Monthly Archives: September 2009

Bon Iver at Sunrise

on sunday morning bon iver played at the hollywood forever cemetery in hollywood.  this would be odd enough, but for some reason everyone thought it would a good idea to have the concert at sunrise.  my last post was about the bon iver show a few days earlier at the hollywood wiltern, and how it seemed to bring the crowd and band together.  in a weird way, the sunrise show had the opposite effect but not in a bad way.  the gates opened at 12AM and the actual concert began at about 6AM.  in the meantime, a two special playlists selected by justin vernon himself and a few other bits and pieces were played to keep everyone busy.  walking in to the show i passed by the grave of johnny ramone and a ton of old, rich jewish lawyers and other folks of that ilk.  throughout the night it was unseasonably cold for LA and a thick fog rolled in.  at one point i left the comfort of my sleeping bag to go to the bathroom and walked by a bunch of stone sculptures that looked incredibly lifelike, considering you could barely see 10 feet in front of you through the fog.  palm trees rose tall and slim through the night, with only their tops visible.  it looked like perpetual black fireworks hanging in the air.  the whole “seating area” was littered with blankets and sleeping bags, some lit up by small purple LEDs, with people playing and sleeping and eating and often times miserable at the weather and other various activities.  in a way it reminded me of some sort of techno gulag.

you can watch the sun come up in that clip but the sound quality is not so great.

around 5:30 a bunch of orange clad monks blessed the crowd and the stage with a rhythmic chant.  i wish i had a camera or video to share because it was incredible.  ive never heard anything like it and there was an entranced silence from the crowd throughout the prayer.  finally at 6 bon iver emerged and played the show – the exact same set from the previous show (minus one song).  at first the morning was still dark and the crowd was encompassed in night; justin admitted he couldnt see anyone because of the bright lights shining in his face.  after maybe 4 songs the sun began to rise and slowly the audience emerged and we could see the depth of the crowd.  the sky changed from orange to pink to white and the fog remained, scattering a weird light all around, like sitting in a bowl of bright colored soup.  as the set list progressed, everyone warmed and seemed to wake up.  i dont remember justins exact words but the whole thing seemed very surreal and even he admitted it was probably the weirdest thing any of us had ever done.  i hope i have expressed how eerie and “out of body” the whole thing felt.  the whole thing just seemed to float in with the fog and back out.  i have never been more tired and i am probably too old to ever do that again, but it was a real interesting experience.  it felt completely from another universe.  at the end of the show justin said “lets do this again, maybe.  maybe never…” seeming to suggest that he, like the crowd, had no idea what to think of the whole thing.

here is the playlist from justin vernon.  also, the movie “bottle rocket” was played halfway through the night, followed by parts of the documentary “Planet Earth” which I think really confused a lot of stoners.

Quitting Time – The Roches

Blue Bird – The Rosebuds

Emotional Champ – New Buffalo

No Use in Crying – The Rolling Stones

Say it Again – Don Williams

Feel Like Making Love – D’Angelo

Short Road – Wax Stag

Im a King Bee – Slim Harpo

Shake ‘Em On Down – Mississippi Fred McDowell

Nick of Time – Bonnie Raitt

I Can See The Pines Are Dancing – AA Bondy

On The Sunny Side of the Street – James Booker

Apartment #9 – Tammy Wynette

How Am I Different – Aimee Mann

Flim – The Bad Plus

Jailbreak! – Amateur Love

Muskrat Love – Captain & Tennille

Jim Cain – Bill Callahan

Algo Esta Cambiando (live) – Julietta Venegas

Didnt it Rain – Mahalia Jackson

No Intention – The Dirty Projectors

Seems Im Never Tired Loving You – Nina Simone

Me – You = Loneliness – Dr. John

Black Flowers – Yo La Tengo

A Little Lost – Arthur Russell

Steal Away – Sam Cooke

Boliviana – Ibrahim Ferrer

Uncloudy Day – Staple Singers

I Havent Seen This Day Before – Innocence Mission

In Dulci Jubilo – Vienna Boys Choir

Minneapolis – Lucinda Williams

We May Well Be The Ones – Paul Westerberg

By Your Side – Sade

The Kiss – Judee Sill

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bon iver – the wiltern – 9/25/2009

last night i got to see bon iver play at the wiltern with californias newest resident.  bon iver has long been my favorite but he has always eluded me in concert… UNTIL YESTERDAY.  lets just say i had a huge “boner iver” all week

