Roger Waters - The Wall

I finally got around to watching The Wall, as in the 2014 version of this ever evolving epic which is combination of the 2010 - 2013 concert tour footage interspersed with segments of film of personal elements of Roger Water’s saga. 

I have probably mentioned before that Pink Floyd is likely my favorite band and certainly the most vital and influential band to my psyche. I find The Wall (album), in all it's twisted darkness is an essential part of my life; one that I need to revisit at least annually to fulfill some need/void, balance-out something in my brain. and just to appreciate the work. To me, The Wall is an essential piece of a personal, ever-evolving, greater music-therapy regimen, that I aim to perfect within my lifetime, purely for my own enjoyment and benefit. Which consequently, seems to very closely parallel Roger Water's own journey with the concept of The Wall, for about the last 40 years. 

My first thoughts on the project were disappointment when I learned it wasn’t a full concert performance, b/c I desperately want to see/own that, so I can make up for missing this tour, and to use that footage as a surrogate to try to live out the concert experience. [I bought a Blu-ray player at the thrift store just so I could experience it in high definition format, so as to have the best visuals.]

Overall I am very pleased with the film, which is part concert footage, and part artistic concept, but greater than sum of those two parts. It’s the final(?) iteration of Roger’s vision that has evolved for decades, being rehashed several times in various formats: this time morphed into the form of the most epic concert tour in history, spliced into a moving and emotional film, that is simultaneously as relevant to WWII as it is to contemporary ongoing wars. I fully recommend it to all Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, and The Wall fans. It is epic! (there are only a few awkward non-concert segments, in my opinion, that don't truly mesh well with the overall vibe, that could have been left out of the film).

It is very interesting to consider a young Waters even trying to conceive of the insane potential of modern day special-effects that have become feasible within his lifetime, which have brought this epic concept album to a whole new level, culminating in such an incredibly epic concert tour.  The special effects of the tour are dazzling and absolutely stunning:  a mind-blowing showcase of the artistic potential of modern-day multimedia combined with the thoroughly planned choreography of the dynamic stage construction.

This iteration of The Wall is quite possibly the most over-the-top production ever to go on tour (?). Hard to say, but very likely. Depending on the scale of the venue, the wall itself was composed of up to 400  5' x 2.5' cardboard bricks, which are assembled into the physical wall as the show progresses, and eventually fully obscure the band. It stands 35' high and averages around 240' wide, and provides an 8560 x 1620 pixel canvas for 20 projectors which not only provide stunning visuals but which portray incredibly realistic sequences that defy the laws of physics. An incredible undertaking and truly awe-inspiring piece of art, both in imagination and presentation.  

 [I will never, ever, (ever) forgive myself for missing this tour.] 

The Wall Live was the highest-grossing tour of all time by a solo artist, performing 140 shows to nearly two million people and taken a colossal $200,000,000 in ticket sales. 

If you made the same mistake that I did, by not going to see this show live, pick up a HD copy of this film and check it out, b/c unfortunately, this is as close as we can get to the real thing. 

Sources and further reading:

Info on the technical specs of the production:

Other info:

Pickathon 2016 - The world's BEST music Festival

I have previously put forth the hypothesis that Pickathon (in its current state) may be the perfect music festival: perfect size (3,500 festival-goers), great line-up vs size, perfectly accessible and yet it feels like it could be a big festival, perfect balance of family-friendly vs escape-from-reality festival. Very well thought-out and well planned. Excellent food and beer choices, at reasonable prices. And the list of how they are doing this right, goes on and on. Having returned this year for Pickathon 2016, I feel more confident that this festival may just be the perfect festival.

Again the food was awesome, supplied by Portland’s excellent array of restaurants and food-trucks. The beer gardens are each supplied by a local brewery, offering a variety of delicious microbrews, which differ at each stage to keep your taste-buds stimulated, to match your other sensory inputs.

The festival has upped-their-game on these lanterns that light the path into the woods. I loved the prior iteration of these, but this year’s were absolutely stunning. I seriously want to high-five whoever designed these, because they are incredible.

Here is a video of the lanterns being amazing, to a soundtrack of a live version of Wolf Parade's great song, Dinner Bells. There is no visual trickery here, just an awesome LED lantern being awesome, and my shaky camera-work (sorry for the shaky video).

Dramatic Skies over Pickathon
The 2016 Bands

This band is a major throw-back nostalgic band for me, and has been on my to-see list for a decade since their Apologies to the Queen Mary album.They have been on an "indefinite hiatus" for the last 5 years, shattering my hopes of seeing them. But Bam! They kicked-off their new tour at Pickathon!  Their inclusion on the line-up sealed the deal for my ticket purchase. 

Their 1st show on the main stage focused mainly on their new material which has promise, (as it sounds just like the old-stuff!), just not as familiar to me. I look forward to delving further into the new album. But during that 1st show I was worried that they wouldn’t be hitting all the tracks that I so desperately needed to hear. Someone shouted-out the title of one of the hits, to which Dan Boeckner responded  “We’ll be playing that one tomorrow!” and I knew juuust where I would be on the next night.

Their show at the Woods Stage was awesome. I caught the show from the back to take advantage of the nighttime visual appeal of the Woods Stage. It was a cool show. I was in just the right vibe, and they delivered all the favorites, fulfilling my needs.

I was also stoked to see Beach House, a long-time favorite of mine. They did their standard mysterious dimly-lit, wet-blanket stage-presence, but I didn’t expect anything else, and wouldn’t know what to do if they did do anything more energetic. They also hit many of the hit tracks and it was a very enjoyable show for patiently awaiting all of the little perfect nuances that make-up their hauntingly beautiful music.

While I never have gotten into Wilco (for no reason in particular), I did recognize a few Wilco songs, and it was a good set. The setting: chillin on the grass with a view of Mt. Hood in the background; looking nearly too picture-perfect to be believable. Good vibes in the grass.

This set seemed very lack-luster. It was his last set of the festival, and maybe he was worn-out from partying, but I thought this set was kinda tame. It was nice to hear some of my old favorites, as well as some of the new tunes I like.

This is another band that I sadly have never gotten into, mainly because of their massive discography spanning … what … a century? But this show was also enjoyable, and there were several songs that sounded like they should be some of my favorite songs, and I just don’t yet know it (?). Good tunes and good vibes. I was talking with some of our crew at the show, and they confirmed that they need to delve into the Yo La Tengo catalogue atleast annually to fulfill a mental quota. As far as musical critiques go, that’s a pretty damn good one. Depressingly, that still does not help me find a launching-point into their daunting discography.

I don't recall. but here is a picture.

After a recommendation from a friend to check this band out, I studied-up and found it to my liking, so I was excited to catch this band. Their 1st set was 45 minutes late, due to a thorough sound-check. They sounded great after all that, but only played 4 songs, so that was a huge let down. But my prep paid-off in grooving along to those 4 songs. I think I caught their later set, from the lawn outside the Galaxy Barn.

I only know this band by name, but I caught this set from the lawn outside the Galaxy Barn, and it was decent.

I caught 2 sets by this band, and while they were overall enjoyable, there is nothing that particularly stands out about this band to me, so I think I’ve met the capacity at which I have for them. What did stand out to me was the odd way he stands and holds his guitar, which kept cracking me up.

I am a big fan of Dan Deacon, having loved his Bromst album, but fallen out of touch as of late, mainly due to seeing him perform live a few times, which has been, in my experience, lack-luster and cripplingly awkward due to his annoying insistence on crowd-participation. Sooo, given that history, I timidly caught his first night-time show from outside the Galaxy Barn. Which to my surprise turned out to be really great!

Since the festival vibe at Pickathon is much more…. (how to put this…)  of an easy-going, participatory vibe, the antics worked, and worked incredibly well. At one point he started a high-five war, challenging everyone to see who could achieve the most high-fives during the song, which went ok inside the Barn for a bit. But outside, completely unbeknownst to Mr. Deacon himself, the high-fiving spiraled out of control into a wild torrent of high-fives that went on-and-on spreading like some kind of mania. I know that probably sounds lame to read, but it was wild to see in person.

He even managed to successfully pull-off some very difficult emotional pleas (Black Lives Matter) and many political rants (Healthcare, etc, and a funny rant about the Metric System) which bordered on over-the-top banter. That type of stuff is difficult to deliver without totally killing the vibe, but most of it went off without a hitch, to which I give props. (Although I would have preferred a dialed-down version.)
The apparent word-of-mouth about that 1st show, led to another high-participation successful show at the Woods Stage, which was also fun. Oh, and some of the new material sounds pretty good, so my interest in Dan Deacon has been restored!

I like the Small Town Heroes album by this band, so I was excited to see them. The set was good and the performance was good. Even made me feel emotional at one point during “The Body Electric”. But somehow I left after this show feeling like I am kinda over this band, and I don’t really know why. Didn’t expect that. haha!

I’ve been wanting to see this (previously-from) Seattle band for a while, and they delivered! Surf Rock is hard to not enjoy, but they really nailed it. Supported, of course, by the stunning visuals of the Treeline Stage’s lighting effects. A beautiful visual and auditory treat. Their latest release, Weirdo Shrine, is a great album.

Caught this set. She and her lyrics were dark, morbid, and comical at times. It was odd in a novel way, and surprising in the shock-factor. If her intention was to get people’s attention, it worked. (or maybe that is just the way she is?). Either way, I’ll be checking out this music some more, to try to understand what is going on here. haha.

