The first thing I noticed as I walked into the third annual Festival Supreme, at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on the USC campus, was the air conditioning. I noticed it from the zig-zagging line to enter and immediately thought this would be a much different experience than I anticipated: there would be a reprieve from the 100-degree weather outside. I had thought myself destined to suffer heat and humidity the entire day long like Jack Black’s character in Tropic Thunder. Alas, Festival Supreme attendees were spared by the A/C Gods.
As I walked into the main hall upon entering the festival, Toby Huss (Pete & Pete, King Of The Hill) was beginning a refreshing jazz rendition of “California Uber Alles” by the Dead Kennedys. A large neon sign mimicking the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign caught my attention, instead reading “Welcome To Festival Supreme.” I made my way through the air conditioned theater and into a parking lot baking in the sun, where food trucks lined an alley offering $6 tacos and $13 vegetarian options.
The One and Only PPL MOVR came as advertised. I think they knocked me into a different dimension for a split second with their loud pounding music. This band of ancient species rocked hard with moving riffs. SNWBLL, K-PO, and Q ensured their human members stayed on point through a hard-hitting set much enjoyed by the small yet growing crowd.
Back in the air-conditioned Karma Chameleon Stage, Dan Harmon hosted his podcast “Harmonlive.” I can only imagine this is the first festival from which a podcast broadcasted live as part of the festival. Soon thereafter in the theater, Puddles Pity Party exhibited Puddles the sad clown. He sang somber love songs in Spanish and English. Later, Puddles could be seen rocking out to Rocket From The Crypt, where he was still doing just so-so. The Karma Chameleon Stage was packed the entire day, in part thanks to the talented list of entertainers and the A/C.
Also on the Karma Chameleon Stage, Nathan Fielder screened “Nathan For You” which premieres on Comedy Central this week, and Amy Poehler played a caricature of an Amy Poehler from an alternative universe – one more cynical and politically active. She stood on stage smoking a mock joint and discussed the truth she was speaking on her nationwide tour before inviting somebody out from the audience so she and Jack Black could sing them a song.
Neil Hamburger told some good jokes: “What do Ocean’s 13 and 2Pac have in common?” he asked. The crowd replied: “What?”
“They both were shot in Vegas,” Hamburger riposted.
Aubrey Plaza walked off the stage after leading the crowd in a seemingly cathartic chant, “We’re all going to die, we’re all going to die” on the Karma Chameleon stage. Outside around the same time, Big Freedia led a mass-twerk off, where after Henry Rollins discussed why he was in the movie Jack Frost, citing his strong work ethic. “I want to be very busy my entire life; then I want to die.” He was on the smaller Komodo Dragon stage where acts like Nick Thune, Andrew W.K, and Dan Deacon performed throughout the day and night.
Rocket From The Crypt’s Jon Reis made it be known they were from San Diego multiple times, playing a diverse set from throughout their discography. The San Diego band’s leader, Jon Reis, mentioned how, for him, playing parking lots was stressful. He pulled a clock from the side of the stage and showed the crowd. “There’s a fucking clock counting down; that’s stressful.” The San Diego band continued their set, going over by three minutes and ultimately the sound guy pulled the plug before they stopped. “There’s an ulterior motive here for us,” the music veteran said, “We don’t really give a shit what you think. We just want to play.”
Tenacious D played a set of eclectic jazz from 8:00 pm-8:30 pm in The Jesus Lizard Lounge, which was set up in the main auditorium. Before walking out onto stage, Jack Black repeated “Fuck the jazz gods” into the PA. This was likely one of the better attended and well-executed performances of the day, featuring a classic mix of jazz selection with a dash of comedy.
Everyone knows The Darkness, and the crowd was excited to see this band who flew out to Los Angeles from England for Festival Supreme. At the very least, the crowd was stoked to hear “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” live and the band did not disappoint, sounding energized as if they had not played the tune countless times before.
Headliners Die Antwoord, who also came to the United States solely for Festival Supreme, packed a punch. I did not know what to expect from their live performance, but the experience was body shaking. Literally. The band’s bass bumped so loud it knocked my back into alignment. The South Africans were full of energy and brought up the mood of a crowd that had been at the event since the early afternoon. The group’s set was easily the best attended of the day. A flux in college students seemed to pile into the festival into the evening and night. They played all of the songs and created the feel of a happening and at-capacity dance club. All around, men and women moved their hips and danced to the group’s hypnotic beats.
Halfway through the group’s set, Jack Black came on stage to lead a song with his acoustic guitar about how big Die Antwoord rapper Ninja’s penis is. As the set came to a roaring end, Yolandi Vi$$er moved both of her hands through the air over her head as if to create a rainbow and said slowly in her high-pitched voice: “Beeee Happpppy,” putting a spell over the crowd. Then she jumped off stage repeating, “pew!” into the microphone, as she does.
And with that the event came to a close. Hacked covered it thinking there would be more of a podcast element to the festival, but the lack thereof didn’t matter. Being out in the sun for a good ole’ fashion festival was just what the doctor ordered. Having brought together a diverse group of artists, musicians, actors and actresses, Festival Supreme was a mix of Comic-Con and Coachella, sans the strict security and corporate gloss. I look forward to what the festival has store in 2016.
Images from the writer and Shutterstock.
Eidoo Ethereum Wallet Takes Out Full Page Ad in WSJ to Troll J.P. Morgan
A Swiss-based Ethereum startup has taken out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal to troll J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who only last month called cryptocurrency a “fraud.”
Eidoo Launches Digital Wallet
Eidoo took out the ad on Wednesday, the same day it launched its digital currency wallet for users of Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. The company also plans to launch a debit card allowing people to spend ether and bitcoin.
The WSJ ad, which is a clear PR stunt ahead of the company’s launch, reads: “Maybe Jamie will fire you. But, you’ll be free to trade in the crypto-world.”
J.P. executive Jamie Dimon came under fire last month after declaring bitcoin a fraud. It later came to light that the Wall Street bank is trading bitcoin for clients.
“It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” Dimon said at a conference hosted Barclays. “Currencies have legal support. It will blow up.”
Dimon’s criticism was ill timed, and not just because his firm was facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. Well-known figures on Wall Street and beyond are starting to embrac blockchain technology. Chief among them is Goldman Sachs, which recently announced that it i considering a bitcoin trading operation.
Morgan Stanley CEO recently said cryptocurrency is “more than just a fad,” but didn’t disclose any plans to launch a trading operation. Like other banks? Morgan Stanley is exploring the potential of blockchain applications.
Cryptocurrency Market Regains Momentum
After a volatile month of September, the cryptocurrency asset class is once again attracting strong bids. The total market cap for all digital currencies is approaching $155 billion, with bitcoin accounting for more than half the total.
Ethereum briefly traded above $310 before paring gains all the way back down to $300 where it currently sits.
Digital currency wallets like Eidoo have grown in popularity as investors look to safeguard their tokens from cyber breaches.
Apple CEO Tim Cook Wants Augmented and Virtual Reality Tech to “Encourage” Human Contact
So far, Apple has been the slowest of the big boys to getting an augmented or virtual reality product to market. The company’s iPhone is the single most popular smart phone on the planet and its computer products enjoy relative popularity (in early 2014, they were almost 9% of the market, a quadrupling from turn-of-the-century numbers). On a trip to Tokyo this week, CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed that he believes there is “no substitute for human contact. And so you want the technology to encourage that.”
Cook also said he thinks augmented reality can be “huge.” And if the numbers from the recent phenomenon of Pokémon Go are any indication, he’s absolutely right. Apple’s various platforms add up to a big opportunity, but their phones in particular could pave the way for the company making a serious play in the augmented and virtual reality space.
In many ways, modern humans are already experiencing many of the things previously only dreamed of in science fiction. One can walk down the street and have a video call with someone a thousand miles away. Perhaps the next step on this path will be the spectre of hologram calls. Back in 2013, Skype told the BBC that it was already capable of as much. Apple would certainly make waves if it were the first major platform to make this Star Wars-esque technology an everyday reality.
Other potential exists on the hologram front. Video entertainment and gaming could reach a whole new level. The Apple TV is one of the less successful ventures the company has ever launched, but the advent of holographic television shows taking place in one’s living room might revive interest.
Apple has made a number of acquisitions that point in the direction of holographic, augmented, and virtual reality technology. The company which created the original Microsoft Xbox Kinect sensors, PrimeSense, is now owned by Apple, along with Faceshift, who provided real-time motion capturing for Star Wars productions. The two main reasons to acquire a company are either to stop it from competing with you or to make use of its assets, and Apple presently has no major dog in the augmented reality/virtual reality fight. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that somewhere in Cupertino, someone is working on something for the future.
Cook also said that he doesn’t think virtual reality is as “broad-based” as augmented reality. The company has been in meetings with immersive technology companies such as Jaunt, a company which makes films compatible with virtual reality technology. Cook seems most interested in the communication aspect of AR and VR, saying that conversations could be made more productive.
I think that things like these are better when they’re incorporated without becoming a barrier to our talking. You want the technology to amplify it, not to be a barrier.
Perhaps Cook, like many, fears a future of people walking around with helmets, totally immune to their surroundings, and would rather find ways to boost traditional communication and technological capabilities. More of a Google Glass than an Oculus approach to the thing, as it were. In any case, it does seem that virtual reality, augmented reality, and even holographic communications are just around the bend for consumers.
It’s important to remember that just a decade ago, a smart phone in every pocket was hard to imagine, so the rise of these technologies could happen faster than anyone expects. The success of Pokémon Go was only a preview of things to come.
Images from Shutterstock.
KickassTorrents Domains Seized, Alleged Owner Arrested
The world’s largest torrent website has been seized, with its alleged founder arrested by US authorities, in what is a comprehensive blow to the domain and the wider torrenting community.
Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national and the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, the largest torrent website in the world was arrested in Poland yesterday. The US Government is seeking his extradition.
Following his arrest, US authorities have charged Vaulin with criminal copyright infringement and have seized multiple domain names associated with the website.
The complete list of charges are:
- One count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement
- One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering
- Two counts of criminal copyright infringement
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R.Caldwell made the announcement, revealing that Vaulin had set up servers in multiple locations around the world and moved his domains several times due to several law enforcement seizures and lawsuits.
Vaulin is charged with running today’s most illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.
The criminal complaint against Vaulin alleges some intriguing numbers behind the world’s most popular torrent website.
- The website gained over 50 million unique visitors per month.
- It was also the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet
- Its net worth is estimated at over $54 million.
- Its annual advertising revenue was in the range of $12.5 million to $22.3 million.
- The website operated in nearly 28 languages.
Furthermore, the website was already ordered to be blocked by courts in various countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, the complaint alleged.
As things stand, KickassTorrents and a number of its domains, all of which can be found in its very own server-status page, are all offline and unreachable.
The arrest and the subsequent takedown is certain to leave a void in the torrent community, as KickassTorrents was even bigger in the popularity stakes than the Pirate Bay.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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