Bonnaroo is on its way to becoming a holy pilgrimage for music and arts aficionados nationwide, drawing in tens of thousands seeking salvation each year through unforgettable shows and an inspiring sense of community. The problem is that many don’t have the spare change to spend on a pass, let alone travelling to Tennessee. Worry not, faithful and financially humble XYC subscribers! We’re looking out for you. With the same funds we used to send a DJ over to England for a Kate Bush interview, we sent one of our own, DJ Bernie Mac (née Michael Balot), to cover the event. His experience was a bit more, um, real than Kate Bush interview, but it’s still the wonderful, exciting stuff dreams are made of. The following are Bernie Mac’s feverishly jotted notes in the heat of the action and adventure that was Bonnaroo 2011:
Futurebirds- kicking off the festivities was Georgia’s own Futurebirds. They play a mix of southern, good-timey, country-infused rock. They were a fitting opener to the festival in that there performance was loose and smiley, but it was not a showstopper.
Wavves (photo by Kevin Hartmann) – Wavves is the not the first band that I think of when I think of festival-friendly music. Nathan Williams in not a strong vocalist, and the instrumentation is more fit for a small, claustrophobic club than the open-aired This Tent. The first couple of songs of the set did not go over very well with the crowd considering the sound mix was very low (a theme for the week). It took until Wavves pulled out their cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” to get the crowd moving. I got frustrated from being in the back of a large crowd of uninterested people so I crowd-surfed my way up to the front, where the real fans were. I’d have to say that overall, Wavves put on a good performance considering their unfit environment.
Best Coast – Best Coast was Best Coast. Not bad, not amazing. I sang every word, received weird looks from girls who would probably never have sex with me. She played some new songs, and she covered Loretta Lynn (respect).
Sleigh Bells – packed crowd, short set, kind of awesome, but kind of a disappointment. I’d be more excited to see them if they had more than a handful of good songs in their arsenal.
Walkmen – I caught a couple of their songs and they sounded really good!
Childish Gambino – Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, has gathered quite a following in the past years and a half. On Thursday night, he packed the This Tent with a crowd of enthusiastic followers. Despite most of these songs simply being released on his blog, a good bit of the fans in attendance knew the lyrics. It was obvious that Glover had been influenced by buzzwhore Tyler, the Creator by Glover’s short shorts, ironic t-shirt, and his climbing of a tall amplifier. Unlike Tyler, Glover did NOT break anybody’s nose that night. Glover really hit his stride towards the end of the show, rapping over Kanye’s “All of the Lights”. I had major doubts about how CG’s would hold up in this setting until I saw it in person. Childish Gambino is the real shit.
Dam-Funk – damn funky set
Sharon Van Etten – beautiful, early morning set at the large Which stage. She is just a great songwriter, and the few that were in attendance Friday morning caught a pitch-perfect set.
Matt and Kim – a comically large crowd showed up at the This Tent to witness the smiley duo. They made jokes about dicks and vaginas. People loved every bit of it.
The Arcadia Fires – Some strange people from Canada with weird haircuts played some 15th century pop standards. I hear these guys are popular but I have no idea why.
GIVERS – Best set of a non-headliner at Bonnaroo 2011! These young people from Louisiana almost didn’t make it to the ‘Roo (trailer caught on fire), but I am sure glad that they did! They played pretty much through their recently released debut “In Light” with an unworldly energy. They play a mixture of Dirty Projector instrumentation with Vampire Weekend percussion and hooky songwriting. Regardless of being placed on the smallest stage in the festival, they played as though it was in front of 100,000 Bonnaroo freaks. The skillfulness of the instrumentation and the singing was nothing short of captivating. The girl who sings and plays drums and bells and stuff was shaking her tambourine so hard that it shattered into the crowd. Most of all, you could tell that the band was having the time of their lives playing in front of these people, and the crowd returned the favor by gathering in a massive number and dancing their asses off.
Viva la Fajita – really tasty but not enough food
Burritio Joint – fuck you. I paid ten dollars for a burrito and you give me THIS!? It made me long for the $3.33 vegitarian burrito from Cosmic Cantina.
Indian Samosa place – best $2 that I spent over and over and over. Delicious fried vegetables with spicy curry sauces.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – James Brown was grooving in his grave on Saturday morning as Black Joe Lewis and his Honeybears blew up the This Tent.
