Words & Photos by Greg Jacobs
This was the first of what I hope will be an annual event in the streets of downtown Long Beach. The eclectic lineup had something for everyone, from The Specials to The Melvins, Vintage Trouble to Squeeze, Deltron 3030 to Iron and Wine. Four stages spaced out within the East Village of Downtown Long Beach placed far enough apart to spread the crowd out but not so far as to make you want to hail an Uber to get from one to the next.
My day started with Metz – a high energy three-piece, noisy and aggressive band. I’d like to see them again in a sweaty rock club.
I then headed over to the stage next door to see Vintage Trouble – I had never heard them and was only going to say hi to a friend. I’m glad I did as Vintage Trouble were my biggest surprise of the festival. Their set was infectious and potent rock and soul. The singer had that charisma that doesn’t allow you to take your eyes off of him. He demands attention and deserves it. Broaden your horizons and go see this band.
Squeeze followed Vintage Trouble on my personal schedule. I’ve got a soft spot for Squeeze. I love them. When I was a kid living with my parents, Squeeze’s Argybargy was the record I would put on after my parents got fed up with TSOL blaring from my bedroom. Glenn Tilbrook’s voice is still solid and absolutely makes Squeeze what they are/were, but the set was a little lackluster. Sure, they played all of the songs I wanted to hear and played them well, but they were a little robotic and kind of just going through the motions. They didn’t appear to be having much fun. Some of the live videos of this show I’ve seen on social media have made me re-think my “lackluster” comment, but I stand by it.
Next up – The Melvins. The Melvins might as well have been standing on stage with laser guns, melting people’s faces off. They were awesome. The times I’ve seen them in the past, they were a slow ultra-heavy dirge – think Black Sabbath but slower and heavier. That’s right, I said heavier. But this night, the influence of Steven Shane MacDonald (OFF, Red Kross) on bass was evident in their set. They played a set of faster songs and even included a KISS cover (“Strutter”) that Steven sang. My ears are still ringing from this set, and I wore earplugs.
Finally, we made it over to the main stage to see The Specials close out the night. Purist will say “No Jerry Dammers, No Specials” I say, hogwash. The Specials’ sound is framed by Horace Panter’s bass lines, which are as solid as ever, and Lynval Golding on guitar who was the most animated and vocal of the bunch, highlighting Terry Hall’s laid back vocals which are still spot on. They played all of the hits, “Monkey Man,” “Ghost Town,” “Rat Race,” “Nite Klub,” even dedicating “Message to You Rudy” to Donald Trump. This was a great set to close out our day at Music Tastes Good.
Several people have asked me … Was it worth the $75 ticket price? And my answer is: I got in free. But seriously, yes, I think it was worth the price of admission. It was a fun experience in downtown Long Beach. There were bands for almost every musical taste and great food and drink options as well. I’d do it again, even if I didn’t get in free.