Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
On Sunday, I drove into Los Angeles to the Barnsdall Art Park to attend the first annual Arthurfest. I really only went to see the best band in rock, Wolfmother Sleater-Kinney, but I ended up taking in a lot of great new music. It was too bad I could only attend the first day of the two-day festival.

There were some problems, as you might expect for a first-time festival. Some of the venues was a bit crowded, and their were sound problems all 'round. I also missed out on any of the bands playing in the theater, since I didn't want to wait in an hour-long line. And while I remembered my sunglasses, I forgot my regular glasses in the car, so I stumbled around half-blind after the sun set. (I guess I can't really blame the festival for that one.) But those minor problems aside, I would definitely go again next year.

For what it's worth, here's my take on the bands that I did manage to catch:
  • Nora Keys: Man, could she hit those upper registers! I saw the phrase "Edward Gorey-inspired" somewhere when I was looking for information on her; that's just about a perfect description.
  • Wolfmother: I hadn't heard of these guys, and they played pretty early in the day, so I had low expectations. But I was blown away--their live performance was way better than their EP. They play pretty conventional 1970's style rock, but in my book, there's nothing wrong with that.
  • Sunburned Hand of the Man: The crowd seemed to like these guys, but I just wasn't feeling it. Maybe I was distracted because I couldn't figure which of the 12 people on stage were actually in the band. I think it was maybe all of them. They had some sort of shamanistic vibe going on, but the music just wasn't my cup of tea.
  • Winter Flowers: These guys sounded pretty good but their performance was killed by the crappiest sound ever. The bass literally washed out the voice performance.
  • The Black Keys: Blues-rock duo from Ohio. They didn't have a huge range, but what they knew how to do they did well. They played a cover of an R. L. Burnside song as a tribute to him--he died last week. That sucks.
  • Sleater-Kinney: Hells yeah! Corin apologized for having a weak voice, and the sound system wasn't helping, but they still managed to get the crowd moving like no other band out there. Best performance of the day.
  • The Henry Jacobs film, The Fine Art of Goofing Off: The sound system made this incomprehensible to me.
  • Sonic Youth: I'm gonna catch hell for this, but...you know when you go to the state fair, and some band like Foghat is playing? They play a bunch of their songs, maybe even some new stuff, and they give their all, really rockin' their hearts out, but the crowd doesn't really get into it, because they're just waiting for "Slow Ride". And then finally, at the end of the show, Foghat does play "Slow Ride!" and the crowd goes bonkers: "Hell yeah, Foghat's playing Slow Ride! SLOW RIDE!!!" To me, it felt a little like that.
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