Black Uhuru – Despite playing on the 100,000 person capacity What Stage, the crowd for the Black Uhuru set was very sparse, but I took advantage of this and stood at the very front of the pit. Damn good reggae vibes being thrown around with touches of dub thrown in there, and I must say, after being forced to hear dubstep all week, my soul needed some true roots dub. They closed with “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, and that made me very happy.
Buffalo Springfield (photo by C. Taylor Crothers) – After a much needed nap, I saved myself a spot for the Buffalo Springfield show an hour and a half before the set was scheduled to begin. This turned out to be a great decision. Around 9:30pm, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay calmly walked onto the Which Stage to play their fifth show in 43 years. The one major complaint that I heard about this show was that the sound was too quiet for the people sitting in the back. This did not affect me; therefore, I had the time of my life watching these legends performing. All of the classics have not lost their touch, and the harmonies sounded just as great as I would have imagined them sounding in 1967. The group performed an extended jam on my favorite Springfield song, “Bluebird”, which extended to about 10 minutes in length. Neil Young’s guitar work was dynamite as always. There was a magical moment for me halfway through the set when it started to rain and lightning strikes were all around. I took off my shirts, stuck my arms in the air, and said to myself “All hail the power of Neil Young”. They closed the set with Neil’s classic “Rockin’ In the Free World” including a jam that must have lasted for 12+ minutes. This was my personal favorite set of the weekend!
Dr. John with the Original Meters (performing “Desitively Bonnaroo”) - “funky”, “swampy”, “legendary”, and “excellence” are all words that I would use to describe this once-in-a-lifetime set. And did I mention “funky”?
Special Screening of “30 Minutes or Less” w/ Q&A with Aziz Ansari – “30 Minutes or Less” was not worth your money, but air-conditioning and talking to Aziz Ansari was worth my time. I asked Aziz some questions that the nation is anxious to hear, I got some responses. The Raaaaaaaandy movie has not been shot yet, and Aziz and Judd Apatow are currently working on a film about astronauts. Also, Aziz’s cousin, Harris, is doing well, and he is going to college next year (fingers crossed for UNC).
Mavis Staples – The legendary singer played her early afternoon set to perfection. She told the crowd early on that she was going to make this set into a church service, and she was not exaggerating. Adding covers of the Band’s “The Weight” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, Staples proved to be one of the highlights of a stacked Sunday schedule.
Robyn (photo by Morgan Harris) – despite starting her set 30 minutes later than scheduled, Robyn left no attendee unsatisfied. It was her birthday, and she got everybody smiling and dancing with her Swedish pop stylings. Covering pretty much every track from her output over the past two years, Robyn and her talented backing band put on one of my favorite sets of the weekend. She declared after a single-song encore that the crowd was the best so far on her current tour.
Superjam (featuring Dr. John and Dan Auerbach) – Winning my attendance over Beirut, the Strokes, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, and Explosions in the Sky was the great Bonnaroo tradition, the Superjam. This year’s Superjam was comprised of Dr. John and Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) joining forces to pay tribute to New Orleans music. They threw a couple of Dr. John classics in there, and they played “Iko Iko”. This made me a happy DeadHead. Exhaustion took over so I could not stay for the whole set, but what I saw was a beautiful display of great musicians paying their respects to great musicians of the past.
Widespread Panic – This was the most relaxing of the headliner shows of the entire weekend. I enjoyed it because I could actually dance/breathe while close to the stage. I had never seen a Panic show previously, and after hearing quite a few jam bands throughout the weekend, I declare that Widespread Panic was the best of the bunch. I feel like it was really nice scheduling to put a band such as Widespread Panic to close the festival. It felt like a shout out to the origins of the festival. As I walked towards the back of the crowd, I saw married couples dancing, paper lanterns being lit, beach ball games being played, and just a general good vibe being shared by the crowd.
(Photo by Kevin Hartmann)
This week, art-pop legend Kate Bush released a new album called Director’s Cut. Essentially a collection of largely re-recorded songs from her 1989 and 1993 albums The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, this album finds Bush reinventing her past through a modern lens, changing lyrics in the case of “The Sensual World,” leaving out choruses in “Moments of Pleasure,” and completely altering arrangements in “This Woman’s Work” and “Rubberband Girl”. We at WXYC wanted to find out what prompted Bush to retread her past, but we had not the funds to send one of our own to England to be a part of her press tour. This is the next best thing:
Nel: First, I’d like to thank you immensely for granting me and WXYC this interview.
Kate: Oh no, thank you. It’s nice to get out of the house occasionally. It’s been a while since I’ve done these promotional rounds.
Nel: Alright, so your new album Director's Cut is a collection of songs you have remade from previous albums. Why are you on a mission to destroy my good memories of your classic songs?
Kate: Well, I don’t think I’d –
Nel: I had bonded with those songs as they were. They seemed perfect and already complete to me. I can understand rerecording songs to flesh out skeletal renditions caused by budget restraints, but that’s not the problem here. When you hear a static work of art like a recording, you inevitably take it as it is whether it’s enjoyable and fully realized or not. It leaves an imprint anyway, almost like a first impression. To try and alter a first impression is a bit of a strain, Could the original “And So Is Love” have used the more haunting choral arrangements you’ve provided here? Sure, but we still got the point at first. With that said, once we derive a meaning from songs, they are cemented, even though there may still be a sort of versatility in meaning, wouldn’t you say?
Kate: Um, I’m not sure. Memories are very fragile but also very rigid, you know? That’s why in Moments of Pleasure, which deals very intimately with memories, I had to make it more of a –
Nel: I mean, I remember the chilling mysticism prevalent throughout The Sensual World album, and now you give us a “Deeper Understanding” with less prominent Bulgarian singers and more prominent out-of-tune Autotune provided by your teenage son. I think it’s fair to say that this song in particular was very effective as if it came straight from a crystal ball. It had a way of leaving an impression on the listener already whether it was through its alluring beauty or its astonishing truth. The message of the gradual dominance of the computer was well understood even in its subtlety, so what did you think the Autotune would add? And seriously, out-of-tune Autotune?
Kate: Well first, it’s a pleasure to have my dear Bertie on songs of mine. It seems somewhat proper that the past, the present, and my future were involved in this project. Bertie really completed it. As for the Autotune decision, I just thought –
Nel: I read elsewhere that you thought The Red Shoes was far too big, overproduced, and too long which inspired you to strip these songs down. That’s understandable, but part of your appeal always was in your magnanimity – your soaring, expressive voice, your studio trickery.
Kate: Well, I don’t know about all of that, but
Nel: And it’s not just me. You were a big success, an inspiration to countless songwriters today. You would think you must have gotten something right the first time.
Kate: And I’m very grateful that people have seemed to take a liking to me. Let me just say
Nel: Oh, I forgot to mention while we were discussing “And So is Love” that you flipped that particular song on its head, changing the “sad” in the key lyric “We used to say, ‘Ah Hell, we’re young,’ but now we see that life is sad, and so is love” in the original version to “sweet” in this new version, completely eschewing the mournful tension of the song in favor of creating a simple ode to life and love. What has sparked this change in your approach to life?
Kate: It’s been some twenty years now since I wrote that song, and I suppose I have a bit more experience now with life and love. I’m just in a bit of a happier place these days. It just didn’t seem fitting to say anymore that love is sad. I wanted to reflect that.
Nel: Will this new outlook be making an appearance in the new material you’ve hinted at to be released in the near future?
Kate: Well, sure it’s hard to avoid writing from one’s own perspective. It’s tricky to write in character, you know? A perspective different than yourself. Let me just say –
Nel: What’s your favorite fictional character?
Kate: Oh, um, I’m quite fond of the complexity of Molly Bloom from Ulysses, which is why I changed the lyrics to –
Nel: Yeah, Heathcliff Earnshaw is pretty complex. “Wuthering Heights” is a great song. I hear that many songwriters look back on some of their songs with some regret and bitterness, particularly if they were popular or breakthrough hits as “Wuthering Heights” was. Look at Radiohead’s “Creep” or Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” for example. Do you have any similar opinions on “Wuthering Heights”
Kate: Well, I didn’t really intend to discuss Wuthering Heights, but
Nel: Exactly, you can’t. It’s so engrained in our collective memories and has remained a personal and cultural staple for such a long time that there is nothing to discuss, nothing to argue, and nothing to change about it. The world and all of its Brontë-philes took it in, embraced it, and digested it. AS it stands, this song is a part of us. It simply is what it is, and it serves its function among appreciative listeners and among culture at large, wouldn’t you agree?
