Friday, October 30, 2009

The Windy City

I figured since I've been home for over two weeks now it's about time I talk about my Chicago experience at the tail end of my road trip... What can I say? Chicago is just an amazing city.

We ended up crashing at the apartment of Tom's old friend from Kansas which just so happened to be on the North Side in Wrigleyville and only a couple blocks from Wrigley Field. I spent a good hour one cold afternoon just walking around the empty ballpark and taking pictures; empty because, of course, the Cubs had failed to make the playoffs. Shocker! But any hardcore baseball fan can't help but get the warm and fuzzies just being in the presence of that baseball shrine. It's priceless.

The Chicago stay was very relaxed and devoid of much work at all, which was great. The night we rolled into town we checked out a show at the great North Side bar/venue called Schuba's. Although we missed the set of Hockey, the band we came to see, we got to catch Portugal. The Man (terrible name; great band) and they were excellent. The following morning my taste buds were delighted by the best marscapone cheese-filled, cinnamon roll french toast I have ever had at Ann Sather, widely regarded as the best breakfast place in Chicago.

Meeting up with old friends you haven't seen in years is always a delight, and that was undoubtedly the highlight of my Chi Town stay. I spent two nights hanging out with Allie, one of my bff's from UCSD theatre; a girl who has played my wife three times and my mother once. We drank ourselves silly on Saturday night - a night that included my getting hit on while taking a pee in the restroom of a gay bar (Allie sure loves gay bars).

Of course it was freezing balls the entire time. After complaining about he 109-degree heat in Arizona to start our trip, we were now complaining about the beyond chilly 34-degree weather in the midwest. And being from San Diego, of course I didn't even bother to bring a jacket on my trip. Only a Southern Californian would pull a bone head move like that. But anyway, after three enjoyable days in the Windy City I jetted back to LA where I was greeted by rain. Course the trip wouldn't have been complete without another road block; TSA gave me a hell of time getting through security at the airport (no photo ID, remember? ) But it all worked out..

I hope life's journey takes me through Chicago several times again before I check out. It's one of my very favorite places.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Top 20

"List Your Top Twenty Favorite Bands"

So I did... and then some.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Best. Book. Ever.

I got this book a while back. It's pretty awesome. It's called 'Music Listography (Your Life In (Play) Lists)'. 138 pages of 69 music-related lists that you fill out after taking a thorough look through your music collection...

For example: "List Your Top 20 Favorite Bands"/ "List The 20 Albums You'd Bring If You Were Leaving Planet Earth On A Spaceship"/ "List Music From Your High School Years"/ "List A Song That Reminds You Of Each Lover You've Had"/ "List Performers You'd Bring Back To Life"/ "List The Songs To Play At Your Funeral"/ "List Concerts You Wish You Could Time Travel To"/ "List Songs That Completely Transform Your Mood" etc.. etc.. Straightforward lists, fun lists, obscure lists... fun stuff. It's something I could literally spend all day doing. It's the closest thing I'll probably ever have to an actual written journal; in my music lists you could probably find out anything about me you'd ever want to know. It's so me, it's ridiculous. After all, listening to music and making lists are two of my very favorite things in the world.

Each lists also comes with a really cool graphic related to the subject of this list. So like, for "List The Best Concerts & Music Festivals You've Ever Seen" it's got a drawing of a Ziggy Stardust arcade game enveloped in flames, with the caption Arcade Fire, Central Park Summer Stage, Surprise Guest David Bowie 9/16/2005. . For "List The Best Soundtracks", it has a drawing of Frank the Bunny from 'Donnie Darko'... which I particularly enjoyed because the 'Donnie Darko' soundtrack has always been one of my favorites.

My nerdly obsession with this book is pretty astounding. I am just in love with it. There are probably only a handful of people in the world who would be thrilled by "Music Listography", but I am one of them. I feel like they made it just for me. Anyway, just thought I'd share.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it Janet? I knew if there was one person who would appreciate this book as much as me, it'd be you. I told you I got you a prezzie for your b-day... Well, be sure to check the mail on Saturday, or possibly Monday.

