Long live rock, I need it every night

Monday, August 31, 2009

Like a Virgin*

The Virgin Mobile Free Fest - Sunday, August 30th @ Merriweather Post Pavilion - $10 (for two tickets)

This was my first Virgin Mobile Festival having passed up super rockers The Who and The Police in year's past, mostly due to the previous venue. I saw Lollapalooza at the Watkins Glen race track in the mid 90s - which was hot, dusty, and ultimately disappointing - and we all know what happened at Altamont Speedway.

But this year, the Vfest moved to Merriweather, which is way better than a racetrack and one of the more tolerable pavilions in the area, oh, and it was virtually free.

Here's the quick run down of the day (for me):

Holy F*ck was our first stop at the Dance Stage. We only stayed a couple of minutes before moving on, but I continue to like this band's live act. More on them in a minute.

St. Vincent was playing the West Stage at the same time Holy F*ck were up, and Emma Peel and I opted to check them/her out across the way. We arrived just in time to hear her cover the Beatles' Dig a Pony. Covers are great. This one was not. But she's hot, and as sexist/sexy as that may be, it helped.

We parted ways with St. Vincent toward the end of her set to catch Mates of State at the Pavilion Stage. We found some shade under a small tree and lounged to the disjointed rhythms from this Kansas creation. I like the tracks I've heard on WOXY, the ones that appear to be individuals songs from start to finish (Think Long, My Only Offer). But I'm not one for unnecessary groove disruptions, so the tempo changes from these two got me off my duff and I headed back to the Dance Stage.

Holy F*ck were still at it, but wrapping things up. They were scheduled for 2 and a half hours. Holy F*ck, that's a long set. Long enough for me to walk to two other stages and be able to check out two other acts, come back and hear the finale. By the end of their set, they had built a solid crowd and had them all kinds of riled. That's what I like about this group. They get folks moving.

By 2:30 it was time for lunch and we headed back toward the West Stage where the food options were more diverse (and slightly more risky) than elsewhere. They included: greek salads, burritos, crab pretzels (got me), steamed crabs, chinese food, chicken tenders, and italian subs. I got the chinese sampler platter which was a good value but made my stomach ache.

The Hold Steady were next on the list, and this was a highlight as I've never seen this nerd-rock in action. Fun. Great live performers, a good number of fans there to soak it up and play along. Craig Finn certainly delivers his lyrics with a Boss quality. I'm not sure I recognized any of their tunes.

I previously suggested that we (DCRC) had seen JET before, which is of course a complete fabrication. But JET is one of those bands that despite being Australian, is a lot like one of those post-Strokes British-sounding rock pop bands that have flourished in recent years, and I got carried away. We checked them out at Vfest Sunday, and they performed adequately, though seemed disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd.

Public Enemy number one. Chuck D and Flavor Flav played the West Stage and we lazily took in their performance from a distance. Chuck D is the EF Hutton of hip hop. He speaks, and I listen. His voice cuts through anything. I never thought I'd see PE in my lifetime so this was another great bonus. Another check off the list.

The National were up next on the West Stage, so we stayed put. I really like this band, and I knew I wouldn't feel bad sitting through their melancholy set. Matt Berninger looked a bit like Kevin Klein, and his deep vocals are hard to replicate live, but he managed to wail loud and impassioned.

Weezer was the band that I was anxious to see Sunday. About 4 years ago, I had tickets to see them play in DC, but had to leave town for work and couldn't go. So this was my do-over. You can't hate Weezer. I'm sorry. You can't. They have hits. They play hits. The Pavilion Stage was packed packed packed for their set. Mr. Virgin, Sir Richard Branson, was seen with a broad smile as he rode in one of those cherry pickers adjacent to the stage while Weezer performed. Rivers Cuomo had a trampoline on stage. What more can I say?

That was enough free rock for one day, and we skipped out on Franz Ferdinand (which was probably a mistake) and Blink 182 (which was probably not a mistake).

I wonder how Vfest moves forward. Once you go free, can you really come back and sell tickets? Keep the free tunes coming, Sir Dick. I was touched for the very first time.

*Post title credit to Emma Peel

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Virgin Mobile Festival is this coming Sunday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and I will be representing DCRC at this traffic jam. As Jumbo Slice evaluates the Fun Fun Fun Fest line-up, a look at the Virgin Fest website keeps me guessing as to whom is playing when and where. They say check back on Friday. I say give it up already. Virgins indeed.

