Saturday, May 31, 2008

The National & Ferraby Lionheart, House of Blues, 5.28.08

I had been looking forward to The National playing again for some time, and though I was disappointed it wasn't going to be at The Casbah as it was when they played on my bithday last year, I thought the House of Blues might serve them well. Oh, Rosey, someday you'll stop being so naive.

I arrived at the House of Blues at 6:20 pm. I was meeting a couple friends of mine for happy hour, and I thought if there was an issue with my ticket and photo pass, that would allow for time to fix the problem before the show. Fortunately everything was there, including an extra ticket. Beautiful. I looked for my friends who had yet to arrive and sat at the bar, ordered a vodka tonic and put in my order for their tasty catfish nuggets. I've always loved the House of Blues' happy hour. $3 wells, $2 drafts, and half price appetizers...and those nuggets are a sufficient meal for two. I was in a really, really good mood. Sometimes timing is everything and mine was just working out. I didn't even mention the princess parking spot I got.

I sucked down my drink and ordered another before my friends arrived and we moved to a table. We caught up and enjoyed hanging out. At 6:58, I ordered a double that would last me the next hour with my friends before the show. Eventually I said my goodbyes and made my way to the venue entrance which was precisely when my new found love of House of Blues shot out the window.

"There's no re-entry tonight, so once you're in, you're in," the security guard yelled to the crowd. WTF? The last few times I'd been there, they allowed ins and outs. I inquired and someone told me that there's a new manager who wanted to keep the alcohol business inside the venue. Understandable to a point but they hadn't really planned out a smoking area and why is the venue competing with itself? If anyone asked, the guards were to tell people the reason for no re-entry was noise complaints by neighbors. A total fabrication.

My second disappointment was that I had a photo pass but there was no photo pit. Aargh. Ferraby Lionheart took the stage and I asked if I could use the one foot section between the rail and the stage and the guard was cool enough to let me squeeze in.

I was quickly getting over my little annoyances because once Ferraby Lionheart started it was hard to not get lost in his music. The band sounded great and it was nice seeing them again after only a couple weeks and recognizing songs enough to pick favorites and the ones that don't work as well live. Not because they're bad songs but because they're beautiful and quiet and people at shows are just dicks and talk fucking loud and don't deserve such beauty, quite frankly. Last time I saw them I thought people were being rude for the Casbah, but House of Blues people certainly outshined that volume issue. Still, up front, as long as you were within 6 feet of the stage, you could hear them and know that they sounded fantastic.

I later found out that the drummer for Ferraby Lionheart was only 17, and this being a 21 and up show, they wouldn't even allow him backstage. He stayed outside all night. Seems like an unfortunate way to treat a touring band, but thems the rules, I guess.

The National took the stage and I was completely lost in the music. Again we squeezed into the little gap between the railing and the stage. From where I was, the band sounded perfect. There were some additional band members and the horns and violin really sounded beautiful. We lost track of the song count and nobody ushered us out, so Natalie and I took a gazillion pics. Eventually I left into the crowd, partially because some guy was kind enough to point out that our three songs were up and partially because I had abandoned my friend Sarah, so I found her and we watched from the crowd.

