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

Lightning in a Bottle - 2020 lineup

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

Lightning in a Bottle is back on schedule.

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

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

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - The Stacks

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - CTRL-Z

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

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - Grand Artique

Lightning in a Bottle 2020 - The Compass

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

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

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

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

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

Run the Jewels hit the Bay Area hard with shows at City National Civic & Fox Theater Oakland

Run the Jewels at Fox Theater OaklandPhotos by Marc Fong & Lisette Worster // Written by Molly Kish //

Run the Jewels //
City National Civic – San Jose & Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
February 2nd, 2017 (San Jose) & February 3rd, 2017 (Oakland) //

Fresh off their cameo-packed tour stop in LA (read our review here), Run the Jewels crushed back-to-back shows in Northern California. Playing the City National Civic in San Jose as well as the Fox Theater Oakland on a Thursday and Friday night, respectively, El-P and Killer Mike catapulted off the energy from their SoCal performance and sailed into a lyrical stratosphere for their Bay Area fans.

In San Jose and Oakland, the two powerhouse emcees touched upon Northern California’s hip-hop history by giving ample credit to those who showed up and filled the both venues. They each took time between songs to discuss their personal appreciation for the Bay Area and its legacy of artists who have played an integral part in bringing rap, as both a musical genre and lifestyle, to the masses.

Playing an epic set of bangers, RTJ showcased their rowdiest songs from all three of their LPs, keeping the crowd’s energy at a fever pitch during their NorCal shows. San Jose and Oakland each got their own surprise guests and support from Gangsta Boo on the group’s seminal duet “In Love Again” from Run the Jewels 2. In San Jose, DJ Qbert jumped onstage during “Don’t Get Captured”, and the following night in Oakland, DJ Shadow prodigiously threw down for a live performance of “Nobody Speak” as one of the show’s biggest highlights.

CITY NATIONAL CIVIC

Setlist:
We Are the Champions (Queen song)
Talk to Me
Legend Has It
Call Ticketron
Blockbuster Night, Part 1
Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
Nobody Speak (DJ Shadow cover)
Hey Kids (Bumaye)
Stay Gold
Don’t Get Captured (with DJ Qbert)
Panther Like a Panther
Everybody Stay Calm
Love Again (Akinyele Back) (with Gangsta Boo)
Lie, Cheat, Steal
Early
Run the Jewels
Down

Encore:
Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)

FOX THEATER OAKLAND

Setlist:
We Are the Champions (Queen song)
Talk to Me
Legend Has It
Call Ticketron
Blockbuster Night, Part 1
Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
Nobody Speak (DJ Shadow cover) (with DJ Shadow)
Hey Kids (Bumaye)
Stay Gold
Don’t Get Captured
Panther Like a Panther
Everybody Stay Calm
Love Again (Akinyele Back) (with Gangsta Boo)
Lie, Cheat, Steal
Early
Run the Jewels
A Report to the Shareholders
Down

Encore:
Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)

Goldenvoice reveals 2017 Coachella sideshows

Goldenvoice Presents: April 2017

We’re already six weeks into 2017, and for many music fans residing in California, that means Coachella isn’t all that far away. But while much of the talk around this year’s lineup has been centered on Beyoncé’s debut and more recently her pregnant-with-twins news (the jury is still out on whether it will put a wrench in her plans to perform both weekends), Goldenvoice has turned a good portion of April into a long stretch of top-notch shows, similar to what Red Bull Sound Select has done in November with its month-long “30 Days in LA” series that last year included artists like Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker), YG, Jhené Aiko, AlunaGeorge, Pusha T and Isaiah Rashad (look back at our coverage here).

Much like in 2016, Goldenvoice has once again released a list of sideshows that will take place at venues in the greater Los Angeles area, with a select few extending into Orange County (at The Observatory and Constellation Room), Santa Barbara County (at the Santa Barbara Bowl) and the desert (at Pappy & Harriet’s).

Florida emcee Denzel Curry will kick off the festivities on Friday, April 7th at The Glass House before LA outfit Chicano Batman close things out at the same venue on Saturday, April 29th. In between those gigs, Sampha, Banks, Jack Garratt, Crystal Castles, Francis and the Lights, Bishop Briggs, SOHN, Oh Wonder, Future Islands, Little Dragon (with Sophie Tukker), The Head and the Heart, Joseph, Kaytranada, Banks & Steelz, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Nicolas Jaar, Car Seat Headrest (with Preoccupations), Bonobo, Mura Masa (with Kamaiyah), DJ Shadow, Breakbot, Blossoms, New Order (with Poliça), Hinds (with Twin Peaks), Bonobo, Galantis, Local Natives (with Tennis), S U R V I V E, The Avalanches, Glass Animals (with Little Dragon and/or Jagwar Ma), Empire of the Sun (with Broods), Tacocat, Bastille, Roisin Murphy, Whitney, Lil Uzi Vert, Mitski, Röyksopp, Future Islands, Pond (with Ezra Furman), Moderat, Swet Shop Boyz, Floating Points (Live), HONNE (with Arkells), Daphini, Jai Wolf, Guided by Voices and Phantogram will all perform — some even more than once — inside and/or outside of LA’s city limits.

