Posts Tagged ‘Squirrel Nut Zippers’

Voodoo Experience Day 3

November 2, 2009

I can be lame at times, I know. So of course I didn’t manage to get out of the hotel until late on Sunday, as usual, missing The Pogues. I did get to see the end of Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they were all I hoped for: upbeat, peppy, playing mostly songs I knew, and playing to a full, appreciative tent.

And just as a side note, that very drunk Brett guy I met the night before? Sure enough, he was on the same street car to the festival as I, sitting with someone who may have been his girlfriend. Considering I was in line to get on the car, then stepped away for five minutes to grab something to eat, then got back in line a stop back and saw two other cars had already left the next stop up in that time, the chances of our being on that same car at the same time were amazingly slim. And despite trying to ignore him, darn it if he didn’t stop and take photos exactly where I was stopping and taking photos on the way in, thus proving we had something in common. As much as I wanted to say something to him acknowledging the previous night, I refrained, probably out of consideration of the woman with him. If I believed in a higher power, it’s incidents like this that let me know, that higher power has a wicked sense of humor, not appreciated much by us mere mortals.

I felt hungover until I got to the festival and started drinking some water, probably why it took me so long to get there. But since I hadn’t drunk previously, it turned out to be mere dehydration, and once I consumed a liter of water, I felt much better. But I also seem to be coming down with a cold at this point, so I was cold before the sun even set.

This is what I know: music festivals for me aren’t much fun if I’m uncomfortable. That could be I’m too cold, too hot, too tired, too exhausted, have a headache, I’m hungry, my feet hurt, or I really need to pee. Or even, I’m just not in the mood for music that day. Good things to know about myself, but chances are on a three day festival, that at least part of a day I will just not be that into it. Yesterday was one such day. I try hard to circumvent it, by bringing extra and warm clothes, water bottle, earplugs, hat, everything I can think of to take care of my well-being throughout an entire day. But sometimes it just isn’t enough. Especially when battling a drippy nose in addition.

One thing I really enjoy about large music festivals is there almost always is a regional acts tent or stage. These are usually local bands with a huge following, or up and coming bands that deserve a listen, or some such. It helps if you really like the sound of that particular region. That was the Preservation Hall tent at this festival. And although the music was lively, I just didn’t spend a lot of time there. There is only so much brass and drums I can take. For me, it would be like going to a bluegrass only tent. I appreciate the musicians and the music they make, it just isn’t my taste. I can listen to a song or two, but then I want to go listen to something else. I just like a really good, strong, smooth, full, in-tune vocalist too much for me to really like some bands.

And Sunday’s lineup also wasn’t the high point; again, for my personal tastes. I knew I would enjoy the Flaming Lips, but somehow I was surprised that they were not the final act. Lenny Kravitz closed the show over at those stages. It was fun to watch the Flaming Lips and their spectacle with balloons and confetti, and know that I would not be involved with the clean up. With less wind than on Treasure Island, the confetti drifted long and loftily before slowly descending everywhere. Besides, the confetti was landing mainly on the track in front of this stage, making it an easier clean up job than Treasure Island had been. And the Flaming Lips fans are rabid. It’s all about having a party together, with the balloons, lights, dancing costumed people on stage, random naked woman embracing Wayne, confetti, balloons, oh, and music! But when Wayne went into the same patter to introduce a song I had heard at their last show, I was disappointed. I wanted him to say something new, some sentiment I hadn’t heard before. I decided it was time to give my nice viewing space to someone more committed than I.

As I walked back along the track to the other stage, I found the perfect viewing spot: right in front of the other stage’s screen, where I could get super close and had an unobstructed view with plenty of space around me and no one walking through my picture frame. Others had the same idea, and spent their time swivelling their heads between the video screen and peering to see what else was happening on the real stage behind them.

Trombone Shorty and the Orleans Avenue were really making the crowd dance over on the SoCo stage, and I spent some time over there enjoying their music before the Meat Puppets started playing. See, I can enjoy New Orleans type music! They were just having a ball up there, and it was infectious fun.

When I walked into the tent where the Meat Puppets were playing, I had to check my schedule again, thinking this was not the sound I was expecting. It was slower, ballady, almost country. It was good, after I adjusted, but not what I thought the Meat Puppets were. After a few songs, they tore into a song that sounded more like what I remembered hearing on college radio stations, and the audience responded appropriately, all people my age or so. Part of my interest in seeing them was this: back in the 1980s when I remember hearing them for the first time, they were too loud, too obnoxious for my tastes then. Just like the Clash used to be for me, and Gang of Four, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry all once were to my ears. So I wanted to hear them to see if my tastes had changed for them too. But instead, their own tastes had changed over the years. Good for them, I think. Continue to grow and expand. They are not those same people anymore, as we the fans no longer are. Kind of like John Doe of X fame has, with his new band The Sadies. Totally different music direction, but still good music. Good musicians don’t die, they just change their sound.

I went back to Trombone Shorty, where I actually found a tree root high enough to sit on. Ahh, that was nice. I stayed until they closed the set, and then found a set of bleachers within hearing distance (and some visibility) of where Lenny Kravitz was to play.

I knew why MY feet were tired (something to do with walking too much the day before), but why was everyone else? I always wish festivals had more seating areas. Random seats that could withstand the weather that you can just plop on when at the stage you want, with other random cushions waiting at the next stage area. It was definitely Sunday, as I picked my way through blankets and unconcious bodies waiting for the bands to play. And when the bands did play, often people didn’t stand. That’s a clear sign of a Sunday at a festival.

