Sigur Rós induce goosebumps with their emotive performance at the Greek Theatre Berkeley

Sigur RósPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

Sigur Rós //
The Greek Theatre – U.C. Berkeley
April 8th, 2017 //

The slow-burning, epic grandeur of Sigur Rós was on full display in Berkeley last Saturday night as the Icelandic group made its Bay Area fans feel a massive range of emotions, from meditative moments to outright joyousness. No matter what the decibel level was coming from the stage, this audience absorbed each song in a cerebral way, with solemn respect.

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong.

Sigur Rós

The Berkeley show pulled a fairly even amount of favorites, as the Sigur Rós live spectacle has become a two-set event with no opener since last year. The first set felt like a proper warm-up, grounding us in the Greek Theatre’s immaculate sound. But the second set brought heavenly satisfaction and micro-concussion blasts of beauty from such songs as “Starálfur”, “Festival” and my personal favorite, the first track off of their (Untitled) album known as “Vaka”.

This tour has been building up to Sigur Rós’ special performances this week in Los Angeles, where they’ll perform alongside the LA Philharmonic for the first set with arrangements by Dan Deacon, Anna Meredith, Own Pallett and many more. This Friday (April 14th), you can teleport yourself to the show with Pitchfork’s live stream of this momentous event. It’s the first time the band has performed with an orchestra in 15 years, so don’t miss it!

Set 1:
Ekki Múkk

Set 2:
Ný Batterí

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015 spreads contagious smiles across Golden Gate Park

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2015 - The Stone Foxes

The Stone Foxes

Photos by Tom Dellinger // Written by Mike Frash //

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015 //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 2nd-4th, 2015 //

Oh Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, how the Bay Area loves you. It may be hard for those outside of Northern California to imagine how such a massive gathering of celebratory music lovers “chillax” in harmony, spreading contagious smiles with strangers and friends alike. But it happens every year in early October thanks to the late, great Warren Hellman.

See some of what you missed via the eye candy below, whether you were at the three-day fest witnessing your own slice of life or watching from home on the webcast. And if you couldn’t make it, there’s always next year.

Kate Tempest is about to blow up, get in early

Kate TempestPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

Kate Tempest //
The Independent – San Francisco
May 20th, 2015 //

Take a look at Kate Tempest. Now go listen to her music and see her live because she’s a force to be reckoned with.

The unlikely future of rap calls Southeast London home, and Tempest (born Kate Esther Calvert) can rant with the best of ’em. At one point late in her SF show, she authoritatively proclaimed, “I tell stories!” And after 45 minutes of reoccurring characters, motivation to overcome self-doubt and an exploration of the more hollow aspects of city life, there was no doubt.

Tempest has the uncanny ability to smack you in the face with her rhyme delivery and confidence, but the best part is that her show is hardly a clone of her produced material — upon arrival on stage, she spit the lyrics of “Marshall Law” entirely a cappella.

Even though she clearly thrives on her own, Tempest performs with a live band. Immediate bonus points.

Her hybrid blend of rap-poetry leaves a quick mental imprint with her overtly sharp British cadence, but tracked over minimalist digital production creates an explosive combination. The instrumentals deftly shift from synth-driven, syncopated beats to low-end drops, pushing into territory bordering Caribou and Jamie xx. It’s flat out on point.

Kate Tempest

This decade will likely be known for the death of “genre,” the end of how groups have been contained into categories like R&B or rap since the birth of record labels. And with dance music on the rise, digitized conventions are creeping into pop, rap and indie music on the regular. With music more accessible than ever and for free, listeners are willing to experiment with their auditory material — and amalgamation is the natural result.

Tempest represents this change as much or more than anyone as we enter the smack-dab middle of this decade. And that includes Kanye West, Sylvan Esso or Run the Jewels.

Primed to get big quickly, her SF show at The Independent marks the beginning of the second leg of her U.S. tour. Tempest already made a critical splash in March with a standard LA-into-SXSW-into-NYC introduction. Now, it’s time for word of mouth to spread her impactful storytelling beyond indie blogs.

The end of the “I tell stories” rant ended powerfully and summarized her ethos well. “More empathy. Less greed. Change the narrative in your own life.” We could all use a motivational speaker like Tempest to help believe in ourselves at times, and it’s exciting to see someone like her just getting started.

FYF Fest reveals 2015 lineup


FYF Fest //
LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park – Los Angeles
August 22nd-23rd, 2015 //

The 12th annual FYF Fest once again promises a delicious distillation of trending indie music, whether in the vein of electronic, rap or rock acts. Although, this year seems to be pretty lean in the traditional rock department.

