A Slice of Fried Gold

Coachella: Day Three

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My wrap up of the third day of Coachella is now here, and I'm sad to see it go just like I was to see the festival itself go. While I was significantly more broken because of my weak body after this festival in comparison to others, it was definitely the best festival I've ever been to musically speaking, and probably the most well arranged as well. Not to say the others weren't great, it's just to say Coachella was that ridiculously awesome. I really think it's an event that needs to be checked off in life like any other experience...went to Coachella...check. I've done that now, and it makes me very happy to say that. Before we get into the bands though, I wanted to talk about one other random thing from the weekend.

Arts and Crafts Tent: Joanne and I were EXTREMELY enthused with the arts and crafts tent. When you wander from the booze soaked campgrounds, past the techno tent, through the vendors, and to the other side of the roller skating rink, you get to a tent where people are drawing portraits of strangers, creating new apparel to wear, and designing their own zines (amongst other things). Sure, they play music, but really in a lot of ways it feels like an entirely different world than the one that surrounds it. It's people sitting around being creative and meeting each other and just having a wonderful time.

When Joanne and I went, we sat down to do portraits of each other. We followed the suggestions they had at the table, in which we interview each other to get a better feel of what to draw. Given that we were supposed to be strangers, I created an entirely different persona for Joanne. This didn't help, as I was sunburned, needed a shave, and was wearing glasses. Essentially I looked like a disgusting, nerdy yeti. Still, it was a damn good time, and it gave me an excuse to draw dragons, flying penguins, and a smiling sun in the background of Joanne's portrait.

After that we went to design our zines. This was also a good time, but I started feeling BAD around then, so I went back to take a nap while Joanne grew increasingly in love with the place to the point that she almost skipped half the day to hang out there. Thankfully they shut it down at 2, so in your face Joanne! You had to watch awesome music with me! HA!

Still, this was a very welcome change of pace to the music and party centric weekend we had been dealing with.

Bands Seen: Gorillaz, Deerhunter, Owen Pallett, Local Natives, Jonsi, Phoenix, Julian Casablancas, Mayer Hawthorne & The County, Plastikman, Thom Yorke, Yo La Tengo

Local Natives: This was the first band we caught on the final day, and one of the bands that I was most excited about from it as well. I've really been digging their new album Gorilla Manor, and they managed to nail all of the tracks I heard them play. They had a really tight sound that did what live music should do - take their recorded music and build on it. The fact that they took that and closed with a particularly rousing version of my favorite track by them (a song called "Sun Hands") really sealed the deal on this being a great performance, and even had Joanne asking about them (she'd never heard them before, so it was a pretty big deal).

I also enjoyed how humble they were, as they thanked the audience and shared their surprise that anyone would be watching them while Owen Pallett was playing. It was worth what we missed of Owen Pallett, even though...

Owen Pallett: (continued from Local Natives) Owen Pallett himself was awesome. Pallett is perhaps more well known as the string arranger for Arcade Fire or as Final Fantasy (his solo name before going by his own name), but to me, I was really excited just to see Pallett classic. I love Heartland, his solo album from this year, and to see him perform his dense tracks from that album with just an effects pedal and a violin often. He played a really nice mix of his collected works, but closing with my favorite track "Tryst with Mephistopheles" really made me love his set. Also, Joanne later told me that he was her third favorite set from the weekend. Given that she knew nothing about him before then, that's some great praise for the guy. Highly recommended.

Jonsi: This is the closest I've ever gotten to see Sigur Ros, so getting to see Jonsi was an astonishingly glorious moment for me. Sigur Ros is my favorite band, and to see their lead singer sing in his hauntingly gorgeous voice was enough to fill me with a mix of pure glee and sadness over never seeing Sigur Ros (or at least not yet). He performed tracks from his new album Go, and he and his band were fully ready to blow everyone away. They did not disappoint, especially for the stage spectacle (Jonsi and his drummer's costumes were hugely entertaining) and the versatility of the band (nearly everyone switched instruments at least once, sometimes in the middle of songs). It was quite the moment for me, and it made me about as happy as any artist did over the weekend.

One downer: we were checking out the merch tent later on when I saw Jonsi signing and talking to fans. It turns out you needed a special ticket to make this happen, even though I was five feet away and as excited as I've ever been to see someone. It was quite a bit of a bummer, but not the biggest bummer of the night. Oh lord no.

Phoenix: Holy crap.

Holy crap holy crap holy crap.

To say Joanne and I had a good time at Phoenix is the understatement of the festival. Joanne was adamant in saying that they were the best she saw all weekend, and I find it hard to disagree. They played a lot of material, they played it incredibly well, they had impeccable setlist design (I loved them starting with "Listzomania" and closing with "1901"), and they were just very charming guys. The audience was in a perpetual state of what would most likely be called euphoria, and from what I understand it was one of the largest audiences of the entire weekend (sorry Pavement!).

In a weekend of artists missing Coachella because of the Icelandic volcano, Phoenix was not one of them, but their light crew was. Their lighting was non-existent/plain, but it didn't matter - it just motivated them to rock even more. The whole place was an explosion of dancing and singing along up front, and lead singer Thomas Mars frequently came down to the crowd to sing directly for us all. As cool as light shows and videos and spectacle is, quite often a straight up awesome performance can be all it takes to really make an audience love you.

Phoenix is a band that demands that you love them, and I was blown away by their performance at Coachella 2010.

Yann Tiersen: This hurts to even talk about. Yann Tiersen was one of the artists I was most excited about, and I really could not wait to see him. The biggest problem was the fact that he was playing at the same time as Gorillaz, but I was willing to sacrifice some of their set to see him. I like him that much.

However, remember that volcano I just mentioned? It made Gary Numan cancel, opening up a set time that started around the ending of Phoenix and ending before Thom Yorke - aka the only gap we had the entire night. They moved Tiersen to that time slot but didn't announce it, and I wouldn't have even noticed it if it weren't for us walking by the Mojave Stage's schedule between Thom Yorke and Plastikman. I was pretty much inconsolable, and all Joanne could do is hug me.

