The winner of Five Thirty Eight’s “Burrito Bracket” was crowned today and it was none other than my neighbor down the hill, La Taqueria in San Francisco. To have an idea of how meticulous this challenge was for correspondent Anna Barry-Jester, 67,391 establishments were evaluated and 64 were chosen for Jester’s cross country road trip. In the end, my local haunt was the winner and after seeing my Twitter feed dominated by burrito shout-outs, I decided to make my way down the hill (it’d be rude not to.)
While I expected a massive line of techies and scenesters who wanted to instantly get a taste of America’s best burrito, the line was super tempered and it felt like just another lunch hour at La Taqueria.
I ordered the go-to carnitas burrito Dorado style (rolled on the grill for a bit after it’s complete):
I made sure to congratulate the staff (I’m kind of a regular) and snapped a photo of two burritos just before they were rolled to capture what 538 called “A technical marvel”:
I will say that the carne asada burritos that were on the line after these looked far meatier, but I ultimately have no complaints with the amount of carnitas in my burrito. Here’s an inside look:
Also, the thing that I didn’t see talked about enough on the 538 coverage, was the heavenly green salsa they have. It’s one of the most perfect blends of spicy and flavorful smooth salsas I’ve ever had. I recommend using it liberally:
If I had one knock on this particular trip, it’s that my burrito fell apart towards the end, but I can probably attribute that to my own user error in unravelling the foil to take the 3rd photo on this post and then wrapping it back up like shit:
Lastly, La Taqueira’s owner Miguel Jara claims that “The atmosphere at the taqueria makes for a better tasting burrito.” And he’s not entirely wrong. There’s always a different slew of Mexican musicians in there playing and on this particular day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the musician get this many tips. EVERY table gave him multiple dollars. He killed it.
And there you have it folks. America’s best burrito is officially at La Taqueria in San Francisco, even though their tacos are better (but you didn’t hear that from me.)
On Labor Day, the legendary Hieroglyphics crew put on their 3rd annual Hiero Day festival. Twas a day of hip-hop, food, beer, Hiero and Oakland. The Hieroglyphics closing performance featured all the hits (like “You Never Knew” and “Oakland Blackouts”), Deltron 3030 played a surprise 30 minute set before it and Adrian Younge, fresh off producing Souls of Mischief’s There Is Only Now, low-key almost stole the show with a dazzling DJ set, dropping so many classic funk/soul breaks that it brought the real hip-hoppers to their knees. But enough details, cause the story of Hiero Day 2014 is best told through the T-Shirts of the festival-goers:
That was it. Did you remember it? Outside Lands Festival came and went with a bang. San Francisco’s signature festival was nothing short of incredible….again. Shouts to OSL for giving us another weekend filled with music, food, friends, dancing, bad decisions, lots of beer and simply feeling like you were in San Francisco for every second of it. There were highlights galore and below, you’ll see my take on the Best Moments. Hope you had as much fun as i did!
Best 80’s Movie Character Appearance – Chunk from The Goonies at The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips had it all….Mushrooms, rainbows, butterflies, someone in a sun suit, Wayne Coyne’s signature trek into the crowd in a plastic bubble, a cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” lights on lights on lights on lights and someone in the crowd holding up a picture of Chunk from The Goonies.
Best Closing Song of a Set – Haim “Let Me Go”
Talk about a polished band…The Haim sisters were super tight on every track, hyped the crowd while showing their own individual personalities (they even dropped some “F Bombs”…Gasp! Ok….it was mostly Este) but nothing hit home quite like their closing performance of “Let Me Go.” Easily the most intricate track on the record, even the unique echoey re-verb was coming through. Spot on girls!
Best Sing-A-Long Moment – Death Cab For Cutie “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”
Latch on to whoever is next to you, sway and sing-a-long to Ben Gibbard’s beautiful poetry. Dude is one of the best rock stars in the game. Toggling from keyboards to guitars and from power vocals to soft lullabies like this one.
Best Dance Moves – Killer Mike (Run The Jewels)
“I wake up every morning laughing about this shit!” — El-P
Best Surprise – Atmosphere performs “God’s Bathroom Floor”
Wow…just wow…i rolled up into the biggest crowd i’d seen at the Sutro stage since 2012 when The Alabama Shakes played to Slug belting the chorus of “Scapegoat” from 1997’s seminal Overcast!. I ran into my college roommate and we listened to “God Loves Ugly”, moseyed further back with some other friends when to my absolutely pleasant surprise, Slug proclaims “We’re gonna play a cut from way back in 1995..called ‘God’s. Bathroom. Floor!'” I almost lost my shit, but instead raced my way towards the front, singing along with Slug. As i got closer to the stage, i made eye contact with another festival buddy from earlier that weekend and we were both belting the chorus “touched…hazy…god…change….rush…floor…life…veins!” The song ended, we laughed, hugged and just kinda processed that moment…We had the same connection with Slug, who if you were in tune to underground hip-hop in the late 90’s was “that other white rapper” (besides Eminem.) He represented a fork in the road for hip-hop heads…the one’s who went with Eminem, seemingly began to gravitate towards what was soon becoming the mainstream sound. The one’s who went with Atmosphere went underground, DEEP underground, to revere a tiny label out of Minnesota called Rhymesayers Entertainment. The rest is hip-hop history.
