January 23, 2008

Coachella 2008 lineup

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:33 PM

I'm a little late blogging this, but the Coachella 2008 lineup has been announced. However, is it just me or is the lineup weaker this year? Or maybe I'm just getting old and don't know who the cool bands are anymore. (There are certainly a lot of unknown-to-me names on the list.) I may skip it this year and just catch Stars on whatever tour date is closest to wherever I happen to be in April. (I've been on a major Stars kick lately—partly their new album from last year and partly a new appreciation of Heart, on which several songs are more relevant than they used to be. They put on an amazing show the one time I saw them live, which was two years ago.)

Last year, when all the high-profile Coachella reunions were announced, I declared at the lunch table that My Bloody Valentine should reunite for Coachella 2008. Then they did reunite last year, and they were rumored to be playing Coachella, but they're not on the list so it looks like I don't get my wish.

It's been a while since I've posted a video so here's "Elevator Love Letter" by Stars, from Heart. (Set Yourself on Fire remains their best album, however.)

May 2, 2007

Coachella 2007: Photos

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 6:24 PM


jesus and mary chain, originally uploaded by arcanegazebo.

The photos I took at Coachella are now up on Flickr. Here's the set.

May 1, 2007

Coachella 2007: Ocean of Noise (Day 2 Report)

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:57 PM

I haven't reviewed any of these yet, but for context I want to list my top five albums of 2007 so far:

1. The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
2. !!!, Myth Takes
3. Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
4. Blonde Redhead, 23
5. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Living with the Living

Four of these bands played at Coachella this year; three of them were on Saturday. Throw in the New Pornographers and the Decemberists and this was easily my favorite day of the festival, even if I had to skip !!!'s set.

Sets I saw Saturday: Hot Chip, the New Pornographers, the Decemberists, the Arcade Fire, Blonde Redhead

Details below the fold:

Continue reading "Coachella 2007: Ocean of Noise (Day 2 Report)"
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Coachella 2007: Suffer for Fashion (Day 1 Report)

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 4:04 PM

Didn't get much sleep Thursday night, partly because I arrived late at the campsite, but mostly because other, very loud people continued to arrive even later at the campsite. This was not a problem the next three nights; as everyone was exhausted from the day's events, the nights were very quiet. By about 9 am it became too hot to sleep, and I felt like I was baking in my tent. I spent the brutally hot morning hiding in the shade reading Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb, and sometime after noon ventured into the festival.

Sets I saw Friday: Noisettes, Tokyo Police Club, Of Montreal, Arctic Monkeys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jarvis Cocker, Sonic Youth.

Details below the fold:

Continue reading "Coachella 2007: Suffer for Fashion (Day 1 Report)"
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April 30, 2007

Coachella 2007: Verdicts

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:54 PM

(Posted first so it's up while I work on the detailed report.)
(And here's last year's.)

Obviously, this only applies to the artists that I saw; I'm sure I missed a lot of good stuff.

Instruments category:
Best vocals: Win Butler (Arcade Fire)
Best guitar (electric division): Mike Stroud (Ratatat)
Best guitar (acoustic division): Rodrigo Sanchez (Rodrigo y Gabriela)
Best bass: This has to be Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), right?
Best synth: Hot Chip
Best violin section: The Arcade Fire
Best brass section: Lily Allen

Flair category:
Best audience participation: The Decemberists
Best band name: Travis
No, seriously: !!! ("chk chk chk")
Best costumes (general): Of Montreal
Best costumes (cetacean division): The Decemberists
Most endearing display of modesty: Thurston Moore introducing the band and the lead song as if no one had ever heard of Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation, or "Teen Age Riot".
Most endearing display of immodesty: Carl Newman (The New Pornographers): "Bow before our new album cover!"
Best celebrity cameo: Scarlett Johansson with the Jesus and Mary Chain on "Just Like Honey"

Organization category:
Best stage: Outdoor Theater
Best day's lineup: Saturday
Most agonizing schedule conflict: !!! vs. The Decemberists

Song category:
Best cover: Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" played by Rodrigo y Gabriela
Bands playing songs that appear in Guitar Hero:
Satellite Party covering "Stop"
The Willie Nelson Family Band covering "Texas Flood"
Rage against the Machine playing "Killing in the Name Of"
(Did RHCP play "Higher Ground"?)
Best performance of a single song: The Decemberists, "The Mariner's Revenge Song"

Band category:
Best band I'd never even heard of: The Feeling
Best band I'd heard of but never really looked into before: Hot Chip
Best band at the festival: Arcade Fire
Best overall performance: Of Montreal

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

January 22, 2007

Coachella lineup

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 2:40 PM

Saw the major Coachella news last night, but today the full lineup has been posted. Not only is Rage Against the Machine reuniting for the festival, so is Jesus and Mary Chain.

If I go for just one day it'll probably be Saturday, which has several of my favorite bands. If two days, Friday and Saturday.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

October 19, 2006

Killer Photos

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:39 AM



They are The Hold Steady
Originally uploaded by TedRheingold.

