TRAVEL IN A GROUP OF GIRLS: When we were waiting in line, there was a group of guys waiting near the end. While one of us gals pushed through and got in within 15 minutes, the bouncer basically told the guy, sorry, with a group of guys you may not get in tonight at all.
GET TO KNOW THE BOUNCER: This works at many clubs everywhere. Be his friend and he may let you in.
TALK UP YOUR CABBIE: Many of the cab drivers in Vegas have comps to places. Tell him/her a little about you, how you travel in attractive circles and have no idea what you want to do that night.
WALK AROUND THE STRIP: Besides passing out uh unmentional magazines, some peddlers actually pass out comps - for stand-alone clubs - like Ice and Seven.
VISIT CLUBBING CLOTHING STORES: For example the ones in Aladdin like Neighborhoodies have loads of comp coupons near their cash register. Believe me, we raided those stores for those passes.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, RAISE YOUR HEAD HIGH AND WALK IN LIKE YOU BELONG THERE: Who knows, if you carry the air of a celebrity, they just might believe you.
As for this weekend, ch-check it out:
Meet Russell Simmons and Reverend Run of Phat Farm Clothing WHERE: Macy's Southland in Hayward WHEN: 5 p.m. tonight 4/29 TIX: No Cover WHY: The two will be giving out autographs plus exclusive prizes with Phat Farm purchases.
Lyrics Born, Kunfgu Vampire, Nasty Breeze, Z Man WHERE: Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday 5/1 TIX: $12; deepsj.com WHY: Stellar line-up! Lyrics Born is the gravelly emcee in the soundtrack of the Diet Coke commerical with Adrian Brody.
Snow Patrol with Embrace and Augustana WHERE:Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday 5/2 TIX: $25; ticketmaster.com WHY: If you like Coldplay, check this show out.
They were a little mellower than I imagined, but still very bouncy. Yumi, in a Madonna-punk like outfit (a maroon crushed velvet top with pearls) kept flopping her permed head around. While, Ami, in a very 80s outfit (an oversize yellow T, shorts, black leggings and boots) jumped at the end of a lot of songs.
I saw the duo after the show. The backstage of the Fillmore is on the second floor balcony past some discreet curtains. After a flurry of changing Ami and Yumi emerged. In person, they are very very cute, and skinny, though very tired.
I resisted the urge to hug them.
I'll put up pictures soon.
Tonight, ch-check it out:
Frontline WHERE:Studio 8, 8 South 1st Street, San Jose WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 4/28 TIX: 21+; free guest list - Arrive early this may sell out fast! WHY: Frontline is on the frontline of the New Bay hip hop movement.
The Likwit Junkies Listening Party WHERE:The Agenda Lounge, 399 S. 1st St., San Jose WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/28 TIX: $3 before 11 p.m. WHY: Defari has been getting some buzz from The Source, Elemental, and hiphopsite.com
Wu Bai married, and Puffy AmiYumi plus Augustana tonight in San Francisco
So the biggest Taiwan pop news lately is that rocker Wu Bai finally admits that he was secretly married in the last year or so to his girlfriend/manager Chen Wen Pei in Fukuoka City, Japan. It was a marriage on the downlow, and only in these last few days has he admitted this to the press there.
No wonder he and Chen were giggly on the phone with me - alone, indeed!
Tonight, two great things to ch-check out:
Puffy AmiYumi WHERE:The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Street, SF WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/27 TIX: $25; ticketmaster.com WHY: The cartoony cute duo play Japanese pop rock. I'll be meeting them tonight BACKSTAGE and will give a full account tomorrow.
Augustana WHERE: Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street, SF WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/27 TIX: currently sold out on virtuous.com, check doors WHY: sweet ballady alternative rock. Their single "Boston" reminded me of Hoobastank's sweet single "The Reason."
A masseuse said Motley Crue had just passed through for an in-room massage.
Compared to Paris' spa (we went there last time), it was significantly smaller, but had a clean minimalist look. The prices are also a little better - a one-hour massage there cost $105 versus other areas where they cost around $120.
Their pool, on the other hand, looked really dingy. The water, they assured us was chlorinated, but it was a pukey shade of green.
We tried this spot again. The food is good and prices are not too bad (appetizers run around $15, main courses $20-$40), but for that price, their service was not so good.
We wanted to get a stamp to come back for the clubbing later that night, but they were rude and only after confronting a manager did they put our name on the list. They usually wait until 10:30 p.m. for such stamping services.
Meanwhile, for all of you staying in the Bay Area, ch-check it out:
FRIDAY (some nice freebies)
Iceland Airwaves Festival WHERE:Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF WHEN: 6:30 p.m. tonight 4/22 TIX: Free show! WHY: psychedelic Icelandic rock
Lyrical Discipline WHERE:Cafecito, 330 S. Third St., San Jose WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/22 TIX: Free show! WHY: There will be a discussion and an open mike. The panel includes Adisa (the bishop of hip-hop), Abe Menor (urban artist and photographer) and Ready Red (original DJ for the Geto Boys).
