For re-caps of Days 1,2, and 3 click here
Culture Collide had a button collection competition. If you collected a series of 25 buttons (I believe this was the correct number), you could win a prize. The competition heated up during the last two days. I got approached a couple times by folks asking if I had found a certain button. Thailand seemed to be the most difficult button to find. I wasn’t able to help the two folks who asked. I do hope that one of those two individuals won the big prize.
MIMES OF WINE (Italy – Taix Front Lounge).
Beautiful music. Intricately layered. At times, I felt like I was listening to Debussy (okay, so Debussy was French and not Italian . . . don’t give me a hard time about that ).
Lyrics: “Love can be cruel.”
Efrat Ben Zur (Israel — Taix Front Lounge).
The Taix Front Lounge was having technical problems, which caused me to jump around more than anticipated. I only caught a few songs from Efrat Ben Zur. Their music felt like the perfect soundtrack for an art house movie drama.
Huddle (Canada — Taix Champagne Room).
Comment one of the night: “Check check vocal check check, oh baby that feels good.”
Comment two of the night: “That song is called Sleepwalker, I’m a sleepwalker.”
Okay, this band wins a major Award: the Comedy Relief Award. Their music is awesome and they were the funniest guys of the weekend.
Marit Larsen (Norway – Taix Front Lounge).
The Taix Front Lounge was still dealing with some technical problems so like Efrat Ben Zur, I wasn’t able to stick around for Marit Larsen’s full set.
She appeared to have a very pleasant personality. She didn’t seem at all phased by the troubles that were going on around her. I’m not exactly sure I can say the same about her manager (or mother) who looked very stressed on the sideline. She just walked along the stage, singing to herself.
Comment of the set: “This was my first number one song in a country far far away.”
Hotel Café, ring her up!!!
THE KAVANAGHS (Argentina – Taix Champagne Room).
Comment of the set: “I’m not Seinfeld.”
The band immediately made me think about another awesome band from Argentina called Posavasos (which I’d love to suggest to Culture Collide for 2013).
The band had a quick contest where they gave out their vinyl to the individual who could say something interesting about Argentina. I called out Pink House. (more…)
For re-caps of Days 1 and 2 click here
I should mention that I was feeling a touch under the weather on Thursday and Friday. I was a little concerned that with the late nights, I’d end up getting sick sometime during the festival. Well, as I write this up, I’m still standing. In fact, as the music festival progressed, I started feeling better. Hmm.
Young Buffalo (US — Taix Front Lounge).
They’re a band from Mississippi. This was their first time in Los Angeles and they gave us a howling good time.
Ewert and the Two Dragons (Estonia – Echoplex).
This band has calm intensity.
Comment of the set: A couple years ago we didn’t even know we’d be here tonight – you probably didn’t know either – but for us we come from far away.
This band kicked off a trio of amazing bands at the Echoplex (I saw three straight bands here; others might argue they kicked off four straight amazing bands). I know that four folks that were near the front of the stage just couldn’t stop talking about the band.
Gold Fields (Australia – Echoplex).
This band is dance gold and had the crowd dancing.
Lyrics: “In the ambulance, I couldn’t feel my face. In the hospital, I couldn’t stay awake.” (more…)
PART II OF NOTES FROM VIVACE’S LOBSTER FEST ADVENTURE. FOR PART I OF HIS ADVENTURE, CLICK HERE
This year, NO has taken the music festival circuit by storm: from Silver Lake Jubilee to Make Music Pasadena to Bloomfest to Lobster Festival and perhaps a couple more that I’m missing — I’ve kept track of this band. They started playing their set as two cargo ships sailed pass during the twilight hour. As they were doing the sound check, the keyboardist played a couple chords from a Twin Peaks’ song –now that’s cool. And at the end of their set, I do believe they had the longest line of any band at the merch table.
Comment of the set (as the lead singer is from New Zealand): “Can you understand me?”
Takeaway: This band is going to breakout someday (I am being totally bias, but this is also my honest opinion).
JJAMZ rates highest on this small bit of observation: more folks came up during their set-up to say hello versus any of the other bands. I can’t help but think that this speaks to lead singer’s Z Berg’s personality.
Comment of the set (during sound check): “This is a microphone check.”
This is the third time I saw JJAMZ and this ranks as the best set of the three. It perhaps helped that fans were crowded around the stage and those to my right knew all the lyrics. When fans get excited, I get excited.
Memory of the night: Z Berg’s first time ever at the Troubadour was when Lili Haydn took her there and Lili spent the entire time talking to a pre-teen Z Berg about boy troubles.