Furthermore, British independent record label Young Turks will host a special showcase for its roster of artists with performances by Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis and the Lights, Jamie xx, Kamaiyah, Sampha and special guest PNL in Palm Springs on Thursday, April 13th. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

It’s hard to believe that Goldenvoice has found a way to top their efforts from a year ago, but the renowned concert promoter has managed to do just that. This year’s Coachella sideshows are jam-packed with alternative-electronic and indie-rock acts, with Nicolas Jaar’s headlining performance at Pappy & Harriet’s alongside Floating Points (Live) and Pond as well as Future Islands’ date at The Glass House featuring support from Car Seat Headrest as two of the bigger highlights — and no doubt there are plenty on this bill. Yet, one of the most enticing pairings has to be the Glass Animals-Little Dragon-Jagwar Ma one that’s slated to take over the Santa Barbara Bowl, arguably our favorite venue in Southern California, on Saturday, April 23rd.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, February 17th at Noon PT with the rest of them available Friday, February 24th at Noon PT or Friday, March 3rd at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2016

Danny Brown


Danny Brown at The Regency Ballroom // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by James Pawlish

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Well, while we’re still wondering where the past 12 months have went, 2016 proved to be bittersweet for the entire music community. With David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Paul Kanter, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones and most recently George Michael all leaving us too soon, it’s been a rough ride to say the least. But amid all the heartbreak, we experienced plenty of amazing moments in music from January to December, and now it’s time for us to once again unveil our annual “Best of” lists just like we did in 2015.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2016.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2016

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2016:


Jim James at Orpheum Theatre


Jim James at Orpheum Theatre // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. LCD Soundsystem at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 8th
When reports started swirling around this time last year that LCD Soundsystem would reunite to headline Coachella a few months later, it was a chance to relive that one time I saw them on the same polo field six years earlier — the only time I was lucky enough to see James Murphy and company in action before they called it quits way too early. And while band reunions at Coachella are starting to feel like a gimmick these days, LCD had already played a couple of warm-up shows back home in New York by the time they stepped foot on the main stage for their highly anticipated headlining set at the Empire Polo Club. They didn’t perform any new material like some fans may have hoped they would, but rather a setlist laced with hits that also included their live debut of David Bowie’s “Heroes” as well as a nod to fellow headliner Guns N’ Roses. And as the final words to “All My Friends” left Murphy’s mouth that night, I walked away still buzzing from what I had just witnessed.

2. Radiohead at Shrine Auditorium – Los Angeles, CA – August 8th
3. Jim James at Orpheum Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – December 9th
4. Temple of the Dog at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – November 14th
5. Pretty Lights (Live) at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – November 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Moderat – III
With so many excellent albums being released each year, picking a favorite is never an easy task — but this year felt even more difficult than usual. And although I’ll admit I didn’t have time to hear every LP that dropped in 2016, it was hard not to choose Moderat’s latest studio effort after much thought and consideration. Time after time, I found myself coming back to III after countless listens. From the record’s opening track “Eating Hooks” to its initial single “Reminder”, the Berlin trio seems to get better and better with each release. As difficult as it can be to describe Moderat’s music, there’s something about the way Sascha Ring’s emotive vocals pair perfectly with the supergroup’s haunting melodies that makes III‘s repeatability incredibly strong. I guess the third time really is the charm for these three gents.

2. Jim James – Eternally Even
3. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
4. RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
5. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Jim James – “Here in Spirit”
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James often receives praise for his unique singing style, but the Louisville native’s songwriting chops remain equally impressive. On his sophomore solo album Eternally Even, James takes a more political stance than what he devised for his 2013 debut Regions of Light and Sound of God. What results is some of James’ most poignant and inspiring material to date, including the soulfully psychedelic cut “Here in Spirit” that bats third in the LP’s nine-track lineup. With lines like “No compromise / But willing to sacrifice / Believe what you want / Go on and be who you are / Go out and get what you want” to open the song, James empowers his listeners to not sit on the sidelines and instead, speak up for what they believe in. He might not be able to solve the world’s problems, but “Yim Yames” knows how to make you think about the issues that matter.

2. Moderat – “Reminder”
3. Glass Animals – “Youth”
4. Tycho – “Division”
5. Run the Jewels – “Legend Has It”


Brainfeed at Fox Theater Oakland


Brainfeeder at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by Marc Fong

Molly Kish // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Brainfeeder at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – September 15th
This showcase featuring artists from Flying Lotus’ label, including himself, was an experience to behold. No matter who you went to see on this night, eyes were opened and brains were fed — so to speak — thanks to the sonic diversions that continue to make Brainfeeder one of the most important players in shaping the future of music.

