Day one

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Day one was off to the races like a first night wedding couple to the heart shaped bed in a Niagara Falls hotel room. My “field” of fine fillies was one of 14 and while I may not have LOVED everything it was still a great day of diverse, fun music. The “headliners” brought pretty much what you thought they would. JAY-Z and his massive band, entourage and pants in serious need of a belt. It was a HUGE and very entertaining show. Jiggah drew the biggest crowd of the day and showed why he is the Godfather of rap/hip-hop.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND has simply become WILDLY popular and now supporting a new disc. These white as a bleached, Brooks Brothers white pinpoint (which I think they were wearing) have tapped their inner Africa and make music that is fun, danceable and good if it’s your taste. I thought it interesting that these “prepsters” with instruments, have done to Afro-pop grooves what an hour’s earlier headliner, THE SPECIALS, did to reggae in the late 70s/early 80s. THE SPECIALS with other British groups, took roots reggae and amped it up with their white boy (yes I know there’s a brotha in THE SPECIALS)/brit sensibilities and it became Ska. Some 30 years later VW is doing the American twist on Afro-pop and I’m not sure what you would call it. But it’s fun and hey…the kids really dig it!

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM brought their minimalist yet heavy dance grooves on the big stage and seemed humbled to be sandwiched in between THEM CROOKED VULTURES and JAY-Z. Not since Moog went out of business has their been so much analog synth equipment in one place…I mean REAL old school stuff where the patches(sounds) had to manually created with plugging and unplugging individual cables. LCD was a great show if you dig what they do and I DO!

THEM CROOKED VULTURES was really the headline show for me. I read a review of their freshman disc (who the hell knows if there will be another) that said…” 4 stars but this disc probably took as long to write as it does to play.” That may be true but it is solid rock and seeing John Paul Jones (Zeppelin) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stoneage) together on stage was truly awe inspiring…you could set your Patek-Phillipe by the time in their groove with no click track in sight. It was just a special moment to see one of the fathers of rock and roll and one of his off-spring that has brought so much influence to music, jamming (in the best sense of the word) together.

The day started with a new group for me, JETS OVERHEAD from Victoria, Canada. VERY nice mellow alt rock jams good for a rainy day or a Sunday morning with the times. The hard rock/metal faction was soon represented by Savannah, Ga. headbangers BARONESS. With 2 HIGHLY reviewed and popular dics (The Blue and Red discs) to their credit, I predict a big impact from these slightly sludgy southerners. I zipped over and caught a few tunes of the POS set. If you like your hip/hop with a REAL rock edge (not rap-rock in the sense of Rage) these guys are worth checking out.

I was soon done bodily harm withing the first 30 seconds of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN set. I knew I was taking my chances getting as close as I did and as soon as the “mathcore” whiz kids kicked it up, I found an elbow firmly implanted in my skull. It sounds strange, odd, crazed and like there is no way they can know what the hell they are doing but at it’s hard core, this is difficult musical stuff (thus the style name) and these boys bring a CRAZY live show.

Brooklyn sound collective YEASAYER is one of those groups that if you dig it you dig it. Their experimental, ethereal yet grooving tunes may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they are a critic’s darling right now and WAY interesting at the very least. Kind of like a bit more accessible Brooklyn version Sigur Ros…if you don’t know who Sigur Ros is…do yourself a BIG favor and dig the Icelandic sensation. Sigur Ros lead singer JONSI is on tap for tommorow. I caught the tail end of SHE AND HIM and the female vocals I heard on 2 songs are enough to send me running to get the new disc…truly extraordinary singing.

Tying for my faves of the day was THE AVETT BROS. and PASSION PIT. Lots of you on the Twitter feed and many Facebookers responded to the pics and posts of the Bros. Avett. It is folk, bluegrass, alt country, alt rock with a N. Carolina sensibility (and the strangest feeling that Yo-Yo Ma is jamming along as well). The instrumentation of acoustic guitar, banjo ( as the driving rhythm instrument), great harmony vocals, cello (played standing up with no strap) and great writing combine for a really indescribable mix. I have dug the new disc for some time but now, after seeing them live I truly “get it”. Boston pop/dance sensation PASSION PIT simply played a great set and the huge draw (maybe 10,000) spoke to their new found popularity. The sound ranges from 70s influenced disco a la the falsetto vocals of The Bee Gees and the sounds of Kool and the Gang and KC to the techno inspired feel of New Order or Deepeche Mode. A very cool sound and eminently fun.

With day 2, I am not sure that I will be able to contain myself until 6.40pm when the SERIOUS stuff starts for me with COHEED AND CAMBRIA (new disc just released), FAITH NO MORE (one of the weekends history lessons come back to life), MUSE and JACK WHITE’S DEAD WEATHER. The day will start with PORCUPINE TREE, with THE XX, TOKYO POLICE CLUB, MGMT, CORINNE BAILEY RAE, DIRTY PROJECTORS and EDWARD SHARP and the MAGNETIC ZEROS. It’s another full day and I can’t wait! ROWYCO!

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Clem emerged from the underbelly of NashVegas where he began his love of ALL things musical. College found him in the commercial music program at the University of Miami where he actually learned what the hell he was doing. New York was next and whether he “made it there” is still up for debate. From playing in the honky-tonks of Nashville and the dance clubs of Miami to Broadway and theatrical stages around the country, to Carnegie Hall (while practicing one day somebody told him how to get there) and the recording studios of New York and L.A., Clem’s variety of musical experience has transcended the boundaries of genre. He owns a production company, lectures on music in colleges across the country and is on the visiting faculty of Elon Univ. He has a port-o-johns named after him at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.