this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

saw some great bands at FFF fest

Specifically 3 great bands. I missed my chance to see Dirty Projectors, so it could have been 4, but I think they are still playing the same set that they have been playing, which I have seen a few times, so its not as huge a loss as it could have been.

It was my first FFF fest. I think I was biased against it for some reason, mainly because I am emotional*. (*cheap). But this year, it came to my attention that it was possible to volunteer, so I went ahead and did that. My volunteer position was assistant stage manager to the orange stage (indie stage). It turned out there was already a paid professional who was the assistant manager, so Friday night ("Weird Al") I sort of got lumped in with the other volunteers, to my dismay. Friday was sort of the dry run night for the volunteers, and there were about 12 at the stage, and since none of us were really doing anything I had de facto free radical status. Due to some coordination emails, and my desire to meet the regular stage manager, I had gotten there extra early and been informed by the stage manager to stick around, so I missed the volunteer orientation, and ended up never being on the particular schedule for anything, which would come in handy later. One of the volunteers on Friday said she was only on the schedule to work Sunday, so I sort of just tried to make myself useful around the areas where there were bands I wanted to see, and didn't worry too hardcore about getting there right at noon "ready to volunteer!"

The first great band (of 3) that I would see was on Saturday, ARIEL PINK.

Fortunately I was on the side of the stage, because I heard that the sound in the crowd left something to be desired for, or that people were exhausted by the end of the (short) set, or something. The sound from the stage was great, except one keyboard was jacked way too loud, but since the guy playing it was switching between 2 keyboards and a guitar, it only ended up marring a small percentage of the set, and really marring is too strong a word. That was the first day, and at the time I was volunteering at the side of the orange stage. We volunteers had gotten a few mixed signal speeches as far as how much watching of bands we could actually do vs. work ("this is Fun Fun Fun fest! You do a little work and there's still 2 Fun's left over" as well as "this isn't Fun Fun Fun for you, you are here to work"). The guy who was the boss was the one who said to have fun, so I tried my best to ignore the other guy. It was cool tho, by Sunday we had smoothed it over.

So yeah, Ariel is in some next level shit territory with his combo of elite musicians, but truth be told, I'm not sure he will equal the brilliance of his early singles, "Helen", "Every Night I Die at Myagis" "Life In LA" etc, etc. The band did play "Getting High in the Morning" and a new one towards the end, but it was pretty heavy off this summers "Before Today", as to be expected. I think 2 guys in his band are veterans from old Subpop bands, probably all of the have some sort of pedigree. They still have room to grow as a band, but I think the influences of the other members is gonna be a bit proggy, especially the bassist, although he is a genius. The driving force is still gonna have to be Ariel, and it will be interesting to see how heavily he leans on his musical geniuses band moving forward, now that he has the musicianship to do whatever he wants. I think the band was feeling it pretty good, he was prancing around for the set and all that. The new one sounded like it could have landed on "Before Today" and I'd bet there next record is going to be something slightly to the left of more-of-the-same from that record, and while I'm sure its going to be great, its going to be a process that is hard to get back from.

I got kicked off the stage for not being "important enough" by a dude working this set, despite the fact that 3-4 of his co-workers were telling me to keep sneaking on stage. I was arguing, refusing to leave the place where I was positioned to work, and eventually a bro a little higher up in the command chain was sent over to separate us. This is how I got bounced down to do what I was "hired" to do, only at the black stage.

The black stage is the reason this festival exists. The orange stage is to make it financially feasible, but really the black stage is where its at. The folks backstage plus the Soundmen were probably the A team, although a couple of the folks really running the Orange stage could just as easily been on the A team as well. Other evidence...check the layout of the festival, as seen from backstage.

BLACK STAGE ---- ORANGE STAGE ---- SCHMOOZE TENT/FOOD - BLUE STAGE (and then in the corner of the park the wrestling / stupid and yet entertaining shit area).

Notice that the Black stage is the farthest from the Schmooze tent. The crowd was way more into the bands there, and from what I saw, with a few exceptions the mid-tier bands on the Black stage were much better. I'd like to think the crowd was more discerning, but there is actually no way (more on that later). From the schmooze tent area you could walk right up to the back of the Blue/rap stage, and also cross to the backstage area of the Orange stage. There was pretty general access (for example Mother Falcon got 19 wristbands for their friends, since there were 19 band members....all 38 could be back in that area), however to get backstage at the Black stage, there was another level of security / a solid choke point, and the backstage area was unconnected to all the previously mentioned area.

I spent the rest of Saturday actually helping out on the Black Stage. It was fun. There was a backline company and they had all these amps and cabs in a truck and we were loading them back and forth. I got a nice save in there pretty much off the bat....all those folks had been working since like 9 in the morning, and my fresh eyes kept some shit that was still plugged in from falling over, which after 12 hours of moving shit over and over gets to be something that can happen. The Dwarfs and The Vandals were good, and then it was time for GWAR. It was hilarious being backstage for that. They have a costume changing tent all set up, and one guy goes back there over and over during the set to get changed out from character to character. Show business folks. And then Bad Religion, who has some hits in my mind as defined by "tracks I liked used in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater" franchise, but really other than that, they are not exactly some mind blowing band. Still it was an interesting end to the night. Went home and boozed it up a little with my roommates and my bro Poncho who was in from Mexico for the festival.

