From the MoSS? Pit: Wild Belle

wild belle

I’m not a wrestler, but I pretended to be one from a high school existing only on TV.

Yes, taking on the persona of a past-his-prime grappler was just one element of a fun night out to see the sibling sensation Wild Belle.

My fellow MoSS? man Todd and I cruised down to Iowa City on Sept. 6 to catch the show, meeting up with charter members of the MoSS? Fan Club (that’s how I like to think of Travis, Annie, Brittany Jade). It was just what the doctor ordered after a strenuous morning on the golf course and lunch eating parmesan garlic flavored wings and an afternoon watching 42 with the kiddo. (Charmed life, I tell ya.)

We didn’t expect a really long show, given that Wild Belle only has one album to its name, and the band was going on around midnight. But quantity was never a concern once we experienced the quality of the show. Natalie Bergman’s smoky voice was in top form, and she was quite easy on the eyes. At one point, Todd and I broke up with all our other indie-rock girlfriends and worked out custody details involving the fetching Ms. Bergman. (Or we just drunkenly blabbed about how hot she was or something like that.)

But it was more than just eye candy that made the show so great. The elements of reggae and jazz and ska and soul and whatever else was mixed in there provided a soundtrack that was equal parts cool, fun, and sensual. It certainly had an effect on me; I found myself dancing freely among a crowd that was feeling that same vibe.

And how cool was it to see Gabes rather full. The live music scene hasn’t always been kind to bands in recent years. I remember being in Gabes a few years ago as shoegazers Film School and Airiel played to a rather empty room. Our friend Sam described going to a Heartless Bastards show in Iowa City and being one of 10 people in the crowd. Heartless Bastards! Not my cup of tea, but a pretty well-respected name. (To the band’s credit, Sam said the show was full of energy and effort.)

On this night, it wasn’t filled all the way to the back, I don’t believe. But all the same, everyone was moving and having a hell of a time. See evidence of that in this shaky video I shot of “Keep You.” (The parts where I don’t have my finger over the lens, anyway.)

I missed Wild Belle at Lolla on purpose, knowing that this show was in my future. I kinda wish now that I’d seen them twice in a five-week period after all.

We missed the opening acts, as the evening provided equal amounts of awesome, some in surprising ways:

  • New Belgium Ranger on tap
  • The Bushwick Bill moment
  • HMB crashes the party
  • Bayside Tiger

Mmmmmm…Ranger

No need to say much more. I should add, Golden Nugget after the show at Deadwood. Mmmmm-mmmmm-mmmmm. Toppling Goliath rules.

The spirit of Bushwick Bill invades Gabe’s

So we got to Gabe’s well in advance of the show, so we set up camp in the beer garden. A DJ was out back, providing an”interesting” potpourri of tunes. At one point, one of the masterful songs by Geto Boys filled the air. Todd quickly attributed the song to the GBs, and started reciting the lyrics along with the beats. And just as he rapped along with dwarf Geto Boy Bushwick Bill (“This year Halloween fell on the weekend / Me and Geto Boys are trick-or-treatin’ / Robbin’ little kids for bags”)…

…in walked a dude who couldn’t have stood more than 3’2″.

OK, so this guy was white and didn’t seem to know the words to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” But still, it felt like stars were aligning in our bizarre pop culture universe. Seriously, what are the odds?

March(ing Band) Madness

We expected to hear some brass at Gabe’s, but not quite to the extreme experienced when members of the Hawkeye Marching Band took over the beer garden. Don’t roll your eyes and groan “Band geeks!” It was fun. Sure, the fight song and all that was to be expected, but then they busted out the songs mocking Ohio State (saying unkind things about Mrs. Urban Meyer) and Michigan (“Hail to you motherfuckers”) and Indiana (“Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, fuck you!”)

And even though you can’t really see shit in the above video, you can’t go wrong with the Hawkeye Victory Polka.

Ever heard of A.C. Slater’s high school? No? Well, let’s have fun with this

So after Wild Belle finished their show, we retreated back to the beer garden. While there, some dude named Alex struck up a conversation with Todd and me. He noticed my Bayside Tigers shirt but didn’t seem familiar with the incredible fictional high school boasting Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, and A.C. Slater as alumni.

So Todd started in: “Hey bro, you’re talking to a former state champion wrestler. From his days at Bayside.”

Alex: “Oh yeah?”

Me: “Yep. Two-time champ in my division.”

Alex: “Wow! Where’s Bayside? Around here?”

Me: “California, dude.”

Todd: “He was so good, he was offered a full ride to wrestle here at Iowa.”

Alex: “Whoa!”

Me (gesturing at my out-of-shape physique): “Some time ago, obviously.”

Alex: “Well, OK!”

Me: “It was so great, coming here. In California, wrestlers played second fiddle. Then I came to Iowa, as a wrestler, and I was gettin’ all kinds of play.”

