Tag Archives: Festivals

Fear of Hearing Tests. And Beach Slang.

We had been at Dobb’s Ferry for a good half hour when I finally admitted to the three other people with me: “Sorry – I’ve heard only about 50% of what’s been said.”

My brother laughed and explained to ES that I had been steadily destroying my hearing since I was a teenager. To be fair, the acoustics in that joint are lousy. But they have good food and more TVs airing sporting events than the average SF bar. But also I’ve been steadily destroying my hearing since I was a teenager.

Beach Slang at The Rickshaw
Beach Slang at The Rickshaw

The three bands we saw at Rickshaw Stop later that night were of steadily increasing volume, and steadily increasing awesomeness. We were having trouble thinking of other bands from Philadelphia, but then the drummer of Lithuania took off his sweater to reveal a Teen Men shirt. And I thought, oh yeah, Clap Your Hands… I tried to bring that up to MH during the crescendo of “Hardcore Friends” but I don’t think it came across.

We were having trouble talking because it was really loud. Really, fantastically loud. And just as last month’s Battles show reminded me of the first time I saw Explosions In The Sky, this gig reminded me of the first time my ears were taken over by Asobi Seksu. Coincidentally (or maybe not really, because I really wanted to tie last night’s show in with this narrative), it was at the same event. Continue reading Fear of Hearing Tests. And Beach Slang.

Top 5 Other Outside Lands Things

By now you’ve read as much as you’d probably care to know about last weekend’s Outside Lands festival. Either you were there yourself and needed to get filled in on whichever acts you missed; you weren’t there but experienced it vicariously through tweets, blogs, and livestreams; or didn’t care in the first place (in which case it seems doubtful that you’d be reading this now, so maybe that third option doesn’t apply).

You’ve heard that Hot Chip closed out their set with a Springsteen-into-LCD cover. Tame Impala was transcendent. Wilco subjected the audience – once again – to the entirety of their new Star Wars LP before obligingly playing some hits. Kendrick Lamar was king; Fantastic Negrito was rolled up. The Barbary Tent was too far away; but the mini golf addition to Winelands was a neat idea. The weather was awesome.

But this isn’t a music blog. It’s my blog. Yes, it masquerades as a music blog, but that’s all part of an elaborate long con to occupy a corner of the Internet with personal memoirs puzzled together via handstamps, ticket stubs, and record sleeves. Shows are signposts, really. Reminders to write. About… whatever.

And today’s whatever is all the other stuff that resonated with me during my Outside Lands weekend. Objectivity and setlists can be found elsewhere. In fact, MH is working on a more thorough Oral History of Outside Lands 2015 for the parent blog. Maybe some of my more review-y comments will show up there.

In the meantime, here’s the other stuff. Continue reading Top 5 Other Outside Lands Things

Treasure Island 2014

And that’s a wrap. Festival season, over.

Asgeir in the open air.
Asgeir in the open air.

I didn’t attend half of the events I would’ve liked to this summer, and I still shambled onto Treasure Island with a severe case of Festival Fatigue. It’s a shame, too, because this has always been my favorite place to spend time outdoors with music, food, and friends. The vibe is great, the views are incredible, and the lineups have typically been a great mix of established acts and exciting up-and-comers. This year was no exception, and even though I only went one day, I wish I had been able to muster up just a little more energy and enthusiasm. Oh look. I just got old. There were bands that I had seen before and was happy to hear again, like Bleached, TV On The Radio, and The New Pornographers. There were bands that I liked more after seeing them live for the first time, like Polica and Washed Out; and bands that I liked a little less after their performance, like The Growlers. My first exposure to Asgeir was positive. My initial reaction to alt-j was lukewarm. Continue reading Treasure Island 2014

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

HSB, Warren Hellman’s gift to the City, is not just one of the best things San Francisco has to offer, but one of the best musical celebrations experienced anywhere.

