The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2022

Best of 2022After seeing what the live music industry endured the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 was certainly a step in the right direction. For many artists and bands, this year marked the first since 2019 that they had the opportunity to step onstage — and that was a victory in and of itself.

While we aren’t completely out of the woods yet considering the coronavirus is still very much a part of our lives, there’s no signs of us returning to those dark and dire days of 2020. The shows simply must go on, and we are all better for it whether you’re a musician or just a fan.

Now as we turn to 2023 with cautious optimism, it’s time for us to share our annual “Best of” lists as we have done since this blog first began (see our 2021 picks here). We’ll be quick to admit we didn’t catch every show or hear all of the albums released in the past 12 months, but looking back on the year that was can not only be fun but also challenging with so much great music to consider.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2022.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2022:

Tool - Viejas Arena


Tool at Viejas Arena // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2022
1. My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO – August 26th-27th
2022 will go down as easily one of my favorite years for live music. So many of the artists and bands I love toured after being forced to sit on the sidelines for at least two years, and as I look back on all of the shows I was fortunate enough to witness, it would be a shame to not mention the ones that aren’t already included here, whether it was Eddie Vedder, Baroness, Royal Blood, Interpol and The Shins at Just Like Heaven, Jack White (two nights), The Kills, Puscifer on my big day, Fleet Foxes, Big Gigantic Telefon Tel Aviv, Moderat, Khruangbin and Arctic Monkeys — plus Lorde — at the debut of Primavera Sound LA, The Mars Volta, Bonobo, Foals, Modest Mouse performing The Lonesome Crowded West from start to finish to celebrate the LP’s 25th anniversary or The Smile closing out their North America tour. But this year’s No. 1 spot once again goes to My Morning Jacket, which have become my top live band over the last decade among some very stiff competition (see the rest of the bands listed below to get a better idea). With back-to-back dates in SoCal at the Santa Barbara Bowl and Hollywood Forever (read our review here) serving as a preview for what would come the following week, the Louisville-bred rockers left no stone unturned in their return to Red Rocks. If there was ever an act to catch — not once but twice — at the legendary amphitheater after visiting it more than a dozen times in my life so far, this was the one for me and MMJ proved it over two sold-out gigs with no repeats as always.

2. The War on Drugs at Shrine Auditorium – Los Angeles, CA – February 26th
3. Pearl Jam at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – May 6th
4. Tool at Viejas Arena – San Diego, CA – January 19th
5. Nine Inch Nails at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – September 13th

Top 5 Albums of 2022
1. The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
It wasn’t until last year during a surprise performance for the concert video “Live at Worthy Farm” when we first learned of the latest side project from Radiohead members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood with Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. But after putting out six singles off their debut LP that came out back in May, it was clear the three-piece wasn’t messing around. Across all 13 tracks on A Light for Attracting Attention, it’s safe to say there isn’t one worth skipping, reaffirming why Yorke remains one of the best songwriters out there in the last 30 years. And with him and Greenwood switching off between guitar, bass and synthesizer among a bevy of other instrumentation including vocoder, piano and harp, their talents are as palpable as they have ever been before. After all, hearing Yorke croon “Don’t mess with me” toward the beginning of “The Smoke” is an edict — literal or not — many would have a tough time disputing at this point.

2. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
3. Jack White – Fear of the Dawn
4. My Morning Jacket – MMJ Live Vol. 2: Chicago 2021
5. Bonobo – Fragments

Top 5 Songs of 2022
1. The Mars Volta – “Graveyard Love”
For fans of The Mars Volta, it has been a long wait since Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala hit the studio to record new material. Even with the project’s two constant members on good terms these days, it took more than a decade before anything would enter our earholes. But despite many of the prog-rock tendencies it demonstrated on earlier albums dating all the way back to 2003’s seminal De-Loused in the Comatorium, the duo’s seventh studio effort delves unexpectedly into new sonic territory. With a pop aesthetic running through it that surprisingly sees no song surpass the five-minute mark, The Mars Volta will undoubtedly be looked at as a departure from the days of “Cygnus…Vismund Cygnus” and “Cassandra Gemini” when Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala were captivating At the Drive-In fans as well as new listeners. Nevertheless, its second single “Graveyard Love” stands tall as some of their best work to date and reminds us that these guys haven’t lost what made them so uniquely special.

