Top ten shows of ’09
10. Los Tortugas. Third times the charm. Its been fun and fascinating watching the festival evolve from its initial incarnation.
9. Jon Hopkins at the Grand. Its tough to impress me doing an electronica gig, but he delivered. He also did an excellent job of re-shaping his music for a live show.
8. Jackie Green + Friends at the Great American Music Hall. I’m sorta meh on Jackie’s material, but its always nice to see Phil and Bobby from 10 feet away.
7. Kyle HollingsWorth + Zack Gill at the Indy. Zack’s set build nicely from solo piano -> full band -> full band + all of ALO. Kyle then proceeded to tear it up. A wicked fun night, and was glad to catch the whole thing from start to finish.
6. The Jimmy Herring Band at the Grand. An amazing interpretation of a gem of an album. His touring band was phenominal. The interplay between the musicians left me dizzy.
5. Soulive w/ Roy Hargrove at Yoshi’s. Best Soulive set I’ve ever seen, which is saying something. It was chock full of guests and intensely funky grooves. And I HEART Yoshi’s.
4. Joe Ledbetter @ Cafe du Node -> Dumpstafunk @ the Indy. Two venues, two awesome shows, one dollar bill stuck down my drawers. ‘Nough said.
3. Bill Krutzman at the Indy. Easily the biggest surprise of the year. I didn’t have high expectations for that show, and my shit got blown apart. The trio took us through an incredibly adventurous path through the dead cannon. A truly fantastic ride.
2. Moby at the Warfield. There are very few shows that cause me to experience an entire spectrum of emotions. My respect for this guy knows no bounds, even if I don’t enjoy most of his work.
1. Phish at the Gorge. I won’t lie. It wasn’t the best Phish show I’ve seen. Not by a long shot. But it was a dream come true to see Phish at the Gorge. I’m glad the boys are back in action.
Best album of the Year: Inhumans, 97 Lovers. Their website is down. Maybe they were a one trick pony. That was one amusing pony though.
Best electronic music album of the year: Insides, Jon Hopkins.
Best free electronic music album of the year: Clash, Signal Path
I’ve been a fan of Jon Hopkins for a year or two now. I discovered his music when someone said I sounded like him, which I now take to be a huge compliment. Earlier in the week I saw he was going to play in SF, and since he hails from the UK and I’m on my show bender, I figured I should catch him. He was opening up for Royksopp, whom I’ve never heard of. I checked them out online, decided they were sorta fun, and figured I’d go pick up a ticket at the show.
On Thursday morning, I discovered that the show was sold out. Royksopp is far more popular then I realized. I checked craigslist, saw many people looking for tickets, and figured it wasn’t going to happen. No big deal. I was haphazardly checked craigslist every once in a while, when I ran across a fresh post selling a ticket for face, but the buyer had to come pick it up. I was downtown with no car, so it wasn’t realistic with the demand for the ticket. I called the seller, got the address, google mapped it, and saw it was in the far south part of the city. There was no way I could get there fast. Google maps will now plot your public transportation options, and upon clicking the pub trans link I learned there was a bus that left from right in front of my building, and the line ended at the exact address of the selling. And the bus left in 3 minutes. So I went for it. I dropped everything at work, ran downstairs, jumped on the bus, and headed to south SF. Sure enough, the bus dropped me off at the exact location I needed to be. I found the seller, bought the ticket, and since we were at the end of the line for the bus, the driver was smoking a cigarette, and I was able to get back on the same bus to bring me right back to work, just in time for our weekly social gathering. Booyeah.
Then off to the show, which was at the Grand. I hate the grand. Security made a huge stink over my metal water bottle last time I was there and the sound is generally terrible. It turns out that the Warfield just bought the Grand. Shockingly, security didn’t care at all about my water bottle or laptop, and they’ve put in an entirely new stack of speakers since I’ve last been there. Issues magically resolved. I got there right when Jon Hopkins took the stage, and his set blew me away. The way he adapted his mostly mellow musing to a dynamic, occasionally bombastic, live show was inspiring. His setup was all tactile and no laptop, so watching him deftly trigger and manipulate tracks was fairly engaging, which is unusual for this type of music. The light show brought it home. I was really impressed, which is no easy feat with my extreme electronic music snobbery. My only complaint was that it was too short, under an hour, but that’s what happens when your the opener.
