One more opinion on Sly Stone Coachella performance

Every review I’ve read of funk/soul legend Sly Stone performing the last night of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has not been kind.

This take won’t be different but I’ll try to be constructive with the criticism. Stone admitted on stage in his low, raspy voice that he hadn’t rehearsed and that was the biggest problem to overcome.

He would perform songs quickly then want to change the instrumental even faster while he added curse words, which caused nervous laughter from the audience and a rough set.

His keyboard playing would be off tone or off tempo at times and sometimes in singing he couldn’t catch up to the instrumental or was not in the right key. It doesn’t even matter what the songs were … the end result was the same.

Stone’s group of talented singers tried to sing over him or prop him up as his background. This still couldn’t mask the sound though because you can pick Stone’s vocals out from anywhere and if he doesn’t sing he becomes more prominent in the mix.

When Stone stood up at times he looked hunched over and frail and you felt bad for the guy. I wished someone would have threw their arms around him and walked him off the stage but it didn’t happen. I’m sure the band wants to make their money too so I can understand. Stone’s set at Coachella, rescheduled from a missed time slot earlier in the day at a different tent, was definitely anticipated and probably lucrative from the band’s perspective.

Toward his set’s end, Stone walked himself off the stage singing to try to get the audience involved toward his set’s end but it was too late. Many people appeared to have already made their way out of the tent or were on their way.

While this set was not musicially good, from an entertainment perspective it was hard to stop watching. So I guess that is one positive.

Faith No More at Coachella on Saturday, the XX, MGMT

Faith No More was my favorite at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday and the one act I watched the entire set.

After starting with the class soul of “Reunited” and going through as much of their catalogue as they could in 45 minutes, you could tell singer Mike Morris, who wore all read for the performance, was not happy with the band’s reception from the fans.

“I know we look (age) 80 but you look confused out here,” Morris told the crowd at one point, I believe after the song “Last Cup of Sorrow.”

Coachella can be hit and miss with heavier rock acts … I remember Mastodon’s performance from last year and their tent was not full. The band also had to compete with Hot Chip, who were performing at the outdoor theatre.

Multiple acts you want to see performing at the same time is my biggest issue with Coachella but that’s a great problem to have.

Anyway, the crowd went home happy after Faith No More performed their second to last song and their biggest hit “Epic.”

Nonetheless, the band’s sound has aged well and each musician was punishing on their instruments, especially drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Billy Gould. Hopefully there will be more dates to see them.

As far as Hot Chip, they also gave a great sounding set and threw in their newest single “One Life Stand” relatively early in the set. People love to dance to Hot Chip, obviously, and Coachella audiences are no different. I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked for them but their sound is polished and effective.

the XX definitely stood out Saturday. Outside of MGMT, their crowd was the largest at the outdoor theatre on Saturday and should definitely be considered for the main stage (like MGMT).

The crowd for the XX, considered an indie rock band, was so large it carried over to the nearby Gobi tent.

Members Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith’s dark, brooding yet rhytmic instrumentals appeared to hypnotize the audience to dance or simply nod their head to songs like “Crystalised,” “Basic Space” and more.

My biggest complaint about their set, and it’s not with the band, was with the camera operator. The camera would shoot a wide angle on the band and a close up on the audience, with usually the same audience member. I began to think this woman in a striped shirt who kept dancing was part of the xx it got so ridiculous.

Also strong was MGMT despite an almost inaudible sound coming from the group the further back you sat.

The problem was fixed but it was noticable depending on where you were in the audience and their audience was massive. This had to be one of the largest groups I’ve seen for the outdoor theatre (like the XX) but it seemed worse … you couldn’t really move because of the crowd and they definitely need to be on the Coachella stage the next time they come back.

They went through hits like “Flash Delirium,” “Time to Pretend” and more (I didn’t actually hear “Kids” but I left their set because of the sheer amount of people who showed up) but unfortunately for them when Muse started at 9:35 (MGMT was supposed to finish at 9:40) much of their audience took off running toward the nearby Coachella stage.

 

Coachella first day featured a lot of traffic and Jay-Z

The first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival featured a lot of traffic and I was one of the lucky ones included. After leaving the Daily Bulletin in Ontario at 3 p.m., I ran into highway headaches with traffic congestion and arrived in Indio at 5 p.m. to pick up my press badge at a nearby hotel. 

