Dylan Fest

11.20.13 | San Francisco, CA

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DylanFest_Logo2

As any serious aficionado knows, Bob Dylan is a virus that gets into the bloodstream. Given sway, Dylan’s music haunts and lingers, a fever that fades and returns at different times in a life, various strains from different eras seizing one from time to time, a Blood On The Tracks September giving way to a New Morning spring and a Freewheelin’ fall. Unlike a great many living myths, Dylan’s actual craftwork, the music, delivers legendarily, filled with surprising melodies, gut punch truths, and scalpels for slicing away false faces. He can be fun but rarely without still pricking us in sore spots.

Despite wide dissemination in popular culture, Dylan’s songs feel personal, his eerily accurate divining rod guiding our specific steps despite the many fellow travelers with us on the path. It’s this quality – the resounding sense of private ownership one can feel about his work – that lends Dylan’s catalog so well to interpretation. To be fair, there are far more terrible, miss-the-mark versions of Bob’s ditties than there are keepers, which just speaks the idiosyncratic nature of his music. But, there wasn’t a dud rendition to be had at Dylan Fest in San Francisco. The several-year-running NYC Best Fests are making their way to the City by the Bay, and this utterly winning homage to the man born Zimmerman was a straight up joy to behold, a real gift to any Dylan fan, and a demonstration of what gifted, dedicated players can do when they pool their talents and enthusiasms.

Backed by The Cabin Down Below Band – as fine a house band as the Impound has ever encountered – a pleasing array of national and local musicians took their turn in the guest spotlight to perform one or two Dylan songs. It’s a cutting contest format with everyone on point to shine and possibly even outshine the previous guests. This makes for some healthy competition, and the whole thing rolls along seamlessly despite the diversity because of the great skill, think-on-their-feet instincts, and just plain old chops of The Cabin Down Below guys – Alex Levy (guitar, vocals), Austin Scaggs (bass, vocals) and Matt Romano (drums). Taking their name from a deep cut on Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, the band, aided by Josh Lattanzi (The Candles / The Norah Jones Band) [Guitar], Pete Remm (Invisible Man / The Norah Jones Band) [Organ] and Dave “Moose” Sherman [Piano], on many selections, showed the value of having fundamentally solid foundations for every choice. This allowed the guests to trot up and do their thing without worry that the basics were well in hand, prompting many to cut loose or dig into their recesses for impassioned turns.

Alex Levy

Alex Levy

San Francisco hosted a tasty array of special guests including Lukas Nelson, The Coup’s Boots Riley, local rock ‘n’ roll ironman Chuck Prophet, The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn & Tad Kubler, Grace Potter, Doyle Bramhall II, awesome real rockers The Whigs, and more. But the point of Dylan Fest, at least to my sensibilities, is joyful engagement with the music of a master that’s equal parts homage and kick-out-the-jams shindig. Face it, few of us were at the closing of Winterland with The Band and other iconic, guest studded gatherings in rock’s storied past, but we can experience something akin to those heady gatherings at Dylan Fest, and, one suspects, at Petty Fest and Stones Fest, the other two occasional concert group gropes curated by The Cabin Down Below Band, who it’s worth noting are the very rare exception to the general rule that bands comprised of industry veterans usually suck out loud. It didn’t hurt matters that this show took place at a bona fide classic rock palace, Great American Music Hall, which hums with history from its bawdy Gold Rush days right through countless powerhouse concerts through the decades. Cabin Below Band’s Alex Levy seemed a natural in this setting, working backstage pre-show, taking different musicians aside and working up loose game plans, stoking their excitement, rhapsodizing about Dylan, and bolstering collective confidence. As a corner man, in the parlance of boxing, one would be hard pressed to find better than Levy.

