Friday, September 2, 2011

Glastonbury 2011

In 2011 I completed my life dream: to attend Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts. It may be almost 3 months later but the wrist band is still on and I haven’t forgotten the experience.

Getting to the festival was, I can not put it any other way, fucking miserable. It poured rain and my boots were soaked through, I ended up having to splurge on a pair of wellies. We camped in ‘South Park,’ also known as the middle of fucking nowhere on a hill. Our Tesco tent did surprisingly well in the torrential downpours that ensued but getting around proved difficult as the mud slowed everyone down.

Thursday we managed to get a little bit of sunshine and spent the day exploring the campsite, and by that I mean we sat in front of the Nelson Mandela bar and got drunk. We decided to hit an early night so we would be well rested the next day.

The rain returned on Friday, but this time I was more prepared with a poncho and a pair of wellies. We started the day at the famous Pyramid Stage where Metronomy where playing. Their new album ‘The English Riviera’ is pretty spectacular. While it may not be as danced fueled as the previous record, one only has to listen to the bass line on ‘The Bay’ to realize how instrumentally gifted this group is. My only complaint about the performance is that Metronomy should have either played in a tent or at night because their fancy light shows couldn’t be seen in the afternoon.

Next up was Indie rockers ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ who had a lot more energy than I thought. Lead singer Alex Trimble actually has a lot of charisma even with his ginger complexion working against him. At one point in the set he had everyone get on each other’s shoulders which finally gave me a view of the stage.

Wu-Tang Clan were up next and call me cynical but watching live hip hop is about as exciting as watching paint dry. First off, hip hop is not really my genre of music but I also find it difficult to enjoy watching 8 guys jump up and down and scream into a microphone. My friend Sam says its not about the talent, it is just about the feeling you get. I didn’t feel anything.

Legend B.B. King was up next, and I would have hated myself if I had missed this blues legend. After a quick trip to the Nelson Mandela bar, we relaxed and listened to King’s master craftsmanship on his famous guitar ‘Lucille.’
We climbed close to the stage to listen to Smith’s front man Morrissey and even though the performance was fabulous and his voice is still perfectly intact, Morrissey seemed like he didn’t want to be there. He insulted the crowd several times and of course did not forget to blast everyone on the planet who once had a burger. Apparently the Glastonbury site stopped serving meat during his set to honor him, it was more likely so he wouldn’t storm off the stage.

We skipped U2 and went over to the ‘Silent Disco.’ Which is totally the best thing ever. You are given a pair of headphones and taken onto the dance floor. There are 2 channels on the head phones, so everyone is sort of listening to something different. The best part is when you see everyone react and you switch over to the other channel and it’s a tune! Then you can take your headphones off and all you hear is everyone singing along.

Saturday warmed up a little so we had a bit of a lie in and arrived at the Pyramid Stage to see Gaslight Anthem finishing up their set. We walked over to the Circus and finally got a good tour of the site. We went to the Park stage to see who the special guests were and it turned out to be Pulp, who were definitely one of the highlights on the festival. I didn’t know much about Pulp before seeing them live, but Jarvis Cocker is so talented and ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 3000’ definitely rubbed off on me. I just wish I had known more about them before I saw them so I could have enjoyed it more.

Saturday night was Chemical Brothers! We sat towards the back so we could get a better view of the light show and it did not disappoint. Their set was pure ecstasy.

Sunday heated up fast, and it was actually hot, probably the hottest day of the year in the UK. I finally got to walk around in my bikini, proper festival style! We started the day out with Don McLean on the Pyramid stage and he is an amazing guitarist. Obviously ‘American Pie’ was a highlight and everyone sang along as he started the song back from the beginning.

We basked in the sun throughout Laura Marling’s set while we waited for another legend, Paul Simon, to approach the stage. Simon was amazing and his new album is fantastic, probably the best since ‘Graceland.’ The only disappointment was that he didn’t play any Simon and Garfunkel songs.
The mud was finally drying up so we walked over to the West Holts stage to watch The Go Team!, another highlight of the festival. There weren’t many people so we got right up close. Any lethargy I had felt before was gone once the lead singer, Ninja came on stage. I have never seen anyone with so much energy who enjoyed performing so much. It wasn’t just her though, the entire band had charisma. As the sun set, we sat in the West Holts bar and watched The Smoke Feathers, an unsigned band from London and they were incredible as well. I think everyone in the bar bought their record.

We ended the festival with Queens of the Stone Age, definitely the right choice, especially over Beyonce. People raved about her performance but I hate her so I imagine I would not have enjoyed it very much. Along with the wicked light show, Josh Homme’s amazing guitar skills prove that Queens of the Stone Age could be one of the last great bands on Earth, to me the true headliners.

So Glastonbury was over and it was quite surreal getting back in the car. Monday was almost 90 degrees in England and I had to leave the next day for America. I have one more festival this year in the UK with Bestival in the Isle of Wight and I am just praying to god that it doesn't rain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saint Louis Local Artists

I have decided to post all of my Examiner blogs on my old blog, you know for posterity. Everything is saved here and Ill keep this blog around for random musings or recommendations. Enjoy!

5. Union Tree Review
Folk based indie music blew up this year on both sides of the Atlantic, mostly because of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, but Saint Louis has a folk indie group that could give them a run for their money. Fronted by the charismatic Tawaine Noah and backed my a melodic range of instruments, Union Tree Review creates a sweet, harmonious sound usually reserved for bands with much more experience. Union Tree Review are a troupe of real musicians, passionate about their art.

4. The Makeshift Gentlemen
Makeshift Gentlemen could easily become Saint Louis’ next big indie success. This electro indie rock outfit embody great dance music as well as good old fashioned rock n roll. Songs like ‘Casanova’ are instantly recognizable and their synth pop hooks could make any of their songs instant hits. The band borders on theatrical, but not in a bad way, and puts on a performance rather than just a show. The band
echoes other indie greats like Franz Ferdinand and quite often treats the audience to covers of their own
indie heroes like Jet. The band has already gotten buzz as opening acts for the Von Bondies and Shiny Toy Guns and will surely be ready to burst from the Saint Louis scene.

3. The Breaks

The Breaks were the best new band to arise from the Saint Louis music scene, and although they haven’t been around for long, have already made an impact on local indie music. Their type of loud indie pop is not usual for midwest America, but rather sounds more like something to come out of the UK. Their niche filling genre hasn’t gone unnoticed, The Breaks have gotten a copious amount of local press and its not hard to see why. Their unique voice and modern take on pop music has them set on the path for success.

2. The Blind Eyes
The Blind Eyes were one of the first bands I experienced when I started my stay in Saint Louis, and they blew me away. Riverfront Times voted them ‘Best Pop Band,’ and although I would classify their music as more of a modern take on classic rock, The Blind Eyes surely deserve the recognition. The group has been on the Saint Louis scene for awhile now, have built up a loyal following, and have played several
dates at local powerhouse venue The Pageant. Since their 2009 album release ‘Modernity,’ the band has only been going up, and 2011 might be their best year yet.

1. So Many Dynamos

Calling So Many Dynamos local these days is most definitely an understatement, but for a long time, the band did call Saint Louis their home. The release of Loud Wars put So Many Dynamos on the national and international map and this palindrome named rock band started the long climb to fame. The Loud Wars is a brilliantly combined album that is synth heavy, but with much more serious material than your typical dance-punk album. The band returned to Saint Louis this year to play at the first annual LouFest and debuted some new tunes for their hometown following. Their music is engrossing, engaging, and their songwriting ability makes them one of the best up and coming bands not only of Saint Louis, but of the nation.

My Saint Louis Playlist

I Function-Union Tree Review
Casanova-Makeshift Gentlemen
Odd Man Out-The Breaks
January-The Blind Eyes
The Formula-So Many Dynamos