Alphaville - 11 August 2017

Sep 10 2017

I've been a fan of the band Alphaville since I was quite small.  They seem to have a knack for catch hooks and lyrics that never fail to make you think about when and why they were written.  If you're not familiar with them, you've probably heard Big In Japan and Sounds Like A Melody, so that should job your memory.  So, when I heard that they'd be coming to the States to tour for the first time in eleven years I bought a ticket immediately.  It caught my attention that Christopher Anton (former frontman for InSoc) had assembled a band and would be opening for them.  I'm sorry to say that Anton did not put on a show of the caliber I've come to expect; they did four covers of classic InSoc songs... they did pretty much all covers, really, and not particularly inspired ones.  It was plain to see that Anton and his band were trying to ride on the notoriety of InSoc, even jibbing at them on their t-shirts.  On the other hand, Alphaville killed it.  They played a wide selection of songs throughout their entire stage career and threw in some new tracks from their latest album, entitled Strange Attractor.  It was like a walk down memory lane for me, finally getting to hear all the songs I heard in the car as a child driving around with my grandparents.  Another concert has been knocked off my bucket list.

Anyway, here are my pictures, taken from halfway back in the crowd and here's their setlist if you're curious.  I'm sorry that they're not the greatest quality, I couldn't afford front row seats (which were sold out, anyway).

iVardensphere and VNV Nation at the Bottom of the Hill - 18 August 2017

Sep 10 2017

Because I don't have it in me right now to do a full writeup, here are some pictures from the iVardensphere and VNV Nation concert on 18 August 2017.  They were taken at the San Francisco show of the Automatic Empire tour, in which VNV played both the Automatic and Empires albums back to back.  iVardenSphere was a solo act this time around, and performed an all-improvisational set on his equipment, something that one person carefully characterized as an industrial algorave.  VNV Nation took the stage with their usual aplomb and Ronan spent an unusual amount of time talking with the crowd.  He explained that earlier this year VNV Nation had been invited to play a concert to raise money for a German youthclub the night before playing a sold out show in an abandoned factory in Munich.  The youthclub didn't have much in the way of a PA system or lighting but was packed just the same, and it reminded him of how the band got it start in the late 1990's.  This is why many of the shows on this tour are being played in little hole-in-the-wall clubs instead of the usual larger venues.

Defcon 25.

Aug 01 2017

Well, I'm finally back from Defcon 25 and writing up my notes while in the throes of con drop before too much of the experience fades from memory.  Suffice it to say that I have opinions about last weekend, which I will attempt to write as concisely as I can.  I don't like being negative about things because my experience is my own, and I much prefer that people have their own experiences and make up their own minds about things.  However, I would be lying if I painted a rosy picture of my attendence of the largest hacker convention on the planet this year.  I did not have a good time, I was not the only one, I learned just about nothing new, and it left me with very few fun (or even good) tales to regale people with.  It also felt like the weekend flew by - three days came and went before I knew it, which is both a little disorienting and not actually a bad thing when looking at the thirty thousand foot view.

After a protracted period of getting ready, most of which involved fighting with trying to get my designated burner phone reactivated after sitting for a year in the box I was finally ready to hit the road.  You can, in fact, purchase functional SIM cards for just about any cellular provider from eBay and buy a pre-paid plan.  Upon arriving in Las Vegas and accepting the 106 degree punch in the face, I hailed a shuttle to my hotel and climbed aboard.  This year, Vlad found us lodgings within easy walking distance of Caesar's Palace, where Defcon had moved to this year.  I hauled my kit upstairs, ordered a pizza, and plopped myself down to read and relax for the first time in a couple of days.

I'd love to tell you how much fun I had at Defcon and give you detailed write-ups of all the talks I went to (taken from copious handwritten notes, of course), but I didn't make it to a single talk, and was able to visit only one village (the Biohacking Village) twice.  Mind you, this was after waiting in line for roughly two hours and not getting into the talks I'd originally come to see.  Not that the talks I wound up seeing weren't interesting, they were, but they weren't what I was trying to attend.  In addition, the Biohacking Village (that I know of) and other village rooms (that I only heard about and thus cannot confirm firsthand) have made a practice of flushing the room (throwing everybody out) to prevent camping, so as to keep the lines moving and thus making sure that most everybody in line gets into something.  The lines for just about every talk I saw were around the corner, sometimes two corners, and most of the way down the hallways.  I didn't bother trying to get into the talks in the main tracks.  Unsurprisingly, go ahead and laugh, I kept getting lost in the labyrinthine hallways of Caesar's Palace.  Possibly much to your surprise, many people who actually have a sense of direction kept getting lost there, too.  Some of the maps posted on the corners and at the infobooths gave incorrect directions to various locations.  Many of the Goons I spoke to didn't know where things were, either.  I don't blame them for it at all; a few admitted to me that they had no idea where anything was, either, so I don't feel alone in my frustration.  I can't speak to how well organized Defcon was this year because I'm not in a position to know what was going on.  What I do know is that Caesar's Palace is very difficult to navigate, and if I'd known how hard it would be I would have gone up a couple of days early specifically to sneak around and learn where everything was ahead of time.

The @DNAlounge is in trouble.

Dec 19 2016

20161228:  The DNA has started a Patreon account to accept donations!

20161222: It seems that the DNA Lounge is coming up with contingency plans, and they need our help!

Yesterday, JWZ, owner and operator of the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, CA made an upsetting and disturbing announcement.

The DNA Lounge is in danger, and may have to close down soon.

JWZ bought the space that is now the DNA roughly 17 years ago and during that time it's become one of the premiere hotspots of SF nightlife.  Just about any kind of event you can imagine has been thrown here, from a local motorcycle club renting it out while their primary clubhouse was undergoing repairs to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's silver anniversary, and raves a-plenty over the years.  Many have come to see a burlesque show or two at the DNA, or catch an up-and-coming band in a new and strange genre of music, or even come for a slice of pizza and a glass of beer while hoping to be tapped for the stage show of Point Break Live once upon a time.  I don't think anybody can easily count the number of concerts the DNA's hosted over the years (though I've no doubt that JWZ would probably know off the top of his head).  Long time readers are probably aware that I usually haunt Death Guild, the country's longest running gothic/industrial club night as well as Turbo Drive, the only synthwave dance night I've found anywhere in the country.

In the last two years attendance has dropped off noticeably, and it's hurt the DNA Lounge in a real way.  JWZ says that he can't afford to subsidize it anymore, and it might have to go out of business for good.

All I can ask of any of you, gentlebeings, is this:

Please re-share this post far and wide, so that as many people can see it.  If you'll be in the Bay Area for any length of time, please visit the DNA Lounge.  Go on a night of the week and pay the club a visit, it's not expensive to get in and the people there are genuinely cool folks; treat them well and they'll treat you well.  Give the music on that night a fair listen that night.  You might like it, you might not, but either way you'll be exposed to something new.  If you can't make a concert or a club night (or the night's really not your thing), visit DNA Pizza next door and pick up breakfast, get lunch, or maybe have a slice or two and a cold one after work.  DNA Pizza's open 24x7 and they have some of the best pizza in SF.  Hell, if you're on the other side of the country and there's no way you'll make it to California in time, consider buying something from the online store?

The DNA Lounge is a fixture in the community of San Francisco.  You can see just about any kind of live act, hear styles of music you've never heard before, and dance until your legs are sore.  This club means a lot to many of us and we don't want to see one of the few places that we can be ourselves go away.  Please, if you can, help JWZ out and keep the DNA Lounge alive.