Author Archives: Toi Brownstone

Summer, FEET and Phobia.

Phobia [ˈfəʊbɪə]

noun

noun: phobia; plural noun: phobias

an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

“she suffered from a phobia about birds”

synonyms: abnormal fear, irrational fear, obsessive fear, fear, dread, horror, terror,dislike, hatred, loathing, detestation, distaste, aversion, antipathy, revulsion, repulsion;

Summertime. Apparently the best season in the year, or at least we’ve been brought up and educated in this belief, as it’s associated to good weather, holidays and fun. This should be my summer 25 years ago, but not anymore.

summer

In my case it is mainly marked by the peak season in my job, with work overload, the absence of holidays on behalf of colleagues who have couples and families and want or have to go on vacation in July or August. I’m usually broke thanks to IRS (basterds!), mosquitoes bite the hell out of me, humidity and hot weather in Barcelona is a shit and my forelock disappears forcedly, but trying to look at the right side of life, I’m still glad I have air conditioning at work. It is a relief, for real. There’s nobody here in August because everybody is on holidays, and there are not shows to attend either. I don’t get bored though, don’t think Barcelona is kind of jail in August, but let’s say that my country stops routine for 4-6 weeks, and no matter how I keep acting normal, somehow also affects me.

Honestly I’m positive when I admit it’s not my favorite season anymore, yet I can cope with that quite decently even though I’m complaining in excess to make this more dramatic. It is not the above mentioned situation what really makes me feel pissed off with this season. There’s one thing that actually makes me hate summer and the world more than any other:

FEET

Almost bare feet everywhere. Flip-flops and  sandals are not so weird in Barcelona due to the weather, in fact, I’d say many people try to wear half the year if possible, something I find totally exaggerated to be honest.

bare feet

People footwear shouldn’t be of my concern and I shouldn’t give a shit about this, but believe me, a tube trip of 6 stops is enough to make me feel like vomiting sometimes after being mistreated by the sight of terrible deformed bared aliens threatening me in my peaceful way to somewhere. Arggggh!

Has it ever occurred to you that you discover something abhorrent but you cannot keep the eye out of it so your stomach starts aching, your repulsion is even reflected in your face and you’d just love to go towards the human being and tell them how disgusting motherfucker he or she is? Well, similar situations I’m experiencing most of the times I catch a train, as I’m surrounded by many ugly feet with deformed toes, rotten nails, and disgusting corns. We can leave aside the subject of smelly feet, so classic in summer too, huh?

And I always wonder the same. How the fuck do you dare going out with such monstrosity at public glance? Ain’t you ashamed? How can you be so calm while you’re torturing my poor eyes? Sometimes I dream awake of being myself some sort of Feet Enforcer…

Check the beginning on this post with the definition of Phobia and think of the story I’m telling you and you will find the perfect example of extreme aversion. Yeah, that is me!

I don’t regard my feet as horrible, but I’ve always find the strange lack of proportion between my quite big piggy toe and the rest of small and rigid ones quite weird, and since I started wearing sneakers and Doc Martens at 14-15 I started not feeling very comfy showing them. Also I used to hate my mum cutting my nails when I was a kid and got very very anxious and tense when someone touched my toes. Have you watched Kill Bill? Do you remember when Beatrix Kiddo wakes up from years in coma and has to work on recovering the mobility of her legs, feet and toes for hours? I suffer with that scene.

kiddo feet

My obsession has been gradually increasing, especially in the years I had a boyfriend with the hugest feet I’ve ever seen (QUITE smelly and excessively delicate too, he was complaining aaaaaall the fuckin’ time). Moreover, I guess he projected his feet obsessions, pains and concerns (and phobia) on me, so I developed this extreme dislike. He was also quite a world hater, lucky I’ve been into people too much as to fall under his anti-social influence.

Thus nowadays I can only stand baby feet, really decent feet,or close and old friends’, mainly female, of course. Even my male best friend share some of this feet shyness and I never seen his feet at full either. Those apparent enjoyable pleasures such as pedicure or a foot massage (Mia Wallace, how can you stand it without breaking anyone’s jaw with a kick?) are completely out of question.

Should I go to a shrink to overcome this phobia? Maybe, but as far as I’m concerned I’m not willing to invest the few dough I have in being gentle to disgusting feet of unknown people. I feel lucky for having a phobia which doesn’t affect much to my daily living, but being this a stupid example, try to think of something more serious. Frightening, huh?

