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August 02, 2006

More Street Scene Blowage

I feel kind of like a curmudgeon every time I post something like the Street Scene/Lollapalooza comparison, so I promise I'll post some positive things later this week about some great San Diego bands. But for now, it's nice to see that many of my points are being echoed in the Union Tribune and the CityBeat of all places. Thanks to Cat Dirt for alerting me to the CityBeat's cover story, which reprints editor Troy Johnson's myspace comments regarding the fest. Most people focus on the lineup suckitude and the unjustifiably high price, while also addressing the Parking Lot move (something I still don't really care about that much. Good music in a parking lot would be much better than bad music down town.)

Finally, a tipster who wanted to remain anonymous alerted us to the Cat Dirt mentioned Troy Johnson banning from the VIP area, and claims that promoter Rob Hagey has a reputation for wildly overpaying acts to play at Street Scene. This is interesting, as one of the reasons I was wary to compare Street Scene to other festivals was uncertainty about how level the financial playing field was. If it's the case, and the underperforming lineup is overpayed, (kind of like a Dan Snyder Redskins team) it only makes it all the more disappointing.

A sampling of the City Beat comments:


Do not ever allow such people to make financial decisions for you. First of all, unless you recently outbid Jesus for that killer "omniscience kit" on eBay, you'll only see eight bands, max.

Austin City Limits, held Sept. 15 through 17, has a phenomenal lineup that includes Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Flaming Lips, The Shins, Ween, The Raconteurs, Muse and 120 other killer indie bands like Jose Gonzalez and Iron and Wine. Single-day tickets are $20 cheaper than Street Scene.

Street Scene is among the most expensive of music festivals in the U.S. This year's Coachella cost $10 more, although they did get Madonna to show up a half-hour late and play four songs.

I wanted to die when I looked at the price.

In my informal Myspace poll, I asked, "How do you feel about the price?" Most considered it very, very steep. One colorfully replied: "GOOD!! I like being bent over and getting screwed."

Friday's lineup blows!

August 01, 2006

The Street Scene Blows

Two and a half months ago, I was trying to figure out any advance information about the then-unrevealed Street Scene lineup. While speculating that a performance by a reunited Replacements, fresh off their two newly recorded tracks, might be an event worth getting excited about, I got called "retarded" and "a joke" by this guy:


scene-joe-callahan.jpg
Would you rather be a joke or a douchebag?

Street Scene organizer Joe Callahan. I'll be honest, the insults bother me a whole lot less after seeing that picture.

It was, however, the first sign that the Street Scene people might not be down with making friends with the little guy. Over the past few months, I asked if I could give away tickets to some of my readers through an fun little San Diego-wide scavenger hunt. I offered to interview the guys putting it on, since the interviews in the UT came across as pretty much re-printing their press releases (the god damn ferris wheel!) Then last week, I applied for and was turned down for a press pass to go and take pictures of the show. This was the unkindest cut of all, since it means that I won't be going to the festival for the first time in the four years I've lived here. But once it became a reality, I got to take a step back, and wonder if really this was such a bad thing.

So let's break down the Street Scene next to the other major festival going on this weekend, Chicago's Lollapalooza. It seems like a legitimate thing to do. Both festivals take place on the same weekend in major American cities, both have evolved a great deal from previous iterations, and both are of large enough scale to be talked about in articles like Rolling Stone's summer festival preview. But do the two really measure up upon closer inspection? Let's find out:

scene-vs-lolla.jpg

HISTORY:
Street Scene has been taking place in San Diego for over two decades, but has undergone great changes since 2003, the first one I went to. Notable changes include lineup focus and location. Lollapalooza was a historical travelling festival, (THE travelling festival for a flannel wearing 7th grader), but is only in its second year as a multi-day festival. So while Lollapalooza has by far the more recognizable name, Street Scene is more of a fixture. However, the aforementioned Lord Douche-In-Shades did say to the UT that they had considered moving the festival last year, so it's true roots in San Diego may be in doubt.
EDGE: Street Scene - You can't argue with history, but people, especially people in both festivals target age groups, have very short memories.

