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 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

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, 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.

Warped Tour 07 at Darien Lakes: still punk-rock summer camp?

By Brian Campbell

Even though it is known as a festival for punk bands, Warped Tour is pretty much a musical melting pot--at least this year it was since there were, fewer than ten punk bands, and like a million emo bands, not to mention a few metal bands. Regardless, it was successful, and very fun.

I should mention that I really do not like seeing shows at Darien Lake, and if it were not for festivals being there, I would never go. This was my second straight show at the theme park resort, having covered Family Values here a week ago. Projekt Revolution rolls in next weekend.

Unfortunately I missed Circa Survive, but arrived in time for Bayside. These guys were good, just as I thought they would be. They featured material from their latest, Walking Wounded, which is probably worth getting. Next up was a band I particularly excited to see, Chiodos. These guys are excellent live--very spastic and energetic, pretty much all over the stage. After hearing their record, All’s Well That Ends Well, I can tell you that their live show is a pretty good representation of their recorded material.

I’ve been following Hot Rod Circuit for a while now. They did their part to add to the whole pop punk blended emo thing that was the story at Warped Tour. They have a pretty powerful stage show, one that I think all would enjoy. The Vincent Black Shadow was the band I was most looking forward to in the early stages of the day, and they were as smart as can be live. Without giving away too much of their live show, I would say I really hope they come back to town very soon. I just cannot get enough of their sound.

After a small break, I took the time to catch a band that I have seen live once before, So They Say. I am in love with their self-titled EP, but have to admit that I don’t have their excellent Antidote for Irony disc. It’s hard to imagine the CD is as powerful as the live performance. Next came A Static Lullaby, another strong live band that had also been at Family Values, playing material from their very much under the radar self-titled release.

After perusing some booths along the ‘midway’ I had the chance to catch a set of Buffalo bands representing the scene the right way as they jammed on adjacent stages. Of course I’m talking about It Dies Today and the very bleeding emo Cute Is What We Aim For. Both of these bands were incredibly well received, especially Cute. Since they are an emo band with one release, they pretty much only have like 30 minutes of material, but it went over well.

After Cute, we wandered over to the Hurley stage and made the mistake of catching of the Unseen’s set. Ugh, this punk band completely butchered a cover of the classic Door’s cover of Paint It Black. This sent me over to the other stage for New Found Glory, which delivered a good set and a good sound. Another band that’s live than on CD, at least to me.

That brings me to my first surprise of the night, Biffy Clyro. I was told going into this years Warped that this band was one to be on the lookout for, and I am happy to say, yes they are. Their latest record, Puzzles, just dropped and is surely something you’ll want to hear. In the meantime, you are in for a treat seeing them live and also checking out their music on their MySpace page. Go ahead, I’ll wait here while you go and check it out. Oh, you already did? There, don’t we feel better now?

Our first break from the monotonous emo barrage was Killswitch Engage. This was the first time I saw them live and they ripped through tracks off of all of their records, including “Life to Lifeless,” “My Last Serenade” and “Fixation on the Darkness.” Yeah, I know that all of those songs are off of their brilliant release Alive Or Just Breathing, but I guess we all have our favorites. Regardless of their abbreviated set, Killswitch was awesome to see, and a welcome break from all of the other music at Warped. So far, the best band to have played on this day.

That is until Pepper took the stage, and I give you my second surprise of the night. Hailing from Hawaii, Pepper sounded like Sublime, Bob Marley, 311 and Red Hot Chili Peppers all rolled into one fantastic package. They were punk, funk, rock, reggae and all things in-between. They were incredible live, and also hailed themselves as ‘Warped Tour’s 30 minutes break from MTV.’ Well, they were just that, and so far, they were the best band I saw all day.

Paramore took the stage following and opened with “Misery Business,” and then went right into “Emergency.” We left in order to catch Blessthefall playing across on the other side of Warped. These guys were heavier than I could have ever imagined and were in synch, all over the stage, and in and out of the crowd. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands, especially with the set closer “A Message To The Unknown.”

