Tag Archives: Bonobo

Record Stores

I was visiting the eFest site today and just catching up on the rumors for this year (even though I’m not going…I can still be obsessed a little, right?)

There was a thread about HMV closing 60 stores: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12117510  I ended up commenting and thought I’d carry those thoughts over here since they do relate to my passion/obsession/insanity about music.  I also linked from there to a really cool article about record stores in the UK….and I was thrilled to find the first place listed was a small store in Yeovil that I’d stumbled upon in 2008 on a trip and actually visited myself.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12164531

I had to say first that I’m really saddened by the impending demise of physical stores.  Almost the first place that I ran to on my first trip ever to London was the Virgin MegaStore on Oxford Street…followed shortly thereafter by a trip to Tower at Picadilly and then HMV on back on Oxford Street (Of those only HMV remains, and how much longer for them?).  The main souvenirs that I would bring home from any trip there was a huge pile of new CD’s…many that I couldn’t find here in America back then.  (Camel for example was a real challenge to find over here.)  Each time I’ve returned over the past decade another store had bitten the dust.  My last trip for Glasto (last summer) there was only HMV and Fopp left to visit.

It’s sort of a chicken-egg thing to me.  They sell less CD’s, because there less places to buy them which just cycles down until they are a niche market for fanatics like me.  I have a few options living in So Cal…But, they are require a major trip (Amoeba in Hollywood or Fingerprintz in Long Beach cool, but a hassle to reach).  There are two somewhat nearby small stores….nearby being within 10 miles….one is a mostly used store and one is a struggling little place that charges a huge premium because of their limited buying power…I try to buy something from them once in a while just as a show of support.)  We are talking about a metro area of millions, with a huge music scene and history in pop music to rival London (Beach Boys, Doors, Eagles, Jackson Browne, X, etc)….and my only close options are Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Barnes & Noble….it’s horrible.  And each of those last four have a poor selection that keeps shrinking every time I visit one of them.

They say they don’t sell enough CD’s, yet without a good selection, there’s nothing to buy.  I spent weeks looking for anything by Hot Chip for example last year.  I saw they were headed to Glasto, saw them on YouTube and wanted to buy the CD.  I visited numerous Best Buys for weeks before I finally stumbled across one that had a copy of their latest CD…forget buying anything from the catalog of previous stuff.  Or, Bonobo….which I never did find until I got to the UK….seen one copy since at Fingerprintz, how can anyone get into a band if you can’t find their music anywhere at all (except online)?  A friend and I joke we’re going to be the last two dinosaurs in the world looking for CD’s in 10 years….and sadly, it’s likely true.

My second job was in a record store, the Warehouse Records, they had 144 stores and each one had some character back then.

The folks I worked with had a passion for music.  I spent more than my first paycheck the day I got it on LP’s I had held to buy.  We took delight in introducing each other to cool stuff…I discovered Dire Straits and played it to death, some else discoved Graham Parker.  One guy looked a lot like Jimi Hendrix and he loved Neil Young and Renaissance…who I came to like simply because he played them so much.  I recall when AC/DC’s Back in Back arrived and Lanny, the resident “metal guy” in the store declared it a masterpiece and lobbied to order many more copies.  (He ended up playing in House of Lords, Guffria and a some other hair bands in the 80’s).  The point being, we had a store full of people we cared deeply about what we sold (the pay sure wasn’t the the reason we worked there….).  That seems to be gone now.  Where is that love and passion in selling music?

I buy stuff off Amazon, even off iTunes on a rare occasion…but ever nothing compares to flipping through stacks and finding something that catches your eye, (or forgotten until that moment).

I mourn that experience going away because it has been so important to me.

And, my next trip to London will have a missing gap where making that special trip to those stores used to reside.

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Wrapping up 2010

Wow, where do I start….

