and boys, who came for the same reason we did. To experience Coachella to its fullest. To stay until the very end, no matter what that means. This year, it meant something truly special and unique.

Conner may have put it best: "As I reflect more on that final moment with the lights on, sound off and crowd singing... I realize there are maybe a handful of concert moments for me that rank with it in such profound significance. It was so perfect it almost seemed staged. If we were duped, I don't want to know."

Just before Leonard Cohen I met a character who was all over the map with music. A lot like we are. This guy talked about how he schedules his whole life around this thing. I tell him, it's like a holiday.

Just as the band started, he turned to me. He knew as I knew that you don't talk during sets. He looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said, "Happy Coachella."

And this is why we do what we do.

Until next year,


Coachella 2009 Review - Saturday

Robochrist 's Hand of Man picked up cars, crushed 'em and dropped 'em

Coachella 2009 - Friday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

I won't lie to you, people, we were not excited about the Saturday lineup. Then again, we weren't excited about the Friday lineup either, and that turned out OK, hey? So we do our usual ritual of Monster, water, pills (aspirin), ice (frozen water), beer (Mexican), lime juice (we bought like a 2-liter from the local Food 4 Less), and beef jerky. This was all after our second consecutive breakfast at Denny's on the corner of Highway 111 and Monroe.

The funny thing about that is, on Thursday when we were preparing for the weekend, we watched about three Simpsons and four Family Guy episodes right in a row. In one of the Simpsons, Homer says something to Marge like, "Even though I'm mad on you, I would never take it out on you physically. I'll take it out on my own body. Come on, we're going to Denny's." As we knew we'd be frequenting the place and we were about three sheets to the wind, this made us laugh until we coughed hairballs.

Mmmmm, Coachellaaaaaaaaaa

Got into the venue just a little bit later than the day before. The full body cavity search of years gone by is now tantamount to a friendly handshake and a look in the eyes. I guess they don't need to know the exact diameter of your colon if there's no meathead headliner band, and that's OK with me. The old search really set a negative tone for the event, and this new, more reasonable, respectful search just makes a lot more sense.

We started the (much hotter) day in the shade of the Mojave tent. The annoying flies that were absent the day before had returned as they had in previous years, and seemed to live to pester us humans who had only come hundreds of miles to blow our minds. These things live for like a day and they spend a really big portion of their lives making ours hell. I'm so deep.

So we're sitting in Mojave and Minnesotan rapper P.O.S. comes on. I have to say, for a genre I don't like, I was pretty impressed. He had a very positive message, and talked about the fact that if you love what you do, it doesn't matter how much money you make or how much vacation you get. It's not a new thought, but still a good one. He played guitar as well, sometimes, and made beats on a drum machine at other times. And his DJ was absolutely phenomenal.

Next up in Mojave, a band I was really excited to see, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. I thought they would sound like Marilyn Manson doing downtempo. Man, let me tell you, I'm not too big to admit that I was wrong. These guys were more like The Beach Boys meets Frank Zappa and The Mothers. There were moments of sheer genius, musically, but the singer is such a fucking tool. Any band that starts out with the singer shouting, "You can all kiss my arse!" had better be able to back it up, musically or physically. Sadly, the only thing these guys had in common with Marilyn Manson is that I bet they got the shit beat out of them in high school a lot, too.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti kinda sucked

It was just as well, because we headed over to the Gobi tent to see Bob Mould Band. This turned out to be a fantastic show, chock fulla hits ("If they were hits," I joked, "we'd be watching this show on the main stage.") from Bob's career with such cornerstone Minneapolis bands as Husker Du and Sugar. Not to mention his like seven solo albums. It was just a barrage of upbeat, uptempo rock and roll from start to finish. And you could just tell that the crowd's high expectations were exceeded every step of the way.

We hurried back over to Mojave to catch the tail end of TheNewNo2, which as it turns out is George Harrison's kid's band. I liked what I heard online a little better than what I heard in person, but I did like what I heard on that stage. I'd like to hear more of them, and Conner agreed.
TheNewNo2 were pretty good

Hit the Outdoor Theatre for the first time Saturday to see Drive By Truckers. Country, but thoughtful country music. Maybe it's actually "western." I don't know, but it's got that certain something that makes me think, this doesn't suck nearly as much as it should.

Drive By Truckers are pretty cool, actually

Bopped over to Paolo Nutini for a few songs, trying to find Tina (who recommended me to A Place To Bury Strangers and also suggested I check out Bajofondo). Bluegrass. Good for what it was, but a little goes a long way.

Paolo Nutini at Coachella 2009

Next up, Amanda Palmer. I had no idea she was the singer for Dresden Dolls, but if I did it wouldn't have mattered much, because this turned out to be The Moment that everyone is going to be talking about for years to come when they talk about Coachella 2009.

We always like to stand dead center in the middle. At Coachella, it's on a polo field, you know, so they bury the "snake," the long cables that connect the soundboard at the back of the tent to the stuff on stage. So you can see where they buried the snake. We like to stand on that strip of sod.

