Funny how they call it the “UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival” since there wasn’t any true “jazz” music to speak of, but I’m sure the crowd didn’t mind much, especially given that someone as talented as Gary Clark Jr. was just shredding on the guitar. He has a full length album coming out in September and I can’t wait to hear it, although I imagine his music is best experienced live.
The Roots did what they always do by playing a crowd-pleasing set including several covers and snippets of recognizable songs. Particularly cool was their rendition of the Beastie Boys’ Paul Revere dedicated to MCA:
Both videos are from his 4/26/2012 show at the LA Sports Arena. Overall, I was really impressed by the breadth of music that The Boss and The E Street Band played. Songs touched upon almost every genre including soul, folk, rock, rap, and big band. It’s a shame Bruce didn’t convince the band to do some dubstep songs, though I imagine the older crowd would have found it in poor taste.
Tom Morello was a guest on three songs, content with playing in the background until he was featured front and center for an amazing rendition of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” It ranked among my top 5 live guest appearances, musically speaking. More raw and impassioned than Bruce’s album cut, yet not as abrasive as the Rage Against the Machine cover, the performance created a version of song that stood above the sum of its parts.
The following video is a clip of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” which closed the encore set. It includes a great tribute to Clarence Clemons.
I’m disappointed I missed Yeasayer at Coachella this year, but found solace in the fact that the band is giving away a free download of one of their live shows from Brussels back in October. It’s not entirely guilt free, though, as they do offer you the choice to donate for the concert bootleg if you wish. You can get the concert in your choice of formats from 320kbps MP3 to FLAC to Apple Lossless and more.
I still can’t get over how awesome of a single O.N.E. is – it might just be my single of the year despite being leaked last December…
I don’t know what was more surprising - the fact that Soul music is being revived in an age of autotune and chillwave indie music or the fact that most of the crowd at the Echoplex was of the decidedly hipster variety.
Scratch that, it’s Echo Park, of course it’s going to be full of hipsters.
But the neo-soul movement is definitely in effect with artists like Mayer Hawthorne gaining a sizable audience. It’s not surprising that both he and Aloe Blacc are on LA-based independent label, Stones Throw.
You may know Mr. Blacc from the theme to HBO’s How To Make It In America. It’s one of the more memorable introduction sequences in recent television history. His 1 hour set at the Echoplex didn’t disappoint either. I’m no expert on soul music, but I had a great time at Aloe’s show. With an entertaining and talented backing band, The Grand Scheme, Aloe Blacc played cuts from not only his own album, Good Things, but also injected quite a few covers into his set as well. It’s as if he knew his mainly white audience needed to hear some comfort songs to help them ease into the genre. Songs like Hall & Oates’ “Maneater” or Green Day’s “Basket Case.” He also did a Velvet Underground song and a haunting cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
Check out the Green Day cover clip and another video after the break.
You read that correctly – “New Orleans.” Normally I don’t venture out of Los Angeles much, but on this occasion I had the opportunity to catch a show at the House of Blues in New Fucking Orleans, so I had to take it. As luck would have it, DJ Shadow was in town and I had never seen him before.
I’ve heard mixed things about DJ Shadow’s live set and while the Shadowsphere show is pretty cool with its visuals and unique “sphere” set, strip that away and you have a fairly “meh” show. It’s nothing against Shadow, there’s just only so much you can do as a DJ in a live setting without getting guest stars or showering the crowd with free narcotics.
That being said, there ARE visuals and they’re pretty neat. One particular graphic made the sphere look like the Death Star which was a great “HA!” moment.
Shadow also premiered a new song from his upcoming album which is sort of a big deal since album length original material from him has been few and far between since 1996′s Entroducing…
Arcade Fire has quickly built a reputation for being one of the best live touring acts, and for good reason. The very nature of the band being comprised of 7-9 members crammed onto a stage can often lead to the sensation that their sound can’t be contained by the stage or venue. While this had been the case in the previous times I’ve seen the band, something felt a little off with this gig. It just felt a little… sterile. Like the band was still playing the notes accurately and dynamically, but was somehow devoid of the passion that burned in performances past.
Judge for yourself in the recording of “Intervention” above. Even the black and white stage lighting seemed to accentuate the fact that, ironically, perhaps “every sparkle of friendship and love will die…” when you go number 1 on the Billboard charts.
Note on the semi-crappy recording: I wanted to record at least one song from night two of Arcade Fire at the Shrine last week to post, but there was a tall bro in front of me who kept swaying back and forth at the worst times to block my camera. Eventually I just said screw it and kept filming, so if you’re annoyed by the swaying head in this video, you know why.
From time to time, I like to whip out the ‘ol iPhone 4 HD video camera and capture some highlights from the shows I go to. Sometimes they don’t even end up half-bad.
This is one of those times.
Here’s a live video bootleg of one of my favorite singles of 2010 so far, “Sun Hands,” by Local Natives. I was a bit surprised that the band sold out the ~1,500 person capacity Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood two nights in a row, but they are “local natives” of Los Angeles, after all. More dynamic than the droning buzz of “Chillwave” indie rock, yet less conventional than your meat and potatoes Rock – you’ll find yourself head bobbing, air drumming, and possibly singing along to this track.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is perhaps one of the more “buzzworthy” bands so far this year, garnering a “9.0″ review from Pitchfork and landing on many other music blogs’ “Best of 2010 so far” lists. At $15 for a ticket including fees we’re in the impulse zone where there’s not a substantial risk even if you’re not a diehard fan of the band.
I’m all about seeing live music, especially at affordable prices, so I gave it a shot. I had given Before Today a couple of listens and while it didn’t “wow” me as much as the “Indie Blogosphere,” it also didn’t repulse me either. “Round and Round” has some pretty infectious melodies contained within and I will admit to waking up some mornings with the song in my head.
Some bands are just not meant to do live shows.
Ariel Pink cavorted around stage like a lifelong wino in an outfit that can best be described as a cross between Mario’s red overalls and Borat’s one-piece swimsuit. His voice cracked more times than an 18-year old going through puberty. Their set sounded lifeless and amorphous. None of the Before Today’s eclectic lo-fi charm came across on stage.
I stayed through each successive song with hopes of finally hearing the performance that would redeem the band. After about 45 minutes or so, it became apparent that this was never going to happen. I cut my losses and headed up to Two Boots for some delicious pizza.
Hey, for a $15 investment it wasn’t any worse than walking out of another shitty summer movie.
Disclosure: I was about three scotches in by the time Ariel Pink took the stage, so I had the musical equivalent of “beer goggles” going for me. Despite this I could still tell that the band was putting on a forgettable show.
I snapped a video of “Round and Round” in which you can hear this for yourself below:
Well, due to the ineptitude of AT&T in providing adequate SMS or data service at Coachella this year, most of my tweets during the festival didn’t get out. All in all, I enjoyed the music and the festival. At least, when I could actually be in the venue.
Here’s a rough timeline of what would have been sent out (some of them actually did manage to squirm out):
2:15PM – Left house at 12:30 and still stuck in immovable traffic. Had to pee on the side of a main road, public be damned.
3:30PM – Stuck in a immovable line to get wristbands for event entry. People are cutting in the front because there’s no security.
4:30PM – Officially pissed that I missed one of the bands I wanted to see the most, Yeasayer. Regretting coming to this thing.
4:45PM – Line is finally moving. Apparently the ticket scanning system went down for a couple hours. Heads better roll for this bullshit.
5:15PM – Feel a bit less cranky after eating some surprisingly good Thai BBQ. I can hear Tom Morello playing a song I don’t know.
6:00PM – She & Him is surprisingly entertaining. The songs are a lot more uptempo and fun than I was expecting. Delightful festival warmup.
7:45PM – Even a mediocre live band like Passion Pit can be great fun with the right crowd. Dancing/singing with the chorus of Little Secrets was a great moment.
8:15PM – I know everyone swears by Grizzly Bear, but I’m finding his set boring. It’s one of those “you have to know the material” situations. I didn’t.
8:25PM – Stopped by La Roux. She sounds okay, nothing extraordinary. Not going to wade through that crowd for “In For The Kill”.
8: 45PM – I only know the Echo and the Bunnymen hits. They’re not playing them, so I’m getting out of here.
9:15PM – The sound for LCD Soundsystem is amazing.
9:30PM – James Murphy is incredibly awkward on stage. He could have command of the crowd, but he’s rambling like a insecure nerd onstage.
10:15PM – LCD Soundsystem had a couple chances to be an epic set, but never quite got there. Going to walk by Vampire Weekend.
10:20PM – Heard Cousins being played and promptly turned around to get a beer.
10:30PM – Pretty ridiculous that the main stage is playing a recorded Vampire Weekend song while the actual band is on the other stage.
11:15PM – Jay-Z makes his entrance by rising from under the stage floor to the intro of “We Run This Town”. As the bass kicks in, he authoritatively commands the audience to bounce. We obey.
11:45PM – The soundsystem here is unreal. Hiphop bass has never sounded so clear. Best mainstream rap show I have seen so far.
12:25AM – Big Pimpin’ starts. The crowd starts to go nuts before Jigga stops it, telling us that we aren’t ready yet. He then continues on with another song. Fucking awesome.
12:35AM – No Dr. Dre or Alicia Keyes appearance, but we get Beyonce as the surprise guest.
12:45AM – Damn, I didn’t plan on staying for all of Jay-Z, but I couldn’t resist.
12:50AM – I have to make a decision to see the end of The Whitest Boy Alive or deadmau5 – I go with Whitest Boy, but really wanted to do both. Damn you, scheduling!
12:55AM – Erlend Oye looks like a dweebier young Bill Gates, if that’s even possible. Still, this set is really good. I gotta see them when they tour next.
3:30AM – Fuck traffic and crowds and lines and godawful parking infrastructure.
3:15PM – Well that wasn’t as bad getting in this time. Took a back route and lot. Missed my boy Frank Turner, but a noon start time is untenable.
3:30PM – Day two starts with bluegrass from old crow medicine show. Haven’t seen a guy string his own guitar in awhile. http://twitpic.com/1gmxkt
4:45PM – Have a nice spot by the soundboard for Beach House. The music is inoffensive, but not really grabbing me. Guess it’s a similar situation to Grizzly Bear.
5:40PM – Man does the girl from Gossip have pipes, this is an awesomely fun set. Crowd loves them.
6:20PM – Holy shit, the entire LCD Soundsystem band is on stage, along with more people I don’t recognize. It’s madness in here.
6:35PM – Stayed for the last couple songs of The Raveonettes set. I like them, but the end of their set was a far cry from the energy level of Gossip’s.
6:45PM – Well, The XX is good music for listening to while you’re eating dinner.
7:15PM – Seem to have found a great spot for Hot Chip with a raucous group of South Americans who sing and do chants. This is going to be awesome.
7:45PM – Steel drums are back, baby! I was wondering where they had gone, but I’m positive I’ve seen at least 3 bands use them so far.
8:20PM – Using Aterciopelados’ set to recover. They’re actually not bad rockers. Too bad I don’t understand Spanish.
9:35PM – Some kid tries to move past me in a crowd. He says he’s trying to get away from his mom who’s in the crowd behind him for fear she’ll ground him from video games for 2 weeks. wat.
9:45PM – Spent the last 50 minutes in the dance tent with Kaskade and David Guetta. Sensory overload. Bass made my entire body shake. Wish I had drugs.
9:55PM – Major Lazer is fucking amazing!! There’s two Chinese dragons onstage with a black chick in a wedding gown. This is a real party.
10:15PM – Get news that Danny Devito ran shirtless across the stage during Faith No More. That sounds fun.
10:30PM – Muse is way less intense than that dance tent was. They still rock though.
11:20PM – Man, The Dead Weather really vacillate between awesome and boring. Love the blues stuff, hate the slow shit.
12:00AM – F. Dee and mac from it’s always sunny in Philadelphia bumped into my friend wearing a paddys pub shirt at the beer tent and I wasn’t there!
12:15AM – Eating pizza while on a bench with a view of Tiesto on the main stage. I think I’d need to plan my day around Tiesto to properly enjoy his set.
12:18AM – Is it just me or does Tiesto look like Christian Slater? Also, lasers.
12:20AM – Someone brought the wrong visuals for Tiesto, the screen just addressed “Austin”.
12:22AM – There we go, Coachella lets make some noise!
12:50AM – Having to decide between the end of 2ManyDJ’s or Devo, I go with Devo in the hopes of getting “Whip It”. Got old dudes stripping into tshirts and boxers instead.
4:00AM – Fuck traffic and crowds and lines and godawful parking infrastructure.
2:45PM – Really surprised to have made it inside the venue in time to catch the end of Local Natives. They were pretty good.
3:45PM – No idea what to have expected for Mayer Hawthorne, but this is kinda cool. Fairly young white dude singing soul. People are dancing, including shirtless pothead in front of me with a gut and no pectorals.
4:10PM – My friend explains to me the lols of Mayer introducing his “break up song” with “Coachella I’m sorry to do this to you but…” Hilarious.
4:15PM – Walk by Deerhunter, didn’t look like a meat jackpot Deerhunter set so continued to De La Soul.
4:20PM – De La Soul is pretty boring. Nothing else to do but sit on the grass and chill. Too lazy to walk to Florence and the Machine for a couple minutes.
4:50PM – Surprised to hear Sunny Day Real Estate play Seven so early in their set. Not complaining, this song rules.
5:20PM – Decided to check out Yo La Tengo. Love the pop songs and synchronized light dancing, really dislike the masturbatory jam sessions. Cool how all 3 band members play everything.
6:15PM – Really dig the soundscape that Jonsi/Sigur Ros create. The songs seem a bit more uptempo than Sigur Ros. Plus he’s got a really cool festive outfit and headdress.
6:50PM – Made it into a nice spot by the soundboard for Miike Snow. The band comes out in masks and amidst smoke.
7:15PM – The album is good, but the live show is amazing. This stuff needs to be turned up LOUD!
7:30PM – Would definitely see Miike Snow again.
7:45PM – There’s a ridiculous amount of people for Phoenix, not going to bother getting close for this.
8:00PM – Just realized I only really like 1901 and If I Ever Feel Better from Phoenix anyway. Glad I got to hear those at the end.
8:15PM – Holy laser light show at Little Boots! She’s pretty fun too.
9:05PM – Caught the last few minutes of Orbital’s DJ set. Heard an amazing mix of Halcyon with Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi. Lamp shades baby!
9:30PM – As much as I love Radiohead, I’m pretty sick of The Eraser. Some of the songs just don’t translate well to large venues.
9:30PM – That being said, adding someone like Flea really makes the bass come alive for songs like Harrowdown Hill.
12:30AM – Forewent gorillaz to beat the coachella traffic. Surprisingly it worked! Already at the daily pint in Santa Monica playing shuffleboard.
Click through for a photo gallery. (Caveat: They’re iPhone camera pics.)