Music Sampler: Feb ’18

Last week we went to a super fun show at the Fox featuring Tune-Yards, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, and Sudan Archives. (There was another opening act we missed and who I had a heck of a time finding online because the artist’s name is Siri…I’m 90% sure this is her, though.) Thought I would share some of the music with y’all, since it’s been floating around in my head ever since.

Sudan Archives is from Cincinnati and now based in LA. I can see why she’d be on the same bill as Tune-Yards; her performance was a mix of live vocals and violin over dope percussion loops. Here’s a taste:

Thao and The Get Down Stay Down is a San Francisco-based band who I’d heard but had never seen live (here’s a neat little introduction to frontwoman Thao Nguyen). After listening to a bit more of their stuff, I think I prefer some of the more recent/gritty songs, but chose this video from 2013 because it captures that fun point in time when both the old and new Bay Bridge existed:

Then there’s Tune-Yards a.k.a. tUnE-yArDs a.k.a. Merrill Garbus of Oakland, CA. The only other time I’d seen Tune-Yards was a free show in Stern Grove, a totally different—and equally awesome—experience. This show had fewer personnel: just Merrill, Nate Brenner, and a drummer (sorry I don’t know his name!!) and less live percussion, but way more visual pizzazz. I usually don’t care that much about stuff like staging and lighting design, but the light show kind of blew me away (a sample).

Tune-Yards have a new album out called I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life. It’s taking me a while to get into the album itself, but I really enjoyed the songs when they were played live at the Fox. Here’s the most recent music video; it’s got some pretty sweet dance moves:

While we’re here showcasing righteous female singers, I’ll include a few more for your listening pleasure:

In other news, it’s been raining a lot and I’ve been in a much more bloggy mood lately, so hopefully I’ll have more to share on here soon.

HSB 17 Highlights

Before I ramble about some of my favorite parts of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 17, I wanted to make sure I wrote down something that’s been on my mind:

Seeing as the worst mass shooting on American soil took place at an outdoor music festival just 5 days prior to HSB, I was more than a little paranoid about going to a large-scale, free concert in the park last weekend. I even packed a first aid kit in my bag and had a few fleeting concerns about how to use its contents without fainting, which is a bummer because no one should have to be fearful of going to a music show.

But thankfully, nothing awful happened, and in fact almost every artist I saw made some sort of comment about the feelings of peace/love/brotherhood/sisterhood floating around the festival throughout the weekend. Maybe it sounds a little silly, but there is something special about HSB that you don’t get at Outside Lands or any other festival. For one, it’s completely free and non-commercial—no corporate sponsorships, no “Heineken House,” no admission price. Attendees range from babies to baby boomers (and also lots of dogs), and everyone respects one another. There’s an immense amount of trust involved in letting 750,000 people walk into Golden Gate Park with unchecked coolers and backpacks, but if there’s any place you can pull it off, it’s here. So thanks, San Francisco, for once again proving that you’re a city of peace and love and (literal) harmony.

Now, with that out of the way, here are my highlights from the festival.

The War and Treaty

This Michigan-based couple were billed as a supporting act to Buddy Miller, but umm, they definitely stole the show. Their love for each other practically radiated off the stage during their set; it was wonderful. (Fun fact: Michael Trotter Jr. was a soldier in Iraq who wrote his first songs on a piano owned by Saddam Hussein.) They just released their first EP this summer, called Down to the River. Check ’em out playing the title track below (so much energy!!). I feel lucky to have seen them, and hope they come back to the Bay Area soon.

Dan Auerbach

I never really got into The Black Keys, but while listening to HSB playlists in the past month, it was Dan Auerbach’s stuff I kept coming back to. Also, I really like his music videos – they’re so fun (and a little bizarre). See: “Shine on Me” and “Stand By My Girl”, both of which have a bit of a George Harrison/All Things Must Pass-era vibe to me.

So seeing Auerbach on Saturday evening was definitely a highlight. We were right up front (my dad has a friend who makes a point to stake out front-row spots at the beginning of each day) and it was awesome. I had no idea who the guys in Auerbach’s band were—none of them looked younger than 65—but turns out they’re kind of a big deal: Gene Chrisman drummed on “Respect,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Son of a Preacher Man,” Dave Roe was the longtime bassist for Johnny Cash, Bobby Wood and Russ Pahl have played with some of the biggest names in music. Cool!

Here’s the video for the opening song Auerbach played at HSB, a nostalgic mini-movie complete with a John Prine cameo:

The Secret Sisters

I got to the festival early on Sunday to catch The Secret Sisters, and they did not disappoint. If you like First Aid Kit (another sisterly duo, whose performance on Friday I sadly missed), I would definitely recommend checking them out! They performed a whole bunch of lovely original songs (like this one) but the video I chose below is an a cappella version of a 1920s song, because I just loved their rendition so much.

Lampedusa

Thank goodness I tagged along with my parents to this one, because I’ll probably never get to see Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, and Lucinda Williams (and Bob Weir!) on the same stage together ever again. Lampedusa is a group of musicians currently touring to raise awareness of the worldwide refugee crisis. My heart melted as soon as they started singing (appropriately) “Refugee” and continued to melt all the way through “Love Hurts,” “I Know You Rider,” and “Pilgrim”. Not to mention the Blue Angels were flying over our heads throughout their set, which made for some sweet pictures. Can’t find any high quality videos from the show, but here’s one of “I Know You Rider” which is fun because you can see me and my parents over on the left side near the front (Dad’s in a green shirt and big hat, mom’s in a white shirt, and I’m in red).

Also, can I just say how amazing Emmylou Harris is? She was the first act I ever saw at HSB, and one of my favorite singers. She continues to play the festival every year, and her voice is just pure magic.

Other noteworthies

  • Although Alex and I were about a football field’s length away from the stage during Randy Newman’s set, it was still great fun. Obligatory “You’ve Got A Friend” video (“That guy looks like Tom Hanks…”).
  • Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile were good from what I heard, but by that point it was so packed at the Swan Stage that I couldn’t really get a solid look/hear. Ah well, maybe next time.
  • Same as above for John Prine; I really would’ve enjoyed being up close for his set, but the crowd was too much so unfortunately I just heard a few songs.

In previous years, I found HSB to be a bit overwhelming, but this year was so enjoyable that I’m really looking forward to the next one. Also, kudos to my parents for hanging out at the festival all weekend; if they can do it, I guess I can too. :p

This week’s suggestion: listen to Fantasma

Writing this as Outside Lands goes on literally right down the street (yes, now that we live practically at the entrance to the festival, we opted not to get tickets this year). Listening to the music from the couch while wearing sweatpants is pretty cool, I must say…although I could do without the horde of drunk people outside the apartment at 11pm. I must be getting old.

OSL or not, it’s been an excellent week for live music. On Wednesday, The Spencer Owen Timeshare opened for New Zealand-based Andrew Keoghan at the Hemlock, and it was so much fun (also, I learned how to make Instagram stories, so y’all better watch out). Andrew Keoghan and his band were really great, and of course the Timeshare were on point too. Rumor has it this is the last show in a while, which makes me sad (but excited for potential recordings to come!).

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Then Thursday night we saw Cornelius at The Fox, which was incredible. I didn’t know much about Cornelius (real name Keigo Oyamada) going into the show, but was almost immediately won over by his eargasmic sonic landscapes (take, for instance, The Micro Disneycal World Tour).

I am a sucker for intricately choreographed shows (see: OK Go, Stop Making Sense, drum corps), so I was especially blown away by auditory/visual synchronization of this show. I have no idea how they do it, but the band manages to sync these crazy tight songs perfectly with the videos projected behind them throughout the entire show. This is a good example:

I did some reading up today and learned that Cornelius came out of the Japanese Shibuya-kei scene, described by Wiki as “a kitsch revival of 1960s culture” and by LA Weekly as having a distinct “’60s-meets-’90s vibe.” So basically, it’s the perfect combination for the 60s enthusiast in me, the 90s enthusiast in Alex, and the Japan enthusiast in both of us.

I can’t wait to listen to more. Also, I really really want to go back to Tokyo.

Bob Dylan at the Greek, 6.9.16

(Oh geez, now that it’s July, here’s the follow up to my previous post. Sorry it’s so late; last month was cray.)

PART TWO of epic, once-in-a-lifetime shows at the Greek Theater by legendary American singer-songwriters: BOB DYLAN

Six days after Paul Simon, Alex and I were back at the Greek to see Bob Dylan. Now, I must say, I went into this show with somewhat low expectations. I’d heard multiple accounts from family and friends that Bob Dylan tends to be unpredictable, generally unsociable, and pretty much always impossible to understand.

True, I couldn’t tell what he was saying 80% of the time, and also didn’t know a majority of the songs he played, but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised (hooray for low expectations!). Bob appeared on stage in a cowboy hat, bolo tie, and what appeared to be track pants, and proceeded to serenade us with two hours of old standards and 90s semi-hits. Even if he was pretty unintelligible, just listening to the man sing was entertainment enough (à la Tom Waits). There were times when traces of that youthful folky voice surfaced out of nowhere, or when he pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and played a few bars to everyone’s delight, that reminded me that this was the same guy who emerged from Minnesota playing Woody Guthrie songs in 1960 and man, what a crazy thing to realize.

Bob’s setup was pretty simple: minimal instrumentation accented by 15 or so yellow lightbulbs positioned around the stage, which glowed every once in while and made it feel like we were all in one big backyard party (UGH the Greek is just so cool). Luckily I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, because there was a lot of it. Definitely a very old timey, country vibe going on.

If you went into the show knowing he’d mostly be doing covers and recent stuff, with the occasional “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me,” then there weren’t really any surprises. UNTIL THE VERY END OF THE NIGHT, when we witnessed something that as far as I can tell, has never happened before and might not happen again. Bob Dylan and his band closed the ENTIRE night with the outro to “Freebird.” FREEBIRD.

Unpredictable is right.

So yeah, it was a good concert. Also, shoutout to Mavis Staples – although we only caught the last two songs from her (lots of pre-show scrambling for food and parking), she was so much fun. Unlike Bob (ha), she really knows how to work a crowd! Still going strong after 6 decades, that Mavis.


I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the Greek (I mean, I seem to be making up for it, but still). Both mine and Alex’s parents saw plenty of shows there back in the 70s and 80s (The Dead, Dylan, Tom Petty, Van Morrison…maybe they even went to some of the same ones!), and it just so happens that now we can carry on the tradition. :)

Anyway, July is shaping up to be just as crazy as June, so my posts will probably be minimal. I suppose if you really wanted to keep up you could follow me on Twitter. Until next time!

Paul Simon at the Greek, 6.3.16

The theme of this past week: epic, once-in-a-lifetime shows at the Greek Theater by legendary American singer-songwriters.

FIRST INSTALLMENT: PAUL SIMON

It’s very appropriate that my first concert at the Greek would be Paul Simon (one of my very favorite musicians ever) with Alex and Lauren (two of my very favorite people ever). And fortunately for us, the weather was gorgeous. We made the most out of a toaster our lawn seats, complete with picnic supplies, blankets, and bare feet.

It was the same day that Stranger to Stranger came out, and in celebration, everyone received a cool lanyard and free download of the album at the entrance. The fact that the show lined up with the album release already made the day pretty significant in my eyes, but on top of that, we also got a few more noteworthy surprises. Like when Warriors coach Steve Kerr graced the crowd with his presence halfway through “That Was Your Mother,” and everyone went INSANE. (For the record, I couldn’t have cared less and was actually kind of annoyed that the band had to wait for the cheering and chanting to die down before continuing.) Luckily Paul’s a pretty big bball fan, and cracked a joke about walking onto the court next time Curry sets up for a 3 pointer. Speaking of which, whyyyy doesn’t this video exist on the internet anymore??

The other unexpected occurrence came during the second (of three) encores, when Paul paused before the last verse of “The Boxer” to solemnly announce Muhammad Ali’s death. I was super confused at first, thinking that his timing couldn’t possibly be that impeccable (and honestly, hadn’t even been aware that Muhammad Ali was still around…awful, I know). But it was around 10pm and news had just broken of his passing. We literally all heard it from Paul Simon first. There’s a video of it here.

And on that note, the night ended with a great big singalong of “The Sound of Silence,” along with some pro boxing moves from PS before exiting the stage. The whole thing was pretty incredible.

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This was my fourth time seeing PS live, and I must say, setlist- and atmosphere-wise, this show definitely takes the cake. Not only did he play several songs from The Rhythm of the Saints, each one came with a story! I feel like we were pretty lucky he was in a storytelling mood…at previous shows, the most he’d impart before a song was like 10 words. Maybe in general he’s just got more to say this tour. Songs included “Proof,” “The Obvious Child” (yaaassss), “Spirit Voices,” and “The Cool, Cool River” (this part gives me chills every time; it is SO GOOD live).

I was also reminded how much I love “Rewrite” and “Dazzling Blue” from So Beautiful Or So What, and as always, impressed with the freshness of Paul’s newest stuff (Stranger to Stranger is wonderful). Of course, he played plenty of old hits too, and even a good amount of S&G songs. I’m including the setlist.fm link so I can come back later and relive it. :P

Not sure why it’s always this song that gives me the feels, but during “Still Crazy After All These Years,” I kept thinking how awesome it was to be at the Greek, such a historic Bay Area venue, and how if I closed my eyes, I could almost magically transport myself back in time to 1975, to a time when all of our parents were seeing artists like Paul Simon at the very same venue. I have a lot more to say about the Greek, but more on that in the next post.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: BOB DYLAN

If you’re wondering where I’ll be in April…

…I’ll be right here, in this lovely city, at these awesome events:

April 3. San Francisco Civic Symphony Spring Concert. Featuring an arrangement by dear friend Yvette Holzwarth, who is coincidentally performing her MFA Grad Recital at CalArts this weekend!

April 7. Therianthrope @ Red Poppy Art House. Tabla aficionado Miles Shrewsbery is another old friend from the UCLA days. These guys are based out of San Diego, but just so happen to be bringing their mind-blowing sounds up to the Bay Area for an evening.

April 14-23. The Triplets of Belleville with Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville. I’ve always wanted to see this film, PLUS, the soundtrack will be performed live (directed by composer Benoît Charest himself)! Fun/shameless fact: we performed a snippet of “Belleville Rendez-Vous” in our ’08 RCC show.

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April 16. Record Store Day/Playland Music Festival. Record Store Day is one of my favorite days of the year, as long as I’m not at Amoeba (sooooo crowded). This time, I’m gonna check out the mini music festival going on in my hood, and pop into Noise while I’m there.

April 17. Spencer Owen Timeshare @ The Hemlock. My favorite dudes, at one of my favorite venues. Haven’t seen the other bands, but I listened to the featured track on Crown Larks’ Bandcamp, and I’m sold.

April 29. Contemporary Color @ Proxy. It’s happening, and it’s free!! David Byrne’s collab with WGI (along with St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, Ira Glass, and others) was made into a documentary, and it’s being shown at Proxy as part of the SF International Film Festival (also being shown at SFIFF: Soundbreaking and a 30th anniversary screening of Aliens). I cannot wait.


What else is going on this spring?? Please let me know about any other local events, musical or otherwise. I WANT TO GO TO ALL THE THINGS.

 

Van Morrison at the Fox, 1.19.16

I grew up with the same fondness for Van Morrison as most children of baby boomers seem to do. My parents went to a lot of his shows over the years; my dad estimates he’s seen him around two dozen times in various venues around the Bay Area. Not to mention, he once saw Van walking down the street in the Inner Richmond (my neighborhood!) in the early 80s. According to the story, my dad’s buddy called out to Van, who turned around, clearly not amused, and kept on walking (yep, sounds about right).

That story—along with the two records I own (Astral Weeks and Moondance, of course) and a few randomly downloaded songs from The Philosopher’s Stone—is the foundation for my knowledge of Van the Man. It’s not much, but I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t see him live at some point. So when word got out that he was coming to the Fox in Oakland, I snatched up tickets right away. Plus, the Fox is one of my all-time favorite venues!

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So last Tuesday Alex and I ditched trivia and went down the street to the Fox, mingling with other concertgoers who were mostly my parents’ age. We sat way in the back of the balcony (tix are expensive, yo) so to my already-bad eyes, the man of the hour appeared as a dark suit topped with sunglasses and a black hat, with a saxophone hanging from his neck. I wasn’t even really sure it was him. But once he started singing, it was 100%, unmistakably Van.

The set was surprisingly spiritual—I had no idea! He played a lot of stuff from his 80s and 90s albums, the material I’m admittedly not familiar with. I *was* excited to hear two Them songs (“Here Comes the Night” and “Gloria”), and also enjoyed the bluesy medley of “Baby Please Don’t Go / Parchman Farm / Don’t Start Crying Now.” The band was great, and one of the highlights was when Shana Morrison (Van’s daughter) came out and joined them for two songs, “Sometimes We Cry” and “That Old Black Magic.” Awww.

As expected, it was a very no-nonsense show. I don’t think Van said a word to the crowd except to introduce Shana and an obligatory “Thank you, Oakland” at the end. Although apparently in LA a few days earlier he was busting out movie star impressions?! So unpredictable! But as long as he still sounds as good as he does, I suppose the Man can do whatever he wants.

I know Van’s not one for nostalgia, but I am. And since it’s my blog, here’s a super awkwardly-edited Them promo video to end with (wait for it):

Outside Lands, two weeks later

A little late to the party with this post, because it turns out August is a busy month! And September will be even more busy! A good problem to have, I suppose. Anyway, here are some thoughts on OSL2015:

Choco Lands: Melted chocolate in a cup. I had it. Euphoria ensued.

ChocoLandsFood: I really do give kudos to OSL for having a huge variety of food options, especially during a time when I was experimenting with cutting down on gluten (yes, I was one of those people). Luckily, San Francisco loves been gluten-free, so I had no problem eating stuff like teriyaki chicken, tamales, and a bomb-diggity baked potato. Update: I kind of failed at the new diet, but I do think that while it lasted, it made me more alert and less headachey. Now I’m back to being sleepy and headachey, I guess.

D’Angelo: Fun fact: I’ve yelled “VANGUAAAARD!” more times at D’Angelo shows than at DCI shows (bring it back, Vanguard!). Seriously though, D was incredible. His band—they’re called The Vanguard, in case you didn’t know—is SO GOOD. The highlight of the show was the band killin’em on “Sugah Daddy,” taking cues from D’Angelo a la James Brown: he’d hold up one finger for one hit, two fingers for two hits, etc. At the end he went “forty-seven and a half!” and they knocked out forty-seven and a half perfect hits in unison. It looked like they were all having so much fun, which in turn pumped up the crowd even more. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the weekend…all those suckafishes at Mumford & Sons don’t know what they missed. Looks like after this show and the one in Amsterdam, I am now officially a D’Liever.

EltonElton John: Elton’s sparkly jacket said it all: “FANTASTIC.” By Sunday night, I feel like all of the obnoxious scantily-clad teenagers had left and there was not one person around me who I wanted to punch in the face (which is an aggressive way of saying I really enjoyed the crowd). We were in a great spot too, not too packed in, but still close enough to see. Danced and sang along to pretty much every Elton classic you can think of (except “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” sadly). What can I say, the man’s still got it, and impressively so. I also appreciate the amount of camera time his auxiliary percussionist got; I’m so glad his excellent tambourine technique didn’t go unnoticed! My favorite part was when someone in the crowd released an astronaut balloon and it floated away into the sky as Elton sang “Rocketman.” A great ending to the festival.

Kendrick Lamar: Spent the few minutes before Kendrick checking DCI scores (crazy finals night win by BD!). Maybe that should’ve been an indicator, but I spent the next 45 minutes feeling very out of place. Can’t deny Kendrick’s insane talent and ability to hype up a crowd, but it was too intense for me. He played at the Twin Peaks Stage, which is narrow and tiny compared to the main Lands End Stage. I was getting pretty claustrophobic and anxious, so halfway through the set we decided to head out, and spent 10 minutes pushing through an endless swarm of people just to get some breathing space. Wish I could’ve stayed for the whole thing but if I had, I probably would’ve had a meltdown.

Libations: I had zero alcohol at the festival because even one glass of wine would make me have to pee continuously for an hour, and have you seen the line for the porta-potties?? The lemonade was good, though.

A bunch of Mac DeMarco fans looking like Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco: Mac’s show was entertaining, even without the rampant crowd surfing and Top Gun theme (some of my favorite parts from last year’s Fillmore show). I like Mac because he and his band seem like a bunch of chill, goofy dudes you’d hang out with in high school or college, who happen to make really cool music. They also play a mean Steely Dan cover.

St. Vincent: You know that “hearts-for-eyes” emoji? That’s how I felt throughout St. Vincent’s entire performance. I am in awe of her music and her badassery. And I love the “show” part of her show: the dance moves, funky outfits, and choreography. I hope I get to see her in concert again sometime.

Totems: By “totems” I mean the the inflatables and hand-crafted signs that are all over music festivals, used so that groups don’t lose their friends when they go to the bathroom or get beer. Good ones included a unicorn head, an extremely realistic looking baby doll, and a giant picture of Jeff Goldblum.

Weather: Unexpectedly nice on Friday. Foggy and cold the rest of the time, but you’ll be proud to know that I wasn’t even mad about it. Probably because I was rocking my “I Like Cats” sweatshirt just like all the other San Francisco hipsters with cat-related clothing.

Wristbands: Scratchy.

In addition to the acts mentioned above, I caught pieces of First Aid Kit (they love Gram & Emmylou, so I love them), Nate Reuss (from fun. and the Format), Wilco, and Tame Impala. Missed Mumford & Sons, Sam Smith, and Billy Idol, and I’m totally ok with that. In fact, I left OSL this year feeling much more satisfied than last time. Maybe it was because I was just better prepared, and also because I could walk to and from the festival instead of dealing with a cluster of MUNIs and Ubers and Lyfts. But mostly I think it’s because I got to see everyone I wanted to see (and more), and they were all awesome. My one regret is not going early enough on Sunday to catch St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Those guys are amazing, just from what I’ve seen on video, and I really really hope I can catch their live show soon.

Ugh, so good. SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC OUT THERE.

NO WATER IN THE WATER FOUNTAIN

Today I spent a lovely afternoon at Stern Grove, soaking up some much-needed sunshine and supa fresh music. For non-locals, Stern Grove is a park in San Francisco where free concerts are held every weekend during the summer (great deal, right?). Usually you can expect the weather to be cold and foggy, because that’s just what it’s like all the time around here. But today was gloriously hot, perfect for laying out a blanket and eating cherries until your stomach hurts and your feet are on fire from the sun (I’m a true San Franciscan now; apparently direct sunlight makes me melt).

The concerts are held in the “recreation grove” which is half picnic area, half magical pixie forest. See photo below for proof.

That is a homemade funfetti cupcake. A magical treat for a magical afternoon.
That is a funfetti cupcake. As if the day wasn’t awesome enough already.

The sound gets pretty eaten up by the time it gets through all the trees, but the nice thing is you can always venture down to the front and find a spot up close, which is what we did later.

Today’s performers were Dakha Brakha and Tune-Yards (tUnE-yArDs). Although the former is from Kiev, Ukraine and the latter is from Oakland, I can see why these two acts were booked together. They are linked by really amazing, unique vocalists and lots of percussion, although they use these things in very different ways.

Dakha Brakha was up first. I’d seen a video of them online but that was only one sample of what turned out to be a very diverse set. I am in love with their tight harmonies and visual energy (and also those hats).

Kinda wish I’d gone up closer to really watch what they were doing. Come back to the Bay Area soon, Dakha Brakha!

And then Tune-Yards came out and brought the house (grove?) down. We watched the second half of the set from the side lawn, surrounded by dogs and dancing babies and guys who looked like Jason Mraz (ok, maybe there was just one of each of those). It’s a bummer that the below video cuts off abruptly, but I chose it because the lineup and vibe are closest to what they were at today’s show. There are a lot of YouTube videos where the background riff in the beginning is played by saxophones, but the vocal hocketing version is so cool! (Ethnomusicology majors love hocketing.)

For more about Stern Grove and the current season (this has been going on for 78 years!), click here.

I went to a Stones concert and now my life is complete

tattoo-you-600x600Ok, so a little background… Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, after I’d exhausted all the Beatles albums and found myself searching through my dad’s record collection for more old music, I turned to the Rolling Stones. The first album I remember listening to out in the garage was Tattoo You, a mix of pure adrenaline-fueled rock (“Hang Fire” was my favorite) and dreamy, slow-burning ballads that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Anyway, a few albums and secondhand VHS tapes later, I was hooked. It was like falling in love with the Beatles all over again, except this band had decades of material to catch up on. I went through a particularly fun phase in high school where I went around trying to imitate Keith Richards’ swagger, much to my mom’s horror. And then later, Exile on Main Street became my go-to tour album, and to this day it reminds me looking out the bus window at interstate highways and cornfields and people out on their porches in Mississippi.

Over the last five years or so, I’ve watched at least two Stones tours go by without being able to get tickets (as in, stuck on the Ticketmaster wait page until tix sold out). So when I got word of the tour this year, I was pretty much ready to do anything, including using my mom’s AMEX to get into the presale, blocking off time on my work calendar to buy tickets, and then making my boyfriend drive 500 miles with me to San Diego because it’s the only west coast stop on the tour. And to my infinite happiness, it all worked like a dream! (Don’t worry, I paid my mom back for the tix, and I think Alex had an ok time at the show.)

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So that brings us to this past Sunday at the ballpark in San Diego. I have a confession to make here. Two songs in, as the show was just beginning and Mick was singing “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” I may or may not have teared up, JUST A LITTLE, FOR JUST A SECOND. A Rolling Stones concert is not really something to get emotional about, but at that moment they just happened to remind me how I fell in love with music in the first place. It was rock music that did it: the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, all the super famous and not-so-famous bands of the 60s and 70s. My entire musical philosophy can be summed up with that one lyric: It’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, OK?! And no matter how many people rag on the Stones for being old men who won’t stop touring, I’m so glad they’re still going, because it gives people like me a chance to experience a little slice of rock history.


Show Highlights

“Midnight Rambler.” This song is epic already, but the live version is a whole ‘nother experience. I kept thinking about the quote from Crossfire Hurricane about how it’s the epitome of Jagger-Richards songwriting. Definitely my favorite part of the show.
Keith’s brain fart. I knew from watching concert videos that Keith always does his few songs after Mick introduces the band, about halfway through. And I was super excited to hear what songs he’d sing. The first one was “Slippin’ Away,” a classic Keef slow jam, followed by some rambling (I literally couldn’t understand a thing the man said, haha). Then he played the first few chords of “Can’t Be Seen” before being reminded by Ronnie that they were supposed to do “Before They Make Me Run,” which is one of my favorites! Yessss. Did not disappoint.
The moves like Jagger. The flailing arms, pointy fingers, and spastic clapping were in full play, and it was a beautiful sight. On top of that, Mick sprinted and power-skipped down the catwalk with more energy than I could probably muster in my entire life. HOW DOES HE DO IT?? Another random observance: I think he enjoys putting on different jackets just so he can rip them off. Which he can totally do, because’s he’s got a hot bod YES I SAID IT.

Other noteworthies: Taking the MTS trolley for the first time, rallying with a bunch of baby boomers, Ronnie’s sparkly shoes, and Mick’s very British, very articulated way of saying “Petco Park.”

There were no lowlights, of course, but I *was* a little disappointed that they didn’t play more Sticky Fingers, as was rumored. I was especially hopeful because they did the whole album at the LA show just a few nights before. But I read part of an interview with Mick that said he was concerned because it has 5 slow songs on it and they were worried that people would use it as a bathroom break. Ummm ok, maybe the basic people would, but without a doubt that would’ve been the highlight of the show for me. I was dying to hear “You Gotta Move” and “Dead Flowers”! “Wild Horses” would’ve been nice, too. They did play “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (cue the stoners in the next row lighting up), “Bitch,” and “Moonlight Mile,” which was amazing.

I got a second wave of uninvited emotion when at the very end, after the extended band had taken their bows, it was just Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie on the stage, arms around each other, looking like a joyful band of old, scraggly brothers. D’awwww. As long as these guys can keep going and sound good, I sure hope they do.


Supplemental Materials: 1) me doing my best 70’s Keef impression; 2) view from nosebleed seats; 3) a picture from the San Diego Union Tribune of the guys’ final encore (how cute is Charlie with his yellow socks?!)

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