Sussing out the Soul of Rock and Roll in Los Angeles

The first time I heard Aerosol Can, I was standing in the front row of a relatively large crowd that was assembled on the main deck of a cruise ship  floating somewhere between the Bahamas and Miami. Pharrell was onstage doing his Pharrell thing, meaning that there were many recognizable hit pop songs, much breezy swagger and one large brown hat. 

Pharrell prefaced this song by saying it was the world premiere of his collaboration with Major Lazer, at which point Diplo came out onstage and the duo blew up the spot with this jam, which is one of my favorite of the year so far. 

But until yesterday, I had no idea wtf Pharrell was rapping about, because he talks so damn fast on the track. Yesterday, however, this music video —starring graffiti artist Mike Giant and the lyrics to Aerosol Can — dropped, so now we all know that the female singer is purring “we behaving bad”, and not “we be effin’ poor”, which is what I had previously been singing. 


1. We almost made a massive mistake by going to Neon Carnival on Saturday night, but fate was in our favor because the winds picked up and our ride wanted to see Pharrell play in a dust storm instead of leaving, and we didn’t really want to go anyways, and we thus ended up going to see Darkside, who put on the sexiest, moodiest, holiest experience of a concert that I have maybe ever seen.

[please now take a moment of silence to commemorate how good the show was]

We realized after that if we had left the festival to go to that damn party, we would have actually gone to the dark side, because you can’t write life funnier than it actually is. We were also kind of really loose at that moment of realization, so the notion seemed particularly profound. Honestly though, there are moments when your life can go one of two ways, and seeing that set instead of going to hangout near Carmen Electra on a tarmac means I can still go on respecting myself. In any case, and like I have mentioned many times before, I fucking love this band. I imagine that there will be a period of my life when I quit my job (or make it my job) to follow them on tour. I’d link to a video of the show, but they’ve all disappeared from the Internet. Magic

2. While en route to the Diplo party on Friday afternoon, we arrived at the location the invite had directed us to and found that it was an elementary school in Indio. There were supposed to be shuttles leaving from the school that would bring us to the said Diplo & Friends Mid-Day Twerkfest, but we couldn’t find them. All of the school busses parked outside were actually there to transport the small children exiting the building, and we were just three underdressed degenerates lurking around the parking lot. We never found the damn Diplo shuttle. (It was because the party was on Saturday.)

3. Nicolas Jaar opened his Friday evening DJ set in the Yuma tent with a bass-ed up version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” If that sentence doesn’t turn you on, you were probably at Coachella to see Lana del Rey.

4. Outkast played Gasoline Dreams. And Elevators. And I rapped along. Poorly, but with enthusiasm.

5.  Andrea had me literally rolling on the ground laughing on Sunday night during Arcade Fire’s set. Every person that walked by stopped to make sure I was okay. And I was, because Andrea is hilarious and Arcade Fire was fucking incredible. (Highlights: Rebellion, Debbie Fucking Harry coming out to duet on Heart of Glass and Sprawl II, Win Butler calling the VIP area out for sucking, and the band going acoustic and working its way through singing Wake Up after they had to shut down the show due to the sound curfew.) All in all, the best Springsteen set I’ve seen so far this year.

And if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go home and do laundry so I’ll have clean swimsuits to wear when I go back to Coachella this weekend. 

My sentiments about getting up from my desk in six minutes, walking out of the office, driving home, putting on some jorts, throwing my bag in a car and driving to Coachella are best summed up by this jam by The Knocks.

I’m sure I’ll be feeling more like this by Monday morning though.  

In any case, here we go. See y’all out there. 

In the Great Fucking News Department: 
Dave Harrington from Darkside is releasing a solo album poetically titled Before This There Was One Heart But a Thousand Thoughts that will be out on Cinco de Mayo via Nicolas Jaar’s imprint Other People. I am excited. I like that album cover.  

In the Great Fucking News Department:

Dave Harrington from Darkside is releasing a solo album poetically titled Before This There Was One Heart But a Thousand Thoughts that will be out on Cinco de Mayo via Nicolas Jaar’s imprint Other People. I am excited. I like that album cover.  

happy friday.

jam of the day: 

This is not one song but a lot of songs whipped into one dreamy house music thing that altogether is the most recent mixtape by Belgian remix guy The Magician. It’s stellar start to finish, but my personal high points are The Knocks’ Comfortable at 4:30 and The Young Punx’s All These Things Are Gone rounding out the end. I especially love the lyrics in this track: concord, DDT, your first kiss, the yangtze river dolphin, pagers, cigarettes at work, mash, bangles, dinosaurs, my virginity… (this is basically my train of thought when I’m attempting to meditate) and then some singer who sounds like the dance world Jack White wailing the way you used to look at me when I TOUCHED you in the night, which is a heartbreaker of a line in the sense that in the train of thought that is this song, this is the one thought that keeps coming back. Let’s just pretend it’s Jack White. 