Per usual, I didn't recognize all of the acts listed, so I decided to have a look at one of the acts, Wale. I chose Wale because the name was the shortest to type into the search bar (aside from Jet, whom I've already seen at ACL). I also thought it might bring up some band from Providence, R.I. or the Pacific Northwest, or somewhere whale lovers might spawn.

Here's what I found instead:

Notice that the dude's name, Wale, is pronounced like the robot inspired movie, Wall-e and is not like Free Willy - whale. Okay, fine.

Wale likes his Ben's Chili Bowl (BCB). So much so that he could have called this track, Chili, instead of Chillin. Wale has a couple other vids on youtube, one called Nike Boots (it's not that good, but if you insist). More BCB in that one too. I think if there's any hip-hop to be had at Virgin Fest Sunday, it'll come from Public Enemy. But good to see some home grown talent on the roster for the Vfest.

Fun Fun Fun Fest Lineup Announced

You've all heard plenty about SXSW and Austin City Limits but do you know about the Fun Fun Fun Fest? If you've always wanted to visit Austin and catch tons of great music, head on down the weekend of Nov. 7 & 8th.

This year the festival has 91 bands, rappers, DJs, and comedians to choose from. Transmission Entertainment truly did an incredible job curating this lineup. Here are some of the bands and performers I'm most looking forward to:

Brian Posehn - I'm still trying to hunt down the video he did for Black Moth Super Rainbow. If you've been to their show you know what I'm talking about.

Danzig - Seriously. Fucking Danzig. It'll be worth the price of admission just to see them perform "Mother". Or to hear Danzig discuss his favorite books.

Destroyer - I heard many a good thing about Dan's performances at Merge XX Fest and his 9:30 show.

Flipper - The FFF Fest does a great job of bringing back classic bands. Last year it was The Dead Milkmen. This year it's DEATH and Flipper. Actually, Flipper was scheduled to play last year but they had to bail. Good to see they're making up for last year's cancellation.

Fucked Up - yet another great live band. I love the single minded focus of the organizers. The schedule is relentless. You know another band that would have fit in nicely? The Future of the Left. Just sayin'.

GZA/Genius - Thank God I invest with Wu-Tang Financial and not Bernie Madoff. Cash rules everything around me (C.R.E.A.M.). Get the money. Dollar, dollar bill yall.

Harlem - Speaking of which, I may go see these guys tonight. Now that they're signed to Matador they won't be playing many more free shows here in Austin.

Mika Miko - Have you see them yet? I haven't. I get the feeling they're a lot of fun though.

Of Montreal - first time I saw them was in front of 60 people at Common Grounds in Arlington. Next time was in front of 40,000 at the Pitchfork Festival. They killed both times.

No Age - what? I like this shit.

Shonen Knife - if you think I'm going to miss a band with not one, not two, but THREE Asian ladies...well, you don't know me very well.

Times New Viking - Lo-fi indie rock out of Ohio? Yes please!

Ratatat - For some reason these guys are incredibly popular in Austin. Is it because of their killer live shows? We shall see...

The Jesus Lizard - One of the most legendary live bands of all-time. The blogosphere was abuzz earlier this summer after they played at the Pitchfork Festival. I'm guessing they'll steal the show at Fun Fun Fun Fest as well.

but the band I'm most excited to see:

Les Savy Fav - I love all their records and have been dying to see them live for years. For whatever reason, they didn't see to play DC very often.

So there it is. Now head over to Southwest.com and book for flight to Austin. Trust me, the weather is great in early November.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's Yr Take On: The Hollies

The Band: The Hollies
From: Manchester, UK
Formed/Brokesed Up: 1962--
Sound & Vision: The Hollies are oldies radio staples, too clean to admit to liking. They were a bridge between the soft-as-shit sounds of the late 1950s, after Elvis was drafted, and the drop-acid-dodge-draft-make-long-boring-art-movie 1960s. They were signed to Parlophone in 1963. They were the Beatles labelmates, but they were for people who thought "wow, "Please Please Me" is too fucking radical, where can I find a band that's a little cheerier than this?"

Square Hollies

But all that changed with their 1966 hit "Bus Stop" which features the soprano harmonies of one of the best vocalists of the 1960s, Graham Nash, later to join Fleet Foxes Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Bus Stop" told a cool story of a guy who lives in a rainy locale (maybe Minas Gerais, Brazil, where I understand that annual rainfall is quite heavy) who gradually, over a period of months, wins the affections of a lovely who shares his bus route, by sharing his umbrella with her every rainy day (this is one of the best lyrics ever: "bus stop, wet day, she's there, I say, please share my umbrella."

