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.

Best Albums of My Life: #5 (The Delgados are Dead; Long Live the Delgados!)

hatedelgados

What Scottish bands do you like? I know you can name a few – Franz Ferdinand for sure, probably Snow Patrol, and, for you P-fork kids, Mogwai. But you know what? None of those bands, not a fucking one of them, can match the beauty, the tunefulness, the sheer sonic majesty of the Delgados.

This is the part of the show where you ask, “But who are the Delgados?”

And this is the part of the show where I drunkenly slap you, then kiss you on the mouth and ask for your forgiveness, then storm off to the fridge for another beer muttering about how kids these days don’t know fuckall about the Delgados.

Okay, I’m back with the beer. And I really am sorry about the whole slapping/kissing thing. Or whichever parts of it you didn’t like. Allow me to educate you for a second. See, back in the day, that being the late 1990’s and early “aughts”, there was a phenomenal band called the Delgados made up of Emma Pollock (vocals/guitars), Stewart Henderson (bass), Paul Savage (drums and being married to Ms. Pollock) and Alun Woodward (vocals/guitars again). The Delgados were a Scottish band named after (I believe) a Spanish bicyclist named Pedro Delgado. Makes perfect sense, yeah? Well,  they burst onto the music scene with a little album called Domestiques and… okay, they mostly quietly entered the music scene and were noticed by one or two people. That’s not the point.

The point is, along about 2002, the Delgados recorded and released their masterpiece: Hate. Its title track would simultaneously nod to the Beatles and flip off the world as Woodward sang, “Hate is everywhere/ inside your mother’s heart and you will find it there”. And, before you get to “All You Need is Hate,” Emma Pollock ushers in the album with the incredible “The Light Before We Land.” And the other ten tracks (that’s if you got the U.S. release with “Coalman” and “Mad Drums”. Which I did) are varying levels of awesome as well. But if you’re not hooked by “The Light Before We Land,” then maybe you’ve got bratwursts in your ears. You should get that looked at.

Which, incidentally, brings me to how I first heard of the Delgados. Back in, I believe, the winter of 2003, my pal Blake appeared in my room at college with a link to some clips from some anime show (to this day, I don’t know what show it was) that was set to “The Light Before We Land.” The anime stuff was all well and good, but I probably asked Blake a hundred times who the music was by. My friend did not disappoint – he filled me in not only on who the Delgados were, but had some pretty good tips on the album that contained “The Light Before We Land,” and the poppy masterpiece that was “All You Need is Hate.” It wasn’t long after that before I was down to Face the Music (may that store rest in peace) and purchasing my very own copy of Hate. I own all the other Delgados albums now too and they’re great, but it’s not understating things to say that Hate is the Delgados’ London Calling.

Only not many people noticed here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I mean, what the fuck is wrong with you people? While bands like Slipknot and Korn were climbing our charts, we were ignoring (well, I wasn’t – thank you, Blake) the Delgados. We welcomed Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol with open legs (that’s how that saying goes, right?) but somehow, there was no room in lives for The Delgados.

So they put out one more album after Hate and broke up. Emma Pollock released Watch the Fireworks a couple of years ago and I pray to sweet Zombie Jesus that she makes and releases a follow-up to it. But The Delgados are no more.

I hope you’re happy now.

But it’s not too late. You can still pick up Hate for yourself and learn – too late, just like you always do – what you were missing. You can still hear the sublime ending to “Woke from Dreaming” as Emma Pollock sings “We will kill if we need to.” You can still here Alun Woodward’s depair on the (anti)anthemic chorus of “If This is a Plan”: “If this is a plan/ then I’m dead where I stand.”  The point is, you can still hear Hate and if you like music at all, you should probably check it out.  Hate has grown on me more than a lot of albums I’ve owned for a longer time, and I liked it from the start. Just think – if the 6 to 9 people (on average) who read Bollocks! check out Hate and pass it on to their friends, maybe we can generate enough buzz to convince the Delgados to reunite and come play in the U.S. so that we (and by “we” I mean “I”) can come see them.