Years ago, when my brothers and I were the only members of the BWA (Basement Wrestling Association), we would each take turns “coming down the aisle” to our favorite songs of the day. We’d take turns loading our cassettes into a boom box down the hall, wait for the moment where the drums kicked in, and then make our way into the ring (onto the rug.)
Pat (aka The Red Puma) used “Wait” by White Lion, Ryan (The Thunder Dragon) used Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me”, and I (The Pyromaniac) used the title track off of Aerosmith’s “Permanent Vacation.”
The point here is that playing your own entrance music is hella lame. It’s like when a musician sets up their own equipment before a show.
Well now, Spotify makes playing your own entrance music easy. If you’re a Premium user, just open up the Spotify app on both your computer and your phone. Tap a song on your phone, then again when it appears in the “play” area at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the Connect icon which will give you the option to control the Spotify app on your home computer.
The next time you run out for a quick errand, leave your computer on with the Spotify app open and the speakers turned all the way up. Then return with a grand entrance.
I first started listening to Ryan Adams when I was living in Medford, Massachusetts. During long walks to the Davis Square T stop and aimless strolls around the Charles River, I fell into the Ryan Adams wormhole pretty hard. “Come Pick Me Up” was especially interesting to me in that it took the loud/quiet/loud dynamics of 90s rock to a new place, with the loud being a camp fire-y sing-a-long complete with a banjo, and the quiet being almost inaudible. Also, usually when people drop the f-bomb in a song it’s in an aggressive way, while Ryan Adams gave a nice, casual delivery of the word “fuck.” I appreciated that.
Last night, while riding catching up on my Feedly, I learned via the Consequence of Sound that Chapel Hill 90s rock band Superchunk had put their own spin on Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up,” and it’s pretty cool. Now the song feels fresh again and I have an excuse to resume my aimless strolling.
This past weekend, Bacardi invited 1,862 of the world’s best bartenders, luckiest contest entrants and best-looking members of the media to Puerto Rico to experience the Bacardi Triangle, a weekend filled with cocktails, poolside DJs and a concert on a private island featuring Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris. It was an unforgettable whirlwind trip and I am ready to do it all again.
Check out some clips of Ellie and Kendrick below. Calvin Harris was included in the original version of this video but Sony Music was all over me.
Did you want a full recap? I totally wrote one:
First of all, Bacardi knows how to make a blogger feel special. Before dawn last Thursday, a black car arrived to whisk me and my wife away to a chartered flight from LAX to San Juan, Puerto Rico. That’s right, Bacardi let me bring my wife, so happy second honeymoon to us. Having worked more than a few jobs as a “social media strategist” I know how half-assed most brands make these trips, but Bacardi really went above and beyond.
The flight was filled with LA bartenders, media, Bacardi reps and contest winners. One of the guys from Bar Rescue was there. That’s all the celeb sighting I need to have a good time. One Bacardi rep with an Australian accent walked around the plane making sure everyone was comfortable before heading up and down the aisle mixing Cuba Libres and Rum Swizzles for all the passengers. I can’tremember his name but I started referring to him as Swizzle because he used that word a lot and it sounded fun with an Australian accent. Swizzle had a really good rapport with the Sun Country Airlines crew who were also a lot of fun. We were one big airborne gang en route to more cocktails in the Caribbean.
When we arrived in San Juan, we hopped on a few buses that drove us out to the El Conquistador Resort, a giant 5-star resort in Fajardo. (I hesitate to write the word “the” in front of “El” here, the same way I do when referring to the El Rey, but I’m going with it). We were greeted with cocktails from a team of Bacardi girls (Bacardi women? I want to be respectful) and a four-on-the-floor drum beat that seemed to thump until about 4am Sunday morning. After check-in we made our way past the north and south pools (renamed “El Club 1862” for the weekend) which looked like something I’ve only seen on MTV Spring Break.
Since we had arrived at night, we didn’t have the opportunity to catch the amazing view from our room until the following morning. As the sun rose behind a wall of storybook clouds, attendees got a clear view of Palomino Island in the distance, the location of the Bacardi Triangle concert we would ferry out to the following night. First though, as my itinerary mentioned, I “gotta do some work.”
Left to right: Dmitry Ivanov, Bradley Thompson and Mary Jo Laborde
All the media peoples piled into a media tent where we had a Q&A session with Dmitry Ivanov, Senior Global Category Director, Rums (sweet title, brah), Bradley Thompson of promotions company Broadwick Live, and Mary Jo Laborde, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of Puerto Rico Tourism. According to Ivanov, this event marks the beginning of getting Bacardi back to its party-centric roots and we should expect these events to get even bigger and better. Well sign me up. Bacardi conducted a worldwide search for the perfect destination for this event, and it just happened to end up in their back yard because Thompson was bombarded with advice about where to hold the event on his first flight to the island. Well that worked out. Mary Jo Laborde clued us in to the best spots for Mofongo and gave us directions to Fajardo’s Bioluminescent Baywhere you can see water that appears to be filled with fireflies, which I suppose could be either beautiful or terrifying depending on how you look at it.