Yes, I’ve referred to it as a career fair for transients. And still, in this fourteenth edition of the completely free festival, the Upper Haight panhandle crew seems to relish the opportunity to recruit more nouveau hobos. The environs speak for themselves. Music, weed, and wagging tails all over Golden Gate Park. And on this first weekend in October (what I hope ends up being the hottest few days of the year) Hellman Hollow, Marx Meadow, and every other little patch of grass along JFK, seemed instilled with with a little more magic. A little more charm. A lot more b.o. Continue reading Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

First City, First Rate

In the hierarchy of California summer music festivals, Monterey’s First City Festival still isn’t getting any respect.

Best Coast loves the Central Coast
Best Coast loves the Central Coast

Maybe it’s still too young to be taken seriously. This is only the second annual FCF, but these County Fairgrounds are no stranger to music festivals. And just about every mainstage performer made reference to that fact. “First City” for a reason. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast was excited to tell her dad that she was playing on the same stage as Jimi Hendrix. She also said she was retiring to Monterey. Next week.

It was also widely suggested that much of the Bay Area was headed to the Nevada desert this past weekend for Burning Man. Or, at least, trying to get to Burning Man. Muddy flats and 100-degree sandstorms sound fun, but it was t-shirt & jeans weather all day long, all weekend, in Monterey.

Continue reading First City, First Rate

Undercover Cover Lovers

Heading into last weekend’s Cultivate Festival in Golden Gate Park, I was admittedly more excited about the beer and wine tasting than I was about the musical performances. And while I’m not saying anything changed, necessarily, at any point during my Saturday afternoon*, I did have a great time from my stage-right lawn vantage. No surprise, I suppose, considering how much I enjoy a good cover tune…

The day started, as all good weekend mornings should, with brunch and nerdy music arguments. IP’s assertion that the best Shins song is their cover of Postal Service’s “We Will Become Silhouettes” was less controversial from the perspective of a Shins fan (I think I was the only one) than it was from the general music fan’s stance on whether or not any band’s “best” song can be a version of someone else’s song.

Disagreeing with IP only makes him more resolute. Jimi Hendrix was invoked, but nobody seemed to want to weigh in on “All Along the Watchtower.” But when he dared suggest that Starfucker’s finest track was their Cyndi Lauper cover, shit got intense.

“You can say that it’s the best version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” argued RF. “But you can’t tell me that it’s their best song.”

“Sure I can.”

“There’s something wrong with a band whose best song is a cover.” Everyone at the table agreed. Except IP.

Continue reading Undercover Cover Lovers

Treasure Island Music Festival 2014

Before there was Outside Lands, there was TIMF. Still twice as cool, and three times as radioactive. The lineup for this year’s festival was announced today and I’ve promised myself to learn from past mistakes (the aforementioned Golden Gate Park party), and not miss out on tickets this time around.


Some of my favorite festival memories were made at prior Treasure Island weekends. Some of the hottest days I’ve experienced in the Bay Area smashed abruptly into some of the coldest nights of my life. I love this town, and I love seeing it flicker in the fog beyond the Tunnel Stage.

Continue reading Treasure Island Music Festival 2014

I Blame eCigs.

I’m not getting into the ever-increasing irony of the “alternative” music designation. Live 105 bills itself as The Bay Area’s Alternative, but their annual BFD event is barely distinguishable from any other corporate radio one-day music fest. Lots of mainstream bands (who would like to think they’re defying the mainstream) playing in front of lots of kids (who would like to think they’re defying their parents), trying to intersperse harmless pop music with world-changing revelations for the next generation. My favorite, from some dude in Foster the People: “Isolation is the enemy and apathy is its friend.”

But I’m not one to turn down a ticket to a show, and I have to admit… I was a little bit curious to see what the kids are into these days… Continue reading I Blame eCigs.

Outside Lands 2014 Lineup Announced


Outside Lands has come a long way since Radiohead’s solar-powered stage mess on that inaugural Friday years ago. This year’s lineup has just been announced.

My immediate takeaway? Ray Lamontagne steals Hamilton Leithauser away from The Walkmen frontman’s solo tour. Now, Ray is coming to Golden Gate Park… without Leithauser? Come on man. Didn’t you have fun at Cultivate last summer?