BeachLife Festival taps Jane’s Addiction, Cage the Elephant, Counting Crows & more for 2021 roster

BeachLife Festival - 2021 lineup

BeachLife Festival //
Seaside Lagoon – Redondo Beach, CA
September 10th-12th, 2021 //

What’s summer without a day at the beach?

Whether you’re a fan of the sand or not, we know that it sure wouldn’t be a party down by the shore without a weekend of live music. That’s why after a successful inaugural event in 2019, BeachLife Festival is headed back to the South Bay of Los Angeles County for a second stint after its 2020 edition last May was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — much like every other major U.S. music festival that was supposed to take place last year.

However, a number of the same acts are still scheduled to perform this September at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach, including Counting Crows, Ziggy & Stephen Marley, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Fitz and The Tantrums, Sugar Ray, G. Love and Special Sauce, Phosphorescent, Save Ferris and more.

Joining Counting Crows and the Marley brothers as the fest’s other headliners will be LA alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction for their first hometown gig since 2017. Fronted by Perry Farrell, the band has not released a new studio album in almost 10 years — since 2011’s The Great Escape Artist — but that doesn’t mean it has forgotten how to put on a show with Cage the Elephant also serving as a Day 1 co-headliner for what should be an epic Friday night.

And even if you’re not a big fan of Jane’s or Cage, there are plenty of other exciting additions on BeachLife’s 2021 lineup with The Revivalists, Men at Work, Portugal. The Man, Silversun Pickups, Gary Clark Jr. and Thievery Corporation standing out among the pack.

Three-day GA and VIP passes are on sale here for $349 and $799, respectively, as well as single-day tickets for $125 (GA) and $299 (VIP). Of course, there’s also the three-day Captain’s pass if you’re willing to shell out a small fortune of $2,999 or $1,250 for one day so climb aboard while you still can!

Doors Open: A Bay Area Reopening Series – Public Works

Public WorksBy Molly Kish //

Public Works – San Francisco

As the Bay Area continues to move into the least restrictive of COVID-19 tiers, many SF music venues remain optimistic for the months ahead. Public Works, much like The Midway, is another multifaceted space that has taken the outdoor approach for its event programming, converting an adjacent alleyway into a DIY lounge that also offers its own dining experience.

Continuing our “Doors Open” coverage of the Bay Area music and entertainment scene, we spoke with Public Works general manager Rob Casanovas to see how he and his team have been creatively adjusting the past year to survive the pandemic.

“Public Works is a very community-oriented venue. It does a very good job at trying to be as inclusive as possible and really putting that in the forefront in terms of how we book, present ourselves and the types of organizations we bring in and try to help out. It doesn’t really matter how big or small a promoter is, we’re really just trying to lay the fertile ground for them to grow.” – Rob Casanovas, General Manager

Public Works - alleyway

Walking into the SOMA venue during the morning hours feels more like you’re entering an art collective in the middle of a renovation. Naturally lit by giant skylights, Public Works’ main room is filled with houseplants, construction and stage equipment that otherwise would be tucked away or in use during normal operating hours.

Casanovas apologizes for the state of things, explaining that aside from being in the middle of internal restructuring and hiring back many original staff members, he has been working on several projects to retrofit the venue’s interior. But even after being employed at both 111 Minna Gallery and Mezzanine, Casanovas wasn’t sure if he was even ready to jump back into things when Public Works hired him to be its new GM in September.

“COVID wiped out the staff completely. When I came in, there was the bar manager and owner and that was it. When it happened we kind of kept people around for like two months, thinking that was going to be it and that we’d get back into it in June (2020). Then after going into a COVID depression for a bit, I got a phone call that Public Works was trying to do an outdoor thing and they needed somebody to run it. I was like ‘Alright, I could do that for a little bit.’ I wasn’t really ready to get back into the nightlife right away, after Mezzanine … I was like ‘I don’t know if I really want those hours anymore’ and I was really more interested in trying to help out with the art scene up here. But then I came in and I met Jeff the owner and he was just super rad. He cares about the community and really cares about the arts in the city, which was a big soft spot for me.”

Public Works - building

Located at the foot of a dead-end alleyway, Public Works is in a unique location to capitalize on the “shared spaces” legislation that Mayor London Breed put into effect on March 16th. As part of SF’s crisis response strategy to sustain the locally owned small-business sector, the venue was able to transition into an outdoor dining experience by acquiring a “Just Add Music (JAM)” permit that allows for arts and culture activities to be the primary use of the space.

“When I came in September, we were like ‘Let’s try to do this outdoor thing,’ and the first week, it was absolutely terrifying. That weekend there were Friday and Saturday shows, and at points I literally had my hands on my head staring and thinking, ‘How am I going to control these people?'”

Public Works - decorative shelf

Facing the ever-changing entertainment regulations and hearing about other failed, early-pandemic events, Public Works made sure to tread very lightly in cooperation with COVID-19 guidelines and local municipalities. Though the venue doesn’t have an attached kitchen or commissary, it enlisted local pop-ups and food trucks while staffing servers and bartenders to ensure that all food service was run legally and seamlessly.

“The whole switching to outdoor dining wasn’t the hardest, but it was just adding another cog to the wheel. Making sure everyone remained distant, had a meal and taking the time to explain all the new rules to everyone. Like in order for this to happen it needs to be a dining experience. Explaining that to some people who aren’t used to it was kind of difficult. But I would take the time to really break it down for them and let them know that we’re not breaking the bank here. Whatever the food vendors sold, they took home — they made all their money. We’re literally trying to run this to cover operations, and if we can make an extra $500-1,000 to put towards rent, then we’re stoked.

Eventually people started getting it, knowing that ultimately we wanted to bring value to what we’re doing. We weren’t just trying to throw a DJ out there with some tables and call it a day. I mean, we load everything in and out, every single night. We put out all the plants, tables, decor, stanchions … we built and painted the palettes! We’re really trying to transform that alleyway, so that it has a good vibe.”

Public Works - DJ booth

Aside from having to change their business model and battling undeterminable factors such as rising COVID-19 rates and Bay Area weather, Casanovas says the venue’s main concern throughout the past year was making sure that their guests’ comfort levels were respected and maintained.

“What really changed for us was how we approach putting on events and take into account everyone’s comfortability levels. The spectrum of who believes in COVID and who cares about masks, that all exists. But in order to throw an event you have to be able to make sure that it’s comfortable for everybody and be able to enforce the rules in a very manageable and happy way. The service-industry aspect really starts ringing true a lot more. When we’re in a nightclub, not saying you can just be an asshole to somebody, but you have to be way more gentle now.

If me putting on a mask makes someone else comfortable then I’m good with doing it. That’s kind of where we’re at. Until they say that we don’t have to wear them anymore, at Public Works if you’re standing then you have to wear a mask. Mask on, dance on! We have people that will book like three tables, so of course they’re going to want to hang out. All we say is to make sure that you have the correct amount of people at your table who can physically sit there. Just don’t be in a circle, masks off, chopping it up. Most everybody that comes by is super receptive and really nice and understanding. The return really is how grateful everybody is. Everyone sees the work that we put in, and it’s nice. It’s fun to even interact with people again, so it’s all worth it.”

Public Works - tables

With COVID-19 restrictions starting to ease up in California this spring, Casanovas says it’s pretty much full steam ahead from this point on. Although the transition has been nerve-wracking, tireless and even a bit overwhelming at times, he and his crew are beyond excited for the endless possibilities in the months to come.

As we walk through the building, Casanovas points out the various projects he’s working on and you can physically see his face light up when explaining what he envisions as the end result. He mentions how he looks forward to transforming the space, bringing in new types of talent and using this moment as a jumping-off point to expand upon Public Works’ identity as a communal space and venue.

“Honestly we feel like we have a pretty big responsibility right now. Our team is getting rebuilt and we’re kind of seeing who wants to be a part of it. I mean how many people get to come out of a pandemic and usher in a new scene? It’s gonna be crazy.

We really wanted to do something to keep it alive and really get ground level with the people who want to keep doing stuff. To see who’s out there and who wants to play! Right now we’re doing this for scraps, but we ARE doing it. Music has always been up in the forefront and everything else always trailed in the back, so now we’re really trying to close that gap. We really want to come out a lot more art forward and are going to try and bring in a lot more visual and theatrical elements. We’re talking about exactly what we can do to kind of give a little more. I don’t want to come back and just be a DJ in a room and like that’s it.

The only reason we are in this business is to throw a party and make sure that everybody can kind of let loose and bring the chill back into the world really. That’s what we’re really trying to think about now. Like how do we do this and in the right way.”

Check out Public Works’ event calendar for tickets here.

DOORS OPEN: MORE COVERAGE HERE

BottleRock drops new 2021 lineup headlined by Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Nicks & Foo Fighters

BottleRock - 2021 lineup

BottleRock Napa Valley //
Napa Valley Expo – Napa, CA
September 3rd-5th, 2021 //

So much for 2020, right?

After releasing a lineup early last year that never got to play out over Memorial Day weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BottleRock will return to Napa Valley this September with a refreshed roster that includes some newly announced acts as well as some that were revealed a year ago like Steve Nicks.

Joining the Fleetwood Mac singer at the top of the 2021 poster are iconic rock bands Guns N’ Roses and Foo Fighters, creating quite a trilogy of star power for the music festival’s eighth installment over Labor Day weekend.

While BottleRock has always catered to fans of rock ‘n’ roll (just look at many of the fest’s past headliners), it has also tried to offer an eclectic mix of genres and this year’s undercard that’s highlighted by Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, G-Eazy, Run the Jewels, Brandi Carlile, Cage the Elephant, Portugal. The Man, Young the Giant, Maren Morris, Black Pumas, Future Islands, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (DJ set), Jimmy Eat World, FINNEAS, Polo G, Jack Harlow, Milky Chance, Jessie Reyez, Dominic Fike, Chromeo, Mavis Staples and Jon Batiste proves that to be the case once again. And don’t forget about Village People! After all, how often do you get to see the legendary disco group perform live these days? Anyway, peep the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

But amidst all of the music, the three-day event will have its annual live cooking demonstrations between a variety of celebrity chefs, musicians and athletes at its beloved Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage that has seen appearances over the last several years by Alice Cooper, The Avett Brothers, Big Boi, Brett Dennen, Dan the Automator, E-40, Fitz and the Tantrums, Grouplove, Halsey, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Michael Franti, Questlove, Shakey Graves, Silversun Pickups, Snoop Dogg, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Tank and the Bangas, Warren G and more, too.

Tickets go on sale this Thursday, May 20th at 10 a.m. PT here and start at $369 for a three-day GA pass while it’s $849 if you’re going for VIP. And if you’ve been saving up during quarantine, there’s always the three-day skydeck pass that will cost you a cool $1,599 or the platinum for a whopping $4,350.

BottleRock - 2021 daily lineups

UPDATE (May 24th): BottleRock has released its daily lineups for 2021, with Stevie Nicks performing Friday, Guns N’ Roses rocking Saturday and Foo Fighters closing things down on Sunday. Take a look at the daily schedules above before single-day tickets go on sale here for $187 (GA) or $211 (FLEX) plus fees each day starting this Thursday, May 27th at 10 a.m. PT.