So Amanda Palmer comes out and makes this grand entrance. All these people got all painted up and ran out with her to the theme music from 2001 (whatever it's called, leave me alone, I don't know the title). There must have been 20 of them, all painted up and stuff. So she comes out with another woman who played electric stand-up bass, and just threw down a set that would have been impressive with any of the elements... her voice, her piano playing, or the bass. She regales us with tales of writing songs with Neil Gaiman, her book of photos "shot all around the world," and how one of her songs got banned in the U.K., "for... I don't know what the fuck for... because it was funny," as she described it.

She drank from a bottle of red wine the whole time. She had a filthy mouth. She covered Our Time Is Running Out by Muse beautifully and reverently. She played the piano like she was classically trained. She took a picture of herself and her bassist with a Macbook laptop and had her bassist tweet it on during the set.

She had the crowd in the palm of her hand.

All of that could have been a moment at Coachella. But she made sure that she had The Moment. The one that everyone would be talking about.

"OK, so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to attempt to crowd surf from this point," she started, pointing at her feet, "to that point," she continued, pointing to the soundboard at the back of the tent.

Just over our shoulders.

"Are you gonna drop me?"

"NOOO!!" the crowd roared back.

"Have you got me?!" she asked.


And with that, it started. She jumped into the crowd, mock-swimming her way over the hundreds of fans who passed her back, slowly towards us and the soundboard, all to the tune of Flight of the Valkyrie. As we helped to hold her up, I managed to take this video.

After that, someone handed her a ukulele. She addressed the crowd, "OK, we're going to try this, is the sound working?" It was. "OK, I need everyone to sing along on this one OK?"

The crowd happily obliged her, as we all, every one of us, sang along to Creep.

Next, we headed over to see Calexico on the Outdoor stage. They were great, but we couldn't get very close at all, and after what we'd just seen, I'm not sure anything could compare. It was like seeing Mogwai. You just can't watch anything else too soon after that, and have it make an appropriate or accurate impression.

We jockeyed for position for Fleet Foxes, who put out an album that Bitchfork named as their best album of 2008. A pretty high honor, really, but you have to take with a grain of salt sometimes. If they say something's good, it's probably great, and if they say it's great, odds are it's amazing. But if they say it sucks, well, judge for yourself (note: If I say something sucks, it does. End of discussion).

Fleet Foxes had the most amazing harmonies of any band at the festival. Despite the fact that they claimed to be having problems onstage, you'd never know it. Although, I have to admit, I'd never heard them before. Conner and Pitchfork's recommendations are enough for me to take it in good faith, and I'm glad I did. They sounded better than Crosby, Stills and Nash on their best day at times, and their musicianship shone in the dying light of the day.

Next up, Band of Horses. As Bamoe put it when I described this to him, "There's no middle ground with those guys." Or, to translate it into my language, what I liked, I really liked, but what I didn't like, I HATED." They were just too generic, overall. They could be a band that makes a guest appearance on The OC if it were still around. They could play some stuck-up bitch's pool party and play a sad song when the cute guy from Bumblefuck Idaho doesn't get the cheerleader who's dating the abusive football player or something. I don't know, I've never seen the show. I just know it sucks. But oh well, what was I missing? M.I.A.? Fucking puke. Junior Boys and Electric Touch? Don't know 'em, sadly. Crookers? What I heard of Crookers sounded like the musical equivalent of a sushi fart.

We dug in for Jenny Lewis, who I guess used to be the singer for Rilo Kiley. I don't know anything about Rilo Kiley other than they're supposed to be good. Hearing Jenny Lewis I can guess that might be right. Her voice was amazing. Her drummer was great. She had a guy playing slide guitar and another she was playing off of onstage. But the sum of the parts added up to "I like her voice," and that was about it.

We kind of hung around Glass Candy for a while, and I liked what I heard a lot. Not sure about much with them, other than they covered Computer Love by Kraftwerk, so they get mad points for that, but that's all I know. I wish I'd seen more.

Finally, we were off to see Toronto's answer to all the other big DJ duos in the world today, MSTRKRFT. While I'm a huge fan of their album The Looks, I'm a little slow warming up to Fist of God, which just came out. I'll give it a few more listens, but this just sounds a little too hard and too much like a Justice clone to me at this point.

Unlike Daft Punk, you could actually see these guys. But there was a catch. From where I was standing, you couldn't see them onstage AT ALL. You could see them in the circular movie thingies on either side of the stage, rocking out and chain smoking cigarettes. But then, when you've got a song on your album called 1,000 Cigarettes, you might expect that sort of thing.

The show was a lot like the new album. Though they mixed in stuff from The Looks, it seemed to mostly be harder stuff from that album and stuff from Fist of God. I have hope I'll grow to like the new stuff because I loved their last one so much, but we decided to leave a little early so we could hit the waiting cooler full of Tecate sooner. It turned out to be a good move. We went from Sahara to the motel in 50 minutes. The only sad part was that we were so tired and sore we couldn't stay up long enough to get any serious drinking in, and crashed at 2:15, a full hour earlier than the night before.

