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Live Wired: Controversy Of Airing Festivals Online

Technology is changing the world as we know it every day. We all know that new technology and advanced knowledge may lead to incredible achievements but they also result in criticism. When technology is used properly, an industry can do great things. But there will always be the people who want things done “the old-fashioned way”. Within in the music industry, new technology has completely changed the way things are done and the opportunities available. From social-networking Web sites to digital music and illegal downloading, the way that people consume and connect with music has changed drastically in recent years.

One prominent example of this involves music festivals. Not able to afford a ticket? Live thousands of miles away? You no longer have to worry because most of these events now bring the entertainment to you for free…and you don’t even have to leave the house! This year, many of the big music festivals began live streaming their performances online. Coachella used YouTube, where fans could choose between three different stages at any given time to watch their favorite acts. NPR Music and Limelight Networks provided SXSW with the means to stream featured performances over the course of the festival.  HullabaLOU Music Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music And Art Festival also followed this growing trend. In addition to festivals, Ben Folds even took to Chatroulette during one of his live performances last year and improvised songs about the random people he was connected with through the Web site. Overseas, BBC aired performances from the huge Glastonbury Festival, which takes place every year in England.

Legendary lead singer of the rock band The Who, Roger Daltrey has been vocal about his aversion to the concept of airing live music festivals. In speaking to BBC Radio in Scotland last month he certainly didn’t hold back, saying that the TV coverage makes him “want to puke”. He elaborated by explaining that “most of the mystique is taken away” with this recent development. He also criticized the idea because he doesn’t believe artists are able to benefit much from it. Daltrey commented on the industry as a whole, saying, “I think the record industry has been decimated by free downloading and touring is becoming incredible expensive”. Having been a part of the music world for a long time now, he certainly has a different perspective on the way it has been shifting. But, are his complaints valid? (more…)

Q&A With Foxy Shazam

You can try, but you probably can’t put an accurate label on Foxy Shazam. Their eccentric and eclectic mix of punk, soul and straight up rock ‘n’ roll has earned the band critical praise and performances at Lollapollooza, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Reading & Leeds. Following a summer tour with Hole and the release of their smash self-titled album, the band recently finished a two-month cross-country stint with Free Energy and is preparing for another huge year in 2011.

One might expect that outrageously energetic 24-year-old frontman Eric Nally lives an equally wild life. On the contrary”offstage, he is a soft-spoken, friendly father of two. We had the pleasure of speaking with Eric about touring memories, writing with Meat Loaf, modern day rock stars and what it’s like to lead a double life.

OS: You’ve just finished your fall tour with Free Energy. How were the shows and what were some of your favorite moments from the tour?

EN: We went to the UK for a week in between this tour and that was awesome. I loved that because we sold out London for the first time. It was big for me because we’re from Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s just really far from home. To sell a place out so far away is an awesome feeling; to bring your music to a different country and do that. I liked playing Montreal because Hollerado, the band that’s opening on this tour, is from there. All their crowd was out and it was just really fun.

OS: Foxy Shazam is well known for its incredible, off-the-wall performances. What inspires the band to become so theatrical on stage?

EN: I usually tell people, “that’s just the way we were born!” It’s just natural to us. We  don’t have to do any preparation or any pre-show rituals to summon these things on stage, they just come out naturally. It’s just the way we came out of our moms, I guess. When I’m on stage, I’m an entertainer…when I’m off stage, I’m a spectator. So I just kind of sit back and watch and soak everything in. When I go on stage, I let it all out.

OS: You’ve stated that Foxy Shazam are “not concerned with what category it falls into.” Do you often find that people are trying to fit you into a genre or compare you to other bands because they’re not sure where to place you?

EN: Yeah, that happens all the time. Anybody I ever meet that’s an artist…everybody wants to be themselves. But really, in the way that everything works now, it’s just what people have to do. I accept that. Everything needs to be compared to something else just so you can wrap your head around it easier, I guess. Either way, I don’t mind it, but people do try to compare or group us into a category. Every time it’s different, so it’s cool.

OS: You’ve said that you would never want to make the same record again and the evolution of the band’s music has certainly reflected that. How do you see Foxy Shazam’s music evolving in the future?

EN: I don’t know…every record we make kind of stands for where I am at that moment. I’d have to kind of be in the moment to understand, but that’s exciting for me. I really like not knowing. It’s kind of cool to not think about it and not prepare.

