Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Riot Fest 2015 - Denver Day 1

First off, I need to thank a few people & organizations - most notably Ultra5280 and I won tickets after entering contests from each and ended up with surplus tickets that I gave away to some people who were really thankful. I'd also like to thank my friend Chad, who hooked me up with a VIP pass. Daps and hugs also to Terry & Kia who really wanted me at the show, and lastly to the Riot Fest Twitter guy. He probably doesn't know why, but his awesomeness is enough, isn't it?

So…3rd year for Riot Fest in Denver, 3rd year I was able to attend. Let's do this.

"And the heat! My god! The heat!"
How I found myself attending this year was a little bit of a circuitous route. Short on actual cash for me & my kids to attend (same old story for everyone, I know), I fell into a bit of a funk for a few reasons, none of which will I stultify the reader with. Suffice it to say, I threw in the towel on making it out to Riot Fest in 2015, missing out on a few bands I really wanted to see - Swervedriver, most notably, but also your Get Up Kids, your Dead Milkmens, and the odd Andrew W.K. and Damned and Joy Formidable.

Listening to a buddhist podcast one day on a long commute, something somehow snapped me out of it. What the hell was I thinking, passing on Riot Fest? I had friends offering me a pass that I turned down because I was feeling a little sad. (Okay, a lot sad.) WHATEVER, DUDE. So I scrambled to enter the last minute contests in hopes that I'd win - and I did! Twice! From and Ultra5280 as mentioned above. I had tickets for my family and I, and one left over - but then found out that my oldest was working all weekend, so I actually had *two* passes to give, which turned into three once my VIP pass turned up. A friend had posted on Facebook about Riot Fest and I recalled seeing someone respond who said she couldn't go for money reasons, so I sent her a message & invited her. She was thrilled to accept, bought her husband a pass, and I made the handoff later that day. Making new music friends is awesome.

My biggest stressor was getting to the event grounds - the National Western Complex in Denver (where the stock show is held every year) - in enough time to see De La Soul. I have enough issues going to shows anyway (I have a digestive disorder called ulcerative colitis and live about 40 minutes away from Denver), but throw in that it's the first year at a new venue plus traffic to Denver on a Friday afternoon, and I was a little skeptical we'd get there in time.

My worries were unfounded as we slipped into the parking lot on a sidestreet, found a spot, walked to will call, picked up our tickets (after a small game of "Where's Sam's name on the guest list?") and headed inside. (Not before my youngest saw a girl so wasted she could barely walk being led away from the entrance by her almost-as-wasted boyfriend.) Made a beeline for the stages at the north end of the grounds just in time to see De La hit the stage.

De La Soul - Pos - Plug One
De La Soul - P.A. Mase - Plug Three
De La Soul - Dave - Plug Two
I saw De La Soul at an X-Fest in San Diego in 1989 (more on that show from Yer Doin' Great here) and really dug that show. It was at the height of the D.A.I.S.Y. Age and they were full-energy performing for the afternoon crowd, so this was somewhat similar. Except that this time, they are hip-hop princes and did whatever they wanted. They did play "Me, Myself, and I" later in the set. It wasn't a great set, but it was hot & they were just buggin' out for themselves. Can't blame them for that. (More pics & videos of De La & other bands at the bottom of the post)

Next I hustled back to the south end of the grounds to watch The Get Up Kids on the Rebel Stage. A favorite band (although I don't know much beyond Eudora & Something To Write Home About), I was stoked for my first time seeing them. Not so much kids anymore, and the heat was pretty stifling, but I enjoyed the songs.

"Oh, hey, look! The Get Up Kids are playing! Look! Aw, nevermind…."
The Get Up Kids - Jim Suptic
The Get Up Kids - Matt Pryor, Ryan Pope
They played some songs I knew, some I didn't know, and they also played an unexpected and awesome cover of "Beer For Breakfast" by The Replacements. Great job for a hot festival set.

Just next to where The Get Up Kids played, Testament started their metal assault on the Rock Stage. I love me some metal, and this was pretty awesome.

Testament - Gene Hoglan, Alex Skolnick, Chuck Billy, Steve DiGiorgio
The pit was a crazy insane dust bowl. I mean, the band has a song called "Into The Pit," so what do you expect?

