Archive for June, 2010

Sasquatch Music Festival 2010- A brief glimpse.

Hey internet.   I know this is a little late, but I’ve been working on it for a while.  It’s not a full report on the Sasquatch music festival.  That’s coming along very slowly.  I’m 15 pages into it and I might be done with it by the end of the year, or it might just keep getting longer.  Who knows.  This is a very brief sampling of what went down to whet your appetite for more of my nonsensical ramblings.  I’ve been working a lot lately, but hopefully I’ll have a review of something else by the end of this week.  And if you’re in Butte tonight, you should come see my band, Mordecai play with Slackeye Slim at the Venus tonight.  You have nothing better to do.

Anyway, the show.

Broken Social Scene- This was a surprising show.  First, I was surprised how many people were in the band-three guitarists, two bassists, and a drummer.  Second, I was surprised by how old they all looked.  I don’t think any of these dudes could be younger than 40.  They’ve got a bizarre visual aesthetic.  It looks like half of them like to dress up, but none of them want to match.  There was Scott Stapp, Lyle Lovett, jock drummer, hardware store employee, librarian, electrician and furniture maker.  The band started big and they kept getting bigger.  A lady came out to play piano, and then another one came out to sing, and then a fucking five-piece brass band came out onstage and they didn’t look like crackheads, but one of them did look like Rivers Cuomo.  In addition to looking hilarious, BSS were also really good.  This was my third surprise.  These guys rock hard live.  The guitars punch so much harder.  The noise is more enveloping.  They may act a little goofy in their rock-star ambitions, but they play like they mean it.  They did Texaco Bitches at double speed!  Their set seemed mostly composed of material from Forgiveness Rock Record and the Self Titled.  I’m cool with that because those are the only two I’ve listened to extensively.  Much respect gained for these guys.

Z-Trip- I wanted to see Z-Trip, who’s write-up billed him as “the godfather of the mashup.”  His set started strong with some Public Enemy/Justice, but by the end of the show, he was remixing the same tired shit that I saw at the Bassnectar concert.  I wasn’t crazy about Bassnectar, but I think he was actually better.  Z-Trip may be the godfather of the mash-up, but in this modern world of Girl Talk and Grey Albums, he’s been left behind.

Passion Pit- Passion Pit did not sound any better live.  That’s what I was hoping for.  I was hoping there’d be something special about a Passion Pit performance, but it was very by-the-numbers.  Nothing was harder.  Nothing was grittier.  Nothing was louder.  Was it wrong to expect Passion Pit to be harder live?  I don’t know, man.  I mean, I’d think they’d at least have some heavier bass.  The singer’s got the lamest voice I’ve heard in a long time, but I could put up with it for a while because the band could spin genuine pop hooks, which I always admire.  They’re a dance-y band, but they’re such stiff performers, ugh, no soul.  I’ve given up on Passion Pit.

Oddly enough, Passion Pit was the only band I saw people really going nuts for.  Let me explain.  The way the Gorge is set up, there’s a barrier between the inner and outer pit.  Presumably in order to prevent people from getting crushed, only so many people are allowed into the inner pit.  Between sets, the security will block off the entrance while other people leave.  When space has cleared out, security will let you enter in waves.  Prior to the Passion Pit show was the only time I’ve seen people trying to break down the barrier to get in.  It was almost scary.

Kid Cudi- Cudi’s been on my fence for awhile, so this was going to be a make-or-break performance.  I was putting his head on the chopping block.  Maybe if he knew what I had vested in this performance, he would’ve put more effort into it, but that seems a little unlikely.  After all, Kid Cudi doesn’t really care about anything.  He just wants to get high.  This is the message of his music.  Kid Cudi is one of the worst drug advocates I’ve seen perform.  He preaches complacency and apathy.  “Guess what kids, doing mushrooms won’t solve your problems, but it will make you stop caring about them.”  Musically, his show was also lacking.  Cudi’s a live-band rapper.  In the post-Kanye world, the pressure’s on for rappers to create more enthralling live performances.  I saw Lupe Fiasco with a live band.  That was a great show.  I also saw Lil Wayne with a live band.  That show was pretty awful.  Weezy is a turntable man.  The live band doesn’t lend itself to every rapper.  For example, I can’t really see Young Jeezy performing in front of a horn section.  Kid Cudi, however, is all about the music.  His rapping is bad, but he’s got great song arrangements, so I was more than a little disappointed when I saw that he only brought a DJ.  This was one of those macbook DJs too.  Very little scratching.  Fuck, at least give Cudi a hype man to interact with.  One thing I did like about the Kid Cudi show-I found out why he performs “Make Her Say.”  This “Poker face” sampling blowjob song got more people singing along than anything else.  “Day n Night,” Cudi’s own hit, had only about half the roar coming back from the crowd.  So I guess there’s the childlike glee one derives from hearing a bunch of dumb girls sing your song about face-fucking.  Yeah, but overall, Cudi is bad for hip hop.

