Nick Murphy shows he’s the new-and-improved version of Chet Faker to close out 30 Days in LA

Nick MurphyBy Josh Herwitt //

Red Bull Sound Select – 30 Days in LA: Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker) //
The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles
November 30th, 2016 //

When Nick Murphy dropped his debut LP Built on Glass (read our review here) under the alias “Chet Faker” in 2014, the Australian singer-songwriter was relatively unknown outside of his home country.

Sure, his cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” reached No. 1 on the Hype Machine charts and made an appearance in a Super Bowl commercial, but Murphy’s popularity had been mostly confined to the land Down Under, with a list of accolades including “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” at the Australian Independent Records Awards and “Best Independent Release” at the Rolling Stone Australia Awards.

Built on Glass changed all of that, paving the way for Murphy to sell out shows in major U.S. markets, including two in LA at The Roxy Theatre (read our review here). With the 12-track album boasting three singles — one of them being “Talk Is Cheap”, which shot all the way to No. 1 in the 2014 Triple J Hottest 100 countdown — the Melbourne native was quickly headed for mainstream status.

Since then, he has made an appearance on “Ellen” and this year headlined music festivals up and down California, including CRSSD Festival (see more photos here) as well as Lighting in a Bottle (read our festival review here), where he reaffirmed that moving to a full live band was one of the best career moves he has made. In fact, ever since his set on the main stage at FYF Fest (read our festival review here) in 2015, Murphy has taken his live show up a few notches.

The Theatre at Ace Hotel


The Theatre at Ace Hotel

But that was a different person; Chet Faker is now a man of the past. Nearly two months ago, Murphy made the announcement on Twitter, revealing that “there’s an evolution happening and I wanted to let you know where it’s going.” It was his way of telling us that he no longer wanted to hide behind the moniker he spun off in reference to famous jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. From here on out, his real name would be attached to his music. And as cheesy and cliché as it might be for a musician to change their identity for artistic reasons, Nick Murphy — the one who sold out another show in LA last Wednesday — is an extension of Chet Faker more than anything else. Call him Chet Faker, Nick Murphy or whatever name you want — it doesn’t change the fact that the 28-year-old Aussie always pours his heart and soul out when he’s onstage.

At The Theatre at Ace Hotel, the gorgeously ornate, Spanish Gothic-style movie house built in 1927 and owned by United Artists, Murphy put a stamp on Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in LA, which after only three years is becoming a November staple for the city’s booming music scene. From opening night with Sampha at the Palace Theatre to Murphy’s series finale just a few blocks down Broadway, Red Bull continues to seemingly outdo themselves year after year with a month full of shows featuring top-notch talent at an affordable rate (all tickets were $15 or less before taxes and fees).

But unlike many of the series’ other shows, Murphy didn’t just hit the stage for an hour and call it a night. Instead, his 90-minute set extended past midnight as he dove into newer cuts — “Bend”, “Stop Me (Stop You)” and “Fear Less” — from his forthcoming sophomore studio album (release date TBA) and played older hits like “1998” and “Gold” off of Built on Glass. There were also guest appearances by Marcus Marr, the English DJ/producer whom Murphy worked with on last year’s collaborative EP Work, and Dave Harrington, the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist who is best known for being one half of the now-on-hiatus electronic music duo Darkside that includes Nicolas Jaar. Murphy might be filling seats thanks to his uniquely soulful voice, but it’s his propensity to surprise that keeps them filled at bigger venues each and every time he performs in LA.

Murphy’s music, both new and old, can be difficult to describe. It’s equal parts electronic, rock and soul, a hybridization that accessibly encompasses all three genres. And while his latest material follows along a similar sonic path, Murphy continues to prove that he isn’t afraid to take risks with his honest, heartfelt songwriting. So, who really needs Chet Faker when you got Nick Murphy now anyway?

The best and worst of Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Lightning in a Bottle 2016Photos by Josh Herwitt & Melissa Hebeler // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Lightning in a Bottle //
San Antonio Recreation Area – Bradley, CA
May 25th-30th, 2016 //

Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) returned to San Antonio Recreation Area for a third straight year over Memorial Day weekend, serving as that perfect hangover cure for those still suffering from their post-Coachella blues.

Last year, we asked whether the “transformational” festival was undergoing a transformation of its own by shedding its boutique label to go mainstream (read the review here). Now, after paying another visit to Bradley, Calif., the answer to that question appears to be even clearer than before with LIB selling out once again, this time more than a week in advance. Vanessa Hudgens, no less, showed up!

But for as strong as this year’s artist lineup was, not everything went off without a hitch. In fact, there were enough logistical nightmares and bad vibes — believe it or not — to keep us from coming back next year.

So, with another edition of LIB in the books, here are our best and worst moments from 2016:


Lightning in a Bottle 2016 - Emancipator

Best: Emancipator Ensemble

Portland-based musician Douglas Appling, better known by his stage name Emancipator, has been fusing hip-hop-flavored beats with downtempo electronica ever since he started writing his debut LP Soon It Will Be Cold Enough while attending the College of William & Mary. And in many ways, he’s still cooking up that same sonic recipe that borders on post-trip-hop with violinist Ilya Goldberg by his side, although it’s with his ensemble members that we get to see Appling serve as more than just an electronic music producer. At his Friday evening set on the festival’s main stage, Emancipator set the tone for the rest of the weekend, grooving to tracks from his latest studio album Seven Seas with a guitar in hand and a full band at his disposal, much like we saw at The Regency Ballroom last fall (see more photos from that show here).

Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Worst: The weather

Sitting more than 200 miles north of Los Angeles, San Antonio Recreation Area once again proved to bring hot days and cold nights to LIB. With temperatures peaking in the mid-80’s during the day and dipping into the low 50’s at night, adjusting to such a drastic change in climate is never easy, especially when you’re forced to brave the outdoors by camping in a dried-up lakebed. Whether you were sweating profusely or shivering in your sleep, it was nearly impossible to ever feel comfortable with the weather at LIB.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 - Rubblebucket

Best: Rubblebucket

LIB has always leaned heavily on electronic music while assembling its lineup, but in more recent years, the festival has also found room to include eclectic, female-fronted indie bands. Last year’s example was Poliça, the Minneapolis five-piece led by vocalist Channy Leaneagh. This year’s case in point was Rubblebucket, the more obscure, yet upbeat Brooklyn alt-dance outfit fronted by Annakalmia Traver. Playing very close to the same time slot on the Lightning Stage as Poliça did the year before, Rubblebucket, nevertheless, got festivalgoers moving after a scorchingly hot day in the sun, setting the bar for the rest of Saturday’s lineup as day turned to night. What makes Rubblebucket such a catch is their horns section that’s made up by Alex Toth (trumpet), Adam Dotson (trombone) and Traver (saxophone), who knows how to charm a crowd with her quirky stage banter.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 - The Russ Liquid Test

Best: The Russ Liquid Test

Russ Liquid (born Russell Scott) broke onto the scene back in 2013 with his debut LP Foreign Frequency on STS9’s 1320 Records, fusing jazzy saxophone lines over dance beats much like Colorado livetronica duo Big Gigantic, who also performed at LIB this year, do for a living. But his “Test” set on Sunday at LIB was particularly special, as he stepped on the main stage with guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Nick Mercadel flanked on either side of him. The New Orleans trio laid down one funky groove after another for an hour and a half, at times sounding reminiscent of GRiZ, another electronic producer now based in Colorado who has featured Russ Liquid on his record label’s mix series titled “All Good Radio.” We weren’t all that familiar with Russ Liquid’s work prior to arriving at LIB, but his performance certainly intrigued us enough to want to hear more.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Worst: Crowds

With another sellout bringing more than 20,000 people to Bradley, LIB felt just as crowded as last year — something we never experienced at previous locations like Oak Canyon Park and Lake Skinner Recreational Area. After all, it’s no secret that part of the reason why The Do LaB settled on San Antonio Recreation Area was the fact that it could accommodate more “festies” and therefore, could sell more tickets as a result. But from a consumer’s standpoint, there are obvious drawbacks to that philosophy. Waiting for a shower, for instance, took as long as 2-3 hours depending on what time you got in line. Many of the food vendors had significant lines, taking as long as 15 minutes just to place your order. No one likes waiting in line in 85-degree heat, especially when your phone can’t get service. Part of what made LIB such a nice change-of-pace from Coachella was the sheer lack of crowds, but it was only a matter of time before big business won out, right?

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 - Moderat

Best: Moderat

Easily the most anticipated set of the weekend from this spectator’s vantage point, Moderat hadn’t toured since dropping a pair of EPs in 2014. But with the release of its third full-length album, aptly titled III, the Berlin-based supergroup comprised of Apparat’s Sascha Ring and Modeselektor members Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary were primed to make their mark on the final day of LIB — and that they did. Beginning with “Ghostmother” off their latest LP, Moderat ran through a good chunk of new material, but nothing ignited the crowd more than their new single “Reminder”, which remains one of our favorite songs of the year so far. As we witnessed a few days earlier in Los Angeles at The Fonda Theatre (read our show review here), the group’s dark, minimalist stage setup with psychedelic flourishes paired nicely with Ring’s ethereal vocals. Of all the other performances throughout the weekend, Moderat’s 90-minute set undoubtedly stood as one of the brightest moments of LIB 2016.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Worst: Trash

LIB has been tabbed as the “Greenest Festival in America” over the last five years, though you might not have known it while looking at the grounds this year. With the festival’s attendance numbers reaching an all-time high, trash has increasingly become a bigger issue at LIB. Sure, it’s easy to blame a bunch of inconsiderate festivalgoers for littering and not picking up after themselves, but a big part of the problem is simply a lack of trash cans and dumpsters near the stages and in the camping areas. Furthermore, LIB’s “pack it in, pack it out” motto just isn’t realistic at this point with the amount of attendees. Maybe that’s the reason why after leaving the festival, trash was spewed all over the street. We’re glad The Do LaB tried their best as they told us on the way out, but sometimes trying your best, especially after you’ve been running the same festival for more than a decade, just isn’t good enough.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 - Chet Faker

Best: Chet Faker

I remember first learning of Chet Faker more than a couple years ago while researching the 2014 LIB lineup for this preview. At the time, the electronic-leaning singer-songwriter from Australia had yet to release a full-length album, which makes it all the more crazy to think that he has already reached festival headliner status in a little more than 24 months since then. But over that stretch, from his two-night run in LA at The Roxy Theatre to last year’s performance at FYF Fest, Nicholas James Murphy has grown his live show tremendously. There’s no question the full band setup has been the right call, affording the 27-year-old Melbourne native the opportunity to breathe new life into songs from his lone LP Built on Glass (read our review here), such as “Melt” and “Gold”. Yet, with only one studio album under his belt and a few festival headlining spots in 2016, including the spring edition of CRSSD Fest back in March, it’s just amazing to think where Murphy could go from here.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Worst: Leaving LIB

If the crowds and trash at LIB weren’t enough to leave a sour taste in your mouth by the end of the weekend, the disaster that ensued in the parking lot after the festival definitely was. Since I started attending concerts and music festivals years ago, I have never seen a bigger shitshow than the LIB parking lot by 9 a.m. on Monday. Taking five hours (yes, you read that right) just to leave San Antonio Recreation Area proved to be the ultimate test in patience for me as well as thousands of other festivalgoers. Of all the worst moments at LIB, this easily took the cake, so much so that after five times attending, this very well could have been my last.

Win Tix // GO4FREE to Lightning in a Bottle 2016

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 lineup

Lightning in a Bottle //
San Antonio Recreation Area – Bradley, CA
May 25th-30th, 2016 //

Masterful event creators and production innovators The Do LaB are offering an incredible opportunity to win the ultimate VIP package for the 11th annual Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) music, arts, yoga and camping festival taking place Memorial Day weekend at San Antonio Recreation Area.

Widely considered as California’s premier camping, music and art boutique festival, LIB brings together a community of inspired individuals, internationally acclaimed musicians, enlightening speakers and illuminating workshops designed to expand the mind and open the heart.

This year’s festival features headliners Chet Faker, Jamie XX and Grimes while TOKiMONSTA, Guy Gerber, Cashmere Cat, Four Tet and many more are also scheduled to perform on The Do LaB’s multiple majestically structured stages. Furthermore, LIB features visionary artists and interactive zones, including The Village, the Grand Artique, Amori’s Cafe, Kid’s Village and the Lucent Temple of Consciousness, in addition to an expanded Learning Kitchen, Healing Sanctuary, Meditation Nest, Mystery School, Pineal Playground, two yoga tents and more.

For a peek inside the magic of LIB, watch the LIB 2016 official video below and learn more by visiting the festival’s website here.

Click here to purchase tickets if you know you want to go!

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 contest flyer


LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE 2016 PRIZE PACKAGES

Grand Prize “Ultimate LIB VIP Package” (one winner)

• Two passes to LIB 2016
• Two early-arrival passes allowing entry into the festival when the gates open on May 25th
• LIB’s uber-great camping experience, which includes:

— One 16-foot-wide Luxury Canvas Bell tent with a 9-foot-8 interior height and 200 square feet of living space that includes one full-size, elevated bed complete with a real mattress, fresh linens, shower towels, indoor furniture, lighting, power outlets, a personal cooler with complimentary ice, an outdoor seating area and access to upgraded restroom suites with full-length mirrors
— Two keepsake Lightning in a Bottle water bottles
— Two lush lounge visitor wristbands for friends not staying in boutique
— On-site concierge service
— One welcome package from LIB sponsors

• Two tickets to a sit-down dinner at Amori’s Cafe, Giggle Juice Cafe or The Last Supper Club
• Two LIB 2016 official T-shirts

Second-Tier Prize (one winner)

• Two LIB festival tickets and one on-site car camping pass

Third-Tier Prizes (five winners)

• One free pizza from The Dough LaB on site at Lightning in a Bottle

Please read below for the list of rules before you enter the giveaway. The contest will end this Sunday, May 1st at 11:59 p.m. PT. Winners will be notified by email on Monday, May 2th.


CONTEST RULES

• Entries can be submitted until May 1st at 11:59 p.m. PT.

• Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, but you can gain extra entries through social media shares.

• Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given out to any third parties.

• Must be 18+ to enter. Contestants can come from anywhere in the world but need valid ID. Travel out to the Lightning in a Bottle festival will not covered.

• Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive VIP Prize Package, One (1) winner will win the Second Tier Prize, and Five (5) winners will receive the Third Tier Prize.

• Winners will be notified via email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted to redeem prize. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen at random.

• Make sure that the email account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a working email.

• Prize packages are part of a promotional giveaway and non-transferable.

CONTEST CLOSED.

CRSSD kicks off festival season on the West Coast

CRSSD Festival 2016Photos by Felicia Garcia, Skyler Greene, Glenn Silva & Gabe Tiano // Written by Josh Herwitt //

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
March 5th-6th, 2016 //

This past weekend officially signaled the beginning of festival season as several major music festivals across the country hit the ground running, including both Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival and AURA Music Festival in Florida.

Out here on the West Coast, CRSSD Festival returned to San Diego’s picturesque Waterfront Park, serving as the perfect warm-up for Coachella with the renowned desert festival only six weeks away. CRSSD, which was started by Southern California promoters FNGRS CRSSD and Goldenvoice last March, originally presented itself as an indie-electronic music festival with Empire of the Sun and Chromeo leading the way as headliners (read our review here). But last October for its second edition, CRSSD turned its attention toward more rock-centric acts like The Flaming Lips and TV on the Radio for top billing while targeting a number of electropop bands, including St. Lucia, AlunaGeorge and Big Data, to also play over two days.

Boasting a more electronic-focused lineup this spring, CRSSD welcomed back Seattle duo ODESZA, who climbed to headliner status in leading a Saturday bill that featured sets from Cirez D (aka Eric Prydz), Gesaffelstein, John Hopkins, Ryan Hemsworth, Ben UFO, Poolside and Damian Lazarus. While 2016 marked the second straight year that Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight performed on the festival’s main stage, Sunday’s card saw two sets (DJ and live) from North London garage duo Gorgon City as well as the CRSSD debuts of Claude Von Stroke, Hi-Lo, Tycho and headliner Chet Faker. After returning to its indie-electronic roots for this latest installment, it will be interesting to see if CRSSD continues down the same path it’s on after two sold-out days or once again tries to bring more rock-based bands into the fold.

CRSSD shares second phase of Spring 2016 lineup

CRSSD Festival Spring 2016 lineup

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
March 5th-6th, 2016 //

After releasing the first phase of its 2016 lineup in late December, CRSSD Festival in San Diego has added the remaining artists to the bill.

Among the new artist additions for CRSSD are Swedish DJ/producer Eric Prydz (aka Cirez D, one of his two stage names that the festival refers to him as), English electronic music duo Bondax, London-based house/techno DJ Damian Lazarus, English producer/musician Jon Hopkins, Swiss techno/house duo Adriatique, Canadian DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth and Los Angeles “Daytime Disco” duo Poolside. Other acts named as part of the festival’s Phase II lineup include Tom Trago, Lane 8, Walker & Royce, Kidnap Kid and REZZ.

CRSSD Festival 2016 - Phase II lineup

CRSSD made a big splash in its debut last spring and followed it up with another go-around this past October. Now, it will return to Waterfront Park this March for its third edition with a lineup that leans even more heavily toward electronic music than before.

Check out the poster above for the entire Phase II lineup. The 21-and-over event has GA tickets available here for $135 before increasing to $145 and then $155.

Lightning in a Bottle unveils 2016 lineup

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 lineup

Lightning in a Bottle //
San Antonio Recreation Area – Bradley, CA
May 25th-30th, 2016 //

Returning to San Antonio Recreation Area for a third straight year, Lightning in a Bottle will once again take place over Memorial Day weekend — and this year’s bill is as strong as ever.

Led by headliners Chet Faker, Grimes and Jamie xx, the famed boutique festival that began more than 15 years ago as a birthday party among friends (and who would eventually start The Do LaB, a Los Angeles-based event production company) in the Santa Ynez Mountains will also feature performances from Big Gigantic, Moderat, Ibeyi, Emancipator Ensemble, Four Tet, Tourist, Cashmere Cat, Guy Gerber, Tokimonsta, The Polish Ambassador, Alina Baraz, Josh Wink, Hundred Waters, Lee Burridge, Minnesota and G Jones (B2B), Pimps of Joytime, Mija, Rubblebucket, PANTyRAiD, The Russ Liquid Test, AndHim and many more.

Furthermore, The Do LaB will welcome back the LA avant-garde circus act Lucent Dossier Experience and William Close & The Earth Harp Collective, which both have become LIB mainstays over the years. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

Tabbed as the “Greenest Festival in America” each of the last five years, LIB offers more than just live music on three different stages, with art, yoga, workshops and speakers all playing a crucial role in maintaining the festival’s identity, which centers around sustainability, social cohesion, personal health and creative expression. The word has certainly gotten out about LIB since its early beginnings, as last year’s festival, which boasted Australian DJ/producer Flume as its main headliner and included sets from SBTRKT, ODESZA, RL Grime and Tycho, was the first reported sellout in its longstanding history.

Weekend passes to LIB can be purchased here starting at $270, and the festival reports that 50 percent of them have already been sold, leaving us to believe another capacity crowd will be descending upon Bradley, Calif., this May. If you’re getting excited for LIB after reading this, make sure to check out our coverage from 2015.

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.

CRSSD shares first phase of Spring 2016 lineup

CRSSD Festival Spring 2016

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
March 5th-6th, 2016 //

CRSSD Festival in San Diego made a big splash in its debut last spring and followed it up with another go-around at Waterfront Park this past October.

Now, the two-day, electronic-leaning music festival put on by promoters Goldenvoice and FNGRS CRSSD will return this March for its third edition after announcing its initial lineup, which includes ODESZA and Chet Faker as headliners along with Gorgon City (Live and DJ set), Tycho, Gesaffelstein (DJ set), Hi-Lo, Jamie Jones, Claude VonStroke and many more.

CRSSD Festival - Spring 2016 lineup

Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup. The 21-and-over event has advanced tickets available here for $125 before increasing to $135 during the general sale.

The 25 best live music acts of 2015

Best Live Acts of 2015

Around this time last year, we shared our 25 favorite live performers of 2014 after spending the past 12 months covering many excellent bands, musicians and DJs. So, with 2015 almost in the books, we thought we would give the same exercise another try, except this year, we made the call to exclude any artists we named in 2014. What fun would it really be to list them two years in a row anyway?

In the end, it wasn’t an easy task whittling down our list to 25, but some tough decisions had to be made. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists and bands (in alphabetical order) who we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

AlunaGeorge, Ariel Pink, BADBADNOTGOOD, Bad Religion, Battles, Beirut, Belle and Sebastian, Big Grams, Billy Idol, Black Lips, The Black Keys, Blonde Redhead, BØRNS, BROODS, Built to Spill, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Chet Faker, Chromeo, City and Colour, Classixx, Cold War Kids, Dâm-Funk, Damien Rice, Death Cab for Cutie, Dengue Fever, Django Django, Dr. Dog, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Failure, The Flaming Lips, Flight Facilities, Goldroom, Glen Hansard, The Glitch Mob, Gorgon City, Holly Herndon, Interpol, Israel Nash, James Bay, Jeff Tweedy, Jenny Lewis, The Jesus and Mary Chain, JMSN, Jose Gonzalez, Jurassic 5, Kanye West, Kindness, King Tuff, Marina and the Diamonds, Miami Horror, Milky Chance, Modest Mouse, Morrissey, MS MR, Les Sins, Lotus, Natalie Prass, Neon Indian, ODESZA, Of Montreal, Oneohtrix Point Never, Panda Bear, Penguin Prison, Phantogram, Portugal. The Man, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Purity Ring, Ratatat, Royal Blood, San Fermin, Shlohmo, Slow Magic, SOHN, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, STRFKR, Surfer Blood, Talib Kweli, Tame Impala, Tennis, Toro y Moi, Tycho, Umphrey’s McGee, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vintage Trouble, Vulfpeck, Widespread Panic, YACHT.

Now, without further ado, The Bam Team presents our 25 favorite live performers of 2015.

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

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #25 - Lord Huron

25. Lord Huron

The audience reacted with just as much enthusiasm during classic Lord Huron tunes as they did in hearing brand-new material, especially during fan favorites like “She Lit a Fire” and back-to-back rockabilly-tinged jams “The World Ender” and “Fool for Love”. At this point, the crowd had not only warmed up to Lord Huron’s infectious stage presence, but also gave into their buoyant vibes as mini dance parties broke out throughout the venue. -Molly Kish, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #24 - Puscifer

24. Puscifer

Maynard James Keenan and friends have established themselves as not just a group of musicians who play songs on stage, but rather an assemblage of entertainers that provide their viewers and fans with something they may not have ever seen before — a true experience. Paying homage to the likes of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and the glory days of the rock opera, Puscifer have a very special way of combining their music with a stage show that offers so much more than just music. -Scotland Miller, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #23 - Viet Cong

23. Viet Cong

Once the appetizer had been digested, Viet Cong were taking the stage and beginning a theme of quirky banter that eased the crowd into the blistering set as opposed to bombardment. Within the first few chords, it was evident that continued time on the road found the band at the peak of perfection. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Diana Cordero


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #22 - Kate Tempest

22. Kate Tempest

This decade will likely be known for the death of “genre,” the end of how groups have been contained into categories like R&B or rap since the birth of record labels. And with dance music on the rise, digitized conventions are creeping into pop, rap and indie music on the regular. With music more accessible than ever and for free, listeners are willing to experiment with their auditory material — and amalgamation is the natural result. Tempest represents this change as much or more than anyone as we enter the smack-dab middle of this decade. And that includes Kanye West, Sylvan Esso or Run the Jewels. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #21 - Deerhunter

21. Deerhunter

Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox talked about how he decided on the way over to the island that he wouldn’t play many songs, how he took ayahuasca on Saturday night in LA and he was surprised at how reserved the TIMF audience was. He said we were “polite like the Japanese.” Bradford, that’s what we call “respect” — and you’ve earned it. -Mike Frash, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #20 - Faith No More

20. Faith No More

It can be hard to know what to expect from a crew like Faith No More and their eccentric, yet prolific members. The entire stage was dressed in white, from the curtains to the amplifiers to the mic stands. Lining the entire length of the stage and any flat surface that would support them were thousands of dollars worth of beautiful, fresh flowers. The abundance of purples and pinks, reds and yellows created a very comfortable and soothing, yet incredibly eerie feeling as to what was about to happen next. Once the setup was complete and the lights dropped, the crowd was let in to the stark contrast that is the weird world of Faith No More. -Scotland Miller, photo by Greg Ramar


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #19 - Sufjan Stevens

19. Sufjan Stevens

Stevens spoke of the need for community in the throes of grief, and the audience ably did their part to help him through this very public grieving process. At the end of the main set, a young woman crashed the stage to offer a bemused Sufjan something (a hug? words of love and encouragement?), and it seemed wholly appropriate, as if the audience needed in some small way to collectively reach out to the man after he bared his soul so openly. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #18 - Allen Stone

18. Allen Stone

In many ways, Stone’s ideological stance on technology shapes not only his set as a performer but also his fan base. Watching an Allen Stone show, one can feel certain that all pretenses will be left at the door and those surrounding you will be committing their full attention to the music. Midway through Stone’s set, the venue was completely under his charismatic spell. The audience actively followed the Seattle-born frontman’s lead as he prompted a group participation “2-step” and rolled through crowd favorites from his self-titled LP and latest album Radius. -Molly Kish, photo by Tom Dellinger


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #17 - The Kills

17. The Kills

Mosshart, tall and slender, strutted her way through just about all of it, displaying a bravado that exudes both sex and confidence, while Hince handled his axe like a bona fide rock star, eventually playing some slide guitar during the gritty, blues-infused track “Pots and Pans” that got the crowd roaring after it was over. After all, it’s that blues/garage-rock overlap, along with the chemistry exhibited between Mosshart and Hince onstage, that makes The Kills such a captivating rock ‘n’ roll act to see live these days. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #16 - The Chemical Brothers

16. The Chemical Brothers

Directly following their dramatic entrance to a recording of Junior Parker’s epic “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the duo kicked off their career-spanning set with crowd favorite “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” from 1999’s Surrender. They launched into a full-blown frenzy from that moment on, and the UK dance legends went hard (no pun intended) throughout the rest of their two-hour performance, debuting live remixes of new material from their 2015 release Born in the Echoes while interspersing nostalgia-inducing EDM classics off their seven previous albums. -Molly Kish, photo by Justin Yee


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #15 - Eagles of Death Metal

15. Eagles of Death Metal

EODM have the perfect style as a rock band, one that takes itself just seriously enough. As a whole, they are a hard, fast and tightly-wound production, with their silly lyrics and even sillier frontman bringing a perfect balance to what you want to see at a rock show. Closing with “Speaking in Tongues”, EODM walked off the stage at the Great American Music Hall knowing that they had accomplished what they came to do — to prove that rock ain’t dead. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #14 - Florence + the Machine

14. Florence + the Machine

Welch lapped around the inside ring of the bowl, stopping briefly at the sound stage. What a cool moment. -James Nagel, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #13 - Sturgill Simpson

13. Sturgill Simpson

Simpson has stage presence, that is without a doubt. The conviction of his voice bolsters his words as he describes a life of highs and lows, trials and tribulations. This was evident on renditions of songs like “Turtles All the Way Down”. If there is a song to capture your attention and convince you of Simpson’s talents as a songwriter, this is one of them. Just like that of his predecessors, he writes music that goes against the grain of popular country music. It may be defined as “outlaw country,” but I personally feel it is music that resonates with a wider audience than that of its counterparts. -Kory Thibeault, photo by Kory Thibeault


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #12 - alt-j

12. alt-J

The 2012 Mercury Prize winners echoed a semblance to that of Sigur Rós or Volcano Choir, leaving audience members entranced in a near-altered state while observing the foursome. The biggest fan responses erupted during the band’s singalong favorites “Breezeblocks”, “Fitzpleasure” and their token cover of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”. -Molly Kish, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #11 - Hot Chip

11. 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. -Molly Kish, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #10 - Dan Deacon

10. Dan Deacon

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - FKA twigs

9. FKA twigs

British singer-songwriter Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better known as FKA twigs, has been all the rage lately after performing at Coachella in April, and she closed out FYF in style, donning an elaborate burgundy- and gold-colored robe for her Sunday night set. Just the week before, the 27-year-old fiancée of actor/musician Robert Pattinson released her brand-new EP M3LL155X, and with it receiving high marks from a number of music outlets, there were quite a few fans who stuck around after 11:30 p.m. on a “school night” to watch her perform some of them, including the opening track “Figure 8”, “In Time” and “Glass & Patron”. FKA twigs might be one of the most compelling live acts out there right now, and after scheduling Purity Ring to close out The Lawn the night before, FYF seemed to make a point of letting women rule that stage in the late-night hours this year. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #8 - Empire of the Sun

8. Empire of the Sun

As Steele belted out “Alive”, the hit single off the band’s sophomore studio album Ice on the Dune, to close things out, he brought the audience to a transcendent place of exhilaration. Crowd members embraced and danced amongst a like-minded family of people lost in the moment, even if it involved intergalactic creatures dancing in colored smoke and a crowned Emperor playing without his bandmate on stage. EOTS shows are a special kind of magic that regardless of the material’s absurd nature, translate into an experience unlike anything else. -Molly Kish, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #7 - My Morning Jacket

7. My Morning Jacket

Though it was more than understandable to see the band play a large majority of The Waterfall for its first performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl in almost four years, there were plenty of other deep cuts mixed in over the next two hours, from “Bermuda Highway” to “Mahgeetah” to “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2”. After all, it’s no secret that My Morning Jacket have always been good to their most loyal and dedicated fans, and in once again taking song requests as part of their “Spontaneous Curation Series,” they made sure to dig up many of the classics from their seminal album Z, including “Wordless Chorus” and “Off the Record” one after the other in the middle of a loaded, four-song encore. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #6 - Jamie xx

6. Jamie xx

Throughout his tour, Smith has refused to compromise his individual style for the sake of appeasing either extreme of his now commercially hybrid audience. Whereas those familiar with his early XL Records mixtapes were satiated by his intermingling of Gil Scott-Heron and Idris Muhammad samples between hits, his newfound post-In Colour fans experienced equally breathtaking moments with the crowd hitting peak energy levels during the encore chorus of “Loud Places” amidst the glow of a warped-speed, neon-green strobe light. Other notable moments included the near-religious choral drop of “Gosh” that escalated the packed house to spiritual levels of enthusiasm, bathed in the glowing sparkle of Smith’s staggeringly iridescent ceiling to floor disco ball and stage lights. -Molly Kish, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #5 - Elton John

5. Elton John

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. -Nik Crossman, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #4 - Father John Misty

4. Father John Misty

Father John (Sassypants) Misty has his festival game on point, and he has progressed his I Love You, Honeybear songs into epic plateaus since premiering them in the Santa Cruz mountains last February. He spewed banter like an Stephen Colbert-esque contrarian, saying, “Look at these suckers with their hair blowing all over the place.” And as he approached the mic for more improv-snark later on, Tillman paused to say, “Sorry, I have nothing to say. Ha.” FJM was speechless for once, but granted, it might have been set up for “Bored in the USA”, a song that should be considered an American classic at this point. -Mike Frash, photo by Pedro Paredes


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #3 - Kendrick Lamar

3. Kendrick Lamar

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. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #2 - Caribou

2. Caribou

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. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Justin Yee


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard #1

1. D’Angelo & The Vanguard

One of the most anticipated sets of the entire weekend was none other than D’Angelo’s — and for good reason. The R&B/neo-soul singer-songwriter hadn’t put out an album in 14 years until he suddenly dropped his 2014 masterpiece Black Messiah last December, so you knew that getting the rare opportunity to see Michael Eugene Archer work a crowd at FYF would be something special. Sounding more like a youthful James Brown than a wannabe Prince (we still don’t totally understand where those comparisons are coming from), D’Angelo and his eight-piece backing band The Vanguard took the audience for a ride as they doled out new and old hits. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt

Outside Lands 2015 - Dan Deacon

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Was FYF Fest 2015 the ‘best weekend of summer’? Here are 10 highlights from this year’s festival

FYF Fest 2015By Josh Herwitt //

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

The 12th annual FYF Fest returned to the LA Sports Arena and Exposition Park last weekend, and from everything we witnessed over two action-packed days, it felt like a major success. For starters, we didn’t have to wait in a three-hour security line and it didn’t take 20 minutes to walk from one end of the festival grounds to the other (it was more like 10 minutes), which already made this year a huge improvement compared to last year.

It should also go without saying that FYF has come a long way since its early beginnings as a punk fest, and teaming up with Coachella promoter Goldenvoice back in 2011 hasn’t hurt its rep by any means. If anything, it’s only made it more accessible for mainstream music fans (though there are still plenty of “indie” acts to come by). That couldn’t have been any more apparent than this year with Kanye West replacing Frank Ocean as Saturday’s headliner less than two days before the gates officially opened. And yet, somehow FYF didn’t end up selling out. We’re still not sure how that didn’t happen.

But the festival’s well-publicized slogan has long been that it delivers the “best weekend of summer,” and such a proclamation certainly sets the bar pretty high, especially in Southern California, where there is no shortage of ways to keep oneself preoccupied on a late-August afternoon. So, whether FYF was or wasn’t (it was one of our eight California music festivals you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015), here are our top 10 highlights from its 2015 edition.


FYF Fest 2015 - Battles

10. Battles

New York City trio Battles have been creating some of the most interesting rock music in the business for more than a decade, bordering on prog while throwing a heavy dose of math rock into the equation. With their third full length La Di Da Di due out September 18th (and thanks to Ableton, fans can get a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s writing and recording process for the album here), Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards), Dave Konopka (bass, guitar, effects) and John Stanier (drums) debuted some new material on Sunday evening for their Southern California fan base, most notably “The Yabba”, which gradually navigates its way through sonic peaks and valleys over the course of seven minutes. Meanwhile, Stanier, the glue that holds it all together for Battles, is still proving to be an absolute beast on the skins at age 47.


FYF Fest 2015 - FKA twigs

9. FKA twigs

British singer-songwriter Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better known as FKA twigs, has been all the rage lately after performing at Coachella in April, and she closed out FYF in style, donning an elaborate burgundy- and gold-colored robe for her Sunday night set. Just the week before, the 27-year-old fiancée of actor/musician Robert Pattinson released her brand-new EP M3LL155X, and with it receiving high marks from a number of music outlets, there were quite a few fans who stuck around after 11:30 p.m. on a “school night” to watch her perform some of them, including the opening track “Figure 8”, “In Time” and “Glass & Patron”. FKA twigs might be one of the most compelling live acts out there right now, and after scheduling Purity Ring to close out The Lawn the night before, FYF seemed to make a point of letting women rule that stage in the late-night hours this year.