As evidenced by the previous posts I had a pretty amazing year of concert-going.  A near lifelong quest completed, an epic show I’d missed 30 years ago revisited.  A music oriented couple weeks in London.  Countless HOF members of the Rock Hall of Fame….heck a ton of them in just a single week.  Shows with good friends old and new.  Hard to even wrap my head around the whole thing.

Here’s the list:

Keb’ Mo’ – Coach House – Jan 14

The Blasters, John Doe, Rumble King – Coach House – Feb 20

Peter Gabriel – Hollywood Bowl – May 7

Styx, Kansas, Foreigner – Citizens Bank Arena – May 19

Richard Thompson – Royal Festival Hall – June 19

Green Day, Joan Jett – Wembley Stadium – June 19

Elvis Costello – Royal Festival Hall – June 20

Glastonbury – June 23-27

Jackson Browne – Albert Hall – June 29

Jack Johnson – O2 Arena – June 30

Laura Marling, Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies – Hyde Park – July 1

Hop Farm – July 2-3

Jools Holland – Kew Gardens – July 6

Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen, Angel Taylor – Greek Theatre – July 22

Blondie, Gorevette – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 8

Rush – Irvine Meadows – August 13

Al Yankovic – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 14

Scissor Sisters – DAR Consitiution Hall – August 23

Neil Finn – Largo – September 11

Muse, Passion Pit – Staples Center – September 25

Gorillaz, N.E.R.D. – Gibson – October 27

Bonobo – Music Box – November 26

Roger Waters – Staples Center – November 29

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 13

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 14

Twenty three shows and two festivals in all.  I don’t think I could even pick a “best”.  However a few things to note do occur to me.

Worst sound, Scissor Sisters.  Horrible mix that completely left the vocals out, and it’s not like I had a crappy seat, I was in the 5th row.  Really guys?  Totally detracted from an interesting performance.

Only show I left early, Jack Johnson.  It was okay, but very one-note.  I like his studio stuff, but in a huge arena it was lost.  Put the same show in an intimate venue and I might have loved it.  Add to the experience that I was a bit sick that night and it was just not a compelling show.

Most disappointing, Muse/Passion Pit.  Passion Pit left me cold and Muse after all the hype just didn’t live up to expectations.  Lot’s of copped riffs and wasted technology that didn’t go anywhere.  If you want to use technology look to Gabriel, Waters or even the Pet Shop Boys.  This was “sound and fury that signified nothing”…

Most intimate, Neil Finn.  The Largo is magic when Neil plays there and the September show was no exception.  An obscure setlist that actually added to the special feeling of the evening.  You knew even while watching this was the sort of thing that would never be duplicated.  Jackson Browne in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was a close second.  While the masses grooved to Stevie Wonder….Jackson held court for a few hundred lucky folks and spun magic with his sidekick David Lindley.  Moving and unique almost sell short just how very special a way it was to end my Glastonbury experience.

Surprises…How awesome Gorillaz were in LA after disappointing in Glastonbury.

Bonobo, Midlake, Hot Chip, Fanfarlo, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Magic Numbers, The Bees….none of whom I knew before 2010 and who all get extensive spins regularly on my ipod now.

How great Rush could be at doing “Moving Pictures” after being somewhat average the other time I’d seen them previously….this show made up for that one in spades.

Disappointment….U2 having to cancel in Anaheim and Glastonbury…(of course it does give me a couple shows to look forward to in 2011 already…)

Well, that’s it…another year in the books, and an amazing one at that.  Curious to see what 2011 (and beyond) will bring?  But, it’ll be hard for any year to reach the heights of 2010 for me.

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Bonobo

One of the bands I happened upon at Glastonbury totally by accident was Bonobo.  I heard them playing at the West Holts Stage on a hot and sunny afternoon and ended up stopping for more than half their set.  They were great there and I liked them enough to have picked up a couple of their CD’s since then.

So, when I’d seen they were coming to So Cal and seats were pretty inexpensive I thought they would be fun to check out again.

