Sunday, March 30, 2008

JUSTICE - SF Concourse

Let me begin by saying that I have been advocating for Justice the last 12-14 months. I am on board w/ their sound and I like their studio album. I am also OK with the "rejected" Fabric mix from January '08 that was borderline over-indulgent on disco-glam.

I have seen Justice perform on three occasions. 1. Coachella '07. 2. Mezzanine in SF last October. 3. Last Thursday at the Concourse in SF. Deterioration is evident.

The Coachella show was great and the Mezzanine was one of, if not the most fun, engaging and sound-bastic shows I have ever seen. Ninety minutes of straight mixing and good, continuous music. It was a fluid, true DJ set.

Expectations and anticipation were high for the event last Thursday. Some notes from the show:

1. They have seemingly completely abandoned the typical DJ set in favor of a more rock and roll based set. They played songs, kind of, that lasted 4-5 minutes. 3 minutes would be a build up, of sorts, to the crescendo, which was almost always underwhelming. It probably would've been better had they just played their album straight through. And that's not a good thing to report.

2. The first serious bass-drop was 45 minutes into the show. Not OK.

3. Stopping the music every 5 minutes, raising your arms in victory and urging the crowd to applaud your splendor does not make for a good dance program. That is what happens at rock concert.

4. Speaking of rock concert, the encore was basically an undancable speed metal Rob Zombie guitar riff showcased by bass hits and 8-bit video game noises. It was tailor made for the Guitar Hero III fans in the crowd and it was not the way to end a set. But, it was totally unique and I've got to give them credit for this as it was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Even though I didn't care for it.

5. I felt like the oldest kid in the house. I've never been to an event where they were more 18-21 year old strung-out, neon-clad, spandex wearing, mustache donning H-Ds in my life. Justice is now evidently "cool," which makes me consider this possibly being my last show of theirs, if only for the fact that the concert etiquette from this younger American Apparel supporting crowd was absolutely horrible, if not borderline rude.

6. The venue was raining sweat. Literally. Condensation built up from the audience to the ceiling and then dripped profusely like the jungles of Amazon.

7. If you watch the video you can see all the things that were annoying about the show: lack of drops, the sign-a-longs, stopping songs for applause and mindless buildup culminating with less then stellar and way too short reward. Everyone wants the reward and it was just something Justice used to do, but have abandoned in their recent show.

However, you can also see that the crowd was going ape-shit. Which makes me wonder if my expectations are you high? Am I totally jaded? Maybe, I Am just a snob? Should I stop over-analyzing things? Or, maybe I didn't have enough to drink....

With all that said, there were some interesting and redeeming qualities about the event. However, I think my days of paying to see Justice are now over, even though their draw and legacy are seemingly only just taking off.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The killer concert is in the eye and ear of the beholder, so we thought it would be fun to write two reviews of the JUSTICE Myspace tour - both the SF and the PDX shows.

JUSTICE's stop in Portland is the Roseland Theater. Located downtown with capacity of 1,400 - Roseland gets the slightly more recognized acts - usually on their second pass through town. So, you get people who know the hit song
or are going on recommendation of a friend - and this group always creates an interesting dynamic with the "original" and hardcore fans.

For JUSTICE, the die hards are, of course, mega-hipster-doofuses. Mostly 20 and younger, these fanboys and girls were endowed with the power of the spirit - much like the middle American mega church revival crowd the glowing cross called to mind.

The other crowd could best be described as meat heads. I swear I watched an entire baseball team walk in. Everyone wearing (nonironic) tees, baggy(!) jeans and wearing hats that weren't even meant to make a point beyond their allegiance to a sports team. Weird. I owe their presence mostly to the Mos Def and Spank Rock remix of DANCE floating
around on the web.

I understand the necessity of all ages clubs. I know up and coming H-D's want to see the shows, but it really does completely ruin the experience to have id checking, security lines and strict segregation. At the Roseland for example, the 21+ crowd is packed on to the balcony - forced to choose between a powerful thirst and the full music experience.

Despite all that the crowd was hyped, ready to move and about to bring the place down by the time the Augé and de Rosnay walked on stage. When the drop hit, well over 1,000 people jumped into a fist pumping frenzy. Illuminated by a glowing cross, insane crossed up strobes, LED amps and glowing speakers - in a word; shit got crazy.

There were some phenomenal moments in the show and some masterfully timed sound, light and effect touches. The boys know what they are doing, although often find themselves more interested in proving their intricate technical prowess than necessarily delivering what the people want.

Many of their set ups were strong: building beats, smashing rhythms and a delicious tease of samples from their biggest hits. But, frequently, as a result of ADD or a powerful desire to show off their cuts, the payoff didn't come.