FYF Fest 2015 - Simian Mobile Disco

8. The Arena

While there hasn’t been much use for the LA Sports Arena these days with The Forum and Staples Center serving as LA’s two primary large-scale music venues now, FYF made sure to utilize the 56-year-old stadium as best it could in conjunction with Exposition Park — and surprisingly enough, it actually ended up being our favorite stage this year. With space to roam on the floor — except during Flying Lotus’ DJ set from what we were told — and the seated area upstairs providing a nice respite from more standing, The Arena felt very much like a different world when you walked inside its doors. Plus, it had one of the most visually stunning stage backdrops and lighting setups that we’ve ever seen at a music festival.


FYF Fest 2015 - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

After capitalizing on the success of their 2013 sophomore album entitled II, UMO have been trending upward as one of indie rock’s buzziest bands this summer thanks to the release of their third full length Multi-Love in May. Led by singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson, the New Zealand/Portland, Ore., quartet creates an intriguing mixture of lo-fi, psychedelic rock with garage, funk and R&B elements thrown in for good measure. After a long and tiring first day at FYF, UMO served as an uplifting way to start Day 2, and the turnout was pretty impressive with a large crowd arriving at The Lawn on Sunday for their 4:30 p.m. set.


FYF Fest 2015 - BADBADNOTGOOD

6. BADBADNOTGOOD

Instrumental jazz/hip-hop trio BADBADNOTGOOD was high on our list of artists to catch at FYF this year, holding down a relatively early slot in The Arena on Saturday. Evoking almost a free-jazz spirit at times, Matthew Tavares (keyboards), Chester Hansen (bass) and Alexander Sowinski (drums) put their chops on display for close to an hour. Within minutes of arriving at the festival’s only indoor stage, it was fairly easy to see just how talented they are when it comes to playing their instruments, and together their sound had us wanting to hear more the next time these three Torontonians come to town.


FYF Fest 2015 - Chet Faker

5. Chet Faker

When we saw Chet Faker perform in LA following the release of his debut album Built on Glass last year, we were underwhelmed by Nicholas Murphy’s stage presence and a cast of sidekicks who didn’t add much to his overall sound. But a lot has changed since that early June night at The Roxy Theatre, and Murphy’s live show has grown leaps and bounds from 2014 to 2015, in part because he’s surrounded himself with some very skilled players lately. Though Murphy didn’t drop his newest single “Bend” into a nine-song set on Saturday, the FYF mainstay gave us every reason to believe why he belongs on the festival’s main stage.


FYF Fest 2015 - Flume with Andrew Wyatt

4. Special guests

Ever since FYF founder Sean Carlson teamed up with Goldenvoice, his festival has felt more and more like a mini Coachella each year. That trend continued in 2015 on a number of levels, with one of them being the fact that quite a few artists introduced special guests during their sets, something that has become rather synonymous with Coachella over the past few years. Chet Faker brought out BANKS, Travi$ Scott joined Kanye, Flume handed the mic right over to Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt (pictured above) and then later danced with Lorde, and Run the Jewels gave Zack de la Rocha and Travis Barker their moment to shine onstage, too. If that doesn’t sound like a typical weekend at Coachella, then we don’t know what does.


FYF Fest 2015 - Kanye West

3. Kanye West

Yeezus was all the talk less than two days before the festival kicked off, and we must say that we were pleasantly surprised by the last-minute Kanye-West-for-Frank-Ocean trade that FYF was able to pull off in the end. The headlining performance, nonetheless, delivered on all fronts, as Kanye ran through a career full of hits, eventually playing one every minute as his set went down to the very last second. We won’t go as far as to say that it was the best show of the weekend, but an impromptu performance from Rihanna on “Four Five Seconds” and “All of the Lights” after she was pulled onstage by Yeezy himself will have us remembering that moment for quite some time.


FYF Fest 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard

2. D’Angelo & The Vanguard

One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was none other than D’Angelo’s — and for good reason. The R&B/neo-soul singer-songwriter hadn’t released an album in 14 years (yes, really) until he suddenly dropped his 2014 masterpiece Black Messiah last December, so you knew that getting the rare opportunity to see Michael Eugene Archer work a crowd, much like the one that assembled for his set at FYF, would be something special. Sounding more like a youthful James Brown than a wannabe Prince (we still don’t totally understand where those comparisons are coming from), D’Angelo and his eight-piece backing band that he now calls The Vanguard took the audience for a ride as they doled out new and old hits such as “Really Love” and “Brown Sugar” over an eight-song setlist.


FYF Fest 2015 - Run the Jewels

1. Run the Jewels

It’s hard to find a more entertaining and raucous show in hip-hop right now than Run the Jewels’. Yes, El-P and Killer Mike have been making the festival rounds this year much like Outkast did in 2014, but one actually released an album last year and the other hasn’t since 2006. Never ones to hold back, RTJ’s post-sunset show on the festival’s main stage was both highly provocative and hilarious, getting the adrenaline pumping within the first few minutes and setting the tone for the rest of Day 1.