There is a terrific recording studio located on Division Street just west of Western Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. You know when you use a preset on a keyboard or recording application there usually is a default “Large Room” setting. I swear that setting is copied from this very studio also known as Strobe Recording. The room sound is as ideal as they come. Jamie Wagner, owner and proprietor of Strobe, occasionally hosts an event called “Strobe Sessions.” Well…he has for 63 times in the past 10 years! And Number 63 happen this past Thursday and I got to catch a terrific live performance of The Plastic Red Buddha including songs from Sunflower Sessions…this week’s Joup Friday Album. Local Chicago is good.
More and more frequently I find myself wondering whether the world has always been this despicable or if I’m just becoming more conscious of it. Concurrent with this feeling is a realisation that our generation is being increasingly more spoilt with a Pop Culture smorgasbord: the Heroes of our youth dominate the Box Office, favourite bands of the past reform and tour, the best TV show of all time revived after a 25 year hiatus, Comic-Con has gone supernova. One of the few gifts of being a dentally challenged, pallid skinned Brit is an ever healthy cynicism possibly attributable to being of an island nation still living on a pension from a highly questionable Imperial legacy, which during the best of times enables many of us to take a dim view of anything that on the surface seems too good to be true. Back in my teens when I thought ‘The X Files’ was giving me a window into the clandestine machinations of the world’s superpowers my dad calmly and succinctly cut through my teenage distrust of his adulthood by putting it to me ‘hypothetically’ that THEY would love it if we were ‘watching the skies’ rather than paying attention to what was going on in front of our noses.
Well, we tried. After hitting up a yearly cavalcade of free parties, in-stores, shows, and events at SXSW here in Austin for the last decade and a half, we (your fine friends at Joup) thought we would try to get actual credentials, to get in the middle of things, to groove, and to get me square up the ass of this annual Texas music festival/circus/shit-storm. I was ready to cozy up to corporate sponsors. I was ready to meet and interview all the rocking kids out there that make me feel old. I was ready to drink. I was ready to schmooze. Well, we tried.
I’ve been taking a vacation from cyberspace. I’ve been feeling like one of those dusty-tummied Cowboys lassoed to the accoutrements of a panicky filly that scatters after getting a bum full of buckshot. I miss information filtering down to me rather than it being Zoetroped in front of my pried-open glazzballs. Of course some of the unavoidable bullshit gets through to you like poo-particles up your nostrils from the methane on the subway train, such as Kanye West’s recent mandate that Beck should surrender his Grammy to Beyoncé. Which was rightly met with condescension and fist-plugged chuckles, because of course what West should have said is that Beck should at least have been mumbling the name Paleface in any acceptance missive that might have trickled through his Thetan-free PR Team.
“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
It’s doubtful there will ever be another travel memoir that will have as much effect on pop culture as Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Countless writers have tried — most have failed — to recreate that uniquely American take on driving through the open desert, the twin engines of speed and freedom propelling them forward. It’s Thompson who springs to mind as soon as I find out that I’m going to be driving 1,300 miles to Austin, Texas, through the California desert, Arizona and New Mexico, especially since the entire route is essentially one road — Interstate 10.
So our main contributors have bared a small piece of their music skeletons. And I was tagged to enter the booth. I really had a tough time with because, you know ALL the music I listen is great and I have impeccable taste.
*Cue the eye rolls and bullshit cough in the background.