Let There Be Sound!

May 31, 2010

I’ve just returned from a week without internet: minus.  Because I was in Barcelona: plus.  For the Primavera Sound Festival: plus plus plus!  Really, folks, this last week has been phenomenal.  Let me set the stage…

Last week about this time I was handing in my final essay, packed back in tow, then hopped a train over to Stockholm.  With nowhere to go until the 4 a.m. bus to the Skavsta airport, because, you know, everything in Sweden closes early, I’d planned on maybe hiding out at a kebab shop after the train station closed.  Turns out, there were a few other travelers in my same boat: losts souls for one night.  Together with a group of strangers, we managed to find a dive bar that stayed open until 3 a.m.  We had a few beers, then made it back for the early bus to the airport.  Then it was off to Barcelona for me.

Once in Barcelona, I kicked back with a few good books (one on Quantum Theory, the other me rereading Bachelard) until my friends’ flight arrived.  They’d planned to meet me on their way from Vienna.  Apparently they also had quite an adventure getting to their flight, but that is a tale for them to spin.  The rest of the world was behind us, Barcelona our future for the next few days.  And since we’d arrived a couple of days before the festival, we got to wander around the city and see the sights.  Mainly these were the buildings of Antoni Gaudi.  Seriously, that man’s architecture is mad.  As in crazy, not the hip slang term for awesome.  Which they also were.  First, however, we had to find our apartment.  This was quite the ordeal as most of our cell phones didn’t work and we had to call this guy Fernando to come let us in.  And when we finally did manage it, only two of us could actually meet with him, because, well, because we’d been involved in some creative counting of our personage when booking the place on account of inflating prices.  Truly we numbered five.  Soon to be six.  Maybe even seven by Thursday.  Heh, heh…  Anyway, we got in just fine then had some late night sandwiches and beers despite our inability to speak or even order in Spanish.  Mostly it involved lots of hand waving and pointing.  In the end, however, mission accomplished.  We ate.  We drank.

Now, I think I’ve been telling a bit of this tale out of order already, so I hope you don’t mind me just skipping to the festival part.  It was the whole reason for the journey, after all.  After grabbing my friend Marlo from the bus stop, the seven of us headed to Primavera Sound.  And just to be clear, we were Marlo (from Bromley freshman year and friend since at UofI, seriously who’d’a thunk we’d meet up in Spain?), my Turkish friends from Uppsala — Atahan and Burak, plus their Turkish friends John, Chala, and Oner (correct me if you guys/girl read this — I’m a simple country farmer and don’t know to spell Turkish names good, plus Oner called me Jared all weekend, which I thought was funny, but hey this is retribution).  Plus me.  Now, as I sometimes do, I’m going to cut the narrative short in favor of pictures.  Maybe it’s laziness, maybe I still have a paper to read and oppose for my class, maybe there are simply no words for the music.  And there were three days of music.  Three amazing days.  And for jealousy’s sake, let me name the bands I saw (and rocked out to) in chronological order (best in bold): Thursday — Sic Alps, Surfer Blood, The XX, Titus Andronicus, Broken Social Scene, Pavement, Fuck Buttons; Friday — The New Pornographers, Best Coast, Spoon, Beach House, Panda Bear, Major Lazer, Yeasayer, Mujeres; Saturday — Atlas Sound, Florence + The Machine, The Antlers, (then wandered between Built to Spill, No Age, and The Charlatans), Pet Shop Boys, The Field, Fake Blood.

After the festival on Saturday, I went directly to the bus at 5:30ish a.m. and then caught my morning flight back to Sweden.  Then, without properly sleeping, somehow bought myself sushi in Stockholm, got a train back to Uppsala, saw some dude who had also gone to Primavera, gave him a thumbs up because my brain couldn’t make conversation, then passed out.

You win, Primavera Sound.  You win.

And now, as promised, pictures.

Listening to: If I Had A Heart, Fever Ray (Fuck Buttons Remix)

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An Implosion of the Brain

May 23, 2010

Busy busy busy.  Surprising, isn’t it?  I’ve been working on my final essay.  Okay, probably less surprising now.  Seriously, though, I’m pretty sure it’s going to cause my brain to implode.  It’s really not a tough assignment, I just haven’t been getting any sleep.  Did you know that the sun goes down around 10:30 and comes up, complete with chirping birds, just before 3 in the morning?  I know I have insomnia, but I like keeping it in the dark.  Okay, okay.  Essay’s due tomorrow.  So… my number one priority right now is to take my mind off of it.  This is not procrastination.  It’s a time honored studying technique I like to call going to the grocery store.  For candy bars.  And maybe to return some video tapes…

Listening to: Instantly, Sound Tribe Sector 9


Om nom nom.

