About an hour ago Father John Misty, whom some of you better know as J Tillman of Fleet Foxes, played a free show at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.
Sadly I wasn’t able to get tickets to the Bag Raiders, Classixx and RAC show a few weeks back. So I’ve picked up tickets to Fake Blood an Alex Metric as a consolation prize. And as consolation prizes go, it’s sure to be better than a red ribbon.
While last month’s featured DJs are known for dreamy remixes heavy on synth, Fake Blood builds bangers. Continue reading Fake Blood and Alex Metric
A good friend just told me that June 1st three fantastic DJs—Bag Raiders, Classixx, and the Remix Artists Collective—are going to be at the Mezzanine. All three of these DJs should be on your must-see list, as they’re consistently putting out memorable remixes of indie bands you already love (or should). But don’t take my word for it, have a listen for yourself. Continue reading Bag Raiders, Classixx and RAC play the Mezzanine this Saturday
Here’s a little snippet from my journal from the night of the Los Campesinos show June 26, 2008.
skanking: V. The dance you do at the Los Campesinos! show when you are hysterical with joy and you have leg room.
pogo: V. The dance you do at the Los Campesinos! show when you are packed like Mentos in a Coke bottle with other joyful fans.
mosh: V. What happens when the whole crowd fizzes over, bounding off walls and fleshy sweaty bodies all singing “It’s you…It’s me…It’s dancing!”.
drum solo: N. When the drummer for Los Campesinos runs into the audience and the whole audience keeps the beat with hand claps.
the Jane Fonda Workout: N. What you get when you pogo through the cacophonous segment of “We Throw Parties You Throw Knives”.
thirsty: Adj. How I feel when I see Tom Campesinos! sweat.
ugly: Adj. What your chest will look like when you proudly brandish your new Los Campesinos! T-shirt, for all their merch looks like nightmares illustrated by pre-schoolers.
satisfaction: N. The feeling associated with having shouted and sang and squirmed your heart out. Synonyms: spent, glowing, Rawr. Cross-reference to: Los Campesinos!, “with your chin on your knees like you belong.”
I must say the sound quality at the Independent was outstanding. I didn’t even need earplugs for the first act.
I usually attempt to pay attention to all aspects of the performers but to no avail. She was captivating. As these photos show, Flo had my undivided attention. I managed to get two poor quality photos of the keyboardist and guitarist. I didn’t manage to get any pics of the enormous harp. That thing must have been ten feet tall.
Not a lot chit-chat on stage. Part of her stage presence is a sense of drama, which doesn’t go well with a ton of stage banter. She covered her face with a scarf and sang under strobe, like something that flashes on the screen in a horror movie. Then she could make that same dress light and dainty, her red hair swirling and bright. Someone in the audience gave her a mask and she wore it as if it were part of the act all along.
The audience at the Mezzanine was fantastic too, singing along to not just one or two but every song.
Early on she played Drumming Song and My Boy Builds Coffins (my personal favorite). She didn’t play “Girl With One Eye,” perhaps my only disappointment. She closed the show with You’ve Got the Love. For the encore she came out wearing hot pants and a t-shirt with a large image of Gene Wilder. I didn’t have good photos of this, but I enclosed a crappy one. For the encore she sang “Kiss With A Fist” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up).” It was lovely and all over too quickly.
While Destructo was finishing up his set at the Mezzanine, I wandered upstairs in search of a better view. I was surprised to see a DJ setting up in the back room. Hope alighted my belly. I asked the gent assembling what his name was and he said Jaime. Hope swelled. I asked him if he had a DJ name. He seemed a little taken aback, like the answer wasn’t ready at his fingertips.
I said, “Oh, great. Then you’re who I’m here to see.” Well that wasn’t exactly true—I’d only found out he was going to be there a few hours ago, but it immediately outshone my interest in the main act, Major Lazer. Major Lazer’s set was probably starting at that minute, I didn’t know or give a damn.
He seemed shy and not at all accustomed to the cult of celebrity. When I told him “I love your album” I almost thought he didn’t believe me. But truth be told, in that crowd he wasn’t a celebrity. I wanted to tell him that by the time he comes back to San Francisco The XX will be the name on everyone’s lips but that sort of praise always sounds like B.S., especially in a loud crowd, especially when that crowd is not dancing to your music.
I originally thought they were going to squeeze him in for a short set on the crowded, enormous, sweaty main stage. Instead I had a sweet spot directly in front of the DJ with all the room I needed to lay down whatever dance move struck my fancy. There was no stage, he had a DJ table on the floor sandwiched between some cordoned off VIP booths. Basically, my pal and I were the only ones dancing for a time. We didn’t mind. It was like seeing (a third of) The XX DJ at a private house party. Upstairs at the Mezzanine is small, intimate, even hidden. It was warm and oddly dry. We threw our limbs where we damned well pleased. Even when the crowd picked up, it seemed the other groovers were happy to make room for us. Territory: marked. We tore that dancefloor up so hard that a random woman in the crowd went out of her way to score a high-five with yours truly.
