Rocktoberfest Acht

So yeah, my friends and I, in a bout of total unoriginality, started this annual party called Rocktoberfest back in 2002. Rocktoberfest is a celebration of beer and friendship and meat and rocking until you break yourself. If that sounds childish and/or unimportant to you, maybe you should attend Rocktoberfest before you go judging things you don’t understand. Or maybe you’re humorless California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who doesn’t seem to like anything at all, especially if it has ever a) been in a union or b) been poor. But I digress.

This year was the 8th annual Rocktoberfest (Rocktoberfest Acht in German. So Achtoberfest, as my pal Jom pointed out while quite drunk) and we held it at my friend Badier’s mostly former house in Menlo Park, which is dangerously close to Stanford University. Having a massive party in a house that is mostly empty is definitely the way to go. Less shit to break.

I’d like to think that everyone who attends  our Rocktoberfest recognizes that, like Hold Steady albums and good beers, the most recent one is always the best one ever. This year was no exception.

Somewhere in the haze of music, drunk, and smoke, I realized why Rocktoberfest feels like a holiday to those who attend it and, as a sort of bonus realization, why rock ‘n’ roll is not a terrible substitute for a religion (when it doesn’t suck, of course). Let’s deal with the last thing first: at its best, rock ‘n’ roll creates community. When you go to see your favorite band, you share in the pure joy of music with a roomful of strangers. The audience and the band are all plugged in to something much bigger than the sum of its parts. The potential exists in that moment to meet new people and make new friends. You don’t have to do that, of course, but you totally can. And maybe you should. Rocktoberfest is a celebration of an ever-expanding community that started with five guys in a house. Those five guys didn’t always get along by any means, but Rocktoberfest creates a unique present in which the past is mostly obliterated while people sing along to songs like “This Fire” by Franz Ferdinand (modified by us so that the chorus is now, “This beer is out of control/ I’m gonna drink this beer/ drink this beer”) and “Holy Diver” by Dio (we poured one out for Ronnie James Dio this year). Sure, it’s silly. But what’s wrong with being silly?

What happened at Rocktoberfest this year was what I  imagine happened around Joe Strummer’s famous campfires at Glastonbury. Old friends met new friends, some of us had wives to bring, others had kids to leave at home. But for several hours of a Saturday, everyone was cool with everyone. For my part, I was deliriously happy. You can do this anytime you want, and you should. Gather your friends and some drinks and some great music, and celebrate your personal community. Rocktoberfest Acht was a reminder of why I love music and – more important – why I literally love a majority of the people I know. It’s not prayer and it won’t save you from much besides boredom, but it could provide you with one helluva a great night.

So, in the great words of Mr. Craig Finn, “Let this be my annual reminder/ that we can all be something bigger.” Go forward, kids, be awesome to each other, and rock the fuck on.


I Try to Rationalize Liking The Bird and The Bee

From the desk of renowned musical pathologist Rebecca Mellor:

The Patient attempted to visit me at my office but, as it was 3 in the morning, he found me at home. Sleeping. Patient was clearly distraught, though probably not a danger to anyone. Well, not to anyone except someone named Diamond Dave, to whom The Patient made repeated reference during our session. It should be stated for the record that I have an unfortunately ongoing professional relationship with The Patient, who runs a not-at-all popular music blog called Bollocks! The patient and I spoke at length, I fixed him a cup of Ovaltine, and allowed him to sleep on my couch. In the morning, he was gone but left a note that read: “Thanks, Doc. I feel a lot better now. Hey, can you send me a transcript of our conversation? I know you taped it.” I consented and was told that our conversation was going to serve as a review of an album by The Bird and The Bee, a group of which I am actually quite fond. I have labeled myself in this interview as Dr. M and The Patient as “Psychocandy.” The Patient’s nickname was given at The Patient’s request. I would’ve gone for something a little more professional, but anyone who reads Bollocks! can understand the lack of professionalism on the part of its chief contributor. If I may speak bluntly, the man is a mess.

Dr. M: Hello, Chor…. er… Psychocandy. What brings you to my home at this hour?

Psychocandy (PC): You’ve gotta help me, Doc. Something’s wrong with me.

Dr. M: Clearly. You’ve somehow found my address and decided to visit me at 3 in the morning.

PC: Is it that early? Shit, I’m sorry. (He pauses here) Do you have any beer?

Dr. M: I doubt it. Now please answer my question.

PC: Have you ever heard of The Bird and The Bee, Doc?

Dr. M: I have. I’m quite fond of their music.

PC: I thought you might be. You have a boyfriend, right?

Dr. M: Where are you going with this?

PC: Well, I have this theory about The Bird and The Bee: I think that everyone’s girlfriend loves The Bird and The Bee. For a long time, I thought everyone’s girlfriend loved Coldplay, but…

Dr. M: Coldplay sucks.

PC: Yeah, I know. See, you’re the proof that not everyone’s girlfriend loves Coldplay. But, almost everyone’s girlfriend loves them.

Dr. M: And you felt compelled to come and impart this theory to me at 3 in the morning?

PC: No, no, that’s not the problem. Here’s the problem: see, I got the new Bird and the Bee album, Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, because my girlfriend – naturally – loves them. And I thought, well, I’ve been being pretty kind in my reviews lately, so I’ll vent a little on this Grey’s Anatomy-ready pop band, kinda get in a few practice shots before I take on Chinese Democracy. So I put the album on and… Doc, I kinda like it.

Dr. M: So you’re experiencing some sort of cognitive dissonance because you feel that you should hate The Bird and The Bee?

PC: Well… yeah. I mean, I’m nobody’s girlfriend. I shouldn’t like The Bird and The Bee. Sure, their melodies are okay, and Inara George’s voice is actually really good, but the music is kinda schmaltzy; their stuff makes me feel like I should be drinking an Apple-tini and talking knowingly about astrology while waiting to buy tickets for He’s Just Not That Into You, a movie whose very existence propels me into an uncontrollable rage . It’s like indie-pop for people who hate indie music.

Dr. M: And yet…

PC: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future starts off irritatingly enough with a 28 second throw-away intro but then “My Love” starts with the stomping and clapping and then she starts singing and before I know it, I’m nodding along. I listened to this CD in my car, Doc! Where I listen to Sonic Youth and The Clash and The Hold Steady and Tom Waits and things with substance and meaning. I listened to Inara George sing about David Lee Motherfucking Roth in my car! I hate David Lee Roth.

Dr. M: It’s perfectly natural to hate David Lee Roth.

PC: And I should hate “Diamond Dave,” too, but it’s catchy. God help me, it’s catchy. Am I losing my edge, Doc?

Dr. M: I wasn’t aware you had one.

PC: I used to think I did. Maybe I never did, though. Looking back, I really dug “Fucking Boyfriend” off of The Bird and The Bee’s first album too. Deep down, maybe I am somebody’s girlfriend after all.

Dr. M: I realize that it’s kind of what you do, but I think you might be making a mountain out of a molehill here. The things you like about The Bird and the Bee are things that you like about other bands as well.

PC: That’s true. I like a good melody, and Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future is piled high with ’em, even on “Diamond Dave”. The songs are not all that substantive but, for modern pop, there’s nothing nearly as infuriating as “I Kissed A Girl.” And I love unique female voices and Inara George certainly has one of those. She’s no Neko Case, but she’s got a lovely voice nonetheless.

Dr. M: Well, there you are. You see, it’s perfectly all right to like Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future.

PC: I guess it is. I mean, the album only really bogs down around “Ray Gun,” the title-ish track. Oh, and there’s the fact that they’ve repackaged “Polite Dance Song,” and I hate it when bands try to make you buy something twice.

Dr M: But it’s a good song.

PC: It’s all right. Overall, I guess I would say the whole album is all right. Not life changing, but all right. Maybe The Bird and The Bee are trying to expand their audience beyond girlfriends. After all, Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future is an anagram for “Everybody Likes Us A Little Bit.”

Dr. M: No, it isn’t.

At this point, the patient seemed tired and I gave him the afore-mentioned cup of Ovaltine and sent him to bed.  The next morning I found his note and the following scrawled across the bottom:

Actual anagrams for Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future:

Aren’t You Guys Her Jar Fest?

You’re Just Not Fresh, Gray Tea

Aunt Shatner, Your Gut Juts Free

No Fun, Just Gray Uterus Theatre

One Fart, Jesus; Nurture that Guy

Truer Joy: U.S. Ate Nugent, Shat Fur

Uruguay  Just Hates To Rent Nerf

Tutus On Frat Guys – Just Near Her

Guess, or Just Eat Furry Tehran Tune