Dylan Fest SF - Neal Casal w/ Cabin Down Below Band by Drew Johnson

Dylan Fest SF – Neal Casal w/ Cabin Down Below Band by Drew Johnson

Yes, there were highlights but each person’s picks, like one’s preferences in Dylan’s catalog, will vary wildly. For my own part, I was blown away early by Neal Casal’s blistering attack on “Isis,” which channeled some of the percolating Rolling Thunder Revue wildness and muscle. Tim and Nicki Bluhm were the model of stage sweethearts on “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine),” and Chuck Prophet brought the walls down with aplomb on “Tweeter & The Monkey Man.” Ruby Amanfu was a real treat every time she stepped up, a singer vibrating with feeling one can really feel in their bones. And what’s not to dig about The Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston growling through “All Along The Watchtower”? But again, it’s the whole of the thing that’s really impressive, the flow and spark of it all, and how no one, despite their commercial popularity, is given greater sway or spotlight.

Dylan was the star of the night, and it was apparent that each guest had handpicked their selection so each turn offered reverence and private connection for the artists, the performances serving as a love offering to Dylan’s creations that all can easily enjoy. A line from “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” popped into my head late in the evening: “Alive with fiery breath.” Ultimately, this is what Dylan Fest and its curators have done – blow upon the still-glowing embers of a great American songbook in ways that make the music stand up and dance.

This event was also a benefit for Sweet Relief, which provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. It’s as worthy a cause as DI can think of so if you can donate pop over here. The evening was sponsored by one of the Impound’s favorite whiskies, Jameson (which allows 100% of proceeds to go to charity), and we gotta say we really dug the limited edition Black Barrel variety that flowed backstage. We take our whiskey seriously around the Impound. Count on that.

Setlist with Guest Musicians

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Alex Levy), Don’t Think Twice (Ruby Amanfu), Positively 4th St. (Erika Wennerstrom), Isis (Neal Casal), Every Grain of Sand (Victoria Williams w/ Lee Gallagher), Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Chuck Prophet), It Takes A Lot To Laugh (Kelley Stoltz), Most Likely You Go Your Way (Tim & Nicki Bluhm), As I Went Out One Morning (Elvis Perkins), Motorpsycho Nightmare (Elvis Perkins w/ Jesse Lauter), Make You Feel My Love (Lara Johnston), It’s A Hard Rain (Rayland Baxter), Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? (Boots Riley w/ Jason Roberts), I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (Chase Cohl), All Along The Watchtower (Tom Johnston), I Want You (The Whigs), I Wanna Be Your Lover (The Whigs), Simple Twist of Fate (Lukas Nelson), It’s Alright Ma (Lukas Nelson), Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (Grace Potter), License To Kill (Craig Finn & Tad Kubler), Where Are You Tonight? (Craig Finn & Tad Kubler), Lay Lady Lay (Midlakes’s Eric Pulido & Joey McClellen), Tweeter & The Monkey Man (Chuck Prophet), You Ain’t Going Nowhere (Erika Wennerstrom), Not Dark Yet (Ruby Amanfu), I Shall Be Released (Doyle Bramhall II w/ Ruby Amanfu), Maggie’s Farm (Doyle Bramhall II w/ Ruby Amanfu), Knocking On Heaven’s Door (finale with lots of folks).

Some clips from Dylan Fest in NYC a few days earlier

Rival Sons

01.25.13 | San Francisco, CA

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[Photo gallery below review]

“Are these guys for real?”

This thought occurred to me a few songs into Rival Sons’ come-out-swinging performance at a packed Café Du Nord.

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

The hair, the jewelry, the charmingly dramatic body movements, and even the music – which Dirty Impound has championed since Day One of its existence (Favorite Albums of 2012)/Favorite Albums of 2011 – seemed almost too perfect, the Platonic notion of what a classic rock outfit should be breathing hot on our necks while wicked licks engulfed the rest of us. It was one of several moments where I wondered how much of Rival Sons is conceptual and how much just honest embrace of rock’s sticky, denim wrapped spirit.

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

However, a few moments after this initial question popped up, I found myself swept up in the very present, very palpable thing they do, shouting, “Burn down Los Angeles!” and pumping the air with much of the churned up SF crowd. The Rival Sons inspire passion and presence. One can’t crank their tunes and not move and windmill like a living room Strat God. This is rock that makes one fuck better, the sounds and soul of it tickling chakras and unleashing pheromones, pupils dilating as sweat oozes beneath one’s clothes. The studio stuff stimulates in this way if you’re tuned in, but live it’s all up in your face in ways too obvious to ignore. When so much rock today has been homogenized and stripped of anything beyond advertising-minded titillation, it’s heartening (and hardening) to be pawed by the likes of Rival Sons. And this is what makes the opening question kinda moot.

