Thursday, August 21, 2008

Narkworthy 8/21: Nark-N-Rolla

The name certainly doesn't work as well as the last one, but it will do. Plenty of heavy hitters made the cut (Nas, Kanye, The Game, T-Pain) this go round, but look out for the newcomers (especially LMFAO) and legends (Large Professor). Of course, "Jockin' Jay-Z" had to be included. Kid Cudi continues his run of appearances and Young Jeezy put together 2 bangers (with a little help from Nas). I've been the biggest Jeezy hater around, but his new work on The Recession might persuade me otherwise. He always had solid production, but his word play never matched the beats. Finally, I can't believe it took so long for someone to jump on Coldplay's "Lost". It is the most hip-hop/Timbo-esque beat on one of the biggest rock albums of the year.

1. Page - Still Fly ft Drake
2. Now On - Write Back ft Shawn Jackson
3. Young Jeezy - Crazy World
4. Jay-Z - Jockin' Jay-Z (prod by Kanye West)
5. MURS - Can It Be
6. The Game - Angel ft Common (prod by Kanye West)
7. The Clipse - Celebrate ft Joss Stone
8. Attitude - Man Right Here (prod by Danja)
9. Large Professor - Hardcore
10. LMFAO - Yes
11. Novel - Lost (Coldplay Remix)
12. Trey-C - Showboatin' ft Ya Boy, Glasses Malone & Matt Blaque
13. Slim Thug - Bitch I'm Back ft Devin the Dude (prod by Dr. Dre)
14. Nas - What It Is (Esco Let's Go)
15. Lil' Scrappy - Stand Up ft Lil' Wayne
16. The Game - My Life ft Lil' Wayne
17. Young Jeezy - My President Is Black ft Nas
18. DJ Khaled - Go Hard ft Kanye West & T-Pain
19. Asher Roth - I Love College
20. Kid CuDi - Man On The Moon (The Anthem)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dan Deacon: Detroit "Wham City"

While I'm not a huge fan of Dan Deacon, he came out with some intriguing news this week. Deacon plans on taking his electronic show on tour with other Baltimore-based artists as a "round robin" fiesta. Basically, there are going to be multiple stages lined up along the perimeter of a venue, with audience in the middle. A band will perform one song, then the next band will perform a song, etc. There will be two shows ("Eyes Night" and "Feet Night") each in 7 cities. Sounds like a very interesting whirlwind of fun. If I was ever going to check him out in person, this might be a good time to do it.

My only experience with Dan Deacon has been a few Myspace hits, Pitchfork love and walking into the end of his set before Girl Talk at Metro. When I said I walked in, I actually meant stumble because he was performing in the center of the dance floor and I almost ran into the man himself (Green skull and all).

The only bands I recognized were Deacon, Beach House and the Death Set, but the rest are listed here.

The insanity takes place in Detroit on 10/8 and 10/9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Someone take some hallucinogenics and let me know how it goes.

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Blueprint 3 Suckas On the Way

Last week, Kanye West polished off his 2nd night at Madison Square Garden with a short monologue to the sold-out crowd. Mr. West has been doing this at all of his Glow In The Dark stops lately, so this wasn't out of the ordinary. Apparently, he was talking about how he is trying quit being so selfish and keeping all the good beats for himself. Since pride is something he doesn't have any issue with, Kanye asked the New Yorkers if they would like a sample. What they didn't know, is who the beat was for.

BLUEPRINT 3 from kwest on Vimeo.

I like it. He even throws in a jab at the bloke from Oasis. It sounds more Blueprint 2 than Blueprint, but I'll take any Jay/Kanye collabos.

This means that Timbaland won't be producing Jay's next entire album. It would be nice, but I'm sure that will happen as soon as Tim and Dr. Dre work on "Chairmen of the Boards" and right after Nas and DJ Premier get back together. The Blueprint 3 is Shawn Carter's last album on Def Jam and is slated to feature No ID on the boards as well.

