23 July 2010

day three

The terrain appeared especially slippery at mid-day of the third leg. There was rain early on, which pushed personal schedules back, and the damn sun was once again ever-present. I was in severe need of protein, and was sneaking granola any chance I found. I also realized that I had five packs of smokes left with only two days remaining in the city.
This was the end of it. My time was up, and I had to be going. When I first started making arrangements back in March for this, I initially was only to do Sunday but quickly realized that it made more conventional sense to do four days in the city and really take it all in. I had mastered the subway system sometime the night before, but regardless I had to leave by the next morning. There were really only two bands on the itinerary for the day, but that alone was enough to consume my attention.
Lightning Bolt is two men from Rhode Island, and they make some fantastic music. It's bass and drums, with pedals and a drummer who wears a mask that seems to have a microphone taped inside of it. The crowd erupted in an instant, which was quite the momentum shift following the mellowness of the previous act. Some had to flee due to the overwhelming intensity of it all, while others continued to surge towards the front. I had been lumped with an old timer crowd, who seemed set on securing a prime position for the end of the night. They were respectfully standing for the set, but still appeared overwhelmingly bewildered. The amount of noise that was generated was incredible. A bystander said it "sounded like someone getting raped,"which is obviously is in poor taste, but is also wrong because the music wasn't angry, it's just free. There are no walls. It is what it is, and it's totally rad.
The rest of the afternoon was spent retracing past steps and mis-steps. Looking back on decisions made, that were both good and bad. The music was there, and it was with me the whole time, but consistently did my mind wander. I let go for minutes at time, not because I was wracked with nerves but mainly because I was waiting. Eventually the hours would tick away, and it would be time for Pavement.

