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This one is so completely dysfunctional, so totally lacking in any sort of musicality or hooks and the vocals are just flat weird on songs that really suck. Remember the Grizzly Man who was gonna kick it with the grizzlies in Alaska and it was all growly feelie right up until they ate him? If he had been playing this stuff on his WalkMan, they would've munched him in half the time.
Haven't been to USCB for a few years, so imagine my response to my welcome back souvenir - a 48 dollar parking ticket. In less enlightened times, that's extortion. It's the classic cop behind the billboard speed trap updated. Here's what appears to have happened: So the minimum wage uniform guy at the front gate isn't there at night - and now the school has a double dip income spike by saving this invisible man's pittance of a salary + all the new surprises in the form of outrageous parking fines. I didn't see any signs - no one said anything to me and where I parked - less than a block from Campbell Hall - no one came or went, so I didn't take anyone's spot. For the privilege, that's 48 bucks which translates to me and UCSB (Unconscionable Car Shakedown Bummer) becoming complete strangers for the forseeable future.
How was Black Joe? He raged - channeling Otis Redding, Hound Dog Taylor, Bobby 'Blue' Bland and James Brown - with lots of fuzzed out guitars and a raging horn section for emphasis. Too bad that about the only students there were working. Lewis dropped the f-bomb a few times, other than that, pretty much every word was indecipherable. Good thing he rocked - playing tunes off his two albums. You need his last one, "Scandalous." If more blues was like this, there'd be way more blues fans. And if there were more signage, there would be happier writers - good thing Mac's had a fresh batch of Bean, Rice and Green Chile Burritos on a brief stop to break up the whining on the return trip.
Two days later, Saturday night, it rained a bit on the way north to the Santa Barbara County Bowl to see Snow Patrol. Feeling lazier than usual - after a hard day of watching the Sooners destroy Kansas in football - it was foggy but dry as we took the shuttle to the top of the hill where I quickly realized that I had been misinformed as to the start times.
I was eager to see Lissie - a rock star on the rise out of Ojai, a lady that certainly has connections. She played Coachella, tours all over the world, and now, there she was with a relative home game opening for the Irish/Scottish rock stars in Snow Patrol. We took our seats, just as Lissie belted out "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" and skedaddled, her set complete.
After our brief MBW (Basic Monotonous Wait) Snow Patrol strolled out - all six of them, fronted by dynamite singer Gary Lightbody.
It became obvious quickly that here was a bunch of pros that played impeccably with perfectly happening harmonies - in short, they've done this sort of thing before. Lightbody bantered with the crowd, including some folks in front who didn't seem to mind that they had postponed their trip to Korea for the show. He spent a lot of time, convincing the crowd that needed little convincing to become the boring chorus. Then during the fairly tame acoustic interlude, Lightbody invited Lissie out to join in as those two created some powerhouse harmonies. Always worth the drive for Snow Patrol but not a 35 dollar t-shirt. Hey, I don't live in Santa Barbara.
Atypically, despite the jaw dropping double jeopardy long lines which would enable concert goers the right to drink or just sit, not many were fashionably late to the Santa Barbara County Bowl Tuesday night - in fact, many evidently came to see the mop top twin openers, Tegan & Sara. The Canadian folkies helped pack the place along with the headliners, the Black Keys.
Tegan & Sara, played a number of well received folk rock tunes that were often harmoniously screechy as they were ably backed by four dudes. This was their first tour in a while plus they have a new album - "Heartthrob" due out in January. When Tegan told the crowd just how bitchen Santa Barbara was and how they're glad to be working after a year and a half hiatus, one cannot help but ponder the significance of this statement, particularly how it applies to the 99% or even the 47% of the 99%. If we took 18 months off that would be called unemployment and then, homelessness. Musicians do have screwy hours but they get to do what they love - they're so lucky - at least those who are able to make a living in show biz.
It was a t-shirt balmy evening at the bowl, inspiring the Canadian sisters to comment most favorably about our SoCal weather. Great - we knew that - it's crowded enough here already - don't tell a friend. Anyway, far from being dainty folkies, Tegan & Sara are a rock band.