Testament pit dust cloud 
I don't know much else about Testament, but they have a sweet cover of Queen's "Dragon Attack." They didn't play that, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. We left partway through the set to go catch some of Death Grips, who were scheduled at the same time as Testament.

Death Grips - Stefan Burnett aka MC Ride
Death Grips is one of those bands with a brief and legendary history - ducking out on shows, breaking up (or not), but also bringing it live. I felt it would be a good idea to catch them while I could. Can. Did.
Death Grips - Andy Morin, Stefan Burnett, Zach Hill
Definitely some kind of performance art/crazy shit. I dig that.

I believe that this was the period where I went to hand off the ticket to my friend's friend (who is now my friend too, hi Rachel!), so I didn't really see any of the bands playing between 7-8pm. Oh well. I did get to see this amazing sunset, though:

Riot Sunset
I was able to then catch some of Anthrax's set, and shot a few shitty pictures. I gotta figure out my camera.

Anthrax - Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante
I know Anthrax going WAY back to their crossover rap "I'm The Man" and cover of "Bring The Noise" with Public Enemy. They didn't play either of those in the short festival timespace, but they did bust out their version of Joe Jackson's "Got The Time," which rocked. I beat feet after that, though, because I wanted to catch some Cypress Hill. (Are festivals kind of like "Band Bingo" for anyone else?)

On the way back to the north side, I stopped to snap a couple of the rides in the moonrise.

Moon + ride
"Beam me up, Scotty!"
Cypress Hill's second album was HUGE when I worked in a chain record store back in the early 90's. (Rhymes with "Ma'am Woody") We didn't (couldn't) play the album in the store, but we sold a ton of their merch - posters & shirts, mostly. I remember them playing "Insane In The Brain" and "How I Could Just Kill A Man" here at Riot Fest, but I don't know the rest of their music to put names on the songs. They sounded pretty great, though, and it was really crowded in front of the Roots Stage.

I took some more pictures of the Riot crowd during and after the Cypress Hill show. This first one shows how dirty and dusty it was, with all the specks in the air and on the lens:

Sweet sea-mine hair.

These two guys were walking by and had a classic look that I wanted to capture. I asked them for a photo, and they obliged:
These guys look famous. Anyone know them?
The gentleman at the Chronic Candy booth was enjoying himself.
I wanted to catch Coheed and Cambria next. They have some songs I really love - "Goodnight, Fair Lady," "Feathers" - and I wanted to check out their live show. My cousin Shannon really loves them, too, so I felt I owed it to her to see them.

Coheed and Cambria - Travis Stever & Claudio Sanchez
Coheed and Cambria - Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, (Matt Williams?)
Last but not least, we then moved back over to the Roots Stage to watch Ice Cube. Motörhead had cancelled due to Lemmy's altitude sickness, so there wasn't anyone else playing anyway. The resulting crowd was thick and deep.

Ice Cube
Ice Cube & crew
Cube came out by himself for a few songs before running clips from the movie Straight Outta Compton, after which he brought out MC Ren & DJ Yella from N.W.A., along with his son O'Shea Jackson Jr. (O'Shea played Ice Cube - his dad - in the film.) They ran through some of N.W.A.'s best - "Straight Outta Compton," "Gangsta Gangsta," "Dopeman," "Fuck tha Police." Really great set.

I didn't stay for System of a Down, although I heard they were in great form. I don't know their music beyond "Chop Suey!," and figured that I'd take the opportunity to pace myself (since I had gotten in for free, and wouldn't otherwise know what I was missing of SoaD). We walked to the car, hopped on the freeway, and made it home by midnight.

And just like that, Day 1 was done.

Overall impression? I *really* like Riot Fest at the National Western complex. Riot Fest in Byers in 2013 in an RV was awesome, and I would still love to RV again someday. I didn't love the setup last year in the parking lot at Mile High stadium. A little too "Warped" for me, and I don't dig festivals on asphalt.

