Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bill Hader and Fred Armisen Say Farewell on SNL

Ok- first it was Kristen Wiig leaving the often times flatly written SNL, then talk of Seth Meyers leaving to take over Jimmy Fallon spot, now Bill Hader and Fred Amisen bids adieu in their own special way. Hader leaves the studio to get married with Meyers going after him ala "The Graduate"-

Then Fred Armisen brings out Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros along with luminary punk and indie icons Steve Jones, J Mascis, Kim Gordon, Aimee Mann, Michael Penn and Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia (along with Bill Hader on Bass, Jason Sudekis on Drums and Taran Killam on Guitar.

Maaaan oh man, these guys will be missed!

American Pancake Videos Part 1 - "Stories from a shitty little music blog"

Being a part time music blogger can be frustrating. For someone like me, who (at one time) did have the notion that I would post something (anything) each and every day and grow this blog into a well known publication, it is humbling to realize that my little pipe dream may not happen. There are so many blogs that do the job better. I find myself so exhausted from my day job that my brain just doesn't seem to function when I try to type in my American Pancake mode. I have thought about throwing in the towel but then I think I think about all the cool people I have met at various shows and I decide to keep this little known shitty blog around for awhile longer. From time to time, it is nice to look back... so indulge me as I share some short remembrances tied to some of the videos I have shot over the last couple of years. (click on the pics to see videos)

One of the very first videos I shot and uploaded, it is special for me because it was the first time I saw Screaming Females live. I also had the pleasure of meeting Marisa and speaking with her briefly. She is so adorable and super nice.

I remember getting to the stage so late the entire field was packed in tight. I had no choice but to snake my way to the sound engineer set up mid field. I leaned against the fence and shot above the crowd. In the end, the video ended up turning out great as I was able to shoot between the the band on stage to the large image of them shot on the screen to their left (thanks for 25 times optical zoom!). The atmosphere bathed in such a lush coat of blue in spots looks so awesome!

Saturday, January the 29th, 2011 was a really surreal day. First of all through connections and a bit of luck I attended two secret shows that Peter, Bjorn and John were putting on prior to their FYF / ERMF show at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. The top secret shows orchestrated by Sean Carlson were at (of all places) The Lovely Bad Pad (Lovely Bad Things rehearsal space and DIY house party venue which is a garage / backyard party spot smack dab in the middle of OC suburbia) and a very cool loft space (home of Cat Jam Studios) in downtown LA. Doused with a fair amount of Jet lag, the Swedes had just flown straight in from NYC and headed straight to the garage. I wonder to this day if it was a big wtf moment when they arrived to see where they were playing. I mean they were on a promotional tour for their sixth album "Gimme Some" and they are setting up in a tiny space, in a garage, packed with tons of kids to see them. The garage show was fucking ridiculous, the guys were so down to earth and sweet really. Afterwards, the other secret location was announced and this video is the first song of their set. As a video it is, quite frankly, kind of shitty looking. In all the excitement of the evening I didn't set my cam right but I am told by many that they love the hell out of it. The grittiness (a happy accident) looks artsy. It was wonderful to meet and speak with Peter, Bjorn and John. I also met some photographers / writers / film makers that have enriched my life. Eventually, some of my footage ended up in "Peter, Bjorn and John: Digging Deeper" a film by Dezi Catarino. The full review ended up on L.A.Record and, of course, American Pancake.

Trashpretty was the clever name of a vintage clothing store that also served as a music venue and general cool spot hang out in Laguna Beach, California. The shows put on mostly inside the store and occasionally in the parking structure underneath the store were not only oh so cool, they served an important function of drawing kids to the store. It was a necessary business tool that helped offset the super high cost to have a small store in such a high rent district. From the get go, the local police and city management did not show a lot of love to the venue. While the local other businesses didn't seem to mind (in fact, eateries around the store probably loved the extra business they would acquire when all those kids got hungry) the perception was that these shows were just too noisy and the crowd to unsavory for the area. Eventually, the city fathers had their way and in January of 2012, Trashpretty was forced to close their doors entirely.

These videos were shot in the parking structure. Because of the lighting conditions I decided to shoot in black and white. It turned out to be a good creative decision. In both the Tomorrow Tulips and Lovely Bad Things videos the draped sheets and low ceiling made it look more like a desert tent than a concrete and plaster garage. Both videos have much of the performances cast in shadowy silhouettes and the tones, the shades of gray look pretty lush. It has that 1970's documentary film look. I like these a lot. This was also the first time I met the very adorable and entrepreneurial Kylie Kirkwood who puts out a great blog Sincerely California that I am sure you already know about.

The first time I saw Races perform ( and met Wade Ryff) was at the Silver Lake Jubilee in 2011. This performance featuring a particular moving vocal by Barrie Rose pretty much blew me away. I was pleased to see this video pop up on numerous other blogs. About 2 months after this performance the band was signed to French Kiss Records (minus Rose- note: I was never clear on why she and the current band parted company).  I always find myself coming back to this video.

 The Growlers shows always make you feel like you are drunk even if you are 100% sober. I believe this video was the first live performance of "Gay Thoughts" every shot and posted online and I love that! Even in the dark shots Brooks charm shines through. Love this video.This one, too, has been published on other blogs.

 FYF 2012 was a memorable for me because it was the first year that I had press credentials (as hard as that is to believe) and thus was able to shoot from the photogs pit which, by the way, don't necessarily make for good videos. Depending on your location, the sound can be off so shooting midway with a zoom lens can be the way to go. That being said, I like capturing the energy of a performance and Sleigh Bells put out some major blasts of energy. In this instance the photog pit was awesome place to be.

 The videos that came out of Burgerama 2, whether it be FUZZ or Pangea or The Lovely Bad Things or Fidlar were just plain epic. In the future many of my fav videos will be from Burgerama 2. There is something about OC crowds. They come to play, to have fun and the energy passing between the bands and the audience is palpable. FUZZ is so fun to watch. Every time I post a video by FUZZ I get a ton of email asking if I have more to share etc. Their fan base is pretty rabid and for good reason.

Ok, slap me upside the head for using a well worn cliche but Kera Armndariz in performance mode feels like a bloody force of nature. When I was invited to cover the New LA Folk Festival, one of the main reasons I said yes was to see Kera and the Lesbians. In the end there were dozens of artists that stoked me up but there is something, some THING about Kera and the boys. This first meeting also lead to an American Pancake Interview which was a ton of fun.

That's it for now. Part 2 will be filled with more favs and little insights. Thanks to those of you who visit my blog from time to time.
Best to you

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dirty Laundry Presents: Har Mar Superstar (Live At CMJ)

Har Mar Superstar (Sean Tillmann) performing Prisoner (from his latest R and B drenched "Bye Bye 17 album) at the Dirty Laundry / Get Bent CMJ show at Pianos in NYC on October 2012 - courtesy of super duper cool Dirty Laundry.TV.  On Prisoner, with horn sounding riffs sweetly lifted out of Saturday Night Fever, Tillman uses his potent pipes to great effect. When he pushes his voice to it's edge he hits this truly lovely and gutsy sweet tone which sounds soooo good.

Dirty Laundry Presents: Har Mar Superstar (Live At CMJ) from Dirty Laundry on Vimeo.

Friday, May 3, 2013

FRIDAY Five FAV Fvideos: BLank Realm, Tipper Whore, Cosmonauts, Twin Tigers, The Growlers

Ladies and Gentlemen, girls and boys, dogs and cats (both domesticated and feral) .. it is time for American Pancakes Friday Five Favorite Fuh Videos! This is a new feature and since AP is first and foremost about music, they will, by and large, be music videos (but not always). Today we are sharing great songs with videos that didn't cost a million bucks to make, in fact, most probably cost about $69 or some beer and a pizza.  Click on the titles to play them at their source (that way you can enlarge- customize your HD preferences yada yada). Enjoy!!

BLANK REALM - "Cleaning Up My Mess" Official Video

Blank Realm is this trippy alternative rock / post punk band out of Brisbane Australia. There sound can pulsate with all the fury of Thee Oh Sees on acid- (check out Acting Strange) or get trippy and psychedelic in an almost Growlers-esque beach goth way as is the case in Cleaning Up My Mess. The video directed by Josh Watson and filmed in Bowen Hills, Queensland, Australia has the spirit of a super eight home party movies. The guitar hook after the choruses are so damn infectious and Watson cuts to dirty fun in the bathtub to highlight these amazing eruptions in the song. Fun and chill and kind of bad ass- perfect for a Friday.



The Growlers "Salt On A Slug" feels like an insomnia induced carnival ride. The song is built on a creepy organ bed instead of their usual drunken guitar lines. The video seems to be compiled of public access footage and I gotta say that each one significantly adds to the trippy atmosphere of the song. Cool songs made even more weird by the images here. I like this alot and suspect I will view it about 12 more time today.


This video for the Cosmonauts sonic chomper "Motorcycle #1" blends motocross films shot on a wall with the band cast in layers of silhouettes. Simple but super effective especially when the song is so damn driven. Starting off with a hooky bass line it quickly falls into a tom tom beat. churning walls of guitars and vocals. Awesome.

Twin Tigers Red Fox Run Music Video 


Moody and brooding are used a lot when reviewers refer to Athens, Georgia band Twin Tigers. I would throw some other adjectives their way like lush, explosive, trippy, art rockish (is that an adjective?) and avante garde. In some ways they feel very much like a modern indie version of early Radiohead (circa Pablo Honey). They have that same tortured, angsty sound to their music. Twin Tigers melodies can lie in the pop shallows but the overall feel is very cool and arty. The video for Red Fox Run employs some of the trix of the trade for low budge music videos, acid burnt colors and public domain footage from gangster to horror to stripper videos.

Tipper Whore - Two Sticks 

Tipper Whore's "Two Sticks" is a bouncy fully erect new wavish "ooooh... ooooh" pop song that is perfect to pogo to. Tipper Whore's music sensibility sets somewhere between the doo wop punk of Hunx and His Punx and the almost cabaret art rock of Dante Vs the Zombies. Apart from the straight out fun, the vocal performance is superb. I really like this guys voice and the band has their chops down solidly. The video is a one shot deal with an array of people hiking by that you would definitely want to hang with. The tone is Blair Witch Project meets National Lampoon.