Whether this band is a post-modern experiment or an utterly sincere endeavor – or most likely some merger of the two – is beside the point. The music speaks for itself and it is bloody effective – carnal, knowing, clever, romantic, sexily rhythmic, and delivered by guys who get the job done both in concert and on tape. They seem determined to be part of rock’s Great Pantheon AND they don’t seem interested in being the next Zeppelin, Aerosmith, etc. What Rival Sons is doing – looking crazy cool while they do it- is more meta than mere mimicry, and, allowed to simply have its way with us, it’s such a good, good time. (Dennis Cook)

Dirty Impound is once again delighted to share the photographic talents of Whitney Bekolay. She has great instincts for what details are worth snaring, moments worthy of reflection grabbed from the immediate moment. As much as any words above, these shots capture the mood of this night very well.

New Monsoon's Garyfest 2012

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New Monsoon :: Garyfest :: 10.19.12-10.21.12 :: Houston, TX

There are times in life that seem calculated to drive us to our knees, as if some grand design wants to break us down to our rawest, weariest selves. It’s a self-pitying perspective but unavoidable sometimes – being human makes one prone to such slips. However, such times can also unearth our strengths, our gifts, our blessings in ways nothing else possibly can. This is what one witnessed with S.F. Bay Area-based New Monsoon during the inaugural Garyfest, a three day tribute series of concerts to the band’s friend and manager Gary Hartman, who passed away suddenly last May. Add to this some family deaths for New Monsoon members just prior to these shows and the weekend took on unmistakable significance, a survivor’s edge that dug hard into life and transmuted that primal force into song. It was a feeling off-handedly summed up nicely by NM electric guitarist-singer-songwriter Jeff Miller, who remarked with a crooked smile just before he went onstage the first night, “We’re still here. That’s something, right?”

I’ve been chronicling the evolution of New Monsoon since 2003, when I became fast friends with the group as well as an enduring fan. Though it’s thrown around a lot (and often inappropriately), the word that fits these guys best is “genuine”. There’s no sense of subterfuge and strategy about them, their feelings and artistic intentions worn on their sleeves honestly, even brazenly, and they were very much these guys during the three nights in Houston. In essence, New Monsoon is a dead solid rock band fused with a love of instrumental diversity, folk forms and jamming in the best sense. They are one of the few “jam bands” to emerge from the early 2000s that make that descriptor a good thing, perhaps most because the songwriting core – Miller, Bo Carper (acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals) and Phil Ferlino (keyboards, vocals) – has put serious sweat and care into honing their tunesmithing and vocal chops over the past decade. It’s one thing to shred mightily – which they do at times – but better still to offer up songs that stick, conjecture, skip, and generally seem determined to wrestle with the wherewithal and whims of living in a way that’s kinda illuminating or healing. At all three chapters of this first Garyfest, the breadth and deep feeling of their catalogue was laid bare in the company of many of their dearest, most dedicated fans at two of the sweetest venues in the U.S. As combinations of elements go it was downright wonderful, a chance to see a band at their best in the best possible circumstances.

New Monsoon 2012

Friday and Saturday nights took place at funky (in the 60s slang sense) back street Houston hangout Last Concert Café, a Mexican restaurant and live music spot where one either knocks to get in or wanders through a gate leading into a sand pit in front of the outdoor stage. Everything about the joint says, “Slip off your shoes and get to liquor-ing up yo’ blood, kids, ‘cause we’re gonna have a good, good time.” The staff and locals are the definition of colorful and friendly, and for this longtime Bay Area NM loyalist it was a blast to meet up with one of this band’s other dedicated tribes. Houston was one of the first cities outside San Francisco that really took to New Monsoon and swiftly became a home-away-from-home for them during their heavier touring years. One feels surrounded by kind-hearted people who really care about this band, a constituency that has let this music seep into the ground water of their lives, singing along with tearful understanding and smiling pleasure. Gary Hartman was core to this scene, and from the start of his friendship with NM proved a positive instigator and undying champion for what isn’t always an easy sell in an era where specificity is rewarded far above diversity.

