A general note on a new OC Weekly thing I’m doing

Though it’s actually been running for some weeks now! I’ve linked it in over on Facebook a few times but it’s called Beat Blvd., and it’s a once-a-week review via the overall Heard Mentality blog of a new release by a local act, whoever it might be and whatever might be released (7″, tape, CD…as noted, whatever it might be!).

I came up with the name as a reference to the legendary Beach Blvd. compilation on Posh Boy — TinyMixTapes had an appreciation up about it a while back — and so far it’s been pretty fun. Last couple of weeks have been about the healthy Anglophilic strain that the area’s always had due to recent releases by Cat Party and Northern Labour Party (lots of parties, really) but there’s more to come in other areas and all. Might see about expanding it out a bit — we’ll see!

AMG reviews as we head into fall…

And another large batch here. I really need to try and be more timely with these updates…

The garden on Sept. 24, 2010

Another late entry here but as mentioned in my previous post, very busy week, this. Anyway:

And as ever, some new photos:

A rose

Molokhiya and shiso

Basil

It being a very very busy week…

…enjoy a sunrise photo, including a hawk:

Dawn!  Hawk!

Various links and updates and things later, I hope. Not Just the Ticket will probably restart again next week once it all settles down some.

The garden on Sept. 17, 2010

Backtracking a little here — busy times mean more distractions!

And of course more photos:

A rose is...

Basil

A tiny tiny snail...

Corn, tomato and zucchini soup

Soup!

A combination of fortuitousness and weather — it’s been a very cool summer out here and it’s just starting to feel a bit like fall in corners. Also, I had a nicely open evening to cook up something, and had thought a little tomato soup would be a good idea.

Turned out something even better was to hand — a quick check in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything turned up this variant with corn, zucchini and plenty of basil, all of which I had sitting around courtesy of my last basket delivery. (To be fair the zucchini was more smaller summer squash but it was all the same principle!) It was the perfect opportunity to make use of it all — took about an hour and a half from stop to start and was worth it all, especially since there was plenty leftover for later in the wake.

Also, the broth I used had been prepared the other week from the remnants of the previous basket, so it was truly a totally from scratch preparation. All that and light on the olive oil and with no salt either. Tasted great!

If you’d like to try it, go nuts!

Not Just the Ticket — another ticketless special on Bogart’s in Long Beach

As I was typing up some of the recent stories, something was nagging at me — I knew there were a few shows I was missing in the overall account somehow, but I couldn’t remember what the details were. Then at some point everything became clear in a flash and memories of Bogart’s came back in. I have no tickets from any of the shows but it would be wrong of me if I didn’t reflect on at least some of the performances I saw there, almost always in the company of various KUCI types looking to see what was happening of an evening.

Mike Boehm’s 1993 article on the closing of Bogart’s is a perfect way to sum up what the importance of the place was — it’s also a portrait of a different world, in that OC’s neighboring concert and theatre scene has generally improved over the moons. Neither truly big location nor hardscrabble punk club, its location in a mall was summed up the exact weird appeal of the place — it never seemed like it should be there, and never quite had a total identity of its own, but in the time that it ran it had a lot of acts come through that probably wouldn’t’ve made it to the area otherwise, not to mention a number of local folks both from Long Beach and the surrounding area and OC itself.

There’s a Facebook memorial page which I encourage you to check out — the club’s booker Steve Zepeda has a Myspace spot as well — and you can get a larger picture of it all through them and the various links around from there. I vaguely remember the drives up, the parking lot, and walking up a staircase towards the entrance — I think this was an outside staircase, not entirely sure. Upon entering the club there was the ticket booth area, a smaller bar/club spot to the right and to the left was the main venue location, with its own bar, tables and so forth, plus the stage and open area in front of it. I’m probably misremembering some of the details there but hey, the photos on those pages will confirm or deny what I’m saying!

I’m not entirely sure what my first show was there, or even when it was, though I’m fairly positive it would have been in fall 1992. I’m probably conflating a couple of shows in my head here, but I know I went up to some of the performances in the company of not only good friend Mackro but fellow DJs Chowderhead and Biff, both of whom (Chowderhead especially) loved their jazz. So it’s not surprising that the first band I remember seeing was the Cambridge Pipers, who despite their English folk rock style name were a flute-led ensemble that might have been more Canterbury School in retrospect, though I couldn’t’ve told you that at all at the time. They were associated with and/or shared members with Bazooka, one of the many jazz-loving acts that were on SST Records during that era, and I had that album of theirs around but not anything but the Pipers. Pleasant enough, at the least, and I remember the lead guy happily in his own particular musical groove on stage — no Ian Anderson crazy antics (or Will Ferrell for that matter), just someone lost a bit in his instrument and that of his band’s.

They were opening for someone — I can’t remember who, but I can’t believe it was the either of the acts that I next remember at the venue. I’m fairly positive this was a double bill, but however it happened, Unsane and Helios Creed are the next definite memories of shows at Bogart’s, and even then it’s all a little up in the air. Unsane were never huge favorites of mine, I might have owned an album in some sort of thought that were all post-Helmet somehow. (God knows where I get these ideas from, they were more contemporary than anything else.) I remember it being loud and riffy and the lead dudes seeming to be pretty focused on stage in whatever they were up to — I can’t remember if this was before or after one of the members had died; if after that doubtless explained a bit of it.

Helios Creed I would have liked to say more about, but I barely saw any of it. I really loved Chrome, still do, and a fair amount of Helios’s solo stuff is just as gone so I was ready for whatever would happen. I remember him on stage with band as well as a dancer — shades of Hawkwind I suppose — and announcing “Master Blaster,” one of his best solo songs. A lot of growling acid guitar insanity followed and I would have been happily lost in it but the folks I had ridden up with were wanting to go home. So I assume we were mostly there for the openers, whoever they were and whichever show it was. There’s probably a list somewhere.

Two further shows, however, provided much more in the way of both clearer memories and plenty of entertainment. Having seen them the previous year at the Jabberjaw show I was all about seeing Ween again, who in the interim had ended up having their semi-breakout hit in the form of “Push Th’ Little Daisies,” one of the truly goonier songs ever to get semi-regular airplay and MTV coverage. A number of songs played at the Jabberjaw show had ended up on the resultant album Pure Guava, containing said semi-hit, and pretty much all of us at the station (well, those who I knew and hung around with) were playing that on a constant basis one way or another.

Unsurprisingly it was a pretty full and boisterous crowd for that one — I seem to remember being towards the back of the crowd, actually probably sitting down at one of the tables or leaning against something, maybe having a drink but it seems unlikely for me at that time. Dean and Gene were maybe a touch more slick by default given the venue but they weren’t any less inspired, and while the memories of what they played are a little fuzzier the overall impression was good times had. The two vivid memories: one of them introducing a number as their ‘strolling song,’ being a French language song that, in the spirit of their many other bizarro-world pastiches and parodies, was something of a Maurice Chevalier-boulevadier easy swing of a thing. Except it ended with the chirpily sung “Fuck you,” but of course. The other vivid memories was the radio station ID that one of us, possibly Mackro, got from the band, with them talking ‘the rock music…music rock.’ It all made sense then. Still does, really.

But the show I’m still glad I caught above all else there was from a band I’d been waiting to see for years. Negativland had been a firm favorite of mine from the UCLA days and I’m still a fan to this day, though it is interesting to see how their particular aesthetic stand is now something strangely outdated in terms of what they were attempting to do, however much the issues of copyright and fair use remain the flashpoints they are. But that is for another time and discussion — at this point they were still riding through the whole U2/SST mess as best as they could, and while they had a new album out in the shape of Free, pretty much nearly everyone who was there was just excited to see them again after what had gone down over the previous years.

Had I lived in the Bay Area I’m sure I would have been a little more used to the results given their occasional live performances but since this was the first time I really had no idea what all to expect — so hearing the voice of Dick Vaughn explaining that he was dead, had died in a plane crash, and knew he had died in a plane crash because he had prerecorded announcements covering all possible versions of his untimely demise, well, from that point forward I knew I was going to be for a good time. (I had already had a weird time thanks to opening act Little Fyodor and his sidekick Babushka, but I’m still not entirely sure if I didn’t dream all that. I liked their song “We’re All Doomed,” though.)

Various recordings from that tour surfaced via bootleg CD as well as, years later, a semi-formal release from the band themselves, but neither of them were of this particular show — however the general model remained the same, seeing as it was something of a low key theatrical presentation, down to the appearance of the Weatherman on video only. Black Flag covers and revisions, extrapolations of the perfect scrambled eggs recipe, the loudspeaker speaking up and saying that Christianity is stupid and communism is good, film clips, flashing lights, massive cut out guns waved around…what a time. And what an insane amount of gear on stage, at that.

It ended with Mark Hosler singing “A Man With Five Fingers,” only removing each of his fingers one by one with increasingly bloody hedge clippers. (It’s amazing what fake blood can do for you these days.) I was down in front the whole time, caught between laughing my brains out and dancing, of sorts. One of those shows that I can’t believe I almost forgot, so I’m glad I got this flashback to talk about it.

And all this in an open-air SoCal mall. Strange but somehow, very right.

Not Just the Ticket — #64, Silverfish, June 3, 1993

Silverfish, Whisky

Then-current album: Organ Fan

Opening act: …drawing a complete blank

Back of ticket ad: Fox Photo, assuring me once more that I can get half off their ‘1-Hour Film Developing.’ I simply cannot doubt it, and yet.

This is one of those classic tickets where I have to squint a few times at the original item to confirm the details. I thought it was June 8 there on first blush. I could have just checked an online calendar, I guess, but I’m not that obsessive. Yet.

So, the show that meant I got a T-shirt that I still have that reads HIPS LIPS TITS POWER on it in big white letters on a black background. Why the hell not?

Silverfish were always constantly almost…not famous, that’s a stretch, but they seemed like they belonged somewhere that they never quite found, which is a damn pity because I’m all about bands like them needing to be huge. It was probably because they were based in London and all, which meant that even the boost of being initially released in the US on Touch and Go meant a little suspicion of sorts from folks over here. (“We have a bunch of post-hardcore types already here, what could they tell us?”) I only first heard about them due to various random — very random — mentions of them as being a holdover from something called the Camden lurch scene, of which I knew nothing and don’t really care to have cleared up further, necessarily. Not out of hatred for whoever was involved, it’s just that it sounds like it was dreamed up on a lunch break from Melody Maker one day, a whole bunch of unrelated people were lumped into it, and then they were stuck with it from that point forward. Typical enough.

Still, I was paying some attention to Silverfish. Keep in mind I hate the actual insects, the bastards really do a number on books and all. But I gathered that the four members were a bit volatile at points and/or with each other, partially because they had a hell of a frontwoman in Lesley Rankine. I’ve met plenty of fiery people over time, I’ve met plenty of Scots folks, I’ve met a lot of strong as hell women, and I’ve encountered a number of combinations of all three over the years, and she ranks up there with them, though I can’t claim to have met her except in passing after this show and all. Still, you got a sense even from just the recordings that she gave…not directionless attitude, more that you wouldn’t want to mess with her because, hell, why would you? Add in the fact that apparently she could prop up whole bars by herself and hey, bring it on — plus I liked the fact that they had released an album called Fat Axl, featuring a caricature of said singer, and which also contained a rather unexpected version of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines (Don’t Do It).”

So through a weird combination of events — ending up on Creation Records, then because of that finding themselves associated with Sony overseas — Silverfish found themselves with an even bigger American connection than before, and god knows exactly what the people in the Sony LA office were thinking when they realized they had this assignment to deal with. Around this time is when my friend Jen V. actually started working there as an intern so I should probably reconfirm with her, but this was a classic case of them going “Okay they must have some fans here but they’re not on radio or anything so um…what do we do?”

The details of everything building up this show really do escape me. The new album in question, Organ Fan, had actually appeared in the UK a few months prior, so for US release an EP was added for that bonus track elan. I didn’t have either of those so ending up with a promo copy of this release was kinda nice, and I’ll always have a fondness for the French language track as they’d said in an interview that it was their tribute to the Young Gods, at that point one of my overall sonic heroes. Also I’d noted that Rankine had gone right ahead in recent months and cropped her hair completely off — bald as hell and rocking it to the full. Had to admire that, really, not that I was about to follow her example any.

I would have gone to the show with Jen V. if only she kinda had to be there by default given her Sony work. This was probably the first time I was in the Sony offices though I can’t say that for sure — I ended up there a couple of times over the next few years, and while I can hardly say I got familiar with the place, it was amusing enough to see exactly what part of the music business juggernaut looked like up close. Until that point all I would have really known about was the David Geffen office that was on Sunset near the Roxy, whereas Sony — as well as Polygram and probably a couple of other spots — were happily established in a set of buildings next to the 405 freeway on Santa Monica Blvd. I’m sure the place has a name (and for all I know the companies are still there; I know the buildings are) but at the time I would have more been checking out the interior design as a mix between random posters in the cubicles and high end professional lobby area. That and, I think, John Travolta in Staying Alive playing on a TV in said lobby. I have no idea why.

In part I talk about all this because again, I can’t remember much leading up to the show — if we had dinner up there, if we went straight to the venue and so forth. Didn’t interview the band or anything beforehand, I remember that much, I think we were just all milling about on the floor of the Whisky as per usual checking watches and the like. Completely, utterly drawing a blank on the opening act, assuming there was one, so whoever it was, I salute your anonymity, or at least your ability to take up time without making any impression whatsoever. But you probably helped drive people to the bar, at least.

Silverfish themselves put on a show that’s fragmentary in my memory. I remember they started a bit hesistantly — Rankine seemed to be looking out a little warily at the crowd, singing as if she was still finding her feet a bit, the rest of the band similarly. Fuzz, their guitarist, was the other visual focus, a slight short fellow with a great mop of dreadlocks, and similarly he was playing but not quite performing, just easing himself into the song. I thought it was nice and all but not the end of the world, and wondered if it would be like throughout.

At some point, though, there would have been a changeover, a little more intensity, a little more sharpness, a classic case of a group just needing to get a little warmed up in the course of the performance to really do something at its best. So the quartet turned into a stronger band as the show went, and we would have seen more of the act that got them their reputation over in the UK. Thing is, they would have just as easily held their own had they been American — Rankine as in-your-face performer was pretty damn good stuff, clearly someone who used the stage to take it all higher when possible, a little stylization blended with the stomp and shout. I can’t remember the name of the final song they played but it was almost as if the whole set was building up to that one number, with not one but two points where the arrangement just built and built and built and finally broke, the bandmembers all seeming to lean into the feedback as it stretched out and then exploding like a rubber band had just snapped. Pretty impressive and they deserved the applause they got.

Up in the balcony area afterwards I chatted with Fuzz briefly — energetic guy but I barely caught what he said — and exchanged pleasantries with Rankine as noted, not that she would remember any of it of course. Later that year she ended up departing the band and forming an even more underrated act in Ruby, something that aimed for the moody crawl of someone like Barry Adamson or Massive Attack with its own unsettled spikiness. Wish I’d caught one of those shows and I hope she’s doing well now, certainly deserved to be better known in general. And I’ll always treasure that one Melody Maker cover shot of her after the head shave posing with a gargoyle-like leer half wrapped around the lipstick-smeared Brett Anderson of Suede. If you’re going to make some sort of visual splash, after all, might as well go big.

Now a retrospective festival rundown — Bottled Smoke 2007 in Los Angeles

Bottled Smoke logo

Which might seem a little strange, given three years have passed and all. But to explain:

A little over three years ago is when I first started the blog, but a little before that is when the original Bottled Smoke festival occurred at the Echo Curio (plus a side visit over to Mr. T’s in the Valley). It was also before I was on Twitter, before I could have even purchased an iPhone and might have even been before I was on Facebook, not entirely sure now. Everything really does blur up and blur together. In any event, for all these reasons I didn’t and couldn’t talk about that get-together the same way I’ve talked about the On Lands, the last Terrastock and so forth — this recognition of how things really have radically changed for me and a lot of others may be a little long in coming but there you go.

I was, however, happily on Flickr at the time and had been for two years, so I took a lot of photos of the event. I also wrote a review of it after the fact for Plan B online but I guess it’s not around anymore, though maybe I’m just looking in the wrong spots. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago, though, in the midst of one of my periodic scrounges through (and clearing out) of old papers that I realized I had scribbled down a series of notes on a number of the performances.

These were essentially Twitter posts avant la lettre, really, or I could have seen myself posting them as such. Quick impressions, often hopelessly insular. I don’t really recall using any of these for the article but I could be wrong — I think I had some vague idea I was going to write something up for an ILM posting or similar.

Since I have a bit of time this week I figured I’d go ahead and create what would have been the kind of retrospective photo/’Twitter’ overview of the festival had all the factors I mentioned above been applicable back in May 2007. A random exercise, perhaps, but that way it’s all preserved a little more clearly. I think after having seen both the second Bottled Smoke earlier this year as well as On Land just the other week, both of which featured a number of acts who I saw for the first time at the original Bottled Smoke, it’s nice to look back a bit.

I’ll also preface this by saying that I cannot find notes for all the acts (apologies to Xela in particular!) and that there were a few performers I didn’t see at the time — friend JBR was having a small housewarming party down the road a bit so I cut out briefly for that — but it’s still pretty complete for what it is. Hope everyone enjoys!

Antique Brothers, Bottled Smoke

Antique Brothers — “…steady, slow but good interplay. Instrument swap, drone/acoustic plucking…touch of fluid spaceyness. Slow but great buildup, nicely blissed…excellent way to start. Settles into two acoustic guitar gentle ramble. Focused, with soft drone background…very accomplished, with roughness given space. Nice blend….Flute/recorder adds to it. “Black Bart’s Cave…just buy it from Grant.” Twin acoustic encore — short set, fired up crowd. Relaxed, communal. Ends with goof and laugh.”

Ilyas Ahmed, Bottled Smoke

Ilyas Ahmed — “…starts very gently, contemplative melody. Lovely. Effortless filigrees…Just sound, into an extended flow. Shifts regularly but (something unreadable) a new beauty. Like, in fact, a great dance or hip hop mix. New elements each time…His singing initially a lost ghost amid the whoosh of Sunset Blvd. traffic…A capella back into a stately descending melody. Perfect mix/control w/r/t vocal/guitar blend. Second piece more ‘conventional’ but still striking…very delicate. Third (song) for bro/mom. How nervous his fingers are!…Sudden big keen — amazing.”

The Sea Zombies, Bottled Smoke'

The Sea Zombies — “Brad (Rose), Xela, Jefre, G. Kowalsky…DARKTHRONE! Intro: ‘Shut the fuck up!’ Jefre on drums: ‘We’re gonna be shit!’ Loud, collage, random into drone…ad hoc! But not bad for all that. Increasingly goofed/chaotic…Too many cooks? No, there’s intent, but overlapping. Pedals raised, constant motion…Xela wails, the rest drone/blast/tweak. A mean is reached.”

Pocahaunted, Bottled Smoke

Pocahaunted — no notes. There’s space for notes on the paper but hey.

Metal Rouge, Bottled Smoke

Metal Rouge — “…dulcimer/guitar, both loaded with effects…Hot, sunny, nice difference…uptempo/loudness/noise…slow/sure burn. Screech/drone…quicker on the dulcimer, metal sheet howls…phases in/out, rhythm of zonk…e-bow dulcimer, bowed guitar…sudden static drop (unreadable)…switch to koto (?), tones cutting starkly through murk…huge high-pitched zone/drone…ear-piercing.”

Changeling, Bottled Smoke

Changeling — “…solo drone/pedal…people love facing away!…Miles Davis approaches here…more a show of change in the details, but they are great details.”

Mike Tamburo/Matt McDowell, Bottled Smoke

Mike Tamburo with Matt McDowell — “…guitar and dulcimer? more delicate and rolling, Matt w/shading, then into combined (unreadable)…acoustic pluck turned into doom threat, twin guitar fun…twang overlay, then guitar/drums, then clarinet drone…huge wash, hammered guitar/tuning forks…singing/acoustic guitar/drums…slow build rise! very inspirational.”

Xela, Bottled Smoke

Xela — another one I have no notes for! Sorry about that, John!

Robedoor, Bottled Smoke

Robedoor — “…tent, crouched…one ups the ‘turn from audience’ gambit, good thick drone…everyone facing like an altar…nice self-mythmaking…tent shakes, drums are primal thump…really makes it an ominous invocation.”

Thousands, Bottled Smoke

Thousands — “…echoed slow build, vocal moan, a bit more jammy/twangy, but that makes for actual riffage, plus drum rolls…propulsive, in a way few of the acts have yet been…lots of murk, angst, groove…nice theatricality up front…some instrument switching for variety into soft freefloat loveliness, nice shift!…more chaotic calm exploration from there…short drone/howl to conclude.”

Ghosting, Bottled Smoke

Ghosting — “…solitary dark guitar and doom feedback drone/tone rhythm…grace fighting against the pit, rising above confusion…finger bells adding a light glaze…chatter sample, abrupt end!”

Starving Weirdos, Bottled Smoke

Starving Weirdos — “…theatrical! aims at immersive experience…candles, Lincoln, jungle/forest sounds, cries and howls…Atman/Vangelis dropkicked strange spinning rubberband thing…flowing composition (Spacious Mind?)…ZONK.”

Tarentel, Bottled Smoke

Tarentel — “…squeeze box, nefarious devices and more…slow calm start, soundbox drone…unfolding rapture of sound…and then just as glaring near silences…bowed cymbals = key.”

Heavy Winged, Bottled Smoke

Heavy Winged — again, no notes here but a great performance.

The Holy See, Bottled Smoke

The Holy See — “…two guitar drone f/Tarentel folks…pedals ‘n’ fun…overload but still good for a Sunday afternoon…echo rise…standard but handy. Additional vocal treatment from J…it’s a higher/heavier pitch…mic feedback adding chaos screech.”

White Rainbow, Bottled Smoke

White Rainbow — “…very serene start, guitar/pedals, shimmer up…adjusts, adds vocals…calm…v. calm…water bottle percussion start…Steve Roachish!…gong next and now the jam…back to guitar, beads, vocal chants, beats…all keeps adding and adding…guitar chime overlay then hit the sunrise moment.”

Valet, Bottled Smoke

Valet — “…vocal selection/drone, but more layered/echo…Fursaxaish, but not exactly…Arcanta, kinda…then down into guitar sustain/note…echoing flow…then almost nothing…it’s a neat change from the thick overflow…traffic and gentle strum/zone…you can hear the click of the pedals! soloing over calm loop…back to vocal…more unsettled/tense then flows into beginning-style…and dive!”

Gregg Kowalsky, Bottled Smoke

Gregg Kowalsky — “…’tape chants’…tape decks around the room, Lucier/electroacoustic…tape overlay buzz resonating off walls/floor…Gregg sync? no. result…rise/fall that interacts/scrapes…tactile, scraggly, like something is walking/clawing…tape players range in size/volume, pacing is irregular. audience (baby! dog!) (unreadable)…a touch of Main? adjustments to pitc/volume emphasizing a scarier scraggle collapsing/shredding sound…then slowly something more peaceful/soothing…”

Theo Angell, Bottled Smoke

Theo Angell — “…soundcheck? is its own performance, strum/clang/sing…mike on case?…into joint chord/jam flow…nice shifts in/out, sometimes Theo solo…Ilyas Ahmed waits at points (unintentional?)…very clean, no Ilyas pedals, a couple for Theo…like a barbed-wire hoedown at one point! if only briefly…grinding noise jam right after gentler plucking, sudden (unreadable) charge, both singing…Cat on suitcase!…second song more focused but just…conch shell! conch jam with Tim, very strange/wonderful…drumming in the sideroom…”

VxPxC, Bottled Smoke

VxPxC — “…melodica/pedal noise spike start…other elements float in…then the roaring starts. singing bits, collage, no loops much, but definite layering…more bass zonk, organized chaos with Grant adding guitar…shoegaze/epic scope, assembles very nicely…haunting feel, perhaps surprisingly goth/shoegaze!…there’s an epic collapse at work, remember Tim DJ’d This Mortal Coil!…almost a Spiritualized progression up! into calm keyboard/guitar Mogwaish section, contemplative! very epic, very nicely unexpected…accordion into more clattering jam…organ/drum machine echo/overload, ouch! into a stately screech…bowls, pipes, all in mix…screams and wails…”

Ajilvsga, Bottled Smoke

Ajilvsga — “…with Xela…drone shatter with vocal wails to start with…rapidly punishing in a trebly way…massively overdriver/distorted, earplugs necessary for sanity…no flow as such, it’s all scraping experience!”

Nick Castro, Bottled Smoke

Nick Castro — “…four piece, perfect comedown…guitar/bass/(unreadable)…casual and friendly with each other, delicate funny…nice bunch.”

And some final On Land Festival 2010 thoughts

Beginning with what will be one of the more lingering memories of it — namely, nearly everything I picked up:

On Land stuff and things

Which sounds a bit obvious. But to explain a bit — I had a plan some time back to try and buy something by everyone on the bill if I could help it, and I almost succeeded (a couple of folks had no releases on sale while I just ran out of my cash at the end before I snagged something from Charalambides or by Tom or Christina solo — and a couple of folks flat out gave me things, which was terribly kind of them!). This was in part driven by last year’s festival where I barely had money for anything; while I picked up a few things I felt bummed I wasn’t giving the artists a little more directly, and I resolved to save up some cash to do that this time around, with an eye to try and snag, where possible, their most recent releases.

The economy of the music business and how it functions these days is well-trodden ground I need not go over in detail. But there is something basic to the exchange of money for goods that will always have its place, and if we live in a world where music is free for all who search for it — and I’m hardly excusing myself on that front in a number of cases — then whether one treats something with recorded sound in a physical format as merely a souvenir of an experience or as something valued in and of itself or something else again, it’s still a sign, a direct one, of showing an artist or a label or even, simply, a vendor that their work is appreciated, encouraged, and that they hopefully will continue on whereever they go next.

The quality control of On Land, in terms of the performances, was to my mind magisterial. Nobody sucked, everyone was at least really enjoyable and some shows were simply stellar. Sure, I’m inclined to much of this music to start with, and many of the bands I already well knew and appreciated. But it all comes down to what happens on the day, and it also comes down to where an artist is at that moment in time. I did not want to come and see anyone who I’d already seen before, whether at last year’s edition or elsewhere, do the same exact set as before. That would have been pointless to my mind, and I’ve seen enough bands do essentially one thing again and again over the years to draw distinctions.

So the snapshot of On Land I experienced and, hopefully, provided in part via my reports, as well as implicitly captured in the recordings I picked up, is meant to mark a moment, another in a series of moments for everyone. Where everyone goes next is what I want to see and can’t wait to enjoy. Barn Owl will surprise me yet again next time around, Ilyas Ahmed will try out something I didn’t expect once more, Metal Rouge will make me wonder where that left turn came from and who knows what Oneohtrix Point Never might decide to try out. And much as I would love to see Robert A. A. Lowe’s mindblowingly beautiful set once more, visually and aurally, wanting something new means something else unexpected and fresh.

Other festivals and things happened during that weekend around the country (heck, around the world) and newer ones are just now starting up in SF as well so as with every good experience like this it retreats into the past, becoming part of the overall wash of time. But I did want to conclude by saying how great it was to see so many friends again old and new — Nari visiting up from Texas (and I will say again Lee shoulda been there!), Mike and Pat from LA, John and A. from Boston, everyone who I chatted with and hung out with over a beer and a meal and bought something from and more besides. And of course, at the top of the list, Jefre and Maxwell for putting it all together and making it something I enjoyed even more than last year, and I loved last year. Love to see it all happen again, count myself damn lucky to have been there to start with.

Back to Not Just the Ticket and other such things over the next week. But the school year is about to kick in and I’ll be plenty busy for a while!

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