Blessthefall really adds a different dimension, metal, to Warped, and it is absolutely a good addition. Rap on the other hand? Next up was a rapper named P.O.S., who didn’t seem like a good fit for the festival. We were off for the other stage.

I made it across in time for My American Heart, followed by Valencia and Rocket Summer, all of whom fit the overall mold of the festival. They all have that sound that pretty much everyone wants to hear, especially those heading to Warped. I enjoyed them all, but catching a new band on a festival tour is not the best place to judge their talent. I would welcome seeing all these bands again down the road.

Next we checked out band called Split 50, and came over to the stage just as they ripped off a cover of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. It was great seeing such a small band on a small stage play this track. I stayed in a good mood as I next stopped in for a wrestling match featuring wrestlers from Mexico’s AAA promotion. Wrestling fans may remember Psichosis, whose career failed miserably in the WEE, so now he is wrestling on the Warped Tour. It was entertaining to watch, even if they didn’t really do much high-flying.

After that , I took some time to walk around and visit booths from, Alternative Press, FYE, Fuse and so on. Then, while waiting for Then As I Lay Dying to come one, I caught some Coheed and Cambria, two bands I’m sort of indifferent about.

Then As I Lay Dying hit the stage and never looked back. Though too short, this was an amazingly heavy set, including songs from all three of the band’s records, including favorites “Forever,” “Through Struggle,” “Meaning in Tragedy,” “The Darkest Nights” and “Confined.” A new record, An Ocean Between Us, is on the way and they graced Warped with a new song, “Within Destruction.” They also put an emphatic stamp on the night’s set with “94 Hours.” AILD was the heaviest band that day, and also the best.

After a long day, it was time to leave. Hawthorne Heights was on stage as were leaving the show. All in all, Warped Tour was incredible again this year. I always seem to have more fun at Warped than I do at any other festival I go to. There is just so much to do, so many things to see and there are always a few fun surprises too, like the wrestling and the half pipe and skateboarders. Good times were had by all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Too old for Family Values?

By Brian Campbell

Ah August, or as I call it, "festival month." There are a lot of different sorts of festivals that come to town in August and I started my “mini-tour” on August 3 with Family Values. I'll see Warped Tour next week and then cap it all off with Projekt Revolution the following week. Of course, all shows are at Darien Lake, which is something I would have liked to avoid, but guess I cannot.

We got to Family Values a little early and it definitely showed, since there really wasn’t anyone there yet. We hung out in the parking lot and enjoyed a few cold ones before heading over to will call to claim our passes, then proceeded back to the parking lot in order to relax some more before heading in.

I missed some of the opening bands on the second stage early in the day, bands including Bloodsimple, Invitro, Twin Method and others. I got into the venue at the perfect time to catch the main stage open with one of the bands I was excited to see, Droid. I didn’t like how short their set was, but they completely powned nevertheless. They were by far the heaviest band to grace either stage on that day. And let me say, I cannot wait to see them again next week. They were as brutal as I had expected them to be, and in my opinion, they won the crowd over and definitely worked well to kick off the main stage festivities.

After them came Neurosonic, the other band signed to Munky’s Emotional Syphon Recordings label, alongside Droid. I hadn’t really heard that much about the band before Family Values came to town, but they impressed me. I really liked what I heard, and these guys were extremely energetic and into their music. It makes me happy as a fan and a writer to see bands out there enjoying it, and making the best of their opportunities. Bands that take what they have for granted really put me off, and Neurosonic was definitely not one those bands. Their set again was short but they made the best of it, and I will be looking for their album this week.

I split my time between the next set of bands, the almighty Trivium on the main stage and the up-and-comers Through You on the second stage. I started at the main stage to check out Trivium, and live they were what I imagined; loud, fast, raucous and shredding. Their set wasn’t complete until they ripped off an excellent cover of Metallica’s amazing Master of Puppets. It came as a complete surprise to me, and pretty much everyone else in attendance, but they played it incredibly well, and the crowd responded in kind. By playing this cover, they set in motion a trend that a few other bands would follow the rest of the night.

Then I made my way over to the second stage to catch Through You’s set. I had wanted to hear these guys and I’m glad I did. They had a cool blend of rock and emo, and they might have been the most active band of the day. They were completely all over the stage, blasting through their set and enthralling the crowd. Again, I will be looking up their CD. Hopefully, they will be touring again soon.

My buddy and I decided to take a peek backstage, so we did and just walked around. There really wasn’t much going on. We watched Fieldy from Korn lift some weights and Jonathan Davis and Munky drive by on a golf cart. All in all, there wasn’t much going on, until we stumbled upon a bar and some lawn chairs. We took in a tall cool one and sat back as Hellyeah took to the stage. I was watching Hellyeah and then caught some of Five Finger Death Punch’s set as they headlined the second stage. Hellyeah was my second favorite band that night, behind Atreyu. They finished their set with their two best songs, "Alcohaulin’ Ass" and "You Wouldn’t Know." Hellyeah was fantastic all the way through and I would absolutely love to see them live again soon.

With the second stage now done, we spent the next 30 minutes walking around the festival in order to take in some of the color that Family Values brings to town. It almost felt like an Ozzfest with games throughout and a variety of clothing and accessory vendors. They also had a giant 100-pound rat and headless women sideshow exhibit for all to see. They also had the standard FYE tent for autograph signings and CD sales and such, but unless you feel like spending $18 or $20 on a CD you can go into the store and buy for $7 or $8, this tent could be bypassed. I took some time to enter a contest at the 94.1 the Zone radio station tent for Velvet Revolver tickets.

Then back to the main stage to see Flyleaf. They sped through their 35-minute set and pretty much played their entire album live, since they don’t really have any other material. They were electric live. They were really into their music and showing it live. What I didn’t like about them live was the fact that they didn’t take any time out to address the crowd until right before they ended their set with "Cassie." The lead singer told the crowd that the song was about two girls that had died and we should not be surprised or sad when people die, and we should be surprised that we are still alive. That sort of put a morbid spin on their set, but they were good anyway.

We took to the midway after their set, and decided to walk around the lawn, then checked out some other booths, including the Guitar Hero booth. Man, the guys playing at the booth were very good at the game, and it really made me want to never play it again.

Back to the pit at the main stage, and Atreyu was next. These guys were the band I really, really, really wanted to see live, since I had missed them when they came with Taste of Chaos this year. Man, they did not disappoint me whatsoever. They opened with Bleeding Mascara, then ripped through a set, including songs off all of their three previous records records, like "Right Side of the Bed," "Ex’s & Oh’s," "Creature," "Crimson & Red," and then added to that three songs from their upcoming release, Lead Sails Paper Anchor, including the debut single "Becoming the Bull."

They also played a cover of Bon Jovi’s "You Give Love A Bad Name," putting a little Atreyu spin on it and making it their own. You see what I’m talking about--another band, another cover. I’m excited for their new record after hearing songs off it. Well, I was excited anyway. They ended their set with the grandiose finishing track to Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, "Lip Gloss and Black." This was a suitable closer to their show, which will keep local fans satisfied until they are back in town September 19 at Town Ballroom.

It was a long time before Evanescence went on and I just sat around. My legs hurt from walking and nothing was going on backstage, so I just sat there, literally. They finally came on and they played a pretty enjoyable set, including (of course) all of their radio hits, like "Going Under," "Bring Me Back to Life," "Lithium," "Sweet Sacrifice" and so on. They were good since it was the first time I saw them. I liked Terry’s guitars, as he had some sweet air brushings like a Coors Light guitar, two Halloween guitars, and a Friday the 13th guitar. The new drummer was also fantastic, an extreme upgrade from their original one. They played for around an hour, and all of it was pretty good.