OS: In the song “Wannabe Angel” from your self-titled record, you sing, “For you I wear this mask, at home I take it off.” Is it difficult to transition between your life as a rock star and your life as a dad and husband?

EN: Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say with that. I feel like I’m a completely different person when I’m on stage. It’s kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing and that’s awesome to me. It’s like how actors do…entertainers, really. It’s just who I am. Being a dad compared to being a professional touring musician…it’s just the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I feel so different when I’m not on stage.

OS: Earlier this year, you helped write some songs for Meat Loaf’s album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. What was your role in the writing process? Would you be interested in writing for other artists again?

EN: Absolutely! I love being associated with people that have rich history in music and Meat Loaf is obviously one of those people. I just co-wrote two songs with Justin Hawkins who used to be in The Darkness”he’s one of my best friends now. It was just awesome. We went there together and we wrote together and sat with Meat Loaf. It was great, I made a lot of good friends through that whole experience.  A lot of the other writers that were there were a lot older and have done stuff like that before. That was something that I couldn’t believe I was experiencing so early in my career.

OS: Are there any artists in particular that you’d like to write for?

EN: I would love to, whether it’s writing or whatever, work with Cee-Lo Green sometime. I think he has the best voice in music right now. I think it’s just awesome, it hits me in the right spot. It’s the perfect voice for me. I’d love to work with him someday.

OS: Foxy Shazam was one of the first bands featured on ChatRoulette for album promotion, but you aren’t a huge proponent of bands using social media. Can you share your thoughts on that?

EN: I feel like the rock star is kind of a dying breed, we’re becoming extinct. You don’t seem them very much anymore. I think one of the most important things about what that persona was, was that you didn’t know them. It was almost like a mythical creature. People would gather backstage for hours just to catch a glimpse…and you don’t get that anymore. People know everything that everybody does because of Twitter and Facebook and they’re updating constantly. Everybody’s so human now, I guess, which is fine. That’s how it’s always been, everybody’s just a person. But I think there was this certain mysteriousness about the artist and that’s not really around anymore. So I kind of try to keep that going. I think it’s important to have people make their own stories about you rather than know the hard facts because chances are the hard facts are extremely boring (laughs).

OS: Foxy Shazam has recently announced some big touring plans for 2011. Can you tell us about the tours and festivals you’ll be playing next year?

EN: In January, we have a tour with Circa Survive. That will be awesome because I’ve heard their new record is great. I haven’t heard it but I’m really anxious to! I’ve heard a lot about that band and I know a lot of people who know them and they say they’re great guys and that’s really important to me, to share a tour with people that are nice. I’m really excited about that one, I think it will be awesome. Then we go to Australia [for the Soundwave Festival] in February and I’m really looking forward to it. I just love taking my music to different countries. I’ve never been to Australia, so it will be awesome. We have a bunch of days off in between the shows there so I’m going to do a lot of sight-seeing.

Check out this live video of Foxy Shazam performing “The Rocketeer” and don’t miss them on their upcoming tour dates, listed below!


Dec 16 Detroit, MI – Shelter
Dec 17 DeKalb, IL – House Cafe w/Victorian Halls & ‘Richardson’ Richardson
Dec 18 Minneapolis, MN – Popsickle Festival w/Motion City Soundtrack, Minus The Bear & more!
Dec 19 Kalamazoo, MI – The Strutt w/Their Teeth Will Be of Lions
Jan 14 Richmond, VA “ The National w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 15 Charlotte, NC “ Amos Southend w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 16 Ashville, NC “ Orange Peel w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 18 St. Louis, MO “ Pop’s w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 19 Omaha, NE “ The Slowdown w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 20 Des Moines, IA “ People’s Court w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 21 Grand Rapids, MO “ Orbit Room w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 22 Columbus, OH “ Newport Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 24 Cincinnati, OH “ Bogarts w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 26 Baltimore, MD “ Rams Head Live w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 28 Rochester, NY “ Water Street Music Hall w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 29 Albany, NY “ Northern Lights w/Circa Survive and Anberlin
Jan 30 Allentown, PA “ Crocodile Rock w/Circa Survive and Anberlin

Feb 26 Brisbane, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
Feb 27 Sydney, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 4 Melbourne, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 5 Adelaide, AU- Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!
March 7 Perth, AU – Soundwave Festival w/Iron Maiden, 30 Seconds to Mars & more!

Wrapping up CMJ 2010

Taxi rides from east to west side; uptown todowntown, overlapping forty- to one-hour set times in Brooklyn and Manhattan, droves lined up to see the next big thing, open bars and deeply-discounted beers”this was the daily agenda for attendees at the 2010 CMJ Music Marathon.

Things moved expeditiously and, for the most part, the tightly-knit sets stayed on schedule from Tuesday through closing in the wee morning hours on Sunday. Wide-eyed by the first day and nearly trudging from venue to venue mid-way through the week, attendees and artists had their work cut out for them. This year, the CMJ Music Marathon was jam-packed with some of the most buzzed-about artists”most from New York”who had more multiple spots than last year, easing some of the timetable anxieties.

Courtesy of Patrick J. Eves

Bursts of electro and new wave pulsated throughout the five-day event. New York trio, BRAHMS, made the room dance from the moment they helped kick-off CMJ Tuesday night at a Piano’s showcase. Singer Eric Lyle Lodwick darkly thumped through each track like Dave Gahan making BRAHMS a melodious addiction. The name Oberhofer could be heard here and there. Fronted by Brad Oberhofer, the subtle guitars, meshed with keyboard  have a few chiming hints of Vampire Weekend in tracks like AWY FRM U, off the band’s debut, o0O0o0O0o, produced by Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. Sydney’s Cassette Kids, who now reside in Brooklyn, didn’t fail to make patrons stir in and around their standing-room spots as vocalist Katrina Noorberger, like a willowy Terri Nunn, commanded the stage with her dirty dance-rock beats.

Courtesy of Patrick J. Eves

Out-of-towners brought as much hype to the daily time slots. Boasting five CMJ gigs under their belts, Newport Beach, Calif.’s Young the Giant offered their soul- and synth-fused set with tambourine-slapping Sameer Gadhia evoking some murmurs of Brandon Flowers vocals. A New Zealand Showcase presented an electronic beat down from Bowie-loving, petite powerhouse Zowie and the more Scissor Sisters-ridden Kids of 88 while Robert and David Perlick Molinari  of French Horn Rebellion filled Santos Party House with whimsical, electro beats (French horns included) as one of the last to perform Sunday morning at 1:30 AM.

A mix of dance, rock and DJ sets took place the final two days at the FADER Fort, reminiscent of a rave house, and some surprises filled in the week, including Phoenix, housed in a packed Madison Square Garden with surprise guests Daft Punk. A rumored turned confirmed appearance by Kanye West with new artist CyHi Da Prynce at the Brooklyn Bowl Fool’s Gold Records Anniversary Party heightened the end of the fest by Saturday night. Here’s to CMJ 2011.

Kanye West Live at CMJ via TimeOutNewYork

By Tina Benitez

Tina Benitez is a contributing writer, who covers music, wine and pop culture from her New York home office for publications like NY Press, Royal Flush, amNY, Men’s Fitness, Venus Zine and Wine Spectator.

Q&A With Circa Survive

As one of the biggest names in contemporary progressive rock, Circa Survive continuously strive to do things differently. For their latest record, Blue Sky Noise, the Philadelphia-based quintet brought on a new producer, switched record labels and ultimately created an album that received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. We caught up with guitarist Colin Frangicetto as the band prepared to head out on their next US headlining tour.

OS: You’re out on tour from mid-October to the end of November with Dredg, Codeseven and Animals as Leaders. As headliners of this tour, do you plan on increasing stage production?

CF: Yes! When we do headlining tours, that’s always the first goal, to bring more to the stage in the way of production.

OS: Circa Survive have had several guest vocalists during shows in the past, including Good Old War, Mindy White from Lydia and Geoff Rickley of Thursday. Can fans expect any on-stage collaboration between acts on this tour?

CF: I would be extremely surprised if it didn’t happen.

OS: Do you have anyone in mind?

CF: Probably anyone we can get our hands on, I mean, we’re fans of all of the artists we’re bringing, so I would assume it would be multiple people from different acts on this tour. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be excluded unless they wussed out and didn’t do it (laughs).

OS: Any songs you’d want to do in particular?