Nel: I rest my case.
Kate: Hold on.
Nel: Good day, ma’am.
Brought to our collective attention by DJ Mark Katz, the Library of Congress is now streaming 10,300 songs recorded between 1901 and 1925. The National Jukebox is still being updated, and the collection will only increase. Check it out in all its grainy glory: http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/
Great music, great resource
If you recognized the unpronounceable string of letters in the title of this post, you probably already know that Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All's lyrical chief and spiritual leader Tyler the Creator has dropped his new abum, "Goblin". It's a twisted safari into the mind of one of most hyped artists on and offline, and merits some close listens. But if you're still on the fence about the Gang, or just confused about what I'm talking about, here's a crash course in the group's growing mystique.
The Gang is essentially a bunch of foul-mouthed skater kids from the West Coast who spit a blistering hyper-violent-yet-introspective brand of underground rap. They work together in different capacities, collaborating on many tracks, and helping to produce each other's albums. Lyrically, they pull no punches, and by that I mean literally no gruesome subject is out of bounds.
A single listen to almost any of their tracks will attest to this, and one viewing of the music video for "Earl" by Earl Sweatshirt, another member of the group, will show (warning, this gets graphic) the then-sixteen year old MC, along with even younger friends, emulating blenderizing various pills, narcotics, and malt liquor to consume the substance and bleed profusely from their eyes, ears, and more. This kind of drug-addled punk insanity is soundtracked by Earl's equally dark and violent lyrics.
The Gang's swan dive into violent absurdity is backed up by beats that range from darkly seething to straight up dissonant, often aggressive and heavily influenced by hip-house European MC's like Dizzee Rascal, but slowed down, chopped up, and dyed dark red. Of course, none of this otherworldliness has stymied the group's, and specifically Tyler's, meteoric rise. As Based God Lil B's so-weird-he's-gotta-be-cool fame machine finally started to run out of steam, the blogosphere needed a new rap saviour, and OFWGKTA was there to give a verbal dose of the old ultraviolence. Even the Poetry Foundation gave them a multi-page online spread, comparing the "Odd Futurism" of Tyler's Lyrics to post-modern poets like Mayakovsky. This all culminated in a really freaky (awesome) performance on Jimmy Fallon Live, where Tyler, rapping wearing upside-down crosses, ski masks, and surrounded by zombie-like models, was officially pronounced famous.
So, "Goblin" is out. Tyler's sophomore effort in many ways follows closely the rubric set by his performances and his first album, "Bastard", including the continuation of the conversation-with-his-therapist framing device. "Goblin" opens up with the same pitched-down chatter, pensive beats and introspective lyrics that began his first album, but lyrically Tyler now ruminates on his newfound fame, how he respects artists like Waka Flocka that oppose the Starbucks sipping intellectuality of much modern "lyrical" rap, and his difficulty following up "Bastard".
But by the time "Yonkers", the album's single and second track kicks in you know you're dealing with a new, refined MC. The track's beat sounds like the squeals from the iconic Psycho murder scene stuck on replay, and Tyler's lines cook up a sizzling mix of his hatred of pop rap stars (including the answered B.O.B. dis), his own self loathing, and his penchant for original alliteration and advanced poetic techniques.
It's all Tyler and his many alter egos until the middle of album when Gang members Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and others lend some lines. Earl Sweatshirt is unfortunately absent the entire album, but Tyler holds up the juveile delinquency factor on his own on sick tracks like "Tron Cat" and the insidious "Transylvania", accompanied on the latter by a beat that sounds like a collaboration between Mary Anne Hobbs and Dr. Dre. Unfortunately, Tyler doesn't completely ditch rap cliches, case in point the horrid R&B hook in "She". You've gotta wonder if these indicate some misdirection in terms of artistic vision, and an idiosyncratic violation of Tyler's usual determined efforts at otherness.
Not to say that straying to close to mainstream is the album's only problem; Tyler's minimal beats sometimes get wacky enough to detract from his lyrics, like on "Analog" where the obnoxious backtrack can make you want to flip away from an otherwise good song. Arguably the worst offense of this nature is the instrumental track "AU79", a lilting synth romp that sounds vaguely like Casio keyboard demos programmed by a drunk Moondog. Fortunately, these gaffes are few and far between, and most of the album strides along the line of bizarre and infectious, demanding repeated listens and careful attention.