I don't expect this link to last longer than a day, so get it while its hot.
Jay-Z - Jockin' Jay-Z (produced by Kanye West)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 3

After a rowdy Day 2 of Lollapalooza, Day 3 seemed to come as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was more than ready for Sunday though and the ladies of Ann St (Laura, Erin & Becky) were pumped to join the Waters duo and I.

Laura, Becky and I departed early for Grant Park to catch Chicago's Office at 11:30 at the PS3 Stage. I'm pretty sure they were both surprised by the size of the park as we made our first of many jaunts across the north end. After 30 minutes of what seemed to be an excruciating sound check, we were informed that the Weakerthans couldn't make the fest, so Office's show was bumped to the afternoon.

We had some time to relax, so we leisurely made our way south to the AT&T stage where female rapper Kid Sister was to perform. It was still early in the day so we were able to stand close for a good view of the show. Rage Against the Machine was the last show of Day 2 on the stage and sunglasses, pieces of shoes and dead grass were the only remnants left. Kid Sister appreciatively came out with a hype-man, back-up dancers and DJ AutoBot (Flosstradamous) on the ones and twos. Koko B. Ware hasn't come out yet, but had the crowd engaged with fun, new, dance rap ("Switchboard", "Control") and performed her biggest hit, "Pro Nails".

We met up with the rest of our crew at the sparsely filled Citi Stage for What Made Milwaukee Famous. They were serviceable, but didn't exactly wow the crowd until "Sultan" and a few closing songs. I did find out that they aren't from Milwaukee and didn't live up to all the Spoon comparisons I had heard though.

With our full group in tact we took a lunch break in the shade and headed for the Myspace stage. I had finally succumbed to the incessant promotion of Chromeo and was looking forward to them after copping Fancy Footwork a few weeks earlier. Dave 1 and P-Thugg were on their electrofunk A-game from the start keeping the crowd nodding ("Call Me Up") and dancing ("Tenderoni") in the sweltering humidity. I'm sure its nerve-wracking performing in front of thousands of people, but the Montreal based duo were one of the few acts that interacted with Lolla-goers all weekend. Aside from making the crowd bounce with "Call Me Up" and "Bonafied Lovin'", Dave and P were like a comedy duo with jokes incorporating P's talk box.

Florida's Black Kids set on the Citi stage overlapped with Chromeo, but I was able to hear a few of the hits from Partie Traumatic while the ladies took a break from the heat. Lead singer Reggie Youngblood's faux British accent got the best response on "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You". They sounded great live and probably could have played on one of the bigger stages.

We opted for shade and beer rather than G. Love and sweat from 4:30 to 5. After cooling off, we traveled north again to the PS3 stage (hearing Iron & Wine in the distance) to see Irish/punk band Flogging Molly. They had one of the largest crowds I saw at that stage all weekend and did their best to turn it into a rowdy pub. Irish flags were in the air and Dave King snarled and shouted his way through a fun set filled with banjos, accordion, and fiddles. We left after "Float", but "Requiem for a Dying Song" and other jams made me interested for more.

The toughest decision was at hand: Gnarls Barkley or Girl Talk. That resolution was much easier when we saw the crowd lined up at the Citi stage. The schedulers probably didn't anticipate it, but Girl Talk could have easily filled Myspace or PS3 stages. As the bass line for "Charity Case" played at the AT&T stage, it looked like fans were stretched back to Food Town, cutting off walkways. Gillis finally took the stage at 6:30 and made his presence known with VIPs swarming his lap top and fake cops with toilet paper guns as the intro began. The dance party was non-stop as he ran through mash-ups and samples old (Biggie/Elton, "Play Your Part") and new (Yael Naim/Khia, Daft Punk/Tag Team). It was so hectic that Gillis had to clear the stage because it was starting to bend. Nothin' like a daytime dance party. The grand finale was nothing short of epic. Birdman & Lil' Wayne's "Poppin' Bottles" played into Journey's "Faithfully" and looped as Girl Talk crowd surfed from the stage to the sound tent in a friggin' inflatable row boat. 'Nuff said.

