Let's face it: There is less at this year's Street Scene. What was once three days is now two. What once took over most of downtown has shrunk to a few streets. A festival that was once packed with band after band after band is now offering band after breather after band. Some will argue that it's less bang for their buck. Some will say they never could see all those damn bands anyway.
One thing doesn't change, however-and that is, we're opinionated jerks. Except this time. After a disorientating bout of magnanimity, we decided to let others tell you who they're looking forward to seeing. We also tried asking a drag queen and City Council member Donna Frye, but our queen had so much foundation to concern herself with, and Donna was busy doing this whole governmental thing.
Here they are-the "Must See Top Three!" of some San Diego icons...
THE ALBUM LEAF
1. A Tribe Called Quest
2. Toots and the Maytals
In his own words: "Hells yeah!"
For the moment, the seminal hip-hop group of the late-'80s and early '90s is back together with all the original members. A Tribe Called Quest's been busted up for six years, but by all accounts they split before the creative candle was snuffed. A new album of all-new material is in the works, but our sources tell us this is likely to be the only reunion show the world will see. So with a touch of new and tons of great old jams, this is a landmark moment for anyone remotely interested in hip-hop.
The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle and Tribe can both honestly say that no matter what amount of commercial success their art has brought them, neither compromised for a few more dollars. LaValle's been DIY his entire career and Tribe's Q-Tip has been dissin' the Man since the early '90s as well: "Record company rule #4080: Record company people are shady."
Up until their recent debut on Sub Pop Records, In a Safe Place, The Album Leaf was predominately instrumental, while Tribe's lyrics drive all their tracks. It's all about the shared disregard for mainstream success and image coupled with a common commitment to one thing: the music.
1. Social Distortion
2. John Butler and Jack Johnson
3. Patti Smith
In her own words: "I spent many a wild night backstage with Dennis, Mike Ness and the band when we were all young and wasted punks in Hollywood. I love them."
Come September, Social D will finally release the follow-up to their sublimely potent White Heat, White Light, White Trash. Long-time bassist John Maurer has decided to call it quits, but Rancid's Matt Freeman will be picking up the slack on the four-string for the Street Scene gig, plus upcoming tour (not bad for a temp). Social D are the original alley cats of punk and vocalist-guitarist Mike Ness is the godfather of Southern California cool. He and Candye Kane may have shared a bottle or six of Old Crow in back in the late "80s, toasting to the death of culture and the birth of musical revolution, or maybe they just wanted to get ripped. Either way, if you haven't seen The D in the past eight years (which would be impossible, since they play here every four months), it's time you got off your sell-out ass and go see how the other half lives-beating away the ghosts of years past while spitting right in the devil's unblinking eye. Yeah, they're over 40 and it's still that intense. Bow down, human.
EX-LOVE AND ROCKETS
1. Patti Smith
2. Toots and The Maytals
3. Brazilian Girls
In his own words:
Re: Patti Smith: "Horses changed the way that I listened to music."
Re: Toots: "Memories of my bittersweet Suedhead days. Give it to me!"
Re: Brazilian Girls: "They have a killer track called "Homme' which has been in heavy rotation on the Downtown LA Standard Hotel decks of late. (I have a DJ residency there.)"
1. A Tribe Called Quest
2. Jimmy Eat World
3. Amp Fiddler
In his own words: "Many runner-ups!"
That a white surf kid from Encinitas is most interested in seeing A Tribe Called Quest shouldn't surprise anyone, save for those who still think hip-hop is that "thing the blacks do." But the fact that Amp Fiddler is on Foreman's radar earns this freshly minted rock millionaire some serious points for both knowing history and keeping in touch with the fresh shit. Joseph "Amp" Fiddler first raised eyebrows last year with two test-the-waters EPs that were fawned over by the likes of Gilles Peterson and Kruder and Dorfmeister. When his debut dropped earlier this year-a smoldering, slow-burn milieu of funk, hip-hop, electro, soul and R&B-the few who heard it similarly gushed. Fiddler's no newbie; he played keyboards in the P-Funk AllStars for 12 years, and has tickled the sin-wave ivories for the likes of Prince and Primal Scream. Now, he's on his own-and rarely does a long-time sideman come to the fore with such solid marks.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2. A Tribe Called Quest
3. Dilated Peoples
In his own words: Too busy being buttah.