Alex: “Yeah!”

Todd: “My boy called me up–I was going to tech school out in California at the time–he says, ‘You gotta come to Iowa!’ So I moved out here right away. We’ve never left!”

Alex: “#1 party school!!!!”

Me and Todd (nodding): “#1 party school.”

We are easily entertained.

I’ll leave you with video footage of one of Bayside’s greatest wrestlers not named Albert Clifford.

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Lolla 2013: Can Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear switch stages? Please?!

lollapalooza logoWhen I made that impulse buy, the Sunday ticket for Lollapalooza 2013, I was swayed by a couple of factors. One, my friend Travis Who Isn’t the Beast was going; the morning the one-day tickets went on sale, we were both waking in Chicago the day after the Sigur Ros show. He egged me on, and I was still riding the live-music high provided by the Icelandic trio. So without checking with the missus, I bought a ticket via smartphone. I’m a pushover. (As a result, I’m also probably taking the family to Chicago for the weekend, as it happens.)

Second, the killer roster, headlined by the Cure, my all-time favorites. I haven’t seen them in 13 years…it’s time. Vampire Weekend, Beach House, and Tegan & Sara also jumped off the poster. Looking at the artists and paying no mind to the logistics of stage placement and prominence, I envisioned a dream day as follows:

  • Palma Violets
  • Wild Belle
  • MS MR
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Wild Nothing
  • DIIV
  • Tegan & Sara
  • Beach House
  • Vampire Weekend
  • The Cure

Now that the schedule is out and logistics come into play, here’s what I’m looking at:

  • Guards
  • Wild Belle
  • Wild Nothing
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Tegan & Sara
  • Alt-J
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Beach House
  • The Cure

VW is the huge omission, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it unless I want to sacrifice Cure position. VW will play before Phoenix on the other side of the park; Grizzly Bear precedes the Cure. That’s a bit of a nut-punch (I don’t get the Grizzly Bear love), but I am seeing VW in October, so I can live with this.

(However, I am considering starting a Kickstarter campaign to see if I can bribe Grizzly Bear to switch stages with Vampire Weekend. I might even match every dollar pledged to the cause. Check MoSS? regularly for updates.)

DIIV also falls off the list, which is a bummer, but they are playing much later in the day than I would have anticipated, so I don’t want to move too much at this point. I might be able to sneak off to Palma Violets between Guards (whom I’ve seen up close and personal, opening for Cults back in 2011) and Wild Belle.

All in all, I’m happy. I must admit, my Vampire Weekend tickets for the Kansas City show make this a much easier pill to swallow. But I’ve been getting a kick out of all the people whining on social media about the various conflicts. Like how in the world could you put Nine Inch Nails against the Killers? Or why are Mumford and Sons going up against The Postal Service?

It should come as no surprise that the day’s two headliners would be pitted on opposite ends of the park. And really, is there much debate as to which band you should see, assuming you can maneuver around the park as you wish?

If you need help making a choice, you’re in luck: I’m here to help. I’ll address some of the conflicts I’ve seen discussed on Facebook…

FRIDAY

First off, why is Jessie Ware playing so early? 1:00 is the best she could pull?

Band of Horses vs. Crystal Castles (4:15): A bunch of wusses who make decent tunes against the manic energy of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass. Even though I fear their sound doesn’t translate well live, I’m still going with Crystal Castles.

New Order vs. Queens of the Stone Age (6:15): “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “Age of Consent” and on and on and on vs. the guy whose best work (to my ear) is the stuff he did with John Paul Jones. New Order

Nine Inch Nails vs. the Killers (vs. Lana Del Rey?) (headliners): The worst tracks on The Downward Spiral would easily make the cut against the Killers. And LOLa Del Rey…come on. Nine Inch Nails

SATURDAY (a.k.a. “Bro Day”)

Heartless Bastards (6:00)/Death Grips (7:15) vs. The National (6:00) vs. Kendrick Lamar (6:45) vs. the Lumineers (7:15): Duh. The National

Mumford and Sons vs. the Postal Service vs. Azealia Banks vs. Steve Aoki (headliners): Duh. Get some sleep at the hotel

SUNDAY

Palma Violets (1:00) vs. the Orwells (1:00) vs. Wild Belle (1:30): I like what I’ve heard of Palma Violets, but not quite as much as Wild Belle. Orwells are third, but not meant as an insult. Wild Belle

Lianne La Havas (3:00) vs. MS MR (3:30) vs. Baroness (3:30): Baroness might provide some much-needed testosterone, and MS MR is cool as shit. I’m going with La Havas just to stay in one area, but if everything were equal…MS MR

Grizzly Bear (6:00) vs. Vampire Weekend (6:30): Overrated vs. Hypeworthy. Modern Vampires of the City came out today; I’ve listened to it at least six times all the way through since waking this morning. The tracks that came out early (“Unbelievers,” “Diane Young,” and “Step”) are fantastic (“Step” in particular), and songs on the second half of the album (“Worship You,” “Finger Back,” “Hudson,” and even the quirky “Ya Hey”) get better with each listen. Seriously need to consider that Kickstarter/stage swap idea. Vampire Weekend

The Cure vs. Phoenix (headliners): Of course I’m going to say the Cure. How Phoenix headlines over Vampire Weekend baffles me, so I’m not even going to consider recommending the former against Robert Smith & Co. The Cure is sounding fantastic live with former Bowie guitar man Reeves Gabrels in the fold, and Simon Gallup is still the coolest guy in music.

