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MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
A new Los Angeles venue- actually in Long Beach at the Queen Mary- offered some minor problems in terms of long lines for entry into each stage area and hour long waits at the food stands, but overall the performances were top notch and the experience satisfying. I attended only the Saturday show, so I missed out on acts like the Stooges, Mission of Burma, Mars Volta, American Analog Set, and Liarbird. I also missed out on bands that played on Saturday like The Magic Band, Blackheart Procession, and the Danielson Familie, but hey, you gotta pick and choose at a festival like this. Now, you may be saying to yourself, Jeez, this round up is coming over a month too late, LAS, what the dilly? But dammit, like I told ya before, those lines were really long. I just got home. So here's how it all went down on an amazing Saturday in the fall.
Storming the stage like a blend of early P.I.L., Gang of Four, disco jukebox, and The Clash's "Magnificent 7", !!! tore shit up. Each song incorporated a strong, programmed backbeat under funky bass, as singer Nic Offer's incredibly gimped out dance moves led the charge to ecstasy. The band urged the crowd to dance along with them, claiming that they would play better the harder we danced, but to almost no avail. Nevertheless, !!! strangled the funk out of their opening slot like they were playing at midnight in their hometown of NYC.
My lord, the Portland quartet buoyed the crowd with their sunny yet slightly moody psyche-pop. Playing selections from their debut, Oh! Inverted World, and their latest opus, Chutes Too Narrow, their trebly, tight, and piercing melodies played out simply and complex. James Mercer's voice rang out true and clear over the very happy crowd, as intricate bass lines and strummed guitar melodies unfurled in the late afternoon air. A microphone fell on Jesse Sandoval's tom for a bit, causing some strange sounds, but a roadie fixed the problem soon enough. The Shins were definitely a highlight of ATP 2003.
Venturing over to the secondary stage, the indoor stage that was actually on the ship, I caught a glimpse of Deerhoof. Their stop/start toy music, full of bah bah boos, captivated the crowd as their melodies meandered and intertwined. Deerhoof always reminds me of a more playful Blonde Redhead. Their set was definitely one of the most experimental of the lineup, providing a nice break from the guitar band indie rock that dominated the fest.
It's been a while since we've heard anything new from indie rock's finest and newly anointed purveyors of mini vans, but they played a bevy of new tunes at their ATP appearance. The sounds of these songs ranged from power chord driven Dylan-esque storytelling to a track possibly called "The Good Times are Killing Me" (that had some similarity to "All Night Diner") to a poppy march with Spoon-style down strokes. Picking from their back catalog, the Mice played their concert mainstays: "Cowboy Dan," "3rd Planet," "Neverending Math Equation," and "Paper Thin Walls," among others. They also played "Interstate 8," which was a treat, as that is one I have never heard them play live before. The previews they offered from their forthcoming album were great and if the record sounds anything like them, we're in for something exciting.
Built to Spill
BTS are the kings of the controlled jam. Doug Martsch and company played their typical fusion of pop heart warmers and meandering rockers in their usual solid fashion, not a new tune in sight or sound. And that is ok, I mean, who doesn't want to hear "Time Trap" or "The Plan" or "Car" or "You Were Right." But, damn it, we've been watching the boys pump out these jams for several years now, and it would be great to hear some new stuff from their eternally forthcoming new album. OK, it hasn't been all that long since the last one, but no matter. BTS pleased the crowd as the night wore on and prepped the crowd for the sonic mayhem to come.
Sonic Youth closed out the night at the main stage. The veterans of skronk, noise and feedback took the stage with poise and punk rock aplomb, ripping through tracks from almost all of their albums and several newbies. What can one say about a Sonic Youth set? Plenty… but, not right here. Every band that played ATP owes something to the masters, but what do they care? Sonic Youth keep putting out albums, some great and some not so great, but their contribution to ATP was perfect and ended the night with a screech and a bang. SEE ALSO: www.atpfestival.com
SEE ALSO: www.mattgroening.com
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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