The National Setlist, 5.28.08

I kinda snuck to an area I wasn't supposed to be for the encores but can't really go into it so I guess I'll just have to keep that for myself for now. After the show I bolted pretty quick to catch the end of Neva Dinova's set at the Casbah and for my first time, used all the memory on my camera in a matter of 4 hours, so I uploaded pics to my laptop and by the time I made it in, only caught the last 3 songs. By the time it was over, I was beat and made my way home and read some of Troy Johnson's book before my eyes finally shut down for the night.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Things To Do In San Diego: May 30-June 1, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008:
  • CityBeat's "SummerBeat" feat Transfer, Shark Attack DJs, Saul Q & Gabe Vega, DJ Claire, fashion show, live art show by Field Trip @ LaFayette Hotel (7-10p, $10)
  • Swervedriver, Film School @ Casbah (I'm selling merch. Come say hi.)
  • The Creepy Creeps, The Widows, Bartazan @ Ken Club
  • Emery Byrd @ Whistle Stop
  • Death on Mars, Laserwolf & Thunderbolt, Mod Amish @ Chasers
  • West Indian Girl, Wendy Darling @ Winston's
  • The Murder Junkies, Rat City Riot, Nuts and Bolts, Tim Raldo & The Filthy Fuks @ Zombie Lounge
  • The Drowning Men, The Good Lords, Qu'est-ce Que C'est @ O'Connell's
  • MEX, Royal Campaign @ Bar Pink Elephant
  • The Upstarts, Bedford Grove @ Beauty Bar
  • Circa Now, Non-prophet, Christina Donahue @ Tower Bar
  • MC Flow, Vokab Company @ 710 Beach Club
  • The Uploaded, Cotton Fever, The Father @ Lestat's
  • Agent Orchid presents: "the Toledo Show" @ Brick By Brick
  • Fuzz Huzzi, On Fire, Kavena @ San Diego Sports Club
  • Cyanide Vogue @ Dream Street
  • Kottonmouth Kings @ House of Blues
  • BOOGIE NIGHTS – 80s FEVER! with Final Warning and DJ Tommy Cox@ Belly Up
  • A Legend Unknown, Forever Days Forgotten, Falco Does It Dirty, From The Break Of Dawn, Pardon The Outlaw, Casino Madrid @ Soma
  • On The One, Blue Turtle Seduction @ Canes
  • Craig Ferguson @ Humphrey's Concerts By The Bay
  • Crush @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (late show 9:30p)
  • Sonny Landreth @ Anthology (7:30 early show, 9:30 late show)
  • Four Sides Of Bob Dylan as performed by Steve White, Dave Howard, Deborah Liv Johnson, & Louis MacKenzie@ Dizzy's (San Diego Wine & Culinary Center)
Saturday, May 31, 2008:
  • Ladytron, Datarock, DJ Adam Salter @ Belly Up
  • Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, Romak and the Space Pirates, Burning of Rome, Maystar @ Black Box Studios (BYOB, bring cash for cover)
  • The Sess, Traditional Fools, Red Hearts, The Atoms @ Ken Club
  • Cabron @ Pokez (10p)
  • The Neil Hamburger Country Winners Revue...featuring Neil Hamburger IN PERSON, with the Too-Good-For-Neil-Hamburger Band @ Casbah
  • The Midwinters, Jeff Caudill, Team Abraham @ The Metaphor (Escondido)
  • Unset, Shot Out Hoods, Intake ca, Authentic Sellout @ Brick By Brick
  • Whiskey Dicks, Flexx Bronco(SF), The New Legion @ Zombie Lounge
  • The Disco Pimps, Firethorn @ Stage Saloon
  • The Beatless, Cheese Chasers, The Crypt, 1800-Baby @ Chasers
  • Val Emmich, Gayle Skidmore @ Lestat's
  • "1993" (90s attire encouraged) feat Black Market, DJ Gabe Vega, Corey Biggs @ Beauty Bar
  • Fishnet Follies feat. A Bit o Burlesque, Hell on Heels, Sultry Savage @ San Diego Sports Club
  • Foreign Bar Fight, The Howls, Longstay @ Epicentre
  • Caboose Dance Party @ Whistle Stop
  • Tragedy, Blowback (Japan), Crime Desire (Record Release), Waco Fuck and Protect the Innocent @ Che Cafe
  • DJ Artistic @ U-31
  • Lonely Mattress Salesman, Merlin Moon, Guava Belly @ O'Connell's
  • DJa Dirty & Tony Suarez @ Bar Pink Elephant
  • 99th Floor, The Oh-nos @ Tower Bar
  • Mursic, Dare Devil Jane, Arm The Angels, Primary Element, Witt @ Soma
  • The Big Provider, Stained Glass Saints, Society! @ 710 Beach Club
  • One Drop (CD Release Party), Stone Senses, Tomorrow's Bad Seeds @ Canes
  • The Devastators @ Winston's
  • First Friday Gomango Kids Concert @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (early show, 2p)
  • Skelpin @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (early show 6-8p)
  • Rockola @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (late show 9:30p)
  • Sonny Landreth @ Anthology (7:30 early show, 9:30 late show)
  • Keith Sweat, Bell Biv Devoe, En Vogue @ Viejas Concerts In The Park
Sunday, June 1, 2008:
  • The Grams, The Shambles, Team Abraham @ House of Blues
  • Rock N Roll Marathon (featuring 40 bands at various stages along marathon route) Click here for information. After race show featuring Pat Benetar, Bedford Grove @ Qualcomm Concerts on The Green
  • The Fiery Furnaces, Grand Ole Party, Sybris @ Belly Up
  • CD Release Show for OAKS, Archons, Damnweevil @ Casbah
  • Graf Orlock (Orange County), 7 Generations (Orange County vegan sxe), Wait In Vain (Seattle; Catalyst Records; members of Trial, Sinking Ships and Love Is Red), Run With the Hunted (Arizona), Time For Change @ Che Cafe
  • The Robin Henkel Band @ Lestat's
  • The Fucking Buckaroos, Monsters from Mars, Crimson Ghosts, Zombie Surf Camp @ Zombie Lounge
  • 2 Sticks & A DJ (knitting) @ Whistle Stop
  • Sweet & Lowdown @ San Diego Sports Club
  • Rick Ortiz Presents: Rock N Reggae @ House of Blues
  • Sunday Sessions-Roots Reggae @ O'Connell's
  • Nightmare Of You, The Graduate, Paper Rival, Edison Glass, Heaven Is For Sinners @ Soma
  • FM 94/9 Presents Reggae Sundays w/ DJ Tommy, T-Irie Dread @ Canes (2-6p)
  • The Mississippi Mudsharks (5:30-8p), Jose Sinatra's OB-O-Ke (9p) @ Winston's
  • Jason Weber @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (early show, 10a-2p)
  • Eric Frazier @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (late show 8p)
  • Ernie Watts Quartet @ Anthology (7:30 early show)
  • The Double Bass Summit feat Bob Magnusson, Kristin Korb, Marshall Hawkins, Danny Weller, Mark Dresser, Bert Turetzky, & Rob Thorsen perform with the rhythm section of Joshua White piano & Dylan Savage drums @ Dizzy's (San Diego Wine & Culinary Center)

