Posts Tagged ‘music’

The Sweetest Venue You’ve Never Visited: Sweetwater Music Hall

Monday, January 21st, 2013

On Saturday night, Deadheads descended upon Mill Valley to see Furthur at Sweetwater Music Hall, an intimate venue that opened in January 2012.

Cardinal fans, a new music venue merits your attention.

On Saturday night, I headed up to Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley to catch a concert with Furthur, the Grateful Dead spinoff band led by Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. I have been to several Furthur shows, and this was by far the best, rivaled only by Phil Lesh’s 70th birthday party a few years ago at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

If you could combine the intimacy of the CoHo, the coolness of Frost, and the food of The Mayfield Bakery, you would have something close to the Sweetwater experience. Then add a top-notch sound system and a beautiful setting at the base of Mt. Tamalpais, and include some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered at a Bay Area concert venue, and you have more than enough reasons to make the hour and fifteen minute trip from Palo Alto.

Sweetwater has a capacity crowd of about 300 people, so no matter where you stand or sit, you have great sight-lines of the stage. The main bar is located at the back, preventing drink-seekers from getting in everyone else’s way. There is a cafe with delicious NorCal fare off to the side, and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of a coat-check…self-serve hangers do the trick.

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Art After Dark: When the Sun Goes Down, the Art Comes Up!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The Art After Dark festival starts tonight!

Starting tonight, Stanford will kick off Art After Dark, its second annual festival celebrating student creativity and sustainability. Featuring more than 250 pieces of student-produced art, drama, spoken word, dance, design, and music, the festival will take over Old Union courtyard and the lower half of White Plaza for the next three days. Several student artists are returning, including Ethan Estess, whose pelican sculpture was one of last year’s most popular featured pieces.

Although the festival features a jam-packed performance schedule, student art will be on display for all three days, and you can check out the pieces at your leisure. Tomorrow will be particularly busy. From 12-2pm, student drama groups will perform and be followed by a Sustainable Fashion Show. If you pass by in the afternoon, you might catch an impromptu jam session. The day’s events will culminate with performances from student artists featured on “Shadows,” the 2012 Stanford Soundtrack, which includes bands like The Sea People. Saturday’s performances, from 8pm to midnight, will feature student films, DJs, and music from The Irregulars and The Dot Dot Dots.

Combined with Frost Revival, Art After Dark promises to make this weekend thearts weekend of the spring. Don’t miss out!

The Art After Dark Schedule.

The Art of Coachillin’

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The Coachella polo grounds on a spotless Saturday afternoon.

85,000 people. Spotty cell phone coverage. Three straight days of music. Snow-capped mountains by day, and spotlights flashing across the sky by night. These were the circumstances under which one of the world’s largest annual music festivals, Coachella, took place this year. It was a spectacle to remember, when memory was possible.

I attended Weekend 1, April 13-15, and it was my first time in Indio. Although I have gone to a number of concerts and festivals, this experience was without precedent. At any given time, you could choose between five different bands/DJs of wildly different styles, from indie to hip-hop to dub-step. There were beer gardens and pizza joints galore, all with prices that would melt your eyes faster than a churro melts in your mouth ($5 per churro, by the way). An illuminated ferris wheel towered over the expansive grounds. You could hold mile-long strings of balloons that lit up the night like Christmas lights. Art exhibits and spontaneous kickball games rounded out the repertoire of activities.

Swedish House Mafia's performance offered one of the best light shows of the festival.

For $285 a ticket, one might expect nothing less. That said, for all of the logistical challenges that I encountered, I was very impressed by how smoothly everything worked. Yes, it took 45 minutes to get through two security checkpoints, since I was taking a shuttle. Yes, during those checkpoints, I got a pat-down search that in any other scenario would have been grounds for sexual harassment. And yes, there were lines and large distances for almost every occasion, from bathrooms to water fountains to merchandise shops. However, I have been to much smaller affairs that were far more inefficient and stressful. With a few exceptions, I got to see all of the artists for which I had come, as well as several gems that I had never encountered before. (more…)