the general appeal of bon iver’s last cd, For Emma, Forever Ago at least to me was the rhythmic thumping, whispery falsetto and lyrics that perfectly encompass loss/surrender/resurrection.  these musical attributes are easy to relate to, but somehow seem to rarely surface in such an honest and vulnerable way.  now i have been to a lot of sweet concerts in my day, but last night was pretty unique.  all of these things i love about bon iver are not singular to him alone; other bands have similar talents.  everyone in the audience had connected with bon iver’s music through this artistic talent and very candid music and i have never seen this kind of artist/audience connection in a concert before.  but in almost every song i found myself “playing along” with the band, whether it be slapping hands together to form the beat or singing/shouting with the chorus.  in two songs in particular, “the wolves” and “skinny love”, we were encouraged to shout along, even prompted by justin vernon with “louder… LOUDER” slowly working us up in to a fever until at certain points the audience volume met the guitar harmonies and pounding drums.  the music was not drowned out by our noise, nor were we subservient to the band -we came together as equals and justin vernon’s song became our music.  it was as if we were an instrument played by the band, our voices bouncing from the crowd to the stage and back.  it was pretty cool.  especially in “the wolves” which at the very end builds to a cacophonous crescendo asking “what might have been lost?” and then slips back into a sublime hum.  it felt, to me at least, that all of the emotion and feeling that went in to original making music had again surfaced and together, bon iver and audience were sharing that moment of creation.   all in all i left the concert feeling like i had just made art, which is weird but it was definitely a cool concert experience.  other highlights were the two encore songs – “swimming songs”, a cover of loudon wainwright and “worried mind” along with megafaun (since it is there song after all).

at the end of the show bon iver (and megafaun, his old friends and a surprisingly strong opening act) said something along the lines of “thank you for allowing us to do the things we love, and you owe us nothing”.   but at that show i at least felt an enormous debt of gratitude for what we all just shared.

back in the saddle

so you might say my blog well runneth dry recently.  i have been busy with school/lab work and some other things (see below) so i havent been keeping up with my blog.  today i noticed some funny searches that people used to get to this website.  the 5 most popular searches from the last 30 days are:  hagfish, wolverine vs. hulk, hulk vs. wolverine, lenin, obama communist.  yes, that is what its all about.

anyways, a few weeks ago i was suckered in to buying a few small canvases and some acrylic paints – which turned out to be a pretty awesome purchase.  i have painted a bunch of paintings and even though i wouldnt consider myself a good artist, they do make me feel more at home in my apartment.  plus after spending many days painting from the minute i get home from lab until the minute i go to bed, skipping dinner and every other healthy behavior in the process, i think i may have diagnosed myself with mild OCD.  honestly though it has been fun to have some sort of hobby to look forward to, even if i just painted things other people have already done just because i liked them.  and i have dropped 8 pounds from malnutrition, but i dont think i needed them anyways.

also i am trying to get my ass together for a few 5ks in the fall so i have been trying to run a lot more.

finally, on friday and saturday of this week i will be seeing bon iver (!) play at the hollywood wiltern at a cemetery, respectively.  yes a cemetery.  doors open for that show at midnight and justin vernon has hand selected 5 hours of entertainment until sunrise, at which time he will rock our faces off with music.  i will talk more about that after the big day.

bon iver

bon iver

i am very excited about bon iver, but if that hasnt come through in todays post its because i am tired.  tired from watching the best show in the history of television: the wire.  if you havent seen it and want to maintain some semblance of normal life, avoid the wire at all costs.  if you have ever wondered what crystal meth is like but you want to keep all of your hair and teeth, you should check it out.  i blacked out last night and when i woke up i was cooking a season 1 disc on a spoon, so…

omar from the wire - the baddest homo ever

omar from the wire - the baddest homo ever

and on a final note it is fire season in southern california!  you may have read about some fires in pasadena, about 30 miles from where i am right meow.  below is a picture i took of my apartment of the smoke plume. this fire was so bad you could see it from space.  let me explain this a little better… LA goes nuts every now and then, whether it be the death of a famous celebrity or a fire or something.  a few weeks ago some guy claimed he had a bomb and was going to blow up the federal building (half a mile from the hospital where i work none the less).  anyways, the secret service intercepted and a bunch of roads were blocked and traffic backed up but everything turned out ok.  fastforward two weeks or so and i woke up one morning to this mushroom cloud and i thought they finally got the feds.  then two weeks after that the space shuttle landed in the mojave desert, which made a sonic boom heard and felt all through southern california.  so in other words, in the past 3 months or so in los angeles i have thought death was imminent… and now i dont wonder why im getting gray hairs.

pasadena fire

pasadena fire