The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2018

David Byrne at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium


David Byrne at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Tim O’Shea

We have to be honest: 2018 was kind of a weird year for music. Sure, there were some major highlights — many of them listed below, in fact — but we also saw a serious changing of the guard. The decline of mainstream rock and the continued rise of hip-hop, R&B and pop was more noticeable than ever, from this year’s Coachella lineup to the cancellation of FYF Fest, making us wonder what the next twist or turn will be for the industry now that the demand for EDM has started to cool off following its boom circa 2012. That said, we still listened to a lot of new albums and caught plenty of concerts over the last 12 months, and it’s once again time for us to share our annual “Best of” lists, much like we have done over the past several years (see our 2017 picks here).

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2018.

See our favorite performances from 2018 here.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2018:


Jamiroquai at Coachella 2018


Jamiroquai at Coachella 2018 // Photo courtesy of Coachella

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2018
1. Queens of the Stone Age at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – February 17th
Just more than two months after his infamous assault on a photographer at The Forum for KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme made his return to the LA arena for a proper, sold-out affair with UK rock duo Royal Blood delivering what proved to be a headbanging opening set. From there, it only got better as Homme and the boys dazzled with a headlining performance that even included Villains producer Mark Ronson sitting in for most of the five-song encore and the band’s live debut of its “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” cover. You can bet Elton John, whom Homme actually collaborated with during the writing and recording of QOTSA’s sixth album …Like Clockwork, would have been proud. I always know when I’ve seen a good rock ‘n’ roll show because my neck will be sore the following day, but after this one, it was sore for the next three days. Ouch.

2. Nine Inch Nails at Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, CA – December 12th, 14th-15th
3. Jamiroquai at Coachella, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 13th
4. David Byrne at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – August 24th
5. Foo Fighters/Nirvana reunion at Cal Jam 18 – San Bernadino, CA – October 6th

Top 5 Albums of 2018
1. Jungle – For Ever
Unlike previous years, picking a favorite album in 2018 wasn’t quite as easy for me. I’ll admit that I didn’t hear every one that was released this year, but I listened to a lot of them. So, call me boring and short-sighted if you like, but nothing totally knocked my socks off. After much deliberation, it was Jungle’s sophomore LP For Ever that stood the test of time for me (no pun intended). The English soul collective’s follow-up to its 2014 self-titled debut doesn’t veer off in a completely different direction from what came before, but it still moves the sonic needle forward enough. After two full lengths, Jungle have shown a knack for writing catchy, dance-fueled tunes that transport you to a different time and place — even if it’s only for a three- or four-minute stretch.

2. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
3. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
4. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
5. Big Red Machine – Big Red Machine

Top 5 Songs of 2018
1. Nine Inch Nails – “Over and Out”
When I first listened to Bad Witch, I immediately knew this one was my favorite track on the album. But hearing it performed live on the final night of NIN’s “Cold and Black and Infinite” North American tour sealed it for top honors in 2018. Layering a brooding, yet funky bass line on top of a glitchy, experimental beat, Trent Reznor shows that he isn’t just playing it safe and merely saving his creativity for scoring films with bandmate and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross. You can tell Reznor had his late friend David Bowie in mind when he wrote the song too as he conjures up an even deeper baritone from behind the microphone than the one we have come to know over the last 30 years.

2. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
3. Jungle – “Heavy, California”
4. Wild Nothing – “Partners in Motion”
5. The Raconteurs – “Now That You’re Gone”


Richard Russell - Everything Is Recorded

Molly Kish // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2018
1. David Byrne at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – August 16th
In support of his seventh solo album American Utopia, musical virtuoso David Byrne hit the road for one of this year’s most creative and ambitious tours. Over more than 150 dates that spanned the entire globe, the 66-year-old delivered Broadway-caliber performances with a traveling 11-piece band that served as a traveling retrospective of his solo and collaborative work. Meanwhile, the tour also doubled as a platform for him to deliver his “Reasons to Be Cheerful” manifestos on civic engagement, climate/energy, culture, economics, education, health, science/technology and urban transportation. He partnered with HeadCount while encouraging audiences every night to engage in public discourse through social media and their own personal stories on his website. And as a result, Byrne elevated the concert-going experience into more of an interactive, performance-art space that his fans became a living, breathing part of.