Groovy Hollies (Graham Nash, second from left)

My first date with my wife we went to Tabard Inn and after we left it was rainy and we shared an umbrella. It's really a money situation for a date, even lurchy Asperbergerers can get a nice snuggle under the umbrella. So I can dig it and I'd put it in the same conversation as any Beatles song from Revolver, which was released the same year.

Bus Stop - [The Hollies] - The Hollies

Later, Nash left the band for his hippie rendezvous, but the Hollies carried on (they've never, in fact, to this day broken up, which usually is a bad sign for the listener). Sadly, one of the best days of my life was when Sacklunch and his housemates at Seaton Street said that they had no interest in the stack of Time-Life's 20-compact disc set, Sounds Of The Seventies, CDs that had been mistakenly delivered to their house, for a long-gone occupant. I scrounged the stack and I think it changed my life (I highly recommend disc 13, Punk and New Wave, it's Smithsonian quality). One special highlight was AM Hits, and featured within were not one but two Hollies hits. The first is "Air That I Breathe," which is something you'd hear on the "Wonder Years" (or plausibly "Freaks and Geeks") during a junior high (slow) dance scene. The Hollies' last big hit was the fantastic "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," which is allegedly about civil rights, but when I think about it, I picture a fat newsie Depression street urchin, holding beneath the armpits a slightly less fat version of himself. Sometimes he's reporting to FDR on the progress of the New Deal while he tousles Little Orphan Annie's red hair. Don't ask me why, I just do.

"The Air That I Breathe," The Hollies (1974)

So, do you like The Hollies? Do you not like The Hollies? Myself, they're a guilty pleasure, and it pleases me to feel guilty.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Favorite Band (this week) - Anna Ternheim

We all have music we don't readily admit to liking. For me, that's Scandinavian pop music. I liked Bjork* in high school and moved on to the The Cardigans before a brief falling out due to abortion that was Ace of Base. I rekindled my Scandinavian crush with bands like Sondre Lerche, Efterklang, Slaraffenland, Lykke Li, and Ida Marie.

Now I can now add Anna Ternheim to the list above. Her new album, Leaving on a mayday, was released Tuesday in the US. It's already won the 2009 Swedish Grammy for "Album of the Year" and help Anna win the "Best Female Artist" award. The album was produced by Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John). He opted for sparse instrumentation and a focus on Anna's hauntingly beautiful voice. It doesn't take a genius to realize that's a winning combination. For proof, check out this video:

If you like the video above (and I can't image you don't), you can hear Anna's entire album here.

Anna is currently touring the US with Lonely Dear and Asobi Seksu. Unfortunately, she's not stopping in either Austin or DC. If you happen to live in one of the cities listed below, don't miss this show:

09.30.09 – Casbah – San Diego, CA
10.01.09 – Troubador – Los Angeles, CA
10.02.09 – Slims – San Francisco, CA
10.03.09 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
10.04.09 – Chop Suey – Seattle, WA
10.06.09 – Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
10.09.09 – 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN
10.10.09 – Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
10.11.09 – Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
10.12.09 – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, ON
10.13.09 – Il Motore – Montreal, Quebec
10.14.09 – Great Scott – Boston, MA
10.15.09 – Maxwells – Hoboken, NJ
10.16.09 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
10.17.09 – Johnny Brendas – Philadelphia, PA

* I'm aware Iceland is not part of Scandinavia. Just work with me here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Charming Night with the Eagles of Death Metal

Eagles of Death Metal - Ram's Head Live - 8/8/09 - $24

We got the band back together this past weekend as our Austin pioneer, Jumbo Slice returned with Mrs. Slice and Tiny Slice for a visit. Our DCRC mission: twofold. First, we sought to verify sacklunch's report from November of 2008 which was highly favorable of EODM. Second, we had never been to Baltimore's Ram's Head Live, and it was therefore as good a time as any to venture into new territory.

Quite honestly, if you go back and read sacklunch's post from November, he captures the EODM experience with aplomb. Apparently, they know a good act when they put one together and don't stray too far from it. I have no problem with that. Unless the banter is identical and the band tells each crowd that "I love coming to [insert city]. You [citizens of city] know how to rock!" Anyhow, yes the EODM played an inspired set, and yes Jesse Hughes has a mustache and bassist Brian O'Connor looks like a cross between Bill Wyman and Richard Kiel, but let's cover some other topics.