Ohana Festival reveals updated 2021 lineup with Brandi Carlile, Spoon, Black Pumas & more

Ohana Festival - 2021 lineup

Ohana Festival //
Doheny State Beach – Dana Point, CA
September 24th-26th, 2021 //

Oh how we have missed you, live music! If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything over the past 15 months, it’s that the concert experience should never be taken for granted.

But with U.S. vaccinations increasing and summer right around the corner, music festivals are preparing to make their return all over the country, including up and down California, which has the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the country now.

So why not escape to Doheny State Beach for a long weekend this September where you can rock out to Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder and Kings of Leon at Ohana Festival?

The three-day event founded by Vedder five years ago had already announced a 2020 lineup just days before the festival circuit was quickly shut down and now it has updated that roster, swapping in Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, indie-rock veterans Spoon, psych-soul duo Black Pumas, LA punk rockers The Regrettes, Long Beach’s very own Cold War Kids, Salt Lake City four-piece The Backseat Lovers and TikTok sensation Sky McCreery for originally announced acts like The Pretenders, Dermot Kennedy, EOB, Broken Social Scene, Gangs of Youth, Inhaler and Ethan Gruska.

As you can see from the poster above, Ohana Fest has delivered another largely rock-leaning bill after an excellent showing in 2019 headlined by The Strokes, Vedder and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but this year also boasts one of its strongest undercards with My Morning Jacket, Maggie Rogers, Sharon Van Etten, Durand Jones & The Indications, Mac Demarco, Wild Belle and Real Estate all worthy of catching down in Dana Point.

Both three-day GA and Sunday single-day passes are already sold out, but Friday and Saturday tickets can still be purchased here for $138.50 plus fees. Don’t wait before it’s too late, Ohana fam!

Doors Open: A Bay Area Reopening Series – Matt Haney

By Molly Kish //

Matt Haney – Supervisor, San Francisco Board of Supervisors (District 6)

Matt Haney has Bay Area advocacy in his blood. Raised predominantly by his mother in the East Bay, Haney was born into a family of civil rights activists and developed strong opinions about societal injustices. He noticed early on the ways in which his values were underrepresented in local politics, so he decided to get involved in efforts to reform them to support the communities that he was a part of while growing up.

Over the last decade, Haney has held roles as a faculty member at Stanford, an eviction defense attorney and a national policy director. He has served as vice president, president and commissioner of the SF School Board, and in 2019, Haney won in a landslide victory to become the supervisor of District 6, which stretches from the Tenderloin to Treasure Island. In the past year, he has not only assumed the position of budget chair on the Board of Supervisors, but has also worked tirelessly alongside the small business and entertainment commissions to introduce critical legislation that will help keep local, independent venues alive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just days after the launch of his SF Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund, we caught up with Haney over a veggie omelette at a Market St. café to discuss his passion for preserving the culture and community of the Bay Area music and entertainment scene.


Showbams: Throughout your career you’ve worn many hats, so what ultimately made you want to run for the Board of Supervisors and led you to represent District 6?

Haney: I think a lot of it for me was recognizing the potential that the Bay Area has, when it comes to providing opportunity and a quality of life for everyone, wherever they are. We have a certain responsibility here, that is unlike many other places in the world and I had the opportunity to be a part of that.

I was working with a lot with families as a school board member and that led me to want to support my neighbors in other ways including: making sure they had housing, jobs and a future here in our city. This feeling is what led me to get more involved in citywide issues and ultimately to run for the Board of Supervisors.

He stops mid-thought to signal the waitress and asks for hot sauce and ketchup.

Haney: I think District 6 is one of the most special places in the world. It has just a tremendous amount of culture and history and the most “San Francisco” neighborhood in San Francisco, the Tenderloin. District 6 houses a lot of the growth and innovation in our city, and representing this area is an opportunity to try to make all of that work for everyone, better than it is now. Especially when it comes to some of the wealth and incredible opportunities that are here, I’m constantly thinking of how we make sure that they’re shared more broadly and that people have access to all the things they need to survive and thrive in our city.

“I think District 6 is one of the most special places in the world. It has just a tremendous amount of culture and history and the most ‘San Francisco’ neighborhood in San Francisco, the Tenderloin.”

Showbams: Over the last year, you’ve been a huge advocate for creating lifelines for independent music venues. Were you always interested in including music and entertainment into your political scope or was this something that was prompted by the pandemic’s effect on the local economy?

Haney: Ever since I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve been involved in the nightlife and music community here. In 2007, I moved in with a close friend who was one of the biggest event promoters at the time, his name is Nate Mezmer. So from that I got to know DJs, venue owners and all the challenges they had in operating here. I also saw from that time until now, many of those venues disappear. I witnessed the ways in which these venues, DJs, artists and bartenders were being pushed out of San Francisco and how it really impacted our culture and community here.

So much of the history of San Francisco is about different groups of people who were kicked out of other places and thought that they were alone. They came to San Francisco and were able to find each other here and in many cases that happened through nightlife and music and art. That’s a huge part of what I love and what’s so special about San Francisco and a lot of those venues are in my district now, so I really made it a big part of my goals to support them.

“So much of the history of San Francisco is about different groups of people who were kicked out of other places and thought that they were alone. They came to San Francisco and were able to find each other here and in many cases that happened through nightlife and music and art.”

Showbams: In December, you introduced your SF and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund legislation in a special meeting with the SF Board of Supervisors. Can you elaborate on how the meeting went and the key initiatives of the proposal?

Haney: I was committed to putting forward this fund, even before we knew where the money was going to come from. It was a bit of a leap of faith in some ways. In December we were still facing a pretty bleak outlook concerning the city’s budget, but we decided to introduce it anyways and started to develop the provisions with the venues, entertainment and small business commissions. In January it was decided we needed to put at least 1.5 Million into it, and then as things moved forward I proposed for us to double that. Luckily, we all ended up on the same page.

SF VENUES: APPLY HERE

We tried to make the application as simple as possible and are offering awards of at least $10,000. So that’s either 300 grants at $10,000, 150 at $20,000 or … I feel that some may even get upwards of $50,000. A lot of them have really high rents and are actually in need of 100’s or 1,000’s of dollars so we’re not going to be able to meet the whole thing, but writing a venue a check for $50,000 is meaningful.

We get briefly interrupted by a fellow diner who wants to express his gratitude for Haney’s work involving tenants rights. He graciously acknowledges the man, asks him how his particular experience is and orders a refill on his coffee. In that moment, it was apparent how ingrained and conscientious Haney was of the everyday issues that residents in his district were facing. The fact that someone felt comfortable enough to approach him while he was dining and engaged in conversation was not only a testament to his character, but also to his involvement with the community that he both resides in and represents. He apologizes and continues …

Haney: There’s always some politics ya know, the mayor initially did not want to put money into the fund that we created so we had to say, “Well, things have changed a little bit because I’m the budget chair now, so it’s just gonna happen.” It was kind of wild to have that level of power and be able to use it for something really important. It was the first real opportunity I had to do so in the new position.

For the last couple of years I was more of a flamethrower. So when the introduction of this fund came about I was still in that role and everyone kind of said, “Whoa, OK … you want to just take some money and give it to venues? Where’s that money coming from?” I said, “I don’t know yet” and then was able to move into a position of more power in relation to the budget, which allowed me to actually get the funds.

“It was kind of wild to have that level of power and be able to use it for something really important.”

Showbams: So the applications went live on April 21st, providing upwards of 300 grants for the initial funding. Do you feel optimistic that there will be a phase two of funding?”

Haney: I’m optimistic that we will add more money to the fund. We may need to learn from who applies, what the need is and change it accordingly in terms of targeting. In fact, some of what we’re going to need to focus on I think not just for these venues, but for small businesses more broadly, is commercial debt relief. Some of these venues may be getting the $25-50,000 dollars and they can’t even begin to have a conversation about their back due rent.

Each venue I think is in a different position because the only thing that has been universal is commercial eviction protection. Some of these venues may have just put pause on all rent for this past year, and now they have to have a conversation with their property management if they don’t own their own building. Then, the result is that they’ll have to negotiate some sort of payment plan and we’re going to have to figure out how we can meet up with that. So, that’s what I think might be the next phase of this.

We’re going to have to help these venues with their debt, but I hope they start to make even more money than they did before the pandemic. I hope that we can be more supportive of them and recognize their value, as to not make everything so hard for them to operate here. We need to protect our independent venues so that they can thrive and grow here and are able to create more spaces and events, to give them opportunities to do just that.

“We need to protect our independent venues so that they can thrive and grow here and are able to create more spaces and events, to give them opportunities to do just that.”

Showbams: Once the Bay Area opens back up, what’s the first venue that you would like to attend an event at?

Haney: I do miss a number of venues in my district. In the Tenderloin, I go to Black Cat and PianoFight a lot and I look forward to being able to go back to those two for sure. In the other parts of my district, I will definitely be at 1015 Folsom and 111 Minna Gallery when they reopen.

I really hope that by mid-June, if things go as they are now, that most of these venues can open at 100%. There’s no reason that I can think of — the vaccines have been very widely available for months — that a venue can’t allow a 100% capacity if everyone has been vaccinated. You should just be able to show your card or whatever, unless the vaccine starts to break down in some way. Then we’ve got a lot of other problems besides our venues.

“There’s no reason that I can think of — the vaccines have been very widely available for months — that a venue can’t allow a 100% capacity if everyone has been vaccinated.”

As we commiserate over the shows we have missed with the hope for some rescheduled dates soon, Haney finishes what was left of his side salad and asks the waitress for the check. His phone has been blowing up the entire interview, and it’s only in this moment that he glances at the numerous missed calls and texts. The waitress exchanges some cheerful banter with him as she finally places where she recognizes Haney from, and in return, he compliments the service and quality of his omelette. As he waits to sign the check and starts to visibly drift back into work mode, I ask him one final question.

Showbams: Have there been any positive takeaways from the events of the past year?

He pauses for a second and takes a long, deep breath before replying.

Haney: The incredible resilience of the city, its businesses and our residents. The businesses and people that are still here really fought through a lot to stay in this city. I think coming out of the pandemic, it’s going to be really important to recognize, develop a greater appreciation for and not take for granted.

I think that’s what makes me hopeful and now we as a government acknowledge how much the Bay Area needs venues and places to see each other, celebrate and be inspired.

DOORS OPEN: MORE COVERAGE HERE

Doors Open: A Bay Area Reopening Series – The Midway

Photos courtesy of The Midway // Written by Molly Kish //

The Midway – San Francisco

On March 15th, 2020, bars, nightclubs, wineries and brewpubs all across the Bay Area were told to close effective immediately under California state order as industries long considered to be the backbone of the Bay Area’s cultural identity were shattered overnight by COVID-19.

While restaurants and retail began to slowly continue operations, the state’s color coded reopening plan left venues shuttered. Without any clear indication or timeline as to what the future held, SF’s nightlife was left to wonder when (or if), they’d ever be able to announce “Doors Open” again.

Amidst this last year of pandemic chaos, several local entities demonstrated resilience in preserving the city’s entertainment infrastructure. Setting the precedent for the rest of the country through unwavering passion and innovation, this series highlights key figures and institutions that continue to survive, fight for and usher in the re-opening of the Bay Area economy.

To start things off, we feature a SF venue that has progressively and successfully transformed in order to keep its doors open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: The Midway.

Providing moderated crowds with uniquely intimate and COVID-19 friendly experiences, we spoke with The Midway’s assistant general manager Andrea Kirk about the struggles, endurance and ingenuity it takes to run an entertainment space during a global pandemic.