2. Young Fathers at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – November 10th
3. Erykah Badu & Thundercat at The Armory – San Francisco, CA – February 14th
4. Beck at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – August 8th
5. LCD Soundsystem with TV on the Radio at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – April 27th-28th

Top 5 Albums of 2018
1. Richard Russell – Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell
A multi-artist project released as the debut album of XL Recordings founder Richard Russell, Everything Is Recorded is collaborative effort representing the ties between past and present sounds currently shaping the framework of hip-hop, funk and soul. Featuring collaborations with Sampha, Kamasi Washington, Syd, Damon Albarn, Peter Gabriel, Ibeyi, Obongjayar and more, the album also plays as the soundtrack to a 30-minute film, which documents the time each spent in the studio during its conception and is interspliced with archival footage of Gil Scott-Heron and Curtis Mayfield. With its underlying themes of loss and isolation, Everything Is Recorded effectively communicates Russell’s emotional journey as he battles a debilitating autoimmune disease in hope of finding salvation through the shared experience of creating a beautifully mastered piece of art.

2. George Fitzgerald – All That Must Be
3. Pusha T – DAYTONA
4. Robyn – Honey
5. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo

Top 5 Songs of 2018
1. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
If any song embodied the insanity and collective discontent of 2018, it was definitely Childish Gambino’s epic single “This Is America”. The juxtaposition of an a cappella choir leading into Donald Glover’s soft crooning over island beats and drum samples before staunchly diverting to a menacing base line reminiscent of 90’s gangster rap — as well as the hortative delivery of degrading lyrics about the current state of violence and American ideals — is near-perfect. Of course, the provocative music video that accompanied the track’s surprise release during his “Saturday Night Live” debut was incredible. The song, lyrics, video and marketing campaign could not have been a more flawless “slice of life” reflection of modern American society and justifiably has boomeranged into probably the most important moment of Childish Gambino’s career so far.

2. The Presets – “Downtown Shutdown”
3. Jon Hopkins – “Everything Connected”
4. Jungle – “Casio”
5. Parquet Courts – “Wide Awake”


Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2018
1. David Byrne at Jazzfest – New Orleans, LA – April 29th
You know what they say: the first time is always the best. With David Byrne’s 2018 “American Utopia Tour” being universally acclaimed as one of the most enigmatic live shows of the year, it’s not surprising to see it top other “Best of” lists. Byrne and his merry band of “unplugged” pranksters created a feast for the eyes and ears, and his daytime set on the Gentilly Stage did not disappoint at all. While his Fox Theater Oakland shows were more intimate and featured some more dynamic lighting features, his performance at Jazzfest back in April was the most memorable for NOLA revelers.

2. Jamiroquai at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – April 17th
3. Polo & Pan at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – June 20th
4. Nine Inch Nails at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – December 4th
5. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain – June 2nd

Top 5 Albums of 2018
1. Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
What a banner year for this Texas trio! Khruangbin have been on a steady rise the past few years as they turn on the masses to their infectious amalgamation of psychedelic soul, Thai surf rock and subtle funk. Having cemented their reputation as beasts in a live setting, Con Todo El Mundo proved their knack for penning tunes of equal strength with its emotive first single “Friday Morning” serving as a clear standout. “Evan Finds the Third Room” has also become a fan favorite, and the accompanying music video only lends to its growing charm. The sky’s the limit for Laura, Mark and DJ, so grab your ticket to fly.