CF: Not in particular…there are certain group vocal parts on the record that I think anyone familiar with the album would know, but I think most likely it will be up to the artists and which ones they would want to contribute to. We’ll leave it as a surprise.

OS: What is the transition like between seasons as a full-time touring act? Do crowd interactions and response tend to vary between outdoor festival shows versus indoor shows?

CF: It really depends more on the territory and the vibe of the event. Sometimes we play festivals where we are very much so outsiders and we’re playing to a bunch of fresh ears, people who haven’t really heard us before. So obviously the response in a place like that is going to be a lot different than, say, Bamboozle, or a place where we have an extremely large crowd watching us, that is familiar with us. It’s a much more high-energy vibe when people are familiar with the band, which I think is to be expected, especially with rock bands…it’s a lot easier to get into it when you know every word and every arc of every riff. But we try to accept all types of responses. In traveling around and playing for people of different cultures, you kind of get used to the fact that every place is different. In the states, even, you can drive eight hours and the crowds will just have a completely different energy. We are obviously fans of a joyous celebration with ecstatic energy, but if people just want to stand there and watch and not really participate, that’s fine too.

OS: Your first two albums were released on Equal Vision, but Blue Sky Noise was released on Atlantic Records. What are some of the big differences between working on an indie label and working on a major label?

Esao Andrews' artwork on the cover of Blue Sky Noise.

CF: I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that indie labels are operating and have been operating in a similar vein to major labels for quite some time. I think a lot of the major labels have taken certain cues from a lot of the indie labels. So there’s a much bigger middle ground where they’re kind of the same. But, some of the differences have been worldwide support that we haven’t experienced in the past…being able to go to Germany for the first time and play for 400 people in a random city. Atlantic is a much bigger company so there’s a lot more people involved in the record on all aspects. More minds, which is always a good thing, but at the same time, it’s more people to pay attention to and make sure that everyone is on the same page. So it’s a little more work in that aspect, but the pay-off is really the same. We feel like the people there are just as passionate as the people at Equal Vision and that’s really what it comes down to. When you change labels, you’re really just changing the people that you’re working with. We had a great relationship with Equal Vision, we actually still do. There were big shoes to fill and Atlantic has been wonderful so far. It’s still early on, but it’s been great.

OS: You worked with producer Brian McTernan for Juturna and On Letting Go, but worked with David Bottrill for Blue Sky Noise. What made you decide to work with him?

CF: The journey of making this record was we really wanted to try a lot of different things. A producer obviously has a huge impact on the overall sound of the record. We see working with producers almost like working with teachers, in a way. We thought that we had kind of learned what we were supposed to learn from Brian and we were really excited to see what someone else could offer and bring to the table. We essentially just wanted to change the sound palette and make a record that jumped out as sounding different from the other two. David obviously met that criteria, but on top of that, he has just made so many incredible albums and worked with so many wonderful artists. The idea of working with him didn’t even strike us as a real possibility until we started sitting down with people and we looked at the calendar…and it’s like, “Meeting with David Bottrill” and you’re like, “What?!” Your brain tries to make sense of it, but it doesn’t really become a reality until you say, “I do want to work with you, David” and he says “I do want to work with you guys!” We sat down together and after that wave of nervous fanboy excitement, being in the studio with him was just incredible. I never was so happy with a choice. He was perfect for us for this record and took us to different places. I think the record speaks for itself and his track record with working with artists is still in tact, I hope.

OS: All three of your album covers were created by Esao Andrews. Is there any sort of connection between the three covers?

CF: It’s funny, because the theme for a lot of the decisions was, “Change, change, change.” But when it came to Esao, we were like “No, we’re gonna stay.” We feel like he’s really our visual counterpart; he’s great at putting a visual to what we make on a record. I think any connection with the covers would be inside of Esao’s twisted mind. I think it’s open to interpretation and you can easily connect all three by some type of narrative in your own head. I think what’s so great about that is that it’s what we try to do with our music. We try to create this subtle narrative, but at the same time, we want it to be subtle enough that you can steer it any way that you like to make sense and interpret it the way you want.

OS: You spend a lot of your free time working on original paintings yourself. Do you have any plans to exhibit your art or mass produce it for fans?