I know this is a stupid thing to be super sad about, but it REALLY bummed me out.

Thom Yorke: Sadly enough, we didn't spend a lot of time watching Thom, but what we did see was really enjoyable. I heard him play my favorite tracks off his solo album The Eraser ("The Eraser" and "Black Swan") and we came back just in time to hear him play stripped down versions of Radiohead classics "Airbag" and "Everything In It's Right Place", so really, that's all I wanted to hear from him. Not that Thom isn't always good, especially with a unique backing band of Flea, Nigel Godrich, and more, but I'd seen Radiohead before and never had the opportunity to see Plastikman. Still, beautiful stuff from Thom, but that's what we've come to expect from the guy.

Plastikman: Joanne and I mostly wanted to go to this because of Lucy and Morgan recommending Plastikman throughout the weekend, and to see what exactly his performance specific iPhone app would do. It was our curiosity that drove us there, and it was a really interesting and intense performance. Plastikman (an electronic outfit, btw) was encircled by a cage of sorts that displayed his lightshow, and it was very hypnotic to watch. Paired with his miminalist and pulsing music, and it was downright entrancing. The iPhone app was...not as much. We didn't really understand it, as all it did was some bizarre counter that spouted gibberish to us.

Still, it was a worthy venture and something I'm glad we checked out if only for a little bit.

Gorillaz: My most anticiplated headliner. The band I'd been waiting all weekend to see. They were...good.

You can watch the video above and sense the excitement that was in the crowd. It was palpable throughout the beginning, and something that really got the audience buzzing. However, part of the way through the set while they were playing mostly Plastic Beach tracks (and slower ones at that), the audience started not paying attention and they started to lose them. People would leave, reactions would be compulsory (not because they wanted to), and when it came time for an encore cheer, the audience could barely muster an effort.

Which is a shame, because the spectacle of their show was grand (the videos were awesome, as you can see above), they sounded pretty much perfect, and they played a really nice mix of their music with a lot of cool guest stars (Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Bobby Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon). I really enjoyed it, but the fact that almost the entire audience was dead while I was singing along to all of the big moments Damon Albarn was giving us (that guy was a gem, I have to add) was kind of disappointing. Part of that was their fault because of setlist design (they picked maybe the worst encore closer I've ever heard), but still, the audience clearly was there to party and they didn't get what they wanted.

It was a really nice performance, but something that was really hard to get into. The oddest thing was later I heard people saying things about how amazing their performance was when all we heard from people around us were complaints and all we saw were confused faces. From a band that to date has been a cartoon one, it's unsurprising I suppose. It's still a shame that they prove themselves as a remarkably legitimate band at this performance and are received with what amounts to global hipster indifference.

The Aftermath: The next morning we woke up bright and early to depart before everyone else woke up, and as we started gathering our things we heard something in the distance that sounded like a group of people shouting "too legit! too legit!" We of course had to investigate, especially considering it was right next to the coffee stand. As we got closer we noticed a huge group of people (pictured above) who randomly split into a circle, at which point one person split off and ran inside of that circle to high five everyone else. As he high fived people, they'd split off and follow him in the high five onslaught. It was hilarious.

We stood and watched for a bit and talked to security, who was absolutely delighted with what was happening. I asked how long they'd been doing this, and they responded with "all night in different places across the campsite. They don't really bother anyone, unless someone comes near, at which point they make them dance. I'd take a wide circle from them."

We laughed and went over to the coffee shop that was near them, when we heard the shouting of "DO A DANCE! DO A DANCE!" Apparently a pair of flies fell into their spider web, as two girls continued walking to their tent while dancing. Then as we were leaving, they actually stopped a car, encircled it, and shouted "DO A DANCE! DO A DANCE!" until the people got out and...did a dance. It was hilarious. It was quite the unifying partying moment, and I was proud to see it. Perfect way to end Coachella really, with dancing and a little bit of ridiculousness.

Coachella: Day Two

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day Two of Coachella started with no shower, lazing about the campsite, and having absolutely, astonishingly ridiculous conversations with Morgan, Lucy and Joanne while eating and drinking coffee. Here's a prime example: while we were discussing Justin Bieber and his relationship with Usher randomly, we managed to create a fictional pop star named Megatron Bieber-Raymond. His popularity would be entirely derived from Facebook, he would have hour long conversations with Usher, and he would (will?) be the closing act to Coachella 2011.

He's also Morgan.

Just to really seal the deal that this idea was fated and that we had to make it happen, while Joanne and I were perusing the arts and crafts tent (more on this later), we came across a newspaper that did just that. There was a copy of the LA Times that actually had Usher's face on it. I gleefully stole it from the tent and skipped back to show it to Morgan and Lucy.

Okay, there may not have been any skipping involved, but still...awesome!

Anyways, that just helped verify that Morgan and Lucy were perfect neighbors. Come on, as you can see to the left, they even shared food with me - delicious food like a mexican egg dish with avocado and Indian candy (smoked salmon with some brown sugar love) They really helped the weekend become all it could be, in a decidedly not army like way.

Fashionistas: Before I get into the music from the day, I have to note one thing Joanne and I went on and on about throughout the weekend: the fashion. Joanne and I are not the most fashionable people in the world, and the mixes of bizarre hair choices, animal hats, and interesting shirt choices (or in the Wolfman's case, poncho choices) surprised us early and often. In their eyes, we were extremely not fashionable. In our eyes, they looked ridiculous.

The apex of their self design based hilarity had to be the fleets of people wearing Indian headdresses while dancing and acting generally...authentic. In an entertaining way, mind you, but it was still bizarre to see hipsters dancing in circles with feathers flowing around their head.

