Monday, July 21, 2008

p4k afterthoughts: Saturday

Awesome weather. Apparently Fleet Foxes and No Age weren't the only atmospherics carried over from Sub Pop's 20th Anniversary Festival.
After rekindling my intellectual insecurity by dashing any hopes of reading the $5.50 copy of war and peace I bought from the Myopic Bookstore (thanks stilted translation and grammatically careless public domain!) my host offered me a raincoat. Initially hoping that, along with Rick Ross styled shades some stranger left at my house, it would help me look the part of the "im only here for the Rascal" a-hole, I was dismayed that it instead made me look like the unabomber if he intended to use his publicity to push a career in rap as the ultimate outlaw, but couldn't get past the whole dweeb aspect.
It was nice to be able to rely on public transportation in chicago, mainly because the train system in miami is a non-existent development failure. Apparently intended as a sprawling syndicate of interconnecting railways it ended up being one line across US1 that inconveniently passes by the airport and curves off into the middle of nowhere.
Not knowing much about Titus Andronicus except for their penchant to just fucking tell you already, gosh, I hopped over to the B stage to strike my globally cultured world (weary) pose. Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar were setting up and I was willing to use my cognitive dissonance to strike out Kusturica's Milosevic associations and remember the fun parts of his movies, mainly the bombastic and triumphant score that carried his scoundrels from one scandalous feat of irreverence to another. It's a shame his view of a united Yugoslavia comes under the banner of a Machiavellian realism. Either way, that Balkan Brass was mighty uplifting, none of that melancholic warble Beirut grounded his eastern-european impressionism with (not that I'm opposed). I haven't been to temple in forever, but if services were entirely made up of that rendition of Hava Negila, I'd bring the manischevitz.
For some reason their set left me in the mood to soak up some blood visions. Perhaps it was the end of Titus Andronicus blaring over the port-a-potty's that convinced me it was time to tussle. The end of their set reminded me of the birthday in my last year in high school where my Conor Oberst obsessed friend made me go see Bright Eyes on their I'm Wide Awake It's Morning and all it took was an anti-bush screed to convince me their sobbing and whined out country bamboozle was actually pretty rockin' underneath the Olympia Theater's garishly fake starry night. They kind of sound like someone who has something really important to tell you right when your favorite band is playing, and they're emotionally vulnerable at the moment so if you don't listen to them they could do something crazy that you might regret, which is either unfair or a sign that they really respect your opinion and can't wait for it.
I hopped over to Jay Reatard where King Kahn was out in a hawaiian shirt, carrying a cup of what looked like smoking dry ice, letting his gut hang out while he propped up his bud through his sunglasses. I never really got into King Kahn and the shrines but that guy looks like a lot of fun. Jay Reatard on the other hand was all business. Totally wronged by who knows what, whatever joy, or mock wistful fright to be found Blood Visions was replaced by harried shouts on beat. The bass player more than made up for his anti-charisma and filled in the facial gestures. Meanwhile, King Khan totally goofed from the side of the stage, apparently starting something he carried over to the aftershow later that night, mainly letting the crowd know that Jay Reatard gave him a blowjob before the show and that he's totally happy. Now, unlike Public Enemy, I could actually justify people flailing into each other here and took my unabomber outfit right into the middle of the fairly mild mayhem taking place in front of the stage. I haven't been that ecstatic about being elbowed in the teeth in, like, ever. I was more dismayed when Jay Reatard finished his set with a middle finger. It was silly and lame. Interesting vocal choices though, he sang half the songs in a screeching falsetto.
I spent most of Caribou waiting for my hosts to arrive and it turned out to be great background music. On record the music kind of streams into oblivion and that shimmery psychedelia ain't really my thang. Some vaguely trip hoppish cover of Here Comes the Sun was put through the motions when the clouds started clearing up, and as background music I wasn't at all annoyed but at some point Dan Snaith got off the keyboard and joined in a whirlwind dueling drums session that brought back fond memories of that black eyes show I caught before they broke up. I couldn't tell but either Snaith or the guitarist set off a noise loop that ran atop it and I became convinced that drum solos should never be dolo.
This morning should bring on embarrassing footage of me attempting to disprove the main thesis of Where Da G's by being extremely enthusiastic and limbically loose throughout Dizzee Rascal's set. I was beat though by a girl who pushed up beside me and knew all the lyrics. Again, I have no idea how people do this, but my retention for rap lyrics, or any lyrics for that matter, is almost non-existent. It's helpful because it's consistently refreshing when listening to it at home, but live, when the only thing you hear is bass and Dizzee's chirping it would be nice to fill in the blanks. Your parent's record collection got dissed when Dizzee came out and summed up Fleet Foxes as that fuck shit he was there to get rid of. Not that Alex Turner is the antithesis of fuck shit, Fleet Foxes harmonizing is kind of pleasant but ephemeral in the same way that nostalgia for classic rock passes when you turn on big 105.9 and a sports announcer is cramming useless factoids about The Eagles down your throat.
Even without knowing the lyrics, I almost lost my voice in unrestrained giddiness shouting out various dirtee stank associated buzzwords throughout the set, or merely spout gibberish that could be construed as enthusiastic. Old school dance moves, neon pink and green dj headphones, an unnecessarily self-censored version of Pussy'ole which was still fun because yelling "blood! don't make get old school!" is a blast, Tom Breihan's soundless visage seemingly cackling with unlimited benefits from the VIP section, and a genuine interest in getting the crowd to stand up tall made it one of the best sets of the weekend, or ever.