Everyone pretty much used all of their energy at Girl Talk, so after that we retreated to tailgate-like lines for the port-o-potties. Mark Ronson and company sounded great on the Myspace stage. His throwback sound with covers (Coldplay, Radiohead, Justice) and special guests Candie Payne, Rhymefest and Kenna amassed a large crowd as well. Unfortunately, Ronson mentioned this is the last stop on their long tour (which obviously skipped Michigan).

Our group refilled on beverages and food while staking out a spot on the hill for Kanye West. I was pretty disappointed in not lining up close to the stage for the final headliner of the weekend, but I got over it after a few songs. Kanye was backed by an elaborate stage complete with bright lights, a DJ, and energetic band. After teasing the crowd with a slice of "Stronger", West greeted his hometown with "Good Morning". He ran through all the hits from "Through the Wire" to "Diamonds" to "Can't Tell Me Nothin'". After a 15 minute long, Chi-Town flavored edition of his guest spot on Jeezy's "Put On", West stated "Now we can start the show". For all of the names Kanye has earned over the years (arrogant, cocky, obnoxious), you have to give him credit for put passion into what he does. He shined throughout the his time on the main stage and was easily one of the best rap/hip-hop artists I've ever seen. Kanye showed his recent love for vocal distortion T-Pain style as he finished the last hour with rousing editions of "Homecoming", "Good Life", "Gold Digger" and more. Things got a little uncomfortable when West gave a short ode to his mother before "Hey Mama", but closed in grand fashion. He let his band get some due recognition by surprisingly covering Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and played "Stronger", asking "is this what you've been waiting for?". Indeed.

And just like that Lollapalooza 2008 was done. An ocean of festival-goers poured out of Grant Park and cheered in the downtown Chicago streets. It was amazing seeing my iPod come to life and experiencing that many live acts in one weekend. Its hard to single out who was my favorite artist all weekend, but Kanye, Girl Talk, Mates of State, CSS, Lupe Fiasco, Chromeo and Rage Against the Machine certainly were most memorable. The bad news is that Lollapalooza was pretty much a "gateway" event that is going to make me want to go to see most of these artists at smaller venues and make Lolla (or some festival) an annual necessity.

Photos from Lollapalooza Day 3
Videos from Lollapalooza Day 3

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2

After an amazing, but exhausting Day 1 at Lollapalooza 2008, I was looking forward to Day 2's less cluttered lineup. Jenny, Andrea, and I were able to make it to Lolla-land midway through Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos' set around 12:30. We heard the only song we knew ("Skeleton Key") and many others ("Quiet as a Mouse" and "Bar Fight Revolution") that made us realize they were worth looking into further. As the early sun and heat began to filter into our pores, Jenny concluded that I must not have an "off button" since I went out and about Lincoln Park Friday night and was still standing.

Next on the AT&T stage was indie-pop duo, The Ting Tings. Their music sounds like it would be hard to reproduce outside the studio, so I was very interested how it would translate live. Lead singer Katie White was commanding on guitar and Jules De Martino kept the speakers pounding on the drums. It was easily one of the most memorable performances of the weekend with "Great DJ", "Fruit Machine" and extended versions of "Thats Not My Name" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go". With an additional drum by White, it might have also been one of the louder performances of the day. The next two hours were pretty chill catching lunch, stages in the shade and the temperature a tad less humid. We saw a relaxed set by folkie Mason Jennings, a dizzying performance by Steel Train, and a lackadaisical hour from MGMT (but a huge crowd). Instrumental outfit, Explosions in the Sky floored the Bud Light stage with a numbing, guitar-heavy performance. I looked into their music before the festival, but you really need to see them live to view the passion and emotion they put into their work.