2. Danny Brown at The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA – October 11th
3. James Blake at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – October 17th
4. Erykah Badu at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – November 15th
5. Black Madonna at Public Works SF – San Francisco, CA – November 18th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Elevating the current state of hip-hop by ultimately bringing it back to its jazz roots, Malibu finally brought Anderson .Paak the credit he sorely deserved. The 16-track album boasts an intricately curated, eclectic roster of recording, production and songwriting talent. Easily the most important sophomore full-length release of the year, Malibu opened a brand-new door to a musical stratosphere that .Paak was born to commandeer.

2. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered
3. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
4. The Avalanches – Wildflower
5. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky”
Another career-skyrocketing release of 2016 that was introduced to the world through this single, “Cranes in the Sky” helped bring attention to “the younger Knowles sister” as a force to be reckoned with. Amidst a track list of powerful ballads and political anthems, this song delivers a personal testimony of introspection that humanizes Solange in a way most artists are too afraid to convey. The track, which was delivered through a series of avant-garde music videos, shook the world of modern soul and R&B with one of 2016’s most influential power moves.

2. Chance the Rapper – “All Night”
3. Blood Orange – “Best to You”
4. Kaytranada – “LITE SPOTS”
5. Flume – “Never Be Like You” feat. Kai


YG at The Wiltern


YG at The Wiltern // Photo by Joseph Gray

Joseph Gray // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Kanye West at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – November 1st
Prior to its bizarre, abrupt ending that included a long-winded tirade critical of Beyoncé and some outspoken support for President-elect Donald Trump, Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” was a once-in-a-lifetime party. Seriously. In LA, the show featured a floating, illuminated and spaceship-like stage that traveled back and forth — while raging youngsters moshed below — to give everybody a great view of their favorite contradiction and/or superhero, who was later hospitalized due to a reported “psychiatric emergency.” With the elevated platform, a smiling and dancing West manned through his conflicts, happiness and faith, reminding us of why he provides the unmistakable feel-good vibes that only he can bring.

2. Young Thug at The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – May 16th
3. Isaiah Rashad at Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – November 14th
4. Jhene Aiko at Avalon Hollywood – Los Angeles, CA – November 21st
5. YG at The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA – November 29th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
The unearthed gem on rap legend Dr. Dre’s long-awaited Compton opus a year prior, Southern California rapper, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (he really does it all) Anderson .Paak kicked open the door to his fully-formed world of warm, unbridled expressiveness and raspy soul with Malibu. Brilliantly combining funk and jazz-filled triumphs (“Come Down”) and hip-hop’s reflective grit (“The Season/Carry Me”) with distinct and sprawling elegance (“Room in Here”), .Paak unquestionably put his mark on 2016. A detailed dot (just like the one in .Paak’s moniker), you better not forget it because Malibu proved that you have to pay attention to everything his name is attached to.

2. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
3. Young Thug – Jeffery
4. NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
5. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People…”
In a year drenched in political prejudices and panic for many citizens in the U.S., Q-Tip roared through the darkness over the funkiest of synths: “We don’t believe you ’cause we the people / Are still here in the rear / Yo, we don’t need you.” A message that echoed even louder after the presidential election, one of the standouts tracks from their celebrated final LP We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service invigorates a culture seemingly under attack more than ever.

2. Anderson .Paak – “Come Down”
3. Kanye West – “Real Friends”
4. Anderson .Paak – “Room in Here” feat. The Game & Sonyae Elise
5. Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016”


Radiohead at Outside Lands 2016


Radiohead at Outside Lands 2016 // Photo by by James Pawlish

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Kanye West at T-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, NV – October 29th
In some ways, there’s an unspoken hierarchy to the live-concert experience. The structure is simple — the closer you are to the front of the stage, the better your experience is, the bigger the fan that you are. Only the “rail riders” are the truest fans. In my experience seeing Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” in Las Vegas — a performance that ended up being one of his last uninterrupted shows prior to a breakdown and a subsequent cancellation of several future dates — he not only completely destroyed the hierarchy, he reinvented what a concert can be. Under a floodlight-filled sky, he spent 90 minutes on a floating stage playing a nonstop show that brought out a level of hype in the crowd I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. On the floor, underneath the stage, you are instantly a part of the performance. As the stage moved back and forth across the arena, West captured a sense of connection with fans, making it nearly impossible to not scream every damn word to every damn song. It was an emotional roller coaster filled with adrenaline (“Black Skinhead”, “Father Stretch My Hands”), joy (“Waves”, “Fade”), swagger (“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Heartless”) and some transcendent moments so intense during reworked songs like “Only One” and “Ultralight Beam” that many in the crowd (myself included) couldn’t help but be brought to tears. I’ve never seen a concert like this one and will probably never see something like it again. But for those 90 minutes as I jumped and sang with my brothers and friends, there was no world outside of Kanye’s floating stage. It’s a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life as Kanye proved to us there is no hip-hop artist in the world doing what he’s doing.

2. LCD Soundsystem at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 8th
3. Beyoncé at Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA – May 16th
4. Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – September 3rd
5. Air at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 6th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. The Avalanches – Wildflower
I really enjoy albums that can be experienced as one cohesive piece. Twelve years in the making, The Avalanches’ Wildflower is best experienced in one listen from start to finish. Using a near-plethora of samples from both ends of the musical spectrum, the Australian plunderphonics pioneers wove together a soundscape that’s not only textured and groovy, but also just plain old fun. From “Because I’m Me” and “Frankie Sanatra” to “Subways” and “If I Was a Folkstar”, the feel and experience of listening to Wildflower simply fills me with joy. After a year like 2016, it’s something we all needed.

2. RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
3. Beyoncé – Lemonade
4. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
5. The Range – Potential

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Radiohead – “Present Tense”
In a serene moment watching Thom Yorke and Co. play a live rendition of “Present Tense” at Outside Lands, I first thought to myself that this may be one of Radiohead’s best tracks. Ever. Their stripped-down rendition featuring Johnny Greenwood solidified that thought. “Present Tense” seems to capture all of the things I find most appealing about Radiohead: complex and beautiful chord progressions, subtle and complimentary percussion, and melancholy lyrics and ambient sounds creating a sense of space that no other band I know is capable of producing in a studio or on a stage. It’s an introspective song that blooms into a plea for a return to what was once had with “in you I’m lost …” That melody gives me goosebumps every time.

2. Blood Orange – “Best to You”
3. Brian Eno – “Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free”
4. Hundred Waters feat. Chance the Rapper – “Show Me Love”
5. DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak”


Anderson .Paak at South by Southwest


Anderson .Paak at South by Southwest 2016 // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals at South by Southwest – Austin, TX – March 18th
Anderson .Paak played 13 shows in three or four days at SXSW this year. The Pandora show was one of his last ones, so he and his bandmates had their set down to blind perfection and played their hearts out to 150 new fans as the sun went down. Austin was falling in love with .Paak right in front of his eyes, electrifying his performance and even bringing him down into the audience to crowd surf. When he wasn’t behind the drums, he spent the rest of the show dancing on the monitors in between the barrier and the stage, seemingly as close to is fansh as possible. He was just grateful to be there, and it spilled from every ounce of his body. I’m going to be completely honest: I went to SXSW this year to see .Paak because I knew once he played it, tickets to his shows would be impossible to get. Six months later, $30 tickets to his show in San Francisco at The Fillmore resold for upwards of $400. If you didn’t have another way to get into that show or rent to pay, it was worth it. The energy that comes out of .Paak while he’s performing is charming, infectious and unmatched. He splits his time roaming every inch of the stage and behind his drum set, often singing and rapping without missing a beat. At .Paak’s December show at the Hollywood Palladium in LA, Stevie Wonder came out not to sing, but to tell the crowd what a big fan he is. So basically, Stevie Wonder dropped by. OK, Anderson … we see you.

2. Conor Oberst at The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church – Los Angeles, CA – December 17th
3. Chance the Rapper at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 7th
4. Islands at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles, CA – June 9th
5. Animal Collective at Scala – London, UK – September 8th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Anderson .Paak has put out a lot of material, even before he was Anderson .Paak and went by Breezy Lovejoy. There are gems sprinkled throughout his early releases, but his latest studio album has a funky backbone that lets .Paak explore aspects of his range that he never shared before. It resulted in a rhythmic, emotional journey that’s flirty, genre-defiant and fun as fuck. Malibu nearly ruined music for me because nothing else is it.

2. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
3. Conor Oberst – Ruminations
4. Gallant – Ology
5. Noname – Telefone

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
I like Childish Gambino. I’ve always liked Childish Gambino. But the first time I heard his song “Redbone”, every hair on my body stood up and started grooving. It happened the second time and the third time, and even the 643rd time. And this dude is singing about peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool Aid, but because of how he’s singing about it, it’s somehow OK. I made a playlist with only this song on it 20 times over and it was still too short.

2. Anderson .Paak – “The Waters”
3. Sonder – “Too Fast”
4. Danny Brown – “Really Doe” feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt
5. Mac Miller – “Dang!” feat. Anderson .Paak


Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley


Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley // Photo by James Pawlish

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. The Cure at Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA – May 26th
I saw a ton of amazing shows this year, but seeing The Cure for the first time on my birthday topped them all. For more than three hours I got to catch Robert Smith and company churn out hit after hit, and hanging out with some of my best mates only added to the splendor. A setlist that spanned their entire career on a beautiful evening was just what I needed for my 38th trip around the sun.

2. Tool at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – January 7th
3. At the Drive-In at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – June 4th
4. Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – September 3rd
5. Temple of the Dog at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – November 11th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
This is the album that we needed, and it was delivered at the right time, in the right way. For a year that had taken so much away from the music world, ATCQ surprised everyone with an LP that delivered a vibrant, thoughtful and politically charged gift to the masses. No guys, thank YOU for your service (RIP Phife Dawg).

2. Mitski – Puberty 2
3. David Bowie – Black Star
4. Mall Walk – Funny Papers
5. Tycho – Epoch

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. David Bowie – “Lazarus”
Oh, Bowie … even on the eve of your own passing, you knew how to pull out all of the stops and push your art to the limit. A true showman and artist to the end, this song encapsulates all that is raw, beautiful and bizarre about our beloved Ziggy Stardust. Its somber tone is met with a sexy, sinister groove, which leaves you with a sense of unease and is honestly perfect in my opinion. Thank you, sir. RIP.

2. Bob Moses – “Tearing Me Up”
3. Savages – “Evil”
4. Zack de la Rocha – “digging for windows”
5. Deep Sea Diver – “Secrets”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

The ‘EDM bubble’ may be bursting, but Pretty Lights remains a beacon of hope at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Pretty LightsBy Josh Herwitt //

Pretty Lights (Live) with Big Wild, Chris Karns //
Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA
November 10th, 2016 //

Amid the myriad of tragedies that the music industry has endured in 2016, one of the major talking points has been the future of electronic dance music. EDM, as the kids like to call it these days, experienced a meteoric rise just a few years ago as laptops replaced turntables and guitars, transforming DJs into music’s newest and biggest rock stars with multimillion-dollar residencies in Las Vegas and headlining slots at music festivals all around the world.

But in the last eight months, the genre’s sustainability has started to be called into question, with several media outlets predicting that the EDM boom will soon come crashing down. One well-known music website, for instance, published an in-depth look at EDM’s demise back in April, already declaring it a thing of the past with a title like “Popping the Drop: A Timeline of How EDM’s Bubble Burst.” Soon after, LA Weekly followed suit, continuing the conversation with their own piece on why an industry worth $6.9 billion only a year ago has fallen so fast. Of course, it should also be noted that Forbes was the first to tap into the subject, exploring how the proliferation of EDM festivals in the U.S. hasn’t always equaled massive payouts for some concert promoters.

Still, for a culture born out of the UK’s underground rave scene, it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that the EDM business has reached its ceiling. From simply a spectators’ point of view, watching someone entertain an audience with a computer and a mixer can only be engaging for so long, even if the song selection and stage production are superb (it can also depend on if any mind-altering substances were ingested at the time). That’s not to say dance music can’t or won’t survive. As oversaturated as the market is right now, there will always be a thirst for music that can make you move — it’s more that the genre will continue to evolve in new and different ways. And if there’s one electronic artist whom others should look to for inspiration, it’s unquestionably Pretty Lights.

Pretty Lights

Praised by legendary record producer Rick Rubin as “the face and voice of the new American electronic music scene,” Derek Vincent Smith started out making music under his Pink Floyd-inspired moniker with his close friend and frequent collaborator Michal Menert more than a decade ago. But unlike so many of his contemporaries, the Colorado native was carving his own path in his early 20’s. Influenced by hip-hop groups from the Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest to Wu-Tang Clan and The Roots, Smith got his big break opening for jam bands like Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), The Disco Biscuits and Widespread Panic at their late-night, after-party shows. Employing a colorful patchwork of hip-hop breakbeats and soul samples to build the foundation for his tracks, Smith’s process as well as his music in many ways felt like an extension of the classic trip-hop that DJ Shadow pioneered in 1996 with his seminal debut LP Endtroducing….. and RJD2 (read our interview with him here) later furthered on his initial studio album Deadringer.

Pretty Lights’ rise to stardom didn’t happen overnight. Releasing his music for free on his own record label Pretty Lights Music, it took years for Smith to build the worldwide following that he has today. Yet, what has always made him more than just merely a “DJ” or a “producer” is his propensity for incorporating live instrumentation into his live performances. By the time he began touring in 2007, he had enlisted drummer Cory Eberhard to join him for a run that would eventually include important U.S. festival appearances at Coachella and Ultra in 2010. Smith would go on to replace Eberhard with Adam Deitch, and while Deitch’s commitment to his other projects (Break Science, Lettuce) has curtailed his involvement in more recent years, he served as a key ingredient during the recording sessions for 2013’s A Color Map of the Sun, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album.

Since then, Smith has made a conscious effort to bring other talented musicians into the fray. Touring with a live band for the first time in 2013 — something that few other EDM artists have done to this day — he quickly changed the way electronic music can be experienced live. Fast forward to last Thursday, and we were once again treated to an electrifying Pretty Lights show that was more than just Smith behind a pair of Macbook Pros and two Akai MPD32s. Making his debut at the majestic Santa Barbara Bowl, he once again showed why he isn’t your typical EDM act. With Chris Karns and Big Wild providing support, Smith hit the stage at 8 p.m. with his bandmates — Karns, Borham Lee, Brandon Butler and Alvin Ford, Jr. — and put on a show that dazzled both sonically and visually. What was most impressive, though, was seeing how much of the performance was improvised, as the band transitioned from one jam to another while dropping in a number of remixes here and there. And as I looked on from my seat in the stands, I couldn’t help but think about how much the show reminded me of all the times I’ve seen STS9 perform live. It only seemed fitting considering that the livetronia band helped give Smith his start back in the day, and with the “EDM bubble” about to burst (that is, if it hasn’t already), it’s hopefully an approach more electronic artists will gravitate toward in the future.