“The Midway is an intersection of art, culture, technology and food. We really aim to bring together all of those different elements that would be considered to be part of the creative realm and to be a canvas for different types of ideas that are coming through.” – Andrea Kirk, Assistant General Manager

It’s 3 p.m. on a Thursday, and The Midway patio is surprisingly active. Technicians are testing speakers, managers are laying out floor plans and several forklifts continue to load in tables, chairs and audio equipment. The energy is bustling. Kirk arrives and suggests that we relocate to the venue’s main room to avoid the noise.

Sitting at a table staged for an upcoming event, Kirk proceeds to laugh and lament about the absurdity of everything, humbly recognizing the fact that it’s a privilege to even have the opportunity to be interrupted by a load-in this afternoon. She’s still processing the emotions of the pandemic and subsequent toil it took on the Bay Area as she candidly discusses the moment it all became real and the past 18 months at The Midway.

“I mean, I think that there was definitely a certain level of disbelief. Not in a ‘is COVID real?’ sort of way but more of a ‘Is this really happening?’ It felt very surreal. Having to drop everything to a 250-person capacity effectively meant that we had to shut everything down. Afterwards we went into shelter in place for the two weeks which then was extended and extended again and it just was sort of like, ‘What is happening in the world?’ and not even having words to even identify thoughts or feelings about it. Just being really in shock.”

During the months leading up to reopening, Kirk’s main focus was to keep optimistic, explore all creative options and maintain open and honest communication with the staff. As businesses stood by watching the Bay Area dance between colors on the tier system, the staff of The Midway decided to be proactive with their options.

“I remember when we were approaching our initial ability to reopen, which I guess would’ve put us into the purple tier the first time and it was really such an experiment for us. We realized that outdoor dining was going to open and that we have our café on site, so one of the things we kept doing regularly was have a weekly staff check in. It really helped for all of us to stay on the same page.

This allowed for us to really have the conversation and realize that ‘Oh, wait we do fit this criteria?’ and raise the question of ‘Do we actually think anyone would come out, if we did it?’ You know those first several events I think we were losing money on them, but we really felt that it was so important to have something for people to do. When I say that I’m not just talking about the people who are coming to these events, I mean it was really important for us psychologically. Our team having the ability to do something and have ‘work’ … many tears of relief were shed.”

The Midway made its best efforts to comply with the city’s fluctuating live entertainment regulations, with initial events ranging from comedy shows to movie nights and even outdoor drag shows. Providing one of the only spaces in the Bay Area to engage in socially distant entertainment, the venue operated for about six weeks before it ran into its biggest obstacle yet.

“There was obviously that fact that we were shut down, which I think everyone knows about. The funny part was when an article was published about it months after the fact, people assumed that it had happened again, when it hadn’t. I think that was really hard because first of all, on that evening we were less than 10 minutes away from the end of the event and of course this is when the cops show up. When they wrote us up, they were saying ‘Oh, you guys don’t have food and you don’t have this or that,’ and literally my chef was walking out and the rest of the kitchen staff was still on site. It was just one of those moments where you’re thinking, ‘This looks so much worse than it is.’

Most disappointing was not the fact that we got a lot of feedback from the health department or anything like that, it was actually that they straight up gave us a cease and desist order instead of anybody reaching out to contact us. It was point blank ‘You have done all of the things wrong’ and ‘Let’s get the lawyers involved,’ which was really unfortunate.”

On July 22nd, 2020, The Midway was amongst a large sweep of businesses that were temporarily closed by the San Francisco Health Department. Along with the EndUp, The Knockout and Valencia Room amongst others, the venue’s live entertainment and dining experiences were once again placed on hold just weeks after it got up and running.

“We’ve since come around and been able to really have more of a real conversation with them. It’s been a balance to do this both safely and in a manner that people feel comfortable, which aren’t always the same thing.

There was a lot of back and forth during the shut down. Some very valuable information was exchanged but also with consecutive frustration when for example: you’ve got redlined documents in which we stated ‘tables and chairs are cleaned between guests,’ and we get told, ‘You need to say tables and chairs are sanitized between each guest’ I do feel like a lot of that could’ve happened in a really good conversation and that it didn’t need to go the way it went, but again, there were good things that came out of it too. We definitely revamped a few things, including how our security worked and service was conducted.”

After adjustments were made to comply with the new standards, The Midway was able to continue with their operations within a matter of weeks. The current outdoor layout spans two full city blocks accommodating more than 100 tables, all of which are limited to four people per designated space. The patio remains open with access to two outdoor bars and the venue’s café, Madame Zola’s Fortune, is providing both brunch and dinner menu options.

“Some of the changes just sort of happened naturally, like how we have the ability for people to do contactless ordering from their tables. This was something that we had just started to do via online ordering with our café, for our neighbors. I think we were some of the early adopters of that, and now you see it at just about every restaurant that I’ve been to in multiple states at this point. It was really nice to just be able to do that, and it definitely has been the thing that has allowed us to successfully scale. Getting 100 tables out here is a lot, especially if you have service. So, the online ordering has been really key in our ability to operate at the level that we are.”

Transitioning from streams and virtual events into full scale performances was no easy feat. Besides the logistical nightmare of attempting to book artists who were available and interested in performing, The Midway faced the challenge of creating an audio experience that would be comparable to the venue’s main room, but outdoors.

“We had to uninstall a bunch of equipment from one of the rooms here and really dig into our inventory to make sure that we were able to hit the sound outside, which in part was due to the new standards but also conversations with the neighbors, who have been absolutely amazing. I’m grateful that they are very supportive and they basically have an open invitation to come to any of the shows, (they just have to let us know so that we can reserve them a table).”

Though navigating the last few months has been no easy feat, Kirk remains positive in the fact that the venue has booked a consistently busy event calendar that people continue to remain excited about. As the vaccination rates rise in SF, the possibility of a “return to normalcy” in 2021 becomes more and more realistic by the day. Even with the current limitations, The Midway has already started to book their several indoor spaces for upcoming events and dining series.

“As for additional culinary things coming up, they’re still kind of in the works, but we’re developing a series of different types of tastings, food and liquor pairings. We’re very excited about those. In terms of the exhibits, we actually opened up our ‘Artist in Residence’ program, which was supposed to be a six-month cohort and it’s now going to be like nine or ten months just because we had opened and shut. We’ll be doing some shows with them later in the fall, and we actually are going to be launching some workshops with the artists as well.”

Instead of viewing this past year as an insurmountable challenge, Kirk and The Midway’s staff have taken risks to provide the Bay Area with an ingenious spin on outdoor entertainment. By utilizing its property and assets to their full potential, The Midway has not only been able to work around barriers other clubs have not been able to, but it also has produced events and concepts that have exceeded so many of their guests’ expectations.

“Well, our brunch has been really successful, and I think that there’s at least some elements of that we would love to keep. It’s funny because I moved to San Francisco just about four years ago and one of the things I said was that ‘I still love to go out and go dancing, but I just don’t know if I want to be up until 4 a.m. for much longer. Then I thought, day parties … day parties are great in the Bay Area!

They’ve been so good for our café, to really just come up with solid menus and develop them to shift seasonally. Whereas before, I think a lot of our café food was based on what corporate events would say they’d want on their menus. We will always have certain key dishes, but now there’s seasonal changes that will happen as well. So, I think from a creative aspect there is a lot more going on now.”

Looking toward the future, Kirk sees no slowing down and expects California — should things continue to trend positively — to be back in action in accordance with the statewide projection of June 15th. She remains grateful for The Midway’s ability to survive the challenges of this past year but could not be happier for the proverbial end in sight.

Remaining cognizant of everything that the venue has been able to endure, Kirk mentions how she has been humbled and changed personally by the pandemic. Her main takeaway, however, is much more indicative of the strength of her work force as well as her genuine leadership and core values as the venue’s assistant GM that truly make The Midway a relentless force in the re-opening of the Bay Area.

“No. 1 thing that I have gotten out of COVID is an emphasis on how we all work together. In my opinion, The Midway has always had a family vibe and I roll my eyes a little because I know that people say that and it’s annoying. But we really had each other’s backs through this across the board, and I am super duper proud of this team and how they’ve worked together.

I would say secondarily was the need for people to get out and have a way to do that in a safe manner. But 100% it has all been to make sure that our staff is taken care of.”

Check out The Midway’s event calendar for reservations here.

DOORS OPEN: MORE COVERAGE HERE

HARD Summer Music Festival returns in 2021 with Future, DJ Snake B2B Malaa enlisted as headliners

HARD Summer Music Festival - 2021 lineup

HARD Summer Music Festival //
NOS Events Center – San Bernardino, CA
July 31st-August 1st, 2021 //

Four months.

With so many of us forced to spend the past year at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be hard to believe that live music is slowly returning in the U.S. Yet, that’s exactly how much longer it will be before California hosts its first large-scale music festival again when HARD Summer returns this July and August.

The annual two-day event, which has long leaned in the electronic direction but has incorporated more and more hip-hop acts since 2015, has moved around the greater Los Angeles area over the last several years, occupying Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte and the Fairplex in Pomona before eventually migrating to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for the last four editions, but HARD founder and CEO Gary Richards has found a new home less than 20 miles away.

Employing the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino for its 13th installment, HARD Summer 2021 will not only see Atlanta rapper Future headline for the first time but also a rare B2B set by DJ Snake and Malaa. Plus, the fest’s undercard offers enough of its own star power with Rezz, Dillon Francis, Kaytranada, RL Grime B2B Baauer, 2 Chainz, Don Toliver, Skream, Jauz, Kayzo, Ekali, Iann Dior, Lil Durk, Hulk Gang (Valentino Khan + 4B), Maya Jane Coles, Slushii, G Jones B2B Eprom, JOYRYDE, A-Trak, SAYMYNAME, Wax Motif, Solardo and more all scheduled to perform. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

GA and VIP passes are on sale here this Friday, April 2nd at 10 a.m. PT for fans ages 18 and over, with payment plans also available for one-day or two-day tickets after a $9.95 or $19.99 deposit.

So, who’s ready to go HARD this summer?

UPDATE (May 5th): Well, it sure sounds like plenty of people are ready to get down this summer as two-day and Saturday single-day passes are now sold out! Tickets to Sunday’s festivities are still available here so make sure to grab them before it’s too late.

Outside Lands 2021 moves to Halloween weekend as Glass Animals, Kaytranada & more join the party

Outside Lands - 2021 lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
October 29th-31st, 2021 //

The past 12 months have been a tense and agonizing time for musicians and live music fans everywhere. With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the concert and festival circuits for months on end, many of us around the world have had to resort to livestreams and drive-in performances to help get us through the chaos until normalcy resumes.

But those days could be coming to an end soon in the U.S. as vaccinations continue to rise and for those who are looking to celebrate Halloween this year in style with both friends and strangers (if you can believe it), look no further than Golden Gate Park when Outside Lands makes its long-awaited return to SF.

While the three-day music festival made the decision in June to cancel any plans for 2020 and instead target August 2021 for its 13th installment, organizers have given us a spooky surprise by shifting the event back more than two months.

Because whether you’re a kid or an adult, who doesn’t love the spirit of Halloween? The new dates scheduled for October will mark the first time that OSL won’t occur during its usual month of August, though those aren’t the only changes that were announced with this latest postponement news.

