Built to Spill- Live at The Alley April 25th

Even though I had gotten a fill of music and it was less than a week since I had been back from Coachella, it didn’t stop me

built to spill guitar case

built to spill guitar case

from seeing Built To Spill at The Alley in Sparks, NV last Thursday night. Built to Spill is one of those bands that went to college with me and one I thought I would ever see play. I knew that they were going to the Sasquatch Festival, but I didn’t buy my ticket in time.

But for some reason, Reno has been booking amazing indie rock shows (like the Postal Service) and Built to Spill made the list. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the full moon.

This show wasn’t even close to selling out. It was 21+ and after sliding into The Alley, I headed to the bar and got a coffee. (Where owner Chapin said, “I like my coffee like I like my women…” I won’t finish the rest).

Standing up front, I watched 3-piece rock band Junior Rocket Scientist from Boise. I was impressed that the band

members could move around and play different instruments, with the 7-ft. tall dude playing a bowless electric violin thing. They had great energy and they were handsome.

Next up was 5-piece band Slam Dunk from Canada. These people had crazy energy and a folksy, bluegrass feel. The

Jr Rocket Scientist

Jr Rocket Scientist

saxophone really added a lot to the overall impression. (View a video teaser here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62kusF11XUU) I was kind of bummed because they threw their tambourine out in the crowd and the guy in the front picked it up and put it back on the stage. I almost yelled at him…when someone throws you a tambourine you rock that shit! I almost asked for it back, but decided to stay put and dance quietly.

Well, that guy that gave the tambourine back was Doug Martsch from Built to Spill. Considering Built to Spill played a 2-hr set, I guess it makes sense that he wouldn’t want to play tambourine out in the crowd for the opening band. I was in the very front, facing a guitarist with at least 7 different pedals. I was mesmerized in the first song just trying to figure out how it all worked.

It’s funny to me that a guy like Doug, with a unique voice and memorable lyrics, can be so shy between songs. All I heard

tambourine man/backup drummer

tambourine man/backup drummer

from him was a meager “thank you” outside of a standard song. But Built to Spill is one of the last jam bands left, and the guitar picking and how the musicians play off of each other goes together like mashed potatoes and gravy. For their encore, they covered a hit from the Smiths that was absolutely incredible (view the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q30zrJF_sYU) and then finished with a 15-minute jam song. The guy that sold merch took over for drummer Scott Plouf on that last song, never skipping a beat. Even though I only heard a couple songs I knew, it was nice to get that wave of nostalgia.

The show ended at 1 am, I stopped at In N’ Out, then picked up some snow kayakers on the Mt. Rose Hwy on my way home. It was a perfect full moon.

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What NOT to do at Coachella

– Don’t wait until the last minute to buy beer. We had to camp out in a Palm Springs Walmart sleep-deprived with a bunch of crazy bums before we could get inside.

– The Farmer’s Market is delicious, but don’t get an avocado protein shake followed by a can of chili, and then decide to alter your mind. That combination leads to some time on the porta-potty, where it’s blazing hot and there’s no toilet paper, plus you’re freaking out Trainspotting style.

– Don’t go back to your campsite for a “power nap“, you’ll end up missing your favorite bands. It’s better to sleep in the grass inside thesidewalks end festival, (preferably on the Sidewalks End, between the Main stage and the Outdoor stage).

– Put sunscreen on everywhere, including the backs of your knees. I don’t know what happened, but mine got fried.

– Don’t hand over the stuff you really care about to your friend, they’ll lose it.

– Don’t shit in the shower. I would think this is a given, but they told every girl not to do this when you go to take a shower. They don’t tell the guys that. What? Who does that?

– Don’t get the shuttle pass. I never used mine and I heard it was tough to get from the hotels to Coachella. Car camping is the way to go.

– Don’t expect to see and do everything. Pick your top 3 favorite bands to see and view everything else as an extra.

– Don’t take any important stuff into the porta-potty with you. I found a girl in tears because she dropped her wallet, keys and cell phone into the toilet.

– Bring cash. Don’t expect to trade, barter or use anything else to survive the weekend. Two kids came to Coachella with their wristbands and stuff that they planned on selling- when the stuff was confiscated by officials, they were screwed. We found ’em sleeping in our campsite. Who knows how they got home.