I invited my niece Tawny to to join me so I ‘d have some company who also loves music and have a chance to hang out with her and catch up a little bit.  We met in Hollywood before the show and had a nice dinner at Miceli’s.  The show was at the Music Box Theatre and as we parked I was pleased to see a decent crowd outside.  We joined the line and after a short wait everyone filtered inside to the GA floor.  We grabbed one of the limited seats in the seating areas along the walls.  (This would prove a good decision, as the place filled up fast.  Ultimately the place would we fully packed by the time Bonobo hit the stage.

First up was a San Diego group “Inspired Flight”.  They did a punctual 30 minute set that mashed up guitar, samples, vocals and some guest rapping.  They mentioned a free download n their website that mixes Bob Marley, Radiohead and Ryan Adams (amongst others…)  intriguing and I plan to check it out myself soon.  Overall the set was good and I mentally marked them down as someone to keep an eye on and check back in about in the future.  Tawny agreed that there was some good potential there.

Next up was Tokimonsta performing along with a guest vocalist.

She warned us right off the bat that she had planned a set with “a lot of bass”.  Sadly, that was about all her 45 minutes offered….a lot of bass and nothing else of note.  I can’t recall ever tuning out an act and checking work e-mail on my phone because they were so dull.  And looking around, I wasn’t the only one phone surfing instead of listening to the performance.  She had a couple technical glitches and an annoying tick of brushing her hair back ever couple seconds….it was pretty much like this…Tweak knob>brush hair>tweak knob>brush hair>smile at vocalist>tweak knob>brush hair.  I told my niece about 40 minutes into the set that I wanted to go up and pull her hair back with something just to make her stop doing it.  That was about the time I decided that work e-mail would be more engaging that her set.

Oh, I have to mention the Hendrix samples she dropped in near the end…simply because for me they just underscored how disconnected I was from her performance.  There was more creativity and style in a couple seconds of Jimi than I had heard in the previous 40 minutes.  Sad, but I walked away with nothing from the set except an overwhelming sense of relief when it ended.

Finally at 11pm sharp Bonobo (Simon Green) and his band took the stage.

Awash in fog  and opening with an instrumental that segued  into “Kong” from the Black Sands album they flat out sounded great.  I’d been a little worried that the different atmosphere of a club, so different from Glastonbury might cause me to not enjoy them as much as I had on that hot afternoon.  Those fears of not living up to expectations were quickly put to rest and the band was tight and sounding great from the start.

Three songs in they were joined by Andreya Triana who had been with them at Glastonbury.  It think it’s maybe easiest to post a you tube link from Toronto a couple weeks ago to give you a sense of the sound.

And here’s an official release version from May of this year.

So you can take your pick of which one to watch!

Some of the standout tracks for me were “Stay the Same”, “The Keeper”, “Eyes Down” (all featuring Andreya). “Kiera”, “We Could Forever”, “El Toro” and “Black Sands” which were instrumental pieces.  But, really there wasn’t a weak song in the entire set.  The players were all quite talented and very tight.  Special mention for the drummer (whose name I never caught) who really powered the band along and played an interesting enough solo at the end that I didn’t want to tune him out, or strangle him…(after 35 years of drum solos at concerts, I just really don’t need to hear any more drum solos if I can avoid them…have to admit that his rocked though.)

Overall the show leaned heavily on the recent “Black Sands” CD that they were also promoting when I saw them at Glastonbury.  Worth picking up the CD and worth checking them out live the next time they are playing anywhere near you.

A great show last night by a talented and (hopefully) upcoming band.

 

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West Holts Photos

Here are some photos taken at and around the West Holts Stage.