Coachella 2009 - Friday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

Coachella 2009 Review - Friday

Coachella 2009 - Saturday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

It's 3:00 PM on malaise Monday, the day after the last day of The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 2009. I'm sitting in my place sweating as if I were still on the polo field (apparently we brought the weather home with us), I've just cracked my first beer of the late afternoon, and I'm trying to decide if I'm more content that we made the most of the festival, or more upset that it's going to be 51 weeks until the next one.

These are good problems.

So we got to the event early on Friday, as usual. And, as usual, neither of us got much sleep. Despite destroying a full brick of Tecate and two squeeze limes the night before, miraculously, neither of us has a hangover that a Monster can't cure. We gathered the standard gear for a 12-hour day in the desert, ate a quick meal at the local Denny's, and took Monroe Avenue directly from our new location in Indio to the polo field. On the way, I remember telling Conner, "I can't imagine there's going to be much crossover between Paul McCartney and The Crystal Method," as both of them were scheduled at the same time at opposite ends of the field.

The first person we meet tells us he's hoping Paul McCartney won't play too long, because he and his girlfriend "really want to check out that Crystal Method set, too." Never underestimate the power of 50,000 different people and 100+ bands and DJs.

We get inside, and realize that this may be the most perfect day weather-wise ever. It's supposed to get up to 87 degrees, which is like chilly in Indio, CA. The polo field is fresh, clean, groomed, there are maybe a thousand people there at the time, and we're enjoying the fresh air. The day is ours. This is what we live for.

Switch opened the Sahara tent at noon, but was spinning some extremely hard stuff, so we never actually went into the tent. It was a lot different than the stuff I heard online, so I was a little disappointed.

Next, we checked out a bit of Dear and the Headlights in the Mojave tent. Nothing to write home about. We're not off to a great start here.

Alberta Cross was playing on the Outdoor Theatre, and despite the fact that this band doesn't seem to have a person named Alberta Cross in it, they were a nice surprise. The best way I can describe them is "southern-fried shoegaze." Yeah. I know. I've never heard of that combination either, but it really did work very well, so we stayed for the whole set.

The band, not the man, is Alberta Cross (photo by M. Conner)

We headed over to the Sahara tent to try to catch the last bit of Craze & Klever, but it sounded a lot like Gui Boratto, so either we missed C&K or they didn't show up. Gui Boratto was spinning some very cool progressive house, and we stuck around long enough to hear a song or two before heading out for more water.

Our first trip to the main (Coachella) stage was to see We Are Scientists. I didn't have time to research them before we left, but I'd heard their name many times, and never with the word "sucks" attached to it, so by default we headed over. I can't say I regret it, but I didn't really like them. They just sound too generic. There's nothing that special about them, and I'm not sure how they landed the gig on the big stage, but oh well. I don't wish them any specific harm.

Back to Mojave for Cage the Elephant. They should have been called Kill the Buzz, because as soon as we walked in I realized I was NOT going to like these guys. We stayed long enough to confirm my theory, and after that we had to just sit in the shade for a bit. There was nothing going on we were interested in even remotely until shortly after 4:00. Other than Alberta Cross, this was the highlight so far.

Our second foray to the main stage was for Los Angeles' own The Airborne Toxic Event. I know there's a lot of hype about these guys, and after the first song I could kind of understand why. They had about a four-piece strings section with them, which really sounded nice in the waning heat of the afternoon. After their first song, each song was better than the next, or at least I was liking them less after every song. Not bad, but not fantastic. Just a little too poppy for my tastes.

The Airborne Toxic Event wasn't all that (photo by M. Conner)

Headed over to the Gobi tent for the first time of 2009 to see Los Campesinos!, who were decent. A happy, poppy, yelling type of band with clever lyrics and a xylophone. Sort of reminded me of Belle and Sebastian. They also sounded a little bit like Architecture in Helsinki from last year, but much better. It was a similar formula with a better result.

We caught the first part of The Black Keys' set. A two-piece who started off a little rough for me, but got really good as they went on. The problem was that the first song sounded like they were a two-piece (guitar and drums), but the ones after that were much fuller, so I was more into them.

Mojave was the site for our first really stand-out act of the day, White Lies. These guys sound like some band that recorded an album in the '80s destined to be a mega-hit, but it got shelved for some reason. I'm pretty sure To Lose My Life is their hit single, because when they played it, the whole tent spontaneously erupted, singing the chorus of, "Let's grow old together / And die at the same time!" It was the first moment I felt that family feeling I feel when I'm at Coachella.

White Lies provided a "Coachella moment" (photo by M. Conner)

We caught a little food before heading over to the Outdoor stage for Leonard Cohen. Considering that this guy put out his first album 32 years ago, he sounds fantastic. I recognized There Ain't No Cure for Love and the seminal Everybody Knows, but the things I didn't recognize sounded great as well. The main problem with this set was that it was so quiet, the audience really had to be quiet as well for it to work. Unfortunately, there were two girls behind us who were having a very loud conversation. I tried to tune them out, but after talking through two songs, the one girl decided to call her (probably equally vapid and inconsiderate) friend.