After breezing by Okkervil River, we opted to get a good spot for Lupe Fiasco's main stage offering. I had to pretend Jamie Lidell wasn't playing across the field, but the wait for Lupe was worth it. He back flipped on stage to the "Rocky" theme, doing one-armed push-ups, and was backed by a full band and DJ (not to mention the deaf interpreter who kept up with Lupe, wow). Dapper dressed in all-white, he almost looked like a preacher and echoed this getting the crowd into "Kick Push" and a gospel intro to "Daydream". Lupe ran through hits from The Cool and saved an extended version of "Superstar" for last. Lupe has clearly picked up some showmanship from Kanye the past few years and had the crowd amped and ready for Rage.

Lupe filled the south end of Grant Park, but by 8:30 it was clear who Lolla-goers were there to see, Rage Against the Machine. Unless they had been to a few festivals last year, there is good chance fans hadn't seen the band since 2000. Flanked by an blazing red star, Zach de la Rocha and company erupted with "Testify". Fans eager to get closer to the stage immediately pushed forward and mosh pits sprouted left and right. After a chorus of cheers, "Bulls On Parade" fueled the fury and the atmosphere was electric as fans bounced in unison to Tom Morello's guitar genius. Unfortunately, this is the moment fun energy almost turned to riot mentality. After "People of the Sun", Zach paused to urge the crowd to "take care of one another" and move "5 to 10 steps" back so hurt fans near the front barricades could exit the area. Rage played an amazing, energetic set, and sounded as tight as their records, but had to stop two more times to make fans realized the seriousness of their actions. We would later find out that Rage fans without tickets had been jumping fences and plowing through security to join the mayhem. Our bubble below the left Show vision screen wasn't nearly as crazy as others, but after a fan was sucker punched by a meat head, for no reason during "Guerrilla Radio", we decided to catch the last few songs by Wilco.

We peeked in Perry's tent to see DJ Momjeans aka Danny Masterson (Hyde from "That '70's Show" on our way to the Bud Light stage. Highlights included a "Fedora" convention on stage and Masterson giving the crowd the finger to a chorus of cheers. Wilco proved to be the polar opposite of Rage. The north lawn was scattered with people much older than Rage's demo relaxing on blankets to Jeff Tweddy's scratchy, alt/folk rock. We stood nearly the same distance as we did for Rage and didn't bump into a single person while the band closed with "Walken" and "Outtasite".

Day 2 was just as solid as Day 1. While we didn't see as many bands, we were closer for most, didn't get cooked by the sun and saw some of great performances. Lupe and Rage Against the Machine had the most influential performances of the day, in my mind, but the Ting Tings and Explosions in the Sky were stunning as well. We took a longer "el" ride and quickly passed out ready for the 3rd and final day of Lollapalooza with the rest of the the Ann St. ladies.

Photos from Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2
Videos from Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 1

Disclaimer: What I'm about to post is as accurate (and long-winded) as I can be about my experience at Lollapalooza 2008. For each day I'll post photo albums here and you can check out videos here. It doesn't really do justice to what a great event and how sweet the whole atmosphere actually was. Hopefully you will understand why I was grinning from ear to ear all weekend.

After a successful (and on-time) Amtrak train ride from Birmingham, MI to Union Station Thursday night, I could barely sleep in anticipation of Day 1 at Lollapalooza. When I woke up Friday, it was easy to let my sleepiness subside. I was on my own that morning, so after perfect directions from Ms. Waters, I made my journey from the Fullerton stop to Grant Park. After exiting the downtown "el" stop, I followed an obvious group of festival-goers who were trying to decide between early sets by Butch Walker and Rogue Wave.

I happily entered the heavenly gates to the right of a giant, inflated Lollapalooza sign just after 11:30. I didn't need to be at the Myspace Stage for Rogue Wave until 1:15, so I grabbed a free program and wandered the park. I was immediately taken aback by the size of Grant Park (later wouldn't be so roomy). I made it a point to survey all of the stages I had drooled over the past few weeks, take in the unique ideas (Green Street, shaded Hammocks, branded tents, Food Town), Buckingham Fountain and looked for a decent Lolla shirt (no luck).

