Walking down into the basement at Hyde Park Book Club and it’s the smell of incense that hits me first. I’m fairly early so the crowd hasn’t started to assemble yet but there is, to my surprise, someone wandering around in a white wedding dress. It’s going to be an interesting night.
I’ve always been a fan of the idea of balance in one’s life, and that applies to the world of music as well. The concept of Yin and yang, for example, the dark and the light, the negative and the positive, etc. So, if Saturday was a day full of darkness and mayhem (which is a bit overly dramatic, but just go with it), then similar to Friday, Sunday’s lineup was kind of the anthesis of that idea.
If Day 1 of Riot Fest leaned a little too heavy on the “cute and cuddly side”, then the lineup on Saturday was seemingly the perfect antidote. One might even argue that it was somewhat of an extreme antidote at that, given the markedly heavy-metal nature of the bands at hand. We’re talking a lot of very old-school, very textbook thrash-metal bands here, including the likes of Gwar, Testament, and two of the so-called “Big Four” classic thrash bands: Anthrax, and the almighty Slayer.
Friday the 13th is supposed to be a spooky day, but you wouldn’t have known that if you happened to be at Douglas Park for the inaugural day of Riot Fest last week.
Not only was the lineup that day a tad on the cute and cuddly side (was pretty loaded with pop-punk bands…and The Flaming Lips), but the weather also turned out to be fairly pristine to boot, with mostly sunny skies and near 80-degree (26C) temperatures. In fact, the only mildly menacing ingredient in the air that day was probably the wind, as the city of Chicago was definitely living up to its nickname (which is a bit of a misnomer, but I digress) that afternoon.
Chicago-born multi-instrumentalist Jeff T Smith first caught my attention back in 2011 under his Juffage moniker, something of an experimental one-man-show. Gradually Smith started to collaborate with other like-minded musicians on the ever fertile Leeds scene and Living Body was born.
Wikipedia defines the word “cool” as:
“An aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style which is generally admired”.
That’s all well and good, but the definition is far too ambiguous. The correct answer should simply be: “Mezzanine”. There, fixed it.
A sensible person would avoid an early launch into another day of cloudless mid-90’s temperatures. But somehow the lure of an endless morning spent lounging in a frosty hotel room with unlimited trips to the powdered egg buffet starts to lose its appeal. Thoughts of “maybe I do need to see all eleven bands” begin to creep in. And the possibility that the craft beer line could be shorter at 1pm than it was last night is just the nudge that is needed.
They say that thieves come in the night. And apparently, they do. At this year’s opening day of the Moon River Festival, the thief came in the guise of a scruffy haired singer-songwriter playing in the pre-closer slot on the event’s smaller stage. Sandwiched between the day’s two biggest draws, Josh Ritter used a twenty year catalog of incisive songs and a crack band to show how an hour-long set should be done.
Beck and Cage The Elephant’s Night Running tour came rolling through Tampa last Thursday night. And when we say rolling that’s the correct terminology. With nine semi-trailers and countless tour buses carting stage sets, pyrotechnics, and performers around the country, the tour is really more like a mini-festival on wheels. With opening acts by Spoon and Sunflower Bean, five hours of nearly non-stop music on a muggy Florida night is more than anyone could wish for.
Californian sludge-punk pioneers Flipper have been through a number of line-up changes over the years. Tonight’s 40th Anniversary show finds David Yow and Mike Watt playing alongside original members Ted Falconi (guitar) and Steve DePace (drums). Heroin may have taken founding member Ricky Williams as well as vocalist/ bassist Will Shatter and bassist John Dougherty but Flipper lives on.
Rain soaked sing-alongs, inadequate camping equipment and mud (glorious mud); seems I’m getting the full festival experience. It’s pretty exciting too. I’m a tent down and have to sort a lift home for tomorrow but I’m completely immersed in the festival. Maybe I am ‘the outdoor type’ after all. I head towards the arena to see what Kendal Calling has in store for me today.
People go to festivals for a number of reasons. Some, as a good friend of mine so eloquently put it, just want to “eat chips and fall over” while others are there to take in as much music as humanly possible. Now, I enjoy chips as much as the next man (I’m not a monster) but I definitely fall into the latter category. Luckily for me, there’s plenty of music to get stuck into at Kendal Calling.