Dizzee Rascal performing Sirens (strangely, sound is clearer on this video than it was at the show)

Now, I don't think Vampire Weekend should be held accountable for being influenced by an afropop that they genuinely seem to enjoy. I do think they should be held accountable for being unnecessarily affected about the ordeal. From what I've garnered out of the few listens of their album that I was able to make it through (actually I haven't made it through, stopped somewhere round track nine) their lyrics are more about class disparities that ivy league campuses pretend to be insulated from but aren't because there's always a kid there on scholarship. Unless why would you lie about how much coal you have is from the perspective of a rich kid calling out a poor poor kid trying to fit in with a made up status. I honestly could care less because the barbershop quartet vocal affectations stop my enjoyment dead cold. From someone who paid attention I was told the crowd was twice as large for Vampire Weekend as it was for Public Enemy. They were flabbergasted because Vampire Weekend had no S1W's. I'd say that maybe if Public Enemy were white kids with a taste for hip hop they could broach the color line, to white ears. But I'm glad to say that aside from Eminem, rap has still not been expropriated by anyone other than its founding race. Not that i'm not for the globalization of hip hop. Palestinian rappers DAM are an excellent example of how it can transcend borders, but generally in the united states, when the white kids get on the mic they've got to consult their dystopian sci-fi jargon because they can't imagine how shitty it already is two miles over.
Anyways, I'd like to see XL take a random sampling of bands and launch them to national superstardom overnight with the help of pitchfork and see what kind of response they get. If kids can't listen to Phil Collins unironically, how can they identify with this? I'm also pretty sure the bigger the band the more assholes present in the crowd. I actually had an interest in hearing M79, as it reminds me of the rushmore soundtrack and is kind of catchy. Unfortunately I had to deal with tall, gel spiked bro with a muscle t-shirt and designer shades who obviously cared more about running a dialogue about what I'd be willing to offer in order to get in front of him. He wasn't sure I even liked the band and I almost admitted I didn't. They were less grating live, the instruments sounded perfect (conspiracy?), but if there's anything more painful than the vocals it's Ezra Koenig's facial expressions. Brocappella sincerity, arched eyebrows, mary poppins singing to a bird. Either way I wasn't bummed about it, it was jaunty and kind of fun. Not a convert or anything, but if that's what the kids want...then please, Koenig, go to Africa and bring back some golden polyrhythms! The kids, they just skip over the Ghana Soundz with the 8.8! You be their 8.8!
Then the afternoon took a turn for the worse as I made the worst mistake I made during the festival and, in a psychosomatic need for water, left the !!! stage before that turned into the dance party of the century. On record I can't stand Nic's vocals, but waiting for the hold steady, he looked like Nick Swardson as Jessica Biels' gay brother in I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, basically, awesome. It was kind of what I wanted at that moment and in anticipating what the Hold Steady's set would bring, kind of wished I went back and made friends with that one person who made the sarcastic comment about how to exit when I stepped in front of him trying circumvent the lawn people to his left. Instead I called him out on his snark and he told me "Fuck You!" and I got my water. Not exactly refreshing. I may go next year to see if every saturday at 6 some kind of asshole moment happens. Last year I brought my little brother to Mastodon. Him being an avowed metal fanatic for some reason disavowed mastodon as more of the same old same old. I wanted him to sit on the railing with me, because last year the sound tent people didn't mind as much some patrons