By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Happy summer! It’s been a historic couple of weeks in Hollywood — what with Paul McCartney gigs, White Stripes in-stores and Prince residencies. (See my Prince concert notes below.) But summer’s just begun, and the next two weeks offer some worthwhile rock doings.
ROBOTS INVADE L.A.: Daft Punk make pop music in the guise of electronica, and it’s an absolutely delightful celebration of music itself — from the Beach Boys to Parliament to glam rock and beyond. Ten years after they recorded their live album (Daft Punk: Alive 1997), the robots return to L.A. to launch a limited tour of the U.S. I am excited as shit to see them, and feel horribly lucky. (I missed their much-ballyhooed set at last year’s Coachella.)
Daft Punk play the L.A. Sports Arena on Sat., July 21.
? BEATLES INVADE THE EGYPTIAN: If you’re a Beatles fan, a documentary-film buff, or just a regular guy like me, you are gently urged to check out a beyond-rare screening of the film What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (1964), opening the Mods & Rockers film fest this weekend at the Egyptian. This intensely intimate documentary was shot with hand-held cameras by the legendary Maysles brothers — who had crazy access to the Fabs during their first U.S. trip. Largely filmed in hotel rooms, train compartments and even inside the Beatles’ limos, this is the documentary that inspired A Hard Day’s Night. And it makes an excellent companion to that film, providing real-life glimpses of the boys’ first serious reckoning with their own monstrous stardom. And, my God, they smoked a lot! The quiet moments are also revealing: They seem dazed and tired at times, perhaps already creatively restless — in one shot, John sits in a chair, fiddling with a whistle, almost absent-mindedly playing what sounds like “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
A re-edited version of this film was released in 1994 (The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit), but this pristine original cut is bizarrely unavailable anywhere, and has never been released on DVD. (Don’t even try to Netflix it, yo.) Note: The rest of the festival is also fab, seriously, and includes the much-whispered-about, rarely seen ’06 doc Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) (Saturday, July 14); The Beach Boys Live in London (Sunday, July 15); and Led Zeppelin Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Wednesday, July 18).
What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. shows Friday, July 13, at the Egyptian Theatre with the Maysles’ Gimme Shelter. For tickets, go to www.modsandrockers.com.
? PRINCE INVADES HOLLYWOOD: As a Prince fan, I’m deeply enjoying his rebirth as an aspiring pop star. Maybe he’s matured, maybe he needs the money, or maybe he just can’t stand life outside the spotlight — it doesn’t matter, really. The good news is, Prince seems to have outgrown his ?grudge against major labels and the world in general, and is eager once again to be a part of mainstream pop culture.
What’s a little less inspiring is the fact that he’s doing the whole corporate tie-in thing to promote his upcoming album and world tour: The “video” for “Guitar,” the first single off the forthcoming Planet Earth, is basically an ad for a certain cell-phone company.
Whatever. The song is no “Let’s Go Crazy,” but I’ll take it any day over anything off Come, The Rainbow Children, et al. And during his recent residency at the Roosevelt Hotel — I caught the show on Friday, June 29 — “Guitar” fit in nicely with a carefully chosen set list heavy on golden-era hits ’n’ B-sides.
One of the strangest things during the show, though, was watching Prince be forced to “warm up” the audience — who were chatting loudly in the back of the room for maybe the first half hour of the show (which began at 12:30 a.m. and lasted about 90 minutes). (This was not the case at his Las Vegas gig, which I reviewed in the spring.)
No doubt the audience was waiting for a hit: Prince and his band opened with a New Orleans–style “Down by the Riverside,” which morphed into a 20-minute gospel-blues vamp on “Satisfied,” off his last album, 3121. His new lyrics were hilarious — about his “cockeyed” woman (who asks for the pepper but looks at the salt!) — and proved that comic timing is yet another weapon Prince carries on his Total Entertainer tool belt. (And let’s not forget that unearthly falsetto, which he used to impressive ends in the opener.)
The set list was surprisingly similar to the Vegas show I caught, but this time I wasn’t as bothered by the brass section — specifically, the way its sonic harshness can bleach the darkness and mystery from Prince’s compositions. I still think “If I Was Your Girlfriend” suffers under the pomp and crash of the brass, but mostly the arrangements felt appropriate to the moment: This was meant to be a debauched house party more than a concert. It wasn’t meant to be the Total Journey a Prince fan always longs for, and experiences through his best albums.