Lewis Black with John Bowman WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday 4/23 TIX: $35.50-$45.50; (408) 998-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY: Check out Lewis Black, aka "America's foremost commentato on everything." He's the cynical loudmouth "reporter" from the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The Team WHERE:Club Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose WHEN: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday 4/23 TIX: $15 at the door; no sports apparel; free admission before 10:30 p.m. with this voucher WHY:local gritty hip-hop
Rooney WHERE:Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF WHEN: 9 p.m. Monday 4/25 TIX: $10 at the door WHY: classic rock
System of a Down WHERE:Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday 4/25 TIX: tickets only available at the door starting 4/24; two tix limit; no line-ups before 7 a.m. WHY: I love how the lead singer, Serj Tankian, has this voice that just vibrates inside of you.
DJ Spooky and his magazine 21C, plus Ruckus Magazine
There are two interesting magazines to ch-check out.
One is DJ Spooky's brainchild, 21C Magazine. He was an intriguing interview, a DJ who dissects songs and resurrects them together with a PhD-like mind. My favorite album of his is Optometry, a thoughtful mix of jazz artists like well-respected avant-garde jazz pianist Matthew Shipp. Its one I would definitely recommend. It was a mainstay in my car until my ravenous seat swallowed it up one day.
In their words: "Imagine a 'hip' Harpers with amazing photography or a youthful New Yorker with stunning graphics and a modem ... A stunningly designed showcase for idea-driven writing about visionary thinkers, trendsetters and new, new things - the people, trends and ideas at the cultural cutting edge."
The other one to ch-check out is Ruckus Magazine, (ruckusmag.com) a free bi-monthly Bay Area rap culture magazines. Soon you can find it at Tower, Rasputin's, and other indie and college stores. The first one comes out May 2nd.
As for tonight, ch-check it out:
LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad WHERE:Ruby Skye, 420 Mason St (at Geary St) San Francisco0 WHEN: 9 p.m. to 3a.m. tonight 4/21 TIX: $15 door, $10 presale; ticketweb.com WHY: drum and base
Ch-check back tomorrow - I'll give a breakdown of what to do locally this weekend. As for me, I'll be in Vegas and will give an account Tuesday.
The other day I had lunch with San Jose graffiti artist Scape Martinez.
Besides having a sweet blog (keepmykhakiscreased.blogspot.com) he had a very interesting analogy about the music industry. Martinez compared the industry to a bank where instead of cultivating talent, it invests in things that would garner the fastest and highest return. For example, Martinez says, they would put in more effort in gangsta rapper 50 Cent to become multi-platinum rather than try to grow a new artist to sell a bit.
This relates to a conversation I had with Akil, a member of the socially conscious hip-hop group Jurassic 5). I asked why in the past MasterCard offered an internship with the group. It wasn't the group's idea - they had no choice, he said, adding that they need to work it whatever way they can.
"You don't have to work a50 Centalbum, but you do have to work a Jurassic 5 one," he said.
Tonight, ch-check it out...
Velvet Revolver, Hoobastank WHERE: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/19 TIX: $39.50; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY: Hoobastank's single "The Reason" is already sweet on the radio, now catch it live.
The Killers WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco WHEN: 7 p.m. & 11 p.m. tonight 4/19 TIX: $20; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY: Their hit "Somebody Told Me" ingrained in fans' minds, with silly lyrics like "Well somebody told me, You had a boyfriend, Who looks like a girlfriend, That I had in February of last year." And, theoretically, with their later show, you can catch both the and Velvet Revolverand The Killers in one night!
This morning I interviewed Tori Amos. Like her music, the 41-year-old singer was intense.
She became critical when I asked her about the reason behind her moving away from singing about herself to taking on other characters (like when she becomes the voice of the murdered wife on her cover of Eminem's "Bonnie and Clyde '97" and where she sings as "Mother Earth" on her latest album "The Beekeeper"). She asked, in a fiery tone, how I even know that the other music was about her?
"How do you know that I haven't gone inside? Do you know me? Do you know my life?," she fired back.
Yeah, I don't know her and that's why I ask the questions.
Amos didn't let me reveal the audio of the interview online, saying that it's "just between you and me in case I burp."
Anyways, ch-check out her spirited Q&A in this Friday's EYE.
He taught me a great lesson this week about the need to balance being able to say no. He passes up on a lot of promotions to have more time for himself, and he still has a career right?
When I interviewed Sammy Hagar, he had something deep to say too: "Happiness comes from within."
Keep those things in mind this busy weekend.