2. Hookworms – Microshift
3. Amen Dunes – Freedom
4. Shame – Songs of Praise
5. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Sparkle Hard

Top 5 Songs of 2018
1. Jonathan Wilson – “Trafalgar Square”
LA producer-turned-frontman Jonathan Wilson churned out one helluva album opener for his third solo LP Rare Birds, as this six-plus-minute romp has all the right pieces for true liftoff. A proper intro leads into a riff so heavy that it’ll break your mama’s back. Top-notch production is key to this track, as Wilson is a wiz behind the boards. As you cruise down the 405 with this whopper blaring, you’d be hard-pressed not to nod along. Extra points for those of you with a 1970’s convertible, too.

2. Tom Misch – “Water Baby” feat. Loyle Carner
3. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
4. Jonathan Something – “Happy Day”
5. Men I Trust – “Seven”


Shame - Songs of Praise

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2018
1. The Smashing Pumpkins at Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA – August 27th
The Smashing Pumpkins are the quintessential 90’s arena-rock band, and they fully lived up to that billing at Oracle Arena for their Bay Area stop over the summer. I’ve seen them several times over the years, and although this time it was pegged as a “reunion tour” (minus D’Arcy, sigh), you never know what you’re going to get from them. Billy Corgan led the band through over three hours’ worth of material with some killer stage production to go with it. The show was definitely a marathon, but totally worth being there for. It came to light later that Corgan was also fighting off a bad case of food poisoning, but it didn’t show. It was great to see James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain back onstage, too — the way it should be.

2. Nine Inch Nails at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – December 3rd
3. Against Me! & Turbonegro at UC Theatre – Berkeley, CA – May 25th
4. Alkaline Trio at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – October 6th
5. Back To The Beach Festival – Huntington Beach, CA – April 28th-29th

Top 5 Albums of 2018
1. Shame – Songs of Praise
This album hit me like a ton of bricks in the best way. I had heard a ton of hype around Songs of Praise before giving it a first listen, and usually I am a healthy skeptic, but good Lord, does this record rip. It has a dark flavor and carries with it a lot of angst, and you can’t help but get caught up in the hooks that Shame offer. These five lads from South London simply killed it.

2. IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
3. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
4. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
5. Snail Mail – Lush

Top 5 Songs of 2018
1. Shame – “Concrete”
Conjuring up the ghost of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis without sounding like a complete poser is challenging for newer post-punk bands it seems — except for Shame’s Charlie Steen. Paired with some brilliant instrumentation, I just couldn’t stop listening to “Concrete” when I first heard it. I must have listened to the track a solid 10 times in a row on the first go. This song has an infectious quality to it and is a straight-up ripper.

2. The Soft White Sixties – “I Still Love You, San Francisco”
3. Hot Snakes – “Six Wave Hold-Down”
4. IDLES – “Colossus”
5. The Sword – “Come and Gone”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Soulwax make up for lost time with a wild LA show

SoulwaxBy Zach Bourque //

Soulwax with Rory Phillips //
The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles
April 19th, 2018 //

Soulwax have always been an elusive force in music. The Belgian electronic group, led by brothers David Dewaele and Stephen Dewaele, has remained relatively hush over the past decade or so, particularly in North America.

Fabled performances at both the 2008 and 2010 editions of HARD Summer Music Festival in LA helped Soulwax’s live instrumentation and unconventional style stand out amid a sea of standard rave acts. The Dewaele brothers would occasionally stop by performing mashup DJ sets under the guise 2manydjs, but for the select few that caught one of those early Soulwax shows, it was the stuff of legends.

In 2016, the group debuted a new live setup, which went by the name of “Soulwax Transient Program for Drums and Machinery”, and this month it returned to the U.S. for two weekends at Coachella (read our festival review here). Fortunately for us (and San Francisco), Soulwax decided to bless our cities with side shows in between festival weekends. Last Thursday they invaded The Fonda Theatre for a sold-out affair that would further cement their live legacy in Southern California.

Their mammoth stage setup looked in part much like a mobile recording studio, engulfing the stage with more metal than a “Transformers” movie. But it actually starts to make more sense once you realize that their new album From Deewee was recorded in one 48-minute take using the same live stage setup. Given the entire rig’s sheer size, it was hardly a surprise that opener Rory Phillips was relegated to a nook off to the side due to the shear lack of space available.