Bands Seen: Muse, Tokyo Police Club, The xx, Hot Chip, Portugal. The Man, Old Crow Medicine Show, MGMT, Major Lazer, Girls, Beach House, Die Antwoord, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Camera Obscura

Portugal. The Man: Whenever I see Portugal. The Man, it's a treat. To see them with BY FAR the largest audience I've ever witnessed for a PTM show as well as perhaps the most raucous was a hell of a treat, and they really brought their A game. They played a nice mix of new and old material, threw in some covers (MGMT's "Weekend Wars" and a mini-cover of Ghostface Killah's "Kilo"), and still jammed without losing the crowd of potential PTM newbies. It was pretty damn solid work, but at this point I really expect nothing less from Alaska's favorite musical sons.

Beach House: There were a number of bands we saw this weekend that were a bit slower like Beach House is, and they managed to not make nearly the mark Beach House did. This is a band who performs near perfect renditions of their songs, beautifully hitting all of the high notes off their discography but especially the ones off this year's Teen Dream. Victoria LeGrand hit all of the notes she needed to and provided one of the more interesting stage presences of the weekend, looking like a tussled Joni Mitchell and dominating the stage like she might as well. A very nice performance.

The xx: Oh my...The xx. I love this band, as they took fourth place in my 2009 albums list and also my heart in their performance. When a band sounds so good that Jay Z and Beyonce show up to watch your set, you probably have a good idea that you're doing okay. This band sounded pretty damn flawless, especially given their somewhat recent downgrade from being a four piece to a three piece. They went through most of their self titled album, and even threw in a cover that seemingly is often played, given that the dude next to us was completely adamant that they would play it.

I have to note: we skipped Dirty Projectors to watch all of The xx and to have a good spot for Hot Chip. There are some things I regret (not) doing from the weekend, but that was most definitely not one of them.

Hot Chip: When listening to this band, it's hard for me to envision them being able to successfully pull off every aspect of their sound. Their tracks are often really robust and layered multi-instrumental jaunts that seem very difficult to recreate, but I guess that is why they are the professionals. Hot Chip weaved in and out of their discography, nailing oldies but goodies like "Ready for the Floor" (the set closer) and "Over and Over", while also taking us through the faster pieces from their new album One Life Stand.

These guys were geniuses of live performances, and one of my absolute favorites from the weekend. From the just absurdly tight sound they demonstrated, to the multi-instrumental genius they displayed (everyone in the band seemingly rotated instrument to instrument at will, with steel drums even being performed live), to the impeccable set design...I was just floored by them. Plus, they managed to exceed their recorded quality, taking a track like One Life Stand's closer "Take It In", which has immediately leapt from an album favorite to perhaps one of my favorite one or two tracks from 2010 to date.

In short, Hot Chip went from being a band I liked to a band I love. That's how you know it was a good live performance.

MGMT: As a person who only really likes part of their much loved debut Oracular Spectacular and someone who doesn't really enjoy Congratulations, I wasn't very excited for this. I figured to stay for a bit and then to roll to Major Lazer, but my faithful compatriot Joanne wanted to stay so she could catch "Kids", a track she completely and utterly adores. Given that she'd been such a trooper to date, I had to give her at least that.

Of course, MGMT didn't, as they managed to play for nearly an hour and not play their most popular track as well as the one track that the entire audience was clamoring for. They also managed to completely lose the audience any time they played a new track (if that isn't a review of it's quality, I don't know what it is), and their lead singer had perhaps the most awkward stage presence I've ever heard. I'd say I was disappointed if I didn't kind of expect it. To their fans though, they might as well have help up a middle finger while they walked off stage.

Major Lazer: I don't want to say anything besides Major Lazer is ridiculously awesome and only videos do justice. Also, one other thing.


Muse: Once upon a time, Muse was at the tip top of my "most anticipated live performances" list. A pretty mediocre album passed, and now I was a bit less excited, but the mere fact that they are such damn exceptional performers made it impossible to not be stoked still. By this point Joanne and I were broken people who could barely move, so we actually sat during this set. While it was a nice enough set, roaming through their discography ("Stockholm Syndrome" was definitely my favorite) much to the audience's delight, it didn't really have a serious hook for me as both a fan and as a viewer of live music. Nothing really jumped off the page to me.

Die Antwoord: Speaking of jumping off the page, when we met up with Morgan and Lucy for South Africa's Die Antwoord, we had no idea what to expect. We heard they spoke in Afrikaans, we heard they were weird, and we heard it should be really fun. Check, check and check.

Really, nothing can prepare you for Die Antwoord. It's an exercise in the pinnacle of absurdity, except with cool beats and strangely fun vocals. They are comprised of Yo-Landi Vi$$er (a tiny woman with a blonde mullet and a voice like a smurf), Ninja (he is obsessed with being a ninja), and DJ Hi-Tek (he isn't that interesting), and they are the oddest trio ever. One of their tracks is all about being a ninja, and about how Ninja is in fact a ninja, and he'll routinely say things like "I'm a ninja!" as Yo-Landi shouts behind him in smurfish "he's a ninja!" It was basically a bad movie night in music form, and it was pretty much amazing.

Added bonus: Ninja illustrates all of the drawings that go up on the screens during the set, and they are alternately the worst and most hilarious pictures ever. For full enjoyment, read the About section on their website. That's what we all did when we got back, because Die Antwoord practically demands it.

2ManyDJ's: We didn't actually watch this electronic outfit, much to the chagrin of the guy next to us who exclaimed that they were "brothers" and "the greatest house duo ever" because of that fact. We actually were just staying after Die Antwoord specifically to find out how many DJ's are too many.

Sadly, it turns out it was just two.

The Weekend Edition

This weekend was my triumphant return to Anchorage after my Coachella trip, and realistically I probably should have taken it easy. Taking it easy is overrated. What went down?
  • Don Jose's with Colver and Lorna
  • Broken Lizard at Wendy Williamson
  • Drinks at Firetap with Lorna, Colver, Amy, Cate and Eric
  • Classy times at an establishment with the initials GABC
  • Breakfast with Amy and Justin at Snow City
  • Slush Cup 2010!
  • Destroying my tire like a freaking idiot on the return from Slush Cup
  • Shutter Island at Bear Tooth with my mom and sister
  • Breakfast with sister at Middle Way Cafe
  • Leisurely writing day that led into a leisurely night of catching up on comics and TV
So the weekend was busy, busy, busy with the exception of my Sunday which was about as lazy as you can get (except for my work out - my near constant consumption of food and no working out was getting to me).

