Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tune Up for Langerado

Langerado kicks of the year in rock March 6-9 in its new location in Big Cypress FL—R.E.M. and The Beastie Boys top a stellar lineup. Tune up for the festival with this annotated playlist featuring two tracks by scheduled major festival performers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Langerado blockbuster lineup still growing

A week after Langerado announced a blockbuster lineup headed by R.E.M., Beastie Boys and Phil Lesh & Friends for its March 6-9 festival, jammer Keller Williams has been added. Tickets for the festival, which will be held for the first time at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Seminole FL, go on sale Friday, November 16 though the festival website at www. langerado.com.

Other big names in the impressive lineup include Gov't Mule, Ani DiFranco, The Disco Biscuits, Robert Randolph & EHT Family Band, Sam Bush, Les Claypool, The Wailers, The Avett Brother, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and many more.

Like many other festivals, Langerado is making a significant effort to offset its impact on the environment. One feature is Greeneado, a "sustainability village" where non-profits, artists and activists will promote eco-friendly practices.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the pit for Rage at Voodoo

By Andy Sipe

The anticipation of a Rage Against the Machine performance has my nerves shot and my blood pumping. I have a feeling I’m gonna die in the mosh pit. People have already started camping out in front of the Rage stage to hold up-close seats. Excitement is building in the diverse crowd, which includes people who had fallen in love with them post breakup and never got to see them live, people who loved them before, and people who have never heard of them (however that’s possible) to this day.

Once Rage hits the stage, the crowd moves in unison—stomping, shoving, elbowing, and just plain worshiping in their own abstract way their musical gods appearing in the flesh within arms reach. Slow but steady hard-hitting beats accentuated by intellectual lyrics, passionate vocals, and fantastic guitar work ignites the crowd, which roars on cue when the microphone is thrust in their direction, then begs for more after what seems like a sample set and is rewarded with a three-song encore set.

Eventually the band had to quit, and the crowd—beaten and bruised, myself with a fat lip and swollen various other body parts--decided to trample the VIP fences and storm the stadium seats, chanting various lyrics from random Rage songs into the hysterical crowds below. I didn't see any trash can fires or tipped-over cars, but who knows? I have only two eyes facing forward. All I do know is it was a satisfied crowd, and one of the best damn shows I have ever seen.

Saturday brought in the emo crowd for Smashing Pumpkins, Coheed and Cambria. Bangs in their eyes, black and pink eyeliner, and slits down their wrists. Again the gods gave us lovely weather. Tons of bodies strolled around City Park dressed in lavish Halloween costumes. So far I have been graced by Samuel L. Jackson from pulp fiction, a female underdog, a slutty Pippi Longstocking, Darth Maul, The Super Mario Brothers and various other indescribable costumed characters.

As far as bands go, there is a ton of funky brass from the local scene, whose pleasure it is to pass the time until the headliners arrive.

Everything looks twisted when the sun goes down—neon sunglasses, random twirling glow sticks, even a light-saber duel keep migrating crows entertained in the dark. I had to work my booth gig and I didn't get to see the Smashing Pumpkins.

Sunday the crowds were mainly young kids and older couples—twenty-somethings were infrequent for some reason. A ton of merch and freebies were tossed out in anticipation of the festival coming to an end, as tired booth workers are looking to pack up early tonight. The park is looking pretty well trashed, andpark workers are doing their best to clean the place up before it reopens tomorrow to the general public.

I wonder how much money the average patron spent at the weekend event, and where did all that money come from? How can everyday people afford this? You can do a festival like Voodoo the full-cost way, or on the economy plan like I did. But however they did it, attendees had a memorable weekend at the 2007 Voodoo Festival. I know I did, even if I did leave early on Sunday.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rage rules the crowd for Vegoose Day Two

By John Robison

Day two was a bit rougher to wake up for. Sore from yesterday's hard partying, we arrived late and had to stand in line waiting to be let in. Unfortunately, the gods that had smiled upon us yesterday took today off, and we already had the makings for a cloudless hot fall day in Las Vegas.

Finally entering the festival fields, we took shelter in the Sony Erickson tent in comfy seats and listened to music through tethered headphones until setting out for the stage where Ghostface Killa of Wu Tang fame and the Rhythm Roots All Stars would be holding forth.

Ghostface's music was consistently decent hip-hop, but we found ourselves sitting on dying grass through the entire set as the sun just continued to kill the mood. Seeking shade, we enjoyed a cold lemonde in the “Impersonators Café” tent while listening to a convincing copy of Johnny Mathis croon familiar hits.

We made our way back outside to check out Ghostland Observatory—a duo of singer and sometimes lead guitarist Aaron Behrens and cape-wearing, synth-rocking Thomas Ross Turner. Although the crowd seemed to enjoy them it wasn't my cup of tea. After another break to check out the venders and their overpriced wares, we returned to the main stage an hour before Muse was schedule to go on. There was already a sizable crowd forming but we were able to snag a decent spot.

Muse finally came on and I have to say that every song hit us like a shock wave. What an amazing, truly powerful band. Muse tore through all the songs a fan would want to hear and put genuine heart and soul into the set. As Muse rocked the crowd, giant balls filled with confetti were let loose on the crowd, which bounced them around for a bit before they burst open and confetti filled the air. It was more than a concert at that point, it was a party. I even let loose and enjoyed a majority of the set in the mosh pit getting tossed about like a rag doll, and that is no easy feet as I am a big guy.

We decided to back out of the swarming crowd for Rage Against the Machine, which may have been the smartest move we made all weekend. Even several hundred feet back, the crowd was in a frenzy when Rage took to the stage, seemingly out for one another’s blood. Impromptu mosh pits formed near and around us. At one point as the music fed the crowd's aggression, a fist fight broke out right in front of me and I found myself trying to break up the combatants. After I stepped in, the crowd wooshed in and swept the fighters in opposite directions.

On stage, Rage kept up the aggression right to the end, finishing up with a crowd favorite "Killing in the Name Of." As everybody again made the tired and spent walk to the cars, I can imagine that the thoughts running through all those sweat-drenched heads were just like mine—content in all I had seen and heard and already counting down to next years Vegoose.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The human circus at Voodoo

By Andy Sipe

Being Halloween weekend, lots of festival-goers are decked out in flashy costumes. Unfortunately for them, they are too worried about their appeal to get into the pit and dance, unlike the ones who actually go at it without a care in the world. There are also plenty like me, who prepare for such a festival adventure with nothing but an old T-shirt, dirty pants, and grungy shoes, which they never expect to wear again since they will most likely be lost, torn, or drenched in cheap alcohol. But different priorities breed different styles, and all are welcome at this eclectic event, each adding his or her own spice to the mix. And, honestly, when I'm not dancing my ass off in front of a band I'm diehard about, I love looking at the flashy kids in their handmade wares modeling for me.

Because of some kind of sponsor deal, there is free Red Bull everywhere, and I’m scared to see the after-effects of it on these people, especially since free water is nowhere to be found. You can’t even bring water into the park unopened if you are not a vendor. In this heat someone is bound to dehydrate him or herself into a seizure.

Back in the VIP tent, I can't differentiate between the tattooed outlandish band members from the chronic roadies. The only perk of lounge access that I can see are the elaborate upgraded port-o-potties. Some scantly clad women wander into the VIP section looking to get close to big name bands, but find only small fry like myself.

Things start heating up at the festival around 4 pm on Friday. Under the relentless beating sun and cloudless sky, bands are transitioning smoothly and the swelling crowds chase them from stage to stage in a musical ping-pong match. Skin is being fried all around. The soft deceiving mud is going to sprout mud wrestling soon, and I’m caked in it already.

I’m starting to regret working the festival, as you have nowhere near the freedom of pay customers, who can wander around aimlessly all day long. However if you can't afford a ticket, and only want to see one or two bands and don't have a hot date lined up, it's a good alternative. If you can get a VIP job even better. There are tons of friendly freaks back in the VIP lounge to mingle with.

At night the stage lights up like Vegas, and the crowd is one big shadow, one big being, moving and dancing to the beat of the music, and no one worries what anyone else is thinking of them because no one can distinguish anyone else. Besides, the heat of the day, the endless walking, the intensity of the music, and probably a little too much cheap beer, helps ease the anxieties of the individual. I predict by the time Rage comes on one will have to move around just to stay standing on those aching feet.

Mind-blowing Day One at Vegoose

By John Robison

I arrived with a friend to park at Sam Boyd Stadium at ten in the morning. What we found when we got there was a collective of diversity that a Mountain Dew ad would be proud of. Hippies selling trinkets, others selling BBQ and beer. Different tents set up to sell the latest in bootleg shirts and tie-die apparel. We walked around briefly before standing in the line that took us about thirty minutes to get inside the Vegoose grounds.

Once inside we immediately made our way to the stage where Gogol Bordello would be playing. The weather was perfect for a outside concert, slightly overcast to block out the Las Vegas sun and heat, but no actual rain clouds in sight. Finally Gogol Bordello took to the stage, and they proceeded to exceed my wildest expectations with their gypsy punk act. Their set was probably the most energetic live show I have ever seen, and I have been to many a show. Next year, this band should be one of the headliners.