Setlist:
Still Night Jam
Maybe Tomorrow
Time Remix
One Day They’ll Know > ODESZA Remix > Break Science Remix
Let The World Hurry By
So Much In The Dark
More Important Than Michael Jordan
Bombay Bump
Total Fascination > Jam
Understand Me Now > Jam
Cold Feeling > Jam > Remix
There Is a Light
Jam
Where I’m Trying to Go tease
More Important Than Michael Jordan tease
I Can See It In Your Face > Jam
High School Art Class

RJD2 embodies the spirit of Philadelphia on his new album ‘Dame Fortune’

RJD2Photo by Nick Fancher // Written by Josh Herwitt //

When Ramble Jon Krohn, better known as “RJ” or the beat-making nerd/longtime cratedigger who calls himself RJD2, moved to Philadelphia more than a decade ago, the eclectic producer, DJ and singer-songwriter settled on the City of Brotherly Love for a few reasons.

One was its proximity to New York City, a place he frequently had to visit early in his career while being signed to indie hip-hop label Definitive Jux (“Def Jux”) that was co-founded by El-P, the Brooklyn rapper, producer and entrepreneur now of Run the Jewels fame. Another was its cost-effectiveness, where “real estate was criminally undervalued,” he says.

By this point in time, Krohn, who was born in Eugene, Ore., and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, had already garnered a considerable amount of critical acclaim from his debut LP Deadringer and his 2004 follow-up Since We Last Spoke. Layering soul and R&B samples on top of classic hip-hop beats, his early work bordered on trip-hop, falling in line with what other prominent instrumental hip-hop producers like DJ Shadow were fashioning in the late 90’s.

But what the brains behind the theme song for the hit TV series “Mad Men” hadn’t realized is that the cultural underbelly of Philadelphia’s music scene fit perfectly for the type of music he had already been making before moving there.

“It ended up being an ideal place,” he says over the phone from his home in Columbus, where he moved back to last year after spending the last 10-plus years in Philadelphia.

“Even outside of the music being made there, Philly is an extremely musical city amongst the general population,” the 39-year-old continues.

Krohn returned to Ohio permanently so that he and his wife can raise their son around the rest of their family, but he had made quite a few connections, both business and personal, while living in Philadelphia, helping him lay the foundation for his later albums, including 2010’s The Colossus in 2010 and 2013’s More Is Than Isn’t, that he released on his record label RJ’s Electrical Connections.

One of those friendships that Krohn forged during his time in southeastern Pennsylvania was with Aaron Livingston, the Philly-based vocalist whose contributions on both aforementioned albums would eventually lead to him and Krohn forming a separate side project that they call Icebird (the indie-funk duo unveiled their debut release The Abandoned Lullaby in 2011).

On his sixth RJD2 album Dame Fortune that came out less than two weeks ago, Krohn taps back into that well, as Livingston, who goes by the stage name Son Little, drops some silky-smooth vocals on “We Come Alive”, an R&B-flavored tune with a catchy “diamonds flashing all in my eyes” hook you could even find on one of Gary Clark Jr.’s two most recent albums.

It’s the third straight RJD2 record that Krohn has collaborated with Livingston on, and it’s no secret at this point that the two of them have developed quite a chemistry working together in the studio. But Krohn also enlists the help of some other reoccurring guests on Dame Fortune, including rapper/R&B singer Phonte Coleman and Columbus emcee Blueprint, who RJD2 fans might remember for the hard-hitting rhymes he spits on the Deadringer cut “Final Frontier”.

“So much of it is pursuing curiosity,” Krohn explains about his approach to songwriting, “and curiosity at its core is what you know and what you don’t know — what you have experienced and what you haven’t experienced. The threshold defines one’s curiosity.”

Yet, the track on Dame Fortune that might embody the spirit of Philadelphia better than any other is the album’s first single “Peace of What”, which features vocalist Jordan Brown, who sang on Krohn’s collaborative album with Atlanta-born/Philly-bred rapper STS last year.

“(Philly) has a very working-class, blue-collar spirit to it,” Krohn says. “It really does feel like a fleshed-out city that has a very sophisticated musical history. I feel lucky that I landed there and spent so much time there.”

Part of what makes Philadelphia’s music scene so unique, Krohn says, is that unlike New York and Los Angeles, where young, up-and-coming artists often flock to in hopes of fulfilling their dreams, it breeds mostly homegrown talent.

“Nobody really moves to Philly to make it in the music industry,” he adds bluntly. “That just doesn’t happen.”

Of course, neither did Krohn, who heads off to California this weekend to play back-to-back gigs Friday at Teragram Ballroom in LA and Saturday at The Independent in San Francisco. He’s making sure to do things a little bit differently this time around, whether it’s concocting and constructing this spinning, wireless MPC remote to play onstage or adding sidekicks like bassist Khari Mateen and drummer Chuck Palmer to create the full live-band experience for this tour. There’s even the possibility of a guest vocalist making an appearance at the shows.

Krohn, nevertheless, is quite familiar with Palmer and Mateen, the latter of which he met in Philadelphia while living there. Both are good friends of his and have helped elevate his live show into something more dynamic than his typical solo performances.