Sunday I wanted to get there in time to see Deerhunter. I wasn't on the volunteers schedule and again had free radical status as far as when to show up, but of course there is a volunteer check in station at the front, so I met the coordinator there and she sent me to work the Hospitality lounge. I negotiated that I would first check in with the guys from the black stage, and those guys said come back during Snapcase cause shit is gonna hit the fan with backlining Mastadon's gear and they could use all hands on deck. I told them I was theirs for the rest of the night, with the exception of 7-8 for Deerhunter. So I went to hospitality and sliced avocados for a few hours. The guy in charge of hospitality had been to HEB like 8 times in the last couple days. A funny worker bee existence, I feel like I've had similar days in there somewhere. He was a cool guy. I did run into the Deerhunter bassist outside the hospitality tent and traded him a book for getting to see their show from the stage. I got the idea from this chick* (*major dancer babe, with armpit hair) who was traveling with Ariel Pink. We were rocking out together. It was nice to have someone to do that with, I think she probably felt the same way, but in any case she had one of these little books like the type I'd bring to substitute teach with her, and it made me think "fuck I wish I had one of those books to trade her". So I brought a book, but I think they had already scooted on down the road, cause I didn't see her that next day. I think I would recognize her if she was with the band next time they come thru, but I am worried it wont be for a bit...maybe not until next album. I would travel to see that band tho, if the circumstance was right. Anyways, I have an intention of stockpiling similar books and starting a rock and roll book club called the "say hi" book club. Saying Hi is optional, but encouraged.

I had a friend tell me that Black Lips and Deerhunter just got big because there was one booker in ATL who those bands were in with and they just kept booking them until finally someone was like "holy shit, these guys played with Stereolab, etc etc etc" and the list went on and then it was time to stick them on the world tour circuit. But at the end of the day (leaving the Black Lips out of the conversation) Deerhunter is a fucking great band. Real heavyweights. They have cultivated their tone until it is the best possible, and they play it loud. Somehow, the real power of rock and roll is best expressed thru $x000 amps cranked to 11, run thru pedal boards, and they go there. Their best moment was the extended jam during "Desire Lines" off their new LP. It got to this repeated riff section that just eventually folded over on itself in a way where the beat got lost. Totally psychadelic. Like "if we just play this long enough". I feel like its the type of moment the band has always been building towards. It doesn't show up on the record, which is really a shame but go see them live. But that track just really shows a maturity that is not on Microcastle, and "Nothing Ever Happened", the single off that record which they played, really paled in comparison to it. I have to say, as much as I like Cryptograms, and as much as that record has some standout tracks, "Desire Lines" is probably their best track thusfar.

After Deerhunter it was back to the black stage, where instead of moving more gear, I found myself running security during Suicidal Tendencies and Mastadon. It was a shame to miss High On Fire...again really I think Deerhunter vs High On Fire would have been avoided if it had been a scenerio where the festival wasn't trying to appeal to 2 distinct groups just to get the attendance/financials working out, cause fuck I wanted to see both bands.

But yeah, Suicidal Tendencies, I was like "hey these guys are pretty fun" to a guy working backstage, and he was like "yeah, I guess they are....but theyre not really my thing" and I was like " don't like rap rock?" And we sort of had a laugh because they are fucking proto-Limp Bizkit rap-rock. It was a fun show, but the crowd ate it up the same way they ate up Mastadon, who are actually a real band and totally fucking mind-blowingly awesome. Working security was really fun....there are 2 people who work for the security company that are the first line of defense, and people legitly or non-legitly trying to talk their way past them, and then you have to sort of be the guy that knows the difference. And then as your reward, you get the best view in the house for MASTADON.

MASTADON looks like they _________ (insert metal cliches here involving snowy mountains and swords and shit). They are fucking incredible. I read up on their backstory on wikipedia after the fact, and you will not be wasting your time if you do the same. They are probably the best metal band alive right now, I would be surprised if someone is better. They will go down in the historical retelling of metal. They look like evil cavemen, and they play like evil cavemen. I can't imagine a scenario where I would want to listen to their records because I would be too exhausted at the end, but these guys are fucking redonk.

And then that was it. A couple days in rock and roll land. I met some nice rockers, it was cool.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm a man, I'm 40

in the throws of a horrible, horrible, horrible football season, relive this little piece of magic, courtesy Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy:

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Monday, November 1, 2010

I figured out why I hate facebook messaging

...its because it takes an extra click. First you gotta be on the internet, then you gotta be in facebook, then you have to click on your email to get to your email, and then you have to click again to open it. I would rather be in my "portal" or whatever and just already be on my email. Plus facebook pretty much single handedly reintroduced spam back into the internet, because you get all this stuff from Events that you didn't sign up to go. I also think its really stupid that you can not erase things that people put on your wall now. That's not really annoying, it just could get very tacky, quickly. And call me paranoid, but I think its somehow tangently related to the reintroduction of spam. Its already annoying it pulls up so and so likes "thing, with news story and picture" and its usually a product with a bot or an intern who is adding other people. Stealth advertizing yall. I'm talkin a slow normalization of social media marketing techniques. Total corporate takeover. Don't forget, these are the same guys that killed JFK that we are talking about, not to be taken lightly. And to think...all people really like about it is that you can share pictures with all your friends, and it takes less clicks than on myspace.

(and don't even get me started on blogging)

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