Wednesday, August 29

Live: Beastie Boys @ The Greek Theatre - 8/19/07

The Lady Doc, me, and a bunch of physicians caught The Beastie Boys at The Greek Theatre recently. Let me tell you: it was one crazy night, especially for a Sunday. Everyone was in full-on party mode, particularly the band. And what a band it was. The ever-faithful Beasties were on the mics, as well as guitar and bass--they did start as a punk band, after all--and they were backed by Mix Master Mike on the decks (see "MMM" DJ station in the pics), Money Mark on keys, and two Latin/jazz percussionists.

This ensemble proceeded to run through new material and classic Beastie tracks with enough vigor and sincerity to keep the crowd bumpin' for the whole show. It was clear that these guys love and appreciate what they do. Here's hoping that they continue to kick out the jamz for many more years to come.

Tuesday, August 28

Afrikan Majik

Ok, gang! My vote for sleeper album of the summer is Afrikan Majik by Je Suis France. Je Suis France is a crazy stoner collective of (at least) nine dudes from Atlanta, Boston, Athens, LA and SF. This album is all over the place.

While opener "Sufficiently Breakfast" is a sixteen minute spaced-out southern rock jam, the next track is an anthemic post-punk proclamation, and "Whalebone" is heavy on the Apocalypse Now synths and Dark Side Of The Moon drum production. There are glitchy interludes, heavily processed vocals, rock-folk numbers, multiple eight-plus minute tracks, tranquil odysseys, and programmed beats mixed with live drums. Some of the other tracks have the carefree nuttiness of Beck's One Foot In The Grave and titles almost on par with old Minus The Bear (see "Digital Shrimp", "The Love Of The France", and "California Still Rules.") They cap the whole experience off with--get ready--a surprisingly good reggae number.

All of this variety really works to Je Suis France's advantage. I don't think I'd want to hear a whole album of any one of these song types, but a twelve-track collection of craziness works. If Babyshambles' Down In Albion was the "best demo" of 2005, then Afrikan Majik takes the prize for 2007.

Wednesday, August 22

Sunset Junction Street Fair: 8/18/07

On Saturday, I attended Day One of the Sunset Junction Street Fair with The Lady Doc and Michigan Bill. Performing that day were many acts, but I came primarily to see Blonde Redhead, Autolux, and Sea Wolf.

After taking a relatively convenient shuttle bus from parking to the "fairgrounds," we eventually fumbled our way to the will call entrance, without the help of multiple clueless employees. Anyway, the first act we caught was Sea Wolf (pictured above). It was a nice show, actually a little more lively than their EP, which I guess is good because this was a live concert, after all. The cello and vocals sounded especially nice.

We then explored the rest of the grounds. The whole venue is essentially a v-shaped intersection with a stage at each of the three points of the "v." We were able to catch a snippet of Breakestra's funktified set at the next stage we ran into.

A species of the native Los Angeles flora.

I was particularly excited to see Autolux, as their LP Future Perfect has been part of my regular work rotation for months. They turned in a pretty decent performance but were a little looser than I had expected. Nonetheless, they played most of their hits. Check out that craptastic photo above.

The final act we caught was Blonde Redhead. Holy shit was it packed. We didn't get close enough to take a good picture, but were able to stake out a decent-sounding spot after we got away from the foot-travel arteries that naturally form in large crowds. Blonde Redhead sounded as elegant and detailed as they usually do--I just love their dynamics. From what I've heard, they probably gave the best performance of the day.

We didn't stick around for Ben Harper but opted to catch an easy shuttle back to our car. Pretty good for $15. Tons more pictures here. Fun related stuff here.

Friday, August 17

DJ Marshall Barnes @ Area - 8/4/07

The Lady Doc, DJ KRC, LC and I had a crazy night out at Area thirteen days ago. It was so crazy that I've just now been able to muster sufficient energy to write about the night's ludicrous extravagance.

Anyway, I had no idea who would be manning the decks that night, nor do I even keep track of what DJs perform in LA clubs. But we struck gold in DJ Marshall Barnes.

There was an indication that things would be good when Marshall spun "Groove Is In The Heart" (which is from 1990, btw) early on in the evening as people were filling the club. I and my crew proceeded to settle in with a bottle of vodka and let the DJ take it from there.

His progression was definitely "a little of this, a little of that" but it all blended perfectly. Marshall played tracks from Cut Copy, The Rapture, Timbaland, JT, LCD Soundsystem, and a slew of great hip-hop and dance tracks in-between. The mixing was flawless, with sometimes only a minute or less of a prime track before slipping in to the next one. And it all got the crowd shakin'.

Marshall plays mostly in LA but seems to have gigs across the U.S. as well as abroad. (He actually just played near my hometown on 8/12.) Check his site or Myspace for coming attractions.

Thursday, August 16

You Follow Me

Do pick up You Follow Me, an excellent collaboration between Nina Nastasia and Jim White, just released in the U.S. on Fat Cat. The duo perform haunting and direct songs that capture the beautiful interplay when incredible musicians just get it.

Nina's voice is crushingly versatile, hitting on elegance, ice, kindness and strength, while White (of Australian instrumental group The Dirty Three) provides expressive and intricate drumming. This affair is purely acoustic (with Nina on guitar), and the overall feel of the record is very much "living"-- many of the pains and subtleties of real life are here. Producer Steve "Fuck Digital" Albini had a lot to do with this, but I think the songs achieve this sort of gravity on their own. I want to crank this up in a cabin by a lake and strum along...(on repeat, of course!)

Friday, August 3

A Man Walks Into A Bar

I just got tix to see the incomparable Jens Lekman at the Troubadour in November! Woot!

Here are his upcoming North American dates:

10-23 Bloomington, IN - Jake's
10-25 Washington, DC - Black Cat
10-26 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
10-27 New York, NY - Webster Hall
10-29 Boston, MA - Paradise
11-01 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
11-02 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium
11-03 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club
11-06 Seattle, WA - Nectar
11-07 Portland, OR - Someday Lounge
11-09 San Francisco, CA - Bimbo's 365 Club
11-10 West Hollywood, CA - Troubadour

Live it, love it, Lekman!

Wednesday, August 1

Live: Peter Bjorn And John

The Lady Doc and I caught these wonderful Swedes at The Fonda on Tuesday. This performance was actually a makeup for a canceled show from May or June, which freed original openers Fujiya & Miyagi to do their own show.

Man, I can't even remember when I bought the tix for this concert, but in the meantime, PB&J "fell ass-backwards into the pop song of the year" and have been all over the place in support of Writer's Block (which has sold 91,914 copies in the US as of 7/11/07). In fact, they were just in Japan the day before this show. This popularity--and the fact that KROQ was involved--probably explained the prevalence of the hoi polloi. There were even some actual fraternity members in attendance.

Anyway, I had heard that they were not so tight live--and I experienced them only from afar at Coachella--so I didn't have extremely high expectations. However, I think they've been practicing a lot since then because they were quite good. The vocals were generally spot-on, the stringed work was clean and tonally pleasing, and the drums were surprisingly more technical than they are on the record.

They played all of the hits but with slight tweaks from the recorded versions. Some tracks sounded more sparse, others were cranked to eleven, and others (see "Amsterdam") were stripped down to just vocals, guitar, and light percussion. Overall, I missed some of the elements from the LP.

For mid-set favorite "Young Folks," the band enlisted Boom Bip on bongos and Gena Olivier from L.A.'s own Midnight Movies for Victoria Bergsman's part. Good choices, PB&J!