“It allows us to do songs and get completely off the grid,” he offers.

While he’s getting off the grid at his gigs, Krohn doesn’t have all that much time these days to get on the grid when it comes to touring. With his family in Columbus, Krohn has had to limit his tours to a select few cities despite knowing full well that he could be playing shows every night of the week. It’s something that Krohn simply says he doesn’t want to be doing with his life right now.

But in an industry ultimately driven more by ticket sales than album streams, taking the road less traveled can seem like a dangerous one, especially for musicians who gained prominence in the CD age like Krohn did. Still, he isn’t worried about making ends meet, telling me at one point that “you just make it work.”

Whether that means producing new music, running his label or devising remixes like the one he did of Tycho’s “Apogee” last year, Krohn’s dedication to his craft remains as blue collar as Philadelphia’s music scene stands today. It just doesn’t allow for a whole lot of time to sleep.

“I’m living proof that the work never stops until your head hits the pillow,” he says.

RJD2 - Dame Fortune

Going inside the mind of a hip-hop hero with Cut Chemist

cut-chemist_postBy Josh Herwitt //

Lucas MacFadden has been collecting vinyl for more than 30 years. That is his job, after all.

The renowned turntablist, who his fans know better as Cut Chemist, has scratched and sampled his way to the top of the DJ world over the past 20 years, thanks in part to his work with Latin funk/hip-hop/rock outfit Ozomatli and 90’s alternative hip-hop pioneers Jurassic 5.

But neither MacFadden nor hip-hop would be anywhere near where they are today without the lifelong contributions of Afrika Bambaataa — and MacFadden would be the first to tell you that himself.

“It was all his vision for an entire culture,” he explained to me one day over the phone last week.

Afrika Bambaataa

That culture, hip-hop, would be characterized by more than just the music it fostered, as graffiti artists and break dancers found their calling during the late 70’s. But with street gangs and drug dealers also holding court in the South Bronx, it was Bambaataa’s hope for a different way of life, a peaceful way of life that transcended both its time and place.

“He was very active in the community in going from gangs to art, gangs to music and having that impact his community,” MacFadden continued on. “The groups that I’ve been involved with throughout my life have done the same thing. It’s no question why I gravitate toward people with those ethics.”

What ultimately lured MacFadden into Bambaataa’s world, though, was the legendary DJ’s fascination with the past and present — from royal space garbs to Native American headdresses — as strange as it may have seemed for a young, white boy first learning about hip-hop culture at the age of 12.

“He represented some other-worldly figure,” MacFadden remembered. “It was a representation of the past and the future in a way where it just seemed like he was in total control of the present. That was something I never experienced before, and I didn’t know how to comprehend that.”

Afrika Bambaataa

Just days after my interview with Cut Chemist, it’s nearly impossible to escape the net that Bambaattaa has cast wide over pop culture as I watch half chef, half television star Anthony Bourdain chat with “The Godfather” on the newest episode of his CNN show “Parts Unknown.” The brief exchange between Bourdain and Bambaattaa reminds me of some of the topics MacFadden and I discussed, including Bambaataa’s appreciation for Kraftwerk (he sampled the group in his 1982 hit “Planet Rock”) at a time when no one else in the U.S. even knew who they were.

“Just to take Kraftwerk and have the foresight to go, ‘You know, that’s a really cool song. I’m going to play that at the park,’” MacFadden said toward the end of our interview. “He brought Kraftwerk to the street. It’s crazy.”

It’s why when New York-based writer Johan Kugelberg first came to Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis) with the idea of putting on a nationwide tour that would feature strictly Bambaataa’s historic archive of more than 40,000 records, the two beat makers didn’t think twice.

“I’ve already taken away more than I could have ever imagined,” MacFadden told me at one point during our conversation, even with more than a handful of shows to go on the 25-date “Renegades of Rhythm” tour that wrapped up October 9th in Vancouver.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist

At the Hollywood Palladium on a Friday night, a crowd of mostly 30-40-year-olds packs the dance floor, soaking up everything that MacFadden and Davis throw its way — whether it’s the Latin, African, Calypso or Soca grooves that Bambaataa once introduced as leader of the famed Universal Zulu Nation — over the course of a 90-plus-minute set.

The performance, which eventually ventured deeper into Bambaataa’s extensive catalog, would serve as an important reminder that hip-hop music and the culture many of us associate with it now has changed quite a bit, for better or worse, since Bambaataa’s heyday. But that doesn’t mean Bambaataa’s impact still can’t be felt to this day.

“I want people to know about Afrika Bambaataa as a person and as a figure that has contributed more to modern music than anybody else I can think of,” MacFadden replied when I ask him what he wanted his fans to take away from the “Renegades of Rhythm” shows.

In all likelihood, there never will be another Afrika Bambaataa. As two of hip-hop’s most prominent DJs today, Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow understand that better than most people.