There’s always a voice in the back of my mind that when I go to a show like this that it would be perfect if I could meet the artist, do a short shpiel and a cd handoff. The likely hood of this happening is almost nil, since the artist has to be milling around in the audience and I have to capture their attention. After Jon’s set, I scoped out the two areas that he was most likely to appear, and lo and behold, I saw him appear from the stage door. So I went up to him, chatted about venues in the city, and I asked him if he knew about echoes, and it turned out he just recorded a living room concert from them a couple weeks ago. Perfect. That gave me a fantastic license to do my self promotion thing and make the connection. I felt on top of the world. I don’t expect anything to come from these connections. They rarely do. Its just an unbelievable feeling to accomplish a really unlikely goal. I just felt completely in tune with the universe – that special combination of luck and preparedness.
I have to admit, Royskopp didn’t reel me in. They place got jammed, hipsters were everywhere, and it just wasn’t my scene. They do write some fun music though. I stayed for an hour and then bailed, hoping to make it home before Stiners went to bed. I made it back in the nick of time. After tucking Stina in to bed and saying goodnight, I actually felt like the luckiest guy in the world.
Life, which seemed to be a little more open to interpretation a few short months ago, has become rather tightly focused of late. The destination of this journey is baby, and there several well defined hoops that we are jumping through. Even though I know its more about the journey then the destination, its hard to lose track of the destination at this point. Of course, life can always throw us a few curve balls, so every morning I tense up, clutch my sweet ass, and shut my eyes as I boldly attack my day.
The good word is that we’ve found our fabulous new home in the east bay. We’re wicked psyched about that. Now we need to move all our stuff from A to B. Fortunately, with Stina at the helm, we’re already ahead of schedule. We’ve already donated and sold all of our excess possessions, and there’s a solid showing of boxes stacked around the house. All the art is down, and this apartment now sucks way more then it did a week ago. As much as I’m sad to leave our amazing neighborhood, this long goodbye is on the verge of dragging on, and I’m beginning to anticipate starting the next chapter of our lives.
We celebrated Halloween in the only way we know how – in a cabin in Yosemite surrounded by hippies and killer music. I really brought my A game for our probable final appearance at Las Tortugas, the best music festival in the universe. Strangers commented on all costume changes. I freaking RAGED all weekend long, while Stina rested comfortably in our sweet sweet love cabin. Unforuntatly our neighbors raged much harder then we did, blasting the tunes till past 6 am. I was too tired to be affected by it, but alas, Stina complete lack of raging rendered her helpless to the onslaught of “bonus rock”. I think I’d give top honors to Dumpstafunk, with Umphree’s second, and Tea Leaf Green third. TLG really brought it big this year.
Last friday one of my band dreams came true when Sean Lehe paired up with Asher Fulero in “Mo-Ped“. They were rounded out by Marshall Harrell (New Monsoon) on bass and Dave Brogan (ALO) on kit. I started off the evening right at JP Cutler’s suprise b-day dinner, and then dove deep in the Mo-Ped show. Those guys can freaking jam. I ran into bunches of folks from Los Tortugas, and one person who knew me as the guy with lots of costumes. Booyeah.
My internet love is running at an all time high right now. Craigslist allowed me to trade an office chair for a bike, which is AWESOME. Craigslist did a head fake though with tickets to Widespead Panic, what with the dude bailing on me last minute. So I jumped on the Bart, headed to the GORGEOUS new Fox Theater, and got second row center balcony tickets from the box office! Aww yeah! Then I forced the two folks who had to accompany me in (cause I had a dangerous laptop and might be able to “take pictures” – no lie, this is the reason I was accompanied by TWO security peeps) to wait at the merch booth while I snapped up the LAST killer poster. Booyeah! Then I happily checked my bag + poster, and rocked the fuck out! WSP was awesome. No “Tall Boy” though.
On Friday we went to see Kate and Maggie dance in the Go Go Spectacular, which was surprisingly awesome. Its insane how talented my friends are. Like Tom, who competed in a Championship Triathlon this past weekend. Or Amanda Gean, who ran 20 miles. Or Dave SG, who not only helped clean and pack all our art, but ate all the food in the house.
On one day I went to a bar near work to say goodbye to a co-worker I rather liked. Then I met a random musician I connected with through the crazy large general fuzz scene at a different bar. Then I went to see Assembly of Dust (one of my favorite bands) at the Independent. Bizaw! This is an excellent example of how transitions and celebrations are crushing the opposition these days. I tend to dislike the opposition, what with the barring of progress and plotting of my demise.
Theres a distinct possibility that our housing situation may be on the road to conclusionville. Its out of our hands now, anyway. It’s been an exciting week of coming to grips with things. I sense this will be an essential skill in the upcoming lifetime, so I’m glad to get some practice in.
The holidays deftly approach, putting Stina in her seasonally predictable happy place. We visited our favorite overpriced decorative produce market, perhaps for the last time. Special magical cabin in Yosemite at the festival is on deck. Stina deployed her mad Halloween skills in anticipation.
