Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Highlights

Aside from the BRMC show, I also had a nice time hanging out with friends and family and learning to use oil pastels. On Saturday, my friend Joyce showed me how to use oil pastels. It was interesting layering and mixing colors. My drawing didn't come out to great (Annie, the Norwegian pop princess, from URB magazine), but it turned out better than it started out. On Sunday, I practiced driving on freeways with my mom. I still want to stick to local roads while I have the time and leisure to do so, but I'm sure I'll get back to freeway driving soon enough. We also had lunch with my grandma for her birthday at a Chinese restaurant in Irvine. I wasn't too hungry, so I didn't eat much then.

I met up with Suzanne and Jodi at my house at around 3:30 PM, they had been shopping in the area. We left for the Wiltern soon after changing for the show (we all went casual). When we got to the Wiltern, there was already a line which made Jodi sad. We still managed to get our usual front row spots. We also were highly amused by Robert's Hispanic doppelganger (who claimed to dress that way because of the Jesus and Mary Chain). Jodi and Suzanne were standing next to him for most of the show, and he was apparently also amusing to Robert and Peter. The bands were all really good, I liked the first band Lower Heaven mostly for the autoharp played by the lead singer. Their music was pretty cool too.

The Black Angels were actually really good too, not that it's a surprise. I liked their new songs as well as the old ones. It's not a huge departure from the last album, but it's very listenable. They occasionally switched off on instruments and the bassist would play a stand up drum while one of the guitarists would switch to the bass. They made pretty seamless transitions to their different spots on stage. I can see why BRMC likes the band so much, they make some very good music. BRMC came on not too long after, with their old banner and lots of extra amps piled up in front of the drum kit. Later, we would find out that the extra amps were for the Black Angels to jam with BRMC for a good 10+ minutes.

BRMC played an amazingly good setlist, which included everything from "The Likes of You," "20 Hours," and "Vision" to "Steal A Ride," "Killing the Light," and "Cold Wind." Lots of great less played songs, plus they played the new song "River Styx," which was starts out a lot like Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," but it goes into a more swampy bluegrass kind of sound. I will go into more detail about the show later, but during "Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n Roll?" Peter was taking people's cameras and grabbed at mine twice! It was actually more funny then mean, he was having a good time taking them and giving them back right after. After the show, he said he knew he wouldn't get my camera because I had it wrapped around my wrist.

Anyways, I got a lot of photos and videos from the show, still working on uploading a lot of video. Here are my photos from the show:


The Black Angels:

Lower Heaven:

Here's a video of part of the jam with the Black Angels:

and the end of Heart + Soul as well as the first part of the jam:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Supersmall: a fun event for all!

The benefit for Downs Syndrome known as Supersmall proved to be an entertaining and educational night. I enjoyed learning about the Nudibranchs a.k.a. Sea Slugs, who are both hermaphroditic and usually very poisonous and beautiful. It was amusing to see all the pictures of their group sex and the narration that went along with the photos. We also learned about the $300 million dollar rovers that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are sending to Mars. It was pretty interesting to use the 3-D glasses they provided to see different pictures of the surface of Mars.

The comedy routines were pretty entertaining too, one had a couple guys running around on stage doing amusing mind tricks. There was a guy called Mr. Extraordinary in a funny diamond pattern suit, who gave out $10 to the first person who claimed it and then went on to explain what that person had that no one else in the audience had. He also had a small hole in his pants, but that was only slightly distracting because it looked like he had orange underwear underneath.

Even the musical acts were amusing. Carina Round is a female British singer who was wearing a polka dot dress and red high heels. She pointed out that she does funny things with her legs while she performs and her songs were pretty good too. Acoustic and folky, but also very distinctive and different. She ended her set with a song that used a pedal to record and loop her vocals, it sounded pretty cool.

The Lampshades were just hilarious from the moment they came on stage. The female singer looked a lot like Meredith from the Office in a red bellbottom jumpsuit and the guy looked like a sleazy lounge singer with a fake skinny mustache drawn over his upper lip. He was also sipping a drink and smoking a cigarette through the whole performance. They started off with their version of "The Facts of Life," then went on to play "Light My Fire" while the female singer continuously emphasized that they're not a couple. They did a bit on celebrity obituaries and in between one song, the male singer pretended to fall asleep then woke up. They ended the set with their version of "Mandy," during which the male singer wandered off stage to refill his drink.

Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club played a short, but sweet set of 7 songs which included a couple covers (Cool Water and Long Black Veil) and a new song (which he later told us was called "A Fine Way to Lose"). He also played "Shuffle Your Feet," "Complicated Situation," "Fault Line," and closed with "Am I Only." I only took pictures during "Complicated Situation" and I was recording video of everything else. It was such a nice intimate acoustic set. The new song was kind of country sounding, and had some sad lyrics about losing someone.

You can see and hear 4 of the songs from the set on my YouTube account. Speaking of which, I was excited to learn that my cell phone can watch YouTube videos on it. If you have a Motorola RAZR V3m, you should see if you can watch YouTube videos on your phone! I have a job interview in Brea today, and I'm more nervous about driving there by myself than the interview itself. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Raveonettes, Be Your Own Pet @ Detroit Bar 3-2-08

The crowded Costa Mesa Detroit Bar was treated to the sweetly surf-guitar tinged sounds of The Raveonettes, one of Denmark's finest exports. Opening their set with the new song "Hallucinations," dual guitarist/vocalist Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo harmonized perfectly on the sun-soaked ode to new romance. The duo was backed by a standing female drummer with only two drums and a drum machine, but the sounds they produced were impressively full and layered.

The next song they played was the current single "Dead Sound," which is a faster track that is equally bright and sunny. The Raveonettes played a set largely taken from the new LP "Lust Lust Lust," but also threw in some favorites from the previous albums "Chain Gang of Love" and "Pretty In Black." "That Great Love Sound" was an exciting addition to the set with its upbeat tempo and hummable lyrics. They slowed things down with the song "Here Comes Mary," which sounds faintly like the Everly Brothers.

Another "Pretty In Black" song "Red Tan" highlighted the set with its nice relaxed beat. They went even farther back to play a couple tracks from their debut EP "Whip It On." Hearing "Attack of the Ghost Riders" and "My Tornado" in all their B flat minor glory showed the darker side of the Raveonettes. The newer material stood out quite well among these older songs. "The Beat Dies" features Sharin Foo's dreamy vocals on this lushly beautiful song.

"Black Satin" is another one of those songs that makes you think the latest album was written on a sunny beach. The Raveonettes picked up the pace on "You Want the Candy," a fast fun song that you might not expect to be about drug use. Another live staple was the rockabilly twang of "Love In A Trashcan," always a fun addition to their set. A cover of Stereolab's "French Disko" was a very cool way to show off the band's wide range of influences.

The Raveonettes closed the set with the darkly toned "Aly, Walk With Me," a song which demonstrates their ability to produce feedback and noise using the palms of their hands over their guitar strings. Though they left us wanting more, there was no encore. Be Your Own Pet opened the show with their racous punk rock music. The young band from Tennessee managed to excite the crowd with their off-kilter vocals and punky guitar riffs. They provided a stark contrast from the more controlled and melodic sound of the Raveonettes, but it was an interesting choice for an opener.