West Holts on Friday

Bonobo performs on West Holts Stage

Femi Kuti on West Holts Stage

Backup Singers for Femi Kuti on West Holts Stage

The Bees at West Holts Stage

Toots & The Maytalls at the West Holts Stage

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Glastonbury – Friday

Glastonbury – Friday

After my second night of “camping”…

(Camping at Glasto is really shorthand for sleeping on the ground in a field while dealing with loud and rude assholes yelling all night, laying on an air mattress that kinda-sorta stays inflated; all the while trying to stay the right temperature alternating between a thin blanket and the thinnest sleeping bag ever manufactured).

….anyway…

Friday morning dawned a bit better.  I knew what to expect from the “facilities” now and had a general morning plan for getting ready to face the day.  I headed to the efest campsite gathering and sat there and chatted for a couple hours with folks.

I headed out for my first real band on a stage at Glastonbury.  The Magic Numbers at the Other Stage.  The crowd was not too heavy (most folks were hearing Rolf Harris at the Pyramid).  They sounded really good, even though I wasn’t familiar with all their material.  However, when they hit one song I did know well “Forever Lost” it really clicked and for the first time I got a taste of the “Glasto Spirit” people keep talking about.  Laying in the grass, drinking a soda and listening to a good band.  It was a cool moment…maybe one of the first of the Festival so far.

I split for the Pyramid as their set ended and caught the last song of Rolf Harris….”Tie me kangaroo down sport”….the one song by Rolf Harris that I could actually name…so woot for that!

The field cleared a bit and I moved down to the barrier by the stage and listened to Kemi Kuti (son of Fela Kuti).  It was an awesome groove of Afro-pop and under the blazing sun hit just the right spot.  I also had a great conversation with a fellow about my age who is a biker and who’d ridden his BMW in for the show. He and his mate were a couple cool guys and we chatted a while during the Kuti set…that’s just the sort of random encounters that make Glasto special.  Everyone is just there to have a good time and be happy.

So, a couple hours in and I’ve seen two acts and parts of a third and met some cool folks. Exactly what I was hoping to experience.

I wandered to see what I might find next and in the heat, saw a refuge from the sun (huge tent) called the “Queens Head Stage”.  It featured an expanse of shade…that was too good to pass up in the blazing midday sun.  So, I went inside and plopped down.  Checking my schedule I learned that Friction Plane was up next.  Oddly, I’d seen them open for the Police a few years ago…a gig I assume they mostly scored based on the fact the lead singer/bass player is named Sumner, and is the son of Sting.

They didn’t make much of an impression on me as an opener a few years ago, but playing a set up close in a cool-ish tent on a hot day seemed to improve the quality of their music.  I stayed for most of the set.

Something that I learned early was that you rarely hear an entire set by anyone.  There’s just too much to take in and always someplace else to head for to try and catch.  I began to think of it as sort of a sampler of tons of music that’s just held in a really big field.

I climbed the hill and walked into the welcome shade of the Acoustic Tent and heard one song by Laura Henwood in the process.  Staying there in the shade, I hung out and next heard a group called Danny and the Champions, cool folk-ish stuff, much better than I expected from them based just on the name…(which didn’t impress me, sounds like an oldies revival act.)

They were okay, but I decided to move on before the set ended and headed for West Holts when I stumbled onto a group called Bonobo.  They had a great groove (Trip-Hop) and I sat down and listened to them much longer than I’d intended.

Part of the whole wandering thing is taking advantage of the gems that you find.  I’d have never set out to see them, but I liked them so much I bought their CD back in London later.

When Bonobo ended I headed back to the Other Stage to catch Phoenix.  It was a bit crowded, so I hung to the back and listened to most of their set.  Good “indie” pop and they lived up to the hype well enough that I enjoyed them.  After their set I climbed the hill to my tent and listened to MGMT from a distance…sadly, I think a further distance might have been better…not very impressed with MGMT live.

I headed back down to see Florence and the Machine and the field at the Other Stage was completely jammed packed.  Literally there wasn’t a spot to stand and watch that I could find anywhere.  I circulated the edge field and heard a few songs and finally headed off to the chill and charge tent to post quickly on Facebook and to charge my phone.

