From inside the dark, dingy dives of century-old buildings to the roof-top pool bars of boutique hotels, Mexican rockers Café Tacvba are played at least once every hour, of every day, somewhere in Mexico City. They are by far one of the most prolific bands of the “Spanish Rock” movement of the 1990’s. And with the same original members since starting in 1989, their sound is perfected experimental rock. If that makes any sense.
Five years after the release of their last album Sino, which won two Grammys for Latin song of the year, the band just came out with El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco (The Object Once Called An Album). The record is a pretty good look at the band’s sound over the last decade, including their classic mix of alt-rock with ska, electronica, and varieties of indigenous folk music of the Americas – you can hear the entire album here.
The New York Times once called Cafe Tacvba “one of the most important bands in the hemisphere. A smart, cosmopolitan band with a broad streak of lighthearted surrealism.”
Among many great tracks, one of their more famous songs is “Eres“, but this video of “Olita de Altamar” (2013) shows the eccentricity and spirit you can probably expect on stage at BottleRock.
At first, the only sensible reaction was giddy laughter that it was even happening at all. At the SFJAZZ Center last night, Jason Moran’s jazz quartet led a jam session on stage—while in the audience, with the first five rows of seats removed, eight skateboarders held a different kind of jam session on a specially built miniramp. Pretty funny, right?
But a few songs into this amusing pairing, conceived by Moran himself, the serious corollaries between the two art forms of jazz and skateboarding began to make perfect sense. As the band onstage improvised in real time, so did the skateboarders, trying trick after trick. As the band was beholden to rhythm and tempo, so were the skateboarders, slaves to that next transition in the ramp, always approaching. As the musicians played off each other’s ideas, so did the skaters, by positioning their boards on the platform for the more daring of the bunch to use as extensions of the ramp.
The results were nothing short of thrilling.
Moran, wearing a T-shirt from the East Bay hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, compared modern-day skateboarding to the early days of modern jazz at Minton’s Playhouse, “when Diz and Bird and all them were trading ideas and the language was changing so quick.” (more…)
If you need a reason to show up early to BottleRock on Saturday, Best Coast should help. If you’re still sleeping off a hangover or whatever, though, at least get there to see Sharon Van Etten. Her great 2012 album Tramp keeps blowing new listeners away,and she’s tremendous live.
Music is a funny thing, and you never know when it’s going to fuck you up. I wandered over to a side stage at Outside Lands last year and ran into Van Etten singing “I’m Wrong,” and just started crying, and I don’t know why.
Here’s footage of the same song, from New York City. Hang with it. It’s a slow build.
Once, I watched Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices go off on every “it” band of the moment in a typically drunk onstage rant. He lambasted the Strokes, Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (this was 2003) and, finally, Kings of Leon, whose name he spat out with disgust.
Then, good ol’ Pollard: he reconsidered. “Actually I kind of like Kings of Leon. Sorry.”
This had once held title as the greatest thing to happen in the band’s career, until 2010, when a flock of pigeons decided to shit all over the band in St. Louis, abruptly ending the show.
No, really, it’s true. Below is footage, and though you can’t make out actual aviary feces, you can check the drummer’s reaction at 1:12. After “Taper Jean Girl,” only the third song in the set, the band stormed off the stage and cut the show short.
I have a tattoo of this band, so that settles the personal affirmation of their greatness, right?
But, if you care, you can read my story of listening to and loving X that appeared in the Bohemian in 2005. Heavily influencing that love of X is the documentary ‘The Unheard Music,’ which is more than a band documentary—it’s just as much a perfect snapshot of Los Angeles history as those great “Driving Down Whittier Boulevard” videos.
And behold, someone’s posted the whole thing on YouTube. It’s great. Crack open a six-pack and watch:
Amidst the surge of folkie-indie-hipster songwriters that took hold of Americana music over the last three years, few are as authentic as The Avett Brothers. These North Carolina boys harmonize like they were born with it – which isn’t surprising since they’ve been doing it since they were kids.
Their 7th studio album, The Carpenter (produced by the infamous Rick Rubin), was released last year and soared to number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Charts after being nominated for a Grammy. While categorized as every sub-genre of folk rock you can image, the real element to their music is that sweet southern front-porch songwriting.
A YouTube quote by ScartonsmithIrving pretty much sums up their sound: “when the Avett brothers harmonize….someone, somewhere gets laid.”
Since they will be performing on the smaller Miner Family Winery Stage at BottleRock, this lovely performance of “I And Love And You” at Glastonbury Festival in 2010 is probably what you can expect. We hope they decorate the Miner stage with giant mushrooms as well.
Hometown heroes (well, Bay Area heroes, at least) Primus are STILL at it. These guys have been around almost as long at the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and have changed a lot since 1989’s “Suck on This.” The 1991 masterpiece “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” is being reissued in 5.1 surround with other added goodies. Primus has had a few different drummers, but I’m hoping to see (and hear) one of my favorites, Tim Alexander, behind the kit. Though Brain and Jay Lane have also toured with the band, and both are amazing drummers in their own right.
What I’m trying’ to say is, “Say, baby, do you wanna lay down with me?”
Because rock and roll is what this festival is really all about, and because we haven’t seen this video since circa 1996, our second countdown pick is “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes. Aside from the video’s awesomely grainy 1990s shadow play, the song defines a generation of melancholy rock star culture: it is supposedly about a heroin-goth dilettante that lead singer Chris Robinson once met in Atlanta. We really hope they play mostly the classics.
There is exactly one week remaining until the biggest music festival the North Bay has ever seen. In honor of the lucky concert-goers who are about to embark on a massive planning mission that will likely involve hours of calculated preparation to see as many bands as possible, we’ve decided to post some of our favorite studio and live recordings of the bands, art troupes and comedians you probably shouldn’t miss.
It’ll be impossible to highlight everyone scheduled to perform, but this unabashedly discerning (and totally subjective) must-see list should help guide you through the mind-blowing five days, 4 stages, and 60 bands at BottleRock this year. If anything, it will help ensure you don’t end up like these Coachella kooks.
Only because they are the best damn rock and roll band to come out of Ohio in the last decade, first on our BottleRock Countdown list is Akron duo The Black Keys. They just won three Grammy Awards for best rock album, best rock song, and best rock performance. There really isn’t a better reason to stop everything and get as close to the stage as possible. Check out this video of “Strange Times”, live at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland:
Consider this your final heads up: BottleRock Napa Valley is coming to kick out the jams in wine country like never before.
Kicking off with Macklemore on Wednesday, May 8, the festival continues through Sunday, May 12 with a lineup rivaling that of any other major festival: The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Flaming Lips, Jackson Browne, the Avett Brothers, Bad Religion, Jane’s Addiction, Zac Brown Band, Furthur, Dirty Projectors, Primus, Kings of Leon and many, many others. A comedy lineup with Kristen Schaal, Tig Notaro, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Delaney and more is on tap, as well as tons of food, wine and other summertime kickoff fun.
This Monday, BottleRock presents Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) in person at the Uptown Theatre, screening his film Sound City and conducting a Q&A. Tickets are $100, but in keeping with the BottleRock mission at large, it’s a benefit for autism causes. You can grab tickets here. (UPDATE: Last-minute rush tickets will be available at the door for $25; line starts at 6:15pm.)
Dave Grohl in Napa? Announced at the last minute? Is there anything these crazy BottleRock guys can’t do? Be in the presence of Nirvana royalty on Monday, May 6, at the Uptown Theatre. 1350 Third St., Napa. 6pm. $100. 707.259.0123.