Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Favorite Local Fests

Got any cool stories about the best local festivals that make your area special? Know of any local festivals we've left off our Summer Concert Guide that we should add?  Post them here & let me know!

A few of my faves:

WBCN River Rave in Boston area, MA. I particularly dug the year that Lenny Kravitz & Beck played the main stage. Both of them were over the top showmen. Can I just say that Lenny Kravitz looks better in a purple feather boa than any man has the right to. Also got to catch an impromptu jam with Me'shell Ndege Ocello in a side tent. Bass goddess. 'Nuff said. 

This year the River Rave features The Offspring, P.O.D., The Darkness, Puddle of Mudd, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, The Chemical Brothers, Everlast, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Story of the Year, The Distillers, Finger Eleven, The Living End, My Morning Jacket, & more.

UMass Spring Concert [On the Pond], Amherst, MA. Yes, it was a nice way to spend a spring day in college, that's for sure. Over my four year tenure at UMass Amherst, I got to see Fishbone, Ziggy Marley, Phish, Bob Dylan & many others.

This year the lucky students get to see Busta Rhymes & Jurassic 5. Soooooo jealous. I guess they now hold it at Mullins Arena. Sort of a shame it's not outdoors anymore.

Louisiana Swamp Romp at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA. It's cajun, blues & zydeco lunacy on the lawn. A slew of of people dancing their butts off under the summer sun, drinking bottled brew & imagining themselves down in New Orleans while the washboard keeps time on stage.

Breaking News: Good gossip on upcoming shows

Just got word that Jack Johnson is going back out on tour late this summer. I saw him last year opening up for Ben Harper, and have been wanting more ever since. I love that he's touring with G. Love and Special Sauce, who released Jack's song, Rodeo Clowns, as a single many moons ago. Can't wait to get tickets!

Another interesting combo is The Roots touring with 311 and Medeski, Martin & Wood on the 2004 Summer Unity Tour. I've been dying to see The Roots for a couple of years now, and it seemed like they just never seemed to play DC. Or maybe I was living under a rock the last time they were in town.

For info on these tours and more stuff coming to town this summer, check out the Summer Concert Guide. I'll be sure to post more gossip as I hear it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Snow Patrol at 9:30 Club

Went to my fave venue, DC's 9:30 Club, on Saturday to catch Snow Patrol, with opener Carina Round. I'd not heard of Snow Patrol until a fellow music-fiend recommended I check them out. (Thanks, Shannon!) With the help of another of our music-fiend friends, we were able to get on the list for free tix (Drew rocks!), so we were off and running  for an evening of Brit Pop.

Snow Patrol, out of Glasgow, Scotland, is some of the best new indie alterna-pop I've heard out of the UK in a while. I particularly like the moodiness in the songwriting, the melodic hooks, and the quality of the lead vocals. Something about their sound is evocative of a rainy Saturday at 3am in Glasgow. It's not overly earnest, boozy or romantic -- but you can hear hints of all three. Check out their latest album, Final Straw at AOL Music, and decide for yourself if this description comes even close. Post your own opinion!

Their live show was kickin. Definitely check them out, if you can. It's their first tour of the US and the crowd loved them, which really amped up their energy. I know the NY shows sold out, but I'd imagine that they're new enough on the scene that most other cities will have tickets left. Look for tickets.

Also worth mentioning is opener Carina Round. Her voice reminded me of a young Siouxsie Sioux, tempered with a little Sinead O'Connor (thanks, Shannon, for nailing the Sinead reference). Most memorable for me was the fact that their bassist played standup throughout most of the gig. I've never heard a standup bass sound heavy before. Amazing. Carina Round made for a great double-bill, which was a nice surprise.

All in all, a killer night. Don't you justlove going to a live show on a lark, and leaving loving the band with a new CD in hand?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

More summer shows that wet my whistle

Great High Mountain: I'm not much of a country fan, but I fell in love with the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou. Turns out that the Great High Mountain tour is all music from O Brother and also Cold Mountain -- which I loved, as well. Though Jack White won't be playing his tunes from Cold Mountain on the tour, Alison Krauss will be. Sounds like the perfect kind of show to get some lawn seat tickets, pack up a picnic with some friends, and listen to some bluegrass under the stars.  Word to the wise in DC & NoVA: It looks like the Wolftrap show is going on sale this Saturday (4/17).

Lollapalooza 2004: Morrissey, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips,  Modest Mouse, The Polyphonic Spree, and The String Cheese Incident. I'm a huge Smiths fan, so seeing Morrissey would be great, even though I only have one of his solo records. I saw Sonic Youth at the Orpheum in Boston, which was an awesome show. They've certainly got the whole tapestry of feedback thing down. Not sure when the Lolla dates are going on sale. Their official website is shockingly out-of-date. What are they thinking?!

