Outside Lands 2019: Here’s what to see, eat & drink

Outside LandsPhoto by Norm de Veyra // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 9th-11th, 2019 //

As a thick layer of fog begins to make its daily descent upon the western edge of SF, Golden Gate Park to be precise, local residents know that Outside Lands can’t be too far off. Though in all seriousness, it hasn’t been a terribly overcast summer in the Avenues, especially come afternoon. Celebrating its 12th year as the Bay Area’s go-to festival for modern music, many have come to love their annual romp in the Outerlands and Golden Gate Park to an eclectic soundtrack of genres and eras.

Outside Lands’ 2019 edition is no exception with a truly varied trio of top-billed acts spread across three days. Attendees will get to see Twenty One Pilots in a headlining slot on Friday after their OSL debut in 2013. On Saturday, Donald Glover makes his own grand entrance as Childish Gambino while completing his recent victory lap. Paul Simon, meanwhile, has the honor of closing down the event on Sunday as he recently returns to the stage after retiring from intensive touring.

Now, let us assist with a few curated choices for this year’s event as you plan out your best layered-jacket look. But seriously, pray for sunshine and create your own schedule here.


Outside Lands 2019 - Paul Simon

Music

Artist: Boyfriend
Set date/time: Friday, 1:20-2 p.m. & 6:50-7:20 p.m.
Location: Panhandle & Gastromagic

Ever seen a rap-cabaret show? Do you want to see one? Well, you’ll have two opportunities on Day 1 to catch New Orleans’ own Boyfriend put on one of the most entertaining performances you’ll witness in a long time. Best known for her wildly creative live show where anything can happen, the singer-songwriter, rapper and producer spits some hyper-intelligent commentary on the current state of gender and identity. Collaborations with Big Freedia, Galactic and Run the Jewels DJ/producer Little Shalimar most recently have proven that she’s a versatile emcee who’s in high-demand. She’ll be presenting her act alongside Chris Cosentino, who will likely be dropping some serious Italian cuisine knowledge and techniques on the assembled crowd at the Gastromagic Stage after her afternoon set over at the Panhandle Stage.

Artist: Altın Gün
Set date/time: Saturday, 3-3:40 p.m.
Location: Panhandle

Though OSL and other large-scale music festivals have shifted the bulk of their lineups away from rock acts, Another Planet Entertainment has always been keen on tapping a handful of important up-and-coming bands that fit somewhere in the lexicon of rock ‘n’ roll. This year, attendees will have the chance to catch the SF debut of Turkish psychedelic folk-rock group Altın Gün as they finish up their first U.S. tour at OSL. The outfit’s supreme combination of traditional Turkish folk and psychedelic rock got the attention of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard in 2018 and was signed to ATO Records soon thereafter. This Amsterdam-based six-piece has their finger on something both thrilling and experimental, so make sure to catch their afternoon set at the Panhandle Stage.

Artist: Paul Simon
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:35-9:35 p.m.
Location: Land’s End

It was only September 22nd when Paul Simon concluded “Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour” much to the disappointment of his fans. The prolific singer-songwriter was still sharp onstage and was playing to packed houses when he stated it was time to close up shop. Fast forward six months later to March, and OSL would reveal its 2019 lineup that sees Simon top the Day 3 bill. But this booking also comes with a little twist. For this show and several of his subsequent Hawaiian dates, Simon will donate all of the proceeds to the San Francisco Parks Alliance and Friends of the Urban Forest in SF. So, don’t sleep on this set if you’ve never seen Simon before, as this could very well be one of the last times to hear hits such as “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “Late in the Evening”.


Outside Lands 2019 - Taste of the Bay Area

Food & Drink

Cassava: This Outer Richmond establishment has been drawing crowds to the Balboa Village area for years now and will be serving up buttermilk popcorn chicken rice bowls with harissa aioli and house furikake, as well as popcorn shrimp rice bowls with gribiche. Only a few short blocks from the Main Gate entrance, Cassava has become a popular destination for enjoying a pre-festival brunch. Just make sure to get there early, as a wait should be expected. Also, make sure to visit the Hockey Haven a block down Balboa St. for a quick libation before you head to the event.

Mozzeria: Famous for its mobile pizza ovens, Mozzeria returns to Golden Gate Park this year and will be whipping out its insanely delicious, and fresh, Neapolitan-style pies. The Mission District-based pizzeria will be serving up both personal Margherita and Salumi pizzas from its instantly recognizable truck that’s complete with an authentic brick oven. Expect a small wait as these pies are made to order, but just know that it’ll be worth your patience.

Woods Beer Co.: While Outside Lands brings in food and drink partners from around the Bay Area each year, this Outerlands-based writer felt compelled to focus on some local businesses located near the event. You might have visited one of the other Woods locations in Oakland or on Treasure Island, but the Woods Outbound outpost is only a few blocks from the polo fields. Despite the breweries at Beer Lands having not released their offerings yet, one should expect Woods to bring their flagship MateVeza IPA, their unfiltered Retro Pilsner or their Local Honey herbal ale to the park. Swing by Judah St. and try something a bit different than the rest.

Outside Lands - 2019 lineup

CALICO 2019: The perfect weekend getaway in Point Reyes with Allah-Las & friends

CALICO 2019 - festival lineupWritten by Kevin Quandt //

CALICO //
Love Field – Point Reyes Station, CA
August 3rd, 2019 //

As the Bay Area squeaks into the month of August and eventually into something that might resemble summertime, the outdoor event calendar gets dusted off as we hope to get that late-season tan with some of our favorite artists and friends. One growing event that will turn the heat up on this summer is held in Point Reyes and goes by the name CALICO. (((folkYEAH!))) and Reverberation Radio will be co-presenting this all-day festival, which is highlighted by a banner headlining set from Allah-Las.

Love Field in Point Reyes Station comes alive for these performances, in large part due to the stunning setup that’s featured on this outdoor site. Performances are held on a stage crafted of reclaimed wood under the cool shade of a lunar parachute in a coastal meadow. It doesn’t get much more Cali than that if you ask us. Add a slew of local vendors who will be slinging tacos and grilling up oysters, followed by an after-party later that evening at the Old Western Saloon just down the road, and you got all the makings for a prime weekend getaway. While we’re on the subject of weekend getaways, we should also mention that there’s a pretty nice selection of campgrounds nearby, including Olema Campground (other options listed here).

We can certainly expect to hear a handful of new Allah-Las tracks before the band releases its fourth album LAHS on Mexican Summer this October. One among them will most likely be the Los Angeles quartet’s bakery-fresh single “In the Air”, which just fell like manna from heaven. CALICO will also boast sets from Allah-associated acts such as PAINT and Tim Hill, along with Sachiko Kanenobu, The Tyde, Sugar Candy Mountain and Host Family, as well as an extended DJ set from Reverberation Radio in between each act. Farmer Dave & The Wizards of the West, meanwhile, will play the after-party at Old Western Saloon.