Ch-check it out:
Rob Thomas WHERE: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 4/15 TIX: $35; (408) 998-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY: Check out his solo act.
Ladies' Swerve WHERE: Zebra Lounge, 447 Broadway, SF WHEN: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/15 TIX: ladies free before 10:30; discount before 11 p.m. WHY: They're giving away free spa gift certificates.
The Bomb Veinte WHERE: HP Pavilion WHEN: Wednesday, May 25th TIX: $20; it goes on sale 10 a.m. Saturday! (4/16) WHY: The A-list line-up includes: The Game, Snoop, Baby Bash, Frankie J, Bone Brothers, and Natalie. Asian American IDOL 2005 WHERE:DNA Lounge, 375 11th street @ Harrison, SF WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 4/16 TIX: $10 with guestlist WHY: Check out who may be next famous.
Bay Area Rap Summit WHERE: 177 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose WHEN: 12-7 p.m. Sunday 4/17 TIX: $35-$100; bayarearapsummit.com WHY: Network and listen to the Bay's up-and-coming rappers.
Lately, I've been speaking on a lot of campuses about what I do. Common questions students have are: How was it speaking to Marilyn Manson? And how can you keep your own morals values intact as a journalist? (She was referring to tabloid journalism.)
I was freaked out about interviewing Marilyn Manson, because his persona seemed so evil, but he really wasn't so scary over the phone.
If you've seen the documentary "Bowling for Columbine" - which I didn't see until way later --you'll find an intellectual man in Manson. He's smart and one of those rock critics (many of us are closet rock star wannabes) who figured out how to be a rock star.
He was also sick that day and so stuffed up his public relations didn't let me to record the interview (I think because he didn't sound menacing at all and that messed with his persona).
At the end of the interview I said I hoped he would feel better, and he said, thanks for taking pity on him. Imagine that? I took pity on Marilyn Manson.
And on the second question: It's more about balancing your values with getting the job done as journalist. It may seem like journalists are morally empty, if you base it on popular tabloid journalism. But I hope that mainstream journalists keep strong values in everything they do. I find that the more human you are, the better you can relate better to the people you are interviewing. It may be one story and one assignment to a journalist, but it usually means a lot more to the interviewee. They often open themselves up to me, so I try to honor that.
Tonight, ch-check it out:
Old School Thursdays WHERE: Enter through Back Bar, 418 S. Market St., downtown San Jose WHEN: tonight 4/14 TIX:no cover WHY: It'll be the grand opening of Rock Tavern nights.
The Crystal Method WHERE: Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St. (@ Mint), SF WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 4/14 TIX: 21+; $20 (glow sticks are not allowed); groovetickets.com (They will be giving a free show at Virgin Megastore, 2 Stockton St., San Francisco, at 7 p.m.) WHY:One of the greatest dance duos
He was a pleasure to talk to, and even if he weren't in music I would want to be his friend.
Gray, the vocalist/keyboardist/bassist/guitarist, describes Gomez as "eclectic" music. It's kind of bluesy rock. And what's nice is that they make a point not to compromise themselves as artists.
The band got together as friends looking for fun, and they haven't changed that.
"If you can't have fun, what's the point? God help us if even the people in rock n' roll are miserable, the world might as well destroy itself right now," he said, over the phone from Atlanta by Emory University.
He went on this long spiel about how the music industry has become way too conservative, how instead of artists freely expressing themselves now, the managers locate audiences with certain tastes and cater to them. Gray would rather make music good enough to find an audience.
"You know we approach music, piece by piece," says Gray, 28. "The most interesting thing about our record, is almost everybody likes three different songs."
Actually their name plays into it their eclecticism.
"Gomez keeps us grounded," says Gray. "Why would an English band have a Spanish name? It skews people's view of us. It's helpful. It never lets people pin us down."
Gomez was actually a friend of the band's, an Indian-Portuguese guy Gray describes as having a "streak of white hair" that would "fall asleep at all times of the day."
One of their earlier gigs was in a residential area, and Gomez (the guy) "wasn't particularly great at finding places, so we wrote his name with big letters on the venue, so he'd know where to go."
Other people coming to hear them naturally thought the band's name was Gomez, so it stuck.
The Art of Win Ng WHERE: Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco WHEN: Opening reception tonight 4/13 @ 6:30 p.m.; exhibit runs through July 24th TIX: free; www.chsa.org WHY: After WWII, Win Ng was one of the artists that created a new tradition of American pottery.
Deborah Gibson WHERE: Tower Records 119 Market St., 2280 Market St., San Francisco WHEN: 5 p.m. tonight 4/13 TIX: Free; (415) 621-0588 WHY: 80s Pop queen Deborah Gibson (formerly known as Debbie) has just released an album called "Naked." She'll be at Tower signing autographs.