2. The Smile – “Thin Thing”
3. Jack White – “Eosophobia”
4. Interpol – “Toni”
5. Moderat – “EASY PREY”


Pilot to Gunner - Hail Hallucinator

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2022
1. Yard Act at Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA – April 21st
Funny story about this show … I had been hearing a lot of buzz about Yard Act, and I had only listened to one song played a few times on KEXP, which I really dug. I had been on the Rickshaw Stop’s email list, and the venue ran a contest for free tickets. I happened to win so I took a chance and opted to see Yard Act’s show that same week. Wanting to familiarize myself with their material more, I immediately dove head first into their album and was totally hooked, so I felt really good about this turn of events. I hadn’t been to a gig at Rickshaw Stop in many years and was eager to visit again, so it felt great to be back in a packed room again for an intimate evening of punk rock. The opening act Buzzed Light Beer fell a bit flat in my humble opinion, but once Yard Act took the stage, the room started buzzing with life. Lead singer James Smith’s command of the crowd is very nonchalant, but he also knows he has you hanging on every word. The set was fun and well-executed, and the UK quartet was clearly on its “A” game after a lengthy run of shows and in between weekend performances at Coachella. Much to the chagrin of those in attendance, Smith kept referring to the audience as “San Diego” (LOL), though he did tell us that he had some mushrooms the night before, so … you know. To round things out, Smith offered to do a magic trick during the last song of Yard Act’s set before their encore and coaxed fans to hand over any loose bills they had, which he pocketed and took backstage. As it turns out, he actually gifted the money to the bar staff, which I felt was a nice touch and very much on-brand.

2. THE FEST 20 – Gainesville, FL – October 28th–30th
3. Coheed & Cambria at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – August 14th
4. Bauhaus at The Masonic – San Francisco, CA – May 22nd
5. The Velvet Teen at Arlene Francis Center – Santa Rosa, CA – June 17th

Top 5 Albums of 2022
1. Pilot to Gunner – Hail Hallucinator
Brooklyn indie rockers Pilot to Gunner hadn’t put out an album for a decade, and to be honest, I hadn’t really paid much attention to them prior to Hail Hallucinator. The name was always out there and I had friends who were really into them, but I never got around to checking out their music for one reason or another. And not unlike many other bands that came before them (i.e. Seaweed, Far, The Murder City Devils), I am bummed that I was so late to the party. They are absolutely fantastic, and this record was easily my most listened-to during 2022. From start to finish, the 10-track LP hit all the marks for me in terms of stellar songwriting, original-sounding guitar work that still feels familiar and vocals carrying the torch of the early 2000’s indie/emo revival sound ala Hey Mercedes and Jimmy Eat World all while not completely aping either group. “Drop the Sun”, “We’re Blasting to Masses”, “Total Rager” and “Escape Season” are among its best tracks, but I simply love all of them from beginning to end.

2. Thee Sacred Souls – Thee Sacred Souls
3. Yard Act – The Overload
4. Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
5. High Vis – Blending

Top 5 Songs of 2022
1. 3rd Secret – “I Choose Me”
The supergroup 3rd Secret surprised the music world when their debut self-titled LP arrived in mid-April. Comprised of members from Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hater and Giants in the Trees, the album is a tour de force brought to you by grunge and alt-rock royalty. Its lead single “I Choose Me” turns things up and right out of the gate you can’t help but feel a little washed over with nostalgia from guitarist Kim Thayil’s signature riffage in addition to the thundering cadence courtesy of bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Matt Cameron. What makes the song — and the album — stand out to me, however, is the work of co-vocalists Jillian Raye and Jennifer Johnson. The pair deliver gorgeous singing atop the otherwise gritty instrumentation, harkening back to what made so many 90’s albums awesome with a beautiful balance of dark and light. I kept coming back to this song a lot throughout the year, and it made me really reflect on just how incredible the music that came out of the Pacific Northwest was when I was growing up. To hear this collection of musicians conjuring up those aural ghosts through a contemporary filter was not only refreshing, but also something that I was really looking for in 2022.

2. Yard Act – “The Overload”
3. Thee Sacred Souls – “Can I Call You Rose?”
4. Cave In – “New Reality”
5. High Vis – “0151”


Animal Collective - Greek Theatre


Animal Collective at Greek Theatre // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2022
1. PUP at The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – April 21st
Two years and one full length after this show was originally supposed to occur, LA finally got to see PUP perform on their “Thank Fucking God” tour. Worth the wait would be a major understatement here as the Canadian punks transported us back to pre-pandemic times like nothing had ever happened — we were touching, we were screaming, we were moshing again! The night had such an innocent air to it. Despite the delay, 2019’s Morbid Stuff felt fresher than ever (and it still does).

2. Yaya Bey at Cafe Erzulie – Brooklyn, NY – June 16th
3. Animal Collective at Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – May 20th
4. Vince Staples at The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – August 23rd
5. Bright Eyes at Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – June 23rd

Top 5 Albums of 2022
1. Lando Chill – if im being honest
The multi-hyphenate who’s based out of LA quietly dropped this mixtape early in the year, and it stood strong in my top spot from the start. With a sharp wit and silky delivery, Chill tears through pages of his diary without cutting a single corner. Thank God for vulnerability.

