September 30, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part 16]

The Old Prospector strikes again.

Song: “(It’s All Over Now) Baby Blue” by The Chocolate Watchband (Dylan Cover)
Skaters: Ed Selego & Stefan Janowski
Video: Habitat Skateboards; Habitat Demo in Africa (2004)

The original purpose of Shred Wednesday was to share all the great music that skate videos have helped me discover. This week is particularly significant, based solely on the amount of persistence we used to match this mystery song with its artist.

Above is random bonus footage that I stumbled upon when google-ing Stefan Janowski for Part 5. It’s him and teammate Ed Selego skating parks on a trip to Africa. Featured only on their website to promote their demo tour, this clip offered no credits or tracklistings.

I immediately assumed this to be a Rolling Stones cover of Bob Dylan’s original “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. I mean, the singer sounds so much like Mick Jagger, how can you blame me? The fact that “Factory Girl” by the Stones (also a great song) follows, only reinforced my misstep. Hours were wasted scouring the net for more info, and close to giving up, I finally resorted to a one-by-one trial and error listening from a very long list of every artist who covered the song. This led to The Chocolate Watchband. After a few spins it becomes clear why they have since been regarded as "the greatest garage band of all time". Also not surprising many have stated that singer David Aguilar sounds more like Mick Jagger than Jagger himself.

Bob Dylan deserves all the credit for this song (Sutton did an interesting piece on the original a few months back), but damn this a good cover.

This song was originally released as a B-side along with “Sweet Young Thing” on a 45 (a record played on a gramophone measured by its rotations - 45 R.P.M.’s). So, yes, there is a distinct possibility that in 1967, your parents put on a Watchband record and smoked some grass.

The Chocolate Watchband | Melts In Your Brain... Not On Your Wrist 1965-1969 Recordings (2005)

Their history is so mixed up and unfortunate, it's only fitting that this band reach us through an obscure/mediocre skate part, and that their long-overdue, career-correcting 2005 double disc compilation get really ugly album art.

We don't have the space or time to get into what really happened to their studio albums in the late 60s, but word is, they suffered from a production the band had little control of. This 2005 release makes good by revealing the band just as they were. Labeled psychedelic due to a manager's vision and an obvious affiliation with the San Fransisco movement, these guys actually had a rawness that stretched far outside sunny experimentation.

Take the "Baby Blue" / "Sweet Young Thing" 45 (1967) here.
Or go 2 solid hours with the compilation (Disc One | Disc Two)

September 29, 2009

The Dodos + The Ruby Suns @ El Rey Theatre [LA; 09/27/09]

Sunday Funday was far from over (our definition clearly has less to do with margaritas). No knock on Mr. Sharpe and his lovely clan (I would have gone to bed plenty stoked after that), but The Dodos have this rare ability to rework all your previous notions of live music as you know it. Read: go see them immediately.

The Ruby Suns were a marquee bonus. It's easy to get down with some Kiwi pop-timism, you know. The El Rey crowd was warmest to tracks from last year's Sea Lion (which ranked high in my book). Suns did come bearing fresh material (look for a release soon), accompanied by a few excusable hiccups. Looking forward to the final product.

The Dodos were tight. Telepathically tight. At this point, the sync between Meric Long and drummer Loegan Kroeber is in a league of its own. And anyone that's worried over the fancy production on recent Time To Die, fear not. These are still the feverish folk sets from San Francisco.

The new compositions really earn their wings live. Double-timed "This Is a Business" broke into a full gallup, matching the energy of staples like "Red and Purple" and "Jodi". The song then took a breath and began a slow-bleed into familiar rimshot clatter at the foot of "Fools", the night's rightful climax. To be expected, Kroeber's percussion (complete with tambourine foot) was something to marvel. Long's complex, frenetic guitar work, as well. The 3rd member on xylophone (etc) was a welcome addition, accenting without overstepping.

Lead single "Fables" also shined. So let's watch a spanking new music video:

September 28, 2009

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Abbot Kinney Festival [Venice, CA; 09/27/09]

Today's most convincing hippie revivalist act was booked to close the 25th annual celebration of Venice culture on Abbot Kinney Blvd. You could say they fit the bill.

*I have two declarations before we go any further:
"Home" is one of the best songs of 2009. And Jade Castrinos is the prettiest girl I've just about ever set eyes on.*

Clouds couldn't dull this colorful, mile-long art circus all day, which attracted some 150,000, mostly-locals. Multiple mini-stages rotated steadily, but the only real buzz (aside from the spiritual energy booster samples) was about
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros' 5pm set. Love for their debut LP, Up From Below, has spread fast. And every press piece comes with a necessary detail: they're a 10-piece folk-rock clan with a reputation for fun-loving, Arcade Fire-gone-flower-child live shows.

Not every track from Up From Below is a barefoot sing-along, but the ones that are, were joyfully delivered ("40 Day Dream", "Janglin", "Come In Please", and the "Home" duet). We all dug. It went by fast. No one wanted them to stop. And neither did they, so together, we pleaded with the sound guys for 'one more song' (seen below), but the plug had to be pulled (worth noting that the festival was otherwise pleasantly organized).

I've decided to do less taping and more dancing these days (after watching a televised MGMT concert and seeing my sad still-frame in the front row try to keep a steady arm), so, iPhone shots will do (until we hire a little chubby Asian girl with a sweet camera). And here are some videos from someone who totally covered the event.

Jade, you have my heart, and my Indie Crush 09' Gummy vote.

September 25, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Glass Ghost

I don't really know why, but I have a sense this guy is not feeling like a silent song and field of wolves and a sea of eyes and a hurricane and a tiger's look and an open heart and a wall of arms, and definitely not like a diamond.

Download | Glass Ghost | Daytrotter Session

I don't know much about Brooklyn's Glass Ghost. The duo have an album called Idol Omen dropping at the end of October (no leak yet). I dig what I've heard (and seen) of it. Their recent session at Daytrotter inspired an eloquent write-up entitled A Pulse Of Lovely Ice and Numbness, so that's a wordy something. The five tracks ("Like A Diamond" one of them) make for a promising run through.

May your weekend be worthy and recordable, and maybe 15 years from now some kid will blue-screen meaningful lyrics over it.

Have Fun. Be Safe. Get Weird.

September 23, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part 15]

Over the course of this exercise, we've carved out (somewhat unintentionally) two rather generalized roles for its contributors: Ian is the wise skate guy with a penchant for credible classic rock, and I'm the hipster music guy with a crush on indie/electronic whatnot (see: Animal Collective post). The fun is in the crossover.

The wise skate guy writes in brown, below.

Song: “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun” by M83
Skater: Lakai Team – Intro Montage
Video: Lakai; Fully Flared (2007)

Although this is by far the most high budget scene ever to appear in any skate vid, there are actually very few special effects used. It was filmed with make-shift obstacles and real explosives. The “explosives coordinator” literally stood over a Looney Tunes-esque lever and pushed down at the precise moment, knowing that jumping the gun could result in a fatal accident. His only mistake was during Cairo Foster’s 50-50 grind, who was rumored to have been injured fairly severely from the explosion. Despite that, the project was a complete success. Opening a video with a super slo-mo shot in high definition of Eric Koston catching a kickflip while still five feet in the air, set the tone and made sure we knew this was not our older brother's skate video. Mike Mo Capaldi capped off the stunts with a switch flip over explosions so big, they had to inform LAPD that it wasn’t a bomb. If Mike Mo looks familiar, its because his part, which comes directly after this scene, was featured here recently.

This scene called for a specific type of song and M83 was able to deliver. With many bands creating ambient music with similar purpose and influence, it takes some precision and a stroke of genius to stay at the top of the pack, where M83 currently resides. Anthony Gonzalez possesses the unique ability of using a minimalist approach to get a BIG sound that often becomes obvious choices for video productions involving slow, scenic, montage-like photography. It’s cool to see that the former reliance on so-cal punk bands for adrenaline fuel is being substituted for something that achieves the same energy with a completely different modus. For further proof check out the intro to Travis Rice’s 2008 snowboard film “That’s it That’s All”. Mountains in Alaska and other exotic locales were all shot from a helicopter and put to the tune of M83’s more recognizable “We Own the Sky.”

Download | M83 | Before The Dawn Heals Us (2005, .rar)

I'm actually intimidated by the task of 'blurbing' Before The Dawn Heals Us. For starters, it's an all-time favorite. M83 is so much more than last year's commercial breakout Saturdays = Youth, and if you're looking for a singular album as evidence, this is the one. In fact, anyone who questions the merit or emotion of this genre as a whole, take listen.

2003's soundscape wonder, Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts, is followed here with another atmospheric offering, equally spellbinding (or as the journalists say, shoegazing), but this time hinting at a darker love for 80s dramatics ("Don't Save Us From The Flames", "Teen Angst", "A Guitar and A Heart"). If those are the peaks, then it's the valleys that really hold this together. I've been known to say "I Guess I'm Floating" says more as an instrumental, than most songs do with words (usually when I'm trying to impress girls). The literary titles help ("Let Men Burns Stars", "Fields, Shorelines, and Hunters") but more so, our minds make the cinematic connections from subtle backdrops like children playing or fireworks in the distance. It's no surprise YouTube is flooded with people's own interpretations.

If you think your life is a movie (and we all do) than I really can't recommend this enough.

September 22, 2009

Solo Drive | Smith Westerns

Head one town east and you're in the desert - a gridded, technology sector-ed, Truman Show of a desert. Coming back, the sight above is always a welcome one, as it marks both an end to my daily commute, and a world released from the grip of Irvine, California. Routine has sadly numbed all effects of this coastal glimpse (yes Newport folks, that's Superior Ave), but every now and then, it slaps me back to my senses.

Even if you love your job, there's got to be days when leaving it feels like the last day of school (cue slow motion gust of papers and that Alice Cooper song). Add a strangely inspiring verbal exchange with a homeless guy at 7-Eleven, the aforementioned view, and a well-placed album about being young and free and you've got yourselves a helluva Solo Drive.

Download | Smith Westerns | Smith Westerns (2009)

Smith Westerns are young and free. They're teenagers. They make hazy garage-punk anthems about chasing girls. And that old formula has rarely sounded as pure and refreshing as it does here. Probably due to the fact that they really are chasing girls. And also, their parents clearly had good record collections.

The 30 minutes of Smith Westerns has serious replay value (no meaningful driving required) . Literally, 10, 3-minute fuzz-pop sensations.

2009 might be remembered as the year where a lot of bands recharged a certain 60s aesthetic. Call me crazy, but I think
some 18 year olds just did it, whatever 'it' is, best.

September 18, 2009

Friday Send-Off | "Let's Go Surfing"

Reasons were stacking up against posting this infectious song all morning. First and foremost, summer is just about over. Secondly, it's beyond cute pop, delivered by cute young men in a fun little video. It even manages to restore the whistle that "Young Folks" killed.

That said it's the jam and makes you feel good about life (and dammit, summer is forever). Very much Send-Off material.

The Drums | Summertime! EP (2009)

"To anyone who’s ever felt seventeen and overheated, the Drums offer six very seductive nuggets of pick-yourself-up pop, posing a question that’s stumped both of the frontmen since they were four: what if Joy Division had done a beach party record?"

Funny when it happens, when all of a sudden you feel like an asshole for taking music so seriously. From all the
one-liner praises surrounding this energetic new act (they played their first show in May), that lighten-up realization seems to be across the board. Pure pleasure.

Can't share that one yet, but here's the earlier EP, which also has the track above (might not sort right, so here's the tracklist): Download | The Drums | The Drums EP (2009)

September 16, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part 14]

There is a formula. And it works well here.

Take it away, Ian.

Song: “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones
Skater: Kerry Getz
Video: Habitat; Inhabitants (2007)

Kerry Getz debut in Toy Machine’s 1998 video “Jump off a Building” immediately solidified him as one of the best skaters on the planet for two reasons. One, what he could land consistently, most pros struggled to even land at all. Two, he could go big (via, kickflipping the fountain gap at Love Park). Funny enough though, what really interested me about Getz were some intermixed clips (during his part and in some bonus footage) which showed some of his mess-ups. Let's just say
whatever he has, obsessive compulsive personality-disorder doesn't do it justice. I have literally never seen someone get so enraged before. There's a look of sheer insanity in his eyes. I thought perhaps I was the only one to notice, until I learned he's become skating's most notorious perfectionist and earned himself the nickname "hockey temper".

As the owner of Toy Machine, Ed Templeton reached far beyond California to find the "Northeast Big Four": Kerry Getz, Bam Margera, Brian Anderson, and Mike Maldonado. They became known for innovative style set to classic rock. Getz doesn't change that here with The Rolling Stones "Monkey Man." This song clearly could have been a hit single, and I remember being thoroughly perplexed when I first heard it during the car chase scene in GoodFellas. I Scrambled to get my hands on Let It Bleed and immediately fell in love with The Stones twangy cover of Robert Johnson’s 1937 song "Love in Vain". Other classics are “Midnight Rambler” and the title track.

Download | The Rolling Stones | Let It Bleed (1969)

If you're a Stones fan, than you know that Let It Bleed chronologically came right in the middle of perhaps their finest artistic period. There are enough "non-hits" like "Monkey Man" on this and Beggars Banquet alone for a 'greatest non-hits' compilation (which probably exists somewhere).

What's especially striking about
Let it Bleed is its mood, reflecting both a painfully long recording process and the bittersweet end of a decade (much like the related Beatles' album). We get straight blues (with a side of country rock) - not without an occasional uplift though, found best in the classic closer "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Oh, and this sits at number 32 on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

side-note: That intro piece is from Galt MacDermot, who wrote some famous musicals in the 70’s including Hair, as well as film soundtracks, and some jazz/funk records of his own (much was later sampled in hip hop music).

September 15, 2009

Quick | Tarot Sport

Last year, the debut from UK duo Fuck Buttons brought me to enough places that it earned an unexpected spot on 08's top ten, and a rather odd blurb (even for me) involving acid, PEZ dispensers, and volcanoes of molten espresso, ending with the line:
"I’ve never warmed up to anything like Street Horrrsing and may never warm up to anything said to be like Street Horrrsing again."
So, here we are. The follow-up is among us. And the answer is: actually yes, I will warm up to something like Street Horrrsing again. It's called Tarot Sport.

Download | Fuck Buttons | Tarot Sport (2009) via Bolachas

This one does exactly what you want the 'next' album to do: keep on sprinting without dropping the bag of tricks (or for metaphoric sake: the baton). Grinding rainbow waves over apocalyptic percussion is very much their bag. And Tarot Sport is still otherworldly and pulsing, but does come from a different planet (other-otherworldly?). The wooden tribe that once jammed on the sun, now feels a tad steal-clad and relocated (to "Space Mountain"), yet equally triumphant.

It's tempting to call this dance (or at least workout) music.

Here's the video for lead single (and one-time Friday Send-Off contender), "Surf Solar".
I'm pretty sure they cut it down from the album's 10-minute version for health reasons. So wash down a Dramamine with some Emergen-C, and enjoy:

September 11, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Ticket To Ride

It's very possible that we won't see a better chance (excuse) to fall into another Beatles phase, like 09/09/09 week, for a long time (trusting Sir Paul and Ringo stay healthy). And dude, did I fall hard this time: reading every damn remasters review, watching DVRed Anthology specials, and partaking in serious gmail threads - ranging from entry-level commentary ("Lennon or McCartney?") to nerd-alerting discussion ("Mono vs. Stereo", "The Spector-ization of Let It Be").
I can refrain from adding more to this critical pow-wow. Today's Send-Off is more about a state of mind, so here we go:

Just before their truly psychedelic, artistically-peaking days, the Beatles made the film/album
Help. And I thank my parents for raising me on it. For reasons unknown during childhood, I latched onto these songs like a security blanket. I'm told that at every possible photo op, I could not be talked out of posing like George (via Help cover).

