Live in LA

Photo by Mark Hefflinger

THE FOO FIGHTERS at Roswell Air Force Base, New Mexico, Sat., June 18 “I’ve always considered Roswell my Mecca,” said Dave Grohl, performing inside the very hangar where, in 1947, Air Force personnel supposedly hid the remains of a UFO crash. In addition to calling his label Roswell Records — and naming his band after the mysterious glowing balls nicknamed by WWII pilots — lead Foo Fighter Grohl once made a cameo on The X-Files. So this Roswell concert was as much a pilgrimage for Grohl as for the several hundred radio-contest winners flown in from L.A., Seattle, Minneapolis and Newark. It was also a celebration marking the band’s 10th anniversary and new electric/acoustic double album, In Your Honor. (Of course, a corporate sponsor was behind the stunt: RealNetworks, keen to promote its iTunes/Napster rival service, Rhapsody.) Seated next to me on the bus ride from parking lot B to LAX were Rachel “Agent” Mulder and Denise Judy, two 40-something friends from Redlands who won tickets to the show from KROQ. One reporter was seen frantically gulping down hooch as we neared security — alcohol was forbidden on our journey, to the chagrin of all pilgrims, though my own precious mini-bottles would pass inspection without detection. (That same reporter would later allegedly sneak off to bang a member of the concert’s promo team in a decommissioned TWA airliner on the Roswell tarmac — only to lose a cell phone in the kerfuffle!) To spook-ify the otherwise quite ordinary Air Force hangar, WWII Navy fighter planes were wheeled in, along with some of the schlock you might see cruising Nevada’s “Extraterrestrial” Highway 375: balsa-wood-and-foil UFOs, life-size aliennequins, and the obligatory dude hawking UFO T-shirts. At the mediocre BBQ-for-500 before the show, two local high school girls shared that they had “known the right people” to get in. A dot-com dude on crutches from Seattle said he’d won passage online. Everyone I talked to said they liked the Foo Fighters, but there was no plurality of die-hard pilgrims. During their 90-minute set the Foos played mostly the polished, KROQ Metal Lite off the electric half of In Your Honor. Grohl popped serious neck veins on tunes like “Best of You,” the Bush-hating song the band played at the MTV Music Awards (in lieu of Nine Inch Nails’ more overtly anti-Bush “The Hand That Feeds,” censored by the network). While an acoustic mini-set might have been nice, Grohl did perform a pretty, subdued “Everlong” before jumping into the high-spirited crowd to rip a solo atop a folding chair. The big elephant in the hangar at this point was that I am no Foos fan, as much as I dig most every other record Grohl has played on. That said, the inventive invasion was well-executed (except for the no-beer thing) and not painfully cheesy, despite the corporate radio/major label promoters. When the head count for our return flight came up one short, abduction theories were winkingly floated, before the crew relayed with a snigger that the band would have one extra passenger on their Learjet back to L.A.

—Mark Hefflinger

Ozomatli: Not your older sister's rave band! Photo by Wild Don Lewis ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL at the NOS Events Center, San Bernardino, Sat., June 25 In years past, the Electric Daisy Carnival has been a club kid’s delight, a giant electronic Woodstock: lots of free love and light sticks; a mini-lake with fountains; girls pairing underwear with fairy wings and 6-inch boots — not to mention dance halls decorated for one trippy fluorescent prom. This year, organizers partnered with Spaceland to include an indie/dance-punk/hip-hop tent, where Louis XIV’s lead vocalist–guitarist Jason Hill proved he’s a flat-out shredder, commanding the attention of every guitar geek in the room. Drummer Mark Maigaard, like Carla Azar from Autolux (who also performed), is another one to watch. The Donnas, VHS or Beta and Moving Units took turns onstage; winding up the night were L.A.’s Ozomatli and Jurassic 5. Both acts had the audience sweating, jumping and waving their hands in the air . . . okay, like they just didn’t care. Ozo call themselves “style-mashers,” bringing Latin rhythms with an underground hip-hop heart. While Cut Chemist wasn’t in house, Nu-Mark stepped up alongside J5’s four MCs (and a guy who did backflips) to bring an eclectic beat-thumping, ass-whoopin’ good time. Highlights of the mainstage included Junkie XL, who presented a mind-numbing set, laying out spiraling cuts that created a vibe somewhere between a chill-out room and sweaty dance floor. L.A. legends the Crystal Method followed to bring down the house: Scott Kirkland’s energy was insane as he sang/screamed along to samples ranging from R&B to Metallica, stood at the edge of stage dancing, threw water on the crowd (who probably needed it) and manned the decks with partner Ken Jordan. No matter how worn out the crowd might have been after six hours of dancing/rocking, TCM got every one back on their feet.

—Tatiana Simonian

STONES THROW TOUR at the Vanguard, Fri., June 24 Stones Throw fans know damn well how to spirit marijuana past security, so it didn’t take long at the indie hip-hop label’s tour showcase before the smoke began to spread. The chilled-out vibe carried over into Medaphoar’s set, which featured Beat Junkie legend J.Rocc and ’Throw regular Dudley Perkins firing off rounds from Med’s new album, Push Comes to Shove. Things picked up noticeably when Perkins claimed the spotlight, ambling through “Flowers,” his blunted ode to — what else? — pot. Spot the pattern? You couldn’t miss it once J.Rocc and ’Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf turned in chest-shattering DJ sets — setting the table for Madlib, who emerged onstage with one simple question: “Where my weedheads at?” Anyone surprised by the query obviously didn’t know Madlib too well. With every Madlib/Quasimoto effort — including 2000’s The Unseen and his latest, The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, the Oxnard-bred artist has built a productive career out of herbal appreciation. But let’s not forget that Madlib is the nephew of trumpeter Jon Faddis, who played with Mingus and Dizzy, and son of soul man Otis Jackson Sr. In other words, he’s got skills. Accordingly, Mad ran the gamut on Friday: He gave the Vanguard a taste of his bebop chops while manning a drum kit for a Yesterday’s New Quintet jam with J.Rocc on the decks, imploring the crowd to study up on their John Coltrane and Miles Davis along the way. But he also exhibited his singular gift for rhyme, cycling through Quasimoto and Jaylib favorites like “Bullyshit,” “The Red” and more. In other words, Madlib’s passionate investment in musical history is what ultimately mesmerized the Vanguard. And it’s also what sets him apart from hip-hop’s bling-hawkers, after all.

—Scott Thill


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