During the free BMW - offered at no cost at almost every concert - that's Basic Monotonous Wait, some KJEE DJ came out shrieking - Fat Jay maybe? Anyway, all I can say about him is that if his station were half as loud as he was, we'd be able to get it in Ventura. Also, bad timing, Fat Jay - after all the "Howzit goin' Santa Barbara" and related clichés, he proved to be a master of poor timing. His pitch was a full 20 minutes before the band started. I was just hoping the Dodgers were winning, but with the season on the line and an obviously used up Chris Capuano on the mound and stiffs like Jamey Wright in the bullpen - what could go wrong?
Also at halftime, there was another unusual occurrence. I was hoping that the background music would not stop - that's right, not stop. Why? It was not the typical cat fight in the machine worst-music-ever reserved for such captive audiences, but rather it was "Satisfaction" from one of the great albums from those silly '60s, "Otis Redding Live In Europe." Those that were listening - well, lucky us.
The Black Keys came out blazing with some rowdy swamp rock somewhat reminiscent of the Gun Club, the Blasters, Japanese Motors and like that. Right off, it was a stand up show, making me regret not bringing rubber bands which are great for handling exuberant dancers in front of you at shows. The crowd responded enthusiastically to the usual Pavlovian commands of "Howzit goin' Santa Barbara" or "Hello, Santa Barbara!"
But there was much more to a Black Keys show that the usual rock platitudes - there were plenty of raggedy and rockin' bluesy guitar driven tunes that were fun for the feet in the area. There even seemed to be decidedly fewer pinheads texting than usual from the first song, "Howlin' For You." This retro rock stuff was good the first time and it's still good now - the band has three Grammys so far and their seventh and most recent album, "El Camino" is a definite keeper.
They're low budget, too - it's two guys out of Akron, but these days out of Nashville - guitar player and frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney - and on tour, a couple of back-up players. Last time at this venue, they opened for Beck - the Black Keys are their own big thing these days.
And finally - know why I hate auto parts stores? First of all working on cars sucks for me as I break them, not fix them. So when they inevitably break, you end up at the auto parts store - many of which have perfected the mind boggling and completely uncalled for ability to make their customers stand in line twice. You stand in line to get your part, then you stand in line again to pay for it.
For some reason, this unreasoning has been transported to the Santa Barbara County Bowl. One begins by standing in line to get the tickets from Will Call., then stand in line again for a gentle groping from security, and then - and this is the big one - stand in line again - either to drink or to get a wrist band allowing you to sit in the seat you already paid for. The line was about halfway to forever and I politely declined. I was fully prepared to walk back to my vehicle, head to Mac's for some burritos and go bond with the Dodgers one final time in 2012. As it turned out, when I got to my section, the kind ushers gave me a proper wristband. Why do they do this? According to the ushers, a wrist band makes it easier on them to keep people from moving to better seats that they did not pay for as opposed to everyone showing their stubs.
Next good one: Snow Patrol, Lissie, and I believe, the New No. 2, a band all fans of "The Prisoner" now love already.
Fashionably late at the Santa Barbara County Bowl is good for a Red Forman Moment of Dumbass. On Saturday as it always does and as advertised, the show started on time with a German Army of Capricorns precision. When Fitz kicked off his opening set at exactly six-and-a-half o'clock, I was still sweating, walking the several uphill blocks to the tree-lined venue. Right away as I finally settled into my seat, several things were different than the band I wrote about in last Friday's Time Out on 29 June.
So much for the snappy dresser - I outdressed or at least matched Fitz by wearing a Ziggens t-shirt - he wore Levi's and a dress shirt not tucked in. He was as skinny as six o'clock and had a competition stripe on his dome - the Pepe Le Pew look maybe or way back to Marshal Troop on "Lawman," which yet lives on the Western Channel. And the horn section was a bit smaller than anticipated - it was one guy - James King - with a sax two thirds his size.
More than holding her own on the Sartorial Splendor Scale was Fitz's alter ego, front gal Noelle Scaggs with a spray on red dress who danced around and teased the crowd as if she'd done this sort of thing before. Meanwhile, Fitz said all the right stuff - not only did he plug the band's new one, due out on October, but he evoked the obligatory cheer for the headliner, Ben Harper. Evidently not there to work on his badly needed tan and with the complexion of Bill or Eric from "True Blood," Fitz noted, "Thank God that sun went down."
Most obedient were all those standing in front - the lawn seats are way gone, replaced by concrete and standing. They clapped when told to and sang along on cue if not on key. And so it goes at the rock show. Fitz and the Tantrums are a mildly entertaining soul band - they're into it but like most bands, could use better songs. Their rendition of "Rich Girls" (of which there were plenty at this one) was solid but their best song was a cover, "Sweet Dreams" from the Eurythmics long ago.
