I took the BART downtown, paid my five dollars, and walked in. It was a little after eleven, so I began scoping places for lunch, and then I remembered how expensive carnie food is. As I approached the main stage, I saw that the freaking MyNetwork TV people had set up a booth to promote their ridiculous telenovelas. Oh, Desire! Oh, Fashion House! How very little do I want to see you!
At the Live105 booth, there seemed to be some sort of basketball shooting in order to get a free T-shirt. I love free T-shirts like eirefaerie loves cheese, so I gave it a go. And lost. I resolved to try again later.
As it was early, I could stand pretty close to the stage. The crowd was gathering. I felt old among the legions of high school students. I noticed a familiar-sounding song coming out of the speakers and realized it was a cover of "Suffragette City." I wondered how many there didn't know it was a cover.
A couple guys came on to thank sponsors and all. They identified themselves as Tom Anger and Miles the Intern. Craziness! It's always weird to see radio personalities because you're so used to just hearing them, and you hardly picture them as real people. And then there they are in the flesh.
The first band was Honeycut, a local Oakland band. Interestingly, they had no guitarist. Just a guy on keyboards, a guy on a drum machine (that he played live with his fingers, which was neat), and the lead singer. I had no idea what to expect from the lanky white guy in a sleeveless shirt, but when he started singing, I was impressed. A deep, rich, soulful voice. The music was this sort of jazz/funk mix that I normally wouldn't go for, but it worked really well. The keyboardist was very entertaining, the way he played and danced around.
Because I didn't have a lot of investment in seeing them, despite liking them so far, I searched for lunch. I saw that some regular places were open in the middle of the blocked-off area. Popeye's was cheaper than carnie food. For less money than I would pay to get just a sandwich, I would get a sandwich, fries, and a drink. I took my food back to the bleachers and ate while listening to Honeycut. They had an interesting sound, and I would certainly recommend them.
The last song they played was called "Impeach the President," and, like, it's not that daring or original for a band to have a song like that, and it's less daring and original when the chorus is basically just "impeach the President." The reason being "Over in the White House, there's stuff we don't know about. Over in the Pentagon, there's a lot of stuff going on." The best part was the little spoken-word bridge, which ended, "He thinks he's flying around like he's Superman; well, I've got a little piece of Kryptonite in my hand. No, wait, that's a harmonica!" And then he played his harmonica again.
Actual Cost: $1. Net Worth: $5 (it was a short set, and I missed half of it to get lunch anyway).
Between sets, I hung around the Live105 booth and checked out the free swag, from keychains and lighters to stickers and free eMusic downloads. I took notice of one of the members of the Action Team, a hot redhead above the shoulders.
Then I took notice of what was going on below the shoulders, and Jesus God. I know people throw the term "anorexic" around loosely, but this girl, her arms! They looked just like skin hanging off bones. It was absolutely horrifying. And I couldn't look away, it was so unbelievable.
The lead singer of Honeycut was sitting by the station DJ, so I poked him and told him they'd been great and I'd recommend them (and see, I have!).
I retook my place near the stage for the Silversun Pickups' set. The lead singer announced that they were all very hung over, and we laughed. Most interesting was the bassist, who, to start with, was female, which made her a rare bird to begin with (and instantly adored by mrbroom), but who wore a black skirt and flowery blouse and had a face like a turtle and a haircut like a woman named Martha (her name was actually Nikki, which: hot!). In short, she looked nothing like you'd expect a bassist to look like. But she played that bass, and it pumped out the speakers to enhance the live music experience.
When the bass hits your crotch, that's the stuff. The stuff that makes you think, "Please don't shatter my testicles, okayplzthx."
The Silversun Pickups have been compared to the Smashing Pumpkins, and I suppose they do have a similar sound, and the lead singer sings in a Corgan-esque style. I'm really not that good at describing music, so I'm not sure how to describe them. Amazon.com says: "fuzzy guitars, driving bass grooves, ethereal keyboards, angular drums, all complemented by Aubert's unmistakable, raspy vocals." I don't know how drums can be angular. It's a little dreamy, with the occasional yelling. But more on the mellow side, even when they're rocking out. Although live, everything is much, much louder, so pretty much everything is rocking out. And you can't really hear the lyrics, so you have to rely on the melodies.
How am I supposed to find a proper Indian girl to marry when they won't come to rock shows? Pretty much all the Indians I know are into rap and hip-hop; I swear to God, it's, like, standard now. I don't know when Indians appropriated black culture, but it happened years ago and has not changed. I've even heard them call each other "nigger." So I'm somewhat of an anomaly with my love of alternative rock. I listen to a decent spectrum of music, but alt-rock is my music, the music I discovered on my own back when MTV played videos, the music that grabbed me and snapped me out of my Top 40 zombification. I didn't know music like it existed! I didn't know I was allowed to like such music! My family and most other Indians dismiss it all as "white boys screaming a lot." Well, fuck that, I'm listening to Sarah Slean right now. My music is very important to me, but does it make me not Indian enough? Am I too white? Because these are the shows I'm going to go, and I'm not going to meet any potential mates.
The preceding paragraph was one I intended to write before I saw two or three Indian girls. But my phenomenal writing talent cares naught for truthiness.
