ALMOST LIVE & DIRECT: Matador At 21 In Vegas[Photo by KEVIN FRACE]



10:30 AM / I’ve finally fallen in love with Twitter, at least the idea of using Twitter at a hashmarkian event such as this. It’s one thing to comment freely with your friends from choice seats, but another to experience the intimacy of a dozen strangers spread out about a concert hall, echoing both your internalized sentiments and the re-tweets of others. Throughout the weekend, #matador21’s running commentary answered many a question (how pissed is Spiral Stairs right now?), confirmed a few secret perks (open bar at 4AM?!?), fueled laughs (Perfume Genius took it much too hard) and validated the obvious (Rob Corddry, in the house!). By Tuesday, the gathered would return to the hashmark, mourning the lack of new tweets as if watching a friend die a slow death, seemingly holding out hope that it won’t be too soon to celebrate a 25th.

2:45 PM / Amazing. Times New Viking play live with whatever it is that creates such lo-fi, pseudo-tape hiss atmospherics on disc. Even Adam Elliot’s high hat looks one shard away from being useless. But they do it so well, with such joyful indiscretion, that I won’t reveal which bandmate doesn’t wash their hands after taking a piss. Hint – it wasn’t Beth.

3:50 PM / I’ll admit that I knew next to nothing of The Clean before seeing these veteran New Zealanders play in front of an audience that included member representation of nearly every other band in the smaller ballroom area. One listen to “Diamond Shine” and I’ll bet a handful joined me in ordering up their anthology. That good.

7:10 PM / I’m tired. Extremely. Shearwater aren’t helping. So I decide on a quick nap, and find myself sharing an elevator ride with Liz Phair. A fellow rider asks how she’s feeling, obviously referring to a 20-minute set Phair has ahead of Yo La Tengo later tonight. She slumps her shoulders down her already small frame. “I feel like this,” she says, “But really aiming for this.” She straightens out and smiles. I paraphrase. Suddenly, I want to apologize for everything I ever said about her post Guyville output. Instead, I wish her luck and nap. Later, Ted Leo (easily the party’s most ubiquitous participant) joins her for a set closing rendition of “Fuck and Run”. All is forgiven.

8:20 PM/ My nap runs long. I miss Ted Leo. Embarrassing.

9:10 PM / And it’s about this time during the festivities when the long-gestating wait for Guided By Voices becomes unbearable enough for a few drunken meatheads to begin shouting down the pop mastery of the New Pornographers. They are way too polite about it, and I worry that some will walk away with only Dan Bejar’s hair at the forefront of their impressions. And they do.

10:09/ Did I mention that the team of Scharpling and Wurster absolutely killed tonight as MC’s?

10:35 PM / Next to Ted Leo, Yo La Tengo were the fest’s second most ubiquitous presence – chatting up fans at the VIP party, lounging in the lobby, watching Times New Viking shoulder to shoulder with fans…they were everywhere, always in tandem, and extremely good natured. And then they got up on stage and absolutely slayed, which is perhaps going against everything you’d expect Yo La Tengo to do. At least everything I expected Yo La Tengo to do, especially as aggressively as they did it – balancing tracks that wound down into a stewy bed of feedback with moments of insider uplift. Their versioning of “Nuclear War” as a Matador shout-out session was the thanks we all owed. Their set, perhaps the weekend’s best.

12:15 AM / And then they came. If there was anything to be disappointed by in regards to Guided By Voices, it was that it was exactly what you were craving, and nothing more. The “original” line-up tore through their greatest hits, which means they pretty much played everything off Bee Thousand thru Under the Bushes..., harkening back to an era when the tandem of Pollard/Sprout could’ve/should’ve/would’ve become our McCartney/Lennon if not for Pollard fleeing the label he now was feting. And by their second encore, they were absolutely shit-faced. If at the onset of the weekend I dared let Rolling Stone question the “State of Rock,” by 2AM Monday, as a pit full of fans nearly half – HALF – my age sang in unison to “Don’t Stop Now,” my generation was suddenly vindicated. They merely want what we were having. Bartender, this round…on the house.

2:50 AM / I stayed up late, near 3 o’clock, so a cab driver could take me to the lookout rock. My flight left at six, On the way out, they were already taking down the sign in front of the Palms. Karaoke blazed into the night. By daylight, the club was closed. Hail, hail, rock and roll.

[Photo by KEVIN FRACE]


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