Tag Archives: The Bees

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 Sunday

So, unexpectedly I spoke with one of the readers of the blog today.  I wasn’t sure anyone was really reading it, so to hear positive feedback and comments was very cool and really made me feel good.  I’ve known that I needed to finish the write ups of the trip.  But in a way leaving something undone has sort of been a way to not completely put this in my past.

The experience was so unique and different from my normal daily life that in a small way leaving this a bit undone has prolonged the experience and allowed me to reflect about it under the guise of “thinking about my next post”.  While I will eventually wrap the actual writing about the trip, the “beyond” part off the title will give me license to keep writing and musing about music and concerts.

But for now…there’s still more Glasto to talk about!

I awoke Sunday and stumbled out of my tent knowing this was my last day of music at the festival.  The tents around me were now dusty and trash was strewn about.  There was a sort of refugee camp feel with shellshocked (and still hung-over) attendees wandering about with glazed eyes.  A few folks were already packing and slipping away quietly, their jobs and real lives beckoning them to try and beat the traffic queues predicted for the next day.

The toilets were truly grim today.  The first set that I arrived at being too horrible to even enter and close the door.  I walked a bit further and found a marginally better one that seem to have been cleaned sometime in the past few days.  The worst of a challenging part of the entire experience.  But, I survived it one more time, gathered my gear at the tent and headed out.

I listened to a bit of Frightened Rabbit at the Other Stage, acceptable but not memorable.  As I write this a couple months later I couldn’t tell you the name of a single song they played.  Not horrible or anything…just didn’t impress much.  I maybe should have stayed to hear the Hold Steady, but the sun was hot and I moved along to the West Holts Stage for a second performance of The Bees.  Different than the more intimate setting for the Queens Head Stage on Friday.  But, songs like “Listening Man” still broke through and were very appealing to groove to while I sat on an empty bench.

Restless, after most of their set I moved along to the Avalon Tent and plopped my folding chair in a shady spot to hear Kristy Almedia.  Nice voice and some fun arrangements with a tight band.  Not compelling to have sought out any of her CD’s, but a nice interlude on a relaxing morning.

I took a break to grab some pizza and then bought some ice cream that I ate in the cool shade of the Queens Head tent.  None of the bands had started up there, so it was uncrowded and I could sprawl in the shade and simply relax….(sensing a them for the morning?…relaxation).

While resting there I made this note:

Going to Glastonbury is hard, and it should be.
Just like life you have to experience the bad as well as the good.
Bad choices aren’t the end, you recover and move on.

Sunday morning was obviously my day to get philosophical….

I decided to join up with the eFest folks for Ray Davies.  I got to the Pyramid Stage early and listened to about half of Slash’s set.  Quite good overall and well suited for a sunny afternoon at Glastonbury.  He capped the set with Sweet Child O’ Mine  and Paradise City.  A couple of real serious crowd pleasers there for sure.

The eFest folks found me at the meeting spot and we headed over to grab a space to the right of the stage near a delay tower for Ray’s set.  I’d seen the Kinks way back in 1979 in San Francisco, but never since…even though I enjoy Ray’s writing very much.  For this show he brought along a chorus to do the choral arrangements off his last CD.  It was BRILLIANT!  The power of all those voices propelling songs like Victoria, See My Friends and All Day & All of the Night was a high point of the day for me so far.

Here’s his complete setlist:

‘I Need You’
‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’
‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’
”Til The End Of The Day’
‘After The Fall’
’20th Century Man’
‘Sunny Afternoon’
‘You Really Got Me’
‘Shangri-La’
‘Victoria’
‘See My Friends’
‘The Working Man’s Cafe’
‘Johnny Thunder’
‘The Village Green Preservation Society’
‘Lola’
‘Waterloo Sunset’
‘Days’
‘All Day And All Of The Night’

The Kinks had been the original headliner of Glastonbury in 1970 and had cancelled to be replaced by T-Rex.  So, it was fitting that he came back to celebrate the 40th and Ray dedicated the set to his former bassist Pete Quaife who had left the band (and the music business) in 1969 and had passed away the previous Wednesday.  A few tears were shed by Ray (and many in the audience) as he further dedicated “Days” and “Waterloo Sunset” to his old friend near the end of the set.