Photo via Bacardi
Next, Ellie Goulding sat down to take our questions. She explained that even thoughher tour ended about a month ago, she was convinced to take on this Bacardi Triangle show before heading home to write and record her next album. Ellie had flown out to Puerto Rico with some of her biggest fans, and she apparently made the trip across the Atlantic a memorable experience by starting a conga line on the flight. (But did they have Swizzles)? Goulding apparently brought two costume options for the night’s “Black Magic Halloween Party”: Mr. Blobby and “something sexy.” From the photo below, it’s clear that she went with sexy.
via @EllieGoulding on Instagram
Actually, maybe this Pocahotass costume was supposed to be the sexy one. Photo via Bacardi
Bacardi had put a bottle of Bacardi 8 Años in our room, with a note that said it would make a great gift to send home. Or, I argued, would be a great gift for my mouth immediately. So that evening, all Años’d up, my wife and I headed down to Coqui Water Park for the Black Magic Halloween Party, where we grabbed dinner and wandered around a tiki torch-lit water park complete with a lazy river. If you can find someone that remembers more of the party than that, they were not there.
The next morning, a group of attendees headed for a tour of Casa Bacardi, Bacardi’s distillery. From the photos I’ve seen, it looked like a lot of fun, and I will definitely visit next time, but my wife and I decided to break away from the crowd for a few hours and explore Luquillo Beach, which was totally worth it. We grabbed some Mofongo for lunch at La Parrilla in the Luquillo Kiosks (which made us feel very Anthony Bourdain-y.)
When we returned to the resort, we stopped by the bar at Las Olas for some pre-ferry drinks. We felt we were ready to go until the bartender on the left decided to spray everyone with champagne while yelling “dance bitches!” “Dance Bitches” does not work with a pirate-English accent, apparently. In his defense, he did proceed to make us the most flamboyant cocktails we’ve ever had, and flamboyant cocktails do work well with that accent.
When the sun began to set, and after a quick wardrobe change (I just switched to the other Old Navy shirt I brought), it was time to hit the ferries and make our way over to Palomino Island to catch the pinnacle of the Bacardi Triangle, a concert featuring live performances by Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris. The island was quite a sight. It seemed that an army of locals had anchored their boats along the coast, creating a very Lake Havasuesque scene. The stage shot lasers across a sea of 1,862 attendees that could be seen from Fajardo. We de-boarded the ferry and made our way through a maze of tiki lamps, past a few rum bars and up to the stage to catch Ellie Goulding sing her hits “Anything Could Happen” and “Burn.”
Photo via Bacardi
Following a DJ set and a light rain shower, Kendrick Lamar ran the freshly-misted crowd through a set that felt bigger than life when backed by his live band. Calvin Harris finished the night with a lot of crowd favorites that had people literally falling into the ocean from exhaustion afterward.
Photo via Bacardi
Photo via Bacardi
Photo via Bacardi
Photo via Bacardi
When the rain started up again, we decided to head toward the ferry to watch the rest of the show. I had visions of somehow ending up numbers 1,861 and 1,862 in line to return to Fajardo. Or possibly being left behind on the island. And I did not want to make the decision about who I was going to eat first if it came down to it.
Riding the ferry back to El Conquistador
That night, ferries continued until about 4am. I peeked out of my room at about 4:30 and Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” was cranked at the poolside DJ booth. Well, all right. This party refused to stop.
The next morning, amid Daylight Savings confusion (Puerto Rico does not observe Daylight Savings), we made it back onto the bus and somehow ended up at the Sun Country Airlines check-in desk, despite the fact that no one working at San Juan Airport had ever heard of Sun Country Airlines. The flight crew was a lot less fun than the one we flew out with, but our airborne gang didn’t seem as into cocktailing as we were on the way out anyway.
When we arrived back at LAX, we were picked up by another black car and taken home where I promptly closed the windows and put on a sweatshirt because Puerto Rico has apparently ruined LA weather for me.
Big thanks to Bacardi and the folks at Citizen Relations for having us out. I thought this trip sounded too good to be true until we arrived at El Conquistador, and now that we’ve returned I still think it was too good to be true. See you at the next event?
If you were at this past Coachella, you had a chance to see one of the most anticipated reunions of the aughts by The Postal Service (okay, people were pretty excited about Outkast too.) On November 24th, a documentary called “Everything Will Change” will bring that reunion from the Greek Theater in Berekely, CA to your living room.
Everything Will Change is a feature-length documentary concert film of The Postal Service’s performance at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA during their 2013 reunion tour. A collaboration between Benjamin Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (from Dntel), with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, The Postal Service released Give Up, their one and only album, in 2003. That record went on to sell over a million copies and most of the band’s fans never had the chance to see them perform live. In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Give Up, the band reunited to tour the world. With intimate interviews and backstage footage of the band, Everything Will Change captures one of the nights when everything did change.
Includes never-before-seen live recordings of the following tracks:
“The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
“We Will Become Silhouettes”
“Be Still My Heart”
“Our Secret” (Beat Happening cover)
“This Place Is a Prison”
“A Tattered Line of String”
“Such Great Heights”
“(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”
“Brand New Colony”
“Such Great Heights” Music Video (directed by Josh & Xander)
“We Will Become Silhouettes” Music Video (directed by Jared Hess)
“The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” Music Video (directed by Cobra Kai)
“A Tattered Line of String” Music Video (directed by AB/CD/CD)
“The Postal Service Auditions” (directed by Tom Scharpling)
“The Postal Service: In Their Own Words” (directed by Tom Scharpling)
This past weekend, my wife and her company went up to Yosemite for a team building trip, leaving me with a weekend to sit around messing up our apartment, or find something better to do with my time. I’ve been needing an escape into nature for a while now, but all searches for campsites told me they were either booked or sounded like anything but peaceful “It’s right next to a high school and you can hear the games all weekend.” “There were multiple boom boxes playing mariachi music all night.” Eh, I’ll just stay home and re-watch Twin Peaks so I’m prepared when that comeback finally happens.
But then, the gods of weekend activities smiled down upon me and a new music app called Lyynks Music invited me out to the Yucca Valley to attend the Desert Stars Festival and get to know the Lyynks service. Upon noticing some of my favorite bands in the lineup, I immediately accepted the invitation and headed out to the desert for my first solo camping trip.
When I arrived, I met Brandon from Lyynks who ran me through all the features of the app. For artists, Lyynks combines the ability to upload and sell (or give away) your music, manage email lists, post show announcements and sell merchandise all from one place. It’s been more than a few years since my playing in a band days, but I went ahead and uploaded my old music just to try it out. Lyynks is still in beta, so there are still some bugs being worked out, but uploading songs and artwork was quick and easy. It sounds like they’re targeting independent Los Angeles-area artists first, so if you’re an LA musician, it could be worth your while to get over there n0wish as the pool of bands is still pretty small and you’ll have a good chance of being noticed by people looking to discover new music. There are a few price tiers available for artists, though you can get in there and start using it to manage up to 500 email contacts for free. Other tiers allow you to increase the size of your email list, track your sales and play with advanced analytics. Hey, cool.
For those looking to discover new music, Lyynks offers an app store experience similar to Apple’s in that you can sort music by new, hot, local or free. You can also check out upcoming performance dates, merchandise and videos. If you enjoy music, staying local, and seeing shows at venues smaller than the Greek, this could be the music discovery app for you.
Back to the festival, this place was a scene. A good scene, but a scene nonetheless. There must have been some peyote going around because none of what was happening would make any sense without it. The Desert Stars Festival was held at Pappy & Harriet’s out in the old Hollywood western set of Pioneertown. Bands played inside and outside and no matter where you were standing, you were surrounded by so many 60’s haircuts I thought I’d need a TARDIS to find my way back to LA. But, the music was amazing. If you’re into the droney/poppy/fuzzy/psychedelic music of The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, this was the place to be. I’ve seen the Dandy Warhols probably around 20 times, in all sorts and sizes of venues, but seeing them out in the desert with flashing lights and their own live image projected back onto themselves while inhaling whatever happened to be wafting through the air at any given moment, was as good as it gets. I may skip my next haircut appointment and let my burns grow out. Why not.
I got to know some bands that scratched that garage-rock and roll itch that never stops itching. Bands like Slow White, The Richmond Sluts, No Silver Bird, Magic Castles and Ringo Deathstarr put on such intense performances in the desert heat that there should have been a post-set hose-down for everyone on and off stage. Joel Gion of the Primary Colours and formerly (or sometimes still with) the Brian Jonestown Massacre was there checking out all the bands and I resisted the urge to ask him to take a selfie with me. (Though I did snap this photo of him leaning against the speakers watching The Richmond Sluts.)
Later in the night, I started making friends with random attendees. I met up with Brandon from Lyynks and he introduced me to Lyynks’ founder Chris who talked rock and roll history with me. Chris’ wife was great and told me that I look like Colm Meaney from Star Trek (I’ve heard worse.) She even had me convinced for a few minutes that I should surprise my wife with a kitten. What? I don’t want to live with a cat. I’m glad whatever was in the air wore off on the ride home. I mean sure, if she wants a cat that badly we can totally get one. At one point Chris and I got into a conversation about the new Jimi Hendrix movie starring Andrew 3000 and when I voiced my disappointment that Mr. 3000 didn’t hold his fretting fingers in a believable way, a man in a 60s bowl cut entered the conversation saying that it didn’t matter how his hands looked because the movie was amazing and he should know because he’s a writer. Well, alright.
Anyway, thanks again to Lyynks for having me out for the weekend, this was a much better way to spend the weekend than sweating on my couch and deciding what to order on GrubHub (does Hooters delivery make sense?) When you’re done reading this, I recommend you click on the A.C., head over to Lyynks.com and check out some music from local LA artists. They are killing themselves wearing leather and denim in the desert and you could make their lives a lot easier by just grabbing a few downloads.