I went to Flickr looking for photos of last night's show. I'm in the bottom right corner of this one.

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Photos

October 18, 2006

Killer Parties

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 1:20 AM

Live: The Hold Steady with Sean Na Na and Black Fur at the Great American Music Hall: I arrived about ten minutes before the nominal start time of 8 pm and found about ten other people there. This did not give me confidence in the opening band; I was unaware that Black Fur were even on the bill and was expecting Sean Na Na to be the first act. In any case, the lack of people on the floor when I arrived allowed me to get very close to the stage. Black Fur did come across as unprofessional, with problems such as forgetting to plug in the guitarist's pedals and some indeterminate flakiness in the bassist's amp, and their drummer was a jackass who at one point spat beer into the audience. But despite this I actually enjoyed their set (once they got their equipment working). Certainly they sucked far less than the opening act at last year's Hold Steady show. They were followed by Sean Na Na, who didn't make much of an impression on me and I can't really even remember what they sounded like.

The Hold Steady then came on and proceeded to play an outstanding set. Maybe it's just that I was closer to the stage this time, but it felt like they had a stronger stage presence than last year and there was more interplay with the audience. All the songs sounded terrific, although during the first few Craig Finn was almost inaudible until they turned up his mike. Highlights: Of the new songs, I probably enjoyed "Massive Nights" the most—it was in the middle of the set when they were well warmed up and they gave it a great treatment. At the beginning of "Don't Let Me Explode", Finn told the story of the martyrdom of Saint Barbara, who is apparently the patron saint of Not Letting Things Explode (really), hence the line in the song: Saint Barbara I'm calling your name. As the second to last song they played a blistering rendition of "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", during which a string broke on the bass, and the rest of the band improvised while the bassist replaced it, after which they picked up where they had left off.

This was all eclipsed by the encore, where "Hornets! Hornets!" was followed by "Most People Are DJs" during which the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. The song then transitioned smoothly into "Killer Parties", the lead guitarist pulled someone out of the front row and put him on guitar, and then the band members started pulling people on stage as fast as they could. And did I mention I was up in front? As the show ended I was up on the stage with the Hold Steady and a crowd of other audience members, all dancing and singing along to the last lines of the song: I remember we departed from our bodies. We woke up in Ybor City...

It seems to me that any concert that ends this way should get a perfect score. Rating: 5/5

Hold Steady setlist below the fold (I was close enough that I could read it off Craig Finn's copy):

Continue reading "Killer Parties"
Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music

October 17, 2006

Between Stations [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 6:16 PM

Hmm, maybe I should have bought tickets to see one of Yo La Tengo's shows this week as well, they've got three consecutive nights at the Fillmore. But that would give me no time to devote to Valkyrie Profile. Tonight I'll see the Hold Steady, almost exactly a year after the last time I saw them.

TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain: This album has been widely hailed as a breakthrough record for TV on the Radio, a substantial leap over their previous work. Basically, I agree with all of that, so I can outsource my review to the various glowing pieces that have appeared in music publications. The opening track, "I Was A Lover" is a bit weak, but is followed by "Hours" which is the first of a number of awesome songs. My other favorites are "A Method", "Dirtywhirl", and especially "Wolf Like Me" on which David Bowie makes an appearance (listen here). One of the best CDs of the year. Their live show is also spectacular; they were my favorite act from Coachella this year. Rating: 4.5/5

Live: Ladytron with CSS at the Fillmore: CSS is a band I'd heard of but not actually heard before last night. They are from Brazil and are nearly an all-girl group, with a 1:5 male/female ratio. The music was competent dance rock with a synth and usually three guitars (sometimes two guitars and two basses). Their singer was very bouncy and jumped into the crowd several times, quite the opposite of Ladytron's reserved demeanor. What I could make out of the lyrics sounded pretty amusing, as if Art Brut songs were rendered in broken English.

Ladytron started out with "High Rise", a perfect opening song but performed somewhat anemically. They didn't sound warmed up until they played "Evil" a couple songs later, but from there they were able to keep the energy level pretty high. When I saw them at Coachella the band members maintained an air of aloofness, but here they were a bit more relaxed and interactive, Helen Marnie even dancing around the stage during her singing parts. The bands I've seen at the Fillmore are always overwhelmed by the history and prestige of the venue, and Ladytron were clearly not immune to this.

The setlist was fairly straightforward, most of Witching Hour plus older singles. The only thing really out of left field was a cover of "Send Me A Postcard" by Shocking Blue, a perky song that one wouldn't ordinarily associate with Ladytron, but they did include the original on their compilation CD Softcore Jukebox. "Soft Power" was a highlight: the band had a collection of lights on stage which might have been primarily intended for this song, red arc lights and warm yellow bulbs suggestive of candlelight. The combination of the eerie lighting and the strength of the musical performance really brought out the witching hour aspect of the song, making it feel like an incantation drawing out magical energies. "Beauty*2" came close to this effect as well. They saved "Destroy Everything You Touch" for the very end and pulled out all the stops for a spectacular ending to a strong show. Rating: 4/5

Ladytron setlist below the fold:

Continue reading "Between Stations [Open Thread]"
Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, Open Thread

August 31, 2006

Uniformly good [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:43 PM

In which I review something from almost every media category (but I should read more books) and give them all the same rating. Maybe I should go to increments of 0.1 instead of 0.5, so I can make finer distinctions: I would rate Asobi Seksu's Citrus (reviewed last week) slightly higher than The Knife's Silent Shout (in this post) for example.