"HEY!!" Do you like LEONARD COHEN?!" she screamed into the phone. I had had enough. If you know me, you know this is a very bad thing. So I turned to her, stuck my face about two inches from hers, looked her in the eyes and explained to her as calmly as possible that other people were trying to watch the show, and would she mind keeping her voice down? (read: "Shut the fuck up! Will you shut the fuck up, please?!"). She gave me the finger as her jaw dropped. Nice reflex, I thought.

"We're sorry," her friend started.

"Thank you, but really, please, just be quiet. I mean, it's for RESPECT," I punctuated.

I should note two things:

First, I whisper-hissed this at them, so as not to add to the annoyance to the rest of the crowd.
Second, they shut the fuck up.

We hated to do it, but we missed the last part of Cohen's set and headed over to the main stage for Morrissey. I've only ever seen Morrissey once before (he was stunning at Cox Arena about 10 years ago), but I have to say that he was the single biggest disappointment of the whole festival this year for me. I was really looking forward to seeing him, and Conner had never seen him before, so it was doubly messed up that he was so fragile up there. After two songs, he complained that the sound was terrible onstage, then a few songs later, he proclaimed, "I can smell burning flesh. And I hope to GOD it's human." Morrissey is a rabid veg, so I can understand his distaste. But come on man, you've done festivals before, suck it up and do your job!

After that, he'd stop in the middle of verses, sometimes recovering, sometimes leaving the stage. Once, after we thought he might have thrown a tantrum big enough to end the set, he came back and cried, "I just can't stand the smell of burning flesh any longer, it's making me physically sick!" I feel for the guy, but come on.

It actually wasn't horrible. Morrissey opened with This Charming Man, also played Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (from The Queen Is Dead), and a few songs from way back in his career, including Seasick, Yet Still Docked. He also did some more recent stuff, including Let Me Kiss You, in which he took off his shirt. He's reportedly going to be 50 on the last day of May, and dude looks good for his age.

We sprinted back to the Outdoor to catch the last half of LA's Silversun Pickups. Man, these guys rocked it out of the park. Heard a few promising ones from their new album Swoon, which just came out last week, as well as Well Thought Out Twinkles and Lazy Eye from the excellent Carnavas album. I wish we could have gotten closer, and I wish we could have seen their whole set, but how were we to know Moz would blow?

After that, we eschewed Sir Paul's set for two bands we'd only heard of recently, both in the Gobi tent. First up, Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers. These guys sound like a cross between Joy Division, Jesus & Mary Chain and Bauhaus, and one guy in the band makes his own effects pedals. Apparently, U2's The Edge ordered a bunch of them, and the band used them all over their latest album. The stage was completely dark for most of the set, save the movies that were projected behind them. I can't remember what the movies were of, but I remember they didn't provide much light. A wonderfully eerie performance.

We stuck around for the last act of the evening, Argentina's Bajofondo. This seven-piece band blew me away. They were exactly the kind of fun, jump around and dance your ass off band you want to see right before you leave a hard, long, sweaty, sticky day in the desert. They started off with a violin solo that was as beautiful as it was technically perfect, and launched into about an hour's worth of indescribably cool shit. As the singer put it, "We've been making this music for a while now, and we're not really in a rush to put a label on it. Is that OK with you?" To which the crowd simply roared. They could have played all night as far as I was concerned. They had a famously beautiful Argentine woman on the right side of the stage with a computer and a little keyboard, and I don't know what she was doing with it, but I could have watched her dance forever. The guitarist has a voice like a Spanish-speaking Tom Waits, and between their DJ, violinist and accordionist (!?!), just had that winning combination that makes you want to jump up and down.

We headed out and were lost in the parking lot enough to hear that Paul McCartney was doing several encores, playing Hey Jude, Sergeant Pepper's (reprise), Get Back and many, many other songs we would have stuck around for if we didn't want to recharge for the rest of the weekend first. It took a little over an hour to get from the field to the hotel, and we managed to stay up until a little after three AM reminiscing about the day, and planning for the rest of the weekend. Despite our tired legs, feet and ears, we knew it would all be over too soon.

Coachella 2009 - Saturday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Day 'til Coachella - Answer Key 2009

So you want to know who's worth seeing at the big festy this year? You've come to the right place. Our team of experts on crack has researched the living shit out of the schedule, and have come up with our best guess as to the series of events that will leave you with a total aural orgasm.

First, in general:

  • Get there as early as you can, stay as late as you can. If you tough it out for the whole thing, you'll be happier when it's over.
  • Try to bring a water bottle with you. Drink it in the parking lot and in line. When it's empty, you can take it into the venue and use it to get free (?!?) filtered water.
  • Pace yourself. It's a three-day balls-out music festival in the desert. Sure, this isn't Burning Man, but all that means is that there are hospitals nearby.
  • Watch out for the cops! They are fucking everywhere.
  • Be courteous to your neighbor and be sure to talk to others when appropriate.
  • Shut the fuck up when you're watching a band. Your neighbor didn't come to hear you bitch and moan about how hot it is in the Mojave tent.
  • Have a good time. Even a great time. But remember, we're all out there together, and we're there to experience the wonder that is Coachella.
And now for the daily rundown:

Friday, April 17, 2009


  • Check out Switch in the Sahara tent. They're the only thing going, but they don't suck.
  • Wanter around and check out Alberta Cross, Craze & Klever for some turntablism, and Gui Boratto for some good old dance music.
  • The Airborne Toxic Event could go either way. They're a bit poppy but nothing else appeals to me at that time except for maybe Cage the Elephant.
  • Los Campesinos! could be god, if not, check out The Black Keys or The Ting Tings.


