Dedicated to classics and hits.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March through August 2008: Spain, the End of Local Music Coverage

How San Diego Got It's Name a (Horrifying) True Story

From Iberia by James Michener pages 451-453(paperback edition):

To Alcala for their education had been sent three young men, Don Carlos, the son of King Felipe II; Don Juan the bastard brother of the king and therefor half uncle to Don Carlos; and Alexander Farnese, nephew of the King... on the night of April 19th, 1562, young Carlos slipped out of his room to visit the attractive daughter of a porter, and in creeping down the darkened stairs he failed to see that the fifth step was broken and pitched headlong forward, so that his forehead struck a closed door. He was found stretched out unconscious...

After word got out, a strange troupe appeared from a nearby community, a group of peasants who bore the cadaver of one Diego (1400-1463) a Franciscan who had died a century before but whose body had not been contaminated by the grave... The peasants explained the cadaver had already worked miracles in their community and they believed it could save Don Carlos...

When hope was almost gone, the century old cadaver of Fray Diego was placed in bed with Don Carlos while the Fransicans prayed, and in the morning Don Carlos awakened, with clear mind and said that in the night he had seen a Frair in Franciscan habit lying beside him and this had cured him....

In 1588 pope Sixtus announced that Fray Diego obtained Sainthood, and in his honor, a pueblo in the colony of California was some years later named after him.

That's right! San Diego was named after a miracle-working corpse!


Show Review: The Egyptian Lover @ The Habitat House

Show Review: The Egyptian Lover @ The Habitat House

The Egyptian Lover is a legendary electro, proto hip hop dj, producer and artist from Los Angeles. He was most active in the early 80s- in Los Angeles. I saw the flyer for his show at the Kava Lounge a while back and I was like, "No way- that CANNOT be the real Egyptian Lover", plus it was at the Kava Lounge so I was like, ick. But then I got a text from Habitat House saying that Egyptian Lover was playing there last night- private party- invite only. It was an exciting opportunity.

Now- when you're talking Egyptian Lover you are talking about a contemporary of Mantronix and Cybotron. I have, of course, seen Mantronix (Ministry of Sound, 2001)- Cybotron good luck with that. The bottom line is that seeing Egyptian Lover at the Habitat House was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get close to a true innovator in the world of electronic music. I mean- look- seeing Daft Punk rock a sold out audience at the LA Sports Arena in 2007 was pretty dope, but Egyptian Lover was doing that shit in 1982. Yeah he was.

We arrived at 930 PM, Egyptian Lover started at 10 PM. He had turntables, a backing vocalist, an 808 (of course!). No lap top for the Egyptian Lover. He showcased a full range of djing technique- including playing one record backwards- in time- while mixing it with the song playing on the other turn table. He did half of the dj set without adequate lighting. Pretty impressive.

The first part of the set was all dj- heavy on the kraftwerk and the old school electro. After that he segued into his own original material- basically, he was playing the 808 and rapping/singing. He's not the best rapper- but shit- man- Egyptian Lover. We danced the night away- the crowd had a great vibe. Another amazing night at the Habitat. It was the kind of night that invigorates the spirit. I'm ready for Lisbon.

Letter from Portugal...

Ah Portugal. It's pretty but kind of slow. Spent a couple days in Lisbon or Lisboa as they call it here. We found reports of its coolness to be greatly exaggerated. Some of that is undoubtedly attributable to it being "off season" for Portuguese tourism, but some of it probably has to do with the fact that a lot of Portuguese between the ages of 20 and 40 leave for other EU countries like France, Germany and the UK. It's been that way here for decades. Before that, the merchant class and frustrated bourgeois immigrated to places like Brazil and, of course, California. In San Diego, Point Loma was settled by Portuguese fishermen, and Portuguese farmers were among the first to settle in California's central valley.

Lisbon/Lisboa is a compact city- geographically reminiscent of San Francisco but with a castle in the center, pedestrian thorough fairs in the center and three different kinds of street cars.

The student quarter- Barrio Alta- was dead on the Thursday night that we went, except for the drug dealers who offerred us hash, weed, coke and heroin. Friday we did the tourist thing- which was a fun seven/eight hours, and ate at John Malkovich's restaurant- Bica do Sapato. It sucked. Boo, John Malkovich, boo.

Saturday we drove off to Evora and stayed at a phat converted convent/monastery that used to be the holiday get away for the Portuguese kings, and now is a luxury hotel run by Starwood. God bless the modern tourist economy. Evora is known for its Roman temple of Diana and a Cathedral that has a huge ossuary (chapel of bones). If you haven't seen a chapel of bones- you need to check one out the next time you are in southern europe.

Sunday we drove down the toll road to southern Portugal- to a region called the Algarve- the southern coast of Portugal. The Algarve is well known among English/German tourists. It's a favorite place for the British to buy second homes. Our trip down the toll freeway was made a tad more adventurous when I put diesel in our rental car- turns out that the Portuguese sell two different types of diesel fuel- one called "diesel" and a second called "gasoleaza." Ha! We broke down in the mountains, had to get towed to a middle of no where village and had to have my old law partner pick us up. Luckily, she lives about 30 minutes away from where we broke down. I like to think of it as an amusing misadventure. Sigh.

Today (it's six thirty m here), we went into Faro and walked around the old city and then went to a local mall with a "hyper market" where we stocked up on Portuguese condiments and toiletries for gifts.

Jeanne- my old law partner- bought a house in the foothills north of Faro. She lives here with a dog- Django.  It's a very peaceful setting- reminiscent of the foothills of southern California minus the tons of people. Supposedly, the scene during the summer is crazy- many of the homes here are empty 11 months a year. Olive, Orange, Fig trees & grape vines dot the landscape- everything is in bloom and it's quite beautiful.

We've got another day here and it's off to Sevilla for holy week- then Cordoba and Granada.

letter from sevilla

I'm typing on an iPhone so forgive me. Holy week in sevilla is fucking nutso. Seeing half the town dress up in kkk outfits and carry around floats of suffering jesus and mary till 4am is something you really need to see yourself. Plus, to cap it all off they showed Mel gibsons passion of the Christ on local broadcast tv. We've moved on to Granada now, the freeway from sevilla is named after Washington Irving. That's a theme here, the spainards didn't realize they had cool stuff till foreigners pointed it out.

Show Review: A Saturday Night in Hollywood

Have you actually watched A Night at the Roxbury with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. It's really bad, but it's funny because the backdrop is this fantasia of hollywood centered club night life. I think it's Will Ferrell's first movie?

Ok so here is a good description of the Avalon fromthis guy:

When Giant first took over, it was kinda-sorta ok; good sound, great lineups. Then my uncles, aunties and all the other senior Asians decided it would be fun to turn it into their opium den. Gross, and Avalon hasn't been the same since. The talent comes through every once in a while and the crowd is super dead.

And that about sums it up, ladies and gentlemen. The line up last night was promising enough: Ellen Allien, Sascha Funke, and even Claude Von Stroke. We saw Claude Von Stroke. Some facts:

1. lots of middle aged asian people!

2. lots of bouncers!

3. $30 parking! Yes!!!

I don't know what sin against god techno has committed to be condemned to the "Avaland" experience, but he's a mad dude. When you compare the environment you'd see ellen allien in new york, berlin, london, paris, hell, san francisco to the environment of avaland? It could have been any asian rim metropolis: tokyo, shanghai, seoul, singapore, hong kong. I guess there was something cool about the global mix of cultures but um... also maybe not.

CD Review: The Sess "Agendumb" (Single Screen Records)

the sess(myspace)

Technology has made it easier and harder for local bands. Easier in that you can network from your couch, in that you can sell your cd from your couch, etc. Technology has made it harder because there are now so many bands out there vying for attention from a limited audience and even the audience it reaches is guaranteed to have its attention diverted in seconds. So in the end advances in technology are a wash for non established acts, but the benchmarks towards viability remain the same: record a full length, tour outside your home market, get a booking agent, a manager, etc.

