Sunday, April 27, 2008

My last few days

Friday: Coachella.

I caught Rogue Wave first. I haven't really paid attention to this band, but that's going to change. Next up, Jack and I walked around some, and checked out the sculptures and art. I think I was the only guy without a decent camera. Fuck playing by the rules, I'm taking the Nikon next year.

Jack noticed that the Virgin tent was hosting cd signings, including Vampire Weekend and Rogue Wave. VW was on the top of Jack's list for the day, and he was as enthusiastic as I was about Rogue Wave after seeing their set, so he went in and bought their cds and went out and lined up for the VW signing.

Nice kids, but can you be that clean cut and not be in a band called Haircut 100?

We went over to the outdoor theater to check out Les Savy Fav, but quickly got disillusioned. When I went last May to see Brakes at Spaceland, there was another act, Har Mar Superstar, that leaned too heavily on this self humiliation, Andy Kaufmanesque gag in the opening slot. Like all gags, it gets very tedious really fast, but it doesn't seem to deter those that employ it from taking it to another then another hideously embarrassing level. Hey, done right, a fat balding forty something white guy stripping down to his undies and acting like he's the sexiest thing ever might be funny for a moment, but not for a forty five minute set. By the time Less Savy was donning a trash bag and blowing bubbles, we were headed out to check some of the sponsor's AC'ed tents. Looking other people's pictures on flickr, I realize that I'm fortunate we left before he was fiddling around in his undies for his cock. I couldn't tell you what the music sounded like, but this dork didn't seem to want me to focus on that, so, really, why should I care?

Next, we relaxed in the shade a distance from the main stage, listening to Slightly Stoopid. There are worse things than being too hot and chilling to Orange County Stoner Reggae songs after quenching your thirst with a beer.

We went next to the outdoor stage to catch Vampire Weekend. They had a huge crowd gathering, and we were relegated to bleacher seats in the back of the lawn.

While the stage was being set up, I could hear part of Tegan and Sarah's set over at the Main Stage, which made me want to check out some of their stuff. My daughter likes them, so I'll see what she's got.

Vampire Weekend was tight, affable and infectious and I'm glad I caught their set. After they played A-Punk, about a third of the crowd left. Too bad, some of their better songs, like Walcott, were yet to come. I was so proud to see my son wearing his Bruce shirt and Lakers hat listening to music and wanting to do cannonballs. I bring my kids up right.

As the sun got lower in the sky, and the search lights lit up along the perimeter, I think each and every person with a joint lit up in unison.

The National were playing next, and most of the remaining VW crowd cleared out, so we were able to get right up on the rail for their set. This was a highlight of this year's Coachella for me. As subdued and relaxing as their music sounds on CD, it's that loud, dynamic and rocking played live. So as the sun goes down, and the breeze picks up, I'm at the rail bouncing up and down and pumping my fist. I could tell Jack was horrified to see Dad cannonball.

Next up was the Raconteurs. They are really great live, and there were moments that I thought that was Zeppelin playing up there. Jack White could certainly front Led Zeppagain if his other bands don't work out.

We headed over to the Gobi tent next, but Aesop Rock was still playing, so we hung out outside until that set was finished. When they were done, we headed in to catch Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings. Holy shit, those Aesop Rock fans love smoking teh marijuana. The tent was thick with reek.

Sharon Jones didn't come in till the third song of the set. The Dap Kings jammed out some tasty soul and r&b for a bit. What a tight band. When Sharon joined them, we all had a good sweat worked up, and were ready for her to seal the deal. She got a few more songs in, when I noticed that Jack was wobbling. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the long day. Maybe it was the contact high from all the pot, but I could tell he was done, so we headed back to the car. The biggest plus of leaving SJ&DK early was catching Verve doing "Bittersweet Symphony" before taking the long hike out to the parking lot.

That was a really great day at Coachella and the three hour drive back to Simi wasn't too bad. There was some classic rock station out by Palm Springs that delighted in playing the shit out of the collected works of Bruce Springsteen.

Saturday was sleep in day. I got up in time to gobble up some lunch and the watch The Lakers dispatch The Thuggets and go up 3-0 in the series. After that, I headed out to Santa Monica and McCabe's to catch Peter Case.

The last few times that I've seen Peter Case, he has either deferred to the younger performers that he was sharing the stage with, or was just winging it. Or both. It was enough for me to feel reluctance in going out on my own to see him again. I think that it helped that it was on a Saturday night.

Boy am I glad that I went. Case was completely focused, rehearsed and delivered a luminous performance.

Starting off with a country blues version of "Put Down The Gun" and dipping deep into his entire body of work. He did focus on his newestcd for a 6 song run in the middle of the show. Introducing "24 Hours" he said that he hadn't written a song about being on the road, because Jackson Brown already did that, and how could you top "Running On Empty" ?

Surrounded by guitars from years past, new guitars and embodying the history of McCabe's, Case delivered.

Sunday: Los Angeles Festival of Books

The highlight was Aimee Mann and Joe Henry discussing the process of writing lyrics and how that differed from writing a book or a poem. Joe Henry is amazingly articulate man. Aimee Mann, like, not so much. But at least she knew she was overmatched, and spent most of her mic time telling everyone how she couldn't follow what Henry just said, or explaining that he just made whatever point better than him.

At one point Henry was explaining that a guy couldn't write songs about his own life, because Jackson Brown had already done that just about as well as anyone could have done it with "Running On Empty." I wanted to ask him if he had been at Peter Case the night before.
They punctuated each answer by playing a song. Joe Henry played "Short Man's Room", "Our Song" and a song from the point of view of a 15 year old boy whose mother worked in a luxury hotel in Cuba on the day of the revolution. An amazing performer.

Aimee Mann played a song about Jacob Marley's chain, another from an upcoming cd, and that song about not being able to afford the freeway.

I'm home, drinking a beer, feeling sunburned, happy and drinking a beer. I'm glad that I don't have anything going on tomorrow.

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