Takeaway: Z Berg has the pout down to perfection as well the quick follow-up smile.
DUM DUM GIRLS
Dum Dum Girls were the headline band. This is a band of four girls who wear hot stockings and have a hot sound. Like JJAMZ, their fans also crowded the front of the stage. I could be wrong, but they also had a totally different fan base than those who had just crowded the stage for JJAMZ. At the end of the set, I noticed the bass player head off the stage and then return to pick up her set list, which she then handed to a young woman at the center of the stage. Nice move.
Comment of the set (during sound check): “Come Save the World.”
Takeaway: Couldn’t they have played another 30 minutes?
Random thought 1: Does acid dramatically reduce an individual’s IQ?
Random thought 2: As the shade crept closer to the stage, so did the audience.
Random thought 3: I didn’t have time to eat during the day so when Dum Dum Girls finished their set, I headed to an Asian food booth and got a vegetarian meal (shh!!! don’t tell the Lobster Festival organizers that I’m a vegetarian, because we might never get invited back). I don’t know if it was because it was the end of the day, but I was given a take home container that was piled with food. I was starving to death, but even so I couldn’t eat half of it. I took the rest home.
Random thought 4: I was a bit too liberal with my photo taking of Sara Radle and Davis Fetter (can I be blamed for that, no). A quick calculation told me I was going to run into issues if I kept shooting at that pace. I became more judicial after that point. I ended up with my camera informing me I only had enough memory left for 20 more photos. Talk about taking it to the edge.
Random thought 5: Thank you Lobster Festival for providing a most thrilling Saturday as summer 2012 comes to an end.
The Pre-Trip Purchase
I bought a new lock for my luggage. My last lock got removed by Argentinean security so I bought a new TSA lock. I fumbled the attempt at setting up the three digit security code. Forget it. I went and bought a non-TSA lock. I wasn’t planning on checking my luggage on the plane, but I figured it’d be useful at my hotel room.
What Makes Me Feel Comfortable
I will say one comfort about traveling to Portugal is that they are in the Eurozone and so I had some Euros – equivalent to $40. I just feel more comfortable when I have local currency ahead of my trip.
Wednesday – Randomness on Flight Day
Since my flight to Lisbon wasn’t until the afternoon, I spent my morning eating crepes at Solar de Cahuenga. I re-learned (as I always do when I take these midweek brunches) that there really are plenty of people who spend their mid-morning hours at cafes/restaurants, scanning Facebook on their Mac laptops. Interestingly, I didn’t see a single iPad.
Is this one reason why folks become hermits? They get extreme anxiety not about facing the world, but about what they might have not done. I always hate the last hour or so before I walk out the door for a long vacation. Did I pack everything? Where is my passport? Money? Did I turn off the computer, television, and oven? Did I close the windows? Is my car door locked? Lights?
My bus trip on the 91 to Downtown Los Angeles was spent listening to a high school kid using “sh*t” in every sentence. “They really charge you for that sh*t. Sh*t, I hear the family plan is cheaper.” Sh*t this, sh*t that, and on and on. Yes, most of his conversation dealt with his irritation over his cell phone plan. I guess sh*t has replaced fu*k as the 4-letter word of choice among young people?
I do believe I recognized a TSA agent on the Green Shuttle. I travel too much.
The Tom Bradley Terminal looked amazingly empty.
Someone was bringing two cats with them on their flight. I didn’t realize that cats were allowed to travel with a passenger (or maybe they were flying first class and those folks get special privileges).
On take-off, one of the cabin lights kept on flickering. Typical Iberia Airlines, I thought.
The flight was relatively empty. Hey, cheers to a winter vacation in Southern Europe or maybe it was empty because it was Iberia Airlines.
While the plane was in flight, we got an old old video. It showed Nicolas Cage’s performance in “Adaptation” from 2002; and also Christina Aguilera singing Lady Marmalade and her Grammy Award from 2002. Typical Iberia, showing video from a decade ago.
Thursday — Arrival
Madrid, Spain was a rush. Our plane arrived on time, but the plane didn’t go to a gate. We stopped on the tarmac and waited for a bus to pick us up. The same video of cities from across the Americas kept looping (this video also looked like it was made a decade ago). After the video ended, an instruction video would play about how it would be best for those with connecting flights if we all exited the plane as quickly as possible. Okay?!?
