Events: The Walkmen, Phoenix, ArtWalk, Fleet Week
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. A few big events are set downtown this weekend, like Fleet Week and Balboa Park's salute to Mexico's bicentennial. But on this weekend preview, we'll be talking mainly about a lot of interesting music around San Diego. I’d like to welcome my guests. Nina Garin is a features and entertainment reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. And, Nina, good morning.
NINA GARIN (Features/Entertainment Reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune): Good morning.
CAVANAUGH: Chris Cantore is here. He’s the host of NBC’s Sound Diego blog. You can hear Chris afternoons on the radio, 102.1, KPRI.
CHRIS CANTORE (Host, Sound Diego): Sorry about spilling coffee on the counter here.
CAVANAUGH: Look at that.
CAVANAUGH: Note to self, Chris can’t come back.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s start with you, Nina. Phoenix is playing at San Diego State’s Open Air Theatre next Tuesday. Can you tell us a little bit about this band?
GARIN: Yes. I will tell you first that I love Phoenix.
GARIN: No matter how big they get, I’m going to love them. I don’t care what people say. Phoenix is a French band. They’ve been around over 10 years. And people first started kind of hearing about Phoenix because their music was used in Sofia Coppola movies. Of course, the singer for Phoenix is married to Sofia Coppola.
GARIN: But in 2009 they released “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” an album that was both critically acclaimed and kind of like a mainstream breakthrough.
CAVANAUGH: But actually, you know, you love Phoenix…
CAVANAUGH: …and so many people do.
CAVANAUGH: But their opening band is getting a lot of press, Neon Indian. What should our listeners know about them?
GARIN: Neon Indian is also great, and it’s a big reason why I’m going and I actually bought tickets for the show. It started off as kind of like a pop art project by two high school friends. And just – it started kind of getting momentum and they made an album and last year they were one of Rolling Stones Hottest Bands of 2010.
CAVANAUGH: Well, what kind of genre does their music fall under?
GARIN: It’s called chillwave.
GARIN: Umm-hmm. And that’s also – it’s a new genre, and basically it romanticizes summer. So think about being 8 years old, eating popsicles in the grass only like with the added perspective of like hallucinogens. So it’s just like a trippy sound that makes you feel warm and…
CAVANAUGH: Ah, memories of childhood. Let’s listen to a song from their new album and this is Neon Indian.
(audio of clip from “Terminally Chill” performed by Neon Indian)
CAVANAUGH: That is “Terminally Chill” from Neon Indian. And I know that you’re excited to see them. Have you seen either Phoenix or Neon Indian, Nina?
GARIN: Phoenix has not played San Diego very much.
GARIN: I did see them last holiday season and they were amazing. They stole the show. It was one of these multi-band concerts and they stole it. I haven’t seen Neon Indian. People have seen a YouTube performance from Jimmy Fallon and that’s crazy on the internet and it’s such a great lively performance, more lively than you’d think so I’m excited to see it for myself.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, Phoenix and Neon Indian will be playing next Tuesday at San Diego State’s Open Air Theatre. Chris, the Walkmen are playing at the Belly Up Tavern on Saturday. Tell us about this band.
CANTORE: They’re a five-piece indie rock band currently based in New York City, grew up in Washington, D.C. They all attended the same all-boys prep school, moved to New York for the music scene. Officially formed in 2000 and recorded the first couple of records in Harlem, actually, in the city.
CAVANAUGH: Do they have a new album out?
CANTORE: Yeah, they sure do. It’s entitled “Lisbon.” It’s fantastic.
CAVANAUGH: And what kind of music? You said indie rock, right? Well, so what kind of sound are they known for?
CANTORE: Vintage indie rock sound. It’s a lot of upright piano. It’s all complemented by…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, right. Right. I remember that. Yeah.
CANTORE: …lead singer Hamilton’s voice. He has this screeching howl, very passionate, very – kind of reminiscent of early Dylan and as well as U2, kind of eighties U2. It’s amazing.
CAVANAUGH: We have a sample of that. Let’s listen to the new album we were talking about “Lisbon.” This is “Juveniles.”