It is with great pleasure that I received my copies of the Sess's debut full length recording on Single Screen Records. Entitled "Agendumb," this record is a proud document of a scene on the brink of moving from a burst of myspace inspired energy to something more sustained. In 2007 San Diego produced three rock acts that drew attention outside the area: Grand Ole Party, Delta Spirit & The Muslims. However none of those groups produced a record with the inspiration and peculiar genius of the Sess. Part rock, part punk and part stoner experimentalism, Agendumb transcends the "local music" label and emerges as a record of true excellence, a record that deserves every sale it gets.

A Night Out in San Diego:  Crocodiles, Ivy Hotel, Skull Kontrol

JFCD came down for the memorial day weekend- and he brought "Rock Band" the video game with him. All I have to say about Rock Band is that being the drummer is super tough, and the other two instruments are easy.

On saturday night we went to the Brick by Brick to see the first third of the Crocodiles/Maps & Atlases/ Foals line up. Crocodiles is the new project of Brandon Welchez(ex-Prayers) and Chuck Rowland (ex-Prayers, ex-Some Girls). They've got the whole two piece thing going. Two pieces; so hot right now! Basically, Brandon sings and Chuck plays guitar and operates the keyboard/drum machine. It's a simple set up, and the music sounds quite like you would expect- the Prayers with a drum machine; although one of their songs had the hint of something more grandiose and majestic about it- comparisons were being bandied about to Spiritualized.

There was a good crowd on hand, enough to give the mausoleum-like Brick by Brick some life.

After that we headed down to the enormous cluster fuck that was the Muslims/Booty Bassment Ivy Hotel. Our group took one look at the line- in terms of who was IN LINE more then the length of the line itself, and decided against it. I would like to mention that the last time I went to the Gaslamp, it was for Switch and the promoter, Barry Weaver, put me on the "guest list." I went to the front door of the Stingaree, and there was a dude with a clipboard, and I was like "hey- I'm on the list" and he looked at his clipboard and crossed my name off and I went inside.

On the other hand, the list was fake and everyone was on it, so it was total bullshit. Fake lists suck! Promoters should indicate that when they make the "hit me up for the list" posts or what not "This list is FAKE and you WON'T BE ABLE TO GET IN." But man it was crazy packed down there.

Instead of douching it at the Ivy we went to No Kontrol at the Whistle Stop where, unfortunately, it was all 60s soul. I have nothing against 60s soul as an element of a larger mix, but a whole night of soul? It sounded like my Mom's Volvo circa 1987. Specifically, the Big Chill soundtrack. But it was a good size crowd and people were into and such; with the dancing and the what not. Just not my "cup of tea" as they say.

Also, the Black Kids released a
video. Oh- and the union tribune actually sent someone to the Foxboro Hot Tubs/Green Day show. Way to stay relevant, Green Day. When's the next rock opera being released?

Show Review: "Weird Al" Yankovic @ The San Diego County Fair

I'm writing this review through a steady sheet of tears- City Beat's Last Blog on Earth banished me from their "blog roll." And all over my repeated ridicule of their never ending cheer leading for their cover bands battle of the bands(see below). Alas, alas. None the less, I will do my best to forge on, dear readers, because I must.

I'm not afraid to admit that Weird Al is a personal hero. His tongue in cheek song parodies introduced me to many, many classic rock jams before I ever heard the original. My Bologna? I love Rocky Road? Eat it? Damn. True, I haven't kept up with his more recent albums. Sure, I've grooved to Amish Paradise & Ridin' Nerdy as much as the next guy, but I don't know the non-singles. Entering last night's concert, I was a little concerned that my unfamiliarity with his more recent material might leave me excluded from the festive atmosphere.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried. Weird Al is not just a consummate show man, he's an inclusive, giving performer, as much concerned with the mood of the audience as his own needs. The format of last nights two hour + performance was straight forward: song, song, interstitial video featuring either clip from Al TV/clips from other tv shows referencing weird al, costume change, song, song.

Seriously, the man changes costumes more often then Celine Dion. The humor was, of course, broad. Almost every song he performs is either about food or television. I caught myself wondering if he ever feels like branching out... The multi-generational crowd was ridiculously into him- singing and clapping along to Yoda and generally receiving every song with glee. I even spotted two guys dressed up in jedi robes.

