While I wrap my mind around Thursday’s Sigur Ros show at the L.A. Greek Theatre:
I was on the rail for this one. I was in a trance. It was a religious experience. More later.
While I wrap my mind around Thursday’s Sigur Ros show at the L.A. Greek Theatre:
I was on the rail for this one. I was in a trance. It was a religious experience. More later.
My Radiohead staycation is over; it’s back to real life now. But what a week it was.
I can’t believe it was only a week ago that I headed north for the two shows at the Hollywood Bowl last Sunday and Monday. It seems like a LOT more time has passed – but that is good, right? You always want to make a vacation last.
The word the street is that the second Hollywood Bowl show was the best of the entire tour, and it WAS great but that show was hindered by the L-Assholes that I wrote about in my last post. Thankfully, both the San Diego show and the Santa Barbara show were asshole-free, at least where I was standing. Going backwards:
Elizabeth and I drove back here on Tuesday and it is a good thing I had a day off from Radiohead because I was EXHAUSTED. Just totally burnt out. She went out with a friend, and I rested, ate, and watched videos from the Hollywood Bowl shows on youtube. OK, so I didn’t take the day COMPLETELY off.
The next day, we met up with Joan, who I sold my extra tickets to and who took me on a wild ride from Pasadena to the Hollywood Bowl on Monday, and another Radiohead freak named Brian. We went out for a taco lunch and headed to Cricket Ampitheater at around 2:30 – Elizabeth and Joan both wanted to get in line early, to get a place on the rail. So we went out there and while they waited in line, I hung out with my friends Sean and Cindy in the parking lot. When the doors were about to open I went up and met Elizabeth in line. It was sort of chaotic up there because when they opened the entrance door to the pit, you had to get a wristband and the people who were working didn’t have it together – there was a lot of freaking out and grumbling because there were two lines, and the people taking the tickets (slowly) and then putting the wristband on (molasses like movement) could cost you a space on the rail. So once I had mine I RAN and it is a good thing I am a good sprinter because I got a place on the rail! At a Radiohead show!
Of course this meant we had to suffer through openers the Liars again, but I actually kind of liked them. There was one security guard in front of us that hated it so bad… he kept making these faces, to the amusement of pretty much everyone on the rail.
So, of course the show was fantastic. Being so close with no one in front of me? Priceless. Ed looked at us a bunch of times and Elizabeth scored his guitar pick. It was so awesome. The whole band seemed so happy and energized and I will never, ever forget that night.
On to Santa Barbara. Elizabeth and I had pit tickets, but a few months ago my friend Krista offered me a ticket for a seat in the front row of the Santa Barbara Bowl, overlooking the pit. So, basically, no one in front of me, which I love. So I took it and that is why Joan got my hard-to-come-by extra pit ticket. Krista also invited her cousin Tiffany who lives down here (and I might add, is hella cool) so Elizabeth and I picked her up and we all headed up to Santa Barbara. We stopped at the In and Out Burger in Thousand Oaks, where I showed Tiffany how In and Out tastes better with a little wine. Once in Santa Barbara, we dropped Elizabeth off at the Bowl because she wanted to get in line, and then we headed to Krista’s house.
I have to say right now that I am really, really jealous of Krista and her husband Steve – they have the COOLEST house. It’s one of those places with interesting nooks and crannies, and they have a beautiful secluded garden. They made Tiffany and I feel very at home there. And they had never seen Radiohead.
We had some wine and headed to the Bowl which was packed but who cares, since we had front row seats! Next to us were a family who came all the way from Louisiana. The mom was so funny, she was probably in her fifties but she told me “I hope they play CREEP!” I told her I didn’t think that would happen (and it didn’t) but they were a lot of fun to sit next to.
It was a great show. There was nothing remarkably different about it, to be honest, than the previous shows I had seen. Everyone – well, at least the die-hards – was expecting some surprises since it was the last show of the U.S. tour, and there weren’t any. But it was thrilling anyway. I was SO happy to be there and it was so fun to see Steve and Krista experience Radiohead for the first time – the lights, the sound, the tightness of the band. The songs. Sometimes I have to let everything go and just have fun without any hopes of what might or might not be, which is part of the reason I went to four shows – four different experiences, all different, all great in their own way. But San Diego and Santa Barbara? The absolute best.
Friday Krista and Steve took us 1) for bloody marys then 2) winetasting at Whitcraft. We then 3) bought some fish and 4) went home and basically ate and drank for a few hours. Krista and I made the ice cream for this weeks Sunday Slow Scoopers together – a trippy honey lavender ice cream that tasted like yorkshire pudding. It was a perfect day.