I rarely ever dip earlier than Revolver, but there's something really innocent and playful about that era of The Beatles. They're running around all silly, basically like children. Why not? Something to strive for this weekend.

My ticket to ride is up to San Francisco.

Have fun. Be safe. Get weird.

September 10, 2009

Pictureplane + HEALTH @ The Troubadour [West Hollywood; 09/09/09]

If you've been following Travis Egedy like I have (full disclosure: he's family), than his rise to relative stardom (via 09' blog explosion) may not seem all that sudden or surprising, but should make you feel pretty damn good. A few years back, Pictureplane invited kids to dance over a quilt at a house party in Hollywood backstreet. Last spring, he brought the dimensional rip to a small Echo Park gallery. Last night saw him opening for labelmates HEALTH at the historic (seriously, The Doors and shit) Troubadour. Of course, like any dance/electronic artist might, he prefers playing at floor level (like @ Women of Crenshaw, the previous night). That didn't stop him from boldly bringing the Dark Rift rave to a rock bar.

Plenty in attendance got the cue to move. "Trance Doll" was a show-stopper. I was most impressed by the live construction of "Goth Star" - pieced together more from scratch than expected, with Travis manually keying the main piano-bit and freely shaping that Fleetwood sample.

Said track's music video premiered last week. The spirit of Stevie Nicks was successfully summoned:

Knowing the punch HEALTH packs, we backed the hell up. It's overwhelming how precise these guys have got their timing (I'm sure you pick up a thing or two touring with NIN). So much energy. All the monstrous (and if you really listen to it, strangely beautiful) Get Color material really crushes in person. If you like it heavy, go see them. Also, they put out a video last week, perhaps NSFW. And have the funniest golden ticket CD sweepstakes ever.

The two acts tour Europe together this fall. "YOU WILL LOVE EACH OTHER" - HEALTH

September 9, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part 13]

Meeting all SW criteria and then some, this clip, and every party involved, simply rips.

writes below.

Song: “The Width of a Circle” by David Bowie
Skater: Bryan Herman
Video: Baker; 3 (2005)

Bryan Herman was pretty young when he earned the final part for this Baker Skateboards video. And the kid absolutely wrecked himself to make it. He'd been discovered a few years earlier by Andrew Reynolds (founder of Baker and one of the great street skaters of all-time) and is largely thought of as his protégé. After the short intro, the music kicks in, his name flashes on the screen, and Herman shows he has one of the best hard-flips in skateboarding. The entire part is amazing, but I think it gets turned up a notch around the 3 minute mark for a grand finale, my favorite shot being the nollie inward heelflip down the set at MACBA (3:46).

Baker Skateboards always offers a pretty diverse soundtrack since they don’t seem to confine their skaters to any specific type of music. Herman landed on the largely overlooked first track from David Bowie’s 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World. The album version of this song is actually an 8-minute anthem which changes significantly enough to sound like two different songs in one. To fit the skating, 3 different parts of the song were edited, so for the purpose of this article, let’s discuss the full album version.

David Bowie transcended many styles throughout his career: blues, R&B, metal, and glam rock, among others. What’s cool about this song is that it has hints at many of those, all in one. I ran it by my dad (an accomplished musician) the other day and he immediately rattled this off: Bowie added Mick Ronson to his band because he needed someone who knew how to create the coveted “Les Paul/Marshall Stack tone” (distinct guitar/amp) and Ronson helped him nail it. This was a sound influenced in the U.S. by Duane Allman and from across the pond by George Harrison. The lack of technology made recording possibilities extremely limiting, mostly because 8-tracks had not even been introduced yet. Bowie and Ronson had to put this together with a 3-track (bands currently use 128 track recorders). It’s amazing how busy and layered the song is considering its recording. It took me a number of listens to really wrap my head around this one, and I like how it uses an electric guitar mirrored by an acoustic guitar while going through rock, blues shuffle, and Beatle-esque crescendos.