LOCATION

Lollapalooza takes place in Chicago's Grant Park, complete with fountains and grass. Street Scene takes place in Qualcomm Stadiums parking lot. I have not been among the ones disparaging the parking lot in past years, to me it's about the music. But you have to agree that at an all day concert, when you want to sit down and take a break, it would be nice if there were some trees or water around.
EDGE: Lollapalooza - No contest, as long as it's easy to get around once you're inside.


COST

Street Scene costs $125, including service charges, for a 2 day pass. Lollapalooza costs $167, including service charges, for a three day pass. So for Street Scene that's $62.50 per day and Lollapalooza, $56. Both festivals offer more expensive single day passes, and both offered passes for much cheaper earlier on in the summer. Why the ticket prices must increase is unknown to me . Why do tickets cost more at the door? What has changed? Why did Street Scene tickets go on sale for $80 before the lineup was announced? This method of ticket sales only serves to alienate people who might have been making last minute plans based on ticket prices. If there is a real reason, I'm curious to know it.
EDGE: Lollapalooza - Both festivals are pretty expensive, but if you were considering both festivals, the price is close enough that it would not be a deciding factor. Lollapalooza advertises its ticket price as "almost $1 per band", which as anyone who has been to a large festival can tell you, is ridiculous. It's impossible to see every band, an compromises are always necessary. Lollapalooza also complicates this matter by starting ridiculously early in the morning, pre-noon. So it is much bigger, but I know that I would personally have to miss a good deal of what was going on due to exhaustion, laziness and hangovers. However, their per day ticket price is cheaper, and it really boils down to bang for your buck, which we will address below.


OTHER STUFF TO DO

Street Scene has the god damn ferris wheel, inflatable land and burlesque shows. Lollapalooza has karaoke contests, improv comedy and VH1 confessional booths.
EDGE: Draw - Who cares? The only non-musical thing I can think that might actually strike me as worthwhile at a festival might be an enormous swimming pool. When the focus is not on the music, everyone loses.

So that brings us to....

MUSIC
This is what it all comes down to. If both festivals were going on in town at the same time, with no difference in price, (since it's not really that great a difference), which one would you go to? I think that the only way to look at this is to break the line up down, day by day, hour by hour, declaring a winner and keeping score. Points only are awarded during times when the lineup overlaps, unless the band is too awesome not to award a point for.

Let's begin on FRIDAY.

11:45
Lollapalooza: Deadboy & The Elephantmen, Sound Team
Street Scene: Greasing the ferris wheel axels
Points: Probably wouldn't be there yet, but the Deadboy's song "Stop, I'm Already Dead" kicks ass.

12:30
Lollapalooza: The Subways
Street Scene: Inflating inflatable land
Points: The Subways play from 6 to 7 on Saturday at the Street Scene, and garbage time at Lollapalooza. I choose to award no points.

1:30
Lollapalooza: Aqualung, Cursive
Street Scene: Joe Callahan practices leering over his shades
Points: This 12:30 to 2:30 gap would only further confirm my late arrival to Lollapalooza. No points.

2:30
Lollapalooza: Eels
Street Scene: Fish tacos
Points: The Eels are a nice early day surprise here before the festival kicks into full gear, but not great enough to award uncontested points.

3:30
Lollapalooza: Stars, Editors
Street Scene: The Colour
Points: +1 Street Scene. Brent, who works at the Colour's label sounds is a pretty nice guy, and the band is no slouch either. STARS are ok and the Editors are our second double dip band, playing at Street Scene on Saturday at 6. I give the edge to The Colour, even though I probably wouldn't have show up to the Street Scene by now.

I'm going to start listing just the bands I would go to see, since I'll typically just pick one at big festivals like this.

4:30
Lollapalooza: Ryan Adams
Street Scene: Reeve Oliver
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. At times I can't stand Ryan Adams, but some of his songs I absolutely love. Reeve Oliver was the guy who got banned from one San Diego radio station that's about the music after he played another radio station that is about the music's concert. That makes me want to like him. But it's not a contest, as Street Scene is still in its garbage time and Lollapalooza is gearing up for the big names

5:30
Lollapalooza: Secret Macines/Iron and Wine
Street Scene: I would not have arrived at Street Scene for the likes of Lupe Fiasco
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza has the first tough call for who to go see, the guy who sings like a pussy but I know more of his songs, or the spacey band with the potential for rocking out. Either one reading from the cars operating manual would be better than the Street Scenes offering during this time.