The current lineup – rounded out by bassist Marshall Harrell and newest member drummer Michael Pinkham – is scarily together for guys who don’t play out all that often anymore. Natural talent is a big part of it – and they’ve all got that in spades – but it’s clear these five guys are dedicated to their cause and really get off on playing music together. Right out of the gate on Friday, their shared intensity and obvious desire to knock these shows out of the park was apparent, and when added to the strong emotions zinging around the LCC, one would have to be a hard soul not to be moved by what unfolded. This is music for life’s long slog, rib sticking stuff that suits their many travelogues and philosophical musings. Further stoked by the inescapable specter of mortality in the air, the Friday show straight on through to the intimate closer on Sunday at modern day speakeasy “The Lounge” – a former woodshop over a creek behind a private home that brought the locals and distant journeyers into a linked arm huddle to wrap this weekend – one was reminded of the quality and life-affirming nature of what NM does, where the unfolding moment dances with history, the now and the then swirled into a rhythm rich force that stirs one to sway and engage.

Backstage at LCC w/ Miller, Ylitalo, Ferlino & Pinkham

It doesn’t hurt that New Monsoon expands on their own catalog with some of the most credible, consistently excellent covers of iconic material out there, starting Friday with spectacular readings of Pink Floyd’s “Pigs” and Led Zeppelin’s “Poor Tom.” They inhabit classic material with confidence, both evoking the originals and veering off on unique tangents that reflect their personalities while still honoring what makes this material great – i.e. respectful but not too respectful. To wit, Miller’s decidedly non-Hendrix soloing on “Manic Depression,” which consciously avoided sounding at all like Jimi, instead offering up a smooth encapsulation of Miller’s creamy essence. In fact, every man onstage this weekend showed off a range and distinct identity that’s WAY beyond what most players are capable of. In another band it might all prove too much but the sheer density of what they do melds beautifully, each aspect sparked and carved by the tunes and what the others bring to them in real time, spontaneity playing on their faces and communicated to their limbs in ways that are awfully fun to watch.

For veteran New Monsoon enthusiasts, Garyfest brought the welcome return of original percussion trio Rajiv Parikh (tabla), Marty Ylitalo (trap drums) and Brian Carey (conga, Latin percussion). For many in attendance it was the mighty 7-headed juggernaut of the early-mid 2000s that first made them fall for this band, and even a taste of that heady mélange was delicious, a warming elixir to these times that too often stumble without intrinsic rhythm. Friday night Carey jumped in and out of proceedings, injecting vigor into whatever he touched, but it was Saturday night that brought the full force of this combo to bear with ah-damn-that’s-good versions of “Mountain Air,” Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon” diving into “En Fuego,” and other treats that recalled the group’s earlier more international bent. It really seemed as if no time had passed since these guys had explored music together – a testament to their great skill and unshakeable chemistry.

Pre-Show Circle Backstage at LCC on Saturday

Another secret ingredient to this first Garyfest was special guest Tim Carbone, violinist from primo festival/live circuit champs Railroad Earth. In my experience, Carbone is like magic dust sprinkled on ANY musical setting, a player whose listening and technical skills are at such a level that he’s a duck in whatever waters he’s tossed in. For Carbone, New Monsoon seems a super swell playground, guys who operate at his level and give him plenty to chew on. From his arrival on Saturday into Sunday’s quieter, more contemplative set at “The Lounge,” Carbone injected too many good things to list, a foil that brought out the best in New Monsoon – especially the poetic communication he shares with Miller and Ferlino, his sometimes bandmates in side project The Contribution – and a guest that felt as natural in their idiosyncratic style as a long term member. More simply, Tim Carbone makes music better – any music, any genre, anytime, anywhere – and he surely did that in his extended visit this weekend.