Do it right, baby! Well, at least the best you can.

Oh, God! It’s been ages since I wrote my last post, Germany won the World Cup, and that event seems to have been ages away. I had opened a draft document and written some stuff few days ago but I was so busy and last week was such a shitty one I think I deleted it at some point or just lost it. Meh! What a shit!

Guess I have to take control of this and some other writing homework for the magazine I still got pending to finish and start focusing, but summer is the killer season for a writer, blogger or any asshole who loves spending time in front of the computer, for this unbearable heat becomes even more terrible in front of a boiling screen. Believe or not, my inspiration and motivation go on holidays in summer, and it takes me ages to concentrate and think of anything interesting enough as to waste my time melting. But I’ll do it. I have to, and the best way to do it is to recover one of the funniest episodes occurred lately in my life.

3 hours later…

I had in mind telling you about the day I had to dj with just one CD player for a musical vermouth session at Es Xibiu. Finally I broke my curse and was invited to play some music  10 days ago. the offer couldn’t be placed in a better moment as there were some friends from Zaragoza and Madrid spending the weekend in Barcelona, and we had a reservation for dinner at O’Barquiño, a restaurant feauring some live performances of copla by some (unknown) old glories, freaks and transvestites. Really worth attending if you want to know something of deep Spain in a very underground way. Thus, with the vermouth Saturday was fully booked, with friends.

es xibiu july

Problem was when one of the CD players decided not to work, and cancelation was not an option. I had to deal with playing music with a single player the best I could manage, so I did, without the comfort and security of pre-listening songs and trying to the music gaps of changing Cds were the shortest possible. Imagine I chose mostly 1 or 2 tracks of the CDs without the titles included, sometimes with good luck and sometimes creating awkward changes. Once I overcame the tension of not knowing how to handle, I started getting relaxed and ended enjoying lots of the good companion of all those friends who stopped by. At the end of the day you gotta take things as they come and try to make your best, no matter the adversities.

What can I say? It wasn’t my best session, of course, but we had fun, which at the end of  the day it’s what matters and the main reason for doing this kind of stuff. But I hate that Spotify is constantly removing songs as they please, so this playlist will miss Danny & The Champions of the World, ‘Over The Edge’ of Fu Manchu or ‘No Way Out of D Generation’, among others. My apologies.

Hope my friend Leon reads this. He was a good backup playing music. Thanks a lot!

My World Cup 2014.

world cup

Did you ever think I’d write a post about soccer and a World cup? Well, me neither. I can’t remember everything I’ve been writing here for these 4 years, but there are chances to find some old hate post talking about the shitty soccer business in Spain and how the game has turned into money interests. If such is the case on court I will apply temporary mental disorder or something like that. Ha!

This time I don’t feel like cursing or blaming all my problems on the World Cup but the opposite. More or less I’ve been following the tournament from the beginning and I’ve enjoyed some moments and games a lot.

I think there was a key fact that allowed me to get into Brazil 2014: the awful performance of the Spanish team and their elimination on group stage. The fuckin’ Red only won their match against Australia when there was no option to pass, after the shameful exhibition in the previous games.  It also happened with Italy (I was supporting hot Pirlo from the beginning), and England, but the arrogance of Spain was vanished in a nick of time, and honestly it was a relief.

andrea pirlo

The Spanish league of soccer is one of the most distinguished and praised worldwide, but I don’t really think it’s because of the national players, but for the insane and outrageous money business involved at the time of signing , especially in the case of  two clubs mainly: Real Madrid and F.C Barcelona. Thus both teams have a great percentage of the world best players. In my opinion there should be some rules and limits to this signings, as NBA applies, thus clubs would be more balanced. But of course, this is just my point of view.

Anyway, traditionally Spain didn’t pass from second stage to quarters, in fact there were some megastores offering free tv equipment if the team was reaching quarters or semifinals (of course with some small letter  accompanied). The team has lived a period of glory, always keeping the same formula and varying the players quite few. But eventually repetition starts failing, players get older, and the strength, the tactics and the attitude become obsolete, therefore the strategy turns into shit. Fuck off! It’s time for a new era, and both the team and the supporters reset their attitude towards struggle and competitiveness and humbleness.