I was also impressed with the capability of his back band, though given the ribbing that being Weird Al's back band must entail, I wasn't surprised that they remained anonymous throughout the show. Some of the songs got the full length treatment, others were strung together in the polka/medley format. I was expecting a perfunctory 45 minute "this is a county fair" performance, but this is was nothing more then a legacy claiming tour de force. If you haven't seen Weird Al- live- you owe it to yourself. Get out there and see him soon!

The Over Saturation of Local Music Coverage: Ex. A SD City Beat's "OB24"

Incredibly, it was only yesterday that I said, "If local music was a stock, I'd sell..." indicating the essential pointlessness of this blog doing what it set out to do- write about local music when every publication in town has basically got the message and started to get it's act together (for better or for worse, unfortunately.)

And, then, today- what do I see- San Diego City Beat's Epic cover story "OB24." It carries the header, "Four writers + 24 hours of music = trouble." Now THAT is some ambitious local music coverage. I can safely say that I could never ever spend 24 hours in Ocean Beach. The horror, the horror.

Show Review: Crocodiles @ the Casbah

Have you seen these crazy Beijing Olympic Mascots? You can actually see them capering around at the beginning of the Beach Volleyball games. I haven't seen them in, say, the Gymnastics stadium or at the track. I've got my eyes peeled, though.

Standing in the Casbah last night, I couldn't help but look at people and try to think of funny "lolcats" captions. "OH HAI! IM SADDD." and then there would be a guy in a cardigan with horn rim glasses. You know what I'm talking about.

I went last night for the first time in months to see Crocodiles, who were opening for Ilya. Ilya's music is "shoegazer." I'm pretty sure the 100+ people who were there last night were, in fact, Ilya fans, since they had an "alt-rock" look going. They were respectful and attentive listeners to Crocodiles, so I've got no problem with them.

Crocodiles have been working on their sound. They had a cool key board thing looping going on. At times it reminded me of Steve Reich, so much so that I went home and actually inflicted Steve Reich on our house guests. "The queen is not amused." Steve Reich is not party music or quiet sitting around music. It's not a dance kind of looping, but more experimental in outlook. Like I said, it sounded like Steve Reich.

Crocodiles development has me hopeful of an excellent first record, but they'll need more then "Neon Jesus" to turn heads. I also think the "ipod" drums is a limitation on what is otherwise a promising take on spiritualized influenced no wave(???). The stylistic touch points are feedback, looped synths and knowing, cynical song writing. It could be a compelling mix of influences with potential wide spread appeal. The album is the thing. 10 songs. I'd settle for ep. I'm def. waiting.

Also, for this style of group I think they need a more developed view point. I'm confident it's there, but a four-six song set with a (couple of?) covers isn't showing it off.

I'm not comparing Crocodiles to Dresden dolls but maybe like- Berlin era Lou Reed? That was a huge commercial success, after all. New movie coming soon on that record.

Musically, right now I'm basically like, if you're playing in a conventional rock format, drums, bass, guitar & singer I'm saying, "SEE: guitar hero." I don't want to directly say that the popularity of guitar hero essentially spells the death of indie rock music, but that's kind of where I'm headed. I'm looking for everything besides that set up. Of course, existing bands in that area are excluded- new Oasis record anyone? new Verve record? Don't worry- I'm getting there.

I was disappointed not to see any "phelps phans" t-shirts on the attendees. Where is the patriotic spirit?

Conversation drifted between Phelps record breaking swim that was going on during the show as well as a spirited debate on whether the "further security action" clause of the Russia-Georgia Ceasefire agreement allowed Russia to just take over the rest of Georgia whenever they wanted to or even whether Georgia signed a treaty with that language in it or signed a different agreement entirely.

What with China Olympics and Russian Invasions, you will forgive me if I don't get a little misty eyed for the late 70s- early 80s cold war era- Russian invasion of Afghanistan, boycott of the Moscow Olympics. I don't know, can we get a little "cold war nostalgia" as a trend? Fashion designs? Books about the Cold War? re-makes of Cold War era movies?

The time is right for this particular revival.

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