By Sunday evening, one was hard pressed not to be reflective, both about this band and their troubles as well as one’s own tribulations and blessings. While New Monsoon can be entertaining, it’s their capacity for something deeper that makes them stand out. Sure, they throw a good party – and all involved in crafting this first Garyfest did that very well – but they give one plenty to think about when the taps have run dry and the working week returns. These are craftsmen who have steadfastly made something of their own, borrowing from what’s come before but never yielding to imitation or lazy routine. They are part of a long line of singular, hyper-gifted bands that never hit the big lights but persevere because a core group is there to listen and support what they do with real love. It’s a noble thing to create without steady riches or fame, and there are too few genuinely noble things left in this greed-stoked, angling, politicized, self-interest driven world. At the closing Sunday performance, New Monsoon flew high AND into people’s hearts by being willing to do what they do just for the sake of doing it.

“This is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” said Miller at “The Lounge.

I did not know Gary as well as many that attended these special shows but one thing I gleaned from my few conversations with him was the man knew a good idea when he saw one and was willing to put his back into seeing such ideas survive and blossom. He saw the good in New Monsoon from the very start, and in this way he and I share a fundamental feeling about this band. In so many ways, New Monsoon makes very little sense to an outsider perspective but slip into their world and the internal logic of what they do shines like sunrise. Garyfest was a reminder to fans what a strong, engaging band New Monsoon is, but I think it also reminded the musicians why this endeavor should continue. Love is a powerful force and there was lots of love permeating this inaugural outing for what will surely be a grand time year after year, a good idea that should be nurtured and savored for the unique celebration it is.

Outside Lands 2012

08.10.12 & 08.12.12 | San Francisco, CA

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Huge photo gallery below highlights!

Gopher at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

Gopher at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten


Dialed in – that’s the most succinct way one can describe the 2012 installment of Outside Lands. The fifth installment of the three-day music, food and arts gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park had nearly every element down this year, having learned and refined the flow of humanity and entertainment from previous years so that even when crowds were sizeable things moved along fairly smoothly. Already one of the West Coast’s best weekends, this year Outside Lands secured its place amongst the finest festivals happening in the U.S. today.

By not overselling tickets – though all three days in 2012 sold out – and putting as much care into the atmosphere and sustenance as they do the lineup choices, Outside Lands cemented its unique personality – hip, young, tuned-in, foodies, urban, tech savvy – this round, where the mingling of savory things on forks, good wine, and forward thinking music all worked together for a really fine time. And yes, there are still children with flowers in their hair in the Park, but most were also rocking earbuds for their MP3 player or smart phone, too.

7 Highlights From Outside Lands 2012

Ranger Dave at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

Ranger Dave at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

1. Golden Gate Park
The justifiably famous park is a verdant, rolling landscape that contributes a great deal to the fest’s character. Every stage is ringed by trees and the shifting, blue-grey sky, and once one passes through the gates there is an unmistakable sense of visiting “somewhere” different than the norm. The near total absence of concrete and open, grassy expanses in front of each stage create the illusion one has left the city, yet just a few blocks away all of SF’s riches await. Yes, getting 70,000 or so people in and out of this space can be a traffic/logistical nightmare, but the organizers and the city get a bit better each year – helped a great deal by the now-seasoned regulars who know well enough to leave their cars at home for the most part.

2. Food Truck Culture
Some of the most innovative cooking today is happening on wheels. SF was an early adopter of this culture, and for the past two years Outside Lands has welcomed these purveyors of lamb poutine and sea salt & mocha cream cupcakes. Instead of situating all the trucks in the same meadow as in 2011, this year found pockets of food trucks in several spots. It’s a hell of an improvement over most music fests to be able to score quality Korean tacos, artisan pizzas, buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches with jalapeno slaw and more, and most of it not outrageously priced for the setting (no one being realistic should expect bargain prices). Feeding the body as well as the spirit and mind is clearly a priority for the organizers.