A note to artists: no matter how much we like your music, we do not want an acoustic version with us singing your biggest hit, it's just not as cool as you think it is. We paid to see YOU.

Even when they decided to let the crowd revel in that dirty pleasure of just rocking out to a hit single (you know you like it) they still seemed to admonish that desire, such as significantly lengthening the builds and shortening the hooks on DVNO. JUSTICE is, if nothing else, a couple of kids with some great chops but an even greater ear: intensely pleasurable melodies and catchy hooks are your game, so let them play!

The overall flow was good, although they couldn't help indulging themselves in repeated samples of the same disco era cuts - one of which I counted four times through the evening. Despite distractions, the show, the beats and the lights (irrational fears of epileptic fits haunted me throughout the evening) built to quite a crescendo as the encores approached. I will leave a full description of them to those who still have the show to attend, but plan to rock the hell out.

JUSTICE put on a great show, played the audience and its energy well and even indulged in theatrics such as hand-holding and bowing, crowd surfing, smoking at the boards and numerous encores. Despite that, I never felt any real connection to the people on stage. Part of seeing a live performance is an insight into the bands you love - getting to know them on a different level, and to a large degree, feeding off their energy and their performance. Hidden behind insane light displays and mostly head down hard at work on the task at hand - the energy of the "band" just wasn't there to carry the music.

Overall I would say the show is good with some elements of greatness. The Myspace aspect was weird but not terribly distracting. The power of the spectacle and the energy of the crowd carried the night. As an "adult" who occasionally allows themselves to get down, head out on a school night and get down and just plain groove to some wild electronic DJs, I hope next time the group is willing to indulge me, give in to my hedonism and let its fans revel in all the best of their music (even if it is a top 40 hit)...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life's Unwritten Rules v. 1.0

Rule #1: For a successful relationship you must... Be on the same cell phone carrier.

OK, I guess this will officially make them written rules, but that is neither here nor there. And really, it's probable no one has written these down for good reason (they are inane) but what the hell?

First on the list, one that is near and dear to my heart: cell phone politics. I am happy to say that the majority of my friends and family are "IN" on Verizon's Network. I do not have any particular love for Verizon, but somehow the people who populate my life have all gravitated to the big red V. That alone is a great reason to stay - unlimited communications with those who matter.

Inevitably, things will draw you away from your cell phone network. The biggest reason: new parties to your love life. I'll admit it, I have gone to Verizon's website to check if someone was "IN" as part of the "suitability for dating" checklist. After all, a successful relationship is built on communication, and if you can not communicate in an unlimited manner, surely problems will arise, will they not?

But what of those you leave behind? Family, friends, late night dirty texting buddies, all, no longer a part of your unlimited calling, texting and picture plan. You argue "Hey, my iPhone plan is unlimited, I'll still be in touch." But the magic is gone, that connection is broken. It just isn't the same.

Of course, there are other reasons to leave your network. New job pays for your phone, time for a change and, the big one, the iPhone... I mean who doesn't feel like they NEED to be able to go to while sitting at the Blazers game (I saw it), upload mobile Facebook pictures or have instant access to their Gmail at all times and places.

In the end, though, beware the statement you make by paying that broken contract fee and sacrificing your long term commitment to your network. Who knows if things work out with this hot new item or new career path, you may find yourself on a network all your own...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dancing Animals vs. Dancing People Dressed as Animals

Which do you prefer. The dancing seal or the dancing mascots?

Ok, so that was pretty impressive, but what about this footage below. Given the choice, I think I'd be the shark. I like his style.

Monday, March 24, 2008

BYOBW 2008 - Adults Riding Kids Toys = Awesome

It has been said that, among other things, San Francisco is know for its unique and extravagant events, happenings and gatherings. 

Its OK to tie yourself and four of your friends to a shopping cart carrying a keg and run (fall) down the streets of North Beach in the Urban Iditarod. In San Francisco it is also cool, if it is your thing, to suck the cock of your buddy who is wearing nothing but a garter belt and ass-less chaps at high noon during the Dorey "Up Your Alley" Street Fair. 

If it strikes your fancy, its more than encouraged to go on a 16 hour E tab induced dance-a-thon trance session down Market street and in front of City Hall during the Love Parade in October. 
If you are the type of person that likes beer at 6:00AM on a Sunday Morning, the city shuts down the better half SF proper for you to "run" through downtown with 100,000+ of your friends in costume during Bay to Breakers

The list goes on and on, but the best and more pure showcase of fun and community may just be at the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel (BYOBW) race.

