Foo Fighters Are Making America Guitars Again

foo fighters cal jam.png


Have you ever met Taylor Hawkins? The man is a human rock ‘n’ roll fireball of conversation, a So Cal cypher of surfspeak and chill’thusiasm that will delight your ears even as he’s going on and on about how guitar bands are dead. Look, it’s been said before that Dave Grohl and his bros are a bit… reactionary when it comes to music that isn’t traditionally analog. But they’ve built something worthy with their Cal Jam festival, a place for shred’ficianados to gather and worship at the altar of chord, to revel in strings and necks and amps and whatever. Also, they have those big, tall, skinny flappy guys that typically cameo at used car lots. And camping. And Garbage, the band, who use samplers and stuff. So there’s something for everybody. Ish. Anyway, Hawkins was a delight to interview, and he and bassist Nate Mendel are pretty self-aware. :)

Best of L.A. 2018: All That Glitters Is Goldblum



Chaos Theory won’t explain the fact that two of my three Best of L.A. entries for Los Angeles Magazine this year take place at Rockwell Table and Stage. Well, maybe it does. Honestly, Ian Malcolm didn’t give the most coherent lecture on the subject. Or he did, but the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s flirt switch is forever stuck in the “on” position obscured the lesson. But goddamn if that isn’t the beauty of The ‘Blum, one of the rare grown American men in this world who can make anyone he meets feel, um, desired without coming across as an, ah, total creep. But that’s an essay for another day. Here, I’ve written about the best Celeb-Fronted Music Residency, which, yes, goes to Goldblum at Rockwell; the best Live Musical Parodies of Movies, which, yes, goes to the UMPO crew at Rockwell; and the best Guided Urban Historical Hike (which goes to the fantastic L.A. native, historian, and journalist Charles Fleming). So, ah, go, um, read about it.


The 15 Best Things I Saw at Coachella 2016



This was my 14th consecutive Coachella, and 17th if you count the short-lived cruise and the two years I went both weekends, but first with Rolling Stone. I teamed up with shutterbug Andy Keilen (that’s his shot of Kamasi Washington above) and writer Steve Appleford to tackle the best fest in the west. Half of the entries on this list are mine. Can you guess which ones without looking at the tags below? Make sure to keep scrolling downward on the article itself.

Fearing & Loathing Music’s Biggest Awards Nights



Whatever you think “going to the Grammys” means, we guarantee it’s less glamorous and more bizarre than what you’re imagining. At least for most of the press, who sit in small room adjacent to the ceremony, watching the thing on TVs and praying that a famous person will make a wrong turn and wind up on our measly little stage with a microphone miraculously in hand.

And it’s not just Music’s Biggest Night. In the awards season bridging 2012 to 2013, I attended the MTV Video Music Awards, the American Music Awards, and, yes, the Grammys, and my surreal behind-the-scenes experience wound up the stuff of an unexpected trilogy. In 2014, I returned to the Grammys just to make sure its was still weird (spoiler alert: it was). Continue reading

Holy Ship 2014: High With Skrillex on the High Seas

Skrillex at Holy Ship!! with Tiesto and Zedd


We went on a rave cruise and it was ridiculous. For your vicarious enjoyment (not ours, no, of course not) we left from Miami on January 9 and returned three days later, stopping along the way at two private Bahamian islands for beach parties featuring the likes of Diplo, Chromeo, Disclosure, and Duck Sauce. There were also a ton of skull-drilling EDM performances within the hull of a mega-ship. And 4,000 fellow revelers. And a never-ending pizza buffet. And that time Skrillex smoked us out onstage while Pharrell performed two feet away. Continue reading

EDC 2013: Fear and Glowthings in Las Vegas



It finally happened. After covering the politics of America’s biggest, brightest rave, Electric Daisy Carnival, yours truly actually attended the thing accompanied by one of my favorite photo-takers of all time, Wilson Lee. The long, hot days (spent in a hotel room with blackout blinds) and long, neon lights (spent decidedly among the neon) made for some strange experiences and even stranger writing. But despite the fact that I was not on any of the drugs, I found EDC to be very uplifting and sufficiently trippy. Click through the SPIN gallery to get a taste. And revisit my print piece, Dance Music Industry Fights for Its Rights, and web followup about the arrest of EDC promoter Pasquale Rotella. Needless to say, I’ve chosen a side in the War on Raves.

Old Stuff Starts Here…

This site was relaunched in November of 2015, but the blog’s been around since April of 2009. It’s been through many changes, so what lies beyond is almost certainly not formatted properly and often (yuck) written in third person. It’s also incomplete. I’m still filling in my two-plus years as a SPIN staffer, and moving even older posts over to this site. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

EDM, Glitter Pasties, Rapping Ogres and Skrillex: The 20 Craziest Things We Saw at HARD Summer

Happy to report that we attended the two-day EDM bacchanal known as HARD Summer, and actually lived to tell the story. Check out the excellent gallery over at SPIN, featuring the photography of our frequent partner in festivalling, Erik Voake. Artists covered include: Skrillex, Boys Noize, Bloc Party, Nero, A-Trak, AraabMuzik, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, 12th Planet, James Murphy, Dillon Francis, Bootsy Collins, and Squarepusher (with a shout-out to Poolside). Dig in!

The Best of Bonnaroo 2012: D’Angelo, fun., Flying Lotus, Das Racist, St. Vincent, Kurt Vile and more

Babe City, population:1 thrasher. St. Vincent gained another crowd fulla converts over the weekend by crawling on top of her fans for the entire length of the set-closing “Krokodil.” That was just one of the unforgettable moments documented by Team SPIN at Bonnaroo 2012 in Manchester, Tennessee. Best weather of the past three years, and a whole lot of best sets captured visually by Ian Witlen and Matt Ellis, and scribed about by Davids Marchese and Bevan, Luke McCormick, and yours truly. Indexed below for your easy access.

FIRST: 60 amazing photos from the festival!  ///// AND NOW: our coverage. Click on the day itself to read about the artists listed and more.

1. Yelawolf: the best part came with a dedication to the Beastie Boys…
2. MiM0SA: his heart is in hip-hop: swag rap, bass beats, fx-riddled hyphy…
3. Mariachi El Bronx: horns swell, violin soars, percussion bursts…

1. St. Vincent: writhing and convulsing like she’d been inhabited by demons…
2. Flying Lotus: each track sped up and spliced with all kinds of weird…
3. Ludacris: he played a steady stream of hits from his 12-year-old catalog…
4. Little Dragon: a dangerously locked-in dance band teetering on the edge…

1. D’Angelo & Questlove: giving his first U.S. concert in nearly 12 years…
2. Das Racist: Kool thanked “The Gathering of the Juggalos” for having them…
3. Khaira Arby & Her Band:  flurries of notes from dueling guitars…

1. fun.: the bellowing sing-alongs started with the first song and never let up…
2. Here We Go Magic: a rhythmic latter that leads to weirder heights still…
3. Kurt Vile & the Violators: Lou Reed covering Lou Barlow in a dank cave…