Sussing out the Soul of Rock and Roll in Los Angeles

"Katie making noise/
Queen of drills bitch/ 
We keep them ratchets/
Don’t be lackin’ in the field bitch.”

This is obviously my new favorite song.
Happy Friday.

Track of the Day: Ryan Adams - Stay With Me

Sometimes I worry that classic rock is no longer being made. (I know this statement only sort of makes sense, as only time can establish rock or any other kind of music as classic, but I think you know what I mean.) Then on Monday I heard this new track by Ryan Adams, (who I always forget how much I like), and it had that low-grade sexual ache classic rock guitar simmer thing going on, and I found it completely compelling. I have listened to it 78 times (this is an approximation) in the last 48 hours, and I am listening to it again right now. It is not flimsy or forgettable. It is, however, reminiscent of Hard Promises-era Tom Petty. 

Nocturnal Wonderland, San Manuel Amphitheater, September 6, 2014

Nocturnal Wonderland, San Manuel Amphitheater, September 6, 2014


And the reasons why they will do that. 

Deadmau5 and Kaskade: I Remember
This song was playing (because Anum played it) when she and I drove through the gates of Burning Man on Wednesday morning (after watching the sun rise while driving the ((empty)) two lane highway past Pyramid Lake and into the depths of the desert at dawn, which was pretty fucking special.) I then heard it a bunch of times in the days thereafter, making it more or less my official theme song of the week, particularly because it was played at Robot Heart just after sunrise on Thursday morning and I was in a very special state of mind (commonly referred to as “acid”) and the lyrics (“you don’t have to move on to let go”) seemed especially poignant  in the context of the topics I had been contemplating all night. (Men, and one man ((boy?)) in particular, and thus the nature of desire and romance in general and also how much I love my friends and how I’m just stupidly lucky to have the life that I do.) 

Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynn: Rather Be
Apparently this song is some sort of big hit right now (I’m basing that solely on the fact that I heard it on top forty radio on Sunday morning while driving home from a festival in San Bernardino and then again on Morning Becomes Eclectic while driving to work yesterday.) Before Burning Man I hadn’t heard it at all, but it was played approximately twelve times throughout the week, and I was stoked each time it came on, because it’s catchy and I love the charming yet persistent nature of the lyrical content and it has a nice sunshine vibe, which made it an ideally danceable jam each time it was played at our camp. (Our camp, btw, was tremendously swank and had a kitchen and an elevated platform with three showers ((Burner nirvana)) and a shade structure so we didn’t all melt while trying to sleep in the mornings and early afternoons and evenings.)

Phil Collins: In the Air Tonight
Friday morning between the hours of six am and ten am were conceivably four of the most fun hours of my life, for reasons including but not limited to the fact that a heroic pal woke me up just before sunrise and I quickly threw on some clothes (and a top hat, natch) then rode my bike into the desert to watch a massive art installation burn as the sun came up over the mountains. While that was all unfolding, I ran into some old friends, which proved itself to be fortuitous meeting in more ways than one. (DM me for details.) I spent the early morning dancing my face off on an art car shaped like a pirate ship while the burning art filled the horizon with black smoke and dust cyclones. On the art car, the DJ (a legendary man with a raw lust for life who was wearing a fabulous full length blue polka dot gown) was playing old school hits including Are You That Somebody, which is a song that makes me feel as though I’m dancing like "If"-era Janet Jackson, although I understand that I’m definitely not actually dancing like that. I rapped along to the Timbaland part (poorly, but with enthusiasm) and consumed more Jameson than I ever have before at that hour of the day, which was a contributing factor in my executive decision to leave my bike on the playa and ride the art cart back to camp. (A move that led to several more adventures in advanced desert bike retrieval.)

It was all worth it though, because this was one of the best parties I’ve ever attended, and on the way back to camp the DJ (who happens to work on he first floor of my office) played a perfectly timed “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (the only Drake cameo on the playa all week, sadly) and then, as we were creeping slowly past campsites full of sleeping people, (or people still up partying or cuddling or meditating or whatever else people do at Burning Man at ten in the morning) he played In the Air Tonight, which I implore you to listen to the first 50 seconds of immediately. Now close your eyes and imagine listening to those 50 seconds while also properly buzzed on whiskey and while riding a slowly moving pirate ship through the desert as the heat of the day rises around you. Oh lord. 