I haven’t really gone anywhere, I just wanted to reference Kelly Clarkson while also alluding to the fact that I have not written on my little blog that could in 42 days. But, I haven’t (just) been laying on the couch watching Twin Peaks and eating only the chocolate bits from various bags of trail mix (although there has been that). Here are some music and non-music (but mostly music) related things that have happened in the last month and a half:
Pamela des Barres Made Me Blush
A passive brag is that my job involves talking to relatively famous people semi-frequently. Honest to god, few people besides Chris Robinson and Clay Matthews have ever made me as nervous and blushy as Pamela des Barres, goddess of all groupies. She was doing a reading of her book Let’s Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses at an event called “Groupie-paloooza” at Wacko in Los Feliz, and I went down there and lurked around until I had worked up the courage to have her sign two glossy photos (one for me, one for Layla) of herself standing naked in a riverbed maybe forty years ago.
She was sitting behind this table and I rolled up all sheepish like heyyyyy ma’am can you sign these photographs for me pleeease and she looked at me and said, “you’re beautiful!” and I blushed and grinned like an idiot, which I feel is the appropriate response when one of your rock and roll idols gives you a compliment. She signed my photo “To a beauty doll!” and then read a segment from her book about how although the word “groupie” has been tarnished by haters and common sluts, a true groupie is essentially a person who has no musical talent but loves music so fucking much that they devote their lives to being around it. These efforts, she said while standing in a pink spotlight and looking fantastic, had worked out very well for her. I felt the same way about my own luck and walked out of the place feeling major groupie pride. The naked photo of her is framed in my living room.

Cocktails. Noon. Nick Waterhouse
I met Nick Waterhouse at noon on a Wednesday in the upstairs bar at the Ace Hotel Downtown. I had a bourbon old fashioned; he had tequila and soda; we talked for an hour and a half. The overall feeling I got from the conversation was a sense of existential dread about the state of youth and entertainment culture. I think Mercury had just gone into retrograde, which probably contributed to the weirdness. Nick was tremendously cool: thoughtful, serious, well-spoken, well-read, someone who is coming to terms with the notion that, despite his massive talent, to be and remain relevant, he must be marketed and commodified and subjected to often unpleasant scenarios (like out interview, for example) not of his own making.

I left the hotel feeling a touch woozy and a bit depressed, but it was one of my all time favorite interviews. I wrote this story about Nick, and although he said he wasn’t going to read the piece, he texted me a week after it came out to say that he had, and that he found it “a fair assessment.” That made me feel really good.

I Saw Spiritualized By Myself on Valentine’s Day and it Was Awesome
This Spiritualized show at the Ace (again!) was apparently a very big deal (tickets were going for $500 or something rude on Craigslist), which is why the PR company could only give me one, which is how I ended up going to see Spiritualized perform their All Time Great breakup album Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space alone on Valentine’s Day. It was tremendously beautiful. A real rock experience. I don’t have better words for it than that, (except maybe a few in this review) but here is a photo I took of a segment of the show when a disco ball lowered from the ceiling and I sat watching in awe while covered in goosebumps and on the verge of tears.

I listened to these songs so many times:
- Todd Terje - Inspector Norse
- Wings - Let Me Roll It
- Jealous (I Ain’t With It) - Chromeo (just me or does this track sample the Ghostbusters Theme Song?)
- Scandalism - Alex Metric 
- Dark Horse - Katy Perry (no regrets, just love)
- Come Alive (Grum Remix) - Chromeo 
- Waves at Night - Moons
- Car On a Hill - Joni Mitchell 
- Good Mistake - Mr. Little Jeans 
- The Language - Drake
- Trophies - Drake
- Comin’ Through - The War on Drugs 
- Aerosol Can -  Major Lazer feat. Pharrell
- Get Low - Dillon Francis & DJ Snake

Pete Tong Spoke to Me, Briefly 
But he was in a cab rushing to LAX because he was running late for a flight to Moscow and had to finish the interview via email. It was, however, a very pleasant two minutes.

Schoolboy Q Played Down the Street From My House
So Casey and I walked down there on a rainy Saturday evening to see him. I didn’t really enjoy the show that much (sorry rap fans, sorry), but I got nice and sweaty on the dance floor during Them Jeans’ set. There was just the right amount of tequila involved.

Absurd NorCal Karaoke 
Meg, Layla and me converged in Yosemite and spent one glorious Thursday evening at the Iron Door Saloon in Groveland, CA, where we went to have one drink after playing bingo with 15 elderly people at the local Lion’s Club. One beer turned to several beers plus shots of whiskey which is how the three of us ended up onstage singing karaoke with many Groveland locals.

High points (and by high points I mean low, low points) included Layla and I dueting on Paradise City (the video Meg took of this performance is amazing, and no one besides the three of us will ever see it), Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Laylers was Tom Petty; I was Stevie Nicks), and Dirty Diana, which, in a night of great bad ideas, was the best bad idea of them all, because this song is really hard to sing, especially when one is slightly drunk and has not been blessed with any vocal talents. I would have sang Total Eclipse Of the Heart if the guy running the karaoke machine had not dropped the CD with that track on it into a crevice between the wall and the stage. But maybe it was better that way. At one point while singing Sweet Home Alabama, I looked out into the bar and saw no one but the bartender, because everyone else in the Iron Door was onstage singing Sweet Home Alabama.

The night ended with Layla hooking up her iPod to the bar’s speakers and the three of us and some townie folks dancing our asses off. It was an all time great evening, and despite ourselves, we were up early the next morning roaming Yosemite Valley, which proves that you really can have it all.

I Wrote
This story about this guy from SoCal who was going to become a pro-golfer but became a shaman instead. And this story about The Glitch Mob. And this story about how that drug bust at Lightning in a Bottle last year was total bullshit. And this story about the official Born in the U.S.A. dance remixes, which is a topic very close to my heart.

I Drove Down the Coast in Big Sur at Sunset Listening to Cassadega
Because someone important passed away, and it was one of his favorite albums.

I Got a New job
At Insomniac. Holy shit.

A banger from Dillon Francis and DJ Snake out just in time for the weekend. And correct me if I’m wrong (as long you’re not a dick about it), but I think I hear Omar Souleyman in there. 

Happy Friday y’all.