Monday, April 19, 2010

Coachella - Day 3 - Show Reviews

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Day two of the festival was a humid day in the desert, and the shows rolled-on nonstop. Today was a definitive day of electronic and dance music. Now, while I'm not a Tiesto fan (not one bit), it was telling that for the first time since the festival's inception that a DJ/Electronic music producer headlined the main stage. It looks like 13 years after "electronica" was supposed to take over the popular music landscape, it finally has. But enough with waxing on about the changing landscape of music, and on with the reviews.

Craze and Klever

This was the day's jumping off point, and it set the day off with a bang. These two DMC champions went head-to-head in the dance tent to an electrified crowd of over 15,000. The pair dropped a set that went from uptempo 140 bpm bangers, with mad scratching on top, to rock tracks (Nirvana and Metallica specifically), then they flipped the script and went into a deep dub set that lit the crowd up.

Craze & Klever at Coachella 2010 from Taylor Doms on Vimeo.

The Raveonettes

Next on the agenda was Danish garage/psych duo The Raveonettes. As with a number of bands booked at Coachella coming from overseas, the Volcano Eruption in Iceland kept members of the band from making it to the show. This didn't stop the core duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo from soldiering on and playing a fuzzed out set of garage goodness. This paired-down performance still conveyed the weight of songs, which is really a testament to not only their talent as performers, but their talent as songwriters.

Hot Chip

This was my second time to see Hot Chip. The last time I saw them perform was in 2006, during their tour for The Warning, and their live show has improved dramatically! Where the earlier performance was them standing behind their keyboards a la Kraftwerk, this performance was with a full band. The performance was fantastic. See for yourself.

Major Lazer

Having followed Diplo's career for the past 6 years, I've seen him perform a number of times in all types of venues. What I saw at Coachella with Major Lazer, the project he's doing with DJ Switch, was the culmination of all of the parties I'd seen previously. It was truly an awesome performance, complete with dancing Chinese street dragons, acrobatic performers and Skerrit Bwoy, a truly magnetic front man. When I'd seen Diplo before, you could tell he was on a mission. Taking his across-the-board brand of globally-influenced club music to the masses all over the world has been quite an accomplishment. Before it's over, it would be great to see Diplo/Major Lazer and his cohorts take over mantle that has been for too-long occupied by the Oakenfolds and the Tiestos of the dance music world.

Watch your back, because the Mad Decent train is rolling through.

Flying Lotus

Los Angeles based producer Flying Lotus continues his ascension into the mythical pantheon of electronic music royalty. As the artist who's evolved the legacy of Warp Record's tradition of putting out artists that have pushed the art of electronic music into another dimension, FlyLo has pushed the boundaries Hip-Hop to it's logical extreme. With complex and layered music, sometimes the studio magic doesn't always translate into a compelling live performance. This isn't the case with FlyLo.

To see the crowd of almost 20,000 riveted to every single note, and literally taking the same journey as the artist live was an amazing sight. His accompanied video performance was every bit as compelling as his music. And for this artist who's musical legacy is already a thing of mythology, it is only the beginning.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coachella - Day 3 - Second Day of the Festival

Our third day in the desert, and the second day of the festival, was another day of amazing performances. On the DJ/Electronic front there was Craze & Klever, Hot Chip, Major Lazer and Flying Lotus. In more reunion news, Faith No More and Devo took the stage in addition to The Gossip and The Dead Weather.

With the realization that it's next to impossible to do detailed show reviews and keep my sanity while at the festival, I've opted get all show reviews posted in the wrap-up. We'll also have out Flickr site updated as well.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Coachella - Day 2 - Festival Kick Off


Sleigh Bells

Day 1 of Coachella started off with the Sleigh Bells. A boy/girl electro-punk act that takes all of the brattiness of the Ting Tings, and drops a dirty south beat and electric guitar into the mix. Upon a first listen, Sleigh Bells could be written off as a knock-off of 20 other bands that takes boy/girl indie rock template and rehashes some well-worn territory. The biggest difference between this act being a cliche, and being something different is how they do it.

The live show was something of a high-energy event, blending driving beats and feedback-heavy guitar to a sweaty throng of festival revelers. Not exactly a game changer for music, but a fun time and a great way to get the festival started.