The highlight of the weekend was definitely the Slush Cup, which is something that happens every year in Alaska yet I'd never attended. Count that one checked off, as this year Colver and I went and met up with Amy and Justin to have a couple beers and watch some people eat it as they try to make it over a pool on skis and snowboards.

The weird thing about it is the whole exercise is significantly less interesting when the contestants actually make it across. Ideally, they eat it much to the entertainment of yours truly. Well, that's not true. Ideally, they do something insane (i.e. a back flip) and manage to somehow still make it across as their body skips across the water like a really svelte rock. When that happened at this year's Slush Cup, the audience as a whole lost their minds like Jesus just scored the game winning touchdown for the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl (because let's face it, Jesus would be a Patriot).

It was a good time, and it was also entertaining for the mere fact that it was the single biggest collective of attractive people I've seen in Alaska ever. Now I know where everyone has been hiding...on mountains on long sticks attached to their feet. No wonder why I never see them.

Coachella: Day Zero and Day One

Sunday, April 25, 2010

This past weekend, my Facebook wife Joanne and I ventured down to California to go to Coachella Music Festival 2010 and then to roam around San Diego soaking in the summer sun. It was shockingly an awesome time, as it combined a few of my favorite things (live music, ridiculousness, warmth) into one major undertaking. I loved every minute of it.

I'm going to give a walkthrough on everyone I saw of interest, along with everyone I saw in a given day and other tidbits of ridiculousness. Today, I have the first day, along with pictures from the party the night before. Note: if you are allergic to awesome, go no further in this post. It's all chronological as well.

Bands Seen: Jay Z, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, Passion Pit, She & Him, DJ Lance Rock, Baroness, Wale, The Avett Brothers, Grizzly Bear, La Roux, Yeasayer

The Pre Party: Joanne and I managed to make it into San Diego around noon the day before the festival thanks to some creative clock reading and mismanagement of time (aka we missed our plane). After hopping to it and gathering food and drink for the weekend at local stores, we started our surprisingly quick jaunt to Indio from there.

Once we actually got into Indio, it was like we had made it into some sort of hipster convention. Cars were painted with "Carpoolchella 2010", the level of fashion shot through the roof, and the percentage of men with facial hair went from roughly 30% to 99.9% (I beard proof any situation). Still, fun was in the air, and Joanne and I stopped by a local store for toys to play with in our down time and for a beer at a local coffee shop (Just Java served delicious beer as well!).

That's when the insanity began: none of Coachella's staff that we ran into early in the day had any clue as to what was going on. We were being herded like cattle from place to place (often the wrong place no less), and by the time we got into the car check for the correct campsite, it was pretty much fashionista pandemonium. Party people surrounded us in VW buses, cars loaded with beer, people, and little else, and the airwaves were overloaded with a mass juxtaposition of indie friendly choices. The security lines moved rather glacially, as they appeared to be checking every car for every conceivable object. Of course, they quickly realized this took a LONG time so they opened it up to the point where they literally just opened our doors and let us in.

Thanks security!

We set up camp, and quickly introduced ourselves to our neighbors for the weekend. With beer in our hands. Glorious beer.

This next bit was the exploratory phase of the evening, as we roamed the campsite with a sack full of beer. First the techno tent (DJ's spinning in a dance tent until 3 am every night), then to the vendors selling foods and various applicable possessions. One such example was Walker, a man who was ridiculously cool and sold hammocks. Joanne and I quite liked him and tried to coerce him into coming to Alaska for the Forest Fair, to which he responded with sentiments of "far out" and the like.

They even had a tent set up just for playing pinball! How cool is this place? It's like heaven for me.

Basically, the rest of the night was Joanne and I acting a damn fool, her crowdsurfing for the first time and nearly breaking herself in the process, lots of dancing, picture taking, and varying degrees of insanity. This would be the only night we partied, for reasons that will quickly become aware.

The Next Morning: Remember the colossal mess at security? Security ain't got nothin' on the shower scene. I waited for 2 hours to shower the first day, and Joanne waited FOUR HOURS. The good news was during that 2 hour window where we were separated, I befriended our ridiculously cool neighbors Morgan and Lucy (husband and wife from LA by way of Boston). They became a staple for our mornings and early afternoons, and thankfully guided us to a number of acts that ended up being massively entertaining, including the second one I'm going to talk about. Speaking of music...


Baroness: I don't really listen to metal. It's not really my style, but when I hear good metal, I appreciate it for what it is. Baroness is good metal. They were raw badassery injected into a sea of tight pants, ironic mustaches, and indian headdresses (more on that later), and I was really entertained by their antics. While we only stayed for a couple songs, I'm really glad I checked them out, if only for the entertainment value of long hair being gloriously headbanged into submission. I quickly texted my friend Darren after hearing them, as he is Mr. Metal, and Mr. Metal needs to know about the awesome these guys bring to the table.

DJ Lance Rock: This was one of the acts that Morgan and Lucy guided us to, and we had no idea to expect. DJ Lance Rock was in the Sahara Tent, which is the dance tent and would likely be electronic. It was, and it was GLORIOUS and hilarious.

Turns out DJ Lance Rock is the guy who runs the show Yo Gabba Gabba, a kids show that also draws the eye of the hipster community. Basically, every song was about kid things like peas being covertly delicious, how hugging is awesome, and all kinds of really random things. What happened on stage was about as joyous of an event as you can imagine, as all of the characters came out to dance during Lance Rock's set much to our delight. Brobee, Plex, and all of the rest of the gang danced their weird little feet off, and even though I wouldn't call it amazing music, it was about as life affirming of a moment as you could possibly get out of this cynical and hip crowd.

The Avett Brothers: While I recognize openly that The Avett Brothers are very good for what they do (countryfied singer/songwriter type stuff), I also openly admit that it's not for me. I just have never been able to get into their music.

