Tag Archives: Hot Chip

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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Glastonbury thoughts

This won’t be the long delayed wrap up of  my trip stories, but I just wanted to record a few random musings as Glasto has been very much on my mind the past few days.

As the days since the trip have rushed past I’ve realized that the entire experience changed me in ways that I never expected.

Lots of people ask me if “I’d go back”.  My stock answer has been that it was a once in a lifetime experience and I wouldn’t likely want to try and repeat it again.  But, as the days pass I find myself checking back onto the eFest boards and looking at the discussions.  Yesterday they announced the on sale date for 2011 and I had a huge twinge of wanting to try and get another ticket and go back….for reasons that I honestly can’t quite even explain.  I recall the rush last year of making a ticket deposit at 1am and realizing that I was going to take the plunge.  Part of me wants that focus back.

Since I got back from the trip I’ve been a bit adrift.  I spent so long obsessing about going that with it now done…I’m not sure what my next focus should be.  In a way I think that’s why I’ve delayed writing about the last parts of the trip here.  As long as it’s still living in my head it’s not completely finished and wrapped forever.

Do I have regrets…many of them.

I feel like I didn’t get to see every band (even though that would have been a physical impossibility), I missed many of the art and dance areas.  I did all I could do…but, like life itself…there was too much to experience it all and you have to pick and choose.  (Lots of these things were said to me by festival veterans, but they don’t really come into focus until you’ve had the experience of being there.)

Maybe I drank too much, maybe I drank too little…maybe I slept too much, maybe I should have rested at different times…Maybe I should have seen more at the Park Stage, the Pyramid Stage, the Dance Village…maybe I should have eaten different foods…

Should I have seen Stevie Wonder instead of Jackson Browne?  Jackson Browne was my best act of the whole festival…yet, did I  miss something better?

See what I mean?  It’s like life…you choose things, but you can’t help but wonder how a different choice would have turned out.  I guess that’s why people go over and over to Glasto.  Some of it may be the fear of missing something.  Some of it may just be the vastness of the choices that let you live a magnified version of “life” in the span of a long weekend.  I could have gone 100 times and had 100 different experiences.

I even said that to someone on site, that Glastonbury is exactly like a limited version of life.  You are faced with a stream of choices and they will define your experience, and not all of it will be good.  But, you survive the bad to reach the good stuff, and having done so, the good stuff is made even better by the context.  If everything went perfectly on a Glasto trip it would actually be boring as all hell.  You need the “spice” of the collapsed tent or the uncomfortable bed so that when you see the perfect sunset while at the Other Stage you understand and appreciate it more because of having struggled some just to get to that point.

I have a vivid memory of washing my hands on Friday.  It’s so vivid because I’d been using hand sanitizer for three days and I stumbled upon a tap with running water and bars of soap.  I scrubbed my arms up to the elbow and I’ve honestly never felt so happy in my life about the simple act of washing my hands.  But, the great thing about Glasto is that it (at least for me) provokes further thought.  I realized that millions of people don’t have running water and don’t get to experience that feeling at all on a regular basis.  Suddenly a simple act took on no only significance in the moment, but it opened me to a bigger picture and made me appreciate more each time since then that I’ve scrubbed my hands how there are others who are as fortunate as me.

Now, I sit here tonight listening to Ray Davies, Florence & the Machine, Midlake and Hot Chip….thinking about each of their performances and the experience of seeing each of them at the Festival, I realized that I’m going to carry this festival around with me forever and at least parts of it have really changed me forever (hopefully in good ways).

And, I also suspect that I have been impacted in ways I’ve likely not even discovered….but, I guess that’s what this blog is for, to document the “beyond” that expands out from my Glastonbury experience.

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More Glastonbury Photos

A few more of the over 3000 shots that I took on the trip…(yikes!)

For today, here are some of the acts that I saw on the Other Stage.

La Roux performs at the Other Stage

Florence & The Machine at a jam packed Other Stage Performance

Hot Chip at the Other Stage

Pet Shop Boys on the Other Stage

We Are Scientists on the Other Stage

Two Door Cinema Club at the Other Stage

Phoenix on the Other Stage

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Been a little slow in finishing my trip notes

Things have been crazy at work since I got back and I’ve not had a chance to finish off the trip blog.

Sorry about that.

I have been sorting photos…here’s one of my favorites so far.

This is sunset on Friday

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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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A couple of the bands I plan to see

Clock is ticking closer…and here I sit tonight trying to stave off what feels like a cold starting.  Ugh.

As I’ve been researching so many of the bands that will be playing, a couple have really jumped out at me that I like.  I figured I’d just share them tonight and head off to bed early to try and rest.

Midlake:

Hot Chip: (They don’t allow embeds, so you’ll have to click)

(Trust me on this one, it starts off pretty odd…but it heads off in some really strange directions…)

Mumford & Sons:

Enjoy!

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