Stereo Love: V-Day Playlists for the Lovers and the Loveless

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into what persona I’ll be adopting for Valentine’s Day/Single’s Awareness Day (SAD) this year. I’ve done the couple thing. I’ve done the hating-on-anything-to-do-with-love-while-secretly-sending-myself-chocolate thing. At this point, I’m leaning towards ambivalence. As such, when I got inspired to do a playlist post by Kristi’s awesome article about failtastic lovesongs, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go the “mushy” route or the “sardonically commenting on the absurdity of the holiday” route. So I went with both. One will make your significant other look deep into your eyes with misty longing or laugh whilst tenderly spooning. The other will make you want to a) key your ex’s car b) sit in bed with the  company of several pounds’ worth of Ghirardelli wrappers c) think to yourself “Heck YES I’m single and ready to mingle” or d) laugh uproariously at the concept of romantic love. Whatever you choose to jam out to this Tuesday, just remember that no one will love you until you learn to love yourself, you get 12 free condoms a quarter from Vaden, and that chocolate can stimulate all the serotonin you will ever need. Keep it classy, Stanford. (more…)

Watch Out for the Fuzz… Why Stanford’s Arts and Humanities Aren’t as Forgotten as You Think

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Odds are, you probably came to Stanford because you’d rather slip on a hoodie than sidle into a sportcoat, prefer sunshine and band-run to wintry-mix and finals clubs, and would rather cheer for Andrew Luck than say, the Winklevii. And, odds are, if you’re even remotely techie, you chose Stanford for its knockout science and engineering curriculum… and rankings. It’s no secret that the Farm is both a Mecca and breeding ground for calculation gurus, technical whizzes, biological demigods, and everyone else who is still slightly pissed that they couldn’t take C++ to fulfill their foreign language requirement.

But not everyone destined for Stanford emerged from the womb taking integrals.For those of you who didn’t know that we have an entire quad for engineering, who mourn the death of IHum, who  spend more time in Roble Gym than in the ACSR, who actually stop at Braun on Saturday nights rather than going straight to the Row, and who otherwise prefer the scent of leather-bound books and rich mahogany to motherboards and formaldehyde – your moment has arrived.

We know who you are – even if you are in an oft forgotten niche here at Stanford. The concert halls, high-ceilinged archive and manuscript libraries, and sun-drenched studios of ivies and liberal arts colleges pulled at your heartstrings when you were in the heat of college applications. You fantasized about wearing tweed (with elbow-patches) and swirling cognac whilst ruminating over the flaws in deontological theory and debating Descartes, salon-style. You are a connoisseur of human culture, and you came here, to Stanford, hoping that just maybe you could find that same level of pained fascination with the human condition and method of expression under a red-tile roof as you might have under the buttresses of collegiate-gothic cathedral.

Oh, you knew the sacrifices you’d make. You worried that your love of Chopin, appreciation of Klimt, and obsession with Marquez would all be misunderstood, met with raised eyebrows and blank stares peering over sheaves of graph paper and physics tomes. You would be ever the outsider during O-Chem rants and the communal groans over CME. Your choice to major in English, Religious Studies, or Studio Art would be met with polite smiles and the silent judgment that you weren’t intense enough to study something technical and have no solid, foreseeable career path. Your daring choice to pursue a creative, innovative, reflective, and interpretive field is constantly challenged by those who insist your interests provide no real-world application or insurance. Others will ask you why you chose to pursue a path in arts or humanities at Stanford which, while having what are generally assumed to be “good” programs in these departments, seems to place a much greater emphasis on technologically-driven fields. With our home and history in Silicon Valley, seemingly endless scientific resources, and army of high-profile techie alums, people will probably ask you why you didn’t go to say, Harvard, to study all that “fuzzy” stuff.

To those people, you can now proudly reply that Stanford upholds the honor of having the top arts and humanities program in the world. And that we actually knocked Harvard off of its crimson pedestal to snag it. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Stanford upstaged Harvard, UChicago, The Australian National University, and Princeton for the coveted top spot among university arts and humanities programs. The leap in the rankings has been largely credited to the outstanding number of MacArthur fellows and Pulitzer winners zipping across the quad and pioneering our liberal-arts research and curriculum, in addition to our broad range of arts/humanities offerings and extensive resources.