CF: I do make prints from time to time and they’ve always been limited to a certain number. As far as doing shows, I’ve done a couple, whether it’s a group show or a small exhibit at a coffee shop, something like that. I really would love to do a real art show at some point, it’s just so hard to find time to submit stuff. And then half of these galleries that I would want to submit to, they work a year ahead of schedule…so it’s like, “Oh yeah, we’ll prepare for your show at this time.” And I’m like, “Well, I could be in Japan then…so I have no idea how I’m going to do that.” So there hasn’t really been time to do that yet, but in the future, it’s definitely something I plan on doing and I’m just trying to spend as much time as I can on it on the side.

OS: In addition to working together in Circa Survive, you also collaborated with Anthony Green’s solo album and produced the remix version of Avalon. Will you be working together again on his next album?

CF: I think so. We’ve talked about it a bunch and I’ve heard a lot of the songs he’s been working on. I know Keith Goodwin from Good Old War has got his hands all over it, I think he might be producing the record. But yeah, I’m sure I’ll wind up doing something for it…it’s just too much fun not to. So if Anthony wants me to, I’m sure I will!

Don’t miss Circa Survive when they visit your hometown!

October 26 – House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
October 27 – House of Blues, Houston, TX
October 29 – White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX
October 30 – White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX
October 31 – House of Blues, Dallas, TX
November 4 – House of Blues, Anaheim, CA
November 5 – House of Blues, San Diego, CA
November 6 – Avalon, Hollywood, CA
November 7 – The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
November 9 – Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR
November 10 – El Corazon, Seattle, WA
November 12 – The Complex, Salt Lake City, UT
November 13 – The Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO
November 14 – The Beaumont Club, Kansas City, MO
November 17 – Cabooze on the West Bank, Minneapolis, MN
November 18 – The Eagles Club, Milwaukee, WI
November 19 – House of Blues, Chicago, IL
November 20 – St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, MI
November 21 – House of Blues, Cleveland, OH
November 23 – The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
November 24 – House of Blues, Boston, MA
November 26 – Theatre of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA
November 27 – Irving Plaza, New York, NY
November 28 – Irving Plaza, New York, NY

Festivus: Farewell Festival Season

August is closer to over than beginning, which means the same for summer, and this column. And while there are a few festivals left that dare to stretch their wings into the fall months”Austin City Limits and Bumbershoot will be tempting us in the coming weeks” its time to bid our friends on the road adieu and hope that acts touring through the winter will hold us over til spring once more. That said, festival season 2010 brought a lot of good times and memories, with thank yous to be said, apologies to be made and lessons to be learned in the process.

Yours Truly and HANSON at Bamboozle

So to start off, I’m sorry to the Internet Warrior, who asked me to bring him sunscreen from the car while at Bamboozle but I brought back hair gel instead. While I didn’t feel your pain, I could definitely see it in your bright red sunburn.

I’m sorry to one of our interns, who sprinted back and forth and battled out burly security guards by herself to get great shots of acts at SXSW. Though I’m not really sorry, because she was”after all”at SXSW.

I’m sorry to Andrew WK’s T-shirt at Warped Tour, which will not survive the strawberry smoothie that accosted it.

I’m sorry to the people of Toronto, who no doubt missed me terribly when I couldn’t attend the first OVO Festival with Drake because I didn’t have a valid passport. Customs are no joke, kids. And thank you to our Account Manager Alex, who went in my place and rocked it.

Trying to decide who to see at Bonnaroo

Thank you to the cop directing traffic in Mansfield, TN, who led us down a dirt access road that resulted in bypassing the hours of wait time on the highway shoulder waiting to get into Bonnaroo. And thank you to the kid directing cars once in the camp ground that resulted in a spot just minutes from the media tent, where I lugged my lap top every day.

Thank you to the wonderful ladies of OurStage who won opening spots on the Lilith festival, who displayed grace and appreciation when some dates were cancelled.

Thank you to the awesome folks at Converse who hooked up OurStage bands The Appreciation Post and Therefore I Am with sweet sneaks at the Journey’s Backyard BBQ (a mini-fest, but fest all the same).

Mayday Parade at Journey's Backyard BBQ

And thank you to all you crazy music fans who shared in our adventures. Festivals have no doubt changed and adapted in hard times and fluctuating music trends, but your passion keeps us all going. So rinse out your cooler, pack up your tent, put some aloe on that sunburn and we’ll see you next year!

