starring weezer, beck, arcade fire, garbage, madness, oasis, jet, cake, 311, bloc party, fishbone, and others
the purpose of a reporter is to go somewhere that the masses cant go and tell them what happened and what it was like.
and although i am not really a real reporter, i play one occasionally in the pages of my local free weekly. and this thursday you will get to read some of my thoughts about the show, but today i will tell you some things that could only fit in a personal blog.
first of all i was pampered like a stud.
matt good often seethes when he talks about radio concerts filled with all star performers, which is gutsy since the relationships between radio and musicians almost always is equal to the artists’ success. therefore one should be careful not to bite the hand that feeds them.
and perhaps this show, and ones like them are as much for the radio station to blow its own horn as it is to thank those who have supported them throughout the year. and kroq certainly thanked those on its guest list, including the press, and for that im grateful.
not only did i get backstage access and killer seats, but i also was afforded parking so close to the front gates of the place that i went to my car a few times to freshen up and grab a sweater after the sun went down and the temperature dropped.
but first lets talk about the tickets.
ive been assigned a few shows from various publications over the years. recently because of the weekly, the good people of goldenvoice stoked me with coachella tickets so i could review that show, and even the people behind motley crue set me up with decent seats to the side of the stage to review their latest show at the forum.
but kroq put me dead center, just a few rows behind the pit up front. not only were the sightlines amazing but the sound was so good that i didn’t even realize that it was loud until i got home late last night and noticed my ears were ringing.
it made me seriously consider a life of crime or journalism because it made even the worst performances like 311 and oasis tolerable. but what it really did was allow me to see the intensity in the eyes of the likes of rivers cuomo who ran around the stage like he wanted to prove to the world that his was the greatest band around – or he was seriously pissed at something – i still haven’t concluded which it was.
kroq could have easily put us in the second section or over to one side or the other, but they didn’t. i don’t know why. but it reminded me of how chick hearn used to complain sometimes at the poor accommodations some arenas would place the announcers like himself. he would say something along the lines of “we’re the eyes and ears of thousands of people, and they all know that, why they’d stick us up here in the rafters where we can barely make out what’s happening is ridiculous. magic is yoyoing up and down with the ball and now passes to worthy…”
there are usually a very small fraction of journalists at any event, logic will tell you that if youre proud of the event and interested in the story being told accurately you will put those writers and photographers right up front where they will catch every word, see every wince mistake and moment of glory so they can properly let their brothers and sisters know what they missed.
so thank you kroq for doing the right thing.
now let me tell you about backstage.
first of all, i realize im the luckiest man in the world for even getting to go to that show for free, let alone getting paid to write down what happened, but kroq had a backstage set up that was similar to the lush environs that goldenvoice had at coachella… but kroq took it a step further.
miller beer was a co-sponsor of the show which apparently meant that they had exclusive rights to the beer sales of the show. i wouldn’t know though because at concerts i only drink one beer: miller genuine draft.
when im in mexico i drink corona, at a divebar i drink pbr, at wrigley i pound old style, at classy joints i down Guinness, at mc browns i enjoy the high life, but at concerts for some reason i love mgd.
part of my press package was accessibility to miller’s two hour happy hour in the vip tent featuring $2 10-ounce cups of mgd. oh my.
only problem was arcade fire was on for an hour of the happy hour, which wasnt a problem because the security forces allowed you to carry two cups of beer right past them on your way to your seat.
and even though three beers merely gets this uc islavista alumn going, the arcade fire were on fire. in fact ive seen the future of rock n roll and they play violin and accordion and dress like theyve lost their museum tourguide.
jet had the inevitable task of following them and at this point the sun was not at its highest point in the sky but it was hot in the san berdu desert. fortunately miller had also supplied lovely ladies to roam the box seats handing out free samples of sunscreen. yes, life isnt fair. and even though i could always escape to the mist tent backstage or the full blown airconditioned bigger media tent next to it, my pals on the lawn had to fend for themselves.
i did feel a tad selfconcious applying the salve to my bald head, but ive never worried too much about looking cool, although theres nothing less cool than sunburn on your shiny pate.
needless to say i spent half of the jet set sampling free tritip, salad, chicken, and ben and jerrys in the tiki tents.
although i wondered why theyd spend so much time and effort putting big screens and couches in these tents since the show was just around the corner, it made sense when Live took the stage. we gave them one song to win us over and we went back to the vip tent and watched from a leather couch while sipping complimentary red bull and taking turns reliving the past with the supplied video games sprinkled around the back area. burger time, mr do, paperboy, front line, bump n jump… but anne and i were stoked to see elevator action, which i hadnt played since… well, probably since she was born. shhh.
