Tag Archives: guitarist

Summercase 2008: final review

Yes, as Grey said in his comment on my brief binary review, I was warned. I seriously doubt that I'll go back to Summercase. Here's my Last.fm review (links point to last.fm pages).

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In over 11 years of regularly attending pop festivals, Summercase 2008 was by far and away the worst organised and most blatantly commercial event I've ever attended.

The lineup was poor and got worse with the loss of mia and Santogold, among others. A group of low-quality English pop groups (Maximo Park, Kaiser Chiefs, Sex Pistols, The Verve…) dominated the lineup and left little room for decent local or international break-through acts.

Also, the organisers' addiction to Disneyfied 1970s acts (Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Stranglers…) made for further dull concerts as large groups of 20-somethings mumbled through the lyrics to PlayAtomic, a song which was fist performed before any of them were conceived. Incidentally, Blondie's guitarist also managed to mess-up the guitar-part for Atomic, despite it being one of the most celebrated riffs in pop history. Give you a clue: it's not good enough to just play the notes in the right order… you need to get the rhythm right too.

The thing is that, of what I saw, the only truly great concert was by Cornelius (easily the most experimental artist playing at this MOR event). Pretty much everything else was just rubbish.

As to the general organisation of the event, we were shocked and dismayed at the rudeness and generally low level of service offered by the Summercase team. Part of this was to do with the alleged policy of festival organisers to employ staff not from Barcelona, in order to prevent the normal issue of 'free drinks for friends' happening. What this resulted in was a service team of rude and aggressive non-locals who spoke neither Catalan nor English, and who were quite clearly unhappy with their work. Added to this, the females were forced to wear very tight pink t-shirts (men were in brown), and the festival succeeded in making itself not only a gross display of consumerism but also perfectly happy with breaking Barcelona's modern conventions on language, culture and gender equality.

This year, I decided not to attend FIB because I thought the lineup didn't justify a trip down to Castelló… especially when I had a festival on my doorstep. I won't make that mistake again. And it looks like, with a huge drop in attendance, Summercase needs to sort out its act or clear off altogether.

Summercase 2008: 0

Exile On Main Street – Pussy Galore

Pussy Galore - Exile On Main StreetI first really got into Exile on Main Street about two or three years ago. It was the sort of time in a Barcelona summer when you go to xiringuitos, get drunk then head into town and get high. My Monday morning commute would be rendered about 300% better if I could listen to the trashy stoned noise of Shake Your Hips and the bombastic rock of Loving Cup at top volume. Late night sessions got much messier with Keith and the boys as the soundtrack.

But that was just the Stones' version… I mean they were already millionaires and they didn't even record it in New York City. They did it in tax-exile at Keith's château in the south of France.

So at the same time, my permanent addiction to Royal Trux was just continuing steadily. I had begun to get my head around ideas like never believe a word Neil or Jen says in an interview and yes, it is possible for a man and a woman to be the joint incarnation of the Rolling Stones' guitarist, even if he's still alive. I'd read that there was some mysterious tape in existence which featured Pussy Galore performing a cover of Exile on Main Street, in its entirety.

Anyway, I always thought that this would be the most amazing recording ever… but it was always impossible to get hold of. I mean, this was a limited tape release from about 1986 or something.

Well I managed to get hold of a copy (in digital format) a couple of months ago and it doesn't disappoint. Of course, you've got to like the messy, scabby, Pussy Galore sound if you're going to dig it. You've probably got to know Exile pretty well and not mind hearing it on the stereo in the background as Pussy Galore play, karaoke style.

Just one track from this recording is better than the total output of bands like The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and that lot. It's a completely different thing, naturally, but that's what makes it better.

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Reposted from my Last.fm blog. Listen to Pussy Galore – Exile On Main Street.

Three top BCN gigs for December


As the winter rolls in, so does what seems to be the best season to catch live music in Barcelona. Don't get me wrong: the summer and spring festivals are awesome… but I've seen some pretty spectacular performances over the last few years during the colder months (such as the Flaming Lips, the White Stripes, the Kills, the Strokes, RTX).