– Don’t try to bring any liquids inside. I had to help a girl pound a Vodka/Emergen-C before going in (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)

– Don’t go anywhere without your wristband. I saw one guy get caught without one and the officials treated him like an escaped prisoner.

But overall, everyone is so nice and they’re willing to help you out when you get in a bind. It’s still good to be prepared.

Coachella April 19, 2013: Friday

Will Call opened at 8am. I waited in line for about an hour, making new friends, before finally getting my wristband.

car camp wait

car camp wait

Whew, it was so relieving to have this $400 thing on my wrist. I went back to the car, woke up my mates, and we ventured into the venue. However, gates didn’t open until 9am, so there was a lot of driving around and more waiting. When we finally got in, police and dogs searched every car, so they got through about 40 cars every 2 hours. I slept on my yoga mat next to the car as people mingled, partied, and played frisbee to pass the time.

I got a half hour of decent sleep, then decided to venture inside. Once I got past security, I saw how massive Coachella was. Everything in the polo club is broken down like a grid, with street numbers. My friend Will was camping at 114 N. Street, so I headed in that direction. On the way, I passed the Red Bull Speakeasy, the Dome, the Farmer’s Market, and fellow campers. There was a buzz of energy and excitement in the air, and everyone was so nice. I couldn’t get over how positive everyone was.  I found Will, got the lowdown on the security, and headed back out to the car.

our camp

our camp

Luckily we had jumped a few spots in line and they barely checked the car. At 11am, we were in.

Parked out on 135th N. Street, we immediately started setting up our tent, laying out carpet, and meeting our neighbors. Luckily our neighbors had a huge army canvas that draped over our site and another one. That canvas probably saved our lives- it was airy yet provided shade. After a lunch of homemade chili dogs, we decided to head inside. Chris had his jellyfish umbrella, which was comfortable, artsy, and knocked about 20 degrees off the outside temp. People milled around and there was just so much to do and we were so sleep-deprived, we didn’t even know where to start.

I immediately lost Alex and Chris on the way into Coachella, and then it was sensory overload. But I headed straight to the act I really wanted to see- Beardyman.

And he was amazing.  (View the video teaser here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDr52M-Vamg ) This human beat boxer is so entertaining and he plays festivals all the time in the UK, but I believe this is his first time in the US. I actually met one of his Oxford classmates in Scotland last April, and

jellyfish

jellyfish

always wanted to see him play, but never knew when it would happen. Until now.  He talked smack on Justin Beiber, people’s moms, and right after he tried to hook his tour manager up with single ladies in the crowd and talk about how great nerds were, he lost power. It was pretty classic, and I was thrilled to have caught his set. The next two acts I really wanted to see were on Saturday- the Decendents and the Make Up.

Aesop Rock immediately opened up after Beardyman which was a double-bonus. I caught a few songs from their set, including “None Shall Pass“, then headed over to see Stars.

But there was so much to see! Do I go to the Mohave stage, the Sahara stage, the H&M tent? Do I sit in line for the water re-fill station, try to find my friends, dance in the Do Lab? Do I check out the art, watch more bands on the Outdoor and Main stages? I ended up just wandering around, not really doing anything productive, until I settled down in the H&M tent, filled up my water bottle and put on some fancy Kiehl’s sunscreen. Then I went out to see Stars. (View the video teaser here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD60aXlPWI8)

I hadn’t seen Stars since they opened up for Death Cab for Cutie in 2005 in Orlando, Florida. They have those silky voices that perfectly match opening up for someone like Voice-of-an-Angel Ben Gibbard. I swayed to their music and sauntered through the crowd as they played my favorite song, “My Ex-Lover is Dead”. The girl from Stars said, “I apologize- I took a bunch of pills this week.” Then a song later, she said, “it could be the pills, but I think that snail is moving.” And I looked back and thought, I hadn’t taken any pills, but that snail IS moving. Is this heat getting to me?

After Stars I went back to the camp, had a reunion with Chris and Alex, and re-fueled. We got some stuff together and headed back into the festival to see Modest Mouse.  I hadn’t seen Modest Mouse since the Chico Brickworks 2002-ish. They played their classics like “Float On” and some new stuff. We rocked out hardcore.