strangely the only thing that wasnt free or super cheap in those tents was water. but fortunately there was a press tent that even the vips couldnt get into, but i could. they had coolers of soft drinks and water, bowls of peanuts and chex mix, power outlets for batteries to charge… pretty much everything except atmosphere, but the press wasnt in that area to schmooze, they were there to work, and a few times i worked on staying hydrated.
as for the show, you’ll have to read my report in the weekly later this week, but a quick rundown of the highlights went like this
arcade fire: they have no peers, they have no limits, they know everything there is about making great music and putting on a great show. theyre truly a band thinking so far outside of the box that they don’t even realize there ever was a box in the first place. and the one violinist might be the worst dancer ever but i love her and not just cuz she looks like my first california gf.
madness: they nearly stole the show. they were fun, they had everyone up and dancing. it was effortless. bro from fishbone jammed with them on one song. they seemed grateful to be there, but we were the ones who were lucky. it was a perfect example of how the music biz gives up on bands far too early.
jet: proof that an album full of coversongs doesnt make for a great band. they looked the part, they sang fine, the drummer ripped, but there was a reason why in even the confines of Spaceland several years ago when they opened for Tsar i went to the back of the club and started drinking – this band has no stage presence and will be forgotten in two years time.
311: one day i will ask kroq why they play these guys every hour. i thought seeing them live would answer that question. it didn’t. i did, however, enjoy their drum solo, but robert smith, im sure, winces every time they play his jam.
fishbone: they covered sublime’s daterape. theyre such a classy band which is probably why they didn’t make it even though that debut was rock solid all the way through. it was cool of kroq to have them play this.
bloc party: next time they come back and play they’ll be on the main stage where they belong. jet, oasis, 311, cake, and live had no business there.
oasis: they stood there like we should feel lucky to be in attendance. if only they sold tomatoes. someone yelled “you suck” and liam said yes i do, but don’t we all. if only they sold pineapples.
live: what, hootie was booked?
beck: ive seen beck maybe ten times now. every time its different, visually and musically. this time he had a dude in a white shortsleeve shirt and a black tie and glasses running around and dancing like a fool. it could have been annoying but it was actually really funny and it made me want to buy a white shortsleeve shirt and a black tie and glasses. the glasses might have been rivers because he didn’t sport any. half way through, when beck was doing his acoustic parts they brought out a big table and the band ate while beck played, i was all, how sweet of him, i hope they got some of that tri-tip from the back, but then in the middle of a song i noticed that the lads were tapping the glasses and the plates with their knives and forks and i was all shit beck youve done it again. then he played one line of debra and said, you don’t wanna hear that, and went into a flaming lips cover “do you realize” that was beautiful.
garbage: im not a fan of this group, ive seen them once before when they played sandwiched between the distillers and no doubt and they came in last place by a huge margin. but yesterday they were incredible and it wasnt because of shirley looking all that amazing – she didn’t. it was because they were tight and musical and shirley dominated the stage wonderfully. at one point she just kept walking off stage into the crowd and kept going and going and going with no security. she knows we’re soft out here. earlier i saw her interviewed backstage and she was stoked that this was the last show of their tour. they didn’t seem tired, they seemed perfect.
weezer: ive seen weezer play a bunch of times. every tour infact, and then some. theyre my second favorite band. i can honestly say that ive never seen rivers more intense and furious. at coachella he could have been knocked over by a sudden breeze. last night he attacked every big note, he gritted his teeth, he leaned back at each accent, he ran around, he made it happen. even the songs they played were all upbeat. my theory is they wanted to send a message to oasis that theyre the ones bigger than the beatles because they mentioned oasis three times.
for their encore rivers appeared at the back of the seats and played to the kids in the lawn. a full moon was above him and one gentle spotlight. it was like watching a weinerdog yap at a pit bull. and then watching the pit bull meow and roll over. weezer played as hard and as strong as ive ever heard them and they did it without their trappings since they flew in special for this show as theyre on tour with the foos. and as a tip of the hat to grohl, weezer did “big me”. because the fans are boneheads people were throwing earplugs at them and someone threw a pack of m&ms. after the cover song rivers bent down, picked up the full bag, and said thanks for the m&ms but werent they supposed to be mentos?
how good were weezer? even beverly hills and we are all on drugs sounded good. their fans agree.