I missed the opportunity to see Blonde Redhead as hunger drove me to the tents where food and beverage were served. The burger and lemonade left me $12 more broke. Passing by the Zia Records tent, I saw that Atmosphere would be doing a meet and greet and soon after Gogol Bordello would be doing a meet and greet as well. So we took a detour and got in line. Shawn, the rap singer and man some know as “Atmosphere,” took the time to say a few words and pose for pictures with the people in line, still keeping his composure with several slightly drunk and deranged fans.

After that, we decided to wait for the meet and greet with Gogol Bordello. It was well worth the time in line and worth missing some bands I wasn’t to sure about to begin with. The band also took their time to chat with fans sign autographs and take pictures… all in all a pleasant experience with both sets of artists.

We then headed over to watch Atmosphere. He took to the stage and dived right in pumping the crowd and hyping them with commentary before each song. It was entertaining to see him engage the crowd and hear him make goofs before the songs. Each song had a clinical degree of precision, with recorded samples and a live band to accompany each song. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay the entire set as it was running into the beginning of Public Enemy.

Making our way to the stage where Public Enemy would perform, we had no idea of the energy we were walking into. We arrived at stage and soon after two gentlemen came out in camo fatigues with dark sunglasses ready to lead the crowd in the time-honored Public Enemy salute. Then the band took to stage you could feel the energy as these hip-hop legends commanded the crowd, stealing away much of the audience from Cypress Hill on the next stage.

As proof that hip-hop music transcends the boundaries, the thousands of fists in the air were mostly white. Chuck D had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he dove into song after song. Three songs in was a huge intro for Vegas local Flavor Flave. It was a nice change to see Flavor Flave in his element on stage with the band that made him a household name. He was in top form hyping the crowd and throwing out the occasional line or too, far removed from the caricature of himself he created with his reality TV show “Flavor of Love”. To top that off, near the end of the set Flavor Flave jumped on drums and showed the crowd that Public Enemy’s hype man was more then just that, he is also a talented drummer.

We caught the tail end of Cypress Hill and from what I saw they had the crowd equally engaged as had Public Enemy. We took another food break at that point and then made our way into the thick crowd waiting for Queens of the Stone Age. I never would have imagined it, but Queens of the Stone Age bring out the aggression in a large crowd. Their set began and the music was incredible. Josh Homme brought a bit of naughtiness to the set and kept the music flowing with little time for talk and more time for rock. I was standing near a pit and just sat back watching the participants thrash into one another as though hypnotized. All in all, a stellar performance.

Finally the time came up for the most talked about band of the festival—Daft Punk. The curtain pulled to the side to reveal a large pyramid with room for two in a spacing near the top and a large structure that looked like a metallic cage structure behind it. The music began and at the top of the pyramid out came two robots ready to shake loose the tail end of Vegoose Day One.

In a dreamlike moment, one could look out into the crowd of thousands and see everyone dancing. Calling it amazing music and an amazing lightshow would be selling it short. There are no known words to describe the complete next level of entertainment that Daft Punk provided. The crowd was mesmerized and if anyone had doubts about the ticket price before this show, Daft Punk made it worth it and then some. They finally finished with a brief but mind-blowing encore. As we made the long trek back to their cars and then sat idle for more than 45 minutes, we hardly noticed as our minds were still processing all the music and visuals we had just experienced. Then finally time for sleep.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Volunteering at Voodoo

By Andy Sipe

With its impressive lineup including Rage Against the Machine, The Smashing Pumpkins and several other big names, Voodoo Fest had a flavor all its own. Some might call it Creole, others just plain f-ing good as hell. All I know is I didn't have to pay to get in, and neither did you.

There is little doubt in my mind that free entry to such an event would be a cause for hysteria among many music fans, but for some reason hardly anyone I talked to inside the actual event grasped the concept of such a golden ticket. So, as do most people with secrets, I will spill the beans.

About three weeks before Voodoo, I was searching craigslist.com for gigs. I was poor, and looking to make a couple extra bucks. Little did I know there were a ton of promotional positions open and in dire need of people like myself to work the Voodoo festival. Well, I applied, and then I found out Rage was playing. I then proceeded to scream like the above mentioned, and wound up getting a job at a tent in the merch section. I only had to work two to three hours a day, and could devote the rest of my time at the festival to doing whatever the hell I wanted. So I did. And here’s my story.

Friday morning was a buzz with scrambling promo vendors, last minute gerry-riggings, and lackadaisical bodyguards who were still trying to memorize the color codes of the lengthy wristband system. Anyone who looked like they had to be someplace to help set up a tent, or tweak a mic on stage was allowed to enter the back gate completely unchecked by security. I walked in several times without anything but a smiling nod from several different local police.

What this meant was anyone who had the misfortune of not owning expendable bens for the exuberant ticket prices, could have moseyed on inside the festival with no obligations such as I did, at least on Friday, networked themselves into a weekend job at some random tent, and got to see all the bands they wanted for nothing more than a little expended energy you could replenish with a few slices of peanut butter and jelly. Even sneaking into the LOA (VIP) lounge was tough but not impossible.

I'm guessing since it was a Friday morning, most people were still at work, or driving to the concert from various parts of the country. So I took the opportunity to walk around and examine the layout of everything. There were lots of dreadlocks, everywhere I went, accompanied by flowing tie-dye skirts, and black band T-shirts. Vendors like Playstation and Southern Comfort that didn't quite fit the Cajun stereotypes (of say voodoo palm readers, handmade hemp tote bags, and Creole cooking) camouflaged themselves amongst the Spanish moss, black mud, and live oak trees. I decided to take advantage of same for myself, since I had forgotten to apply a thick coat of 50 proof sunscreen on my susceptible Irish skin.

The heat of the Louisiana sun mixed with a mild oceanic/Mississippi River breeze created a laid back climate for observing the scene. Even within the macho infringing security jock trenches separating the massive roaring crowds huddled around the main stages, the guards were routing on the bands as loud if not louder than we were. Perhaps they were looking for action, or just interested in seeing what chaos would ensue once the bands appeared under the colorful array of lights. Either way, the general tone of the festival had started off on a good note, and you could really feel the excitement in the local music tents, which gave the local bands an intimate fireside chat spirit. Not even the mosquitoes and the smell of port-o-potties could dampen the anticipatory air.

[More to come.]

Planning a schedule for a busy Vegoose

John Robison

As this year’s Vegoose festival gets ready to tear up the Vegas music scene with indie, rock, hip-hop and more, I have begun to attempt the map out of bands I am putting in the “have to see or die” category. So, Here in a nutshell is the proposed schedule I intend to keep. Of course, you never know what may happen at such an event…

To start the Saturday festivities, I will be checking out the performance by Gogol Bordello. The little bit I have heard from this band has already blindsided me with awesomeness. In fact from, what I have heard and the hype surrounding the band, I think the festival has them misplaced as an opener.

Soon after I plan on checking in with Blonde Redhead. I know very little about this band and that always gets me hyped. Usually when you already love a band you come to watch them with a level of expectancy– of wants and needs, I want the band to play these certain songs, I need the band’s audio to be exactly as I imagine it to be. So, when you see a band you know little to nothing about all your expectations do is take a backseat and be ready to enjoy a new and different sonic buffet for your already noise damaged ears. Then I plan to check out Atmosphere, who I am very, very psyched to see.

I am not a huge fan of rap and hip-hop but do have a good stable of albums and artists I appreciate. Atmosphere to me is like a no joke version of Eminem. His rhymes are powerful and strike home with several messages and I can only expect a outstanding performance. Being in total hip-hop mode at this point I will shuffle over to the Public Enemy performance. Whenever you get a chance to see a group of legends in concert, try not to pass up the opportunity, and how can you not want a personal experience with seeing Flavor Flave up on stage doing his thing, giant clock and all.

From that point I will be enjoying the indie darlings The Shins. I am not a huge fan but as I see it their fans are rabid over them. I need to see first hand what the hype is all about. Will I be converted to the House of Shin? We shall see. Next I had a big decision to make. Queens of the Stone Age or Iggy Pop and the Stooges. I have seen Iggy a long time ago and have never enjoyed the Queens of the Stone Age live, so Queens of the Stone Age win this one out. But why wouldn't festival planners give fans a break by not scheduling those bands at the same time?

Finally, I'll end the night with one of the most anticipated performances of the night with Daft Punk. Not to shabby for a day full of music.

On Sunday, I am much less familiar with most of the afternoon bands so it will be a learning experience. Kicking off the day, I will be in the crowd watching Pharoahe Monch. Sitting tight at the same stage, next up will be a band by the name of Ghostland Observatory. And while waiting with pure excitement for the Muse show to start I will kill some time watching Umphrey’s McGee.

