Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Strange and Glorious World of Matt and Kim


It's been almost 2 weeks since Coachella and I am yet to post my recap column. The Cliff's notes version is this, I violated half your age plus seven, I mistook a bag of dirt for Molly and my phone ended up in Bell Gardens, CA. It was awesome. That said, the full version is coming...I've been a little busy.

After the phone adventure, I had an unexpected aggressive bender last weekend and I just haven't had a lot of time to write. Today I'll change that, but it's probably not the story you are expecting.

I first heard of Matt and Kim the way most people probably did. I was driving to the beach and this poppy post-grunge song comes onto the radio almost sounding like early Third Eye Blind, or really any band of the late 90's.

"Who is this?" I asked, surprised that this song could have gone under my radar for so many years.

"Matt and Kim, Daylight, it came out last year."

It was unique insomuch as that genre had seemed to fade from recent memory. It was the early 2010s, Rock n Roll was dead, EDM was going mainstream and popular music was a hodgepodge of Hip Hop and electro bands such as MGMT and Passion Pit. Matt and Kim felt like a throwback act.

I didn't think of them until years later. After a long morning of pounding Fireball at a USC tailgate, I boarded a city bus to LA Center Studios. Diplo was hosting his first ever Mad Decent Block Party and my roommate had secured us VIP backstage passes. I was working on that lot at the time, Mad Men was filming it's fourth season. Interstellar was prepping in the offices next to mine. When we walked through the main gate I saw a young woman, late 20's crowd surfing to a feel good electro-punk anthem. The crowd was fairly small but electric, an energy that was absent from the main stage. How could a 2 piece band with only a drum set and keyboard drive such a powerful sound that was more overwhelming than 100,000 watts of bass?

Who is that?

"Matt and Kim."

Who the fuck are Matt and Kim?

The short answer is, I don't know. They are billed as an indie-rock band from Brooklyn, but I would be more inclined to call them and Electro/Post-Punk/Dubstep/Pop act...whatever the fuck they are, they're awesome.

It will then come as no surprise that after a classic Moony fueled debacle at Townhouse a few weeks ago, a group of us decided to purchase tickets at 2 o clock in the morning...something I forgot, until yesterday.

"Hey man, don't forget about tonight."

"What about it?"

"Remember when we bought those Matt and Kim tickets?"

Oh ya...

I downloaded their newest album instantly. It's excellent, but like one of my other favorite bands, OAR, nothing could prepare me for the live show.

Last night I drank three beers, took one hit off a joint and it was probably the best concert I have ever been to in my life. I didn't dance with a gorgeous girl, drunkenly suck face. I didn't do secret dips into my pocket, no one was there to offer any key bumps. I just watched the band. I jumped up and down. I sang the words, it was amazing.

Matt and Kim have a science to their live show. It is fast and furious, in their 75 minute set I would imagine they played 12 songs along with various famous hip hop teases, (Ante Up, X Gon' Give it to ya, to name a few) and extensive crowd work. Kim routinely stands on top of her drum kit and demands that people in the audience have sex, get hammered or at the very least kiss a stranger. Matt jumps around the set like the front man from Wolfmother looping his keyboard with everything from classic synths to thumping bass.

The set starts off poppy and energetic building to a crescendo that includes jammy, dubbed out versions of some of their newer hits. As popular taste in music has shifted as to has Matt and Kim's style while still managing to maintain the same positive energy that makes you say to a neighbor "Isn't this just fucking lovely?"

Really all genres of music were covered, between Matt shredding punky power chords on a Fender, to Kim walking out into the crowd to offer up a lap dance, you never know what the next moment will bring. I feel comfortable saying that even if you're not into their particular brand of music, it is indisputable that they put on a hell of a show.

After they closed out with the first song of theirs I ever heard, I distinctly remember being in a daze; watching Kim toss dozens of balloons into the crowd I wondered if I would be ok to drive home.

But wait, I had 3 beers over 4 hours...and one hit of a joint an hour ago. The show just lulled me into a sort of spell that I had to decompress a bit before I walked back to my car. I remember strolling down Hollywood Boulevard and thinking to myself, "Man, if there was some girl that I wanted to just fall in love with me, I would take her to that show." Or maybe I'm just a little crazy because when I was saying all this shit to my friends they were kinda looking at me sideways...ya man, it was really good. But relax.

