FYF 2014: Stray Observations

FYF Arena Disco Balls

Stray observations from FYF 2014:

      • There were some production hiccups on the first day. This was the first time it was hosted in the LA Coliseum complex just south of USC. It was difficult to get into the dance stage, as it filled to capacity, and some people experienced long waits to get in. This was basically solved by the second day, but, on the first day, I got into the dance arena and basically stayed there until the end. Too afraid to leave and not get re-entry.
      • From the lighting to the smoke machine to the 50 disco ball diorama to the glittering cosmic backdrop, the Sports Arena felt like Space Mountain.
      • Speaking of the Sports Arena, the last time I saw a show here was for the kickoff show of the Alive 2007 tour.
      • DJ Harvey’s fashion was inspired by Freddie Mercury. He opened with this. Played this. Also this. And ended with this, a nod to the Todd.

 

     

  • Caribou’s set was great. The new album is sounding great. The perfect mix of rock show and dance party. I met Nathan Fielder there, which was bizarre. We spoke about magic, misdirection, and the subconscious for most of the set.
  • Terje’s set was also a treat. He delivered many of the expected hits and closed with Eurodans with bonus Whitney Houston acapella over top. Godt djort.
  • Supposedly, several hundred teenage Strokes fans entered at opening gates (around 1p.m.), camped out at the front of the Main Stage, and sat there all day until the Strokes went on around 10:30. Many of these young Strokes fans suffered from dehydration and heat stroke and were carried away during the Strokes’ performance.
  • With Interpol and Strokes headlining, it conjured images of stepped on charlie in a post 9/11 New York. There’s an idea that doesn’t need a revival.
  • Darkside – whether you like their recorded output or not – puts on a fantastic show. It was like if Pink Floyd was filtered through a New Beat kaleidoscope. At the end of the set, Dave Harrington broke that evil-looking spotlight. Rock and roll, bruh.
     
    fyf-settimes-2014
  • Pound for pound, one of the best booked festivals I’ve been to or even seen.
  • Total acts I saw: Caribou, Todd Terje, Darkside, Caribou, DJ Harvey, Daniel Avery, Tanlines, John Talabot, Future Islands, The Strokes, Presidents of the United States of America
  • I regretted missing: Run the Jewels, Haim (caught a few songs in the distance), Slowdive, Kelela, Blood Orange, Kindness, bands I’m too ignorant to even know I’m missing out on
  • I did not regret missing: Phoenix
  • Number of bacon dogs eaten: only 1
  • Number of whiny people on social media: All
  • Number of attendees at the festival: roughly 45,000
  • Number of free Bud Light Apple-Ahhh-Ritas that can fit in my pockets: 6
  • Number of ‘mystery bags’ filled with white powder found on ground: 2
  • Number of Strokes t-shirts: a Billion
  • Days of recovery time: 2-3
  • Number of fucks given: ∅

16 Unanswered Questions for DJ Harvey: A Wildest Dreams Non-Review

DJ Harvey and the Wigged Ladies

                                              Harvey Bassett has a posse

The act of reviewing music in 2014 feels like an exercise in pastiche. A twee cultural artifact whose existence defies its lack of necessity. Like vintage typewriter fetishists and pork pie hats.

I’ve done some music reviews in the past but have basically stopped in the past couple of years as I ask myself,“What’s the point, honestly?” In the past, reviewing music was a practical tool for describing music to a reader that probably could not access the music being reviewed. These days, with the glut of streaming, do we even need the middlemen music journalists to tell us what a piece of music sounds like? Music reviewing has evolved from describing what the thing is to instructing us how we should feel about it. Or, readers often just focus on the score, a wildly inflammatory clickbait tool that for some reason just won’t die. Why do we rate music numerically? It feels uncivilized. Even worse, a review can be something people read in lieu of actually listening to the music, which smacks of classic poseurism, rendering the music review nothing more than a disposable cheatsheet for opinion and cachet.