Finally after a day of listless wandering and music experimentation (on my end of course) I will be immersing myself in the hypnotic yet aggressive world of Muse, a band I have been looking forward to seeing for a very, very long time. Ending the night with Rage Against the Machine an oldie but goodie.

And at the end of it all I am sure the massive helping of sun, music and far too expensive beverages will knock the life out of me, leading me off into what is sure to be some very strange dreams.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gogol Bordello

Ever heard of Gypsy punk? If not, then it's high time you take a listen to the distinctive sound(s) of New York City band, Gogol Bordello. Although originated in the states, many of its members hail from Eastern Europe. One might raise an eyebrow at the mention of a group that combines gypsy music, punk, dub, and even cabaret. Well yes, it's weird, but it's the good kind of weird. Gogol Bordello's music is conceptually unique and most important of all, the songs are really good and fun to listen to, which is more than can be said about a lot of other experimental bands. The live shows are packed to the brim with energy and masterful musicianship, so if they're ever in town, be sure to grab tickets. It's a must-see.

Personnel: Eugene Hutz (vocals), Sergey Rjabtzev (violin), Yuri Lemeshev (accordion), Tommy Gobena (bass), Eliot Ferguson (drums), Oren Kaplan (guitar), Pam Racine (percussion, dance), Elizabeth Sun (percussion, dance)

Upcoming: Vegoose, October 26-28

Video for Bordello's "Start Wearing Purple"
Video by mikevance

Vegoose

October 26-28, Las Vegas NV
The Sam Boyd Stadium

Now only in it's third year, this festival has successfully drafted some of the worlds biggest musical acts. The main portion of the festival will take place on the two final days, complemented by a series of night performances at various venues around Las Vegas. Just when you though Vegas couldn't get any more wild, Halloween weekend rolls around and the party really gets started.Put on by the same people as Bonnaroo, this festival features pumpkin displays, costume contests, and other spooky festivities.Who said Halloween was just for kids?

Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Daft Punk, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, moe., Iggy & the Stooges

A Video Entitled: What is Vegoose?


Video by Vegoose

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gogol Bordello


http://www.gogolbordello.com/

Ever heard of Gypsy punk? If not, then it's high time you take a listen to the distinctive sound(s) of New York City band, Gogol Bordello. Although originated in the states, many of its members hail from Eastern Europe. One might raise an eyebrow at the mention of a group who combines gypsy music, punk, dub, and even cabaret. Well yes, it's weird, but it's the good kind of weird. Gogol Bordello's music is conceptually unique and most important of all, the songs are really good and fun to listen to, which is more than can be said about a lot of other experimental bands. The live shows are packed to the brim with energy and masterful musicianship, so if they're ever in town, be sure to grab tickets. It's a must-see.

Personnel: Eugene Hutz (vocals), Sergey Rjabtzev (violin), Yuri Lemeshev (accordion), Tommy Gobena (bass), Eliot Ferguson (drums), Oren Kaplan (guitar), Pam Racine (percussion, dance), Elizabeth Sun (percussion, dance)

Upcoming: Vegoose, October 26-28


Video for "Start Wearing Purple"
Video by mikevance
http://www.youtube.com/user/mikevance

Vegoose


http://www.vegoose.com/index3.htm

October 26-28,Las Vegas NV
The Sam Boyd Stadium

Now only in it's third year, this festival has successfully drafted some of the worlds biggest musical acts. The main portion of the festival will take place on the two final days, complemented by a series of night performances at various venues around Las Vegas. Just when you though Vegas couldn't get any more wild, Halloween weekend rolls around and the party really gets started.Put on by the same people as Bonnaroo, this festival features pumpkin displays, costume contests, and other spooky festivities.Who said Halloween was just for kids?

Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Daft Punk, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, moe., Iggy & the Stooges

What is Vegoose?

Produced by Vegoose
http://youtube.com/user/Vegoose

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CMJ Music Marathon playlist

For 27 years, CMJ Music Marathon has rocked with the best of them. Our history is a veritable hall-of-fame list of thousands of artists representing diverse genres who have played career-defining shows at New York's legendary venues. CMJ Music Marathon is sure to deliver thousands of emerging artists this year, so stay tuned with CMJ to preview the acts on this playlist.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Porcupine Tree

Concieved almost 20 years ago in the UK by frontman Steven Wilson, Porcuine Tree has since brought a new meaning to progressive rock by incorporating elements of psychadelia and metal into its music. The metric changes, deep lyrics, and the fact that every part is meticulously planned-out all add to Porcupine Tree's appeal. The music is often dark and brooding, but one doesn't have to feel angry to listen to it. On top of everything else, they're all really experienced musicians that produce songs that are both head-banging and intellectual.

Personnel: Steven Wilson (vocals, guitar), Richard Barbieri (keyboard), Gavin Harrison (drums), Colin Edwin (bass)

Upcoming: Voodoo Music Experience (October 26-28)

Video for "Fear of a Blank Planet"

Voodoo Music Experience

October 26-28, New Orleans LA
City Park


The long-awaited Voodoo Fest is just around the corner, this year's being extra special in that two of the most famous reunited rock bands (those of course being Rage and the Pumpkins) are coming together for a weekend that falls in the ranks of Burning Man in terms of surrealism. After City Park was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, VME is back in its original venue and could easily be one of the most anticipated music festivals in the world. The fact that the city of New Orleans has been through so much adds to the overall magic of the festival. And nothing brings people together like good music.

Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Tiesto, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Toots and the Maytals

A Short Doc About Voodoo 2006

Video by ArtisanNewsService

Friday, October 12, 2007

Voodoo Music Experience

October 26-28, New Orleans LA
City Park


The long-awaited Voodoo Fest is just around the corner, this year's being extra special in that two of the most famous reunited rock bands (those of course being Rage and the Pumpkins) are coming together for a weekend that falls in the ranks of Burning Man in terms of surrealism. After City Park was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, VME is back in its original venue and could easily be one of the most anticipated music festivals in the world. The fact that the city of New Orleans has been through so much adds to the overall magic of the festival. And nothing brings people together like good music.

Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Tiesto, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Toots and the Maytals

Voodoo 2006

Video by ArtisanNewsService
http://youtube.com/user/ArtisanNewsService

Monday, September 24, 2007

Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 2- The Six-Strings Come On Strong

(Photo: The silhouettes of Built To Spill's Doug Martsch (left) and Jim Roth (right), milking their amp wattage for all it was worth.)

So, Saturday (September 15) was potpourri day for the Treasure Island Music Festival. It was all fun and good, but something was missing-- kick-ass guitar. And as referenced in Saturday’s critique, plenty of amplified guitar noise reverberated across the festival grounds on Sunday, so much so that some if it definitely could have been used to make up for the lack of rock on Saturday. But like Saturday, that fact didn’t put much of a dent in the fact that the music was good.

Also like Saturday, the execution of the party was flawless; throughout both days, there was never more than a 20 minute wait between any two sets, as all the various crews for bands on one stage were able to use the space allotted for a given set that was simultaneously occurring on the other stage for their sound check. This isn’t rocket science, of course, but producers Noise Pop and APE got this practice down to a science in programming the proceedings, and thus the eardrums of the masses had no time to recuperate from earlier beatings (which was a good thing, in this case).

The second day of the festival, for your FP representative, started off with a walk into the gate of the grounds listening to the sound of a local band, the Trainwreck Riders, ending their set (you might have noticed that an interview w/ the Riders was conducted and published earlier on the FP site), and it was obvious from this particular get-go that a new, simpler, rougher sound would be served up today. Today would be the day for those in the tight jeans, worn-down All-Stars, and plaid, as opposed to the dreadlocked and macrobiotic of the previous day.

However, up-and-comers Two Gallants would provide a respite from fuzz early in the afternoon. With one of the most descriptive vocal styles that can be heard in the modern scene today, singer-guitarist Adam Stephens had the crowd transfixed as he belted it like an unaccounted-for Donner Party survivor, while still delivering the luscious fingerpicking that drew the fans to his band in the first place. Meanwhile, drummer Tyson Vogel beat the hell out of his spare drum set such that, put together with Stephens’ efforts, a hearty sound worthy of a Best Picture soundtrack placement emerged.

The distortion came back strong, though, with Built To Spill providing the most brutal set and balls-out guitar work of the day. It was like the early 90’s all over again, and that’s not being cliché-- it’s the damn truth. Songs like “You Were Right” were heavier on Sunday than they are on record, and so B.T.S.’s show sounded almost like an old batch of Smashing Pumpkin b-sides, without the overtly whiny vocals.

Built were then followed by Spoon, whose new record had recently debuted at number 10 on the Billboard Top 200. As a result of the achievement, the band was the most visibly enthusiastic of the whole bunch at Treasure Island, and they also sounded like bonafide popstars, putting out the cleanest sound of anyone at Treasure Island, with faves like “I Turn My Camera On” and “Don’t Make Me A Target” sounding exactly like they did coming out of speakers at home.