Steppenwolf: Magic Carpet Ride
One of my favorite moments of Burning Man 2012 was discovering the roller disco on the esplanade on our first night there and subsequently  rollerskating (so happily) in my bikini to Magic Carpet Ride while the sun sat and the immensity of Burning Man sort of all hit me at once. It was an iconic moment in the life of Katie Bain. It was thus a nice full circle (pun intended) when I was skating around the roller disco at midnight in a tiger mask and Magic Carpet Ride came on. And I only fell once.  

Feist: My Moon My Man (Boys Noize Remix)
It was so fucking hot while we stood in line to buy ice on Thursday morning. The line was long, and while we waited, some people sitting on a installation designed like a porch made jokes on a megaphone to amuse all of us poor jerks melting in the ice line. “Tonight in the deep playa,” a man announced, “Skrillex is going to fart into a microphone. He’s going to put some effects on it. This is only for Burning Man.” I found this hilarious. When we got closer to the front of the line, this Boys Noize remix of what is one of my favorite Feist songs was playing, and I liked it a lot. The man on the megaphone keeping the ice line moving suggested we all dance, and we did, although a bit listlessly as it was 137 degrees out. We then purchased forty bags of ice, stacked them in a wheelbarrow and brought them back to the bar at our camp. I walked the entire way back with a melting bag of ice on my head. It was, by all accounts, a very successful mission. 

Breakbot: Baby I’m Yours
I heard this song a few different times throughout the week, but I absolutely cannot remember when. While snuggled up to Anum and JP at the feet of the man late late on Wednesday? Maybe. While sitting on the top of a twenty foot tall spinning metal orb that I climbed (in heels) on Friday afternoon? Possibly. While watching two men suspended from harnesses beat the shit out of each other with foam sticks at the Thunderdome on Thursday? Definitely not. The Thunderdome only played death metal. It doesn’t matter. This song is fucking tops. 

Darkside: A1
Did you think we’d get through this list without a Darkside mention? Yeah fucking right! The fact is that the camp next to ours had some sort of strip club attached to it (word on K street was that it was also a brothel), and as such they were constantly playing hella sensual music at all hours of the night. A1 was playing when I arrived home from Robot Heart on Thursday morning, just after I had just been fantasizing about a Darkside reunion show at dawn on the playa. Fortunately, I ran into Nicolas Jaar’s publicist out there and passed this brilliant idea along. He said he’ll see what he can do. FINGERS CROSSED.

Hot Chip: Look At Where We Are (Major Lazer remix)
Because if you’re going to have an intense five person dance party inside a heavily air-conditioned RV at eleven in the morning, this is a choice song to do it to.

LCD Soundsystem: All My Friends
This played as our art car cruised to the playa on my first night there. The Hokey Pokey could have been playing and it still would have been an epic moment, considering how epic and overwhelming that first foray onto the playa is, but the Hokey Pokey was not playing, All My Friends was playing and I can’t properly describe to you what a perfect fit this song was for that moment. You just had to be there, which I was. “Well, that was the best moment of my life so I can just go home now,” John announced when the track ended. I agreed by doubling over laughing. I was the happiest person in the world.

Tupac: California Love
This song was not actually played at any point during my time at Burning Man, but watch the video and you’ll get a better sense of what my Saturday evening looked like as we rode (danced around on) the pirate ship through a dust storm to watch the man burn at sunset.

Honorable mentions to: whoever played the Mayan Art Car on Wednesday night, whoever played Robot Heart on Thursday and Saturday mornings, whoever played this song really loudly as I strapped my bike to the top of my car in the dark on Sunday, Trent Cantrelle for DJing the art car on  as the man burned, Marques Wyatt for Djing the sunset yoga session at the temple, to a person who shall remain nameless for making a song I heard just once, at sunset on Sunday, and which made me tear up for reasons that felt at once wholly cosmic and surreally personal, and to all of the moments of silence, too.

In other news, here’s an interview I did with Paul Oakenfold about why Burning Man is incredible.
Interview sneak preview:Me: So Paul, why is Burning Man special to you? Paul Oakenfold: Have you been? Me: I have, yeah. Paul Oakenfold: So you know why.
In other other news, I’m going (back) to Burning Man now. Bye. 

In other news, here’s an interview I did with Paul Oakenfold about why Burning Man is incredible.

Interview sneak preview:
Me: So Paul, why is Burning Man special to you? 
Paul Oakenfold: Have you been? 
Me: I have, yeah. 
Paul Oakenfold: So you know why.

In other other news, I’m going (back) to Burning Man now. Bye. 


Once a week, sometimes twice, for the first fifteen years of my life and on intermittent holidays thereafter, but it never made me feel anything. Then I started going to concerts, and that’s where I started feeling all of the things that I think church was intended to make me feel: thrilled, epic, powerful, connected, emotional, alive, in love. Live music too gave me permission to feel all the stuff church didn’t allow: anger, lust, sadness, so on.

It was at various concerts in Northeast Wisconsin and sometimes Milwaukee where I first began having direct experiences with god, or whatever you want to call it, the universe, energy, the thing you feel when you’re just really feeling it, when it’s there, undeniably. I felt it in arenas and amphitheaters and parks and parking lots, and from then on all I really wanted was to feel was that feeling. Music was my access point. And just to be clear, this was before I started doing drugs. 

What I’m getting at here is that last night I saw Darkside play for what might have been the last time. Or at least the last time for me, because they have a few more dates in Europe and will then play their final show in Brooklyn on September 13. I was there on the floor of the LA Sports Arena with everyone who I wanted to be there with. I was a touch drunk and pretty sweaty. I had just eaten a large and wildly delicious piece of pizza and danced to a Daniel Avery set. I was not on drugs.

I don’t have the proper words to say what Darkside does to me, (like most of the best things in life, you just have to feel it) except to say that it was the fifth time I’ve seen the band this year and that I would have seen them infinity more times if that had been a possibility. I wore my Darkside t-shirt to the show, which is a terrifically dorky thing to do, but I did not give a shit. I did, however, get many t-shirt related high fives while walking through the crowd at FYF. “Darkside, she knows what’s up,” said a pretty women near the lemonade stand who pointed at me as I walked by. Tribal.

The point here is that like a lot of bands before them but no band ever quite like them, Darkside’s music makes me feel what Catholicism intended to but never did. It’s deep and it’s spiritual and it’s smart and it’s alluring and it’s sexy and if you’re a part of it then you kind of know what other people who are a part of it are all about. They make music that sort of carries you, (just like Jesus in that prayer about the footprints, actually.) There were moments last night, the moment where the guitar comes in on Metatron, for example, where I couldn’t help but scream. There were moments where I just closed my eyes and stood as still as possible and felt it in my mind and my heart and my body. 

At the end of the show Dave Harrington took his guitar and smashed it through the spinning mirror that they use for their light show in a move that seemed to exclaim “Goodnight Los Angeles, Darkside is fucking over!” I stood there with my hand over my mouth. Andrea cried. We didn’t leave, we just sat on the dirty floor and processed what we had just seen in words that did it no justice. I said something like, “I felt like I was bathing in the music,” which sounds asinine out of context but makes sense if you were also there last night, bathing in the music.

We eventually left the arena and watched Flying Lotus for awhile and then I took a cab home and ate a bagel and laid in bed listening to Psychic, feeling heartsick for reasons including but not limited to what I had just experienced. 

So yeah, I’m sad that it’s over, but I feel like they’ll be back. Either way, they were a fucking important band for a brief period of time and I got to be a part of it with some of the people I love best, and for that I am grateful. I sound like a disciple. I suppose I am. Last night I went to church. It made me feel everything.

See y’all today at the Todd Terje set. Fuck yeah. 

See y’all today at the Todd Terje set. Fuck yeah. 

Happy Friday. 


Truly an unprecedented run of hits.

1. Sad Sad City - Ghostland Observatory 

2. Shelter From the Storm - Bob Dylan 

3. Fell In Love With a Girl (Live at Bonnaroo) - The White Stripes

4. Mahgeetah - My Morning Jacket

5. Bowl of Oranges - Bright Eyes

6. So Much for the Afterglow - Everclear 

7. Jackie Wants a Black Eye - Dr. Dog

8. November Rain (Live) - Guns ‘N Roses

9. Mr. November - The National

10. Hey Hey What Can I Do - Led Motherfucking Zeppelin