The bus arrived and we went through Customs. If I recall correctly, I wasn’t asked a single question. They looked at my passport and stamped it. I was in Terminal 4S. I took the shuttle all the way to Terminal 4 and got my carry-on luggage x-rayed. I looked at the flight board and saw that my flight was leaving from M35, which was back at Terminal 4S. I then looked at the departure time, which I swear read 15:06. That was like 15 minutes away. I ran back to the shuttle that would now take me back to 4S. I was panicked. Then I looked at my physical ticket: 15:45 p.m. I already knew that, I kicked myself, as my panic eased.
As I was waiting to board my flight to Lisbon, I recalled how the Spanish love rushing into queues. Yep, it happened again.
After checking into the hotel room, I decided to stroll around Lisbon. First stop, of course, was to go to an ATM to get additional euros, but after that I headed over to one of the main Lisbon streets. As I was walking, I heard the sound of a rock band (if you read my stuff, you know this article would eventually get to music). Hmm, I decided to head over. It was coming from a fairly large building (Hall do Cinema São Jorge) so I was half assuming that maybe it was a well known band and that the ticket prices would be high. I walked closer and came to the realization that the band was doing a sound check in the lobby of the building. Hmm.
Some guys walked out so I asked, “Anyone speak English?”
One said “yes” so I asked the obvious, “Any bands playing tonight?”
“Yes, 10 p.m.”
“I’ll be back,” I said.
check back tomorrow for Notes from Vivace’s first “musical adventure in Lisbon”
Make Music Pasadena is a free event. How this is possible is beyond me. I didn’t even see any donation buckets.
Everyone should thank them for this gift, because Saturday was amazing.
For me, it started out at the Indie Rock Stage to catch The Happy Hollows (pictured above). The set was full of jumping joy goodness. From there I took the ARTS bus to the Shops on South Lake Stage. There was a group of us heading off to see Tempest. As we were coming to our stop, a young lady asked me, “Who are you taking photos for?” We got into a quick conversation about Silver Lake Jubilee. I asked her what bands she liked most from that weekend. “Moses Campbell. I was in the mosh pit. Summer Twins. Family of the Year.” I did a quick scroll through my camera and showed her a Jubilee photo of Family of the Year’s Christina. Her response, “I love her. She’s like Lana Del Rey, but prettier.”
Tempest (pictured left) is Gabrielle Wortman. The sound is sexy electronic beats. Two five year-old girls danced in front of the stage during the last couple songs. Kids dancing in front of the stage are always the cutest. They must think that adults are old and grumpy for not joining them.
Comment of the set: “We have two more songs for you tonight.”
Okay, so someone is used to playing at 11 p.m. versus 1 p.m.
I just missed the ARTS bus and had to wait around for fifteen minutes for the next one. This delayed my arrival to the Levitt Pavilion and I was only able to catch a handful of songs from Gaby Moreno (pictured below). Her songs are a mix of Spanish and English. I caught the English portion of the set. She has wonderful Central America inspired music.
From there it was back to the Indie Rock Stage for Electric Guest (pictured below). While watching the band set up, I couldn’t help but notice the screams from the crowd. One fan flagged down the lead singer. He came over and she handed a portrait that she’d painted of him. He was very appreciative. She was overwhelmed. After taking my photos, I headed backstage and couldn’t help but notice Madeline from Cults singing along to one of the songs. Their music lights up when the keys are played.
As for Cults (pictured below), a year ago I saw them in London. I now got to see them in Pasadena. Life is sweet. While I was hanging out backstage, Madeline appeared to wave at me. My immediate instinct was to look around me. Was she waving at me or someone else? I felt a little awkward, not sure if I was being rude for not waving back. During their set, I noticed her waving to folks in the crowd. At that point, I felt really stupid. I should have waved back instead of being rude.
After their set, I said to myself, I have the most awesome life.
It was a fifteen minute speed walk to the Eclectic Stage to catch Grimes (and I was not the only one speed walking). The place was packed. It was so packed that some folks were watching the stage from the various levels of a parking garage. I stood there wondering how in the world I was going to get into the photo/VIP section. One fellow photographer had mentioned that the security guards in the alley insisted that there was a separate list for folks to get in front of the stage. He suggested getting in via the Colorado street side. That simply was not possible. I ran into a couple other photographers who were also trying to figure out how to get into the photo area. One said quickly, “Let’s go get in through on the alley side.” I was a bit nervous after what my fellow photographer had said, but off we went. We got in without questions. I think security was pre-occupied as I heard a conversation that went as such, “They said don’t worry about the folks in the parking garage as long as they don’t start throwing anything.”
