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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Place 

Though the length of that last post might suggest otherwise, Coachella was not the primary purpose we had in visiting Southern California this last weekend. The real reason was to find a place to live starting at the end of the month.

We found an incredible place. I don't have time to discuss it right now, becuase I've got to go to Plush and hear some sick dubstep sounds from my buddy Grommit. But I will post link to some pictures. Click here.

I have some more pictures that we took that I'll try to post later. But that site should give you a pretty good idea. We're really excited about the place and the neighborhood. Plus, I won't even have to get on the freeway to get to work. Nicely.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Coachella 

Coachella was pretty sweet. Here's the highlights.

We got into Indio at 1:00. In plenty of time, I thought, to get to the polo grounds, park, and get inside to catch most or all of the Platinum Pied Pipers set at 2.

Boy was I wrong. We sat on this street called Jefferson for about an hour. Barely moving. Having to pee so bad our teeth were floating. With no end in sight. Finally we parked, waited another 20 minutes for the pisser,* another 20 to get through the gate, and finally made it to the stage in time to see the last 3 songs of Lady Sovereign's set.

Her stage show was null. It was her and her DJ. The DJ would drop an instrumental record and she would wail over it while hyping the crowd. She has good stage presence, but overall I had the same reaction to her as I did to seeing M.I.A. live. I love the tunes and dig bumpin' 'em in the car, but I'm glad I didn't pay to see her solo or I woulda been disappointed.

After that we got some grub and caught a little of The Animal Collective. Didn't get to see that much of them, but what I saw made me want to see more. But it made me want to see more in a small club-style venue with some caps and stems in hand. They get points for creativity, but sometimes nuts is just nuts, and these guys might fit into that category as well. I'd have to see them again to make a judgment I felt okay about.

Then it was on to Common. I missed him at 40 Acres fest because I'm getting old and crotchety and didn't feel like wading through throngs of undergrads to get to the lovely beer enclosure. Little did I know that beer would still be relegated to an enclosure, like a free speech zone but without the riot gear, at Coachella as well. Common's set served to reinforce a long-held view. Hip-hop shows are meant to be in clubs, not in stadiums or at festivals. He did a good job of keeping the vibe live despite the massive stage and lazy afternoon crowd, and for that he gets props. There was some live instrumentation mixed with the beats, but it seemed like it was hastily thrown together, which is wierd because I know he's been on tour. He and the other musicians were probably just victims of that ancient enemy of hip-hop: the sound engineer who doesn't know rap from his butt pucker and, since he'd rather be listening to ZZ Top, just goes ahead and mics the stage as if he were.

The cheesy "pull a girl up from the crowd to serenade her" trick didn't go over as planned when the girl's name turned out to be, and I shit you not, "H.G." - from Palm Springs no less. She was ugly as sin and somebody said she was 16. If that's the case, I feel sorry for her because she looked about 36. It was a fiasco. Not that that old gag ever turns out well. Why, Common, why?

After Common was one of the highlights of the festival for me. E-air told me to check out My Morning Jacket. Our tastes diverge significantly, but he's got a good head for music so I'd picked up the record a while ago and was stoked to get the chance to see them live. And it was, by a wide margin, the best straight-ahead rock and roll show I'd seen in years. Outstanding. The sound engineers got them right, and the lead singer's voice is as impressively emotive live as it is recorded. They were tight, smart, jammed quite a bit but not too much, and generally out-rocked, out-balladed, and out-played some of my favorite rock bands. Big ups to these cats and I can't wait to see them again. It was refreshing to see great songwriting meet killer charisma and rock attitude without the hipster put-on. Fuck the rockers you see hanging out next to Emo's with the faux-hawk and the bondage pants. These guys were the real deal.

Then Sigur Ros. I'm not going to try to write a review. I absolutely must...MUST...see them in a sit-down theatre-style venue. Four words. Go. See. This. Band. It'll be a show you tell your kids about.**

At this point, we took another food break, where I caught some of Franz Ferdinand from afar. Pretty typical British rock, if you ask me. Though I'm certainly not a connoisseur. Their hits are catchy as all fuck, so it was fun to hear them played live. But I was too far away to get the whole she-bang in terms of stage energy. I'll leave a proper review of them to someone who knows better than I do.

After food, we headed over to the dance tent for the first time. Saw about a minute and a half of Cat Power on the way over there, and it made me want to see her in a smokey jazz club. I got this image of her onstage with a small band at the Elephant Room. If you haven't heard the record, go check it. Memphis soul with a twist of indie. Her voice makes you wanna grab her through the speakers and cradle her in your arms. Norah Jones fans beware - she'll steal your heart. But at the moment at the festival I was too energized from hangin' with my good buddy Jacob and his girl to chill out that hardcore.

