Saturday, May 28, 2011

We Get Out - Matt Nathanson, Sarah Jarosz

Trying for a quick recap of the musical week just past...

It began, as Mondays generally do, with the posting of my weekly concert picks column for in which I wrote about shows by Hey Rosetta!, Glasvegas and Sierra Leone's All Star Refugees, among others.

But first, I throw us back in time to the week before, and a different set of concert picks with acts like
The Antlers, Todd Snider, River James and others. The one show that I made a distinct effort to get off my butt and see was Todd Snider's, but the label never answered my request (file under: Work With Me, People! just send an email one way or the other, 'K?) and other things came up. The last show on the list was Matt Nathanson, a personal favorite, but he was opening a three-act bill at Merriweather Post and that meant a bad ratio of hassle:fun.

The great thing, though, was that I had gotten word that Matt (he's such a good guy, and I've followed him so long, I'll break from the last name convention) would be doing a "secret" show at Jammin' Java on Monday night and, thanks to my lovely pals at the club, missing the very brief ticket window announcement on Twitter and email was not going to stop me from getting in.

I saw the show, loved it, wrote about it for and got over 1,000 hits in one day for the review and photo gallery. The hits came, I do believe, from the fact that Matt's people posted the link on his Facebook fan page, which came as a nice surprise.
For the full review of the show and lots of pics, check out the story on

Among the shows that were listed in this past week's previews there was a return area appearance by the lovely Sarah Jarosz, who did a wonderful sold-out show at Reston's cozy CenterStage last month and was coming back to Jammin' Java with her two amazing sidemen on cello and fiddle. I made it out to that show, too. Also SRO and a thing of string-fueled beauty. 

Afterwards, I chatted with the trio and they pretended to remember me. Nice people, gorgeous music.
Today was a day to add some new music to the collection in actual, physical CD form. Borders, which appears to be decreasing its music department all the time, had sent out an email about a 40% off sale on CDs and DVDs, so I took a ride out Route 7 for a look-see. As I've said before, Borders prices are high to begin with ($15 and up for most new releases), so it takes a sizable discount to make buying there worthwhile. I tried to stay within budget and brought home the following:

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - The Open Door EP (Atlantic)
Five-tracks from 2009. ($2.99)
PATTON OSWALT - My Weakness is Strong CD/DVD (Warner Bros./Degenerate)
Local boy (he grew up in a Virginia town about 90 minutes from here) made very good, and very funny. I once saw him walking past the movie theatre at Reston Town Center and blurted out the name of a neighbor/friend who went to school with him. Strange, I know, but he's probably used to much worse. ($10.19)
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC - Original Broadway Cast (Columbia)
Confession: I have to check to see if I already have this (or is it just on vinyl?) but couldn't risk missing out. Save the receipt. ($5.99)
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - London Calling: Live in Hyde Park DVD
I'm not the Brooooooooce fanatic I once was, but when I saw that this concert opens with "London Calling," (doh!) I felt I had to see what the Boss has been up to live lately. ($11.99)
SLY &  The FAMILY STONE - Stand/The Woodstock Experience (Epic/Legacy)
Hubby and I had both "Monterey Pop" and "Woodstock" on our Netflix queue in recent weeks and were struck with how well the music has held up over the years. Some of the performances were jaw-dropping. This Sly double-feature - the original "Stand" album plus the full Woodstock performance - made for groovy Saturday afternoon listening. ($11.99)
UNCUT Magazine  ($9.99) - Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan issue, with a 16-track CD of Dylan cover songs (Robyn Hitchcock, North Mississippi North Stars, Soweto Gospel Choir) or birthday-themed songs (Sufjan Stevens, Wanda Jackson, Hank Williams). The magazine is publishing four different  covers for  the mag/CD. I opted for the young, Tarantula-era Dylan.

YTD O/CD Tally: 50

Monday, May 16, 2011

The-Not-So-Sweetlife Festival (explained)

I never got around to telling the story here, though I did send an email to an editor, telling her what went wrong. So, I'll use that as a starting point to tell the tale. Though I generally try not to live in the past, I saw one glowing review of the event written by someone who must have had either VIP seats (the only people allowed in and out of the pavilion) and/or an extremely strong bladder.  For the rest of us, Sweetlife was a travesty.

For me, the show was a mess on the professional and personal level....

we (hubby and I) got there about 2 pm.
there was confusion about my press tix and photo pass  -
even with a printed email confirmation
(got the first, not the second)

was going to cover for my column, but needed pit photos,
which I wasn't going to be able to get.
so, we thought we'd just hang and hear the music.
or not...

which leads us to the personal level mess:

hubby and I go into the GA pavilion seats.
since they are GA seats, only one of us at a time can go out for food, drinks, bathroom, or we lose the seats.

meanwhile, the lawn is filling up with people and it begins to rain.
after Cold War Kids' set, hubby leaves to pee, and when he returns to the pavilion, there's a crush of people wanting to get away from the rain  and he's told he can't come back in.
since the ushers can't tell who had seats inside and who's just trying to get out of the rain, they're not letting anyone in.

hubby calls me on the cell phone and tells me he's stuck. (thank god he had his cell phone)
the crowd is growing and getting restless.
one guy gets abusive and the bouncers drag him away.
another bouncer tells the crowd he's going to start picking up people and carrying them out.
the vibe is ugly.

At this point I figure, as much as I want to see Girl Talk and the Strokes, I will have to pee in the next 4 hours and then I'll be stuck on the cold, wet lawn, too.
and I miss hubby  :-)
maybe I shouldn't make him wait outside?
so we split.

my other regret - the drunk guy we'd been sitting behind - the one dressed like a Tequila bottle (foam suit) - is coming back from the rest room as we're leaving.
I would have liked to have seen his reaction to being told he couldn't get back in.

we left as Crystal Castles were going on.
got home while Lupe Fiasco was playing.
I started following the twitter feed from the event and couldn't tell if things had gotten better.
tweets were split between people inside the pavilion (with full bellies and strong bladders) who were simply loving the music
and people outside who were really, really mad.
not sure when/if they resolved the crowd situation.

BTW, though Merriweather Post events are usually run by IMP, this was (badly) handled by a different group.
but a lot of IMP people were there and everyone associated is going to be blamed for what could have turned into a riot.

I didn't pay for my tickets, so I was just frustrated, but if I had paid, I would have felt royally ripped off.
there may be some very angry people out there.

a shame, too, since the cause was great and the music line-up was terrific.
I blame it on inexperience, not greed.
still, a mess.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Not-So-Sweetlife Festival

You know there's probably gonna be trouble when the guy in front of you is dressed as a tequila bottle.
(It was one of those foam sheaths with a hoodie-like head piece that made the cap, although he just let it dangle down his back). And that wasn't even the first sign that the Sweetlife Festival, which is probably ending just as I type this, wasn't going to go well.

Oops. The president is about to make a speech, so I'm totally distracted. Here are a few pics of Ra Ra Riot, whom we thoroughly enjoyed (I just downloaded their latest from and Cold War Kids, whom we've seen before and who solidified their rep as a damn fine band.

I would have more and better photos but the PR people messed up my photo pass. That, too, will be explained further. But for now, let's go to the White House...

 Cold War Kids
 Ra Ra Riot
 Ra Ra Riot