Waterloo Sunset had been running through my mind each time I ended up at Waterloo Station while in London.  And this emotional performance of the song pretty much cemented it as the theme song of my trip.  I’ll never hear it again without thinking of that near perfect moment surrounded by strangers and folks that I barely knew, yet who all shared a kinship and a connection.  I think that’s the “Glastonbury moment or Glastonbury experience” that people talk in hushed tones about.  The unexpected way that worry and stress falls away and life outside the festival at that moment fades away.  I can say for certain that Ray was more inspired in that field then he was a week later opening for Bob Dylan at Hop Farm.  His set there was similar and decent, but lacked the emotion and magic he found that afternoon on the Pyramid.

Here’s how it sounded and looked:

Wow…..

I didn’t want to hang out for Jack Johnson as I planned to see him in London in a few days.  I moved along to the Other Stage and heard a bit of “We Are Scientists”….sadly “we may be scientists, but we aren’t that good” was my take on them.  I mean it wasn’t awful, but the lead singer had the foulest mouth outside of John Cougar back in the 80’s I’d ever heard.  I’m not a prude…but, it was noticeable in it’s pointless excess.  I shot some photos and then headed to my tent for a rest, some food and a couple calls to the US to say hello to family.  In the distance MGMT played…which judging by what I heard…from a distance was the best way to listen to them.

While I chilled in my tent I made some note of “Things I Learned at Glastonbury”:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Take wellies and sunscreen…you never know what you’ll get.
  • hen you see the milk tractor, buy a pint.
  • No matter what you choose, you’ll miss something while doing something else…it’s okay.
  • Others will make different choices and think they were better….they were, for them.  Your choices were perfect for you.  Celebrate them and appreciate all the good stuff you experience.
  • Camp a reasonable distance from the toilets and upwind…trust me on this…
  • Your clothes will get filthy, you may want to burn them or throw them away.  Polish them up and hold onto them.  That grime is part of the experience you’ve had at the Festival.  Wear it proudly and remember where that T-shirt took you.
  • Share what you brought and let others share with you.  Both actions enrich your experience and your life.
  • Assume you may never pass this spot again, so appreciate the moment while you’re there, but look forward to the next one and don’t spend too much time in the past.  Those moments help define you, but they aren’t all you are or can be.  Enjoy, accept and move on.
  • There’s always another great song to hear in the next bar or stage down the road.  You might miss it if you stand still for too long and live in the past.
  • Don’t try to see everything, there’s too much for you to ever take in.  Appreciate what you have and accept you can’t have it all.

Down to my last few hours, I made some decisions.  I’d try to see folks I couldn’t easily see at home.  Thus, I skipped Faithless, LCD Soundsystem Julian Casablancas to see Toots and the Maytalls at West Holts.  A phenomenal set of reggae played in the late afternoon fading light to a happy crowd.  Here’s a taste of an absolute legend from Jamaica:

You can see a bit of how happy the crowd was, that song was a highlight as was 54-46 (That’s my number), Pressure Drop and a very effective version of the John Denver song Take Me Home Country Roads….(look it up, it’s really good).

After Toots I headed to the LeftField Tent to see Paul Heaton.  Now a lot of folks will have no idea who that is…he anchored the Housemartins in the 80’s and then went on to form the Beautiful South.  Well known in the UK, not so much in the USA.

A brilliant writer who writes similar to someone like Graham Parker….a nice glossy sheen of music with a serious bite if you dig into the lyrics.  Having missed any chance to see either of his previous bands, I knew this was a rare chance for me.  He didn’t disappoint at all.  From the Housemartins days he did both Build and Flag Day, neither of which I ever thought I’d get to hear live.  Plus, he did a nice selection of solo songs off of “Cross Eyed Rambler” and his new CD “Acid Country”, including a biting song called “Everything is Everything” about the pervasiveness of advertising in this modern age.  Brilliant stuff and he was joined on his last song by Billy Bragg, another obscure UK pleasure of mine to listen to.

Here’s a music video link because the quality of most of his live stuff on YouTube is poor.  Either bad picture or sound on most I sampled.

When his set ended I saw that I might have time to catch some of Jackson Browne if I rushed to the acoustic tent.  I’d already decided to avoid the crowds at Stevie Wonder, as I’d seen him previously here in So Cal (he was awesome).  I heard a snippet of Rodrigo y Gabriela, who sounded great, but I didn’t stop for at West Holts.  Then, I could hear Stevie in the distance next singing “…if you really love me…”

Tempting, but I pressed on.