If you've seen rookie Kahlil Greene play shortstop this year, you know he's so smooth people can't be believing he ain't butter. If you've been reading CityBeat, you also know he's a devout hip-hop kid from Florida. So it's no surprise Greene would spend his time at Street Scene's lyrical lounges if he wasn't on the road continuing his bid for Rookie of the Year. Since both he and Burroughs are so hot on Lude', let's give you the skinny. Acts like Bubba Sparxxx and Nappy Roots owe Ludacris props for opening the door to rap from the bowels of the U.S.-the South, where racism doesn't just exist, it holds office. Ludacris was the first, and the biggest, Dirty South rap star, and his fame hasn't waned since the release of 2003's Chicken-N-Beer. In fact, like Mos Def and Cube, he's gone Hollywood, co-starring in the glorious piece of cinema that was 2 Fast, 2 Furious and now working on John Singleton's new flick, Hustle & Flow. Expect a naughtier version of the man, as his next album (due later this year) is titled Red Light District, and suggests he's going the way of Britney and hoping sex helps him continue to sell.
SKATE RAT GAZILLIONAIRE
1. Social Distortion
2. Foo Fighters
3. Tribe Called Quest or AFI
In his own words: Too busy doing stuff you can't do.
After pissing off MTV with a bad moustache and disturbing videos in which Jack Black dances, Dave Grohl has gotten back behind his drum set, providing percussive assistance to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Killing Joke and, most recently, Nine Inch Nails. That's right-four albums' worth of building a reputation as a serious songwriter and dynamic frontman have been put aside so that Grohl can be everyone's drum whore. Luckily for him, he's such a kick-ass drummer that he's forgiven his lack of Foo creation. As for why he's Hawk's pick is anyone's guess, as I've yet to see the Fighters show up on the soundtrack to any of the Pro Skater video games. Though, with that added feature of uploading your own music to the game, one could only assume that Hawk himself is sitting at home busting pop shove-its to The Colour and The Shape.
- Jeff Terich
BLACK HEART PROCESSION
1. Patti Smith
2. A Tribe Called Quest
3. Black Eyed Peas
In his own words: "I won't be going-too much traffic."
Figuring Jenkins writes lyrics for Black Heart Procession that make Edgar Allen Poe seem a well-adjusted optimist, he might've picked Black Eyed Peas because they share a favorite color. But BEP is coming off a hell of a year. The L.A. indie hip-hop quartet that seemed destined to wallow on a crappy diet of critical praise and crappy record sales hit it big with their hit "Let's Get it Started." The song-probably the intentionally dumbest rhyme the Peas have ever penned-became the theme for the NBA Playoffs, with Will.I.Am doing a jerky jig for the TV commercial. They're now the 2004 "Jock Jam" equivalent of Baha Men (yeah, you remember when stadium P.A.'s blared "Who Let the Dogs Out" whenever a big, bad man did something big and bad). But unlike the Men, the Peas have real, bona fide talent and will be remembered as something more than a trivia question in the annals of urban music. Recently, while recording their new album, the trio stepped out for a quick bite but forgot to blow out the candles in the studio. The thing went up in flames and ate some good equipment. We hereby spare you the "they're on fire" puns.
1. Jack Johnson
2. G-Love & Special Sauce
3. Donavon Frankenreiter
In her own words: "I don't even have to look [at the lineup]."
Shoulda known. San Diego's sweet and sexy-voiced sweetheart basically just voted for her family. Jack Johnson has taken an interest in Prettyman's talent, offering guidance and acting as unofficial manager of her young career. G. Love-the one who made Jack famous, and in turn got more famous when Jack got famous-has taken Prettyman out on the road for a Midwest Tour. And Frankenreiter is the first signee to Johnson's record label, Brushfire. This part of Street Scene is called "The Brushfire Tour," and it will be interesting to see if San Diegans still want to see what smoke arises from this camp. Two years ago, Jack Johnson was the story of Street Scene, as his debut album was absolutely incinerating local sales charts. Tired of endless inquiries, one Pacific Beach record store put a sign on their front door that read: "Sorry, we're temporarily out of Jack Johnson's album." He was the new Gidget, with an acoustic guitar and a voice warmer than Costa Rican waters. Two years is a lifetime in pop culture, though. G. Love's an oldie-but-goodie, Johnson's a local superstar fading back into reality, and Frankenreiter's good, but still anonymous and unproven. We'll see...
1. Scarlet Symphony
2. Louis XIV
3. Ben Harper
In his own words: Too busy playing on Warped Tour.
If you know anything about "O"-the mountain of a man who leads local band fluf, produced blink-182's first album, has worked for a million-and-a-half years as Transworld's photog, etc.-you know that he's at every single show in San Diego. No surprise, then, that he publicly gives it up for the local kids. Scarlet Symphony are the city's current "it" band, a foursome composed of a long-haired, vein-popping howler, a rhythm section of twin brothers, and a guitarist who looks like his other job is taking shady side bets at the horse races. All of "em are about nine feet tall, and all are young, optimistic and full of enough rage and sexuality to make their brand of scream-groove alternative rock pretty damn exciting. Louis XIV is the Convoy shoot-off that's done better than Convoy ever did. They've been approached by major labels to put out a record, but when you got a single spinning on 91X and you're selling albums by the thousands, why give someone else a share of your rent money?
2. Foo Fighters
3. Jimmy Eat World
In her own words: Too busy owning CMT.
On Nickel Creek's most recent album, the San Diego-bred bluegrass trio covered indie rock's slacker-savants, Pavement. But we'd really like to see the precious Anglos tackle Blackalicious' "First in Flight" on their next acoustic expose. Blackalicious is one of the victims of the upheavals in the music industry, their former label, MCA Records, having been swallowed in the merger mania that's gone on as of late. Should be just fine for Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel to return to indie-land, however. These cats spearheaded the Quannum hip-hop collective, and have a little know-how of their own. Gab just released his debut solo album, Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, and it's a butter-smooth vocal play. Live, Gab is the rotund improv maestro, letting his deep-throated rhymes play A to Z, or wherever his mouth leads him. Still, we wanna see a 20-something girl from Vista attack his flow on the violin.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2. Jack Johnson
3. Wyclef Jean
In his own words: Too busy running in that strange way he does.
Burroughs is, in a roundabout way, part of the CityBeat family. Well, his older brother Scott used to intern at SLAMM, and then was a staff writer for years. So we lay claim to all future contract bonuses Sean gets as the third-bagger for the Padres. Knowing his brother's crate-digging musical tastes, we're distraught at Sean for going so mainstream with Ludacris. What, all that practice of hitting a round ball with a round bat and trying to make it go straight past nine men who are paid millions of dollars to stop you is all that hard? You gotta play pepper and catch and three-flies-up so much that you've all but disregarded your homeys in the underground, Sean? Bet you don't even know about Definitive Jux or The Streets. Too busy lining doubles down the left-field line to realize that Madvillian dropped a really, really bitchin' album this year. Due to your rather un-streetness and suspect decision to make millions of dollars instead of working at Off the Record and chasing hip cred, we hereby relinquish you from the family. We don't want none of that blood money!
1. Social Distortion
3. Cypress Hill
In his own words. "Jack Johnson playing San Diego again?! C'mon, [these are] good bands, but they play here soooooooooo much. Give me something new, exciting, untested in S.D. This year I and many locals are saving our Street Scene money and going to the Austin City Limits Festival in Texas. We'll be eatin' BBQ, drinkin' Shiner Bocks in a giant, grassy park watching legends such as the Pixies, Elvis Costello, Joe Ely and young fresh bands Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Spoon, Los Lonely Boys, Franz Ferdinand.... Besides, if you miss this year's S.D. Street Scene, don't worry-the promoters will probably have most of the same bands back next year. I'm not bashing [the festival]-I'm a child of Street Scene. I met my wife in a zydeco section beer garden. I love Street Scene. But I loved it much more with fresh bands. Kudos to making it a smaller lineup, yet more spacious. Maybe it's a rebuilding year?"