However, I decided that we should stop by and check them out because a) they could be cool live and b) they seemed to fit Joanne's taste in music. Sure enough, both a and b were correct, as I had a very good time listening to their unique blend of music. It was good time music from a band I expected bummer time music from, and for that they get my seal of approval. Nice work Avett Brothers.

Yeasayer: This was the first crowd that really blew me away, as two years ago at Sasquatch we watched this band on the main stage early on one of the days with almost no audience. Now they are playing on the fourth biggest stage to a filled to the brim tent with extra people hanging out on the sides at 4:20 in the afternoon (there was A LOT of people who participated in that time honored tradition when the band started). It was pretty crazy.

Overall, Yeasayer sounded pretty good, although starting their set with an extended version of their latest album's opener "The Children" was definitely a way to disconnect me earlier on. It just comes across as creepy live. However, when they played all of my favorites ("O.N.E.", "Sunrise", "Ambling Alp" and "Tightrope" to close? Yes!) it was a pretty damn good time. I was very surprised to find out that their guitarist/keyboardist (pictured far left) actually was the owner of the sweet voice on all of my favorite tracks of their's.

This was also the first location where we saw someone collapse out of a combination of dehydration (party much?) and heat exhaustion. It would not be the last.

She & Him: While I do not love these guys recorded (I like Volume One and kind of abhor Volume Two), I had a wonderful time watching them live. The biggest reason had to be Zooey Deschanel, actress and lead singer of this group. She had perhaps the most effervescent and bubbly personality I've ever seen out of a live singer, and it was just a joy to watch her as she took us on a tour through all of their tracks.

M. Ward was pretty entertaining himself, as he had the look and feel of a bluesy solo star from the 60's, and when they played together on the keyboard toward the ends of their set, it was a real highlight for interactions between a band. Their band was filled with some grungy looking session type musicians, but they sounded good, tight, and like they'd all been doing this for a while.

Plus, they came out and did a mini-encore with just She (Deschanel) and Him (Ward) of "I Put a Spell on You" in which Deschanel KILLED. She was hitting all of the high notes in stunning fashion. A surprising hit with me, even though I didn't earn Zooey's love.

Passion Pit: PASSION PIT!

These guys earned my number one spot on my 2009 albums list, and with good reason: their album is filled with tracks that are easy to sing along to and fun as all hell. Did I expect them to be great? Yes. Were they? Yes!

Save possibly one other band from the weekend, Passion Pit earned the vaunted "most people singing along" and "most people dancing" award. One couple/brother & sister/ambiguous duo that was near us had just seen them in Colorado three days before and was still incredibly jacked about seeing them again. That's a good indicator that they'll be good.

They played all of the favorites, "The Reeling", "Sleepyhead", "Make Light", "Little Secrets", "Moth's Wings"...you name it. I had an absolute blast dancing and singing my voice away, as they pretty much killed it with their light show and on stage theatrics. Plus, they got a shout out from the Hova later on. It was a good day to be Passion Pit.

LCD Soundsystem: Maybe the band I was most excited for all weekend, maybe my favorite from the whole weekend, LCD Soundsystem killed it on stage for many reasons.

First off, James Murphy came across as perhaps the most genuine and interesting frontman I've ever seen. His bits about how they're the vegan side dish to Them Crooked Vultures chicken entree and Jay Z's steak, the added import of dedicating "Losing My Edge" to Gil Scott-Heron (given that Heron had just performed near by), his jokes about his new album being free on the internet a month before release, going to each member of his band and introducing them to the crowd...the guy is just a gem.

Second off, they played an awesome blend of new jams ("I Can Change" was awesome) and old favorites ("Losing My Edge" and "Yeah" were AWESOME) that kept the audience on their toes and constantly entertained.

Third off, "All My Friends" was just...perfect. It sounded so great, even with the added expectations coming from yours truly. It was just stellar.

If you haven't seen LCD Soundsystem live, I couldn't possibly recommend them more. So, so good.

Vampire Weekend: As much as I love these guys, they suffered due to LCD Soundsystem overlapping with them and running long. We managed to make it over to the Outdoor Theater where they were playing 20 minutes into their set, and just in time for "Run" to wrap up and "A-Punk" to kick off. VW sound like a band that has been around longer than they have, as they were very tight and a well oiled machine on stage. They sounded great, and earned some serious dancing from Joanne and I. In fact, this was the first band that really made us dance, and the first we had space to do so at (a lot of the audience was gone to get a good spot for Jay Z).

They played a quick, loaded set that always kept our attention and sounded great, but nothing really came across as mind blowing. Well, perhaps besides Ezra Koenig's epic fail at trying to get participation from the crowd on "One (Blake's Got a New Face)". That stood out quite a bit, as did Koenig's intensely wholesome look and Rostam Batmanglij's hilarious gangster look.

Jay Z: Given that I have a predisposition for disliking rap live, my expectations were adjusted downwards slightly. However, even with that thought it seemed like a huge mistake to not expect the best from the Jigga man, and sure enough he set the world on fire with his awesomeness.

For nearly two hours, Jay Z gave it his all up on stage, giving us a range of his catalog from the very beginning of his career to today. He even brought up guests on stage, as Memphis Bleek was his backing man, he had (not) Alicia Keys join for "Empire State of Mind", and even brought out Beyonce for one magical rendition of "Forever Young" with a huge fireworks show to pair with it.

I pretty much can never go to a rap show ever again, as they will all pale in comparison to Jay Z's HUGE show with an incredible backing band and one of the best light shows I've ever seen. In a weekend in which he was my least favorite headliner, he took the spotlight and ran with it.

He even provided the least likely incredible moment, as he had a recording of Oasis' "Wonderwall" play so he could save his voice for a song and drink some water as everyone in the audience sang along. It was incredible, and a perfect song choice as pretty much everyone knew every word. It was a very perfect moment to represent the performance, as it was very unexpected in its awesomeness.

After Party: What after party? After Jay Z ended we hobbled back to our camp site and went to bed! At our advanced age, our backs and knees can barely handle staying up at a show for 12 hours straight. We were broken people, my friends, and acted accordingly.