  • Don't miss White Lies. They're gonna rock it.
  • Next, it's all about choice. NASA if you're into great hip-hop, Leonard Cohen if you're not. There's a huge buzz about Bug/Warrior Queen but that's just a shit sandwich to me.
  • Next, Morrissey. Sucks about having to miss the first half of Silversun Pickups and all of Ghostland Observatory, but oh well.
  • After the second half of Silversun Pickups, head over to the Gobi tent for A Place To Bury Strangers. After that, check out a bit of Sir Paul or Patton & Rahzel before heading back for Bajofondo.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

  • P.O.S. and Zizek Club are the only things going early. Luckily they're right next to each other. Mosey between Sahara and Mojave and pick a winner.
  • Next, check out Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. They are gonna be fucking weeeeird!!
  • Bob Mould Band is my pick for the 2:30 slot, it should be great to see this founding member of Husker Du with a full band.
  • TheNewNo2 could be good, we haven't heard much from them but they sound promising.
  • Next, over to the Outdoor Theatre for Drive-By Truckers. Countryish, but in a good way.
  • Next stop is probably Spearhead on the Coachella Stage, followed by Calexico. I hate to have to miss TV On the Radio, but I've never seen Calexico, and they're just fantastic live.
  • Next, on to Fleet Foxes. Sorry Thievery Corporation, I'm glad you're on the big stage, but I've just seen you guys too many times.
  • Band of Horses should be good on the Outdoor Theatre at 8:40, if not, I'm off to Junior Boys.
  • After that, my friend Conner is all about Jenny Lewis, so I'll check some of her stuff out but will probably bounce between that, Glass Candy, Turbonegro and The Chemical Brothers.
  • Finally, to round it out, MSTRKRFT in the Sahara tent. If you like hip-hop, check out Atmosphere, they could be really good.
Sunday, April 19, 2009

  • Mexican Institute of Sound at 12:45, though Themselves could be really unique.
  • Check out The Knux on the big stage for some interesting hip-hop.
  • The Night Marchers sound pretty cool, but will probably leave early for Friendly Fires.
  • Skip Fucked Up! for Sebastien Tellier. Good stuff there.
  • Next, I'd love to check out Lykke Li and Brian Jonestown Massacre, but it's really hard to be in two places at the same time, so I'll probably split it.
  • At 5:25, Antony and the Johnsons. Antony's voice is an acquired taste, but they're rumored to be with Matthew Herbert, so it could be a really cool electronic-like experience.
  • At 6:30, check out legendary LA rockers X.
  • After X, high-tail it over to the Coahcella Stage for My Bloody Valentine. Your life will never be the same.
  • Next, the hard choices. Conner's never seen The Cure, and if you haven't, I'd recommend checking them out, but I'll be splitting my time between Public Enemy and The Orb.
  • After that, do not miss Throbbing Gristle. You thought Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti was weird?!?!
  • Finally, Etienne de Crecy, who sounds a lot like Daft Punk's grandpa, will be closing it out. This guy is behind so much cool stuff, it blows the mind.
It's Coachella time, brothers and sisters. See you on the other side.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

5 Days 'til Coachella - FRIDAY

So I spent a few hours last night until early this morning listening to / passing judgment on Friday's lineup. My goal is to have one post per day here over the next few days to help you decide what bands to see on each day. Here's my rating system:

Negative numbers are tantamount to their positive equivalents, if you're a fucking idiot.

1-3 I wouldn't cross the street to piss on this act if it was on fire
4-6 I might cross the street to spit on this act if it was implicated in a Ponzi scheme
7 I'm considering seeing this act
8 I'm hoping to see this act
9 I'm planning to see this act
10 If two of these acts are up against each other there's gonna be a fatwa called on Goldenvoice

So here we go, in (mostly) alphabetical order:

A Place To Bury Strangers - 10 - would be a 9 on Sunday, but these guys are the hope for my kinda music

Alberta Cross - 8 - Just heard something from these guys in 3/4 and I'm a sucker for a waltz.

Bajofondo - 10 - They sound like Gotan Project. Me likey

Beirut - 7 - Too much like DeVotchka from last year to really pique my interest, but if the stage show is similar, it will

Buraka Som Sistema - 3 - I mean, they sound like a lot of other shit acts from this part of the world, but probably not the worst. If I could understand the lyrics my rating might move a point in one direction, but I can't say which.

Cage the Elephant - 7 - But only because I've only heard 30 seconds of one song and Friday isn't this year's Sunday.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - 8 - Because I like what this kid did with Bright Eyes, and this could be good.

Craze and Klever - 8 - Turntablism. If you like it, see these guys.

