After 16 years, Smokin Grooves Fest makes its long-awaited return & blazes a new trail in Long Beach

Smokin Grooves Fest 2018 - NxWorries


Anderson .Paak of NxWorries

Photos by Joseph Gray & Natalie Somekh // Written by Joseph Gray //

Smokin Grooves Fest //
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA
June 16th, 2018 //

We are in the heart of festival season. This is a time of the year for music lovers that’s often synonymous with multiple days of unforgiving heat, dusty campgrounds and some young adults who are readily anxious for a mosh pit. The long food-truck lines and heart-shaped sunglasses, polka dots, ripped denim and tie-dyed garments that have become staples at a large majority of music festivals — particularly during the summer months — were present, but Smokin Grooves Fest offered a welcome alternative. And based on its history, Southern California concert promoter Goldenvoice wouldn’t have had it any other way.

For one day only, a sold-out crew enjoyed moderate temperatures at the overcast waterfront adjacent to the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach for Smokin Grooves’ long-awaited return. The event, which last took place 16 years ago, pushed hip-hop, R&B and soul to the forefront of popular music at the time by booking The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill and a whole lot more when Lollapalooza and other rock-focused festivals weren’t showing them the same kind of love.

The crowd, relaxed with a peaceful aura but also energized, mirrored much of the lineup, which showcased veterans such as Erykah Badu, The Roots and Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) among buzzing newcomers like H.E.R., Smino, THEY. and Arin Ray across the 38-act bill.

I fall somewhere in the middle between those two age groups, so it was fitting that the uber-talented rapper/singer/drummer Anderson .Paak had just walked onto the “Free Your Mind” main stage when I showed up. .Paak, 32, wore a smile as expressive as his music, packaged with a bright nautical-themed ensemble. He effortlessly impressed with standouts “Suede”, “Another Time” and “What More Can I Say” off Yes Lawd!, his 2016 LP with Los Angeles hip-hop producer Knxwledge as part of their collaborative project NxWorries (pronounced “No Worries”). The duo’s set would eventually culminate in a playful dance-off between women, which fans showed their appreciation for before .Paak and Knxwledge said their goodbyes.

Many attendees went back and forth from the main stage to the two other aptly named stages — “Smokin'” and “Groovin'” — via an elevated overpass, where we overheard several praising the Brooklyn troop Phony Ppl for their soulfully funky grooves.

Smokin Grooves Fest 2018 - Miguel


Miguel

However, anticipation for The Roots kept me at the main stage. It proved to be a wise decision, as their nearly hour-long performance reminded me why the Grammy-winning band is still so revered after more than three decades. Black Thought got the crowd riled up with a 10-minute barrage of lyrical proficiency that so many have come to know as his “Hot 97 Freestyle” after it hit the internet in December and quickly went viral, while his bandmates exuberantly jumped with sousaphones and guitars during “You Got Me” and a number of other hits. But providing a jolt like he only can, the one and only Busta Rhymes showed up for a quick-but-memorable performance of “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” and “Pass the Courvoisier, Part II”.

The concert, nevertheless, was not without its faults, as some complained about the sound quality during various times, but neglecting hometown artists certainly wasn’t one of them.

Not long after the buzz around Thundercat’s bass-guitar skills subsided, fellow LA-area acts Jhené Aiko and Miguel were greeted with admiration. Aiko, for one, entertained fans behind flowers, acoustics and enchanting vocals with occasional curse words. Miguel, who proudly reminded us that he was from nearby San Pedro and Inglewood, kept the momentum, along with his fringed microphone stand, moving by performing several crowd-pleasers like “How Many Drinks?”, “Sure Thing” and “Come Through and Chill”, among others.

The event’s headliner was Erykah Badu, who performed during the tour’s second edition in 1997 and looked like she hasn’t missed a beat since. Playing a drum machine between songs while weaving some classic hip-hop instrumentals — one of which was Mobb Deep’s “Shook (Part II)” — into her set, the neo-soul queen dazzled with her seductive, incredible voice and responsive wit for an hour-long class on “How to Deliver a Full-on Show.”

Several journalists and photographers, myself included, mentioned at various times the need to leave early to avoid the traffic on the way. But Badu and others made liars out of us, and we couldn’t have been happier in the end.

FYF Fest cancels 2018 edition in stunning move

FYF Fest 2018

FYF Fest //
Exposition Park – Los Angeles
July 21st-22nd, 2018 //

In some stunning news on a Sunday, Goldenvoice has announced that the 2018 edition of FYF Fest has been canceled.

Just five weeks after revealing a female-focused lineup that saw Florence + The Machine and Janet Jackson booked as headliners, the renowned Southern California concert promoter has shockingly pulled the plug on the longtime LA music festival, explaining via its social media channels that organizers were “unable to present an experience on par with the expectations of our loyal fans and the Los Angeles music community this year.”

