The Lightning in a Bottle festival returned Memorial Day weekend after a one-year hiatus bigger — and better — than before.
We’ve come to expect The Do Lab to only go big, bold, and beautiful in their multi-platform, lifestyle-agnostic, installations and event productions. We’ve been dazzled by The Do Lab-produced Lucent Dossier Experience, the Do Lab Tent at Coachella and Lucent L’Amour Valentine’s love-fest. But Lightning in a Bottle – in it’s ninth iteration – is the sum of all parts and yes, the sensory overload can be thrilling.
As has become a tradition, I video’d my vote this morning. There is never much of a line at my polling place, around the corner at Elysian Elementary School. But this morning I did something that I’ve never done before. I know… wait for it… I chose the Republican ballot.
“I really hope you reconsider and vote for Democrats in the fall,” said the poll worker — after i put my cameraphone down. I chuckled and looked down at the page in the precinct roll with my name on it. All Dem and one N/P. N/P for non-partisan (or “no pickles” in restaurant shorthand), otherwise known as “decline-to-state.”
I am a decline-to-state voter for various reasons: I’m an independent and don’t subscribe to the limited scope of a two-party system; I don’t want to be added to any more junk mail lists; because i don’t care what you call me just don’t call me a D or an R (“commie” is fine, “babykiller” is not).
But the main reason for doing so is for the opportunity to make a choice on the spot when it comes to the primary elections. FACT: Jerry Brown is going to run away with the Democratic nomination for governor of California and after he does, I will vote for him in November. But there was no point in voting for him today. So I took a Red ballot — granted, as a single person with no dependents or home ownership, I did not bother with the school council board items. But I cast a vote for an underdog candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary because I’m not a fan of either Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner. Poizner seemed OK at first, but the more I read about him, the more I detested him. So I voted for Bill Chambers. He likes freedom and has a dope mustache and a mullet.
Always feels good to vote — and I prefer to vote to change things for the better. on the Props I went — 13: yes 14: yes 15:yes 16:no :17:no.
There were strange crack/rolling sounds from alternating sides of the building during the quake, which felt like a gentle swirling than anything else. The quake took place hundreds of miles away. Per Wikipedia:
The Ritz-Carlton/JW Marriott hotel building, a part of the LA Live development in Los Angeles, California, is the first building in Los Angeles that uses an advanced steel plate shear wall system to resist the lateral loads of strong earthquakes and winds.
20 minutes later they came on the loudspeaker to say they were investigating any possibile structural damage to the building.
We were lucky to be among a few hundred people to catch Broken Bells’ first-ever live performance Friday night at the Bootleg Theater in Echo Park. Broken Bells — if you haven’t heard yet — is a collaboration between James Mercer (of The Shins) and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse).
Try to imagine what that might sound like and your expectations would be met and likely exceeded by the first single — “The High Road” — alone (video after the jump). Stack that on top of Burton’s track record as a multi-instrumentalist and producer over the past decade (The Grey Album, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, MF Doom, Beck) plus the mystery of it being Broken Bells first live performance and the Bootleg was buzzing with anticipation.
The crowd was a good mix of industry, critics, serious music freaks, and fans (we scored tickets out of the lot that went up for sale after 10am Friday for $15 each – and were gone by 10:30am, according to the Fold’s website).
After a spirited set by the house DJ’s, Broken Bells took the stage as a 6-piece band (two guitars, two keyboards, bass, drums). The band seemed well-rehearsed and the onstage demeanor was rather serious for a “surprise” show — the only announced Broken Bells concerts to date are London and Paris and as part of a SXSW showcase next month. A couple people mentioned that it was Burton’s first time playing drums onstage (he played keys on one or two tracks with prerecorded supporting beats). On the record — much like with the Gnarls Barkley collabs with Cee-Lo — Burton handled all the instrumentation as well as production, James Mercer wrote the songs and played guitar.
Mercer’s voice was strong and rose above Burton’s shuffling timekeeping. Several songs had a lilting bass groove reminiscent of the Manchester sound of 20 years ago — Stone Roses, Happy Mondays. It was also apparent that these musicians were influenced by the likes of Damon Albarn and Beck — not necessarily a bad thing. Add four- and five-part harmonies and some ace songwriting by Mercer and the live experience had a wall of sound, Floydian feel, melodies grinding through spiral video projected on the stage.
After each song everybody seemed to turn and look at each other with eyebrows raised as if to say, “wow, that actually sounded really good.” After ten songs the band left the stage briefly and then returned with the two greatest surprises of the night. First, the duo of Mercer and Burton rattled off a beautiful version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” and then the rest of the band returned for a spot-on cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover.” Mercer led into it saying gingerly (to the crowd, the band or both?) “I don’t know if you’re ready for this but here it goes.”
Lights up. The house DJ cued The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and the crowd filed out, smiles all around.