Tag Archives: chicago

In June, I started a tri-city music blog with Araceli and Brian. As a freelancer (who used to work for major dailies), I still get loads of press releases for music. And there’s so much going on in Los Angeles that I felt it was a shame I didn’t have an outlet for everything I wanted to cover. I asked Araceli and Brian to help it was because I always enjoyed reading Brian’s blogs about Chicago music, and Araceli, who works at the Village Voice, is the hook-up meister for +1s in New York. All in all I thought it would be a pretty comprehensive site for things … that the three of us were interested in. Hehe.


We called it Bembang! because we didn’t want a silly blog name. We resorted to choosing from my old (aborted) band names — we eventually picked BemBang! because in Filipino slang, it means this. It mutated to various noun forms (a dude who is ‘Bem’ is f*ckable, not necessarily cute, but is always hot; ‘Bembangan’ means the act of doing it). So that was fun, and funny.

Brian thought the URL was funny because I bought; if you read it fast, you’d think it was “Bang Us.”

Anyway, it’s been kind of cool just seeing what Araceli and Brian have been up to in New York and Chicago. I really enjoy their writing as well. We haven’t put out any sort of mission statement or anything, but I’m sure we’ll figure all that out eventually. In the meantime, enjoy my favorite post so far.

I’m off to the yoga/music festival Wanderlust tomorrow at Lake Tahoe; not Los Angeles, but still the West Coast, so it counts, yes? So watch out for the review, up next week on BemBang!.

1. Vampire Weekend -  I was whining to a friend about the lousy Coachella lineup (this may be the first one I’ll miss in five years), and he said: “I have two words for you: Vampire Weekend.” So I looked them up and couldn’t stop listening to it. Shades of the Clash, some afro-beat influences, lots of poppy, happy ska. I love when savvy Ivy Leaguers (the quartet all met at Columbia) make world-inspired music, talk about punctuation marks and name check Peter Gabriel, Benetton and Louis Vuitton in the same song. Their debut album comes out (officially) next week on the 28th or the 29th, depending on where you live. Buy it, steal it, whatever — just make sure it’s within your aural vicinity.

2. Bon Iver @ Mad Planet – Increasingly I am getting lamer and lamer with posting show reports on time. Hey — we’re short-staffed. It’s cold. I park six blocks away from my office. I was made for tropical climates, I have an excuse for everything.

But there’s no denying that last week’s Bon Iver set, though short, was the best local show I’ve been to in a while. Worth braving zero-degree weather for — and since Mad Planet was packed, I’m glad a lot of people felt the same way.

He came onstage with only two other people — another guitarist (who looked like he was 15) and a drummer, but the whole band had percussion instruments at their feet — which they used. Justin Vernon did spare, emotional renderings of songs like “Skinny Love” and “For Emma.” I was slightly worried that his songs, which are delicately beautiful and perfect for alone-time listening, wouldn’t be great in a live setting. But they were.

As usual, openers Collection of Colonies of Bees were incredible; I’m not sure, but I thought I heard them play their new album “Birds” from beginning to end. I’m thinking of driving to Eau Claire on Feb. 10 to watch him again.

3. Bird and the Bee @ Schuba’s – It was a dream come true to finally, finally see this band live. The LA duo, led by singer Inara George, was so cute on stage in her 60’s tent dress and blue tights that audiences kept oohing and awwing throughout the show. She said, “I feel like a kitten. Or a unicorn.”  Their electro-bossa-pop songs were perfection live, as delicate and delicious as creme brulee. They also played new songs, like “Birthday” which is up on MySpace. George promised “something really cute” for thier last song — and even bet an audience member that they’d definitely say ‘aww’ over it. It was their rendition of “How Deep Is Your Love” by the BeeGees. AWWWWWW!

I miss them already! (They are, BTW, also performing at Coachella.)

4. While at Present Music at the Milwaukee Art Museum, I was struck by how lame it was that Fashion Ninja’s pseudo-runway show used the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Date With a Night” and “Rich” as background music. If you’re trying to impress people with new, interesting fashion forward pieces (hey, I loved the clothes), why would you date your clothes as old by using music that was trendy in 2003? Ecchh. It just seemed so backwards to me. There’s so much cool new music around, you barely even have to look.
5. This weekend I am going out of town so I am missing rollerderby tomorrow and Louis XIV on Sunday (also at Coachella this year).  I am so boo. You guys gotta let me know how it goes.

LilleMy favorite musical term is “in the pocket.” Musicians I love and respect can always play in the pocket, and it’s beautiful to watch.

It’s hard to explain, so I’m going to let jazz musician Tyra Neftzger define it for you:

“In music, the pocket isn’t a place where the musician holds something — it’s an intangible place that holds the musician… it is a spiritual experience that goes beyond playing the right notes, great timing, or being in tune. The experience of playing in the pocket is more like becoming a faucet through which the music flows. Being in the pocket is not just about “locking together” or “syncing up” as a band. It goes beyond this to the place where the musician allows the music to take control.
Watching the lovely lovely Feist at her sold-out show at the Vic last Tuesday was a great example of someone playing in the pocket. To me Feist always seems like a woman who can marry kitsch, pop and cool effortlessly, and the show was a proof of that.

There was “When I Was a Young Girl” (blazingly cool), reading from a science report that someone in the audience had (pop), looping birds and singing and guitar lines (cool), having a tap dancer on “Now At Last” (kitsch). She was powerful, inspiring, and created an atmosphere so personal and close that it seemed every single person in the audience felt Feist was singing for them. How Feist — who induced singalongs and strummed the guitar with mucho energy — stayed in the pocket while playing the music but never lost connection with the audience is the intangible mystery of her live show.

(Forgive the blur in the photos from the show. I was all starstruck, so I couldn’t keep my hand steady!)