This year, there was a lot of walking between the Riot/Roots stages to the north and the Rebel/Rock stages to the south, but at least there was the huge arena in the middle where people could get out of the sun, use a real restroom, fill up their water bottles (there was a great station outside as well), and just chill in a regular stadium seat instead of on the dusty or hot ground. There was also the Radicals Stage set up inside, which helped entertain the masses.

Riot Fest has done better each year with more shade and more places to sit, and I thought the National Western complex was just perfect. Maybe a little something to cut down on the dust next year (if it's hot and sunny), although I don't know what that would be. The location seems like it would be a mudfest if it rains, but overall, two thumbs up.

More pics!

De La Soul

De La Shoes
De La, De La, De La!
The Get Up Kids

The Get Up Kids - James Dewees
The Get Up Kids - Matt Pryor & Ryan Pope
The Get Up Kids - Rob Pope
Testament - Gene Hoglan, Alex Skolnick, Steve DiGiorgio
Testament - Eric Peterson through the pit cloud


De La Soul

The Get Up Kids


Cypress Hill

Ice Cube

Spotify Playlist of songs mentioned in this post:

Spotify Playlist of all bands from Day 1:

Next up: Riot Fest 2015 - Denver Day 2

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Album Listening Club - Every Kingdom

…And we're back! The last album that the club chose was Ben Howard's Mercury-prize nominated debut Every Kingdom, released in September 2011.

The music is very solitary, to my ears. He reminds me of other solo acoustic artists that play with effects, like Kim ChurchillGarrin Benfield, Julie Collings, and Howie Day. Before this album was chosen by the listening club, I had pretty much no knowledge of Ben, and whatever musical circles he travels in are still below/outside my radar.

So, let's get to it and talk about Every Kingdom. What say ye, Clubbers?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

ThURGHsday #12 - Athletico Spizz 80

I'm sorry, what? Athwhoica whazza wha?

Spizzenergi was formed in the late 70's in England and changed the name of the band every year - hence "Athletico Spizz 80." (Also known as Spizzles, Spizzology, Spizzoil, etc.)

The track featured here,"Where's Captain Kirk?," had a bit of a novelty feel to it, as Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979 around the same time as the song was released. The rest of the Spizz output was more avant postpunk, but this song has a new wave/skinny tie sound & energy to it. I love their pizzazz onstage, though - that's Spizz on vocals. They look like a bunch of kids having fun. As it should be. Silly string onstage in 1980, don't know that I've seen that anywhere else. Good placement of the song and spirit in the movie, grounding things after the Klaus Nomi song.

Where URGH they now?

Amazingly, Spizzenergi put out a single in September 2014! "City of Eyes" is catchy, sounds a bit Buzzcockian, but that's a good thing. I dig it. Check it out:

Based on that song, I think the Spizzybuzzy boys should put out more music. Not often you say that about a near-40 year old band.

They're also playing a lot in the UK, so if you're in that area, catch a Spizz show. Judging by the vids on their FB page, it's still a good time.

Last ThURGHsday! - Klaus Nomi - "Total Eclipse"
Next ThURGHsday! - The Go-Go's - "We Got The Beat"

As always, purchasing from the iTunes links in this post help support

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Riding SideSaddle* with Teacup Gorilla, Jen Korte, and Open to the Hound

Teacup Gorilla embarks on a midwest tour starting August 2nd 2015 in Wichita, KS. Catch them if you can!
"Better late than never" is a saying that is appropriate for how late this show review is being posted, but it's especially apt when it applies to writing about a compelling band with great tunes.

Riding Sidesaddle*
Eric Suzanne, the bass player and part-time vocalist for Teacup Gorilla wrote me an e-mail back in March about the open-source multimedia novel Riding SideSaddle* and asked if I'd like to come to the release party at Syntax Physic Opera. Having seen Kotorino at Syntax in February, I knew that it was just the type of space that would be welcoming to such an event. I listened to the Teacup Gorilla demos that were available at the time and instantly liked what I heard - at the time I said that they have a "sound that's a gorgeous blend of Pixies & Pavement," and I stand by that assessment. The music recalls those bands at times, and, diving into the lyrics, one could also spend days scanning and interpreting the lyrics, much like those of Francis and Malkmus.

