Category Archives: Cities

Everybody Loves Our Town

mark yarm

I’m a 90s child, or better said a 90s teenager. It’s impossible that someone who is acquainted with me has any doubt about it. Not that I got stuck in this decade, but in many ways it was the most defining in terms of music and personality. 2000 could be acknowledged as the settlement time, of what I started experiencing and discovering in the nineties.

This been said, you should also know by now, I’m deep into 90’s music. Not all the genres, that’s for sure, as it’s impossible, at least for me, to cover all the styles, and also because there was lots of crap too. I never dug into industrial music, although I’m currently interested in NIN, and enjoyed Marilyn Manson lots, but Fear Factory and other currents never caught my interest, same as nu metal and those guys in Adidas trackies. Never cared about The Deftones or Korn, and BritPop was something I was punished to listen to with when I was working at the laundry factory in Essex, so even though I enjoy listening to Suede nowadays, I wasn’t a diehard fan of Pulp, Oasis or Blur.

Anyway, I don’t think at this point I have to justify and give explanations on why I don’t have any CDs of this or that band. You just can’t cope with everything if you have a “normal” life.

What I do reckon is that grunge, I prefer to call it Seattle sound even though isn’t still very accurate, crossed my life when I was 14-15, and hundreds of stories of bands immediately were part of my life. Thus, when I heard of Mark Yarm’s Seattle oral history was available, I knew I had to read it as soon as I had the chance. Thanks Mr Benavides for discovering this treasure to me.

This book is a compilation of interviews the author made to around 200 people: musicians, producers, sound engineers, managers, record companies A&Rs… basically people who had been involved with the several bands which propelled the ignored Northwest area of the States, and Seattle in particular, to be a huge worldwide attraction, thanks to the scene created  throughout the years, since the early 80s to late 90s. It’d be a huge mistake if only the most prominent bands, you know, Nirvana, Pearl Jam Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, would have been covered, but luckily all the different bands previous to those, and many other such as Melvins, Mudhoney, TAD, 7-Year Bitch or even Candlebox, are also included.

Seattle scene

Many stories, different confronted opinions, and people’s feelings are reflected, respecting a very well structured timeline, showing a family tree whose branches extend to many bands with different projection and fate. Of course, there are certain key figures which are never to be forgotten, which are pillars, or even breaking points at certain times, to situations and changes of events, such as the deaths of Andrew Wood, Mia Zapata, Kurt Cobain or Layne Staley. Addictions and substance abuse are too present, excess and delusions of grandeur can be found in many stories, ambition, friendship, hard work, love, disasters and drama, and most of all talent, are part of this big cocktail, and lots of stories, I used to listen thanks to overseas magazines and the damned MTV, are now told in first person.

For all these reasons and more, Everybody Loves Our Town, immediately has become a must read for all the music lovers, and those who used to wear flannel and Doc Martens, no mattered what their parents or people at their high schools could think of their appearance, trying to emulate their music heroes, which in the end were human beings.

One last thing, not trying to spoil anything: COURTNEY LOVE is even more asshole than I thought.

Flashback Friday: London 2015

Argh! It’s been two weeks already since I don’t update this site and I feel like shit about it, but honestly I wasn’t in the mood nor didn’t find the right time to do so, and the past days have been so weird my mind was to stressed to write. I hate when I have this shitty writer’s block. One of the reasons I keep this blog alive it’s because it usually works as some sort of funnel.

On this day two weeks ago I was having a veggie burger and a tasty spicy Turkish salad with my friend Veronica near Old Street in London. We came back to this beloved city again to attend a Ryan Adams show at Hammersmith Apollo on Friday 27th and the trip was amazing. Now there’s no point in talking about  the show, which was a blast, nor how great was to meet friends who were also spending the weekend there for the same reason, so instead I’m posting some pix of that wonderful time .

tetis

apollo

foreros

ryan4

setlist ryan adams

ryan5

crobar

vero

pints and postcards

Thanks to all the people who contributed to a weekend of laughs, lots of pints of beer, friendship and happiness. Now it seems to be ages ago, but it was fantastic.I love you! ❤

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…

Greetings from Shitsville, London.

Every time I visit London the same doubts and uncertainty rise in my head. Will it be even more different than the last time? Will my own London still remain the same? Will I still be in love with the city?

jaume and toi

I don’t go to London to see friends anymore, even though there are still some I’m in touch with, and don’t go as a tourist either, as I already know what I needed to know about the city. Beside, in the last years, London is not the affordable destination it used to be, with accommodation and public transport at outrageous rates. Shows are my current motivation. Up to date, I’ve never enjoyed live shows most but in London. Venues are cool, beer is affordable, audience is extremely livid and intense, and bands love playing there. The gig culture reigning is, in my humble opinion, the best, and I always love the vibe and the atmosphere, no matter what kind of show I’m about to see.

This time there were many factors which helped this trip to be special. On one hand it was my friend Jaume’s first trip to the old city, so I had to be some sort of cool guide, with the responsibility it implies, and on the other because the show we were attending featured Hey!Hello! and our beloved The Wildhearts, band which Jaume introduced thanks to a best of, in my life.

april and london 070

The stay was terrific. We enjoyed very good weather, had tons of laughs, joined my friend Ana, who is currently living and working there, for drinks, and I had a great surprise when coming out from the venue after the show, suddenly I was facing my best friend in my London years, Lukas, who is adorable, but a complete disaster getting in touch. Coincidence? Nah, I don’t think so. It was awesome, all the same.

I’d like to leave the leisure side of the trip aside, as the most remarkable event was no doubt the show. It was officially the 4th time I was seeing The Wildhearts. I remark  officially, because I happened to see them in one or two festivals in UK but since I wasn’t acquainted with them, didn’t pay them attention. Anyway, one of the shows was also in London in 2007 at the disappeared Astoria club, before Christmas, which also was full.

This time it was at Electric Ballroom in Camden, a venue I had only been before for clubbing and on Sunday market. A guy told us capacity was approx 1200people, less than Astoria’s, and tickets were sold out.

red stripe

We visited The World’s End pub for the previous drinks and it was then when I got my London vibe back. Classic British metal out loud, the pub packed, Ritch, The Wildhearts’ drummer was hanging with friends there, and this party atmosphere was so intense it really cheered me up.

After being warmed up enough we went to the venue as we wanted to see Hey! Hello! Ginger’s project with Victoria Liedtke. Their act featured 8 songs, included their hit ‘Swimwear’, and ‘Feral Days’, ‘How I Survived the Punk Wars’ and ‘Black Valentine’. We immediately noticed the impressive voice of Victoria, and the quality of sound at the venue, making it easy to distinguish and perceive the melodies of the different members in the band. She really looked nice, the way she jumped and danced, and the funny way she introduced the songs, making jokes all the time. A funny contrast between American and British. I liked it.

heyhello

We were a bit tired after our intense morning walk and decided to chill out a bit, while the second act was taking place. Mainly because it was a Swedish prog band playing, and at that moment we needed an upper, rather than something complex, musically speaking.

wh3

When the time came, we couldn’t be more excited. The fuckin’ Wildhearts were playing and we were there ready to rock. And it was a hell of a show, damn! Never seen Ginger so happy, and the band so solid, compact and powerful. No doubt it was the best performance I had seen, in terms of quality. What a blast! They chose ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ as the starter, probably one of my top 3 favorite WH songs, and ‘TV Tan’ followed. By the third song, Jaume had already lost his voice and I was bawling all the songs as if that was my last day on Earth. The set list was perfect, hit after hit after motherfuckin’ hit, and the crowd was insane. Oh, man! It feels so good to be surrounded by unknown people mad about the band in the same way or even more passionate than you do!

It’s almost impossible a band like this comes back to Spain, when only 100 people attend their shows. It’s not worth it. We are not worthy. And it’s a pity, but we don’t have a proper rock culture and philosophy, supply/demand is nonsense here. And of course, The Wildhearts are one of the most underrated rock bands on Earth.

I feel pity for those who are not acquainted with this band, because I’m positive their lives would be much better if they could enjoy the work of The Wildhearts.

I only hope I manage to see them next time soon.

Bless Ginger, CJ, Scott and Ritch, and those who were left behind. Long Live The Wildhearts!

AN EVENING WITH CRY BABY (LA OTRA FILMS).

Going to the movies has turn into a luxury for many. Tickets are expensive, theatres offering films in their original version are very few, and unfortunately the bizz is focused on mainstream blockbusters. There’s the local independent cinema which is quite affordable, but the catalogue is too serious, so to speak.

People who grew up in the late 70s and 80s look for something beyond that. We want to recover those films we’ve watched hundreds of times on TV and enjoy them in big screen. Thus, Grindhouse initiatives of action, horror or sci-fi movies, are always very welcome.

Now La Otra Films in Barcelona, goes beyond that. The concept of this iniciative has to do with the lack of film festivals dealing with love. There’re horror, sci-fi, independent, foreign, gender, Asian…film festivals, but if you think about it, nobody cares about love. To be honest I hadn’t thought of it before either as typical love-cakey-drama/comedy films are not my thing. But there are exceptions of course, and love is depicted in all kind of film genres in a very different way. Remember Han and Leia in Star Wars saga, or the top 5 love disasters list told by Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, the junkie relationship between Harry and Marion in Requiem for a Dream, for instance.

On a monthly basis La Otra offers a Thursday evening of love, music and beer.  I christening was last Thursday with John Waters’ Cry Baby.

cry baby la otra

For those who might not know this fact, I love his films. Pecker, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Hairspray, Serial Mom, Cecil B Demented… This fascination for the disgusting and the filth in his early films stole my heart. I still remember that late Tuesday night when a TV channel broadcast Pink Flamingos and the day after at the high school everybody was talking about the final scene of Divine eating dogshit. It was repulsive, but at the same time, so shocking, trashy and awesome, we all started searching for more of his stuff.

I’ve always loved his regular cast of actors: the queen of filth and shock Divine, Mink Stole, fascinating Patricia Hearst (millionaire William Randolph Hearst’s granddaughter and heiress, who was also kidnapped and convicted for armed robbery), David Lochary and his ‘stache, Mary Vivian Pierce with that 1920’s unique beauty, Ricki Lake who is not overweight anymore, Edith Massey and her eggman…

cast

Cry Baby is a funny tribute to all 1950’s films featuring squares and rebels. it’s a trasher version of Grease, as it tells the story of an instant crush between the beautiful and straight posh girl, Allison, and the rebel and leader of a gang, Cry Baby Walker, raised by his grandma after his father was fried in the electric chair. Love at first sight for real. Another Romeo & Juliet modern review, with of course, a happy ending, an impressive soundtrack, and very funny moments. Such a story, with a young Amy Locane, Traci Lords at her maximum splendor (leaving her porn time behind, guys), Johnny Depp’s taking off from 21 Jump St series (who could have foreseen the success of his career?), Iggy Pop, Willem Dafoe, had to be a winner.

You can read a “proper” review of the film I wrote long time ago for Popcorn and Movies. Believe it or not, it’s the most visited post in this comatose blog.

So imagine Thursday evening after a couple of beers, when we arrived at the cinema it was packed with people. Everybody was in a great mood. They were serving free beer, there was a photocall with a Triumph motorbike and Cry Baby leather jacket so you could pose, and then there was a short opening performance. The band Miedo (Fear) was pure rubbish, but bearable anyway.

It’s great to watch these kind of films with lots of people. The word to define the event is FUN. Everybody laughing, whistling, booing, clapping…and the peak of the night, with Mr Jailer musical number, with confetti blowing all over the place. What a blast!

I wonder why such events are not held more often. I think there’d be enough people motivated enough as to attend. It seems that movies to watch at theatres have to be new releases, or old classics, but, what happens with OUR generation classics?

Thanks to La Otra for such wonderful evening. I’m sure there will be a next time.

Wanna join?

PARTY TIME

I knew it was to be wild, it’s always like that, but I didn’t know it was gonna be such an awesome night.

party nj

My birthday-Norma Jean Magazine party at La Caja Tonta was a total blast. I’m good at gathering people, and I love the way all my friends eventually get on well among them no matter how different they can be. I’m so grateful for having my friends! I know I’m a very lucky person in this sense. Some friend was very accurate when defining close friends as the new and chosen family. I concur.

The aftermath of an animal party is usually painful. First because of the hangover, and then due to the chemical imbalance which always come a couple of days later after experiencing a huge wave of euphoria. Strange as it might be, I’m not at this point, even though Tuesday’s been a rough day, coming back to work, finding 587 mails in my Outlook inbox, and feeling wasted.

At this moment I can’t stop laughing while remembering situations, conversations and all the silly events which took place last Saturday night. Really, it was impossible something was wrong considering the dream team of party animals we were present. What a blast. Can’t wait for the next party, really.

party nj 2

Not that I mean to self flatter, but I’m proud to say the party was a success in many senses, and it was great to enjoy a session in my own hometown after more than 11-12 years. The bar, the vibe, people, and party mood were perfect, and the night went wild. Still I could manage to write down all the songs. Sometimes I’m really amazed of myself. Anyway, for the record, here’s another playlist. 

Oh, yeah! I’m 37 now. Sounds like a horrible age, but you know, at the end of the day what really matters is the state of mind. And mind is in great condition 😉