Crystal Castles - 0 - because I've got an Intellivision so I don't need to hear the soundtrack to fucking Astrosmash in the Sahara tent

Dear and the Headlights 7 - They're mellow, but could be good. Another one of these bands you have to steal to hear. Not sure they're the most logical act on Friday but it's included in the price of admission.

EL gran silencio - 6 - Hmm, a little too banda for me on first listen, but if you listen to the wrong Cafe Tacuba song you'd think the same thing. And at least they're not some group of rich white peoples' kids. And the accordion is hot.

Felix da Housecat - 7 - I'm not big on electro, but this could be good.

Franz Ferdinand - 7 - I like the message they're spreading to the kids on Ulysses, even though I've really been turned off by their live shows in the past.

Genghis Tron - 0 - pfft.

Ghostland Observatory - 6 - One good song (Sad Sad City) does not a big-font Coachella band make

Girl Talk - 7 - This could be really good or really suck. Either way, it's better than mediocrity.

Gui Boratto - 9 - Nice electronic stuff I just discovered. Chilled out stuff with a beat. When the vocals kicked in on Beautiful Life, my rating went from an eight to a nine. Sounds like New Order as a one-piece band.

Leonard Cohen - 10 - Ever since I heard Everybody Knows in the context of the film Pump Up the Volume, this guy's been my man.

Los Campesinos! - 9 - Fuck yeah. These guys sound like they're from that whole scene from Toronto where they get all the people they know who play instruments in a room to record an album, and it somehow works. OK, they sound a bit like last year's mega-bomb Architecture in Helsinki, but with a lot more energy. Hopefully they can pull off the live show to the point that I'll actually care about it.

M. Ward - 7 - Only because I've heard so much about him. I'm intrigued by what I've heard but not compelled.

Molotov - 7 - Only because they're like the Mexican 2 Live Crew. Not that I'm into that sort of thing, but it's kinda weird that a band with a song called Puto is on the lineup this year.

Morrissey - 10 - I'm hoping I'll be able to say, after I've seen him: Morrissey, You Have Killed Me!

N.A.S.A. - 8 - I like what I've checked out to a certain extent, but not sure what they'll be able to do live.

Noah and the Whale - 5 - If they weren't from the UK, would anyone give a shit?

Patton & Rahzel - 9 - Oh shit, Mike Patton is back. Last time I saw him at Coachella was with Fantomas. That was crazy. I think Rahzel is an MC, but I'll make an exception from the former mastermind behind Mr. Bungle and Faith No More.

Paul McCartney - 8 - I've heard his new stuff is more electronic, so that could be good. But to see him do Beatles tunes at this point would feel kinda creepy.

Peanut Butter Wolf - 7 - I'll come for the turntablism, but I'll stay if the MC sees his shadow and runs back in his hole for six more weeks of downtempo.

Silversun Pickups - 10 - Their Carnavas album is stuck in my CD player. I can't seem to want to get it out.

The Crystal Method - 8 - Saw them on the night of the only time I've ever been fired. Keep Hope Alive played on my car stereo as I drove away from the corporate megafucks who set me free.

The Airborne Toxic Event - 5 - A little too light for me for Coachella, but I might give them a chance.

The Bug featuring Warrior Queen - MINUS 100000 - My pants actually come up to my waist, so fuck these guys.

The Presets - 4 - Meh.

The Ting Tings - 6 - OK, so I really liked a remix of Shut Up And Let Me Go I heard at the gym, but I wasn't so big on some other stuff I heard from them, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Nothing I'm dying for but they could be decent.

White Lies - 8 - I've only heard a little bit from these guys, but they could be pretty good. Definitely dark, still poppy, like a modern Echo and the Bunnymen but with a better vocalist.

The Aggrolites - 1 - If you're high and you don't care what music sounds like, these guys are for you. White reggae. Yeaaaaaaahhhhhh...

People Under the Stairs - 4 - Hip-hop, but not bad for what it is. Plus, I think they might be more than the sum of their parts. Still, I'm not excited.

The Hold Steady - 6 - Sounds like Shane from The Pogues trying to cover Bruce Springsteen.

Ryan Bingham - 4 - While not untalented, I'm not really stoked on the dude who owns the venue trying to push his shitkicker agenda on us.

If I didn't have a goddamn day job I'd have time to review these guys tonight too:

Steve Aoki
The Black Keys
The Courteeners
The Hold Steady
We Are Scientists

Friday, April 10, 2009

7 Days 'til Coachella - The Killers

I was first introduced to The Killers in a very unconventional way, back in 2003 or 2004. My good friends Bep & DC (currently known as LA superstar DJs S&Him, and Bep was half of girl DJ duo Electroboobies) and I got together, and I distinctly remember Bep asking me,

"Hey, have you heard of these guys The Killers?"
"Oh yeah," DC cheerfully agreed, "they're great!"
"Yeah? I don't think I've heard them," I answered.

Bep proceeded to sing me the super limited remix of Somebody Told Me they'd received, and just her singing of it stuck in my head as an example of great songwriting. Bep's not a bad singer. But I've never experienced something hitting me like that third-hand before or since.

Having said that, when I saw they were headlining Saturday night, I thought, oh SHIT! Who's going to show up at the last minute THIS YEAR!?!

Last year, I was in heaven when I heard Portishead was the crown jewel of the festival. They were to headline Saturday night. Then, less than a week before the festy (as I recall), Goldenvoice announced that Prince would be the headliner.

"But Portishead is headlining Saturday!" I protested.

After I got over the initial indignation associated with their spotlight being, well, not stolen, but dimmed, I was OK with it. I knew that both acts would put on a great performance, and as you know if you've been following my insane and inane rantings, they all did pretty well.

This year, I felt like it was inevitable that an artist of Prince's stature would show up and swoop down to the main stage Saturday to put the killers in its shadow. However, we're a week out, and it hasn't happened yet. Maybe last year was a fluke, and maybe I'm just a dreamer, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a surprise or two at this year's event.

I remember a post on Mogwai's page. I'm paraphrasing but I believe it said, "If any of our fans also like the band The Killers, please send us back our albums for a full refund. Seriously. They suck."

I'm not so sure that I think they totally suck, and looking on the bright side, I'd rather see them up there on Saturday than the motherfucking Red Hot Chili Peppers YET AGAIN. I'm not really impressed by their latest stuff, but that's probably why they'll be a draw. Much more poppy and polished than Hot Fuss. It's almost like they got a new singer, or their original singer got a lobotomy or something. It's none of my business, but hey. Inquiring minds want to know.

Me? I couldn't give a shit. Put out a good show or fuck off.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

8 Days 'til Coachella - NASA

I started listening to The Spirit of Apollo, which I think is this group's latest effort, and I was thinking, OK, sorta hip-hop, I can feel it coming, even though the first song, Intro, is purposefully spacey and definitely groovy.

The second track, The People Tree, features some decent grooves, beats and scratching, along with some MC'ing that's not too annoying. And what's this? That familiar voice... could it be... David Byrne?!

Reading the album's list of collaborators, you'd have trouble pegging the genre. Sure, overall it's hip hop, but only if you have to pigeonhole it into a category. Some of this stuff sounds like good downtempo with forgivable rapping, but everything I checked out is just full-on head-bopping goodness.

You may have heard Money, which also features David Byrne, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Ras Congo (possibly from London or NYC), Brazilian artist Seu Jorge, and DJ Z-Trip. That many cooks in the kitchen can easily spoil a track, but in this case, it's really something good. You're probably already sick of hearing it, it's so good.

Other contributors include hip-hop dudes Del The Funkee Homosapien, DJ Qbert, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Ol' Dirty Bastard (I thought he was dead?), Kool Keith, genius and "gay fish" Kanye West, as well as George Clinton, and TOM WAITS?!?!

The last track on the album bills itself as a 15+ minute opus called N.A.S.A. Anthem. The first four minutes sounds like it could have easily been done thirty years ago... like there are tons of samples in there, but I can't put my finger on any one of them. Then there's about six minutes of silence and the annoying 1990's "bonus track" thing shows up. Let me tell you, this one would have been a lot better off without the gimmick and without the "bonus" song. It feels really tacked on, like a compromise between two very different forces driving this group.

Overall, it's more than the sum of its parts, but after hearing this last bit, I'm really nervous that their whole live show will be standard MC'ing over standard DJ'ing.

The jury will render its decision next Friday night.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 Days 'til Coachella - James Morrison


Look at this guy. What the fuck? He'd be singled out and ritually sacrificed in the pit at a Tool or RATM set. Not that I'm huge fans of those bands, but this guy is totally inappropriate for Coachella.

This year's James Blunt. 'nuff said.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

12.5 Days 'til Coachella - A Place To Bury Strangers

Holy fuck.

These guys are something out of a dream. Take the sonic characteristics of Jesus & Mary Chain add it to the Joy Division-esque basslines multiply it by the Bauhaus-inspired downward pickings of the guitar hooks put it to the power of the trademark shoegaze technique of hiding the lyrics underneath the din of the music, and you've got the motherfucking Di Vinci code of how to throw the aural soul into a blender.

They're from New York, which now that I know that, makes me think of such other amazing, somewhat similar artists as Bowery Electric. But APTBS is pitched up like Spacemen 3 shooting a speedball, with way more depth.

Friday's looking better all the time, y'all.

Special thanks to my pal Tina for pointing me in their direction.

12 Days 'til Coachella - Bob Mould Band

I've seen Bob a few times, I think I've seen him two and a half times as a solo artist, but never as a full band. I'll explain the half time I saw him.

It was the first time I'd had a chance to check him out, and it was to be him playing solo at Detroit's version of The Casbah, St. Andrew's Hall. This place is like three or four times the size of the 'bah, complete with a second level that goes all the way around the place. I'd say capacity is a little over a thousand.

My friend The Hammer drove us down from East Lansing, where we were going to school at the time. This must have been around 1991 or 1992. On the way into the show, we had a little conversation about how the show would be enhanced for us, and headed inside.

We made it just in time for his set, and when he came on, all eyes and ears were on the man on stage. I remember he went back and forth between an electric-acoustic 12-string and an electric guitar, but it was all just Bob up there, cranking out song after song of heartfelt emotion, thought-provoking lyrics and plain old balls-out rock and roll.