Metallica at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

Metallica at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

3. Best Headliners In Festival History
With no disrespect meant to past main stage headliners like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Pearl Jam and Radiohead, this year’s trio of Neil Young and Crazy Horse (Friday), Metallica (Saturday) and Stevie Wonder (Sunday) delivered the goods in a really palpable, super fun way that transcended performances to be truly special experiences. One thing Outside Lands excels at is honoring Bay Area favorites, and that’s never been accomplished more successfully than with Crazy Horse and Metallica, who both enjoy rabid, extensive lifelong fan bases in the SF region. These are local heroes, and as such they dug a bit deeper than a regular show with heartfelt performances that reached inside their catalogues for fan favorites, new material and beloved gems. Steve Wonder, well, he’s just a party every time out, and it’s always a kick to be in a massive audience that knows the words to every song and belts them out without reservation. Oh, Metallica wins the trophy for most absorbing, pyrotechnics filled stage production of the weekend. Thanks for the lasers, dudes!

4. Tame Impala
While a fair amount of attendees may have been unfamiliar with Australian import Tame Impala, the sheer force and unctuous charm of their Saturday afternoon main stage performance surely ensnared a LOT of new fans. With only one official album (2010’s Innerspeaker) and a sophomore slab not due until this October, Tame Impala made their case purely on the strength of their music and live presence. With a bassist wearing a KISS tee and playing a vintage Rickenbacker bass, it was obvious this young band draws inspiration from a number of sources to create their heady mélange – a bit classic rock, a bit Stone Roses rave-up, a touch Nuggets psychedelic, and a whole lot of sharp, memorable (even XTC-ish in spots) songwriting. What they offered was a sound too massive, too soulfully crunchy and undulating, to be contained inside walls and ceilings. Hearing them in GG Park was a sublime reminder of how music affects the body, and in this instance, in a wholly positive way.

White Denim at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

White Denim at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

5. Sutro Stage Friday Lineup
If White Denim, Sharon Van Etten, Reggie Watts, The Walkmen, Of Monsters and Men, and Andrew Bird aren’t already on your radar they should be. Soon. From the top of the day head-charge of White Denim to the strange pop of Andrew Bird at sunset, the Sutro Stage in Lindley Meadow was a ringing confirmation of the booking skills at Outside Lands. These six acts neatly encapsulate where popular music is headed in the years ahead, artists young enough to be tuned into today’s pulse but smart enough to mine the past for every little good thing they can unearth. Whether one was already a fan or hearing any of these performers for the first time, the music spoke for itself in every instance – immediate, intelligent, engaged and free from the snarky cynicism and posing that infect so much modern rock. And while they all resonated on a shared, forward-moving frequency, each differed, often wildly, in tone and style. If one wanted diversity and fresh grist for their listening mill they couldn’t have done better than the Sutro Stage on Friday.

6. Grandaddy
Rumor has it that it was a healthy financial offer from Outside Lands that got this pioneering 90s/early 2000s band back together. While that’s often a recipe for a flat, doing-it-for-the-money performance, Grandaddy sounded utterly fantastic, a shimmering reminder of how much ground they broke that LOTS of Pitchfork adored bands are getting undeserved credit for these days. These guys are the tillers and cultivators that began the organic synthesis of synths and electric guitars so prevalent now, but there’s a tightness and blippy rightness to Grandaddy their copyists will never know. And if one doubts this, well, their Outside Lands set [and by all reports, the late night gig at The Independent the next day, too] gave empirical proof that this is a band worth serious reassessment. The songs universally hold up, sounding as fresh as anything coming out this week AND doing them one better by weaving in lovely melodies and incisive lyrical insights. The take away, at least for this writer, from Outside Lands was Grandaddy is one of THE premiere modern rock bands of the past 25 years. Bandleader/mastermind Jason Lytle remarked onstage, “I lost a lot of sleep wondering how this was gonna work out. It seems to be working out fine.” The fist in the air from guitarist Jim Fairchild that accompanied this comment lends hope to the idea that this reunion may stick and we can look forward to more from them down the line. Fingers are crossed.

Die Antwoord Fan at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

Die Antwoord Fan at Outside Lands 2012 by John Margaretten

7. The Attendees
Face it, too many festivals draw a rowdy, drink spilling element that’s there more to get trashed (and trash things) than to enjoy the music. Outside Lands, for lack of a better word, is a touch more sophisticated. Sure, the rave-ready teens seemed hell-bent on craziness during Die Antwoord’s set and pouring in and out of the DJ dance dome, but they largely followed one of DI’s cardinal festival rules – i.e. don’t let your good time ruin someone else’s good time.

