Jay Buchanan, slaying on night one of Music Tastes Good. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
The traffic of people streaming through the gates on day one of Music Tastes Good on Friday halted at times, a sure sign of first-time kinks for a festival of its scale and magnitude in Long Beach.
So two of us reporters at the Post didn’t feel like we were missing too much when we picked up drinks and waited next to the band trailers to talk to Long Beach’s own son, Jay Buchanan of Rival Sons early in the evening. Buchanan, outfitted in a leather jacket with his long beard and long hair, calmly acknowledged us after finishing an interview with another reporter.
The Post had the chance to chat with him exactly one day after Rival Sons opened for Black Sabbath at the Hollywood Bowl—a pivotal moment for the group.
“The Hollywood Bowl’s incredible. I got to play the Hollywood Bowl opening for Black Sabbath,” said Buchanan, incredulous. “It’s pretty incomprehensible. You’ve just got to lock it in the vault. Put it over there with, I don’t know, the first time you had sex, or your first kiss, or whatever.”
He was relaxed and happy to talk about all things Long Beach, waxing nostalgic on the days when rent was cheaper and artists had what he considered more freedom in the city.
Perhaps his affinity for all things Long Beach was because—though he recently moved to Nashville—Long Beach was Buchanan’s home for 18 years, a place he said still feels like home.
“There is an exceptional amount of support and sense of community in Long Beach,” said Buchanan. “We’re the Brooklyn of LA—we’ve got our own thing here. Long Beach is its own island.”
An island in terms of diversity, especially diversity of sound, which Music Tastes Good chose to capitalize on, booking performers ranging from rap and hip hop to alt rock and more.
“They have chops,” said Buchanan of the city’s artists. “The level of commitment and artistry of so many different bands, from singer-songwriter to funk to rap and rap and hip hop. It was just fertile to me.”
He said he’s happy about some of the change in the city, but not all of it has been good for young bands, in his opinion.
“The economy has priced out—if you’re a starving artist in the late teens or early 20s, all of the cool flats and all of the cool spots aren’t there anymore. They got priced out. And that’s one huge complaint about Long Beach.The Arts Council gives grants to artists, which is great, but at the same time artists can be misguided and lazy and not really know how to interface with institutions like that, you know, it can be tough.”
That, coupled with noise ordinances and a lack of venues made performing in the city difficult, and, according to Buchanan, contributed to the standout nature of Alex’s Bar for making it so many years.
“There is a lack of venues here that the city would always shut down,” said Buchanan, noting that Alex’s Bar is an exception, a testament to persistence and dedication.
Still, Buchanan was all about Long Beach. And very enthusiastic about Music Tastes Good, making it a scheduling priority, which can “always be daunting.”
He called the late curator Josh Fischel a "lightning rod" for inspiration in the city, urging others to "think outside the box."
"Each time someone steps out and has the idea for something new...I think that's what Long Beach is all about," said Buchanan. "It takes so much work, booking talent and getting things going. But it'll also get you pretty high."
For all his love, though, why did Buchanan write a song dedicated to Los Angeles (“Burn Down Los Angeles”) and not the beloved LBC?
“I love Long Beach, I don’t love Los Angeles,” he patiently explained. “Going to Los Angeles—it just drains me. It’s just such a different vibe, such a different scene.”
When it came to his move, Buchanan said his decision was a tough one, “because it holds such promise,” but the music scene of Nashville and access to other artists became too appealing to resist.
Yet, despite his move, Buchanan assured the Post he’d be returning often—a relief, as their set provided a climax to the first night, with nonstop screaming from a flood of fans.
Stephanie Rivera contributed to this report.