Tyler the Creator has incredible potential, though I think the inaccessibility of some of his tracks probably disqualifies him from the possibility of "saving rap", or "changing the game" or whatever you want to call the long-overdue sea change necessary to fix popular rap. However, what "Goblin" absolutely does guarantee is sincerity. Tyler means what he says, not so much in that he intends to commit the heinous crimes he raps about, but that the anger and discontentment in this album are so obviously not the inventions of a dude just trying to get famous. "Ok you guys caught me," Tyler raps in the opening track, "I'm not a f#$%#ng rapist, or a serial killer. I lied." Be that as it may, fake rappers dominating the charts should keep a watchful eye on this guy. Tyler's coming, and he's as real as it gets.
THE BLOG IS ALIVE
If you've been keeping up with this thing (which has been extremely easy to do), you will have noticed that the blog's been out of commission since September, 8 months ago. Well, I've arrived on a magic carpet to change just that.
My name is Nel, and I am now the blog editor here. I was just hired as a DJ here in January, but here I am doing stuff. Movin' on up.
You can look to the blog to find out about things going on around WXYC and the greater Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. We'll have album and concert reviews, musings on music and broadcasting, maybe some inside information about the station, and probably a bunch of random/non-affiliated things. Honestly, I have no idea where this blog's going to go, so let's take the *active* and *eventful* adventure together, eh?
Questions, comments, concerns, brain protrusions of general excitement, total apathy? Post about it below.
ALSO, happy Mother's Day.
(Yes, watch it. It's worth your time)
(click above for link to audio)
Ultravid - Clan Of Wow (Kingdom remix)
DJG & Headhunter - Spacecakes
REDLIGHT feat MS DYNAMITE - MDMA
DOK - Hysteria
Actress - Git It
Bowly - Bleeps
Breach - Fatherless (Doc Daneeka MRR SNRZZ Remix)
Ramadanman - Grab Somebody
Modeselektor - Art & Cash (Roska remix)
DJ Gregory & Gregor Salto - Vem Rebola (Oh Mix)
Doc Daneeka - Hold On
Bowly - Idee D'un Tropique
Zombie Disco Squad - Danca Do Zumbi feat. MC Oscar
The Count & Sinden feat Mystery Jets - After Dark (Buraka Som Sistema Remix)
Flying Lotus - Do the Astral Plane ( Them Jeans House Remix )
Bassanovva - Chicken Lover Ft. toni toni lee
Green Velvet - Harmageddon
Cooly G - Phat Si
Cosmin TRG - Tower Block
Sigha - Shake
San Soda - Hypocrisy
The Monthly Old-Time Jam is starting up again this Wednesday, September 1st at Nightlight! Doors open at 5pm, jam will start around 6. This coincides with the beginning of Nightlight's extended hours--featuring delicious Open-Eye coffee (buy one get one free!) and wireless internets.
Come on out with your fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins, washboards, jaw harps and more, or just come to hang out and listen, drink a beer, sip a coffee, tap your foot, check your e-mail. All levels welcome. Support the Nightlight & tip your bartender!
Facebook invite here.
OLD TIME JAM
first Wednesday of every month
Greg Lowenhagen and Grayson Currin from the Independent Weekly already came on the Backyard Barbecue to give away two pairs of weekend passes to the Hopscotch Music Festival, but the BBQ will also be giving away tickets to the two headlining City Plaza shows right up until!
Tune in the next two Sundays (August 22nd and 29th) from 8 to 9 PM for the chance to call in and win a pair of tickets to see Public Enemy on Saturday, September 11th at the City Plaza in Raleigh. And on Sunday, September 5th, we're giving away 2 pairs of tickets to the Friday (September 10th) City Plaza show (The Rosebuds, Broken Social Scene, and Panda Bear) and 3 pairs of tickets to Saturday's Public Enemy show, featuring The Love Language and No Age.
Thursday August 12 it all goes down once again. I'll be doing a new installment of "Hot, Dope, Fresh" ... the latest in hip hop and R&B; along with classic forgotten about gems.
The featured artist interviews for the night:
Thursday August 12 it all goes down once again. I'll be doing a new installment of "Hot, Dope, Fresh" ... the latest in hip hop and R&B; along with classic forgotten about gems.
The featured artist interviews for the night:
Greenboro, NC's P Wonda and