Frank Ocean and Morrissey will headline the festival’s 2015 edition, while D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Deerhunter, Run the Jewels, Flume, Jon Hopkins, Spiritualized, FKA Twigs, Nicolas Jaar, Mac DeMarco, Thee Oh Sees and many more are also on the docket.

Produced in conjunction with LA concert promoter Goldenvoice, FYF will sell weekend passes for $175 and single-day passes for $109. Buy tickets starting this Friday, May 8th at 12 p.m.

FYF Fest

Kevin Parker links to new Tame Impala track “Disciples” via intriguing reddit AMA

Tame Impala

Photos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker took to the reddit AMA community format on Thursday to answer questions from the masses for an intriguing information dump.

He also linked to a new track from Currents titled “Disciples.” Listen to it now:

Parker spoke on his favorite guitar petal (surprise! it’s reverb), how he’s developed his singing voice over time, along with the evolving nature of Tame Impala’s album artwork. His current artistic inspirations include Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator and Caribou.

The big takeaway? When he was asked about people downloading and streaming music for free:

Eh…. I feel like music will be free sooner or later, and i think I’m all for it. There’s all this talk of music needing a monetary value, this ownership of music, even that it needs a physical form. But intrinsically… it’s MUSIC, it should be better than that. Some of my most important musical experiences were from a burnt CD with songs my friend downloaded for me at a terrible digital quality… I didn’t care… it changed my life all the same. For me the value of music is the value you extract from it. You want to know a story? Up until recently, from all of tame impala’s record sales outside of australia I had received…. zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money. Then Blackberry and some tequila brand or something put my song in an ad. Then I bought a house and set up a studio. I know what you’re thinking… “wait so…when I bought an album I was helping some businessman pay for his mansion on an island somewhere, and when some dude bought a mobile phone he was helping to pay an artist? WHHHYY?” I’ll tell you why, IT’S MONEY. It doesn’t always go where you want it to go. It’s like a shopping trolley with a bung wheel. As far as I’m concerned the best thing you can do for an artist is LISTEN to the music…fall in love with it…….talk about it………get it however you can get it….Let the corporations pay for. This is just my brain rambling remember, I’m sure there are holes in my theories… for example I realise not everyone’s music is suited to a mobile phone ad, and it would be lame if artists tailored their music for that purpose.

Zero dollars on record sales until recently? This is a brutally honest indictment on the music industry as a whole. Also, what a refreshing artist take on music streaming, one that doesn’t feel forced like Jack White’s recent Tidal-cross promoting proclamations that “music is sacred.”

Parker also was asked about Tame Imapla’s LP3, Currents, and if it will be “more pop based” in line with “Let It Happen” and “‘Cause I’m A Man.” He said:

Pop you say….. That’s a broad word… I’ve always thought all Tame Impala was total pop (whatever pop is these days) (I guess because I don’t hear the oceans of reverb and distortion… which can influence ones perception of the “genre” of a song no doubt…). Like I heard this full on piano ballad R&B cover of Backwards once, and I was like woah! is that my song??

There’s a lot of different stuff on the new album, It definitely has the most variation of any album I’ve done in the past.

In response, a reddit user asked “Come on man, link me that shit, I wanna hear it,” and Parker replied “youtube bro. it’s all there.”

The promotional effort is clearly gearing up, Tame Impala played Conan between Coachella appearances, and still there is no album release date on the books. It makes you wonder if Parker might drop it out of nowhere on us. Is it possible the new album is spread out all over YouTube, ready to be discovered by internet sleuths? Probably not, but that would be fun and parallel to Parker’s statement on music streaming.

The most important revelation of the day: If he weren’t a musician, Parker would be a scarf designer “Because a well designed scarf is hard to come by…”

Tame Impala

GO4FREE Bay Area // What So Not, Cashmere Cat, Squarepusher or Cloud Nothings

CAPTION THIS to win a pair of free tickets to Fauxchella shows in the Bay Area this week.

CAPTION THIS to win a pair of free tickets to Fauxchella shows in the Bay Area this week.

Photo by Pedro Paredes //

Hey, we can’t all go to Coachella. And there are some music heads in the Bay Area that would much rather take on Fauxchella — the runoff of incredible shows in Northern California during these next two weeks.