A lot of people left after The Flaming Lips. I made my rounds one more time, listening to Robert Randolph and the Family Band, visiting what remaining local non-profit group tables there were still around, seeing some new vendors that hadn’t been in evidence previous days and saw some more different art on the way out. The mobile dj set up on a shopping cart, complete with lights and his own fog machine, always drew a crowd no matter where he was, and people on their way elsewhere would stop to boogie until a song they liked was over.

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Shopping Cart Discotheque

And then it was just time to leave. Nothing was holding me there, and I still had a chance of seeing some other bands at a downtown club, where it would be warm and I could find someplace to sit, which just sounded really nice at the time, and it was time to say goodbye to Voodoo 2009.

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Goodbye Voodoo!

From my comments, you might think that I didn’t enjoy myself. Taken as a whole, as an excuse to explore New Orleans, plus Halloween, plus Voodoo, I had an excellent time, did and saw and heard things that I am really glad I did, and would do it again. Maybe staying at a hotel closer to the venues I actually frequent would be helpful next time around, as I seem to spend most of my time on the other side of Canal Street from where I am staying. That would definitely save me time walking when it is late, giving me more time to enjoy other attractions. I still haven’t made it to Algiers, or the waterfront, or numerous other touristy places. And since it is nearly time to check out this morning, it looks like it may take yet another trip to New Orleans to get the basic tourist visit done.

Aw shucks, I’ll just have to come back!

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Iconic New Orleans

Two More to Go

October 9, 2009

I am starting to mentally get ready for the remaining two music festivals on my plate for the year. And no, I did not go to rainy Austin City Limits of last weekend. Rain definitely seems to be the theme for the majority of music festivals I attended this year. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue! 

Next weekend (October 17 & 18) is Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco.

I will be volunteering there, which should be great, at a little two stage festival, no possibility of missing the bands. What a great place to get a volunteering gig! I still have to work out the details of getting to the festival once in SF via public transit (limited parking allowed on the island, which actually has a really cool and varied history involving visions as a transportation hub with airport/marina and realities as World’s Fair site and military installation), what is the actual address of where it is that I will be staying, and finally, making arrangements to get back to LA. That’s what the next week will consist of, making sure those details get handled. But I am definitely looking forward to the lineup. I am looking forward to hearing Murs, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Passion Pit again, Grizzly Bear again, Beirut, MSTRKRFT, The Decembrists yet again, Girl Talk always, and finally, The Flaming Lips. That’s about half the lineup, so I should be happy, no matter what. The other half are just bands I’m not familiar with yet. But I’m looking forward to it.

Fortunately, the festival that closes out the season has all its details handled, since I went to the same fest last year, and already know the lay of the land. I’m actually not as thrilled about the lineup, but bought the ticket to see two bands in particular, and to experience Halloween in New Orleans. I can’t think of a city more conducive to dressing up as a character and no one thinking a thing of it. (Besides Black Rock City.) Yes, I’m talking about VOODOO Experience, in beautiful NOLA. I have ticket, plane fare, hotel, and know where to go buy the three day pass to get around on the street cars. Just add meals and I am all set. In fact, I even get a paycheck before I leave, so I will have some spending money to take in the sights, say a swamp tour. Or the Botanical Gardens. Or actually visiting the Art Museum that the festival grounds sit next to.

The two bands I am eager to see? Kiss and Eminem. Yes, you read that right. Sure, I’ll enjoy The Knux, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, The Pogues, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Meat Puppets, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, MarchFourth Marching Band, The Flaming Lips again and whomever else I stumble across, but Eminem and Kiss were the bands that had me buy the extremely inexpensive 3 day pass. I am neither a Kiss nor an Eminem fan, not fan enough to ever buy a ticket to their own shows or even buy their albums, but Kiss on Halloween? In New Orleans? C’mon. I just expect it to be a very memorable experience, if only how colorful I expect the actual fans to be. And Eminem just makes me laugh, some of his song lyrics and even his persona. I actually own an album of each of these artists. But I’m not what I would call a fan. Really. Just curious enough to see their live shows, given the opportunity.

And, I come with plans for disguises. I wouldn’t call them costumes, just alterations of my existence. The first is I found one of my masks. I can’t wear it for very long, since it is latex and makes everything around it moist, and steams up my glasses. But here’s an old photo of me wearing it, actually taken on a Halloween years past.

The Long Beak Mask

The Long Beak Mask

Sorry for the crappy quality, it’s actually a scanned 35mm photograph, digitized. My old antique Japanese 35mm camera there, RIP.

I just went to Robinson’s Beautilities on Venice in Mar Vista, an LA landmark, and bought a wig. Long, black, straight hair. For some reason, I’ve never yearned to be a blonde, but a black-haired, green eyed woman has interested me. So now I have a mask, and a wig. I intend to dig out some old contacts I have, get my eyes used to them again, so I can ditch the fogging eyeglasses.

And what would be really cool would be to do this sort of simple makeup, and have that be the whole thing:

However, Fever Ray‘s Karin Dreijer Andersson has professional make up artists, and more importantly, someone else to do this to her, so I don’t think I’ll quite be able to manage it. But it would be awesome! Imagine walking anywhere in a city with that face.

So, as you can see, there is much to plan, the all important what to pack, and the actual what am I allowed to pack? What to wear, and what parts of a costume should I take with me?

And I’ve started hunting for things to do while in New Orleans, and one of the dive bar/off the beaten path venues I found is hosting a CD release party of a band that sounds interesting: I, Octopus. I hope to go check them out while there.