Next, finally, Korn graced the stage, and I can honestly tell you I wasn’t expecting much from them. Since I haven’t really been into their last few records, I thought we would hear the majority of their new stuff. Thankfully I was dead wrong. Within three songs, I heard their fantastic "Dead Bodies Everywhere," and then also got the chance to hear "Faggot," "Good God" and more. They also churned through some newer radio songs, like "Twisted Transistor," "Evolution," "Right Now," and so on. They finished off the night’s set of cover songs by doing their rendition of Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick in the Wall." It was alright, and since I have never really liked their version, I would have rather heard "Word Up" or "One" for a cover. They ended their encore with "Blind." I’m not sure why though; you’d think this would be a better opening song.

Overall, Family Values was great. I’m incredibly happy I was able to attend, and hopefully festivals like this one will be coming to town for years. I personally think that there should be more. Just none sponsored by radio stations--ugh, they make my skin crawl. On a side note, at one point during the show, after seeing a ton of really young-looking people, I turned to my friend and said, “Dude, this used to be our scene, what happened to it?” to which he replied, “We are getting old.” I didn’t need to hear that, but nevertheless, it is true.

Comparing three rock tours

By Brian Campbell

Compared with individual concerts, festivals are great since they bring a wide variety of bands I want to see live and have many other activities going on. This August, I’m lucky enough to have three festival tours rolling through my home town of Buffalo NY over the course of three weeks: Family Values, Warped Tour, and Projekt Revolution. A metal show, a punk show and a rock show. Well, Warped Tour isn’t really a punk show anymore; it is pretty much an emo show nowadays.

So far, I've been to Family Values, with the other two festivals coming up this week and next. Family Values was last Friday, and it was a great show. It reminded me more of an Ozzfest type show, with a lot of different games and sideshows acts, along with an autograph booth and a wide variety of vendors, including clothing, jewelry and accessories. Unlike an Ozzfest though, Family Values was interesting with their set times. They had the chance seemingly to alternate bands on either stage, but instead after the main stage opened, the bands on that stage played at the same time as acts on the second stage.

Ozzfest in its younger years used to do this until they smartened up and stopped. I really didn’t like how Family Values was doing that because I was conflicted, since Through You played the same time Trivium did, and more importantly Hellyeah played the same time as Five Finger Death Punch. Well, luckily I was able to split my time among them all. I think it goes without saying that Family Values has come a long way since its inception, what with adding another stage and bigger venues. I mean, there was a time when FV wasn’t even headlined by Korn. Meh, either way, it was a cool experience.

I'll have much more to say about the Family Values event in another post. But fast forward seven days, and now I sit here waiting to attend Warped Tour. Now, I haven’t been to Warped in like three of four years, but I pretty much know what to expect from it, since it never really changes. It’s pretty much a melting pot of bands, and then they are all given set times and then thrown onto the stage. There will be about a million bands and even more kids there to see them, so it remains interesting.

My fondest memory of Warped was a few years back when I worked the Alternative Press booth, and not only did I get to hang out with Simple Plan, Thrice and All-American Rejects, I got a year of AP for $5. You cannot go wrong with that. Regardless, unlike the other festivals I am going to, Warped remains the outcast since there are more than two stages and more than 10 or 11 bands. Warped Tour is pretty much quasi-controlled chaos, unlike a Family Values or Projekt Revolution, since it is anarchy with people everywhere, and the music never stops. There is always a band playing on every stage.

Warped Tour is also above the other two in the aspect that there is always way more stuff to do. Besides the standard food and drink concessions, there are games, information booths and such as well. I always like going to the record label and music magazine booths since you are normally in for free stuff, and usually lots of it. Not to mention you are pretty much guaranteed to run into bands hanging out all over the place. I remember the last time I hit up a Warped Tour show, I was walking to my car and ended up getting stopped and talking to Vendetta Red, Flashlight Brown and Bowling for Soup along the way.