There’s much less random, stupid hooting and screaming in the crowd, and for the most part, people apologized if they bumped into you. A little civility goes a long way in this increasingly tribal, us-vs.-them world, and it only added to one’s ability to really soak in the quality music and grub at Outside Lands. While this fest draws a fairly young audience, they don’t have the same snotty, hipper-than-thou vibe one picks up on at Lollapalooza, Coachella and other tastemaker festivals. Folks just seem to be happy being in Golden Gate Park, being themselves and enjoying the many shiny things and tasty morsels that grab their attentions. Lot of smiles at this one, and it makes the Impound grin to think back on this weekend – an annual event we’re now marking in ink on our calendars.

Dirty Impound is proud to present this mood-capturing gallery from lensman extraordinaire John Margaretten

Phish

08.17.12 & 08.19.12 | San Francisco, CA

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By nearly all reports, this past weekend’s Phish shows at the Bill Graham Civic in SF were spectacular. One thing this band does well is bring folks together and make a rock show into an experience. There’s just no escaping the sense of “event” to these sort of multi-night runs in major cities. Impound regular John Margaretten nails two things DI really likes about Phish in this gallery – the obvious, abundant personalities of its members and the undeniable lighting artistry of Chris Kuroda, who never fails to knock us out. We’ve also never seen the Civic this elbow-to-elbow packed before. These guys still bring out the faithful in a big way.

Friday – August 17, 2012 Setlist
Set 1: AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, Possum, Corinna, Sand, Halley’s Comet > Funky Bitch > Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free > My Friend, My Friend, Slave to the Traffic Light

Set 2: Down with Disease > Birds of a Feather, Tweezer > Twist > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Chalk Dust Torture, Joy, Run Like an Antelope, Shine a Light

Encore: First Tube

Sunday – August 19, 2012 Setlist
Set 1: Crowd Control, Party Time, Axilla, Reba, Free, Mound > Walk Away, NICU, Back on the Train, Gotta Jibboo > Roggae, David Bowie

Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> Crosseyed and Painless > Theme From the Bottom > Rocky Top, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Meatstick[3], Bug, You Enjoy Myself

Encore: Ride Captain Ride > Tweezer Reprise

High Sierra Music Festival 2012

07.05.12-07.08.12 | Quincy, CA

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High Sierra Music Festival really is magic. Now, that’s a word one should use with the same constrained care as ‘genius,’ ‘love’ or any other power word, but HSMF has an aura about it that warrants invoking ‘magic’ (and this from the Impound, a spot not known for being big ol’ hippies). This annual July gathering in Northern California has developed an atmosphere that permeates the whole experience, where musicians and regular folks all seem to glow a bit, wearing their joy and laughter right out where anyone can see it. It’s a tough fest to put into words (though these two gents did their level best to shape the days into breathing prose over here), and like the saying goes, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This photo set from Whitney Bekolay is one of the strongest encapsulations of the ephemeral vibe at High Sierra we’ve seen. There’s a lot of personality afoot on both of sides of the lens, and one feels Bekolay’s enjoyment of the artists and fellow travelers through her lens as well as the good energy radiating off the performers and loose-footed freaks wandering the grounds. Whitney gets at a feeling that’s maybe impossible to put into words in these images, and Dirty Impound is happy to welcome her to our strange little creative family. If you haven’t experienced a High Sierra yourself, well, take a good look and see if you’re not aching to dive into these succulent currents next year.

Warped Tour 2012

07.03.12 | Ventura, CA

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Wondering what/who the kids are listening to these days? Never an easier way to find out the answers than the annual Warped Tour. SoCal lensman Scott Dudelson brings us the sights from this year’s stop at the Ventura Country Fairground At Seaside Park. DI seriously recognizes about 5-6 of these bands and the rest, well, it just makes us feel old. We’re gonna go drink something strong and fall into a stupor now…Warped Tour continues through August 5 in Portland, OR. Check out full tour schedule here.

