Saturday, July 25, 2015

TV on the Radio/Boxed In, July 25, 2015 at the Annenberg Space for Photography

KCRW has done a series of free summer shows, and we got one that we'd make the effort for.  Even when a free show has talent that you'd want to see, usually everyone else knows and it gets to be a crazy scene, and more often than not pulls a crowd much greater than expectations and becomes a real horror show.  But maybe KCRW could coordinate one of their own, and maybe we could get there early enough to get a good place in the crowd.  Generally, just for the trouble, we'd rather pay to see a show that isn't a hassle than a free thing that's miserable throughout but Vanessa and Tana were interested in seeing TV on the Radio and we had the Saturday afternoon free.  We got a good place on the lawn in front (due to accidentally cutting  in line -- so many people to get in meant a bit of crowd disorder (though worked out for us -- accidentally) -- and having a view-line and a place to sit and not being jostled by the crowd can always make a difference.  Meeting up with the girls, we spent a lot of the afternoon, while Jason Bentley spun some tunes (who's great but is so ubiquitous for us that we can take him for granted), folding paper cranes for our wedding coming up and drinking wine.  Boxed In opened, and they (or just one guy) were good enough to have sympathy that some Brits would have to expend an effort at making a splash in the States for a free show that might be disregarded by people wanting to get in to something that they don't have to pay for.  KCRW might have been holding them up at the time -- and maybe this could have been more for them -- but their name didn't come around much later. After a few hours in a relaxed atmosphere, chalked up to a crowd that respects each other as much as college radio, TV on the Radio turned in a show that could have been good enough to pay for. I've gone on about how inconsistent their shows are, and this one didn't set anything on fire, but it was good enough to put it on the level of the other decent times we've seen them. It didn't even seem like an abbreviated set (at least not compared with one at a festival or the recent one at the Fonda that started late). They even had Cullen Bohanon off to the side on trumpet and percussion.  Maybe it was more about the afternoon spent with friends, especially after the other two times we'd seen them recently, but whatever KCRW put into that show and series, it felt like a gift to their listeners in L.A.

TV on the Radio's set-list:
"Young Liars"
"Happy Idiot"
"Golden Age"
"Could You"
"Wolf Like Me"
"Blues From Down Here"
"Staring at the Sun"


Friday, July 17, 2015

L7, July 17, 2015 at the Fonda

L7 were yet another band I missed back in the day.  (Judging just from how times I’ve started entries with that line, especially lately, it might seem like there were a lot of bands I missed, which is approximately the case, except that there are a lot of bands I’ve been into in different periods so proportionately it doesn’t come to so many, but more the case that a lot of shows we go to anymore are to see bands I didn’t catch originally, with the trend of reunions by ‘90s bands, some of which I missed at the time and won’t make the same mistake again.)  They were on my radar from Bricks are Heavy, though at the time Nirvana was as much grunge as I could get into (if not sludge, as could be more appropriate), but I got attached to Triple Platinum: The Beauty Process, but too late, though I remember an ad for an L.A. show they did on that tour that I might have been able to swing (if I could have convinced myself that I might survive an L7 show.  When my brothers and I used to play a game in picking who on MTV would win in a fight against each other, L7 was always the trump card that ended it).  I might have even seen them for Slap-Happy, had they done an L.A. show for it, if they weren't already disregarded by then.  When they became yet another ‘90s band to reunite (and the third, in under a year, comprised of mostly women and that I loved but missed the first time), I was already in.  I would have taken the Echo show, of course, but the Fonda was just as good, and even better for being on a Friday night.  So I finally got to see “Shitlist” by its originators, which easily made the show a victory, even if they also didn’t go near The Beauty Process, which would have been disappointing if the show hadn’t been so representative of them at their snarling best, years be damned.  If they had or hadn’t aged well -- looking rough was always part of their visual aesthetic -- the music still stood up.  (Who ever thought they were really ever going to go major-label, mass-market big?  As if a band could make it big just on their music, especially something that heavy and pissy and, above all, female.  Their music was abrasive enough to stop their rise before they started, but it’s a testament to how badass and awesome they ever were that they went as far as they did.)  Which is more than I could say for myself, since I drank enough before and during to be only barely able to remember being at the show.  (The goal, as I learned, is not to go straight for the beer with the highest APV just to get your value in drunkenness.  Also, limit drinking while taking antibiotics (my next-day self exclaimed).)  Skating Polly opened, and maybe we could have checked them out -- and maybe we did -- but I could have been saving my coherence for the main act (or using the time to drink more).

L7's set-list:
"Fuel My Fire"
"Diet Pill"
"(Right On) Thru"
"Freak Magnet"
"One More Thing"
"I Need"
"Mr. Integrity"

"American Society" (Eddie & The Subtitles cover)
"Pretend We're Dead"

"Fast and Frightening"

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Smokey Robinson/L.A. Philharmonic, July 4, 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl

The 4th of July show at the Bowl is always an option for the holiday, and I always look forward to seeing who will be playing there that night because it’s not only often a possibility but the show on that night is always a great event, sometimes not even for the main performer (we saw Josh Groban one year, remember) but for the fireworks and the grand event of one of the best nights of the summer in a place where they make such a big deal out of it.  There’s also the attendant picnic before, or even during, the show, even if it’s been just me & Carla, but even better when we have more of our drinkers' group out.  This year, Rachel offered tickets from her LiveNation contacts and we were in.  We got a good-sized group out, with the usual great food and wine to share before the show.  The performance by  the philharmonic has become pretty rote by now, though still impressive, as any performance by such a magnificent and large orchestra can be, but the fireworks are still a sight, even if they’re the same every year, and this coming from a fellow who is not easily impressed by a fireworks show.  This year's musical performance was the Smokey Robinson, and even though it didn’t completely matter who was playing as long as we were seeing a 4th of July show, it was still great to witness a living legend.  He’s slower than he probably was in his hey-day but he still has plenty of moves, and enough hits to pack a show with songs that every person knows and enough swagger to make ladies swoon.  Unfortunately, his set seemed far too short, even shorter than most bands get in sharing a bill with the orchestra.  It’s hard to complain since we’re there for the whole night and not just one performer, but at least it was enough to get in and out without it dragging.  We probably wouldn’t see Smokey on his own (at least not without our parents), and seeing a truncated show in place of a full one was a mild let-down, but seeing the man while he’s still with us, along with friends and fireworks and wine and the rest on such a slendid summer night, was great for another holiday.