One thing I’ve found pretty consistent about DJ sets is that most have a preferred BPM. Jamie was no different, most of his songs were, like the XX’s album, simple, chill beats. He mixed them beautifully, showing off a variety of techniques but never actually “showing off.” He played a mix of vinyl and CDs; most were songs I’ve never heard before. He chose only one hip-hop song and I wanted to ask him who it was but I was too busy getting busy. I would have liked for him to have played more songs with vocals but, unlike Diplo & Switch’s set, there was plenty of melody to please my ears.
My pal had a chat with a guy whose pupils were the size of silver dollars while they watched Major Lazer from the stairwell. In the throes of some ecstatic experience he tried to convince that we were missing out on the action. But watching Switch shout and hype frenetically over Diplo’s BASS BASS BASS and no melody, our peeks onto the main floor convinced us otherwise. The bass-hungry crowd only seemed to wander upstairs for respite (perhaps they were intimidated by our awesome dancing? I like to think so).
As the hour approached for Miike Snow’s upstairs set, girls crowded in next to me, snapping photos. I had forgotten I could take photos and almost didn’t want to. It seemed like snapping photos in his face would ruin the illusion in my head of a personal experience now (weren’t we single-serving friends now that he was on a first-name basis? Hmm, probably not). But then I got kind of annoyed that these bitches didn’t even want a picture of Jamie. By the time I had my camera out, he had already crept off the stage. I had just enough time to wonder if these girls newly crowding the floor thought he was some local DJ, how many didn’t know The XX was going to be their new favorite CD, how many were going to repeat “Crystalized” over and over on their trendy mp3 players. Then, like a secret whispered in the night, he was gone.
As a Floridian, most bands arouse the crowd by saying how surprised they are to see a lively crowd in the netherworld of suburban hell. All day at Treasure Island the bands were raving about how much they loved our city. While every band wants to sweet talk their audience, it’s easy to believe. Treasure Island has one of the best views of the skyline and I can only imagine, as a performer, what it must have been like to be standing on that stage with water all around you and San Francisco leaping up across the bay bridge. The weather was perfect when the sunset greeted the Brazilian Girls on Saturday night. They raved quite a bit about what a joy it was to come and perform at this festival. With the clouds turning yellow and gold and a warm breeze blowing through the autumn eve, I think most of us were happy to be there.
Even though they’re not actually Brazilian, I kept comparing the Brazilian Girls to the Brazilian act Cansei de ser Sexy. Both rely on a wordly, outrageous front woman that wears ridiculous outfits. Both have fantastic keyboardists. Both have a sense of humor and a touch of sexy. Where they differ is in their experience as musicians. Brazilian Girls have that been-around-the-block quality while CSS is still drunk on their own fame. For this reason CSS puts on a better show—there’s a ton of energy and excitement that it’s a thrill to be a part of. But Brazilian Girls were satisfying, even if their audience was mostly drawing blanks when it came to their multi-lingual songs. I’d like to see them again when they are the main act and have an audience that truly appreciates them.
Once Treasure Island was fully cloaked by the dark of night, MSTRKRFT took the stage. Seeing a live DJ-set is always like ordering the mystery meat, and MSTRKRFT was no exception. Simply because someone is a good producer doesn’t mean they are any good at throwing down tracks on the fly or anticipating what the audience is feeling. I had hoped that since half of MSTRKRFT was once in a rock band (Death From Above 1979) that they would be more committed to playing entire melodies unlike some other DJs I won’t mention *here. And they were slightly better. But I won’t say they picked the freshest dance tracks. More importantly, they did a lot of egotistical showing off of skillful song transitions that completely abandoned playing the best part of the song. A *lot of DJ’s do this and it drives me crazy. It wasn’t terrible but I would say the DJ that wasn’t even listed on the schedule was playing more songs that made me want to wiggle and jiggle than this all-star DJ.
MGMT was the headliner for Saturday night. MGMT started their set by announcing that this would be the last time they would be able to play these songs for a long time so they were going to play the entire album from start to finish. Holy smokes, right?! This implied that they are ready to hop into the studio to start working on new material, which is great news because we’ve all overplayed their first album and all it’s subsequent remixes till the phrase “Shock me like electric eel” leads me to **violent twitching.
It also meant that we of the mp3 generation were going to hear how the album was intended to be listened to. Hearing the whole thing played through really did give it more of a narrative quality that was more cohesive than, say, the entire ***Green Day’s American Idiot musical. I have often described MGMT to the uninitiated as a disco-folk band. But now that I’ve seen them I’d have to say they’re a psychedelic-disco-folk band. I caught some happy folks gazing at their shoes from time to time, including members of the band. They’re not a roof-raising show but they were skilled musicians and a good time was had by all.
*I lied: Bloody Beetroots, Crookers: shame shame shame
** not literally. It’s just overplayed, I’m saying.
***which was terrible. Just so you know.