Thursday, July 26, 2007

Paleo 2007, Wednesday

After the concerts and mud of Tuesday, Wednesday is when Arcade Fire and Bjork are lighting up Paleo. The sunny day dried most of the mud, although in some places you could still step in mud. But in general it was much better. Also because the sun was out.

I got there around 19.30 and headed straight to Chapiteau to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I have their first album and they do sound good on CD, the singer sounding a bit like Thom Yorke. But on stage, his voice is really high-pitched whiney and with two Telecasters wrapping up his whiney voice, it just became irritating. I left Chapiteau and headed for a beer and some food instead.

Got a great spot to watch Arcade Fire, about 10 meters dead center in front of stage. The stage looked already full of clutter, there was a pipe organ, couple of keyboards, and some helmets. Arcade Fire came on stage and for an hour and a half I was transfixed. They were amazing, one of the best concerts I've ever been to - if not the best. Arcade Fire on stage is like watching a circus. But not a circus full of clowns and animals, a circus full of magicians and athletes doing the most amazing things. Only 1 member is not a multi-instrumentalist (the other girl), everyone else played at least 3 different instruments during the gig and they all sang as well. Even the drummer played keyboards on one song and guitars on another. Sometimes it feels like it was turning into chaos and just when they were at that tipping point, they brought it back to order without losing that sense of chaos. It was absolutely wonderful, totally mesmerizing. And the music is fucking awesome as well. Bands like Arcade Fire are what good music is about, and they are here to save the world from manufactured over-hyped acts. Honestly, if ever there is an Arcade Fire gig near your place, be sure to go.

Then Bjork ended the night. As always, she is weird and wonderful. This time she wasn't backed by a proper band. Instead she uses a DJ playing a funky thing that looks like a big iPhone, a programmer, a keyboardist, a percussionist (beating the smallest cymbal I've ever seen) and an Icelandic horn sections (The Wonderbrass). As expected, Bjork came in an outfit that doesn't make sense. A red dress/cape thingy, with half her face painted blue and green. She sorts of flapped around the stage while singing. And her songs were either very slow and mellow or hard with big beats. Her voice is amazing and she uses it very well, but maybe after Arcade Fire my standards have gone up a lot.

I just read somewhere that Arcade Fire and Bjork share the same management. Interesting.

Anyway, that was it for me for Paleo this year. No drunken disorderness this year. I will do it next year with a vengeance!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paleo 2007, Tuesday

It's that time of the year again, Paleo time where I will enjoy myself in this huge festival of music, alcohol, junk food, more alcohol and more music. It's my 7th year coming to Paleo already and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

On Tuesday the three big headliners were !!!, Arctic Monkeys and Muse. Despite all the traffic, rain, and dog that won't eat, I managed to get there as !!! were halfway through their gig. I heard a couple of their songs already and their live show is energetic. They sound a bit like The Rapture - that kind of electro disco - and they were really going at it on stage. The backing vocalist even flashed her boobs. When !!! played it started to rain but with the sun out as well. There were two rainbows in the sky, one being really beautiful. What a coincidence, since the current Paleo poster has a rainbow in it as well. I got totally drenched but I was having fun already.

Then the beer started flowing and the food was being bought as well. All in the mud. An inch-thick mud. Feels like Glastonbury with less wellies.

After that came Arctic Monkeys. They have been a sensation ever since they hit it with I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Alex Turner and his band came out and they just started playing song after song. Great performance music-wise but Alex Turner isn't an entertainer. In fact, some times I got the impression that he was a bit bored singing and playing his guitar. He looks a lot like Harry Potter gone rock & roll without the glasses and scar. Their songs are amazing though and I still can't believe good a songwriter Alex Turner is. He's the motor of the band (with a little help from drummer Matt Helder) and it really shows. I'm sure they will grace Paleo another time.

More beer, more food, more mud.

Then came Muse. I watched them at Paleo 2004 and I watched them last December. I was expecting a gig more or less the same as the one I saw in December. But the last one was an indoor gig and this one is outdoor and the difference is quite obvious. Muse plays much better outdoor. In Decemberthey finished with Knights of Cydonia, this time they opened the concert with it. A mixture of OTT western sci-fi rock, it just set the tone for the whole concert. Matt Bellamy is his usual self, a very shy and quiet magician on the guitar and piano. Chris now sports a moustache reminiscent of Nick Cave, while Dom just pounds away on the drums and keeping the rhythm going. A very good show to close of the first day.

After that more beer, more food and then home.

Up next (today): Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Arcade Fire, and Bjork.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Digital Era

About 20 years ago I moved from Netherlands to Indonesia. When I arrived in Indonesia we didn't have a phone in our house for a while. So to keep contact with friends in the Netherlands I did it by snail mail. To keep up to date and meet up with friends in Indonesia, I either talk to them directly at school or take a bag of coins and queued up at the local pay phone.

Then one day my dad brought this huge black thing - almost as big as a small wardrobe - which was a car phone (it was supposed to be a mobile phone but how can you be mobile when you have a small wardrobe on your back?). I could only use it from time to time as it was a) expensive to use and b) had a terrible connection.

About 15 years ago we got a landline installed at our home. I started calling up friends but to catch-up I still preferred doing it when we meet at school, and when we are suppose to meet up in the mall we just decide a time and place at least a day before and somehow everyone would be there. To communicate with friends in Netherlands I still used snail mail as international rates those days were frigging expensive.

Then we got a fax machine - which helped in communicating with friends in another country as I could write small and cramp everything on a small piece of paper and send it off for not that much.

Around 12 years ago I bought a modem and I got hooked up on the internet. I started chatting with my friends (we were IRC addicts) and keeping up-to date with that and e-mail. About the same time I got a mobile phone (a Mitsubishi!) and suddenly I was always contactable (although not everyone had a mobile phone at that time).

Fast forward to now. I still keep in contact with people all over the world, mostly via the internet and sms messages. On the web it's chatting, emails, this blog, or social network sites (friendster or facebook). I can't leave home without my mobile, at home I have a landline that I barely use and it's so easy calling up people all over the world (thanks to Skype).

About 20 years ago, if my close friends (who live in the same city) got engaged I would have found out about it when they tell it to me in my presence. Today I found out via facebook.

Congratulations you two!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beastie Boys at Montreux Jazz Festival 2007

Yesterday was the day! I went to see Beastie Boys in Montreux. I left office in a hurry to make it in time for the train. My friends were waiting in the train and train station already (with a couple of beers). The weather sucked and it rained when we arrived in Montreux but that didn't dampen our spirits. More beer, some food, some shots and we're ready to go.

Spank Rock opened the concert. A couple of homeboys fro Baltimore with a DJ, they rapped in a fashion not unlike Dizzee Rascal. Not bad, but we want Beastie Boys!

At 10 they came out, all dressed in suits (just like the picture here actually). MCA went for his bass, Ad-Rock took the guitar and Mike D ran around a bit before settling behind the drums. With Money Mark on keyboards, Mix Master Mike on turntables and Alfredo Ortiz on percussion they started by playing one of their funky tunes.

After that they just went on and on. Mike D was supporting an afro which you couldn't tell whether it was a wig or not (it wasn't). Ad-Rock still looks like that kid in the Fight For Your Right video. Only MCA seems to have caught up with time. Even his voice sounds older.

The energy level was amazing. And they put everything in the show. Oldies like Brass Monkey, Egg Raid On Mojo, and No Sleep Til Brooklyn were all there (no Fight For Your Right though). The hits as well, like Body Movin, So Wat'cha Want, Intergalactic, Three MCs and One DJ, and Sure Shot. They jammed their instrumentals (Sabrosa and some more). The vibe that they get off each other is just amazing, more amazing considering the fact that they have been around for ages (they started off late 70s as a punk band).

To finish it all there was only one song they could do and yes, they played that song. The minute the distorted bassline kicked in the whole room was on its feet. I could have felt the room move if I wasn't jumping up and down like a hyped up Tigger. "Listen all yo it's a SABOTAAAAGGGEEE!!!!"

I must have sweated 5 liters, I got a knee in my thigh (it hurts!), but it was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Amazing energy, amazing vibes, and amazing performance by Beastie Boys.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Whinging about the weather

It's the 9th day of July today. So far, only one day out of the 9 have I seen sun lasting more than an hour. The other days are just grey and (most of the time) wet. Only the 7th day (of the 7th month of the 7th year) was it sunny. More than sunny, it was hot and sunny.

When I think of July I always think of sun and warm days, lying about by the pool, walking around in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Well, so far it has not been the case.

So maybe we do need Live Earth? Make people aware how we have fucked up Mother Earth. Maybe we do need Al Gore and his climate crisis documentary. Maybe we do need to change light bulbs.

I just want to see the sun in July. Is it really too much to ask?

Anyway, tonight it'll be Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock - a.k.a. The Beastie Boys - in Montreux.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shrek the Third and Ocean's Thirteen

I watched Shrek the Third and Ocean's Thirteen the other day. Both movies are the third sequel of a successful franchise and both were entertaining.

Shrek the Third is probably the worse Shrek movie, but still a really good movie. In the first and the second Shrek I was basically laughing non-stop at the subtle in-jokes and the turning-the-fairy-tale-world-upside-down jokes. But there are only so many fairy tales and in the third one they seem to run out of fairy tales to make fun of. Although seeing "Dopey" and a heart tattoed on Snow White did make me laugh out loud.

Also Shrek sounds a bit tired, Mike Myers doesn't sound as excited as in the first one. And hearing Donkey go on and on and on and on can be a bit tiring as well. Justin Timberlake made Artie the loser with delusions of grandeur, but he didn't have enough a role to carry the whole movie. I'm hoping this will be the last Shrek but apparently there will be a fourth one. Probably Shrek being a grumpy dad with teenage kids.

As for Ocean's Thirteen, the whole Ocean's 11 franchise was basically George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh way of having fun. That it did well was just a bonus for them. And you can really tell in the movie that these three are just having fun. No heavy acting for Brad as he did in Babel. No heavy acting for George as he did in Syriana. The story is implausible, the whole thing is full of in-jokes and the cast is just partying in Vegas basically.

Still nice to see them loosening up and giving the audience entertainment. There's not much storywise or acting wise, but you will be entertained nonetheless. And if they keep sticking to this formula, I don't mind an Ocean's Fourteen. Because it will still be George, Brad and Steven having a laugh.