Download | David Bowie | Man Who Sold the World (1970)

Where do you start with the prolific career of David Bowie? Here works. I've always favored his later Berlin Trilogy stuff, but sitting more with this album made me realize he was basically always weird (awesomely weird).

At Bowie's heaviest and most guitar driven, Man Who Sold The World can almost be seen as a straightforward rock-riff record, until we realize it's been laced with bizarre
lyrical threads and sonic space glam. As Ian mentioned up there, the album opener is a phantasmagoric, case and point: metal meets folk meets totally mental storyline.

Other picks: "Black Country Rock" and the title track. It's all classic.

September 8, 2009

Quick | Volcano Choir [Justin Vernon]

These 35 slow-burning minutes are recommended.

Volcano Choir - Unmap (2009)*

Justin Vernon (of our beloved Bon Iver) is joined here by experimental Wisconsin friends, Collections of Colonies of Bees, so Volcano Choir plays more to mystic campfires than melancholic cabins (some tracks actually predate Bon Iver's For Emma...). Even with all the intriguing new sounds to digest, Vernon's ghostly falsetto remains the treat. Stacked chants on "And Gather" feel as fresh and free as the first time I heard Sung Tongs. The broken soul over a broken piano bit on "Mbira In The Morass" wouldn't feel out of place if covered by Antony Hegarty (then again, neither does Beyonce's "Crazy in Love"). Auto-tuned "Woods" is back in the form of "Still", this time with better results. "Youlogy" is a very bad song title, but a helluva closer.

* I'd provide a download link but it will inevitably be taken down, so you know, Google: name + mediafire or whatever. Unmap is out September 22nd. The outright single, "Island, IS" can be reeled-in here.

September 4, 2009

Friday Send-Off | "Heart Skipped A Beat"

We skipped a few beats today when our block lost powerDuring the darkness, I wracked my brain for an inspirational clip; one with the expected essence of a weekend send-off, and maybe some fun relevance too. The thought of connecting with last post crossed my mind via "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)". Gotta keep it fresh though:  

Download | The xx | The xx (2009)

Damn, this album is good and somehow, a debut (from 'four 20-year-olds from South London who make predominantly slow, furtive pop music, mostly about sex').

"Heart Skipped A Beat" might be the cutest moment on it, but The xx is meant to be heard from top to bottom. Of course, the P4K machine gave it some well-deserved
love this week. Gentle and catchy, but not the least bit simple or lazy, sit with them a bit.

September 2, 2009

Shred Wednesday | A Skate Video Retrospective [Part Twelve]

Little babies, let's go!
Women and children, let's go!
Old folks, let's go!
Don't know where we're goin'.
Ian writes in brown, below.

Song: “No Cars Go” by Arcade Fire
Skater: Mike Mo Capaldi
Video: Lakai; Fully Flared (2007)

Mike Mo is known for his control of the skateboard and is considered a master of technical flip trick variations. Here in his Lakai debut, he puts together some of the best "lines" I’ve ever seen. A line refers to a sequence of tricks in which the camera man follows, and typically consists of a few basic tricks before ending with one big one. This part is bad-ass because Mo strings together multiple difficult tricks. (1:25) I have never seen a late inward heel like that (does he flip it with his rear foot?). (2:08) Fakie front-foot flip?

Recently, most of the top professional skaters entered into a game of SKATE, which is the skateboard equivalent to the competitive basketball game HORSE. One skater attempts a trick and if he lands it the other skater needs to duplicate it or they get one letter. The first to get five letters, spelling SKATE loses. Mike Mo won the entire contest, and now reigns as skating's flatground champion. On par with that victory, the song "No Cars Go" gives his video part a triumphant feeling. It's one of the more mainstream tracks we’ve used in this feature however the drum-roll, the chanting, the almost heavenly sound (Arcade Fire is known for using a renovated church as a recording studio) work too well not to post this. Arcade Fire’s sound in general is fitting for skating, and I could see other songs like "Intervention", "(Antichrist Television Blues)", and "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" being used in the future, with similar effect.

Damn good clip, Ian.

So I thought this was a better opportunity to talk about Arcade Fire's debut EP, which features the genesis of "No Cars Go". So let's give that one away, since ya'll might already own 2007's excellent Neon Bible.