CALICO begins on Saturday, August 3rd at 1 p.m., with music running from 2-10 p.m., and is suitable for all ages. Tickets can still be purchased here for $44 (before fees).

CALICO 2019 - festival details

Desert Daze 2018: A stacked lineup & new location for one of California’s premier boutique festivals

Desert Daze 2018 - Phase FourPhoto by David Evanko // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Desert Daze //
Moreno Beach – Lake Perris, CA‎
October 12th-14th, 2018 //

It was really only a matter of time before Desert Daze outgrew its home of the past two years, as it was evident The Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree had reached peak capacity in 2017 (read our review here).

So, it was no surprise to longtime attendees when a new location was announced, coupled with a talent roster that proved growth was in the works, and a recipe for something special was concocted. Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone and his team at Moon Block had slyly put together one of the banner rock lineups on U.S. soil in many moons.

Did this signal the next fad in rock ‘n’ roll? Was this a strong thesis in the argument that boutique music festivals would start to rule the landscape as the behemoths dealt with homogenization?

I’m sure there could be convincing cases made for both, but at the end of the day, word of mouth had worked its magic and the event was “movin’ on up.”

Early reports from events held on the new site have been rolling in, lauding Moreno Beach as a scenic little slice of nature hidden in the hills above Moreno Valley. Though many will miss the magic that can only be found in Joshua Tree, there are a multitude of amenities that will make the three-plus days a little bit easier for attendees, such as permanent bathrooms and showers, more grassy and shaded areas, and plenty of accessible parking for both campers and day attendees alike.

There’s also a smorgasbord of VIP add-ons if you’re looking for a touch of luxury in between sets, as the Beach Club will offer some top-notch perks if that’s your thing. Meanwhile, there have been some other shifts in the event as it eases into a new home.

Desert Daze 2018 - Lake Perris


Lake Perris

Pirrone has recently stated in interviews that the music schedule this year will start a tad later each day to allow attendees to properly enjoy Lake Perris’ natural beauty. What better way to prepare for some long nights of blistering music than with a daytime boat excursion or a hike into the surrounding hills?

Now, onto the real reason we’re going to Desert Daze: the music. As has been the trend for many years, Moon Block continues to up the ante with another stacked roster, and with a larger capacity and budget, they went all-in on with three packed days and nights.

The top of the poster is simply bananas as we see this past decade’s psych-pop torchbearers, Tame Impala, top Friday’s billing with fellow neo-psychedelia Aussies, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, holding down Saturday’s headline slot.

Lastly, the Irish shoegaze demigods My Bloody Valentine will be bringing their wall of sound to the outdoor areas of Southern California. Fans can expect a smattering of new songs as the band has been unleashing fresh material most of this year.

As we take a peek further down the lineup, we see some rarities in the form of Ty Segall and White Fence, Jarvis Cocker Introducing Jarv Is… and Mercury Rev performing all of Deserter’s Songs. Never one to exclude stellar international acts, Desert Daze will also boast Boogarins from Brazil, Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha and the first U.S. show by English space-rockers Ulrika Spacek on Saturday.

A deeper dive into three international acts can be found below.

Kikagaku Moyo


Kikagaku Moyo

The Holydrug Couple: It has been more than three years since the Chilean duo graced the states with live shows, and what better locale for their return. Holydrug Couple write some seriously dreamy psych-pop that will fit perfectly into the festival’s new landscape, literally. Expect to hear songs from their expansive catalog, with an emphasis on new tracks off their Sacred Bones release Hyper Super Mega. The band is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, so make sure to welcome Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra warmly.

Kikagaku Moyo: Over the past year, this Japanese psych-rock outfit has been turning heads in some serious ways as they deliver a truly authentic sound. They hit a few smaller fests like Pickathon and have been gaining steam as the psych flag-bearer from the Far East. Their use of sitar and other less-traditional rock instrumentation has only helped garner a truly unique sound. Their 2016 release House in the Tall Grass is sure to get you pumped for their multiple sets at Desert Daze.

IDLES: While Desert Daze has a decided niche for all things rock, this year’s event sees the inclusion of slightly more punk-leaning artists in the form of UK’s own IDLES. Coming off a banner summer season, this whirlwind live act was much talked about at Primavera Sound and Rock Werchter for its raucous performances. Their second LP Joy Is an Act of Resistance, which came out in August, only cements that there is indeed still life in angst-ridden guitar rock. See ya in the pit for this one.

Want to go to Desert Daze? Tickets are still available for $299, or you could win a pair of tickets by submitting your full name and email below.

Contest ends this Friday at 3 p.m.


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Outside Lands 2018: A return to form in Year 11

Outside Lands 2018Photos by Norm de Veyra // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 10th-12th, 2018 //

As another summer festival season winds down, we look back at the 2018 edition of Outside Lands with highlights, thoughts, musings and enough images to make you nostalgic for the Bay Area’s banner music festival. With the Superfly, Another Planet Entertainment and Starr Hill event celebrating its 11th edition, this incarnation of the annual Golden Gate Park soirée saw more of a return to form over the past year while also experiencing a notable shift in the sound that could be heard emanating through the eucalyptus and other flora.

While cancellations left a slightly sour taste in the mouths of last year’s attendees, this year only saw limited lineup hiccups. However, the bigger story at hand surrounds the changing tides of popular music. Sure, you’ve heard folks state “rock is dead,” but is a once-amusing quip starting to take greater shape as the youth clamor for a different sound and aesthetic? Though it was pretty evident on the 2018 lineup poster when it dropped in April, this query started to take greater shape once you were on the grounds and bouncing between sets. So, let’s jump straight into this now.

Outside Lands 2018 - Billie Eilish


Billie Eilish

Friday

Day 1 at Outside Lands tends to be a slow trickle of fans entering the park as some are able to play hooky, bounce from the office early or only show up for the headliners. Sure, some folks had to deal with longer-than-expected box office lines and others even had to bear the fest’s new bag policies, but luckily those in attendance were blessed with some clear skies instead of the usual August dread of the Outer Lands.

While Billie Eilish was relishing in her rising appeal on the Lands End stage, covering Drake and running through the majority of her singles, Rex Orange County was trying his hand at something a bit new and terrifying. The UK wunderkind was forced to play his first-ever solo festival set as his band and their gear ran into transit issues on the way to SF from the Pacific Northwest. The young crooner seemed a bit nervous about this predicament but competently knocked out a solid, eight-song performance that included “Sunflower” and closer “Loving Is Easy”.

N.E.R.D., meanwhile, played their first SF show in many years to a raucous crowd, opening with “Anti Matter” as a hyped Pharrell Williams feverishly worked every corner of the huge Lands End stage. The set featured a massive medley of tracks by The Neptunes, a cover of “Seven Nation Army” and a double dose of “Lemon” to send us on our way to the next set.

Simultaneously, Carly Rae Jepsen was apparently throwing down one of Outside Lands’ most enjoyable performances in front of a rather large crowd. While the pop sensation pleased the masses with a rendition of her breakout hit “Call Me Maybe”, she also performed more recent songs like “Emotion”.

ODESZA obviously drew a large crowd for their main stage afternoon showcase, putting the spotlight on the changing tides and tastes of the youth music market. That kind of youthful angst and energy seemed to be danced out to ODESZA, DJ Snake and Big Gigantic compared to the pits of rock bands from the 2000’s, be it Queens of the Stone Age, System of a Down or Deftones.

With the under-25 crowd predominantly stationed at Lands End, you could say there was a more intimate feeling at Twin Peaks for Father John Misty. Touting his expanded band that featured a string section and dialing back his quirky stage banter, Josh Tillman’s latest tour has been pretty much about presenting his music as faithfully as he can. “Nancy From Now On” opened his career-spanning performance as the shadows began to drape the park.

While FJM’s attendance was noticeably a bit small for a rock act, the king of “jizz jazz,” aka Mac DeMarco, was able to attract a rowdy crowd for his closing set on the Sutro stage. When the synth sections of “On the Level” opened DeMarco’s set, a certain air of relaxation swept the crowd as various smokeables were consumed in honor of indie-slacker royalty onstage.

Abel Tesfaye, popularly known as The Weeknd, enjoyed a sort of victory lap as he headlined the festival’s first day with an onslaught of hits such as “Starboy”, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”, along with a few select covers of Future, Belly, Drake and Ty Dolla $ign. Though Tesfaye’s current large-scale show is nothing new to the live music circuit, he still threw one helluva party before sending the masses into the wilds of the City.

Outside Lands 2018 - Florence + the Machine


Florence + the Machine

Saturday

It has been a couple of years since Outside Lands was fortunate enough to have a truly clear, sunny Saturday — and not just for a few hours, but the whole damn day. Plus, it was topped off with another insanely gorgeous sunset, but let’s not jump the gun here.

As the day got underway, New York indie artist Amen Dunes performed an extremely tight set, showcasing his wavy take on psychedelic rock/folk. Led by Damon McMahon, the trio played heavy off its most recent release Freedom while also not completely ignoring its back catalog. Moreover, McMahon’s stage presence was infectious and somewhat akin to R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, as his slender build moved to the emotive nature of his craft.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lizzo was bringing down the early-afternoon house as she decimated the Lands End stage. “Fitness” opened her 10-song set as her pair of dancers, as well as Lizzo herself, left everything on the stage for the sizable crowd that was yearning for her energy, and some even yearned for a shot of tequila from her bottle of Patrón as she entered the photo pit for an up-close appearance during closing song “Good as Hell”.

When the Lizzo crowd dispersed, Broken Social Scene fans got prime real estate to catch the Canadian indie-rock demigods perform a blistering set of guitar-heavy tunes like opener “KC Accidental” and closer “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl”. Even in such a large setting, the massive band was able to cook up a sense of intimacy and really engage.

While OSL this year leaned more toward R&B, electronic pop and other hip genres, UK jazz purveyors GoGo Penguin delivered a stunning set of avant-garde-leaning jazz. This punchy trio showed their chops over tracks like “One Percent” and set closer “Window” and could easily be compared to The Bad Plus. GoGo were a perfect palate cleanser before heading to more current stylings from either SOB X RBE or CHVRCHES.

Local legend Tycho performed to an enthusiastic crowd while Scott Hansen stated this would be the last incarnation of this phase for the group (we look forward to the next chapter). Back over at Lands End, Bon Iver delivered a prototypically powerful set as the sunlight dwindled, simultaneously providing a seriously stunning sunset.

As the limited amount of darkness fell over the park, one-third of The xx was preparing to hold court as the Sutro crowd swelled, moving their dancing feet to the new-school dance pioneer known as Jamie xx (born James Smith). Even as Jamie xx eased into his intro (The Animals’ “San Francisco Nights”) and more fans pushed in, it was rather evident that the Sutro’s sound system wasn’t able to fully reach the volume many were looking for. But an Above & Beyond nod (“Sun in Your Eyes”) eventually led straight into Smith’s mix of “On Hold” and all was right in the world, if only for about eight minutes.

There was a bit of controversy surrounding Saturday’s main slot as Florence + the Machine officially made the move to full-blown festival headliner. Some festivalgoers had their own doubts after FYF Fest 2018 was canceled with a near-identical top billing, but Florence and her bandmates proved, many times over, that she is more than capable of commanding any stage as her energy is unlike many others. She debuted a brand-new show, which featured “June” in the opening slot and was book-ended by “Big God” and “Shake It Out” for a two-song encore.

Outside Lands 2018 - Janelle Monáe


Janelle Monáe

Sunday

On the final day, the weather was back on track; by that, I mean it was cold, blustery and generally moist. Most were thankful for the two previous days as opposed to three days of “Karl the Fog,” as has been tradition for a good 3-4 years now.

The early afternoon of Sunday bore witness to some very lively performances from up-and-comers like Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Hobo Johnson & the Lovemakers, both of who are primed to make moves in the festival circuit over the next year if they play their cards right.

Continuing with the trend of electro-leaning acts playing to some big crowds, BØRNS fully commanded a youthful contingent with hits such as “10,000 Emerald Pools” and set closer “Electric Love”.

The incomparable Janelle Monáe was a tad late to take the stage, as she was fighting off a stomach bug, but when she did, she captivated the masses with a suite of tracks from her most recent release Dirty Computer and tossed in a fair amount of costume changes over a nearly hour-long set. Monáe proved that she’s easily one of the best in the business at the moment and will only continue to climb upwards.

Over at the Twin Peaks stage, The Internet was trying to hash out some sort of technical difficulties before beginning their abbreviated performance, which seemed to be a little lopsided and uneven as they did their best to deal with the 30 minutes that they had left. Fortunately, “Girl” got the majority who stuck around swaying to Syd’s sultry vocals and generally chilled demeanor.

Portugal. The Man held a fleeting rock slot on the main stage, putting their quirky brand of psych-leaning pop rock on display. Moreover, they tossed in some oddly placed Pink Floyd and Beatles covers before closing with their breakthrough hit “Feel It Still”.

Aussie newcomer Tash Sultana, meanwhile, was putting on a masterclass in instrumentation and looping. Sultana has really had one of the biggest breakout years in independent music, and it was clearly evident as she had a carefree stage presence backed by some truly unique, solo-delivered music ripe with psychedelic and world elements. The 23-year-old is certainly a name to watch over the next year and beyond.

As the last set of OSL artists got ready to play, James Blake brought us to church for this year’s final performance on the Sutro stage, failing to disappoint while the fog grew slightly thicker in Lindley Meadow. Highlights from Blake’s dreamy set were easily his take on Untold’s track “Stop What You’re Doing” and a semi-rare rendition of “Modern Soul”.

