Arthurfest in pictures!!!!!!!!!111two

I’ll try to be brief. Arthurfest was one of if not the best festivals I’ve been to, and I’ve been to so many. I begged and cajoled many of you to come, but in the end, just Manny was there to accompany me . It was a beautiful two days, and it wasn’t even crowded!






Sunday Sept. 4

Lawn stage
THE NIGHT PORTER
RADAR BROS.
WOLFMOTHER
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN
THE BLACK KEYS
HENRY JACOBS FILM
SLEATER KINNEY
MICHAEL BROWNSTEIN
SONIC YOUTH

Pine Stage
DOS
NORA KEYS
VIKING MOSES
WINTER FLOWERS
LAVENDER DIAMOND
JOSEPHINE FOSTER
T MODEL FORD

Barnsdall Gallery Theatre
GERONIMO
RESIDUAL ECHOES
CIRCLE
MAGIK MARKERS
SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE
POLE
MERZBOW
BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT

Monday Sept. 5

Lawn stage
FUTURE PIGEON
DEAD MEADOW
OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL
COMETS ON FIRE
THE JUAN MACLEAN
ONO/LENNON FILM
SPOON
YOKO ONO

Pine Stage
YOUNG JAZZ GIANTS
JACK ROSE
MARISSA NADLER
VETIVER
DEVENDRA BANHART
CAT POWER

Barnsdall Gallery Theatre
TIME FLYS
FATSO JETSON
MODEY LEMON
BRAD LANER
EARTH
GROWING
SUNNO)))

-*- DAY 1 -*-

RESIDUAL ECHOES

This is garage rock, with occasional sunbursts of psychedelic loops and echoes. IMO there was too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

CIRCLE

Wow. Finnish neo kraut rock. They opened with a 15-minute Neu-inspired jam based on a three note blues riff and spiced with random, punctuated outbursts from the village person on vocals, and aerobatic antics from the fat bassist who managed to clear more air than I ever did in my gymnastics days. These guys redefine the word tension, and they held it straight through their all-to-brief 30 minute performance. Some will say they stole the show.

SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN

I have nothing to report except that they went on too late and sounded like ass for all of the 2 songs I put up with before leaving. I blame idiot sound boy.

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE

Show stealer. Ben played incredibly moving electric versions of acoustic songs from his recent albums. He played his soul out while gyrating across the stage as if possessed, and he let rip with crushing, heavily distorted strokes when he needed to. It was the perfect marriage of the heavy crunch of his Comets on Fire project mixed with the sweet melodic tendrils of his 6 organs tunes. It was heartwrenching and beautiful. I hope to god somebody got this on video.

POLE

This was a sparser mix than what I remember of Pole. Very bass-heavy downtempo with not a lot of melody going on. Not unlike Board of Canada, and yet, I was ambivalent. He worked up a sweat while I nodded off.

MERZBOW

Holy noisy fucker. You know you are in for some punishment when the stage guy keeps having to tell the sound guy “no no, that’s not feedback, that’s the music” during soundcheck. His morphing, pure noise formations were actually less caustic than I remembered them as, and more hypnotic — though maybe that effect is just a feature of sitting a few feet from the amps. I really think this is the way his music was meant to be experienced. There’s a strange similarity between absolute noise and absolute absence of noise. Manny and I both independently commented afterwards that closing your eyes during Merzbow was like entering a sensory deprivation chamber.

The sound was tangible. It permeated the room. Manny pointed out that the monitor under his table had migrated a couple feet away from where it started by the time Merzbow’s 30 minutes were up.

As I listened, I tried to ascribe structure to the utterly abstract sound sculptures. A high-frequency peak here, a stripped down subfrequency pulse there. Is there an intentional arch? I’d like to know what his process is. Or maybe there is none and I’m merely clinging to my formalist, classically trained background.

BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT

I am confused about the identity of the hippie trio (2 pictured above) who opened for this band. Or maybe they were members of the band. In any case, they were covered in bells from head to toe and elaborate headgear and sang a tribal chant about “this land” while striking tambourines. Very neohippieweirdamerica.

BML themselves were unremarkable, though I only got to see a couple songs. Actually, I just don’t remember too much about them, but I think they are worth investigating.

SONIC YOUTH

Meh. The sound blew (thanks idiot sound boy!), so I skedaddled after Drunken Butterfly.

BURGERS N SHIT

A restaurant across the street from Manny’s loft. Makes me giggle like Beavis.

-*- DAY TWO -*-

FUTURE PIGEON

Many don’t realize that I possess inside me a high tolerance for dub reggae. Yet, “in the rain or in the snow” / “got to have that funky flow.” Ahaha. Anyway, these guys are local so I’m happy to have discovered them. We walked in on a jam based on a riff which we think is from Hendrix 3rd Stop From The Sun but I’m too lazy to verify that . And since idiot sound boy had left the low-end bass slider on 11 as it tragically was the night before for sonic youth, Future Pigeon actually sounded good.

YOUNG JAZZ GIANTS

Funky, Herbie Hancock-ish stuff. Something sounding similar to an Isotope 217 song drew me to the stage, and I stayed till they finished their set. There’s nothing more infectious than watching a happy drummer smile from ear to ear through his solo.