A handful of folks had taken the initiative to jump into the photo/VIP section – including two guys from Mexico. (The area was actually a section of a parking lot so there was some nice open space.) A security guard started going through the area, checking folks out to make sure they had a wrist band (the two guys from Mexico escaped inspection). This was my first time seeing Grimes. While talking to one of the photographers during Electric Guest, she mentioned that Grimes was just an awesome individual to photograph. As her set time approached, I was getting excited. I was going to get some awesome photos and there was a distinct buzz coming from the crowd. Who couldn’t get swept up in it all?
Comment of the set: “I’ve never used this keyboard before, I’ll probably f*!k it up.”
From the moment she started her set, I kept thinking, she’s unreal. It was so so good. If there is an award for Best Set at Make Music Pasadena, she has to win it.
Best fan: a guy jumped on stage and started dancing away for a couple songs. Security finally came up to drag him off. Grimes yelled out a couple times, “It’s all right, he can stay.” Either security didn’t hear her or they had other priorities, because the fan was taken away anyways.
Best flower: A black tinged red rose was tossed on stage.
Not so good moment: the police shut her set down, probably a couple songs early. I guess there were concerns about the crowd knocking down the security fence. On her second to last song, Grimes asked her fans, “Please don’t jump forward. Jump upwards.” Though the crowd followed her request, it wasn’t enough because her next song was her last. Bummer.
I was back speed walking to see Grouplove at the Indie Rock Stage. Now a group of friends were at the Levitt Pavilion to catch honeyhoney. I have to admit that this one was a near coin toss decision. My decision came down to this. One, I’ve seen honeyhoney a number of times versus only once for Grouplove. Two, I wrote an article about honeyhoney for Intraffik a couple years back. And so no disrespect to honeyhoney, as I love them, but it was going to be Grouplove this time. And what did Grouplove provide: great music and as a photographer some great photos. The music started and Hannah immediately had her arms raised as if making the statement that Grouplove was seeing this as their homecoming triumph.
Comment of the set: “There are so many people here, it’s insane . . . This is a far larger crowd than at El Cid.”
After taking my photos, I decided that instead of hanging out backstage, I was going to go out front. I had one long walk to make as the crowd was backed up to Raymond.
Moment of the set: I noticed a father pogo dancing with his young daughter on his shoulders who was also pogo dancing in her own way. Awesome.
For their last song, they stopped mid song and gave the audience a look that said, CHEER!!!
My suggestion to Make Music Pasadena about the Indie Rock Stage. In the Raymond intersection, you’re in a music dead zone. I couldn’t even hear Grouplove. Throughout their set, I was able to move up and finally left the Raymond intersection. The sound improved greatly – just moving up the fifteen yards or so. My recommendation is that when the crowds grow that deep, the various vendors need to shut down their music during a band’s set. The sound waves crashing into each other cause issues – at least I suspect this is true.
From there it was back to the Levitt Pavilion to catch Dam Funk (I happened to cross paths with Suzanne Santo so I did get a small dose of honeyhoney). The crowd was sitting on the grass. A handful of folks were standing near the stage. A guy with a “F#!k You” baseball cap kept yelling out, “Sit down up front.” The folks near the stage weren’t listening. A call was made for everyone to stand up and come closer to the stage. Many of us made the move. The guy with the baseball cap ended up near me and I overheard him saying, “I thought this was just going to be a laid back night, I guess not.”
Comment of the set while Dam Funk was setting things up: “We’re going on in five minutes . . . we’re going on in two minutes.”
The night ended over at Crème De La Crêpe Stage. There were some street performers in the alleyway that were giving the area a cool vibe. I was there to catch the twins called Macedo. Ending my time at the festival with some singer-songwriter music was the perfect way to go. Nice.
Buses. Okay, so I mentioned that I barely missed the ARTS bus while trying to get to Levitt. I also took public transportation to Make Music Pasadena, which meant I needed to take it back. And would you know it, I just missed the 180 bus back to Glendale, which meant I ended up waiting 30 minutes for the next one. And when I say I just missed it, I mean that the bus was there and I started running after it and as I was staring into the faces of the folks on the bus (sort of pleading with them to say something), the bus took off and I was stuck. As one person said to me while I was waiting, “It stinks when you just miss a bus at night.”
Amusing. I do like to make Seinfeld references so here is one. Also, waiting for the bus were four teenagers (one girl, three guys). They asked when the bus would arrive. I told them it would probably be thirty minutes. After a few minutes, I could hear one of them on the phone, giving out the cross street. They then took off for Ralphs. And guess what: a minute later the bus arrived. Seinfeld reference: the Chinese restaurant episode.