Unfortunately, I was stuck on Jefferson Street (which you take to get to the Empire Polo Grounds to see the festival) until approximately 10:30 p.m. I was luckily able to get in and see Jay-Z about two or three songs in.

Mr. Sean Carter performed with a full band, DJ and his hype man Memphis Bleek. He stuck with his newer material including “Empire State of Mind” with Bridget Kelly (not Alicia Keys), a new singer/songwriter on Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation. He also went through “99 Problems,” allowed Bleek to perform his hit “Is That Your Chick?” and performed a medley of some of his older songs including a couple of verses on “Where I’m From” and “Big Pimpin.’”

The largest reaction came when he had his wife Beyonce come out and perform “Young Forever,” which is off his current album “Blueprint 3.” They have great chemistry on stage but it is a little awkward when he introduces her as “Beyonce” (and never mentioned that she’s his wife). 

“One more time B,” he told her before she sang another verse.

Nonetheless, their performance worked really well and the fireworks that shot off toward the end of the song was a nice touch.

His last song, appropriately enough, was “Encore.” 

I saw Jay-Z in 1998 in Anaheim as part of the “Hard Knock Life” tour and while he has consistently given a good show but his stage presence and mannerisms have definitely improved.

For the record, I thought Redman and Method Man were much better live in 1998 but they also used a bungee cord entrance and it’s hard to top that. I also grew up listening to Redman and Method Man since their first albums so that played a part too. ‘

But Jay-Z had this great part of the show where he went from the center of the stage to the middle of the arena and I’ve never forgotten that. 

I was able to briefly catch a glimpse of Public Image Ltd. before their set ended and John Lydon let everyone know what they missed.

“For all those that missed it, you missed it.”

That pretty much ended the night.

3rd annual Record Store Day on April 17 at Rhino Records features Yo La Tengo

From the news release:

“Rhino
Records & The Mad Platter will be
celebrating the
3rd annual Record Store Day on Saturday April 17th
 from 10am to 10pm.  The
previous 2
years we have featured free live performances by top shelf talent The
Eagles of
Death Metal, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Frank Fairfield &
others.  This year we have lined up some stellar acts that run the
musical
gamut and timeline.  

 

RHINO RECORDS

 

Patrick
Campbell-Lyons

(Of UK 60′s psychedelic band Nirvana UK) will be reading excerpts from
his novel “Psychedelic Days” as well as signing the book &
taking questions at 11am at Rhino. 

 

Nirvana UK were the first band to sign to Island
Records
& were part of the “Swinging London” scene of the late
60′s.  Their “The Story of
Simon Simopath
” record was the first concept rock record
released, predating The Who & The Pretty Things, and is considered
to be a
lost classic.    Patrick might share some of his run ins with
Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Salvador Dali & other noted
legends of
that time during this instore.

 

Yo La Tengo
Acoustic performance at 3pm

 

Hoboken New Jersey’s most famous recording artists
(ok, following Frank Sinatra) have been making music for over two
decades.  Their latest recording, “Popular Favorites” on
Matador Records, charted in the Billboard top 60 it’s first week out
& continues to map out new worlds in the ever evolving sound arsenal
of Yo
La Tengo.  This will be the bands first acoustic set in California since
the wee days of 1993, don’t miss it.  Free lithograph of poster for
this performance with purchase of any Yo La Tengo music while supplies
last. 
Rhino will start handing out wristbands for this performance at 10am
that
morning to guarantee admittance to this instore.

 

MAD PLATTER

 

Shamaya
of OTEP will be reading
poetry from her
latest book “Caught Screaming” followed by a signing at 3pm.

 

Otep is one of Metaldom’s most interesting acts. 
Led by lead singer Shamaya, Otep formed in Los Angeles at the begin of
the new
millennium.   Combining true metal with the poetic & volatile
lyrics/vocals of Shamaya, the group is a unique concoction that stands
alone in
a world of cookie cutter bands.  The band has recently reunited with
their
original  drummer & guitarist for a release due this Fall on Victory
Records.  Shamaya will be reading poetry (her second book, “Caught
Screaming” was recently published) and signing at the Mad Platter on
Record Store Day.