This been said, in the era of social networks and communications, the opportunity of enjoying such a popular event through forums and Twitter is a blast. You can comment the game in streaming, faults, penalties, highlights, spread as fast as gunpowder, and memes and GIFs are terrific. You support teams for many reasons, some related to proper soccer, and most for empathy or weird feelings. And something very funny is the way your support to a team changes as the final gets closer. One day you hate Deutschland and a couple of weeks later they make your day humiliating Brazil. That was AWESOME!

ger bra

There’ve been some unexpected surprises too. I loved the evolution of the US team, and I’m pretty sure soccer will be another category Americans will be good at with time, as it’s started to be taken serious and not just as a sport for girls at highschool.

The role of the goalkeepers has been decisive as many matches have ended with penalties: Courtois from Belgium, Tim Howard from USA, Argentina Romero, Julio Cesar for Brazil or the German Machine Neuer , are some of the most successful names. Two more days for the final match. Argentina VS Germany. My support goes to the European team. I hate Messi and his fans, and on the other hand I love Muller and Klose’s style, and Mertersaker and Schweinsteiger have the coolest names ever.

So from now till Sunday night:

SCHLAND, SCHLAND, SCHLAND!!!

**Janos! Good luck!

** Reckon I finally understand Offside and I’m very happy :-)

20 years of WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY

sky valley

Last Saturday I was reminded of the 20th anniversary of Welcome to Sky Valley, the third album of the Palm Desert band Kyuss, and this time it’s made me give it a lot of thought, and listen to it again. I’m not one of those who worships this band as if there isn’t anything better in the world and I’m not looking forward to witnessing a reunion between John Garcia and Josh Homme because I don’t regard it necessary. I don’t criticize Homme for forming QOTSA working hard to rise to stardom, but I do get upset with Garcia for not managing to keep a single project steady for long time. There was a time and a place for Kyuss, and for that reason this band probably achieved the status of underground legend, and if its members decided to split ways, I’m sure there was a good reason for that, so there’s no point in insisting on a reunion. Believe me, I learnt the lesson with GN’R some time ago.

I love Kyuss records though I hate the diehard fans of the band, no offence. In my PERSONAL opinion, they are often too narrow minded musically speaking.

I’d say Welcome to Sky Valley is not my favorite album of the band, however every time I recover it and listen to ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’, ‘Whitewater’ and ‘Demon Cleaner’  I must surrender and admit it’s a masterpiece. Thinking of the first time I approached it and Blues for the Red Sun in cassette, I reckon the experience was totally mindblowing. Kyuss opened the gates to another musical dimension for me, and I learnt to listen to music in a different way, tasting and enjoying the different instruments, both separately and together, feeling the different vibes and atmospheres created thanks to the changes in rhythm, the guitar effects, and the distortions, and I also discovered my favorite instrument was drums. Kyuss could make me travel in my mind (no acid involved), and I think it didn’t happen again until I discovered Monster Magnet’s Dopes to Infinity.

Moreover, it was the first band that I reckon I felt passionate for which wasn’t mainstream, highlighting the fact that in that day even Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam were popular on a global scale, broadcast on MTV and any radio station. In the past it was more difficult to get acquainted with cult bands, due to the complexity of spreading the word, and getting to discover overseas bands in first place, mainly caused by a period of isolation our country was forced to go through for too many years. Also the fact that not many people around shared the same interest in music as me made things a bit worse. Whatever, the point I really intend to make here is that Kyuss was an unknown band for the majority of people here. I was introduced to the band through my friend Pablo, and he heard of, or better said, read about the band on a magazine, so we didn’t know the actual impact and popularity of the band in the States and abroad. As far as we were concerned they were some sort of gurus, with all the Palm Desert scene, playing in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by cacti, and enlightened by the creative and magical power of weed…or something like that.

I think the cult towards this band had to do with this mysterious halo they were involved, at least we perceived it as such, and the evocative music combined with wonderful hard guitar riffs.

scott reeder

I was talking about Welcome to Sky Valley, huh? Getting back to it, there’s one more thing. I’d like to give the credit to one of the most remarkable bass players in rock/metal scene, Scott Reeder, who joined Kyuss at this point, but I think he earned by far enough credit to be recognized  as THE bass player in the band. His style, his rough way to play, and his attitude just made it. We always focus on the roles of John Garcia and Josh Homme, comparing them to another rock couples such as Plant and Page, Slash and Axl, or Tyler and Perry, as they’re more remarkable and easy to identify and analyze, and after all, their current bad relationship with suing involved makes us all wonder what happened between them, forgetting the rest of the members in the band and their contributions. I couldn’t affirm which is the main Kyuss drummer though, Bjork or Hernandez, no matter their influence on other musicians after their contribution to the band, however, regardless the fact that Nick Oliveri was there first on the 4 strings, Reeder won his place in rock history.