I previewed Open to the Hound from songs they had posted on their website and liked what I heard of their new-folk (mostly that it wasn't that over-echoed "hey ho" stuff that was so pervasive for a while). I was in for a surprise, however.

I met Eric before the show, pink-coiffed and a wonderful person. I know that setting up before a show takes time, so we didn't chat for too long.

Syntax Physic Opera - Denver
Jen Korte started the show, playing her guitar and accompanied by Jessica DeNicola who sang along. Haunting and powerful tunes. I love going to shows like this, because I'm introduced to musicians and people who I wouldn't otherwise see. Jen and Jessica had a wonderful harmony together.

Jen Korte & Jessica DeNicola
Eric and Daniel from Teacup Gorilla got onstage for a song and Eric read from the novel while Daniel added ambient guitar sounds.

Open to the Hound played next. Their live set was a high-energy departure from the tracks I sampled online. It took me by surprise, but in a really good way. I loved the power and dynamics. So much so that I didn't really get a decent picture because I was so drawn to the music & performance.

Open to the Hound
OttH reminded me more of a boozy roadhouse band from a David Lynch film, plugged in and distorted, with yelping primal screams for good measure.

Teacup Gorilla was up last, the musical focal point of the night, with Eric and others reading parts of the novel during the songs of their set as well.

They played about nine songs, some of which reminded me of different bits of other songs and artists - "Cortez The Killer" here, "The New Stone Age" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark there.

Teacup Gorilla - Eric, Sondra, Daniel
The set ended with a rocked-out cover of "Sixteen Tons," employing the vocal talents of Aaron Liechty, the singer for pre-Teacup Gorilla band Dirt Circle Dogs.


Sometimes when I'm watching a band, I daydream that I'm up there playing along, partaking, creating, crafting. Watching Teacup Gorilla, it occurred to me that I wouldn't have anything to add, and wouldn't want to. They had a rotating cast throughout the night, each adding something wonderful, but where I normally would feel the pull to be up there, I was more than content to enjoy the evening as it was. I don't know if that makes me more mature or at peace, but I was just digging everything, and didn't want the night to be over, grateful that Eric invited me to be a part of the night and experience their art, and the art of Jen and Open to the Hound, and everyone else there.


Teacup Gorilla plays Saturday, July 25th at 5pm at Historians Ale House in Denver as part of the Underground Music Showcase. Their new EP The Holes They Leave was released on July 9th 2015 and is available at all popular music buying & streaming locations: SoundCloud | Bandcamp | iTunes

Riding Sidesaddle* - the novel

Monday, May 25, 2015

Album Listening Club - Goo

In the early 90's, as punk rock made its way into the American mainstream, Sonic Youth was about as punk as you could get. This was before Nevermind, before Dookie. This is Raymond Pettibon drawings and guest vocals by Public Enemy's Chuck D. This is Goo.

Sonic Youth - Goo (chopped effects by Your Older Brother)
But Sonic Youth isn't "punk" in the loud-fast Ramones/Pistols/Exploited vein. Sonic Youth rose out of the no-wave scene in NYC. Non-standard guitar tunings, vocals that were more screams or spoken word than singing, extended soundscapes - these were the tools Sonic Youth used to combat the mainstream.

However, by the time Goo came along, Sonic Youth had produced five previous albums. The previous album, Daydream Nation, was a critical hit and is still considered one of the quintessential indie albums of all time. Goo was SY's first album on a major label. Sonic Youth was punk on the edge of the mainstream.

Enough of the facts & background - let's get our Goo on.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Album Listening Club - Express

I don't know that I had heard much Bauhaus other than "Bela Lugosi's Dead" when I started hearing Love and Rockets, but I had heard the in-between band Tones on Tail out at dance clubs.

Love And Rockets - Ball Of Confusion single J-Card
I'm glad I didn't have any associations with Bauhaus, because I didn't have any sort of expectations of Love And Rockets along Bauhaus lines. In fact, I think I knew of L&R more as some of the guys who were in Tones On Tail than Bauhaus. I still love Tones On Tail. And Bauhaus. And Love and Rockets, too.