The premise is really quite simple. You show up with an old Big Wheel, the classic red one with yellow tire works, or really any variation thereof is acceptable.  As everything in town, you dress up in some sort of Bizzaro (read: throw some shit together at the last minute) attire or garb. You bring some friends and a beer or two and get in line at the top of a ridiculously steep, windy and treacherous hill. Then you push off and careen toward the finish amid the cheers of the estimated 8,000 spectators and the ohs and ahs when that second turn sends you flailing into the guy that getting too close to the action. 

The race this year was moved from Lombard Street (you know, the picturesque, manicured shrub lined tourist trap) to the more precarious and even more curvy Vermont street hill in the Portrero (middle of nowhere) district. New location, but more people. The best part about this event, besides reliving my glory days on Bennington Drive when I'd race Eli Zackheim to defeat on a daily basis, was the fact that is truly was a family and community orientated event. 

People were behaved and in control. Everyone was smiling and in jovial disposition. Families brought their kids and parents raced along side their sons and daughters next to that hipster doofus from the Mission and that ad exec from the Marina.

All in all a spectacle to behold and embrace. And a second place finish in heat #2 by your's truly. Check out the video montage that some guy w/ too much time on his hands put together.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dexia Tower - The Quintessential Building

Walking around the corner from the Parisian inspired and cobblestone lined, martyred infested part of Brussels, we were bombarded with the visual of a dancing building. 

Never I my life have I ever seen something like this, let along comprehended that anything of this sort could or did ever exist. It was as if the Daft Punk Pyramid techs took things to the next level and made their next project a few scales larger. 

The 145m high Dexia Tower is comprised of 4200 windows that are each fitted with individually controlled LED bars. Basically, this turns the whole facade of the building into one large video screen. There is no was they retrofitted this, is there?!!?!

The 150, 000 multi-colored LED lights equal one rock star light show. Push play to some Datarock on your iPod, grab an cold Kwak beer, bundle up and your ready for a good 30 mins of entertainment. We were transfixed, this was without a doubt, almost unequivocally, one of the best and most unexpected parts of the trip.

Every LED fixture is controlled independently and every floor can control can be manipulated individually. Coming home from work you can view stock quotes and catch the current and next days weather.
As explained on the LAb[au]'s website: "the project displays tomorrow's temperature, cloudiness, precipitations, and wind, by using colors and geometrical patterns to visualize these data. A color-code corresponds to tomorrow temperature compared to the monthly average, liked to a scale of color-temperatures ranging from violet (-6 celcius or colder) all the way up to red (+6 celcius or warmer)." 

Besides being possibly the most awesome building I've ever seen, it also goes down as being the geekiest. 

This wonder of a building begs a few questions?
1. Can you get any work done from the inside with Daft Punk lights blasting all around your office
2. Do the other surrounding buildings have a major inferiority complex? 
3. What kind of astronomical electric bill do these people have?
4. How and when can we can of of these buildings over here in the States?

Check out the video and notice the awesome commentary, "das das bla bla das is so cool, das ist weeeeee!" No, thats not us mocking German tourists, we pulled this off the Internet as Luke accidently blanked his memory chip on the third day of the trip.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hot Chip - The Quintessential Experience Paradiso

As you may be aware, elements of the QLE headed out on European vacation a couple weeks ago in there interest of serious blog-journalism: QL research and a further, deeper understanding of the cultures of the world. Along the way we stopped in Brussels, Bruges, Haarlem, The Hague and Amsterdam, soaking up the best that late-winter Europe has to offer.

Key on the agenda was the Hot Chip show at Paradiso, a onetime church converted to a great concert venue. Although covered in scaffolding (like much of Europe), Paradiso, now known as the Temple of Music, combines a great location (right off Leidseplein) with a novel layout that affords great proximity to the acts, and good views of the stage from various floor levels and balconies.

My goal was to put the many thoughts, impressions and descriptions down in writing as soon as I got home from the concert - however, I will spare many of those details as they are slightly incoherent upon further reflection... My "gonzo" blogging still needs some development.

The entire concert experience was amazing - the billing for the night consisted of three main acts with house DJs spinning in between.

Hot Chip is known for extremely high-energy shows that recreate songs entirely on the spot. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Made In the Dark, I would love to get my hands on a high quality recording of one of their shows. They are stoked and having a great time on stage, and it carries through into the music, the performance and the crowd. Combine that with insane decibels, and a wild lighting set, and you have a for sure winner.

Check their music out on Myspace and get yourself some ticket - their US tour hits the left coast right around April 21st.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Greenest Person You Know

Recently Popular Science rated my city of residence, San Francisco, the second most "green" city in the Nation.

Who is America's top green city?  That's right: Portland, OR. The city where I grew up. 

Portland, which won by one tenth of one point, claims that half their power comes from renewable sources. Also, a quarter of the workforce commutes via bike, carpool or public transportation (MAX?!?!?)