The fest, in fact, is also giving its 2021 lineup a slight makeover with the additions of Glass Animals, Kaytranada, Lord Huron, SG Lewis, Flo Milli, 24kGoldn, Cannons, Buscabulla, JESSIA, Claud and several others while previously confirmed acts such as Beach House, Bonobo, Polo & Pan, Big Thief, Tones and I, EOB, Parcels, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and The Beths have unfortunately been removed from the poster. And for those hoping to see Tame Impala, Lizzo and/or The Strokes on the Lands End stage, don’t you worry — all three are still set to make their headlining debuts once day turns to night. See the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

Itching to get back out there and ready to don your best festival costume? Three-day GA and VIP passes to Outside Lands 2021 are on sale now with payment plans available for both so don’t forget to purchase your tickets here and check out our Outside Lands coverage over the years here.

UPDATE (March 23rd): Wow! And just like that, three-day GA and VIP passes are sold out. If you’re looking for single-day tickets, stay tuned for more details soon.

Outside Lands - 2021 daily lineups

UPDATE (April 27th): Outside Lands has released its daily lineups for 2021, with The Strokes headlining Friday, Lizzo performing Saturday and Tame Impala on Sunday to wrap up the weekend. Take a look at the daily schedules above before single-day tickets go on sale here for $165 (GA) and $375 (VIP) plus fees starting this Thursday, April 29th at 10 a.m. PT.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Albums & Songs of 2020

Best of 2020 - Run the Jewels, My Morning Jacket, Fiona Apple, Hum, Fleet Foxes

Wow, 2020 … what can we say? This year will certainly be remembered for a lot of things, but none more so than the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged both the U.S. and world over the last 10 months and forced the live music industry to mostly shutter as musicians pivoted to livestreams and drive-in concerts to keep the show going as best they could and however possible. Yet along the way, we lost musical legends who spanned multiple generations from Neil Peart to Bill Withers to John Prine to Little Richard to Eddie Van Halen to MF DOOM — some due to COVID-19 unfortunately — making these past 12 months even more painful to endure than they already were. Ready to officially flush 2020 down the toilet and start anew? Don’t worry … you’re not alone!

In retrospect though, it has been a very quiet year for The Bam Team. You’ll notice there haven’t been a lot of updates in this space, and that’s partly due to the lack of live music on Planet Earth right now. But it’s also been a hectic time for all of us as we try to navigate our way out of these dark days and into some brighter ones, and like any good remedy nowadays, new music has definitely played its part in helping us physically and emotionally cope with the chaos.

It’s why after several months of inactivity here, we decided to dust the cobwebs off Showbams and deliver a modified version of our annual “Best of” lists like we have done since this blog first started (see our 2019 picks here). While that doesn’t mean we had time to hear and dissect every new album or song in the last 365 days — we are still in a pandemic after all — sharing our own individual picks offers a fun and stimulating opportunity for us to reflect on the year that was in music.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite albums and songs from 2020.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2020:


Run the Jewels - RTJ4

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
One might think that after three critically acclaimed albums with some of the most socially and politically charged material since Rage Against the Machine burst onto the scene, it would only seem natural for Run the Jewels’ act to turn a little stale by their fourth time around. But despite the three-year wait for RTJ4, the longest that the hip-hop duo has gone between releases, the final product — like a fine wine — has only gotten better with time. Anchored by stellar production (a RTJ trademark) and provocative rhymes, the 11-track offering sees the two emcees sounding off on everything from corporate greed to police brutality just days after the tragic death of George Floyd. It also boasts a guest list loaded with star power, with DJ Premier, 2 Chainz, Pharrell Williams, Zack de la Rocha, Mavis Staples and Josh Homme each lending a hand while El-P and Killer Mike inject truth serum into our ears with one verbal haymaker after another. In what proved to be a shitstorm of a year, this was the soundtrack a lot of us needed to survive 2020.

2. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II
3. Fleet Foxes – Shore
4. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
5. Caribou – Suddenly

Favorite live album: Sylvan Esso – WITH

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Royal Blood – “Trouble’s Coming”
The British rock duo composed of lead singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher are gearing up to drop their third LP in 2021 and wisely chose to wet our palette with an absolute banger for its lead single. “Trouble’s Coming” has all the makings of a Royal Blood song — catchy bass riffs that sound like they’re coming out of a guitar, heavy-metal drums and Kerr’s falsetto vocals — while charting a slightly different path for the band, one that conjures up some serious 70’s disco vibes. Just watch this scene from Charlie’s Angels to see what we mean, and if you have a pair of fingerless leather gloves handy, you might as well put those on too. We think Sam Rockwell would approve.

2. My Morning Jacket – “Wasted”
3. Run the Jewels – “JU$T” feat. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha
4. Pearl Jam – “Dance of the Clairvoyants”
5. Sylvan Esso – “Ferris Wheel”

Favorite remix: Bonobo – “Final Days” (Michael Kiwanuka)


Hum - Inlet

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Hum – Inlet
This four-piece’s fifth studio effort came as a complete surprise when it dropped in June, and it was honestly THE album I needed. Being knee-deep into the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t sure what the rest of the year would look like musically, and it was exactly the type of record that hits all the marks for me. It’s sonically huge, it showcases Hum’s trademark ultra-layered, dense instrumentation and it ebbs and flows between energetic and emotive. Inlet was easily my most-listened-to album in 2020.

2. Coriky – Coriky
3. PEARS – PEARS
4. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
5. Run the Jewels – RTJ4

Favorite live album: NOFX – The Decline (Live at Red Rocks)

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Run the Jewels – “Walking in the Snow”
Oh man, this track was just the thing I needed during what may have been one of the most tense times in modern history. And like all of RTJ4, it absolutely crushes as El-P and Killer Mike bring their signature styles to full effect on this dramatic, yet bouncy tune. The middle section, which sees Mike taking the lead, is not only effective, prophetic and timely, but it also serves as a reminder that the time for action is now and that history has a tendency to repeat itself if we’re not careful. Check out the song’s brand-new music video here, too.

2. Hum – “Desert Rambler”
3. IDLES – “War”
4. Middle-Aged Queers – “Gary’s Making Biscuits”
5. PEARS – “Zero Wheels”

Favorite remix: Squarepusher – “Pink Maggit” (Deftones)


Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Albums of 2020
1. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
I almost feel cheated that my two No. 1 picks went to the same artist, but this year belonged to Fiona as much as it did to Dr. Fauci. FTBC busted us out of our mental prisons and allowed us to imagine our lives were more exciting than they actually were in 2020. It reminded us that we are strong enough to survive anything, to use our voices to speak even louder for what we believe in and that we can work on our own healing even if we can’t quite get outside. Ms. Apple set women free together.

2. Fleet Foxes – Shore
3. Mura Masa – R.Y.C.
4. Kari Faux – Lowkey Superstar
5. Liv.e – Couldn’t Wait to Tell You…

Favorite live album: Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club – Live at O’Leaver’s

Top 5 Songs of 2020
1. Fiona Apple – “Shameika”
This is a badass, “can-do” tune that was inspired by a passing comment made decades ago, one Fiona surely never thought twice about until now. And as she pounds the piano with the strength of RBG, it’s clear that this is the song 2020 needed — not to mention that it came full circle, inspiring Shameika herself all these years later. Sweet.

2. Noname – “Song 33”
3. Open Mike Eagle feat. Kari Faux – “Bucciarati”
4. Liv.e – “Lessons From My Mistakes…but I Lost Your Number”
5. Quakers feat. Sampa the Great – “Approach with Caution”

Favorite remix: Thundercat feat. Smino & Guapdad 4000 – “Dragonball Durag”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Outside Lands cancels 2020 edition, reveals lineup for 2021 with Tame Impala, Lizzo & The Strokes

Outside Lands - 2021 lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 6th-8th, 2021 //

As most of us know by now, 2020 has been a really rough year for the music industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely wiped out the concert and festival circuits, with free live streams and drive-in performances serving as our indefinite replacement during these strange and unpredictable days, weeks and months.

So when multiple major events like South by Southwest, Ultra Music Festival and Coachella canceled their 2020 editions and the entire U.S. shut down in March, it seemed unlikely that Outside Lands would actually transpire this summer.

Now that forecast has been officially confirmed, with the three-day music festival announcing that it will not take over Golden Gate Park during the weekend of August 7th-9th this year. It’s sad news for many in the Bay Area community and beyond, but OSL organizers did their very best to lift fans’ spirits by not only releasing the fest’s 2021 dates but also unveiling its lineup.

The 13th installment, in fact, will see Tame Impala, Lizzo and The Strokes each make their OSL headlining debuts with a solid undercard behind them that’s led by Tyler, the Creator, Vampire Weekend, J Balvin, Kehlani, The 1975, ZHU and Young Thug. The undercard might even be better, though (if you can believe that).

Other notable names on next year’s roster include Khruangbin, Beach House, Bonobo, Nelly, Brittany Howard, Burna Boy, Melanie Martinez, Polo & Pan, Big Thief, Troyboi, Angel Olsen, SOFI TUKKER, EARTHGANG, Tones and I, EOB, Sharon Van Etten, Marc Rebillet, A R I Z O N A, JPEGMAFIA, Dr. Dog, Shiba San, Boy Pablo, Rico Nasty and more. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

UPDATE (Jan. 12th): As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, The 1975 have made the difficult decision to cancel all of their tour dates scheduled for 2021, including Outside Lands in August. The good news is that they’ll be replaced by RÜFÜS DU SOL, who made their OSL debut in 2016 and have swiftly climbed the festival ranks since issuing 2018’s Solace. “We have fond memories of playing the Panhandle stage at Outside Lands five years ago and we are excited to be back this year,” the Australian alt-dance trio says in a statement.

Outside Lands 2021 might feel like a long way away at this point, but it will be here before you know it so don’t forget to purchase your tickets when they go on sale here this Thursday, June 25th at 10 a.m. PT — Eager Beaver passes that were bought in 2020 will also be honored while those who choose to roll over their admission to the following year by July 24th will also have the opportunity to win exclusive upgrades and other prizes — and make sure to check out our coverage from 2019 here.

Tool show us at SAP Center that they’ve only gotten bigger & better with more time

ToolBy Mike Rosati //

Tool with Author & Punisher //
SAP Center – San Jose
January 14th, 2020 //

My first Tool show was at the Trocadero Transfer, a small SF club in the SoMa neighborhood that has been remodeled and renamed as The Grand.

It was 1993, and the band’s debut album Undertow had dropped several months earlier that year. My friend had been following the East Bay Express’ music column, which published a review of Tool’s 1992 EP Opiate. He picked up a cassette and we quickly became enamored, playing the snot out of it on every road trip we took together.

Unfortunately, we mistimed that show at the Trocadero Transfer and missed Failure’s opening set. The room was packed so we had to find a spot at the very back of the venue. And although we couldn’t see through the crowd from where we stood, we noticed that there was a trash can along the back wall. With little time to think, we turned it upside down, climbed atop of it and grabbed onto the fire sprinkler pipe. For us, that seemed to make all the difference, providing an amazing view of the room as the audience moved like an undulating ocean of bodies when Tool finally took the stage. Frontman Maynard James Keenan appeared shirtless and donned a Mohawk ponytail braid while standing at the front of the stage under a spotlight. Since then, I have seen a lot of shows but nothing quite like the moshing that transpired that night.

Tool

Fast forward to Tool’s latest Bay Area stop at San Jose’s SAP Center, and things have changed quite a bit for the prog-metal titans. Compared to that first performance I witnessed almost 27 years ago, Keenan (vocals), Danny Carey (drums), Adam Jones (guitar) and Justin Chancellor (bass) are now selling out arenas all around the world with a massive lighting rig, immersive video backdrop and veil of strings at the front of the stage when they open with the title track on their fifth LP Fear Inoculum.

But unlike the quartet’s previous tours, Keenan was actually illuminated at different points during the show as he strutted across the raised platforms behind Jones and Chancellor in a leather jacket with a Puscifer logo, a pair of red plaid pants and another Mohawk (albeit this one was spiked). Jones, as usual, was an economy of movement but his guitar voluminous in sound while Carey’s drums have only grown more into an incredible shrine of percussion.

Tool have certainly come a long way since that December night at the Trocadero Transfer nearly three decades ago, but looking back now, I’m sure glad we found that trash can.

Setlist:
Fear Inoculum
Ænema
The Pot
Parabol
Parabola
Pneuma
Schism
Jambi
Vicarious
Descending

Encore:
Chocolate Chip Trip
Invincible
Stinkfist

Lightning in a Bottle’s 2020 roster has Kaytranada, Sylvan Esso, GRiZ & Purity Ring leading the pack

Lightning in a Bottle - 2020 lineup

Lightning in a Bottle //
Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area – Bakersfield, CA
May 20th-25th, 2020 //

Lightning in a Bottle is back on schedule.

After a longer-than-expected wait last year to release its 2019 lineup due to new dates and a new location in Kern County, the “transformational festival” has already unleashed its 2020 roster with Kaytranada, Sylvan Esso, GRiZ and Purity Ring topping the bill.

Other noteworthy acts on the initial lineup for the fest’s 15th installment include James Blake (DJ set), Four Tet, Amon Tobin (presents Two Fingers), Nina Kraviz, Big Wild, DJ Shadow, Bob Moses (club set), Jon Hopkins, Emancipator, Noisia, Stephan Bodzin, Doja Cat, Justin Martin, Keys N Krates (DJ set), Empress of, DROELOE and more.

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - The Stacks

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - CTRL-Z

UPDATE (February 13th): The Do LaB has announced the lineups for The Stacks and CTRL-Z stages at LIB 2020 that includes sets from Joe Kay, Justin Martin, Kraddy and more. Check out the posters above for both stages.

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - Grand Artique

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - The Compass

UPDATE (February 20th): The lineups for the Grand Artique and Compass stages have now also been announced with performances by Fantastic Negrito, Whiskerman and more slated at Buena Vista Lake. See the posters above for both stages.

LIB, which has been praised over the years as one of the nation’s premier boutique festivals, will also return to its traditional Memorial Day weekend slot when it takes over Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area for a second straight year this May. But for many West Coast music fans, it has become an excellent hangover cure shortly after Coachella’s both weekends end.

Four- and five-day passes to LIB, as well as the brand-new Patron Experience ticket, can be purchased here for $349, $419 and $999, respectively, with payment plans available. And as always, promoting the ideals of sustainability, social cohesion, personal health and creative expression through art, yoga, workshops and speakers will remain a defining portion of The Do LaB’s signature event.

UPDATE (March 13th): Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Lightning in a Bottle will not take place May 20-25 at Buena Vista Lake, with no official word on rescheduled dates or refunds yet. LIB joins Coachella as another California music festival that has either postponed or canceled this week, shortly after South by Southwest and Ultra Music Festival pulled the plug on their own events. With the coronavirus rocking a lot of the world right now and in particular the live music industry, The Do LaB is uncertain if LIB will return in the near or distant future and that is certainly a sad thought to consider.

Take a peek at our past coverage of Lightning in a Bottle here.

BottleRock goes with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band & Stevie Nicks to lead 2020 lineup

BottleRock - 2020 lineup

BottleRock Napa Valley //
Napa Valley Expo – Napa, CA
May 22nd-24th, 2020 //

Coachella has predicated itself on being the first major U.S. music festival to drop its lineup at the start of the new year for quite a while, and now that the three-day, two-weekend festival in the desert has booked Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean to headline its 2020 edition, it’s time to turn our attention north as BottleRock regularly reveals its own roster around this time too.

Because if you’re a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, then the Napa Valley event might be right up your alley.

Celebrating its eighth year this Memorial Day weekend, BottleRock in 2020 will be led by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band and Stevie Nicks after putting Imagine Dragons, Neil Young and Mumford & Sons atop the bill a year ago. Of course, those are just your headliners.

The undercard, meanwhile, boasts plenty of big names as well, including Miley Cyrus, Khalid, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Zedd, Brandi Carlile, The Avett Brothers, Janelle Monáe, Maggie Rogers, Blondie, Of Monsters and Men, Maren Morris, Empire of the Sun, Foals, Tegan and Sara, Jimmy Eat World, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Local Natives and many more.

As usual, attendees will also able to witness live cooking demonstrations between a variety of celebrity chefs, musicians and athletes at the fest’s beloved Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage.

Tickets go on sale this Tuesday, January 7th at 10 a.m. PT here and start at $349 for a three-day GA pass while VIP goes for $849 (before prices increase). But if you really want to splurge this year, there’s always the three-day skydeck pass for a measly $1,599 or the platinum for $4,350.

Coachella locks down Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott & Frank Ocean to headline in 2020

Coachella - 2020 lineup

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 10th-12th & April 17th-19th, 2020 //

Well, if your New Year’s resolution was to see Rage Against the Machine perform at Coachella, it’s time to start packing your bags.

After the legendary rock band posted to Instagram on Halloween that it would be performing in Indio this April and multiple reports surfaced over the last few weeks confirming the news, the California festival made the announcement official with the release of its 2020 lineup.

It marks the third time that RATM have been booked to headline Coachella, with the previous instance dating back to 2007 when Zack de la Rocha (vocals), Tim Commerford (bass, vocals), Tom Morello (guitar) and Brad Wilk (drums) reunited following the group’s unforeseen break-up seven years prior.

Joining Rage at the top of the fest’s famed poster will be Grammy-nominated rapper Travis Scott and enigmatic crooner Frank Ocean, both of whom will be headlining the three-day, two-weekend event for the first time (though they each have played Coachella before).

And in what was nearly an unprecedented move by organizers, 2016 headliner Calvin Harris has retreated to second-line status. It’s just the second time that’s occurred in Coachella’s 21-year history, with the only other artist being Beck when he headlined its inaugural edition in 1999. But the rest of the undercard boasts some highlights like Flume, Lana Del Rey, Run the Jewels (with a de la Rocha cameo as we once witnessed likely), Thom Yorke, Disclosure, Rex Orange County, Daniel Caesar, FKA twigs, Danny Elfman, Louis the Child, BROCKHAMPTON, Fatboy Slim, Caribou, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Charli XCX, Jai Wolf, Madeon, Yaeji, Chicano Batman, Hot Chip, Mura Masa, Duck Sauce, GRiZ, DJ Koze, Carly Rae Jepsen, Peggy Gou, Duke Dumont, Floating Points, J.I.D, IDLES, BADBADNOTGOOD, Daphni, Weyes Blood, Steve Lacy, (Sandy) Alex G, slowthai, Big Wild, TOKIMONSTA, Noname, Friendly Fires, Altın Gün, Crumb, Cashmere Cat, Sampha the Great and girl in red.

Like in more recent years, many of the acts on the bill lean in the hip-hop, R&B and electronic direction while rock continues to get phased out. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that two of Dan Snaith’s projects are listed in Caribou and Daphni, the latter of which will assuredly be a DJ set in the Yuma Tent.

Coachella’s first weekend is scheduled for April 10th-12th, with its second weekend slated for April 17th-19th. With Weekend 1 passes already sold out, tickets for Weekend 2 will go on sale this Monday, January 6th at 12 p.m. PT here.

UPDATE (March 10th): Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Coachella 2020 has been rescheduled for October 9th-11th and October 16th-18th. All passes purchased for the festival’s previous dates in April will be honored in October, with refunds available to those who are unable to attend. Coachella becomes the latest major event to be affected after South by Southwest and Ultra Music Festival were both canceled last week.

UPDATE (June 11th): As coronavirus cases continue to spike in certain parts of the U.S., the sad and unfortunate likelihood of Coachella not occurring in 2020 has now become a reality. Goldenvoice instead has marked some 2021 dates down on the calendar — Weekend 1 will be April 9-11 and Weekend 2 follows April 16-18 with all 2020 passes purchased being honored — though sadly there’s always the possibility that Coachella could be postponed until October again as we near the New Year, when the festival usually reveals its annual lineup.

Ready to take the desert by storm? Look back at our coverage of Coachella over the years here.

Our favorite performances from 2019

Best live shows of 2019 - Usher, Kacey Musgraves, Local Natives & Empire of the Sun

Ah yes, it’s that time again. Time to wave goodbye to another year, a hectic one that forced us to scale back our coverage toward the latter half of 2019. But before we officially ring in a new year and decade, it’s time for us to revisit the last 12 months at Showbams. For all intents and purposes, this space has provided us the access to witness so many amazing moments in live music, and even though we can’t show love to every performance we covered in 2019, we still managed to see some great ones.

Trimming down the list is never an easy task. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order), all of whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

Albert Hammond Jr., Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Ari Lennox, ASTU, AURORA, Bea Miller, Bebe Rexha, Beirut, Big Wild, Bobby, Bob Moses, Caroline Rose, Cherry Glazerr, Choker, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Club Night, Coke, Counting Crows, Crumb, CupcakKe, Daniel Caesar, Denzel Curry, Derek Ted, DJ Koze, The-Dream, DREAMERS, Ella Mai, Film School, FITNESS, Foxtail Brigade, Ginger Root, Half Alive, Hozier, Illuminati Hotties, In the Valley Below, Judah & the Lion, Justin Martin, Kali Uchis, Kamaal Williams, Katzù Oso, KONGOS, Lapel, Leon Bridges, Leven Kali, The Lil Smokies, Lil Wayne, LPX, machineheart, The Marías, Max Frost, Melvins, Michigan Rattlers, Mikey Mike, Miserable, MNEK, Mother Mother, Nicotine, (((O))), ORB, Outer Embassy, Princess Nokia, Puddles Pity Party, Queens D.Light, Raveena, Ravyn Lenae, RL Grime, Robyn, Rose Droll, Santigold, Sea Moya, SOAR, Stonefield, Super Unison, Tia Nomore, Tony Danza, Toro y Moi, Twenty One Pilots, Uni, Winnetka Bowling League, You Me at Six, Yuna

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2019.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2019

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2019:


Best of 2019 - MØ

Date: February 9th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

MØ’s performance, meanwhile, was even brighter than LPX’s with the colors just completely all over the place and smoke coming from behind her as the lights created larger shadows of the 30-year-old’s body against the back wall. Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen went on to perform all five singles — “Imaginary Friend”, “Nostalgia”, “Sun in Our Eyes”, “Blur” and “Way Down” — off her sophomore album and even showcased her 2017 collaboration “Don’t Leave” with British electronic duo Snakehips. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Best of 2019 - Bob Mould Band

Bob Mould Band

Date: March 2nd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

Bob Mould has had a lengthy, fruitful relationship with Noise Pop and the packed Fillmore demonstrated that in spades after recently releasing his rather well-received, and 13th, solo album Sunshine Rock since disbanding Hüsker Dü and intersplicing Sugar releases. Mould is nearing the age of 60, but you’d be hard-pressed to think that when he frantically paces back and forth onstage while firing off his characteristic take of punk-leaning alternative rock. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2019 - Modeselektor

Modeselektor

Date: April 4th
Location: Echoplex – Los Angeles

At LA’s Echoplex last Thursday, we didn’t have the fortune of getting another surprise cameo from Yorke, but it was intriguing to see a sold-out crowd welcome Bronsert and Szary back to the City of Angels under the Modeselektor moniker for the first time in a long time (and on a school night no less). And considering they were only stopping through two U.S. cities — LA and NYC the night before at Elsewhere in Brooklyn — on this tour, the show felt a little extra special for those of us in attendance due to the circumstances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers

Date: May 15th
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Leading off with “Go” from their 2015 LP Born in the Echoes, The Chemical Brothers delivered a 24-song set that covered all nine studio albums, including their newest effort No Geography that dropped in April. They seamlessly transitioned from one banger to the next, keeping our spirits high and leaving us not a minute to rest our feet. The onstage production, meanwhile, was next level. With an arsenal full of lights and lasers as well as a massive projection screen mounted behind them, Rowlands and Simons created a scintillating audio-visual experience to remember and one of the best we’ve witnessed in a while. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - T-Pain

T-Pain

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

The sun finally came out for none other than T-Pain. Bouncing onstage like Tigger, T-Pain made a case for deserving a later set time (and was probably indirectly responsible for the wave of people passing out around 6 p.m.). The man is a party in a human body, and he’s aging like a fine wine — his music, his dance moves, all of it. It’s clear he belongs on that stage, whether it’s 2:15 or 10:15 p.m. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

As the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the crowd swelled in front of the festival’s main stage, waiting for our lord and savior Erykah Badu. We waited. And we waited. Finally, 30 minutes later, Ms. Badu walked out and surveyed the scene before all was forgiven. Her shortened set was still probably more than the sun-dried fans could handle, with her vocals perfect and her vibe far-reaching and unmatched. As she threw her body left and right, jutting her limbs into the air and even jumping down to clasp a few lucky hands, you could feel a collective healing washing over the grounds. Before she left, she even thanked us for waiting for her, as though we had done her a favor. Psh. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Usher

Usher

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

How do you follow Erykah Badu? I didn’t think it could be done until about five seconds into Usher’s performance. He came out swinging, energy and choreography at 110 percent, so fast and fierce that I yelped, “Holy shit!” I grew up listening to Usher and respect him for days, but I didn’t expect him to put on one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve witnessed in 2019 so far. To say “he’s still got it” wouldn’t nearly be enough. So, just trust me when I say “you’ve gotta get yourself to an Usher show.” -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Middle Kids

Middle Kids

Date: June 22nd
Location: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles

The Aussie rockers have been making a name for themselves on the festival circuit of late, and they did a fine job filling up the Palladium’s expansive floor. With Hannah Joy cementing the power trio’s sound on guitar and vocals, it was a performance that seemed to catch so many spectators off guard. Middle Kids’ songs possess the perfect amount of 90’s nostalgia to keep things catchy while remaining unpretentious and accessible, so expect big things from them in the future. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2019 - Local Natives

Local Natives

Date: June 22nd
Location: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles

The band’s subdued lighting setup let the music do the talking and echoed its simple formula for success. Sometimes three amazing vocalists singing in harmony is all that you need to sell out a 5,000-person theater. While Local Natives haven’t taken a whole lot of risks over the last decade, including on the 10-track Violet Street, they still know how to hit you right in the feels every time. Nonetheless, time will tell which room they can sell out next. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2019 - Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Date: June 25th
Location: The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco

We showed up for the second of three Bay Area performances only to find the crowd anxiously awaiting the group’s arrival onstage. When lead vocalist/guitarist Luke Steele finally emerged through all the smoke donning his usual headdress and face paint however, it quickly came to life. Complemented by a pair of backup dancers and plenty of eye-catching on-screen visuals, Empire of the Sun kicked things off appropriately with “Standing on the Shore” and between multiple costume changes and instrument swaps, completely blew us away before uncorking the LP’s title track to close their headlining set. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Best of 2019 - Jim James

Jim James

Date: July 3rd
Location: The Wiltern – Los Angeles

That said, one could argue fairly easily that James’ songs are a bit more accessible than The CLD’s, and with that in mind, it wasn’t hard at all to understand why the man who has also put out music under the pseudonym Yim Yames assumed the closing duties for this tour. It became even more evident once James took the stage, shredding his way through tracks on Uniform Distortion like “Over and Over” and “You Get to Rome” before going to an acoustic guitar for “A New Life” from 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God. James would end up performing almost all of Uniform Distortion, but the real standouts of the show were in fact slightly altered versions of the Marvin Gaye-inspired “Here in Spirit” and the ever-haunting “Same Old Lie” to close what felt like a roller-coaster set full of peaks and valleys — and of course, plenty of screeches and squeals emanating from his Gibson ES-335, too. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - COMMON

COMMON

Date: July 25th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

That’s what COMMON does — he spreads love to each and every person his music reaches. As KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez pointed out during his sit-down interview with the emcee midway through the evening, COMMON has lots of songs about love, and you could quickly find more than enough evidence to assert that fact by looking at the setlist alone. Of the seven tracks he showcased off Let Love, five had the word “love” in its title, starting with “Show Me That You Love” that opened his set. The album, which is inspired by COMMON’s new memoir “Let Love Have the Last Word”, remains a departure from the political deliberations that dominated his 2016 LP Black America Again and spawned out of our most recent U.S. presidential election. I don’t think we need to revisit that moment in history right now, so let me stick to the script. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Brian Lowe


Best of 2019 - The Raconteurs

The Raconteurs

Date: July 27th
Location: Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA

On a Saturday night at the picturesque Santa Barbara Bowl — which we’ll argue is the best music venue in Southern California and where we caught White’s first-ever show there last year — The Raconteurs brought those songs to life as they stormed onstage and unleashed total sonic bliss on our ears with a 90-minute performance highlighted by Consolers of the Lonely tracks “You Don’t Understand Me” and “Carolina Drama”, the latter of which came during an extended encore that was capped off by the quartet’s biggest hit “Steady, as She Goes” and what ultimately inspired White and Benson to form the group back in 2005 as a couple of longtime friends from Detroit. All of this, of course, without having access to our mobile phones after locking them in a Yondr pouch and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather) assisting on keyboards and guitar as a touring member. -Josh Herwitt, photo by David James Swanson


Best of 2019 - FKJ

FKJ

Date: August 5th
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

2019 has already been a banner year for Venton in several ways. Besides making his debut at Coachella less than four months ago, he partnered with livestream media company Cercle to release this jaw-dropping live video that sees him performing on the world’s largest salt flat. Plus, he married Marieezy in March after previously working with the Filipino songstress. So with Marieezy by his side and fan bases in both Europe and North America now solidified, it appears that FKJ is ready to share his one-of-a-kind live show with the rest of the world. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - blink-182

blink-182

Date: August 9th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Though these 90’s pop-punk kings may be short an OG member, that didn’t stop them from a summer shed tour alongside Lil Wayne. Sure, we all miss Tom DeLonge, and yes, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio remains a considerably solid stand-in, but how effective is this nostalgia act in 2019? That’s a tricky question we won’t answer because at the end of the day, festivalgoers of all ages still love singing along to “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things”. It’s really as simple as that to be honest. Does frontman Mark Hoppus’ silly onstage banter work even as he approaches 50? That’s a whole other can of worms I won’t unpack here. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino

Date: August 10th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

As one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, Childish Gambino (born Donald Glover) was an absolute highlight of OSL 2019 and it could very well go down as one of the best sets over the festival’s 12-year run. Minutes before making his grand entrance on the main stage, Glover was informed that he had induced the largest crowd in OSL history. When he finally dismounted from his disco platform in the middle of the polo fields, he shared the news and the audience’s energy from that point forward was palpable. Catching Childish Gambino on his current touring schedule is not only rare, but also few and far between. This year he has been mainly headlining festivals, and rumor has it that this cycle will be his final one billed under the “Childish Gambino” moniker, which made for an even more monumental event in SF. Glover dove straight into an aggressive set of songs from Because the Internet and notable cuts on 2016’s Awaken My Love while being accompanied by a backup band and rotating cast of creative support, including a full choir and crew of dancers/performance artists. More of a conceptual art piece than a typical headlining set, Childish’s masterpiece is one that we will remember for a long time. -Molly Kish, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

Date: August 11th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Kacey Musgraves is arguably one of 2019’s top artists. Her fourth LP Golden Hour has received incredible accolades since its release in 2018, eventually nabbing the highly coveted Grammy for Album of the Year. That said, it was little surprise that Musgraves was able to fill the main stage with fans. Her subtle, yet powerful opener “Slow Burn” could not have been more ideal as she took in the immense crowd. She cutely quipped about playing the Sutro stage in 2014, and you could tell she was well-aware of the moment’s gravity. She naturally leaned heavily on Golden Hour, making sure to include fan favorites such as “Butterflies” and “High Horse” during her set, and at this rate, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before this alt-country breakout star finds herself in big font at the top of festival posters. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Paul Simon

Paul Simon

Date: August 11th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Now that OSL has casually cruised into its 12th year, some musical traditions appear to be in place. Sunday night has become the “legacy artist” slot for many years now, and while these may not be the highest-attended sets of the weekend, they have become a quintessential part of the event. Simon was no different in all circumstances referenced above. No one should be upset that his live retirement barely lasted a year, as the 77-year-old came out jubilant and as entertaining as ever. He quipped about his past musings and even invited a Bay Area legend onstage. As the sun began to set on a shockingly sunny August day, Simon waltzed out there and opened with “Late in the Evening”. Other classic hits like “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” were featured early. “Graceland” kicked off his encore, which saw the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir join in on the Simon & Garfunkel tune “The Boxer”. Although Weir didn’t tackle any major vocals, it was a unique moment to see the two share the stage. And in a fitting way, “The Sound of Silence” served as Simon’s closing song before the masses strolled into SF’s Outerlands one last time. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Date: August 13th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

All jokes aside, as these Aussie weirdos continue to explore other creative avenues, catching a King Gizzard show remains a fairly unique experience in its own right. You can usually expect at least one mosh pit, if not more, to form, but with the Greek only having a small floor area at the front of the stage, the lively audience that showed up on a Tuesday night could only get so rowdy with most of it resigned to the venue’s seated sections. That, however, didn’t stop these mates from delivering the goods. Over the course of a 90-minute set, they touched upon seven of their 15 albums, including opening and closing with three straight tracks off Infest the Rats’ Nest. There was “People-Vultures” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, plus a version of “Wah Wah” that featured a snippet of “The River” at the performance’s midway point. I’m actually a little surprised that they didn’t throw us a couple of curveballs before saying goodbye to be honest, because for as prolific and unpredictable as they’ve become lately, King Gizzard might be one of the most versatile rock bands on Planet Earth, too. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - Maribou State

Maribou State

Date: October 16th
Location: The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco

When Maribou State walked off stage for their encore break, it was almost as if the crowd immediately expected an encore. But no one left until they came back out and performed “Turnmills” from Kingdoms in Colour in honor of the London club that closed in 2008. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a fall night in The City by the Bay. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Outside Lands 2019

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The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2019

Kali Uchis at Smokin Grooves Fest - Rochelle Shipman


Kali Uchis at Smokin Grooves Fest // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Rochelle Shipman

Um, that’s it? Another year in the rear-view mirror? Where the hell did the last 12 months go? Time sure does seem to fly when there’s so much good new music out there to enjoy.

With that said, it’s once again time for us to share our annual “Best of” lists like we have done the past few years (see our 2018 picks here). From new emerging artists to reunion tours to the return of rock ‘n’ roll, this year had a little bit of everything for both the casual and passionate music fan. And even if you didn’t have the time to listen to every album that came out (neither did we), that’s why we’re here: to help point you in the right direction whenever you do finally get the chance to dig in.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2019.

See our favorite performances from 2019 here.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2019:


The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall - Josh Herwitt


The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. Tool at Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA – October 20th & 21st
Unlike the delay on Tool’s fifth album Fear Inoculum, I thankfully didn’t have to wait 13 years to see my favorite band perform live. It was only a couple of years ago when I caught the boys at The Gorge, earning top honors as my favorite show in 2017, and subsequently a week later at Glen Helen Amphitheater for an all-day affair with Primus, Clutch, Fantômas, Melvins and The Crystal Method. Perhaps my tastes haven’t changed all that much since then, but even in a year that saw me attend half as many concerts as I usually do, Tool are still finding new and innovative ways to enhance their live show. Whether it’s tinkering with their stage production to incorporate a see-through curtain at times or adding surround sound throughout the arena, a Tool performance has evolved into a spiritual, meditative and almost out-of-body experience over the last decade. It’s no wonder why scoring tickets remains a trial of good fortune.

2. The Raconteurs at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – July 27th
3. The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles, CA – May 15th
4. Jim James & The Claypool Lennon Delirium at The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA – July 3rd
5. Foals at Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles, CA – March 24th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
When a three-time Grammy-winning band takes more than a decade to release its next album, it’s only natural for expectations to go through the roof. And I’ll be the first to admit that there was a small seed of doubt in my mind when it came to just how epic Tool’s latest sonic voyage in the studio could and would be. But upon first listen, any uncertainty I had about the merits of Fear Inoculum was quickly dispelled. The title track lures you in from the onset, building to a higher place as Maynard James Keenan (vocals) and company — Adam Jones (guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass) and Danny Carey (drums, percussion) — take listeners on an 80-minute rite of passage that holds up as some of the quartet’s best material in its entire catalog. I just hope they got at least one more LP in them, even if it takes another 13 years to make.

2. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
3. Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1
4. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
5. Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. Tool – “Descending”
If you’re still reading, you’ve probably gotten the hint by now that I’m a big fan of Tool. After all, it only seemed fitting that my top song in 2019 should also come from my No. 1 album of the year by my favorite band over the last two decades. I have seen Tool perform a shortened version of “Descending” several times since 2014, before it ever had an official title, so when Fear Inoculum arrived back in August, there was no track I anticipated hearing more. In fact, at more than 13 minutes long, it’s one that requires your full, undivided attention, which can be a significant amount of time to dedicate in a world of three-minute pop songs and endless distractions now. But for prog-rock enthusiasts like myself who are more than willing to take the ride, “Descending” delivers a total rush of blood to the head that ultimately leads to pure unadulterated euphoria.

2. Bon Iver – “Hey, Ma”
3. Hot Chip – “Hungry Child”
4. Foals – “On the Luna”
5. Karen O and Danger Mouse – “Turn the Light”


Cate Le Bon - Reward

Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. Stereolab at Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain – June 1st
Primavera Sound has always had a knack for booking reunions (i.e. Pulp, The Avalanches and Pavement) to its “musical mecca” on the Balearic Sea. 2019’s iteration featured the first proper show in nearly a decade from the anti-capitalist art-pop darlings Stereolab. “Come and Play in the Milky Night” on 1999’s Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night would open the evening to the international consortium of aging music nerds who undoubtedly knew that they were about to be treated to a “best of” set from the English-French outfit. Better yet, their politically themed lyrical content seemed more relevant in 2019 than it was around the time of their creation a quarter-century ago.

2. Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium at The Music Box Village – New Orleans, LA – April 26th
3. BLACK MIDI at Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA – November 21st
4. Amen Dunes at August Hall – San Francisco, CA – January 10th
5. Ween at Desert Daze – Perris, CA – October 12th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Cate Le Bon – Reward
What a banner year for the Welsh artist as she created her most highly acclaimed LP to date. Le Bon has truly honed her craft over the last decade as she has collaborated with a laundry list of indie-music royalty before writing the whimsical and austere Reward that employs an array of fresh sounds swirling around her haunting, pixie vocals. 2020 will see Cate jump on tour alongside Kurt Vile in a solo capacity, but we can’t wait to see what she produces next.

2. Wand – Laughing Matter
3. (Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar
4. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
5. Omni – Networker

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. Foals – “Sunday”
As Foals teeter on the edge of being rock’s next big headliner, the British group semi-quietly unleashed a pair of albums entitled Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 and Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2. While their style continues to hover around math, dance and indie rock, they dig into a deeper realm of sonic atmosphere as frontman Yannis Philippakis questions, even laments, the state of our current times. “Sunday” tends to borrow a tad from the grandiose nature of their fellow Brits in Coldplay before dropping into a four-on-the-floor section that was rather well-received during their March stop at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

2. Crumb – “Ghostride”
3. Vampire Weekend – “Sunflower” feat. Steve Lacy
4. Oh Sees – “Henchlock”
5. Allah-Las – “In the Air”


Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. slowthai at Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA – September 4th
Shortly after releasing his debut album Nothing Great About Britain in May, Tyron Frampton played a few intimate U.S. shows several months later. My guess is that those were probably the last ones he’ll do if the UK rapper out of Northampton continues to rise and deliver, just like he did for much of 2019. Part Johnny Knoxville-type grime smart ass, part brilliant gritty-crust punk, slowthai shook the roof off LA’s Lodge Room, which turned out to be a warm-up show before he returned to play Camp Flog Gnaw in November. Frampton certainly came to please, setting the energy level at 11 and even performing his rowdy hit “Doorman” twice in the set. He could’ve run through it 15 times and the crowd would’ve left just as satisfied.

2. Little Simz at The Echo – Los Angeles, CA – June 13th
3. Taking Back Sunday at Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, CA – April 11th
4. Night Moves at The Echo – Los Angeles, CA – September 21st
5. Usher at Smokin Grooves Fest – Long Beach, CA – June 15th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Little Simz – GREY Area
The production. The flow. The bars. The BALLS. Little Simz absolutely brings it on GREY Area, leaving no space for second-guessing, sexist bullshit or honestly anyone else at all. This latest studio album from the British emcee is all her, and you can feel it with every breath she takes. We should all be so lucky to come into our confidence the way that she did on this record, but most of all, we should just be grateful “Simbi” trusts us to keep her deepest secrets — and that they sound so, so good.

2. slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
3. Shura – forevher
4. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby
5. White Reaper – You Deserve Love

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. slowthai – “Doorman” (with Mura Masa)
This song technically dropped in 2018, but its spotlight was shone even wider with slowthai releasing his debut LP this year. The Mura Masa-assisted cut pulses with adrenaline, carries the air of a movie soundtrack in only three minutes and has a beat that will take you all the way to the moon and back. In the words of Lizzo, it’s a whole damn meal!

2. Kari Faux – “Latch Key”
3. Billie Eilish – “bury a friend”
4. Little Simz – “Venom”
5. Smino – “Trina”


Tool - Fear Inoculum

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. IDLES – Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – October 10th
After putting out one of my favorite albums from 2018 and missing their show earlier this year, I was thrilled to finally catch IDLES live. To say that these English punk rockers put on a good performance would be a true understatement. They had the energy of an out-of-control freight train but were able to contain it while proving to be an incredibly fun act to see live. Frontman Joe Talbot engaged with the audience in a very authentic way, talking and singing to fans, not just at them. There were crowd-surfing guitarists, mosh pits and sing-a-longs … it was wild.

2. Punk Rock Bowling 2019 – Las Vegas, NV – May 23rd-27th
3. Judas Priest at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – June 24th
4. Van’s Warped Tour 2019 at Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA – July 20th-21st
5. ITCHY-O at Cornerstone – Berkeley, CA – November 23rd

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
Well, after all of the waiting and speculation, Tool have done it again, in a really big way. Fear Inoculum is everything that I was hoping it would be, and then some. HUGE-sounding drums, guitars and bass wrap your head in a warm prog blanket while Maynard does what he always has so well. It takes the best parts of their previous albums and combines them to showcase a band that has clearly not missed a step in the 13 years since 10,000 Days.

2. Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
3. Brittany Howard – Jaime
4. Catbite – Catbite
5. Plague Vendor – By Night

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. The Hammerbombs – “I Hate Cars”
The Hammerbombs are an undersung Bay Area pop-punk group that have written some of the catchiest and fun songs I have heard from the East Bay scene in a long time. Their 2019 release Goodbye, Dreamboat made my top 10, and this track is the hands-down standout on an album chock-full of toe-tappers. It’s a heartfelt song written by singer and bassist Jen Louie, who has a knack for crafting some really fantastic tunes. The chorus is saccharine sweet, and you can’t help but sing along.

2. Lizzo – “Juice”
3. Bad Religion – “Do The Paranoid Style”
4. Ceremony – “In The Spirit World Now”
5. Lagwagon – “Surviving California”

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Maribou State feel the love at The Regency Ballroom

Maribou StateBy Karina Kristensen //

Maribou State with Sea Moya //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
October 16th, 2019 //

On a Wednesday evening in SF, a packed crowd at The Regency Ballroom showered English electronic act Maribou State with love. The duo that consists of Chris Davids and Liam Ivory received quite the reception for a mid-week performance.

While Maribou State released their debut album Portraits in 2015, this tour was specifically in support of their sophomore LP Kingdoms in Colour, which dropped more than a year ago now and features long-standing collaborator Holly Walker on the tracks “Nervous Tics” and “Slow Heat” as well as Texas-based three-piece Khruangbin on “Feel Good” (and yes, it does).

Serving as support was Sea Moya, a kraut-beat combo that energized us with their German-styled aesthetic. Their music was the good kind of weird — the different, yet perfect fun for warming up a crowd.

Maribou State

When Sea Moya concluded, the lights illuminated the crowd that had subtly grown to fill the space and continued to show the sea of bodies getting denser toward the front of the stage as Davids and Ivory began.

Joining Maribou State for much of their set was London-born multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Obi Franky, whose vocals sounded nothing short of incredible and fit perfectly with the feelings you get while listening to Davids’ and Ivory’s music. Past the midway point of the show, she returned to perform “Midas” off Portraits on a stage that radiated pink and we couldn’t have been happier to see Franky do her thing again.

When Maribou State walked off stage for their encore break, it was almost as if the crowd immediately expected an encore. But no one left until they came back out and performed “Turnmills” from Kingdoms in Colour in honor of the London club that closed in 2008. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a fall night in The City by the Bay.

Setlist:
Feel Good
Nervous Tics
Steal
Glasshouses
Wallflower
Kingdom
Beginner’s Luck
Vale
Midas
November Nights
Rituals
The Clown
Kama

Encore:
Turnmills

Desert Daze 2019: Another intriguing lineup loaded with must-see performances takes over Lake Perris

Desert Daze - 2019 lineupPhoto by David Evanko // Written by Kevin Quandt & Pete Mauch //

Desert Daze //
Moreno Beach – Lake Perris, CA‎
October 10th-13th, 2019 //

After settling into a new location last year, Desert Daze aims to dial in a festival that continues to gain steam and win over rock fans around the globe, beckoning them to come to the shores of Lake Perris. This self-proclaimed “anti-festival” has impressed with their eye-popping artist roster, interactive art and smorgasbord of workshops and otherworldly experiences for all you intergalactic space rangers making the drive from Los Angeles or any of the surrounding hubs across Southern California.

We have a deep love for Desert Daze and want to be your pre-fest sherpas, so we have broken down the best music, camping and food options ahead of this weekend’s festivities.


Stereolab


Stereolab

Music

Let’s jump head first into the real meat of Desert Daze, and that’s its cutting-edge lineup of all things rock, psychedelia, garage, noise, experimental, North African-desert Tuareg blues-pop guitar and so on. Between the festival’s trio of lakeside stages, there should be little downtime for the savvy listener, so we’ll happily offer up a few of our picks and tell you why you should order that chicken tikka wrap a little later on.

Artist: Frankie and the Witch Fingers
Set date/time: Friday, 2:15-3 p.m.
Location: The Block

These LA psych rockers are truly having an amazing year. After unloading their most cohesive and energetic album to date in ZAM, they have found themselves touring non-stop supporting their killer new release. They are currently on a 37-date tour that sees them opening for ZZ Top and Cheap Trick on seven of those dates, with their Desert Daze set coming right smack dab in the middle of their run with both legendary rockers, so we’d imagine that they’ll be fired up to play to their own crowd. This should be an extremely high-energy set that won’t let you take a breath because Frankie and the Witch Fingers are pure psychedelic bliss right now. -PM

Artist: Stereolab
Set date/time: Friday, 6:35-8:05 p.m.
Location: The Moon

Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier are finally bringing their electro-leaning indie pop back to the western side of the country and should be firing on all cylinders after a nearly decade-long break. Having witnessed one of their first reunion shows at Primavera Sound, I can confirm Stereolab’s laid-back vibe is still delivered with precision as they work classics like “French Disko” and “Brakhage” as well as others from Dots and Loops into the setlist. We can’t think of a better act to catch during Friday’s magic hour. -KQ

Artist: Altın Gün
Set date/time: Saturday, 2:40-3:40 p.m.
Location: The Moon

This Anatolian psych-folk group that calls Amsterdam home has been blending traditional Turkish music and psychedelic melodies to great avail. Their most recent release Gece finds this experimental outfit playing around with time signatures and quick, fierce changes that keeps their listeners wanting more. Their Desert Daze slot in the early afternoon Saturday is really going to get the day rolling. -PM

Shintaro Sakamoto


Shintaro Sakamoto

Artist: The Locust
Set date/time: Sunday, 12:45 a.m.-1:35 a.m.
Location: The Theatre

Shit! This set is not for the faint of heart and will surely be one of the most brutal (looks over shoulder for Lightning Bolt) and thrilling performances for those brave souls still awake after Devo, Ween and Flying Lotus (3D) hit the main stage. Expect a handful of masked musicians bending every boundary of rock music to their back and call, a feat that hasn’t transpired for close to five years. Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone clearly has the Midas touch whenever it comes to reuniting bands or flying in rarities from around the world. -KQ

Artist: SASAMI
Set date/time: Sunday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: The Block

Domino artist Sasami Ashworth has been having a moment since the release of her self-titled debut LP back in March. Some veteran Desert Daze attendees might recognize Ashworth from her days as a former touring member of the LA band Cherry Glazerr, which played the festival in 2016 at its previous location The Institute of Mentalphysics. Since departing Cherry Glazerr, she has quickly cultivated a following under the moniker SASAMI that swoons for her unique brand as a guitar-wielding indie songstress. For now, she has toured with her contemporaries, received blessings from Mitski and expanded to larger international tours. -KQ

Artist: Shintaro Sakamoto
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:45 p.m.-9 p.m.
Location: The Block

Japanese composer Shintaro Sakamoto is making his U.S. debut at Desert Daze 2019, and we couldn’t be anymore excited to see him perform on Sunday. Sakamoto has been active in his home country for 30 years, most notably with psych rockers Yura Yura Teikoku, but you will see a softer side to him than with his prior band. Sakamoto at The Block during sunset with the Mad Alchemy light show behind him is an absolute must-see! We should hear plenty of tracks off 2014’s Let’s Dance Raw and 2011’s How to Live with a Phantom, too. -PM

Desert Daze 2019 - map

Camping

There’s nothing easier than pitching a tent only a few hundred yards away from any festival site, and Desert Daze continues to excel in this area. Moreno Beach’s plush grounds have it all: trees, campside parking, free hot showers, permanent bathrooms and even a camping-exclusive stage area called The Mystic Bazaar.

The Bazaar features a mind-expanding array of programming, including, but not limited to, Modular Sound Baths, Vinyasa Pranayama yoga and various forms of meditation (check out the full schedule here). Plus, plenty of camping options to fit your liking are available here.

Desert Daze 2019 - The Marketplace

The Marketplace

Whether your home base will be offsite or you’re calling Lake Perris home for a long weekend, you’ll want to do some light shopping, quench your thirst or carb load for Animal Collective’s blistering show on Friday. Desert Daze always prints a whopping selection of show- and artist-specific posters and they’re always sold at affordable prices, so an early trip to the merch tent is a must. And if boutique wares are your preference, a healthy variety of vintage sellers, craft jewelers and visionary designers are strewn about the groves and shoreline. Bring some cash because you won’t be disappointed with what you find.

For all of your consumption needs, Black Fin Sushi, Flavors of East Africa and Good Times Ice Cream are just the beginning of options that will be available onsite. Don’t forget to look at the full listing here to see if your local favorites will be making the trip out to Moreno Beach.

Lastly, make sure to grab your Desert Daze 2019 passes here and we’ll see ya on the other side.

Desert Daze 2019 - David Evanko

The prolific, often unpredictable King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard turn heavy at LA’s Greek Theatre

King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardBy Josh Herwitt //

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard with Stonefield, ORB //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
August 13th, 2019 //

Are King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard the most prolific and unpredictable band in all of rock?

If they aren’t, they’re certainly making a convincing case for that crown right now.

The Australian septet that’s made up of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, flute), Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, harmonica, keyboards), Cook Craig (guitar, bass, vocals), Joey Walker (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), Lucas Skinner (bass, keyboards), Michael Cavanagh (drums, percussion) and Eric Moore (drums, percussion, management) have put out 15 studio albums, including five in 2017, and two EPs since forming almost a decade ago while shifting styles and genres with each one. It’s in part why they have harvested one of the strongest and fastest-growing cult followings out there today as more new fans jump on the bandwagon (no pun intended) like yours truly.

In fact, just last year, a sold-out crowd packed the 5,000-person Hollywood Palladium to see the Gizz on a Thursday night, affirming that these guys’ popularity is no joke even if you feel compelled to laugh at their name (a colleague, who was unfamiliar, did when I brought them up recently during one of our conversations about music).

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Fast forward more than a year later to now, and King Gizzard’s popularity has only continued to rise, with their latest date in LA at the historic, 5,870-seat Greek Theatre serving as another example of how far they’ve come since their early days in Melbourne. Also on the bill for this North American tour opener were their fellow countrymen and women in ORB and Stonefield respectively, and with both supporting acts leaning in the direction of psychedelic rock upon first listen, the table was set quite nicely for Mackenzie and company to showcase their most recent sonic foray into the world of none other than thrash metal.

Yep, that’s right. You know, like, Metallica pre-1990?

Of course, with the arrival of Infest the Rats’ Nest just a couple of days away, I was prepared to have my ears pummeled while hearing a good portion of the nine-track LP that sees the group diving even deeper into heavy metal than it ever has before. This is what KG&TLW do, though. There simply are no boundaries or formulas when it comes to their songwriting. Sure, most of their albums fall under the general “psych rock” label, but 2015’s Quarters!, for instance, was inspired by jazz fusion and prog rock, and their third LP from 2017, Sketches of Brunswick East (with Mild High Club), was also rooted predominantly in jazz. So far this year, they’ve already taken their shot at the blues with the release of Fishing for Fishies and now they’ve unleashed their new doom-filled effort. Because after jazz and the blues, what could be a more respected musical genre than heavy metal?

All jokes aside, as these Aussie weirdos continue to explore other creative avenues, catching a King Gizzard show remains a fairly unique experience in its own right. You can usually expect at least one mosh pit, if not more, to form, but with the Greek only having a small floor area at the front of the stage, the lively audience that showed up on a Tuesday night could only get so rowdy with most of it resigned to the venue’s seated sections. That, however, didn’t stop these mates from delivering the goods. Over the course of a 90-minute set, they touched upon seven of their 15 albums, including opening and closing with three straight tracks off Infest the Rats’ Nest. There was “People-Vultures” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, plus a version of “Wah Wah” that featured a snippet of “The River” at the performance’s midway point. I’m actually a little surprised that they didn’t throw us a couple of curveballs before saying goodbye to be honest, because for as prolific and unpredictable as they’ve become lately, King Gizzard might be one of the most versatile rock bands on Planet Earth, too.

Setlist:
Self-Immolate
Mars for the Rich
Venusian 2
Inner Cell
Loyalty
Horology
People-Vultures (tour debut)
Alter Me III
Altered Beast IV
The River
Wah Wah (with “The River” snippet)
Road Train
This Thing
Beginner’s Luck
The Bird Song
Acarine
Murder of the Universe
Boogieman Sam
Cyboogie
Planet B
Perihelion
Hell

*Editor’s Note: “Venusian 1” and “Organ Farmer” were originally listed on the setlist after “Hell” but were not played.

Outside Lands 2019: Our top sets & festival awards

Outside Lands 2019Photos by Marc Fong & Mike Rosati // Written by Molly Kish & Kevin Quandt //

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

Now that the dust has settled in Golden Gate Park both literally and figuratively, it’s time to look back at what made the 12th annual Outside Lands such a success this year. Besides the banner performances from a smorgasbord of artists and bands across a multitude of genres, some attention should be paid to the fresh features that were brought to the three-day music festival’s expansive grounds.

Grass Lands was unquestionably the most talked-about “land” onsite, as OSL made history by becoming the first major U.S. music festival to permit the sales of recreational cannabis. There was something for every stoner in this lush forest, whether it was a variety of edible selections from Kiva to our own personal favorite, the Pineapple Coast-flavored disposable vape pens by DomPen. It wasn’t surprising to witness a vast majority of attendees make a pass through this immersive area that featured vendors, promotional goodies and dedicated cannabis smoking areas. While the enjoyment of ganja-related items is not new to music events in the Bay Area, it was a breath of fresh air to have it be considered legal in these specified areas. What better way to cure that cotton mouth and those pesky munchies than with all of the mind-boggling food and drink options that were available?

The 2019 edition of Outside Lands also featured plenty of memorable sets from some of the best breakthrough talents, returnees and legacy acts in the business. So, sit back, relax and discover which were our favorite performances of the weekend, plus our picks for the fest’s most standout aspects, below.