This week we have four top notch Bay Area shows for you from artists that will also be in the desert this weekend:

What So Not: April 10th (FRI) @ Mezzanine // BUY TICKETS
Squarepusher: April 11th (SAT) @ Mezzanine // BUY TICKETS
Cloud Nothings: April 12th (SUN) @ The Independent // BUY TICKETS
Cashmere Cat: April 12th (SUN) at The New Parish // BUY TICKETS

1. Caption the above photo from our recent of Montreal story in the comments below.
2. After your caption, include the shows you would like to attend, with your top choice first.
3. Include your real email in the email field! This is how we’ll let you know you’ve won.
4. The caption comments with the most UpVotes by 5pm on Thursday, April 9th will win top commenters two free tickets to the shows indicated (if your choice is still available).

***Not good at captions? Comment with a link to your favorite song by one of these artists or tell us something interesting.

Like Showbams on Facebook, follow Showbams on Twitter and follow Showbams on Instagram for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows throughout the week:

4/7 The Preatures at The Independent
4/8 Lilly Wood and The Prick at Mezzanine
4/9 Little Wings at The Chapel
4/9 Young Moon at Brick & Mortar
4/9 Yelle at Mezzanine
4/10 Lakes at Great American Music Hall
4/10 Afrofunk Experience with the Broun Fellinis at The Chapel
4/10 Haunted Summer at Leo’s
4/11 The Lovemakers at Leo’s
4/11 Black Milk at Brick & Mortar


Mac DeMarco appears to have a new album on the way


Mac DeMarco’s fourth studio album appears to be on the way. Mac shared a compilation video on Friday afternoon that includes snippets of five new songs being mastered in the studio — along with a variety of wacky faces.

Ever the king of keeping it loose, this mini-preview of new material sounds like a natural extension of Salad Days, one of our favorite albums of 2014.

Does this mean Mac will have new material to tout on the road this year, including stops at Coachella & Outside Lands? That would be nice.


James Murphy makes statement on LCD Soundsystem four years to the day since last show

James Murphy

It’s been four years since LCD Soundsystem broke up, something that seems to be weighing heavily on the mind of the captain, James Murphy. He posted this on the LCD Soundsystem Facebook page on Thursday:

it’s been 4 years to the day since the last show. so, if “post lcd” was college, we’d be graduating from “post lcd” now. assuming we didn’t get an incomplete in, say, comparative lit, and need to turn in a paper later in the year. it’s been a fun four years for everyone, all the music from New Build, Museum of Love, nancy doing stuff with The Juan MacLean, The Crystal Ark, tyler’s tropical techno nights on Berlin Community Radio. i miss everyone being in one room, of course, but it’s been a wonderful 4 years of freedom for everyone, i think. thank you guys for listening to us, and for continuing to care. it means a lot.

Murphy tends to post on the LCD Facebook page regularly, helping to promote Pat Mahoney’s project Museum of Love, post nostalgic TBT-like items and engage with fans directly — so this shouldn’t be taken as a harbinger for an imminent return. Murphy is living the dream now. It costs 30 bucks to listen to him spin obscure records from the 70’s. He takes on fun projects like Subway Symphony, where he turned the “beep” sound you hear when going through the NYC Subway turnstile into an aurally pleasurable experience. The success of LCD Soundsystem has created a world for Murphy where he can do whatever he wants.

If there were to be a reunion or even another album, it would have to be relatively soon, right? The end of the band seemed pretty resolute in Shut Up and Play the Hits, and the final tour was explicitly billed as just that — the end. But if LCD did come back, they’d be surefire festival headliners and could bank cash quickly without relentlessly touring.

It reminds me of another band with a fervent fan base: Phish. Phish frontman Trey Anastasio was done in 2004, flaming out in a spectacularly drugged-out mess (quite the opposite of LCD). But Phish resolutely called it quits with their extended hiatus, and they were gone for four-plus years.

Upon returning, Phish toured much less, playing maybe 25 shows a year in three-week spurts. They bring along their families, and each member has their own bus — and they do it sober. Most importantly, they returned on their own terms. LCD Soundsystem can have this.

In 2012, Murphy told SF Weekly, “Health is a big reason [to end LCD]. Life is a big reason. I didn’t live a normal life for a long time. I toured and made records and toured and made records. I didn’t want to be stuck being in a professional band and not having a life.”

The most memorable part from Shut Up and Play the Hits is his thoughts on going gray from touring, then pondering, “What’s going on inside? I don’t want to, like, die.”

The tone of this Facebook status update from Murphy exudes the feeling that he misses LCD Soundsystem. We miss you, too. Please come back on your own terms when you’re ready.

Outside Lands daily lineups are out!

Outside Lands fans

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 7th-9th, 2015 //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is ahead of the curve this year, selling out general admission three-day tickets in 45 minutes.

Now the single-day lineups are out, and we can breath easily knowing that the good people at APE and Superfly have not pitted Elton John versus Kendrick Lamar (thank you). One more request: Please help us avoid a D’Angelo vs. St. Vincent conflict.

Mumford & Sons will be up against Wilco (or maybe D’Angelo) to get the fest started, and you’ll have to decide between The Black Keys and Kendrick Lamar on Saturday.

Will Sam Smith open for Elton John or go against him at the Twin Peaks Stage on Sunday? Logic would dictate that Smith will open for Elton John, perhaps even duet with each other, and dance acts will take over Twin Peaks on Sunday with AXWELL Λ INGROSSO headlining. It’s easy to imagine many upset three-day ticket holders if Elton John and Sam Smith are at the same time.

Take a look at the full daily lineups here at the Outside Lands website, and below. If you planon getting single-day tickets, be sure to be ready at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Buy your tickets here.

FRIDAY, August 7th

Mumford & Sons
D’Angelo and The Vanguard
St. Vincent
Porter Robinson
Chet Faker
First Aid Kit
RL Grime
Lake Street Dive
George Ezra
Lindsey Stirling
Glass Animals
Robert DeLong
Leon Bridges
The Family Crest
The Revivalists
Strand of Oaks
Speedy Ortiz
Natalie Prass
The Sam Chase

SATURDAY, August 8th

The Black Keys
Kendrick Lamar
Tame Impala
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Billy Idol
Milky Chance
Toro Y Moi
Mac DeMarco
Angus & Julia Stone
Laura Marling
Django Django
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Langhorne Slim & The Law
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Twin Peaks
Fantastic Negrito
Devon Baldwin
The Tropics

SUNDAY, August 9th

Elton John
Sam Smith
Axwell & Ingrosso
Slightly Stoopid
Hot Chip
The Devil Makes Three
Nate Ruess
DJ Mustard
St. Paul and The Broken Bones
James Bay
Green Velvet & Claude VonStroke: Get Real
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Sky Ferreira
Shakey Graves
Dan Deacon
Benjamin Booker
Ryn Weaver
Alex Bleeker & The Freaks


Toro y Moi pivots to psych-disco-funk & a greater sense of band unity

Toro-Y-Moi_postPhoto by Sam Ortega // Written by Mike Frash //

Toro y Moi //
The Independent – San Francisco
March 28th, 2015 //

Much has changed for Chaz Bundick and his project Toro y Moi since playing The Independent two years ago. Keyboardist Anthony Ferraro was added to the touring band, Toro y Moi then graduated to performing at the much larger Fox Theater Oakland, and Bundick once again reset and pivoted toward a new beat for his fourth album under the TYM moniker.

The fourth Toro y Moi album, What For?, is set to release April 7th, and you can listen to it now at NPR Music.

But there’s another new element that emerged from witnessing Toro y Moi premier new tracks over the weekend in SF at The Independent. It’s becoming more and more ambiguous whether Toro y Moi is Chaz Bundick, or is Toro y Moi the five-piece group that impressed in such a spectacular, unhurried way Saturday night with 70’s-influenced psych-disco-funk. Granted they can be both at once, and Bundick is the sole creative song-crafting force, but it must be asked now: Is Toro y Moi a man or a band?

An intense wall of sound began the show with “What You Want,” the first track off the new LP, pushing the soundboard into the red with all instruments swirling on the high side, jarring the shit out of me. Yes, it was the opposite of chill, but it acted as a palate cleanser, bringing an “I am here” mentality to the moment. The band and sound team may have still been acclimating to each other, but it more likely was an intentional sonic slap to the face. And once the second single “Buffalo” took over next, the sound was tight and dialed in for the duration of the 90-minute show.

There is less focus on Bundick as the centerpiece of the outfit compared to before, with more attention being paid to the unit’s loose cohesiveness that ultimately creates a wandering, exploratory sensibility.

Bundick is now positioned all the way to stage left, as opposed to being front and center at the podium, which was the touring setup in support of the electronic-leaning Anything in Return. When Bundick took to the keys during the encore, he crafted an interlacing synchronicity with band key player Anthony Ferraro that had the two locked in sync. A focus on group solidarity appears to be the centerpiece now.

