Music Tastes Good 2018 By the Minute Review

Oliver Tree (Credit: Dick Slaughter)


By: Nate Jackson, Niyaz Pirani, Cynthia Rebolledo and Nelson Rodriguez

Saturday, September 29

12:45 p.m. Forest of Tongue is playing a set full of progressive, emo-ish rock tunes that has 2006-me in geek-out mode. 2018 me approves, too. Throw Saves the Day, Tomahawk, Fall of Troy and Talking Heads into a blender to get a taste for their sound. (Niyaz Pirani)

12:49 We haven’t even gotten into the festival yet and our trusty camera guy Dick Slaughter is already making an entrance, tripping over a tree root the would’ve sent a lesser photographer stumbling to the ground. Instead he does a ninja roll with his backpack and all of his gear on him without so much as scratching a camera lens. What a pro! (Nate Jackson)

1:00 The first thing I hear once walking into Music Tastes Good- “The funnel cake stand has the best pretzels!” (Cynthia Rebolledo)

1:10 Forest of Tongue is wrapping up their set and starts … revolving out of frame! IT’S THE REVOLVING STAGE! Country-tinged indie band Neighbor Lady is starting up as Forest of Tongues disappears from view. It’s the greatest of all festival tricks cause you can KEEP. THE. PARTY. GOING!! (NP)

1:13 Following a brief rock’n’roll blooper during their second song, Emily Braden–the lead singer/guitarist of Neighbor Lady–finally puts her strap on…wait, that didn’t sound right. (NJ)

Mendee Ichikawa of Radio Listener (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

1:54 We’re waiting for RADIOLISTENER: A Tribute to Ikey Owens at the Gold Stage when a roaring snarl is heard all the way across the festival grounds from the Franklin Stage, the main one. Looks like we’re missing something great from L.A. psych rockers FEELS, because frontwoman Laena Geronimo sure seems gnarly/awesome from way over here. (NP)

2:10 Watching RADIOLISTENER is like an audible highlight reel of the music I first wrote about when I first discovered the Long Beach music scene. Hearing 2Mex spout lyrics for the Look Daggers song “Call You Later”  backed by Free Moral Agents takes me straight back to 2008 when I first wrote anything for this infernal rag. Ah, simpler times… (NJ)

2:15 What’s with all these head crowns I’m seeing, you ain’t no Beyoncé. (CR)

2:20 Local record stores including Third Eye and Fingerprints are selling vinyls at the festival. I pick up the last two Parquet Courts albums; a consolation prize considering I’ll miss their sure-to-be excellent Sunday set. (NP)

This shirt is so dial-up (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

2:25 Someone’s wearing a t-shirt with what I think is the America Online logo on it. “Excuse me, is that an AOL t-shirt?” I ask in semi-disbelief. “Yup,” he replies. “They send you a disc with a 100 free hours of internet on it.” (NP)

2:36 Turns out the TASTE portion of Music Tastes Good is pretty solid too. Local food trucks and restaurant vendors are placed throughout MTG, while the centerpiece of the whole thing is the TASTE TENT—located in the middle of everything. Here, chefs from different port cities (Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Vancouver) are sending out impeccably-constructed small plates while an array of food-related professionals (chefs, photographers, etc.) give panel discussions on one side of the large space. As the event grows, they’d benefit from utilizing even more of the extra space to add 3 or 4 more chefs, really upping the variety presented. Shout outs to Roe Seafood’s ceviche and No Anchor’s Shrimp Roll on a Pretzel Bun for being our favorite bites. (NP)

3:00 During Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s opening puppet show the guy in front of me looks over to his friend as says, “I didn’t smoke enough pot to watch this.” Guess they didn’t watch Mister Rogers growing up.  (CR)

Quintron and Miss Pussycat (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