This month, Gemma and I will be rocking out at concerts by Lambchop (cool funk-country with a million-piece band and loads of Curtis Mayfield: Thursday 7th at the Casino d'Alliança de Poble Nou); Albert Hammond Jr. (the guitarist from, and coolest member of, the Strokes: Wednesday 13th at Sala Apolo); and Jarvis Cocker (wise-mouthed northern lanky man off of Pulp: Friday 22nd at Razzmatazz).

If anyone's planning to go to any of these fine concerts, let me know and we'll share a beer and a Ducado (if you're lucky!). Oh… plus, two bank holidays this week and a massive Barça game tomorrow… what a month!

This post was simultaneously published at talkBCN.com

Neil Hagerty, Ian Svenonius: Two pop music heroes you may not know but, like, should

Pop music can be a difficult terrain to navigate: just what do you feel okay listening to, and can you admit to it? This issue is at the heart of dozens of websites (like myspace.com and last.fm) and grips millions of young people searching for their Pan.

Myself, I pretty much decided that I'd stick with Royal Trux about seven years ago. For me, their blend of free jazz, 70's opiate-rock, RnB, boogie-woogie and smart, personal, witty, political lyrics was enough. Despite my liking for bands such as The Fall, I am still certain that Royal Trux sum up what it is I want pop music to be: cool, sexy, angry, bored, wasted, wise.

Neil Hagerty, one half of Royal Trux is my first pop music hero. He was a guitarist in Pussy Galore, a band now confined to the 'most mental album I own' category (a bit like Royal Trux?!)… and while I'm unsure as to how much influence he had on the values of that group, I'm aware that he was behind their covering the entire Exile On Main Street album. A declaration of intent, perhaps.

Through their albums, Royal Trux have covered enough material for a complete website or two (see the links in my sidebar). Suffice to say, I drank a bottle of vodka the night they broke up. Stupid of me. It should have been juice. Since then, Neil Hagerty has released a series of albums (firstly solo, now with The Howling Hex), all of which I've found to be entertaining, challenging and good pop records. My favourites are probably the two solo/band crossover records, Niel Michael Hagerty – The Howling Hex and The Howling Hex – All Night Fox. Continue reading

Olympics and Big Macs for all!! (And bags of drugs)

"Hi, I'd like an Olympic special Big Mac, please"
"Oh I'm sorry, we don't have any burgers here called Olympic special. Would you like a regular Big Mac?"
"So there's no special healthy burger tie-in for the Olympics? How the hell did they get the sponsorship deal?"
"$"

Cos yes, the Big Mac is the official food of the Olympics. That lovely, sloppy mess filled with guilt and self-hate and greed is the official food – of the gods! I wondered to myself for about two seconds how something like this could happen. I mean, the European Cup was bad enough. But the Olympics too? Surely with all the people being paid, all the special committees, all the experts, someone could have said "Er, are you sure?".

I know, I know. It shouldn't come as any kind of surprise that the Olympic games rates dollars over achievement, exercise, sport etc., but the shamelessness of picking McDonald's as the official food for the world's top sporting event is … well, it's a bit much, ain't it?

PLUS: in one of the most rock'n'roll sports stories I've ever heard, it seems that the two Greek heroes, Kostas Kederis and Ekaterini Thanou, accused of missing more than one drugs test, may have faked a motorcycle crash in order to try and get away with it. I mean, these two are already the stars of the Games for me.

Not sure which drugs it is alleged that they've taken, but perhaps they will be able to find jobs in other industries? After all, Babyshambles isn't great, and could probably do with another guitarist. Then again, RTX are releasing a new record, and I think that JJ Rox (aka Jennifer Herrema) would probably quite like to have a bass-playing ex-Olympic medal winner in the band (if either of them play the bass, that is).

So the Olympics are, in truth, a well of greed, fast food, stimulants and adventures.
I'm living the dream. :-)