Back in the days when I used to go to the library and rent albums in order to build my music collection, Refused were one of my gem punk discoveries (up there with Scatter the Ashes.) And when I saw that they were on the poster for this year’s Coachella, I flipped.
When you see a crowd jumping like at 1:50 of this video, you know something’s going right.
I saw Black Bananas and Sleigh Bells play last night to a sold out Terminal 5, and it was a hell of a show. This is the third time I’ve seen Sleigh Bells (1st: Gobi Tent at Coachella, 2nd: Mojave Tent at Coachella), and every time they seem to hone their craft even further. With music as fast-paced and aggressive as this, the show has to be super tight, not too long, and have perfectly placed mid-tempo songs. Without a doubt, Sleigh Bells are 100% aware of what their image is, what their ‘sound’ is, and how that sound should translate in a live setting. Flawless execution.
It’s been eight months since I’ve written about a show! While don’t have much of a clue as to how that’s happened considering that I’ve been to tons of shows in the meantime, seeing Santigold with a little bit of Spank Rock (I got there a bit late) last night has made me jump back into this.
So yes, last night I went to see one of Santigold’s sold out shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s been four years since I saw her back in 2007 at Steve Aoki’s Neighborhood Fest in Expo Park. Back then, her amazing debut album hadn’t come out yet, but she was building on the success of the early Creator/L.E.S. Artists EP (I had no idea what the L.E.S. was until I lived there three years later.) Not to get too nostalgic or anything (that was the first show I went to as a freshman at USC), but I only spent $40 to go to a show with Spank Rock, Santigold, Crystal Castles, Chromeo, Kid Sister, DJ AM, and The Faint! I think Spank Rock, Chromeo, and The Faint were the only artists with legit LPs out, and I remember thinking that Crystal Castles with Alice chugging a handle of vodka on stage were pretty out-there.
Back to last night’s show. It was exactly what I wanted it to be: fun. Obviously, you go to different shows with different intentions and expectations. I don’t always expect to have fun at the shows I go to. For example, I saw Girls and Real Estate on Saturday, and while it was a great show (Girls reeeaallly got their stuff together with their live show for the new album), I wouldn’t describe it as fun.
Santigold started off with “Go”, and Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came out to do her spot on the song! From there, the setlist continued with a majority of the songs off the first album and probably about four new songs that’ll be on her upcoming sophomore effort. Stuff like “Creator”, “L.E.S. Artists”, “Lights Out”, and “Say Aha” went off perfectly. The new material all sounded great. I remember thinking that while the beats were fast, her delivery was more laid back – like she was riding the beat more than on her first album. But that’s just a first judgement of songs heard live. We also got some of the tracks that aren’t Santigold originals like Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line” and “B.O.O.T.A.Y.” was the finale of the whole show with Spank Rock coming back out to perform it alongside her.
Aside from the awesome music, Santi has really put together a fully-fledged show for her upcoming tour. Along with two costume changes, she had two backup singers / dancers who had choreographed moves for every moment of every song. She also had a three piece band consisting of a drummer and two multi-instrumentalists backing her rather than just a DJ. And in my opinion, the difference that this makes is hard to overstate.
Like I said, it was a fun show. The crowd was dancing throughout, and it seemed like everyone knew her first album really well. Shows are so much better when the crowd knows the material. The artist loves that the crowd loves them, and the crowd loves that the artist is having a great time. That’s exactly what happened last night.
I’ve been to a few hip hop shows in the past. Not nearly as many as punk, indie rock, or electronic shows, but still, a few. Mos Def’s show last night at USC’s Springfest ’11 was like nothing else.
I’m about as knowledgeable about Mos Def as the average guy off of the street; that is, I know “Ms. Fat Booty,” “Sex, Love & Money,” and I’ve seen a movie or two he’s been in. I can’t comment on how many of the songs he played – or flowed through – last night are his, but whatever it he was playing couldn’t have sounded more like the high-brow rap innovator that he is in my mind.
