Brazilian Girls, 9:30 Club

I ended my birthday this year at one of my favorite places in the world, a place where I've spent a lot of time and money over the years: the 9:30 Club. Joe got me tickets to go see Brazilian Girls, a band that can only be described as EDM meets world music meets cabaret. I've loved their song "Don't Stop" ever since I heard it back in 2005.

The band is widely known for another song however, with a very NSFW chorus and a "better not Google it" title. I saw Brazilian Girls at a festival years ago and the audience consisted mainly of frat boys, which made me wonder. The guy next to me at this show confirmed my suspicions. He actually said out loud, "I bought my ticket for that one song." Knew it!

But I knew that they'd put on a good show beyond that one song. The lead singer Sabina Sciubba is a force of nature. She wandered through the crowd, made everyone dance the waltz, smoked cigarettes and more onstage, and accessorized her strappy sandals with a beer tucked in the pocket of her oversize blazer. She's got Euro sex appeal, alright. Miley, forget the twerking for a minute - you'd be well-served to take notes.

 

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Horribly blurry photo goes here. The one thing I was disappointed about was that Sabina seemed to actively loathe "Don't Stop" and totally phoned it in. They really hyped it up for the encore, but she could not be bothered. Oh well. Their new stuff sounded interesting, I thought. As Sabina said, "We are going to overwhelm you with new shit."

Oh! And this must be mentioned, because I've never seen this before at the 9:30 Club.  

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Someone in the audience had one of those rave kites (I don't know the teminology?) and twirled it around through half of the show. I don't know how he found a spot so devoid of people to pursue this hobby, as it takes up a lot of space. Our fellow concertgoers were breathing down our necks and we were just standing there. "Maybe he bopped people on the head until they left," Joe said. The best part about it was that he was wearing a camping head lamp too. Gotta keep track of all that twirling neon fabric.

I went dancing at U Street Music Hall a couple years ago and someone was doing this. The same person perhaps? My friend said, "I just want to throw that thing in the trash," which was funny because she is the most unflappable, peaceful person. The secondhand embarrassment was that pervasive.  

Father John Misty in Concert

Just posting a quick picture from the fourth row or so at Thursday's Father John Misty 9:30 Club show. I might sound like a Father John Misty superfan at this point.

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I went to Brightest Young Things today to read about how awesome the show was, and instead I was left scratching my head at this review. The Post's review was less obtuse, of course, but even more withering. I just feel like they missed the point. From my vantage point (fourth row), the man puts on a show that's plenty entertaining. That includes the dance moves, laugh-out-loud banter, and vocal chops. He's charming, and that's not the case for a lot of indie acts. And I actually like the album, the writing is memorable. Maybe everyone needs to take it less seriously.

But then again, I am a super fan.

PS - No one mentioned this in the reviews, but Tillman talked about playing the 9:30 Club in front of 50 people and it looking like a performance art installation of what failure looks like. Ha! Now he is selling out shows...

My Coachella Playlist

Finally, a post about the music we heard at Coachella Week 2! We managed to see about 40 bands in three days. OK, some of those were for like 10 minutes, but still I add it to the tally. Emily did the calculations, and she says it works out to about $8 a band. Ha, a bargain! But really, nearly everyone who is touring this summer hits Coachella so it is a worthwhile investment.

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This is mainly for my own edification, but here is a list of everyone we heard. In the grid, you'll see a few pictures I took from the shows.

Friday: You Me & Us, IO Echo, Lord Huron, Youth Lagoon, The Shouting Matches, Stars, Divine Fits, Of Monsters and Men, Local Natives, Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Band of Horses, Jurassic 5, Tegan and Sara.

Saturday: Kids These Days, Wombats, Guards, Shovels & Ropes, Wild Nothing, Savages, 2 Chainz, Bat for Lashes, Major Lazer, Grizzly Bear, The Postal Service, The XX, Janelle Monae, Sigur Ros, Phoenix

Sunday: Smith Westerns, DIIV, Jessie Ware, Thee Oh Sees, Grimes, The Lumineers, Tame Impala, La Roux, Father John Misty, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

We basically had our schedules out constantly, always on the move to the next show. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stages were close enough together that you could check out half of one set and half of another. 

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Just a few obvious observations:

  • You realize just how talented these folks are, in that they can not only write a fantastic song, but play it in the desert in front of thousands of people in 90 degree heat. That isn't easy. 
  • It was interesting to see 2 Chainz on 4/20, that's for sure.
  • Smith Westerns are soo young. They looked like they were in 8th grade, tops.
  • Karen O is a force of nature, especially when she's wearing a gaudy yellow suit.
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers really should have a special guest or brought something surprising to the table. I guess that's the problem with week 2: we found their set list online and followed along and they played the exact same songs.
  • Lord Huron and Wild Nothing's albums will be my new chill summer soundtrack.
  • La Roux has a new album coming out!
  • Jenelle Monae, why are you not more famous? She is an electrifying performer, and she can really crowdsurf!
  • After seeing Father John Misty, we immediately bought tickets to see him again. He's going places. In fact, today's DC show sold out. I hope his stage banter is just as funny and charming as was in Coachella. He had a great riff about girls wearing floral crowns needing to have a more hippy attitude.
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And I made a Spotify playlist with my favorite songs from some of the bands I saw at Coachella. I'm excited about this, I hope you check it out if you are in need of some tunes today! And click here for all of my Coachella 2013 Week 2 posts

What to Expect at Coachella

It seems like every year there are more music festivals than the last, and I've been to Lollapalooza, but Coachella has always been on my dream list. It's got a bazillion bands each year, and that intangible California cool. Regardless of who was on the lineup, my middle school/high school bestie Emily and I decided this would be the one year of our lives we'd check it out, since Emily is currently living in Yuma, Arizona, just a few hour drive away. We managed to purchase tickets and I couldn't believe this was actually happening.

I had a few worries though: 1) that I would get horribly sunburned and get heatstroke in the desert, and 2) that the scene would be too Burning Man-esque. But neither ended up bothering me! Here are our tips for music nerds who want to get the most music for their buck at Coachella. We were totally prepared — and that was all on Emily, I tip my hat to her. In fact, the first day we were so jazzed about the festival that I think we may have been the first ones out of 80,000 people to arrive at the parking lot. "It's not open yet," the parking lot attendent told us. "Can we wait?" Emily asked. "No," he said. "Go get a cup of coffee."

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So here are a few tips to surving Coachella from hyper-organized East Coasters.

1. Don't get discouraged if the website times out when you're attempting to buy tickets. It took us a zillion tries to get through, with both of us trying different browsers.

2. Bring your water bottle with a carabiner clip (as seen above). There are a few faucets scattered throughout the grounds.

3. A handkerchief is crucial for those who are prissy about sitting in the grass and dust. And it folds up to fit in your purse.

4. Tons of sunscreen is a must, but to my relief, a lot of the stages have metal roofs for some shelter from the sun.

5. The last day I rented a locker for $15 for the day, and it was a luxury to stash my jacket and a few other supplies so I wouldn't have to lug them around all day.

6. I loved following along on Twitter with @SPINfestivals — whoever is behind that is terrific.

At the end of three long days outdoors, I didn't get even a hint of sunburn. That's a major miracle for someone as pale as me. And my other fear was my fellow concertgoers, but everyone was pretty docile. There was one moment where two guys near me exchanged words, and the first day at 11 a.m., a man staggered toward us then passed out cold, bloodying his face in the process.  Poor guy. Other than that, all was well. They had two layers of security to get into the festival and they checked thoroughly. In fact, the woman administering the security check on Friday was disturbingly committed to her job. There was some cupping that I think went above and beyond the call of duty. Shudder.

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Above you can see the grounds and the shaded stages. This alien looking landscape behind Emily is all the art installations at Coachella. Let's see it!

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The Do Lab is that Dr. Seuss-looking thing. I  really hope there was air conditioning for those guys in the hippo costumes.

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This giant snail thing looks innocent enough, right? It motored around the festival grounds, and I thought it was swell.

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Until it pushed its way to the front during the Divine Fits and Of Monsters and Men sets, relentlessly moving forward and practically trampling people to do so. We got so squished together in the crowd because of that stupid snail that Emily and I could've lifted our feet off the ground and still remained standing. You can plot the snail's progress in this photo series. After that, we didn't attempt to get close to the stage again. Thanks, snail.

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Picturef above: iconic ferris wheel, merch and screenprinting, water bar (people will wait in line to try different kinds of water, apparently), and fancy recycling bins that were uniformly ignored. They tried!

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I don't know anyone in the photo, but it captures the scene. I believe 40% of the men at Coachella had a variation of the Hitler Youth haircut.

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Pretty pictures of Coachella at night. That house on the left in the photo above was my favorite. It was all white during the day, and then projections at night made it look like there was a house party happening inside.

Come back next time, and I'll talk about, oh yeah, the music!

Thao & The Get Down, Stay Down at Black Cat

This is embarrassing: I was totally focused on working on my R29 Thao Nguyen story, yet I neglected to buy tickets to her show at the Black Cat and it sold out! But there's a happy ending. My friend Carolyn was my indie rock fairy godmother and her boyfriend Alex graciously gave his ticket to me. So I got to see the show after all!

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They sounded so great, and played nearly all the songs on the new record. Thao really gave it her all. Plus, she busted out a Ludacris rap ("What's Your Fantasy"), and talked about her summer gigs pre-fame, like playing Potbelly restaurants all around NoVa and working as a bouncer at Guitar Center. The show ended with a rendition of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" sung by both Thao and Sallie Ford, who opened the show with her band The Sound Outside. Really good vibes! 

Sweetlife Festival in Review

I must actually be an optimist, because no matter how many times I've been rained on in general admission at outdoor shows, I still buy lawn tickets. An optimist or a cheapskate.

Won't it be nice to picnic on the grass with friends, I think, as I click "purchase." All other occasions when I've sat huddled under a garbage bag to keep out the rain have disappeared from my mind.

Even on Sunday when I was getting ready for the Sweetlife Festival, I looked at the weather and saw a 20% chance of rain. Yay, it won't rain, I decided, specifically choosing to bypass umbrellas. 20% equals 0% for me. Thankfully, Joe convinced me to bring a raincoat.

But even though of course it rained, a steady drizzle that turned into bona ride miserable storm the festival was still fun. Towards the end, the rain disappeared so the crowd could thoroughly enjoy Lupe Fiasco, Girl Talk and The Strokes.

The first two of those acts got panned in the Post, but out in the muddy lawn seats, everyone seemed to be having fun. That's all Girl Talk is about, having fun. Dancing like a maniac with thousands of people doing the same. Also confetti and balloons. There's nothing deeper to it than that. Music purists may be appalled by Girl Talk - 30 second clips of music strung together for the ADD generation. Why listen to an entire concert of one artist when you can listen to the best of 60 artists' work crammed into one hour?

I argue that Girl Talk doesn't equal the apocalypse for pop music. I watched the same crowd get just as jazzed for The Strokes and they are about as classic rock and roll as you'll get in 2011. The two can sit together, in harmony, on the same festival lineup.