May 17, 2010

Stuffed with pasta, lasagna, sushi, and wine.  I think I finally understand the appeal of dinner parties.  And boy do I feel old.

Listening to: Anything Goes, Ella Fitzgerald (shit, music, you’re not helping)


Skansen and Squirrels

May 15, 2010

Wow, over a week since my last post.  Guess I’ve been busy.  This is a good thing, right?  Well, suppose I should fill you dear readers in.  What have I been doing?  Several trips to Stockholm, for one.  I had a class trip to Skansen this last week.  It’s an open air museum in Stockholm, built and maintained to give a glimpse into the Swedish folksphere.  That is, it’s a museum of traditional Swedishness.  As with all history, it’s a bit of a creation.  We see what Skansen chooses to show.  That said, I was surprised at the large portion of the museum that had been dedicated to Sami culture.  Unlike the highly idealized representation of Native American cultures in the States, the Skansen museum described consequences of modernization, as well as the Sami culture’s adaptation to the modern age.  The way they are presented seemed much more honest than what we tend to see regarding indigenous peoples in the States.  In the States we tend to get surprised when we meet someone of native descent who’s turned to gambling and alcohol because they betray the myth we have created around them.  Of course, I’m being overly simplistic.  But the representation at Skansen surprised me — more so than any of the depictions of the ‘Swedish’ part of the museum, which was, to be honest, rather boring.  I spent most of my time chasing around the squirrels, which seemed much happier to be there in Skansen than did the animals in the zoo section.  Zoos are a bit twisted, aren’t they?  But I digress, I was talking about squirrels.  They are so gosh darned adorable.  And, because I’ve been on a comparison kick, way better than the squirrels back home.  Way better.

And now I offer proof, plus some other stuff:

As for what else I’ve been doing, well, putzing around.  Went Geocaching somewhere along the way in the past few days to no success.  Been writing, playing ukulele.  So, really, the usual.  Oh, and I’ve got an essay due on Monday.  Just a one to two pager on my impressions of Swedishness as presented in Skansen.  What is included and what is left out.  Suppose you’ve been my test audience on the subject.  Also suppose I should turn my observations a bit more academic, less focused on squirrels.  Although, those squirrels were pretty durned Swedish.  Ran away when I got close and didn’t say much.  Zing!

Listening to: Swept Inside, Future Islands


Doorway

May 7, 2010

New post over at KGB.  A poem called “Doorway.”  It’s supposed to play on those oft quoted Shakespearean words, “A rose by any other name.”  It’s a sexual-political morality play.  But not really.

Bear in Heaven tonight.  Woo.

Listening to: Insistor, Tapes ‘n Tapes


The Onion on Free Speech.

May 6, 2010

A couple of days ago The Onion posted an article on free speech.  As one of the world’s leading news sources, I think it’s important to post an excerpt here:

“This is a historic victory for free speech, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, a hundred years from now, the hallowed walls of this court bear an inscription taken from the eloquent decision handed down today,” lead defense attorney Carl Huddleston said. “Particularly the phrase ‘That which erodes human rights serves to erode humanity, fuckface.'”

Read the whole article here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/supreme-court-upholds-freedom-of-speech-in-obsceni,17372/

In other news, I’ll be going to Stockholm for the weekend.  One of my classes is supposed to take a trip to Skansen on Saturday, so I thought I’d go a bit early and catch some shows, namely Bear in Heaven at the Hornstull Strand Establissement on Friday.  If you happen to be in Stockholm, maybe I’ll see you there.

Listening to: Breaking It Up, Lykke Li


New Pornographers, New Album

May 4, 2010

The New Pornographers have released their latest album today, Together.  They haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel, but they’ve definitely given it spinners so it still looks good at a standstill.  Really, though, the album’s great, even if it doesn’t stray far from sounds they’ve been before.  Maybe this is why I like it.  Check out their website here at thenewpornographers.com.  And then, you know, maybe give the album a listen.

As for me, I think I’ll be planning a weekend trip to Stockholm — see a few bands on Thursday and Friday nights, then go to Skansen with my ethnology class on Saturday.  All I really need to do is track down a map and a hostel…

Listening to: “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk,” The New Pornographers