Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hardly Strictly 2014

When Mark Twain said the coldest Winter he ever had was a Summer in San Francisco, he must not have been there during late September/October. San Francisco experiences the magical Indian Summer, right when you are preparing for Fall and Winter BAM, its 85 degrees. I spend the first weekend of October at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a free music festival in Golden Gate park. I couldn't catch a break from the heat all weekend, it was strange yet enjoyable. Some friends from my home town made their way up to the bay for a fun and cheap weekend which entailed free live music and crashing on the floor of my friends apartment. Luckily we are still young enough to to survive on beer and minimal sleep for three days.

The festival was a blast. This year the line-up didn't include many bands that I was initially interested in but I came to HSB with an open mind and a yearning to dance. Some highlights include Social Distortion and Build to Spill. Social Distortion was so much fun, everyone sang along to the classics and danced as the sun finally began to hide behind the trees and give us the much needed relief of shade.

Saturday night a friend and I embarked on a journey to a free Best Coast show that was held at the SOMA food truck park. We were equipped with two dead Iphones and a bag of wine. We somehow made it with the help of nice strangers giving us directions and letting us use their phones. We finally get there right before the band was supposed to start and there was about a two hour line to get in. Feeling frustrated by this, my friend Hayley walked past the entire line, walked up to the person administering the wristbands, and claimed she worked for Jansport, the company putting on the event. They quickly handed her 5 wristbands and we were let right in. After getting in we got food from the amazing food trucks there, got free beer there were giving out, and had a dance to some fun Best Coast tunes. If you get a chance to go to the SOMA StEat Food Park do it! It's so cute with awesome food, great for a date or a fun hangout with friends.

It was an amazing weekend with great friends and I cannot wait for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Urban Outfitters: Douche of the Year

On May 4th 1970, a protest against the Vietnam War took place at Kent University in Ohio. Things took a lethal turn when armed members of the Ohio National Guard began to open fire at a group of unarmed students. Nine students were injured and four dead, two of which were just walking to class. This horrific scene was deemed the Kent State massacre. 44 years later it only makes sense to capitalize on this terrible experience and poke fun at it right? That must have been what Urban Outfitters thought when they released their “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt”.

The sweatshirt is distressed with red paint splattered on it resembling blood and holes in the shoulder. People took to twitter to express their outrage, people are pissed. Urban Outfitters went to twitter with their response saying,
“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.” 
 This statement came a little too late, the damage is already done. Not to mention people turning to social media to express their outrage, many news media sources and bloggers have wrote about the incident spreading the news like wildfire.

This sounds all too much like the incident when Urban Outfitters came out with a shirt that said “Eat Less” in big block letters across the chest. This shirt cause similar outrage. This is really stupid of Urban Outfitters. They really need to think things through more before they put products on their shelves and website. This stunt is extremely insensitive and a perfect example of terrible PR. Maybe UO needs to use their brains a bit more instead of always trying to be the most edgy clothing company in the business. I wish I could say I will no longer be shopping at Urban Outfitters but let’s be real, that sale section is irresistible.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Interview with Rob Clifford of Salad Days

Salad Days is a indie/garage rock band from Melbourne, Australia. I met Rob this summer and went to a music festival with him in Portugal, we have a very similar taste in music. Rob is a very talented drummer and ukulele player (who as I type this is playing solo at an engagement party). Salad Days is an up and coming band in Melbourne and have been winning an on-going battle of the bands contest.
Me: "Tell me about yourself."
Rob: "I'm Robert Clifford, 21 year old student living in Melbourne, Australia"
Me: "What is the name of your band?"
Rob: "Salad Days, its made up of four guys."

Me: "How did you meet your band members?"
Rob: "We went to school together. We weren't really friends with each other, but something happened a year after we graduated, we saw each other at a party and we were talking about making music. We talked about having a rehearsal, and what was supposed to be just a rehearsal we ended up writing 3 songs."
Me: "how did you decide on what kind of music to make?
Rob: "We still cant decide what kind of music we want to make... our singer is a jazz singer and our guitarist is self taught, h wants to play more hard rock and our singer a different type of rock. You get this kind of weird mix of rock with different vocals, a mix of influences."

Me: "Whats your favorite part about performing?"
Rob: "The free beer you get when you play a gig.... no. Actually a few gigs ago there were people there (that we didn't know) that knew the words to one of our songs which was kind of cool. Seeing people enjoy music that you've written yourself is by far the best part. That was a huge milestone"
Me: "Where do you guys play mostly?"
Rob: "Wherever will have us. Mostly pubs and bars. Night clubs have started to do live music  to get people to come out earlier, so we've been doing that lately and it's pretty fun. Festivals, charity events, outdoor events, and battle of the bands"

Me: "Going to any festivals anytime soon?"
Rob: "I am, there's a festival on new years eve, called Snowglobe and one of my favorite artists just got announced as another headliner. And I'm going with this really cool chick."
 Me: "Wow sounds awesome. What is your favorite food?"
Rob: "Banana with peanut butter."
Me: "I hate bananas"
Rob:"Bananas with peanut butter on it."
Me: "Is that really your favorite food?"
Rob: "No? Not really. I don't know why I said that. It's just the first thing that came to mind. It's nice, it's really nice"
Me: "Is that really your favorite food? I'm thoroughly disappointed if it is."
Rob: "Haha, my favorite food is probably in-n-out."
Check them out!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carmet Beach

It's been getting colder and colder everyday. It really bums me out, I am a cold blooded person and love sunshine. Saturday I awoke after getting the pleasure of sleeping in to a very hot sun. It seemed only logical to head to the beach on such a beautifully warm day.

As we drove further and further west the temperature dropped with every mile. Looking over the hills we saw what my friend Emma called the "fog monster" creeping over the peak. By the time we reached the Carmet beach we were surrounded by thick layer of heavy fog. We were slightly disappointed at the sight of the frigid beach but determined to make the most of it. We were at the beach and that alone was enough to keep us happy.

This is a really nice beach. This is a great beach for children or “adults” such as my friends and I with childlike tendencies. This beach is something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. I want to come back someday, fog or shine. I want to come with a bag of food and my wetsuit. Even though the water was 0 degrees there was still something inside me that was tempted to go in. We had a great time sitting in the sand with blankets , enjoying eachothers company and the scenery. There was a fair amount of other people at the beach but not enough to disturb us. Plus they had cute dogs so it was okay.

The girls I went with were pretty into rap so we mostly listened to rap on the beautiful drive. Some highlights include this Tyler the Creator song Jamba. I for some reason just really like Tyler. I think hes a talented rapper and just really hilarious. His interviews are ridiculous and addicting. Thurnis Haley, great character. Plus I have a weird crush on him so that doesn’t help. Anyways this songs dope.

Musical Highlights from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my favorite FREE music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, in the heart of Golden Gate Park. I got to see some artists that I love and see old friends all while soaking up the ridiculously warm San Francisco weather. Although bluegrass is not my favorite type of music, I did find myself grooving to some bluegrass jams. The name of the festival is right in that its hardly strictly JUST bluegrass, it’s all types of music! Here are some of the musical highlights of the weekend:

  • Father John Misty: Their set consisted of lead singer J. Tillman alone on the stage, sitting on a chair playing an acoustic guitar, inside a huge cardboard cut-out of an iphone. The last time I saw them perform was with the whole band so this came as a surprise to me. J. Tillman is a very funny guy and was being very ironic by sitting in a giant iphone. His witty banter never fails to entertain the crowd in between songs. The music was way mellower than it usually is. It was different and good at the same time. His voice was very well heard and the songs seemed to have more meaning when you can really hear the lyrics. I really enjoyed seeing Father John Misty this way, stripped down to the basics which really showed J’s talent and songwriting abilities. Of course it was not nearly as fun but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.
  • Connor Oberst: Amazing. I have loved Bright Eyes (Connor Oberst’s band) since I was 12 years old. He has a unique voice and his lyrics are hauntingly poetic. Him and his band were great, very energetic and a lot of fun. The performance was flawless and beautiful. His band was vast and included a violinist, two guitarists, a keyboardist, and a drummer. The sound was very full and diverse; it was hard not to dance the entire time. I can’t wait until next year where I’m sure he will be back.
  • The Devil Makes Three: This band always calls for a good time. Fun songs, lots of instruments, and great vibes. Their sound is a lot of fun and their performance was perfect. Their stage was bombarded with people and it seemed everyone wanted to see them. It was a blast.
  • Gogol Bordello: What exactly is gypsy-punk rock music? It’s one hell of a good time that’s what it is. Gogol Bordello has got to some of the weirdest music ever (in the absolute best way possible). They are known for their most popular song entitled “Start Wearing Purple.” Need I say more? They are so fun, so rowdy, and so talented. Everyone as far as I could see was dancing and rocking out. The music and their energy was so contagious, everyone was enjoying themselves. I need to see them in concert again at a smaller venue and I need to be in that mosh pit. We watched them as the sun set behind them with the most beautiful San Francisco sunset. It was the perfect way to conclude a perfect weekend.

Live Blogging Harldy Strictly Bluegrass Festival

The Golden Gate transit, so useful, easy, so inexpensive. Every time I take this bus to this city I question why I don’t do it more often. This way I don’t have to deal with driving my huge car around the city. Parking is always a nightmare, and the last thing I want is to be stuck being designated driver. The bus was a very good choice. Here I am sitting next to an old man who seems to be sleeping. I am well rested and jittering with excitement for today marks day one of my favorite weekend of the year, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. The closer we get, the more anxious I get. I’m worried about how exactly I’m going to get to Golden Gate park, but with Iphone in hand and bountiful public transportation at my disposal, I’m certain I’ll make it there.

The Muni bus pulls up to the curb at my destination, Golden Gate Park. There at the bus stop stands my adorable best friend Autumn. She gives me a big hug and hands me a flask full of Jack Daniels as we head into the flow of people following the current that leads us to the center of the park. There are people everywhere. Homeless people, clean hippies, dirty hippies, people in suits (who presumable just got off work), eco friendly stuck up pseudo-hippies, weird teenagers wearing tails and animal ears, weird teenagers wearing tutu’s, old bearded men in overalls, clean cut couples indulging in wine and cheese, families with children running around, and of course the 20 something college student looking for a good time with good music. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a free music festival in the heart of my favorite city. Everyone around me is either in a really good mood, really drunk, or both. Autumn and I rush to the stage that Father John Misty is playing at. We take a seat in the grass and quickly start meeting the outgoing and enthusiastic man sitting next to us. We indulge in conversation about the band we are about to see, and soak up this uncharacteristically warm San Francisco weather.

This is the beginning of day one and I’m already having a blast. Father John Misty plays a mellow acoustic set. While watching we run into some friends and end up hanging with them for the rest of the set. Immediately after, Autumn and I head to a different stage to see Connor Oberst. Man, it is HOT! I was not expecting this, this is not the San Francisco I know. The sun is bright and there is not a cloud in sight. It’s almost 5 and it’s this hot?! Inconceivable! Autumn and I make it to the front of the stage with no problem at all. Connor comes on and I am filled with excitement. Him and his band are phenomenal and I sing along with the poetic lyrics I love so much. Everyone is having such a good time. Something about the generosity of a free music festival, it rubs off on everyone in attendance. The guys behind us offers us some beer and of course we happily comply. Everyone is being so friendly and having so much fun.

Halfway through Connor Oberst’s set we climb up the hill to find my other best friend Sam, who goes to Chico State. We are now watching the show from up on a hill in the woods a bit. It is so beautiful here. I feel like I’m in a festival in the middle of a forest. Connor Oberst brings the ladies from First Aid Kit (the band that played before him) to accompany him for a few songs. Their voices are beautiful and their harmonies perfect. I am in a blissful daze being with my two best friends (which doesn’t happen often since we all three go to different schools) listening to music I love, all while not spending a penny! According to this cheap-ass, this is perfection. The sun is setting and beaming through the woods. We start making our way out of the park during Connor Obert’s last song. We do this kind of dance-walk type movement until the music is out of earshot. This might be the end of day one, and the best part of it all is knowing I get to do it again for the next two days. Hardly Strictly, I love you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First City Fest

Sitting on the grass in a crowd of people waiting for Father John Misty to take the stage, jumping for joy while Modest Mouse jammed out in the middle of a song, tripping out on MGMT’s huge LCD screen; all were amazing moments that will forever remind me of one of the best weekends ever. This weekend I had the pleasure of attending First City Music Festival in Monterey, CA. I couldn’t have asked for a better music festival. First City fest was the perfect size. The weather was prime; warm and sunny in the day and cooler at night. There were three stages; one main stage, one medium stage, and a small stage for the less known bands. The crowds were minimal and friendly. I have been to too many music festivals that were way too crowded to get a good spot in the crowd, too many stages with too many scheduling conflicts to see all the bands that you desire to see.
First City was in an excellent location. Monterey is a great town with beautiful scenery and nice people. We stayed at a hotel up the road that was a 5 minute cab ride to the festival. The food was on the expensive side but definitely affordable. I got a hot dog for six dollars which seemed steep to me but when they handed it to me it was the biggest hot dog I have ever seen. Drinks were very expensive, beers seven to ten dollars and mixed drinks ten to twelve dollars. There were artists selling jewelry, paintings, posters and lots of other cool stuff. The whole festival had a vintage carnival theme to it. In addition to the stages there were carnival rides and games throughout the venue. At one point the lead singer of Father John Misty shouted, “If you can’t have fun at this festival there is probably something deeply wrong with you.” I couldn’t agree with him more with the great music, good vibes, and beautiful weather it was impossible to walk around without a smile on your face.
The music was incredible. I got to see so many of my favorite bands and all were beyond impressive. Modest Mouse is a great band with diverse songs with poetic lyrics. Seeing them in such a beautiful venue was simply magical. At many times in the middle of a song they would just start jamming out on all of their instruments and the crowd would feed off of their energy and jam out with them. This really displayed their musical talents and their ability to have fun. I got to see a band called Purity Ring, which was an amazing experience. They had the coolest set I have ever seen, with spectacular lights and light up cocoons hanging that would illuminate every time the singer hit them. Another highlight was seeing a band called Dr. Dog who I am a longtime fan of. They were so much fun. Father John Misty put on a great performance. Going into it I had only heard of one song of theirs but I found myself rocking out nearly the entire time. The lead singer was very funny and a bit strange it was very entertaining. They played their popular song “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and at the end they jammed out while the lead singer flopped around on the ground then wrapped the microphone cord around his neck. It was bizarre and unforgettable.  Other highlights included MGMT, Passion Pit, Toro Y Moi, Capital Cities, Washed Out, Devandra Banhart and so many more. I am literally counting down the days until First City Festival 2014. One of the best festivals I have ever been to, some next level shit.