I headed back for Hot Chip and found a spot close to the barrier.  They sounded great and they played a nice selection of tracks off of all their CD’s.  My view was a little impeded by the BBC camera jib, but I still had a great spot at the corner of the barrier to watch their sunset lit performance.

Near the end I made a rather bad call, I snuck away and missed the last few songs of a band I was enjoying to see Gorillaz.  The crowd for Gorillaz made the packed field for Florence earlier look absolutely spacious.  I twisted my way deep into the middle of the crowd there at the Pyramid…literally, there had to have been at least 80k people there.

Gorillaz started playing and frankly the sound sucked out there.  The video screens sucked too.  They started and stopped and re-started.  The Plastic Beach stuff was a cool idea, and had I been a quarter mile closer and able to lean on something or sit down…I might have enjoyed it.  As it was, I gave up after 4 songs.

Glasto Tip Three:

Be flexible.  If one thing isn’t working, move on.  Glastonbury is a bit like life.  You’ll get a mix of good and bad.  Enjoy the good and leave the bad stuff by moving on.  It’s never going to be perfect, so accept it.  Overall the good will usually always end up outweighing the bad in the final tally.

I struggled out of the packed field and headed in a random direction.  The first stage I reached was the Queens Head again.  Inside a decent band was playing.  The Bees.  I didn’t know a single song by them, but they were really good.  “Listening Man” jumped out as my favorite song of the set.  I stayed for the whole set and even bought their CD back in London.  I’d have never discovered them if I’d have stayed at Gorillaz.  So, like life…sometimes the bad things that happen will open the door for something unexpected and good (even better) to be available to you.

After the Bees ended I stopped at the Bourbon Street bar and heard a random band of kids playing funky R&B and blues…never caught their name.  But, they were fun and along with the Bees made up for missing the big headliner of the night.

From there I made it West Holts and Kemi Kuti (from the Pyramid earlier) was playing.  I caught about half his set (that ended about midnight).  Pretty much the same as earlier…but, I liked it earlier, so that was cool.

I went to the Arcadia to see the fire show and hung out for a half an hour or so watching the indescribable and really (weird) show.  I can’t begin to describe it, but here’s a sample:

Really tired, I headed out down the track towards my tent.  I passed New Model Army cranking out post-punk in the Avalon, but didn’t stop.  I crawled into my tent…

…and then was kept awake by loud shouting assholes for most of the night.

Apparently, it’s just amazingly funny to get drunk for the first time and walk through an area where thousands of people are trying to sleep shouting at the top of your lungs.  (Who knew?)

I guess in any crowd of that size you’ll always get the jerks….Still a great day of tons of new music.

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Bonobo

Home at last!

I wrote a bit on the plane yesterday that I’ll be posting later to catch up all the details of Glastonbury, Hop Farm and all the other shows I saw that I’ve not reported back on yet.  But, I decided to do a couple quick posts to highlight bands I found that were big surprises to me.  (And that’s part of why I took this trip..it was to discover new music.)

First up: Bonobo

Saw these guys on the West Holts stage and they stopped me in my tracks.  I just had to hang out and listen to their set.

So, imagine these on a sweltering afternoon with the sun beating down and huge field with thousands of people just relaxing on blankets…

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Greeting FROM Glasto

One of the phone companies has a “chill and charge” area with free computers.  I saw an opening and popped in to do one quick post here.

Been camping since Wednesday, (it’s Friday now).  Been a blur of good and bad.  But, the bad will soon pass and the good has been really cool.

Already seen today:

Magic Numbers, Femi Kuti, Friction Plane, Laura Henwood, Danny & the Champions, Bonobo (best of the day so far), Phoenix, La Roux and Florence and the Machine!

Still to come: Hot Chip and Gorillaz.

More updates and TONS of photos later.

JT

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