Later tonight, she'll be performing WHERE: Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF WHEN: 9:30 p.m. tonight 4/13 TIX: 21+; $30; cafedunord.com
"We stay together as much as we can," says Thomas, 33. "We realize that this is real time and that's what's important."
"Sometimes you get really (expletive) great business opportunities, but if it doesn't vibe with your personal time, you don't have enough time ... You say no to something, and be okay. I mean I still have a career."
Ch-check out my interview with him in Thursday's Mercury News. I wanted to do a straight Q&A, but he sprinkled in quite a few expletives,so it'll be a story.
Bono even hung a cross necklace, he received as a gift from the Pope, on his microphone stand while he sang.
Bono said that while many rock stars have a "Pope complex," John Paul II was the only Pope to have a rock star one.
And while Bono said that he may not agree with everything the Pope stood for, at least he stood for something. And on the same note, it was refreshing to watch a rock star who stood for something.
Overall, the concert was magnificent.
Unlike the Anaheim show where my friend said U2 played mostly recent material, the show Saturday night in HP Pavilion had a lot of old hits, like 1985's"Pride," 1992's "One," and 2000's "Beautiful Day." Here's a link to the set list.
The lighting was also beautiful. There were LCD lights that hung like curtains down from the ceiling, showing images of the band, flags, and even a fighter plane. During the encore, there were also chandeliers that came down from the ceiling.
My only disappointment was that I expected a wider age range of fans to come, but the majority were in there 30s and 40s and few brought their kids. I also wished U2 picked a better opener. Kings of Leon weren't that great.
What I liked the most is it had the NorthBeach kind of atmosphere in a more relaxed environment. The music was good, plus the food good and cheap ($6-8 for main dishes). Check them out, steamerscafe.com,next time you're in the area.
Wu Bai in the World Journal, and Springsteen coming to Oakland
Hope everyone is having a good week - I'm back from LA now, well actually I spent most of my time in sunny OC. I mainly did a lot of shopping along Rodeo, Brea, Fullerton and Sunset. I also checked out a very cool live jazz restaurant - more on that later this week.
So, in yesterday's World Journal (a national newspaper written in Chinese) Taiwanese rocker Wu Baiwas photographed with my Mercury News profile of him. In their paper, he says that after a "one-foot" length article in the Mercury News, he has truly made it in America.
In the picture, he holds the story upside down, which is symbolic. During the Chinese New Year, you can spot the character for "spring-time" on signs upside down - because the Chinese character for "upside down," "dao," sounds like the word for "coming." So, Wu Baiwas essentially saying Wu Bai has "come" to the states.
As for today, Bruce Springsteenannounced his tour dates. He comes to Oakland, May 5th.
And for tonight, ch-check it out:
SKRATCHPAD WHERE:Sublounge Bar, 628 20th St. @ 3rd St., SF WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/6 TIX: 21+; no cover WHY: a session of blunts, beats and cuts
He really is like a Taiwanese version of Bon Jovi or Aerosmith. Imagine Mandarin and Taiwanese 80's classic rock.
It was truly a proud moment to have an Asian artist fill the 1100-person space at HOB on a Friday and Saturday night!
But except for the blatant House of Blues sign, Wu Bai made you forget you were in the states. Almost everybody was from Taiwan and much of his set was in either Taiwanese or Mandarin.
He also displayed some cockiness when he exclaimed first in Chinese that a lot of stars must have played in the venue. Then he said in English, "Well, I don't give a (expletive)." The crowd loved his moxy.
For those of you coming to tonight's autograph session in San Jose and tomorrow's concert in San Francisco, here's some things to keep in mind.
Wu Bai was reportedly disappointed at the low turnout at LA's autograph session and threatened to pull out of San Jose's if the number of people that showed was as dismal.
The concert in LA was on Asian time. It was set to start at 7 p.m. It started at 8:30 p.m. - they wanted to get much of the crowd in before starting. And it was packed! (The HOB Sunset holds around 1100)
They wouldn't let you bring in cameras, but many sneaked in camera phones, and they didn't stop you from taking pictures from those.
Wu Bai performed a 2 hour set with a 20 minute intermission. If you're bringing friends that don't understand Chinese or Taiwanese, be prepared to translate a LOT. He didn't speak much English, except to greet the audience.
Phantom Planet opens for Sting Where: San Jose State Event Center, 209 S. 7th Street, San Jose When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1 Tickets: $33.75-$50.75; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com
And early next week, ch-check out my story on Wu Bai on Monday. His concert comes Tuesday.
Wu Bai & China Blue concert WHERE:DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4/5 TIX: 21+; $50 ($60 at the door); 877-CMPG-388 (877-2674-388) WHY: Wu Bai usually plays at 20-50 thousand big concerts in Asia, so this is a chance to see him up close and personal.