Holiday In The Sun: All Aboard The Bruise Cruise

A funny thing happened on the way to the dive bar. Yes, the Black Lips, Vivian Girls, DJ Jonathan Toubin and others will be performing on the first-ever “Bruise Cruise Festival,” a luxury line headed from Miami to the Bahamas from February 25-28, 2011. With rockers/patrons paying $615 for an interior cabin and $665 for one with an ocean-view, the cruise is a fascinating study in indie music marketing. No doubt digital realities have lent freedom to artists seeking new channels of distribution, but they have also somewhat paradoxically devalued their creative output. Generating less income through recordings, it has become all the more important for them to monetize live performances and the Bruise Cruise can easily be understood in this context.

Organized by Michelle Cable of Panache Booking and Jonas Stein of Nashville band, Turbo Fruits, the concept is hardly revolutionary: There is a “Opry Country Classics Cruise” on Royal Caribbean, a “Gospel Music, Mexican Riviera Celebration” on Holland America, so garage rock on the Carnival Line is not a gigantic leap. Yet, unlike other musical genres, garage hasn’t historically occupied a cultural space one would readily associate with ice sculptures and elaborate floral arrangements and so the cruise suggests that the line between the alternative and mainstream is

Black Lips

growing increasingly blurry.

The 400 rockers who book tickets, as the Bruise Cruise website states, will share the ship with about 2000 regular passengers, which means that out-of-shape, Middle Americans in their fat pants will be piling fajitas and pasta salad onto their plates at the all-you-can-eat buffet next to the rockers in skinny jeans. The fest promoters seem aware of the cultural tension. On the site, next to a photo of the ship’s resort-style swimming pool they urge potential fest-goers to “Think Boogie Nights” and next to a photo of a miniature golf course to “Think Caddyshack meets Weekend At Bernie’s.” In these awkward attempts at spin, the promoters seem to be worried whether this indie experiment at sea will work out.  But is there really reason for concern?

As Rachael Maddux announced in her much-discussed cover story for Paste Magazine earlier this year, “Indie” as an artistic ideal that implied a willful operation outside the mainstream, has virtually lost all meaning. And perhaps, it could be argued, so has the idea of “mainstream.” In September, Iggy and the Stooges will be performing Raw Power at Kutsher”s Country Club in the Catskills. In October, indie institution Matador Records will celebrate its 21st anniversary with a three-day event in the mecca of kitch, Las Vegas. Hell, Arcade Fire just released an album called Suburbs about lawns, malls and the desire to settle down and have children. The world is ready for the Bruise Cruise. So, grab your PBR and head to the starboard deck. The shuffleboard tournament is about to begin.

-Josh Neuman

Joshua Neuman used to be the editor-in-chief of Heeb Magazine. He has written for Slate, eMusic and ESPN. His first book, The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005.

Festivus: Mile High

Whether we like it or not, we’ve reached August and this year’s festival season is nearing the finish line. We’ve had some good times, like Jay Z tearing it up at Bonnaroo and chatting up HANSON at Bamboozle. No need to get sentimental too soon, though. Festival season still has a few tricks up its sleeve. This weekend marks the start of the Mile High Music Festival, a 2 day fest held in Commerce City, Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The festival announced earlier this year that instead of its usual mid-July slot, the fest would be pushed back to August 14th and 15th.

When you look at all the factors of a successful festival, moving Mile High was a smart move. The promotors at AEG referenced the hot weather of July as a reason for the reschedule. They also expressed a desire to postpone until after last weekend’s Lollapalooza in hopes of scoring some of the acts. Another interesting dynamic, the FMQB annual Triple A Conference takes place in Boulder August 11th-14th, so its possible some of the Mile High acts would play to the 2010 music summit, killing 2 birds with one stone.

Since AEG was also working with Rothbury, the cancellation of that festival opened up the talent pool for Mile High. Indeed, many big acts have packed themselves into the 2 day lineup. Both single and 2-day passes are still available, so check out Mile High’s Web site for more info.