18 July 2010

Pitchfork Music Festival, Day Two, 7/17/10, Chicago, IL

"I'm sweating like a pregnant nun talking to the pope," remarked Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus during the band's mid-day set on Saturday. Yeah, it was hot out. Incredibly warm out, actually. Fortunately, the music was on point so nothing was too unbearable.
By the time I got through the entrance, Real Estate was about half way through their performance. It was a real solid set from a band I've seen a few times before in the past. Personally, it really set the mood for the rest of the day. After it was over, I headed over to the B stage for Kurt Vile. The KV set was one I had earmarked as necessary to see. After seeing him last summer in Brooklyn, I kind of knew that he would own an outdoor stage show and he did. With a full band in tow that even featured some harp action, KV really held it down. I feel like he is still slept on for some reason, but that might just be me. The last time I saw him, he introduced "Freeway" as the number one song on the billboard charts because at the time in certain circles that song was being passed around as some shit that had to be heard. There was no preface for it this time around, but it still appeared to be widely dug by the crowd.
When it ended, it was time to catch as much of Titus Andronicus as humanly possible. If I had missed them again, it would have been the sixth time. The streak ended at five missed opportunities and I managed to see one of the best acts of the day. The sound pouring out of the speakers was terrific, and it reminded me how much I have been enjoying the new album. For lack of better phrasing, it was pure fun seeing them perform. I'm not going to lie, but it made me feel a little giddy on the inside. This was also the point in the day where I realized that it was wickedly hot out, and that it wasn't going to be cooling off any time soon.
I remained in the sun because Raekwon was due up next, and there was no way I was missing that. I had already racked up enough bamma points for the weekend. The DJ was having issues with the sound system, which was unfortunate but also reminded me of '08 when Rae and Ghostface's set was marred by similar issues. Obviously, once it got going it was dope. Undeniable. That dude really knows how to work a crowd. It was all about loving hip hop, real hip hop, and sharing that passion for it. Put your hands in the air for hip hop. I felt like Rae was basically saying fuck the hipsters, and their indifferent attitudes and crossed arms. Rae wanted an audience that was fully committed, not one that was merely appreciative.
At this point, I was in dire need of shade and the B stage had some that was up for grabs. I saw Why?, and that was cool. Someone had recommended them to me years ago, but I never got around to listening to more than a few songs of theirs. To me, it had a very earnest, workman-like quality to it. They wanted it to sound good so they put in the proper effort to make it happen. The lyrics border on absurd, but it's different so I was down. There was also seemed to be some xylophone work going on at times.
I hung around for Bear in Heaven, another band I have read about but never really listened to extensively. I was talking to the cats next to me, and they said that Bear in Heaven was kind of hard to describe. One dude said it was, "kind of depressing, but in an awesome way." I took that as encouraging sign that this would be something right up my alley. I ended up really digging it. It was one of those deals where the sounds are all layered on top of one another. At one point, there were these small kids playing tag and running around. It looked as if they were dancing. It was pretty wild to witness.
Dutifully, I went to go see Panda Bear. It was interesting, and I think I heard some new songs. I'm hesitant to say too much because it was performed live and it was only him on the stage, but at times it still worked. There was some sort of accompanying video that went along with it. There was a shark eating a cow, and people making out and undressing on a roller coaster. At one point, there was a negative transparency of stomach that appeared to be exploding. Whatever song was playing then was tight. There's no denying that the whole performance bordered more on the art side than the music side, but at the same time it didn't deter me from wanting to buy Tomboy when it comes out. It'll probably sound even better with headphones. Watching the crowd reactions was such a trip, though. You could tell that mostly everybody held a certain degree of reverence for Panda Bear, so they didn't want to be too reactionary but at the same time it seemed like most of the crowd was totally confused by what was going on stage.
I ducked out towards the end because there was part of me that had to see Freddie Gibbs. After being in Gary on Thursday, I felt like I owed it to myself to check it out. That man didn't disappoint either. In the two days that I've been here walking around, I've heard several people remark that everything about P4K fest is fake and that all the people here are fake and this and that and the other. They might be right, but let me tell you one thing. Gibbs is real. He's really not playing around when he's talking about his life experiences. He's from a terrifyingly downtrodden area where people get killed so he's going to talk about it. He likes to smoke grass to forget about all the killings so he's going to talk about that too. Admittedly, it was pretty humorous watching people flee from the scene. I guess they were expecting something else, and not a set dedicated to the "killas" and the "smokers".
LCD Soundsystem closed the night down, and would you believe they were incredible. I was totally knocked back on my heels by it. James Murphy had me feeling like I was ten feet tall. So much so, that I was actually dancing. Well, I don't know if others would call it dancing but for me it was pretty close.

17 July 2010

Pitchfork Music Festival, Day One, 7/16/10, Chicago IL

For the sake of full disclosure, it is probably necessary to state that I have a serious weakness for Old Style, this magnificently tasty beer only found in Chicago. It should also be recorded that I traveled by bus to get to the city. The ride from Baltimore took approximately eighteen hours, with stops in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Gary, Indiana. In regards to the last stop, what a fascinating state. Mostly it looked exactly like the opening sequence from Parks and Recreation. However, in Gary I realized that Freddie Gibbs isn't joking when he talks about his town. It's raw out there.
All in all, the bus trip was fine except for the trek from Cleveland to Gary. The driver let a drunk board the bus, and he rode in the seat next to me. He said he had been in prison for the last ten days because he beat the piss out of a security guard. He smelled like he had been drinking paint thinner for the last ten days. Anyway, he passed out on the bus which would be expected given the circumstances. Unfortunately, he slumped over to his right which placed him on top of me. Me and my olsen twin hips were no match for his sheet metal fabricating frame. I spent the next five hours with my face pressed against the glass and my knees tucked into my chest.
When I got off the bus, I did what any rational, responsible, solo traveler would do. I went and grabbed a beer. Then I wandered the town looking for the Stanley Cup. Four and a half hours later, I took the pink line to Ashland and headed towards Union Park. I detoured at a tavern which I knew sold Old Style, but eventually I entered the park. There's no mention of eating or sleeping in these two paragraphs because I did neither. My system was running on caffeine and booze.
For most of friday night, I had the appearance of a zombiefied ghost. My eyes were totally bloodshot, and my complexion was ultra white. I know this for two reasons: 1. This has happened before under similar circumstances, and 2. All the people around me were talking about it.
"Oh my god, what's his problem?"
"Why would you do that in a place like here?"
"I want to take a picture. I've never seen anyone look that fucked up before."
These were the things that I heard as I sat in the grass on Friday. I feel kind of bad, like I was sending out un-chill vibes to everybody because of my outwardly appearance. Seriously, it really seemed to freak some people out. But at the same time, fuck it. It was yesterday. It already happened.
Apologies for the prattling, but all of it was in my notes and it seemed necessary to mention it. Also, I missed several acts on Friday because of travel so I have to fill this space somehow.
Broken Social Scene was fantastic. I swear they never come to my neighborhood, so to finally see them was kind of special. I don't have a set list handy, but basically they played everything everyone wanted to hear.
Modest Mouse closed on Friday, and they did their thing. I had heard before that their live shows leave a lot left to be desired due to heavy consumption before taking the stage, but last night it sounded pretty coherent. People were throwing toilet paper in the crowd, which I found odd because I was under the impression that everyone in the crowd was super cautious about creating waste yet I saw the roll fly through the air. Someone has to clean that shit up. I also saw glowsticks being tossed around which I haven't seen since the granola festival days of '06/'07.
The festival seems to be getting bigger, and in doing so it's attracting more groups of people to come and get down which is pretty rad. With that being said, it's going to be packed today.

11 July 2010

in other news, i had been pulling for the netherlands for the last month and they lost today. tip of the hat to spain.

09 July 2010

New Deerhunter Album

The supremely radical Deerhunter will be releasing their fourth record on September 28 via 4AD. Download the flyer above here. This whole thing is going down in a word of mouth kind of way. Print out the image, and paste it all over the place. Also, make sure to buy the album when it comes out. It will be called Halcyon Digest.

(via p4k)

05 July 2010

I bought this on Amazon for less than a pack of cigarettes

Royal Trux - Untitled (Drag City 1992)
The third album from the duo that is Royal Trux is supposed to be the conventional one. It's advertised as being less experimental, and more direct. The first two albums are kind of brilliant in their ability to blur the lines between unlistenable and totally rad. The subject matter is still largely the same, but the third LP is definitely less strung out than it's predecessors. The whole record is only thirty two minutes long, as opposed to Twin Infinitives which clocked in at four tracks and sixty three minutes.
This was the first of two albums that Royal Trux recorded in Rockville, Maryland, and it's also the second to last album recorded by the band for Drag City. After Cats and Dogs was released in 1993, the major labels dangled serious dollars in front of the band. It was an attempt to find the new Nirvana. What a raw deal. After making beautifully pure and honest music, a band is taken captive by sweating, scheming suits and are then forced to make agreeable music. What if they don't want to make convenient, tidy music? What if they'd rather make noise and occasional song? Looking back, it arguably doesn't matter since Royal Trux never blew up and as are beneath the ground now as they were in the early nineties.
If you think about it like that, then it's actually a pretty great 'fuck you' to the major labels. They spent money, and assume they failed because there was no chart success, but at the same time they didn't even really know what they were dealing with in the first place. They had to accept all blame, and the reason they are the guilty ones is because they don't get 'it'. This is justice so sweet it could only be doled out by Batman.
Unsurprisingly, this record is a grower. The groove for this album is planted in the brain early on in the process, but it's not until much later that the light goes off. It's unpredictable in the sense that the listener expects it to go berserk at any moment, but it never does. The songs continue to play, and they are good but they're not totally weird. The whole thing sounds like 1992 and whatever bullshit that comes with it. There's the potential that upcoming years may not suck, and that's a popular line of thinking, but there's still room for skepticism. This album is very grounded in it's presentation. It's not trying to blow anyone away, or hit them in the head with awesomeness. It has songs on it, that are meant to be listened to. It's not an endurance test like earlier efforts. It's more inviting, while still possessing qualities of exclusivity. If the time has already been put in, then it's quite the experience. If it's the first listen, then it's something different and new. All things considered, it's a pretty conventional album.