Riot Fest once again proved itself to be the music fest for grownups. Grownups in black t-shirts.
While all the other big festivals rotate the same dozen headliners, it’s great that Riot Fest has retained its punk rock focus. Maybe not as strictly as during its first several years as a multi-venue festival, but most of the performers still fall somewhere along the punk rock spectrum. And even the ones who don’t play distorted guitars could be said to have a punk rock attitude. Gotta respect that.
Riot Fest sometimes gets accused of cashing in on nostalgia. Sure, a lot of the bands peaked 20 or 30 years ago (or more). But the fact that they’re still around and kicking ass is a testament not only to their survival but to our own. We should all hope we age as gracefully as the most of these artists (Al Jourgensen excepted).
Headliners this year were Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and a reunited Jawbreaker, playing their first full show in 21 years (other than a couple warm up gigs around San Francisco last month). The headliners get the big font on the poster, but fest diehards know that the undercard is always where the action is.
It was hot and sunny when we got to the park on Friday. You never know what you’re going to get in September in Chicago, but you can usually count on at least some rain. The line to get in was down the block and security was being thorough. I heard one guy complaining that they had opened his cardboard cigarette case the wrong way and wrecked it. A woman behind me was worried she was going to miss X, who she had last seen in 1983 with the Replacements opening up for them! Don’t worry, she made it in with time to spare.
Continue reading Riot Fest 2017: No Dicks on the Dancefloor
Video: Black Lips – “Crystal Night”
From Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? out now on Vice Records. Produced by Sean Lennon.
Weird. It’s a dopey 50s love song pastiche, and also…it’s set during the event that kicked off the Holocaust, Kristallnacht. In the video, our protagonist gets kicked out of the prom by security (in brown shirts, of course) for spiking the punch. Ultimately, he’s thrown in the trunk of a BMW and driven away. If this is a reference to the historical “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 when thousands of Jewish businesses, homes, and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed by nazis, it’s pretty tasteless. Tens of thousands of Jews were arrested within 24 hours and the Black Lips are joking about emptying your flask into the punch bowl?
We never said goodbye
Now you’re sent to die
On crystal night
It’d be pretty easy to argue that the Lips are trivializing the horrific pogrom against Jews for the sake of a goofy little ditty. And I’m guessing they might suggest that it’s only rock and roll and we should all lighten up. Part of what I love about this band is their snottiness and general DGAF attitude, so this is not necessarily “off brand” for them. (I suppose they did something similar with Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.) But this is pretty fucking odd.
Black Lips: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Black Lips – “O Katrina!”
From Good Bad Not Evil, on Vice Records, 2007.
Video: Sheryl Crow – “Roller Skate”
From Be Myself, out now on Warner Bros.
It’s cool to see Sheryl Crow skating around the da Vinci Horse (by sculptor Nina Akamu) at Meijer Gardens in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In fact, all the scenes in the video where Crow is wearing the black “Grateful” tanktop were shot at Meijer Gardens where she played a sold-out show in July.
I haven’t paid much attention to Sheryl Crow for a long time, but this song sounds pretty good. Certainly can’t argue with the message.
I don’t want competition
So put your phone away
Let’s roller skate
Of course if you’re going to sing about roller skating, it’s hard not to think about Melanie’s “Brand New Key.”
Update: Looks like the video has been yanked from YouTube, possibly because it may have used unlicensed footage from “The Funk Phenomena.” Boo.
Sheryl Crow: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
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Video: The Dollyrots – “Brand New Key”
Video: Starcrawler – “Let Her Be”
From their debut album on Rough Trade, produced by Ryan Adams, due in 2018.
Hey, what a surprise! Ryan Adams didn’t make this band of delinquent teenagers sound like Corey Hart or Creed! Nope, they sound like the Stooges like they should.
Starcrawler: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Beck – “Up All Night”
From Colors, out October 13 on Capitol Records.
Speaking of Beck, hooray, he’s fun again!
This is the third song released from Colors (after “Dear Life” and “Wow”) and all three have been upbeat. While I love some melancholy Beck — my all-time favorite Beck album is One Foot in the Grave — I think he can pull off the dancey jams more convincingly these days than the Gordon Lightfoot numbers. His voice and personality are more suited to bangers than bummers.
“Up All Night” is a grown man’s plea to get back to the good life, shaking booty, making sweet love all the night. “See the colors and all the kids going home / Night is crawling up to the day” but Beck just wants to “stay up all night with you.” The video’s great, too, with a teenaged superhero/transformer rescuing a boy from the worst (or best?) party ever.
Beck: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New Beck video: Up All Night
Video: Diet Cig – “Harvard”
From the 2015 Over Easy EP on Father/Daughter Records. Available on vinyl for the first time now.
I love this video in which a couple of conspiratorial tweens rebel against their pushy soccer moms who try to make them care about sports. The fact that the sport in question is roller derby makes it even funnier.
And the lyrics are awesome:
You never wanted to date a college girl
Well, I hope you got something out of that deal
Or made your parents proud
I bet she’s not as loud
Fuck your Ivy League sweater
You know I was better
Alex Luciano told Pigeons and Planes about the origin of the song:
It sounds like he dumped me for a college girl, but I dumped him and then he went on to date a Harvard girl and was trying to be like “Oh, well I’m really cool” about it and I was like “You know what? Fuck you, I bet she’s boring.” He was really boring and I was like “Nobody is surprised that you’re dating a girl at an ivy league school. Isn’t that just great.” I don’t know, it was just me being pissed off that he thought he was doing better.
Perfect. I love this band.
Diet Cig: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Iron & Wine – “Thomas County Law”
From Beast Epic, out now on Sub Pop
Boy, Sam Beam is taking full advantage of his impressive beard in the latest Iron & Wine video, portraying a old-timey Southern preacher setting up for a funeral. He was born to play this role.
But this is a really good song. Some great lines like “The church bell isn’t kidding when it cries for you” and “There’s nowhere safe to bury all the time I’ve killed.” Classic Iron & Wine.
Iron and Wine: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: St. Vincent – “New York”
From MASSEDUCTION, due October 13 on Loma Vista/Concord.
People seem to love this but on first listen it sounds way too much like Jack Antonoff and you miss Annie Clark’s guitar. Jack’onoff is the guy from Fun who’s been working with Taylor Swift and Lorde lately. Can’t you hear Fun doing this song? I can.
Oh well, it’s pretty at least, and the video’s cool. I like the line, “you’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me.” And I can certainly appreciate the loneliness of living somewhere after your old crew has left town, but the idea of anybody choosing to move to Los Angeles grosses me out.
Repeated listens reveal more of its charms, but I’m hoping there are more guitars and less Jack Antonoff on the rest of the album.
St. Vincent: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New St. Vincent video: New York
Video: Luna – “Fire in Cairo”
From A Sentimental Education, due September 22 on PledgeMusic/Double Features Records.
My favorite era of the Cure is the Three Imaginary Boys period before they incorporated synths. They were just scrappy young punks with a clever sense of melody. Their gloomy stuff is great too, of course, but I drove around for an entire year of high school with a tape of Boys Don’t Cry stuck in the cassette deck of my Cutlass Supreme (with Love and Rockets’ Earth•Sun•Moon on the flip) and never got tired of it. While never showcased as a single, “Fire in Cairo” is a highlight of that era.
Luna is the band that Dean Wareham started after leaving Galaxie 500. They’re a 90s band, but they got back together a couple years ago to tour and record an album of covers. Their take on “Fire in Cairo” sticks pretty close to the original arrangement but the tone of the guitars and Wareham’s vocals make it sound like classic Luna.
The video follows Rose McGowan around as she goes about her day, hanging with friends, admiring fan art drawings, taking in a rock show at Gold Diggers, doing interviews, etc. It seems to suggest a commentary on the loneliness of aging, but that might just be me projecting my own feelings onto it.
Luna: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Via Slicing Up Eyeballs.
Continue reading New Luna video: Fire in Cairo starring Rose McGowan
Video: Danzig – “Last Ride”
From Black Laden Crown, out now on Nuclear Blast. Directed by Glenn Danzig.
Oh Glenn. It’s easy to laugh at Danzig. He takes himself so seriously. And he’s lonely! He could definitely use a hug.
But I am so happy he’s still around, doing what he does. And seeing the Misfits play Riot Fest last year was a hightlight of my life, even if his lungs were out of shape.
This song sounds better than that first song off this new album we heard back in April, but that’s a low bar. Danzig would benefit from using an outside producer who could help bring out what he does best. This is not that.
Danzig is playing Danzig III: How the Gods Kill at Riot Fest on Saturday, September 16, at 5:20 PM.
Danzig: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.