I’m off to the Del Mar racetrack today for one last chance to bet the ponies before the season ends. It feels like summer is over, but that is OK. To end summer like this – well, it just doesn’t get any better. Well, unless it involves travel to Europe. Then it’s a dead heat.
It’s Tuesday morning and I am sitting at the dining room table at my friends Marcia and David’s house in Pasadena trying to figure out how to sum up three things – what Radiohead means to me, the Radiohead show on Sunday night, and the Radiohead show last night. It’s hard because out of all the things in the world – excepting my family and my friends of course – I love Radiohead the best. This band has been such a monumental part of my life and all their records means something to me. And some of their songs? Lets see… they make me happy, make me sad, make me feel when I’ve got no feelings. Changed my life. Saved my life.
If music is my religion then Radiohead is my god. If going to a show is going to going to church then going to a Radiohead show is going to see the Pope. I absolutely adore them, love them, would take bullets for them all. You get the idea.
So, this last week of August 2008 Radiohead is playing four shows down here in Southern California. I’ve just been to two shows at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday and Monday, tomorrow is San Diego, and Thursday is Santa Barbara. I’ve taken the week off work. It’s my Radiohead staycation.
I’m not the only person who loves Radiohead. They have a massive number of equally enthralled fans and sell out giant venues wherever they go and getting tickets is not so easy – getting great seats is even harder, unless you are rich. For this tour, I have great seats and that is because I worked with someone just like me (Elizabeth, another Radiohead uber-freak) to get them by staying up all night hitting refresh on our computers to get some of Radiohead’s allotment of tickets. This all happened back in April. We waited for months to find out where our seats would be for the Hollywood Bowl and I was pretty excited to find out we had decent seats for Sunday and even better, pool circle – two rows back from the stage – on Monday.
Was in totally and insanely awesome? Yes. Was it perfect? No. Could it have been perfect? Yes.
I’ve come to the realization that going to any show is a crapshoot. No matter where you sit, in the front of the venue or the nosebleed section, the most important thing is the people who are sitting around you. All it takes is one bimbo who can’t keep her mouth shut or one drunk asshole to mar or even completely ruin a show. The only way to avoid this is to be in the front row with NO ONE in front of you. That is why I like to go to clubs and why I get there early enough to get on the rail, if the band is important to me. Will I try to get to the rail in the San Diego pit? I’ll try, but it won’t be easy. There are a lot of twenty year olds who can run a lot faster than me. Anyway.
In the L.A. Times review of Sunday’s show Ann Powers writes “(Radiohead’s) 25-song set enraptured its acolytes while exposing the contradictory desires this band stimulates: for live music as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for rock as ritual, providing dependable release.” Once-in-a-lifetime and rock as ritual pretty much sums it up for me.
So, Sunday I drove up here and picked up Elizabeth at Union Station and spent a couple of hours with Marcia and David who dropped us off at the Hollywood Bowl (are they awesome or what?) We got there pretty early to check out the merch and it was HOT up there. We each bought a shirt and then I bought an insanely overpriced single serving bottle of Champagne that was so gross I could not drink it. Why do I do these things? I poured it out and went back to Patina Marketplace which is, as rip-off places go, the granddaddy of rip-off. Buying my bottle of Coppola Pinot Noir for $45.00 (don’t laugh at my insane money spendage for a $15 bottle of wine, there were worse, also more expensive alternatives) I was standing next to Rosanna Arquette, who said “maybe I’ll get a sandwich.” Then at the table where they pour your wine into a plastic cup, Danny Masterson was standing next to me. Celebrities get ripped off at Patina too! It’s not just for the little people, there.
On that first night Elizabeth and I had seats in the second row right over where everyone walks in for the garden boxes, so we had a clear view of quite a few celebrities walking in, which was kind of cool. I am not really a celebrity junkie or anything but to see that many at one time was kind of crazy. We could see Rosanna Arquette and her sister Patricia in their garden box and they seem as normal as can be. Some random TV star walked by (I have no idea who he was) and the girl in the seat in front of us was screeching “OH MY GOD. THAT IS (insert what’s his names name here).” THAT guy, every time he walked by, looked up to see if the girl would screech again, and even looked back forlornly when she was too engrossed in conversation to notice him again. I don’t think he was after her – I think he was just happy to be noticed.
We hung out through the opening act and Radiohead came on at dusk. It really was a fantastic show and I was just so happy to be there. We weren’t super close but we weren’t in the nosebleeds, either, and the crowd around us started out OK. For sure, the girl next to me was awesome and into it so much that she didn’t even bug me when she sang some. The sound and the lights were fantastic. Unfortunately, the people in front of us talked a great deal and that was kind of a major bummer. I still don’t understand why you’d want to pay $75 a ticket (or more) and then carry on a conversation the entire time. Why? It is just… such a waste. I seriously wanted to pour a glass of wine on their heads (yes, they were sitting. Sitting and talking.)
Yesterday we slept in a little and kept the day pretty simple. Elizabeth went to a movie in Hollywood and I was to meet her at the Bowl at around 5 for a picnic before the show. I had two extra tickets, one for San Diego and one for Santa Barbara, that I wanted to sell and ended up selling them to a woman named Joan who actually drove to Pasadena and gave me a ride to the Bowl. (When you have an extra Santa Barbara pit ticket, people will do pretty much anything for you.) But it was kind of funny because we were both talking so much about Radiohead that heading up the 134 we bypassed Hollywood totally and ended up in fucking SYLMAR. We are talking close to Magic Mountain here. But Joan kind of drove like a maniac (I was praying a little… please oh please do not let me die today because I have Pool Circle tickets…. Please oh please…) and she got me to Hollywood only 15 minutes late. Which is pretty crazy – believe me. She’s coming to today’s show and I have a sneaking feeling we will be hanging out with her at some point.
Elizabeth and I ate in the picnic area near the Bowl – it’s SO cool how you can have these outdoor picnics with wine right off Highland Blvd. – and then headed inside. I bought my second bottle of overpriced Pinot, and we went to our seats which were AMAZING. Pool circle ROCKS. We were just a couple of rows back from the stage but on the far right. I was sure that there was no way anyone could mess this up.
There was a couple behind us and the guy had also got up in the wee hours of April 9 to score W.A.S.T.E. (fan) tickets and a couple in front of us that came all the way from North Carolina. We were all so excited! To be THAT CLOSE – awesome. And Radiohead played what will probably come to be known as the best set list from the entire 2008 tour. For the first few songs, I was totally and completely enraptured.
But sadly things deteriorated and it was pretty messed up. Though the band was putting on the best show ever, it was really hard to concentrate because there was this really obnoxious couple just across the aisle from me. The guy was really short and kept standing on the bases of his folding chair and the one in front of him to give himself more height, and also took constant pictures and videos with his phone held up high so that added another foot. Not so bad for me, but I felt really bad for the guy behind me – he had to watch the show through this asshole’s camera. And the girl kept talking. I tuned it out as best I could, but my occasional look back at the fan behind me stressed me out because he looked SO bummed. Security came over and told the dude to stop standing on the chair, but he kept on.
Finally, all the pent up frustration and anger in the guy behind me blew and he KICKED the short obnoxious guy in the leg. Now, while I don’t condone violence and especially at a Radiohead show, I knew were he was coming from – after MONTHS of waiting and then having these fantastic seats, only to have the experience ruined by a little dude with a white golf visor, a cell phone camera, and a constantly jabbering girlfriend… it totally sucked. I wanted to kick him too.
The little guy starts hollering “someone kicked my leg!” and got up in the kicker’s face – it was almost brawl time. I shot a look at the security guy and he came over and made the little guy go back to his seat but it sucked. I mean, how do you get into a show when all this shit is going on? I looked back at the guy behind me and said “be happy you aren’t up there – please don’t let this fool bother you” and pointed up at section T, 15,500 people seperating us and them. But it was too late for him, and then it was too late for me.
The couple in front of us started shooting pictures of THEMSELVES with Radiohead playing in the background, as if the band was the Eiffel Tower or something. If that wasn’t insane enough, Short Guy’s girlfriend decided SHE wanted to have her picture taken with Radiohead in the background, and asked the girl behind the fan behind me if she would take it. Are you keeping up with this? Radiohead is on the stage, playing awesomely, and this bitch is yelling “hey, can you take my picture? Do YOU want ME to take YOUR picture?” Me and the guy behind me were seething… it was pretty awful. So finally I tapped the girl and said “we are trying to watch the show” and she gave me a nasty look, FLIPPED ME OFF and went back to her seat which was all of five feet from me. Then she started flailing about (or dancing, if you could call it that) but was so drunk that she kept falling back on her seat. Bet the girl behind her loved that.
After I asked the girl to let us watch the show she had to turn to me at least a dozen times to tell me she didn’t want to be in my way. LOOK BITCH, SHUT THE FUCK UP. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. I ignored her, which caused her to look over at me even more. I know there are a lot of cool people in L.A. but this was one of those “pay attention to ME situations” that I am sure anyone who has ever been to a show in L.A. knows about.
