Moon Block Party was on a Saturday. I’ve woken up in Los Angeles on most Saturdays for the past ten years. So this was just a Saturday. I wiped crusty stuff out of my eyes. Brushed my teeth. Ate some yogurt. Drove down Lincoln Blvd. towards Brentwood, shot hoops for two hours, then came home and showered. My next move nowadays would generally be to sit down on the couch and watch Michigan lose at football, and at some point make my way to the Las Isla Bonita taco truck down the street (one ceviche para aqui, three carne asada para llevar, extra hot sauce). Not this Saturday though. This one was different. I generally tend to like my lazy Saturdays in sunny Los Angeles. So if I’m changing it up it better be worth it. Moon Block Party was worth it.
Pamona was like a forty-five minute drive from Venice. A straight shoot on the Ten. We took the Perfect Hippie’s truck. He spent forty of those forty-five minutes talking about his new favorite music discovery, Milky Chunks. That’s not the band’s real name but I always forget the name and it sounds like that so we’re going with that. Anyways, they weren’t at Moon Block Party. The other five minutes of the forty-five minute drive was spent getting ice and buffalo-wing flavored Doritos that didn’t taste like buffalo-wings.
When we arrived at The Pamona Fairplex it was clear that Spud, who was sitting on a couch reading an Osprey Packs’ 2014 product pamphlet, had made sure everything was readied before our triumphant arrival. Because things were off to a pretty good start, in terms of being ready, and stuff…
There was Ethan, who has now begun to really settle in to his role as traveling sound-dude, fiddling with his Presonus board. Joel was filling in for Dave Yeaman aka Kings of Leon, aka Dave, and played the role of DP for the day. He was in the midst of some very Joel type things when I dropped a bag of new GoPro 4K cameras in front of him. “Wooaah,” was his response, and you have to imagine him saying it like Keanu Reeves, because Joel is like Keanu Reeves. Right down to the “wooaah.” Then there was Jon, our old/new camera guy, back for some more. The intern hanging out with Spud, organizing some sponsor swag that may or may not have needed organizing, and lastly, Jack, oh Jack… the guy’s always got a genuinely happy goofy grin on, and he’s always looking to get something done. I set about yelling at him to get our new Toshiba TV’s set up. He succeeded, mounting two on the outiside of the van and turning on the two on the inside. Like I said, we were off to a good start.
The first official face to greet us was Julie from Deap Vally. Turns out that she, along with Phil of JJUUJJUU, make up the husband and wife team who organize the Moon Block Party. She blazed through The Van, introducing herself to the team and taking it all in, before running out to handle some other official business. I caught up with her in the lot to ask a question about setting up our merch and that was when she told me she was the drummer for Deap Vally and about to play a session in The Van. Truth be told, before then I didn’t realize that the event was put on by the musicians. My reaction was similar to Joel’s in regards to the GoPros, “wooaah.”
We set up our merch tent next to the official merch tent. We forgot to bring hangers to display the shirts, so The Perfect Hippie had to skip off and forage some. We left our formerly-a-geologist friend, Jay, in charge of said merch, and told him he could trade off with the intern for The Black Lips set. Jay sold one t-shirt, which is better than the intern did. I think Spud is being soft on her. I’ll have to yell at Jack about it later.
Back at The Van Julie had returned, this time with her bandmate Lindsay in tow. If you didn’t already know, their two woman rock show is the shit. They got gritty as hell in that van. Loud, dirty, soulful blues. Just boom, one, two, three songs, then they were out, cool as can be. Julie had to take a rain check on signing the wall-of-fame, she had like a festival to run and perform at, and stuff…
At some point during Deap Vally’s set The Black Lips trudged up to The Van. They had no trouble finding it, because they’ve seen us and we’ve seen them before. Yet they’ve never been inside. During Deap Vally’s set they hung around having some agua and brews, and chatting about things. Jack, their guitarist is back in the band after a long hiatus. He said he lives in Greenville, SC, which is a town I’m familiar with, having spent a fair share of thanksgiving meals there. We talked about that, it wasn’t super riveting, but he’s in the black lips, so that made it more riveting. We also dropped some gift bags from our phriends at Phlower Shop, and Jared told us it was the first time he’d officially been gifted medicinal cannabis. Jam in the Van, fighting Glaucoma one rock star at a time.
When it was time to load The Black Lips into The Van I let sound-dude Ethan know that this was a big one for us. We’d been trying to get these dudes to Jam in the Van ever since day one. Ethan did a fantastic job of setting up and sound-checking, and so of course the solar inverter would malfunction right before we started the session. Not sure what happened, but somehow our inverter settings got fuxed with and the batteries were all drained. So we weren’t able to run the session and simultaneously take in enough juice to supply the battery bank. My response was to yell at Jack. He hustled his ass to switch all of the equipment over to generator power. Good work Jack.
From there The Black Lips two songs went flawlessly. Their performance was as fun as I’d envisioned that it would be. Afterwards we took some photos, I had a black eye at the time and they humored my desire to take a photo of them fake punching me, Black Eye + Black Lips, and we let Spud stand in the shot too, so we had a Black Man.
We were in a groove at that point and so when Wax Children approached us and asked if they could jam we didn’t even hiccup, “get your asses in there and play us some psych-rock youngins.” Their cause was aided by the fact that JJUUJJUU wasn’t able to make their Van set due to a shake up in the festival’s lineup. So enter Wax Children, who would actually have the police called on them if they showed up at an elementary school, because they are far from anything resembling children and further more do not appear like they should be hanging with children. Their music may not be safe for children either, because it’s real trippy, and so kids probably need parental supervision if they’re going to listen to it.
For the better part of the day there’d been a man dressed in a light blue suit and cowboy hat sitting on our couch chatting up whoever joined him for a sit. Turns out he was the keyboardist for Christian Bland and the Revelators, who must have heard some of Wax Children’s set and felt a need to rise to the occassion. Because if Wax Children was melt-your-face trippy, then The Revelators were the full body melt. Nobody has ever used an echo-effect on their introduction vocals. Check that off the list-list-list-list…
We got a little break at this point, perfectly timed to catch The Black Lips on the main stage. We stood stage left, pretty close to the front. There were a few kids crowd surfing, a couple of them got bold enough to rush the stage. There they were allowed to dance and flail and hop about for far too long before The Black Lips’ tour manager stepped in and tossed them down. It was then and only then that security snapped into over-reaction, dragging a couple kids away and presumably throwing them out. Nice work boys, you really saved the day there. Not.
Our last Van session was Corners. I knew of them only from a conversation I’d had with a member of the band The Diamond Light only hours prior. “I just caught Corners on the small stage, they fucking killed it.” So with that recommendation I expected them to fucking kill it in The Van, and after a brief confusion over how to run an effect directly from the sound board (all this trippiness in one day) they indeed did fuckin’ kill it. When Corners finished so too did we at The Van.
The final order of business was Spoon on the main stage and a final stroll around the grounds. The carnival games were closing by the time we made it out to them, but we had enough time to play ski-ball. I lost both rounds, but Jay gave me his prizes to give to my dog who subsequently destroyed them. Then the Perfect Hippie drove us off towards Los Angeles, taking the opportunity which he described as “once in a lifetime” to speed around the horse-track at the Fairplex on our way out. It’s true, when will we ever be in a truck on a horse track again? Well, maybe next year, because we’d love to come back…