California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Ty Segall, Iggy Pop and Chicano Batman Shine at Uneven FYF Fest; Nine Inch Nails Closes with ‘Hurt’

Fest May Return to Historic Park in 2018


Performances by Ty Segall, Chicano Batman, and Iggy Pop highlighted an otherwise uneven FYF Fest last weekend at Exposition Park.

Rumor has it that the event — which attendees say suffered logistical challenges —  could be moving back to Historic Park in Chinatown next year.

Chicano Batman frontman Bardo Martinez dances at FYF – Photo by Donna Balancia

Parking snafus and entrance issues occurred Friday night and delays at ticket pickup were out of the ordinary.  But the diverse if not unusual lineup mix of Frank Ocean, Bjork, Solange, Missy Elliott, Run The Jewels and Nine Inch Nails were enough to please any eclectic taste and were worth the logistical challenges some encountered.

Iggy Pop leaps during performance Sunday in Exposition Park - Photo by Donna Balancia

Iggy Pop leaps during performance Sunday in Exposition Park – Photo by Donna Balancia

It was the acts on the Lawn Stage on Sunday that stole the show. Iggy Pop, Ty Segall, Cherry Glazerr, Chicano Batman and Run The Jewels ran away with the prize before thousands of enthusiastic moshers.

Cherry Glazerr

Cherry Glazerr’s upbeat and charming performance is always a hit with locals in Los Angeles.  The band has a style that is unique, a combination of punk and new-alternative and the musicianship is vintage.

Cherry Glazerr - Photo Donna Balancia

Cherry Glazerr – Photo by Donna Balancia

Ty Segall

The remarkably talented Ty Segall is a regular at the July festival and as usual he gave his all, wasting no time and kicking off his set with “Play Your Guitar” and treating the crowd to his abstract and wild style. The moshers and crowd surfers warmed up with him and put on the full press with Iggy.

Video courtesy of Prestoff2000

Iggy Pop Whips a Frenzy

One thing about the King of Punk, there is experience, longevity and a surprising dose of humility as his set came at sunset on the Lawn Stage. #IggyPop has come off a wildly successful run touring with Josh Homme for Post Pop Depression.

Iggy’s Career

He opened by running on stage and drawing in the crowd with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” a song that has endured throughout a 50-year career.  Iggy’s work may have been misunderstood in the day, but one trademark about a good song – it endures the test of time.

Iggy Pop – Photo by Donna Balancia

Search and Destroy

Iggy’s music may not have been understood when he was in his teens and 20s mainly because there was no frame of reference to anything like it.  Now today with YouTube, he has achieved worldwide acclaim and praise from big bands who draw on him as their inspiration.

Iggy Pop shows ’em how it’s done – Photo by Donna Balancia

Inspiring Iggy

And inspire he did as he sang an impassioned hour-long set, sweating, spitting, falling down on stage, whipping the floor, throwing the mic stand, putting the microphone in his pants,  and, well … just being Iggy.  The crowd of surfers and moshers left their black and blue marks on many in the aftermath of Iggy’s tight music, which ranged from Stooges songs to the David Bowie-produced selections off The Idiot.

Iggy in the prime of his career – Photo by Donna Balancia

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman, the local LA band with crossover appeal, really played their hearts out to their thousands of adoring fans. With Bardo and the crew, it’s always a classy affair that draws an enormous crowd. The band has grown so popular they’ve been running meet-and-greet events after their performances.

Video courtesy of Alex Pena

Chicano Batman shows love to the audience – Photo by Donna Balancia

Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels brought the fans and didn’t disappoint. Their infamous music and stage presence is well earned and they build new followers by the dozens.

Check out Run The Jewels video courtesy of EdNLA:

Mainstream Performers

Not to be overlooked are the performances that earned mainstream media attention.

When you have a famous sister and you ate seeking your own path, what better way to be noticed than to do a local festival. Often. Solange is no stranger to the annual July festival.

“Her performance is great and I love her songs,” said Elvia Martinez of Silverlake. “She is different than Beyonce.”

Check out Solange video, courtesy of Prestoff2000

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott brought her girl power crew of supporters and fans, she’s a survivor.

