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rocked and shellshocked (such glassy eyes)

November 10, 2003

so all tomorrow's parties was this weekend in long beach and i went. i am exhausted, my whole body hurts, and i have just consumed half a can of pringles for "breakfast" (road snack leftovers you know) as well as a small mountain of tootsie rolls so it must have been good. here is the version which cannot fairly be called short but isn't really the whole story either, reconstructed mainly from a letter i wrote while down there and from the show schedule because my foggy brain can't even remember my own name at the moment.

got to the festival around 3.30 on saturday. we had spent the night in van nuys and were late getting going. waited in the hell line for wristbands and then went to the main stage. (i should mention, there were two stages running in parallel the whole festival, one stage on board the queen mary ship, and the other in an adjoining park-type space. they were close enough that it was easier than i feared it would be to drift back and forth between the two.)

first band we saw was the black heart procession. maybe it's because that's not middle-of-the-day music, but i found it pretty uninspiring. next was the shins (yay! if you're not familiar with this band you should check them out) which we very much enjoyed from where we languished in the beer pen. yes, i said beer pen. literally, a chain-link fence enclosure packed with hipsters all complaining about the $28 six-packs of corona which were sadly the most attractive beer pen option. we broke free of the rest of the herd in the pen and went closer to the stage to hear the magic band (sans the good captain beefheart of course). my cohorts did not enjoy the magic band. i really dug the first half of their hour-long set which consisted of a lot of the experimental/free/avant-jazz wanky stuff from the earlier part of their career, i wasn't so into the last half which was more delta bluesy stuff, at least that's how one of the band members described it.

after the magic band, modest mouse played. and i have enjoyed the songs of theirs i've heard on the radio or whatever, but i just haven't ever gotten REALLY into them. but that said, i did enjoy their set quite a bit. it took me a few songs to get fully engaged but then there was rocking happening. they ended with their song 'cowboy dan' which is one that i had heard and thought was really great. towards the end of it the frontman (brock? someone?) started screaming into his guitar pickup instead of the mike so the vocals came out all lovelydistorted. i hadn't seen anyone do that before. it was rad.

then ran over to the boat where mike watt and george hurley were playing a "minutemen duet". i've seen watt before and he is incredible to watch so i really wanted to see most of the set (although it overlapped with modest mouse by about 15 min) but there was at that point the only long line i ever encountered to get on the boat, so i only ended up seeing the last song. still, was worth it. mike watt is the man. then i had to decide whether to stay there for spoon or go back to the park for built to spill. ended up staying because though i love bts, i have seen him before and wasn't that thrilled with the show, thought he was a pretty apathetic performer. hadn't seen spoon before, so i stayed and wow. they were great, i mean i like their records a lot but they were GREAT live. tons of energy, very interactive. we left before they actually finished their set though (which i now sort of regret, it was just getting better and better) because we wanted to be back in the park by 10.30 for sonic youth, who closed the show that day. sonic youth was sonic youth. i watched most of it alone 'cause my friends all wussed out and went to the hotel. end saturday.

sunday again we got a late-ish start, blah blah long run and then long brunch. but we got there around 4? and went right to the boat and caught all of jackie-o motherfucker's set. i love their name and i had heard one song of theirs on the radio a few weeks ago and i liked it, but i was not so into their set at all. it was just way. way. out there and experimental and i am not opposed to that, but as the first show of the day it was maybe a little much. then we saw terry riley play with some dude who played an upright bass. it was beautiful and there was hardly anyone there because i don't think the indie kids really knew who he was, but that made it intimate and more special i think.

then over to the park for...mission of burma! yeah! i wish these guys had closed the festival, they were SO amazing, so wonderful, they played a mix of new and old stuff. i found out they are working on a new record now which i wasn't sure how i felt about, but their new songs sounded mostly really good so i have hope now. they just rocked us and rocked us and all i could think was "thank you. thankyouthankyouthankyou."

then there was a tribute to elliot smith which i was feeling kinda sketchy about but it turned out to be really wonderful. it was smith's band and lou barlow (!!) filled in for smith on vocals. he gave a short intro and then they just launched into five or six really beautiful songs, joined by members of the minders for some of them. after each song, barlow would grab the sheet (i guess it must have had music or at least lyrics) and crumple it into a ball and throw it out into the crowd. anyway, i found the whole tribute to be very beautiful and not maudlin at all. it was emotion as opposed to sentiment, and not at all "oh look at us, we're SOOOO sad." i mean, there was sadness but -- well, it's like they were singing TO him and FOR him and not just playing at being sad for the aesthetics of it.

so then my friends punked out again and i went over to the boat to hear american analog set. which i LOVED. i have never really paid much attention to them but i was really into it and i bought their new cd. they are from austin (wonder if they know spoon! heh) and their set was full of delicate and pretty vocals over these lush and droney layers of keyboard, guitar, xylophone, and percussion.

then back to the main stage (skipping cat power because i freakin' hate her live, avoid her live shows at all costs is my advice) and heard the end of the mars volta's set which was not my thing, but i got a really good spot for iggy & the stooges, who closed the festival. oh, and mike watt played with the stooges! aah! i was about 10 feet from iggy and he brought the rock.

bands i failed to see:
!!!, moris tepper, daniel johnston, danielson famile, deerhoof, john wesley harding, built to spill, bangs, bardo pond, liarbird, electrolane, james chance & the contortions, har mar superstar, carla bozulich, and cat power.

of the bands i didn't see, i was only really sad about missing !!! (whom i have tried to see once before as well but failed) and daniel johnston (whom it is impossible not to love). and i do want to see deerhoof as well, but they play here a lot so i figure i've got more chances. the others i just didn't feel like i needed to see, or else they conflicted with someone i wanted to see more.

so that was it. at some point i had the brilliant idea called "why spend another night in la when we could just drive straight through the night and get home in the early morning!" next time i have a brilliant idea, someone needs to remind me that it isn't. i got home at 7a after driving most of the way back with a very tenacious headache, borderline migraine i think. the traveling companions were good and offered to drive but i didn't think being mushed into the back seat of the two door little bitty mustang rental thingy was going to be any better. i tried not to whine too much but damn i thought i was going to throw up for awhile. crashed out for a few hours and now here i am, dumping the contents of my brain before i go crash out again. ahhhh, all the price of rocking i suppose. was a brilliant weekend.