Sasquatch Festival, Gorge, WA 5.24-25.08

Sasquatch 5.24-25.08 (from super secret correspondent Ray Suen)

One of the best things to come out of the Louis XIV tours was meeting Chris Chandler. As tour manager and front of house man, he had to put up with a lot of shit that a man with a lesser patience would surely have collapsed under the weight of. Seeing his work with the Flaming Lips though, made me realize that our experience with Louis was child's play compared to what we did at the Gorge in Washington for two days.

I had been looking forward to working with the Lips ever since the end of the Louis tour. The anticipation had been building and building until the Killers called a few weeks ago and my world became about learning how to play keyboards. After that situation finally settled, nothing was more of a relief than getting to fly out to Seattle and see how the Lips do things. They had just finished playing two festivals in Chicago and Philadelphia, running on almost zero sleep for the two days previous. We went straight from the airport in Seattle to the Gorge in Washington.

The two big things about this particular show for the Lips were the return of the giant UFO show, and the world premiere of the Flaming Lips movie, "Christmas on Mars." Wayne bought a revivalist tent to screen the movie, and as soon as we stepped off the bus, we set to work building the theater. There was a lot of work to be done between driving four foot stakes into rock hard dirt, setting up the lighting and PA, and figuring out how to make the damned popcorn machine pop.

Nothing builds a sense of team like uniforms. The Lips crew all had matching orange suits and hard hats that made people stop and move out of the way when we would walk to lunch. There was no place in the entire festival that was off limits to us and people knew we meant business. I made the mistake of walking around alone a few times. You can be badass in a team of orange suits or a freak just wandering around. The tripped out masses were less reticent about poking and hitting my hard hat when I was by myself.

read the rest by clicking the jump.

After the tent was built, I checked out Mates of State, the Kooks, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. The Jicks were solid, Stephen being a surprisingly virtuoso guitar player, and I finally got to fulfill my dream of watching Janet Weiss play drums.

Hundreds of people had been waiting to see the movie all day, we were busy doling out popcorn, and unfortunately we had to turn most people who wanted to see the movie away. I got to see the first screening at 10 PM (as the Cure played at the main stage, apparently with a new drag queen Liza Minelli as their frontman), and I'll say this. It's loud, it's crazy, and there's a lot of vagina in it. Highly recommend it.

The crew got a few hours of much needed sleep before the 3 AM load in at the mainstage for the UFO. The main stage at Sasquatch is massive, and I learned later, it requires a massive stage to support the giant UFO show. It was made more epic by its backdrop, the great Gorge whose magic I was too unskilled to capture in my pictures. Imagine the Grand Canyon but greener and full of water. The UFO took five hours to build and we worked as the sun was coming up. Most everyone's coffee jolt had worn off at this point (even though it was damn good coffee the Portlanders brought, Stumptown, check it out) and we were all getting a little loopy. I, doing this all for the first time, put my head down and tried to do as much as I could without breaking anything. The end result was this massive, metal, orange jellyfish that would loom silently over the acts on the mainstage, forewarning the festival goers of the jubilee to take place later. Again, highly recommend any chance to see the UFO show.

Wayne Coyne is an amazing human being. He is genuinely curious about people and their stories and spent limitless amounts of time talking to fans and signing things while supervising the stage setup. He and his wife Michelle are one of the loveliest, most sophisticated, well-dressed couples I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. There is no other crew or band in the business that is so interlinked. You'll see Michael Ivins in a few of these pictures setting up as if he was merely a part of the crew. There was no sense of ego with these guys, everyone just wanted to do good work from the band on down.