After expanding to three days last year, FYF was scaling back to two for its 15th installment this July, but as Billboard first reported, low ticket sales forced “the difficult decision” to be made with more than two months to go.

However, former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, who was set to perform at FYF this year with his band The Jicks, put the blame squarely on himself and other artists, citing the need for better songwriting.

Whether you agree with Malkmus or not (or you’re just bummed to hear about the shutdown like us), uncertainty surrounded FYF’s 2018 return after the festival quickly became mired in controversy when sexual misconduct allegations involving its original founder Sean Carlson surfaced in November. And even though Goldenvoice had already bought out Carlson’s stake to acquire sole ownership of the event and had veteran booking agent Jennifer Yacoubian in charge of securing talent, it wasn’t enough in the end to entice fans to shell out $249 for a GA weekend pass (or a whopping $549 for VIP). If you did buy one, fear not — ticket holders will receive full refunds over the next few days, so you’ll get your money back soon.

The news, however, raises bigger questions about the future of music festivals in the U.S. as the marketplace becomes more competitive and oversaturated. Because now that FYF’s own future is looking rather bleak, there’s really no telling where the industry goes from here.

FYF Fest - 2018 lineup

Our 5 favorite moments from Coachella 2018

Coachella 2018 - EthereaPhotos courtesy of Coachella & Goldenvoice // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th, 2018 //

When Coachella dropped its 2018 lineup in the first week of January as it usually does every year now, there was a common perception among many veteran attendees that the Southern California music and arts festival’s latest roster was further proof of it trending in what some might call a more “mainstream” direction.

But signs of such really began more than a year ago, when Coachella revealed its 2017 lineup that saw Radiohead, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar atop the bill. It was the first time in nearly two decades that Goldenvoice had booked a pop star to headline the three-day, two-weekend event, and the renowned concert promoter’s commitment to the genre was cemented when it replaced Beyoncé with Lady Gaga just a few days after Queen Bey announced her pregnancy, forcing the 22-time Grammy winner to postpone her appearance until this April and marking the only instance to date when Coachella has confirmed a headliner in advance of its annual lineup announcement. Because when Beyoncé agrees to play your fest, you make exceptions for the Beyhive of course.

For longtime Coachellans such as ourselves though, the inclusion of a pop star for a second consecutive year wasn’t the only indicator that the festival’s curation process has started to evolve. In particular, a noticeable move away from EDM and an added emphasis placed on popular hip-hop acts like Post Malone, Migos, Cardi B and French Montana also signaled a change from past editions. That kind of music certainly isn’t the reason why we drive out to the desert each spring, but as is always the case, there are plenty of other artists and bands for us to discover and enjoy over three days in Indio.

In returning to Coachella for its first weekend, our ninth straight year at the Empire Polo Club was chock full of highlights. While we don’t have time to revisit all of them in this space, here are our five favorite moments — ordered chronologically — from 2018 (and no, Beyoncé, for as “inspiring” and “spectacular” as her performance was for many, didn’t make the cut).


Coachella 2018 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Weeks before The War on Drugs released their fourth LP A Deeper Understanding last year, we were fortunate enough to hear Adam Granduciel and company perform a handful of cuts from the new album in an intimate setting for KCRW. It was then and there that we knew the follow-up to 2014’s Lost in a Dream was another masterpiece, and that impression was only validated when A Deeper Understanding won the Grammy for “Best Rock Album” just a few months ago. On Day 1 of Coachella, the Philadelphia band brought some of those same songs we witnessed at Apogee Studio to life, though sadly, this time “Holding On” wasn’t part of the setlist. But we did get to experience “An Ocean in Between the Waves” in all of its glory, and we still have yet to come across another piece of music in more recent years that will make you want to play air guitar as much as the seven-minute track from Lost in a Dream does. Who said rock was dead?


Coachella 2018 - Soulwax

Soulwax

David Dewaele and Stephen Dewaele have drawn quite a bit of fanfare from the dance music community thanks to their successful side project 2manydjs, but the two brothers first broke ground when they put out Soulwax’s sophomore LP Much Against Everyone’s Advice back in 1998. The Belgian electronic outfit returned last March with its first album in nearly 12 years, and since 2016, it has been touring all over the world as the “Soulwax Transient Program for Drums and Machinery” with a lineup that consists of three drummers: Victoria Smith, Blake Davies and Igor Cavalera (formerly of Brazilian heavy metal group Sepultura). And while we remember being captivated by Soulwax’s performance at the 2010 version of HARD Summer, their Friday night set in the Mojave Tent was one for the ages. Showcasing tracks from 2017’s From Deewee and the rest of their catalog, Soulwax had the crowd pogoing up and down for the entire hour they were onstage. If one thing’s for sure, these guys still know how to bring the heat.