(The Sleigh Bells)

She and Him

M-Ward and Zooey Deschanel's 60's throwback pop music is great for listening to while not actively listening. There's something that is so instantly familiar when you hear it, that it's as if the music that's always been there. There's a certain shimmer to what these two produce. It's deceptively simple, until you realize how well thought out the music really is. It's methodically engineered to make you like it, which is no simple task

The problem which She and Him, it that's it simply doesn't translate live. Zooey Deschanel's delivery was lack-luster at best. All of the charisma and charm that she radiates as an actress simply doesn't work when she's the focal point for a band. While I'm sure that Mrs. Gibbard will continue to produce well-crafted pop songs with M-Ward, the band's live performance is it's not strong point.

The Specials

One of the highlights of the day was seeing The Specials. In a year where iconic bands seem to be dusting off their long-dead monikers, and are taking their acts on the road, the announcement of The Specials reunion tour was something I was very much looking forward to. There are many bands that are reunited that simply shouldn't have. (I'm talking to you, The Who) Fortunately, The Specials were not one of these bands. Their performance was amazing. They prowled around the stage like kids half their age, they had complete control of their instruments and ultimately were one of the highlights of the day.

Gil-Scott Heron

Gill-Scott Heron is an icon. For those of you only know him from his shout-out on "Losing My Edge" from LCD Soundsystem, do yourself a favor and find out more. It can be argued that GSH's spoken-word delivery in his music from the 70's and 80's laid the ground work for Hip-Hop, and his politically-charged lyrics made some dub him the "black Bob Dylan," but that simply does not do him justice.

Live, he sat down at the keyboard and proceeded to go to work. His somewhat improvisational set was an experience in soulful force. It's rare at these festivals that there are meditative moments, but GSH's performance did just that. Many of bands on the festival roster could take notes on how an excellent performance is executed from this elder statesman.

(Gil-Scott Heron)

LCD Soundsystem

With the announcement on the DFA website that LCD Soundsystem was going to break-up, and that they were playing the main stage at Coachella, it was big news. Their performance was a fantastic run through their self-described "dance-punk," with James Murphy making sometimes rambling announcements in between songs. I question the logic of whoever made that decision of the band's performance slot right before Jay Z. I managed to work my way to the front of the stage, and overheard a number of folks who only knew of a few LCD tracks, and I even had one "indie bro" (more about this later, it's too funny) ask me if this was going to be a DJ set...sad.

(James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem)

Public Image Limited

In anther move this year that co-opted my formative years and brought back some of the icons that blazed a trail in the alt music world, Public Image Limited has reformed. With this year's Coachella line-up in "throw-back" mode, it was really no surprise to see PIL on the roster. The band's performance was everything you'd expect from a band who's peak was almost 30 years ago. They performed a very solid set, and it's really interesting to hear one of the originators of "dance-punk" (and punk itself, in regards to Johnny Rotten). The bass player, dropped the signature dub bass lines (Jah Wobble was a no-show for the reunion), while Johnny belted out the lyrics and gave his best scowl, but something in the performance was a bit off.

While I was completely in awe of having the chance to see this legendary band perform, I was primarily interested in seeing Johnny Rotten singing on stage, so I could check it off my musical "bucket list." At the end of the day, punk rock does not age gracefully. It was a bit sad to see an iconic figure like Johnny Rotten using a music stand to hold his lyrics and referring to it periodically during the show. Along with the posturing and snide comments, it seemed as if Johnny Rotten has become a parody of himself. With the passing of Malcom McLaren, and with the echo of 1970's punk and new wave becoming more and more faint as new bands and reinvent and evolve the sound, it seems like the baton has long since been passed. Some might say that PIL coming out of retirement was nothing more than a money-making play, the new "Rock and Roll Swindle." For the band's sake, I hope it it.

(PIL Then)

(PIL Now)


Jay-Z played. It was awesome. Beyonce made a guest appearance. There was fireworks.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coachella - Day 1 - Ramp Up

Day 1 in the desert.
We were In "ultra-lounge" mode on Thursday, getting ready for the 3 days of music and chaos. We stopped by the ACE Hotel for the Desert Gold warm-up party with The Gaslamp Killer, who we chatted with a bit before his set, which just was sick as always with the GLK.

Great start to the maddness...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DJ Mixes for Spring 2010

In anticipation of launching the new Architects & Heroes podcast series in May, as well as preparing for a new series of "proper" mixtape coming down the pipline, I've cleaning out the virtual archive, dusting off some mixes from our not so recent past. We've got three very special mixes for you here. Feel free to listen, download and share with friends.


Space Lounge 2010 by dj stephen r.