Soulwax

Phillips’ upbeat and unpretentious set provided appropriate background music while the rabid crowd awaited Soulwax, and what a crowd it was. With the majority of the audience members looking like they just stumbled out of Coachella’s Sahara Tent, it was a notably inebriated collection of folks that broke new ground for a Thursday night.

Yes, in fact, we’re talking public nudity, incessant vomiting and more people stumbling to the exit than a San Andreas earthquake. For those who actually remembered the show though, it was one for the books.

While Soulwax’s recorded music has always been perfectly enjoyable, in person it becomes something else entirely. Their new, three-drummer lineup was the ideal format to hear new tracks like “Is It Always Binary” while giving older tracks such as “KracK” a newly textured and complex sound. Sitting stage right, drummer Victoria Smith, for one, offered the group some serious personality thanks to her animated facial expressions.

Soulwax capped things off with “E Talking” from 2005’s Nite Versions and “NY Excuse” off 2004’s Any Minute Now before snapping fans back into reality for their journey home. While their return to LA proved to be a highly memorable experience for those fortunate enough to share a spot inside the packed venue, we just hope that it won’t be another years-long hiatus before they return to the states.

Setlist:
No Drums (intro)
Do You Want to Get Into Trouble?
Essential 3
KracK
Is It Always Binary
Missing Wires
Conditions of a Shared Belief
Heaven Scent
Transient Program for Drums and Machinery
Essential 5
Another Excuse
Glass
The Singer Has Become a Deejay
Here Come the Men in Suits
E Talking
Inward
Miserable Girl
NY Excuse

Encore:
Goodnight Transmission

A Perfect Circle’s new album ‘Eat the Elephant’ plays a lot better live than its critics might think

A Perfect CirclePhotos by Mike Rosati // Written by Andrew Pohl //

A Perfect Circle with The Beta Machine //
Event Center at San Jose State University – San Jose
April 18th, 2018 //

Between their two performances at Coachella (read our festival review here) this month, alt-metal supergroup A Perfect Circle made a quick stop in the Bay Area last Wednesday to play the Event Center at San Jose State University as a follow-up to their 2017 gig in San Francisco at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (read our show review here).

With their fourth LP Eat the Elephant — their first in 14 years — dropping two days later, APC were eager to share their latest material, with half of the band’s 17-song set dedicated to cuts off the new album.

Opening the show on this night were The Beta Machine, founded by APC members Jeff Friedl (drums, percussion) and Matt McJunkins (bass, keyboards, vocals). The four-piece is rounded out by Claire Acey (keyboards, vocals) and Nicholas Perez (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and its synth-laden, somewhat soulful music served as a nice prelude for what was to come.

The Beta Machine


The Beta Machine

APC then followed, starting with the title track on their new full length as frontman Maynard James Keenan stood back center in the dark, coiffed in a pig-tailed wig, which has become his standard “look” with the band. Meanwhile, the group’s other founding member and principal songwriter Billy Howerdel (guitar, keyboards, vocals) stood near the front of the stage, directly across from McJunkins and to the left of Keenan, with Friedl to the left of the singer.

To Kennan’s right stood Greg Edwards, who, as Maynard took a moment to point out, is filling in for James Iha while Iha gets ready for The Smashing Pumpkins’ upcoming reunion tour this summer. Edwards is a founding member of both Failure and Autolux (two incredible bands if I may say so myself), and he has a long history working with Keenan. Failure have been booked to play with Tool several times over the years, dating as far back as 1993 when they opened for them in San Francisco at the gone-but-not-forgotten Trocadero Transfer, and then again at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 2014.

In San Jose, APC sprinkled in songs from all three of their previous albums and included a stirring rendition of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” toward the show’s midway point. Having had a chance to listen to the new album in advance, I was a skeptical of what I was going to be in for with the new tracks. However, I am happy to report that experiencing the new music live was a wholly different experience. The band breathed new life and enough vibrancy into the material to cast away any doubts that I previously had. But three Eat the Elephant tracks in particular that stood out to me were “The Contrarian”, “Talk Talk” and “Hourglass” before they hit the road next month for an extended U.S. and European tour that’s scheduled to run through the end of the year.