Its rare these days for a concert to exceed my expectations, so I was pretty stunned when Moby gently guided the outer layer of my soul to a special place where string pads tangoed with the choicest boom-boom-squiggy-squiggy. That is to say, it’s ridiculous how talented that Moby guy is. He can sing, play the fuck out of a guitar, piano, and even rock the congo’s. He also writes and produces some incredible music. His new album, “wait for me”, is truly excellent. It’s my second favorite to “Play”, which is a masterpiece. His onstage persona is genuinely positive. He dedicated all the proceeds from his California shows to California’s Partnership to End Domestic Violence. Basically, he’s an exemplary human being.
The show consisted mostly of tracks from both of my favorite albums, created with an ever changing 6 piece band. The band was stacked enough so that there minimal backing tracks (though there definitely were backing tracks), which really drew me in. The show was at times intensely introspective, and then at other times a big fucking dance party. I enjoyed both parts equally. I was emotionally stirred and chock full of joy. I loved how the two amazing singers really played around with very repetitive vocal parts, keeping them rhythmically and melodically fresh.
At three shows a week, my feet are having a tough time keeping up with my relentless need to rock out. This week, I randomly saw Aerosmith at the Oracle World party on Treasure Island, which was fine. I had many flashbacks of high school. I did manage to win 4 or 5 stuffed animals at the free carnival though. I can no longer attend large scale events without doing at least a surface analysis of how the organizers set it up. Living with Stina will do that.
Another stellar show worth mentioning was Zack Gill / Kyle Hollingsworth at the Independent. Zack’s set really built well. It started with a few solo songs with a piano, then he gradually brought out Kyle’s backing band, and then gradually brought out the rest of ALO. Then Kyle just tore it up. Lebo peppered the entire show. It was a great night.
Yom Kippur has come and gone once again. During my day of intense reflection I became overwhelmed with the sheer number of ridiculous celebratory activities that occupied our waking moments. So much happened in the last year that its slightly hard to comprehend. 6 weddings (half of which I had an active role in), 3 bachelor parties (which I had a big part in organizing), 3 trips to Boston, work kicking my ass all over the place, Phish tour, Burning Man, Belize, relationship changes, tons of friends and family visiting, far too many concerts, that whole economy collapsing thingy, and the occasional emotional breakdown. Life hasn’t been boring. I was really focused on the concept of time, which seems to march forward relentlessly, regardless of what we do.
After living a roughly linear life for the past 4 or so years, we suddenly banged a sharp left into pregnantville. And even though this year was crazy intense, I’m incapable to fathom the insanity that’s about to transpire in the next year. I’ve embraced the concept of moving into a new place, but the rental market isn’t really hugging me back. The longer this one way hug goes on, the more awkward I’m feeling. My goal is to transcend awkwardness until it feels like an active form of dominance. Then I’ll have the confidence to transition this hug into getting all the way to second base. Booyeah! They don’t call me slick for nothing.
Nobody calls be slick.
I seem to be caught in concentric circles of music. I saw Galactic at the Fillmore last weekend, and I’ll see them again at hardly strictly bluegrass tomorrow. I started this week at Dead Night @ Milk, and then Angel and I saw Dark Star Orchestra last night. If music is playing, and I’m slightly interested – I’m so there. I’m on a serious concert jag right now. Gotta get out while I still can.
We went back into the hospital so we could do some baby related radar. They sure have some fancy dan devices at the hospital now days.
Stina is incubating quite nicely, which is pretty much all thats important these days.
Summer goodness rolls on unabated. One night I got to live one my fantasies by seeing bands at both the Connecticut Yankee (A New Monsoon benifit show with extra bonus Lebo) and a block down the road at the Bottom of the Hill (the New Up kicking off their big national tour). It was the hippies vs. the hipsters, and I had great fun bouncing between the diametrically opposite crowds.
On Friday, we went down to Outside Lands to listen to a few bands from outside the perimeter, but then ran into our friend Aaron who hooked us up with ridiculously cheap day passes. Totally bonus Thievery Corp and Pearl Jam. It felt good to roll though one more time while we still live within spitting distance to the festival. We streamed the rest of the festy from the safety of our living room. Thanks youtube.
Stina and Angel just rocked the joint birthday party at chez Krudden. We’re old, and love the afternoon party. People rolled through all day, and now we’re basking in the glow of feeling really connected to our friends. It was a really excellent day, and there’s still three jello shots left.
Life’s been feeling extra poignant lately, what with the impending baby and all. While I’ve been diving head first into a true concert and general fuzz bender, the nagging suspicion that everything’s going to radically change lurks right beneath the surface. My role at work has been shifting for a while, to the point where its almost like I have a new job. So a “new” job, a probable move to a bigger space on the horizen, and then a baby. Hmmm. I’m not so good with change. Tough titties, I guess. Its gonna happen, and in a big, big way. The best thing I can do is have a positive attitude, so lately I’m attempting to rock a “BRING IT ON” front. I’m not really fooling myself though – underneath it all, I’m scared shitless.
Anyhow, tomorrow I boldly head back into the desert to lose my mind. One last time.
I was pretty stocked when Phish reformed this year. I was fired up enough to follow their initial gigs on twitter. I knew all I had to do was bide my time, and I would get to see them. And see them I did.
The week started insane, as Stiners put on the biggest event of her event planning career – a party for 1500 kids who were participating in the Macabee games (read: the jewlympics). It was an insane party, full of segways, surfboards, more video games then you could imagine, and a giant dance floor. It was logistically massive, and was pulled off with gusto. Big ups to Stina.
I hate going to large amphitheatres at this stage of my concert going life. There are very few bands that motivate to go to them, but Phish is certainly one of them. Going to Shoreline to see Phish on the lawn with a bunch of friends is how I used to know it was summer. It felt so damn good to do it again.
The Shoreline lot scene was alive and kicking, though the food options weren’t plentiful. Everywhere we went, we ran into smiling friends. Since Phish is the Grateful Dead of my generation, all sorts of friends came out of the woodwork to gather and boogie / run like antelopes.
Right when the house music stopped, a giant military plane buzzed the crowd as Phish took the stage. Stina freaked out, what with her plane phobia. Then during Divided Sky, one minute into the silent section, a different plane buzzed the theater. It happened again at the end of the song. It was beyond surreal. If you were on the lawn and tripping, I think you would totally lose your shit. There were a couple other moments, not quite as timed, when different military planes flew over Shoreline. It was odd.
Phish was pretty on. There was some not so exciting, and rather long new songs, and one kick ass new one. They played a lot of early material, and seemed pretty fired up doing it. We had a blast.
The best part was that it was just the beginning.
On Thursday, Stiners, Rachel and I headed up to Seattle. We were going to accomplish one of my life long goals – to see a Phish show at the Gorge. I thought it might never happen. But it did. Twice.
On the way up, we swung by Tom and Yuko’s place for a very tasty breakfast. Tom decided he was going to bike to the Gorge on Saturday and get a ticket to his first Phish show in the lot. This is a 140 mile bike ride. Tom is crazy, but we knew that already.
The trip up was faster than we imagined. Almost everyone camps at the Gorge. Not us. We booked a Motel/Brothel at the nearest town from the Gorge – a good 30 min drive. The only reviews we found online trashed the place. Stina had many reservations, but we arrived to find out it was only a mild dump, with no mold or ants to speak of. Since it exceeded our expectations, we were rather pleased with our little shitty room. Off the Gorge we went.
I have a hard time believing there is a more beautiful amphitheatre in this country then the Gorge. It’s breath taking.
It’s in the middle of nowhere. Rachel and I went in search of the Shakedown. It turns out to be in the heart of the camping section, a good mile plus hike from the parking lot (which was mostly empty, since everyone camps). I scored one of the best lot posters of my life, and food for the ride home. The shakedown went on for a good half mile. Not as impressive as Bonaroo, but it easily earns top billing.
The show on Friday = epic. All three shows had smatterings of new material and material I wasn’t fond of, but overall they were so good. I was beyond joyous seeing Phish at the Gorge.
Saturday, we went to a beach area on the river that Stina found by scrolling through google earth. We ate more crappy food (the food options in this part of WA are not the finest, as we repeatedly discovered), and eventually made our way back to the show to get dinner at Shakedown. Much finer dining to be found there.
I’ll give the Saturday show the gold medal though. Not necessarily from the song selection, but because Tom freaking biked to the show and joined us. It made the show really special to me. I danced my ass off, when I wasn’t lying down looking at the stars. I kept seeing satellites floating past, but later discovered I was watching a meteor shower. Bonus.
The whole concept of schlepping up to WA and then driving out to the Gorge (and driving to and from our Motel) made me tired just thinking about it. In reality, the whole trip was cake. We hit no traffic at any point. There was no cars in the parking lot at the amphitheater. We even got on earlier flight out via standby. It was so worth it, and I’m still glowing from the experience. You’d think I’d be burned out on Phish, but no, I’ve been blasting it non stop.
Lot shwagg acquired: two killer Kerrigan posters, an epic 3-d summer tour poster, and a new giant green hoodie. Plus an awesome pint glass that Kelly White was amazing enough to send me from an earlier show. She just called to saw that she’s coming to SF this weekend, so I’m beyond pumped. I’m taking her and local celebrity Bobby the Butcher to the Fillmore for some funk on Saturday.
Life is beautiful.