Hey Morrissey fans: Can anybody recommend a fave solo Morrissey album I should check out?

Monday, April 12, 2004

Why You Should Buy A Plane Ticket Right Now & Get Your Butt to Coachella

I'm so jealous of all the folks going to Coachella this year!!!!  Let me count the reasons...

1. It's Radiohead's one and only show in the US for all of 2004, according to their website and several news sources. ARGH! 

2. A reunited Pixies will play, and I never got to see them in their heyday... made worse by the fact that they dropped out of UMass before I got there. (Yes, they wrote a song about how much they hated it there. It's educational!)

3. The Cure

4. Belle & Sebastian

5. The Flaming Lips

6. The Crystal Method

7. Dizzee Rascal -- THE biggest buzz in hip-hop imported from the UK.

8. Bright Eyes

9. Wilco

10. I've never been to Coachella before and this is the year to go.

Have you ever been to Coachella? Share your stories of Coachellas past and present.

What are your top 10?

I'd love to hear about other folks' top 10 shows ever. Or even your top 1 or 2 if you can only think of a few off the top of your head. Add your list so folks can see!

Shows I'm dying to see this summer

1. Projekt Revolution: I've already bought my tix to the Nissan Pavilion show in August. As you can tell from my top 10 list, Linkin Park are one of my faves, so I bought the tix mostly to see them. Plus, I love hip-hop and have always wanted to see Snoop Dogg live. I'm also really curious about Korn. I've never been a fan, but one of the best things about festival shows is that you see bands you wouldn't normally buy tix to see.

2. Incubus: Saw them at last year's Lollapalooza, and they blew me away. Can't wait to see them again. Just waiting for their MCI Center tix to go on sale. Any day now...

3. Madonna: Saw her Drowned World Tour in 2001 at the MCI Center in DC. I haven't bought American Life, but I'm still a huge fan and her live performances are so worth seeing, that I'll buy the tix even though I won't know her most recent stuff. Tix should be going on sale for this one over the next couple weekends, too.

Do you have any tickets already in hand? Any shows you're dying to see? Tell us!

Top 10 Shows of All Time - 1st & 2nd Place

Taking a cue from one of my fave movies, High Fidelity, I think it's appropriate to open this journal with a Top 5 list worthy of Jack Black and John Cusack. Except in this case, I can't limit myself to 5, so I'm opening the list up to 10. Hopefully they'd approve.

Tied for 1st & 2nd place:

1/2. Jane's Addiction at the First Lollapalooza: Great Woods Pavilion, MA, 1991. Jane's was my favorite band, I sat in the 10th row and was hit by the proverbial wall of sound for the first time. Life changing, really. They could have been the only band there that day and it would still have tied for first. Though seeing Gibby shoot a shotgun (Butthole Surfers), a young Trent Reznor toss his guitarist into an amp while pouring a bucket of water on his keyboards (NIN), Ice T screaming hardcore (Body Count), and Cory Glover (Living Colour) marching offstage from getting pelted with sod from the Great Woods lawn was all definitely memorable, I was there for Jane's. Dream came true with Summertime Rolls, Ocean Size, Coming Down the Mountain, Ted Just Admit It, Three Days, Classic Girl, Ain't No Right and of course, Jane Says.

1/2. Radiohead: Merriweather Post Pavilion, MD, 2003. Radiohead took Jane's place as my favorite band after The Bends came out in 1995. It took me another 8 years to finally see them live. It was transporting. I'm still speachless when I try to describe what it was like to see them live. I *will* say one thing -- the documentary Meeting People Is Easy makes it seem like Thom Yorke is depressed all the time. That man was having so much fun up there on stage. If he's a tortured musician in interviews or in his private life, it's easy to see why he plays music. That's where he's happy.

Top 10 Shows of All Time: 3-6

3. Nirvana with The Breeders: Hartford Civic Center, CT, 1993. Nirvana's last tour, my first time seeing The Breeders. Say no more.

4. The Beastie Boys at the Fourth Lollapalooza: Downing Stadium, NY, 1994. The Beasties did tunes from Check Ya Head, Paul's Boutique, etc playing their own instruments on the most funktastic tunes, including Adam Yauch on stand-up bass. Pure heaven to see it happen. Didn't hurt that Green Day and the Breeders played. The Smashing Pumpkins played as well, but I'm sad to say they usually sucked live -- their fast songs got away from them, totally not in sync with each other. I've seen them 3 times, and this was no exception. Hole also played that day, which was the only time I ever thought Courtney Love might not actually be Satan for five minutes straight. But then of course I regained my sanity.

5. Lauryn Hill: Great Woods Pavilion, MA, 1998. My first hip-hop show ever, and Lolly shook my ass. Busta Rhymes opened with machine-gunfire rap attack that was amazing to behold.

6. Ben Folds: Warner Theater, DC, 2002. Just Ben at a piano showcasing his incredible songwriting. His patter was hilarious, too. How rare is it that you actually want a musician's between-song patter to keep going?!