First new topic: Cat fights.

I've been watching the Wire these days, and I've come to understand that Baltimore is tough. That was evidenced by the cat fight that I witnessed stage left - right in front of Brian O'Connor - on Saturday night. A poor man's Paris Hilton (complete with a pair of revolver tats on her shoulder blades) got into it with some unfortunate lass who looked to be a recent Towson graduate. There was some shoving, pushing, twisting about, and finally mad grabs for hair with accompanying grunts and shrieks. The Paris Hilton chick had a group of rough looking ladies by her side, and easily out muscled her suburban opponent. I don't remember the last time I saw a cat fight go down at a show. Maybe more trips to Baltimore means more cat fights.

Next new topic: Ram's Head Live.

A spin off of Annapolis's Ram's Head, Ram's Head Live (RHL) is nestled into Baltimore's Inner Harbor Power Plant Live. When I think of doing anything in Baltimore, with the exception of seeing baseball, I expect it to be old, dirty, and somewhat life-threatening. This includes our trip to Night Shift some years ago. But this place is not old, not dirty, and the intense air conditioning is probably the biggest threat to your well-being at RHL.

It was said a number of times and a number of ways the other night, but walking into RHL is like finding your way into a big new movie theater for the first time. You don't know where anything is, it feels cleaner and more sterile than you'd expect, and it's freezing cold. Did I mention that yet? RHL is big, with three tiers and balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floor with lots and lots of bars. The bar off the stage where I stood was basically empty all night long. Not a good place to make a living, if you ask me.

According to wikipedia, however, in an interview with Pitchfork, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, named Rams Head Live! as one of his "favorite new venues," saying that "they treated us really good and it was really cool."

Next topic: Pit beef.

sacklunch doesn't post often, because he's too busy doing research on where he can get his next meal. Post EODM concert Saturday saw sack driving us through Hamsterdam on our way to CHAPS. Conveniently located in between Gentlemen's Gold Club and a XXX Book Store, we stopped for a roast beef sandwich. I had fries and a root beer as well. It was indeed very good.

Last topic: The tie-in.

Supergroups make for endless conversation for us at DCRC. Besides sacklunch's fascination with Chickenfoot, we were recently discussing the newly formed supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, which features Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, Alain Johannes, and the aforementioned RHL lover, Josh Homme. Josh Homme, while not present Saturday, is also a founding member of the EODM. How 'bout that.

Shut the door and cover me...

I don't mean to harp on this, but I really do like a good cover song, especially live. Say what you will about hippie band Phish, but they were/are (are they together or not? I can't keep track) excellent at covering other artists' material.

This week I bring you the first installment of songs I'd like to see covered, covered more often, or better covered. The inspiration for this comes from Saturday's Eagles of Death Metal show up in Baltimore (review forthcoming). The EODM opted to cover "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive, a song that in my opinion needs no more attention than it already receives. You know who should cover Taking Care of Business? Official cover bands. That's their territory. Leave something for the Dewey Beach bands, EODM.

I am painfully aware that Toad the Wet Sprocket's Glen Phillips and the Greenskeepers are covering this next one, but I'd like to see a good cover of this HL&TN hit.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Favorite Band (this week) - Eagle and Talon

I initially dismissed Eagle and Talon after a PR email compared them to Sleater-Kinney. "How DARE you" I thought. After the anger subsided I gave them a listen and became intrigued. Their songs are poppy yet scuzzed out and have big riffs with great post-punk rhythms. They also throw in some Casio beats (not very Sleater-Kinney) and generally have a weird vibe going. All in all, it works. Does it hurt that they have a cute Asian drummer? No, no it doesn't.

Do yourself a solid and download their new self-released LP Thracian. You get to name your own price. Which means you cheap bastards can get one of the year's most overlooked albums for only a penny.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

R.I.P. John Hughes

Bummer. First Dick Vernon, now Hughes himself. He made some good flicks back in the day and helped burn this song into our collective brains.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Boy's Bad News

As a preview for our upcoming DCRC Reunion trip to Baltimore, this youtubesday brings The Eagles of Death Metal's I Want You So Hard. We've got Jack Black and Mr. Foo Fighter in this video. But personally, I'm a fan of the guitar that removes clothing and pleases the ladies. Never mind the part where the little kid gets in the mix. That's just wrong.