Festivus: Lollapalooza

Ask anyone, the music community is a buzz this week in anticipation for Lollapalooza. Many a fan’s favorite festival, the 3 day event kicks off tomorrow (August 6th) and goes til Sunday, offering over 130 bands up on a silver platter in Chicago’s historical Grant Park. Like most festivals, Lollapalooza has seen its share of heartache. It started in 1991 born to Jane’s Addiction in the hopes of creating an truly awesome farewell tour for the band. That initial lineup in 1991 was comprised of artists spanning across various rock genres, from the post-punk Siouxsie and the Banshees to industrial Nine InchNails and even dabbling in a little Ice-T. The rock culture expanded past just music to include tents housing alternative freak shows, Shaolin monks, art displays, virtual reality games and of course, booths promoting political and environmental awareness.

An explosion of grunge rock in that early ’90s propelled Lollapalooza to the big time and became the birth place of “Alternative Nation” as coined by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell.  Stages were added in the coming years and fans became more engaged, mosh pits and crowd surfing exploded, boothes popped up for open mic readings, television-smashing pits evolved, and tattoo and piercing parlors prevailed. But attendees began to complain about high ticket costs as well as escalating food and water prices. Soon fans began rioting and in 1992 chunks of sod and grass were ripped up and hurled at each other and other bands resulting in crazy costs for the venue.

Courtney Love at Lollapalooza in 1995 ©Heather Faulkner

In 1994, Nirvana pulled out of their scheduled Lollapalooza headlining spot. The day after the announcement was made, Kurt Cobain was found dead in Seattle. Courtney Love would go on to make surprise guest appearances at several shows. Since she wasn’t on the bill, The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan would graciously lend her set time to speak to the crowds about the loss and perform a couple songs. Two years later in 1996, Farrell (consumed with a new festival project, ENIT) decided not to be involved in the production of Lollapalooza. Metallica was booked and fans cried sell out. The powers that be worked at keeping the festival relevant, expanding genres to country and electronica but it was too late. When a headliner was no where to be found in 1998, Lollapalooza, along with alternative rock, was declared DOA.

In 2003, Farrell revived Jane’s Addiction and attempted to bring Lollapalooza with them, bringing the festival to 30 cities. However high prices still plagued sales and the 2004 tour was cancelled at the beginning of the summer because no one was buying. Farrell smartened up in 2005 and partnered with Capital Sports & Entertainment (now C3 Presents, co-owners and producers of Austin City Limits) and transformed the train-wreck into a destination festival in Chicago’s Grant Park. Seventy acts performed on 5 stages that year, and Lollapalooza inked itself a deal in 2008 making Chicago its home through 2018.

Now gearing up for its 19th year, Lollapalooza is a testament to the versatility of festivals and rock and roll itself. Lighter fare such as Weezer, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco and Ben Folds have made their way to Chicago in the last 5 years, and the evolution of rock from grunge to indie has solidified (as much as something as transitory as rock and roll can be solidified).

Just to be safe though, let’s throw some punk into the mix (See this year’s headliner Greenday) and add a helping of grunge (See the thousands of kids wearing flannel in the audience. See also: Soundgarden.) Chris Cornell and Co. will be reuniting Sunday night on the South Stage for the first time since 1997 (the last year of the traveling Lollapalooza, mind you. It all comes together….).

Other acts to be seen at this weekend’s Lollapalooza include Arcade Fire, The Strokes, The Black Keys, The National, The New Pornographers, Gogol Bordello, MUTEMATH, Metric, Against Me!, the xx…basically every band and artist that we’ve discussed on the festival circuit this summer. And one that we haven’t. The queen of the pop-culture universe, Lady Gaga. The festival is rumored to be preparing for the Fame Monster with a $250K stage set up. A far cry from the afternoon side stage performance she did as a brunette back in 2007.

Tickets are still available for this weekend ($90 for a day pass or $215 for all 3 days). Check out all the info and acts over at Lollapalooza’s site.

Festivus: Moogfest

Its been a big 12 months for Moog Music. The electronic instruments company has purchased a new $2.5 million property to house new offices and serve as a musical tourist attraction in Asheville, NC, and it also won the MIX Foundation TEC Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement, Musical Instrument Category. The award joins a long list of Moog achievements, including Guitar Player‘s Reader’s Choice Award, Electronic Musician‘s Editor’s Choice Award, Popular Science‘s Best of What’s New Award and NAMM Best In Show honors. And while rambling off a list of accomplishments similar to these is probably very exciting for industry insiders and instrument enthusiasts, there’s another list from Moog that this festival-goer for one is more excited about.