(audio clip of the Walkmen performing “Juveniles” from their album “Lisbon”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s the Walkmen from their new album “Lisbon,” doing the cut “Juveniles.” And, Chris, you know, it sounds like these guys – It sounds like they’re serious musicians, like it comes over like…
CANTORE: Yeah. They’re tremendous.
CAVANAUGH: …it’s serious.
CAVANAUGH: What kind of show do they put on?
CANTORE: Fan – Oh, a lot of passion, a lot of heart. They’re fantastic live. I’ve been following them since the release of the first record from small club shows to the big stages, Lollapalooza. Just a tremendous live band, so much passion and so much heart. Whoa.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. The…
CANTORE: Me, too. Look at that, I’m getting passionate here.
CANTORE: That’s why I’m spilling coffee.
CAVANAUGH: The Walkmen are playing this Saturday night, the Walkmen…
CAVANAUGH: …at the Belly Up Tavern…
CANTORE: It’s amazing.
CAVANAUGH: …in Solana Beach. Nina, Balboa Park is celebrating, celebrating not only Mexican Independence but the Mexican Bicentennial.
GARIN: That’s right. Viva Mexico!
CAVANAUGH: What kind of events are there?
GARIN: So there’s a party tonight that celebrates with traditional mariachis and Ballet Folklorico but this is the celebration that’s kind of concentrated in three museums, the Mingei, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Timken.
CAVANAUGH: And so what are the museums going to be doing?
GARIN: Okay, so the Mingei has an exhibit called “Viva Mexico” which has folk art from the country and they also have a collection of tequila bottles. So…
CAVANAUGH: All right.
GARIN: …they’re kind of – they range from arty to even funny. Like there’s a soccer ball tequila bottle.
CAVANAUGH: That’s good.
GARIN: San Diego Museum of Art has paintings by Raúl Anguiano. I don’t know how to say his name. Anguiano?
CAVANAUGH: Okay, a special exhibit.
GARIN: A special exhibit, Mexican artist. And at the Timken, tonight they’ll be having docents who are bilingual. So…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, that’s fabulous.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Now what’s a fiesta without food? What are we talking about when – about Mexican food at this event?
GARIN: Well, each museum will have a different dish to sample that was prepared by the Prado. And those dishes will be paired with a beer or a cocktail to kind of complement the food. So, you know, the Mingei has the tequila bottles so I don’t know for sure but I would think that they might have a tequila taste…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, this is just wishful thinking…
CAVANAUGH: …on your part. You don’t know this. How much are tickets?
GARIN: Tickets are $20.00. It’s closed for online but you can still get them if you just show up at the events.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, terrific. Balboa Park’s Fiesta for Mexican Independence Day is happening tonight at five. Another group going – appearing at the Belly Up. Chris, who’s playing on Sunday?
CANTORE: Yeah, Belly Up’s been booking some tremendous shows as of late. Sunday, Local Natives. They’re originally from Orange County but broke up in the Silverlake area in Los Angeles. Tremendous indie rock outfit. They’re supporting their self-funded endeavor “Gorilla Manor,” which is just an awesome record and kind of like the psych-folk thing.
CAVANAUGH: What is psych-folk?
CANTORE: A fusion of folk music with psychedelic music, Afro Pop, acoustic guitars. They’re kind of known for throwing that down and mixing it with hyperactive drumming and these amazing three-part harmonies. They’re fantastic.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. We can listen to a clip and find out what psych-folk is exactly. This is Local Natives with “World News.”
(audio clip of Local Natives performing “World News”)
CAVANAUGH: That is “World News” performed by Local Natives. I can see what you’re saying about the harmonies.
CANTORE: Fantastic, isn’t it?
CAVANAUGH: It’s fabulous. Now do they put on a good live show?
CANTORE: Actually, I’ve never seen them.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
CANTORE: This will be the first time but I hear they’re great and they’re being called, actually, held as the west coast Vampire Weekend or Grizzly Bear live.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
CANTORE: Yeah. But there’s so many shows going on that same night. There’s also Film School at the Casbah and Ratatat as well. And…
CAVANAUGH: We’re going to talk about Ratatat.
CANTORE: …also those. We’ll talk about that in just a bit.
CAVANAUGH: Amazing. There’s so – This…
CANTORE: It’s all the same night. It’s crazy.
