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”

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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.

Sasquatch! Music Festival releases 2016 lineup

Sasquatch! Music Festival - 2016 lineup

Sasquatch! Music Festival //
Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA
May 27th-30th, 2016 //

Returning to the majestic Gorge Amphitheatre over Memorial Day weekend, Sasquatch! Music Festival has dropped another impressive lineup for its 2016 edition.

Now in its 15th year, the Pacific Northwest fest organized by Adam Zacks and Live Nation will feature performances by The Cure, Florence + the Machine, Disclosure, Major Lazer, Alabama Shakes and a whole lot more over four action-packed days. Some of our favorites include Leon Bridges, Jamie xx, A$AP Rocky, Caribou, M83, Kurt Vile, Yeasayer, Mac DeMarco, Big Grams, Chet Faker, Lord Huron and Tycho. See the poster above for the full lineup.

If you’re thinking about going to Sasquatch! this May, you’ll need to act quickly. GA tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 12th (in other words, today) at 10 a.m. here, and VIP supertickets can also be purchased on the festival’s website here.

Last spring, Showbams made the trek to The Gorge to cover Sasquatch! for our first time, and we didn’t leave disappointed when it was all said and done. With another stellar bill of artists, Sasquatch! is sure to shine once again in 2016.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2015

Caribou


Caribou at The Fillmore // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Justin Yee

Ah, where did 2015 go? It felt like we were just ringing in a new year a couple months ago. But with another year in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to once again doll out our annual “Best of” lists. Much like we did in 2014, we heard a lot of music this year, whether it was at a show or at a festival, at work, on the bus or in our cars. From established headliners who continue to amaze us to emerging artists who rekindled our excitement for new music, our collective lives were filled with one musical memory after another over the past 12 months.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2015.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2015

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2015:


Tycho


Tycho at Lightning in a Bottle // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Jack White at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 11th
There’s a reason why Mr. White was named our No. 1 live music act of 2014 around this time last year, and it’s not because he’s simply a guitar god. The Detroit native and former White Stripe is much more than that now, as he has proven with the kind of clever, genre-swirling songwriting that permeates his two solo albums Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. But witnessing White perform live almost feels like a musical right of passage in and of itself, reminding us that while inventive, mainstream rock ‘n’ roll may be harder to come by these days, it’s still far from dead. On this warm, spring night in the California desert, he imparted on us that “music is sacred” — not just with his words in between songs, but also with every ferverous note that he struck on his fret board. From the moment White appeared on the festival’s main stage, his 20-song, headlining set was bold and powerful, even if it would serve as one of his last shows for a while.

2. My Morning Jacket at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – October 11th
3. Modest Mouse at Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, CA – August 21st
4. Tycho at Lightning in a Bottle – Bradley, CA – May 24th
5. The War on Drugs at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. My Morning JacketThe Waterfall
When My Morning Jacket announced that they would be releasing a new studio LP in May after nearly a four-year layoff, their longest between albums since forming in the late 90’s, I wasn’t sure if they could top what they had devised on 2011’s Circuital. But these Louisville rockers, rather, did just that, putting together a flawless record that opens with the inspiring “Believe (Nobody Knows)” and concludes with the gloomy, yet poignant “Only Memories Remain”. In between it all, frontman Jim James continues to build off his 2013 solo album, showing what a thoughtful songwriter he has become — knowing when to step on the gas pedal and when to ease off of it. With an already impressive catalog highlighted by 2005’s Z, it’s hard to definitively say that The Waterfall has taken over the throne as MMJ’s best album now, but there’s no doubt it belongs in the conversation.

2. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
3. Silversun Pickups – Better Nature
4. Jamie xxIn Colour
5. Tame ImpalaCurrents

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. My Morning Jacket – “Tropics (Erase Traces)”
It’s only fitting that my favorite album of the year also boasts my favorite song of the year. The penultimate track on My Morning Jacket’s The Waterfall is an absolute rocker that gradually builds from the opening, Led Zeppelin-esque guitar lick before peaking midway through for a chilling finish. There might not be a better example in MMJ’s catalog that demonstrates how well Jim James and Carl Broemel play off each other, and if the two guitarists haven’t already, then they’ve certainly cemented themselves as one of rock’s best one-two punches by now.