After about five or six songs, my buddy mentioned something about our "conversation" not hitting him right, and that he wasn't feeling entirely himself. In the next seconds, I found out that he hadn't eaten anything since lunch, and that it's very hard for someone of my stature to hold up someone over six feet tall, especially when he's crashing into someone who's minding his business just trying to hold up the left-side wall of St. Andrew's.

I dragged him to the back lobby near the entrance, where we hung out for another song or so before trying to head back in. He didn't feel up to finishing the show, and offered to meet me later, but I wanted to make sure he was all right, so we headed to El Loco, a decent Mexican place just around the corner.

I got to tell Bob this story when he signed my copy of his first solo album, Workbook, at Belly Up in Solana Beach a few years ago. That's the great thing about Belly Up, and about Bob Mould. He's a real person, and Belly Up is the kind of venue where, sometimes, the band sticks around to talk to people. Even when the band is just one man, when it's THIS guy, you hardly notice he's the only one on stage.

Bob Mould has a voice that can fill an arena, and it will be great to see him with a full band. Listen for songs from Black Sheets of Rain along with the new album. Bob's recently gone through some personal troubles, and all indications are that his songwriting and sound are more distinctly and wonderfully him than ever before.

I remember hearing an interview with him where he explained his friends' typical reaction to hearing a new album. He said that friends, upon hearing the last song (usually the angriest, check out Sacrifice (Let There Be Peace) from BSOR for an example), they turn to him and say, Hey, are you all right, man? This guy puts everything he's got and more into his work, and this is a rare chance to see him with a full band. With album titles like The Last Dog and Pony Show, it's hard to know how many more tours he'll embark on.

His new album, Life and Times, will be released this Tuesday, April 7th. Until then, you can stream the whole thing here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

14 Days 'til Coachella - Hercules and Love Affair

This is not a drill!! I've finally found something to get excited about on Saturday!! Hercules and Love Affair to the rescue. While their site calls their music a "disco love affair," I think they're selling themselves short in favor of brevity. This stuff sounds a lot like Curtis Mayfield or Shuggie Otis, and if you're callin' them disco, well, fine, but not me. This is pretty soulful stuff for a genre that's not supposed to have any, so step up.

Or step side to side. Or just shake it in place. Their 2008 single Time Will features none other than Antony Hegarty on vocals, so they get serious cool points for that. Shimmering stabs, bumping beats and rolling basslines round out this track, and as I mentioned, I'm pretty excited to see what these guys throw down Saturday.

UPDATE: April 5, 2009: Apparently, they've canceled. Fuckers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

15 days 'til Coachella - Morrissey

My holy trinity in high school was, as follows:

The Cure
The Smiths
Depeche Mode

Well, I've managed to see The Cure from the third row on Disintegration, and DM front row on Violator. 89-90 were good years.

But I never got to see The Smiths.

I remember back in like 1987 when my friend Vince loaned me a tape of Strangeways, Here We Come, the last studio Smiths album for the weekend. I came in that Monday and sought him out.

"Hey Vince, I really love that Smiths album you loaned me."

"Wow, that's too bad, because they're never going to play again," he replied.

I was pretty fucking disappointed.

From then on out, I made a point of getting ahold of all the Smiths stuff I could on CD, with the exception of the really expensive stuff like Hatful of Hollow and The World Won't Listen. I broke down and bought the former in college, but still don't have the latter. I know there are some different versions of stuff on TWWL but goddammit, The Smiths were one of the first bands that made me hate the music I loved, if only because I knew I could never get it all.

Then came Viva Hate, Morrissey's first album. I kind of felt like it was mine, because it was the first thing he'd put out when I was actively a fan, and when so many people around me were denouncing it as "not as good as the smiths." Well, shit. Throw this guy a bone, man! It took forever to get the thing out, and then twice as long to get the follow-up, Bona Drag, to see the light of day. And by the time it did, it was mostly a singles collection. Not that I'm complaining. At the time, the best the US ever got of our Brit idols was of this ilk.

So what about Morrissey?

I saw him back in 2000 or 2001 at Cox Arena here in San Diego. Expectations were low. Like slug shit low. Cox Arena is infamous for shitty sound, and he'd recently released Maladjusted, which I think is probably his worst solo album by a long shot. We had nosebleed seats, and it was a Wednesday night (READ: it may have been any night of the week, but it felt like a Wednesday).

Well, let me tell you, he was a fucking SHOWMAN. He got up on that stage and belted out amazing song after amazing song, from Shoplifters of the World Unite to later favorites from his solo career, and the sound was actually surprisingly good. The setlist was phenomenal, and he pandered to the crowd like a Tijuana barker.

I've only had a few listens through Years of Refusal, his latest effort, and I think it's pretty good. Not his best solo effort, but I could be proved wrong by history. Regardless, it's going to be one helluva show, if the reports I've heard from other shows on the tour hold up.

And remember, this is Coachella. He hasn't played here since the first one back in 1999. He opened in Ann Arbor, MI with This Charming Man. Do you think he's going to do anything less in the desert?