Selections from Anything in Return got the biggest reaction out of the SF crowd (most notably “Rose Quartz”, “So Many Details” & “Say That” to end the night”), but each cut transitioned into funk grooves, getting a coat of paint from the mindset of the new album. Les Sins seems to be Bundick’s electronic vehicle now, while Toro y Moi delves into heady instrumentation in the vein of Underneath The Pine.

Now a Bay Area resident out of Berkeley, Bundick morphs and changes in some way with each new output — that much is clear. And Chaz Bundick deserves all credit as the creative force behind Toro y Moi, but with this step toward group unification, perhaps it makes sense to dub Toro y Moi as a band instead of a stage name.

What You Want
New Beat
High Living
Half Dome
Rose Quartz
So Many Details
Grown Up Calls
Low Shoulder
Still Sound
The Flight
Spell It Out
Empty Nesters
Yeah Right

Why feat. Nate Salman (Les Sins cover)
Say That

How to Dress Well reinterprets ‘Pour Cyril’ with orchestral backing // LISTEN

How-to-Dress-Well_postPhotos by Marc Fong & Sterling Munksgard // Written by Mike Frash //

Tom Krell is as close as you can get to a male siren — his voice is simply that beautiful and hauntingly dynamic.

And now we get to listen to a highlight from How to Dress Well’s “What is This Heart?”, “Pour Cyril”, stripped down with assistance from local luminary Minna Choi (from Magik*Magik Orchestra). It’s gorgeous — listen here.

Also, listen to the most recent episode of Song Exploder, in which How to Dress Well deconstructs “Pour Cyril” and tells the story behind the song. This was recorded at Swedish American Hall during Noise Pop.


Outside Lands 2015: Elton John, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar are your headliners

Outside Lands

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 7th-9th, 2015 //

The eighth Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has unleashed its 2015 lineup, and it’s a winner. At first glance, this looks like the best lineup in the history of the fest.

The headliners are Elton John, Mumford and Sons, The Black Keys, Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar & Wilco.

Other notable acts include Tame Impala, D’Angelo and the Vangaurd, St. Vincent, Hot Chip, Caribou, Mac DeMarco, Toro y Moi, Dan Deacon, First Aid Kit, ODESZA, Laura Marling, Sky Ferreria, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Classixx, Leon Bridges, Strand of Oaks, Green Velvet & Claude VonStroke, Natalie Prass, Django Django, Glass Animals, Speedy Ortiz, Shakey Graves, Lake Street Dive, Giraffage, Allah-Las, Benjamin Booker, METZ, DJ Mustard, The Revivalists, Iration, The Devil Makes Three, Twin Peaks, The Family Crest, Alvvays & Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.


Also playing at Outside Lands 2015 are Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Billy Idol, Porter Robinson, G-Easy, Slightly Stoopid, Chet Faker, Misterwives, DJ Mustard, Angus & Julia Stone, Robert DeLong, Ryn Weaver, James Bay, RL Grime, Milky Chance, GIVERS, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, SZA, The Sam Chase, Langhorne Slim & The Law, George Ezra, Fantastic Negrito, Broods, Lindsey Stirling, Nate Ruess, DMA’s, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Devon Baldwin, & The Tropics.

Watch the announcement video at Funny or Die and see the full lineup here.

Get your tickets starting Thursday at 10 a.m.


Tweedy have a full circle moment at The Fillmore

Tweedy_The Fillmore_031815_Pedro Paredes-Haz-3Photos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Mike Frash //

Tweedy //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
March 17th & 18th, 2015 //

Tweedy, the familial duo of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his percussive son Spencer, only began touring last year in support of Sukierae, an under-appreciated 20-track LP. The two shows at The Fillmore in SF this week marked a charming, nostalgic occasion for the frontman and living legend.

Jeff Tweedy has long been known for his gifted ability for stage banter, and Tuesday evening was no exception.

He introduced many songs with the band by stating their time measure, perhaps to keep the band focused and on the same page — the patriarch introduced the band with a backhanded but likely truthful comment, saying he brings the handful of young musicians on the road to “keep Spencer company.” To me, the band sounded great most of the night — we can’t all be as good as Nels Cline.

Tweedy_The Fillmore_031815_Pedro Paredes-Haz-2

When beginning to introduce his son Spencer on drums, Jeff brought up the documentary “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” a fascinating documentary that chronicles the chaotic process of creating and distributing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco’s seminal album. He recalled his 11-year-old running around The Fillmore in the early aughts as Wilco played some of their best songs before the album had even released. Then, he looked back at his son, now on stage behind the drum kit.

What a full circle moment.

Take a look at this section of the documentary here. Skip ahead to 1:17:30 to see Spencer on the tour bus playing drums on his lap and quizzing his dad on which Wilco song he was playing while Jeff guesses.

The film then goes into Wilco performing “Heavy Metal Drummer” at The Fillmore before Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released.

The music of Tweedy is essentially Wilco Jr., just as catchy and memorable but simplified. The 30-song setlist was split into two sections, the first half with the full band and the rest solo-acoustic as Jeff played Wilco tunes and covers.

As always, the man has a Mona Lisa stage presence, making it feel like he’s always looking at you. Mr. Tweedy is a man in tune to his surroundings.

He also referenced a handful of children near the front of the stage throughout the night, noting that they only used their earplugs in between songs as a sort of “earmuffs” measure and that their presence made him feel “uncomfortable.”

Perhaps it was the thought of how much time has passed since Spencer was their age that made Mr. Tweedy feel a tad anxious.

Tweedy_The Fillmore_031815_Pedro Paredes-Haz-1

Bored DJ turns airplane ambiance into mile high dance jam // WATCH


“When you’re bored on a plane make music.” Enjoy the view outside.

This is how you turn boredom into creative productivity.

Killer Mike’s ‘fuck boy’ chant in response to fuck boy SXSW fan is all time

Run-the-JewelsPhotos by Alfonso Solis // Written by Mike Frash //

The music portion of SXSW got underway on Monday in Austin, and Run the Jewels were busy continuing their rise to the throne at the Spotify House. Then some shit went down …

Killer Mike was likely having a good day — Kendrick Lamar gave the substantive spitter a massive shout out in his new track, “Hood Politics,” which unleashed on Sunday. In contrast to Kdot’s “Control” verse that took on the genre at large, the praise for Killer Mike is particularly loud due to the lack of shout outs to others.

So as RTJ was firing up “Banana Clipper,” someone from the audience walked up on stage like he owned the place and looked to be on the hunt for El-P.

Killer Mike takes the role of bouncer with security seemingly minimal and hunts down the stage crasher with gusto.

The most appropriate part: this is the song where Mike later says, “I sent they mom a little cash and a sympathy letter/ Told her she raised a bunch a fuck boys, next time do better/ Bitch.” Mike reiterates this in his response to the situation:

“Fuck boy” is RTJ’s catch all for weak ass phonies, and the phrase is sprinkled throughout their two LPs. It represents everything El & Mike are against in their populist, antics-driven crusade for real. And Mr. Render’s response to the altercation feeds into RTJ’s growing influence and the moment perfectly.

The best part: Mike has El’s back and vice versa. These guys truly are brothers.


Help protect SF music venues from developers & new noise complaints with one minute of your time

ggb-stars_postPhoto by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

San Francisco is changing. Rapidly. As technology jobs increase every day in the Bay Area, high-income people from all over the world are moving into San Francisco, which has always been a transitory City.

Case in point, the February median price of a one-bedroom apartment:

SF Rents February

Supperclub, I-Beam, Cafe Cocomo, Lucky 13 & The Lexington, have all bit the dust or have a significant threat to their existence. There is development in the works near both The Independent & Slim’s…the threat to the arts in San Francisco is real and it’s happening now.

Supervisor London Breed is introducing legislation that to protect nightlife venues from new developments. The legislation prevents venues from being shut down if they are operating within their permits, requires developers to work with venues before they start construction, and ensures that all potential tenants of a new development know about the local venues before they move in.

SF bar & venue owner Ben Bleiman has organized this petition you need to sign (it will a take a couple minutes), which aims to gather support for Breed’s new legislation.

300 more signatures are needed in the next four days to fulfill this petition (at the time of publishing), which will show a unified voice to SF City Hall. It’s the only way to ensure our world-renowned nightlife will continue to thrive throughout this period of rapid change in SF.

Click here to sign the petition.

Bleiman writes:

As a bar/venue owner in San Francisco, I have seen time and time again how one new neighbor or a group of new neighbors from a recently developed “market rate” property can force beloved nightlife venues to endure lawsuits, harassment and even closure. These venues’ only “infraction” was conducting their businesses legally and as they have for years before the new developments. Supervisor London Breed has bravely and rightly proposed a commonsense solution, and I enthusiastically, wholeheartedly support her legislation!

Protect live music in San Francisco by joining this petition and spreading the word.

RELATED: Best Live Music Venues in San Francisco // Bay Area


High Sierra Music Fest adds Umphrey’s McGee, The Word, Lake Street Dive, Nicki Bluhm, Lotus & more

High Sierra Music Festival #14Photo by Justin Halgren // Written by Mike Frash //

High Sierra Music Festival //
Quincy, CA
July 2nd-5th, 2015 //

The 25th addition of High Sierra Music Festival is starting to look like a major celebration of the magical four-day fest’s history.

This lineup is arguably stronger than any in the past five years, rewarding the HSMF faithful for years of loyalty. I gotta say, this is not only a great alternative compared to the final Dead shows in Chicago, but it looks much more fun. Dig into the lineup (so far) below.

Also, discover why we keep going back to High Sierra Music Festival.

Phase Two additions include:
Umphrey’s McGee
The John Butler Trio
The Word (John Medeski, Robert Randolph, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, Chris Chew)
Lake Street Dive
Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers
The Jeff Austin Band featuring Danny Barnes, Ross Martin, Eric Thorin
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
The Motet
Jennifer Hartswick
The Waifs
The Nth Power
Steve Poltz
Marco Benevento
Nathan Moore
The Main Squeeze
Scott Pemberton
The Black Lillies
Tim Flannery & The Lunatic Fringe
Con Brio
T Sisters
Patchy Sanders
Eagle Rock Gospel Singers
The Nibblers
Michael McNevin
The Sam Chase
Jessica Lurie – Artist-At-Large
Living Folklore

Get your HSMF tickets here.

High Sierra

What do Modest Mouse’s 5 new songs say about the upcoming album?

Modest-Mouse_postBy Mike Frash //

The Pacific Northwest’s premier indie act hasn’t put out a new material for eight years, but Modest Mouse is set for a thundering return on March 17th with their sixth studio album, Stranger to Ourselves.

The marketing campaign behind the new material has been substantial, which isn’t too surprising when you look at their discography. The first five full length albums from the group averaged 15 songs each — and wouldn’t you know the new long player has 15 tracks.

And in the lead up to the album launch, we’ve already been treated with five new songs. They’re all solidly in the range from good to amazing. Modest Mouse has shared a variety of different sounding tracks — all within the group’s established wheelhouse — hinting at a depth of musical exploration that we expect from Isaac Brock and company. The lyrics seem to coalesce about doomsday prophesies that focus on our own undoing (read: climate change) over zombies or aliens.

Based on these singles, Stranger to Ourselves could be a top-shelf album in 2015 — but that might all change once the full album is released. Let’s break down the first third of the new Modest Mouse album in the order new tracks have debuted.

1. “Lampshades n Fire”

Released: December 15th, 2014
First Reaction: It’s as anthemic as Modest Mouse gets, Brock’s voice sounds the same as before and it looks like they’re brining the rage. The song contains that out-of-the-side-of-your-mouth spiteful, punk edge yet is packaged nicely for the masses.
Most Memorable Lyrics: Spend some time to float in outer space / Find another planet, make the same mistakes/ Our mind’s all shattered when we climb aboard / Hopin’ for the scientists to find another door
Rank: 4/5 BAMS
Takeaway: If you haven’t heard this song on your local alt-rock station or channel yet, just wait.

2. “Coyotes”

Released: January 19th, 2015
First Reaction: It’s a ballad, and it contrasts “Lampshades On Fire.” Sounds like a bit of a filler song.
Most Memorable Lyrics: And we say: “We’re in love, with everything.” / And we lie, we love to lie.
Rank: 3/5 BAMS
Takeaway: It’s a long-form fib, getting at the underbelly of some collective facade of happiness.

3. “The Best Room”

Released: February 2nd, 2015
First Reaction: Modest Mouse is back!!! The song structure is sophisticated, but it’s easy to relate to and it has a healthy dose of crazy.
Most Memorable Lyrics: These Western concerns are all I ever really learned to be concerned with / But don’t you, don’t you know it’s hard / Feeling tired every time that you try?
Rank: 5/5 BAMS
Takeaway: The album’s penultimate song is about Isaac Brock’s UFO encounter, it took 20 years to make, and it might be one of the best songs of the year by anyone. It gets better each time I listen.

4. “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box”

Released: February 16th, 2015
First Reaction: This is my new jam and should be the second radio single for the album.
Most Memorable Lyrics: Our predecessor left this box / And somethings clawing around / I think it really wants out
Rank: 4.5/5 BAMS
Takeaway: The convergence of driving instrumentals (including that super catchy guitar lick) and the grim lyrical outlook of everything going in the wrong direction juxtapose each other, yet hint at some kind of cause and effect.

5. “Of Course We Know”

Released: March 3rd, 2015
First Reaction: The way this lyrically-indecisive cut seamlessly progresses into a floaty, pleasurable wall of sound makes it masterful stuff.
Most Memorable Lyrics: The streets are just blankets and we sleep on their silky corpse / Covered up by them, why would we ever want to wake up?
Rank: 4/5 BAMS
Takeaway: Giving some epic, post-rock bliss to end the album is a solid way to to wrap up what might end up being an epic collection of songs.

Modest Mouse’s Stranger to Ourselves will be out March 17th via Epic.

01. Strangers to Ourselves
02. Lampshades on Fire
03. Shit in Your Cut
04. Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)
05. Ansel
06. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box 
07. Coyotes
08. Pups to Dust  
09. Sugar Boats
10. Wicked Campaign 
11. Be Brave 
12. God Is an Indian and You’re an Asshole  
13. The Tortoise and the Tourist  
14. The Best Room  
15. Of Course We Know  


Dan Deacon could be the ideal Noise Pop artist

Dan-Deacon-1_optPhotos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Mike Frash //

Dan Deacon with Running in the Fog, Blackout Make Out, Dutty Wilderness //
The Chapel – San Francisco
February 28th, 2015 //

Dan Deacon might be the ideal Noise Pop artist, both in regard to the Bay Area festival and the subgenre at large. Layer upon insane layer of sound interprets into harmonious infectiousness, a feat that hints at an intersection of mathematical and creative genius. The guy takes all sorts of frequencies and cross sections of genre elements and composes it all together into a crescendo of weird, atypical pop. And by weird, I mean the very good kind of weird.

His “best camp councilor ever” routine and crowd control mindshare through mid-show engagement games didn’t work best in the confined space of this Saturday night Noise Pop show. The “follow the leader dancer games” had Saturday night revelers jumping into the leader circle out of turn, but it didn’t matter much as Deacon sent vibes out in every direction via his finger-maestro “the claw” move.


The space restrictions of The Chapel allowed Deacon to focus more on delivering wondrous live versions of songs from his new album Gliss Riffer, which shined brightly throughout the evening. “Feel the Lightning” is a trojan horse synth-pop vehicle that will attract new fans to Deacon in coming months. It worked wonders toward the end of the ecstatic set.

There was some mild crowd surfing in the pit area of the venue, which hints at Deacon’s punk crossover abilities. There was one crowd engagement exercise that really worked though — show goers were invited to dance on the stage, then were instructed to go back into the audience via a methodical, crowd-surfing, rebirthing process. Once that was done, Deacon ironically put a moratorium on crowd surfing “because I don’t like being kicked in the face.”

One of the toughest things to do in the world of electronic music is to sound organic, to imbue a sense of heart into the digitized nature of ones and zeroes. The Baltimore native accomplishes this through his hilarious and improvisational free-form, stand-up comedy, which thrives on wandering non sequiturs. And he mirrors this by adapting his insane-train of sound to meet and exceed the energy in the room. The “America” suite finished off the show with an extended doom metal quality that gave a sense that no aesthetic boundaries can contain Deacon’s sense of musical exploration.

Shouldn’t Spotify let you follow along to your friend’s song selection in real time?

Spotify_postFeature request written by Mike Frash //

The socialization of music has been both a boon and detriment to artists. Awareness and engagement has never been easier — but monetizing can now be more of a struggle.

Streaming service titan Spotify gets most of the negative press surrounding unfair artist compensation (see Thom Yorke, Taylor Swift and Bjork as recent examples), but they’ve done better than their competitors in connecting listeners to their friends — corralling an evolution of human interaction that thrived on real life word of mouth for centuries until Napster, peer-to-peer sharing came along.

The right sidebar of the Spotify application shows what your friends are currently listing to, which is one of Spotify’s best features. It brings to you the music that is trending with your Facebook friends.

So, isn’t the next natural step to patch into your friends’ song selection process, essentially choosing to make your friend a digital DJ? If I notice my friend play three songs in a row that match my mood, wouldn’t it be valuable if there was a simple “DJ” button to click next to each user’s name? Then you’d be listening to your friend DJ live. More importantly, you would be listening to music together in real time. This would also inject a higher level of thoughtfulness into user curation.

I would use this feature often — what better way would there be to have music curated for you than by the people you wish you were hanging out with instead of being in that 40-hour-a-week cubicle?

Spotify users — would you dig this feature?

Send your feature request ideas to