Feeling Festive

September 9, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Music, Popculture | 1 Comment

This weekend I’m attending VirginFest, and no, it’s not some pagan festival for the deflowering of gorgeous young nubile virgins (*sigh*). It’s Virgin Mobile’s 2-day music festival on Toronto’s Center Island. 

We just finished day 1, and while the music has been great, I have to admit that I am spoiled by the Ottawa Bluesfest. This is year 2 for Virginfest and they still haven’t worked out the kinks. For example, at Bluesfest I can buy a beer or a cooler or a decent glass of wine and take it back to where we are sitting and enjoy my drink and the music at the same time. At VirginFest, there are designated ‘Beer Gardens’ which will not allow you to enter with anything bigger than a small purse – all bags must be “checked”.  So you’d think the organizers would actually have prepared for this, but you’d be wrong. The poor “bag check” people were writing numbers on paper and tearing it in pieces to hand to those of us who had to check a bag.  Outside the b-live lounge it wasn’t even that organized. They had an area where you could leave a bag while you went inside for a drink. There was no mechanism and no assurances that your bag would be there when you got back.  

After all that, we found out that the only beverages in the beer garden were Bud and Bud Light. Yech!  Then, as if  the lousy beer and lack of planning for bag check wasn’t bad enough, the beer garden for the main “Virgin” stage was next to, and pretty much behind the stage. Unless you were at one small corner of the very large beer garden, you couldn’t see the bands play and couldn’t really hear them either.

I was also disappointed at the miniscule size of the screens on the main stage. You’d think a company like Virgin Mobile could spring for decent sized screens – again, I’m spoiled by Bluesfest – the screens are double the size of the ones at VirginFest.

My other major complaint is the requirement to have to purchase “tickets” for most food and all beverages.  I can understand the reasons for taking this approach, but then fer chrissakes STAFF the ticket selling booths adequately. The lineups were often obscene.

At the Ottawa Bluesfest, you just walk up and buy your beer (or wine) directly from the beverage tent. You walk up and buy your food directly from the vendor (and there was way more selection). Yes, sometimes there are lines, but not like the hour-long lineups to get “tickets” at VirginFest.

Organizational fiascos aside, there were some good aspects to the festival, like the Bacardi B-Live Lounge – the drinks were fabulous and the same price as the crappy beer.  I’ll take a Mojito over a Bud Light ANY day.  The music and club atmosphere was fun too.

And as I said earlier the bands we went to see were great.  Arctic Monkeys, MIA, Bjork and Interpol were all fabulous, but the real treat was Mute Math. They put on the best show! It’s just too cool when a rock band uses a Stand-up Bass!  The lead singer (Paul Meany) was over-the-top energetic, and Darren King’s drum theatrics were nothing short of amazing. The bf thinks that Meany looks like Mr. Bean but I think he’s kinda cute – then again, I like the geeky look.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow because I really want to see Stars, Metric and the Killers. Unfortunately I’d also like to see Dirty Vegas but they are up against the Killers so it’s going to be tough. What will be tougher is trying to work the next day when I have to drive home (4 hours) after the concert ends at 11pm…

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Musical Interlude

July 14, 2007 | Filed Under Music, The Heartless Bitch Way | No Comments

I haven’t been writing much lately as I’ve been out at the Bluesfest for the last 8 days straight.  Despite the appearance of Bob Dylan (“Is he speaking English?”  “No, he’s speaking mumble.”), and Van Morrison, it’s not been as good a fest for me as in previous years. Yes, I’ve seen some interesting smaller back-stage acts, like The Love Machine (“We’ll be in the autograph tent signing autographs for our parents after the show…”), Ukrainia, and Mihirangi, to name but a few, but the mainstage acts just haven’t thrilled me as much this year.  Yes, there was the perennial favorite, Blue Rodeo with Jim Cuddly, er, Cuddy, and it was cool to stand there and hear 25,000 people singing in unison to their favorite songs, but other than that and a brilliant performance by The White Stripes, there hasn’t been anyone else I *really* wanted to see.  I saw Steve Miller back when they were popular.  Manu Chao was just annoying.  Randy Newman was good, and I enjoyed both his poking fun at has-been bands (Getting the audience to sing “You’re DEAD” as part of the chorus), and the quote from his wife: “We have two boys and a girl. My wife said that if we’d had the girl first, we would have thought the boys were retarded.”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers put on a great show and were seasoned entertainers, as was Gary US Bonds, but if they weren’t already at the Bluesfest, I wouldn’t have bought tickets just to see them.    Hedley was hilarious but I’m sure they weren’t going for outrageously funny.  The lead singer out Jaggered Mick. He PRANCED around the stage, preening and pirouetting, and leaping like some puckish sprite while singing and sweating madly. I found it amusing that all these 14-year-olds were screaming and lusting after someone who was so blatantly flaming.  And then, of course, he bared his ass for the last number, and those cherubic cheeks had “Hedley” tattooed across them. All I can say is that the way he pranced around with his butt hanging out, and the front of the shorts BARELY above  his member, it was clear that boy must shave his pubes – ’cause nary a tuft or errant hair was to be seen sprouting from those shorts.  Music? What music? Oh, yeah, it was a MUSIC festival…

On the other hand, Virgin Fest in Toronto next month will have Smashing Pumpkins, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Metric, and a bunch of other great bands that I’d actually really like to see perform live, so we are definitely taking in that festival.