Finally came Modest Mouse and their irresistibly eccentric frontman, Isaac Brock. Apparently, he and four other members of the band had contracted the flu, so before the band launched into the first song, he felt compelled to offer his assessment of the situation--“I’m fucking freezing”-- and light up a cigarette. Apparently, he believed that lighting up a cig and screaming at the top of his lungs during the first song (“Bury Me With It”) would help his present circumstances, or perhaps he was just being a good showman. Whatever Brock’s intentions were, MM were a pretty good closer to the whole two-day shindig. They broke through the frontier just like any of the Saturday bands, while pumping out their consciousness through what might be described as the “most normal means”-- guitars, bass, drums, and organ, for the most part.

By the end of the two days, it was obvious that Noise Pop and APE were on the right track; the idea that there won’t be a Treasure Island Festival next year is incomprehensible now. As long as the two producers can balance out the allocation of styles on both days better, the Treasure Island Festival has the chance to eclipse even the Noise Pop Festival itself as the Bay Area’s signature event for all things hip.

-- By Ross Moody

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 1- Comfy Buses And Far Out Sounds


Well, it’s pretty safe to say that the inaugural Treasure Island Music Festival, which ran from September 15 to 16, was an overall success. For the way San Francisco Bay Area promoters Noise Pop Industries and Another Planet Entertainment (APE) handled their risky choice of a venue, as well as their round-up of both underdogs and relative (indie) bigshots, they get an A-. Some minor slippage in programming --in terms of choice of performers, NOT in terms of how the whole party all went down-- docked them a bit, but the festival turned out a lot better than anyone should have expected.

The focus of most of the risk was, again, in the choice of venue. For those who don’t have much knowledge regarding the general geography of the SF Bay, Treausre Island is a small (about 1 sq. mile), man-made island that can only be accessed by ship or through two exits onto the neighboring Yerba Buena Island from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge-- a Randall’s Island of the West Coast, if you will. Because they couldn’t rent out enough parking for all the 5,000 to 10,000 fans, and would have had to contend with angry residents (some people do live on Treasure Island) if they made parking a laissez-affair, Noise Pop and APE forced everyone to drive over to the AT&T Park parking lot south of downtown SF and park there.

The missing link in the journey, and big ramfication of all this? Buses. Anyone who’s been to their fair share of festivals knows that in cases where some sort of centralized transportation is needed to get the fans to the grounds, there’s usually an uncomfortable bus ride and a 30 minute wait for that bus ride. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case with Treasure Island. Ususally at least 3 or 4 buses, on average, were stationed at either end of the route, arriving within 2 minutes if there were none there at first, and the interior of the vehicles housed 30 to 50 comfortable leather seats. So, all in all, transportation wasn’t much of an issue.

The venue planning was also top notch. After going through the gate, fans found themselves in a grounds area about the size of two football fields, which was just right for housing a ferris wheel, numerous arts, crafts and concession stands, and the main and support stages, without making anyone walk much to get to any of them.

Now, for the music. Saturday seemed to be geared toward those who liked the hip-hop and dance-heavy shows at this year’s Noise Pop, with veterans of the quite eccentric persuasion, Honeycut and Ghostland Observatory, playing sets.

Saturday was also the designated day for the generally weird. Every performer, from M.I.A. to Thievery Corporation, seemed to bring across a new vibe, with more exoticism in their sound as well as their visuals (dress, background videos, etc.) than the previous performer. Obviously, this might be the point of any self-respecting lineup-- avoid monotony at all cost, right? But those who wanted to hear any good amount of genuine Chuck Taylor-Black Levi’s-boogie would have to wait until the next day (with hard-rock outfit Kinky’s admittedly guitar-heavy set notwithstanding) and it just would have been nice if there was a little bit more balance.

Nevertheless, on Friday fans were treated to quite a nice range of sounds, whether they were coming from a Gibson or not. They could hear DJ duo Flosstradamus pretty much just spinning a straight mix of hip-hop standbys-“Jump Around” and “Push It” were among those in their repertoire- or Gotan Project’s Massive Attack-go-to-Buenos Aires trip-waltz, to mention a couple examples.

There was a common denominator to everything on Saturday, though-- the Beat and its ability to effect any sort of general motion in a 7,000-strong mass of bodies. This first day wasn’t about listening carefully for subtle synth and guitar effects or introspective vocals as much as it was about just letting off some steam, with each idiosyncratic outfit simply providing a new flavor as the night wore on. There just should have been a little bit more of that Beat traded in for some of the rock on Sunday.

-- By Ross Moody

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monterey Music Summit is more than just entertainment


The first ever Monterey Music Summit is scheduled for October 20 & 21 at the County Fairgrounds in Monterey, CA. This festival will feature over 25 performances on 2 stages from a variety of music, including: Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Roots, G. Love & Special Sauce, Cake, Ozomatli, Céu, Brandi Carlile, Cobie Callait, ALO, Ian Ball (of Gomez), Tea Leaf Green, Zap Mama, Yard Dogs Road Show, Ollabelle, New Monsoon, West Indian Girl, Grash Hot, Band Bang Bang, Jessie Baylin, and more. Also featured will be spoken word presentations and other performance art, including a drum circle complementing many of the musical acts. It's more than just entertainment though. Besides art, the central focus of the festival is on political and social issues. It's said to be less of a festival and more of a forum, in which these issues will be addressed through speech, music, and more. The Monterey Music Summit is guaranteed to open your eyes, make you think, and show you an excellent weekend of music, art, and social change. Below is the ticketing information:

A combination of reserved and general admission 2-day event tickets on sale now online at
http://monterey.inticketing.com starting at $99 for both days. Early purchase discounts apply.
To purchase tickets by telephone, please call (866) 55-TICKETS. For event information, please
visit http://www.montereymusicsummit.com/.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interview w/ Treasure Island MF Hits Trainwreck Riders

Photo: [From Left: Steve Kerwin (drumer), Andrew Kerwin,
(lead guitarist, vocalist), Garritt Heater (bassist), Pete
Frauenfelder (vocals, rhythm guitar)]
Credit: +1 Music

It’s not very often that you’ll hear a band that manages to wind its way through the two opposing genres of Americana and post-punk, within the span of an album and come out at the end with an easily accessible gem, especially when they’re doing the whole thing on a shoestring budget. Well, it seems that Festival Preview has just made contact with such a band, the Trainwreck Riders of San Francisco.

Now, why would FP bank these words on a band like the Riders, who are still used to small warehouse gigs rather than arenas and ampitheatres with a backstage buffet serving 20 types of sushi? Well, just listen to the band’s second album, Lonely Road Revival, or catch one of their shows. Live or through headphones, they’re money for this simple reason: Whether you’re a fan of Merle Watson, the Replacements, or a little bit of both, they’ll give you what you want, and then some. If you’re a country bumpkin, they’ll make that guitar fuzz you’ve always detested start to make sense. If you’re a city slicker that doesn’t know the second meaning of the word “rag”, then they’ll open your eyes to what you’ve been missing.

The key in all this is the band’s ability to both hone in on that kind of kick (and melancholy) that gets right to the core of being a bacchanalian twenty-something and trying to nail down that wide-open life of yours, and to then hold that sound steady and not muddle it up.

At the Treasure Island Music Festival, they gave everyone pretty good evidence of their mastery in the ways of punch-drunk beauty. On songs like “Through Unto The End” and “Slow Motion Cowboy”, the hard hits and addictive arpeggios came through in the extreme, and it paid off. As the crowd dispersed after their set, many a fan could be heard promising that they’d buy the Riders’ material sometime in the very near future.

FP sat down with the amiable Andrew Kerwin, guitarist and songwriter for the Riders, to talk about the band’s past, what makes the band tick, and how it bridges the gap between its diverse range of audiences.

(Q) How did you arrive on your sound?

(A) We just came up with it naturally. We listened to tons of punk rock and tons of old-timey music. Our sound’s basically just rock’n’roll, though many people would call it “punk-country.” My brother Steve (the drummer for Trainwreck Riders) and I grew up in a house full of old 78-rpm records- nothing past 1937- and we also got into punk at a pretty decent age, so there’s just an eclectic range of things that come through in what we do.

(Q) What’s it like being in a band with your brother?

(A) We’re pretty decent for siblings. Growing up, we were playing Little League together and had a mutual group of friends. At a really young age, it was kind of annoying, but when we started playing music together, we didn’t have any problems. Overall, it’s been pretty healthy, and after each gig it’s more like “See you at grandma’s” than just “See you at practice.”

(Q) Has there been any band or artist that everybody in Trainwreck has always admired throughout their career?

(A) The one the whole band all agrees on completely, the one the we all wear on our sleeves, is the Meat Puppets. They were literally the reason why I started playing guitar. To this day, if you put on a Meat Puppets record, it’ll still blow all of our minds.

The craziest thing is, we opened for them twice, in LA and in San Francisco, when they started touring again this year. I remember I was asked at South By Southwest what I was most looking forward to in 2007, and for me it was instantaneous- new Meat Puppets record and tour. A couple months later, we were opening for them! I still can’t comprehend it.

(Q) You guys gave Two Gallants a shout-out from the stage today, and you tour with them frequently. What’s the relationship between Two Gallants and TR?

(A) Well, we go way back, long before any of this (Kerwin gestures to the expansive Treasure Island backstage area). We both did our first tour outside the Bay Area together, which was our best tour ever. Today was awesome, because it was exactly like that tour, where you have your friends playing next (Two Gallants played their set immediately after TR at Treasure Island on the day of the interview).

So it was just natural to say, “Hey, check out our friends next," because we were thinking about having Adam (Stephens, singer, guitarist and harpist for Two Gallants) come onstage and play with us during “Christmas Time Blues”(probably the Riders’ most powerful song, a sonically simple, yet descriptive ballad about loneliness in wintertime San Francisco, on which Stephens plays harmonica) anyway, and that didn’t work out.

(Q) Speaking of “Christmas Time Blues”, where did that song come from?

(A) Pete wrote that song, and I don’t want to speak for him, but you can trace a map of the area he’s singing about in the song. So yeah, it’s definitely a song written from his own experience and from the heart.

(Q) What revs the engines in the songwriting process-- what takes it from tunes like “Christmas Time Blues” to “Slow Motion Cowboy” (a square-dance-on-Red Bull that's probably the Riders' flagship tune)?

(A) I think more of our stuff comes across like “Slow Motion” than it used to, but we’ve just started trying out new things. We like to remain conscious of the idea of not putting up barriers in terms of what we can or can’t do. It also depends on the subject matter and how we feel when the song comes about. I mean, look at “Alemony Wildlife Refuge” (probably the most progressive in the band’s catalog, the song veers through several tempos and melodies before ending on a start-and-stop riff)-- A song like that would never be expected from us. It goes so many places and now people say they want us to play more stuff like that anyway.

(Q) In June (2007), you guys got side-swiped by a drunk driver. What long-term effects, if any, has that event had on the band?

(A) I figured you’d ask about one of the Texas incidents. We just feel really lucky to be able to walk away from that. We had to cancel half of our tour, all of our gear was wrecked, the driver didn’t have insurance, and it was a hit and run. We didn’t have to go to a hospital or anything, though, so we just feel extremely lucky to still be able to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

(Q) Now for the other Texas incident. What was it like for one of your shows to get busted (Members of TR, including Kerwin and then-bassist Sean Kohler, along with Two Gallants, were Tasered and arrested at Houston nightclub Walter's On Washington in October 2006)?

(A) The whole Texas experience is just unbelieveable. First you have the guy who does a hit-and-run on us, in possession of drugs and without insurance. Next, you have this cop losing his shit, coming into a legit venue where they do shows every night, and we get Tasered and have to spend a night in jail. We almost missed our next show in Austin.

Because we’re from California, the court decided to drop our charges down to a Class-C Misdemeanor- it’s basically as if we just got a parking ticket. However, I just got a letter in the mail that says I have to write that cop a letter of apology and pay the $110 fine. So, it still ruffles the feathers, but we’re just glad to get it behind us, y’know?

(Q) Have you ever considered writing a purely folk record or a purely punk record?

(A) We all have these big concepts in our heads about what kind of themed-record we’d want to make, but it’s so hard to just stick to one road when we’re naturally going down so many all at once. At the same time, we also like playing everywhere from street corners to this festival at Treasure Island, from basement gigs to the Revolution Café (a coffee shop and acoustic-based music venue located in San Francisco’s Mission District), just mixing it up and doing what’s interesting for us.

Down the line we might come up with some theme or concept record, but, for right now, we just like showing our range. What we play depends on where you catch us, of course.

(Q) More on that note, what’s it like for you to play a club like the Gilman (a punk-based venue in Berkeley, CA, possibly the SF Bay Area equivalent of CBGB) vs. Freight & Salvage (a roots-based venue also in located in Berkeley)?

(A) As far as our general approach to each show, it doesn’t really change too much. As far as the atmosphere of each venue goes, though, you just take everything for what it is. Both of those places have their positives and negatives.

We did come up in the whole DIY Gilman scene, though. We were playing shows there when we were really young, like 16 or 17, and it was nice to have that place to go play gigs whenever we wanted. You also get the feeling, playing at the Gilman, that everybody there is just on the same level, completely. So, places like that do have a special little place in our hearts.

(Q) What do you like playing more, festivals or your own shows?

(A) We’ve done things like fundraisers for, say, a local radio station in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but they’ve all been in local dive bars and places like that, but this is the first festival we’ve ever done to this degree, and we’re just having a blast. I don’t really have any positive or negative things to say about the topic, in general, though. You lose some of the element of personal interaction, what with the size of the crowd, but at the same time I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people backstage.

(Q) The purpose of a band isn’t just to meet a set of objectives within some period of time. That being said, where would you like to see the band five years down the line?

(A) That’s a really hard question. I just hope that we’re still playing music together and having fun, and also doing the same music we’ve been doing, while, at the same time, not repeating ourselves. Just keeping the old ears while gathering some new ones, playing new places, playing old places. Playing with new bands, playing with old bands. And not get stagnant. That’s really all I can say.

(Q) Your most recent album came out the summer of last year. Do you have a new album in the works?

(A) Yeah. It’s a little bit over half-written. We have the basic song structure down, and we could play eight of them the way we’d want them right now, and we’re just practicing the other songs. We plan to have the album out and hit the road again next spring, and just get it out as much as we can, go farther than we did before.

--By Ross Moody

Treasure Island Music Festival Photo Gallery

There's verbal evidence of the inaugural Treasure Island Music Festival on the way, but while you're waiting, feast your eyes on some of these Class-A pocket cam photos:

Singer-guitarist Doug Martsch and his band Built To Spill were by far
the heaviest at Treasure Island.
Film School's Greg Bertens belting it. The Trainwreck Riders finishing out their set w/a bang.
Guest sitar player Rob Myers during Thievery Corporation's set.
Kinky's lead guitarist Carlos Chairez provided most of the
very little total monster guitar riffage heard on Saturday night.
A view of the SF skyline from Treasure Island.
DJ Shadow (left) & Cut Chemist (right) went as far as to scratch over
Metallica's "One" on Saturday.
Frontman Britt Daniel (left) and bassist Rob Pope (right), kicking out
some of the cleanest rock heard at the festival.
Two Gallants' Adam Stephens (on guitar) and Tyson Vogel
(on drums), along w/ a guest fiddler.
Gotan Project guest player Nino Flores feeling the heat of
his own licks on the bandoneón.
Flosstradamus putting their own spin on the hits. Pun intended.
The members of West Indian Girl in all their psych-rock
glory.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pearl Jam closes strange and glorious weekend on Day 3 of Lollapalooza

By Rob Janicke

I don’t typically use words such as “grand” or “finale” but in this case I’ll make the exception. Days 1 and 2 of the 2007 Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois have been two fantastic days of sights, sounds, people and atmosphere. Why not expect the last day to be a “grand finale?”

I knew this day would be a bit different from the previous two in that most of the estimated 70,000 people would be gearing up to see the festival headliner Pearl Jam at 8 pm at the main stage. This “prediction” was the driving force in how my schedule was going to play out on this final day. As with days 1 and 2 there were plenty of good bands to see and much ground to cover. Here’s the problem though…I knew that if I wanted to be in the same zip code as the main stage to catch Pearl Jam at 8 pm, I’d need to be near that stage around 3, because by then people would begin camping out to secure a prime spot for the headliner. This was a bit of a dilemma but I was confident that Lollapalooza would not let me down. I was right!

My first planned stop was to see Juliette and the Licks at 11:30 am. It was another hot day and I wasn’t moving as quickly as I had on Friday. Because of the heat induced laziness I was a bit late for my date with Ms. Lewis and her Licks. When I did finally arrive at the Adidas stage, what I saw and heard was an absolute jolt to my system, waking me up and preparing me for the rest of my day. It is true that the Juliette in “Juliette and the Licks” is actress Juliette Lewis. After seeing her play though, she is now lead singer Juliette who also happens to be an actress. The band is raw, loud and sloppy enough to be just right. Lewis is a tiny human being with tremendous presence. At one point she threw herself head first into the crowd only to eventually be held up by her feet, high above the crowd, arms aloft in victory. The crunching guitars, the melodic choruses and Juliette’s passion kicked Lollapalooza Day 3 into high gear!

At 12:15, I made my way over to the Bud Light stage to check out punk rockers The Cribs. I wish I hadn’t. Nothing too exciting here at all. They basically play boring punk rock with no hint of originality. It may as well been a punk cover band in a very hot, outdoor bar somewhere. After the high of the previous band, this was a downer.

I was hoping to get a kick in the ass from the next band, The Heartless Bastards over at the Myspace stage, and I wound up with a slight push instead. This trio out of Cincinnati plays inventive music with cool grooves and great melody. The problem is that it just doesn’t translate in the great outdoors. Their sound gets lost in the elements and leaves the viewer confused and deflated. It’s not the band’s fault, mind you…they’re really good. Wide open spaces just do not allow for music like this to thrive. The band gets no vibe from the crowd to feed off of and the crowd in turn gets no energy from the band. The venue is just not the right fit for these guys. I’d love to see them in a small club somewhere and give it another shot…I think it would be well worth it.

Ok, so now it’s getting close to the time where I had planned to head over to the main stage to stake my claim on the piece of grass that would become my home for Pearl Jam later on in the night. It was approaching 2:15 and I really wasn’t interested in any of the bands performing during this time slot. Thankfully, I met and talked with a great guy called Chris who had come all the way from South Africa to attend this festival. He really made the insane trek to see his favorite band (Pearl Jam) live in concert because they have never been to his native land and he saw this as a terrific opportunity.

One of the bands he was excited to see was The Black Angels, who I had never heard of before. I decided to head over to the Citi stage with Chris and see why he needed to see this band. Let me take this opportunity to thank him…The Black Angels flat out blew me away. I don’t even know where to begin with this eclectic band from Austin, Texas. It took me about three or four songs into the set just to get a grasp for what I was witness to. Every musician on the stage (except for the drummer) switched instruments at one point or another throughout the show to the delight of the rather large crowd. The best way I can describe their dark yet melodic sound is The Doors meets Neil Young meets Satan. Lead singer Alex Mass seems to channel the spirit of Jim Morrison while belting out sounds reminiscent of the great Neil Young.The psychedelic rock boiling behind him sets a trance-like mood that keeps you on the edge of your seat…well, if you had a seat. By the time they were through mesmerizing and probably scaring the crowd, I was left wanting more. This is a band I will definitely see again.

Now that I had witnessed the Black Angels, I was ready to sit and wait for Pearl Jam to put a cap on a great weekend. I was trying to position myself near the stage for the 4:15 performance of Kings of Leon. The crowd had become very thick and immobile. People were not moving from this point on. Pearl Jam was just a few short hours away and no one was giving up their tiny pieces of Grant Park’s grass and dirt. This was not going to be easy. I was able to get a decent enough patch of grass for myself and watch what was a good Kings of Leon set. I’m a fan of the band and I like most of their songs, but I felt like they had left something out. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I have to admit I felt slightly disappointed.

My Morning Jacket was up next. These guys are interesting at best, with the occasional good hook. Most of the songs seemed to blend with one another without much distinction among them. They did, however, enlist the services of a youth choir from Chicago, which added some needed bigness to their sound.

Dusk was now hanging over Chicago’s Grant Park with seemingly the same anticipation as the capacity crowd. The beginning of the end for Lollapalooza 2007 was moments away and the buzz was unmistakable. I was reflecting a bit on the weekend at this point and was somewhat sad it was coming to an end. On the other hand, I was very excited for the next and final act, Pearl Jam.

Opening up with a vicious blast from their debut album Ten, “Why Go,” got this 2007 crowd feeling like it was 1992 (the band’s first and only other Lollapalooza appearance). After rockers “Corduroy”, “Save You” and “Do the Evolution,” the band slowed things down a bit with the sing-a-long fan favorite “Elderly Women behind the Counter in a Small Town”. After ripping through several other “greatest hits” with all the power and passion that one would expect from these rock veterans, they ended the first set with the 90's anthem “Alive,” which nearly brought down the house. There is something about listening to 70,000 voices singing “I’m still alive” that leads you to believe that you are better off here in this moment than anywhere else on earth. Coming back for what was the first of two encores, Vedder and company ran through “Betterman”, their rendition of the cult classic “Crazy Mary,” “Life Wasted” and a loud, violent version of “Rearviewmirror.” By now the night sky had fully engulfed Chicago and Pearl Jam had completely taken over Grant Park.

Hitting the stage for their second and final encore, Pearl Jam enlisted the help of two friends. The first is a man called Tomas Young who is the Iraq war veteran that the song “No More” was written about. The second is an old friend of the band and brilliant musician in his own right, Ben Harper. This lent tremendous feeling to a song already overflowing with passionate protest. The next and final song, not only of their set, but of the entire weekend, was the Neil Young cover, “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Once again, the band had some help. From my vantage point, I couldn’t make everyone out, but the stage was full of people just rocking out and singing along. What was impossible to miss, though, was the way the whole shebang came to an end. Former Chicago Bull and longtime Pearl Jam friend and fan Dennis Rodman hoisted Eddie Vedder onto his shoulders giving the singer the opportunity to see as far as his eyes would allow. He flashed the peace sign to the masses of Lollapaloozians (that’s not a word I just made that up) still hanging on every note, hoping they could stay for at least one more song. It was a strange, yet glorious end to a strange and glorious weekend.

Attendance strong on Day One at Bumbershoot

By Karen Martin

Bumbershoot is off and running. I'll start with an apology for my bad. This is the 37th Annual Bumbershoot, not the 36th, as I wrote in a preview entry last week. Here is my report from a volunteer's perspective on the first day of the festival.

First, a few negatives. In my opinion, this year's t-shirt design leaves a lot to be desired. For those of you who collect, maybe this is the year to add the main logo shirt instead of the 2007 design. Or save you souvenir dollar for Flatstock, the poster art exhibit and sale running over at the Fisher Building. I saw many people taking rolls and rolls of goodies from that event out to their cars and then coming back for more fun.

As a volunteer, I worked part of Saturday at the gate. There was some confusion about a new ticket scanning procedure. Not only do you get scanned coming in to the event, but each time you want to go out and come back. This allows One Reel, the festival producer, to get a better handle on the true attendance numbers, which were said to have been up 40 percent over last year.

In addition to the scanning, we are still stamping hands for in-and-outs. We all apologize for the green hand stamp that is being used this year. Perhaps the festival staff needs to rethink this PAINT. as that is what it is. Remember to keep your ticket in a safe place so you can get it scanned when you come and go.

Now on to the good stuff! I was right that the Esurance Stage was the best stage by far last evening. The crowd was huge and it spilled over the Fisher Green onto the hills beyond. Many stood on the rocks in the new Poetry Garden (a lovely space that was dedicated to a recently retired Seattle Center employee.) Many stood on the rail above the Fisher Building on top.

Even nicer, there are two beer gardens--one behind the stage and one on top of the Fisher--where you can enjoy a beverage while allowing a the view of the stage. Sitting on top, you get a view of the entire Fisher Green all the way over to the Fountain, the Fountain Lawn and Queen Anne Hill.

Besides the layout, the Esurance Stage, which was previously known as the Bumbrella Stage, far-out rocked the Main Stage. In fact, a lot of the people who stood in line to get the coveted pink ticket for the evening acts at the Memorial Stadium didn't turn out for that gig last night. One reason for the good vibe at Esurance was that my buddies Buddha and Anthony are back again this year as the stage manager and assistant stage manager. They also have some fine people working as backstage crew from the local IATSE union--one of the sources of production talent that One Reel has learned to tap to enhance the experience.

One great thing about Bumbershoot is the variety of family activities. A lot of people come with the kiddies for the day, then take the kids home and come back for the night events. There is a “Brick” area set aside for Lego lovers inside the Center House, along with face painting and other kid's activities.

The Fun Forest is split in half this year. The younger rides are outside of Bumbershoot. The older rides like the Log Splitter, the Roller Coaster and the Ship Ride are inside of Bumbershoot, as is the Arcade and the Midway. Ride tickets must be purchased for all of them separate from the Bumbershoot ticket. Why is it feeling more and more Disneyland like each year?

Well, it is a musical Disneyland. Tonight the Samsung Mainstage is going to be much more interesting with Sean Paul and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas) headlining. It is a limited seating/mostly standing event, so get in early and nab your "square ticket" at the Mainstage info booth. Be prepared to stand in line.

Okay, gotta run to get to the grounds for the Sunday schedule. I hope to see you there for the last two days before we have to wait another year to see it again! More blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bumbershoot goes up this weekend in Seattle

By Karen Martin

Various anomalies are happening at the Seattle Centre this week. Green fences are starting to appear; the parking is being cordoned off; little white tents without sides are beginning to dot the landscape, piles of strange objects are scattered about, and stages are cropping up at various points in the park. What is this phenomenon? Why, it is the preparations for Bumbershoot, of course. The Annual Love Fest that marks the end of summer in Seattle.

The nights are getting cooler and the rain a little more frequent. Folklife and the Hemp Fest both felt the wet stuff during their festivals this year. But are we really ready for the end of the year granddaddy of all music and art festivals in Seattle? The last big hurrah before the new school year begins? BUMBERSHOOT!

As in most years, the 36th annual festival will be filled with fun, comedy, film, art and lots and lots of music. Labor Day weekend at the Seattle Centre is bound to be a big one with the festival running Saturday to Monday.

Bumbershoot has 15 stages this year. Three of these will feature comedy, with one of those in the new Vera Project building (previously the Snoqualmie Room), one in The Charlotte Martin Theatre at the Children’s Theatre Building, and the third will be at the Intiman Theatre located on Mercer. All three of these wonderful stages are sponsored by The Seattle Times. Some of the goodies scheduled this year are Andy Borowitz, Greg Proops, Stella, Comedy Underground, Cody Rivers Show, Laff Hole, People’s Republic of Komedy.

The Bumbrella Stage will be back as the Endurance Stage at the same spot on the Fisher Green. It is sponsored again as ever by the good folks at KEXP 90.3. Forgotten Sol, Honeycut, and GoGol Bordello are featured on Saturday and on Monday, Adrian Xavier,
Kultur Shock, and Solive return to the Endurance Stage.

The Broad Street Stage is named the Sound Transit Stage this year and is sponsored by Sound Transit, KEXP 90.3, and The Seattle Weekly. My pix are on Saturday - The Cops, Menomena, and Devotchka. Sunday - Art Brut and Devendra Banhart. Monday – Viva Voce and The Frames.

The blues and jazz venue at the Mural Amphitheatre is called the Starbucks Stage, sponsored by Starbucks, 103.7 The Mountain, and The Seattle P-I. My picks for Saturday are Carrie Akre, The Avett Brothers, and Rodrigo and Gabriela. On Sunday, don't miss the Ian McFeron Band, Rose Hill Drive, and Andrew Bird. On Monday, it is Allison Moorer, and Steve Earle.

KUOW 94.9 is sponsoring the Boeing Performing Arts Stage at the Bagley Wright Theatre and the Literary Arts Stage at the Leo K. Theatre in conjunction with The Seattle Metropolitan. Both these stages will have live theatre performances by local artists.

The Exhibition Hall Stage, located across from the Intiman on Mercer, is sponsored by 107.7 The End, Filter, MySpace and OurStage.com. OurStage.com has three up and comings that have won their online contest--Merrill on Saturday noon to 12:30pm, Alabaster on Sunday 3:15-3:45 pm, and Satura Monday 2:15-2:45. More good things about these artists at www.ourstage.com.

The Wells Fargo Stage, sponsored by The Sound Magazine, will be located at the Northwest Court Outdoors and willl feature artists from the west coast. Sunday's lineup has Victor Noriega, The Darrell Grant Trio, The Greta Matassa Quartet, The Sam Yahel Trio, and one of my personal favorites, John Wesley Harding.

The EMP/SFM’s Sky Church will be presented by UnsignedArtists.com, 107.7 The End, and Seattle Weekly. Among the indie artists presented, check out the Tiny Vipers and Grand Archives on Saturday, Bloodhag and Seaweed on Sunday, and Siberian and the Whore Moans on Monday.

Of course, there is always the One Reel Film Festival sponsored by The Seattle Centre, 710 KIRO, and the Seattle Metropolitan. This year it is being held in the McCaw Hall with various film shorts, analogies, and videos screened during 26 time slots. Some to look forward are "Dystopia" and "War, What Is It Good For?," on Saturday. "Rear View Mirror," "The Stockholm Syndrome," "Crime Story" and "The Outer Limits" on Sunday, and "Identity Crisis" and "Made in Seattle" on Monday.

More live theatre productions will be staged at the Theatre Puget Sound by Wing-it Productions, Balagan Theatre, Jerk Alert Productions, K. Brain Neel, and Mark Boeker. The Fountain Lawn outside will feature continued performances by Loopistation, Vau de Vire Society, and The Can Can Carnival.

Of Course we can never forget the Main Stage which is sponsored by Samsung and Spin this year. Some of guest artists this year are The Shins on Saturday; Kings of Leon, Seal Paul and Fergie on Sunday; and John Legend and Wu-Tang Clan on Monday.

Now that you know my picks for the weekend, come to the festival and see if you agree. Have fun this weekend knowing that this is the final blowout before we all need to hunker down, go back to school and or make that job of ours serious again. See ya there!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Projekt Revolution: Back With A Vengeance

By Brian Campbell

I was mainly excited about Projekt Revolution because there hasn’t been a Revolution tour in three years due to a Linkin Park hiatus, Fort Minor, Grey Daze, Julien K and various other LP related side projects. Regardless, PR is back in full force. Sadly, the festival as a whole did not meet my expectations.

PR was also one of the rare shows where I was actually excited to see the headlining act play. Normally, I am more excited about the under card than the marquee act, so this show was different in that respect.

I arrived to the venue late and then started on a few cold beverages in the parking lot. The atmosphere was entirely different from that of a Warped Tour or Family Values; it just seemed more fun. The lot was packed with concert-goers enjoying many of the same beverages I was, playing a variety of games and just hanging out. My buddy and I finished up our cooler and headed inside the venue.

PR started way earlier than I had assumed it would, thusly leading me missing the entire second stage. First off, there were only five bands at the second stage, those being the headliners Mindless Self Indulgence, Saosin, Styles of Beyond, Madina Lake and The Bled. I would have liked to have seen SOB and Saosin, but I'm sure I’ll catch them sooner or later down the road.

The fantastic Julien K led off the main stage with a roar from me, but not much of anything from the crowd. They jammed a lot of their great tracks, but most importantly they played their hit off the Transformers soundtrack, Technical Difficulties. Following them came Placebo, which again no one cared about. It seemed as if everyone there only wanted to see the big four. Well, they didn’t have to wait long as there was not too much downtime between sets.

The first of the big four, H.I.M., hit the stage and the crowd could not have waited any longer for them to do so. I was also excited to see them, and they did not disappoint me at all. They blasted through a lot of my favorites and then completely made my night once they played the fantastically depressed Join Me in Death. I didn’t think it was going to get better until they played their solid cover of Chris Issak’s classic Wicked Game. They also played Wings of a Butterfly, Killing Loneliness, and ended their set with Kiss of Dawn. The set was fantastic and at this point, I said that the night would not get any better, but it sure as hell did.

Taking Back Sunday came to the stage next and tore the house down. The crowd was insane for them and they blasted through a beautiful set full of songs from all of their records, including Liar (It Takes One To Know One), What It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?, Make Damn Sure, Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team), You’re So Last Summer, This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know), A Decade Under the Influence, among others. It was only my second time seeing them, but they were better than the first.

I was then excited to see My Chemical Romance, since the only other time I saw them was at the MTV $2 bill tour with the Used and their set was very short. Frankly, I was completely let down by not only their set, but all of the fans who needed a ride to the show with their parents to see them, and their stage show was sub par. Aside from the top notch pyrotechnics, they just didn’t do it for me. They played the majority of their radio hits (isn’t every MCR song a radio hit?), like Teenagers, Welcome to the Black Parade, I’m Not OK (I Promise), Helena, Famous Last Words and so on, and even ended their set with the acoustic Cancer. Ending their set with Cancer was pretty much an emphatic slap in the face to fans that have followed these guys for years. I was looking for them to end with The Ghost of You at least, but not Cancer. I was happy when their set ended. They just seemed flat and I never thought of them as sell outs until I saw them at PR.

Thankfully, Linkin Park was next. They owned, as I thought they would and their new material off their latest record really came off very well. Off the new record they played What I’ve Done, new single Bleed It Out, Given Up, No More Sorrow, Shadow of the Day, instrumental opener Wake, very soft, very emotional closing track The Little Things Give You Away and then they played one of my favorite LP songs, Leave Out All the Rest. I know it is cliché to say one of my favorite songs is on their latest record but still, just listen to the song and you will know why. They also added to the set some fantastic renditions of Pushing Me Away and Breaking the Habit as well as Crawling, In the End, Somewhere I Belong and more. Mike Shinoda even intervened with a freestyle version of the Fort Minor single, Petrified. That was unexpected, as was the set being opened with One Step Closer and ended with Faint. They even added a nice breakdown at the end of Faint which only worked to make the song that much better.

LP was amazing as they always are. They are a model of efficiency when it comes to a live rock band, and are definitely worth seeing. As for the whole PR festival, it was not that good. There wasn’t much to do besides check out the Verizon tent to get a free bag. No games, no vendors, no nothing, other than to just sit there and wait for the music to start. It just wasn’t what I was expecting as a festival.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Muse, Yeah Yeah Yeah's rock Day 2 of Lollapalooza

By Rob Janicke

After very little sleep and plenty of thought surrounding Day 1, I knew I was in for a long yet incredible day of music here in Chicago. The Saturday schedule was pretty intense and I knew I’d have to be on my game if I was to make it to every band I wanted to see. I had a bit of a break as my first band was scheduled at 12:45 so that gave me a few extra precious moments to prepare my day. I was in the media area getting ready when something hit me. Just like with day 1, people were pretty much parked at their stations banging away on laptops for hours on end. These people never moved! I couldn’t help but think “What are they all writing about?…they never leave the media tent”. I wasn’t going to be like these folks. I was going to witness the action first hand.

I officially started my day at 12:45 to catch the set from the Ontario band Tokyo Police Club. I had heard some mixed reviews about them in the past but never really heard much of their sound. At about 1:15 it was clear to me why I hadn’t paid much attention. They’re not that good. They play your standard alternative rock but don’t really have any significant hook or individual sound to their music. The sound quality wasn’t particularly good either (and that’s strange considering just about all the music I heard this weekend had top notch sound) so I’m sure that played a role.