Marillion

06.29.12 | San Francisco, CA

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Full Photo Gallery Below Review!

Marillion by Josh Miller

Marillion by Josh Miller

It’s a true pleasure to watch folks really, really good at what they do ply their craft. We get a palpable thrill seeing Olympic athletes strut their stuff, and the same goes for artists operating with hard won skill, obvious passion, terrific showmanship, and no small measure of x-factor (natural talent, charisma, etc.). Such was the case with Marillion at the tour ender at The Fillmore for their first North American tour in 8 years.

Again and again one was struck by how absolutely together, how completely on it in every way this band of veterans were, commanders of the stage and their intricate but rarely unapproachable catalog. This last point is important. For all its complexities and long form expression, this music is laced up with gorgeous melodies, hooks galore, memorable choruses, air guitar inspiring riffs and more that make it so easy to like, so easy to see just how fundamentally great what they do truly is. The world is cruel and this is just another example when a band this terrific isn’t a chart-topper everywhere. In many respects, Marillion are too good for the charts as they exist in the early 21st century. Firmly entrenched in prickly, truth-telling environments like “King,” “The Invisible Man” and “Man of a Thousand Faces” it struck me how Marillion might be the rock band Carl Jung might have formed if he’d come of age in the time of The Beatles and other great 60s pop culture pioneers. And this is perhaps not the vibe one wants if they intend to compete with Justin Bieber and Maroon 5. So be it. The less traveled path suits them better anyway.

There are great depths to this group but never offered in a way that one can’t still just bob their head and grok in an immediate way, a layered thing to be experienced in multiple ways that will likely shift over one’s life. And it was clear that most of the people inside the storied San Francisco venue were Marillion lifers, this music the soundtrack to their coming of age, to marriages and divorces, to significant moments that might only have occurred between them and these songs yet a relationship as meaningful and substantial as one built in fleshly real time, that strange, beautiful alchemy that sometimes miraculously occurs between musicians and their fans charging the air.

Marillion by Josh Miller

Marillion by Josh Miller

The connectivity and hyper-awareness of nuance in the room was a real joy. Too often we go to see live music and find ourselves surrounded by chatter that has nothing to do with what’s happening onstage, a glaring disconnect that interferes with one’s ability to rise and fall upon a collective tide. Not so at Marillion’s farewell to America for 2012, where all the key lines were punched with authority, the band the recipients of much visible love, the many hours we’d spent with their work glowing on our faces and cracking our voices as we sung of Easter and the happiness of the road. Even the few folks that seemed to be there to see a band that disappeared in the late 80s (seriously, the guy who screamed out a request for “Grendel” needs to get a time machine and join us in 2012) ultimately came around, the quality and reach of the band’s recent material doing the trick even for the chunk of the audience that seemed unfamiliar with newer jewels like “The Other Half”.

Marillion appear unfazed by this dynamic, moving onward with what they do in a way that makes them relevant and a peer to critic’s darlings like Radiohead and Beck rather than some dodgy “prog-rock band” still lumbering around and trotting out early favorites for an increasingly paunchy, beardy core constituency. In some ways, Marillion seems as surprised as anyone that their strange engine keeps turning over and carrying them further down the creative highway. It’s a happy surprise to be sure and one that makes one curious but also wonderfully uncertain where each new chapter will take them [check out the first finished track to be shared from their forthcoming Sounds That Can’t Be Made below and pre-order the album here]. Having boarded in the days of Fugazi and really committed myself to the cause once Steve Hogarth was firmly entrenched, I can only say that I’m along for the distance, lads. Wherever you want to go, especially based on what I experienced in SF, is somewhere I want to be.

Setlist:
Splintering Heart, Cover My Eyes (Pain and Heaven), Slàinte Mhath, The Other Half, Fantastic Place, The Great Escape, Easter, Afraid of Sunlight, Power, King, Sugar Mice, Man of a Thousand Faces, Neverland.

E1: The Invisible Man
E2: This Strange Engine
E3: Happiness Is the Road

Josh Miller – worth noting, a first time Marillion concert attendee that was fairly smitten with what he saw – brings us these fabulous captures from the night.