The good news is we got a free hug from Peachcake on our way out, so there was some upside.

My Emi Lenox Sketch is in!

Friday, April 23, 2010
Emi Lenox is not a super well known comic creator, but she's rapidly leaping up the ranks in my book because her artistic ability and her incredibly charming work that she does on a constant basis. I love everything she does it seems, so when it came time to donate to help her make mini-comics for Con season, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to help.

Plus, you get a sketch for your donation! Totally worth it!

So in between my gallant attempts at making her cry at Emerald City ComiCon, I requested her to make a Pixar/Up! illustration for me as my sketch, and I got it today! To say I am enthused with it is to understate things dramatically...I <3 it like Russell <3's Kevin.

That's a lot of freaking <3 my friends.

Anyways, I highly recommend checking her out and supporting her. Not only is she an awesome cartoonist, but she is a cool person. My Portland friends (that means you Erik, Katie, Sheri and Kim!) should all go visit her at Stumptown Comics Fest this weekend. It's going to be a be a heck of a time, and it's only $6! Screaming deal I say.

Stream Portugal. The Man, Love Them

This week was a momentous time for my fabled concert attending career: I saw a band for the 10th time this week! In fact, I saw Portugal. The Man twice in 5 days in two different states! After seeing them at Coachella and at Bear Tooth's 12th Anniversary Show (even with muffled vocals on the latter show), they just confirmed to me that they are one of the best live bands out there. I really, really enjoy them.

If you haven't listened to them yet, here's a good shot. I've been given the opportunity to stream their new album American Ghetto in its entirety on my blog, so if you haven't checked out their awesome new album, you have no excuse now.

Gone Fishing

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm off to Coachella and beyond for the next week, so no posting for me. Hopefully I return with many great pictures and stories to tell all of you, as well as a ton of great experiences to think back on. I'm pretty sure it's impossible for this not to be awesome...there's roller skating involved! It has to be a blast.

How Dare You, Coachella?!

Monday, April 12, 2010
It seems like I've been eagerly anticipating the schedule for Coachella since I bought my ticket, and today, FINALLY, they revealed it with four days until the festival. I knew there were likely going to be a number of really difficult choices for me to make, but one is terribly unfair. It's like I'm going to have to choose between my two absurdly musically gifted unborn children. How dare you make me choose Coachella?!

Still, here is my breakdown of my five toughest choices along with what I'll probably do. Probably. We'll see how I am in the heat of the moment. Really, it's not that bad besides number one, but god...that first one kills me!

Either way, I can't wait to make my way to Coachella to have an absolutely incredible weekend of music, sun and fun.

1. Gorillaz (10:30 PM at Coachella Stage) vs. Yann Tiersen (10:40 PM at Mojave Stage) on Sunday

What I'll Probably Do: Really Coachella?! Really?! I have to choose between two of my absolute favorites of the entire festival. REALLY?! Ugh. Well, the good news is Gorillaz should play a fairly lengthy set starting as they are closing the whole thing so I should be able to watch 20 minutes or so of Yann Tiersen to sate my desires a bit before I head to Gorillaz. But do I really dare miss any of the closing set from one of the main headliners? That's a terrible choice, but I'll probably end up watching the first song of Gorillaz, sprinting to Yann for 15 or 20 minutes, and then making it back to rock the party with the rest of the audience.

2. Julian Casablancas (5:35 to 6:20 at Mojave) vs. Charlotte Gainsbourg (5:40 to 6:30 at Gobi Stage) vs. Jonsi (5:55 to 6:45 at Outdoor Theatre) on Sunday

What I'll Probably Do: 20 minutes separate the start times of these three artists, and that pretty much kills me. Three of the artists I was most excited for on the last day all at basically the same time. Sigh...

Well, the good news is I have a clear favorite amongst the three: Jonsi. So odds are what I'll do is catch a song of Casablancas, run over and fawn over Gainsbourg for a few minutes while trying to catch her eye (call me!), and then take in the glory of Jonsi for the whole of his set. That sounds about right.

3. The xx (6:25 to 7:10 at Outdoor Theatre) vs. Dirty Projectors (6:55 to 7:45 at Mojave) on Saturday

What I'll Probably Do: The xx vs. Dirty Projectors. Two huge acts from 2009 that I enjoy greatly, but I can only catch one all the way through...which will I choose? Unless I go to the show and find out they are not good live (not betting on that), I'll almost certainly stay the whole time for The xx and then roll to the DP's for the end of their set. And by that, I mean 20 minutes of it because Hot Chip is going on right after The xx. Damn! Foiled again.

4. MGMT (8:50 to 9:40 at Outdoor Theatre) vs. Major Lazer (9:25 to 10:10 at Mojave) vs. Muse (9:35 to 11:05 at Coachella Stage) on Saturday

What I'll Probably Do: This one is less painful because I don't love the three of these groups. I enjoy MGMT (more excited for the spectacle), I like Major Lazer (more excited just to see what exactly they're going to do), and I sort of love Muse (except their most recent album). With Muse being one of the main headliners and well known for their insane live shows, I'll likely try to catch all of them. That means I'll have to be at Major Lazer pronto for their set, so it will be 30 minutes at MGMT, run to Major Lazer for 10 minutes, and then back to Muse to get my mind blown. I guess that will work...

5. LCD Soundsystem (9:05 to 10:00 at Coachella Stage) vs. Vampire Weekend (9:55 to 10:45 at Outdoor Theatre) on Friday

What I'll Probably Do: This is less of a problem because I can catch all of one of these artists, but the sad thing is I either miss the beginning of VW or miss the ending of LCD Soundsystem. Considering I like LCD Soundsystem a bit more and I'm going to lay the odds very high on Mr. Murphy closing with "All My Friends", I'll stay for that. But it sucks to miss any of Vampire Weekend. Oh well. What are you going to do?