(for Day 1 coverage click here)
Day 2 was spent cramming in seventeen bands (and perhaps you thought thirteen bands on Day 1 was crazy). That’s a lot of bands so let’s start if off:
Just like Day 1 with Wildcat! Wildcat! kicking things off, AV Club eased us into the music for Day 2.
NO was second and looked ready to start their set way before the Festival was ready for them to start playing. You could just see it in their body language that they planned to give us a set. And when they were finally given the green light, it was awesome.
THE LONELY WILD
The Lonely Wild was playing with Silver Lake Contemporary Ballet. It was beautiful poetry.
I did a quick stop to catch a portion of the wild music of Batwings Catwings.
MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY
Then I was off to catch the equally wild Manhattan Murder Mystery. The bass player spent 90% of her time playing with her back to the audience. Their garage rock did not disappoint with various musical instruments and components of instruments flying all over the stage as well as off the stage.
I believe someone in the photo pit suggested heading off to see Summer Twins. They provided us with a summer-day-in-Los Angeles inspired set. I do want to catch one of their sets again. I see they’re playing June 19th at the Bootleg.
CONTACT FIELD ORCHESTRA
I admit that at this point of the day, I needed the coolness of the El Cid stage so off I went to El Cid to catch Contact Field Orchestra, which provided us with what the musician calls field recording.
I caught a brief portion of Incan Abraham and the thought that hit me, “Silver Lake magic.”
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
What follows was what I considered my core trio for the day. It started off with Eastern Conference Champions. They started the set out by pounding the drums. I loved it. I had to leave early in order to catch Lake. As I was leaving, I felt like I was leaving a best friend. Note: they’ve added a fourth member to the group.
Lake comes to us from Washington State so they don’t come around too often.
Band comment one: “Any questions for us?”
Band comment two: “My ears are lopsided so they look weird.”
Though they are from Washington State, they did have their fans show up as there was some friendly banter going on.
FAMILY OF THE YEAR
It was then off to Family of the Year. This band is so good they’ll have you weeping. I wrote in my preview that the Intraffik editor told me about this band long ago and that I do believe I love them more than she does. Go see this band, you’ll love them too. They win the Day 2 award for the best smile.
Tearist started out the set with the lead singer rushing over to the side of the stage and banging on the railing. Like XBXRX on Saturday, this caught the attention of the photographers. She kept up the energy and I can only assume she does cardio workouts like crazy. Words that came to mind: synth. chanting. dancing.
La Sera’s comment one: “Are you Jubilee? We are.”
Comment two, “Yeah, we broke a string.”
In the Notes from Vivace book: bonus points for a broken string. There was one moment during the set where the lead singer looked to her left and then to her right as if asking, “So who’s starting this one off?”
Abe Vigoda. The earnest sounds of Abe Vigoda. They get the award for the best audience/band conversation of the day, which went as such: “I love you Juan.” “I love you Kate.” “I told her to say that.”
Maya Jupiter. I only caught her last song. I so wish I’d seen more, like way way more. I see she’s playing June 2nd at 6 p.m. Sounds like a date to keep.
Aloe Blacc gave us an hour plus of pure bliss. Everyone was dancing away except for those of us in the photo pit. One of his songs was about life passing us by because we’re pre-occupied with other things. I couldn’t help but feel like he was talking to us in the photo pit. Here was this beautiful set and we were clicking away on our cameras. To close out the set, he had the audience form a soul train line. It lasted for a few moments and then broke down into an all out dance.
The night ended back at El Cid to catch Gothic Tropic. The drummer disappeared. A friend of the band went rushing off to find her. This is my second time seeing Gothic Tropic. The first time I saw them, I felt like they were three musicians going for their own sound and somehow it all worked out. Their Bartok-like inspired music seemed to hide away for most of their set, but it broke out in all its glory for their final song.
In my Jubilee preview, I said to check back here and I’d mention which band stole the show over the weekend. I need to back away from that statement. Aloe Blacc and Kinky gave great performances, but it seems unfair to highlight them when they’re much bigger acts than the local Los Angeles bands. And saying Family of the Year or Eastern Conference Champions would show total bias. Since FIDLAR had to cancel due to illness, I’m going to make that my excuse for not picking the stand out band of the weekend. Yes, I’m being chicken.
Next year . . .
P.S. On Monday, I noticed this bruise on my right hand. Later in the day, I noticed all these scratches on my hand. What’s going on? Ah, the camera strap.