For the first fifteen minutes, I was waiting for a song I recognized to come from the DJ (we’d just finished a set by MURS who covered Rage and The Bangles). But when songs blended together and lasted ten minutes with extended interludes of Mos improvising over muddied beats removed of any mid or treble tones, I just went with it.
An anecdote: During the dead pause between two songs, someone in the crowd was repeatedly yelling, “Ms. Fat Booty.” Mos turned to face the guy and said, “Hey, this ain’t a jukebox show.” That pretty much sums it up.
The word to describe the set: weird. It wasn’t fun, but I loved it. I’m not sure if this is the best comparison, but it was what Portishead would do if for some reason Beth wanted to rap. It was fantastic.
While it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to any shows during my time up here in San Francisco (ok, the South Bay), I WILL start going to shows the very first day I come back down to LA.
The first show I have tickets for right now is Hercules & Love Affair at the Echoplex. I seem to have great luck when it comes to interships ending and H&LA’s touring schedule. Last year I got to see them in New York my last weekend there, and this year I get to see them in LA on my drive back down from here up north. I’m pretty sure Andy Butler will have the same lineup with him in LA as he did in NY, even though this is considered the “new” lineup that’ll be featured on the album (I assume).
Hercules & Love Affair – Blind
The second show I have lined up features YACHT and Chromeo opening for The Chemical Brothers at the Hollywood Bowl in late August. This show is bound to be incredible. I (and just about everyone else) consider The Chems to be one of the electronica greats*, and I’ve been dying to make it to one of their live shows after seeing them do a DJ set at Coachella last year. While I haven’t ever seen YACHT, their last album got great reviews. And it’s been a long three years since I’ve seen Chromeo at Steve Aoki’s one-off Neighborhood Fest, but their new material that’s been leaking sounds great.
The Chemical Brothers – Saturate
Chromeo – Don’t Turn The Lights On
Finally, I’ll also be going to see Vampire Weekend, Beach House, and The Very Best at the Hollywood Bowl in September. I’ve seen Vampire Weekend three times now, and they bring it every time. I saw Beach House on a whim at Coachella a couple months ago, and while I thought they were great in the Mojave Tent, I’m sure I’ll enjoy them more now that I’ve gotten to know their material better. I haven’t ever seen The Very Best, but their mixtape and album were both given BNMs from Pitchfork. Now that I think about it, of every album released by all three of these artists, only Beach House’s first album didn’t receive the title. Damn.
Vampire Weekend – Walcot
Beach House – Walk In The Park
*My list of ‘electronica greats’ consists of The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk, and Underworld
I was driving home from work today and had the Live in Liverpool album by Gossip on, and when this song came on, I remembered how badly I’ve wanted to share it with everyone every time I hear it. So here you go.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the bass line that stomps around in this song. And the snare hits make me think of someone marching around, stomping their feet and clapping like Mick Jagger in this clip (skip to :45).
Hello everyone! Coachella was two weeks ago, and as this is the last week of the semester, I’ve been overloaded with homework and group projects as of late. Today I finished a project a little earlier than expected, so I finally got around to writing this first of three (or four) posts on Coachella 2010! It was an amazing year, and here’s the first little bit of it. This review covers what I saw of Kate Miller-Heidke, Alana Grace, Jets Overhead, Baroness, DJ Lance Rock, Sleigh Bells, Perry Ferrel, Proxy, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Passion Pit, Them Crooked Vultures, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Fever Ray, and Jay-Z:
Whoever made the executive decision to put Kate Miller-Heidke first on the very long list of artists playing at Coachella this year made the right choice. She was by FAR the best opener since I’ve been going to Coachella (2007). Her music was pretty simple folksy pop – it was just her with a keyboard and her husband with a guitar up on stage – but her voice was incredible! Every once in a while, she’d flip a switch and this operatic voice would kick in. She used her voice to perfection and didn’t overdo the novelty of it. The Gobi tent was packed for being that early in the day, and the crowd was eating up everything she was giving us. This was an amazing start to the Coachella weekend.
Wow, how’d I decide to catch this?! My friends and I walked over to the Outdoor Stage, sat down for a song and a half, and then promptly left. As we were leaving, a friend mentioned that it sounded like a horrible Flyleaf cover band (because that’s exactly what the world needs more of.) Truer words were never spoken.
Don’t have a ton to say about this band. They were good. The lead singer has a nice voice, and he can hit some pretty high notes. That’s about it.
First metal band of the weekend! I don’t think I’ve caught much metal at Coachella in the years past, but I made sure to change that this year. Baroness was a great start to the day (this was where I started seeing bands I was familiar with.) They shredded through their set. Unfortunately, they had some sound troubles with an amp about midway through, but they fixed it and trekked on. They’ve been getting some great press as of late and for good reason. These guys play sludgy progressive metal like nobody’s business.
DJ Lance Rock
Are you familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba? No? It’s a kid’s TV show on Nickelodeon created by one of the guys in The Aquabats, and it’s pretty great! DJ Lance Rock is the main character of the show, and this year at Coachella, he brought along all of his friends from the show: Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex. I wouldn’t have caught this show if it wasn’t for some of my friends back at home texting me that I couldn’t miss it, and I’m glad I didn’t. It was totally immature and playful, but it was fun. In summary, it was a bunch of people far too old to watch the TV show singing along to songs like “Party in my Tummy”, “I Like To Dance”, and “Get The Sillies Out.”
M.I.A.’s label Need Records has been collecting a pretty interesting roster lately, and part of that includes Sleigh Bells. This duo consisting of Derek Miller on guitar and Alexis Krauss on vocals is one part The Kills, one part M.I.A. (imagine that), and another part Atari Teenage Riot. These guys are loud, raw, and want to rip your face off (in the nicest indie rock sort of way.) I enjoyed their set overall. Krauss has a very strong stage presence, and she loves to scream. Their songs are all pretty short and speed along mixing killer distorted beats with killer distorted guitar riffs. The only thing to watch out for with this band is repetitiveness.
BTW: the band just released their first song today. Check it out over at Pitchfork. I think my notes will make perfect sense after listening to this song.
So I put this picture up for Perry Ferrel for a reason: it perfectly summarizes what I saw. I walked into the Sahara for a last 5 minutes of the set, which was enough time to catch a horrendous remix of Superhero by Jane’s Addiction. I know Perry is the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction, but how someone could ruin their own creative work like this is beyond me. It was pretty bad. It ended with some stupid remix of an infomercial for a chopping appliance.
My first serious set in the Sahara tent of the weekend started with Proxy. I’d liken my relationship to this set in the same way that I approached Erol Alkan’s set in 2008. While I knew one or two songs and had an idea of what his sound was, I didn’t know too much else. Regardless, he tore the place down. His songs have these sick synth/bass lines that rip everything apart. I don’t mean that in a Justice/distorted sense; I mean that his synths are incisive and sharp. It’s a pretty unique sound that really only lines up with what Boys Noize and the Boysnoize Records crew is doing (makes sense that he’s on the label.) The tent was going crazy throughout the whole set. Someone smuggled in a blowup alligator, and people were crowd surfing with the alligator the whole time. Some people have said that the Sahara’s volume was down during this set. Maybe they are right. I don’t really remember that.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Time for metal show #2! When the lineup for this year’s Coachella came out, The Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP) was one of the bands I was most excited to see on the list. I’ve heard so much about their live shows, and I’ve wanted to go to one for a while. For those who don’t know, DEP are about has hardcore as you can get. Their music is insane. They’ve got a singer who can power through every song while screaming at the top of his lungs the whole time, time signature changes happen about forty times per song, and everything they do feels like a runaway train is about to crash and burn. But somehow they keep it on the rails.
Their live shows are known for their intensity and violence. This reputation has spread in part because of a little YouTube video in which vocalist Greg Puciato runs offstage and into the crowd, well, he more runs onto the crowd. He quite literally runs out, stepping on the heads of the audience. Crazy.
Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I don’t think feet met anyone’s head this year at Coachella, but the show was just as intense. After fixing some early mic problems, DEP sped through their set. Like any good metal show, a pit opened up early on, and kept going at a pretty full force throughout the set. I was surprised at just how many people in the crowd knew the lyrics to the DEP songs. I’m familiar with what some of the songs sound like and how they progress, but I have never been able to understand a single thing said in the songs. I guess I’m just not that hardcore of a fan Near the end of the show, Puciato decided to climb the stage structure and hang upside down by his knees for a while. It was a great show to say the least.
Passion Pit… So I think I should start of by saying that I do not love Passion Pit. I think that they have written some great pop songs and that they’re pretty good at picking the best parts of today’s electro/indie/pop scene and making it their own. My problem with them stems from their singer. I cannot get past his voice! I find it grating and imprecise and unnecessary. And when you sing entirely in falsetto, you should be none of these things.
Other than the singer’s voice (which sounded the same live as it does on record), Passion Pit put on a great show this year. They were lucky enough to get Friday’s coveted “sunset at the Outdoor Stage” slot., which should have been given to Grizzly Bear, but I digress. I really enjoyed their light show, and all of their songs were executed spot-on. I had a good time dancing with the crowd throughout the set, and loved when they played Sleepyhead – my favorite song of theirs. So maybe I’m not the best person to ask about a Passion Pit show, but I still think that they did a good job translating their material live.
Them Crooked Vultures
What can you do when you put three rock legends together into one band? You can rock pretty fucking hard, that’s what. And that’s exactly what Them Crooked Vultures’ Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), David Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) did on Friday night on the Main Stage.
I haven’t really given their debut album the time it deserves, but after the few time I’ve gone through it, I’ve been left with the impression that, while there are some great songs on it, nothing really matches up to the greatness of its members’ previous bands. And while I still believe this to be true, it does nothing to take away from the fact that this show was amazing. I mean, this is the kind of music that the Main Stage was made for (same with Muse, who you’ll read about later.) Their sound is simply really loud rock that is both pummeling and sharp. Grohl is perfect on drums, Jones can somehow play every instrument known to man, and Homme’s vocals are as solid but haunting as ever.
Of all the artists I was excited to see at Coachella on Friday, LCD Soundsystem was my #1. They’ve toured a ton in the past, but I’ve been stupid and missed all of their past shows. This year, their first year on the Main Stage, they turned Coachella into their own disco complete with an oversized disco-ball.
I absolutely loved this show, but it was way too short. When a band has songs that are about 7 minutes long, and they have three full LPs out, at 50 minute set won’t suffice. From the outset, James Murphy let us know that it was short, and that they were going to play a much as they could. Murphy seemed sort of blown away at the fact that he was playing the show, but that just made it all that much better. The emotion that comes through the repetitive nature of LCD’s rhythms and the extraordinarily pointed lyrics in every LCD song really made this a special performance.
I know some people object to Murphy’s vocal style that at times becomes spoken-word, and others don’t really latch on to the LCD song structure, but I’m thankful not to be one of those people. To be honest, I cried a little during All My Friends. I mean, I knew I would; I do nearly every time I listen to the song. But it became so much more alive Friday night. They played a great mix of old songs and new songs (two new songs back-to-back as a matter of fact), but at the end of the set, they had to cut out two songs (presumably Daft Punk Is Playing At My House and North American Scum). They closed with Yeah (Crass version) and New York I Love You. I mean, they have so many great songs that any setlist would blow me away, and I loved this show. Loved this show.
For those wondering, here’s the complete setlist: Us v. Them, Drunk Girls, Losing My Edge, All My Friends, I Can Change, Pow Pow, Yeah (Crass version), New York I Love You
I was in transition at this point, but I caught the end of Run and saw (and danced to) A-Punk. I’ve seen ’em a few times before, so I didn’t feel too badly about missing them this time around. They sounded great as always.
I finally get to write a review for Fever Ray. I saw her/them last October at the Henry Fonda here in LA, but I never got around to writing anything about it.