The Descent: A heartwarming British film in which six women forge strong bonds of friendship during a spelunking expedition. At least, that's what it looks like until monsters show up and start eating them. Hell yes. I mean, we've all been stuck in boring dramas where we wish it would turn into a monster movie and kill off the most annoying characters, and this movie actually does it. Except that it's not boring at all; one thing this film excels at is ratcheting up the tension well before the monsters show up, with a series of plausible but legitimately scary or shocking events leading up to the gory climax. The cave where most of the movie takes place is itself a source of much of this tension, filmed in a way that conveys the claustrophobia and disorientation of the spelunkers. The descent referred to in the title isn't just the literal descent into the cave but also the descent into madness of one of the characters, and this is paralleled in the increasing chaos and confusion as the caving party disintegrates. Overall, a very well-done horror movie. Rating: 4/5

Arrested Development - Season One: I kept hearing that this show was excellent, but didn't really know much about it. Josh was happy to educate me, and we fairly rapidly went through the first season's worth of episodes. The show is best watched in bursts of several 22-minute episodes at a time; it is very self-referential and excels at recurring jokes. Arrested Development centers around the Bluth family, most of whom have freeloaded off the wealthy patriarch George Sr., until (in the first episode) he is arrested for massive fraud. Most of the episodes have Michael Bluth, as the voice of responsibility and moderation, trying to rein in his flakier relatives. It's the quality of the writing that makes the show stand out; the dialogue is very funny on several levels, and a narrative voiceover (by Ron Howard) is used to create an ironic interplay between an omniscient observer and the very self-unaware characters. Rating: 4/5

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow: The portable Castlevania games have been improving incrementally since Circle of the Moon on the GBA, and Dawn of Sorrow is the latest iteration, a refinement of (and direct sequel to) Aria of Sorrow. As with its predecessors it is a side-scrolling dungeon crawl, and preserves Aria's mechanic of earning new abilities from defeated monsters. There are a few token uses of the DS's touch screen (admittedly, finishing off boss monsters by drawing a magic seal is especially satisfying) but otherwise the gameplay will be familiar to veterans of the series. This installment does an especially good job with an interesting dungeon layout, smooth control, and challenging but not frustrating difficulty. The free-fall boss battle is particularly inspired. Rating: 4/5

The Knife: Silent Shout: The Knife, mentioned in yesterday's post, has a new album out this year. Different in mood from "Heartbeats", it's a dark and ghostly record, perhaps another candidate for a Call of Cthulhu game soundtrack. Indeed, Josh and I listened to this in the car before and after seeing The Descent, and it was creepily appropriate to a claustrophobic horror movie. This one strikes a stronger emotional resonance than the similar atmosphere of Liars' Drum's Not Dead, and is also more danceable. Listen to "Like A Pen" and "Silent Shout" at their MySpace page; in further recent-post-synergy, the latter track appears to be a free download for Facebook members this week. Rating: 4/5

Live: Zero 7 with Jose Gonzalez at the Fillmore: Sure, I panned their latest album, but their earlier work is really good and I love going to the Fillmore. (I am ignoring Jessica's suggestion that I post an entry titled "I Went to Zero 7 with Three Hot Girls", but this might also have had something to do with it.) Jose Gonzalez's opening set was a mellow and competent performance on acoustic guitar; afterwards he did vocals for Zero 7 along with Sia Furler. (The band proper is just two British guys on synths, but here they had a backing band and the two vocalists. The lack of their other singers meant certain songs couldn't be played; "In the Waiting Line", which appeared on the Garden State soundtrack, was particularly missed.) Naturally much of the set was devoted to songs from The Garden, but there was a good fraction of older stuff as well so I can't complain too much. Sia seemed pretty drunk (or otherwise chemically enhanced) and her vocals were much more slurred than in the recordings, which detracted a bit. Fortunately they played a number of instrumental pieces, which tend to be my favorites out of Zero 7's catalog. It would have been nice to hear "Speed Dial No. 2", though. Rating: 3.5/5

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Games, Movies, Music, Open Thread, Television

August 30, 2006

Fillmore Scene

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:29 PM

At the Zero 7 concert, opening act Jose Gonzalez is covering The Knife's "Heartbeats" on an acoustic guitar.

Guy: Does the original version sound like this?
Me: No, The Knife is an electronica band—it's very different.
Guy: When were they big?
Me: Well, currently.
Guy: That's weird, I've never heard of them.
Me: [realizing] Well, "big" in the sense—
Guy: Oh, in that particular scene.
Girl: Travis, are you a scenester?
Me: No! I just... listen to scenester music... by coincidence.