The xx-The xx had a lot of technical troubles throughout the show too.  It took them a few songs to get the mics right.  It probably had to do with how quiet the singing is.  The bassist also stopped a couple times to talk to the sound guy.  Four songs in, they seemed to have all of the bugs worked out-a little annoying, but nothing that’ll derail a good show.  The XX was one of, if not the, loudest band I saw there.  This is a band that gets menacing when they get loud.  Even stuff like Basic Space or Islands gets mean live.  By the time they got to “infinity” I was a little worried that the lead singer was going to get slapped around by the bassist after the show.  By now, the mics were getting feedback again, but I think it actually added to the menace.  Could it have been intentional?  Was it all just an act?  It seems like something these kids would pull off.  Stage theatrics the minimalist post punk way.  The xx had the best stage presence there.  These three pale English kids all look like they’ve been pulled out of their halfway home and dressed up to impress the people from Social Services.  They all act incredibly bored.  The synth-drummer probably lifted his head less than 10 times throughout the entire show.  The slightest movement is exciting with these guys, so when they do do something, it can be pretty thrilling.  I was outright shocked when the synth guy hit the cymbal that had been sitting there the entire show.  What a surprising twist.  I was left to read their faces.  The bassist and guitarist kept leering at each other, both looking like two bitter ex-lovers.   It was great.

Cymbals Eat Guitars-I listened to their album a few times.  It was okay.  On the record, they sound like a band whose only influence is Pavement.  Live, they sound like a band whose only influence is Dashboard Confessional.  Ugh.  I got the hell out of there and gave up on them forever after two or three songs.

Jets Overhead-Better off dead.

MGMT-MGMT released a profusion of beach balls, balloons and other blow-ups into the crowd.  They were a perfect fit for the atmosphere.  People were crowd-surfing like there was no tomorrow.  The MGMT show produced a childlike glee in even the most jaded concert-goers.  There were so many opposing personalities converging at this show, people seemed relatively well behaved.  Guess we all wanted to look good as representatives of all our shitty fringe-subcultures.  This was a very fun show from a fun band.  The new stuff sounds great live.  “Brian Eno” is probably my new favorite MGMT song.

Ween-The love and happiness of MGMT was not to last.  Ween performed next, being the closing act of the fest.  Two or three songs into Ween’s set, every inflatable beach toy had been banished back to the front of the stage.  “Get those fucking beach balls out of here!”  I distinctly heard somebody say.  The Ween crowd was a much more serious group.  Unlike the MGMT fans, the Ween fans were of the mind that their band could die at any minute.  They didn’t have time to deal with fucking beach balls.  Ween is not going to live forever.  Every member looks haggard and sickly.  Broken Social Scene has nothing on these guys.  I’ve seen The Cure and R.E.M. live before.  Those guys were all about a decade older than the members of Ween, but Ween looks a decade older than them.  These people, especially Dean, the singer, have not taken care of themselves.  Peter Buck might look like he smoked a lot of pot in high school, but Dean Ween looks like he sniffed a lot of glue.  And still does.  There was a part in the show where he just stood there, hunched over behind the piano player, leering at him while he smoked a cigarette.  That’s pretty punk rock.  Not being a band prone to eating vegetables, Ween would have to take breaks now and then.  They never stopped playing, but they’d constantly switch back and forth between fast and slow songs.  They didn’t play “It’s Gonna be a Long Night,” which I found disappointing, but I did gain a new appreciation for “Transdermal Celebration.”  They played more of their jokey songs than I expected.  I didn’t think stuff like “Bananas and Coke” or “Your Party” would really lend themselves to a live atmosphere, but they pulled it off.  These guys seem to be able to pull just about anything off.  It’s because they’re a legitimate rock band.  Ween.  Fuckin right.