So, what could have been really perfect was kind of messed up – still, when I could let it all go, it was amazing. Being that close to the band and REALLY close to Jonny Greenwood who I absolutely adore – that was awesome. Planet Telex! Mi dio. I’ve waited years to hear that song live.
After the show, I talked with the guy behind me and he and his girlfriend are going to Santa Barbara too, so they have a chance for a better experience. I hope they do. I am half way through this experience and so far it has been great even with the L.A. asshole crowd. Two more shows – one in the pit where I can move if I’m near a talking dick, and one where our seats are front row over the pit where at least any talkers will be behind me. I have a feeling that it will be awesome.
I’ll post some of Elizabeth’s awesome photos later.
It is the middle of May, and I feel like I have hardly been at home this year. In fact, I haven’t really been home, but instead, on the road.
I used to really love the road. It didn’t matter whether for work or pleasure – I just loved it. All the new places, new experiences, even if they were kind of boring… but I don’t really love this any more. I feel a sort of melancholy when I am not in Ocean Beach, not at home. Unless I am in, like, Paris or something.
I spent this week in Las Vegas, the third time I have been there this year. I use to love Vegas. I mean, I LOVED it there. I loved the desert heat and the endless nights and the bizarre unreality of it all. I love drinking and gambling – I did then and I still do. But I don’t like Vegas too much anymore. I’m an old timer who can’t handle change, I guess.
Paying $100 for a wine that should cost $50 just pisses me off. Even if it is not my money. Someone has got to pay for all that construction, I guess.
The sun goes down while I sit in my high-rise room, and it is beautiful. That desert sunset kills me every time. But then it is 4:00 A.M. and I am playing blackjack where country music is playing really loudly. I hate the music but I am winning. The guy next to me is singing, but he is a happy sort and there are high-fives whenever either of us gets a blackjack. The couple next from me is from L.A. She wears a lot of makeup and we whoo hoo loudly, obnoxiously, a few times, mocking the table next to us. I can’t stop humming Jeff Tweedy’s lyric from “A Shot in the Arm” –
“What you once were isn’t what you want to be anymore.”
It suddenly occurs to me, that I am not really enjoying this. What am I doing here, anyway? It’s freeking 4:30 A.M. All the things I once loved, I don’t love now. I am in a spiritual quandary. Everything seems empty, and has for some time.
The next day, way too early, tired and lonely and sick from too many hotel rooms and too many rich meals, I drive to Hollywood, because I want to go to see Elbow, one of my favorite bands. That drive, while quite beautiful in it’s Mohave-eqseness, it absolutely fucking horrifying when you are tired and hungover and having a spiritual breakdown. I mean, it truly sucks. What else is there to do but think for hours and hours? It is the desert, hours and hours and hours of it. Heat and dust and ears clogged by descending mountains that don’t seem to be there.
Thank the gods for Hollywood and my friends Kathy and Marcia and David, and for the bottle of red wine I immediately opened upon arrival. Fueled by lasagna and Refosco, I was ready, at least in theory, for the show.
I got to the Avalon right at 8:00 when openers Air Traffic went on. I won’t say too much about them because I still feel bad about writing about the last opener Elbow had, and one of the members of that band read my blog and commented. I am not a critic, so I am not going to say anything. Let’s just leave it at I Was Waiting for Elbow.
It was an incredible show that totally changed everything back to the way it should be. Elbow came out and played the first song from the new record, “Starlings” (as I pretty much knew they would) and pretty much the whole band was up with a horn… I can’t really explain it, so check this out.
There were two songs I really wanted to hear from their new record, “Mirrorball” and “The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver.” Well, they played both of them and let me tell you, these two songs are among the most stunningly beautiful songs I have ever heard. Live, they pretty much slayed me. The rest of the show was alternately jaw-droppingly lovely and totally rocking – on some songs, I almost put my boot heel through the floorboards. I was so happy. I can’t remember the last time I was so truly and completely happy. Looking around at the rest of the audience, everyone was happy. The band was happy. It occurred to me, gradually and then suddenly, that THIS is what makes me happy. Fuck Vegas, fuck the road, fuck the long drives. I’m here, now, watching this amazing band and everyone is happy. And there is fake smoke and a disco ball. I am in love again. Everyone in the building sings “throw those curtains wide – a day like this a year’d see me right.” Yes, it is true.
Of course, not every show has this effect, and not every audience is so into it, and not every band comes on and plays a perfect show. But when it all happens, it is the best thing ever.