After Modest Mouse we headed over to the Sahara stage to watch Beach House. I don’t really remember them.

chris and alex at modest mouse

chris and alex at modest mouse

But I do remember the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O looked absolutely crazy, and played my favorite songs, “Heads Will Roll” and I think “Maps”. (View the video teaser here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP9kQHOFivs)

Chris and Alex lead me over to the Mojave tent for Infected Mushroom after that and they were sooo good. I don’t know if it was Infected Mushroom that was blowing my mind or the way the stage was set up- with crazy TVs, holographic images, and heavy bass.

All I remember is having 1 hour to sleep before watching the Stone Roses, so I headed back to the campsite to take a power nap. But this was a bad idea- I passed out completely and missed them. That’s what happens when you average 1.5 hrs of sleep in 48 hours. I didn’t wake up ’til 7am the next morning wondering where the hell I was.

Coachella April 18, 2013: Thursday

Coachella 2013 was one of the most amazing experiences of life and I can’t wait until next year. Since there’s so much I wanna say about it, I decided to break this up into 4 posts.

Thursday

a palm springs sunrise

a palm springs sunrise

It’s true that getting to Coachella is half the experience. I had to work on Thursday, so I prepared to do the 9-hr drive by myself right after work, putting me in Indio at around 2am. (The back story: I wasn’t entirely set on going, but the US Postal Service lost my ticket, so I had to go and pick it up at Will Call).

I was really dreading this drive; it’s such a long time to be by yourself in a car. So I posted something on Craigslist and

Zimride looking for a ride. On Tuesday, a couple guys who live in the same town as me hit me back saying I could ride with them. Woohoo! We left right after work and headed south, the car stocked with Red Bulls, Pabst, and some leftover Girl Scout cookies. We stopped at the Truckee skate park and loosened up our legs a bit and then carried on.

deliriously driving into indio

deliriously driving into indio

I don’t know what happened, but it took us 12 hours to get there and none of us slept. We stopped at gas stations and Chinese fire-drilled around, each driving a bit. We ended up at the blazing hot Palm Springs Walmart at 5am, waiting for them to sell us beer at 6am. We each got 1 hour of sleep and homeless people meandered around our car like zombies, trash littered the parking lot. We were completely delirious and freaked out, but managed to survive

the morning. Our iPhones rocked Coachella tunes from the bands we were going to see that day.

Friday morning we rolled into Coachella as kids were going to school; luckily we were one of the first ones there at Will Call. I waited in line for the ticket windows to open as everyone passed out by their cars for a quick nap. We weren’t the only ones who were delirious…

April 9 Postal Service Part 1

First thing yesterday morning, the Postal Service had me in tears, but by the end of the night the Postal Service had me grinning from ear to ear.

When I woke up yesterday, I was determined to track down my Coachella ticket. Last week, I called USPS and opened up an investigative search on this $400 wristband that I need for next week. I also called our local Post Office, which was equally vague and unhelpful.

So I waited, and waited, and the thing never got delivered, and I received got a response from anyone at the Postal Service, so I decided to hunt it down yesterday. I went into our local branch and asked about my ticket that I needed now, and I was willing to drive to Reno to get it. They proceeded to pull up all of the same tracking info I had, and the lady was really rude, telling me that “I sent her on a wild goose chase” and to “step aside because now she had a line”. Twenty minutes into the hunt, the Postmaster came out and said, “sorry, I’m seeing that the final tracking on it was 3/25 at the Reno Sort Facility”.

Me: Okay, so can I go to the Reno Sort Facility and get it?

Postal Service: Um, no, we don’t know where you would go and this doesn’t have any tracking on it…

Me: So, this is a $400 Priority Mail envelope that should’ve been delivered 2 weeks ago and are you telling me that it’s lost?

Postal Service: Yes, it’s lost.

No wonder the US Postal Service is going out of business! Luckily, one 10 min. phone call to Coachella solved the problem- they cancelled the order and re-routed it to Will Call. Thank goodness they were so nice otherwise I would’ve gone berserk.

(Another small ironic piece- Postal Service, the band that I was seeing that night was re-releasing an album called “Give Up”- advice I should’ve taken with the US Postal Service).

So now that I was pissed off and stressed out, my friend came over and swept me away

casey hiking Wildcard with me...and helping me get my sanity back

casey hiking Wildcard with me…and helping me get my sanity back

to go snowboarding. I showed her my mountain, we had some Bloody Marys, I got everything off my chest and we even found some small pockets of fresh pow. I halfway gained my sanity back. After tacos at T’s, I showered and got ready to see Postal Service the band for their reunited kick-off tour in Reno.