Download | Arcade Fire | Arcade Fire EP (2003, remastered 2005)

Proof that all masterpieces have to start somewhere, Arcade Fire's first recording wasn't perfect (and the Funeral LP that followed basically was). Still, this time vault is worth exploring. "I'm Sleeping in a Submarine" and "Vampire/Forest Fire" are as beautiful as anything the band would later expand to, but simply hit softer due to production (for obvious young/poor band reasons). This crunchy, yet just as passionate version of "No Cars Go" was the standout then and became their ultimate live staple (therefore earning a place on the later album).

And the bonus comes in a kettle drum cover of Talking Head's "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody"). Enjoy.

September 1, 2009

Street Scene 2009 | Saturday | Of Montreal, The Dead Weather, M.I.A. [San Diego; 08/29/09]

Looking at past lineups, it seems that Street Scene has served a number
scenes over its 25 year run. First, it was a blues and Cajun zydeco event for downtown locals, then a cultural Taste of San Diego-like melting pot, then a 3-day stadium-filler for every genre under the mainstream-ing sun, and finally, back on the streets as a 2-day, multi-staged, middle-tier festival, this time catering more to the tastes of your average Coachella-goer. Returning to its downtown roots was a good move (no matter what sales say). As was this year's lineup, if you ask me (your average Coachella-goer).


Those who endured Saturday's early heat hopefully got rewarded by this raw little set at the Casbah side stage. Sounding like a dream-punked and distorted Velvet Underground, Crocodiles went kind of nuts for a small, but still hometown, crowd. Just two guys with a drum machine, and they were rad.

Ra Ra Riot

I will forever be on the fence with this band. Everything is likable and tight, it just plays out like one long whimsical song. Not entirely a bad thing. And sorry but, Alexandra is a total babe.

Public Enemy did their thing. We watched on the big screen.

Of Montreal

I took the first two songs in complete horror. Here was, more or less, my favorite live act (Radiohead excluded), who I had just spent the past hour raving about to numerous first-timers in attendance, experiencing an utter sound implosion. Kevin Barnes' mic was somewhere off in Never Neverland, a bass player was reading off a music sheet (?), the drummer was not happy, and the second drummer was missing altogether. Being close enough, we got the monitor, but not much else. Things eventually got louder, at least. They handled it like professionals, Barnes never losing his stride (or prance). This shit happens and I've seen lesser bands phone-in the rest of a set and/or bounce, but these legends of weirdo electro-pop not only played through it, they put on the theatrical stage show expected of them (or unexpected, for some shocked individuals).

The Faint
We danced like it was 2003.

The Dead Weather

Rockstars. Jack White is a busy guy and, to be honest, I don't keep up with it all. Not sure why this didn't register earlier: The man is a god, I like the The Kills, that video where they shoot each other is pretty awesome. I should have seen this coming.

Their general presence was almost over the top (a laughable notion after Of Montreal). Allison Mosshart, the quintessential female lead, laid into every note with force and unlimited appeal, at times up-staging the White Stripe himself. Jack though, who's not too shabby on the drums, did give us some glorious guitar time. The day's best.

We danced like it was 2013.

What's left to say about M.I.A.? She's definitely not what drew me to Street Scene, but I couldn't just look the other way either (not that there was really anything else to look at during the headliner slot). It was nice of her to put more time into singing and less into talking this time. Transitions actually, almost transitioned. The visuals (and the white guy dancers) were slightly more compelling. And she did pay tribute to the Beastie Boys (who couldn't make it due to MCA's cancer) with a remixing of "Intergalactic" and "Sabotage". And premiered an odd new one called "Born Free", which I am convinced samples the 1977 song "Ghost Rider" by Suicide. Could this be the next Clash?

Then we packed 7 people into a Mustang rental (one of us in a speedo).

A shoutout to our special East Coast visitors, Sara and Jaclyn (thanks). And to the whole random crew on the night, friends old and new (Chuck, Carissa, Kato, Dana, Joe, Maggie, good times).