My buddy Christian made a mash-up video of this track with clips from Trainspotting. If you’re a fan of either/both Atmosphere and Trainspotting, it’s a must watch. See it here.
Best “If You Didn’t Know Me Before, You Certainly Do Now!” Band – Lucius
Everything Ecstatic touted Lucius as one of “The 6 Under The Radar Acts you Must See at OSL” and after they belted a sublime version of “Go Home,” the crowd was in awe. Such vocal symbiosis is a rare breed and the Brooklyn-based band led by the gorgeous Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe wowed everyone with their hour long early afternoon set on Sunday.
Best Shirt – The Wire Bro
You know those listical shirts…where it’s just 4 or 5 names one after the other? (Is there a name for these btw??) This dude was sporting one with the name of every drug kingpin from the greatest TV drama of all-time, The Wire. He won.
Best Daft Punk Appearance – Pulp Fiction Mash-up on this dude’s shirt
Daft Punk and Pulp Fiction. Together at last (with a burrito to boot!)
Best Dressed – Tie-Dye Morph Suit Couple
Super cool kids that were close to us for the Flaming Lips. They even offered me 2 hits of acid, but at 6pm on Sunday, i was past the point of no return for that kind of a trip. Props on those morph suits. They aint cheap either!
Best Indicator of Where Your Friends Are in the Crowd – Pink Hobo Satchel
Ryan Chisolm, American hero. “I’mma hold this thing up all day!” and we always found him. Props.
Best Headliner – Kanye West
Not sure how to sum up this amazingness in one short blurb (hence i’m writing a piece for GrungeCake.com on it later this week), but dammit did this dude kill it! Positioning ourselves early to get to watch Kanye in the flesh instead of on jumbo screens was a great call (and it sounded better too). He played every hit (including “Blood On The Leaves” three times!) and simply commanded the crowd like no other. “All of The Lights” was the clear winner, perfectly punctuated at every turn. No matter the demographic of the festival-goer, they were hanging on his every word, bouncing to every beat and rappin’ along to every chorus. He sprinkled in a few of his signature rants and was his usual genuine self…That’s right, Kanye believes everything he says. He aims not just to entertain, but also to inspire and build self-confidence. “If you’re a fan of me, you’re really just a fan of yourself!” You can’t bullshit that kind of statement. [puts diamond in the sky]
Best Nirvana Impression (aka “The No Fucks Given Award”) – Courtney Barnett (video)
There was noone i was more excited and intrigued to see this weekend than Barnett and i left with such a better understanding of her as an artist. There was really no better comparison than Nirvana. She sang, headbanged, absolutely shredded on the guitar and frequently staggered across the stage while playing a frenzy of nasty guitar riffs. She was such a grungy punk up there and it was refreshing. The set itself was mad under-attended, but it’s gems like these that make the Panhandle stage such a wonderful place to discover new music and get super close to the artist.
Best Festival Version of a Song – Disclosure’s “What’s In Your Head”
I remember the first time i heard this track in 2012 and was like “Who the fuck are these guys?” It was the track that indicated how much they understood the direction of electronic music and they’ve come a loooong way in 2 years. They drew “What’s In Your Head” out to an extended version and it was the marquee moment for a set that sadly, didn’t feature any of the singers from their album Settle.
Best Performance By A Sound-Booth – Holy Ghost!
I have a saying when the sound of a set is this good and that’s “the soundguy pitched a no-hitter.” Every note was on point, you could really feel that the sound the band was trying to push out there was coming across as they intended. A great hype up set for Friday too, where the Lands End stage was the place to be all day long.
My affinity for the Ghostly International Label is well-documented and Gold Panda is a perfect example of why i love just about everything that the avant-garde electronica & art label puts out. This was an electronica set with nods to the roots of the genre. The beats were intelligent and it made me wanna dance like i was in the drum and bass tent of a 2001 rave. Despite admitting that part of his set-up (“40%”) went kaput just before the show, Gold Panda managed to churn out a spectacular Sunday set on the Panhandle stage with what seemed to be as many tracks from 2010’s Lucky Shiner as there were from 2013’s Half of Where You Live. “Vanilla Minus”and “Snow & Taxis” were old school classics and he ended his set with “You” (the beat of which was later made famous by Charli XCX). In my ideal world, this is where i saw electronica evolving, not to where that other asshole who played the Twin Peaks Stage right after this took it. The set was beautiful in every sense of the word.