By comparison, (according to the U.S. News and World Report) Stanford Engineering clocked in at only #2, taking a backseat to M.I.T.. Admittedly, M.I.T. isn’t exactly a mortifying rival, and obviously second place is nothing to be ashamed of,  but the fact that one of the disciplines we pay the greatest lip-service to here on the Farm isn’t comparatively the best on campus does resonate a bit ironically.

That said, I could go on at length about the fallacy of rankings and the inconsistency of the methods, variables, and formulae (as well as frequent subjectivity and manipulation) that produce them. Rankings are not all-determining and should not be the primary mechanism through which we garner our self-esteem or evaluate ourselves as a school. But they do stand as a considerable litmus test that can testify to the strength of a program and should be reflective of the attention and respect that those departments should receive from students, faculty, administration, and, of course, the general public.

So the next time you find yourself smugly worrying about the future of your friend who’s an Art History major, try to catch yourself. The arts and humanities have not been extinguished in the wake of technology and scientific advancement. Their champions claim just as meaningful a place in our culture and society as do the engineers, programmers, researchers, and inventors.  And the work produced by the left-brained talent of the world might not thrive to the extent that it does without the help of the designers, writers, artists, performers, historians, anthologists, etc. who use the context of the human condition and sensibility to establish a place for those technologies in our lives.  I applaud Stanford for acknowledging the importance of bolstering such broad fields of study, and for taking such impressive strides to strengthen its departments and cultivate extensive opportunities for intellectual exploration and discovery. Thank you, Stanford, for yet again proving that your students really can have the best of all worlds.

Crônicas do Brasil: A Vida Brasileira

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro. When Jobim and Moraes wrote "Garota de Ipanema," this is probably what they had in mind.

I have now been in Spain for close to a month with BOSP Madrid. Posts on the Iberian Peninsula are in the pipeline. For the moment, though, I would like to present a cultural wrap-up on Brazil that I never had time to do while I was working in São Paulo this summer. If you are not yet excited for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, maybe this will get you started.

First, let it be known that São Paulo is not a conventionally beautiful city. Miles of concrete with few trees, vistas dominated by powerlines and graffiti, and a certain lack of cleanliness make it appear pretty bleak and inhospitable on cloudy days, of which there are a fair amount. Large parts of the city center are completely abandoned at night; there is one neighborhood called Cracolândia because its streets are literally full of crack addicts, who reside right next to the city’s most beautiful railway station. If you live any further than ten minutes by car from work, your daily commute is usually a pitched battle against jammed six-lane avenues, irregular U-turns, and the caprices of aggressive paulista drivers.

Yet São Paulo is unlike any other place I have seen, and I already miss it. The city has a cultural richness rivaling New York’s and plenty of charm if you know where to look. Its size is awe-inspiring. And to put it another way, São Paulo is the best answer to the question of what you would get if you stuck together 18 million Brazilians with a New York work schedule, an LA transit system, and the sensuality of Miami (which, coincidentally, has a large Brazilian population).

What’s more, São Paulo bears little resemblance to the rest of Brazil. The country is almost the size of the U.S. but far more regionalized, so that each state has its own traditions, holidays, food, dialects, and climate. Other Brazilian cities are magnificent in their own ways, and then beyond them is an ecological paradise with few parallels in the rest of the world. (more…)

Music Mondays: Zelda Dubstep and John Legend

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Normally I approach fan-made remixes of theme music with the same skepticism as an astrophysics symposium hosted by Sarah Palin. The first thing for any bored nerd with a macbook and an overinflated sense of self-worth is to remix a classic video-game tune in a vain attempt to make it ‘hip for teh clubs’. Naturally the vast majority of these are absolute garbage. But every so often, the musical gems that do break away from this ocean of excrement shine all the brighter for their struggle. Here are some sick remixes of classic Legend of Zelda theme songs that have been gaining some hype recently:

Zedd-  Legend of Zelda Remix

Ephixa- Lost Woods Dubstep Remix

Bonus Track: Rolling in the Deep (John Legend Cover)

To be fair, Adele‘s original Rolling in the Deep was a pretty good song in its own right. And it really shouldn’t make sense to cover one of her songs because you’d be removing the best part: her unquestionably fantastic voice. That being said… John Legend absolutely kills it here, reminding everyone that he’s John F*%#ing Legend.  This is going to be huge.

Video Games Have Soundtracks?!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

As many people have heard, Christopher Tin, Stanford Alum, recently won a Grammy for his song Baba Yetu.

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It’s an amazing song, with lyrics translating to the Our Father prayer in Swahili. It was released on his 2009 album named Calling All Dawns. But it first gained note as the main theme song to Civilization IV in 2005. It may have taken the world 6 years to uncover this gem, but some PC gamers have appreciated the song for quite a while now. Isn’t that a shame?

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Teach Me How to Dougie, or How to be a Hip-Hop Star

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Call me three months late, but I just noticed a pattern.

Remember the Soulja Boy dance?

Well in case you forgot…

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Yeah, that Soulja Boy dance.  The one that everybody knew, that they played at that dance in high school and that even people who didn’t like to dance danced to and it was ridiculous?  The one that even Dwight Howard loves?

Well did you ever notice how that song is really simple and reprtitive, but the dance moves are really easy for anyone to dance to? Pay attention to that.

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Crash Course: VEVO

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

An odd mix, but Vevo encompasses them all

What do Iron Maiden, Rick Astley, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Marilyn Manson, Sublime, Shania Twain, Limp Bizkit, and Abba have in common?

Vevo channels.

Are you surprised?   Perhaps on the basis of the wide variety of musical genres represented by these artists, yes.  However, with regard to current trends in music consumption, online and elsewhere, Vevo makes perfect sense – which is why it’s taking over how America receives its music.

Vevo to the rescue?

According to Credit Suisse analysts, YouTube only makes 0.4 cents per video view.  This garners a measly $240.9 a year for a venture whose bandwidth, licensing, and operation costs will run upwards of $700 million.  In other words, “Google will lose $470.6 million on YouTube, for which it paid $1.76 billion in 2006.”

Vevo's "world premiere" of the Telephone music video changed the way we perceive online music promotion.

Vevo may provide the solution to Google’s online video woes.  Launched on December 8, 2009, with the slogan “Music Evolution Revolution!,” Vevo overcame MySpace Music as #1 music site in the US within its first month.  The company represents a collaboration between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media.  Vevo has domain over music videos from three of the “big four” major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI.  (Warner partnered with MTV Networks.)

Today, approximately 23,000 videos are available on Vevo.  Vevo’s near dominance of the major music labels is allowing it to approach monopoly status.  According to Wired Magazine, “there could soon be no other game in town.”

How does this help Google?  Well, Google and VEVO share the advertising revenue, and the institution of Vevo ended Google’s licensing difficulties with Universal Music Group.  “The purpose behind Vevo is to sell advertising at higher rates than YouTube does now.”

Changing music as we know it

According to Wired, Vevo “could save the music business.”  Mashable’s top 5 predictions for the music industry in 2011 suggest the following:

Now, we’re not saying Vevo has single-handedly sparked the renaissance of the music video, but it has helped give the format a kick in the you-know-what.”

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Mah Na Mah Na!!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Love me some Beatles

Tired of staring at endless pages / screens / notebooks full of words?  You’re not alone.  To relieve the occasionally oppressive influences of the English language whilst studying intensively for your finals, here’s my short list of fun songs with distinctly nonsense word sections.  Rock out to these while studying.  Or “studying.”   Whichever the case may be.

Happy jamming!

P.S.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  I welcome any and all song suggestions – the more nonsense words, the better!

K’naan Plants His Flag at The Fillmore

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

K'naan traces his roots back to the war-torn streets of Mogadishu, Somalia.

After eighteen months of touring that included kicking off the World Cup, K’naan chose San Francisco to be his final major stop. He performed to a packed crowd at The Fillmore last Thursday night. Of all the concerts I’ve seen in the Bay Area, this was one of the best: the venue, the artists, and the vibes dazzled the senses and resonated long after the last beat was finished.

