BY JAMES DOOLITTLE
5:20 AM / Next to my toilet sits Rolling Stone‘s “State of Rock” issue. Dated from April, it has stared back at me for nearly half-a-year, it’s exclamatory font side-saddled with the Black Eyed Peas. Fergie looks frighteningly intense, perhaps from the weight of being factored into the equation. The state of rock? Daily, the juxtaposition brings snarky joy.
I’ve perused the issue perhaps once, with MGMT and Animal Collective the only other inclusions that leap immediately to mind. Perhaps there are additional worthies inside, a roadmap to rock’s salvation in the year of our lord, 2010. Quick peek – the new Hole album gets three stars. The gospel shall be read.
6:45AM / But will I have time for reading? Granted the flight to Vegas will keep me skybound for six hours, but that time may be best served sleeping ahead. After all, I began Friday at 5AM EST with a shit and a shower, and the day won’t end until after 4AM PST, when Harlem wraps the after parties for day one of Matador’s 21st Birthday Party. Sammiched in between – Guitar Wolf, Chavez, Fucked Up, Sonic Youth and Pavement. A Ted Leo covers session is also rumored.
Will I have time for reading? Fuck no.
11:37AM / Despite the presence of buzzy upstarts like Esben and the Witch, Girls and Dead Meadow, you’d be somewhat full of caca if making the case that the 3-night festival’s focus was the current state of rock. For most in attendance (myself included), the draw is nostalgia, with a line-up chock full of artists that speak to a fabled past, where sonic youths and those guided by voices roamed the Earth.
So for at least this weekend, the DeLorean’s name is Delta, the timestamp reads approximately 1995, and the locale itself is the definition of surface gleam – where Cher, Celine and Garth still rule the charts. And beneath the surface – and in the case of the Palm’s Pearl Theater, literally in the basement – a flock has gathered with wall-to-wall ams that plant the state of rock most assuredly in the past. Happy Birthday, Matador. You sound great legal.
4:40PM / The VIP Party. Sailor Jerry represents with loaded Arnold Palmers. The Miller High Life, warm. New Pornographers mix with Yo La Tengos. And the Hardwood fantasy suite reverberates with rim shots. In editorial retrospect, the square footage of the actual court will represent the only area in the Matador staging areas that lacks game, proven by an atrocious hipster jump shot percentage and the fact that no one was seen driving the lane.
7:25PM / I have no idea who Jeffrey Joe Jensen is. From the sounds of things, tonight’s MC has a killer prank phone call album to his credit. But if the duties at hand seemed an easy layup, the dude’s clearly club footed. The joke concerning the critically lauded Liz Phair ending up on his “poll” nearly matches the douchery probably underway at DJ Pauly D’s set advertised elsewhere in the facility. Reality, please don’t intrude.
7:54PM / I had an overtly worded expose on the significance of Guitar Wolf’s opening set, but tweeter @CurtoWorld summed it with more succinct verbage in stating “I couldn’t understand a word Guitar Wolf sang in Japanese, but I got the message when they each threw a double bird at the crowd.” ‘Nuff said.
9:10PM / For a bill heralded for it’s regroupings – the original GBV lineup, Pavement, Come – Chavez regrettably got little ink, a fact made more obvious when surveying the empty seating section of the theater. Pity. The nearby diehards prefaced the set with apprehension, having heard of their less than stellar regrouping a few years back. Apprehension be damned. For forty minutes, Matt Sweeney and company performed masterfully. These chops, well done.
10:00PM / Were these Canadians even given a slug in regards to the “state of rock”? If not, for shame, for while the book here isn’t being rewritten, their thrash adaptation is blazingly alive, kicking the energy level in the room up a few notches. Frontman Pink Eyes roamed the floor area, screaming, confiding and heckling his way into the audience’s revved up hearts. Unsurprisingly, the band itself looks nothing like they sound – besides Pink, that is. Big, hairy and dare I say, cuddly. He’s even a father, bringing out his toddler for a duet. My heart for a pacifier.
11:15PM / Sonic Youth. Ass kickers. With one Matador album to their credit, they barely qualify for the bill, so why not focus their entire set on their pre-1995 output, with a majority share in the ’80s. Bliss ensues. Stoners seen leaving content.
12:40AM / Is it me, or is it obvious that the Pavement reunion isn’t a happy one. Spiral Stairs looks pissed, and not just at the sound team, who seemingly can’t get his monitoring right. Malkmus completely plays away from him, and the rest of the band seems to be working OT to keep the peace onstage (bless you, Saint Nastanovich). Nevertheless, it’s that state of emotional unpredictability that gives the set an edge their halycon days of yesteryear rarely showcased. “Stop dreaming” – literally.
1:30AM / It’s official – Ted Leo and Fucked Up sharing an after hours bill comprised largely of covers. The morning tweets insinuate that the high point of day one occurred at 2:05AM PST with the bands converging on the Sex Pistol’s “Bodies”. People, it was 5:05AM EST. I was asleep.
My roommate texts “pussy.” I respond “old”.
Malkmus down by KEVIN FRACE