What I love most about being a GATR, besides the music itself is the camaraderie. The fact that music can unite so many different kinds of people in one place because we all love the rush it gives us. The cheering, the goosepimples, the hair raising endorphins.. We live for these live moments of seeing our favorites perform right before our eyes… Which segue’s me into the newest feature of the GATRS thanks to a fellow GATR of the world, Elle Coxon. (You may remember Elle, she wrote a kick ass piece on our boys Catfish and the Bottlemen.. Well she’s back and this time it involves Bully, Courtney Barnett, and some band named Blur..?)
Monday, October 19
7:46 pm, my closet, San Francisco, CA
Ah yes, the inevitable I-have-nothing-to-wear-to-this-gig panic. I end up wearing what I’m already wearing, since I’m already wearing all black and my Docs. Looking indie cool is a full-time job, people.
8:44 pm, front door of Rickshaw Stop
The woman scanning tickets seems relieved to be handed a paper ticket instead of a mobile one. You’re welcome, I guess?
9:28 pm, front row-ish
I try to keep my expectations low for opening bands so I’m always pleasantly surprised if they’re good. And I’m pleasantly surprised with Dead Soft. I’m also exceptionally thankful I had the presence of mind to bring earplugs. Ditto all that in regards to the second opening band, Heat. Even if their band name is excessively 1993.
10:33 pm, pinned against the stage
Bully rule, unlike the subpar pit behind me which features a bunch of sweaty dudes going out of their way to be jerks. But hey, whatever. The woman next to me does not share this “but hey, whatever” mindset and decides to try and stop people from moshing but shooting death glares at the pit every five seconds.
11:09 pm, still pinned against the stage (but hey, whatever)
“Trying” is so good live and Alicia Bognanno’s howl is as ferocious in person as it is on the record. The rock feminist within me is losing her mind, thanks to overtly feminist lyrics and a frontwoman and an audience that is not comprised of all dudes.
11:31 pm, front row
Bognanno’s kneeling on the floor soloing and drummer Stewart Copeland is destroying the kit and everyone’s headbanging and the woman next to me is shooting death glares at three second intervals and this is why we go to rock shows.
12:03 am, nearly empty trolley
So the good news is that the show ruled and my ears are ringing and I had enough money on my transit pass to get on this trolley.
Tuesday, October 20
11:51 am, Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport
Reality sets in. I get to see Blur tonight. Time responds to my excitement by passing at an excruciatingly slow rate so I put on Sleater-Kinney’s latest album and slouch as low as I can in one of those flat black airport chairs.
1:56 pm, the sky
The flight is three-quarters empty which means I can sit in the back and pretend I’m in a private jet. It kind of works, especially when the flight attendant gives me the entire can of Diet Coke. Hashtag luxury.
7:40 pm, entrance to Hollywood Bowl
It’s real! I’m here! Having killed the last few hours by battling actually-sort-of-okay-for-LA traffic on the 101 and dropping in on some friends nearby, I waltz over to the merch booth to break my ABSOLUTELY NO MERCH rule just this once.
8:18 pm, Hollywood Bowl
I send a few frantic caps lock-heavy DMs and snaps to my friend Kate who may be the only person who loves Courtney Barnett more than I do. I’m digging her set but she seems a bit nervous and keeps slurring over verses like she has forgotten the words. Still “Nobody Cares If You Don’t Go to The Party” rules, “Depreston” is received well and “Pedestrian at Best” is a killer closer. She’s giving everything she has to an amphitheater than shouldn’t be this empty this close to showtime.
8:50 pm, Hollywood Bowl, USA
Here’s the thing: Blur are absolutely massive in the UK, but that success got lost in transatlantic translation for the majority of their career. This big-in-the-UK-but-not-in-America truism makes me wonder if they’ve overestimated their popularity by booking the Bowl, which is, at present, too empty.
9:10 pm, a much more crowded Hollywood Bowl
Where did you all come from? People have arrived en masse in the last thirty minutes, and now we’re all being collectively tortured by intro music. As in the intro music – an ice cream truck jingle – plays, fades, lets everyone cheer in anticipation, then starts again. They psych us out with this trick three times.
9:16 pm, Hollywood Bowl
Blur eventually get tired of playing with our emotions, show up and open with “Go Out,” “There’s No Other Way” and “Lonesome Street” – a rollicking mix of very old and very new. Frontman Damon Albarn dad dances with his backup singers.
9:48 pm, Hollywood Bowl
“Out of Time” from 2003’s Think Tank flounders, but “Coffee and TV” and “Beetlebum” send everyone into a fanatic frenzy. I wonder if there’s another rock band alive that could manage to keep their dignity intact amongst a stage set that includes three giant disco balls and four giant neon ice cream cones.
9:57 pm, Hollywood Bowl
“Tender” ranks pretty high on the list of songs that make me cry, but I manage to hold it together for once in my life. The two-part harmony Albarn tries to make happen doesn’t happen, thanks to the left side’s lack of harmonizing skills. (Right side killed it though!) Alas. The song ends with Albarn singing “Don’t vote for Trump, he’s such a chump,” which is greeted with raucous applause.
10:03 pm, Hollywood Bowl
Introduced as “Fred”, Fred Armisen shows up to LA-ify “Parklife”. “Joggers” becomes “Crossfitters,” juicing and recycling are mentioned, and it’s a stroke of performance genius.
10:11 pm, Hollywood Bowl
Okay, screaming “WOOHOO!” at the top of my lungs with Blur and several thousand of my best friends is definitely going in my memoirs. “To the End” and “This Is A Low” are a cinematic finale, though it’s obvious the band will come back for seconds.
10:20 pm, Hollywood Bowl
Aaaaand they’re back, hitting peak victory lap mode as they blast through “Stereotypes” and “Girls and Boys”. Guitarist Graham Coxon does a somersault halfway through “For Tomorrow,” which feeds into “The Universal”. Everyone is swaying and singing along and hugging each other and the people in front are reaching up to Albarn and the disco balls are throwing light onto the Hollywood Hills and this is why we go to rock shows.
Wednesday, October 21
4:18 am, Gate 17A at LAX
So it’s too early for words and I feel like I’ve been hit by a tank and it’s anyone’s guess as to why the air conditioner in here is blasting at negative twenty degrees but, damn, can you say worth it? – Gig Diary by Elle Coxon.