Saturday, November 11, 2006

Noel & Gem acoustic show @ Wadworth Theater 11/9/06

When I heard that Noel Gallagher and Gem of Oasis would be performing a special invitation-only acoustic show in L.A., I knew I had to win tickets, and I knew Jonesy was my best bet. Naturally, I was right and won four golden tickets for this special show at the Wadsworth Theatre on Nov. 9. My friends and I tried to get there early, but westside traffic is never kind. Why anyone would pay $1,500 a month to live in that hell hole is beyond me... Anyway, by the time we arrive, there are, of course, no seats to be found. It didn't help matters that the entire middle section --which took up two-thirds of the theater's seating-- was sectioned off for "VIPs." Explain to me how someone could possibly be a VIP at a FREE show...

But I digress.

After the announcement was made that there was no holding a seat for your friend who'd gone for a smoke, my friends and I were decided that our only option was to split up and fend for ourselves. I watched as one by one they got found seats and was left by me lonesome to aimlessly wander when one of the ushers that was trying to help us find spots earlier spotted me. Noticing the hopeless look on my face, she said to me, "I'll get you a seat...follow me." She proceeded to lead me to the center "VIP" section, third row, which had to be the very last seat in the house. Fookin' rad!!

Before Noel and Gem took the stage, the audience was treated to a screening of the Oasis film "Lord Don't Slow Me Down," which followed the band during their 2005/2006 "Don't Believe the Truth" tour.

After the film and a short intermission, the boys quietly walked on stage and without a word started in with an acoustic rendition of "It's Good to be Free." It was an entirely unique Oasis performance: they played a ton of b-side tracks, all with Noel on vocals and acoustic guitar and with different arrangements than those on the recorded versions. There was also a random drummer, who had just a snare, shaker and tambourine. Gem kept hopping back and forth between the organ and electric guitar. Noel was surprisingly chatty with the audience, making clever quips the entire night.

The setlist for the evening was as follows:

It's Good to be Free
Talk Tonight
Fade Away
Cast No Shadow
The Importance of Being Idle
Listen Up
Half the World Away
Slide Away
Strawberry Fields
Don't Look Back in Anger
Married With Children

I was able to catch some video of the amazing performance. Please note that I was trying to hide the fact that I was recording from wandering security, so there's no need to comment on my lack of filming skills.

Cast No Shadow
Strawberry Fields Forever

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Eagle Rock Music Festival 2006

Until recent years, its only claim to fame was that enormous boulder with a kind-of sort-of eagle-shaped thing etched into its side. But the virtual small town in the heart of Los Angeles known as Eagle Rock has established itself as a leading advocate for keeping community together through art.

Over the past decade, northeast Los Angeles has been reinventing itself as a vibrant artistic powerhouse. The neighborhoods of Silver Lake and Los Feliz were the first to establish themselves as hotbeds of artistic talent, paving the way for an expansive creative collective to spread throughout the surrounding communities.

Eagle Rock is rapidly emerging as a shareholder in this artistic enclave. The area has evolved from a homogenous middle-class town to a modern-day melting pot, boiling over with local talent.

Fuel to the fire is the combination of Eagle Rock's expanding twenty-something population and the steadily rising minority population, providing a natural breeding ground for eclectic creativity. Having experienced the rare phenomenon of growing up in a close-knit community while at the same time being exposed to the big-city ways of the greater L.A. area, Eagle Rock's younger residents recognize that it's a rarity to know your neighbor's name in such a large and sprawling city as Los Angeles. Striving to keep this sense of community kinship, many are turning to the arts as a way to keep residents connected and involved.

The Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock has worked to fulfill this desire for the nearly a decade. Largely maintained through the efforts of the area's passionate young hipsters, the nonprofit's aim to unite the community with music by using local businesses as venues was realized with the first Eagle Rock Music Festival in 1998. Now in its eighth year, the Center hopes to establish its annual community festival, funded by voluntary donations by attendees, as a staple event in northeast L.A. All proceeds from the evening will go toward funding afterschool programs in the surrounding communities.

Brian Martinez (a close friend of mine since high school) has been working at the Center for years, and this year was put in charge of organizing the whole shebang. "This year we wanted to evolve into a bigger music festival," he said. "We wanted to focus on pulling in the community to help out with the festival, uniting northeast L.A. artists, musicians and members of the community." And that they did.

An impressive number of people turned out, especially considering that on this particular day, about 5,000 other festivals and huge events were taking place in various parts of the city. People of all ages and a considerable number of parents with their small children roamed the streets to enjoy food and drink from the Farmer's Market, local restaurants and street vendors, as well as killer performances from the stellar lineup of local acts spanning over a dozen stages along the closed-down Colorado Boulevard.

The evening's featured performers included:
Eleni Mandell
Future Pigeon
Jet Fuel
Bodies of Water
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Afrobeat Down (featuring none other than Mr. Martinez rawkin' the bass and trombone)
Teddy's Cheer Club
Jesca Hoop
the Parson Red Heads
Francisco Aguabella
Living Sisters (featuring Eleni Mandell and Inara George)
the Japanese Motors
and Monsters are Waiting (who did their KILLER cover of the Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored").

The Center for the Arts works throughout the year to bring arts programming into the community by commissioning free public art installations and a variety of musical concerts. Located at 2225 Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, it also presents arts and music classes for children and adults. For more information on the Center and to make sure you don't miss out on next year's fest, visit or make a couple new myspace buddies:,

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