Yet, in paying the utmost respect to one of music’s greatest living legends over the last six weeks, they have proved to be worthy of at least some of the admiration and praise Bambaataa has warranted for almost 45 years. Because you never know — one day, two other talented DJs may just choose to honor MacFadden and Davis with a tribute tour of their own.

cut-chemist_1

DJ Shadow

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist

DJ Shadow skillfully sets the mood for The Independent’s 10-year anniversary

DJ-Shadow

By Marc Fong //

The Independent’s 10th Anniversary featuring DJ Shadow with Bleep Bloop, Visuals by Ben Stokes //
The Independent – San Francisco
February 22nd, 2014 //

The Independent is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with more than just a birthday party. Instead, it’s throwing one hell of a week-long rager. Allen Stone, John Butler Trio, Beats Antique, Two Gallants, Rebelution and Girl Talk are among the acts taking the stage during The Independent’s anniversary week. And let us not forget trip-hop master, DJ Shadow.

Last Saturday, he took to the decks (“He don’t need no laptop!”) and treated the sold-out house to some of his special brand of magic. Haunting, crisp beats thumped through the crowd while smooth-as-silk mixes blended the new with familiar. Shadow created a cool, dark vibe with thick bass beats and his infamous scratching amongst a stunning light show and wispy fog.

Some of the crowd nodded their cocked heads to the lonely beats with lightheadedness; others gawked in awe at Ben Stoke’s visuals behind the mix-master. Shadow only interrupted the trance-y party to wish The Indy happy anniversary and to thank the crowd. It was a late night, but well worth the wait to see DJ Shadow on stage at The Independent!

WKEND MIXTAPE: DJ Shadow – All Basses Covered

DJ-Shadow---WKEND-MIXTAPE

Bay Area local DJ Shadow is our highlight this week with an expansive mix of music showcasing what some have dubbed as “too future” for the club.

Shadow was playing at Mansion Nightclub in Miami when shortly after starting was asked to end his set (see video below). Much has been written on the incident, so no need rehash this here. What we gained from this is the release of a 90-minute version of his set. I think Shadow sums this up best:

“Beginning in the Summer of 2012 with his Low End Theory guest spots, DJ Shadow’s “All Basses Covered” set has morphed and evolved to incorporate as many different contemporary genres of urban and electronic music as possible. From hardcore rap to footwork and juke and beyond, Shadow has combed the web to curate seamless and dexterous blends of the most progressive sounds bubbling up from the underground. ‘Too hard?’ ‘Too future?’ Or just too raw? As always, DJ Shadow has provoked crucial flashpoints of discussion about the discipline of DJ’ing that have defined our turbulent times.”

For more mixes and music from DJ Shadow check out his Soundcloud page.

Wintersalt Fest brings beats and top electronic talent to SF

Diplo headlined Wintersalt 2012
1. Wintersalt Low 93By Marc Fong //

Eye Heart SF curated Wintersalt on December 28th & 29th, a two day DJ-driven festival that took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

The event showcased some of the best electronic acts, such as Diplo, DJ Shadow and Mixmaster Mike, along with fast-rising stars Zedd, St. Lucia, Dillon Francis and Paper Diamond.

1.2 Wintersalt Low 95

1.1 Wintersalt Low 88

1.3 Wintersalt-Low-96

1.4 Wintersalt Low 91

0.1 Wintersalt Low 75

Zedd headlined night one of Wintersalt
3. Wintersalt Low 34

3.1 Wintersalt Low 32

3.2 Wintersalt Low 36

3.3 Wintersalt Low 30

Travis Barker & Mixmaster Mike joined forces
2. Wintersalt Low 9

2.1 Wintersalt Low 27

2.2 Wintersalt Low 4

2.3 Wintersalt Low 17

2.4 Wintersalt Low 3

2.5 Wintersalt Low 19

0. Wintersalt Low 1

DJ Shadow played his future shit, and collaborated with Lyrics Born & Lateef.
4. Wintersalt Low 77

4.1 Wintersalt Low 84

4.2 Wintersalt Low 72

4.3 Wintersalt Low 82

4.4 Wintersalt Low 71

Theophilus London delivered delicious rhymes over phat beats.
5. Wintersalt Low 67

5.1 Wintersalt Low 69

5.2 Wintersalt Low 60

5.3 Wintersalt Low 61

0.2 Wintersalt Low 74

Emcee k.flay had no problem getting the crowd moving.
6. Wintersalt Low 39

6.1 Wintersalt Low 42

6.2 Wintersalt Low 38

6.3 Wintersalt Low 41

St. Lucia showed why they are one of the best new groups from 2012.
7. Wintersalt Low 56

7.1 Wintersalt Low 46

7.2 Wintersalt Low 55

7.3 Wintersalt Low 47

WKEND MIXTAPE: Cut Chemist – American Pie: Fall Backwards

Cut Chemist

Los Angeles native Cut Chemist brings us this week’s mix with a deep blend of psych folk and rock selections. Created last fall to give thanks to the harvest of music that was recorded in this country, you’ll find an hour of music perfect for the season.

Cut Chemist is a founding member of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. He is also a co-creator of Brainfreeze with DJ Shadow.

For more mixes from Cut Chemist check out his Soundcloud page.