2. Smino – Luv 4 Rent
3. Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
4. Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star
5. Open Mike Eagle – Component System with the Auto Reverse

Top 5 Songs of 2022
1. Steve Lacy – “Bad Habit”
An earworm for the ages! This impossibly catchy tune took over TikTok and catapulted Mr. Lacy into the spotlight that he was born to occupy, whether he was ready for it or not. The cherry on top of his banner year was the singer-songwriter’s old iPhone (aka his instrument) landing on display in the Smithsonian.

2. Lando Chill – “guess”
3. Leggy – “Lipstick on the Mic”
4. Pusha T – “Brambleton”
5. Channel Tres – “Acid in My Blood”

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FOALS deliver another ‘sweaty good time’ at Hollywood Palladium while traversing the globe on their ‘Life Is Yours Tour’

FOALS - Yannis PhilippakisBy Josh Herwitt //

FOALS with Inner Wave, Gustaf //
Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles
November 16th, 2022 //

What is it about FOALS that makes them one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands to come out of the aughts? You know, that decade after the 90’s beginning more than 20 years ago?

A good starting point for most longtime listeners and fans of the British outfit would be Greece-born frontman Yannis Philippakis, whose gorgeous vocals and emotive guitar solos are often juxtaposed against his morose, yet impassioned lyrics.

And boy, let me tell you … when you’re feeling down, putting on one of FOALS’ masterpieces like 2013’s Holy Fire and 2015’s What Went Down can offer the emotional strength one might need to keep moving forward. You can hear it in Philippakis’ voice, and you can feel how much he’s pouring his heart and soul into the music. It’s really a beautiful thing to take in when it feels like the music industry has been largely condensed to 30-second soundbites with the rise of TikTok and proliferation of NFTs.

With founding member Edwin Congreave’s departure more than a year ago to pursue a postgraduate degree in economics at Cambridge University, the once-sextet has shrunk down to a trio consisting of Philippakis (lead vocals, lead guitar), Jack Bevan (drums, percussion) and Jimmy Smith (rhythm guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) in the studio, but you wouldn’t notice much of a difference from the sound of their seventh LP Life Is Yours that arrived in June and saw them collaborate with a number of producers, including John Hill, Dan Carey, A. K. Paul and Miles James, for the first time.

FOALS

If anything, the result is a shinier and catchier collection of songs in a pop sense, with its title track and lead single “Wake Me Up” setting the tone for the rest of the album. Life Is Yours was preceded by five singles, more than any other FOALS studio effort to date, and while others have had the same number of singles in the end, it wasn’t until after those records were released that they reached such a mark. In that regard, Life Is Yours is easily FOALS’ most accessible piece of work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of praise with Philippakis, Bevan and Smith sharing songwriting duties. It actually still fits in quite well with the rest of their burgeoning catalog, even if it isn’t as wide-ranging or commercially successful as 2019’s two-part Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost that would eventually top the UK Albums Chart.

FOALS, nonetheless, are still touring as a six-piece with three hired guns — Kit Monteith of Trophy Wife (percussion, sampler, backing vocals), Jack Freeman of Jagwar Ma (bass, synthesizer, backing vocals) and Joe Price (keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) — rounding out the lineup while always making sure to deliver a “sweaty good time” as Philippakis declared last Wednesday evening at the Hollywood Palladium during their first LA show since headlining the Shrine Expo Hall more than three years ago — and over six since the last time they set foot in the Art Deco-style theater (read our show review here).

The three-time Mercury Prize nominees were in good spirits as they often are when they come to town, particularly one where they spent time working on Life Is Yours and Smith also now resides. But on this night, FOALS weren’t just going to settle for the same setlist they uncorked less than 24 hours earlier in Oakland. Unlike our Bay Area counterparts, those of us in sunny SoCal would have the distinct pleasure of witnessing the tour debut of “Neptune” as the 10-minute epic came packaged in between What Went Down cuts “Snake Oil” and “Mountain at My Gates” heading into a brief encore break, marking only the fourth time it has been performed live so far. Of course I had hoped we would get to hear the full length’s namesake too with it being a personal favorite of mine, but considering the song hasn’t been in rotation for months dating back to July, it wasn’t all that surprising it wasn’t in the cards.

When Philippakis and company returned to the stage amid a roaring applause, it felt like they were just getting started. At the very least, FOALS know how to take things up a notch or two in the encore, and with Philippakis ripping through “Inhaler” while making his way through the crowd, it only reaffirmed their brand as an absolute force in live music. Some might claim the 60-plus stops on the “Life Is Yours Tour” extending into 2023 won’t stand up to some of their previous shows when we look back at them, but as our eardrums rattled for a final time to “Two Steps, Twice” off their 2008 debut Antidotes, it served as an immediate reminder that these past 15 years have truly been one hell of a ride for FOALS and those of us who have been here for them all.

