Archive for September 22, 2010

CMJ 2010 Artist Line Up!

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

CMJ is quickly approaching and the ever-growing artist list is already enormous! Some of my favorites made the cut! Glance through THIS LIST and get excited!

I would go see  Brooklyn-based Outernational at their  TWO  shows this week.

TONIGHT at 7PM  the Bellhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn, opening for Anti Flag. Get the scoop!

SATURDAY, September 25 ACOUSTIC at at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. Doors at are 8pm. More details here.

Outernational and I have history. Another gem I dug out of the enormous list of artists at CMJ 2008, Outernational stood tall at Crash Mansion “Downstairs,” so tall, in fact, that vocalist Miles Solay almost hit his head as the band jumped up and down during “Fighting Song.” December of that year, I made another trek to NY from LA during a winter storm to finally meet the quintet, and Solay and guitarist, Leo Mintek, showed me around backstage at their Music Hall of Williamsburg (It was my first time in Brooklyn!) gig with The Slackers.  After a late evening, we settled on meeting the next afternoon at the Off Soho Suites lobby; the hotel was kind enough to let me conduct business there despite already being checked out. Mintek established himself as the official spokesman, as the rest of the crew was tied up in other obligations. Study some ON history here!

When the ice had defrosted and spring rain arrived, I bounced back to NY for some time, and coincidentally, ON was set to play Bamboozle Festival  2009 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  Bamboozle could have been more of a nightmare if not for my “dreamboats,”  Outernational. Jumping off the bus, I scampered through the May showers to pick up my ticket the band had left me. I approached the entrance and was quickly halted and commanded to hand over my umbrella. I whined, “Are you serious? It’s torrential out here! What are we supposed to do?” The security man in yellow replied, “I don’t know; you just can’t bring that in here. It’ s  a weapon,” to which I sneered, “Yeah, my fist is a weapon, too.” Fuming, I threw down my umbrella by the gate and grabbed a stray piece of cardboard for makeshift shelter. Sliding through the mud and soaked up to my knees, I made it to ON a few minutes before their 2pm slot. Mintek, bassist Jesse Williams, and trumpet/accordian/keyboard player Jesse Blum (“Dr. Blum”) saw me in my cold misery and quickly welcomed me under their backstage “tent,” handing me a plastic bag for my camera that was on the verge of shorting out. Thank goodness. The band jumped onstage, and I wandered back into the precipitation with my stylish cardboard overhang, a little less self-conscious when I saw people walking by with plastic bags wrapped around their heads and trash bag ponchos. I felt better for another half hour, until the set was over. The band, tired and freezing, decided it was best to depart Bamboozle but didn’t leave me hanging. Mintek handed me his “artist badge” just in case it could “get anything.” It was the thought that counted; I, however, could not handle my almost frost-bitten toes and left a couple hours later.

Spring turned to summer, and I was back in LA for a bit before making my real move to NY. Again, ON and I crossed paths, this time at the Vans Warped Tour in Ventura. The night before I had stepped off the airplane and received a message saying, “Hope you still make it tomorrow! There’s a ticket for you!” I smacked my forehead realizing I had completely forgotten about Warped Tour, or had probably blocked it out due to previous experiences. Coming to my senses, I realized I couldn’t miss ON’s awesomeness. Once again, Mother Nature interfered, bringing the coldest day I had experienced out by the CA coast, and to make matters worse, Outernational’s set was changed from first to last. Huddling under their merchandise booth and holding up the supporting poles against the wind, we finally escaped after their finale…

Time flew, and back in the city, it was sweltering summer, and time for series of sweaty Mehanata Bulgarian Bar residency shows, and as the seasons cooled again into winter, it was the time of the season to plan something for my birthday. I couldn’t come up with anything other than booking a show, “24K Bold,” with a friend of mine, to celebrate aging and NY music, and ON happily contributed their talents in acoustic form. That week was also their send-off show at Highline Ballroom where we started a tradition of a “family” meal at the 24-hour diner down the street.

