Archive for the Fest Category

Being the undisputed second-best indie / college / progressive / alternative band ever, (The) Arcade Fire is coming to Jazzfest. I had written off Jazzfest after the ticket prices went up and the beers started costing five bucks (for a fucking Miller Lite). Plus, those are big days at the Square and if I’m not making money I’m losing it so there is an added cost there. But this year they pulled a fast one and wrangled The Decemberists and (The) Arcade Fire so they got me back one last time in a non-art selling capacity.

Here are ten great songs by (The) Arcade Fire…

“Wake Up” from Funeral
I guess all Arcade Fire lists, articles, discussions should include “Wake Up” their most crucial and defining song. Epic. Anthemic. Anguished. “Wake Up” is all these things. It is a relentless, driven portrait of a souls’ descent from youthful exuberance to a bitter and woeful maturity. It is about all the broken promises and all the scuttled dreams of all the youths in all of us. And yes, it ends in death.

And some of us may remember it was used as background music for this NFL commercial the year the Saints went to the Super Bowl…

“Haiti” from Funeral
A simple two-chord song written by Régine Chassagne for her former homeland. Some lyrics used to decorate the top of The Chicory in the years after the storm.

“Neighborhood #2 (Laika) from Funeral
Named after the cutest dog who was ever burned up in space by the Russians. The song uses the dog’s one-way mission to symbolize an older brother running away from home presumably, like Laika, never to return.

I used it for a video project a few years back…

“Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)” from Funeral
The conclusion of the four “neighborhood” songs from Funeral uses bowed strings and guitar to bring the series to its plaintive conclusion.

“Crown of Love” from Funeral
Starts slow, sparse, deliberate and pleading then builds to frenzied desperation with growing instruments and vocals.

“Intervention” from Neon Bible
Their second album had nothing but a name in common with John Kennedy Toole’s unfinished novel. Pipe organ intro and Chassagne backing vocals are intense on the lead track that adeptly increased the anticipation of the incoming album.

“Keep the Car Running” from Neon Bible
A fantastic driving song that bears striking resemblance to this song from Eddie and the Cruisers.

“My Body is a Cage” from Neon Bible
Perhaps the most despondent Arcade Fire and that’s saying a lot.

“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from The Suburbs
I have a tendency to favor songs that feature Chassange on vocals but the spirit and theme of Sprawl II is one that many of us can rally behind. The suburbs are an expanse of conformity and assimilation, within them are the undiscovered artists and geniuses of our world who may or may not ever unfurl. “Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.”

“City With No Children” from The Suburbs
Another uplifting number from the band’s Grammy-winning album that many feel was their third-best effort. Though The Suburbs was truly an amazing disc with a clear and distinct theme throughout.

or at least they should after this Alex Rawls post…


Now, to me, the posters never had much value anyway. The entire numbered print / poster approach to art is a huge racket generated by the artists and the dealers to get the most revenue out of a single image. Don’t ever buy one.

As for Jazzfest posters, look at the huge prices they are demanding on Craigslist…

Then there is Ebay… Lots of Buy It Now on there. Lots of 0 bids. Lots of people selling Jazzfest posters.

If you can’t smell or feel or gaze upon the acrylics or oils of your art, don’t buy it. If your piece is one out of 500, that means 500 other people have that exact same shit. If it’s signed by the artist or the subject, that means at some point that person was near your piece. That’s it.

But what’s great about Rawls’ post is that he isn’t even commenting on all that. He’s technically questioning the value of the original art. He makes some very valid critiques too. It’s not just his 1-in-6,500,000,000 opinion. I am thinking after reading Rawls’ post that perhaps Garland Robinette took a photo of a young Buffet and painted it and then put a French Quarter behind him? He may have been better off staging the scene in the Quarter and then just painting Buffet’s face on the model.

Rawls adeptly sums it all up here and I agree…

In the end, this year’s Jazz Fest poster is like so many Jazz Fest posters; it represents the depressing decision to aim low. Each year, it acknowledges people’s love of New Orleans and the festival, then sells them the equivalent of a Bourbon Street T-shirt.

New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 to feature Arcade Fire, Bon Jovi, Kid Rock, Wilco and many more

Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G will likely appear on Jazz Fest’s Congo Square stage. He is extremely popular with African-American audiences, as evidenced by his headlining set at an early Essence Music Festival in the Superdome.

This majestic thing…

…will soon be seen by me.

The Acura stage gets a bad rap and, granted, most of it is deserved. It’s like the Wild, Wild West over there quite often and conventional wisdom is to avoid it. However, if I followed conventional wisdom yesterday I would have missed some very unique and memorable Jazzfest moments.

Even though I was considering not going at all this year due to high ticket prices and a general state of being broke (this is an argument I’ll indulge in the comments if anyone wants to address it), I was given a set of tix at the last minute (thanks Chick w/ Sticks) and got into the spirit of things accordingly.

First things first, they have some of the best folk artists in the country this year. Of particular note were Bryan Cunningham, Woody Jones and Dolan Geiman. Some critique could be made that they should focus on local artists but, as a local, I prefer the out of towners because I see the locals all the time. Of course local artists stand to make a ton of money and get much more exposure through a booth at Jazzfest also. Either way, I enjoyed the artists they chose. They really folked it up. Amen.

We dawdled for a while then made our way to the Acura stage and put up with a fair share of bumping and pushing as Allison Krause, Robert Plant and T-Bone Burnett took the stage. They started slow and haunting and built throughout the set. Krause’s voice and skills on the fiddle were amazing. Robert Plant was gracious both to her and New Orleans. It was a tremendous show.

With heaping doses of respect to Robert Plant, Allison Krause’s voice was above and beyond the show’s crown jewel. Even though the Acura stage can be distracting, Krauss cut it like Ashley Morris in his college band. She also sung Robert Plant better than Robert Plant. What would have been truly transcendental would have been a cover of Immigrant song with Krauss playing the lead guitar part on the fiddle. However, I can see how that might have been a bit cliched as Immigrant is one of the most cliched songs in rock. It does rock like fuck though.

Great moments of this show were Krauss singing her version of “Down to the River” and the version of “Battle of Evermore” a short clip of which exists here.

After that show we made our way over to Congo Square and immersed ourselves in its mellow atmosphere. Much love to Congo Square. The people are always cool and its a great spot to just spread out a blanket and worship. Worship the sun. Worship the band. Worship the culture. Just worship.

After a an hour or so listening to Burning Spear, we made our way back to the Acura stage because, and here is my confession, I have always had a thing for Sheryl Crow. Yes, I know she can often delve into pop schmaltz. Yes, I know there is some controversy surround her breakout album Tuesday Night Music Club. But, she earned her chops singing back up for years. She seems like a helluva woman to drink a beer with. She plays the guitar and sings. And she’s got a great sound and even a nice ass. So, I had to catch her. My dad has a thing for Cher. I have a thing for Crow.

Since we arrived late, getting close was not an option. So we spread out a blanket and just sat in the back, checked her out through binoculars (yes, I bring them) and watched the screens. We caught a few songs and then she said goodnight. I never thought there were encores at the Jazzfest so I began to leave. Romy stopped me and suggested there might be an encore. So we moved up front and stopped pretty close to the stage after all the campers, exhausted from fighting for their spot all day, cleared out.

Sure thing, Crow came out for one more song, an awesome cover of “Rock ‘n’ Roll” that got the crowd really fired up. She said it was a tribute to Plant and, to be honest, his presence on stage the act before had the whole crowd in a general Zeppelin state of mind so they effin loved it. I loved it. It was a great Jazzfest moment. Everybody was hollerin’ “Oooooh yea! Oooo-oooo yea!” all the way out. Both Crow and Krauss really belted out the Zepplin vocals causing me to wonder if Plant’s vocals are generally fit to a woman’s voice.

Anyway, a couple great shows. I’m very glad it was not forsook. I am grateful and a better person for it. Praise Fess.

Pics here.