Top 10 Shows of All Time: 7-10

7. Beck: Brandeis University, MA, 1996. An incredible showman, celebrates kooky nerddom, a born entertainer. And that white boy can dance.

8. Seal: The Orpheum, Boston, MA, 1994. Some of the most divinely romantic, soulful crooning ever. Still can't tell which was sexier -- his silk pajamas or his silk voice. I know, I know, you can stop retching now. What can I say, chicks dig him.

9. Neil Finn: 9:30 Club, DC, 2002. I don't own a single one of his albums and only went on a lark, cuz the ticket was free. Man, am I glad I did. His connection with the audience was so personal. He actually hoisted a girl up on stage and had her sing an entire song for him. It was obvious that it was a dream come true for her, the audience sang at the top of their lungs with her, and I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The venue's intimacy probably had a lot to do with that, which is the main reason it's my favorite place to see live music.

10. Linkin Park: Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA, 2004. These guys rock. I may be a bit old to be such a huge fan, but their songwriting actually speaks to me. It's that whole tortured, angst-ridden thing, I guess. Chester's voice sounded great on both the screams and the sensitive sung moments, Mike Shinoda proved he can actually rap, and the band demonstrated an ability to connect with a crowd that was way beyond their years. I mean they're like 12 years old, right? Amazingly mature performers. And fighting my way to the front of the pit was well worth it.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Top 10 Shows of All Time: Honorable Mentions

The following are some honorable mentions of shows that were unforgettable, but couldn't push the others out of the Top 10.

--Audioslave at last year's Lollapalooza: Nissan Pavilion, Middle of Nowhere, Northern VA, 2003. Audioslave completely stole the show. Again, being at the front of the pit probably really changed the experience for me. Incredible. Incubus was almost as fantastic. Their playing was right on, and Brandon Boyd is, well, let's just say he's the sexiest alterna-boy out there. (Feel free to retch again, but charisma is a big part of performing, and we gals account for a lot of record and ticket sales.) Jane's Addiction were fun after all these years, Queens of the Stone Age had a relatively strong show, but couldn't quite compete. Jurassic Five is one of my favorite hip-hop bands, but the engineers just couldn't figure out their sound and make it work at an outdoor venue. I guess that's a hazard of being the only hip-hop group in a sea of rock distortion and feedback. I'll have to see them again. Chalie 2na, Cut Chemist, I need more!

--Paul Simon: Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI, 1986. This was his tour in support of Graceland, and he brought along many of South Africa's foremost performers. Not only was this an amazing performance on Paul's part, but I also got to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba perform with him. Felt like history being made.

--Bryan Ferry: Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills, MI, 1987. This was Bryan's tour in support of Bete Noir, but it was his performance of the songs from Roxy Music's Avalon that were unforgettable. That is one of my all-time favorite albums, and I got to sit in the third row to see him croon those tunes.  In particular, More Than This, To Turn You On, While My Heart is Still Beating, and the female vocal solo on Avalon. Practically out-of-body experience-inducing.

Top Shows: More Honorable Mentions

The following are a few more honorable mentions to complement my Top 10 list. Jump all the way to the bottom of this journal page to view the Top 10 list in the correct order.

--James Taylor: Sultan's Pool, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988. James Taylor was the very first concert I ever saw when I was a little kid, and it was so awesome to see him again for sentimental reasons. I still knew every word to every song. But to see him in such an exotic locale as Jerusalem, sitting on a grassy lawn surrounded by stones that were well over a thousand years old was beyond transporting. Didn't hurt that he wished a close friend of mine a happy 18th birthday to the whole crowd.

--Sting: Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI, 1985. Yes I was still young enough that I was forced to bring my Mom to the concert with me, but considering Sting was on tour for Dream of the Blue Turtles, she dug the music as much as I did. Branford Marsalis toured with Sting, as his performance on this album was what really launched his career. Plus, I got to hear Sting do tons of Police tunes that I would have seen if only my Mom had let me go see the Syncronicity Tour for my 13th birthday. No, I still haven't forgiven her for it. ;-)

--Second Lollapalooza: Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA, 1992. This was one of those religious experience type concerts for anybody who was in the throes of the current grunge phenomenon. Check out this lineup: Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, Lush, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was currently my favorite album, and Flea is still one of my top 5 bass players of all time, so I was particularly psyched to see the Chili Peppers (even though Anthony Kiedis has a hard time staying on tune live). But a couple of the acts that I wasn't necessarily there to see really stood out. Ministry had possibly one of the most violent pits I've ever witnessed (from a distance), with a display of testosterone that was truly staggering. Ice Cube was the first rap artist I ever saw (Ice T's Body Count the previous year doesn't count, as that was hardcore), and he controlled the crowd in a way I'd never realized was possible.