JACK ROSE

This was absolutely beautiful instrumental fingerpicked guitar tunes with slide. This man is known as a virtuoso, but he was so adorable and unassuming, not looking into the audience once. The two or three songs he played were delicate and intricate, but in a way that sounded plain and without ostentation. During an interlude in the middle, he created 5 minutes of nothing but whispery evolving harmonics, and the entire outdoor stage audience was dead silent for it. Jack Rose was The Killer App for this festival, the reason I plunked down a modest $80 to attend, and he did not disappoint. I hope but doubt I can go see him in Big Sur in a couple weeks.

MODEY LEMON

I want to say this is in the dance-punk vein, but different. Sound a lot like this Austin band Octopus Project — loud, bratty, catchy indie rock, with a scrawny boy rockin the Moog, a slick hipster on vocals, and hyperkinetic energy. They also had a real edginess to their sound. This is not even my usual cup of tea, but these guys totally rocked!

BRAD LANER

I’ve not listened to his band Medicine even though I am well aware it is required listening. I will now. This guy blew me away — by surprise, the best kind! The setup was a powerbook, an electric guitar, and a table full of pedals. He opened with a Frippian guitar solo with echoes trailing off into infinity. For the second phase, deep repetitive booms were added to the mix, and very muted, impressionistic vocals. For the third act, Merzbowish noise was added over the bottom-end pulses, and disintegrating guitar tones. The whole thing was very rhythmic and enchanting and fuzzier than My Bloody Valentine. Pure concentrated bliss out.

Brad was also the only act that I know of to put together a dazzling projector show, which he crafted himself — he commented that the last slide was a picture of his dad after the crowd stopped applauding. The opening slide was falling ‘medicine’ pills interspersed with dropping pill bottles.

EARTH

I didn’t like their albums so I wasn’t surprised to not like them live. I wish I could’ve seen an hour of Circle instead. FYI they are seminal slow as fuck doom metal laid down at a glacial pace. I haven’t been so bored since a dormie dragged me to see Pedro the Lion.

GROWING

Oh HELL yes. Two guitarists and a battery of pedals make blistering fucking fuzz. Simple chordal elements are sculpted into shimmering pedal noise that expands and contracts and seems imbued with its own life. Occasionally they threw in a little stereotypical psychedelic melodic figure (whatever that means… I know what I’m talking about and I think it has something to do with a flat seven). The also liked to psych-out the audience by going from silence to unexpected overclocked bursts of excoriating noise. I am snatching whatever albums they have out ASAP.

SUNNO)))

They set up for 45 minutes while the anticipation in the room grew. I got goosebumps before the music ever started when I saw that they had created a literal wall of sound by covering the stage from end to end with their own equipment. A coffin was brought out the purpose of which seems to have been just to make you think someone was in it. Misters were deployed. This was the only band to really consider any kind of showmanship.

Ten minutes before showtime, a crew member came out to introduce a poet to open the show. He said something to the effect of “here’s a chance for you to enjoy language before you forget what all language sounds like.” The poet rasped out a few provocative verses into the foggy theatre, and then it was time. The band formed a processional onto the stage draped in druid garb and let er rip.

It is impossible to describe the sheer enormity of sound bellowing from the stage. The ground shook — but so did the band! (The vibrations made my glasses tremble on my nose causing the image to blur.) The sound was so pummeling that it literally massaged your guts. I quipped that there I was off Hollywood Blvd getting a free facial peel and colon cleanse.

What were they playing you ask? Slow as fuck doom metal laid down at a glacial pace. :P Except that I adore them, and they don’t spare the low end. There is an evil presence to Sunn that Earth cannot touch. It’s like a majestic, low frequency dirge. My head rocked forward at 15 beats per minute while Sunn played musical wake-the-dead.

Their set ended abruptly when they blew the power out. In a RAWK N ROWL moment, the lead guitarist yelled “FUCK this place!” and tipped over 4 humongous, people-sized amps on either side of the stage. The girls sitting behind them scooted out of the way in time to not get crushed, and catastrophe was avoided. Greg Anderson’s response from the Arthurfest board:

“Id like to personally retract and reword some things I said earlier about this fest. I think my frustrations about the fest were directed to the wrong people. Arthur Magazine and the people who helped organize (spaceland) the fest worked really fucking hard to pull this fest off and considering the obstacles they had in front of them and the quality and size of the event they wanted to do …they did a incredible job. No hard feelings between myself or sunn0))) towards them. Im very sorry our set was shortened, and Im very sorry for my violent behaivor/reactions to the power going out on us. Hopefully if we ever do a fest in the future things will go smoother for us.”

Hopefully indeed. I’ll see them play Slim’s on Halloween no matter what it takes to get there.

The only way Sunn could’ve been better is if they had put them on the outdoor stage to drown out Yoko Ono.

-*- CONCLUSION -*-

Beautiful weather, beautiful lineup, good times had by all. I’m livin off of beans and water until I get a paycheck. And I’m so happy. Money can be earned again, but experiences cannot be replaced.

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