I don't think she believed me. Will "Travis, are you a scenester?" replace "Travis, are you a math major?" I don't get the latter question much anymore.

(The Knife's version can be heard here [except it may not be working, so also try here] and Jose Gonzalez's version here and also in that cool Sony commercial with the bouncing balls in San Francisco.)

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, Music Videos

June 26, 2006

Recent inattentiveness

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 4:38 PM

I was already kicking myself for missing Built To Spill's three San Francisco shows last weekend, only remembering to check for tickets once they had all sold out. Then Saturday night I stopped by the lab to change some batteries, and I heard the sounds of a concert at UC Berkeley's Greek Theater. I didn't know there was a show tonight, I wonder who's playing?. By the time I got to Birge Hall I was close enough to hear the music, and when the singer came on I thought he sounded familiar...

...a half second later I recognized the voice as Thom Yorke.

I managed to miss not only Built To Spill, but also Radiohead playing at my place of employment last weekend. I really need to watch the concert listings more closely...

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Life, Music

May 3, 2006

Coachella Report: Photos

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 4:22 PM

I meant to post these earlier but I had to give a talk yesterday, after which I finally collapsed from exhaustion. However, they are now up on my Flickr page.

audience at yeah yeah yeahs

The Coachella photoset is here.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music, Photos

May 2, 2006

Coachella Report: Verdicts

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:41 AM

Best vocals: Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio)
Best guitar: Ted Leo
Best drums: Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney)
Best synth: Ladytron
Most engaging: The Go! Team
Best audience: Depeche Mode
Most t-shirts worn by attendees: Tool
Most crush-worthy female musician: Mira Aroyo (Ladytron)
Most crush-worthy male musician: Ted Leo
Best use of a windchime: TV on the Radio
Most cowbell: Sleater-Kinney
Most innocuous object confiscated by a security guard: My Pilot rollerball pen
Best stage (acoustics and layout): Outdoor Theater
Best stage (schedule): Mojave
Most random cover: Ted Leo playing Daft Punk's "One More Time"
Favorite band: Ladytron
Bands I wish I'd had time to see: Sigur Rós, Cat Power, Bloc Party, Wolf Parade
Best new find: Art Brut
Best overall performance: TV on the Radio

Songs on my High Noon Sun mix CD that I heard live:
The Go! Team, "Junior Kickstart"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Cheated Hearts"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "In This Home On Ice"
Cat Power, "Love & Communication"
Mogwai, "Glasgow Mega-Snake"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, "Me And Mia"
TV On The Radio, "Ambulance"

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

Coachella Report: Lessons Learned

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:10 AM

Would I do it again? Hell yes. Here are some lessons I should keep in mind for next time.

Arrive early. The traffic becomes pretty hideous when the bulk of the crowd arrives, so it can easily add an hour to the travel time. Plus, undoubtedly some of the really obscure bands that play early in the afternoon are really good. (The trick is to find them.)

Spend the night camping on-site. Shuttling back to Pasadena on Saturday night was brutal. I was envying the people who could walk a few yards to their tents and go to sleep.

Get your ID checked right away. The lines at the ID check booths become long by midafternoon and remain that way all day. If you do it right away, you can walk right into the beer gardens anytime you want later. This is important even if you don't plan to pay $7 for a Heineken, because:

The shortest lines for food and water are in the beer gardens. People are going into the beer garden for beer but mostly not for food, but they do sell it there. Generally you can just walk right up and get something rather than waiting in line at the main food court. Water is available where they sell beer and there's hardly any line there either.

If you're going to buy a shirt, do it early on the first day. The better shirt designs sell out quickly.

It's worth arriving early for shows to get close to the stage. Especially in the tents the acoustics aren't so good, and it's hard even to hear the bands. On the main stage the crowd can get so big that you can't see anything if you don't arrive early enough (although hearing the music is less of a problem on the outdoor stages).

See one of the headline shows. The sheer hugeness of the show and the crowd makes it a powerful experience.

Be too cool for one of the headline shows. When everyone's off at the main stage the crowds at the other stages are small enough that the experience is much more intimate, and the bands really appreciate your presence there. Plus you can make snide remarks about fans of the main act.

Stay hydrated. Obvious but true. I had a brush with dehydration on the first day and it really sapped my energy, even after I got some water and started feeling better.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

May 1, 2006

Coachella Report: Day 2

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:52 PM

We arrived a bit earlier on Sunday, and traffic wasn't as bad, so I was able to make it to an earlier show and then get a terrific spot for Ted Leo.

Mates of State: This is a husband-and-wife synth pop duo that I went to on Julianne's recommendation. It was a good one to start with, not too intense and fairly upbeat. It's impressive what they can do with just a keyboard and a drum kit.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: I've been wanting to hear Ted Leo since I bought Shake the Sheets last year, and have managed to miss them the last three times they visited San Francisco. I didn't intend to miss them this time, and staked out a spot pretty close to the stage. In fact, I was close enough that I could watch his hands while he played the guitar, which was very interesting in itself (damn he's fast). He seemed annoyed by the heat but played like a demon anyway, at one point taking "Counting Down The Hours" into an extended rendition of "Little Dawn" without a break. Definitely as fun and energetic as I'd heard.