Some say Janet Jackson couldn’t pull in big crowds amid the current shifting landscape of large-scale music festivals, and although she didn’t pull in record-breaking numbers on a rugged SF night, it was clearly evident that those fans who stayed to watch her were all-in. Jackson’s career-spanning show touched on more than 35 songs and was accompanied by some fierce choreography and production elements. Sure, she wasn’t singing much of the time, but that didn’t stop a wide range of fans from showering Jackson with affection. Her closing performance was highlighted by “That’s the Way Love Goes” and later on, the MJ collaboration “Scream” that transitioned into “Rhythm Nation”.

As the music festival industry continues to deal with a shifting crowd and demand, Outside Lands regained its stride after a few hiccups in 2017. And while this year’s lineup might not have appealed to the core demographic from its incarnation, the event still offers something for everyone.

Outside Lands 2018: Don’t miss these performances

Outside LandsPhoto by Marc Fong // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 10th-12th, 2018 //

Well, another year of Outside Lands descends upon our foggy metropolis once again, packing a varied, even genre-shifting bill of up-and-coming acts across three days and a multitude of stages. And as the music festival celebrates its 11th year in Golden Gate Park, Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly continue to stack on new and exciting elements. Some changes that attendees should be in store for include a slightly updated location for the Gastromagic stage and the addition of a cannabis-centric installation, appropriately named Grass Lands. In the meanwhile, let’s dig into what this event is all about … the music.

Also, don’t forget to create your own schedule here.


Outside Lands 2018 - Carly Rae Jepsen

This is ladies’ night … oh, what a night

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen
Set date/time: Friday, 5:15-6:05 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

The “Call Me Maybe” star has shifted her sound over the past few years, and while she has traded in some of her pop sentiment for something more akin to indie dance, she has held steadfast to her popularity. Her Outside Lands Night Show at The Independent sold out in record time, but those shut out will still be able to see her on Day 1. While we haven’t seen much new music from CRJ, clamoring fans can hope to hear a new track or two.

Artist: Florence + the Machine
Set date/time: Saturday, 8:25-9:55 p.m.
Location: Lands End

It has been a long three years for Florence Welch fans as they patiently awaited the follow-up to 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Alas, the indie-rock queen has returned, making the jump to festival headliner with her beauty-meets-power stage presence. While Florence + the Machine might not seem like top-billing material, her live show will definitely command your attention. Plus, this set will also be a tad more special now with the cancellation of FYF, making this her first U.S. performance since the release of her fourth LP High as Hope as well as the debut of her brand-new stage setup.

Artist: Tash Sultana
Set date/time: Sunday, 6:15-7:05 p.m.
Location: Sutro

While the two aforementioned female artists have become household names over the last half decade, it’s 23-year-old Tash Sultana who is poised to make the larger splash at Outside Lands in 2018. This Australian export has been turning heads in big ways for the past year or so and is on the cusp of stardom. While Sultana’s true calling is the guitar, this multi-instrumentalist weaves psych-leaning rock with reggae flare through a multitude of loops. Her artistry is hard to deny and will easily pull you in on Day 3.


Outside Lands 2018 - Florence + the Machine

For the indie heads

Artist: Father John Misty
Set date/time: Friday, 6:50-7:50 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

The return of Josh Tillman to Golden Gate Park took a solid six years to come to fruition, and boy how things have changed since those early Fear Fun days. Long gone are the days of LSD-slogan shirts and kitschy, from-the-pulpit rants, which he has traded in for a slick new, no-BS style that’s truly refreshing. The release of his fourth studio album God’s Favorite Customer in June, with its string flourishes and lush organ arrangements, has given fans a multifaceted LP to dig into as Tillman still strives to provide lyrics that are part reflection, part meta. Expect at Outside Lands a largely expanded live band, coupled with less witty banter.

Artist: Jamie xx
Set date/time: Saturday, 7:35-8:50 p.m.
Location: Sutro

Even though some might claim that this year’s Outside Lands lineup looks a tad homogenized on paper, there are luckily a few rare treats that make a fest vet perk up, and in 2018, Jamie xx (born James Smith) holds that title. Other banner dance names such as DJ Snake and ODESZA may pull larger crowds, but the purists will surely congregate for one-third of The xx as Smith lays down far-out selections as well as tracks from his 2015 banner release In Colour. Jamie xx live sets have become increasingly rare nowadays, so this performance will likely serve as the best jumping off point for your Day 2 closer, whether you go with Future or Florence.

Artist: James Blake
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:35-8:45 p.m.
Location: Sutro

SF was treated to a handful of James Blake shows in December at the Herbst Theatre, but we’ll certainly take another appearance from this UK dubstepper-gone-crooner. Some new material has trickled out over the last year with his next record on the horizon … somewhere. However, the main reason we included him in this list has more to do with location, time and vibe. With the Sutro stage hosting a more electronic lineup in 2018 (i.e. Jamie xx, Big Gigantic and Tycho) than in years past, the thought and likelihood of a thick fog rolling through GGP’s eucalyptus grove as the final light dwindles gives us those sought-after music chills. If he plays “Modern Soul” though, we’ll have to upgrade that status to full-blown goose pimples.


Outside Lands 2018 - James Blake

Rising to the top

Artist: Cuco
Set date/time: Saturday, 2:20-3:05 p.m.
Location: Sutro

This LA native has recently captured the attention of music lovers both young and old with his blend of jizz jazz, downtempo beats and multilingual singles. Fans of Mac DeMarco and The Internet should plan to be in attendance for this one as Omar Banos’ lo-fi song crafting will unequivocally get you swaying on a Saturday afternoon at Outside Lands. Moreover, his super-fresh collaborative track titled “Drown” that he dropped with fellow heatseeker Clairo should soon send his stock flying through the roof.

Artist: Hobo Johnson & the Lovemakers
Set date/time: Sunday, 1:10-1:55 p.m.
Location: Sutro

Frank Lopes, aka Hobo Johnson, arrived in 2018 out of nowhere due to the popularity of his breakout single “Peach Scone” along with its viral music video for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. This quirky collective whips up a musical style that’s unlike any other and what some might label as spoken word and/or alternative hip-hop. Sure, there’s a layer of novelty to Johnson’s select tracks, but he’s simply lovable and so easy to root for, much like his contemporary Rex Orange County.

Outside Lands - 2018 lineup

Desert Daze 2017: Another stellar year for one of California’s premier music festivals

Desert Daze 2017Photos by Zach Roth, David Evanko, Sheva Kafai & Zane Roessell // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Desert Daze //
Institute of Mentalphysics – Joshua Tree, CA
October 12th-14th, 2017 //

There’s something special about climbing the hills of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve cresting into Yucca Valley that removes one’s self from what exists to the east and west. Gone are the masses of cars and people all across Riverside County or the ticky-tack of Palm Desert, both replaced by the rugged personality of Joshua Tree and the surrounding area.

It’s always a treat to visit these nether regions, but it’s even better when a slew of today’s most exciting rock acts converge on this positively charged piece of land many have fondly come to know as the Institute of Mentalphysics. Plenty of attendees didn’t quite realize how fortunate we were to be able to return to this desert sanctuary for a second year, and just like any good thing, the word had spread about Desert Daze after the music festival’s run last year.

Desert Daze promoter Moon Block really pulled off quite a doozy for the sixth installment of California’s premier psychedelic and garage-rock extravaganza, which occupied more than 400 acres of wild desert earth. With the four-day festival continuing along an up-and-to-the-left trajectory, it was no real surprise to followers that Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone and crew upped their booking to include legends like Iggy Pop and John Cale. Though the lineup was a shining star for the weekend, it was the amalgamation of the venue, attendees and art that put an extra layer of buttercream on the fest, cementing Daze’s status as a stellar event.

An expanded program featured added stages and a cavalcade of programs, including Sacred Plant Medicine, Modular Sound Baths, Black Metal Yoga and a Women’s Moon Lodge. 2017’s edition also included screenings from comedy duo Tim & Eric such as their Adult Swim series “Bedtime Stories”, which suited those who were looking for a quick chuckle. As far as the art went, there was no shortage of intriguing installations dotted across the Institute. One of the larger, more immersive artworks was Cristopher Cichocki’s “Circular Dimensions” piece as it took over the Sanctuary Hall space with 3-D projections and a variety of dronal soundtracks.

Desert Daze 2017

As stated, Daze attendees could have easily filled their day and night with the programming described above, but the majority of them rarely had much expendable time for those sort of extracurricular activities as the festival consistently churned out a veritable smorgasbord of garage, psych and various other outlying subgenres of rock ‘n’ roll across three stages. While the last statement is generally true, this year saw an expansion into more jazzy areas thanks to BADBADNOTGOOD’s showing on the event’s first day.

Other highlights on Friday saw a wildly energetic performance from French cold-wave band La Femme. These exports don’t cross the Atlantic a bunch, so it was a rare treat for the early arrivals that culminated with set closer “Antitaxi”. Tim Presely (White Fence) and LA-based singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon brought their collaborative project DRINKS to the desert and whipped through a set of angular-leaning art rock. Japanese experimental juggernauts Boris put on a spectacle worthy of the big stages at European metal festivals, as they have for well over two decades. Day 1 also saw Ty Segall and his Freedom Band obliterate the larger Moon Stage, opening with “Alta” and later covering DEVO’s “Gut Feeling”. Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile and the Sea Lice played just their third headlining show, and while it was evident they were still working out a few kinks onstage, they still managed to dazzle with a mix of songs from both of their catalogs.

It was rather evident early on Saturday that Desert Daze was ramping up for its most popular day in the event’s short history with a combination of legends, today’s hottest acts and a few rarities that peppered the schedule. Detroit stalwarts The Gories offered their Michigan-bred take on garage rock in a powerful display of dual guitars coupled with a sparse drum set. At the Moon Stage, the Marshall amps were stacked high for doom-metal outfit Sleep’s banner performance of their 1992 opus Holy Mountain. Al Cisneros and associates delivered a lead-heavy set to wafting plumes of smoke, playing such classics as “Dragonaut” flawlessly, but the new sound ordinance imposed by the local community became a factor for the San Jose trio that’s known for its abuse of volume.

Brooklyn three-piece Sunflower Beam drew a sizable crowd in the Wright Tent as bassist Julia Cumming commanded the stage better than most while barreling through a set that included “I Was Home”. Elsewhere, it wasn’t surprising to see King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have a wild and energetic crowd assembled well prior to their hit time. A rabid following continues to grow for the Australian septet that is capping off a massive year filled with multiple studio releases and lengthy tours. Of course, That Fucking Panda made sure to take advantage of the ruckus crowd, getting in a solid crowd surf, as is tradition.

Desert Daze 2017 - Iggy Pop


Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop is a fucking legend, one who is still a ball of energy onstage even as he gracefully creeps into his 70’s and destroys expectations on a near-nightly basis. His setlist at Desert Daze was rather standard, but his persona continues to be anything but.

Meanwhile, those looking for something different were treated to a rare live performance by Black Moth Super Rainbow. With Desert Daze marking only their second show in more than four years, the TOBACCO-led group dazzled on tracks like “Sun Lips”. Sure, a large chunk of the set was reserved for TOBACCO tracks, but their sound had more oomph behind it as they were fleshed out by a full band rather than one man. Nearing the 30-year mark, Tortoise held closing duties for the night, shooting out darts of experimental post-rock before they were cut short at the stroke of 12:30 a.m.

Sunday saw a sustained crowd that was doing its best to shake off a big night after the fest’s second day. Luckily, the mellow sounds of the Allah-Las, plus a few drinks, got fans back into prime form for the closing evening. L.A. Witch followed on the Block Stage, forcefully proving that females belong on this lineup just as much as the opposite sex.

While Eagles of Death Metal continue their domination at the hands of Jesse Hughes and his not-so-merry band of pranksters, it must have felt truly amazing for the Palm Desert band to play Desert Daze. The highlight of the set was undoubtedly their prime cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”.

Desert Daze 2017

The tent hosted something a tad more on the mellow side as Texas’ own Khruangbin served up their patented combination of surf rock and Thai funk. Tracks like “Mr. White” sounded sublime as the Sunday evening sets were a tad more toned-down than what we witnessed at the same time during the festival’s previous nights. K-Bin’s set led into an equally beautiful one by Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, as the Mazzy Star vocalist and her sidekicks set the vibe perfectly for the final headliner.

Spiritualized are truly an ideal band to close out the main stage at Desert Daze, and similar to Television last year, these longtime UK legends still know how to thrill a crowd with their pea soup-thick wall of sound. Jason Pierce and company delivered a truly epic performance under the desert stars that opened with “If I Were With Her Now” from their 1992 debut album Lazer Guided Melodies, was punctuated by Laurie Anderson’s “Born, Never Asked” and concluded with “Oh Happy Day”. Classic hits like “Come Together” seem to have a stronger message in these times, and Desert Daze is truly one of those events where the bullshit of reality quickly gets washed away, if only for a long weekend.

Although Cigarettes After Sex are a band on their way to bigger things, we opted to close the weekend with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Having played the event in 2014 when it was held in Mecca, Calif., UMO were warmly welcomed back. Ruben Nielson was ready to close things out with a bang as they rattled through their current set with highlights such as “Ur Life One Night” and even debuted a new track entitled “American Guilt”.

Growth is generally seen as positive for any sort of event, but Desert Daze remains one of those hidden gems you want to announce from the mountaintops yet also don’t want it to outgrow its unique place in the festival stratosphere. Regardless, Moon Block is carrying a bright torch for how boutique festivals are supposed to be produced, and we applaud their staff with high hopes that they continue to set the bar high.

Outside Lands 2017: Top 5 things to see, eat & drink

Outside LandsPhoto by James Pawlish // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 11th-13th, 2017 //

Outside Lands returns this weekend for its 10th anniversary, and to get you ready for three fun-filled days in Golden Gate Park, we’ve outlined our top sets that you won’t want to miss, this year’s biggest scheduling conflicts, some potential guest appearances and the very best beverages to drink.

Also, don’t forget to create your own schedule here, and enter for a chance to GO4FREE to XXYYXX’s show this Saturday, August 12th at a secret location here.


Outside Lands 2017 - A Tribe Called Quest

TOP SETS NOT TO MISS

A Tribe Called Quest: While we see how this may be a controversial choice to top this list with the untimely passing of founding member Phife Dawg, it appears this may be the final time the Bay, or even the U.S., get to see the legendary hip-hop group perform. The group’s FYF Fest and Panorama performances featured multiple references to being the final ATCQ shows in those cities, so all the chatter about how extensive this “farewell tour” will be has reached a fevered pitch. Pro (Q)tip: Wanna hear Tribe’s popular hits? They’ll be featured at the end of their set.

Lorde: Sure, she has found herself toward the top of many festival lineups this year, and for good reason, as Lorde is one of the most popular artists out there right now, and her latest release Melodrama will surely be in top contention for Album of the Year. At only the age of 20, the singer’s recent sophomore success has also translated to the stage in impressive ways and will surely satiate the 18-25 demographic before The Who close out the event on Sunday.

Royal Blood: The unfortunate cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age has put a dampening on fans of all things rock, especially since Saturday was stacked in said department. Though some will be pleased with Cage the Elephant as the replacement, it does leave a glaring gap for many hoping to get another hour-plus of fist-banging rock and f’in roll. So, let’s longingly look to the upstart UK hard-rock duo that continues to make waves across the global festival circuit and delivers some amalgamation of Muse and The Black Keys. Expect to hear a solid smattering of tracks from their most excellent recent release How Did We Get So Dark?

Fleet Foxes: Has it really been six years since Robin Pecknold and band last played the Bay Area? Yup! A lot has changed in those years, but thankfully they are still producing their own unique brand of cool-kid folk and should fit in nicely for their premier performance in Golden Gate Park. We’ll be hearing many tracks for the first time live to go along with a different band lineup onstage. While no one who attends the event ever wishes for Karl the Fog, he could fit semi-decently into this set like during Sigur Rós in 2012.

The Who: The legendary rock bands of our parents’ generation are quickly folding up shop and The Who may be the next to wave a fond farewell. While many attendees have griped in various online forums about this closing headline slot, it seems only fitting considering that Sunday has become the fest’s more legacy-leaning day. Roger Daltery and Pete Townsend are backed by a killer band and have been churning out enigmatic setlists the past few years, so expect to hear all your favorites with a few rare gems.


Outside Lands 2017 - Gorillaz

SCHEDULING CONFLICTS, THOUGHTS & QUERIES

Friday

• Sub-headliner jumble: End of ATCQ vs. Future Islands vs. beginning of Fleet Foxes.

• alt-J vs. Gorillaz: There’s likely a fair amount of fan crossover between these two acts.

• “Bouncin’ for Beignets” moves to Friday afternoon from its previous weekend mid-day slot.

Saturday

• Royal Blood vs S U R V I V E: Seems like an odd conflict, but these artists are playing their first OSL this year and are some of 2017’s most buzzy acts.

• Anyone else notice that two-hour-and-35-minute gap after Kaytranada and Empire of the Sun? We did, too. Our bet is we’ll be getting either an EDM or hip-hop late addition. Does Afrojack fly up from Vegas for the day?

Sunday

• Solange will now be closing the Sutro stage. We surmise her set was on Saturday after Kaytranada before the shift.

• The Heineken Dome has a mystery set scheduled from 5:10-5:40 p.m. that’s billed as a “Pop-Up Guest Performance.” Our bet is DJ Qbert gets this slot as he’ll be onsite for his GastroMagic set earlier in the day.

• This will be the first time Another Planet has put three acts against each other in the form of The Who, Solange and Above & Beyond.


Outside Lands 2017 - Metallica

POTENTIAL GUEST APPEARANCES

• Little Dragon vocalist Yukimi Nagano comes out with Kaytranada to perform “BULLETS”.

• Lady Gaga with Metallica … remember this year’s Grammys?

• Del the Funky Homosapien joining Gorillaz for “Clint Eastwood”. He’ll be at the GastroMagic stage the next day for Kimchi 3030.

• Kali Uchis and Rag’n’Bone Man joining Gorillaz for their Humanz tracks.


Outside Lands 2017 - Cocktail Magic

BEST BEVERAGES TO DRINK

Fort Point Beer Company: Fort Point has been making waves from their Presidio location over the past few years but has recently started to see the brand grow out from the Bay. Their flagships Villager, a West Coast IPA, and KSA, a Kölsch style ale, will surely please the palate whether we get a typical foggy summer day or are blessed with clear skies.

Whitechapel (Cocktail Magic): You like gin? Yeah, us too. Well, all us are in for a treat as SF’s hottest gin bar will be serving up a few of their signature cocktails in the Mclaren Pass section of the fest. While it’s unlikely they’ll schlep over all 400 varieties of gin they offer at their Tenderloin brick-and-mortar, they’ll certainly offer some of the most complex cocktails offered at any major U.S. music festival.

Bushido’s “Way of the Warrior”: OSL wine curator Peter Eastlake knows his stuff, and while winos will find many of their favorites, it’s this sake debut that makes us a little excited. The can graphics feature some rad little samurai fox character while the contents display notes of raspberry and watermelon rind with a spicy finish. I mean, sake in a can? Yeah, I’ll take two … and arigatou.

Outside Lands - 2017 lineup

Phono del Sol turns the heat way up in 2017

2017 Phono del Sol Music FestivalPhotos by Emmeline Munson // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Phono del Sol //
Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco
June 17th, 2017 //

You want your Saturday to be served up scorching hot? Well, that’s what the masses at the seventh annual Phono del Sol got, and few in attendance had any issue with the literal and figurative heat that hit Potrero del Sol Park.

This little event has blossomed into one the most anticipated festivals in SF and is a true gem for those who live in the Mission, Potrero Hill and surrounding areas. Attendees this year were treated to one of the more diverse lineups Phono del Sol has assembled in its growing history, as both local and national acts of varied styles and genres joined together under an insanely pristine sky to toast the culture that makes this place what it is.

Early-arriving patrons were treated to some of Northern California’s buzziest up-and-coming acts such as Never Young and Rayana Jay, but it was Oakland’s own Bells Atlas that began to kick things up a notch and got some toes tapping with their soulful, pop-tinged flavor.

Next up was Bay-Area-via-South-Central upstart DUCKWRTH who aptly brought his infectious dance-rap stylings and was backed by a live band rather than simply a DJ. Local legend Sean Hayes held court on the smaller Mission Stage but commanded a considerable crowd as the park’s pulse continued to raise with the headliners in sight.

2017 Phono del Sol Music Festival - Jay Som


Jay Som

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.”

Atlanta’s own badass punk bitches, The Coathangers, closed the smaller of the festival’s two stages with a generously ruckus helping of garage punk. The group’s three members, who all donned matching outfits, brought some seriously impressive vocal interplay as they all lent a hand in that department, complete with falsetto and the always-awesome singing drummer. The Coathangers have been doing this whole rock ‘n’ roll thing for more than a decade now, and it’s clearly evident when they deliver songs like “Down Down” with surgical precision. “Make it Right” was another set highlight as heads began to bob and nod, with fans starting to loosen up those muscles for the closing onslaught.

I’m sure many folks can recall the days when you could catch Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer playing a show in the City on a near-weekly basis. Those were exciting times, and though SF has lost one of their most prolific artists to the cheap(ish) rent of Southern California, Dwyer is still welcomed with open arms, as well as the crowd-surfing skate punks in attendance.

The newly minted Oh Sees (the band just changed its name earlier this month) took the fest’s main stage in their usual whirlwind fashion and then proceeded to tell everyone to jump the barriers and join them onstage before they desecrated the generally sleepy park. While fans saw the two-drummer format in action once again, we also saw some fresh faces onstage — and more importantly, we got some new music later in their set that bordered on something akin to amped-up Fugazi. “Contraption / Soul Desert” closed out the nine-song set, and just like that, it was done. Those in attendance took a minute to catch their breath, and we were heaved into the Mission to complete one of those perfect summer days in SF.

Once and Future Band crush The Chapel at their record release show

Once and Future BandPhotos by Sam Heller // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Once and Future Band with Kelley Stoltz, Dirty Ghosts //
The Chapel – San Francisco
January 26th, 2017 //

In an era where genre revivals have become commonplace, there is one that hasn’t quite got the 21st-century makeover it truly deserves. That genre is progressive rock. Its history is not a stunningly long one as its heyday was mainly in the early 70’s, but prog was a key element in the canon of rock ‘n’ roll for many decades to follow. Enter Oakland’s Once and Future Band to bring a forgotten style out of the shadows and cruise ships and back to the Bay Area’s indie music scene.

Having played in the Bay the past few years, Once and Future Band have been a well-kept secret among those in the psych-rock scene as they have supplied support for groups like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Battles, to name just a few. Nevertheless, on this Thursday night in late January, most fans at The Chapel had to come to terms with the fact that the secret is out. This banner evening, along with the release of the group’s self-titled debut LP, was a new beginning for a band that has worked tirelessly to curate a sound and style all on its own while drawing in curious ears with a heavy dash of prog rock in addition to a laundry list of legendary influences.

Early arrivals were treated to a pair of SF’s finest rock acts holding down support duties. Dirty Ghosts delivered a stellar set of their choicest tracks led by Allyson Baker, who channeled the likes of Joan Jett in a most impressive manner. As the room filled for Kelley Stoltz, it was pretty evident that the word on this show had traveled far and wide. Stoltz subsequently proved why he’s one of the best performers in the Bay as his sequined jacket acted as a de facto disco ball while he utilized the whole stage as a manner to infuse more charisma into tracks like “Kim Chee Taco Man” and “Double Exposure”. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t like litter bugs either, so take note.

Once and Future Band

It was a bit past 11 p.m. by the time Once and Future Band took the stage, and those fans who feared a slightly delayed start would cut into their time to play were treated to a whopper of a show. Principal songwriter Joel Robinow, formerly of Howlin’ Rain, addressed the exuberant crowd, and many were simply thrilled to see him back onstage after recently healing from a serious elbow injury. Robinow informed us that we’d be treated to the new release from front to back and launched into “How Does it Make You Feel?”, a blistering fury of space prog that was complete with Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies and more keys and synths than most folks can deal with on the day-to-day. A statement had been made early on as Robinow and his bandmates had fans at The Chapel eating out of their hands within a matter of minutes.

One of the most fascinating aspects of digging into Once and Future Band, and by extension, recommending them to all my musically-inclined acquaintances, is listening which influences they hear in their material, including acts such as Yes, Steely Dan, Zappa, Jeff Lynne and ELO, Pink Floyd and almost anything involving Steven Wilson. Even with a deep bag of influences worn proudly on their sleeves, Once and Future Band churn out a sound that is still as wholly original. “I’ll Be Fine” into “Hide & Seek” were highlights as the lengthy tracks weaved a path of concise musicianship held down by the ever-impressive rhythm section of Eli Eckert (bass, and vocals) and Raj Ojha (drums). Another highlight of the set was the second single released from the record, entitled “Tell Me Those Are Tears of Joy”, which featured the succinct guitar mastery of the ever-stylish Raze Regal.

An extended encore included the bulk of the band’s equally impressive EP Brain. Songs like “Heavenly Bodies” and “Destroy Me” were powerful closing statements for what was already a breathtaking display of prog prowess that showcased Once and Future’s ability to connect with a rather wide, growing fan base. The stamp of Castle Face Records and Burger Records also lends itself to the notion that something special is happening here, something that will catch on as the name continues to spread like the feverish wildfire that assimilates to Once and Future Band’s playing.

Once and Future Band

The National continue to prove they’re one of the best bands out there today

The NationalPhotos by Steve Carlson // Written by Kevin Quandt //

The National with The Lone Bellow //
The Greek Theatre – U.C. Berkeley
July 29th, 2016 //

A rather convincing argument can be made for The National being one of the most significant bands in rock ‘n’ roll over the past decade. Friday night’s return to the Greek Theatre at U.C. Berkeley continued to assist this argument as Matt Berninger and company played a stunning show to a growing, devout crowd on a quintessentially foggy Bay Area summer night. While this tour stop featured a slightly more subdued version of Berninger onstage, this evening wasn’t about his antics, but rather experimenting with a sizable handful of new tracks.

As large music festivals continue to dominate the landscape from May to October across the country and beyond, “non-shed” summer tours are becoming an endangered species. Luckily, The National have had their fill with these events and decided to take a little West Coast jaunt with fellow New York outfit The Lone Bellow, as the indie-leaning folk/blues group brought a surprising amount of energy to an already packed venue. There’s little doubt that frontman Zach Williams and his band won over new fans as their electric stage presence was pretty hard to deny through a genuine engagement with the crowd that was palpable.

The real headline from The National’s performance was hands down the new material that was debuted, pretty much across their entire set, encore included. A rather standard opening of “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and “I Should Live in Salt” led into our first taste of the band’s upcoming LP in the form of “Checking Out”. Though many locals likely recognized this track from last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival (read our review here), it has tightened up over the past year and even begins to sound familiar as the Brooklyn-based five-piece begins to weave in more electronic, synth-like elements.

The National

As much as this sounds like a surprising move, one that could be seen as a risk, the foreign instrumentation is falling nicely into place as fans begin to get a broader scope of the group’s seventh full length. “Find a Way” is another example of this shifting sound, one that could be attributed to Berninger’s side project EL VY, which he formed with Brent Knopf of Menomena, from the past year. Similar to other indie-rock bands like The Walkmen, The National are on a keen path to continually evolving their sound as they age with their stunning catalog.

Other highlights from the Greek show was the sole West Coast rendition of “Slow Show”, an always-blistering rendition of “England” and a nod to the Grateful Dead and their home turf. While many in the know were aware that Bob Weir was playing a little more than 100 miles away in Wheatland, Calif., that still didn’t stop Berninger from offering a guest tease as the group quipped about his past sit-in from 2014 and launched into the Bonnie Dobson track “Morning Dew”. Though this may have been the shortest rendition of the track many Dead fans have heard, it was Berninger’s baritone vocals that added an intense weight to the GD classic. The connection that The National’s five core members seem to have to the music of the Dead is unwavering, and as they gear up for the live debut of the album, one can only imagine how special the Eaux Claires set next weekend in Eau Claire, Wis., will be.

Berkeley received a fairly similar encore to the one the band performed the previous night in Los Angeles, though theirs had Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, singing on new ballad “Prom Song 13th Century (Frankie & Johnny)” and Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs playing along to “Terrible Love”. On this night, Berninger was the sole spectacle for the band’s final songs as he climbed into the crowd, eventually making his way about halfway up the stone seats while getting the occasional “vocal guest” on a raucous version of “Mr. November”. Berninger is one helluva frontman and is truly a massive appeal to their live performance. Watching him onstage can be compared to other “mad geniuses” like Monet, as witnessing the cathartic process of a man pour his soul out to others is one that is both personal and increasingly hard to look away from.

Setlist:
Don’t Swallow the Cap
I Should Live in Salt
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Checking Out (new song)
Afraid of Everyone
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Sometimes I Don’t Think (new song)
Find a Way (new song)
Sea of Love
Slow Show
The Lights (new song)
Pink Rabbits
England
Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson cover)
Fake Empire
The Day I Die (new song)

Encore:
Prom Song 13th Century (Frankie & Johnny) (new song)
Mr. November
Terrible Love

Battles school their SF fans at The Independent with their math-leaning prog chops

BattlesPhotos by Laura Tsu // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Battles with Once and Future Band //
The Independent – San Francisco
June 13th, 2016 //

One of the reigning bands of math-leaning prog rock made a little stop in SF this month to fully demonstrate their technical prowess in front of a happy handful of devout fans.

Up-and-coming Oakland outfit Once and Future Band not only handled support duties, but also damn near showed up the headliners. Playing mostly material off their debut EP Brain, which fully dials into a more psychedelic take on Steely Dan, it’s safe to say these guys are ready to bring their sound to wider audiences as psych rock continues to gain new followers.

Battles

It’s now been a few years — and tours — since Battles shaved off a quarter of their personnel (former lead vocalist/guitarist Tyondai Braxton), and it’s still taking the band some time to make the adjustment. However, similar to what we witnessed at Battles’ gig in LA last year (read our review of the show here), this latest jaunt behind 2015’s La Di Da Di presented a tighter performance from them.

The one-two punch of “Dot Com” into “Ice Cream” is always a surefire crowd-pleaser that fully demonstrates a wide range of chops Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards), Dave Konopka (guitar, bass) and John Stanier (drums) each possess. “Atlas” was nicely placed in the second half of Battles’ setlist and has become a shiny beacon during their shows, even if the song’s vocals are triggered rather than performed live. All in all, the NYC trio is always a romp into unique territory, which remains pretty rewarding to those who seek something different from the rest.

White Denim sport new members but still can rock

White DenimPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Kevin Quandt //

White Denim with Sam Cohen //
The Independent – San Francisco
March 30th, 2016 //

It’s been almost two and a half years since Austin’s own White Denim graced the stage in the Bay Area. Sure, it’s not on a massive stage like Bill Graham Civic Auditorium while opening for The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala. Sure, they may have lost a few founding members in that time. However, with the release of their new album Stiff, they have found a new drive that is sure to take flight in 2016.

Former Apollo Sunshine frontman Sam Cohen took opening duties on this night as White Denim’s touring partner. Cohen’s 2015 debut solo release Cool It has gained some recent attention from these gigs and for good reason as songs like “Let the Mountain Come to You” are shiny diamonds waiting to be discovered. Cohen dialed up the psychedelia when you compare his solo act to Apollo Sunshine, and many were in agreement of the power of this first set at The Indy.

White Denim

SF and the Bay Area have always helped White Denim in their hearts as they combine equal parts heart and technical chops while making rock ‘n’ roll truly fun again, this time with less leopard leotards and hair spray. “Had 2 Know (Personal)” was a ripping opener, delivered with precision to a seriously packed house. A true highlight was Stiff closing track “Thank You”, which acted as a breezy period to catch one’s breath. This show was only the “amuse-bouche” in the Bay Area for White Denim, as one has to think they are gearing up for lots of touring this year. Fine by me.

Setlist:
Had 2 Know (Personal)
Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)
Brain
Thank You
River to Consider
Real Deal Mama
Holda You (I’m Psycho)
Anvil Everything
I Start to Run
Limited by Stature
I Can Tell
(Unknown)
At Night in Dreams
Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)
Cheer Up/Blues Ending
Shake Shake Shake

Geographer’s stock continues to rise to the delight of their Bay Area fans

GeographerPhotos by Karen Goldman // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Geographer with The Crookes //
The New Parish – Oakland
March 31st, 2016 //

Mike Deni’s stock has been rising quickly in recent years, as Geographer grows from local stalwart into nationally recognized indie act. His dreamy take on things has earned him a loyal following of 20-somethings, and this was made evident by his band’s packed show at The New Parish last Thursday.

Fresh off a “10-pack” of gigs at South by Southwest, UK up-and-comers The Crookes warmed up the room in stellar fashion. It shouldn’t be too long before these youngsters are headlining a night at Popscene with their up-tempo, dance-pop offerings that are undeniably catchy.

The room was abuzz by the time Geographer had taken the stage, and Deni and company did not disappoint. Geographer know how to delight their fans, and this intimate setting allowed for a deeper connection than some of their larger local shows in the past year. One highlight was “Kites”, beckoning back to their early EP Animal Shapes. And like that, the locomotive had pulled into station for the night and we all resumed our “normal” lives.