3:04 Quintron & Miss Pussycat is a New Orleans duo of longtime musicians, yet they’ve somehow escaped my ears until now. The duo starts, as they do every show—with a puppet show. This one is themed around a Music Tastes Good bake sale. From there Q&MP reveal themselves; Quintron playing synthesizers with a “Drum Buddy” drum machine he made himself and Miss Pussycat on the maracas. They play songs that sound kinda like Arcade Fire sped up twice as fast and run through a bayou. At one point Quintron’s banging away on a guitar with a drumstick while Miss Pussycat smacks the drums with her maracas. It’s way better than what I’m explaining, so Google it. Basically, I’m hooked for life. Curious after watching the band as to who’s booking this festival, I ask around and find out that it’s none other than Jon Halperin, who I remember as the guy behind the glass for all of the best shows at Chain Reaction. He’s still booking great shows, and still introducing me to new bands all these years later. Thanks Jon! (NP)

3:55 Highlight of the day so far is watching Los Master Plus doing a banda-style cover of Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode.” This song is GANGSTA in any language. (NJ)

4:01 (The talented) @CopelandHolt is traversing the grounds with canvases and paint, capturing the different scenes of MTG with a vibrant take on the festivities. He says you can check them out (and buy them) on his Instagram. (NP)

Robert Earl’s BBQ (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

4:15 Fortune smiles upon me as I follow a trail of smoke that leads me to Robert Earl’s BBQ booth. Pro-tip: When you order at one of these festival food eateries, try to scope out what the people working there are eating. The woman taking money at the front of the line hipped me to a divine creation: A hot-link topped with brisket and jalapenos…killer! (NJ)

4:15 Knob Creek came through with the cocktail and ribeye, VIP perks. (CR)

4:40 The Knob Creek tent just ran out of ribeye and people aren’t happy because all they have left are smores- smore, do I look like a 5th grader?! (CR)

4:47  Oliver Tree and his band are dressed like they’re going to Aspen on a ski trip sponsored by Lisa Frank. They flutter between ambient and not-so-ambient EDM, vibey drum fills, raging hip-hop and grooves that nestle somewhere between King Krule and the late, great Mac Miller. I don’t know what this is exactly, but it’s everything at once in mostly a good way. (NP)

Bros with the same clothes (Credit: Niyaz Pirani)

4:50 These guys dressed like water cups. Based on the style, I’d say they’re Oliver Tree fans. (NP)

5:01 I live a few minutes from Panxa Cocina but never got a chance to try their food until now. The white fish ceviche is fresh, light and perfectly acidic. (NJ)

5:03 Found an awesome sticker vendor and bought four stickers for my vinyl crate. Walked up to the person at Fingerprints table to ask her to put the stickers in the bag of vinyls they were holding for me. Turns out I had unknowingly cut the line to an artist signing and the person I was asking for help at the record store was Ariel Engle, one of the lead vocalists for Broken Social Scene. OOPS! (NP)

5:12 The crowd is vibing hard to Chery Glazerr’s mellow, dreamy indie tunes. The farthest reaches of the lawn come the closest they will all day to capturing Coachella Outdoor Stage magic. (NP)

5:49 The look of panic on peoples faces when they stopped selling tickets for the taste tent- Sincere Justice- Tacos sincero (Oakland), Jeffrey Vance- No Anchor (Seattle) just ran out of food – there’s gonna be some hangry people. (CR)

Princess Nokia (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

5:50 Princess Nokia gives a royal decree that all POC (people of color) should make their way to the front of the stage. It’s a weird moment but you could tell she was using a sensitive touch following up by saying “No disrespect to our allies.” Most people seemed to get where she was coming from. (NJ)

5:53 That moment when you realize you should have ordered two instead of one, Wesley Young’s (Pidgin) Pork Belly Rice Bowl with asian pear kimchi, bamboo shoots and a perfectly cooked ramen egg was worth the wait. (CR)

6:16 Princess Nokia is both an aggressive, exciting rapper and sensitive emo rocker essentially playing two different sets in her allotted time. She flexes trap muscle and a flow to match, but also samples Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy. Her ferocity as a rapper plays better than her rock star turn, but the guitar-driven stuff is emotional and does connect on a deeper level—especially when she’s dealing with weighty subjects including gender equality, sexual freedom, and depression and suicide. (NP)

6:40 As hype as Princess Nokia managed to get for this mid-day crowd, Santigold reminded us why she is the Queen of Day 1. Taking the stage in a red cape covered in dollar bills. The first lady of NYC art pop was all the way turned up during the lyrics to the aptly titled hit “Go!”: “People want my power /And they want my station/ Stormed my winter palace / But they couldn’t take it.” (NJ)

6:50 Four songs in and Santigold is slaying. She just wrapped up a perfect run through “L.E.S. Artistes” and a bunch of food-related pool floaties get thrown into the audience. A giant slice of pizza, a huge pretzel and more go flying through the air. The quintessential Music Tastes Good moment of 2018. (NP)

Santigold (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

7:00  Santigold is laying down that real talk, “we gotta live in the moment, there’s too much going on.” (CR)

7:01 Santigold invites people from the crowd onto the stage. Within 2 minutes there’s more than 100 people up there dancing with the singer before security starts to block people from jumping the barrier and quickly usher everyone else off to the side of the stage and back out. (NP)

7:30 Yep, I’m eating again. This time it’s a fresh, seafood shrimp roll on a pretzel bun from No Anchor out of Seattle. It’s a tough job, folks–but someone’s gotta do it. (NJ)

7:45 There’s a handful of songs by Bay Area rapper Lil’ B that I like. I tried catching him at Coachella and wasn’t feeling it so this was Round 2. Still not feeling all of his raps live, but I do love his positivity. He encouraged people to hold each others hands, even if they didn’t know them (even if it was uncomfortable), and to share the love. There’s something to that message, and his authenticity, that keeps the Based God galvanizing—even if his flow sometimes fails to do so. (NP)

Lil’ B (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

8:00 Broken Social scene doesn’t seem to know what city they are performing in. (CR)

8:11 A noticeable number of dudes have adopted the same look as the lead singer of Portugal. The Man. (NP)

8:30 Broken Social Scene has people in a trance before New Order. It’s my first time encountering the indie rock collective (on stage; record stores notwithstanding) and they’re wonderful to listen to. They end their set with these words of wisdom: “Don’t beat yourself up .. Love each other.” (NP)

8:33 Two people immediately start to freaking with each other as soon as a DJ at the Gold Stage let’s the beat drop on Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack”. They also look young enough to have both been conceived to this song. Weird. (NJ)

8:29 Backstage in the artist area, Lil B and Joey Bad A$$ pass each other on two Kubota golf carts going opposite directions. Lil B looks tired from just finishing his set, opens his mouth full of gold fronts to yell praise to Joey, “You a legend man, keep doing yo thang!” Joey smiles back and waves. Rapper bro-mances are the best. (NJ)

8:44 Ready to dive into this New Order set as the giant screen on the Franklin stage shows clips of high divers twirling through the air to a classical score. This shit’s about to be epic! (NJ)

8:49 Waiting for Joey Bada$$. A little girl, can’t be more than 8 years old, is busting out YouTube-worthy dance moves and knows all the words to “Goosebumps” by Travis Scott. Award for “Most Crunk” goes to this kid. (NP)

8:59 Joey Bada$$ is living up to the moniker, spitting rhymes like it’s 1995 in a New York basement. Good news for fans—he says he’s been in Cali the last 2 weeks working on a new album. (NP)

New Order (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

9:01 “What a great festival,” says frontman Bernard Sumner at the beginning of the band’s set. “It’s got a really nice vibe.” (NJ)

9:06 Hearing “Sub-culture” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” back to back is the vibe I’ve been looking for all day, Bernie…how did you know?! Let the dance party begin. (NJ)

9:15 Bernard Sumner’s dance moves are melting my heart right now! (CR)

9:33 New Order plays “Blue (FUCKING!) Monday.” How does it feel? Great! Thanks for asking! (NP)

9:52 Now the moment we’ve been waiting for–the band breaks out the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as the crowd wails and collectively looses their shit. Those who made the mistake of walking away dance their way to the exits. (NJ)

Janelle Monet (Credit: Dick Slaughter)
Sunday, September 30
 
1:00 I’m enjoying listening to the thunder of The Fling as I walk into the fest today. Another Long Beach band that gives me all the feels from 2008. (NJ)
 
1:13 And now for something completely different. The duo B.A.G. (starring rappers Blimes and Gifted Gab) are kicking a variety of well-timed flows ranging from a barrage of bars to laid back party flows, and an Instagram giveaway for their fans which they did in the middle of their set. (NJ)
 
2:08 Ethio Cali are one of those surprise finds at this festival that everyone in a vicinity seems to be enjoying. And how could you not? Ethiopian jazz is one of those genres that speaks directly to your hips. Combining trumpet, sax, bass, drums, congas, keys and violin, the band rages in unison forming a blizzard of grooves too cold for us to believe they were born from a land of hot, rugged terrain. Right now they’re jamming to the Mulatu Astatke classic Yekatit as the sun shines on the crowd of dancing early birds. (NJ)

2:45 The stage flipping on the Franklin Stage can be awkward at times for bands but it’s rather convenient for us attendees (Nelson Rodriguez)

3:15 Ezra Furman and his band The Visions bust out the cello and break into “Love You So Bad” which is just what the crowd needed on a Sunday afternoon. (NR)

3:27 LADAMA from Brazil are KILLING it right now and the grooves seem to be inspiring live artist Copeland Holt to paint with a lot of warm colors as he creates a piece of art to their set. (NJ)

3:30 As the Franklin stage flips Ezra and his mates around out comes Hailu Mergia, Ethiopia’s extremely talented keyboardists/accordionist. Ready to school people on some instrumental funk. (NR)

3:35 Hailu Mergia’s bassist and drummer are a non stop groove fest. So much that even Hailu stops playing and shakes his hips for the crowd. (NR)

 
Credit: Nate Jackson

3:41 In the Knob Creek tent, this pineapple Beach and Barrel cocktail is giving me life. (NJ)

4:00 The crowd claps and sings along to the super catchy melody of Hailu Mergia’s “Lala Belu”. (NR)

4:25 At the gold stage I can hear the golden voice of Bill Callahan as he gives the crowd an intimate acoustic set which includes the very catchy “America!” (NR)

4:26 Nothing that sounds better than a compliment from an English person. Hollie Cook takes a break from her sultry dub reggae party to sing the praises of our little city by the sea. “This is my first time in Long Beach, this place is delightful.” (NJ)

4:45 I’m no whisky sommelier but this Knob Creek Rye pairs nicely with Bill Callahan’s “Let’s Move to the Country”. (NR)

4:50 Shout out to Knob Creek for giving me my rib eye and whisky fix. Chin chin! (NR)

5:05 Looks like everyone is diggin’ the Hawaiian fried chicken in The Taste Tent courtesy of Chef Cameron Hanin from Ma’ono in….Seattle? Right on. Pacific Northwest knows wassup. (NR)

5:10 I make my rounds to see what the Chefs are offering in the Taste Tent and lock eyes with the carnitas and Barbacoa tacos Chef Christine Rivera of Galaxy Taco in San Diego is offering. (NR)

5:15 Chef Rivera’s not so secret weapon for her tacos? Non-GMO heirloom blue corn from Mexico. Something she possibly picked up while she staged at Cosme in New York and her time spent with our favorite: Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria. (NR)

5:17 These tacos are making me thirsty! *in a George Costanza voice*. (NR)

5:19 I also may not be a mezcal sommelier, but I’m pretty damn sure some mezcal will wash these tacos down. Conveniently Greg Goins of Panxa Cocina is showing a tent full of thirsty people how to make a mezcal old fashioned using union mezcal. (NR)

5:20 Greg invites everyone holding a drinking vessel to come up and pour themselves a mezcal old fashioned out of the punch bowl full of smoky goodness. Homeboy went hard on the bitters but my belly ain’t mad at that. (NR)

5:30 With a belly fully food and liquor I waddle over to the Franklin Stage to catch the second half of Sun Kil Moon who seems to be cracking up the crowd with his quirky onstage antics. (NR)

LIZZO (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

5:39 LIZZO stands before her adoring crowd in her finest pleather dominatrix outfit feeling herself 1000 percent. “Y’all be eatin’?” she asks the crowd. “Me too, I’m still feeling myself though, I’m sexy when I’m bloaty,” a roaring crowd of stuffed festival goers approves before she goes into the song “Scuse Me”. This is the kind of body positive message we could all use right about now. (NJ)

5:40 Netflix needs to give Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon a stand up special because I’ve officially laughed off all the food I just ate by listening to a combination of his Stage banter and brutally honest lyrics. (NR)

5:47 LIZZO’s sound cuts out during “En Love” but the crowd is still singing the chorus with her. Keep going gurl, I can’t hear you, but I still feel you.” (NJ)

5:50 Roll call. Bands that Mark from Sun Kil Moon disses: Gypsy Kings, Eagles, Steely Dan, Black Crowes. In the words of Homer Simpson “It’s funny cause it’s true.” (NR)

6:15 “Almost had to start a fight/in and out of patience” by parquet Courts gets the crowd to start shoving each other in a mosh that looks more like a dance scene from a Peanuts cartoon. (NR)

6:30 Day 1 bowl haircut: Oliver Tree. Day 2 bowl haircut: Austin Stevens of Parquet Courts. I’m sensing a trend here…(NR)

Parquet Courts (Credit: Dick Slaughter)

6:44 If I had a shot of mezcal for every time the bassist Sean Yeaton of Parquet courts whips his bands out of his face while he plays… (NJ)

 
6:45 I’d be dead. (NJ)
 
6:55 Someone in the port-a-potty next to me is having a full on phone conversation as I try to pee in solitude. Sir, you are not in a telephone booth! (NJ)
 
7:04 Janelle Monae emerges from the smoke on top of her stage with glowing eyes looking like a god. (NJ)
7:10 At the Gold Stage the Church are picking up where New Order’s 80’s Vibes left off last night by playing their 1988 release Starfish and of course track 2 “under the Milky Way” gave me all the feels. (NR)

7:12 During the song “Screwed” Monae engages in some audience participation with the chant “Say it loud, I’m dirty and I’m proud!” No need to feel bad about not showing today! (NJ)

7:33 Monae ends her song “Pink” with a tribute to The Purple One on what would be his 60th birthday by covering the end of “Purple Rain” as a royal purple fog billows from the stage. Basking in the aura, the R&B songstress communicates directly with his spirit, “We love you Prince!” (NJ)
 
Credit: Dick Slaughter

7:49 Within a matter of minutes, Monae went from celebrating Prince to summoning the King of Pop with her robot dance moves. (NJ)

8:01 Shout out to all the dancers who Monae called up to the stage during “I Got the Juice,” y’all were ready! One guy who came up from the crowd already had his choreography down like he’d been practicing that shit for days. (NJ)
 
8:08 Once again Monae morphs into another legendary performer, squealing with James Brown soul as she pops and locks with the hits of her mighty band during the break down on “Tight Rope”. (NJ)
 
This dude needs a blanket (Credit: Nate Jackson)

8:35  The guy next to me is lying on the grass with his shoes off like he’s on a bear-skin rug. Now this is how you are supposed to watch James Blake at a music festival. The spooky R&B can only be described as nap time soul. (NJ)

 
 
8:48 Blake releases his sultry vibes into the air with “Limit to Your Love” that sounds great, but there’s also a limit to how long I will stay for this set before it’s time to go. (NJ)
 
Black Angels (Dick Slaughter)

9:00 The Black Angels let all their music do the talking as they say very little to the crowd but a whole lot with their loud and aggressive psychedelic sounds. (NR)

9:45 Good thing The Black Angels closed out the weekend because now I cannot hear anything since Christian Blands (the band’s guitarist) reverb will Echo in my ears for the next few days. (NR)

 

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