The one song we were all waiting for them to play was the one they had been playing on the radio, "Lazy Eye." And, despite not being able to hear the vocals, it was pretty fantastic live. What I love about live music is the ability to see the song come together, to see where the various layers are coming from, to marvel at the sound produced by these people and their instruments, their fingers.
Actual Cost: $1. Net Worth: $15.
I went back to the merch table and bought the CD, as it wasn't one I was likely to find in a regular music store, and I like to support bands via merch tables.
Next up were the Plain White T's, who were unexpectedly popular. I had no idea they were known beyond the one song on the radio, but they seemed to have a rabid underground following. During the first song, people began throwing themselves around and running into each other and bumping me into other people. Is this what the kids call "moshing"? Because I think it sucks.
I went back to attempt to win a free shirt. And lost. Again. So I got in line again. And won! Finally. I claimed my Cominatcha! shirt. Because I enjoy the Music Morning Co-op entire, not just Woody and his obsession with his catchphrase.
Then I noticed a familiar blouse and realized the Silversun Pickups were totally sitting at the Live105 booth. So I told them they did great and got them to sign my CD. I told the bassist how cool she was and that I had a friend who really dug female bassists and would check their band out just because of her. So, mrbroom, don't turn me into a liar. I had to wait for the lead singer to finish an interview before he signed my CD. He also gave me the set list, which wasn't all that interesting as an artifact, so I passed it on to someone else. I love bands who haven't hit it big because they don't mind just chilling with the regular people. I hadn't bothered to bring my digital camera, so I couldn't get a picture, so you'll just have to take my word that I met the Silversun Pickups. And look at my autographed CD. I don't really know why I get things autographed. It's not like I plan to ever sell them. I suppose it's more to somehow physically mark the occasion.
The Plain White T's weren't bad, but I wasn't really paying attention. The most notable thing about them is that they had a black drummer, which was something I'd never seen before. I waited for the one song I knew, whose chorus goes: "Hate is a strong word / But I really, really, really don't like you."
Actual Cost: $1. Net Worth: $8.
I weaseled my way in closer for the next band, Lostprophets, which was the first band I knew more than one song of. Three and a cover, even! And I really liked them, so.
Girl Story of the Day (hope you're paying attention, pumpkin): Since Aaron Axelson was spinning between sets, I kept waiting for "Le Disko" to come up on rotation. And it finally did, so I started singing along. And, to my surprise, this girl in my vicinity totally knew the song too. I noticed her mouthing the words too and smiled.
Actually, the Girl Story of the Day would kind of be the conglomerate viewing of attractive girls and A) their cleavage and B) their dorky and/or sexy dancing. Also, hair.
Lostprophets took the stage, and they fucking rocked. They were loud and raucous and totally owned the stage. The lead singer was the kind of guy who would spit water into the air and twirl his microphone around by the cord. It seemed like a lot of the people there were big fans and knew most of the songs, whereas I only knew a couple they played. I know wastedfairy has some sort of love/hate relationship with them (and, coincidentally, there was totally a girl there who looked like a younger wastedfairy), but I liked them. Although they did look pretty coiffed and styled, which I wouldn't have expected. "We dress primarily in black," said the lead singer. "Black or grey." They were from Wales.
The lead singer and the keyboardist had a lot of fun banter between songs, very off-the-cuff in response to our own silence. "You guys are very polite between songs." There was a lot of audience interaction, which I always like, even if it's the typical, generic, "Are you guys having a good time?" "Yeah!" "That was average. ARE YOU FUCKING HAVING A GOOD TIME?" "YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!" Hey, it's a classic for a reason.
"Rooftops" was the "Have the audience sing along" song, appropriately enough, the chorus involving the line "everybody scream your heart out."
"Last Train Home," the first song I ever heard by them, was the jumping song, and yes, my friends, I totally jumped up and down with my hand in the air, just like I was in the music video or something. Sometimes, you just want that feeling of, as the lead singer put it, "everybody united and having a good fucking time at a rock show!"
He was a total rock star, man. During one song, he spit out water four times in imitation of rifle shots. (Yes, I define a rock star by his ability to spit water out of his mouth.)
But, basically, Lostprophets didn't just rock, they kinda rawked.
Actual Cost: $1. Net Worth: $27.50 + TicketMaster fees.
The headliners were New Found Glory. I knew a few songs by them, and I liked them all right, but I didn't really love them or anything. For me the concert had already peaked. They were immensely popular with this crowd, however. The MySpace crowd. No, really, the band has a MySpace, and they asked how many of them had them friended on MySpace, and nearly everyone cheered. And then he asked, "How many of you aren't on MySpace?"
And I cheered, "WOOOOOO!!!" And the girl in front of me looked at me funny. I think only one or two other people made noise. It was depressing.
New Found Glory songs kind of all run together, and they're all pretty fun and decent once you get used to the lead singer's high-pitched shrill. I did notice, however, that he does have some pretty good lyrics with a more sophisticated vocabulary than most music of that ilk. Not many choruses include the word "catalyst." Not many bands could get a couple hundred high-schoolers to sing the word "catalyst" in unison.
Actual Cost: $1. Net Worth: $20.
In conclusion, I love music.