6:30
Lollapalooza: My Morning Jacket
Street Scene: Steel Pulse
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. Sorry Steel Pulse, the token "legitimate reggae" status can't stack up against My Morning Jacket, who I think may be the best live band there is out there, and who are unfortunately stacked up against the Raconteurs. MMJ is easily worth half a days ticket price in itself, and them not playing at Street Scene made it a hell of a lot easier for me to pass on the festival.

7:30
Lollapalooza: Violent Femmes
Street Scene: Wolfmother
Points: +1 Street Scene. The Violent Femmes have played for free at the racetrack every year I've been here. People always react the same way when I tell them that: "The Violent Femmes are still around?" Wolfmother, I think rocks, and could be really fun to see. They also play Lollapalooza later on in the weekend.

8:30
Lollapalooza: Ween
Street Scene: Wu-Tang Clan
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. I love the Wu. I have two Wu-Wear shirts, visited the Wu-Wear store on Staten Island, saw them live in Southeast DC in 2001 and engaged in vicious debates all throughout high school about which of my friends was equivilent to which member of the Wu. But nothing will change the fact that the chances that a hip hop live event does not suck are inversely proportional to the number of guys on stage with water bottles and towels over their shoulder. It would pain me to do it, and the number of drinks I'd have had could play a major role in a decision reversal, but picking outright between Ween's insane rocking and rumored to be awesome live show and any live hip hop act is a no brainer for me.

10:00
Lollapalooza: Done for the night
Street Scene: Kanye or Social D, Bra
Points: +1 Street Scene. Despite the above "famous hip hop artists suck live" reasoning I'll give them Kanye. Social Distortion has played at every Street Scene that I've been to, like G Love, and I guess people love that tradition. But find a better band to headline the rock stage on Friday night, one with a new album, a hit song from the past decade, a reunited Replacements, anything!

Score after Friday: Lollapalooza 5, Street Scene 2

On to SATURDAY

11:45
Lollapalooza: Be Your Own Pet
Street Scene: Still asleep
Points: None. I'm sure this band is terrible.

12:30
Lollapalooza: Nada Surf
Street Scene: First bloody mary of the day. Three girls leave Joe Callahan's apartment, wondering how they thought that look-over-the-sunglasses was cool the night before
Points: None. I don't buy into Nada Surf actually being good, especially because Weezer was the band I most frequently saw tossed around in comparisons to them.

1:30
Lollapalooza: The Go! Team
Street Scene: Fourth Bloody Mary
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. The Go Team provides a strong reason to start Saturday early. Their energy will hopefully provide an early highlight.

2:30
Lollapalooza: Built To Spill
Street Scene: Waiting for the trolley
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. I'm not as familiar with Built To Spill as I'd like to be, but feel like I might really enjoy checking them out in a nice outdoor setting.

3:30
Lollapalooza: Wolfmother
Street Scene: Margot & The Nuclear So and So's
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. Wolfmother is just a damn good idea: try to sound exactly like an energetic Black Sabbath at their peak. Well done.

4:30
Lollapalooza: Gnarls Barkley
Street Scene: The Futureheads, Tapes 'n Tapes
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. Gnarls Barkley not bringing their crazy ass costumes out to San Diego this summer is a pretty big regret of mine. They will undoubtedly bring the heat. For those of you keeping track, "Crazy" has somehow become my top played song on my last.fm charts. The Futureheads on the other hand, are one of like 5 bands whose CDs I have actually deleted off of my iTunes, and I don't delete anything. But I may make another exception for Tapes 'n Tapes one of these days.