I reched the acoustic tent finally where David Lindley was jamming away.  I’m not sure how long he’d been playing but Jackson wasn’t on stage yet.  Amazingly, there were less than a thousand people there (guessing).  I walked right up to the barrier and took a spot stage right in front of David….amazing!  My timing was perfect as Jackson Browne climbed onstage and he and David did a stunning version of For Everyman leading into Warren Zevon’s Carmelita, Sit Down Servant (a gospel song) and then The Pretender.

The Pretender was a very important album to me back when I was a confused teen and my mom was dying of cancer.  The emotion of the whole thing hit me very hard, and I stood there overwhelmed to tears by hearing that song in that setting.  A couple songs later he did Late for the Sky and I was again flooded with memories and emotions, both of the struggles and rewards of the past few days, but also with an overall feeling that went well beyond Glastonbury and touched upon years of memories.

I don’t think I could have planned a better ending to the Festival if I’d tried.  As I’ve said before, it’s chance, luck or just serendipity that leads you to those moments at Glasto.  I was buoyed by his set so much that I hardly felt my achey muscles and sore feet as I walked back to my tent.

 

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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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The Bees

Another band I stumbled upon purely by accident…(more about that in the Glasto posts).

I ended up seeing these guys twice.  Once Friday night at the Queens Head Stage and then later on the West Holts Stage.  They sounded great on both and apparently have a new record company and will have some new stuff out soon.  Worth checking out.

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Sunday “must see” list

Time to round out the last day of music at Glastonbury and look for a general sense of who I really want to make my must see bands for the day.

The Pyramid opener is quite interesting…the Yeovil Town Band.  As in a brass band?  Of course there is a family connection to Yeovil as it’s the large town close by to East Coker where my ancestors departed from to head off to the New World.  So, seeing a brass band at a rock frstival seems a quite eclectic thing to do…  (Or, I may sleep in…as nothing really compelling is listed at that time).

In fact, the next round of bands doesn’t seem to be anyone I have a burning desire to rush and see.  Paloma Faith, the Bees, Frightened Rabbit…humm so far nothing on the must see list yet.

Next round of bands Norah Jones…maybe?  The Hold Steady….maybe?  Fisherman’s Friend….(sea chanty’s?)…maybe?  Heard some raves about Tuung, but not heard them to know if I’d like.  So far Sunday is wide open for wandering and hopefully finding something interesting in the first few hours of music.

Then comes Slash…also a maybe, I saw Slashes Snakepit once in San Diego and have seen him guest in with Queen and Black Eyed Peas….there’s two bands you don’t find in the same sentence very often….  He has talent, but I don’t know if it’s enough to draw me to the Pyramid if I’ve found something else cool on my wandering.  So, just one more maybe for the day.

Of course after a big chunk of day with nothing compelling…I’m stuck with four overlapping bands I’d like to see.  Dr. John (I’ve seen him before, but he’s darn cool), Corinne Bailey Rae…saw her do a couple songs at a Stevie Wonder House of Toys show a few years back.  Very talented.  Plus her new album is quite good.  So, a strong pull for me to see her on a small stage.

She’s up against Ray Davies of the Kinks…saw him in 1979 and never since.  But, he will be at Hop Farm next weekend, so I can catch him there if I miss him for Corinne and Staff Banda Bilili…who are amazing.  A group of paraplegic musicians from the Congo who live in a zoo…seriously, in a zoo?…  Check them out on YouTube doing a song called Je T’Aime

When else can I ever see them live?  I think they may be my first must see of Sunday!

Now the clashes get more frequent and tougher to pick from.

Jack Johnson (seeing him in London the following week at least), MGMT, the Gang of Four or JUDY COLLINS?  There’s some diverse (okay just pain weird choices to pick between at the same time…)

Then, LCD Soundsystem, Toots and the Maytals or Imelda May?

Then the final clash of the weekend…

Stevie Wonder, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Jackson Browne, Ash, Orbital or Gomez?  Rodrigo y Gabriela are cool, but young and will be around to see again.  Jackson..seeing two days later in London (and maybe on Sat too?)…Ash, Gomez and Orbital…all have possibilities, but how can you pass on a living legend like Stevie Wonder singing to 80K or so people in a huge field…”Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, etc…

I wavered at first, but I think I have to cap off the festival seeing Stevie…put him in the “must see” category….

There’s some DJ’s playing for hours on a couple smaller stages after Stevie ends.  But I think the end of his set sometime after midnight will end my festival in a spectacular fashion.

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