Let’s start with me saying that Karin Dreijer Andersson is (in my mind) one of the most creative people right now. She and her brother Olaf (collectively known as The Knife) make music that is haunting and dangerous and bone-rattling and like nothing else in existence. Shit, the fact that I missed Jay-Z to see this show for the second time should tell you how much I love her music. But the music is really only one aspect of the greatness that is Fever Ray. The second part is why I was in the Mojave Tent Friday night at Coachella: the live show.
The live show is the embodiment and physical realization of Fever Ray and the world in which it exists. Take a look at someofthesephotos. Fever Ray is this mystical experience that might look like Halloween but more closely resembles some pagan cult. I’m having trouble finding words to describe how great it was to see the live show again and to hear the organic sounds coming from the incredible sound system that exists at Coachella. I honestly think I had my eyes closed for a quarter of the set because I was so lost in the music.
So the show was incredible, again. I really hope that Karin produces more material as Fever Ray, or that The Knife comes out with another proper LP (I know they have the opera soundtrack, and it’s great, but I want a studio album dammit.) Another thing that was awesome is the Fever Ray fans that turned up for this show. Because it was against Jay-Z, the people who were in the tent were fully committed to Fever Ray. There were even some people who brought their own homemade masks and wore them during the show. I saw one that resembled The Knife’s crow beaks. Fans are awesome, and it really makes a show when the people surrounding you are as invested in the music as you are.
Setlist: If I Had A Heart, Triangle Walks, Concrete Walls, Seven, I’m Not Done, Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel cover), Now’s The Only Time I Know, Keep The Streets Empty for Me, Dry and Dusty, Stranger than Kindness (Nick Cave cover), When I Grow Up, Here Before (Vashti Bunyan cover), Coconut.
Sadly, because Fever Ray was on at the same time as Jay-Z, I did not catch his entire set. But that’s OK for two reasons:
1: I saw him earlier this year in New Jersey as the All Points West festival. It was an amazing show.
2: I DID see the encore which featured Beyonce singing Mr. Hudson’s part in “Forever Young.” This is one of those things that makes Coachella special. Yes, we get great headliners and subs. And yes, we get unique acts that no other festival has. But when you put the biggest rapper and biggest pop star on the same stage in the middle of the desert, magic happens. Magic happened Friday night with Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Willner’s productions are as minimal techno as early-’90s Field precursors Seefeel were minimal rock; they’re not the least bit minimal, at least not sonically, and his approach to techno continues to sound like that of a dream pop/shoegaze freak
four man band, bass/drums, really only needed two people though
about five songs, more from new album (two old, three new)
when the song I love kicks in, it’s amazing, rave-like (ie. over the ice)
people need to calm down when listening to it, you can dance, but please stop spazzing out
played a good mix of new and old songs (I’ll admit I haven’t listened to the new album that much)
great groove “happy house” stretched to about twenty minutes long (from it’s typical twelve), rises and falls, tempo changes, as good of pacing as Daft Punk’s live show, really put the show over-the-top
Last Friday I went to see the Kills opened by the Horrors and Magic Wands at the Music Box at the Fonda Theater in LA. I didn’t care too much for Magic Wands (but they aren’t bad by any means), so here are my thoughts on the Horrors and the Kills (both of whom I’m enamored with).
What do you do after you are one of the most hyped bands of 2006 with the world on your fingertips? If you are the Horrors, you lay low for two years after touring and in the meantime record an album that is incredible but sounds nothing like your debut.
I was hooked after my first listen to the Horrors’ debut album Strange House three years ago. I loved that while there was something familiar in their songs, they sounded like nothing else I was listening to. Quite a bit has changed in the musical landscape since 2006, but the Horrors’ new sophomore album Primary Colors somehow instills the same feeling as Strange House.
The five piece put on a great show for being an opening band. Ferris, their lead singer, has a great presence on stage. After going from nothing to the cover of NME, he still seems pleased that people are interested in the music his band makes. Luckily, the Horrors are impeccable live and have no trouble recreating the dense punk sound that Primary Colors contains. There wasn’t much banter in between songs, they played pretty straight through their set.
As for the songs they played on this tour, you wouldn’t know that they ever had a debut album if you just saw the setlist. They essentially play Primary Colors start to finish save for two songs. It’s perfect – if you love Primary Colors; songs from Strange House are nowhere to be found.