Love And Rockets - Express - Beggars Banquet/Big Time
But, this is about Love and Rockets. They took their name from the Los Bros Hernandez comic but I don't know that there's been any other cross-connection other than just the name. I first heard the "Ball Of Confusion" single, a cover of the Temptations song from 1970, and loved that. I probably heard it and Tones on Tail in the dance clubs I was going to back then. Oddly, I wasn't familiar with the first Love And Rockets album Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. The first song I heard from that album was when a love interest put "Saudade" on a mixtape for me. That must've been 1989.

I mostly came to Express when I was in college, but I'm not sure of the year. Maybe 88? 89? Definitely a couple of years after the album itself was released. The psychedelic sound of "Kundalini Express" pulling out of the station, blaring out of a friend's stereo system was intoxicating in and of itself.

Love and Rockets reached their sales & chart pinnacle with the album after Express, self-titled and released in 1989. It had some good songs but lost what I liked about their earlier work.

So let's talk about Express!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Juicy Tapes Vol. 5 - A little bit country & rock n' roll

The full name of this tape is actually "I'm a little bit country & I'm a little bit rock n' roll, babe. So back off" - you know, from the Donny & Marie TV show? No? There's not that many of us that remember that show at this point…. Anyway, that title is too long to write on the tape glass and it's too long for a URL, so I've truncated it. Now you know.

I'm not sure why I put the rock songs on the A side, but that's what we've got going on here. The tape starts off with one hell of an opener, "Sure Thing" from the UK's The Darling Buds, but it's not on the streaming services. (Not to be confused with some newer grungy dude band) I wouldn't normally do this in the middle of the post, but check this song out. It's SO GOOD. Turn it up loud if you can.

Kind of a horrible video, though. Dudes standing around in the sand playing their guitars with zero verve while the singer somewhat sort of mimes the lyrics. Ugh. Anyway.

Lots of great (mostly)early-90's indie rock on the A-side. Not sure why I called the This Mortal Coil song "Neet & Meniscus," it's just the song "Meniscus."

The B side goes a little blues in the middle. I think the songs just kind of went there for me, or that's all the "country" I had in my collection at the time. This was well before alt country was a thing, and maybe was still rebelling a bit against country music, as that's what my dad listened to all of the time in the car. I tried having him listen to my music sometimes and I recall him ripping on Bernard Sumner's vocals in the New Order songs I played for him. I've eventually come around to some country, for example what you hear on the alt country station on, but the "pop" country that makes up the mainstream for the past decade or so is, by my unscientific estimation, about 99% crap. I'm happy for you to try and convince me otherwise in the comments!

I suppose that's what this mix is, for me. An attempt to reconcile the music that I loved and listened to (Stone Roses, Boo Radleys, Smashing Pumpkins, etc) with what I saw as my dad's music, or music that sounded somewhat like something my dad would listen to. Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton were certainly music he listened to. The Hound Dog Taylor record was my dad's album!

So, to paraphrase Timbaland: Getcha country on. And your rock. And maybe some roll, too.

Here are the tracks other than "Sure Thing" that aren't on the streaming services. The Garth Brooks tune:

Jack Frost is Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens (and his own solo career) and Steve Kilbey from The Church. GREAT song. I'll post the song that has better audio and the music video below. The vocals in the music video seem a bit different from the song itself, but only slightly. Maybe only Steve's vocals. Anyway - minutiae. Listen to the song. :)

And lastly, the Don Henry song. (It's not a typo of Eagles' Don Henley, either.) Don Henry is an American songwriter who has had his songs recorded by Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. This song is from his record Wild In The Backyard. I can't find "Mr. God," so here's his song "Harley":

And finally - Donny and Marie!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Album Listening Club - To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar released his third album in March of 2015. It was the third rap album to top the sales charts at that point in the year, and held the top spot for 2 weeks, the first album to do that since Taylor Swift's 1989.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Lamar released two singles ahead of the album in 2014, one of which, "i," won him a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song in February of this year.

Critics have lauded To Pimp a Butterfly, but what do we care what the critics think? I care what *you* think. So let's talk about this record in the comments below!

(Purchasing through iTunes affiliate links help support Your Older Brother. Thanks!)