5:30
Lollapalooza: Blackalicious
Street Scene: Subways or Editors
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. I could care less about either Street Scene band, and nobody will remember them in a years time. Blackalicious on the other hand, I saw at Street Scene two years ago, and they feature a hype man named Lateef the Truth Speaka. Credit goes to Street Scene here for organizing the best live hip-hop show I've ever seen, A Tribe Called Quest back in 2004. They proved all the bold claims I have made earlier in the article very wrong, although I can attribute most of their ass-kicking to the fact that they didn't rely on hype-men, instead deciding to shockingly let the guys rap who people came to see rap.

6:30
Lollapalooza: The Flaming Lips
Street Scene: Editors and Subways finish, G Love starts
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. One thing I didn't notice is that Lollapalooza has a lot more flow between stages. These dismal acts are still performing at Street Scene as the greatest experience you will ever have at a concert takes place up in Chicago. More than one point should be awarded.

7:30
Lollapalooza: Thievery Corporation
Street Scene: The Shins
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. A tough call. I'll go with the Thievery Corporation despite an aversion to electronic music because A) I've never seen them before, B) It will be the perfect come down after the insanity the Lips and C) unlike The Shins, it won't sound exactly like their record.

8:30
Lollapalooza: Kanye West
Street Scene: Bloc Party
Points: +1 Lollapalooza. This was up for Street Scene to run away with, but Bloc Party just doesn't do it for me.

10:00
Lollapalooza: Done til tomorrow
Street Scene: Snoop Dogg
Points: +1 Street Scene. I've seen Snoop twice, and he is no exception to the live performance sucking rule. But he's by far the most fun thing going on now. I've had several different people tell me that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Indy Jam performance was the worst thing they've ever seen in their lives, and Tool blows. As long as Snoop touches on more than one song from Doggystyle, then Drops it Like It's Hot and in the end all the Homies Have Some, it will be a good way to close out a day.

Final Score:Lollapalooza 12, Street Scene 4

It looks like Lollapalooza wins in a landslide, and that's not even factoring in Sunday, which features The Hold Steady, who are one of the few bands that have enough power to single handedly influence my festival attendence decisions. The day as a whole is weaker than the first two though. Kudos to the Street Scene organizers for reisisting the inexplicable urge that people are having to book Matisyahu these days. Day three of Lollapalooza is less inspired, with less must see live acts, and you'll certainly be tired by then. Like all good double albums, it's a three day festival that could have been condensed down to two in this mans opinion.

So after going through and scoring the lineup, which resulted in an astonishing Lollapalooza landslide, I have a few questions for the Street Scene organizers.

-Do you consider the Street Scene to be on similar status to major festivals like Lollapalooza or Coachella? If not, is it your goal to reach that status? What is preventing the Street Scene from being that kind of national festival that out of towners will fly to San Diego for?

-On a similar note, do you feel it is unfair for me to compare the two festivals? Why or why not?

-Did you try to book any of the bands that are playing at Lollapalooza, but were unable to because they were already committed? Did any bands waver before signing on to the Street Scene hoping that Lollapalooza would call?

-How would you score the lineups that I came up with?

-The "ticket prices increasing" gradually thing...What's the reasoning behind that? Also, what do you see as being a cap to a 2 day festival pass in the foreseeable future? Do ticket prices increase because bands have more bargaining power with so many festivals taking place? Does focusing on a much younger audience make you have to focus more on keeping ticket prices lower?

Thus concludes another exhausting piece, undoubtedly rife with errors and exaggerations. I appreciate all feedback, criticisms and offers to buy me plane tickets to Chicago.

July 31, 2006

Tom Sauer - One Lame Dude

I got a comment on my Springsteen, Seals and Shit article from a few months ago from the folks at sealwatch.org, which caused me to investigate what had been up recently with the seal situation down in La Jolla. Sealwatch linked to the below video of some dick harassing the seals, provided by the La Jolla Friends of the Seals:

It's pretty much a 50 year old petulant child named Tom Sauer scaring the seals into the water and then talking about how he had the right to do it. Sauer is a San Diego attorney who maintains childrenspool.org, which talks about how great Mrs. Scripps (who is long dead) was for donating the childrens pool and lists the legal briefs he has filed on behalf of his clients, whose fines for harassing the seals he is contesting. Before we mock and belittle his personal flaws, let's just point out one thing from his most recent legal filing. In this case, someone named Lilo Creighton (who he talks about in the video) was fined for scaring away the seals. Part of her defense is as follows:

"the reason she landed on the beach in the middle of the hauled out animals was that she needed to concentrate on staying in a small channel to avoid being pushed on rocks; and that she needed to swim fast in order to reach the beach without being hurt"

So not only is the beach filthy, it's also evidently very dangerous for any of the "children" who might choose to swim in it. Unbelievable.