Bluesfest is more of a social thing. We all get festival passes, and so we go each night, regardless of the lineup, to socialize, listen to some old favorite or discover something new.  Tonight, Metric was playing on the River stage (one of the smaller venues), while INXS was on the main stage. I was bummed that they were on at the same time, but given that I saw Metric last year (AWESOME show!) and I’ll be seeing them next month, I opted to see INXS because I never saw them back in the day when Hutchence was alive, so I wanted to take the opportunity to see them this time.

Someone should tell JD to shut up and just sing. He has a great voice, and certainly can pull off the numbers, but he shouldn’t try to do anything more than that. He appeared to be quite loaded (pulling from a bottle of champagne on the stage, and smoking, *something*) and tried to get philisophical and deep during some of the performance. From what I can tell, he has all the depth of a puddle after a rainstorm, and the fact that he forgot what he was going to say at one point didn’t improve my regard.  The other band members were talking amongst themselves from time to time and it looked from our vantage like they really weren’t impressed with JD. There certainly didn’t seem to be much chemistry between him and the other band members.   Of course, the quips and comments from our crowd were fast and furious.

JD: “Have Fun everyone!”

“Oh, you’ve had more than enough for all of us.”

“They can just write off the hotel room damage deposit.”

“What is with the hair thing?? Someone needs to tell him his hair is just FINE. He should stop constantly fussing with it.”

“What is with the weird-ass stuff he is doing with his hands? It’s creeping me out.” (he kept moving his hands in some kind of afflicted way)

It wasn’t a bad show – they played most of the good old stuff and he did a credible job of it, and he did a brilliant Johnny Cash tune, but on the whole, I wouldn’t pay to see them a second time.

I think we will take a break tomorrow and go to the cottage. I’m festivaled-out. I think I need to sit on a dock and fish for a while with nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees and the loons on the lake.

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Musical Reviews (Not Reviews of Musicals)

April 11, 2007 | Filed Under Music, Popculture | 5 Comments

For some time now I’ve struggled to find a “Music” editor for the Music section of HBI. Unfortunately I am three for three in terms of people who were gung-ho and then dropped out at the last minute. So that section of HBI has languished. Until I get a real editor who is committed (instead of one who should be committed), I’ll be posting my own music reviews here on the blog from time to time.  (Let it be said that those who are willing to run as the music editor WILL get free tix to shows, free CDs and other good swag for reviewing/posting about artists – but dammit, don’t offer unless you have the TIME and are going to actually follow through.)

I’d really like to find a music editor because as much as I like music, I’m no audiophile. I like what I like, and that’s an eclectic mix of Rock, Alternative, World Music, a bit of Dance, and the occasional Bluegrass or Folk piece. I’ll dance to Techno or House for a night, but I wouldn’t buy it to play on my iPod.  I’m really not much of a Rap fan, though I will tolerate it in some very specific circumstances. I’m also not a fan of Country, but I did buy the Dixie Chicks “Not Ready to Make Nice”, and even though I don’t advocate violence except in self-defence, the Heartless Bitch in me chuckled over “Goodbye Earl“.  I also love Blue Rodeo, and no matter what the bf might say, it’s not because I think Jim Cuddy is hot. I mean, I do think he’s hot, but I’d like the music regardless.

My kids are listening to stuff like Led Zepplin, The Who, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, etc… All the old 70’s rock bands.  “But Mom! It’s great music!”, they protest when I ask them to play something else – something a little more… RECENT. I don’t deny it’s great music. It’s just that I listened to it TO DEATH when I was their age. Now, I want to listen to something new.    I suppose I can count my blessings. At least they aren’t into Rap or Opera.

It was an important factor in my attraction to the bf.  He looks soooo straight. But Instgatrix calls him UFB – short for Undercover Freak Boy, because he conceals an alternative outlook on life, music and movies. He looks like the type that should be listening to The Who, but instead, he’s listening to Black-Eyed Peas or The Killers, or Marilyn Manson. He likes eclectic movies as well, (though I think he insists that Pan’s Labyrinth had a “happy” ending just to irritate me).

And speaking of new music, I heard about The Cliks on a local radio station tonight when they played the track “Oh Yeah”, from their new album, Snakehouse. The Cliks is a girl band reminiscent of Joan Jett, but what really sets them apart is that they don’t dress like skanks or barbie dolls – they dress in suits, shirts, pants.  And they ROCK.  What I’ve heard so far, I LIKE.  If I take in their show when they come to town, I’ll be sure to write a review – watch for it in late May… Until then, check out their MySpace (I shudder to say that) page to see their tour dates, and go see a show.  Let me know what you think!

Oh, and they are also Canadian, eh?!

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