Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Way Out West

Oh boy, I wanted to fire this off while it was happening (like probably a zillion people were actually doing), but instead I kept thinking of what I wanted to say and promising myself I would say it later.  Later is now.  And I hope I can remember all of my thoughts here, as some of them were especially entertaining to little ol' me after a day in the sun and a good amount of vino.

The other week all of our things were delivered from Paris and stacked to the ceiling at our joint in Stockholm.  So what did we do?  Head to Gothenburg.  Gothenburg is just about the best city ever.  Really.  It out-charms Stockholm in the first 5 minutes.  I mean, look at these novelty bricks:

Bricks with Scotties on them?  This is a city close to my heart.  I will go on more about Gothenburg another time (as I know I'll be visiting again and again), so for now I want to tell you about the Way Out West festival.  

Look, I am old.  I can pretend to get down with the kids, but it's just about 2 days' recovery any more.  (Shh, don't tell them.)  I am attracted to youth culture--what the kids are wearing and listening to, but the thought of actually attending a large-scale music festival was enough to give me hives.  My face is all wrinkled just now as Coachella crosses my mind.  NO THANKS.  The thought of drinking in the desert with thousands of drunk youngers is almost enough to make me take out a mortgage and have a baby--you know, act my age just so they won't even look in my direction.  But when a good friend (who happens to be from Gothenburg) was telling me about Way Out West, I realized it was much different.  You can only drink booze in certain areas ("cocktail corrals" as I called them), but it was no big deal;  you could absolutely watch the bands from there, wine in hand.  The festival was well-organized and, well, we were able to get VIP upgrades, so we could chill with the fancies in a special bar/resto area bordered by a lake with ducks a-float.  Damn, it's good to be VIP.  heh.  It made me realize that my hatred of a typical musical festival event is justified because this was so well-organized and smooth.  But it also got this old lady out to a big music festival for the first time in 15 years or so.  So thanks, Gothenburg!  And thanks, Cathrine!

I wanted to give you a rundown of the stuff we saw.  Here goes.    

Thurston Moore:
Caught the end of his fuzzed out jams.  This was more B's game, but I appreciate nonetheless.  He really has that sound, his sound.  It made me and B try to think of more guitarists who always sound like themselves.  I'm not gonna get into our thoughts here.  But try it at home!  (I'll give you my best rec:  Doug Martsch.  Yeah, buddy!)

De La Soul:
I wanted more old mammerjammers!  I wanted some "Jenifa Taught Me!"  I expected a little "Buddy," damnit!  I did get some "Saturdays," a rushed-through "Me, Myself and I" ("We hate this song."  Hey, we heard that.), and some "Potholes in My Lawn," and honestly the new material was pretty good.  Though I was shakin' it the whole time, I felt a little disappointed when it was all over.  Still, I was charmed to see Dave and Posdnous looking a little hoary but still doin' their thang.  No Mase, though.

Black Keys:
Good, fine, rocky, fun.  I don't know, they're the Black Keys.  They broke it down and played just them two of them, too.  Liked that particularly.

Hot Chip:
But I didn't spend that long at the Black Keys because we wanted to check out Hot Chip, too.  Underwhelming!  I like some of their jams, and others just don't grab me.  They were a'right, but nothing spectacular.  It's kinda nice to see the nerdy guys up there, though.  But because of Hot Chip, we missed Rodriguez and Papa M, which is unforgivable.  Also, they're totally from England, B!  (Told you!)  (Also:  Is this how I communicate with my boyfriend now?  Through this blog?)

Bob Mould:
Look, respect.  Mad respect.  Even though he looks like the dad who lives next door, he is pretty legendary. (Hello, Husker Du.)  Well, this night he was playing the 90s stuff, the album Copper Blue, in fact.  And honestly, it was a trip hearing this older guy-next-door sing the words he wrote over 20 years ago.  It was all so 90s

Cloud Nothings:
Eff you, Cloud Nothings.  How dare you.  That is all.

Billy Bragg:
He is a consummate performer.  And the ultimate musician who can write beautiful pop tunes but pack them with a message.  He would be the most incredible dinner party guest, the guy is so damn worldly. And inspiring?  He had me crying (dead-sober, I'll have you know) when he dedicated "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" to Pussy Riot, and changed/updated the lyrics accordingly.  Powerful stuff.  What am *I* doing about any of it?

First Aid Kid:
Lovely Swedish pop, but it feels so strange to me because it's MY music.  It's American music.  I love their dresses and they are darling girls, but it all feels so inauthentic to me.  American country music has a hard-earned history and I love that they respect it so, but I don't know.  It just don't feel right.

How did it take me all these years (and all of these miles) to finally see Wilco??  I enjoyed the crap out of it, if only to marvel at all of the damn guitar changes.  Tweedy's a real diva up there!  Every song, a new guitar.  He had those techs running all over the place.  Made me wonder what he's like at home.  Does someone hand him a new toothbrush each night?  And they didn't play Jesus, Etc., which I took personally.

She is darling!  Just darling!  I want to play music and be just like Leslie Feist when I grow up!  Also, she brought Tweedy up on stage for a rendition of "You and I." 

Look, here they are:

Bon Iver:
First off, he was wearing a sweatband.  What?  Yeah.  Yuck.  And he did that autotune song, which was a joke.  I don't know.  I never really got into Bon Iver, but I know they're real popular with the kids.  I felt like if someone line-drived a baseball at the stage none of those nancies would be able to catch it.  That made me both feel better and worse than them at the same time.  Lucky pusses.

Best Coast:
We didn't linger at Bon Iver so we could go see Maya's lovely Brady drum our socks off with Best Coast!  Yay!!!  

(Shoot, am I only at Blur??)  Oh man, my relationship with Blur is complex.  I respect the heck out of Blur.  Hell, I think Damon Albarn is just about the coolest guy on the planet (he scored an opera about a monkey, for crissakes, and oh yeah, The Good, The Bad, and The Queen??), but I find some of their songs to be positively snorey.  The show went like this.  

Blur:  Snoozer boring-ass song.
Me:  Yeah, I just don't get what all the fuss was about.
Blur:  Big hit (like, the one from the Trainspotting soundtrack--yeah, forgot about that one dintcha?)
Me:  Oh, Blur is great!  I love that song.  There was just the one boring one.  All's forgiven!
Blur:  zzzz song that the crowd is really into.
Me:  Argh, stupid Blur!  Britpop, shitpop!  This is awful.
Blur:  Poptastical hit ("Coffee and TV," say.)
Me:  Well, I left.  Yeah, I left the boy there and went with my friend to get the car.  Whatever.  I wanted off the Blur roller coaster.

I will tell you this, Albarn looks incredible and has the swagger of a man half his age.  They opened with Girls and Boys and, damn, we all know how fine he was in that video in his zippy track jacket, and let me tell you, he's still got it.  

Here's a video I took, don't know if it will work or not.  You know what, just go and watch the Girls and Boys video again.  Mmmm.

B and other like-minded record store geeks (love you, B) were trying to keep it together during Swans. Yes, that Swans.  You can almost see the little shirtless ogre one banging shit at left in the photo below.

Jonathan Richman:
What a way to kick off the last day.  I love this man.  Neither B nor I had seen him live before, and let me tell you, he is a JOY.  Just him and his drummer ("Thomas"), playing music.  And there was dancing, for sure.  Joyful, hammy dancing:  the best kind!  He is simplistically genius, that one.

Jacuzzi Boys:
What's this noise?  Florida's own Jacuzzi Boys get a break on the big stage?  What happened to Ben Howard?  Who cares!  It's the freaking Jacuzzi Boys, bringing the gd r&r!  I declare Gabriel Alcala to be my own personal Sassiest Boy in America.  Not the best photo, so go look him up whydon'tyou?

A$AP Rocky:
No hard feelings, Rock.  But it all just sounded mushy up there.  And, you know, the VIP tent was calling to us.  I have no doubt you have chops, but live hip-hop in a large outdoor venue can be a real disaster sometimes.  

Mike Snow:  
I saw The Animal.  I was happy.  And then it was time to position for Kraftwerk.

The. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Seen.  
In 3D.

One last one for you... keepin' it real in the VIP (thanks to my lovely friend, Cathrine!):