ARCHITECTS & HEREOS Vo1. 1 - Notes from the Laboratory

Architects & Heroes Vol.1 - Notes from the Laboratory by dj stephen r.

ARCHITECTS & HEROES Vol. 2 - The Chronicles of Low Frequency

Architects & Heroes Vol.2 - The Chronicles of Low Frequency by dj stephen r.

Coachella After Party!!! Wow...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

In The Trenches..Live: Tobacco/Nice Nice/Hood Internet in San Diego: 3/24/10

I can remember the first time I heard Black Moth Super Rainbow thinking that these guys were some hybrid strain of Boards of Canada and the Manson Family. Or, more appropriately, if the Boards of Canada had taken their psychedelic cult persona to it's logical extreme, packed their shit in a van and took the circus on the road, it might come off something like BMSR. But, with Black Moth Super Rainbow, there was something a bit more visceral about the music. Something that was darker, that didn't hint at an agenda, but actively engaged with your senses. Less Scientology, more Jehovah's Witness. Can you hear that knocking on your door?

Tobacco, the one-time front man for BMSR, has pulled a Bobby Brown and has gone solo. I'd seen BMSR at the Troubadour in LA, complete with crazy, low-fi, culty video, bizarro hype man in a Chinese hobo mask and Mike Watt jumping on stage for a couple of numbers. I wasn't sure what to expect from a Tobacco live show, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be your run of the mill gig. And it wasn't...

One of the nicest surprises of the evening was Portland's free-form noise pop outfit Nice Nice, that opened the evening. I'd never heard the band's music before, so I had no expectations. Their improvised, beat-driven, noise loops we're something to behold. The band has been active for 10 years, and have been signed to Warp Records, which speaks for itself. They have a unique sound that lands somewhere between Black Dice, Steve Reich and Trans Am (who, incidentally, they are going to be touring with April.)

(*Nice Nice live at the Casbah in SD)
Picture 154

(*Nice Nice video for Everything Falling Apart)

The next part of the evening took the whole night in a radically different direction. One of the DJ/Mash-up artists from The Hood Internet played a full-on dance-party mix, and out of nowhere a gaggle of Tween Hipsters were writhing to the sweet beats, facial hair, leg-warmers and sunglasses all in a hot mess, showering each other with PBR! It looked like a scene out of Lord of the Flies! Now, I like a hipster dance party as much as the next guy (in fact, I've been know to throw a few of these parties myself), but it did seem like a bit of an odd pairing...until I knew the back story. As it turns out, The Hood Internet dudes dropped an AMAZING mixtape that pairs up Aesop Rock with tracks from Tobacco's Fucked Up Friends record. Now, Aesop appears on the Tobacco track Dirt, so this was much more of a natural fit than I thought.

Just as quickly as the dance party crowd was front and center, they dissipated when Tobacco came on, and the psychedelic-loving freaks were front and center waiting for the weird, and they were not disappointed. The show opened with a weird video mix of "found" footage and Chat Roulette (which is creepy enough by itself).

(*Tobacco's Fucked Up videos)
Picture 167

The next 45 minutes was a audio and video assault of the best kind. With Tobacco's solo work, you still get the complexity and layers of sound that BMSR is know for, but it is a lot more paired down and utilitarian. With visuals from ‘Fucked Up Friends 2,′ a blu-ray/dvd set of the band's collected weird videos, running everything from B-horror films to E.T. having sex, the show was one-part psychedelic freak-out and one-part hip-hop show.

(*Tobacco's Chinese Hobo Hype Man)
Picture 166

As the band ran through the tracks off Fucked Up Friends, and a few from Maniac Meat the most noticeable difference in how BMSR and Tobacco work live was the band. It was stripped-down, a bit more of a raw and direct experience, which in my opinion is really the essence of the music. While BMSR live was excellent, it felt like there were more people added just to augment the core. With Tobacco, you get right to the core of the music. It's a more immediate and visceral experience. In a lot of ways, it's kind of the same kind of experience as early hip-hop. Raw, direct, immediate, a little dirty and in the case of Tobacco, just a little bit evil.

(*Tobacco and his Fucked Up Friends)
Picture 172

For Tobacco, this is a jumping-off point. With his forth-coming record Maniac Meat coming out next month, which includes a guest appearance from Beck on 2 tracks, and having the first single "Sweatmother" in rotation on radio stations a month before the record drops, it's clear that Tobacco is poised to do some interesting things this year. If the live show is any indication, then it's going to be an incredible, awesome, dirty, evil thing.