 

Album of weeks 24-26: Möngol Hörde

It’s been some time since I wanted to talk about this album, but truth is that I wasn’t in the mood for writing and it was very difficult to concentrate on posting because I was on holidays last week, besides energy after the festival in Vitoria was too low. I feel some regret though as last week I wasn’t very profitable at all, but on the other hand it was a fact that I needed some rest from everything. Seems that I relaxed too much as I’ve caught a flu again.

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle, back to work, and trying to adjust to my routines again. Honestly I’ve missed them more than in other occasions, perhaps because level of disconnecting hadn’t been so high, and I’m getting less and less used to so many free days at once.

mongol horde

Until last week I hadn’t listened to Frank Turner’s proper stuff, no matter he’s been a highlighted artist at RockZone magazine, and also praised by some friends, I didn’t have the time and like I always reckon is that I can’t cope with everything. After reading some suggestions I listened to England Keep My Bones and liked it much. A couple of weeks earlier for the same  reason I approached Möngol Hörde, in an attempt to get a bit acquainted with the guy, who had been defined as a folk punk writer or something similar. I heard the name of the band which was quite appealing, the name of the artist, and the tip that it was his hardcore project, so I thought some kicking ass stuff would be much better as a start than something deep and possibly moving, considering my current mood. The funniest thing is that I listened to the album once at 2am at a very low volume, so I decided to listen to it properly while walking to my landlord’s new flat, which is 5-6km from my office. The album was so powerful I reached my destination earlier than expected, and I damn sweated like a bitch, as it was one of these sweltering spring evenings in Barcelona, you can only drink beer and pray for a storm to break.

I had already listened and watch the introducing video of ‘Make Way’, with those kids making noise, really killer, and I was quite enthusiastic about what I was to discover next, but to be honest, I didn’t expect I’d enjoy the album so much. It’s an outburst of rage and energy, with lots of attitude and great lyrics, so contagious, I was thinking about few things bothering me up to a point that I reached a very simple but the most convincing  conclusion: “fuck’em!”. Yep, I do believe in the inspirational power of music translated to our thoughts, and Möngol Hörde suggests relief through anger, so that was my exercise at that time.

I’ve been hooked to the album and as you can imagine the effect upon me now it’s not so brutal, but it still works for me. I’m totally hooked to songs such as ‘Staff to the Refund Counter’ or ‘Stillborn Unicorn’.

horde live

I was reading Turner’s comments on Twitter about the shows. Bruises, injuries, pain… and at the same time the guy was so excited and amazed by the audience response every night of their UK tour, I’d love to attend one of the shows and flip with ‘How the Communists Ruined Christmas’, ‘Weighed and Found Wanting’, and put my life at risk with ‘Winky Face the Mark of a Moron’. I dig that organized and calculated mayhem in really well played songs. You feel the insanity but also realize that everything is under control. Probably not being a pro in hardcore punk style causes I’m so impressed by this. I always have the feeling that the bands play with balls and guts, and I like that.

Thus my first approach to Frank Turner’s universe has been absolutely delightful. In fact, I reckon you’ll see this record included in my favorite records of 2014 at the end of the year. Hell of a debut!

Pretty, pretty… pretty good.

Against Me! and Vitoria.

Few months ago I commented so hooked I was with one of my favorite album releases up to date, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, what a great surprise that discovering Against Me! had been, and my fascination for Laura Jane Grace, and her circumstances, struggles and late gender change choice.

I don’t think there’s a better way to reaffirm your passion for a band than to culminate the learning cycle with a live show, and I was lucky Against Me! decided to visit Europe to introduce their last work, and even luckier when a headlining show was scheduled in Vitoria, just one day before Azkena Rock Festival took place.

mary joe against me

I love attending shows in different cities and at new venues, because not only the quality of sound differs a lot, but also the vibe of the audience.

This time I was attending the show with bunch of people who I’m acquainted with at the forum I regularly participate on, so the experience of seeing this band with people I don’t usually hang out for geographical reasons, sharing the same passion I have, or even more, was a great motivation for me.