Hapee Burthdaye

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Dirty South and Midwest...

Rain. Wet. Cold.

Those would be the best words to sum up our five-day journey across the South and Midwest. Really makes you appreciate that beautiful Southern California sunshine. I will never take it for granted again.

We hit the first three states in which I had never been before on Sunday: Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. However we didn't really get to enjoy all, or any, of what they had to offer due to the time crunch getting from New Orleans to Atlanta to Louisville in 2 days and due to the miserable weather, which drained us of any desire to stop and do anything outdoors. The most memorable thing about our brief jaunt across the Bible belt had to be the billboards (eg "HELL IS REAL"/"JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS"/"AN EMBRYO IS A BABY"), the gas-station t-shirts (eg "1 cross + 3 spikes = 4 given" and confederate flags up the wazoo) and the healthy dose of Southern Hospitality we received. Just about every gas station in the South is run by a"down-home-looking" woman. And these gas station ladies are just as pleasant as can be: "How y'all doin' todaaye?" is the typical greeting you receive in stereotypical Southern drawl. It caught me somewhat off-guard, seeing as how most gas station attendants in California a.) often do not speak English well or at all b.) are usually not women and c.) usually look like they want to punch you.

Say what you will about Tennessee and Kentucky, but driving across them is really beautiful. Nothing but miles and miles of rolling hills, deciduous forest, grassy fields, rivers, cows, horses and farms. Monday evening there was a chill in the air and with the leaves just beginning their colorful transformation i got my first real taste of fall in years. It was really nice. Almost made me wanna live there. Almost.

The city of Louisville has a classic Eastern feel with Brownstone neighborhoods full of close-knit brick homes. Unfortunately AC/DC cancelled their scheduled show there and the weather sucked out any life the city may have had. Our stay there was a pretty uneventful one, the highlight being an in-store performance by The Entrance Band at Ear X-Tacy, one of the best record stores I've ever stumbled upon. And in Kentucky.. go figure.

Our next stop was St. Louis, where Paramore promptly continued our string of 'luck' and re-scheduled their show for November. We were left without much to do but drink in the St. Loo night-life with Nick, a super cool hulk of a man we met during our hotel's happy hour who happened to be both an Army Ranger and MME fighter. St. Louis has this great area down by the riverfront; a few blocks of cobblestone streets from the French colonial days and all kinds of great drinking holes with live music. Sadly, on a Tuesday night they were all virtually empty, even during a Cardinals playoff game. We learned that the economy was largely to blame for this. Imagine the Sunset Strip being nearly empty during a Lakers playoff game. It's kind of like that, which was pretty depressing.

We hit up the University of Missouri (Mizzou) football game against Nebraska last in rainy (surprise surprise) Colombia, Mo where we spread Wolfmother cheer and soaked up the whole college football game-night atmosphere that I unfortunately never got at UCSD. With two nationally ranked conference rival schools going at it on national television in front of stadium packed with drunken students and alumni, it was like like nothing I had ever experienced. Thanks again for depriving me of yet another essential college experience, UCSD!

Chicago all weekend. Can't wait. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 5, 2009

ACL and Bourbon Street...

Austin City Limits (or ACL, as everyone calls it) is big. Bigger than Coachella big. 130 bands in 3 days big. It's also not cheap.. which is why it's awesome that Filter got us in for free. Luckily, after a day of "I hate life" Texas humidity, the first day of ACL was absolutely gorgeous. The music gods were truly smiling down on the 70,000+ in attendance, and they were treated to one hell of a first day. Many of the first bands that played right after the festival opened at noon I had never heard of, but some LSU girls suggested we check out this band Blitzen Trapper from Portland (horrible name, good band) and we were not disappointed. Sort of a Grateful Dead/hippie band kinda feel. After doing some major music marketing we caught the entire set of my favorite French band (other French bands?) Phoenix. These guys totally killed it. Sounded great live and a fun band to dance around to for an hour. After getting a couple Heineken keg cans in us and passing out in the grass during John Legend I had the honor of seeing Them Dirty Vultures, which features Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/Nirvana) on drums, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on vocals/guitar. Any band with members of Zep and Nirvana has got to be awesome, right? Well they were. Straight up in-your-face rock 'n roll. And watching Dave Grohl on drums is mind-blowing. Possibly even better than seeing him on vocals with Foo. Loved it... I then FINALLY got to catch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs live for the first time, opting to watch them over Kings of Leon (the other headliner of the night) and certainly had no regrets about it. Karen O is an untamed beast on-stage. She just goes balls out. It was a pleasure watching her put on a show. No girl rocks harder than KO.