Paper Tongues, a raucous rock band from North Carolina, warmed up the stage with an eclectic blend of hip-hop, funk, rock, and soul. K’naan, most famous for his anthem “Wavin’ Flag,” launched into his act with a breathtaking portrayal of the conflict in his native Somalia, of the street games and wretched violence, of his journey to the Americas and his search for identity in the midst of unexpected stardom. His rhymes ranged from disarmingly smooth to staccato and shrill, capturing the cultivation of his sense of self in the midst of the ravages of war. While the concert ostensibly promoted his latest album, Troubadour, he also pulled out some classics from his first album, such as “If Rap Gets Jealous.”

Paper Tongues from North Carolina opened for K'naan.

A little on the venue. It’s primarily standing room only, with an old-school bar to one side and plush balcony seats above the main floor. The Fillmore has a storied history in San Francisco and has been host to many of the greatest rock acts, including my personal favorite, The Grateful Dead. The space has good acoustics, perhaps too good—I’d strongly recommend a pair of earplugs if you want to be able to hear anything the next day.

I was able to record the song “Wavin’ Flag,” available here. I cut it down to a shorter version because the one K’naan played lasted for an epic 12 minutes. The sound quality is not the best, but you can still get a sense of how sick the un-mixed, original song is live.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

It’s that time of year again.  Bust out the squeaky boots, jackets, and umbrellas, ’cause it’s raining.

But don’t let that get you down.  Instead, appreciate the musical genius that’s been inspired by this meteorological phenomenon over the years.  Here’s my sweet 16 of great songs about rain.

  1. Fool in the Rain – Led Zeppelin
  2. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  3. JTR – Dave Matthews Band
  4. Riders on the Storm – the Doors
  5. Africa – Toto
  6. Who’ll Stop the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  7. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
  8. Rain – MIKA
  9. Fire and Rain – James Taylor
  10. Streets of Love – the Rolling Stones
  11. Purple Rain – Prince
  12. Here Comes the Rain – Eurythmics
  13. Standin’ in the Rain – ELO
  14. Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
  15. Penny Lane – the Beatles
  16. After the Rain Has Fallen – Sting

Feel free to comment with your favorites – I’d love to expand my rainy day playlist.

Finding Jupiter Recorded and Photographed

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Luke, drums

Dean, guitar and vocals

Finding Jupiter has reached a milestone in its career. With full-length album Racing Against the Sun now complete, they’re on their way out of the Stanford bubble and onto the worldwide scene. Like most other successful bands, however, it takes some clever PR maneuvers to cultivate an image and get your name out there. SF Weekly is tired of seeing bands publish cliché photos posed on the side of the road, on the beach, the playground, or in bathrooms, but for some reason, I find it endearing that Finding Jupiter members Sarah, Dean, Peter, and Luke posed innocently in stalls on XOX crappers. It’s one thing to pick a random bathroom as a site for a photo shoot, like Rilo Kiley and Tilly and the Wall did.

Tilly and the Wall

But when that bathroom is in the house that nurtured an artist’s creative juices and allowed them to rehearse uninterrupted, it’s forgiveable. Here’s to you, Finding Jupiter!

Finding Jupiter playing on the XOX Roof (from L to R: Peter, Sarah, Luke, Dean)

Rocking Out on the Last Day of IHUM

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

This morning, “Epic Journeys, Modern Quests” ended spring quarter on an unusual note. The IHUM course’s two professors, Robert Harrison and Dan Edelstein, cut short a panel about the crises of modernity and launched into some ol’ fashioned blues…about Gilgamesh. Harrison put his rocker’s flow into motion with some gritty guitar licks as Edelstein soulfully crowed about the likes of Utnapishtim and Ishtar, ancient Babylonian gods. The concert ended in loud cheers from the packed auditorium, with many students on their feet.

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The professors are founders of a band called Glass Wave, whose music combines classic works of Western literature with the fundamentals of classic rock. The resulting genre? “Cerebral rock,” in which lecture halls become venues and academics become artists. The band has already attracted the attention of local media, and its self-titled debut album, recorded on-campus at CCRMA, is available on iTunes. Although the album’s music somewhat lags behind its lyricism, the passion, knowledge, and creativity of its originators comes through in tracks like “Lolita,” “Nausicaa,” and “Helen.”

Harrison began his course in winter quarter by saying, “A classic is a book that never finishes saying what it has to say.” With projects like Glass Wave, the classics now have a little less work to do.