Monthly Archives: April 2012

Big Gigantic

Nocturnal

This Saturday was a seemingly never-ending, “Did that really just happen?” day full of great music.

NOW, I’d venture to guess that I’m not the only dude with a music blog who’s going to saddle up to a laptop this week and write a sentence that sounds something like the one you just read. That’s because The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival took place over the weekend in Indio, California — nicknamed, if you can believe it, “The City of Festivals” — and it sounds like Saturday’s lineup was exceptionally good. But what the intrepid, music-loving outdoorsmen who attended Coachella may not know is that another unforgettable day packed full of tunes was happening 2,516 miles away, in just-as-sunny Richmond, Virginia. My Saturday also rocked, and its events were split up into three distinct parts, like some benevolent, three-headed musical monster (think Cerberus and Falcor having a fluffy puppy with 3 adorable, boop-able noses). Before I get keystroke diarrhea and try to tell you about the whole day at once, let’s start at the beginning, at a late-afternoon party in a coworker’s backyard.

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RVA Magazine

RVA8

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview RVA’s favorite team of #snuffrock specialists, Black Girls. It was a tremendous honor meeting and chatting with these 5 incredibly talented and gracious gents, and the resulting article is available now in the spring issue of RVA Magazine. I’m excited about how it turned out, as the band has had some wonderful things happen in the last few months, and I really believe they are destined for great things. If’n you’re interested, you can read the piece online here or, if you’re an ink and paper kind of guy/gal, you can pick up a hard copy of RVA Magazine for $0 at several spots around town (my favorite place to snag the mag when it comes out is Steady Sounds on Broad Street, but hey, that’s just me). In the meantime, you can sample Black Girls’ song “Get Off” below and, if you don’t have it yet, click here to pick up their kickass recent album, Hell Dragon.

Black Girls — “Get Off” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Florence + the Machine

Ceremonials

One of my favorite podcasts in the entire universe is Radiolab, a show based out of WNYC that features all sorts of stories about science, not to mention some of the snazziest editing and production I’ve heard anywhere, ever, in anything. They can turn the painfully boring stuff that used to make your mind wander in the direction of bludgeoning your high school chemistry teacher into riveting radio gold.

In January, they did a show about the bad side of human nature, and spent some time talking about an experiment that was done at Yale in which (long story short) a psychologist named Stanley Milgram tested how much pain people were willing to inflict on other people in the name of science. While, on the surface, the experiment showed how obedient people can be, one of the most interesting findings was that when a white-coat-wearing authority figure told reticent subjects that they had “no other choice” but to continue administering painful electroshocks, 100% of the people told them to stick the experiment where the sun don’t shine. People really, really don’t like being bossed around. I didn’t realize it until hearing about Milgram’s experiment, but I feel similarly about negative record reviews.

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The Diamond Center

California

Isn’t the success that’s couched in abject failure the sweetest? Allow me to provide an illustration.

A week ago, I headed to Strange Matter for the sold out Real Estate show. Moments after I walked in the door, I caught a glimpse of a magic marker-scrawled schedule that was sitting on the desk of the ticket-taking station. The whole shindig was exactly 1 hour behind the advertised start. The Diamond Center at 9. Twerps at 10. Real Estate at 11. Normally, I don’t put too much stock in concerts starting on time, but I had to be up at an ungodly hour Friday morning and was beset by an uncharacteristic and unwelcome wave of prudence. Gross. But the Diamond Center put on such a fantastic display in the first opening slot that I completely forgot about my accursed curfew for a while, and I left Strange Matter with the unmistakable feeling that I’d gotten my money’s worth — and then some — even though I didn’t experience a single note of the headlining set.

