Additional, Unnecessary Notes on Detour Festival
The early signs were not promising. Streets slowly filling, some hacky-sacking seen around First & Main, a bit of loud British-accented whining overheard in the VIP section, roving squadrons of those 5’ Lolitas in big sunglasses, thumbing Sidekicks, broskis in force for Blackalicious, their hands in the air, almost as if, as if, they just did not care. Who was going to turn out to this thing? Was the ticket price going to be a barrier? The real L.A.? Or the “real L.A.”? (Are quotation marks implied when saying “real”?) Buy as you personally know because you were there or heard second hand, it turned out to be a fantastic day, palpably getting better as the sky darkened and crowd thickened.
Walking across First to the auxiliary entrance past the Port-a-Shitties and Monster energy drink trailer (appropriate juxtaposition), we ducked inside Bar CosteÃ±a to catch the score of the Dodger game. The bar had maybe 10 people inside, regulars mostly, watching futbol on one TV and Los Dodgers on the other. You’d think that if a festival of thousands was going on a few hundred feet a way just maybe there’d be some curious foot traffic out this way, but not so much. $3 Tecates (served up in cans, accesorized with lime wedge and salt packet no less) went down so much better than the sudsy $6 Heines being served up inside the gates.
Blonde Redhead was the first meaty offering of the bill. They’ve never sounded more compelling live. Taking full benefit of the big sound system set up for this festival, the 3-piece mixed rockers and ballads and closed with an dense atmospheric new one, building noise on top of a disco beat with Kazu’s occasional scream atop the miasma. Great stuff. Surprisingly large crowd for them. I hate the term “mature” when describing artists, but suffice to say this is a band that is in their prime.
Blackalicious. Gift of Gab’s flow is ILL, YO. Some kind of optical illusion. But for the ears. Aural Illusion? This is not some pitch shift trick shit. He makes that fast talking Fed Ex commercial guy from the 80’s sound like Forrest Gump. The beats were of the tight variety as well.
Basement Jaxx live are a festival-honed production. They are a one-band variety show, with an endless circus of stage personalities. There were gorillas on stage at one point. I am not a fan of their records so much, but live they are an undeniably winning proposition. They aim for the back of the crowd and their energy reaches that far.
Beck’s show seemed a little too perfunctory for this event where he was the local legend headliner. The puppets and dancing fool on stage some times seemed like proxies to divert some attention from his own performance. Even with an acknowledgement of this being “where he’s from,” he seemed only to give his usual–which, with his bag of tunes, will almost always be damn good–but just not that transcendent show that this festival deserved. That’s OK though, because with !!! there was no let down.
Where as the â€˜Jaxx has the technical machinery and manpower to belt out a bombastic soundtrack, the rhythms of !!! on the other hand seem positively organic in comparison. Six dudes led by dancing fool front man Nic Offer laid down a set long groove, with the beat intenstified by horns and electronics when need be. Their set on the side stage drew a smaller but enthusiastic crowd that came to dance. This band is already known to rock the balls off a club audience, but their energy was undiiminished by the open air. They are one radio-friendly single away from big(ger) things, but that’s probably not what they’re after, given that they can’t be bothered to officially define their name beyond those punctuation marks. If you don’t believe me, here’s what Duchess of Lore wrote us on the subject of !!!:
What what what the the the hell hell hell !!! This fucking band man, call it punk, funk, stripper core, whatever whatever whatEVER! I’d like to share a few thoughts on The “!!!” rock and roll show, more specifically, comments on the the superb ass shaking abilities of frontman, Nic Offer. Anyone ready for this?
Nic Offer couldn’t be more sexy. In fact this man is one walking sexplosive sexed up sexathon, ready to knock the socks and tear the pants off any onlooker/listener. Those hips, those thrusts, head, shoulders knees toes from the floor up he tore up, all of his clothes and had the entire audience wishing they could do the same. Fuckin shake that shit boy! Perculate that bod, get all saturated with bottled water, get hot, get bothered! I have no doubt that in a former life Offer was a New York go-go cage dancin fox of a lady. What a knock out.
400 some odd pelvic thrusts.
245 head bangs,
52 leg kicks,
18 items of clothing removed (hard to decifer with the naked eye, but I spied 3 separate pairs of leatherette jeans come flying off homeboy )
and, not to be forgotten,
1 unforgettable piggy back ride.
Mmm Mmm Mmm!
Baby Baby Baby!
Chik Chik Chik!
One swift leg kick sent sonic vibrations through the entire crowd makin them beg, bring that beat back man!!! My foots a stompin and it mustn’t stop!
Oh the joys of rock and roll, the pleasures of the ear and the flesh.
And for those of you numbskulls that didnt get the jist of this, here’s the bullshit Hollywood elevator pitch selling Nic Offers hot and heavy dance moves:
25 yr. old Mic Jagger meets 35 yr. old Mic Jagger meets 18 ecstacy pills and then gets high on weed at a big rockin’ party, don’t forget, it ain’t a party til sombodies naked. !!! Yummy!
Its gettin hot in this here cubicle…
I have to work now…
And one of our contest winners sent this note along:
Highlights of Detour: Blonde Redhead, Basement Jaxx, Saint Vibiana’s
Church (as a venue only, DJs played only traditional hipster fare),
only $6 for a beer (was expecting downtown/concert/stadium rape
prices), anything projected against the Caltrans building, the
perfect amount of attendees (it was crowded only where it
counted), !!! puts on a good show, the staggered stage times let
everyone see everyone they want to, lots of kids everywhere.
Disappointments of Detour: Beck (tons of audience, no excitement,
shitty EQ-ing), Once they fill that big hole with cops and offices
these streets will never be closeable again. This is kind of a one
time deal I think.
On a side note, the traffic nightmares that everyone was talking
about this weekend seemed to not affect me at all. I got from
hollywood to civic center via 3rd in under 15 minutes, parked in the
public lot 2 blocks east of city hall for $4, and never once was
caught in traffic. I’m all for the metro but I feel this weekend was
some kind of media blitz for the MTA. Ironic: The boring-ass Tarfest
and the oil we burn to get there to see more oil.
Almost as much as what was taking place on stage at any moment, the crowd and venue were the show. Working through the bodies, people looked up at City Hall, back to the stage, to the CalTrans building, then at each other, having a good time. There seemed to be a collective unspoken mood that translated roughly as “I can’t believe I’m here in the street in Downtown!” which was met with a “I know, me neither!” all of it communicated with smiles and all around good vibes.