I have since found her album Beyond The Bloodhounds to be an enthralling and impressive 1st album. Check it out! Seriously good.

I caught at least some of one of these sets, and I remember thinking it was alright, but it didn’t really make an impression either way, so I dunno what that really says.

Since this festival I have had the Singing Saw album on heavy rotation, and love it. I wish I had known this album prior to catching this show, b/c it would have changed everything.

I caught this late-night set, and thought it seemed really lame.

I caught this late-night set, and thought it sounded lame and more lame. This is not my type of music. I gave it a try and reaffirmed that I don’t need to give this band any more of my time.

An Aside About the The Feral Children of Pickathon

Another thing that I was marveling at this year is the absolutely fascinating co-existence of the festival-children along with the average festival-goer. This is a very family-friendly festival; the kind of festival that a previously unencumbered veteran festival-goer would frequent once they have spawned offspring; toting  the whole family along for a magical weekend of camping in the woods with thousands of weirdos. Therefore this festival has a fair share of dirt-covered feral children that litter the sides of the wooded trails, peddling wares, busking for change, and generally running completely wild. The entrepreneurial spirit of these kids is incredible. Someone should do a documentary on these kids and there money-making schemes. I don't mean any of this in a negative way. It is seriously fascinating. The level of freedom that the parents grant their children is astonishing and honestly refreshing. 

Most impressive is that those kids can coexist amongst thousands of other festival-goers who have a completely different experience, but who share a common goal: a childlike carefree appreciation for uninhibited fun. 

These two groups exist together seemingly uninhibited by one another. It's as if they exist on the same plane, but as if they are on different dimensions, which don't overlap. (the interaction of the parents and the kids is likely a different story).  

A festival weekend must be an amazing weekend for a kid, and it must really have a major impact on them. I imagine that once grown-up, festival children must look back and marvel at their naiveté about the goings-on around them during their childhood music festival attendance. haha.

The Hammock area at the Woods Stage

Another rave about the Treeline Stage Design

While 2014’s Treeline Stage was really cool, this year’s Treeline Stage was really aesthetically pleasing, especially when lit up with colorful kaleidoscopic lights. The structure was built of 1,280 2x4 pieces. Major props to this year’s Portland State University’s School of Architecture for designing such a brilliant structure and having the forethought to consider how the stage-lighting would mesh with the texture of the structure to make a beautifully visually-rewarding experience for my brain. Thanks! This rendering shows that they had thought the visual appeal through.

A  quote from PSU’s webpage about the project’s so-called “Diversion Architecture” design:

“Like its two eponymous predecessors, the structure will leave no trace once the festival is over, except in the memories of the attendees who will have the chance to experience its beauty. All its components will be re-purposed and reused, making minimal to no impact on the site or on the waste stream.”

Anyway, in summary, another great festival! The best festival!

Yukon Blonde and The Zolas show

Yukon Blonde show at The Sunset Tavern on June 21st, 2016.

Fun show. I tried to again dance to their music and found it again more difficult to dance to than I expect it to be. They were acting a bit strange. a lot of silly banter.

The Zolas opened for them. This band was fun. definitely have a "sound" together. We all agreed that they will rapidly become famous. Its dance-able, fun, hooks. all the makings of a 'gonna be successful band'. I have since listened to their latest album a lot, and like most of the songs a lot. It is fun and catchy.

Bowievision and Life During Wartime show

We were so impressed the 1st time we saw Bowievision, that we caught another show! This time at the Nectar Lounge on April 2nd, 2016.

This time Life During Wartime opened for them, which is a great Talking Heads cover band from Portland, OR!

A Celebration of the Life and Music of David Bowie

We went and saw Seattle's-own Bowievision play a show titled "A Celebration of the Life and Music of David Bowie" at the Tractor Tavern on February 6th, 2016. They were fantastic! When they first came out on stage we were joking that they should be called "Ballard Dads", because they looked like a very cheesy grey-hair coverband of local flavor, but man..... I take that back. I take it all back! They were amazing and fucking nailed the covers from ALL over the Bowie's career: new, old, the Hits, the deep-cuts, the sing alongs, the dancey bits, the ballads. Just fucking nailed it.  So much so, that we caught there next local show!

The only thing I was disappointed to not hear was 'Five Years', which I really love and just expected to hear (as I think it is pretty popular, right?). This song was also missing the 2nd time we saw them. It is possible that they were avoiding the song, b/c it is very sad, and Bowie had just recently passed (January 10th, 2016). They addressed his death during the set at one point by saying that while they have been very sad at his passing they want to celebrate his life, his music, and his legacy as an innovator and general freak.

They had this guy sing 'Space Oddity". He was also awesome!

A Prince cover band opened for them. I don't really know anything about Prince, and really have no history of listening to his music, so I think I enjoyed this set much less than most people. I did find out that I know more Prince songs than I thought I did. 

No he wasnt wearing those horns. They were on the wall behind him, but it makes for some cool pictures. haha!

TimBRRR! 2016

After a 1 year hiatus, I made it back to the 2016 Timbrrr!Music Festival in Leavenworth, WA on January 29th - 30th, 2016. (I can’t remember why I missed the 2015 festival).  It was another fun lil’ festival. We had a crew of 6 people this year, which was great, b/c there is a law of the universe that states:  the larger the festival-crew, the more exponentially fun the festival !

The winter-wonderland of Leavenworth. 
The accommodations
We got a KOA deluxe cabin that sleeps 6 people, and I thought it was perfect for our crew.  It was an upgrade from the basic cabin from 2 years ago (which was just bunk beds in a room). This deluxe model had all the amenities: kitchenette, bathroom, table, chairs, dishes, etc.  Cheap & effective.

The crew

The activities
There was actually snow on the ground this year, which was a nice change from the 1st annual 2014 Fest. We took a little sled and a tube and did some fairly lame sledding down a little bank. It was fun, but basically not worth the effort.  Matt and Jordan put the winter sports into this winter festival by going skiing on Saturday, while the rest of us nursed hangovers and made an epic journey to the Safeway that was a field of snow away from our KOA cabin.

In the main venue they had a green-screen, which I realized rendered my green shirt invisible! I had fun with that for a while.

The Music

I ended up catching this band, who I think has 50% songs I like, and 50% songs I hate. I think some of the songs have an interesting “sound”, but others are just annoying droning or rambling crap.

I thought the set was awkward b/c it seemed like the lead-singer was staring directly at me the whole time and it freaked me out!  It’s probably that he is just one of those performers who kinda looks at the same general area the whole time, and his music is overall depressing, so he naturally isn’t really put on much of stage presence, but it really seemed like he was glaring at me. I turned around to see if there was something behind me worth looking at, and people behind me asked if he was staring at them or me! To which we all had a good laugh.

I also had the realization that I cannot really relate to his music at all, which is mostly about drug-addiction. And while I like a few of the songs, I couldn’t help think how absurd it is that I even try to relate. And visa-versa: how weird it is for this character to perform to a bunch of people from a completely different history and place in life. He must think we are all so lame. So all that was running through my head during this set, which was lack-luster anyway. Thanks to KEXP, and other regional influences, including this and the related festivals, this guy has risen from complete obscurity and is doing ok in the music biz (oddly enough).

This band, fronted by my apparent doppelganger, is like mix of Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground. The music is decent but I don’t know if I buy the whole act. I’m torn whether or not I appreciate the similarities between these bands or if I think they are too similar. Is it homage or rip-off? They have 1 song that is a very good Bob Dylan emulation.  This is the 2nd time I have seen this band, as I saw them at Doe Bay Fest 2015.

Fruit Bats

Who cares. I’m sick of this band playing every single festival. I believe this band had its day. That day is in the past.

I seem to remember this being ok. He got the crowd livened up when he decided to go into the giant inflatable snowglobe and perform a few songs in there, jumping around, etc. I’ve since seen this band’s name show up at various other places: Sasquatch 2016, SXSW 2016, and Bumbershoot 2016.

This local Seattle shoe-gaze band has a solid album which I have since listened to quite a bit. This set was good, and if you like shoe-gaze, this band is definitely worth looking into.

Portland band. I remember being slightly intrigued to see them, and overall disappointed by the set.

This local Seattle electro-pop band has some catchy tunes, and festival listening-prep had me excited to see this band. Their set was fun and I have since kept their very few available tunes in rotation. They have a song , Jamais Vu, about the Doe Bay Music festival which I think is cool and captures the vibe fairly well. It is a fun adventurous jaunt of someone trying to go get some water, but instead becomes lost in an intoxicating haze of the surrounding excitement. The thing about this band that I cannot stand, is my perception of the annoying wholesomeness of this band. Admittedly I know nothing of the people in this band, but based on their lyrics I picture them as the squarest, straight-edge, boring people on the planet. Like they were the house-band at a new-wave church and then released an EP. But several of those songs are catchy and fun.

The rest of the sets I either missed completely, or just wasn’t paying attention too.

And I’m happy to say that they have figured out the coat situation! They had a cumbersome coat check system on the 1st day (lines, lines, lines), and moved to just plain-ole coat racks on the 2nd day (Ding! Ding! Ding!: they finally got the system figured-out: simple free-for-all system. Yay!)

In Summary
Overall another good festival. A great winter festival! But the line-up wasn't as fun as TimBRRR! 2014.