Wolf Parade: Well, actually I didn't see Wolf Parade. I waited for about twenty minutes after their scheduled start time, but due to technical problems they didn't get going until after I had already left to get in position for Sleater-Kinney. Everything in the Mojave tent was delayed about half an hour after this.

Sleater-Kinney: This is actually the only band here that I'd seen live before, so I knew what to expect: it would be loud and awesome. Many of the musicians here seem amazed by the experience, but Sleater-Kinney were completely unperturbed. (Of course, they've been around a while and have probably done it before.) Mostly they played selections from The Woods, spending about twenty percent of their set on "Let's Call It Love", along with a few songs from One Beat and "Get Up" from The Hot Rock. At one point there was an exchange something like this:
Carrie Brownstein: We're more like Tool than Madonna.
Corin Tucker: [alarmed] I don't think so.
I also overheard a related dialogue among some people near me in the audience:
Girl: Are you going to see Madonna later?
Guy: I don't know. She is the Queen of Pop. Someday my kids are going to ask me if I ever saw Madonna. "No, I went to Massive Attack instead." "I don't know who the fuck that is!"

Anyway, Sleater-Kinney were awesome as usual, and as a bonus I was close to the stage for

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Despite being a bit disappointed with their latest album, I was quite impressed by this show. Karen O has a ton of energy and really lived up to my pre-Show Your Bones expectations. It also helped that they played some of my favorite tracks from Fever To Tell, namely "Black Tongue", "Pin", "Maps", and "Y Control". Even coming right after Sleater-Kinney, the music was expecially raw and intense, and being near the front of a huge crowd, the effect was pretty powerful.

Mogwai: Watching the sound check I thought it seemed like they had an unusually large number of amps on stage, and indeed this band has a ridiculous number of guitars. At one point they had four people playing guitar simultaneously, and they seemed to switch guitars between every track. They didn't interact with the audience much, and the effect wasn't too different than it would be to play their CDs at incredibly loud volume. However, it does sound good that way.

The Go! Team: This band was on the other end of the spectrum in terms of audience interaction. Although the music didn't sound as good as it does in recording—they make heavy use of recorded samples and it doesn't translate very well into a stage show—they more than made up for it by getting the crowd involved. Their frontwoman, a British rapper who goes by the name Ninja, was expert at getting the crowd moving and singing along, and I found myself dancing more energetically than at any other performance, despite the fact that by that point in the day I could barely stand. As a result it was a terrifically fun show and brought my energy back up for the last hour of the festival.

Dungen: We decided we were too cool for Tool (also, school) and went to the now-sparsely-populated Mojave tent to catch Art Brut, only to find that (due to the aforementioned delays) Dungen were still playing. We only caught the tail end of the last song, though, so I can't say much about it.

Art Brut: I'd heard this band was good but knew nothing about them, so I didn't know what to expect. It turns out that they are total goof-offs. It's not that they play joke songs, although "Rusted Gun of Milan", a song about impotence with sixties-pop style backing vocals, is indeed pretty funny. It's more that they have a kind of playful approach to rock, especially frontman Eddie Argos who carried on a running (but somewhat one-sided) conversation with the audience, sometimes in the middle of songs; played jump-rope with the microphone cable (and seemed surprised when he tried to use it afterwards and it had popped out of its socket), and delighted in running overtime (he claimed it cost the festival $2000 a minute to go over curfew, and then announced he would use the extra time to play b-sides). This was one of the most entertaining performances I saw, and I definitely plan to buy their album when the U.S. release comes up (next week, I think). Between the Go! Team and Art Brut the end of the festival was immensely fun, and I left with a smile on my face.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

Coachella Report: Day 1

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:35 PM

Now that I'm back in Berkeley I can finally do all the Coachella-related blogging I've been itching to do. Here's what I saw on Saturday:

The Duke Spirit: The first act I saw was this British rock band, which I knew of only through one track on that Snow Patrol mix CD (which has been a fruitful source of interesting music). That song, "Cuts Across The Land", was also the first one they played at Coachella, and I was pleased to find that the rest of the set was of similar quality. They have a female lead singer with a powerful voice, and some catchy songs. Until recently their CD was only available as an import, but it's now been released in the U.S. and I'll be looking for it. . The performance was a bit sparsely attended, as it was on the main stage in the midafternoon—around this time of day the shows in the tents were attracting a much larger audience.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: This show, on the other hand, had an audience nearly spilling out of the Mojave tent which was slowly being exposed to the setting sun. (It's not clear why they chose an east-west orientation for the tents, unless they were trying to sell more $2 water bottles.) I didn't arrive early enough to get a good spot, and couldn't hear much from the back of the tent. Fortunately I was able to work my way forward gradually; a lot of people mysteriously left after "The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth". (Maybe they were going to Kanye West?) So I was able to hear about two songs really well, but didn't get a good sense of the performance as a whole.