They could've actually started late as what followed was the traditional free BMW - Basic Monotonous Wait - but not to me, I brought a book. Wherever you go - always bring a book. Do you have a strange sense that maybe something isn't quite right with our democracy? Densely written but a non stop shocker using unassailable logic, Henry Giroux tells us what's really going on and how bad things really are in "Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism." The chapters are short and mindbending - I was able to read two in between salivating at the ubiquitous trophy wives and those in training or still on the market.
Grammy Award winner Ben Harper arrived in due time to a hearty cheer by the now half liquored crowd. Harper came out low budget - just him sitting plucking this lap slide guitar like thing called a weissenborn and a violin player, Jesse Green maybe. It was a slo mo and mellow instrumental and the chattering Santa Barbarians were much louder, having evidently, spent a lot of money to hang out and chat. On the next one, Harper added his high quivering voice and at the onset of the third song, the full band joined him on stage. I listened to about half of his set of mellow tunes and then headed for Mac's for all the beans, rice and green chile burritos I could afford - the real reason to ever go to Santa Barbara.
Coachella No. 14 differed from prior musical adventures in that it was actually more of a "Coldchella" scenario. On Friday the 13th, during the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, multitudes of bikini-clad gorgeous young women were downgraded into huddled masses or fleeing streaks as people tried to escape inclement weather. They're doing it all again this weekend, with the same lineup of bands but hopefully less chill.
Good thing there was all that music, presented with German-army
precision at two outdoor stages and three indoor ones under open-sided
tents, each named for a place best to avoid: Gobi, Sahara and Mojave.
Giant video screens from the Coachella Stage (the main stage) were large
enough to be seen from the space shuttle. Read more »
By Bill Locey
Not surprisingly, Wilco sold out the venerable Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara Friday night - a venue where the sound is always perfect. Every seat is a good seat, while out in the lobby, an added surprise: You get to expedite your own demise in addition to putting your cardiologist into a higher income bracket thanks to the freedom of the do-it-yourself butter option once you have surrendered the obligatory arm and/or leg for a bag of plain popcorn.
Few went to the art deco theatre for the grub however, even though many evidently came to spend an inordinate amount of cash at the beer garden - but Wilco is worth the drive, an American band on top of their game. The non-elbow bending patrons seated in the theatre were tottering on the verge of antsy after the openers, White Denim finished. They cheered the roadies a couple of times - a sure sign that it's time for the headliners to start.
Wilco started off in slo-mo mode with ``Reservations'' and proceeded to whiz through their vast repertoire of appealing songs. After a tune or two, it was clear that these guys have done this more than a few times as there was never a note out of place and Jeff Tweedy is a superb frontman with that perfect pitch voice, and Nels Cline was the classic sub dude on guitar - either subtle or raging as needed.
Wilco has been around since '94 or after the untimely demise of Uncle Tupelo - only Tweedy and bass player John Sirrratt are survivors of the original line-up. Tweedy seemed to be channeling Miles Davis as he didn't say a word for the first third of the show, finally going all Chatty Kathy and going on at great lengths to practice his Grammy acceptance that - win or lose - was not televised. The band's latest and eighth album, "The Whole Love'' has been out since September and is one of their best, especially, the hook-filled rocker, "Capitol City.''
Once thought to be leading practitioners of Americana, Wilco these days play all sorts of music from rock to country and power pop with plenty of controlled jams - all sort of a mild noodle with Tweedy's cool vocals. That's probably why everyone stood up and most remained so from the fourth song on, and one of their biggies, ``I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.'
White Denim opened the festivities at 8 o'clock and did the jam band thing - one song, one jam, one week as the tunes were indistinguishable from one another. One never knows but this time, the elbow benders didn't miss much but it was a short set - 35 minutes maybe - so White Denim was over before anyone could get tired of them.
And after the show down on Haley and Anacapa at Mac's, it's Friday there as well which means they get in a new supply of burritos, so we scooped up four Mac's burritos - good for a Saturday and Sunday breakfast and a good start of a wonderful weekend.
I passed on the 25 George Washingtons for a Wilco T-shirt since I have the face for radio and reinvested the money with Mac's. Oh, and Wilco did not win another Grammy - the Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Album.
He is the tall guy lurking in the back of all the local rock shows.
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