My new obsession. In the weeks leading up to Coachella 2009, I listened to their most recent album Midnight Boom start to finish and remembered how much I liked a few songs on their previous album No Wow. Since seeing the later half of their Coachella performance (and being completely mesmerized throughout), I’ve been watching/listening/reading everything I can get my hands on relating to the Kills.
The duo often gets compared to the White Stripes, but Meg White hasn’t got a single thing on Alison “VV” Mosshart. And since the White Stripes haven’t done much of anything lately, I’ll take the Kills without complaining.
Hotel and VV might be the most compelling people I’ve ever seen on stage. It might be VV’s long black hair as its own performace, or it maybe its the “chemistry” they have with each other while playing, or most likely, it’s just the fact that the two exude coolness. It’s not hipster snobbery; it’s a feeling of not giving a fuck, but having everything line up perfectly that reels everyone in.
Now that they have three LPs out, finding solid material to play isn’t much of an issue. Well over half of the songs on the setlist are hits with simple lyrics that can be sung along to. It was a great show all around (save for the tall ass with wiry blond hair who did nothing but instigate fights all night long). The last song of the encore was especially great as they invited the Horrors back out to do their 8+ minute version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You.” The song involved every wire on stage getting tangled around VV and the Horror’s guitar player as they lay on the floor rolling around. It was great.
All in all, the show proved to me that the Horrors aren’t going anywhere, the Kills are even cooler live than on record, and that I absolutely hate LA audiences.
“They tried to make me do the Oscars, I said ‘No, No, No’.” Of all the banter M.I.A. threw into her hour-long set on the Main Stage at this year’s Coachella, this was probably the most pointed. When Amy Winehouse dropped off the lineup because she couldn’t get a Visa to the United States (surprise, surprise), M.I.A. was quickly announced to be her replacement. In my mind, there could be no better choice. I’ve missed the chance to see M.I.A. twice now, and I made sure not to pass her up again.
I’ve been an M.I.A. fan since Arular came out, and likeeveryoneelse, Kala was one of my favorite albums of 2007. I know all the words to all her songs (well, at lease those that are audibly decipherable). You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that there aren’t as many people like me as I thought. Apparently, tons people are willing to stand around for an hour to hear one song. I really hope that the masses can get over “Paper Planes” and realize the true genius in all of M.I.A.’s songs.
Aside from that, the show was one of my favorite all weekend. Six neon glow-in-the-dark dancers started things off and led right into M.I.A.’s entrance at a podium rapping “World Town.” The party went on from there as she flew threw Rye Rye’s new song “Bang”, “$20”, “Boyz”, “Bingo”, “Sunshowers”, “Pull Up the People”, and “Galang”. A perfect set list.
Also included in her set was “Bird Flu”. Last year, M.I.A. only got through six songs in the Mojave tent because she wanted people to get up on stage, but the security guards thought otherwise. This year, she would get people up if it was the last thing she did. She called out, “I’ve already been banned from Coachella once, let do it. Hey hey, let ’em up! Let ’em up!” And something clicked in my brain.
In short, I jumped over the center barrier, ran as fast as I could towards the stage, got body checked into another barrier by a 300 lb. security guard, ran so as to not get thrown out, and jumped over another barrier back into the crowd. I didn’t make it onstage, but I did make it to the front row of the show. To those people who did make it onstage, good on ya; I hope you enjoyed yourself. I know I enjoyed my fleeting moment of excitement.
After “Bird Flu” came “Paper Planes.” And of course the crowd went wild for the one song they’d heard on TV and on the radio. While I’m still bitter that M.I.A. hasn’t received the mainstream success she deserves, I’m appreciative that anyone knows her music at all. It’s not everyday that a Sri Lankan girl with paternal ties to the Tamil Tigers makes it onto American radio waves.
I had a great time during M.I.A.’s third Coachella performance, and in the end, that’s what counts. That being said, if you ever go to one of her future shows, please listen to some songs that aren’t “Paper Planes” before heading out.