TV on the Radio: This is a band that I am mostly indifferent to except for a couple of songs that I really like. I probably would have seen My Morning Jacket instead, except that we wanted to get up in front for Ladytron (who followed TV on the Radio). This was extremely fortunate, because this show was amazing, and a totally different experience from listening to the CD. The band was passionate, dynamic, and relentlessly inventive. Tunde Adebimpe sang with an emotional force that was unmatched by anyone else I saw at the festival (except maybe Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and when their guitarist wasn't playing with windchimes hanging from the headstock he was beatboxing on a rendition of "Ambulance" that was far removed, and yet just as amazing, as the a capella track on the album. I'll definitely be watching for the next time this band visits San Francisco.

Ladytron: This was probably the act I was most looking forward to, and the only disappointment was that it was too short. In contrast to the emotional intensity of the preceding band, Ladytron were cool and detached, coming out onstage dressed like Star Trek villains and looking entirely bored with the whole proceeding, except when they would command the audience to dance with a single imperious finger. "High Rise" was a great choice to open the set, with the sun setting behind us. After this they played songs from all three of their LPs; I was mostly hoping to hear Witching Hour material but it was nice to hear "Playgirl", and "Seventeen" was inevitable (being the major single from Light and Magic).

Franz Ferdinand: I missed the beginning of their performance since I was at Ladytron; does anyone know if they played "L. Wells"? I was hoping to hear that. I did manage to hear "The Fallen" which is probably my favorite Franz Ferdinand song. They put in a strong performance but I wasn't as close to the stage as I would have liked to be, as a result of arriving late.

Cat Power: I only caught a few of her songs, since she also overlapped with the previous act. Moreover, I was in the back of the Mojave tent and couldn't hear anything. I suspected she was playing a cover of "House of the Rising Sun" but couldn't confirm it until I came in much closer. I did get to hear "Love & Communication", with which she closed her set, and I was a bit sorry I didn't see the whole thing.

Depeche Mode: This being the headline show, the audience was huge, and even though I'm not terribly familiar with Depeche Mode it was fun just to be part of such an enormous undertaking. Hearing a hundred thousand people sing along to "Enjoy the Silence" was especially impressive. I was way the hell back and couldn't see much, except for what was on the video monitors, but on the plus side I had enough room to dance. I need to take another look at Violator for my 90's music collection.

Daft Punk: I was really tired by this point and didn't have the energy to make my way into the Sahara tent, so I watched a bit on the screen outside and then left a bit early. I have a feeling this was a little better inside the tent.

We then shuttled back to Pasadena and promptly lost consciousness, catching some six hours of sleep before getting up to make the drive back for the second half of the festival.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music

April 30, 2006

Ted Leo

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 4:26 PM




Ted Leo


Originally uploaded by arcanegazebo.



Got up close for an excellent show by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Now I'm going to find some shade.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music, Phone Post, Photos

Coachella, Day 2

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 2:19 PM




Coachella, Day 2


Originally uploaded by arcanegazebo.



Coachella: awesome. Today we are starting with Mates of State, then Ted Leo, at the Outdoor Theater. Hopefully I can post this before the network gets flaky--the cell phone infrastructure here isn't quite equipped for this many people.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music, Phone Post, Photos

April 29, 2006

Greetings from Coachella

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:55 PM




Greetings from Coachella


Originally uploaded by arcanegazebo.



Greetings from Coachella, currently the ironic t-shirt capital of the world. After spending two hours between the freeway and the gates, I have arrived in time to catch The Duke Spirit on the main stage.

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Music, Phone Post, Photos

April 28, 2006

Friday Non-random 18

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:46 AM

In conjunction with my weekend plans, and the long drive required to get there, I have made a mix CD using bands that will be appearing at Coachella. I prioritized recent music since this is most likely to be played; as a result none of the songs here are older than 2004. I also tried to avoid songs that have appeared on some previous mix CDs. A couple tracks are unrepresentative: Devendra Banhart sings in English most of the time, and TV on the Radio normally use instruments. A few of these have been posted here with recent music reviews. Here's the tracklist:

High Noon Sun (Coachella 2006)

  1. The Go! Team, "Junior Kickstart"
  2. Sleater-Kinney, "Wilderness"
  3. My Morning Jacket, "Off The Record"
  4. Mylo, "Zenophile"
  5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Cheated Hearts"
  6. Bloc Party, "Banquet"
  7. Wolf Parade, "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son"
  8. Devendra Banhart, "Quedateluna"
  9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "In This Home On Ice"
  10. Franz Ferdinand, "L. Wells"
  11. Cat Power, "Love & Communication"
  12. Mogwai, "Glasgow Mega-Snake"
  13. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, "Me And Mia"
  14. TV On The Radio, "Ambulance"
  15. Sigur Rós, "Gong"
  16. Dungen, "Panda"
  17. Ladytron, "Beauty*2"
  18. Animal Collective, "Turn Into Something"

Copies available on request. (Those of you who are going to Coachella with me are likely to be handed copies whether you want them or not.)