hopping up the rails to catch a glimpse over the crowd. If they wanted the discomfort that brought their glutes, then so be it! Any ways, two guy guys/bro dudes had gotten there first. Not to sit on it or anything, just to kind of stand next to it. Now, there was totally enough room for me. But because I hadn't staked out their the extra five minutes they probably took, I could not ask them to kindly move half a foot so my little bro could sit next to me. Instead, cutting my somewhat passionate speech about his ability to move a little bit to his left he told me I could keep on talking but it didn't matter because he wasn't going to move. Killed the mood. Same with this saturday's convo.
Anyways, yeah, The Hold Steady. If you're not drunk and don't wear their lyrics on your sleeves don't bother trying to have any emotional investment. I don't know how kids adapt a band's lyrics about girls with pill problems as a rallying cry, but actually chips ahoy is a pretty great song about wasted potential and reliance on external enhancements for what's already there. Still, the words really meant something to everyone right around me and as much as I tried to feign enjoyment I wasn't drunk enough and it wasn't bar enough, so I left to wander aimlessly in search of the hosts. I ended up walking through Atlas Sound's crowd, having missed the other jam of the evening, Extra Golden. Atlas Sound really fit into the background well, and my initial lack of success turned into hazy reverie reminiscent of the non-annoying scenes in labyrinth. Festival people can be wierd, lotus positions with gyrating shoulders with really sincere closed eyes and whatnot. Fest wasn't too far from burning man yet.
At that point I wasn't able to muster up any excitement for no age, who sounded exactly like they did on record, except on record I didn't have the option of being elbowed in the teeth. At this point in the day I wouldn't have minded just putting them in a glass of water by the sink and calling it a night. I didn't try to maneuver with the crowd folk for animal collective because there was an abe vigoda, high places show, but their performance of the symphonic communication sequence from close encounters of the third kind kind of won me over on the way out and made me regret not sticking around a little bit longer to see how they make their songs entirely unintelligible even to their most devoted fans.
The rest of the night was a series of social faux-pas as my host actually turned out to be friends with High Places and I had no idea what they looked like and as a result, once their set won me over I totally geeked out and asked a bazillion questions about vinyl availability and touring schedules and personal info and so on. I'll cut right to it because I want to go to sleep but the hazy ethereal quality they drown the drums in on record (at least from the sound of their myspace) is nothing like the chinese drum circle they drop on you live. I'd imagine the perfect setting for a performance by them would be cross between a chinese restaurant in a bamboo forest and the temple of doom, though for maximum enjoyment the latter part would have to be without the enslaved children and the live heart stealing. What would make it the temple of doom then? LAVA. I haven't had a chance to fully digest them but the way her words drift into the drum patterns and wind chimes is like a post-grad wistfully watching over her family while her younger siblings grow up without her and life moves on, and she could say hi but this curse is rustling her surroundings while a disorienting loss of familiarity pulls her front yard from under her and all you hear is "you know why, don't you?" and images of her climbing trees with her sister and saying grace at the dinner table and idyllic rural memories turn into reveries on a pillow in a hostel somewhere in East Asia. I swear, I wanted to cry.
Instead it rained and we had to rush to the car, but i'll be spinning the 7" and 10 song cd I bought in search of those moments for a while, I hope.

Related posts:
P4k afterthoughts: Friday
P4k afterthoughts: Sunday