After all the building was done, I got to watch the Hives, Built to Spill, Rodrigo y Gabriella, The Flight of the Conchords, and the Mars Volta all on the main stage. The Hives were so much fun, and their schticky power pop and ribald Swedish energy really should have earned them a spot playing later in the day. Built to Spill played a pretty low-key, low-energy set which lulled me into watching Rodrigo y Gabriella instead of going to watch Battles, my one regret for the weekend. If you've not seen them, Rodrigo Y Gabriella are two flamenco guitar players who play well intentioned covers of Metallica and other rock groups with gusto and great skill. But, in my opinion, that kind of material needs to be kept strictly to college quads and youtube. I had been looking forward to the Mars Volta all day and was disappointed as I was smacked in the face by in an incomprehensible wall of prog-noise that sent not a few folks in the crowd to find dinner. I love the Mars Volta, don't get me wrong, I love their recordings and have been to a few live shows that were brilliant. But the manic energy of Cedric combined with the growth of the ensemble and penchant for free jazz breakdowns and schizophrenic solos really turned a lot of people off. For a whole 90 minutes. Cedric came out and threw a cymbal stand into the audience as soon as he stepped on stage later proceeding to fuck with the camera guys almost throwing a few cameras on the ground. This from a man who refuses to play if his audience is moshing. I don't get it.

Time for the Lips! It was damn near the closest thing I've had to a religious experience at a rock and roll show or in my life, even. The band descended from the giant UFO and Wayne did his famous ball routine over the audience. Balloons, confetti, teletubbies, smoke, lasers, and general fun and mayhem made for an audience response I've never seen before. Everyone, from the kids in the front, to the people on the hill in the back had their hands up singing along and rocking out. It was near impossible not to, with the show the Lips put on. Wayne has said, "rock bands just don't try anymore and it's a shame. We should be trying our hardest to put on a show for these people." Words to live by. The highlights of the show were the Lips' rendition of Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" when we recruited five girls to come up and dance naked and, as it was Memorial Day, played Taps through Wayne's horn speaker. The entire audience held up peace signs, the reverence was deafening.

I've never had this much fun busting my ass for 48 hours. Even during teardown I couldn't help thinking that this was the way to live, to be rock and roll, to do good work and love every minute of it. In any case, I'll hopefully be going back out to do a few more Lips shows this summer. I can't imagine a better way to spend my time before going on tour with the Killers in August. That tour will have a lot to live up to.

Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos, Mike Bloom, Emery Byrd, Casbah, 5.26.08

After a very, very lethargic Monday, I headed down to the Casbah for Anti-Monday League.

Local boys Emery Byrd kicked off the night and sounded, is it okay to say 'delicious' when describing music? It had been too long since I'd seen them play and I was happy to have arrived in time to catch their whole set.

Actually, I really didn't take many pics the whole night because the lighting just wasn't in my favor. Someone put deep blue gels over the two center lights that used to be yellow and they were kept low for most of the night.

LA's Mike Bloom was on after Emery Byrd and was having massive issues with the sound. The monitors were kicking in and out randomly. That was only slightly annoying to the crowd but really annoying to Mike. Eventually Jake fixed it, but I was getting impatient already because the set change between Emery Byrd and Mike Bloom was really long...over half an hour just for a dude with a guitar. First song into Mike and I was about ready to leave for the patio, but I stuck it out and actually ended up really enjoying his set...vocals brought to mind Jeff Buckley at times. I was up front most of the set until the very end and moved toward the bar where I realized that if you weren't within 6 feet of the stage, all you could hear was the noisy crowd chatting. Actually, chatting is an understatement...people were carrying on quite loudly. It really, really can be grating and I'm sure it was frustrating for Mike as well, so he's forgiven for the minor whining.

Finally Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos hit the stage. It was already after 11:30. I twittered that perhaps I didn't pick the right night to not drink. I was getting antsy. But they finally came onstage, all 8 of them and their 300 instruments and gave the crowd a great show. Jake was on sound, as he has been for their whole tour, but it was funny because the band would be playing in complete darkness before he remembered to up the lights again, too, something someone else usually does on the tour, so like I said, minimal pictures.

The band sounded amazing and dynamic. They mostly played material I was familiar with but threw in a couple new songs from their "maybe new album, that may be released in the fall, maybe by Sony". The crowd dug on their set, too, particularly the one girl singing on the top of her lungs to most of the songs who was standing 6 inches from my ear. Could've done without that, but the show was excellent and I was thoroughly entertained once again by the percussionist dancing, banging things, and make Blue Steele faces at the crowd.

Here are the pics:

After the set I didn't much feel like hanging around, so I bolted to get my head in check for the short work week. I'm hoping I'll have time to post about the National later tonight before the Swervedriver show, but I have to admit- I just got Troy Johnson's book Family Outing and I could barely put it down last night. I'm already half way through, so this weekend expect a review of that, too. Till then, have a great day.