As Lemming has already noticed, Sleater-Kinney and Bloc Party are playing at the same time. Originally I was simply planning to decide between them, but then I realized that I have a quantum mechanical solution available to me. I just have to stop by the lab before I leave...

Permalink | Tags: Coachella, Concerts, Lists, Music, Travel

March 22, 2006

Belle & Sebastian blow their cover

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:06 AM

Like I'm going to see two of my favorite bands in one night and not say it was awesome. First, the New Pornographers, who are without Neko Case on this tour. There's definitely something missing without her formidable voice; I think they had their (excellent) keyboardist doing the female vocals although I couldn't see the stage very well during their set, so I'm not sure. I also may have missed a song or two, since I was late looking for parking. I didn't keep track of their setlist, but they played several of my favorites: "The Laws Have Changed", "From Blown Speakers", "The Bleeding Heart Show", and "Stacked Crooked". Carl Newman forgot the opening to "It's Only Divine Right" and started in the middle of the song; after that no one else could remember how it started either and there was some confusion onstage. (Eventually it came back to him.) Despite the absence of Neko Case it was still a pretty good performance.

Then, Belle & Sebastian. After the March Meeting is when I often take up new projects, and one I was thinking about was learning all the songs from If You're Feeling Sinister on the guitar. I've started with the first track, "The Stars of Track and Field", and have given it a few attempts since I got back from Baltimore. So it seemed like an omen when Stuart Murdoch came out on stage, picked up his acoustic guitar, and led off with "Make a new cult every day to suit your affairs..." They played several other songs from that album, many from their latest (The Life Pursuit) and a couple from each of the others, excluding (conveniently) the two I don't own (which are Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant and Storytelling). Also a few from their EP releases, including—to my delight—"Your Cover's Blown". That was probably the one track I was really hoping they'd play.

I could have stood there forever listening to them, and it seemed too soon when they stopped. Somehow they got away without playing "The Blues Are Still Blue", even though the single just came out. (As I've mentioned, that's my favorite song on the latest LP.) It was a great show, and I plan to see them again the next time they tour the U.S.

Belle & Sebastian's setlist is below the fold; I was writing them down on an index card, which led at least one person to start asking me for the names of the songs he didn't recognize.

Continue reading "Belle & Sebastian blow their cover"
Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music

February 16, 2006

Pretty Girls Make Graves, on my doorstep

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:53 PM

As announced here earlier, Pretty Girls Make Graves played at UC Berkeley tonight. This was extremely convenient, since I could leave the lab at 8:50 and be early for the 9:00 show. I expected it to be out on Lower Sproul Plaza, but in fact it was inside: good insofar as I didn't freeze to death, bad since the acoustics are terrible in the Bear's Lair food court. A punk band called the Sweet Nothings opened; I was not impressed, especially not by their closer, which was a reprehensible punk cover of "Eye of the Tiger".

Fortunately, PGMG made up for it. They played five songs from their upcoming album Elan Vital, which I am now very eagerly anticipating— all the new stuff is very good. The rest of the set was drawn from The New Romance except for their final song, "Speakers Push The Air" from Good Health. Unfortunately one of their guitarists has left the band, so we were deprived of what one critic aptly called "knife-fight guitar solos", but new keyboardist Leona Marrs was very good, and also played the accordion on one of the new songs. Lead singer Andrea Zollo is just as awesome as she sounds on the recordings.

The first song they played was "The Nocturnal House" from Elan Vital, which can be downloaded for free at their label's website. The other four new songs were even better than this. Intruigingly, on the last new song the bassist switched to vocals, the drummer switched to bass, and the guitarist switched to saxophone. However, their best song in the live show is also their best recording: "Something Bigger, Something Brighter" from The New Romance.

Since the Stars show last Friday, this has been quite a good week musically speaking. The setlist for tonight's show is below the fold (to the best of my recollection, I may have the order slightly wrong).

UPDATE: Filled in the missing song titles in the setlist now that I have Élan Vital.

Continue reading "Pretty Girls Make Graves, on my doorstep"
Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, UC Berkeley

February 11, 2006

Stars

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:48 PM

Last night I went to The Fillmore to see Canadian band Stars, whose most recent album I reviewed here. If you get a chance to see this band live, definitely take it—this show was amazing. I spent most of the performance completely enraptured by the music, and towards the end even found myself compelled to dance, despite the fact that this is not usually done at indie rock shows. I wasn't sure beforehand if a violinist would be present, since the violin on their album wasn't played by one of the band regulars, but indeed they had one who put in a stellar performance. I'd like to say something about the setlist, but I didn't recognize a lot of the songs since I'm only familiar with the ones on Set Yourself On Fire. They played most of that album, but about half the songs were unfamiliar to me. (And somehow they skipped two of my favorites: "Sleep Tonight" and "Celebration Guns". But the rest of the show was good enough that I'm willing to forgive that.) Today I went out and bought another one of their albums so I will be more knowledgable the next time they come to SF.