It is more of a family atmosphere, and less produced than the other two festivals. Like I said, it is quasi-controlled chaos, but there is always something going on. At PR or FV, you are pretty much guaranteed to be bored between sets, since you are walking around looking at stuff you have done and seen already. At Warped, it is a big production with stuff all over the place. The only hard thing at Warped is finding out when the bands are playing and what stages they are playing on, not to mention finding the stages themselves. Another good thing about Warped is that all of the bands normally have their own booth and they are usually there hanging out. So, it is real personal in that aspect.

My final festival stop is Projekt Revolution. This is the show I’m most looking forward to, since Linkin Park haven’t done this tour in like three years. It will be the same deal as last time out though, with a bunch of bands on two stages, and I’m assuming the normal fare of what Family Values brought to the table. You know, there will be some type of games and vendor booths and such for all to see, and I’m pretty much assuming that the set up will be exactly the same as it was for Family Values. PR is a lighter atmosphere than FV however; I don’t know quite how to explain it but it definitely is.

Overall PR is more like FV than Warped. At Warped you feel more like part of a community of sorts, and you feel welcomed. I mean, I had fun at FV, and I am definitely looking forward to Warped and then to cap it all off with PR. I cannot wait, but come to think of it, Ill be pretty bummed after all of the shows are over, because at that point I think the next festival is Taste of Chaos, but that’s not even really a festival. I think Ill get over it though.

Rob Janicke's Lollapalooza--Day 1

By Rob Janicke

Alright, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Lollapalooza 2007 is here and so am I. Chicago is a hot city in August but also a friendly and extremely clean one. I’m impressed! Ok, on to the subject at hand…the festival!

I’m going to have a lot to report on as the weekend moves along so I’ll try and break down each day followed by a larger, more in depth report on the entire festival. I’ll do that of course once I’ve absorbed it all and come down from this whirlwind that is Lollapalooza.

Day 1 of this massive three day party started for me when I arrived at the myspace stage to catch The Fratellis. This three-piece from Scotland has come across the pond with some pretty intense fanfare. Last year NME proclaimed the trio “the best new band in Britain”. This writer is ready to proclaim them one of the best new bands ANYWHERE! Their garage, glam style adds up to a mixture of Gomez meets the White Stripes with a bit of Ziggy Stardust just for good measure. They hit the stage at 11:45 am but after it was all said and done, Lollapalooza was awake. They ripped through their set with a melodic aggression that won over the surprisingly large crowd and garnered loud applause and plenty of new fans…including me! Songs like “Whistle for the Choir”, “Ole Black n Blue Eyes” and “Chelsea Dagger” will be indie rock standards for a long time to come. Buy their studio debut “Costello Music” and tell me I’m wrong…I dare you!

At around 12:30 pm I made my way over to the AT&T stage to check out Austin’s Ghostland Observatory. I must admit, I didn’t know too much about them but I was curious and had heard some pretty good things. As the music was less than 15 seconds old I witnessed a girl throwing her guts up at the right side of the stage. It was only 12:30 in the afternoon…could she be that drunk already or was it the electronic nonsense coming from Ghostland Observatory? It was anyone’s guess. As I quickly put distance between myself and Mrs. Upchuck I noticed that I started enjoying the music more. Sure, I was further away from the vomit and that will make any situation better, but I was listening more intently to the sounds coming from the stage. Hard driving, heavy riffs with a trance like rhythm. This is starting to grow on me. As it turned out they became less electronic as the set went on and I began to like them better. All in all, it was a pretty cool experience (Mrs. Upchuck not withstanding of course).

Next stage! It was around 2:15 pm and I was enjoying my second $7 beer on the way to catch Viva Voce. Once again, I didn’t know much about this two-piece originally from Alabama (currently residing in Portland) but I sure learned a lot after their set. In a White Stripes-esque move, this band employs a drummer and guitar player (Kevin and Anita Robinson respectively) with no other musicians to speak of. In this case, however, the drummer is male and the guitarist/singer is female. The drummer actually shares much of the vocal duties but you get the point. Their music is a bit dark and somewhat heavy but tempered with delicate vocals by both singers. They rocked pretty hard for a two-piece and really seemed to enjoy themselves on stage. Portland always seems to produce some unique and interesting music and they continue the tradition here.

It’s now about 4:30 and I’ve made my way back to the main stage to check out the popular jam band moe. They were playing to the largest crowd that I witnessed up until that point. They were a perfect fit for this type of atmosphere. Their jam rock feel goes over very well in this setting. With a band like this, however, the crowd seems to lack the passion and enthusiasm of the other bands at the festival. Most people took this opportunity to mellow out, relax on blankets and enjoy the sounds. This isn’t my favorite style of music so I made my way to my next destination a bit early.

At 5 pm I was getting pretty excited to watch the set by The Silversun Pickups. The crowd was pretty large and I wasn’t able to get anywhere near the front of the stage. I was okay with being stuck in the middle because I was ready for the show to rock! Umm, it didn’t. I’m not sure if it was the heat or what but this band out of Los Angeles just did not display any energy whatsoever. They seemed bored and disinterested and because of it, so did the crowd. Now I was pissed that I was stuck in the middle! I knew it was time to get to the next stage and hope for something better.

As the trio known as Blonde Redhead took the stage around 5:30 pm I knew I was in for a treat. It certainly helps that they’re from my hometown of NYC but it was the music that was special here. With their Sonic Youth-like sound, they put the large crowd gathered in front of the myspace stage in a trance we didn’t particularly want to come out of. The atmospheric sounds and the Janis Joplin-like voice of lead singer/guitarist Kazu Makino were more than enough to satisfy! There were a few mistakes and missed notes during the set but that was a small price to pay for a very talented band giving us an hour of their time.

As most of us know, Perry Farrell (formerly of Jane’s Addiction, currently fronting Satelite Party) was the brains behind the Lollapalooza concept back in 1991 and still plays a huge role in its current incarnation. That being said, I was a little skeptical getting ready for Satelite Party’s set at 6:30. I don’t know why but I wasn’t really expecting much. Damn, was I wrong! Opening the set was the Jane’s classic “Stop” and it was on from that point forward! I think I had forgotten what a pure, perfectly made for the stage, front man Farrell was and still is. His command of the crowd and his band is remarkable. He’s funny, engaging, political, intriguing and, oh yeah, he sings he ass off! This set portrayed the most energy from any band thus far. The sound was loud, aggressive and in your face. The hour they were on stage flew by in what seemed like five minutes. Digging into his Jane’s Addiction catalog certainly didn’t hurt. In addition to the opening “Stop” they played “Mountain Song”, “Been Caught Stealing” and closed the set with the fan favorite “Jane Says”…keep on rocking Perry. Keep on rocking!

Now we are getting to the part of the day that I was looking forward to the most – Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. I had to walk to the opposite side of the park from where I had just seen Satelite Party (and it took a good 30 minutes to do that, mind you), but I was determined to get a prime spot for what I anticipated as being the highlight of the day. As I made my way to the front of the sound board (the absolute best place to listen to live music), I was on the lookout for puking girls and passed out frat guys as to avoid being bothered by them during Harpers set. Thankfully I was able to avoid those distractions and I settled into a two-foot patch of grass which I declared mine.

At just about 8:30 the stage lights went down and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals emerged. The crowd of what seemed like 50,000 people (faces and bodies and far as the eye could see) screamed in unison making a noise not unlike a jet fighter plane blasting past your window at 600 miles per hour…folks, it was loud! Throughout their hour-and-a-half-long set Harper and Co. proved my suspicions right…this was the highlight of the day. The talent that resides in that band is almost frightening and Ben Harper sings every song with more passion and truth than just about any human being ever. His dedication to his craft and his outright love for his audience fuel what can only be described as musical heaven! Note after note and song after song this band displays such beautiful music that it does no justice to talk about, let alone critique songs on an individual basis. It would be wrong.

The one song I will single out however is Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”. The reason I bring this up is because Harper's very close friend (and lead singer of the festival's overall closing act, Pearl Jam) Eddie Vedder came out on stage, acoustic guitar in hand, and dug into this duet with all the passion that Harper displayed throughout the night. This was truly a magical moment. The perfect end to Day 1 of this incredible festival.

Day 1 Standouts – The Fratellis, Satelite Party, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mike Ruby's Lollapalooza photo gallery

Following is a series of photographs taken at Lollapalooza 2007 in Chicago. The festival took place August 3-5. These shots should help encapsulate the aesthetic of the festival and the beautiful urban setting.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What to bring to the fest? Here's a useful 10-point list

By Christine Czerniecki

I'm off today for the Virgin Festival in Baltimore. Here's a 10-point list of tips for festival-goers at Virgin or any large outdoor festival.

• Read the FAQss on your festival's website to find details about what is and what is not allowed onto the premises. You don’t want to pack your cooler and have to leave it at the gates for everyone ELSE to enjoy while waiting on line.
• Pack extra shoes in case you lose yours (especially during rainy/muddy shows).
• Baby Wipes are common knowledge for use during and after your port-o-potty visits. You can get unscented ones so you don’t smell like a two-year-old. They will also help you want to keep mosquitoes away. They are great for freshening up smelly armpits, feet and other crevices on your body.
• Empty out your wallet and just bring the bare necessities: cell phone in case you get lost, ID to get booze, and money. Maybe a camera if you have pockets. Coming from someone that loses her wallet about three times a year, it is much easier getting a new license than it is to cancel every credit card/membership card you own.
• Stand out. You know you’re going to get lost so wear something that will make it a tad easier to find your drunk ass. It might not be a bad idea to pick a spot to meet in case you lose your friends AND your phone, just like the pre-cell phone days.
• Sunscreen. Twelve hours on a cloudy day WILL burn you.
• Fill up on gas right before you get to the festival. It is the last thing you will want to look for after waiting to leave the festival and is the culprit for many people getting lost on their way home.
• Pack Charmin-to-go. You can buy these Mini-TP rolls in the trial size sections of many big-name pharmacies. They don’t take up much room and can fit in your bag or cargo pocket.
• Don’t drink too much in the heat and pass out looking like an amateur, then wake up burned and drunk, begging me for a sip of my water! It’s going to be insanely hot, so don’t be stupid.
• Take off work the next day.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rockin' The Rivers

For all of those living in the northern Rocky Mtn. region who want to kick back with some brew (preferably some Bacardi, Jack Daniels, Bud, ore even a bottle of hefeweizen from Montana's own Lewis & Clark Brewery) and listen to some slammin' tunes, there's the three-day extravaganza Rockin' The Rivers, running from August 10-12 in Three Forks, Montana.

This fest specializes in the music you'd love to hear on a Harley while tearin' down Route 666, with everyone from John Kay & Steppenwolf to southern rock titans Molly Hatchet set to play. In addition to classic rock heroes, there will also be modern favorites such as Everclear and top tribute bands, such as the Led Zep trib No Quarter and Beatlemania (who play decked out in those Otto von Bismarck-esque suits from the Sgt. Pepper's era) to fill in the cracks for those who want to get in some classic Brit rock along with their longhair Americana.

On top of the feel-good linep, the whole shindig's hosted by charismatic comic Rick Reed, a modern frontiersman who allgedly ran for President in the last three elections with the slogan "Vote For Me, Or I'll Kill Ya."

And finally, who can pass up the option of buying the festival's VIP package? No matter whether or not you really like any of the music played at the festival to begin with- the VIP ticket gets you FREE BEER!!

So come one, come all to this three-day celebration of what classic rock festivals are all about- hard-hittin' power chords and exponential indulgence.

-- Ross Moody