Maybe they already knew. I'm just late to the party.

I hear people talk about music sometimes and how it affects them and I always kinda give the 'ya cool whatever' response, but I think I get it now. Matt and Kim are a lot of fun. I want to go to more of their shows. I want to play their albums during pregames. I want to sing the words to "Hoodie On" when I drive through the desert alone.

I will admit that some of my high praise may have drifted into hyperbole, but I cannot recommend the show enough, if you're into positive vibes and having a good time you'll thank me. Check it out. They're performing again tonight (at the Fonda in Hollywood, $34 for balcony [props to the Fonda too for having a NICE little brewpub attached with over 40 beers on tap]) for those of you with an ambitious streak, you won't regret it.

#SingleDudeMusic

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dave's First Seder


Fuck.

I looked at my phone that had been tossed to the corner of the room in the midst of my drunken slumber. The buzzing of the alarm sent the phone in muted circles like an Autistic dog trying to catch its tail. I scrambled over to see the time, 4:48am and a text from a girl that I met the night before, "So glad we decided to see that Guster show last night, let's do it again soon!"

Ah yes, there was a Guster concert last night, and maybe even some making out in the back seat. Ke$ha came on during the encore, still trying to make some sense of that but....FUCK. My flight was scheduled to leave in 80 minutes. I didn't have a bag packed. I didn't even have a bag, I had left it at a buddy's house a week before. So my two options were to go to the airport with nothing or blindly take the bag I took to Park City 4 weeks ago (that I never unpacked) Grab and go...surely there will be something usable in there.

I ordered an Uber (with a 3x surge at 4:55 in the morning...wtf?) swooped a buddy down the street and we were off to LAX. The trip wasn't off to an ideal start but the plane was delayed a couple minutes and we were the last two on board. I popped a valium, ordered a scotch, next stop SMF.

A few years after I moved to LA, I started coming up to Sacramento for minor holidays, Thanksgiving mostly. It's too hard to fly all the way back to the Eastern time zone for less than a week so instead I hang out with my adopted California family in Granite Bay. The attendants are a motley crew of old frat brothers, the Vegas gang the siblings of my friend Paul. Every time we get together it is bad news for whatever local municipality we stay in. This however was not a Thanksgiving trip. It was a Seder. Seder is special.

Growing up in the Waspy suburbs of Indianapolis, I didn't know any Jews. I've never been to a Bar Mitzvah, I don't know what a Snowball is (if it isn't a frozen projectile or two girls passing cum between their mouths) I've definitely never been to Temple or participated in the holy events surrounding Pasover. I had never been up to Paul's Seder because it typically overlaps with Coachella and well...Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat.

I wasn't on the original planning email of the trip, so all of the information I received was second hand. "Bring a Hawaiian shirt," was the only semblance of instructions I was given. Not that anything mattered since I had an old ski bag full of smelly socks with me and maybe a pair of goggles. Regardless, I did not get the memo about a linen suit, or about the duck costume, or that I would be wearing said duck costume, riding the back of a motorcycle...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday started off innocently enough. We went to a sushi lunch and began drinking heavily because of course we did. Next order of business was a run to Party City for decorations and a thrift store to get me outfitted.

Want to guess what happens when you drink a bunch of sake at lunch and then take the family (not my family) AMEX to Party City? Spoiler alert, you buy hundreds of dollars of stupid shit. Furthermore, when you take the same buzz to a Goodwill you might walk out with a golden linen suit and a Hawaiian shirt that would make Jimmy Buffett blush.

Next was a thousand dollar beer run and finally around 5pm we were ready to party.

Our group arrived in waves. It seemed like every 45 minutes another car would run to the airport and bring more people. A few of our crew were stranded in random airports across the country. Weather, equipment malfunction, but for the ten of us or so that made it successfully to Granite Bay, it was go time.

Every family has its own traditions. Some do the movie thing, others are really into food. My California family parties...a lot. So when plans for Friday night came and we were tasked with the option of storming the local Granite Bay Bars or getting a hotel downtown, there was never a doubt that we would snag a block of rooms at the Hyatt Regency.

The $100 a night Hyatt Regency, sometimes I miss the mid-sized city.

We trashed our rooms quite thoroughly, though not quite Mardi Gras bad. Our damage bill didn't reach the thousands and no one was threatened with litigation. When I Googled "broey bar Sacramento" the name Lowenbrau kept coming up. I clicked for a Yelp review.

"OMG I fucking hate this place, nothing but entitled bros, throwing money around and trying to take home sluts."

Need I say more?

I don't remember much more about the night other than the fact that a shot of Jameson was something like 2 dollars. College shot prices are hazardous to your health. I think about half the group booted, others stayed up til like 5am at a strip club, I attempted to catch up on some sleep but managed to wake up with an all time hangover Saturday morning. The Seder was yet to even begin, but I was already down for the count.

The first miracle of the trip happened at a Taco Bell in Roseville. A steak and egg breakfast burrito from the Bell can cure you of the gravest ills. I strongly recommend it.

So we get back at 12, just in time for the old guys/young guys basketball game. This isn't a normal basketball game. We played 2 rounds of 'You Got Served' and shotgunned a beer before the tip. Also the hoops are at 9.5 feet so people like me can dunk.

I was able to get a few baskets before I was mercifully subbed out. I started stretching on the sidelines to infer that I had tweaked a hamstring. In all actuality I was on the verge of booting and needed my squad to win before I re-entered the rotation. By some miracle the old guys (me) won, we all signed the ball, I think we cut the fucking net down. It was so obnoxious, but I loved every second of it. 10 beers later, a few lines of adderall and it was time for the Seder production meeting.

Yes. This dinner had a fucking production meeting.

At 4:30 Dave will put on the duck costume. McIvor will check ID's at the front door and stamp guests as they arrive. When all guests have arrived Dave in duck costume will ride on the back of a motorcycle waving an American flag and pump up the dinner guests. Other Dave will then play a heavily distorted version of the National Anthem on electric guitar.

I'm sure this is exactly what the ancient Jews in Israel envisioned when passing down the story of Passover.

Matt is in charge of the pinata. Gil, download a One Direction album. Ben, where is that fucking strobe light. Ari, go run a sound check on the amp. I've seen angry Assistant Directors run a meeting. Seder Paul puts them all to shame. See this may sound like an absurd family tradition, this zany Passover meal. But it's HIS tradition and he takes it very seriously.

"Why did we get a strobe light this year?"

"Because we didn't have one last year and each year we need to elevate to keep it fresh."

Ah yes, the comedy principle of "yes, and..." now he's speaking my language.

***

I've ridden mopeds both domestically and internationally. I've taken a dirt bike off a jump. I have never ridden on the back of a motorcycle. It is terrifying. Blind in a duck suit, it is pants shitting scary. And as I was waving that American flag for the arriving guests our speed never eclipsed maybe 12 miles per hour.

Yet I've never clutched harder to anything in my life than the other Dave aka war hero (for real) Dave's chest.

When he dropped me off I jumped and I cheered. I high fived the dinner guests, but mostly I sprinted to the bathroom to take off my duck costume and take a stiff pull of whiskey as I promised myself never again to get onto the back of a motorcycle.


video

After war hero Dave's riveting performance of our National Anthem (see above) it was time for dinner. Well, no. It was time for a lot of wine and some readings. Some Hebrew, some English. I was far too gone to follow, but there was lots of singing and clapping involved. In my heightened euphoric state I remember enjoying that quite a bit.

The whole dinner goes in waves, there is the wine wave, then some flat bread, then salad and a matzah ball I think? I remember finally when it was my turn to read I had become very nervous. I thought that the moment would crush me and I would embarrass myself in front of all these fine Jewish folk. But alas, when I finished they cheered because we had made it to the end of the Seder story and the meat could be served. More specifically the duck!

Someone else put on the duck costume and a duck pinata full of peeps was presented to the table, I think there was some brisket and I'm fairly certain one of the adults (like actual adult over 50, not a twentysomething "adult") crowed, "we're gonna need some more wine."

Yes, yes we are.

Around the 17th bottle of wine, someone announced "Kentucky is going to lose!" and now the Indiana crowd had something more to celebrate. It was quite the night. You ever talk to someone you know you're never going to see again and just make shit up for the purpose of driving a fascinating conversation? I do this sometimes when I'm drunk and talking to adults. I hope that one older woman doesn't honestly try to follow my Senatorial career.

We went back to the garage for an all night marathon of Civil War, I made buffalo chicken dip at like 3 o clock in the morning and then my trip ended just as it began...blacked out waking up late to my phone alarm.

Fuck.

Ben we're going to be late, our flight leaves in an hour.

The rush to SMF begins...unshowered, wearing whatever I finally fell asleep in and sans any of my new Goodwill acquisitions. (RIP gold linen suit.)

I look back at the car for a moment before I run to my gate. Paul's mom rolls down the window. "Dave, you're such a delight. You're part of the family now, come back whenever you want." I smiled for a minute and let this process. There are only two things that really matter in this world, your health and people that care about you...and on this particular day, at least I had one.

We rush to the Southwest counter only to find out their server had crashed and we would need to wait in line for a paper ticket.

Dreading the idea of an afternoon in Sacramento airport lamenting a missed flight I did something far outside my character and caused a scene.

Sweaty and strung out I approach the counter.

"Sir did you wait in line?"

"No, I need to speak to the person in charge. If my ability to use a mobile boarding pass hadn't been taken away by YOUR issue, I would not be in danger of missing my flight right now."

Maybe my breath was too bad, maybe my quasi-drunken demeanor made the check-in lady nervous. But she frowned and handed me two boarding passes. Home free right, because who the fuck lives in Sacramento, there can't be a security line right?

Wrong.

Easily a 45 minute line.

Did I care? I dragged Ben to the TSA pre check line and shoved my documents in some woman's face. She didn't give a shit, she hated her job and wanted to be at an Easter brunch. She lets me through and all is looking good until some hero approaches me at the conveyor.

"Let me see your boarding pass."

"Sorry sir, I'm running a bit late."

"Do you have a first class ticket? Global entry? Pre-check?"

"No but I've already been cleared by her, go talk to her."

"I'll talk to YOU."

And then I stared at him and said in a very pointed tone.

"I'm going to walk through the metal detector now, are you going to stop me or not?"

It easily could have gotten me arrested or on some no fly list, I NEVER fuck with the TSA. But he walked away like the bitch that he is and we made it through security.

We were now sprinting to our gate, no shoes, no belt, shit raining out of my bag. Drenched in sweat I triumphantly arrived at my gate only to see that we were delayed for 2 hours.

Fuck.

When we finally got on the plane I felt something bumpy in my pocket. I pulled out a small trophy.

"What's this?"

"Oh, you don't remember man? We had an awards ceremony last night, you won Seder MVP. First time a rookie ever snagged it, pretty legendary."

"Why is it so sticky?"

"Oh, well you named us all Co-MVPs and made us all take a shot out of it...you even made a toast."

"What did I say?"

"To my California family, some people may not understand, but this is what we do. See you next year."

Maybe I was watching too many Fast/Furious movie but I have to say, for a toast I don't remember giving, that's pretty damn touching.

***

My bag takes forever at baggage claim, we can't get an Uber at the airport, so nearly 6 hours after we left Granite Bay I got back to Venice and was abruptly kidnapped by my roommate for an Easter Egg hunt by the beach. I finally laid down in my bed around 8pm dead to the world. I knew the following day would be terrible. I was hungover, riddled with anxiety and mysterious bruises were beginning to appear on my body.

But it was all worth it. It's not about the boozing, the debauchery, the food. It's about friendship, community. It's about family.

I'll be honest, last week was shitty. Monday I felt like hell, Tuesday wasn't much better. I think Wednesday night I was finally back to zero. And then well...it's Thursday which is basically Friday. Some things are worth the pain. Tradition, family, among others.

You get through it.

Our chat the next week...

"It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Always a pleasure, never a chore."

"From Anat: 4/23/16 Seder next year, mark it down."

"#davesfirstseder is trending right now guys, 1 million see yas are talking about this"

"Great performance guys. Mom is still talking about how it was the best seder yet, BUT THAT BASKETBALL GAME WAS BULLSHIT!"

"I'm so hungover, I think I'm gonna get fired."

None of us got fired and I've already booked my flight back for next year where somehow, some way, we will find a way to one up the insanity from this year's Seder. And to my friends (and now family) that made it possible, thank you for making #davesfirstseder the greatest weekend of my fucking life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Venmo Game



It's Coachella weekend guys! You know what that means, a bunch of privileged white kids (actually the line-up blows this year so the Mexicans can afford to go too!) will be going to the desert to do drugs. It's also a great time of year to play "The Venmo Game" aka Is this payment for drugs?

Unfortunately, most people don't have the balls to write "This payment is for drugs" so the fun in the Venmo game is to decipher the amateur coding by your friends. It can be tricky, but let's be honest, I know all their tricks.

What follows is a guide on how to tell if a Venmo payment is for drugs.

1. Vagueness

Let's take a look at Venmo now shall we, nothing better than a little trial by fire. Here is a payment that simply says "Friday."

Sure Friday could mean anything right? Maybe it was for dinner, or the two parties split a case of beer en route to a pregame. Maybe it was something as innocent as musical theatre!

But here is the thing...One does not simply write a vague proper noun to describe dinner. You put 100 sushi emotes to make the motherfuckers cruising your Venmo jealous. I GOT SUSHI BITCH YOU JERKED OFF AND WATCHED THE JINX. THAT'S WEIRD!

"Friday" clearly entails you stayed up until 6 in the morning ripping cocaine and debating about whether police brutality is justified. (It's not!)

2. The Timestamp

This one is best used with context. If you wake up Sunday morning and see a Venmo payment for "Brunch" posted 4 hours ago, it is more likely that instead of pancakes it was for a brunch buffet of MDMA. People do not prepay for brunch. People do not remember at 3 o clock in the morning that they owe someone from an old brunch. No, this is someone attempting to be clever but not taking into consideration all factors.

That said, a lot of people do make rash decision at 3am that have nothing to do with drugs. For example if you see "Matt and Kim tickets" it probably means two guys heard the song daylight and saw they were coming to town at the end of April. They may have been on drugs...they may do drugs at the show, but that SPECIFIC payment is likely not for drugs. Timestamp is also used well as a disqualifying factor. Most people aren't thinking of candy flipping as soon as they wake up in the morning. For this reason, anything 8a-Noon is usually a non-drug transaction or a NDT.

3. The Lay-up

Any time the emotes for beer, wine, liquor, red pill, cigarette, needle or eight ball are used.

OMG it's like a magic eight ball but it's for blow. SOOOOO fucking clever.

4. The Red Herring

Conversely, some people think it is funny to pay for rent under headings like "shrooms" to embarrass the other person. Also "pure heroine" could be for tickets to a Lorde concert.

5. An Event

This one is pretty easy. When does the transaction take place? Things you pre-pay for...a ticket, your share of the house, maybe even some alcohol and food.

Things you invoice people for after the effect...
1/2 of an 8ball, 1 gram of molly, 4 hits of acid.

Usually there is even a fun email attached. "Wow, what a weekend guys, totes hungover, can't wait to do it again. The breakdown for goodies was X per person, my Venmo name is blah-blah. Love ya! Laaaaate."

6. Vegas/Bachelor Party

It's for drugs.

7. Buzz Words

stuff, liver, choices, decisions, hangover, rage, rave, ouch, regrets, Kale Salad

These are all words associated with partying. There is literally an app called Vicemo that will curate results like this for you, but it's kinda cheating. I dunno, I'll still give you half credit. Evaluate the users and decide for yourself.

8. A Place

In general follow the same rules as 'an event.' Though the name of a place usually indicates that people were on vacation and in search of a good time. Unless someone instead just writes Texas Forever. This indicates that this person is a homey.

So there you go...8 simple rules to get you started. I, myself will not be going to Coachella this year. I've been to three festivals in the past 6 months and I'm a little partied out at the moment. On top of that, last weekend I celebrated the resurrection of Christ by raging my balls off in Sacramento while wearing a duck suit with my adopted California family. It was crazy, to protect the innocent (and guilty) I may be unable to provide a proper Seder wrap-up post.

Furthermore, I have my own plans for the desert this weekend. I'm going to Joshua Tree to chill out and get in touch with nature.

Haha, just kidding we're going to get super fucked up for a birthday party and I'll probably make everyone Venmo me for the shrooms I bring. Can you say MUSHROOM EMOTE?!?

Lol just kidding...

The shrooms are on me.

Enjoy your weekend everyone, be safe and responsible wherever you go. It's going to be a long weekend of Instagram envy for the losers without plans and I imagine there will be a fair share of hangover solidarity Monday. Come on over and sit in the dark with me. We have lots of water. We can watch The Jinx. (No jerking off though)