The band was setting out on a  6-month tour, and it was hard to believe that I would  be seeing them only once at SXSW 2010 during that time.  A show I was co-hosting at SXSW at Hyde Park Bar and Grill, an out of bounds, Austin version of TGI Firday’s,  was an interesting sight for ON, or for any band for that matter. The quintent glanced at the space, and Williams commented, “We’re gonna have to do acoustic; my bass amp will blow this place up.” I had been stuck at the same restaurant for days, so I joked, “Please blow it up. PLEASE.” Concluding over a dinner of hearty chicken fried steaks that acoustic might be more appropriate, ON serenaded families and even inspired an older couple to waltz…foxtrot…or something.   Packing up quickly for their next gig, one of several collaborations with their producer, Tom Morello, and his new project ,Street Sweeper Social Club/SSSC (who I saw the summer before at a private Kenny’s Castaways show thanks to Outernatinoal), ON swept me away to the special appearance as their “manager” for the evening. Usually not a celebrity approacher, I thought this might be my one chance to speak to Mr. Morello and get a photo-op with the guitar hero. He had shooed another girl  away who asked for a picture right after he exited the stage. A bit intimidated, I waited for him to cool down, then tentatively asked, “Hey Tom, do you think I could get a photo with you?” Luckily, Jesse Williams was there to vouch for my friendship with ON, and Morello relaxed and said, “Sure!” I thought it would be clever to point out that we were “rivals,” Yale and Harvard  graduates in one picture, and he exclaimed, “Really? What year ?” and I said, “2008,” at which he laughed, “Wow, you’re a youngin!”  The next Austin morning, I awoke to 30-something degree weather and one jacket. Terrified by the fact that my entire day was scheduled for the outdoors, I braved the  wind at the Rachel Ray Showcase at Stubb’s BBQ where ON and SSSC once again hit the stage. As soon as I could, I dove for cover in the band van, as they packed up, and we dined picnic style on Stubb’s. As a final gesture of caretakers, ON drove to another venue that also happened to be the American Apparel flea market. It was miserably frigid and the band collectively voted to head back to town. Before we left, however, I demanded five minutes to hit the AA shops; I was given literally five minutes. Sprinting back to the van in the last ten-second countdown, we headed back to downtown…

It was unacceptable in my book that I wouldn’t see the band until the end of the summer, so I planned for a trip back to LA to host the band at my house and catch them  in Las Vegas and LA’s The Viper Room.  April of this year was like a family reunion and the most fun slumber party one could think of. I convinced my parents to make a trip up to Vegas to meet Outernational before they came to LA. Long story short, LV was no where near as glamorous as anyone had hoped; the band that was scheduled  to play with ON experienced a scare when their bassist was hit by a car in the venue’s parking lot, and no one was in the mood to play. As a result, ON and company, explored Sin City, still a bit down about all the disappointing events. Cut to my house. Four of the five pulled up in their van, trailed by their U-haul, run-down, and suffering from, what Williams deemed, “Van-itis.”  The highlights of the week were: a gig at the world famous Viper Room, my favorite venue in LA, a midnight Mexican dinner with Tom Morello afterward, followed by a dance party at Le Deux; boogie boarding alone after the rest shied away from the icy Pacific; multiple family meals and non-stop eating; and, jam/song-writing sessions in my living room that bore a  song that you can hear at gigs now!  I also learned several factoids about Outernational: they love string cheese, artichokes, and cake; they have great team work; Miles and Leo wake up really early, especially when auditioning drummers via Youtube; only three of them drive the van; Jesse Williams and I have a passion for Pirate;s Booty, fake band names (Bang Island and their debut Swimming in Sweatpants), the movie, Speed, and vinyl; Dr. Blum is an advice column incarnate; and, we all love yelling the  name of the imaginary band member who was lost in Texas during SXSW, “Frank,” out the window as we drive…anywhere.  I was really upset when I found I was leaving a day before my guests. At 9AM, William awoke to see me off, and my separation anxiety set in immediately. I don’t know how it happened, but my airplane malfunctioned on the runway, and we were forced to return to the gate and rebook flights for the next day. I got one more day of quality hang out time!  Saturday was the real deal, though. I went back to NY, and ON continued on their  tour. Even after parting ways, the gents still passed through LA, borrowing my car and visiting my parents. My mom even referred to them as “the boys,” and made sure she saw the next two LA gigs.

After counting down for four several months, Outernational had their homecoming show at, of coures, Highline Ballroom with their punk-legend tour mates, GBH. A bit of post-show jamming backstage, “La Bamba” and “Tequila,” worked up appetites and brought us again to our favorite diner…

I’ll stop. That’s enough. That brings you up to speed. To summarize, Outernational is not only a phenomenal band (ask anyone who’s seen or played with them), but they are part of my family. I’ve met some great friends through them (Rebekah and Jon, you rock!), and I’ve learned what it means to stand behind your music and message.


Rocker Stalker