The report is broken down in four categories: transportation, electricity, green living, and recycling and green perspective. 

Boston, third on the list, is also the city in which my company's headquarters is based and where I visit quarterly. 

Fourth on the list, Oakland, a city that I frequent on a weekly basis for work and leisure. The funny thing about this is that Oakland is nationally known for one of the highest murder rates in the country, but now the residents can all take solace the fact that its all going down in an eco-friendly environment.

Rounding out the top five on this Popular Science list is Eugene, where I went to school for my undergraduate work. A city that is revered for its green is also now nationally reputed for being "green". 

Having lived significant years in three of the top five green cities and spent notable time in the other two, I have a little bit of pride this morning knowing that maybe subconsciously, in a small way, I'm doing my part to help prolong the vitality of the world. Or, maybe its just me justifying my Xterra and it's 16.5 MPG. 

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Portishead - Third

Not sure if I like it or not. Be your own judge. Download at Nocna Hudba. It's a weird download process - but click the 'Free' link, then wait for a minute and a half.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

R.I.P., W.F.B.

Yes, this post is a week late (I was moving across the country, cut me some slack), and yes, this isn't exactly a typical QLE subject, but perhaps let us take just a moment to recognize the passing of William F. Buckley, the father of the modern conservative movement in American politics. "What the fuck is this?" you may be thinking. Believe me, I am as liberal as they come, and I'm assuming most of you out there are as well; but a cursory look into W.F.B.'s leisure activities reveals him to be perhaps the father of everything the QLE stands for as well. A legendary man's man, who spent every moment of his free time chasing the best in life, from sports to literature to music to copious amounts of booze. A former CIA agent who possessed a talent for being able to hammer back G&Ts, debate foreign policy at the UN, and think of the story arc for his next novel all at the same time. And his "By the way, I have a yacht" mid-Atlantic prep school accent only makes him even more fabulous of a human.

The following is an incredible debate conducted at the height of the Vietnam war between Buckley and one of the biggest all-time leftys, Noam Chomsky. Both men's command of the English language and mastery of the art of debate here is stunning. For the essence of the man, listen near the end of the first minute, the manner Buckley says "42,43,44" and later, at 2:30, the way he says "pursue" and winks at Chomsky. Never has the comment, "Fuck you, I'm smarter and cooler than you" been so gracefully and silently delivered.

We lost a true American last week, and Beefeater lost one of its biggest customers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk it Off: LEAKED

While the rest of the dudes are in Amsterdam (see: drugs, fun, beer), I will do my best to hold it down with some free music fo' yo' ass. Today? TNT.

A little Bloc Party, a little Kings of Leon, a little Modest Mouse, a little everything else that you've ever heard. Whatever it is, get it while it's available. The new Tapes 'n Tapes album (Sophomore release) was recently streamed and ripped (Available to purchase April 8th). Some say it's not as good as their first release (but when is it?) Get it here while you can. It's good, I like it.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Robert Plant is Ruining Everything

When Led Zeppelin held a one-off concert at London's O2 Arena earlier this year, the music industry was buzzing about what would be the biggest tour of all time. 

A Zeppelin reunion would be the one tour everyone would attend, no matter what the price. I know I tell people, "must see show of the year" at least 10 times annually, but this would've been the one. 

Rumors were swirling that Summer '08 could finally be our chance to see the greatest rock and roll band ever reunite for Stadiums worldwide. 

But today, the hype machine has encountered an irreversible glitch and the dreams and hopes of music fans everywhere were dashed when England's Daily Mirror reported that Robert Plant turned down a guaranteed 100 MILLION POUNDS (roughly $200 Million Dollars) for a summer tour. Surviving members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were on board and the tour was set to roll.

But, Plant refused and elected to focus his current efforts on ballads and duets with U.S. country singer Allison Krauss. (Their current album Raising Sand went to #2 in the Britain and U.S. charts) 

So instead of getting Whole Lotta Love, we get this......

Do you Hulu?

The purveyor of all things relevant and cool, GQ pointed this one out a couple months ago: This site is fantastic - they are currently in a private beta, only in the US and you have to be "invited" to sign up, like Gmail in the "early days."

Put in your email, and they will let you know when you can get in (took about 1 week for me). You will have access to an impressive amount of online content including TV shows (NBC after they drop-kicked iTunes), movies, clips, etc. And, it's all free with a limited number of 30 second ads from a variety of sponsors.

Personally, I am afraid of DVR (being trapped in my basement, a slave to my own obsessive media consumption), and I refuse to be someone who plans their lives around TV shows, so a chance to get the media I want when and where I want it is pretty exciting. Plus, never being limited to Marriott's hotel cable again? Priceless.