The Art of Bad Movie Night

It's hard to get more awesome than a bad movie night. To me, getting together with friends to drink beer, eat food, and make fun of truly bad movies is the apex of fun so long as you pick the right movies and have the right people. It's a sneaky tough recipe to pull off, but this past weekend brought good examples of movies that worked and movies that didn't.

Up first, we had the hit of the night: Hell Comes to Frogtown. Any time you have the opportunity to bring in a movie starring "Rowdy" Roddy Piper for bad movie night, you have to take it. It's science. Check out this synopsis and you'll understand why it is so spectacular:

'Hell' is the name of the hero of the story. He's a prisoner of the women who now run the USA after a nuclear/biological war. Results of the war are that mutants have evolved, and the human race is in danger of extinction due to infertility. Hell is given the task of helping in the rescue of a group of fertile women from the harem of the mutant leader (resembling a frog). Hell cannot escape since he has a bomb attached to his private parts which will detonate if he strays more than a few hundred yards from his guard.
You really can't get much better than that. In fact, when we came across it, my friend Eric was bowled over with the sheer awesomeness that practically left off the DVD cover. An incredible choice from a savvy newcomer, for sure.

The next two movies were not nearly as great, much to our chagrin. Up first we had Murdercycle, and we fully expected this to be unrivaled in its bad movie capabilities. It's a movie...about a motorcycle that comes to life...and murders people...called "murdercycle". Straightforward? Yep. Ridiculous? Absolutely. A terrible choice for bad movie night? Sadly. Even with all of the main characters being named after Marvel Comics creators from the 60's and 70's as well as the aforementioned murdercycleness of the film, it was too modern in its terribleness to bring much fun to the equation. It was bad, but not a lively form of bad.

Meanwhile, the last movie is the one that had the highest expectations from yours truly due to its legendary badness: Manos, the Hands of Fate. In case you've never heard of this movie, it's the 8th worst movie of all time according to IMDB and an all time cult classic. My only concern about it was the fact it came from 1966 and typically the production values are too hard to get past if it is that old...and yep, the seedy film and bad sound really brought down the whole exercise. Sure, the character of Torgo was flat out amazing (I may dress as him for Halloween) and the plot was amusingly non-sensical, but we had to cut and run and move on to the Twilight Rifftrax instead.

So there it is...1 for 3 on the most recent bad movie night. Even with the variable success, it was still a blast filled with great times for all. What did we learn from it? Well, there's the recipe to this very ancient art:
  • The movie must be bad
  • The movie must think it is good
  • The basic concept must be able to be described as "absurd", "ludicrous" or "bizarre"
  • Preferably Horror or Sci-Fi
  • Preferably between the years of 1975 and 1995
There are exceptions to the rule (anything by Uwe Boll save Postal works like a charm), but generally speaking movies that fall into those five categories should be a success for a bad movie night. This is why, in my mind, Sleepaway Camp is the best bad movie ever. It kills all five of those categories and has maybe the most ridiculous base concept ever. Throw in the best ending that has ever happened to the cinemas of the world, and that movie should be studied in "The Art of the Bad Movie" classes for the rest of the world's days.

What's that? That class doesn't exist? I should totally teach that class.

Still, I'm always out for suggestions. If any of my readers have bad movie suggestions that fit those categories, please share. I'm always on the prowl for the next Sleepaway Camp.

The Weekend Edition (Amy's Return)

In honor of my dear friend Amy Steele's return (yay!), I figured I'd get back to the basics of doing my Weekend Edition write ups, as she let me know she was a fan and missed them. So here goes nothing...what went down this weekend?
  • Bad movie night with Cate, Darren, Eric, Colver, Lorna, Stephanie, Emily, Olivia and Eric (yeah!)
  • Breakfast at Spenard Roadhouse with Dad (sweet biscuits and gravy? tasty, but weird)
  • Errand running with Emily (Best Buy ridiculousness, Midnight Sun brewery, dog park)
  • French Dips with Colver and Jason at Blues Central
  • Tons of beer and shuffleboard at the Buck with a slew of people
  • Dance party plus with Eric, Joanne, and others for Gen's bday
  • Feeling historically awful the next day
  • Welcome back Amy! dinner at Moose's Tooth

Oh dear, it was a good weekend for me to bring back the Weekend Edition on. This one had it all: great friends, great food, great times. Oh yeah, and the most horrendous hangover in months. I felt like I was beaten with a tree branch and sleep deprived for a month. If it weren't for a series of naps, some McDonald's, and heavy doses of liquids, I would have been no good at all for Amy's dinner.

The highlight of the weekend, in one of many, many highlights, had to be Amy's return. As much as I tried to pretend I didn't miss her (I'm great at out of sight, out of mind), as soon as I saw her I was really thankful to have her back. She may be a completely ridiculous person, but she's my type of ridiculous and I'm looking forward to having my good fellow frisbee golfing and summer loving friend back on a mostly regular basis.

They Call Me Double Down

Friday, April 9, 2010

If you're like me, you've probably been eating a sandwich before and wondered "why can't this bread be made out of more delicious meat?!" It's been something that has been troubling me since I was a wee child, and finally someone has listened and stepped up to the plate: KFC.

KFC recently introduced the Double Down, in which you get a tasty bacon sandwich that is mixed with melted Pepper and Monterey Jack and a zesty sauce. Sounds delicious right? But what could really push it over the edge? How about instead of buns you get FRIED CHICKEN. Mmmm...this is one situation where my heart says yes AND no at the same time (or is my heart saying uncle? Hard to tell).

Just in case you're health conscious (you know how people that replace bread with meat are like that sometimes), you can get grilled chicken instead of fried. That knocks the calorie intake down from 540 to 460 calories, or about as much as not having your Michelob Ultra for the night (way to go!). Not only that, but it's only $5, so you can get all of that deliciousness and health consciousness in one package for fairly cheap.

Personally, I'm hoping to eat enough of those to get to the point where people start calling me "Double Down" like they did to Trent/Vince Vaughn in Swingers. Except I won't have a cool story like him, I'll just have lovehandles and a far lower life expectancy than I had previously. At least I'll be easily recognizable with the constant sweating and heavy breathing and what not.