If you’re going to Lolla, or even if you’re not, I’d like to hear the tough choices you’d make.

Still More Road Trip Revelations

My job sometimes requires me to spend a lot of my day in the car. Today was one of those days with quite a few hours of windshield time. I don’t mind too much. It gives me time to think, reflect on my life and most importantly listen to great music. So, on days like today I sit back, relax and turn up the tunes. After many hours alone in the car though, I tend to have a few random and moronic thoughts. These are just a few of the revelations I came away with on the road today.

Even My Beloved Sirius XMU is Guilty of Massive Repetition

One of the reasons I bought satellite radio, besides the variety, was because I was sick of the repetitive crap on regular radio. I’ve noticed that over the last few road trips my favorite station, Sirius XMU, is terribly repetitive at times. There must be a quota on certain songs because they get played a lot. Ever since Wild Belle took SXSW by storm, their track “Keep You” has been played almost hourly. It’s a great song but come on, let’s not ruin it.

Another song on ridiculous rotation is Tanlines “All of Me”. Over a 10 hour period, I ran a test to see how long it took to them to play “All of Me” after I tuned into the station. Here are the results in the S.H.I.T. scale “Songs Heard In-lieu of Tanlines”.

At no time did they NOT play “All of Me” before I turned the station. So I make a plea to the Sirius XMU DJ’s, “Please, take it easy on the repetition. You’re killing songs for me before they’ve had a chance to live their natural life span…….Fuckers”.

Nothing Oozes Class Like a Set of Fake Testicles on the Back of Your Truck

We’ve all had this experience. You know you’re super cool. Your friends know you’re extra classy. How can you let strangers know this same information while driving your truck around town? Why, trailer hitch testicles, that’s how!

It seems like I’ve seen a million pairs of these truck nut sacks hanging low lately. Here is one I saw on my trip today.

Is this meant to be cool? Is this meant to be funny? Does this guy know he just upped the Hillbilly Coefficient on his truck by an exponential rate? Was the Calvin & Hobbs sticker with Calvin peeing on a Ford logo too highbrow? It just seems spectacularly dumb to me. Maybe I am missing something…nope it’s dumb.

2012 Has Been the “Year of the Women” in Indie Rock

Last year, almost all of my favorite albums were made by male artists. Class Actress’ Rapprocher was the only album by a female artist to make my Top 10 and Cults barely squeaked into the Top 20. This year is totally different. The women are stepping up their game. Frankie Rose, Tennis, Grimes, Mr. Little Jeans (odd name for a solo female), Sleigh Bells, Memoryhouse, Blouse, Field Mouse, 2:54 and Wild Belle have completely taken over my playlists. Granted, some of these are male/female duos, but the dudes are hiding in the background while the chicks are up front kicking ass.

There have been a few dude rockers that have fought there way into my iPod. Bear in Heaven, Tanlines and the aptly named The Men have had short stints in my ever-changing “Love That New Song Smell” playlist. Very few have stuck as long as the women. Congrats ladies. Keep it coming. Hey guys! Wake up! You’re looking bad in 2012.

Van Halen’s “Eruption” is Still Bad-Ass

I flipped to the classic rock channel today and was greeted with the opening guitar lick of Van Halen’s “Eruption”. I turned my car stereo up as loud and these 37 year old ears could take and air guitared along with Eddie just like the old days. It was exhausting, but Eddie and I can still pull off one of the best guitar solos in rock history. Revisit all the Van Haleny goodness below.

All in all it was a pretty good day.  Plenty of tunes. Plenty of low hanging trailer hitch testes. If you see me cruising down the interstate sometime, go ahead and wave. I might just stop my Eddie Van Halen air guitar and wave back.

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: April 2012

Side A : Todd’s Picks

1. Diamond Rings, “On Our Own”

2. Mr. Little Jeans, “Runaway”

3. Blouse, “Into Black”

4. Wild Belle, “Keep You”

5. POP ETC, “Halfway to Heaven”

Side B : Chris’ Picks

1. Crocodiles, “Sunday (Psychic Conversation 9)”

2. Writer, “Family Dinner”

3. THEESatisfaction, “QueenS”

4. Lee Ranaldo, “Off the Wall”

5. Colleen Green, “I Wanna Be Degraded” (live)