Best Small Stage to Big Stage Development – Local Natives
For the sheer fact that i remember seeing them play at tiny little Bottom of the Hill here in SF a few years ago and now here they were playing the main stage at Outside Lands. All who were there can agree that “Sun Hands” was the standout track of the set.
Best Food – The Little Chihuahua’s Carne Asada Fajita Burrito
Because it tasted just like it would have if i ordered it at one of their locations. My biggest issue with the food options at the Festival was that they were serving marginalized versions of their menus for the festival. Now, i can understand paring it down a bit, but Glaze served teriyaki bowls without veggies, explaining that “we normally do, but not this weekend” and the ramen burger from Nombe was nothing like the ramen burger i’d seen before, with a plump ramen bun. This burger had a thin ramen disc as a bun and just didn’t hit home. Fact is, as a restaurant, you come to the festival so people can experience your food and want to visit your establishment following the weekend and that seemed lost at some of the locations i hit up. The Little Chihuahua on the other hand, gets it. Shouts.
Best Faux Pas – Dude With A Brand New Backpack at Run The Jewels
Best Hay Ride – Boys Noize
Sitting on the hay bleachers at the Panhandle stage is a comfortable way to relax after a long day on your feet. And then you jolt your nerves with powerful electro vibes from the German DJ/Producer Boys Noize (He’s REALLY German.)
Best Set to Only Hear One Song Of – Cut Copy
Cut Copy is a great band and highly responsible for furthering the electro-pop movement (ahem…and LCD Soundsystem…ahem…and Hot Chip), but their new record Free Your Mind is pitiful. While the luster of the first three records is gone on their most recent effort, approaching the edges of the Twin Peaks stage to hear them close out their set with the classic “Out There On The Ice” was everything that made that band significant.
Lyft’s were surprisingly easy to catch at around 1pm on all three days and the drivers were in good spirits. My Saturday driver, Willie was playing Miles Davis in the car and waxing philosophical on the way to the festival about one of the most classic yet progressive musicians of all time was so fitting. It took away all the stress of getting to where you’re going in the city. Shouts to the pink mustache!
Best Celebrity Tweet From The Festival – Patrick Stewart
Outside Lands has quickly become Northern California’s largest music fest and the glorious weekend is upon us. Peeps are chattering about heavyweights like Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Death Cab for Cutie, Tom Petty, etc, etc, etc… But there’s a slew of artists on the flyer in a smaller font size that are worth an hour of your weekend. Check it:
6. Lucius – Sunday, Sutro Stage, 2:30 – 3:20
The Brooklyn band is led by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who despite looking calculatedly stylish and similar when performing, are not sisters. Their 2013 Wildewoman (One of my favorite albums of last year) is packed with a unique energy that comes alive on stage. Blast “Nothing Ordinary” and i dare you not to feel the uncontrollable urge to jump up from your seat and dance when the chorus drops. They’ll likely be starting off my lazy Sunday. Get there!
Fun Fact: Holly and Jess provided the vocals on the album recording of San Fermin’s brilliant single, “Sonsick.”
5. Deer Tick – Saturday, Sutro Stage 4:00-5:00
The sound of Americana comes from Providence, Rhode Island…Well, at least as far as Deer Tick is concerned. These bluesy rockers were all over the soundtrack for Hall Pass, written by fellow sons of Providence, the Farrelly Brothers (not their best movie bee tee dubs). But there is indeed something so American about their sound…Be it their epic record Born on Flag Day or singer John Macauley’s labeling the band as “drunk buffoons” when they’re on stage. Go to hear “Easy” and stay to hear jams off of 2013’s Negativity and maybe you can tell me why i think they might be the embodiment of the fictional band Stillwater from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.
4. Gardens & Villa – Sunday, Panhandle Stage, 5:55-635
The Santa Barbara based band just put out the follow-up to a masterful 2011 self-titled debut that stood out with beautifully written and arranged tracks like “Black Hills” & “Star Fire Power.” On Dunes, they continue to explore the use of the flute and electronic waves like on “Bullet Train” and no track is as sublime as the synthy and bouncy “Colony Glen.”
Fun Fact: You can buy your very own Gardens & Villa flute here!
3. Gold Panda – Sunday, Panhandle Stage 7:40-8:25
Do you not give a shit about Tiesto? Think the Killers are just overhyped arena-rock? Cool..me too. We can all end our festival weekend together on Sunday night with what promises to be a spacey, yet lively closing set on the panhandle stage from Ghostly International’s Gold Panda. Avant-garde electronica fans might already be familiar with the London producer’s music, but you might know him best from the beat he produced for Charli XCX’s “You (Ha Ha Ha)”. Look to hear tracks from his 2013 release Half of Where You Live like “Junk City II” and my personal favorite “Brazil.” Gold Panda’s sounds are intelligent, interesting and memorable. The Panhandle stage is a treat of a venue for this set and best part is, when it’s over, you can make a smooth exit through Hellman Hollow to beat the crowds. You might even be able to get a cab or Lyft home that early!
2. El-P and Killer Mike (Run The Jewels) – Friday, Lands Ends Stage 215-305
Straight up, hip-hop like this doesn’t come around too much anymore. Last year’s show at the Independent was such a throwback to the heyday of hip hop: An El-P set, followed by a Killer Mike set and then a Run The Jewels set. The crowd fed off how much fun they were having on stage, everyone was bouncing, hands in the air and it felt for a moment that we were transported to the early 00’s. They’ve been taking the Run The Jewels on tour non-stop ever since, including playing Lollapalooza this past weekend where Rolling Stone attested to the “made for each other” vibe by dubbing them “The Best Hip-Hop Buddy Movie in the Making.” The project sees two of the fiercest rappers comin’ correct on the mic with the same flawless production that put El-P on the map in 2000.
Fun Fact: Run The Jewels 2 is nearly done and a teaser track titled “Blockbuster Night Part 1” was just released. Hear it here.
1. Courtney Barnett – Sunday, Panhandle Stage 4:20-5:00
Ok, full disclosure: The purpose of this post was just a ploy to get you to see Courtney Barnett. Here lies THE hidden gem of the festival. The Aussie singer-songwriter has been hitting the global festival circuit hard and she impresses with tongue-in-cheek jams like “Avant Gardener,” where she sings about the perils of leaving the house, egad! She’s clever as can be and plays guitar like a madwoman. She’s in the same breath as a contemporary like Sharon Van Etten, but sounds more like Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. Her 2013 release, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas is a can’t miss record and her set will surely be packed with just about every track off of it. Another fine act for the Panhandle stage, Barnett’s irresistibly cute and clever will be just what your mid-afternoon craves.
Fun Fact: Barnett covered the entire Kick album by fellow Aussie rockers INXS at Pure Pop Records’ “Summer of Classic Albums” show. She nailed it.
Here’s a handy dandy spotify playlist of tracks (only instrumentals for Run The Jewels) mentioned in this post and other by these artists to gear up for the Festival!
While my first post in 3 months should probably be about the new Daft Punk album leak that dropped today, i think i covered how i felt with my genuine music-gasm tweets as i listened to it for the first time earlier today. Instead, i want to talk about a sandwich….About how i truly feel like a free individual when i can hop in my car and drive to the Inner Richmond just to have a crispy duck vietnamese sandwich from Cafe Buhn Mi on Clement St…
Look you guys, everything about this sandwich is perfect. Eating it is a joyous experience from the first to the last bite. There’s generous strips of perfectly breaded crispy duck over a light spread of garlicky mayo. The vietnamese slaw and carrots give it that fresh crisp and the jalapeños sandwiched betwixt it all, kick up the spice of the sri racha (also one of God’s perfect creations) that i lather on once the sando is in front of me. The roll has the right amount of crisp and just adds to the theme of “crispy” duck. You see…it’s not just the duck that’s crispy. It’s the bread, the slaw AND the duck. Good god. And there’s this sweet duck sauce that just mixes so well with the garlic mayo. This is a top 5 sandwich in SF, perhaps of all time and easily #1 in the vietnamese category.
It’s not often that a sandwich makes me feel this way. Where once you’re eating it, all you can think about is how perfect of a creation this is and once you’re done, all is good in the world. This is the sandwich that makes me feel free, it’s the sandwich that reminds me of what a beautiful place the world is. It could bring peace to the world, but i’m not sure if we’ve tried that strategy yet…. I love you crispy duck sandwich from Cafe Buhn Mi!
So in a desperate attempt to wake up the creative juices that give rise to an ‘Everything Ecstatic’ post, I’m posting a link to a Podcast that i was a guest on this week, with the good people at the EastBay Sports-Centric, Section925.com.
My good pal Connor Buestad invited me on to talk about the great Mike Trout, The AL West Wild Card race, Dwight Howard’s arrival in Los Angeles, my beloved Oakland Raiders and ultimately bring the SoCal perspective to his NorCal fan base. It was good fun and you can hear Connor and myself doing our best BS Report impression here: