Friday, July 30, 2010

Janelle Monae @ All Shook Down Festival, San Francisco, 25-July-2010

Janelle Monae @ All Shook Down Festival, San Francisco, 25-July-2010

The day before I went briefly to the Tidal Wave Metal Festival in McLaren Park. This was a much more organized affair with the location being a street fair in North Beach. There was even a published schedule (please could all concerts have this?) and this enabled me to time my arrival perfectly so I could be near the front. The sound was not good at first but got better. Janelle Monae can sing, as she clearly demonstrated singing Smile. She can dance on one leg, a bit like JB in the Tami show, and in the picture above you can see she even wore a cape at one stage. She has her band looking cool in their uniform of evening dress. And she has good songs. I expect her to become a big star.

Dead Weather @ The Warfield, San Francisco, 22 July 2010

Dead Weather

Alison Mosshart is a great rock'n'roll chick. She looks fabulous, like Keef's long lost illegitimate daughter. She jumps on the monitors, she climbs on the speaker stacks. She thrusts her hips. You'd think that this would all get a bit boring after a while but it doesn't. When she isn't singing she prowls about the stage. At one point Jack White wickedly announces that she is ovulating and the audience certainly seems to feel the effects of a few hormones. There's just one big problem: she isn't the best singer in this band. Jack White actually has a similarly pitched voice, and when they sing (or shout) together it works well. But he does more things with his voice, and also articulates better, you can actually hear the words he is singing.

Dean Fertita is the Dead Weather's guitarist and keyboardist. He makes a lot of good noise. At their best the Dead Weather get a heavy Led Zep sound going, and Fertita plays the parts of both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (in his riffing keyboard mode). There's just one big problem: he isn't the best guitarist in this band. Jack White is a really interesting guitar player. Even when repeating a riff he seems to be able to play it differently each time.

I think John Peel once said that the problem with Led Zeppelin was that their audience started to just unthinkingly approve of everything they did. I can't begrudge anyone trying to sound like Led Zep; it looks like fun. On the BART ride home I saw someone reading Hammer of the Gods, which seems like ancient history. Maybe there should be a statute of limitations which limits how long a band can be copied.

I did enjoy this concert even if it sounds like I didn't.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

World Cup 2010 TV coverage

I liked the World Cup. The best team won in the end. One of the best things for me was that it was easy to watch. ESPN/ABC made some great decisions:

  • Relegating Tommy Smythe to the radio
  • Hiring British commentators like Martin Tyler (who was born in Chester)
  • Having good colour commentators. I especially liked "Super" Ally McCoist and Efan Ekoku. Even John Harkes was OK, though he does somewhat overdo the jargon.
  • Making deals with ISPs so that (for me at least) the matches could be watched online with no hassle. The result of this was that all the games were either on terrestrial TV or available to watch online
In the studio were several famous ex-footballers. Intelligent guys like Ruud Gullit and Jürgen Klinsmann were generally informative, if a little bland. I liked Roberto Martínez who they used to discuss Spain. By the time of the final however he had inexplicably returned to Wigan and had to appear on a TV link. Perhaps someone did not think Spain would reach the final.

The only true failure was the presence of Steven McManaman who spouted an endless stream of platitudes. And was the final boring as he said? I don't think so, it was not beautiful, but fascinating to anyone who follows the game. To me McManaman treats his TV work in the same was he did his playing career, as a good joke which he will get away with for as long as he can.

I watched some shows from the BBC and ITV. I did like the BBC studio in Cape Town. And I do like the look of Colin Murray.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Deerhoof /The Donkeys @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, 8 July 2010

The Donkeys are having a good time. They have a hot guitarist and the rest of the band share the vocal duties around. Yes, this means they have a singing drummer: he is pretty good but he has to stop that trick of raising one drumstick to the sky. The band has a soft rock, 70s sound and they reminded me of 10CC. As I was brought up on The Original Soundtrack this is a good thing.
Obligatory complaining about photographers: the annoying person was a young woman who was standing on the stage to take photos. I think she thought she was invisible because she was wearing black.
Deerhoof, Le Trabendo, Paris

I have heard several Deerhoof records, and liked them, but that didn't prepare me for how good they are live. They were formed by drummer Greg Saunier. He has has minimal drum kit set up and the front, and he pounds it. He also provides several long winded but mildly humourous speeches to the crowd. There are two guitarists who play like James "Blood" Ulmer crossed with Bob Mould. Finally Vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki provides cute and mellow vocals. I don't think this combination should work but it does. This was a fantastic gig. I proclaim Deerhoof to be the best ever band from San Francisco. I look forward to seeing them again.

Die Walküre @ San Francisco Opera, 13 June 2010

This was the first Wagner opera that I have attended. Opera is all about epic emotion and the scope of Wagner's story is large enough to make all the dramatics seem appropriate. I enjoyed the sets and costumes, the large cast (including some dogs), the special effects (including flames) and the acting (which not all singers like to do). In this production Brünnhilde is portrayed as a jolly hockey sticks pilot and was completely adorable. Now I want to see a complete ring cycle, though it is rather expensive.

USA Today front page 16-July-2010

USA Today has the cool before and after pictures of the capped oil well.

Friday, July 09, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle front page, 9-July-2010

After the Mehserle verdict. At this stage there seem to be more photographers than rioters.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Dum Dum Girls / Crocodiles @ Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco 30 June 2010

The only words that Crocodiles utter to the audience are uttered while the guitarist is tuning up and I can't understand a word. The singer is shaped like Joey Ramone. He twists and turns as he sings and he moves like Lux Interior. The band sound like the Jesus and Mary Chain which requires some good guitar playing. As each song ends in a wail of feedback the fab drummer takes a breath, then thumps out a new beat and we're onto the next song. Rounding out the lineup we have an imperturbable bassist and a keyboardist who fiddles with her effects boxes and dances in her chair. This band may not be supremely innovative but they are perfect in their way and I loved them.

(I would just like to whine about the photographer who stood in front of me. He took 74 pictures in 10 minutes, flashing away like some, er, flasher. Will no one rid me of these selfish amateurs?)

Dum Dum Girls live...

Dum Dum Girls look great. The two guitarists often pay the same chords, then the non-singer will switch to playing an annoyingly tinny solo. The singing guitarist has a distinctive husky tone. The best part is when the guitarists harmonize, sometimes joined by the bassist making a good impression of a 60's Wall of Sound production. Though the Dum Dum Girls are vastly more original than Crocodiles I could not enjoy them as much.