Holy hyphens, Batman! I’ve been busy. My festival schedule has been fairly steady, with the next big thing being Outside Lands. All weekend long August 8th-10th I’ll be live-tweeting with igetwet over at @SFAppealOL and providing daily write-ups and photos along with a list of must-sees and must-eats/drinks a week before the festival. Hopefully I can dig up some goofy missed connections afterwards as well. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to since the last lengthy round-up:
I’m going on a fairly large-scale road trip with my guy and will be writing/photo-ing that experience on the blog. Other than that, I’m working on a list of best play-by-play announcers so if you’re a baseball fan & you’ve got some warm fuzzies about, say, Vin Scully and Harry Caray, get at me. Expect more album reviews, interviews, and features as well!
I am also forever seeking tech, music, health, and general news tips. Curious about a topic? Email me and I may very well enlighten you.
Plz + thx!
I’ve done a lot of shit lately. I was in and out of town almost every week of June and now that I’m back from my most recent trip to Austin, I’ve got a solid two weeks before I’m out of town again, this time for Pitchfork Music Festival. Here’s what I’ve been up to since, like, a month ago:
I’ve got so much shit on the horizon in the immediate future, too. Look for me in the upcoming summer issue of Wag’s Revue, in the July 9th edition of the East Bay Express, imminently (again) on the Daily Beast, & Sports Illustrated’s Extra Mustard, in addition to the usual awesomeness. I’m also entering Glimmer Train's short story contest tonight, so hopefully you can catch me in that as well.
I’ll have a legit round-up posted tomorrow. With photos, of course. In the meantime, happy photo-takin’ :]
Tens of hundreds of varying sources of media is currently overflowing the trending section on whichever social media site you enjoy. It’s all coagulating in a shallow pool reflecting fractals of the douchebag that Kanye West always was and forever will be, and it’s quickly becoming the “think piece” of this year’s Bonnaroo. The scant paragraphs from larger outlets decry Yeezus’ auto-tuned megalomaniacal rants and, at their heaviest, touch on the shit spectacle of his 2008 performance. Better late than never, they say.
This piece is not about Kanye redeeming himself like the stud-masked deity he claims to be, (he’s not and he didn’t) nor is it about the crippling demands of mega-artists and the stranglehold they have on the industry as a whole. The streams of people – nary more than a trickle – that left his set in the name of festival justice weren’t enough to convince the artist that he’d failed. Rather, he was so convinced that the craned necks, sky-bound iPhones, and frenetic rapping bros were so completely on his side that he made the crowd do the work and even thought we could move the Earth just because he wanted it as such. And this type of crowdsourcing is the failure of our industry.
Somewhere between the first auto-tuned diatribe and the fragments of “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, I left the fabulous Soloroos (a collective of campers that met on a message board) and hightailed it to the farthest reaches of a damn near empty tent still within the confines of Centeroo so as not to completely give up the night. As Kanye continued his musings on “God’s plan” for his higher purpose, the full moon hit just right, the magnitude of a Mercury retrograde amplified the Friday the 13th creepy vibe and perspective slammed into me harder than the Mastodon mosh pit.
According to a few sources, Kanye’s 2008 diva demands alienated Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh so much that he refuses to return to a festival that ultimately started to honor the jam band movement that he helped create. In that regard, the rapper’s return signifies not just a seismic shift in the nature of this festival but firmly cements Bonnaroo as a mainstream rival. While it’s really fucking cool that Umphrey’s McGee have rocked til morning at countless Bonnaroos, it’s ultimately an anomaly given the many artists that barely have enough material or wherewithal to finish their scheduled sets.
This also shows that the marks of character and morals are a dying currency in the music industry. For as many “fuck Kanye” chants and bits of graffiti there were just as many dollars generated from his decision to perform. I say this because the man clearly shows no remorse; instead of letting history rest, he digs it up and threatens to piss on it.
Let the record show that capitalism rules all. Let it state that nepotism only gets you as far as access. As Kanye continued his rants against the persecutor press, I felt an awkward tinge of embarrassment as well as resentment. I passed up better paying gigs to watch an ungrateful producer from Chicago spew onanism blindly at the wind. In fact, I’m barely getting paid at all and fucking hell am I tired of it.
Music journalism is ultimately what I’m striving to do with my life. Though I take many assignments across the board, (and I seriously LOVE the variety) I’d still love to make music the end all, be all focus of my writing, with the occasional time devoted to fun projects. The odd silver lining of struggling to get something – anything – accepted in terms of pitches has been delving back into fiction and creative nonfiction works. But I digress.
So, how does Kanye’s crowdsourcing co-opting of a large-scale festival’s main stage relate to my (what almost seems like bullshit) profession? Think of all the photographers crowding a photo pit. Imagine every person you’ve seen pull out a moleskine and write during a set. It’s enough people to overflow to trailers and a spacious tent and, from what I’ve seen, a majority of them are getting nothing but access for their efforts.
I’ve played that game before and it’s what sort of sent me on a fast-track into covering festivals. It was, essentially, my internship, my pedagogy program, my apprenticeship. It’s not where I’d like to be anymore but it’s hard not to fall into that moneyless pit because so much is dying in terms of quality content and ad revenue. SEOs rule over a conscientious critic and more often than not, happy-go-lucky college students are willing to take a gig gratis because they got some type of wristband/laminate/means of access that saves them hundreds of dollars and makes them feel, well, accomplished.
Festivals are past the tipping point of popularity in the way that dates can be announced with no lineup (read: product) and immediately sell out for the sake of the fact that festivals are a thing and they are culturally relevant and important and stymies the collective FOMO. Festivals jumped the proverbial shark with Hologram Tupac and Coachella’s newfound two weekend shitshow and they’ll continue chugging along with no need to improve so long as you good people keep blocking off weekends and throwing thousands at them. Conversely, there is no incentive to pay for quality writing and photography so long as my compatriots (again, I’ve been guilty of this) are content with the often revered end all be all that is access.
The Soloroo crew began a discussion, initially about Pitchfork, and it morphed into the future of the music journalism machine. Our consensus was that it would become reddit-ized, with the will of the clickbait ultimately deciding what’s of value and nothing more. Not compensation, not a respectable living. I jumped into this world feeling like the one of the final passengers aboard a slowly sinking cruise ship. The band keeps playing and we keep shooting and writing and there is no good time to jump.