I was thinking of writing about this newly released DJ Harvey project Wildest Dreams, but I feel like I’ve seen the same review of this record 5 times already. You might find that Harvey seems to repeat himself in interviews, but I think that’s more of a byproduct of mimetic journalism. He’s often asked the same harmless-but-superficial questions when he goes on a press run. The echo chamber is set to wet; the delay is at 11. If you’re reading this and don’t know who Harvey is, you can google to find various publications calling him the Keith Richards of disco or the line about playing the blues and group sex on ecstasy or the time he brought Larry Levan to the UK, yadda yadda yadda. He’s the Zelig of music that rotates on tables, and his personality is the product on sale. His over-documented reverence and backlash have only helped cement his mystique, and his international visibility seems to be at an all time high.

With Randy California cast as spirit animal, the Wildest Dream LP was recorded several years ago with three members of Orgone. I would assume the delay in release was either not to compete with the Locussolus rollout or that there was a problem with the label. Or both. It’s psychy-rock or rocky-psych and a bit less jokey than Map of Africa. Ultimately, a very listenable release, suited for balearic barbecues and California convertibles. It feels loose, raw, and intentionally unpolished. Blah Blah Blah.

As usual, the rumors and specter of Harvey’s persona supersede the music itself, and I’m left with more questions than anything:

1-Why did it take so long for the record to come out?
2-Where are the recordings from the other rumored Map of Africa sessions?
3-What ever happened to Whatever We Want Records?
4-Why don’t other DJs take a tip from Harvey and stay off the social media?
5-Don’t they know that mystique is in short supply?
6-Why haven’t Quentin Tarantino and DJ Harvey ever collaborated?
7-How do I know they haven’t tried, and it just didn’t work out?
8-Could it be that thing when you get too similar personalities together and they repel?
9-Are Harvey’s feet just too ugly even for Tarantino?
10-When is the next beer bust?

harvey-weatherall

11-When is Andrew Weatherall going to play in California again and can it be an 8 hour back-to-back with Harvey?
12-Please?
13-Who’s going to give Harvey his own Jonesy’s Jukebox or John Peel style radio show to muck about and be generally charming for the rest of his career?
14-Can Harvey go dormant for a while so that the heat can cool down and we can have a proper Sarcastic in the near future?
15-Or should he decamp back to England and then return to in 2024?
16-Who the fuck reads record reviews anyway?

 

harvey-top-hat

 

Wildest Dreams is out now on Smalltown Supersound. You can buy or stream this record wherever albums are bought and streamed.

Ø out of Ø stars.

How Not to Talk about Music

"Do you guys like pork pie hats and 'electronica'?"

“Do you guys like pork pie hats and ‘electronica’?”

 

Rick Moody is an author best known for his novel The Ice Storm. He said some things on the internet last week that made me cycle through several different feelings: disbelief, anger, relief, and, ultimately, pity. I found myself caring way too much about this person’s opinions. If some random guy on the street walked up and started saying that “Disco Sucks!”, I’d probably just laugh. But this guy was an Ivy League graduate and professor. He’s supposed to be learned, and the fact that he isn’t is upsetting for some reason.

Moody and a level-headed Dean Warehem (Luna, Galaxie 500) argued on social media about Daft Punk, electronic music, and the myth of ‘authentic’ music in a longread conversation published in Salon. Moody took almost 8,000 words to describe why electronic music is vacuous, disco sucks, Daft Punk sucks to an exponential degree, Kraftwerk is overrated, black musicians are better than white musicians, and so on.

Even though Mr. Wareheim made some very valid counterarguments to Mr. Moody, I wanted to take the time to dissect what Moody said even further, in an effort to understand why it really irked me and why his words echoed in my head. And why what he said is not only silly but not worth tolerating. I’m not really here to discuss whether Random Access Memories is great, terrible, overrated, or even a relevant topic of conversation in 2014. Instead, I want to dig into why this bothered me so much and why opinions like his are detrimental to informed conversations about music and the progression of criticism, music, and culture itself.

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