I was limping along on Wednesday (post Oracle World party), barely able to form coherent sentences. Somehow, that didn’t stop me from checking out Raq at the Independent that evening. I’ve been rather enamored with this high energy jam band for quite some time, and they haven’t been around SF in a couple of years. Either it was fatigure or mature ears, but I was completely disillusioned with the band. They can all play real well, and real fast for that matter, but something about their music was so predictable that I just wasn’t feeling it. They didn’t really improvise – they predictably break down sections so that they can solo on top of them. The guitarist seemed really full of himself, and that turned me off. I guess its sort of like Particle – they’re great the first couple times, but with out music growth, my interest totally fades.
Out of nowhere, on Wednesday Pat McCarten emails us asking if we are free on Thursday night. So it was with great surprise and delight that we spent an evening with Pat. And wouldn’t you know it, loud music happened. I couldn’t give %110, but I believe we achieved %90. We bonded over some Secret Machines. I’m loving the album I just downloaded – “Now Here Is Nowhere”
Actually, loud music carried over to Friday, when Lars and I cranked his stereo waaaay up, and took turns swapping in and out our respective ipods. Where Pat + I like to listen to similar, somewhat aggressive, totally rocking tracks, Lars and I tend to listen to somewhat different genres. It was totally fun to be exposed to some high volume different music.
Saturday night, Stiners, Anthony and I went to see Galactic at the Fillmore. The Stanton Moore Trio was opening up and I wanted to be sure to catch them. I believe that Stanton Moore will go down as one of the top ten drummers of his generation. He is unbelievable on the kit. He has carved himself a style of playing that is almost always recognizably his, no matter what the musical setting is. His trio didn’t disappoint – I almost enjoyed it more then galactic. It was more jazzy, but the guitarist (Will Benard) and keyboard player (some CRAZY cat from New Orleans) beat it in to submission, and made it their bitch. The music, that is.
Galactic seriously upped the level of rock though. They were smoking. Ever since their singer left the band and they went all instrumental, their shows have consistently been awesome. Two sets of really tasty funk. A fair bit of getting down. When they played Stina’s favorite song, she described it as a musical orgasm.
And there was poster. It’s really meta, with a picture of their last Fillmore poster on a wall in the current poster.
Last night I opened up for Joan Jett, Berlin, Devo, and Elton John. No lie. Also for 5 cover bands, several dance troupes, and a couple of downtempo artists. Brad, the dude who Stina worked with on several ArtsFest events, got hired as a talent coordinator for the party. This is how I, Oracle employee extraordinaire, ended up playing this party. I played 3 sets, the first was 7:15 – 8, and the party started at 8. Therefore I can honestly say that I opened for every act at the party. The party was rather impressive in scale – it took over the entire Cow Palace and erected a number of gargantuan outside stages under tents. You entered the space by walking under a raised platform stage where the Unauthorized Rolling Stones were performing. I don’t think the geeks were overly impressed. I sure was. Stina, event planner extrordinare, was rather floored with the whole operation. I played in north hall, which was the least accessible space in the party. It would be the last place you would find in the general flow.
We showed up at 5:15, and then spent about the next hour and fifteen minutes trying to get my sound setup. My setup is really rather simple, and a nice regulated signal comes from my submixer. Of course, the sound duders ran into a lot of problems. Finally, I got shuttled to the talent hospitality area, put some food on my plate (all that was left was squash tamales – but in all fairness they were pretty tasty), sat down, and the women in black trenchcoats came up and said “are you almost ready to go north hall?”. Sweet. This was followed by a lot of “Wheres the fuzz?” and “The fuzz is in the car” radio communication.
I played almost an hour first set to the mostly empty hall. It was a HUGE space. The lighting and general setup was pretty rad. People would come up to me while I was playing and ask if Elton John was playing in this room. One person asked for white wine. At 8, Zoe Keating played a cool looping cello set. I really liked her music. At 8:45 I played a second set. I had a little more foot traffic for this set, but not too many people seemed to care. It was fine, pretty much what I expected. Since I was in the sorta mini circular bar area in the middle of the hall, people could check out my setup from many angles. At one point, 10 people were huddled behind me, staring at the laptop monitor, like moths to the flame. Stina said that I would move, blocking their view, and they would all shift over.
Occasionally someone would come up to me and want to talk about my music. I handed out maybe 30 business cards over the night. I might have made a couple of new fans. It resonated with a couple people fairly strongly, which is all I can hope for. I was free from 9:15 till 11:30. Rena Jones played a great set. I was already a big fan of her downtempo violin focused music. If you like my music, I suggest checking out some her tracks. I took in some Elton John, ate lots of sushi, and dipped everything I could get my hands on into the giant chocolate fountains. I was amused contemplating that this might be the largest mostly male audience that Sir John would ever play to.
At 10:45, Devo went on in an outside tent. They were fantastic. I danced my ass off with Zoe and Brad. I believe we were the only ones dancing. Whip it. Whip it good. They did a Devo-fied version of “Satisfaction”, which I was deeply amused by, especially since the Rolling Stones cover band had surely already sang it that night. I had to jet at 11:30 for my final set. I can’t explain to you how surreal it was that I walked from Devo, through Elton John, and then through Joan Jett, to get to my performance space.
I was supposed to play from 11:30 – 12, when the party ended, but when midnight rolled around they asked me to play for another half hour. No problem. I try to be helpful. Only one drunk person harassed me during that whole time.
All in all, the whole experience met my exact expectations. I wasn’t so nervous about the gig, and I wasn’t so nervous to play it either. It was fine. I got paid nicely. Maybe I started a relationship with Hartman Studios. Who knows? It was fully worth doing.
I’ll leave you with some Stina shot video:
Question: I’m currently working with an artist, Nemo, to do art for my upcoming album. For this next release, I’m going to have a card board case that will fold out, and the cover will open up into three panels. I’m currently entertainig the idea that the cd should open up and be all art. Look at a CD cover he’s done when it folds out. Therefore the track listing would be on the inside, and the spine of the cd would not indicate what CD this is.
Nemo’s rightly points out this would work against me from a sales/business perspective. People wouldn’t see the track listing. There wouldn’t be a upc sticker (though I could always shrinkwrap it and put the UPC on as a sticker). If I ever really wanted to sell it, it would work against me.
On the otherhand, my sales record to date has been miserable. I’d like to think this is largely from the fact that I’ve never tried to sell my product. I will try to sell this one, because it’s going to cost a lot to make. It won’t be more then $10. I’m still thinking of having the music freely available on the website – maybe with a donation button when I determine which charity I’d like to support. I imagine most of my sales will be person to person. But maybe not. Who knows.
Anyhow, please weigh in on this one – whether to have the art fill up all the panels sans track listing or not. . .
By time Friday rolled around, I was ready to get out of the house, even though I seriously lacked energy to accompany my motivation. The Secret Machines were playing at the Regency Center, and I’ve been meaning to check them out.
It was a buyers market outside the venue. I picked up a ticket and chatted with the entirely male crowd outside. I went inside and was surprised to see that the band had setup a circular stage in the middle of the floor. It was a rather impressive looking stage, going up at least 15 feet. The venue has a second level with seats which gave a really good vantage point. I was pretty wiped, the crowd wasn’t of the hippie jam band variety, and it seemed like a lot effort to socialize with my fellow concert goers. So for the first time at a concert, I sat down and whipped out my gameboy. It was like a jr high fantasy come to life – playing Mario 3 until the concert started. I was happy.
The band came on and took control. They were great. I had barely heard any of their music, so everything was new to me. It was hard to describe – somewhere where hard rock met pink floyd. They are a trio. They were good singers, and the songs were really cohesive, very composed. All in all, they were rather bad ass. They clearly had many synthesized tracks playing along to flush out their songs. The drummer was fantastic. It felt like a arena show inside a ballroom. I will be picking up an album shortly via the interweb. I love the interweb.
The sound was surprisingly good since that venue is has horrid acoustics. Thay had speakers lined up all the way around the railing of the stage. The light show was rather epic. All the members faced in toward the center so you had to be on the opposite side of the stage to be facing them.
The whole show was about an hour and half, which was perfect for me. Home before midnight.
Saturday was spent outside in the gorgeous weather celebrating Lar’s 30th birthday. I’m a big fan of the 30th birthday month. There was some wiffle ball. Many hours slipped by, accentuated by the occasional burger and tecate. I thought it was noteworthy that it was the first time I’ve seen my friend’s dogs meet. A fabulous afternoon.
This morning we wandered through the park to see a couple friends run in the Nike Women’s Marathon. As the women came streaming by it was like staring at the luggage conveyer belt at the airport – I felt like the ground was moving. As one woman flew by, we heard her exasperate into her cell phone: “For petes sake, I’m running a race right now!”
Its been a pretty off week. Stina has barely been sleeping, and therefore, I’m sleeping a lot less. A combination of new jobbiness and crazy exercise seems to thrown a wrench in her sleeping capabilities. Normally, I do all the wrench throwing around here. I feel displaced.
So we’ve been kinda walking around like zombies, and things get pretty tense between us real easy. I’m also having some weird music issues, where I’ve had a couple songs that aren’t panning out the way that I think they are. Initially, I think they totally kick ass. When I go and revisit, I find that they lack something. Something good, perhaps. Soon there after I think they suck. Its nice and manic. So I’m somewhat down, I haven’t been socializing, I work at home a lot, and things are a little f’ed in the head. Nice. All the while I’m preparing for my show next week at the Cow Palace. That will be interesting – I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to it or not. I think I’ll be glad when its over, and I can dedicate myself fully on some new tunes. I’ll also be fully prepared to play some more gigs at the drop of the hat, so I need to make that happen before the year is up. Definitely before the new album is out.
The good news is that I got another review. By being proactive and sending out a couple CDs, I occationally get feedback. Public feedback even. Go check it out. Also, I’ve learned, General Fuzz is what you need.
Taxi’s are a fabulous, though expensive, way to get around the city. Although I often just see them as a mode of transportation, there’s another element that totally impacts the experience: the driver. Often the driver quietly and efficiently takes me from A to B, but sometimes banter comes into play. You meet nice drivers, angry drivers, scary drivers, and the occational race driver.
For 5 amazing minutes we entered the twilight zone, while taking a cab from Dave SG’s house to the Fillmore. Probably less then a mile. A large male Jamaican taxi driver who lacked a total command of the english language had some pretty strong opinions. When I told him we were going to see a band called “Animal Liberation Orchestra”, he proclaim it is good to liberate the animals. When I told him that the band goes from city to city liberating the animals, he told us that we should not eat meat since animals do not eat meat. Most animals eat grass. Monkeys eat grass. “Monkeys eat grass?” I ask for verification. They sure do. The internet verified this. Yet, at this point Stina had to take the reigns of the conversation, cause I was about to lose my shit.
We missed the opener, Honeycut, but they came back out through out the night in various forms. They seemed pretty solid. This was ALO’s first headlining spot at the Fillmore, and the energy of the audience was almost tangible. They sold it out too. Good for them. They totally deserve to.
I heard all the ALO staples I was craving to hear. We walked in and they launched into “Plastic Bubble”. Joy. I believe Stina loves this band more than I, and I had a better time for it. It’s good to be around Stina when she’s real exited. ALO was pretty much on fire. They debuted a couple of new tunes – I didn’t love all of them. Then again, it might take time to assimilate them. Who knows.
At the beginning of the second set, they brought out Jack Johnson. Now I was hoping this would happen, but I didn’t believe it would as Jack lives in Maui. But low and behold there he was. People went berserk. It was the smallest venue I’ll ever get to see him. And it was awesome. They played some ALO tunes and some Jack tunes. When he left the stage, they filled the void by launching into BBQ, another fan favorite. Too much fun.
There was even a poster.
Sweet, sweet poster.
I recommend you head over to archive.org and listen to some ALO if you are uninitiated.
Stina had her last day of work at UHS on Thursday, so we hit the city to do some serious celebrating. We started by heading up to West Portal to go for a nice Italian dinner at Charlise. We’d been there once before, and we were long over due for a second visit. When we looked at the menu, it wasn’t the least bit Italian. It was all Greek food. Then the waitress came over and told us that tonight was the first night with a new Chef, and the only thing they were serving was the soup and the shiskabaabs. Ooookay. That would explain why we’re the only people in the place. After some quick deliberation, we decided WTF and had some tasty chicken shiskabaabs. The chef plied us with free appetizers and deserts. It was good.
Then it was time to buy over priced pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch place, because pumpkins are for celebrating. It also gave us opportunity to say hello to our old friends: the sad looking turkeys and rabbits. We’ll be back shortly to buy a tiny but crazy expensive Christmas tree in a couple months. I always get very irate for that trip. You’ll learn about that later. For now: I’m down with Pumpkins. We cool.
We then made our way to the Cat club for some 80’s dancing. We showed up prior to 9:30, and there was no cover. The place was empty, just the way I like it. We met up with some friends and did some boogie-ing. Two rooms of 80’s goodness. I heard the long version of my favorite song from BreakIn – “Body Work” by Hot Streak. Then we bump into some people we met the day before – one of Stina’s cousin’s good friends and her boyfriend. We had long standing plans to meet them. After finally executing on the plan, we run into them the next day. Holy random.
By 11:30 the place was mobbed. I don’t get it – why do people wait till you have to pay to get in and then deal with annoying crowds? Some dudes tried to pick up on Stina, and I understand – meat market. Well, I guess we better get the F out of there and have some late night pizza.
So we did.
On Monday, Dave P was giving high accolades to the Roger Waters show he attended at the Hollywood Bowl. I wasn’t even thinking about going, but his praise gave me pause to reconsider. Enough pause that I packed up my work backpack on Tuesday with all the extra clothes I would need IF I decided to head down to Shoreline. The show was sold out, but I figure its never too difficult to get a scalped ticket to an amphitheater show. I sent an off chance email to Brian who works at Google (conveniently located right next to shoreline) to see if he was going. It turns out he was, and he even had a spare ticket.
Well, that was clearly the universe telling me to go. Whom am I to disobey the universe?
So I cruised down after work to find a nice stealthy side street parking spot. People were getting their tailgate on. I hike down to Google to meet up with BryGuy for the ticket. Then I needed to get some grub. I convinced Brian to take me into the Google cafeteria. Now, I saunter in, sans ID, but immediately recognize it’ll be fine. While I look sorta like the anti-christ at Oracle, I look exactly like a Google employee.
I have to say that Google’s food is far superior to Oracle’s, and its free to boot! I had a burrito that rivals many a burrito joint. They even had handy non-styrofoam take away boxes. I stash some little pizzas and a bunch of cookies for some post show munch down. They even hooked me up with a couple waters to bring into the show. The only weird thing was how crowded it got by the time I left at . Why are there that many employees still at work?
I left Brian there, since he’s having dinner with a friend and her parents, and mentally prepare myself for my first solo amphitheater show. I happen upon a secret entrance – they don’t even check my bag. Its starting to get full up on the lawn, but since I’m just one person, I easily find a choice spot, settle in, and make some show friends. I love me some show friends. Wasn’t sure if this was the type of show where it would happen – but hey, I was definitely on a roll.
The set for this show was AMAZING. I’ve been seeing successions of high profile bands bring in crazy screens, l.e.d. boards/ping pongs, tubes of lights, but nothing like what Roger Water brought – it was a GIANT super hi-resolution screen. It looked like there was a set on stage, but as soon as the giant hand swooped in to switch the radio dial and smoke a cigarette, it was clear how amazing this screen was. It was as if he was able to take an IMAX screen with him.
First set was solid. Roger Waters brought a huge band with him: 3 guitarists, 2 keyboardist, 3 lady gospel choir, percussionist and a drummer. Lots of stuff off the Wall and other popular Pink Floyd songs. I’m not so up on my Floyd, so I can’t tell you names or any of that shit. The first half of the set was much stronger then the second. At one point a giant pig balloon cruised around the amphitheater with anti bush logos scrawled all over it. It was eventually released into the sky. I thought it was have been ironic if someone had written “Save the Environment” on the giant balloon.
During “Wish you were here”, my friend Simone randomly bumped into me. It was super awesome. Lots of hugging and joy. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, it started to fall apart. I guess with Simone was a crew of like 10 people, who totally crammed into our space. They seemed to like our good vantage point. Suddenly we were totally cramped, and I felt really shitty about what was happening to my neighbors. Then the couple to the left started getting into a heated argument. It was all bad. But somehow by end of song, the fight had ended, and the people were eventually convinced to find their original spot on the lawn. Big sigh of relief.
Second set = Dark Side of the Moon. That was a REAL good time. My only complaint is that they really didn’t open up the songs very much – I felt there was lots of room to go OFF on some sections. Earlier, I said that Massive Attack opened up some of their sections for a Floyd like sections – in retrospect, Massive Attack did a much better job of taking their studio music to new exciting places. On the other hand, how do you improve upon Dark Side of the Moon with clear 3/4 full waning moon high in the sky?
And to celebrate Google’s big dinner hook up and the purchase of YouTube, I’ll leave you with this:
We that dwell in the inner sunset experience the best weather in the Fall. Even though this summer was particularly nice (only a month of solid fog), its awesome to be in fall right now. Hardly Strickly Bluegrass is happening in the Park, so I get watch hordes of people work their way past our apartment. Eventually I’ll meyander down – its too nice outside and the North Mississippi Allstars are playing later. I caught Jerry Douglas yesterdays – it was really good. Right where bluegrass and jam band collide – a place that String Cheese Incident has brought us many times before.
Kelly and Rose spent the weekend at Chez Krudden, so its great to have their energy around. Various waves of people gathered after the bluegrass fest at our house. DanT brought over a bunch of great home brews for us to sample = Joy. He made a strawberry beer which I believe is his crowning acheivement.
Stina and Rachel ran a half tri yesterday – a tri where all the olympic distances were cut in half. Stina did it in 2:15. Since then she became a “hole” – a place where food needs to go. Her words, not mine.
Its been a very weird week. I think the full moon had something to do with it. I went to a computer conference at the begining of the week and the vibe was so off that I had to escape back to my safe haven at Oracle. That was a first. A bunch of people have been giving me feedback about music, and thats been a good motivator since I’ve been all over the map with my music right now. I’m trying to be focused and prepare for my Oracle World gig at the end of the month, but I’m not doing a great job with that. I have way too much new music to distract my focus. Well f the computer, I’m going outside.