Before the show we were having some drinks, getting more acquainted with “new” friends (we already knew quite much of our lives for so many years sharing this common space on the net). Some of them were huge fans of Against Me! and some others were just in the mood to discover something new. I think everybody ended with their expectations fulfilled as the show was the blast.

I had already heard of the venue many times. In fact Jimmy Jazz sound techs were involved in Siberia fest last year, and I had the memory of a great quality in sound and much professionalism. I liked the venue right away with a fine stage, and as soon as I heard  The G.A.S Drummers, the second supporting band, playing I knew it was going to be great.

with laura jane grace

Some time before the show while accompanying a friend to the ticket office we could meet Laura Jane Grace. She was really tall, but looked very nice, and she was smiling all the time. it was a pleasure to greet her. She also agreed to take a picture with us immediately. She seemed very relaxed and glad about the way things are going on this tour. After this meeting I was ready for the show.

I think it lasted approx. one hour and a half. To be honest I wasn’t checking the time because I was very excited, and as soon they jumped onto stage and starting with ‘Fuckmylife666’, followed by‘Cliché Guevara’ and ‘New Wave’, the audience got crazy.

against me

I don’t have any previous show as a reference to compare, but the band looked in perfect shape, and sounded pretty solid. The work of Atom Willard on drums was brilliant, the voice of Grace was excellent, and the energy and passion of the band members was contagious. The setlist was quite balanced going over all their career and playing not so common songs such as ‘Miami’, for instance, and didn’t forget hits such as ‘New Wave’, ‘I was a Teenage Anarchist’ or ‘Pints of Guinness Make you Strong’. Really, it was a party, and I was thrilled.

against me2

I reckon it’s never too late to discover a band, yet it’s even better if it’s still active and you get the chance to enjoy a live show, as it’s happened to me this time. I’m glad and grateful, and I’m looking forward to seeing Against Me! soon.

10 years in Barcelona Shitty

Few nights ago, while talking to my friend Tani, I realized that on June 11th 10 years ago I arrived Barcelona with a suitcase, ready to start a new life in this city. Time goes so fast! It’s unbelievable!

The main reason for moving to a big city was that I needed to live in a more musical and cultural scene, looking for something resembling my experience in London, but this time being an adult and with some lessons already learnt. I had been working for a toy store chain for 2 years already in my hometown, and had requested a position in Barcelona, which took some time, but was firm. It was great this happened at the right time, when I was recovering from my 10 year relationship breakup, so I had new horizon ahead and cool expectations, so as the willing to have fun and live new experiences.

Sagrada Familia

As with every change, the beginning wasn’t 100% easy. I had a couple of incidences with some people until I found a decent place to settle, but I remember that summer as one of the funniest and craziest ones.

Sometimes I think of the reason why I chose Barcelona instead of Madrid, and the only certain explanation is that I knew the city and how to handle living in it, and I got friends. Plus it was a time I used to go to the beach. Not anymore. I don’t regret my choice either, but it’s curious how friends change depending on the kind of live you carry out and most of the close ones back then have disappeared, except for Jaume, one of my main pillars.

Let’s start with the result of a quick brainstorming related to ramdon personal facts:

1. When I arrived it was taking place the Universal Forum of cultures. I never visited it. I’ve been in the place attending festivals afterwards.

2. First series I watched on TV was Falcon Crest.

3. I moved 6 times. Sant Antoni, the current hood I’m living in, is becoming quite fashionable. I love this area anyway.

4. I lived with a hooker for one month. She never admitted her activities, but there were lots of signs which which proved it.

5. I’ve had 7 different employments and spent 6 months unemployed.

6. I must have attended approx. 600 shows. Wish they had been more.

7. I rarely speak Catalan no matter I studied this language at college in my hometown.

Barcelona port by Toi Brownstone

8. I hate the popular fests in the city. I hate national popular fests anyway.

9. I don’t have a favorite bar nor restaurant here.

10. The fact that they don’t serve free bread without requesting when having papas bravas or any other tapas still pisses me off. A lot.

11. I met some of my best friends during these 10 years.

12. It’s been said Barcelona people are close and cold, and it’s true, however I’ve never felt aside or rejected. Completely the opposite.

13. I don’t discuss about politics and even less about independence of Catalonia with anyone.

14. I support any soccer team but Barça just to break balls.

15. I hate humidity. Don’t get used to summer weather.

Festes de Gracia

Will I celebrate another 10 years in this city? Who knows. Right now I’d say yes without hesitating thinking of the kind of life I have, but you never know. Truth is that Barcelona has lost lots of its essence and charm on behalf of becoming one of the most touristic places in the country and in the world, so lots of business, commodities and services have focused on this money target, so the locals are getting more and more disappointed.

We’ll see…

Album of weeks 20-22: MEIR

Kvelertak-Meir

I had heard of Kvelertak (which means Stranglehold in English) more or less 10 months ago. The fact that their lyrics were written in Norwegian prevented me from giving them a try, remembering how boring Sigur Ros are (no offense, but I can’t stand them). On the other hand, I’d seen the cover of their last album Meir (More), created by the leader of Baroness John Dyer Baizley, and thought that perhaps it was some sort of doom-prog album. Well, something similar happened with Baroness, until I listened to Yellow & Green, and shit on my pants right away. Guess these are more examples which prove I shouldn’t trust appearances so much.  It is true, I’m going through a period of time I need feeling overwhelmed by music, to listen to a record and end up motionless with my mouth wide open, babbling and thinking “what the fuck is that!”, as if receiving a hard blow right in my face, this is, I’m looking for energy, rage and powerful riffs, and nowadays metal can fulfill this need.

Lately I’m making jokes about my upcoming midlife crisis, as I’m getting closer to turning 40, saying  my personal issues are reflected in my recently taste for metal stuff. In the past years I was too mild, listening to lots of folk and Americana, however from a couple of years or so, I’m very into harder stuff, and to be honest, the energy of these bands I’m so enthusiastic with, really make me feel younger. Whatever! I might be talking nonsense here, and I’m still 37 ha ha ha.

kvelertak band

Anyway, the Norwegian band Kvelertak was confirmed as part of the line up for the Primavera Sound Festival 2014, which was held this last weekend (I’m intend to write a more detailed post about it asap), and since I had heard so many good reviews, I found some time to listen to both their albums. I don’t know if I’m a very impressible musically speaking, or perhaps I’m overreceptive to new stuff, but I found them mindblowing.

It had to be mine so I ordered it right away and since the day it arrived, it’s been my main soundrack of the last 3 weeks.

Perhaps the voice of their leader, Erlend Hjelvik is not the most accessible at first hearing in the world, in fact guttural voices are not usually my kind, but combined with the reckless rhythm and dynamism, the addictive riffs and the job of 3 guitars, the rough drums, the stomping bass lines, their power and the huge energy, this album can conquer anyone in metal mood. And once again, considering the language barriers, at the end of the day, you let the music do the talking, just focus on it and forget about the message, which apparently is quite epic according to the clues inside the booklet. Every song is accompanied by a clarifying sentence, so ‘Åpebaring’ (Revelation) is something related to “a feather clad man breaks into your skull. He has such sights to show you”; ‘Evig Vandrar’ (Eternal Wanderer) is about “an unholy pact has doomed this man to walk the earth until the end of time”; ‘Tordenbrank’ (Thunderclap)“there is a storm coming. All you can do is pray”. Pure metal inspiration from savage lands.

kvelertak

Regarding their performance last Thursday, I can advance you they didn’t disappoint at all, and the rockin’ audience of the festival crowned them as one of the winning bands of the line up. They came, played and demolished, and we got crazy. What a fuckin’ blast.

Lenge leve norsk strøm! Helvete!

UH!

Meet me in Farmington if you dare.

It’s been ages since I don’t post anything. Sorry about that. There are two reasons  which can help me to justify my absence: first, I’ve been very busy attending shows which have piled up in a narrow period of time: Michael Monroe, Night Demon, Title Fight, Guerrera, Johnny Winter or The Coup are some of them.

The second reason is that, since I was in my hometown earlier this month, I’ve recovered one of my favorite series on DVD, The Shield, and I’m completely hooked. So much, it’s May 19th and I’m in the middle of season 4. I reckon if I hadn’t attended to those shows I’d be finishing season 5 at least, but still I got some social life to attend.

the shield cast

I feel like talking about this series, created by Shawn Ryan, because it’s usually regarded as minor, compared to The Sopranos and The Wire, but the plot, the dynamism and the characters are as appealing and attractive as those belonging to the others, and personally speaking, focusing on the police environment and story, I choose The Shield over The Wire without blinking.

Honestly, I’m enjoying this second viewing even more than expected.

First approach to The Shield, back in 2008, blew our minds to such extent, watching  it became some sort of addiction. We watched the complete series in barely 5 weeks, and I reckon we missed part of the message, many details and the development of the characters. We were somehow infected by the intense whirl of the series. Really, we were jonesing afterwards.

This time I enjoy my own rhythm. I have no pressure and no hurry, but the truth is that the deeper you’re in the mud, the more you need, so the rhythm I’m watching the series is quite fast, and the sessions are very intense. Nevertheless, whenever it’s necessary I repeat a scene, to catch everything, or just for pleasure, and I’m noticing lots of details I hadn’t paid attention earlier, especially regarding the characters.

For those who aren’t aware of the main plot of The Shield WITHOUT SPOILING, the action takes place at a Police precint in the district of Farmington, L.A, known as The Barn, which used to be a church, but now it’s filled with cops, detectives and all kind of scumbags you can imagine. Farmington is a ghetto area with a high rate population of (illegal) immigrants, Russian, Armenian, Korean, Muslim and Latin among them. Street gangs such as The Mags, Los Torrucos or The 19rs, and organized mobs threaten the security of the citizens, vulnerable to robberies, rapes, murders, guns and drugs. Crack and heroine is on every corner of every street, prostitution is constant, and the criminal rate is outrageous. Captain Aceveda aims to clean the streets and implement his strategies and methods in order to improve quality of life there, but at the same time he’s surrendering to the seductive power of politics. The Strike Team, commanded by detective Vic Mackey is an obstacle for reaching his target, as cop violence, corruption and influences are words constantly related to this squad.

strike team

As a reflection of the society, even though cops are supposed to be the good side of the coin, to protect and serve, the series actually deals with this dichotomy of good vs evil, exemplified in the circumstances the characters have to go through, sometimes at their choice, and sometimes forced by them. Some of the characters moved by the standards of moral, at some point have to yield for their own survival or to protect their beloved. Some others prefer playing rough and cross the line so they can find a quicker path to stop the evil. Extreme and quick decisions are constantly taken in this series, and the only lecture the series aims to give is that no action comes without a consequence.

Then you choose your favorite characters. Some of them you have a crush on immediately: Vic and Shane on one hand, detectives Wyms and the Dutch boy, Aceveda, and officer Danni Sofer. With others, although it takes time to build their relevance, eventually you realize how important they are and how greatly they contribute to the richness of the plot. And the picture you get of them can change in a nick of time depending on their actions. I find that fantastic in a series.

7 seasons define the story of The Barn. And they’re all worth it. If you haven’t watched it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. But always remember this:

“STRIKE HARD”

STRIKE FAST

strike team card

My first FIESTONER

In Spanish we call a stoner rock party Fiestoner, and that’s exactly what we celebrated last Friday night at La Ley Seca, a riff party.

fiestoner

The main reason I arranged the after show session and attended the event was the chance to see Sonora live act for the first time. My long time friend Dave is now playing bass for this stoner hard rock band in my hometown, and I’ve always liked not only his musical taste but his quality as musician, and since I had already listened to a couple of songs available on their bandcamp site time ago, I wanted to check them. And it was a really great surprise, even though the singer had his throat wasted for a month already (apparently he’s got a vocal cord damaged). To be honest, I got the idea that vocals were completely secondary, and the work on guitars and rhythmic part was the real shit. The band sounded pretty solid and the songs worked out very nice. I really dig their stuff, and I’m looking forward listening to properly recorded stuff.

The guest band was Twin Wolf from Barcelona introducing their album. I already knew their leader, Ramón, the owner of Hey Ho! Bar, place where I used to dj several times last year. Their style was completely different and songs were more complex and extended but not as catchy as Sonora’s. I loved the technique of Pepo, the drummer. He looked a mathematician of drums, very skilled rolling and a great play of wrists.

fiestoner cartel

So after the two acts I was in charge of keeping the heat, so I tried my best to entertain people and as far as I can recall I did it fine, especially when I played ‘Dragonaut’ by Sleep and all of a sudden there were more than 10 men on stage flipping. What a blast!

If I tell you the truth, I must be growing old, for my neck still hurts after so much headbanging, but it was terrific, so i don’t regret at all.

Hope we can enjoy another Fiestoner soon. It was a terrific night and a a great pleasure to discover Sonora.