There is a footnote to this perfect night – I was going to try to meet another music freak there, Elizabeth, who I collaborated with to get Radiohead tickets for their August tour here (basically by staying up all night hitting refresh on our computers.) At 6:00 AM when the tickets finally went on sale, she got three shows and I only got one before the Radiohead server crashed. So, I feel sort of indebted to her.
Anyhow, she had emailed me and told me that she really wanted a set list, because she LOVES Elbow, and that is sort of how I know her in the first place. So during the show I was standing next to a bunch of Elbow’s crew, and right before the encore I asked one of the guys if he could get a set list for my friend. I should admit here that I told a bit of a white lie – I said it was for my friend who was not there, but she WAS there, I just had not found her yet. It just sort of came out that way, I truly did not mean to lie. So the guy tried to get me one after the show, but other crew members were faster and the curtain came down and then I saw him with a cigarette so I figured it was a no go.
Went and found Elizabeth at the sound booth and we walked out, and we were at the door in a big crush of people, I mean ON OUR WAY OUT when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the crew guy, and he handed me a set list. He had come out and found me! It was an amazing thing to do.
So, crew guy, if you ever read this, you are a PRINCE and you did something that neither Elizabeth or I will ever forget. THANK YOU.
I drove home Saturday morning from Hollywood playing The Seldom Seen Kid and when Mirrorball came on I broke out into tears. It brought out every lonely moment and every purging of those moments; it brought out everything. And it felt good to cry.
Tomorrow, a bit on last night’s Elbow show at the Avalon in Hollywood. For now, check this out.
I’m half way there.
I’ve got tickets to all kinds of shows this summer, but the one show I am waiting for is Portishead. They played Coachella, which I can never go to (and probably even if I could I wouldn’t) because of work. Unfortunately, they aren’t scheduled to come around anytime soon… but when they do I will be there.
There aren’t too many bands that can bring you back to a time and place, but Portishead brings me straight back to 1995, when their first record Dummy was pretty much on my CD player 24/7. I still listen to it at least once a month – it is one of the Best Records Ever.
Portishead kind of disappeared for a long time but now they are back with another truly incredible record – called “Third.” While it will never be “Dummy” to me, it is a pretty incredible record. So now I am waiting. In the meantime, I have youtube.
The crazy thing – I am going to see Britt Daniel do a solo show at the Belly Up tomorrow night, and I am not even freaking out. It totally sucks, not being in love, but on the other hand I’ll get some sleep.
Could the Raveonettes be any cooler?
I think not.
Yeah. You might be wondering what this is all about, what with the physics and everything, something that, I would add and you would agree with, I have no idea about and also, would never talk about. So what gives?
What gives is, this was part of a ONE HOUR documentary played before the Eels show in Santa Ana I went to last night. ONE HOUR. One fucking hour. I thought I would die for a minute (actually about 30 minutes) there.
Don’t get me wrong – had I been prepared for it, I would have handled it with all the grace and aplomb that goes with being a real and true fan. But I wasn’t, and I had my head craned at an unnatural angle looking up at a scrim 5 inches in front of me for way too long. Everyone else in the pit suffered the same fate. It went on forever and it sucked royally. Why didn’t you move? You ask… well, who knew it would go on so long? I did not want to give up my spot on the rail (but I did, because I needed another vodka after about 45 minutes.)
So when E finally went on, I was a bit pissy and also in that semi-drunk state where I wondered how he could do this to me, to us? Mostly I was drunk because that movie was so long I drank way too fast. Fucking E.
But then, of course, he was on stage playing and I loved him. I LOVE him. It is hard not to, even though he had his cohort Chet read spoken word vignettes about his life onstage, which from any other person/band would seem so, I dunno, trite and lame, unless maybe it was Yo La Tengo or something.
In my advancing years, I’ve become a bit jaded, and when a musician in the course of three hours makes me want to cry, hurl something at his head, get drunk, stay sober, and then want more, I know I have seen and heard something great. And Mark “E” Everett does this to me. I love him, but I hate him; I never, ever want to have a day when I can’t hear him.
So last night? After the movie and about eighteen vodkas, E went on and started out slow and beautiful, but eventually “The Chet” joined him and it became awfully jammin’ just with the two guys. E went on drums for a while and acted like he didn’t know what he was doing but then busted out some kickass drumming. Manipulator! I hate you! I love you!
Mostly, though, I love Mark “E” Everett. And I would never miss an opportunity to see him – though now, I will know about the documentary, and will prepare accordingly. Because it is a pretty cool and interesting hour, one that I’d like to see from a proper distance sometime.
I kind of love this Mark Ronson cover of Radiohead’s “Just.”
Thanks to Sue for pointing this out for me – and this looks to be sort of an insane week, Radiohead wise. So stay tuned.