When I reached the North end of the festival, I stumbled upon the early energy of reggae/hip hop artist, K'Naan at the Playstation 3 stage. He reminded me of K-OS and I quickly took note to check him out more when I got home. Immediately after he finished, Black Lips took over at the Bud Light main stage with their garage punk sound. They didn't exactly keep my attention, so I headed 15 minutes south to get a good spot to view Rogue Wave. Zach & company moved higher on my list of favorite bands with catchy indie songs past ("Publish My Love"), present ("Like I Needed") and Chicago-themed ("Lake Michigan"). I headed back to the Bud Light stage wondering why they were scheduled so early, when they much more worthy of a late afternoon slot. The Go! Team brought a lot of enthusiasm with their indie anthems, but were plagued by early sound troubles and lead singer, Ninja, was mostly drown out by the rest of the band.

The back and forth was only beginning as I hoofed south again, this time for Yeasayer's show at the AT&T main stage. The experimental and Middle-Eastern sounds were felt most on "2080" and the appropriate "Wait For The Summer". Next up was Duffy, back at PS3. I took in most of her set from a distance, but her Motown-influenced sound seemed a bit out of place. I met up with the rest of my party just before Akron, OH duo the Black Keys took the mainstage at nearly the hottest part of the day. So hot, that the crowd cheered for a large cloud that slowly moved in the Chicag sky. Their Southern blues rock was just what the 2nd largest crowd I saw Friday was looking for. Guitarist & singer Dan Auerbach repeatedly praised co-hort Patrick Carney for looking possessed while booming on the drum kit, especially on "Strange Times", "10 AM" and "Your Touch". The Black Keys closing their 3rd straight Lolla appearnce with a thunderous rendition of "I Got Mine" to great fanfare.

We opted to skip Cat Power and made our way back to the south end of the park, stopping at Perry's Tent to see DJ Million $ Mano. The organizers did their best to turn the shady, cool spot into a club-like atmosphere with couches and DJ's aplenty. I only saw a special appearance by Drea of He Say She Say for "Crash Dummie" and heard Mano spin "Lady", but it was enough to check out Mano out next time I'm in town. We caught married duo, Mates of State, (with 2 extra members on strings and horns) halfway through their set. My sweat level was reaching maximum levels but MOS's set was more than enjoyable as they performed "The Re-Arranger" and "Goods" and clearly had fun doing it.

The next two hours were a whirlwind that started with hearing a familiar Grizzly Bear song while inhaling a $5 cheeseburger from Food Town. Bloc Party played a solid set, but Kele and company belted out all of my favorites ("Hunting For Witches", "Banquet") early so we opted for a water break. The crowds had thickened to the point that the "75,000 people" number I heard earlier, became more realistic as we bounced back across to see the Raconteurs. We only stayed for a few songs, but got the point: the band is great a playing nostalgic, garage rock. I pretended that the Cool Kids weren't playing, in favor of catching the 2nd half of CSS's set. I'm sure the Cool Kids were great, but CSS was a great choice. Not only did they play all the songs I needed to hear ("Off the Hook", "Music Is My..") they actually got the Citi stage rowdy. Lead singer Lovefoxxx started in a red body suit with a ring of flowers wrapped around it, only to disrobe to another ridiculous outfit. She jumped roped with the mic cord, was flanked by a hilarious dancer in florescent spandex and made everyone, including a mohawked rocker scream "Alala". Mission accomplished. One of the best performances of the weekend.

Radiohead closed out Day 1 as the only headliner and filled the entire south end of the park. I stuck around for a half hour or so, but just didn't get into them. Everyone raved about their performance, so I'm sure it was great. I was glad I was able to see that ocean of people that clearly loved them. After exiting the park, I took a quick train ride back to the apt., showered and went out with the rest of the Ann St. ladies before I had a chance to think about sleeping.