This past Tuesday, Moog was supposed to release the official lineup for 2010’s MoogFest, a 3-day festival slated for Halloween weekend celebrating the life and vision of the sonic pioneer and grandfather of Moog Music, Robert Moog. The festival has since moved the deadline back to August 10th, saying that still “need a little more time to put it all together”. Headliners Massive Attack, MGMT and Thievery Corporation were announced earlier this year and set the stage for such a synthesizer-heavy gathering, a genre quickly revolutionizing the indie roots of rock and pop. It makes sense, as Moog was one of the first companies to develop the synthesizer and went on to develop some of the most popular synthesizers ever.

MoogFest will take place at multiple venues across downtown Asheville, among them being the Asheville Civic Center Arena and renowned, world-classclub The Orange Peel. According to Moog’s site, the buck doesn’t stop with late-night sets coupled with the undoubtedly stunning lazer shows that accompany this kind of music. Patrons will also be able to attend workshops, engage with artists in panel discussions, take in visual art exhibitions, installations and film screenings and indulge their own musical creativity using an array of Moog instruments. No doubt a weekend providing a stimulating assault on all the senses. Tickets for MoogFest we also supposed to go on sale tomorrow (July 30th) but have been pushed back to August 13th. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

Festivus: HullabaLOU

Last weekend was the 9th year of The Disco Biscuits self-titled Camp Bisco, a festival heavy on “trancefusion” or “livetronica” music in upstate New York. But one of the great things about musical festivals is that with every passing day a new one starts in completely different areas of the country, catering to completely different genres. This weekend we turn our attention to the world premiere of HullabaLOU, a 3 day festival with 5 stages and over 65 acts held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. As such, the target audience and lineup is a smidge different than last weekend’s consciousness-expanding Camp Bisco.

As with most things, a contributing factor for festivals is location, location, location. Think the vast mountainous hills of Bonnaroo’s home in Manchester, TN, or the sweeping deserts of Indio, CA for Coachella. So it seems only fitting in choosing a Kentucky location for a festival that the famed Churchill Downs racetrack wins out. HullabaLOU goes further back than just trying to bring a festival to the music lovers of Kentucky. The good folks behind the festival, Churchill Downs Entertainment Group, hope to launch HullabaLOU into the Kentucky Derby of music festivals. While not a traditional concert venue, Churchill Downs hosted the Rolling Stones in 2006 and the Police the next year.

While introducing anything new in this economy in the hopes to turn profit is an tricky game, HullabaLOU has a couple cards in their deck that could help ease the transition from new kid on the block to festival mainstay. Specifically, they’re forgoing a the bill chock full of indie and emerging artists for a lineup made up of tried and true headliners, including Bon Jovi, Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews Band.

But where does one get the money to host such hot headliners? Easy. Churchill Downs isn’t simply a field in the middle of no where requiring millions upon millions of dollars of stage construction, equipment, amenities and manpower to carry it all out. HullabaLOU is taking place at a previously established venue that doesn’t require outrageous construction costs. And while most festivals operate on a revenue model of general admission tickets enhanced by VIP upgrades and amenities, Churchill Downs will take advantage of the draw resulted by these headliners by making money off of a huge number of reserved seats in the existing grandstand, supplemented by general admission seats on the infield. Production expenses for HullabaLOU will continue to be mitigated due to the recent installation of lights and electrical feeds at Churchill Downs, after the grounds began hosting racing 6 nights a week this year.

HullabaLOU kicks off tomorrow (July 23rd) with a performance by local veterans Brushfire starting at 1PM on the Bluegrass stage. Friday will also feature performances from Exile, Rick Bartlett’s Rockin’ Soul Revival, Sam Bush, Gloriana, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Colbie Caillat, Train, Gladys Knight, Doobie Bothers and Bon Jovi.

Saturday features artists include Relic, Joan Osborne, John Kay & Steppenwolf, Gov’t Mule, Ben Folds, Sara Evans, Al Green, Huey Lewis and the News, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney.

Sunday wraps things up with OurStage artists Taddy Porter, Tonic, Justin Moore, The Avett Brothers, The Black Crowes, Loretta Lynn and a trifecta of guy-named bands”Zac Brown Band, Steve Miller Band and Dave Matthews Band.

Ticket prices and admission varies, so be sure to check out all the info on their site.