Setlist:
Eat the Elephant
Disillusioned
Weak and Powerless
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Rose
Thomas
People Are People (Depeche Mode cover)
3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
The Contrarian
TalkTalk
Hourglass
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
The Outsider
The Doomed
The Package
Gravity
Feathers

Goldenvoice announces 2018 Coachella sideshows

Goldenvoice Presents: April 2018

It’s Valentine’s Day, so what could be a better way to celebrate love — or least your love for live music — than with a whole slew of newly announced shows?

Well, with Coachella’s 19th edition just a couple of months away, Goldenvoice has done it again, assembling another massive list of April sideshows at various venues all across the greater Los Angeles landscape, including some in Orange County (at The Observatory and Constellation Room), Santa Barbara County (at the Santa Barbara Bowl and The Arlington Theatre) and the desert (at Pappy & Harriet’s).

Sister trio HAIM kick off the festivities with their headlining performance at arguably our favorite Southern California venue, the Santa Barbara Bowl, on Saturday, April 7th before things ramp up the ensuing week with Kali Uchis, Chromeo, Tyler, the Creator, St. Vincent, Portugal. The Man (with Cherry Glazerr), Perfume Genius (with Big Thief), Princess Nokia, PVRIS, Marian Hill, Fleet Foxes, Carpenter Brut, Tash Sultana, The Drums & Alvvays (with Fazerdaze), alt-J (with BØRNS), Migos, The Bronx, Greta Van Fleet, A Perfect Circle, Yaeji, Angel Olsen, Jessie Ware, BROCKHAMPTON, First Aid Kit, Japanese Breakfast (with Snail Mail), Kelela, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Buscabulla (with The Marías), Priests, MØ, Jorja Smith & Tom Misch, ODESZA, Miguel, Boogarins (with B Boys & Señor Kino), Ron Gallo, Moon Boots (Live), The War on Drugs, Jungle, Soulwax, Petit Biscuit, 6lack, Aurora, Motor City Drum Ensemble (with Talaboman), Los Ángeles Azules, The Drums, Hayley Kiyoko and Elohim all playing — some even more than once — inside and/or outside of LA’s city limits.

Unlike last year’s sideshows, which included a special showcase at the Palm Springs Air Museum the night before Coachella’s first weekend featuring several artists from British independent record label Young Turks, Goldenvoice has opted not to go down that route again. The two gigs that mirror that mini festival the closest both take place on Thursday, April 19th, as Motor City Drum Ensemble performs at the Palm Springs Air Museum with Talaboman and Los Ángeles Azules invades the Riverside County Fairgrounds with Cuco, Helado Negro and Ocho Ojos just one day before Coachella Weekend 2 commences at the Empire Polo Club. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

Year after year, Goldenvoice seemingly continues to outdo itself with more and more shows in and around Coachella, and this April the renowned concert promoter has done its best to give music fans in Southern California a little bit of everything, from electro funk and indie folk to hip-hop and alternative R&B. But at first glance, the 2018 sideshows that stick out the most to us include the following: Chromeo at the El Rey Theatre, St. Vincent at The Orpheum Theatre, Perfume Genius (with Big Thief) at The Mayan, Fleet Foxes at the Warner Grand Theater, Tash Sultana at the Fox Theater Pomona, The Drums & Alvvays co-headlining (with Fazerdaze) at Pappy & Harriet’s, alt-J (with BØRNS) at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Migos at The Observatory, A Perfect Circle at The Arlington Theatre, Japanese Breakfast (with Snail Mail) at The Roxy, The War on Drugs at the Fox Theater Pomona, Jungle at Pappy & Harriet’s, Soulwax at The Fonda Theatre, 6lack at The Novo and Portugal. The Man (with Chicano Batman and Deap Vally) at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, February 16th at Noon PT with the rest of them available on Friday, February 23rd at Noon PT or Friday, March 2nd at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice