San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Monday, April 20, 2015

Coachella 2015 Review (Weekend 2)

This year went faster than ever before. I'm never sure how we let it slip away so quickly, but somehow making it through Coachella number 15 without the usual nightly cramps and other assorted sore muscles made the time speed by even more quickly.  It's almost anticlimactic, usually I feel like I left it all out there, but this year I'm not so sure.  I've decided to put my public service announcement warning about the evils of Holiday Motel Indio in another post to keep this review relatively positive (for this site at least), but please, DO NOT BOOK THE HOLIDAY MOTEL IN INDIO!  You'll thank me later.


On the bright side, Friday and Saturday were chock full of fantastic music.  We stuck pretty much to the original plan on day one, Checking out The Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger on the Outdoor Theatre first thing. This is Sean Lennon's band, and man does the kid look like dad.  Turns out they almost didn't make their set time and started the set pretty jittery, explaining that they had a hard time convincing the security guard that they actually were legit.  They drew a good sized crowd for as early as they were on, and sounded sort of like an early 60's psychedelic throwback band.

Haerts were up next in Mojave, and that's the way they spell their name.  A decent poppy band led by a female singer with a decent voice.  Not sure what else to say about them but I figured we were pretty much two for two so far at that point.

Stayed in Mojave for The Reverend Horton Heat, where we witnessed the first of the earmarked of this year's festival, the mosh pit.  Yes kids, it's back. Get all that sexual frustration. You feel out by shoving and knocking around a gaggle of your fellow repressed knuckleheads.  Rev even commented, "you know, sometimes I feel like the ritual of the mosh pit is a bit passé... That is, until I see a crowd like you."  The Rev hasn't lost a thing, and between his rockabilly prowess and his snarky wit, put on a hell of a good show.

We walked around for a bit after that and found ourselves in the unfortunate position of being between Action Bronson and Allah-Las.  By that I mean we could hear them both, and there were no winners.  "Let's get the hell away from this," Mike suggested, and we found somewhere to be where we weren't forced to ear-smell this musical sewage.

Yuma Tent in the Afternoon

Well, sort of. We actually ended up sitting before Ab-Soul, a hip hop act. So when he started up, we bailed, preferring to sit in the hot sun and wait for Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires.  Bradley might have been the second oldest performer of the weekend (other than Micharl Gira from Swans), but if I look and move as well as he does when I'm 67, sign me up.  This guy brought the house down with his gospely, anmes Brownesque voice and commanding stage presence.  His band, The Extrordinaires, were killing it as well. A two piece horn section that sounds like four is enough to sell these guys, and speaks to the talent of the ensemble overall.

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

Headed over to Gobi next and caught the last couple of songs by Kimbra of Gotye / Somebody I Used To Know fame.  A great performer and the music didn't offend.  Ride was our destination though, and as predicted, there were virtually no hangers-out from her show to Ride.  While this wasn't one of the better-attended performances of the weekend, it was definitely one of those core choices of lineup that keep people like me coming back every year.  Ride were a seminal shoegaze band back in the early 1990's, and one of those bands I never thought I'd see live.  It's been a great six years or so of the revival of the genre, with My Bloody Valentine's reunion, album MBV and tour, and finally their Coachella debut kicking off the whole thing.  Since then we've seen Swervedriver come out of hiding and even Slowdive do a reunion tour last fall.  Ride sounds pretty much exactly like they did back when they recorded tracks like Vapour Trail and Leave Them All Behind (both played in their Friday set as well), so if you get the chance, for god's sake check them out.


We managed to catch the tail end of The War On Drugs on the Coachella stage, which was great since we weren't going to miss Ride for anything.  As I learned last weekend watching the stream, TWOD is a fantastic live rock band, just don't try to listen to them at the gym.  Alabama Shakes on the Outdoor Theatre was what we were heading to, another find from the weekend 1 stream.  This lady is one of the greatest gospelesque voices to come out of popular music in the last ten years, so pay attention.  Songs like Don't Wanna Fight remind one of the greats of soul (think Aretha), and Be Mine reaches a state of almost Baptist church revival-like intensity.  Awesome backup singers as well, not to mention the musicians.

The last part of Friday for me was a little schizophrenic.  Headed to Gorgon City, yet another find from the YouTube stream from seven days prior.  Lesson learned for next year:  Keep doing the research!  These guys are billed as UK Garage (rhymes with "carriage") but it's still house music to me.  One male and one female singer for the most part, and each did their part to create an irresistible atmosphere for dancing.  Although they didn't bring out Jennifer Hudson for the closer, Keep On Dancin', the female singer did come out in a pretty revealing get up and melted the hearts and ears of the crowd, so that was pretty cool too.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you're into live dance music with a serious hit of soul, this is your new favorite band.

 After Gorgon City I headed over to catch what was left of Caribou.  Dan Snaith's electronic dancey project has changed a lot since I saw them at The Casbah on The Milk Of Human Kindness tour back in 2005/'06, and I have to say I love what he's done with the place.  Apparently, so did the crowd.  It was a huge, pulsating one (that's what she said) that moved in time with the music like it was its shadow.

Next up was Flying Lotus (or as we call him FlyLo), but as soon as I realized this set was going to give a serious nod to the rap genre, I knew it was time to look for another tent.  I really wish I'd checked him out on Until the Quiet Comes, but this isn't the tour (or possibly the album) for me to get more into him.  So I headed over to see Todd Terje and the Olsens, who were doing a pretty phenomenal job in Gobi.  Not a huge crowd, but great music, and the dedicated fans and lucky curious folk like me were treated to a pretty original experience.  I also caught a little bit of Porter Robinson from the very very back of the Sahara tent, but they're reconfigured Sahara so there are no speakers in the back anymore, which really sucked.  However, I think the reason they did that was because they moved The Do Lab over by Sahara, which I think was high time they did.  Why the fuck would you put The Do Lab smack-dab in the middle of everything for so many years?  It's cool to look at, the music is usually good, and it's an institution, admittedly, but it should never be in danger of drowning out one of the other stages.  Anyway, as a result of this, I couldn't hear Porter Robinson and that was too bad.

For my final planned show of the night, I checked out Squarepusher, who seemed to dare people to stick around to listen to him.  Coming out in something that looked like a beekeeper's outfit (if there were bees on other planets) and working a mixer and two laptops, the techno legend treated us to a bevvy of what I can only describe as drum and bass and tech.  Maybe a little backwash from the dubstep era was in there, but I'd say he influenced that genre, definitely not the other way around.

After about 30 minutes of Squarepusher I felt like my insides had been rearranged, so I stepped out of the tent to try to squish them back into place.  Texting Mike revealed what I'd figured / feared, he and Dave were packed in at AC/DC and were loving it.  They got lucky enough to get pairs of the flashing, glowing horns they'd passed out at the start of the show and were wearing them proudly when I finally caught up with them around 12:30 AM.  While they were thoroughly impressed by the whole thing, I would have preferred leaving my experiences with the band back in 1989 when I saw them.  Angus was great, but Brian Jones' voice sounds like shaggy ass singing through static.  Not in a good way.  Points for trying, but between the vocals and the flaccid cannon fires during For Those About To Rock, I gotta say their best days are long behind them.  Sorry, true fans, but you know it's the truth.  Bon Scott era is greater than Brian Jones Era, and early BJ is greater than late BJ.  It's simple math.


I felt a lot more human waking up for day 2 of the festy, and after the usual breakfast at Denny's with the unusually long wait, we were back on the polo field by 12:30.  The funny thing about Denny's is that the manager that's always there is so zen about everything.  He and our waitress did their best to keep our coffee cups filled while we waited 30 minutes for our food (after waiting almost 20 to order), and when we mentioned it seemed to be taking a really long time for the food to come out, he only replied, "Yeah, well..." and walked away.

I checked out Bixel Boys long enough to realize that they probably should have been murdered at birth.  Acapella sample from Don't Look Back In Anger by Oaisis?  Guy yelling, "Yeah!  Yeah!" up on stage to pump up the crowd?  Annoying EDM quirky repetative samples?  Check all three boxes.  The perfect shitstorm in Sahara.

I checked out Tourist as well, caught the tail end of their set and thought they had promise, but once again, the lack of real singers left something to be desired.  Still, they're good, so check 'em out if you like the dancey-dancey.

Mike's first pick of the day was Parquet Courts.  He said they sounded nothing like their album, but these guys were one of the most creative, original bands I heard/saw all weekend.  The best way to describe them is to say they sound like Talking Heads, if Talking Heads had been dropped as a baby.  On its head.  They also had this great range, everything from spoken word to New York City pit-inspiring punk.  I'd see them live again but I'm scared to listen to their album.

After this, we had the amazingly good fortune to hear another live house music act ripping it up on the main stage, but we didn't head over just yet.  I'd previously said I wanted to see Lights because the singer was hot.  I will now make the first retraction ever on San Diego Radio Sucks : The chick from Lights is not hot.  About two minutes into the first song, I turned to Mike and said, "OK, so this music's kinda crap.  Let's go somewhere else."  Dave asked Mike, "Where are we going?"  To which Mike replied, "Anywhere but here."  Well said, Mike.

It was because of this excellent choice in a weekend of excellently poor choices that led us to Clean Bandit, yet another live house music band.  This one's a bit twisted though.  In addition to live musicians and singers, they've got live strings.  At one point, they broke into something fit for a French king's dinner service, and Mike's jaw dropped.  "That's HAYDN."  Pretty impressive, to say the least, and the singers hold their end of the bargain as well.  I hope one of these days we get a stage with nothing but bands like Clean Bandit and Gorgon City.

I caught enough of Cashmere Cat to wish I was deaf before heading over to Carl Craig.  The legendary Detroit techno icon opened his set with Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band, which sounds weird.  However, if you listen to that song in this type of context, you realize just how soulful that song is.  After that, it was a relentless four by four booty shakin' good time.  While I was bummed to have to miss Jungle, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see one of the guys who started an entire genre of music, and from my hometown, no less.

Carl Craig

I saw enough of Belle and Sebastian to confirm my belief that they haven't put out anything good since Fold Your Hands Child... and headed over to alt-J on the main stage.  Sadly, I couldn't get very close, and I was around enough assholes who just wanted to talk loudly over the music that I split after half the set was over.  This was just after Father John Misty took the stage at Outdoor, and I was pleasantly surprised to be a part of that crowd.

The next act we had to see was FKA Twigs in Gobi, and I got a text from Mike that he was already there.  "Help," it read, "I'm being violated by The Gaslamp Killer."  What I saw of this dude was actually pretty inspiring and original.  When I first got there, he was introducing the band and ranting in the most energizing way I've ever heard.  "Every single one of you motherfuckers was born for a reason!  Don't ever let any other person define your destiny!  When I was in school, my teachers told me that I was a waste.  They told me I'd never amount to anything.  Well look at me now, motherfuckers!"  The 15-piece band played one more quick song, sounding a lot like something out of a John Zorn project with TGK scribbling at the turntables the whole time and looking like an escaped mental patient.  The Gaslamp Killer Experience delivered what it promised, I'll say.  An experience.
FKA Twigs

I have to say FKA Twigs is about the best new music I've heard in as long as I can remember, and she didn't disappoint live.  My expectations were about as unrealistically high for her as they were for Portishead, and they were exceeded in a similar manner.  An apt comparison, as their music isn't so different in many ways, but the performance was night and day.  She contorts herself in the sexiest way while she's hitting Every.  Single.  Note.  Perfectly.  Her voice is an instrument, and to compare her to Beth Gibbons or Bjork isn't out of the question.  It was literally so good I had tears streaming down my face.  If you haven't checked out the new empress of trip-hop, please do yourself a favor and buy everything she's ever done.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.

FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs (photo by Mike)

FKA Twigs (photo by Mike)

FKA Twigs (photo by Mike)

FKA Twigs (photo by Mike)

FKA Twigs (photo by Mike)

Mike stayed for Drive Like Jehu, who he said were one of his favorites on the day, while I bopped over to Mojave to see SBTRKT.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was more of this semi-live dance music that's permeated the festival this year in the most wonderful way.  SBTRKT was really, really good, great even, but the one thing I'd like to see from him would be live singers.  You add live singers to that act, and SBTRKT is going to be a real contender for the highlight of the day in the future.

Drive Like Jehu (photo by Mike)

Drive Like Jehu (photo by Mike)

After that, headed back to Gobi for Swans.  Michael Gira is like 70 years old, and most of the people in Swans look like they're gnarled up like a beef jerky dog toy, but these guys are not your father's or grandfather's 70.  If you like drone music, these guys pretty much invented it.  Or at least they're the oldest still-performing pioneers of the genre.  Although they seemed to mostly play a single chord the entire performance, I can't make the joke that the show was a little "one-note." ;)

Swans (photo by Mike)

Swans (photo by Mike)

Swans (photo by Mike)

Swans (photo by Mike)

Swans (photo by Mike)

Swans (photo by Mike)


Sadly, all good things must end, and this year I felt that the greatest things ended on Saturday.  Sorry, Sunday lovers, there just wasn't much for me.  tINI was throwing down some great minimal house vinyl in Yuma, and that was pretty much exactly what I expected in the best possible way.  M∅ was really, really good, possibly even great.  I didn't see that being the highlight until the day was over though, and I'd seen the second half of Panda Bear (which was actually really cool and trippy), and parts of Built To Spill (not my style) Marina and the Diamonds (really good but not quite great), Madeon (who actually was amazing but I couldn't get out of the entryway to Sahara, and it was a big pain in the ass to have people passing by me the whole time), Philip Selway (drummer for Radiohead, who played very quiet music while very loud music spewed in from every direction) Florence and the Machine (a predictably subdued set given her broken foot and scant 30-minute time slot, even though it ended with a duet with Father John Misty) and ODESZA (sounded great but couldn't get close enough to even get into the back of the tent).


Panda Bear
Philip Selway

The only act I'm conflicted about from Sunday is St. Vincent.  There were  a couple of songs I really, really liked, and when I heard her back at the motel, I liked what I heard, but overall her show just didn't click with me.  I watched the whole thing, so there's something there for sure, but I'll have to return to that at another time.  She's a great performer, but not being familiar with her music I've been told is to not really get it.  She's a grower, not a shower, as an artist.

And that's pretty much everything.  We got back to the motel in record time, and were even allowed to turn up streets we couldn't on Friday and Saturday because the traffic was so light.  Sunday's crowd seemed like about half the size of Friday and Saturday, so that was too bad as well.  However, it sort of confirms my statement that the great acts were spread very thinly, if at all, on Sunday this year.

Holiday Motel in Indio, CA - The Biggest Shithole In the Desert

Coachella is designed to be a weekend of choices, many of them first world problems that have no wrong or bad answer.  Choosing a motel, however, is not like that.

Undoubtedly, the worst choice we made over weekend 2 for Coachella 2015 was booking Holiday Motel in Indio, where we were charged more money than The Paris Hilton to stay in a dangerous, run down shithole conveniently located in the middle of what must be Indio's D-list hooker street. Not just that, but when we got back Sunday night tarred and feathered with sunscreen and polo field dirt, we found that the room hadn't even been cleaned. No fresh towels, nothing.

Also, they use real keys instead of the standard plastic cards that most civilized places have these days.  This would be fine if the keys they gave you actually performed the function of locking the door, which as far as I'm concerned is the only thing keys really need to do.

Seriously, we're lucky we weren't killed, kidnapped, or worse staying at that nightmare.

Thanks for nothing you soulless fucks.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Day 'til Coachella - Answer Key 2015

I haven't been blogging much this year, mostly because I'm busier than a penicillin shot in a whorehouse after the navy's docked and there was a Viagra festival at the same time, but also because we've got weekend two tickets, and I couldn't be arsed to pick how many days it was until Coachella.  Well, now tis the night before day one of weekend two, so there's officially only three more days of the festy left this year, and I figured I should contribute something other than my sunburned wasted ass to the event.

I got inspired by a simple post I wrote back in 2009, I liked that I could imitate the format and I wouldn't have to think too hard to do it.  So here goes.



Los Rakas is about the only thing on early I've heard anything of, and that was just a snippet so it could be good or not.  I promised a friend I'd check out Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger.  It's John Lennon's kid's band, and man, does Sean look like dad these days.  Not sure what they sound like but we'll find out. I'm probably going to skip Action Bronson, he's on Vice Records, which is cool, but just doesn't seem like he's going to be anything more special than a blood fart.


Sylvan Esso did a pretty cool set we watched on the stream for weekend one, so that's a possibility, and even though Kimbra got mixed reviews from my friends, I thought she would be worth checking out in Gobi.  Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires is  the first act I'm really stoked to see.  This guy's voice could melt edible panties, or real ones.  We actually bought tickets to FYF Fest just to see him, but didn't end up going through with the plan.  Ride is a band I've been waiting to see since the early 1990's, and from what I've seen and heard online, they haven't lost a thing over the years.  It's going to be heartbreaking to miss Lykke Li, but I'm going to have to miss most of it in favor of Alabama Shakes.  Damn, that chick can SANG!  But they're up against Jon Hopkins, which I'll likely miss most of in Yuma.


Gorgon City was a find from watching weekend one on the stream, supposedly UK Garage but it's all house music as far as I'm concerned.  I could easily stay right there in the Gobi tent for the rest of the nights - Todd Terje and the Olsens might be a surprise, and I'm definitely going to catch Squarepusher, but I'm probably going to miss Todd T for Flying Lotus (as we call him, FlyLo).  Also, I've heard Porter Robinson absolutely killed it in Sahara, and it really looks and sounds like Sahara is turning a corner this year and actually putting on a significant amount of not dogshit acts.

Then I'll go find my drunken fucking friends at AC/DC and finish it out with a dustbowl parking lot Tecate and the slow crawl back to the roach motel.



Bixel Boys in Sahara, just to represent for Detroit. Parquet Courts because my man Mike likes 'em and his taste in music is above average.  Bad Religion is the first act of the day I'm totally stoked on.  Their first time at the 17 year-old desert ass-fest, and they destroyed on the stream weekend one.   Cashmere Cat sounded good from what I heard, but I didn't hear much.  Chet Faker was another find from the stream, he's got a popular song but I won't hold that against him.


Jungle was another live house music act I didn't know before last weekend, so I'll likely check some of them out and totally catch some Carl Craig.  It's a Detroit kinda day.  Glass Animals are cool, but up against a lot of quality acts, including Alt-J and Father John Misty 


FKA Twigs is really the one act I absolutely can't miss.  Her two records, LP1 and EP2 are absolutely fantastic.  SBTRKT might be a good late night starter before hitting  Swans, my close-second must-see act of 2015.  They don't even take the stage until 12:05 AM, so that sucks, but we'll be fine.  We've survived every other time.



We'll wake up with that "what the fuck happened?" feeling, wondering how we could have possibly let 2/3 of the party go by without anything more than a hangover, tinnitus and sore-ass muscles.  Something tells me we're going to miss Sloan at 11:55, because we never get there early enough to catch the one good act they put on way too early on Sunday.  I always make a point to check out Alf Alpha.  I'm not sure if he's this dude I met in a Wal-Mart parking lot a few years ago, but I kinda think he might be.  Anyway, when I tweet to him, he tweets back, and that's pretty cool.  tINI in Yuma should be good minimal housey stuff, and M∅ sounded like she could be an awesome answer to the 95-degree heat they're predicting for Sunday.  I might have to miss part of Panda Bear to do it, so I hope she's really good and it's worth it or she sucks and I can catch PB's full set.


I promised a friend I'd check out his buds in Circa Survive, though I don't know much about them.  Built to Spill seems like a reasonable choice for the next act, and then I'll likely eat food for the first time that weekend and catch some of Jason Bentley or Marina and the Diamonds.  I like Oh No! from Just Dance, so maybe the latter.


Madeon's one I've been wanting to see for quite some time, he can play a Novation Launchpad like an instrument so that should be cool, Philip Selway was recommended to me not as the drummer from Radiohead, but as good mellow music as a palate cleanser.  Mike likes St. Vincent, as do many other people, so I'll almost definitely give her a shot.  Next, ODESZA probably makes sense, and finally, Florence + the Machine + her broke-ass foot.  Thanks for giving the show of your life last weekend, Flo.  I'd love to think we'll be up to stay to the bitter end for Kygo, but I know us and I know that's just not going to happen, so I'll settle for several beers and one more nap before it's all over.

Sorry this post kind of turned into just a bunch of names, but that's what happens when you don't blog for like a fucking year and then get all amped up about the best music festival in the universe.

Be good to each other, people, and if you can't be good, at least don't get caught.  And know when to shut the fuck up.  People are trying to experience euphoria, and that doesn't come with a side of you talking in their ear while they're trying to hear the music.

See you on the other side.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now

I've got a shitload of music, and this album has never been too far from my turntables.  I pulled it out the other night to listen to track one, Hope There's Someone, and decided to listen to the whole thing in its entirety tonight for no other reason than it's fucking awesome and I love it.

With collaborators like Rufus Wainwright, Boy George, and for fuck's sake Lou Reed, it could be heralded as a fantastic effort in its own right.  However, what really makes this is Antony's raw openness, his willingness to bare all, stand naked in front of the audience and take whatever comes.

What it stands for is as powerful as the emotions it evokes.  And Antony is the only artist I've ever, ever compared to Bjork as far as vocal control.  And that's saying something.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

79 Days 'til Coachella - The Headliners

The Poster, version 1.0 - which promises will be broken this year?

I never thought we'd have to settle for weekend 2.  And I never thought they'd have a lineup that approached the craptacular one they smacked us with like a wet bag of vomit back in 2011.  And, I never thought that despite this, I'd be so bummed when I thought we weren't even going to get the makeup weekend passes.

But all that's changed.

And yeah, at this point, it's not even about the music so much as it is about the tradition, the religion, the post-Coachella glow that makes me believe people don't totally fucking suck for seven full days after the festy.  It's the anticipation, the hunting down of new artists (or new to me), and, of course, the adult diaper full of fucking swear words I get to write every winter.

OK, so first impressions:



Say it with me now:  WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!  More like FU/FM.  I'll let you figure out what that means.  It's about the mystique anymore anyway.  Did they drag out these geriatric prunes because they couldn't get the Rolling $tones again? Seriously.  I saw them twice back in my regretful mullet phase.  Don't get me wrong, they rocked, bro, but after an afternoon in the Detroit sun counting how many times the goddamn People Mover slides by and drinking under-the-well vodka, anything sounds amazing. 

But seriously, can Brian Johnson even sing anymore?  And of course, this begs the obvious question, could he ever?

Jack White

Well, here's something that will get those emo assholes to bring out their white belts for.  Just what we need.  I mean, represent for Detroit, I'll give him that.  And supposedly dude's a motherfucker on the guitar, so maybe he's talented.  But I just don't like the music.  What specifically, you ask?

Well, it's the shitty sound it makes when it comes out of my awesome speakers, that's what.

He was in a movie with Jimmy Page and The Edge (don't get me started on U-fucking-2), so that's a thing.  Maybe Jimmy is like really, really broke.  I mean, just because you used to be in Led Zepplin doesn't mean you've got shitloads of money.  It just means you used to have shitloads of money.

Well hell, now that I've said that, let's start a rumor:

JIMMY PAGE AND THE EDGE WILL BE ON STAGE WITH JACK WHITE!  You heard it here first!  Oh, and they'll be wearing The Gimp getups from Pulp Fiction.  No music, just interpretive dance.

There. I've done my civic duty for the day.


Ugh.  I guess this is the new formula.  Get everyone out early on Sunday.  I actually don't mind Drake as a hip-hop or rap guy or whatever.  However, this spot could be better filled by, well, anyone else but the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I guess I should be thankful.  We'll get to go back to our (even shittier than in previous years) motel and get our drank on a little early.

Anyway, definitely not the most disappointing lineup, but probably the second-most disappointing lineup.  Still, there are some great gems in there I know about, and I'm sure some I don't yet know about.