Video courtesy of EdNLA:


As far as productions go, #FlyingLotus #Bjork and Nine Inch Nails took the honors from fest goers for most amazing and mind-blowing experiences:

Flying Lotus

Video courtesy Joan Jetsetter, Bruno Pritchard (warning: pulsating light)



Bjork never disappoints and this time around, the Icelandic talent outdid herself complete with full orchestra.   Video courtesy of Prestoff2000


Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails, while giving a taste of new songs, did not finish with the now infamous David Bowie song “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” but performed it in the middle of a great mix of old and new tunes. The #NIN version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” by Bowie was hardly upbeat as the song comes from Black Star, the album Bowie created while dying.

It was worth the three year wait to see Trent Reznor show his stuff as the frontman of a band that has always been known for dynamic performances and intriguing musical dynamic.


Ending Fest on a Downer

#NiN actually wrapped up the night with “Hurt,” the ultimate downer tune covered by Johnny Cash. That was the encore.

(If you really want bizarre Check out the perverted Kermit The Frog version of “Hurt” on YouTube.

In any event, the last note of the festival was fitting for an event that has enjoyed many years of attendance, with a local LA flavor that may or may not be a taste for the masses.



UK Music Producer Kevin Armstrong Talks Playing FYF Fest and Lucky ‘Second Chance’ With Iggy Pop

An FYF Edition of The California Rocker Q and A


Kevin Armstrong has played with some of the most creative and and famous frontmen in music. He worked with not only David Bowie, but he has performed and led the bands for Thomas Dolby, Sinead O’Connor, and now he has reunited with Iggy Pop, with whom he worked during the Blah Blah Blah years in the mid-1980s.  Three years in, and with an FYF Fest performance tonight, Kevin sat down with editor Donna Balancia to answer the important questions about music.

CR: Kevin, how did you reconnect with Iggy Pop and get back with the band?

KA: It started with a guy named Tom Wilcox, who used to run a gallery in London, he got involved in ICA, a music and arts place. He indulges his fantasies with events, and he gets private and public arts money to put them on. He phoned me and said, ‘It’s the 25th anniversary of Blah Blah Blah would you like to do a semi tribute thing?’  I said yeah I would. I did it, Iggy was watching on the Internet.

KA: I actually contacted Henry McGroggan, Iggy’s manager, and said ‘I’m doing a Blah Blah Blah tribute, would Iggy give his blessing. Henry said yes and “We’ll keep an eye on it.” I said as an aside, “And if you ever need another guitarist, I’m available, ha ha,” and ended the phone call. A year later I get a call from Henry out of the blue, he said “Ron and Scott have passed, The Stooges is over, but there are these shows in England with Foo Fighters at Wembley.” Of course that was an amazing call to get after 30 years. Here we are three years later, he’s digging the band, we’re digging him, it’s going well.

Kevin Armstrong says his parents encouraged his career - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin Armstrong says his parents encouraged his career – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What does working with Iggy again mean to you?

KA: I’ve done a lot of work with high level players like, David Bowie, Thomas Dolby, and it’s been a rare thing for me to revisit this work at this level. I knew I had unfinished business, but I never imagined it would be Iggy and this kind of thing. It’s a second chance to put together all the things you kick yourself for the first time around.

KA: I’ve kicked myself over things like on a basic level, guitar sound, since I didn’t know what I was doing back then. Now I know a lot more about that. Also your general attitude is different. I look at my younger self and think my behavior could have been better. When you’re older you don’t need to prove yourself any more. I’m glad I got a second chance to do this and heal some of the things I felt bad about. Working with Iggy Pop again is like having lightning strike twice and it’s a good feeling. It rarely happens.

CR: How did you react to the news of David Bowie’s death?

KA: David Bowie’s death was a shock. There were rumors. I’m friends with Brian Eno in London and we had discussed it on occasion, you know like ‘Have you seen David?’  There were rumors but I don’t think anyone really knew. It’s the loss of someone completely unique. The minute it was announced my phone started ringing and didn’t stop for two days.  They’d say “Do you want to talk about it?” and I said, “No.” Then as the day wore on it became clear how much he prepared himself through his work. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing it this way. Bowing out this way with an album at the top of the charts and leaving clues. I started to feel I would talk about it, about what an amazing guy he was.

Kevin Armstrong says he's lucky to have another chance to work with Iggy Pop - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin Armstrong says he’s lucky to have another chance to work with Iggy Pop, they’re pictured here at The Ritz – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What was your family like growing up?

KA: On my mother’s side, my grandfather was a drummer, my mother was an accomplished classical pianist. I think she could have had a career as a pianist. But my mom’s a weird person, I’d phone her up and tell her I’m playing with Iggy Pop and opening for a band called Metallica playing before 180,000 people this week in Mexico and she’d say “That’s nice, dear,” then I’d hear from my sister who’d say, “Mum’s really proud of you.”

KA: I’d like to say I consider myself very lucky because I’ve always gotten to do what I love to do. I believe people should do what you want to do. My dad said when I was 16 when I wanted to flunk out of school and join a band, normally your parents would say ‘You’ve got nothing to fall back on,’ my dad said, “Do it, son.” I’m very lucky.

CR: What advice would you give to artists on the way up?

KA: I had this conversation with a friend and he said, ‘If you can find a thousand people interested in what you do, and service them and get them to spend a hundred dollars a year on you, that’s $100,000 a year.’  You can become a tiny industry yourself if you have the energy to do it.

KA: The Internet has driven the quality of music down. John Peel, the DJ in London would play things nobody else would play. He had a strict rule he would not talk over the music. But even he, in the age of endless, by the yard monkey soundtracks made by one bloke and a computer, even he would start to talk over the music in the end. I think it’s better now. I hear a lot of good new artists.

KA: The musicians used to earn from record royalties, now there’s nothing there.  It’s swung back towards live music. It’s kind of done a complete flip, you used to make records to promote live tour, now you give music away to sell tickets. Live skills are really important. That’s why guys like Iggy are still going, that’s where the living is to be made.

Kevin with David Bowie - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin with David Bowie – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What are you working on?

KA: I’m doing lots of things. After this Iggy thing three of us in this band are doing a tour with Mike Garson, David Bowie’s  piano player, then immediately we’re doing a thing with Thomas Dolby. Then I’m the musical director of Gutterdammerung, the movie.

CR: Who is one of the most innovative musicians you’ve worked with?

KA: Thomas Dolby. One of the most innovative, he’s a professor at Johns Hopkins. He’s got a professorship and they gave him a budget to use a theater. He is one of the most innovative and clever musicians I’ve ever worked with and I’m about to work with him again.  I always learn something. I was talking to Earl Slick about being a sideman and the attitude is, the best thing you can do is anything you go into, you can learn something from it. Whether it is to unlearn something you know or learn something. With Thomas I always learn something.

Paul McAlpine photo of Iggy Pop and Kevin Armstrong

Paul McAlpine photo of Iggy Pop and Kevin Armstrong

CR: How does a bandleader and side man work with a dynamic frontman?

KA: You start with examining the work they’ve done. You ask, what makes it good? For instance doing Iggy this time around I figured early on, that what people want to see in my opinion when they buy a ticket, is they want to see the music done right. It’s not Karaoke. Do we want to try recapture the music, and examine what’s good about the record and bring it into the live performance, get girls dancing, get everyone enjoying it. I felt it was up to me to say that to him.  Slow the tempos, make it good, don’t run away with it and respect the original work. For him that’s a big spectrum because he’s an artist who quite uniquely straddles America and Europe. The Stooges are American, yet The Idiot and Lust For Life were part European albums. It’s quite a range of material.

KA: It’s about communication. This time it’s working well. We’re doing quite a lot of Stooges, we’re doing the later stuff and there’s the great record with Josh Homme, Post Pop Depression. We play “Gardenia,” “Break Into Your Heart” and “Sunday.”

CR: What is on the horizon?

KA:  I have a studio at home, but increasingly in the most recent years, I’m less inclined to sit at a computer. I have my projects and I will continue to play live. While I’m still kicking and breathing, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.

Check out the Kevin Armstrong website.

Video courtesy of J.T. Jasinski

VIDEO: Iggy Pop Classic, ‘The Idiot’ Celebrates 40th Anniversary, And Here’s How It All Came About


In honor of the 40th anniversary of The Idiot, the famous collaboration between Iggy Pop and David Bowie, here is a video that tells the story of how the album was created. The Idiot was released 40 years ago this March 18.

Along with “Nightclubbing,” also on the track list are “Sister Midnight,” “Funtime,” “Dum Dum Boys,” “Tiny Girls” “Baby,” “Mass Production,” and one of Iggy’s first successful songs, “China Girl.”

Bowie enjoyed Iggy’s iconoclastic approach to music, Iggy recalled.

“Here was somebody very very talented and he wanted other outlets,” Iggy said in the video embedded here.  “There were certain things he was able do with me he chose not to do under his own flag. He wrote the music to ‘Nightclubbing,’ and I got very excited and I insisted I write a lyric to that. It wasn’t at all rock. In that case we used a drum machine and at first he said ‘That doesn’t sound professional enough,’ I said, ‘Yes it does it’s good enough for me. I’m only Iggy f***ing Pop.'”

David Bowie in Mexico City: Photog Fernando Aceves Captures ‘The Chameleon’ in Forest Lawn Exhibit

Bowie in Mexico City By Fernando Aceves


David Bowie loved Mexico City and back in 1997, he spent three days with photographer Fernando Aceves touring the city’s historic museums and the pyramids.

Aceves documented the Bowie tour of Mexico City and brings his remarkable photo gallery, David Bowie: Among The Mexican Masters to Forest Lawn Museum.  The exihibit runs from tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 27, through June 15.

Image of David Bowie © Fernando Aceves - courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Image of David Bowie © Fernando Aceves – courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Bowie In Mexico City

“David’s personality inspired me,” said Aceves, a well-known rock and roll photographer based in Mexico City. “I was always a fan of David’s growing up in Mexico City, but I was more a familiar with his acting like in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Bowie played his first and only show in Mexico City on October 23, 1997 at the Foro Sol during the world tour to promote his Earthling album. Aceves got the great opportunity to accompany Bowie when the concert promoter asked Aceves to help make Bowie’s tour of Mexico City a success.

David Bowie in Mexican City Masters is on display at Forest Lawn Museum through June - Photos © Fernando Aceves courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

David Bowie and The Mexican Masters is on display at Forest Lawn Museum through June – Photos © Fernando Aceves courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Observing The Masters

The exhibit is revealing, showing a side of the performer mingling with locals, enjoying his tour and taking in the culture. In the images, Bowie blows a conch shell, tours the pyramids and observes the master painters with reverence.

“This exhibit shows the down-to-earth man who felt strong admiration and respect for other cultures from around the world,” said Ana Pescador, director of Forest Lawn Museum. “With David Bowie as their tour guide, we are excited to take visitors on an inspirational tour of Mexico.”

David Bowie In Mexico City: He interacted with the people and observed the culture' said photographer Fernando Aceves - Photo courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

‘David interacted with the people and observed the culture’ said photographer Fernando Aceves – Photo courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum

Sharing: Bowie in Mexico City Culture

“This is a great opportunity and part of our mission to share the culture of Mexico,” said Rodolfo Saenz, senior vice president of marketing at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries. “It’s the 1-year anniversary of David Bowie’s passing and we wanted to celebrate his life and legend.

As the two men toured around Mexico City, David would admire the works of such masters as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo while Aceves would casually document the adventure.

David had a wry sense of humor in his approach - Photo © Fernando Aceves

David had a wry sense of humor in his approach – Photo © Fernando Aceves

David Bowie Fitting In

“He would fit into the paintings while he admired them,” Aceves said. “I was as casual as we could be and I never use a flashbulb. David would say, ‘My man doesn’t need any flash.'”

Bowie was on a mission, Aceves said.

“David had many marks in his Mexico guidebook,” Aceves said. “He wanted to write an article for Modern Painter and wanted to see the works of the masters. I don’t think the article was ever published.

“We went to the pyramids and the Palace of Fine Art,” Aceves said.  “He looked at the paintings with great respect. Mostly he observed in silence. I understand why they called him the chameleon. Like with the Diego Rivera painting, he fit into the painting.”

bowie-13-balancia-forest (1 of 1)

David Bowie photo exhibit runs through June at Forest Lawn Museum – All photos © Fernando Aceves

‘Actor In a Movie’

“He called me the ‘smudger’ and he referred to himself in the third person,” Aceves said. “He would say ‘You’re taking David to Mexico City.’ He was aware of the character.”

What is the secret to getting such insightful photos?

“I photographed him as an actor in a movie,” Aceves said. “I had to work as simple as the man.”

%d bloggers like this: