Day Two

“One of the best things I have ever seen”…
“3 of the most talented men on the planet”…
“It’s their world we’re just livin’ in it”…
“I was totally blown away”…
“Brilliant on every level”…

All of these statements apply yet none seem to fully express the depths to which 100,000 people were staggered by MUSE’S 1 and 1/2 hours on the big stage last nite. It was truly mind-boggling to witness. These guys are honest to goodness; dyed-in-the-wool, British import rock stars and I mean that in the “so good you can’t not love them” sense. Lead singer/guitar player Matthew Bellamy has absorbed all the great guitar gods and drives Muse’s train across the pond with no “Chunnel” needed. There was more talent on that stage last nite than at a Julliard graduation ceremony. From music, to performances, to AV show to lighting to sound… a near perfect rock and roll show. I will step out and make this bold statement…should these gentlemen manage to not implode (lest we forget Oasis) and continue to keep their musical juices flowing; I am predicting staying power on the order of U2’s status. It is noted that they will need that one HUGE radio hit but at this rate I don’t think it’s far away.

As I have now seen COHEED and CAMBRIA 9 times I feel it renders me un-objective but…they rocked! A surprise visit by the USC Trojan marching band made for a happy finish.

The reunion of FAITH NO MORE was quite good but I was continually struck by the history I was hearing. Around since the 80s, you hear certain elements of hardcore a la Black Flag but FAITH NO MORE is credited with inventing rap rock. The Chili Peppers were doing basically the same thing but the moniker stuck w FTM. You can certainly hear where bands like Rage Against the Machine, Alien Ant Farm and Limp Bizkit took a tributary off of FTM’s wide river of sound but the sounds of Korn and Disturbed owe much to the ground broken by FTM. What are they gonna do in the future? Well, they are calling it FAITH NO MORE…The Second Coming… so we will see.

12 years ago I read about a brother/sister or ex-husband/wife 2-person band from Detroit. These White Stripes went on to, if not change rock music forever, certainly give us pause for their ballsy, simplistic and bluesy approach. Since then Jack White has gone on to create The Raconteurs and now DEAD WEATHER…a dirty, down low, greasy yet kick ass rock band that the bluesy 60s/70s psychedelia sound of brings to mind Big Brother and the Holding Company or early Jefferson Starship. Did I mention Jack is playing drums and not guitar on this one?…and he is one hell of a drummer. A new disc comes out in May. A great set, especially considering I had just come from Muse.

British “proggers” PORCUPINE TREE had a great set and if you dig what they do you were happy. A stage full of great musicians. The bass player and drummer seemed to have one of those organic connections that the aliens in Avatar do with their animals. One of the tightest bass player/drummer connections I have ever heard…and YES that includes Neil Peart and Geddy Lee.

Are you missing 10,000 Maniacs (and who isn’t) and Natalie Merchant’s new disc not doing it for you? Then check out CAMERA OBSCURA…it will give you a fix and stand alone on it’s own merits. The highly anticipated set from GIRLS was a trip thru several musical decades…an old Rickenbacker and Telecaster guitars, glitter painted drums and a Wurlitzer electric piano take you down the lanes of 50′s pop (you would expect to hear Roy Orbison at any second), 60s mellow rock tunes, 70s/80s jangly guitar alt rock…lot’s stuff in here…definitely check it out.

“All you hippie kids get outta my yard” you might expect an old-timer to say but yesterday the yard belonged to ED SHARPE and the MAGNETIC ZEROS and 30,000 showed up to jam with him and his hippie collective…an instant cult happening and you couldn’t help but be a part of it. Who knows where the musicians ended and the just plain hippies hangin’ on stage began but it was fun and the music surprisingly good. TOKYO POLICE CLUB brought some nice aggressive alt rock with some nice “noise” moments and WHITE RABBITS had a nice, slightly more experimental yet good alty/indie set as well. I was only able to hear 3 tunes from the popularity gaining THE XX (as I had to get up front the next stage over for Coheed) but I will hear them at Bonnarroo. What I did hear and the new disc are minimalistically, ethereally and texturally wonderful…check ‘em out now! Critic’s faves MGMT are getting popular and with music fans as well as they probably drew 30,000 in the middle of the day on the 2nd stage. Slightly, electro and rhythmically driven, it is solid alt/indie rock. Having become recognized in the last 3 years and with 2 well-received discs to their credit, their staying power will be interesting to see.

I dropped in on DEVO but as a buddy with me said…”why do I really need to hear them if they are not doing Whip It?” I thought about that as I took in what felt like an un-energetic novelty act but then the blue flower pots were donned and Just a Girl…A Girl You Want was played and I couldn’t help but be a bit nostalgic for 1982.

As fried as my musical “ears” were, I took in the midnite set of SIA, who I have for some reason always given a pass before. Really nice, pop-chic singer tunes and she possesses a truly wonderful voice…it reminded me of all the best things of Stevie Nicks.

I am a big fan of electronica/DJ/mixmaster/alchemists. Paul Oakenfold, Jr.Vasquez, The Aphex Twin, The Chemical Bros. and Daft Punk are all faves. I do however tend to lean toward the more “Mobyesque” Thievery Corp. and PRETTY LIGHTS (seen day 1) where the tunes are based on samples and loops but real musical compositions are made and are rendered no less danceable because of form. TIESTO is a worldwide giant in this arena, so I decided to take in his late-nite set on the big stage. I guess I started to get put off when the jumbotron screens showed a rotating video head of Mr. Tiesto slowly rotating, removing his sunglasses and smiling sexily at the audience…it looked like a bad lead-in for a Telemundo soap opera. If you are in a club and rolling your face off, then the idea IS to keep the beat and music continuous but this is a concert and one would expect a little variation and tempo changes found in Thievery Corp and Pretty Lights. For the 40 mins I listened to TIESTO, the entire musical pulse remained at a constant 140-150 bpm. Some nice poly-meter mixes made it interesting but “break it up a bit Mr. T!” However, 50,000 people jamming more than they did to Jay-Z on the same stage can’t all be wrong! What do I know?

Today, thank God, is a less intense day but the excitement for the PAVEMENT reunion along with DE LA SOUL, GORILLAZ, SPOON and PHOENIX are starting to get me moving and ready for one more great day of music.

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