The dance tent was nuts. Best rave-style set-up I've seen since the cops started tearin' 'em down round these parts. We caught about the last 30 minutes of Carl Cox's set. He's been around forever and was instrumental in bringing techno, an American-made genre, over to Great Britain (and later on to Europe) where it has thrived. Seeing him live again took me right back to where I was when I saw him rock it the first time in 1999 here in Austin. He was killin' it. The man can control a crowd very, very well. It was a blast and a pleasant surprise since I only went over there really to meet up with some friends in from San Fran and some fellow Austinites. I guess the rave never died out in Cali. Not sure whether that's good or bad. But it was good that evening cuz Carl was droppin' bombs!

Next up was Depeche Mode. They're quite old. I wanted to hear the anthems and they wanted to save them til the end of the set. I wanted to be in a good spot for Daft Punk and wouldn't wait around, so that's that. Glad I can say I saw them live, but it was pretty yawnerific.

Then there was the highlight of the evening. Taken as a whole - sound, visuals, and crowd participation - Daft Punk delivered what may well be the best live-P.A. electronic music show I've ever seen. And I've seen more than you and whoever you're sitting next to combined. The first picture is how the stage looked right after they opened the curtain. You can barely see it, but the two guys who are Daft Punk are wearing helmets and leather suits. One helmet was shiny silver with a mouth slit and an eye visor and the other was shiny gold with a large black visor. The design on the costumes was immaculate, transforming something that should have been as cheesy as chester into the dopeness.

As you can see, the stage started out looking pretty cool and ended up blowing your mind. Everything lit up, and everything was a screen. From the l.e.d. curtan behind them to the framing triangles to the pyramid they were standing on. Everything did something and it was synched perfectly with the music. So much so I was sure they were controlling the visuals from their laptops as well as the music. It was sick. And I can't remember the last time I saw a crowd go that nuts. Especially a crowd of 20,000+, and there had to be that many in the tent. It was unbelievable. They played everything from the classic tracks on Homework to the new hits that I don't know as well. But I was diggin' it all. The sound was pristine, but loud enough to make your heart skip beats. Just how I like it. Overall it was a masterpiece of a set, and the crowd knew it. The grin on my face was so wide I was afraid I'd go all pez dispenser if I didn't reign it in.

That was the end of the fun. Then it took us almost an hour to file out of the festival grounds through a dangerously and inexplicably small exit only to realize we forgot where we parked. 30 minutes later we finally found our little rent-a-Corolla and were on our way to Palm Springs to couch-crash in Jacob's hotel room. Thanks, homey, you made our night. Overall the experience was a blast if tiring. We were actually kinda glad we didn't have to fight the crowd again on Sunday, but you can bet your ass we'll be back next year if the line-up is even comparable.

* For those dudes wondering why I didn't just let 'er rip on the side of the road, here's the deal. First and foremost I held it as a sign of solidarity with my non-penis-having girlfriend. Second, there were cops everywhere just waiting to write you a ticket for releasing the beast in front of a slew of concert goers. Third, I was driving. Fourth...well, you get the idea.
** Or if you already have kids, take them with you (with ear protection). It'll be one they can tell their friends about when they're 20-something and jaded.

Dallas Gig 

I said I'd get to it eventually, and eventually is now. Here's some pics from the Get Broke invades Dallas gig on April 15th.

First, the partners in crime, Merrick and myself, gettin' ready to get the place hype:
Damn my hair was gettin' long. I'm all shorn now...lookin' mighty respectable.

Here's a shot of the crowd from the DJ booth.
The venue was Zubar. I'd been there before, and nobody danced, so I was stoked when the place blew up. Good times.

I'm in a picture-postin' mood right now. Had to be at the house all day waiting for delivery of my new bed. It's here now, and it kicks ass. But because I've been waiting around I've got all my gadgets in a row and can finally sort through my gig-big card that's been festering in my camera for a few weeks. So get ready for some more pics.

Net Neutrality 

Here's a nice bipartisan issue we can all support. Check out the new button on the left-hand side. I've called Congressman Lamar Smith and both our (lovely) Texas Senators (not that I expect them to do anything about it).

You should make some calls, too. It's important to keep telco companies from cherrypicking which content they want to be most available. Freedom of information issues are one of the only things that get me as nuts as drug war issues, and this one is a biggie.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thank You Stephen Colbert 

For speaking truth to power, at a range of only a couple of feet, and in front of a press with blinders on.

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