An all around awesome day, only tainted by the fact that I got my wallet pick-pocketed at a club in Austin that night. I'm still pissed, but things things happen in life and you make due... Anyway, despite the fact we had 3 day passes we had to move on to New Orleans, meaning I had to miss bands like Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys, Dead Weather and Pear Jam... but, hey, we were going to NEW ORLEANS for chrissakes!

Our time in the Big Easy was much too short, but we made sure to do it right. Bourbon Street was a circus as it always is: mobs of drunken people of all ages falling over themselves in the closed-down street. Jazz, clubs, noise, bars, beads, bad smells, chaos, booze, strip clubs, debauchery... that is Bourbon Street at night. Tom and I hit up a jazz bar where a live band was playing and each threw back a $16 'Hurricane', then headed to a more traditional 'younger crowd' type of club with girls dancing on platforms and the whole bit. Definitely preferred the jazz bar. In essence we made the most of the few hours we had to drink up New Orleans before heading to Atlanta yesterday morning, but there's a chance I may head back for VooDoo festival (another HUGE one) at the end of the month *fingers crossed*

The drive across the Dirty South from New Orleans to Atlanta to Louisville has been long and, well, looooong... I'll write about it next time around. I'm beat.

All my ex's live in Texas...

Last Wednesday I finally got the honor of getting behind the wheel and taking the reigns of this bad bitch of an automobile across Texas. She handles like a dream. A bad dream, but a dream nonetheless, which is why we've bestowed the nickname WolfmotherFUCKER upon her. She's also basically an over-sized tin can, which became quite obvious when the Texas winds "blew us around the highway like a prairie dog in a Texas Twister", as I told my buddy, making an attempt to become one with the Texas lingo. The high winds also set up the obvious "I haven't been blown like that since Prom Night" joke, which of course I enjoyed being a jackass and all.

Our stay in Dallas was brief, although I did get pics in front of the Ballpark in Arlington and Jerry Jones' ego project, also known as the sparkling new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. As for work, we briefly hit up the lower Greenville district of Dallas, a hip section outside downtown packed with bars, restaurants, clubs, and music venues such as the Granada where the Get Up Kids were playing that night. Basically Dallas' version of Hillcrest/North Park I suppose, except less gay. We took a few shots with fans and made our way to Tom's friend's swanky condo where we enjoyed good conversation, "Tropic Thunder" and Shiner Bock (Texas' favorite brew).

On the way to Austin we made a quick pit stop in Waco at Baylor University, a private Christian school which appeared to have the have the same social scene and overall student enthusiasm as UCSD... so basically not much of either. The campus did have a live bear habitat though (Baylor is home of the Bears) and a Silverlake-esque coffee shop, which was cool and seemed entirely out of place.

Then it was Austin. Oh Austin.. I previously mentioned what a cool college town Tempe, Arizona was. Well Austin kinda blows it away. Take Tempe out of the desert and into an actual livable climate, surround it with a super hip, super progressive city, and you have Austin - the rocking state capital of Texas and home of the Univ. of Texas. Downtown Austin on a Thursday night was amazing: hordes of people, endless bars, live music, closed-down streets and just an all-around good vibe and good time. Don't see how a college town could get any better.. kinda made me regret all that time I spent at UCSD, not being a Texas Longhorn. We had no trouble reaching the music-loving crowd we sought and had too many conversations with too many cool people to count. The Austin City Limits music festival and New Orleans are gonna need their own blog post, so I'll cut if off here till later on tonight...