Daily Archives: August 31, 2009

Fab Four: Virgin Free Fest, recount’d

Believe the Hype: Chuck D and Flavor Flav at Virgin Free Fest's West Stage.  Photo by Francis Chung.

Believe the Hype: Chuck D and Flavor Flav at Virgin Free Fest's West Stage. Photo by Francis Chung.

My arbitrary and semi-complete (owing to some collaborative difficulties) recap of yesterday’s Virgin Free Fest is up at DCist now, accompanied by more photos like the Public Enemy shot above by Francis Chang.

Hey, Remember Living Colour? Sure You Do.

Living-Colour-by-Bill-Bernstein

You remember “Cult of Personality,” of course, especially if you had MTV in 1989. The 10-second preamble from Malcom X. Vernon Reid’a million-candlepower vamp, searing instantly onto your brain. Frontman Corey Glover’s whirling dreadlocks. His burly soul-sanger wail, lithe but authoritative, though he was not yet twenty-five. His unfortunate yellow bike shorts. (Look, it was the 80s. Axl was wearing them, too.)

“Cult of Personality” went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Garmmy for Best Hard Rock Performance. But its real achievement was to embed a message of political skepticism in a mainstream hit for the first time in a long while. (Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” became an even bigger smash that same year.) Continue reading

Live Friday Night: The Flaming Lips at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Wayne-Coyne-in-the-bubble

Oklahoma’s Flaming Lips have subverted expectation of how a “rock” band should sound and behave for so long that the most radical performance they could give at this stage of their singular career would be merely to perform an hour-and-a-half of songs absent psychedelic videos, Yeti-costumed cheerleaders, or Mini Cooper-sized balloons full of confetti.

Still, no one was complaining at Merriweather Friday night when the Lips turned up with all their circus wagons full of Yippie ephemera in tow. Frontman Wayne Coyne was onstage 20 minutes before their performance began, helping to set up gear in full view of the tri-generational crowd. (He got a big cheer when he unpacked the plastic bubble he would soon inflate and enclose himself in for his customary walk-and-roll above the most pit.) Continue reading