 

RHINO & THE MAD PLATTER

There are also a plethora of exclusive releases
available
only at independent retail for this special day.  Limited edition
releases
by The Rolling Stones, Gorillaz, Phoenix, MGMT, The Doors, Tegan &
Sara,
Jimi Hendrix, Muse, the Mountain Goats and over 100 more will be
available in
small pressings strictly for this day at both of our stores.  We will be
taking 10% off everything storewide at both locations, as well as giving
out a
thank you gift with each purchase.

 

For additional information and back history on this
event,
please visit the Record Store Day website.  Hundreds of stores from
coast
to coast celebrate this event and we urge you to support your local
independent
shop on this day & give ‘em a great big kiss.”

 

http://www.recordstoreday.com/InStore

Paid Dues independent hip-hop festival review

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Sorry about the image … I shot this on my camera phone. It’s an image of Ice Cube before he hit the stage at the fifth annual Paid Dues independent hip-hop festival at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. For better images, check our stellar photographer John Valenzuela here.

I apologize in advance this is long but I wasn’t able to update the blog at the show.

Anyway, I wish Ice Cube would perform the full versions of ALL his songs (and he’s not the only one guilty of this … Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Tha Dogg Pound and even Tech N9ne did this among other artists).

To be fair, Cube did give full versions of “It Was A Good Day” and his new song “I Rep That West” but his set reminded me too much of his Rock The Bells set he had at the San Manuel Pavilion in mid 2009 and I had seen that. And this time Cube didn’t have W.C. like he did at Rock The Bells because he was performing in Italy, or at least that’s what Cube said. So Cube was joined by his son “Doughboy,” which is coincidently the name of Cube’s character in the movie “Boyz n the Hood.”

Favorites included Tha Dogg Pound (despite cutting their songs short) because they performed songs from Dr Dre’s “The Chronic,” “2001″ and even “Above The Rim” where they performed “Big Pimpin.’” The group brought out The Lady of Rage, who performed her biggest hit “Afro Puffs,” and also Kurupt’s brother Roscoe (who performed a couple of verses too long it looked like judging from Daz and Kurupt’s reaction) and Soopafly.
  

Del Tha Funky Homosapien also tore through his set at the outdoor Dues Paid Stage going through classics like “Catch A Bad One,” “Mistadobalina” and his Gorillaz hit “Clint Eastwood” while Heiro member A-Plus was his hype man. Despite Ice Cube writing on his blog how he had never performed at a show with his cousin Del (and Del even mentioned Cube’s name on stage) there was no appearance from Cube during Del’s set.

Murs & 9th Wonder appeared to get much of the crowd to watch their performance (probably because they performed after the Dues Paid Stage headliner Del had finished) and had them on their feet. The group deserved the attention because they brought out crowd favorite Sick Jacken from Psycho Realm for their song “The Problem Is …” and put on a seamless set with songs like “L.A.” and “Silly Girl” among others. A crowd member asked for a song not performed by Murs & 9th but Murs politely said no. 

Freestyle Fellowship was tremendous but had their time and stage changed from what was on the original sheet AND went up against Tech N9ne so many of the audience members (I’m assuming) went to watch the Kansas City hip-hop artist. For those that stayed, Freestyle Fellowship put on a great show with songs like “Cornbread,” “Bullies of the Block,” and “Hot Potato” among other cuts.

Jay Electronica had a good but SHORT set (just 20 minutes) where he would unfortunately rhyme acapella during parts of his songs. This really hurt his hit “Exhibit C” hit because the instrumental really drives that song.

Overall the festival was fine but for whatever reason the overall flow of things seemed a little off (probably because set and time changes like Freeway and Jake One turning up at the Paid Dues Stage at 4 p.m. instead of being at the Dues Paid Stage at 7:20 p.m.).

Nonetheless, there were little gems throughout. MC Prototype really got the opening crowd involved and has a definite future, Hopie Spitshard is a future star if she can keep up her creativity and Dom Kennedy (and Curren$y) have a strong presence and rhyme style of a potential headliner if they can keep up their output also.

Others acts like Psycho Realm are insanely over (you really must see it in person) and just need the right hit to make themselves bigger stars while Dilated Peoples can still get the crowd going crazy off their numerous hits. Afro Classics also had the crowd firmly in their corner from their uptempo beats and strong lyrical skills.

I missed Shape Shifters but heard they were great and I really wanted to but still missed acts like Strong Arm Steady, Sean Price and Necro (and also R.A. The Rugged Man, Doomtree and others). I hope many come back next year.