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Concert Superlatives

So I was lucky enough to catch Youth Lagoon on Saturday, March 24, at Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C., along with my friend Travis (you might remember him as the pioneer of the Gaga Challenge) and our music-loving wifeys. The following Friday, our better halves proved that the “better” is short for “better judgement,” as both of our spouses decided to rest up in Richmond in preparation for the Monument 10K, while Travis and I espoused certain sleep deprivation and inflated race times by driving west to Charlottesville with my buddy Josh to catch Reptar at the Southern. Both shows were great, and there was something especially cool about seeing one up in Travis’ neck of the woods and one closer to Richmond inside of a week (OK, so Charlottesville isn’t exactly my neck of the woods, but ever since the Jefferson started stealing a sizable percentage of the good central VA shows, it’s starting to feel that way… but I digress). I thought a fun way to report back on this mini concert series would be for Travis and me to do some yearbook-style superlatives, so let’s dive right in…

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Jack White

Just a quick post about a quick video that hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it over the weekend. No… a ton of bricks seems way too slow. This video for Jack White’s new song “Sixteen Saltines,” which features a terrifying hellscape where kids are left to their own (apparently) depraved and destructive devices, is more like the audiovisual equivalent of speeding down a residential street at 70 mph and blasting every single mailbox along the way to tiny bits with a baseball bat. The song itself clocks in at just 2:36 — good news, because I don’t know if I could have stood one more moment of this video. Not because it’s gory or scary in a conventional sense, but because it traffics in a special kind of anxiety that may very well have been extracted, Monster’s, Inc.-style, directly from the brains of worried parents whose children are out past curfew. But as hard as it is to watch, and as little interest as I have in watching it again, this is definitely one of the best, most complementary videos I’ve seen in a long, long time. These disturbing, impossible-to-forget images are the perfect face for the song’s aggressive tone and instantaneously catchy “who’s jealous who’s jealous who’s jealous who’s jealous of who” melody. Seriously — listen below or watch above and try to get that puppy out of your head in 5 minutes or less. Ain’tgonnahappen. Look for “Sixteen Saltines” on Jack White’s very first solo album, entitled Blunderbuss, out April 24 (you can pre-order it here).

Jack White — “Sixteen Saltines” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Lady Gaga

The Edge Of Glory

One of the best things about living in Richmond is the Monument 10K. It’s an incredible event, well worth a trip if you live out of town. There’s so much to love. The frenetic energy. The coordinated costumes. The overflowing goodwill that inspires RVA residents to line the course and cheer on the runners, even when it’s cold and rainy. The fact that many of those residents are holding solo cups that are themselves overflowing with bloody marys and mimosas. The nightmarish brunch scene after the race is over. Wait… that part sucks. All that aside, the best part has to be the live music. A staggering number of local bands plug into strategically located generators and provide entertainment throughout the race, right up until the very last walkers are swept off the course by the van of shame. It’s a herculean musical effort, given that it starts at dawn, lasts up to four hours and the only pay is a race t-shirt and a case of water. So maybe you can understand why I feel guilty as hell that, after several years of playing this gig myself, I ran the race for the very first time last Saturday and… I uhhh… listened to my iPod the entire time. As sacrilegious as this may be, I CAN’T HELP IT — I love the solipsistic trance induced by running with music blasting directly off my ear drums via earbuds and mp3s. It is, without exaggeration, one of my favorite things in the entire universe. And as perfect as Dana Buoy and Fun. proved to be for inducing my hyp-jog-ic state, unbeknownst to me, my friend Travis was taking this idea to a whooooole ‘nuther level. You’re going to think I’m lying when I say this, but I’m not… Travis listened to the Sultan & Ned Shepard remix of Lady Gaga’s song “The Edge of Glory” on repeat FOR THE ENTIRE 10K. That’s 6.2 miles of Gaga. Wild, right? As I understand it, they’ve used similar methods at Gitmo to extract information from suspected terrorists. The moment he told me about his marathon Gaga (non)mix, I knew what I had to do — I had to throw myself into the belly of the very same beast. And that’s just what I did early Wednesday evening, taking off on a 5-mile run with the wind in my face and Lady Gaga burrowing her way deeper and deeper into my consciousness with every step. It was intense, but I lasted 42:34. I believe Travis lasted a solid 20 or so minutes more in the 10K. So… how long can you last? Download the remix here (you can preview the shorter radio edit below) and see how long you can listen on repeat. You don’t have to be running; you can be driving, gardening, cooking, whatever. But proceed with caution. The Gaga Challenge is not for the faint of heart. I have seen the edge of glory, and what has been seen cannot be un-seen. Good luck and godspeed.

Lady Gaga — “The Edge Of Glory” (Sultan & Ned Shepard remix) [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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