But seriously...fried chicken bun! Brilliant! I bet one of the CERN scientists came up with this gem.

Lollapalooza 2010 Lineup Announced

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I don't know what it is about 2010, but festival lineups just seem better this year. After the absurdly awesome Coachella lineup and the fastest sell out in Sasquatch history, pundits thought Lollapalooza would have to really throw down the gauntlet to compete.

And they did.

Here's are some of my favorite samples from the lineup:

Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Phoenix, MGMT, Hot Chip, The National, Spoon, Cut Copy, Gogol Bordello, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, The xx,  Jamie Lidell, Frightened Rabbit, Fuck Buttons, Blitzen Trapper, Stars, The Walkmen, Wild Beasts, Rogue Wave, The Antlers, Freelance Whales

That is cutting A LOT out, including the three real headliners: Soundguard, Green Day, and Lady GaGa. That bands as amazing as Arcade Fire, The Strokes, and the surprising third to their trio of Phoenix make it on the second tier tells you how awesome it's going to be. I'd go if only because of Arcade Fire and The Strokes, two bands that are near the peak of my "must see" list and two that are not making any other major festival appearances so far.

Lollapalooza is August 6th through the 8th this year in Grant Park in Chicago. Go to it and earn my envy for at least 3 days.

Welcome Back, Baseball

Monday, April 5, 2010

What an Opening Day (I don't count Yanks/Red Sox day as opening day). The Mariners win (Kotchman and Figgins for Co-MVP!), Pujols goes deep twice, Jason "The Kid (again)" Heyward hits a homer in his first Major League at bat, and Mark Buehrle makes one of the greatest plays I've ever seen. I think only because of the context of it does the Jeter play against the A's in the playoffs beat it, but seriously, how the hell did Buehrle pull that off?

In other news, I missed baseball to an almost unhealthy degree. Welcome back, baseball!

Lock It Up, Scientists!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman of CERN, crafters of the Large Hadron Collider and altogether geniuses amongst geniuses, my coworker Bobby Ferguson and I have something for you to consider. To steal an idea from Bill Simmons, we're offering our services as CERN's new Vice Presidents of Common Sense. Why do you need these positions filled? I'm glad you asked, scientists.

Regardless of what Stephen Hawking may tell you, Bobby and I are here to tell you that recreating the Big Bang is an absolutely terrible idea. I mean come on guys, wasn't there someone in the room when this idea was brought up that was like "maybe we shouldn't recreate the Big Bang." No? Well, that's why you need us!

If you're not wasting billions of dollars and thousands of hours slamming atoms together and trying to track down the Higgs boson (what is a "God's Particle" anyways?) or to better understand the universe at a fundamental level, you could be solving some of the more pressing matters in the world. Once again, you're lucky Bobby and I are here as we figured out exactly what those things should be.

1) Hangover Proof Alcohol

This is a no-brainer. What is the number one thing that affects people named Bobby Ferguson or David Harper between the ages of 25 and 30? If you didn't answer hangovers, you haven't been paying attention scientists. How this hasn't been a priority for years I really have no idea. This would make the party you throw after you prove that supersymmetry is realized in nature so much more badical. Think about it...CERN rager with Alaskan IPA that doesn't make you feel bad in the morning, all next to a multi-billion dollar supercollider.

There is no way this could go badly.

2) Turning Unhealthy Things into Healthy Things

Let's say I wanted to eat a box of samoas I bought from a Girl Scout earlier today for dinner...what would happen? I'd get (bigger) lovehandles. But what if you focused all of the energy you are using to discover new dimensions on making sure that the things that go into cookies or pizza or Philly Cheesesteaks are actually good for you? Obesity would plummet in America, the utterly realistic dystopia from Wall-E would be averted (not the trash part, the fat part), and I could eat a box of cookies for dinner. This is a win win situation, folks! How is this not on the agenda?

3) Three Words: Zombie Amusement Park

You're scientists, so you're nerds. It's a fact. Bobby and I are nerds, and you know what we talk about? What we'd do in a zombie apocalypse. I'm sure you guys talk about it all the time while smashing atoms together at crazy speeds ("Hey Gunther, what would you use if everyone else in the building turned into a zombie right now?"). Everyone wants this to happen, but you guys are a) in a position to make a zombie strain real and allow us to have a sweet zombie theme park where we can get our real (but contained) zombie apocalypse on  and b) working near something that theoretically could cause a zombie apocalypse. Have you never played Half-Life? We all know how this is going to end. Cut out the middle man and at least make it fun for us.

4) Flying Cars

Before you spent every waking hour messing with a thing that could destroy the world if somebody pressed the wrong button, I'm sure you watched a lot of sci-fi. Come on now, you're scientists. You know what the "sci" part of sci-fi stands for...you guys are drawn to that stuff like moths to light. So you know of Blade Runner and Back to the Future 2. Deckard and Emmett Brown had flying cars - why can't Bobby and I? This is something you should be focusing your time on. Do you know how long I've been waiting to say "where we're going, we don't need roads" and mean it?! Pretty much since birth! In my infancy I knew that flying cars are sweet and recreating the Big Bang was lame.

Address this problem...so sayeth your VP's of Common Sense.

5) Devastatingly Effective Spider Repellant

I know you guys love math, so here are some equations Bobby and I came up with to describe why this needs to happen.

David Harper + spider = little girl

Bobby Ferguson + spider = running away

David Harper and Bobby Ferguson + New CERN branded Spider Slayer 2010 = HAPPY!

You can't fight mathematics, scientists. If you could make a industrial strength liquid that made spiders stay out of people's business, you could fund ten Large Hadron Colliders. I'd be buying that stuff by the gallon. This is just logical - why wouldn't you want more money and a happy world? It's not rocket science guys.


All in all, I hope you don't brush us off. Bobby and I are serious. Like...The Hurt Locker serious. If you haven't seen that movie, it's pretty damn serious and properly reflects exactly what we think about all of this business. Now let's shape up and get some sweet hangover proof beer at the very least.