Setlist:
Wake Me Up
The Runner
2001
(summer sky)
Olympic Airways
My Number
Black Gold
2am
In Degrees
Spanish Sahara
Red Socks Pugie
Providence
Snake Oil
Neptune (tour debut)
Mountain at My Gates

Encore:
Inhaler
Two Steps, Twice

Día y Noche de Los Muertos returns to Hollywood Forever, creating a cathartic experience with Ed Maverick, Hermanos Gutiérrez & more

Día y Noche de Los Muertos 2022By Iván Fernández //

Día y Noche de Los Muertos featuring Ed Maverick, Hermanos Gutiérrez, Son Rompe Pera, Thee Sacred Souls //
Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles
October 29th, 2022 //

Typically, there’d be cause for serious concern when thousands of people congregate in a cemetery on a Saturday. The last thing we need in our not-quite-post-pandemic world is a mass gathering of a demonic cult or an apocalyptic scenario previously only imagined by the likes of the creators of the “Doom” video game franchise.

However, when the reason turns out to be the 23rd annual Día y Noche de Los Muertos event at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA, the main concern is searching for a place to sit to eat between performances. The festival is one of the largest Day of the Dead-related events in the world outside of Mexico and Latin America. Attendees over the years have been regaled with impressive lineups of Mexican and Latin American artists along with the dozens of altars built by community members in honor of their departed loved ones.

For many years, the event at Hollywood Forever and the Día de los Muertos event at Self-Help Graphics on the other side of the county were the only large-scale celebrations of the cultural holiday in LA. In our post-“Coco” and “The Book of Life” world, they are national torchbearers for a region with the largest Latin American diaspora in the country.

The festival’s first edition in 1999 was a small affair featuring some live music, a couple of altars and roughly 300 people. At its peak about six to seven years ago, 40,000 people were dancing along near the memorial and burial sites of celebrities (one half of the original Ramones lineup, Johnny and Dee Dee, are laid to rest here along with Mel Blanc, Mickey Rooney, Burt Reynolds, Jonathan Gold, the DeMilles, the Chaplins, etc.) and non-celebs alike, some who were laid to rest in the late 19th century. Since 2021, the festival has pulled a Coachella of sorts and split into two separate events at the same location: a daytime cultural event dedicated to families and kids to learn about the history and specific cultural practices of Day of the Dead followed by a nighttime event featuring three stages of live music.

The 2022 edition welcomed over 20,000 people to the cemetery grounds for a day of music and remembrance. This year’s theme was dedicated to Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of fertility and maguey (agave), the plant where pulque, mezcal and tequila are derived from. There’s a tragic backstory about the romance between Mayahuel and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, that ends in her death. His tears fall on her grave and create the agave plant, “producing pulque and mezcal to forever lesson our miseries and lift our grief,” to quote the event’s press release.

Día y Noche de Los Muertos 2022 - Thee Sacred Souls


Thee Sacred Souls

There was certainly something of that in the air this year. Though it was still a fun celebration of life, perhaps the weight of these past two years has made people’s sentiments heavier. You could see it in the elaborate altars placed along the pathways from the cemetery to stages and art exhibits.

Everywhere you looked, there was an old portrait of a married couple as well as photos of an infant, boys, girls and teens whose lives were all tragically cut short. The beauty in the Day of the Dead event is how these portraits are also adorned with items that reflected the warmth of their lives, however short or long. Creating an altar takes time and an emotional effort by their builders that helps them confront their grief. There may not have been much pulque or mezcal on the grounds, but the miseries of recent times were certainly lessened through these public displays of grief and love.

The performers for the night also did a wonderful job of bringing people together and lessening their miseries while lifting their grief. The night began with San Diego’s Thee Sacred Souls. The trio of singer Josh Lane, drummer Alex Garcia and bassist Sal Samano have seen their star rise quickly over the past year-and-a-half thanks to a combination of Lane’s Marvin Gaye-esque vocal styles and their mesmerizing take on Chicano soul and R&B.

Día y Noche de Los Muertos 2022 - Son Rompe Pera


Son Rompe Pera

Thee Sacred Souls were joined onstage with a pair of backup singers, a guitarist and a pianist/organ player to fill out their sound. Though the trio has just one full-length album to its name so far, songs such as “Can I Call You Rose?”, “Weak For Your Love” and “Love Comes Easy” have become instantly recognizable by the band’s growing legion of fans. Tears flowed, kisses were planted and lovers hugged as the band gracefully swung from one love balled to the next.

Son Rompe Pera, on the other hand, were the exact opposite. If you’re ever curious as to what a combination of cumbia and marimba music from Mexico’s southeastern coast sounds like when fused with the ethos and energy of hardcore punk, then you must make it your mission to watch these guys live.

At the heart of Son Rompe Pera’s sound is not an accordion, a guitar or a drum, but the graceful xylophone! Never have I seen so many people lose their minds over watching a guy who looks like Edward Munson’s Mexican twin rocking out on a minutes-long xylophone solo. Never have I also seen a mosh pit start thanks to a xylophone solo, and even less have I ever encountered a mosh pit where a man felt comfortable enough to run circles in it with his very young daughter cheering him on while riding on his shoulders.

Día y Noche de Los Muertos 2022 - Hermanos Gutiérrez


Hermanos Gutiérrez

The Mexico City outfit from the town of Naucalpan is also an example of how to restructure your recorded music for a live setting. Songs such as “Calculadora” and “Tortuga del Arenal” have a danceable, yet mellow rhythm to it on the album. When played live though, the songs take on a faster rhythm, with the marimba and cumbia accents ceding ground to the group’s punk vibe.

This is where I question the order of the artists on the lineup. Hermanos Gutiérrez went up next and played beautifully. Brothers Alejandro and Estevan Gutiérrez are two talented musicians who play guitar together, swapping between acoustic, electric and slide guitars during their shows. The Zurich-based duo’s instrumental music swept me away, carrying me into a mystical world soundtracked by their cinematic, western style.

Unfortunately, some in the crowd were still riding the high from Son Rompe Pera and jarred by the switch in energy and music, prompting me to wonder if it would have been better if Hermanos Gutiérrez performed before Son Rompe Pera. It’s a shame really, but it was wonderful to hear songs from their latest album El Bueno Y El Malo (The Good And The Bad), which they recorded with Dan Auerbach and released on The Black Keys frontman’s record label Easy Eye Sound, along with a few older cuts. There was something about listening to title track, “Tres Hermanos” and “Hermosa Drive” live in a cemetery that added to the experience and aura of the night’s festivities that no other performer had.

Día y Noche de Los Muertos 2022 - Ed Maverick


Ed Maverick

The evening’s headliner Ed Maverick was a smart choice to close things out. I knew the fest had taken a somber and introspective turn when the promoters announced him to lead the lineup. In fact, the “Sad Boy Supreme” of Chihuahua, Mexico, was stopping through LA on his first-ever world tour — and he did not disappoint.

Even from a distance, it’s easy to tell that his sad-boy schtick isn’t a performance but who he truly is. It also shouldn’t be a surprise considering he titled one of his albums Mix Pa’ Llorar en Tu Cuarto (A Mix to Cry in Your Bedroom). And yes, he performed his sad-boy anthems, but he and his band gave the songs an aura that matched the grief-lifting vibes of the night.

Maverick and his band adapted other songs from Mix and his 2021 LP Eduardo to give them a larger presence live. “Hola, ¿cómo estás?,” for example, filled the event like an anthem meant for a stadium as opposed to the recorded version’s floating, atmospheric vibes. Meanwhile, “Fuentes de Ortiz”, “Acurrucar” and “Quiero” became cathartic sing-alongs for thousands of fans in attendance.

Maverick didn’t have too much to say between songs and let his music do most of the talking. However, when he did speak to the crowd, he had to pause with a smile and wait for the lull between screaming and cheering fans to be heard. He ended the night with a lengthy guitar solo that cemented his newfound status as a rock star and new king of the sad boys.

Whatever grief guests carried with them into the event, they certainly left feeling weightless after a long, fun and most importantly, cathartic experience.

A little rain doesn’t stop Bonobo from finishing his U.S. live tour for ‘Fragments’ with an electric hometown show at LA’s Greek Theatre

BonoboBy Josh Herwitt //

Bonobo with Tourist & O’Flynn //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
October 22nd, 2022 //

For those who have been following Simon Green’s work under the Bonobo moniker that the British DJ, producer and musician created more than two decades ago in the seaside city of Brighton, it shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise to hear his seventh LP Fragments arrived in January almost five years to the day since 2017’s Migration came out.

A lot has happened around the world over that span, though none more impactful than the COVID-19 pandemic of course. Green has even stated in interviews that the isolation he experienced during the lockdown stifled his creativity for much of 2020.

In fact, it wasn’t until he received Jamila Woods’ vocal parts that Fragments would begin to take shape, with “Tides” featuring the Chicago-based singer-songwriter, rapper and poet serving as its centerpiece. So while the 12-track album embodies Green’s struggles and introspection over the past two years with a deep sense of sorrow, it also offers moments of liberation and joy for the three-time Grammy nominee.

All of those emotions were channeled through Green’s music last Saturday at the Greek Theatre in his adopted hometown of LA. This wasn’t actually the first time he was headlining the historic amphitheater. No, we were there for that (read our show review here) as he shared the stage with Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses and demonstrated why his live performances are truly something special to witness.

Bonobo - Nicole Miglis


Nicole Miglis

Nonetheless, this gig marked the final date of his U.S. live tour in support of Fragments, and what better way to end a weeks-long trek across the states than on a rainy night in the City of Angels? Green might very well disagree given that the inclement weather had fans abandoning their seats for shelter on each side of the venue, but the precipitation would fortunately last for only part of Tourist’s opening set as the clouds parted before the evening’s main attraction.

By the time Green stepped onstage with his live band after 9 p.m., the Greek was ready to welcome him with open arms. It’s not often he performs with a string section behind him, but with the increasing costs that have come with touring on a larger scale, Green knows it’s not likely he’ll be able to do this again in the same capacity down the road as he confessed recently on social media. Almost a third of the songs that he would unveil featured Nicole Miglis of Hundred Waters on lead vocals, and with her touching on some newer and older Bonobo material, she filled in seamlessly as a proper substitute for Green’s wide swath of collaborators that has included Joji, Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker) and Rhye to name a few.

There was a small hope in us too that Green would debut his brand-new single “Defender” after its drop three days prior, but despite our wish not coming true, the inclusion of “ATK” following its release in early September as well as 2019’s “Linked” proved this tour was more than just a celebration of Fragments. If anything, it was him reminding us how much his eclectic sound has been rooted in the UK dance clubs it pervaded amid the early 2000’s.

With the live music industry still in a state of recovery as many established artists struggle to make ends meet, there’s no telling what a live Bonobo show will look like in the future. One could see Green scaling back to not have as much instrumentation and instead utilizing more prerecorded stems to ease some of the financial burden — or he could simply stick to the major markets and pass on the smaller cities such as Flagstaff, Ariz. Either way, we have little doubt that however Green’s performances look one day, they will be like they have always been: beautiful, euphoric, sad and all of those feelings in between.

Setlist:
Polyghost
Rosewood
Counterpart
Surface (feat. Nicole Miglis)
Tides (feat. Nicole Miglis)
Kiara (feat. Nicole Miglis)
Bambro Koyo Ganda
Cirrus
Outlier
ATK
From You (feat. Nicole Miglis)
No Reason (feat. Nicole Miglis)
Linked
Age of Phase
Otomo

Encore:
Break Apart (feat. Nicole Miglis)
Kerala

Moderat are back to mesmerizing their fans again following an extended hiatus as they demonstrate at The Wiltern

ModeratBy Josh Herwitt //

Moderat //
The Wiltern – Los Angeles
September 23rd, 2022 //

With the music industry still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two and a half years, it’s not hard to find a concert worth catching in LA at the moment. Artists and bands across every scene have been trying to make up for lost time, and those more specifically in the world of dance music have been no different.

But it’s not every day that you get to see a top-notch electronic act perform live inside one of the city’s most historic music venues on a Friday night.

And in the case of Moderat, it took the German supergroup consisting of Sascha Ring (aka Apparat) and Modeselektor members Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary more than six years to release their fourth studio album More D4ta as the follow-up to 2016’s phenomenal III. While that remains Moderat’s largest gap between full-length efforts, they haven’t forgotten how to captivate their audiences after going on an extended hiatus.

The Berlin-based three-piece was greeted by a strong turnout at The Wiltern for its first LA show since 2017 when Ring, Bronsert and Szary played The Mayan (read our show review here) in between what many fans have considered to be two career-defining performances at Coachella — and we truly can’t disagree with that assessment from what we saw during Weekend 1 (read our festival review here).

After all, there aren’t a whole lot of electronic-leaning acts out there who are doing anything like what Moderat does when it comes to their approach and sound as they fuse electronic beats and textures behind live vocals — led by Ring with Bronsert and Szary assisting — and instrumentation.

Moderat

Caribou would be another one that comes to mind after witnessing the Grammy nominee’s gig at LA’s Greek Theatre last November (read our show review here), but unlike Moderat, Dan Snaith has had a knack for mixing 70’s funk and soul as well as 90’s hip-hop and R&B into his music over the years.

While you won’t hear any of those genres on More D4ta that Moderat put out in May via Modeselektor’s own Monkeytown Records, there are some similarly hypnotic moments throughout the 10-track LP. Just take new singles “Fast Land” and “Easy Prey” for instance, the latter of which surprisingly wasn’t on the group’s LA setlist despite being performed in Oakland the evening prior along with its 2014 remix of Jon Hopkins’ “Abandon Window” (yeah, I guess you could say we’re jealous about that).

Regardless of whatever songs we didn’t to get hear before Ring, Bronsert and Szary headed south to CRSSD Festival, there was plenty to enjoy. From the opening lines of “Reminder” to the mesmerizing audio-visual experience of “Bad Kingdom” that entrances us every time, Moderat had a packed crowd hanging on every word that Ring delivered by the time they ran through an encore that concluded with “Les Grandes Marches” and “No. 22” off their 2009 self-titled debut from what feels like ages ago.

There also aren’t many acts, electronic or not, that will come back out for a second encore. Moderat are built a little bit differently in that way though, and based on the applause they were showered with at The Wiltern, it wasn’t completely shocking to watch them return to the stage one last time and drop “Intruder” for those screaming “one more song!” at the top of their lungs.

Because after waiting five-plus years to tour the world again, can you really blame them?

Setlist:
Reminder
More Love
Animal Trails
Undo Redo
Doom Hype
Rusty Nails
Eating Hooks
Running
Neon Rats
Bad Kingdom
Ghostmother
A New Error

Encore #1:
Fast Land
Les Grandes Marches
No. 22

Encore #2:
Intruder

Primavera Sound LA 2022: The best & worst of the Barcelona music festival’s inaugural edition on U.S. soil

Primavera Sound LA 2022Photos by Josh Herwitt & courtesy of Primavera Sound LA // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Primavera Sound LA //
LA State Historic Park – Los Angeles
September 16th-18th, 2022 //

It’s no secret that Primavera Sound has had its sights set on Los Angeles for quite some time now. The Barcelona music festival that has been going strong for two decades expanded to Porto in 2012 and will finally stamp its brand on four more cities in 2022 after a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LA is the first of those four cities, but with the festival’s other three new locations — São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago — all launching in South America later this year, LA State Historic Park also served as Primavera Sound’s inaugural event in the states.

Spreading four stages across the 32-acre park that remains one of the best spots in the city to host a music festival before and after three years of renovations, PSLA welcomed a wealth of talent from the top line to the bottom. Lorde, Nine Inch Nails and Arctic Monkeys each delivered headline-worthy sets while an indie-leaning undercard highlighted by BICEP (Live), Cigarettes After Sex, Clairo, DARKSIDE, Drain Gang, Fontaines D.C., Girl in Red, GIVĒON, James Blake, King Krule, Khruangbin and Mitski all drew big crowds over the course of three days. In a lot of ways, PSLA fills a much-needed void after the sudden and disheartening end to FYF Fest, which would tout itself as the “best weekend of summer” for many live music fans and was one of our favorite multi-day festivals to cover (read more here).

Any time a new music festival launches though, there are always highs and lows. So without further ado, here are our best and worst moments from Primavera Sound’s first installment on U.S. soil:


Primavera Sound LA 2022

Best: The weather

After LA experienced its worst heat wave of the year earlier this month with temperatures reaching triple digits, the weather luckily cooled down just in time for PSLA. For many of us, a second layer of clothing wasn’t ever necessary from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. After all, how often does that happen? With great music lined up throughout the day and a forecast hovering in the mid to high 70’s, it truly felt like a quintessential summer weekend in LA.

Primavera Sound LA 2022

Worst: Will Call line

When we arrived at the festival on Friday afternoon, the line at the box office quickly stood out. In fact, it was so long that we knew the wait would be at least an hour for those trying to pick up their passes, only to discover later via Twitter it was even longer for many even at 6 p.m. These are the kind of issues any first-year music festival hopes to avoid and can ultimately prepare for, but when you change your ticket delivery method to in-person on short notice after previously telling fans it would be done electronically, it’s no surprise that you end up pissing off some of your customers.

Primavera Sound LA 2022 - Lorde

Best: Lorde

The 25-year-old singer-songwriter has been making the rounds this year on an extensive world tour in support of 2021’s Solar Power, and there’s no question that her entire stage design and production was impressive to witness. Ahead of festival stops at Life Is Beautiful and Rifflandia over the same weekend, Lorde arrived onstage via a rotating staircase with some of her backing band and ran through 15 songs — from her 2013 debut single “Royals” to Melodrama hits like “Perfect Places” and “Green Light” — as PSLA’s first headliner. We wouldn’t necessarily call ourselves big fans, but we definitely understand why she was deserving of top billing.

Primavera Sound LA 2022

Worst: Food & drink

We will eventually get to the limited viewing space that under-21 guests were offered, but even if you wanted to drink at PSLA, the options were simply not good. This was certainly not the place for craft beer enthusiasts, as your choices were Heineken or the low-calorie Tecate Alta that tasted mostly like beer-flavored water for $12 each. Not only would it be nice to have seen local breweries — there are two excellent ones located across the street from the festival’s entrance — featured, but in a city such as LA with a food-and-drink scene that’s one of the best in the country, partnering with major beer and liquor brands along with a handful of Smorgasburg LA restaurants doesn’t exactly cut it anymore. The only food stall in one of the VIP areas selling “California style” Philly cheeseteaks made us think about how much Goldenvoice has elevated its game in this respect, with top-notch local options at Just Like Heaven (read our festival review here) from Goldburger to Homage Brewing standing out as examples most recently in May.

Primavera Sound LA 2022 - Khruangbin

Best: Khruangbin

The Houston three-piece that has made 70’s Thai funk sound cool again has been one of the hottest acts to tour over the past five years, as evidenced by their three sold-out shows at LA’s Greek Theatre last November. While most might have come Saturday to see Nine Inch Nails, it was K-bin who would steal the show before Trent Reznor and company ever played a note. Those who made it to the main stage for sunset were treated to an hour of grooves, as Mark Speer (guitar, vocals), Laura Lee (bass, vocals) and Donald Johnson (drums, vocals) hypnotized us with fan favorites “María También” and “So We Won’t Forget” before diving into a melody of covers that embraced a wide array of artists, from MF DOOM, The Isley Brothers, Tina Turner and Chris Isaak to 90’s hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Warren G and Dr. Dre.

Primavera Sound LA 2022

Worst: Art installations

Sometimes it can be easy to forget how spoiled we are in California when it comes to all of the music festivals we have. Not only do many of our best and brightest such as Coachella, Outside Lands and Lightning in a Bottle showcase a wide range of musical genres, but they also feature their own unique art installations that continue to push the envelope. In the case of Primavera Sound, let’s just say that’s not its M.O. While we can’t fault the festival for keeping the focus strictly on the music, LA State Historic Park did seem to lack some color aesthetically. That said, there were a couple of highlights off the stage, including the vinyl market that was curated by KCRW and Beat Swap Meets as well as the FLATSTOCK poster show series making its only West Coast stop of the year and featuring locals like Kii Arens of La-La Land Prints.

Primavera Sound LA 2022

Best: Signs, sightlines & sound

With the Primavera Sound brand being all about the music, our eyes were mostly focused on the artists performing. Nevertheless, the signs, sightlines and sound at PSLA were all on point. The downtown LA skyline served as a fitting backdrop like it usually does at LASHP, and despite poor audio issues playing a role at outdoor music festivals, we didn’t experience any while we were on the ground so kudos to the organizers for locking that down. If anything, the decibels across the fest’s four stages were so high that we found ourselves needing ear protection most of the weekend.

Primavera Sound LA 2022 - Nine Inch Nails

Worst: Short headliner sets

After Primavera Sound LA unveiled the lineup for its debut this year, we presumed all three headliners would receive at least 90 minutes each day. So when the set times dropped more than a couple weeks in advance, it was a bit of a shock seeing only 75 minutes designated for each of them. A Hall of Fame band like Nine Inch Nails has more than 10 studio albums and several EPs in its catalog but were only granted enough time to crank out 16 songs, many of which have been setlist staples for years up to this point. Though NIN classics like “Wish”, “March of the Pigs”, “Closer”, “Gave Up” and “Head Like a Hole” are never tracks to lack energy live, we’re happy we caught their sold-out gig at the Santa Barbara Bowl (read our show review here) four days earlier for the chance to hear a cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” and multiple other deep cuts.

Primavera Sound LA 2022 - Arctic Monkeys

Best: Arctic Monkeys

It was clear when we showed up for PSLA’s final day that the attendance felt bigger than the day prior. Although that seemed a little odd considering it was Sunday and not Saturday, it was a testament to the fan base Arctic Monkeys have built at the 20-year mark. The English rockers haven’t toured since 2018’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, and with their forthcoming seventh LP The Car slated to come out next month, frontman Alex Turner and his bandmates gave us a taste with the disco funk that they’ve cooked up on “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” midway through their headlining performance. And even though we didn’t hear lead single “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball” despite it being the only track that they have officially released so far, there were plenty of other thrilling moments for us to remember in between the opening notes of “Do I Wanna Know?” and the closing “R U Mine?” to end the night. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long before there’s a return date to California after the new album drops.

Primavera Sound LA 2022

Worst: Under-21 viewing areas

Most of PSLA’s guests are of legal drinking age, and with the festival boasting a number of alcohol-related sponsors that included Cuervo and Smirnoff, it certainly caters to the over-21 crowd. But for those who weren’t, the viewing areas at the Primavera and Tecate Alta stages were less than ideal. Besides the allotted space being too small and positioned off to the side, underage guests were only informed 10 days in advance. If you’re not 21 yet, make sure to temper your expectations — or we’d recommend waiting until you are before attending.


Primavera Sound LA photographers featured: Nicolita Bradley, Lindsey Byrnes, Pooneh Ghana, Miranda McDonald, Ismael Quintanilla III & Quinn Tucker.