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.

Peter Case at McCabe's


Peter Case at McCabe's, originally uploaded by freeloosedirt.

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 newest cd for a 6 song run in the middle of the show.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The National owned Coachella


The National, originally uploaded by freeloosedirt.

Awesome. I was really pleasantly surprised on how engaging and dynamic their music was. Good stuff.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Feeling Blue? Which shade?


Feeling Blue? Which shade?, originally uploaded by freeloosedirt.

I went to Beverly Hills on Monday to buy tickets to Friday at Coachella from a guy who offered them up on Craigslist. I snapped this photo while I was waiting for him to show.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Springsteen 4/7/08

Heidi & I had some great seats; side view right over the stage. It
was the "Club Level" with waitresses there at the ready to take your
order and bringing the beers and hoagies. The only drawback was that
the sound was a little muddy, but the view was great. Right below
between the seating and the stage was the VIP section, which is where I spotted Chad Lowe

Bruce started off with Thunder Road - The trouble with leading off with this one is that there is bound to be a drop-off with the next few songs. I could have left the show after this one song and been satisfied. Chad Lowe did snow angels. Next up was Radio Nowhere, which pales in comparison, but better than I thought. Clearly written to play in the big arenas. Next up: Lonesome Day.I like this song, and was glad to hear it.

Now comes a song that should be played later in the set. And I say that because it would make the perfect time for a bathroom break. "Gypsy Biker." At least it was a moment to sit down. I really noticed the muddy sound during the next song, "Murder Inc." "Magic" was played as a stripped down acoustic number. Just Bruce vox and fiddle. Pretty chilling. "Atlantic City" was next. I thought "OK, now we are starting to pick it up again."

The next song was "Candy's Room." The first time I saw Bruce was in HS, during the tour for The River. I piled in a big old smashed up Lincoln with five other dudes and a case of beer. I was wedged up against the door in the back seat next to a guy I'd never met. The whole way there he'd chug a beer and then repeat over and over again how he'd wanted to hear "Candy's Room." It was a great show and afterwards we all rode around high fiving each other, but not this guy. He was so sad that he didn't get Candy's Room and he just sat in the back seat with his head hung. I thought of him immediately upon hearing Max play the opening bits.

"Reason To Believe"
was presented as a vampy blues song with Bruce singing through the mike for his harp at points. After he was done he chucked his harp into the crowd. A highlight for me.
When the band ripped into "Prove It All Night" I had an epiphany about the appeal of nostalgia shows that seem to dominate arena rock shows. Every single person in the Honda Center was on their feet. I was really impressed with Nils solo during the next song, "Because The Night"

"She's The One" was offered next. This is Heidi's favorite and we were dancing from start to finish. I didn't really care for "Livin' In The Future" when I listened to it on the record, but Bruce took a moment to explain it (not paying attention to what's happening over the past eight years) and then kicked into revival preacher mode for a slightly extended version.

One of my favorites "The Promised Land" was next, followed by "Brilliant Disguise." While Bruce was finishing "Disguise" his roadies were affixing a set of effects pedals on the stage. It turned out that these were for Tom Morello, and his guest spot on the next song, "Ghost of Tom Joad." Wow, talk about having learned to make a guitar talk.

It was tough to follow that and the next two songs, "Last To Die" and "Long Walk Home" were a bit of a lull.

But then came "Badlands." Lull overwith.

To close the main set, they played "Out In The Street." One of the joys of a Bruce show is the experience of an arena full of people singing along.

After the encore break, we got "Meeting Across The River" played with just Bruce, Bass and Piano. Chill bump enducing. As if "Born to Run" was on the record player, they went right into "Jungleland" which for me was life affirming. and then he ripped right into "Born To Run" and my recently affirmed life was reaffirmed. Next up was "Dancing In The Dark." There was a guy in the pit who had his little girl with him. She was about six, and spent the whole show perched on her Daddy's shoulders totally loving the show. During DitD, Bruce signals for them to come forward, and the pit "crowd surfs" her up to the stage, and Bruce brings her on to the stage to dance the Courtney Cox part. I hope this makes it to youtube.com.

The show closer was "American Land" from the Seeger sessions record. What a great ender.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Music History

Bands I liked in High School that I'm embarrassed to own up to:

Journey
Styx
Boston
Foreigner
John Waitt/Babys
Supertramp
HogFat

Bands I liked in High School that I'm not embarrassed about but
wouldn't listen to anymore:

Yes
ELP
Tull
Rush
Marrilion
Sabbath
Cars

Bands/Artists I liked in HS that I still listen to:

Stones
Beatles
Brooooooce
Floyd
Dylan
Bob The Marley
Zep

Lakers!!

I'm imagining a Lakers v Celts finals, with Lakers winning. I'm imagining a Obama Presidency. These things could really happen