2. The Weeknd – “The Hills”
3. Modest Mouse – “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box”
4. Battles – “The Yabba”
5. Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”


The Chemical Brothers


The Chemical Brothers at The Armory // Photo by Justin Yee

Molly Kish // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Jamie xx at Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco, CA – July 31st
Whereas those familiar with his early XL Records mixtapes were satiated by his intermingling of Gil Scott-Heron and Idris Muhammad samples between hits, Jamie xx’s newfound, post-In Colour fans experienced equally breathtaking moments with the crowd hitting peak energy levels during the chorus of “Loud Places” amidst the glow of a warped-speed, neon-green strobe light. Another notable moment included the near-religious choral drop of “Gosh” that escalated the packed house to spiritual levels of enthusiasm, all while bathed in the glowing sparkle of Jamie Smith’s staggeringly iridescent, ceiling-to-floor disco ball and stage lights.

2. The Chemical Brothers at The Armory – San Francisco, CA – November 30th
3. Kate Tempest at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – May 20th
4. Kishi Bashi at Palace of Fine Arts Theatre – San Francisco, CA – January 30th
5. Caribou at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – March 1st

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Jamie xxIn Colour
Acclaimed London-based producer and half of electronic powerhouse The xx, Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) broke the mold this past year with his stunning solo debut In Colour. Earning top accolades within the music industry, including a 2015 Mercury Prize nomination and a Grammy nomination for “Best Electronic/Dance Album”, In Colour featured both individually conceptualized strokes of production ingenuity as well as many of the biggest contemporary-crossover hits this year. Smith explored his dubstep, house, garage and trip-hop influences on In Colour to deliver a genre-spanning masterpiece, highlighting his illustrious career as an electronic composer while setting the standard for the current and future state of EDM.

2. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
3. Tame ImpalaCurrents
4. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
5. Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Jamie xx – “Loud Places”
As part of a track list that included some of 2015’s most groundbreaking and genre-defining hits, “Loud Places” holds its own as a standout cut on Jamie xx’s monumental solo debut In Colour. It comes in toward the latter half of the UK producer’s LP and enlists the gorgeously haunting vocals of Romy Madley Croft, one of Jamie Smith’s partners in The xx and a longtime collaborator of his. Amid a packed roster of acclaimed vocalists, emcees and iconic samples, Croft’s contributions, while paired with a full choir, help manifest the lyrical content of the song while evoking a near-religious experience for its listener.

2. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
3. Robyn – “Love Is Free”
4. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
5. FKA twigs – “In Time”


Outside Lands 2015 - Tame Impala


Tame Impala at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival // Photo by James Nagel

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Four Tet b2b Floating Points at Public Works SF – San Francisco, CA – May 3rd
Sparked by their set at Plastic Peoples in London earlier in the year — a set, coincidentally, that was named “Best of the Year” by THUMP a few days ago — SF’s own DJ Dials was kind enough to bring Kerian Hebden and Sam Shepherd, better known as Four Tet and Floating Points, to Public Works last May. Starting early in the evening, the two well-established English producers put on a scorching, non-stop, six-hour, vinyl-only DJ set. Kicking off the evening with over an hour of early-70’s Brazilian samba and steadily moving from there to all forms of funk, big band, soul, jazz and of course their own eclectic catalog of music, the two DJs seamlessly moved between tracks, bringing up and down the energy at just the right point to keep you guessing what’s going to happen next. After dozens and dozens of shows and DJ sets this year, I always keep thinking back to this one because it wasn’t only a chance to see an artist I like play their music — it was a chance to see two artists I like play the music that they love, and do it on an absolutely killer sound system.

2. Kendrick Lamar at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – November 10th
3. Tame Impala at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 8th
4. Jamie xx “In Colour” album release show at Church of St John-at-Hackney – London, England – July 16th
5. Nicolas Jaar at Symbiosis Gathering – Oakdale, CA – September 19th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
Kendrick wins. No contest. At this point, there’s nothing I can say that will be new or not already over-analyzed by the blogosphere over TPAB. All I can say is that TPAB is one of those rap albums that, just like Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010, expanded my understanding of what a rap album can be. From the very start you hear Lamar’s voice in the genius, FlyLo-produced “Wesley’s Theory” — a track that I think is among the greatest album openers ever — to the closing conversation with 2Pac in Mortal Man, TPAB is among the most ambitious and thoroughly conceptualized productions I have had the pleasure of hearing (and seeing) in my life.

2. Tame ImpalaCurrents
3. Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs I-IV
4. Jamie xxIn Colour
5. Beach HouseDepression Cherry

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Pumarosa – “Priestess”
“Priestess” is a seven-minute, punk-meets-disco dance party that starts as an observation and ends as a declaration. Its declaration? To dance. Its lyrics (for instance: “Cut from clay and stone / Electricity flows through your spine and shoulders/In the night when we’re alone”), its visceral rhythm and undeniably entrancing, three-minute instrumental closing out the track (DAT SAX) are what make it an easy choice for my favorite of the year. In a culture engulfed in consumerism, celebrity and over-consumption, “Priestess” reminds us all that dancing is free. Dancing can be a protest. Dancing can be a celebration. Dancing is whatever you make of it. “Priestess” is a track that reaches into your soul and forces you to do one simple thing: dance. That’s something we all need in our lives every once and a while.

2. Kendrick Lamar – “Wesley’s Theory”
3. Jamie xx – “Gosh”
4. Tame Impala – “Eventually”
5. Nicolas Jaar – “Swim”


High Sierra Music Festival 2015 - The String Cheese Incident


The String Cheese Incident at High Sierra Music Festival 2015 // Photo by Benjamin Wallen

Benjamin Wallen // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Greensky Bluegrass at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – November 1st
Many bands get bigger and play bigger shows. Every now and then, you get to see them in a smaller venue with a more “intimate” feel. This was that show. Following a crazy night at the Fox Theater Oakland celebrating Halloween, the band crossed the Bay Bridge to play a birthday show for its dobro player Anders Beck at The Independent. It was a “Greatest Hits” setlist of all the songs I loved the most: past, present and future. The show was definitely intimate and filled with energy, and Greensky ended the night with some acoustic tunes. I think it says a lot about a band that can pack a big venue and then play a smaller venue and still the heat. This is my favorite band these days. They are consistently great and just too much fun.

2. String Cheese Incident at High Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA – July 3rd
3. The Sam Chase at High Sierra Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA – July 3rd
4. Jeff Austin Band at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – April 26th
5. The Devil Makes Three at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – February 3rd

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Della Mae – Della Mae
These girls are damn talented as much as they are cute. I stumbled upon these five girls from Nashville while at The Chapel a few years back, and they were just damn good. Then, I heard that they were nominated for a Grammy and only beaten by the legendary Del McCoury Band. These ladies can pick and tick and get the crowd jumping. For Della Mae, powerful songs and epic throw-down jams are just par for the course. This album was Kickstarter-funded, which I was happy to contribute to, and continues the revival of bluegrass for the younger generation and modernizing the sound with the energy of youth. I find myself playing this album more and more each day from start to end — it’s just that good.

2. The Dustbowl Revival – With a Lamp Shade On
3. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
4. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – Loved Wild Lost
5. Jackie Greene – Back to Birth

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Jackie Greene – “A Face Among the Crowd”
I have been a Jackie Greene fan since I moved to SF almost 10 years ago. This song I heard a number of years ago when Greene was uploading hotel room solo tracks on the road. This song was put up on Father’s Day for Greene’s dad and was a touching song. Creepily sitting in a hotel room, you can feel the emotion. Hearing it on a record in my home is just heaven. After some of those really tough days in life, I come home, put this song on while listening on my best pair of headphones and zone out — let all the crap from the day that doesn’t mean shit just fade away. This song does that for me, and as a music lover, finding this type of song is like finding gold on the street.

2. The Dustbowl Revival – “Standing Next to Me”
3. The California Honeydrops – “When It Was Wrong”
4. Father John Misty – “I Went to the Store One Day”
5. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – “Mr. Saturday Night”


Father John Misty


Father John Misty at Treasure Island Music Festival 2015 // Photo by Marc Fong

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Father John Misty at Treasure Island Music Festival – San Francisco, CA – October 18th
Of all of the performers on Day 2 at the festival, Father John Misty held my attention the most. A stellar performance, hitting all of the right points, which gave me good reason to believe that he may in fact be one of the best frontmen of the last 10 years.

2. Hum at Slim’s – San Francisco, CA – September 18th
3. Fat Wreck Chords 25th Anniversary at Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA – Aug 22nd & 23rd
4. Refused at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – May 28th
5. alt-J at Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA – April 16th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Tame ImpalaCurrents
From top to bottom, this is an album that I can listen to over and over without feeling burnt out (and believe me, I have). I appreciate the fact that on this album, they steer clear of too much “jam” and keep it straight forward. I can’t help but move my feet when I hear some of the tracks on Currents.

2. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
3. Failure – The Heart Is a Monster
4. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
5. God Is an Astronaut – Helios/Erebus

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”
From the first time I heard this track, I knew it was the best song of the year. Infectious as hell, you cannot stop your body from getting into that groove.

2. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”
3. Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
4. The Velvet Teen – “All Is Illusory”
5. Viet Cong – “Continental Shelf”


Viet Cong


Viet Cong at Rickshaw Stop // Photo by Diana Cordero

Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Viet Cong at Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA – March 5th
Viet Cong were easily one of the most brilliant bands in 2015 as they shook up South by Southwest (even when their drummer had a broken arm), generally not caring about the whole band-name fiasco and releasing a stellar debut LP. The brooding studio work from this Canadian outfit turned out to be way more accessible on the live stage as bassist/singer Matt Flegel bounced between playful banter and pile-driving post-punk.

2. Caribou at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – March 1st
3. Todd Terje (Live) at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 10th
4. Kendrick Lamar at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – November 10th
5. BADBADNOTGOOD at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – August 22

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
No surprises here, as truly this was objectively the best album of the year. With expectations high from his growing fan base, Lamar delivered an LP that had it all: crushing singles, a bold concept and a clear message. The smorgasbord of genres and vibes TPAB lays out for the listener further shows that K-Dot’s bag of tricks has no end in sight.

2. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect
3. DJ Paypal – Sold Out
4. Tame ImpalaCurrents
5. Archy Marshall – A New Place to Drown

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
This track was our first taste of Currents, and it got fans salivating in no time. “Let It Happen” was the perfect amuse-bouche with Kevin Parker’s vision shifting a bit toward synths over his trusty Rickenbacker guitar, which slightly became the resounding chatter behind the LP. Oh yeah, and there was the “record skip” in the middle of the track that we all went mental over.

2. Ought – “Beautiful Blue Sky”
3. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
4. DJ Spinn – “Dubby” (feat. DJ Rashad & Danny Brown)
5. Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

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Outside Lands 2015 highlights: Eight years strong and feeling ‘fantastic’!

Outside Lands 2015Photos by James Nagel, Marc Fong & Benjamin Wallen // Written by Molly Kish, Nik Crossman & Brett Ruffenach //

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

We’re finally putting our lives back together after what was easily the biggest and most raging Outside Lands to date in its eight years. This year, local concert production company Another Planet Entertainment outdid itself on all fronts, bringing the best the Bay Area had to offer to Golden Gate Park. They pulled out all the stops and man, did they deliver!

From the amazing lineup of music, comedy, food and beverage to the near perfect weather and best crowd of characters you could ask for, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has officially become a bar-setting force to be reckoned with on the festival circuit. Those lucky enough to attend this year will wholeheartedly agree that the festival has become not only a staple within the Bay Area community, but also a premiere destination for crowds from around the world and one of the fastest growing festival experiences currently in production.

Here’s what stood out to us at Showbams in 2015. What was your standout moment?

Outside Lands 2015

TOP SETS:

Artist: Lindsey Stirling
Set date/time: Friday, 3:40-4:30 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Hailing from Gilbert, Ariz., Lindsey Stirling leaped around the Twin Peaks stage on Friday afternoon with violin in hand. Combining classical violin riffs with modern electronic beats, Stirling had the entire crowd dancing alongside while she made use of every inch of the stage. Despite her modesty, Lindsey put the violin down and treated Outside Lands with a rare and beautiful singing performance. Based on the reaction to the violin fairy’s voice, Stirling should be proud to put her strings down from time to time. -NC

Outside Lands 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard

Artist: D’Angelo & The Vanguard
Set date/time: Friday, 7:45-9 p.m.
Location: Sutro

“The Black Messiah” made his triumphant return to the Bay Area on Friday evening for a soul-clapping set with a sea of devoted fans. Outside of Karl Denson’s mighty performance on the Twin Peaks stage later on in the weekend, this was one of the few opportunities for funk fans to get down this year — and D’Angelo pulled out all the stops. Mirroring more of a religious revival than a R&B jam session, the sunset spectacle hit the crowd’s Friday night sweet spot. D’Angelo’s silky smooth vocals ushered in all the post-work/late arrivals, crooning out audience favorites from his latest joint “Ain’t That Easy” and “Sugah Daddy”, which book-ended a sultry set. For anyone who missed his sold-out shows at the Fox Theater Oakland earlier this year, the performance served as the perfect redemption amidst a collective of festival fans who all came prepared. -MK

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Angus & Julia Stone
Set date/time: Saturday, 4:20-5:10 p.m.
Location: Sutro

Recently reunited after a few years of time apart, the brother-and-sister duo played a mix of old and new hits at the Sutro stage on Saturday afternoon. Their latest album brings a new sound to their discography and marks a milestone of achievement for the Australian siblings. Anyone with a brother and/or sister can appreciate the banter shared between Angus and Julia on stage. Describing Angus laying in the grass of a park staring at the clouds as inspiration for “Other Things”, Julia poked fun at his peculiar “state of mind.” -NC

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Toro y Moi
Set date/time: Saturday, 5:15-6:05 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Chaz Bundick is almost a great artist. Touring with a new full band as opposed to his typical synth-and-drum-machine combo, the new sound of Toro y Moi is a very nice expansion on their sound. That being said, Toro y Moi seemed to often come up flat when singing throughout the set, leaving more to be desired. I did love the new version of “So Many Details”, though. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Tame Impala

Artist: Tame Impala
Set date/time: Saturday, 6:30-7:40 p.m.
Location: Lands End

As the de facto opener for The Black Keys, Tame Impala brought their heavy compositions and trippy visuals to the Lands End stage to the delight of a crowd of young, old, sober and heavily intoxicated folks alike. Tame Impala’s ability to expand on and change up their studio recordings is what makes them the greatest rock band touring right now — breakdowns and glitchy, sonic asides in songs like “Mind Mischief”, “Elephant” and “Apocalypse Dreams” came out of nowhere, creating a wave of awe and amazement in the crowd. They were certainly a highlight of the weekend. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Kendrick Lamar

Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Set date/time: Saturday, 8:40-9:55 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

As Kendrick Lamar’s incredible performance began to wrap up with his newest single “Alright”, a group of fans in the crowd proceeded to lift someone up in a wheelchair, who, if I recall correctly, was the same guy who had his photo famously taken at Outside Lands in 2013. Kendrick took notice and called him out — his sense of sincere appreciation for a place like the Bay Area was written all over his face. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Hot Chip

Artist: Hot Chip
Set date/time: Sunday, 4:20-5:20 p.m.
Stage: Lands End

An anxious crowd remained at the Lands Ends stage after Nate Reuss’ solo set on Sunday afternoon for an all-too-rare performance from percussion powerhouse Hot Chip. In recent years, only ever getting the chance to see the outfit in stripped-down DJ sets or as part of side projects/collaborations, the afternoon crowd full of die-hard, nu-disco fans were not disappointed as the UK dance veterans set the polo fields ablaze. Refraining from any slow builders, Hot Chip performed an hour-long set of career-spanning bangers, keeping the crowd moving with hit after hit, that seamlessly blended into one another. The set procured one of the most viral dance party moments of the festival, with the audience spiraling into a collective bliss as it came to a close. -MK

Outside Lands 2015 - Dan Deacon

Artist: Dan Deacon
Set date/time: Sunday, 5:55-6:35 p.m.
Location: Panhandle

Dan Deacon, everyone’s favorite electronic experimentalist and figurative “adult camp counselor”, was the perfect pick-me-up for a festival-weary crowd between neighboring bass-heavy sets from ODESZA and Caribou. Playing to a crowd partially made up of Deacon enthusiasts and otherwise occupied by enthralled passersby, the one-man spectacle reeled in a sizable audience to the Panhandle stage for a lesson in crowd participation that was rivaled by no other act over the course of the weekend. Excited to see how his live-show magic would translate to a large-scale festival crowd, the audience was equal parts bewildered and attentive as they were beckoned into a storm of peer pressure and oddball antics, maestro-ed by none other than the king of interactive showmanship. The crowd relinquished control of the moment to the man in charge as he orchestrated colorful coordination amongst a sea of noise and frenzied electronica. Needless to say, established fans of Mr. Deacon were pleased while new converts lives were changed on Sunday afternoon. -MK

Outside Lands 2015

Artist: Caribou
Set date/time: Sunday, 6:40-7:40 p.m.
Location: Twin Peaks

Described by fellow musician Dan Deacon as “one of the most brilliant acts touring right now” just before their set, Caribou lived up to the hype. Starting with “Our Love”, the four-piece band led by Dan Snaith perfectly set the stage for the next hour — a series of tightly wound compositions that, as the song progresses, expand in rhythmic complexity before reaching a climax that will get even the most tired Sunday afternoon crowd moving. Heavily augmenting its live performances from its studio recordings, the band’s live rendition of “Jamelia” in particular was a highlight of the set. Caribou is a band not to be missed. -BR

Outside Lands 2015 - Elton John

Artist: Elton John
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:35-9:35 p.m.
Location: Lands End

The star-spangled legend sat at his majestic piano as the sun went down on Sunday and moved the crowd with his brilliant playing. The adoring audience hung on every word and joined in singing his most popular hits. Walking off stage quickly after his last song, the audience demanded more and Elton happily obliged. With rumors of Lion King songs being played at past performances, some doting fans wanted a second encore to the tune of “Circle of Life”. While he didn’t indulge the Lion King fans, his stellar performance was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend at Outside Lands, leaving everyone’s festival tank full of love. -NC

Outside Lands 2015 - Mac Sabbath

OUTSIDE LANDS 2015 AWARDS:

Biggest a.m. crowd: Leon Bridges

Best make-out session: Angus & Julia Stone

Biggest equipment malfunction/distraction: St. Vincent’s blown-out sound system

Best stage dive: Mac Demarco (obviously)

Biggest band crush: Tie between Tame Impala and First Aid Kit

Best shirtless appearance: Billy Idol

King and Queen of GastroMagic: Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia & Brenda’s Soul Food; Morimoto Karaoke

Best Unofficial Stage: #NoMoFoMo by StubHub

Food & beverage crowd favorites: Berry Lemonade; Ringmaster Doughnut Cheeseburger

Best Avant-Garde Act: Lindsey Stirling

Sexiest Set of the Weekend: D’Angelo & The Vanguard

Best Fairground Change: The Barbary’s relocation

Rowdiest Crowd: Kendrick Lamar

Best Hometown Act: Green Velvet & Claude VonStroke

Best Vocals: St. Paul and The Broken Bones

Best Commitment to the Bit: Mac Sabbath with Richie Nakano

Most buzz-worthy artist: SZA

Best Crowd Participation: Dan Deacon

Biggest DJ Drop: ODESZA

Crowd Favorite DJ: DJ Mustard

Best Cover: Hot Chip’s transition from Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” into an outro snippet of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” to close their set.

Most “Fantastic”: Elton John