CAVANAUGH: …so heavy. This is such a heavy music weekend. Local Natives play at Belly Up Tavern this Sunday. Now the fleet’s in, Nina.
GARIN: It’s here.
CAVANAUGH: You got to tell us about it. Fleet Week starts this Saturday.
CANTORE: I’m waving.
CAVANAUGH: It starts with a family festival. What is Fleet Week?
GARIN: Fleet Week, it’s a community event that basically celebrates men and women serving in the military. So they invite just, you know, regular folk to climb aboard military ships and chat with members of the armed forces and just kind of get a taste of the military life for the day.
CAVANAUGH: And so what kinds of events besides going on ships? Do – Will people – and I guess this is a family friendly event.
GARIN: Yeah, it’s open to the public. So along with, you know, going on Navy ships, you will hear military bands. They’ll be – It’ll be kind of like a regular festival with beer gardens. There’s a food tasting area for an extra price. And on that day, you can get a coupon to go on the USS Midway for free.
GARIN: So there’s just a whole bunch of things going on. I should say that the ships are not handicapped accessible. So…
CAVANAUGH: Right. Lots of stairs and…
CAVANAUGH: …climbing involved. So now there are supposed to be some celebrity appearances?
CAVANAUGH: That come along with Fleet Week. Who can we expect?
GARIN: Well, Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J.
CANTORE: That’s awesome.
CAVANAUGH: All right.
GARIN: Yes. They star on NCIS Los Angeles. So they’re going to be there. They’re going to be doing like an interview with Entertainment Tonight anchor Kevin Frazier.
CAVANAUGH: I see.
GARIN: Yeah, I don’t know…
CAVANAUGH: Do we know when that sighting will take place?
GARIN: That, I don’t have a time for that but we can update that on Sign on San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: Just in case you want to track your appearance, too.
GARIN: Yeah. And the interview will be streamed live so…
GARIN: …people that day can log onto Fleet Week and see it happening if they can’t make it to the event.
CAVANAUGH: Now this is always really a pretty big popular event in downtown San Diego. So how should people think about getting there. You know, parking…
CAVANAUGH: …concerns. Where should you park? Or should you just forget about bringing your car down there?
GARIN: No, there’s a lot of metered parking so…
GARIN: …and those are like 3-hour, 4-hour meters, or a little bit longer. And the trolley stops just across the way at the way, is it – that Transamerica…? No. What’s it called? One America Plaza.
CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly.
GARIN: Exactly, yeah.
GARIN: So trolley’s a good idea, too.
CAVANAUGH: And this is just the very first part of Fleet Week. It goes on for awhile, right?
GARIN: Yes, it goes on, I believe, until October third. But this is like the main – the main day and the kickoff for fam…
CAVANAUGH: Fleet Two Week, they should call it.
CAVANAUGH: Fleet Week’s Family Festival starts Saturday at the Port of San Diego. You were talking about Ratatat…
CAVANAUGH: …and now we’re going to be talking about them. House of Blues hosts Ratatat this Sunday. Tell us a little bit about this band’s background, Chris.
CANTORE: They’re a electronic music duo based in New York City, Mike Stroud and Evan Mast. They make critically acclaimed electronic music with guitar, bass and keyboards. Their debut album, 2004, is self-titled “Ratatat,” was essentially instrumental and recorded in Mast’s Brooklyn apartment at the time. They’re great.
CAVANAUGH: Now while we were talking about the shows at the Belly Up you made a point of mentioning this so what is it you really like about them?
CANTORE: They’re tremendous live.
CANTORE: Energetic, a lot of fun. They also incorporate a light show, screen projections and movie clips. It’s very interactive.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, let’s give our listeners a chance to hear this band. Here’s their song “Sunblocks.”
(audio clip of Ratatat performing “Sunblocks”)
CAVANAUGH: That is “Sunblocks” performed by Ratatat, playing at the House of Blues on Sunday. Was that song from a new album?
CANTORE: Yeah, that’s actually track 9. Their new record is LP4, which features a lot of leftover songs from the last session, LP3. And, really, it’s a lot of Middle Eastern instruments also used in this recording, this record.
CAVANAUGH: Is all of their music instrumental?
CANTORE: Primarily, yeah. They will mix some like Brooklyn MC is into some of the songs but I’d say essentially, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: As I said, Ratatat performing at the House of Blues on Sunday. Arts festivals, Nina, have been popping up everywhere. Where are they this weekend?
GARIN: This weekend we have a pretty big one, Artwalk by the Bay, and then we have something called South County Music and Arts, and then we even have a quilt show at the convention center.
CAVANAUGH: A quilting show.
GARIN: Quilting’s an art, right?
CAVANAUGH: That’s very good. Tell us a little bit more about Artwalk because that’s the big one, happening at the bayfront. What’s going on down there?
GARIN: So it’s a lot like the Little Italy Artwalk, so you have paintings, food, music, all that stuff. But the painting – the art that you’ll see is not just the kind of watercolors that you had maybe five years ago when this event first started. You have pretty known artists from San Diego as far as, you know, even from Mexico and other states coming in because the event is growing in prestige.
CAVANAUGH: You know, sometimes when you go to these Artwalk events, it’s hard to know, you know, how to plan your time, what to look at. There’s so much going on. Do you have any tips about how, you know, people can prioritize their time or what to look at first or what to spend the most time with?
GARIN: I think they should maybe think about what they like because, I mean, it’s not fair to stick things in a genre but if you like surf paintings then, you know, stick to that. If you like more modern stuff, kind of just stop at those booths. And if you’re there to just browse you can maybe take your time and see what’s new, what’s happening. I found a lot of great new, young painters that way, just by having a lot of time and not rushing around.
CAVANAUGH: But if you see what you like first, then you’re not so exhausted that, oh, you go home without seeing your favorites.
CAVANAUGH: Now some interesting art on display involves SDG&E meters. What’s that about?
GARIN: Yeah, it’s very interesting. You know, SDG&E, they donated their old meters because they’re replacing them. And these are the clunky, spherical ones. So they offered them up to artists in town. They could pick up as many as 10 to do whatever they want with them so…
CANTORE: That’s cool.
GARIN: Yeah, they could paint them or put them as like a mixed media or turn it into a sculpture.
GARIN: And so those will be on display and they’ll be judged and like the top three get, you know, some money to go shopping at an art store. So… But that should be pretty cool.
CAVANAUGH: That’s fabulous. So South Bay Music and Arts Festival, and Artwalk on the Bay begin on Saturday.
CAVANAUGH: Now, Chris, we’re going to end with an artist that probably a lot of people are familiar with, Brad Paisley is playing at Cricket Wireless on Friday, part of his H2O Tour.
CAVANAUGH: Well, what does water have to do with it?
CANTORE: Well, being an active member of Surfrider and the fact that I have my board in the car, this really caught my attention because I think this is great. The H2O Tour is teamed up with Live Nation to collect food and water to benefit the San Diego Food Bank. And Paisley, along with Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, just don’t call him Hootie, and Justin Moore, they’re touring together to bring attention to unclean and unsafe water around the world.
CAVANAUGH: So Brad Paisley, as I say, is one of the bigger names in country music right now. Do you like him?
CANTORE: He’s amazing. I love the fact that he supports clean water.
CANTORE: So I’m going to say absolutely. I’m a huge fan.
CAVANAUGH: Absolutely. Well, let’s hear – let’s hear Brad Paisley’s song titled “Water.”
(audio clip of Brad Paisley performing “Water”)
CAVANAUGH: Whoo-hoo! Brad Paisley.
CANTORE: Yee-ha! Look, everyone’s smiling in the room.
CANTORE: Come on!
CAVANAUGH: Doing a good deed.
CANTORE: Come on!
CAVANAUGH: Doing a good deed…
CAVANAUGH: …at Cricket Wireless on Friday.
CANTORE: Jump in. Just jump in. Don’t be a wuss.
CAVANAUGH: I had a good time, people.
CANTORE: Quotin’ Brad. Just quotin’ Brad.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
CANTORE: Grab me some water.
CAVANAUGH: Chris Cantore and Nina Garin, thank you so much for being here.
GARIN: Thank you.
CANTORE: Yeah, thank you. All the best.
CAVANAUGH: I want to let everyone know These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn. Our senior producer is Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen. Our production assistant is Hilary Andrews. Our intern is Jocelyn Maggard. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.