Towards the end of the video, where Sauer lounges around with his legs flared open talking about why he just drove the seals into the water, he makes some trenchant points that many six year olds would do well to incorporate into their argument for why they should be allowed to go down the slide next if "You're not the boss of the world" isn't working out for them.

First off he cites the 9th ammendment, which from what I can tell, says "Just because we only have 8 ammendments doesn't mean that those are the only rights we're giving you", kind of like a "we reserve the right to add in obvious things we forgot should they arise", like say, giving half the population the right to vote. He then transitions, this is true, into claiming that the 9th ammendment to the constitution gives him the right to

"establish myself as the alpha animal on that beach."

They all laughed at Madison when he wanted to pass the Alpha Animal ammendment, but who's laughing now? Not Tom Sauer! He keeps going:


"If there's a young child on that beach, I want that child to be the alpha animal on that beach."

If there's a young child on that beach, I would hope that this guy is nowhere near that young child.

The whole discussion reminds me of a scene from Bowling For Columbine, were Michael Moore discusses the shootings with South Park creator Matt Stone, specifically the decision of the NRA to come to Colorado within days of the shootings to have their annual rally. They defended the decision by trumpeting their "rights" to "go wherever they want within our great land." Stone replies, "Of course you have 'the right', but just, don't do that, you know?"

I think that expresses the situation about as good as it can be expressed: right vs. duty. You have the right to do a whole shitload of things in America, but you also have the duty not to be too big of a dick while you're doing them. Of course you have the right to go walk down and scare all those seals away. But why be a dick and take away the one thing people enjoy about that small, polluted, dangerous beach? Here are some other things you have the right to do:

-Picket outside hospitals with signs that say "God Hates AIDS victims"
-Tell kids waiting in line to meet Santa that there is no Santa, that that's just a man in a suit
-Walk out of a movie theater and tell everyone waiting to come in what the ending is.

I guess those kind of went in reverse order of seriousness...But still. Having the right doesn't make you above the rules of decency and friendliness that are also just as important to allow a society to function. And disobeying a law that you consider unjust doesn't make you into some kind of hero, who can lounge about spread eagle lecturing people about vauge constitutional ammendments. A lot of people throughout history have disliked, even hated pioneers like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony and the ideals and changes that they fought for. But the difference between them and Tom Sauer is that nobody heard about what King was doing and just thought "Wow, that guy, he's kind of a dick...I wonder if that makes him happy?"

UPDATE: My friend Derek, who just graduated from law school and will start working in a month at a firm where I can only imagine he'll be getting paid way more than a lawyer who primarily deals with seal related cases does, helped me out with some questions I had about the 9th ammendment, and Tom Sauer's use of that as his reasoning to harass the seals:


"robert bork called it 'an inkblot.' it means something, but it cannot be interpreted to do anything, because there are no internal or external limits to what it could mean. i think people who don't really know what they're talking about use it to justify the supreme court's invention of rights that aren't specifically described in the constitution."

Which would make sense, since this is what Sauer uses to grant himself the right to be "alpha animal".

"it's like if you and your parents got into a fight about something and they decided to let you do it...the reason you get to do it is because they let you, not because you had the right to do it. the ninth amendment can never be used to prevent the government from doing something. the types of things the people who wrote the ninth amendment and thought it was protecting may actually be protected,but they're protected through some other constitutional or political means. the ninth amendment cannot serve as an independent bar to any governmental activity, and it's been cited in like 2 supreme court opinions in 230 years. seriously, if you ever have a conversation with somebody who brings up the ninth amendment with some reverance, you know they don't know shit."

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