On the recommendation of a friend back home (yes Ed, I’m talking about you) I made my way over to the Myspace stage to catch the Minneapolis band Tapes N Tapes. Despite the name (and the lead singer’s God awful t-shirt) this was a band well worth seeing. The sound was in total opposition to what I had just come from with Tokyo Police Club. It was loud, clear and driving. The band is a louder, heavier and better version of its Lollapalooza counterpart, Modest Mouse. Don’t get me wrong and don’t start writing hate mail if you’re a Modest Mouse fan- I like them too. It’s just that this band has taken what MM does and puts its own twist on it. They have improved what is already a great idea. The vocal patterns are jumpy and scattered yet have a sense of rhythm and really make you take notice.

The next band on my list was basically an experiment for me. In any other circumstance I would not make it my business to see these guys but I must admit the curiosity was killing me. I walked to the AT&T stage to see what in the world has become of the Australian (kid) band Silverchair. Ok, so they are not kids any longer but when they first burst onto the scene in 1995 they were about 15 years old. Unfortunately that’s how I still see them. I stayed around for about five songs and that was all I could take. They’re simply not any good. They play cheesy pop/rock songs and really don’t come across as a real band. I know I’m being harsh but I must tell the truth. I do give them credit for one thing however. They were trashed in the press when they first came out and it really hasn’t stopped (this article is just another log on that fire) but they have weathered the storm and they still make their living as musicians. That in itself is worth some praise.

After that “experience” I was able to catch the end of Stephen Marley’s set. I regret not seeing all of it but what I did catch was amazing. It goes without saying that it felt like a Bob Marley show. The wonderful sound of reggae in the wide open outdoors is an experience all of you should have at least 20 times in your life! In this case the highlights certainly were the Bob Marley covers as I’m sure everyone including Stephen is aware of. But his voice and his bands’ intensity and thoughtfulness to the original compositions made this a thrilling experience. For a moment Chicago, Illinois had turned into Kingston, Jamaica and no one was complaining!

At 3:30 it was time for another Minneapolis band. Motion City Soundtrack had a very large crowd gathered for their set at the Myspace stage and they all got a treat. Not too much originality here but plenty of straight forward, hard rocking music that will always please a live audience. At times lead singer Justin Pierre can sound like Steve Perry of Journey fame but it’s not all bad. Despite what you may think of Journey or Steve Perry in particular, he does own a phenomenal voice. And hearing that sort of soaring, high pitched voice in an outdoor festival such as Lollapalooza is a good thing. It works for Motion City Soundtrack and it worked for the thousands enjoying them.

As 4:30 came upon Chicago, The Roots emerged on the Bud light stage at Lollapalooza. If I was to describe this show in one word it would have to be “Energy”. The hour was filled with nonstop energy from both the stage and the crowd. As far as the music is concerned…it was brilliant. If you’re not a big fan of rap but can appreciate great musicianship, this is the band to see. Because they are playing instruments (extremely well mind you) and not relying on a turntable, they pretty much can make up their own brand of music. It’s not just rap or funk music. It’s rock and roll, it’s hard rock, it’s R&B, it’s even a bit of jazz fusion. I was thoroughly entertained throughout their set and I’m now a fan.

New York City’s own Yeah Yeah Yeahs made their way to the AT&T stage in front of an extremely large gathering of fans. Another set full of bombast and energy, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were able to put their fans into a state of mind that can only be described as trance-like. The music rocks, the band has an indescribable look and the vibe is weird. The band is basically an art exhibit set to music. Visually and sonically, they are worth seeing every time!

Another day at Lollapalooza was coming to an end. There was some rain pouring down at this point, which was actually welcomed, and an immense crowd gathered at the AT&T stage for one of the night’s headlining acts, Muse. This British trio has been rocking live audiences since 1997 and has absolutely no signs of slowing down. Not only are they blowing people away with their music the world over, but they may actually be conspiring to take over the world on a full time basis. If you listen closely to many of the lyrics in their catalog the apocalypse is ever present and they seem to mean everything they say. As for the show itself, truly amazing! No amount of rain, snow, sleet, locusts or any other natural occurrence could quell the excitement in the air that was dispensed with every note played and every word sung. There was an intense laser light display coinciding with the bands set that only added to the experience. Their unique blend of alternative rock mixed with progressive rock, electronic, heavy metal and even classical music took the enormous audience by the throat and didn’t let go until the very last note. With songs like “Butterflies and Hurricanes”, “Invincible” “Sunburn”, “Time is Running Out” and the absolutely incredible “Stockholm Syndrome” plus many more, this set was akin to an outer space explosion happening right in front of our eyes. It’s certainly a good thing that this took place outdoors because it would’ve torn the roof off of any building that tried to contain it.

With Day 2 now officially behind me my thoughts shift to tomorrow and what insanity it will bring. Stay tuned…

Day 2 highlights – Tapes N Tapes, The Roots, Yeah Y

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Relocated Music Is Art Festival loses some of its buzz

By Brian Campbell

The Music Is Art Festival was created in order “to create unique and challenging programs that encourage involvement in the community, inspire active participation in the arts, enhance academic performance and promote personal and civic responsibility.” Unlike a lot of other mission statements, MIA actually accomplishes what it sets out to do.

In years past, the MIA Festival has been held in Allentown, Buffalo’s artsy neighborhood that also hosts the long-running Allentown Art Festival. Conflicts between the two festivals resulted in MIA moving this year to the Hamburg Fairground at America’s Fair. I don’t know about the politics, but I can say that the move did not benefit MIA. Not only did America’s Fair cram MIA into a tiny corner of the Fairgrounds, but they cut down on everything else besides the music. It seemed as if there were fewer artist booths and fewer vendors in general, not to mention fewer performers.

Still, the festival used three music stages—the main stage, an acoustic side stage and a dance stage under a tent. There was also a beer tent, various college booths, a Time Warner hub for surfing the internet and watching TV, and a booth by radio station 103.3 The Edge. Well, I guess the Edge would have to be there since Agent Me played, but I digress.

Perhaps the most fun part of MIA was the Kids Tent. Here kids of all ages (including my age) could go in and get a free DVD, watch a drum circle and take part in other interactive shows. They could also take part in arts and crafts. It was nice to see all of the kids under that tent happy and occupied, and they all looked like they were having fun. MIA did a sparkling job in that aspect.

The Dance Tent Stage showcased a lot of local talent from different dance studios around the area, like the Center of Dance Motivation and Lynn’s Dance Studio, among others. The tent also featured Brandon DJ between sets, so there was no dead air. There was consistently a large crowd gathered around the tent when there was a performance going on, which is really a testament to how talented the dancers and performers were.

The Acoustic Stage was off to the side--hence me calling it a side stage--and it featured young artists at their most intimate and raw. The best of the bunch was Last Conservative frontman/mastermind TJ Zindle. This guy as an acoustic singer/songwriter is really something special. He jammed about five or six songs, which was enough to captivate the small crowd completely. He really made this stage for me and he was the best musician to play at MIA.

“I want to thank Music Is Art. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to play here,” Zindle said. “There were a lot of amazing bands and artists here today, huh?”

The main stage was the main attraction of MIA, unless it the beer tent. Regardless, there was a lot of good talent (and some not so good) on the main stage. It started for me with the West Seneca West middle school rock band. Did you ever see that movie School of Rock? Yeah, it was pretty much the same thing except it blows you away to see it in real life. They blasted through a sound set of covers ranging from the classic “99 Luftballons” to an almost picture perfect cover of the Cranberries hit, “Zombie.” The group was made up of a bunch of eighth graders, led by their history teacher on bass. It really was a sight to see, and it also told me that the future of music, at least locally, looks promising.

The main stage also played host to a pair of hip hop acts,the Hardcore Godcore tour and Crooked Letta (spelled wrong for the extra effect and street cred). The first of the bunch, the HGT, were pretty good and very uplifting. They billed themselves as “hip-hop with a purpose,” which is something you don’t really see much of nowadays. With Crooked Letta, I thought they were a joke when they first took the stage but they turned out to be completely serious. The crowd was completely into it and they got a good ovation.

“Thanks to everyone who came out today to Music Is Art. We really want to thank MIA for having us here to play,” said Crooked Letta. “We have to give a big shout out to all of the bands that played; it really takes a lot of guts to get up on stage and play.”

Agent Me followed to a pretty warm response. Their live act was much the same as their record but they also included some new material. For those of you don’t know who Agent Me is, where have you been? This is the band that has Tyler Banks and Evil Jim from the Edge handling guitar and vocal duties.

The music at Music Is Art was good, but you’d expect that, wouldn’t you? The set up was terrible and the attendance was less than I expected or the promoters might have hoped for. The artists started packing up their booths pretty early on in the day, so closer to the end the festival looked barren with many empty tents. Between us, here’s hoping they can somehow get the festival back to Allentown next year.