The opening band was Rilo Kiley spinoff The Elected, playing country-tinged indie rock. They were decent but not terribly exciting.

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music

February 1, 2006

PSA: PGMG @ UCB, OMG

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:01 PM

This is a public service announcement for the Berkeley-area readers: the excellent band Pretty Girls Make Graves will be playing a free show on Lower Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, on February 16. They would be a great band to see two days earlier if you are single and bitter, but they're playing Moscow, Idaho on that day so that's not so helpful.

I almost wish I didn't know about this, so I could have the experience of walking through Sproul on the 16th and thinking, "Hey, that sounds like PGMG... holy shit!" But more likely I'd just miss it entirely if I didn't know about it, so it's probably better this way.

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, UC Berkeley

January 22, 2006

Don't look back [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:46 PM

With my first weekend at home since mid-December (I was otherwise in lab or out of town), I was faced with a monumental cleanup task. I'm pleased to say that I got ten, maybe fifteen percent of it done. Sure would be nice if I had floor tiles. But at least I got my rug back (it needed to be cleaned after the flood). That rug really tied the room together.

Belle & Sebastian: If You're Feeling Sinister: Live At The Barbican: I mentioned in the Essential 90's Albums post that the studio version of this is my current favorite album from that decade. It was only after I posted that that I went on iTunes and picked up this live version. (I don't normally buy from iTunes but that's the only place to get this particular recording.) This show was a charity concert (I think as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival?) in which Belle & Sebastian played through every track on their second album, in order. Supposedly this was meant to supplant the original studio album, which was not a high-quality recording. It's hard to imagine how a live performance could be suitable for this, but now that I've heard it I can understand. Most of the songs come through with more power and more polish, and it's nice to hear them in the hands of a more matured band. (Also, the sounds of children in the background of the title track on the studio version always annoyed me.) Some of the tracks I was less fond of in the original receive a serious boost: "Stars of Track and Field" and "Me and the Major" in particular; meanwhile most of my favorites sound awesome. "Like Dylan in the Movies" comes out the best here, followed closely by "Judy and the Dream of Horses". On the other hand, "The Fox in the Snow" really should sound thin and forlorn the way it does in the studio version, and doesn't quite have the same effect here. But apart from that it's a terrific take on this material, and I'd recommend it regardless of whether you've heard the studio version.

On a related note, Belle & Sebastian will be touring in the U.S. starting in February, and the New Pornographers will be opening for them. If you've ever clicked on my Last.fm profile you may have noticed that these are my two most-played bands, so needless to say I already have my ticket. Tickets went on sale for west coast venues this weekend; here's the tour information.

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, Open Thread

October 19, 2005

Intermission [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:43 PM

I saw The Hold Steady last night! It was a great show, although somehow they got away without playing "How a Resurrection Really Feels". The actual Craig Finn took some getting used to, as he looked like some nerdy accountant who stumbled up on stage after a few drinks too many, but he ended up being pretty entertaining. Due to his arrhythmic singing style he was able to change up and improvise the lyrics in interesting ways, and he had elaborate hand gestures to go along with all the songs. At one point during "Charlemagne in Sweatpants" he delivered a long monologue on baseball while the band looped in the background. The Constantines also played at this show, decent indie-rock, and the opening band was Tim Fite, who was a musical personification of WTF.

And tonight I am seeing Iron & Wine and Calexico. Speaking of which,

Iron & Wine/Calexico: In the Reins:I don't know what Calexico sounds like by itself, but when combined with Iron & Wine's Americana/folk sound the result is a really excellent EP. The sound here is more varied than on Iron & Wine's previous releases: the opening track has a southwestern feel, and then there's a country-ish prison ballad, and then "History of Lovers" which is more like a pop song. The only downside is that there are only seven tracks. More, please!

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, Open Thread

September 29, 2005

New Pornographers concert report

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 12:21 PM

The show last night was terrific, of course. However, the fact that indie-rock audiences don't dance is sort of lame. When I have an oscillation amplitude that's above the median, and I'm not moving my feet, something's wrong. (I was really just sort of nodding my head rhythmically.)

The New Pornographers played a pretty long set and managed to hit all the songs I wanted to hear. There was also an unusual level of onstage banter (mainly between Carl Newman and Neko Case) that was pretty entertaining. At the beginning of the first encore they spent about ten minutes just joking around and playing the opening riffs to various highly recognizable songs. (Back in Black and Smells Like Teen Spirit were a couple that I remember.)

The opening bands were Immaculate Machine and Destroyer, the former of which was quite good primarily due to Kathryn Calder on keyboards and vocals. She plays in the New Pornographers as well, apparently since Twin Cinema. Destroyer was less interesting (and didn't destroy anything).

Oh yeah: Nobody cheered at "Going to 16th and Valencia" in Twin Cinema. Possibly because it's a bit difficult to tell that those are the lyrics.

Permalink | Tags: Concerts, Music, San Francisco