Coachella 2018 - Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai

Thirteen years. That’s how long it has been since Jamiroquai last performed in the U.S. With that in mind, there was no way we were going to miss Jay Kay and the rest of his sidekicks in favor of The Weeknd’s headlining performance (sorry, Abel), and after what ended up being close to a 90-minute set from the London nu-funk/acid jazz group, we had no regrets about our decision. The only regret we have is that they ran out of time and didn’t get to play their smash hit “Virtual Insanity” in its entirety, and you could tell Jay Kay felt bad about it as he jumped down from the stage to greet some overjoyed fans after wrapping the show up with “Love Foolosophy” from 2001’s A Funk Odyssey. But while Weekend 2 attendees got the full version of the Travelling Without Moving single, we were treated to a massive surprise when Snoop Dogg came out to rap on “Dr. Buzz” with a huge blunt in his hand. It was the kind of collaboration you never expect to see, except at Coachella of all places.


Coachella 2018 - David Byrne

David Byrne

One of the biggest eye-openers when Coachella’s 2018 lineup first hit the internet was seeing David Byrne listed on the festival’s iconic poster. The legendary Talking Heads frontman has been touring in support of his recently released solo album American Utopia, but at an event that’s made up of mostly 20-somethings, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer almost seemed out of place with younger artists like MØ, Alina Baraz and BROCKHAMPTON performing around the same time on Day 2. In fact, with this being my first time watching the 65-year-old do his thing, the whole experience felt somewhat surreal. After all, I still remember a friend putting on “Stop Making Sense” in high school and wondering what the hell I was watching. Byrne’s set at Coachella may not have been as bizarre as Jonathan Demme’s 1984 concert film, but it definitely had its moments, like when he walked out with a prosthetic brain at the onset and proceeded to call us “people of the desert.” Frankly, I’m still giddy that I actually got to hear “Slippery People”, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”, “Once in a Lifetime” and lastly “Burning Down the House” all in an hour’s worth of time.


Coachella 2018 - Eminem

Eminem

While we can’t say that we were completely thrilled with Goldenvoice’s choices for this year’s headliners, we were excited to see Eminem finally play Coachella (he had never performed in an official capacity before) and close out the festival on Sunday night. Sure, his newest album Revival didn’t exactly receive rave reviews from critics when it dropped at the end of 2017, but watching one of hip-hop’s most talented emcees run through his hits all while bringing out 50 Cent and Dr. Dre was undoubtedly THE highlight from Day 3. For this “stan,” just crossing Em off my concert bucket list would have been enough to send me home with a smile. Fortunately for those of us who were there though, the real Slim Shady lived up to the hype and more.


Coachella 2018 - SUPERNOVA

FYF Fest moves back to two days with Florence + The Machine, Janet Jackson headlining in 2018

FYF Fest - 2018 lineup

FYF Fest //
Exposition Park – Los Angeles
July 21st-22nd, 2018 //

After expanding to three days for the first time last summer and facing a widely publicized sexual misconduct scandal involving its original founder Sean Carlson just several months ago, FYF Fest has made its 2018 return official with another buzzworthy lineup.

But FYF’s announcement for its 15th edition doesn’t come without some noteworthy changes. The LA festival, for one, is moving back to two days this July, and with longtime Goldenvoice booking agent Jennifer Yacoubian now in charge of securing talent, it’s going in a somewhat different direction with this year’s roster.

In fact, Goldenvoice, which teamed up with Carlson as FYF co-promoters in 2011 and are currently the event’s sole owners, has taken some heat in recent years for its festival bills lacking female artists, and it appears Paul Tollett and company have gotten the message pretty loud and clear by billing Florence + the Machine and Janet Jackson as headliners.

Although last year’s installment of FYF had a good amount of female representation between Missy Elliott, Björk, Erykah Badu, Solange, Angel Olsen, Kehlani and some others, it seems as if Goldenvoice has made even more of a point to continue that trend in 2018, marking the first performance at the festival for either headliner and Jackson’s only scheduled show in LA as of right now.

Meanwhile, FYF has some other major gets to hang its hat on, including My Bloody Valentine, who will be playing their only West Coast date of the year, as well as the debuts of Future, The xx, St. Vincent, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kali Uchis. Of course, many fans of the festival will also be excited to see another crowd favorite listed on the lineup in The Breeders, while other names that are worth noting include Amber Mark, Car Seat Headrest, Daniel Caesar, Daphni, Destroyer, Glassjaw, Mount Kimbie, Nils Frahm, Protomartyr, Rhye, serpentwithfeet, Skepta, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Sudan Archives, The Internet, U.S. Girls and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

FYF will be back at Exposition Park for a fifth straight year despite our hopes that it would return to LA State Historic Park following a three-year, $20-million renovation project that saw it reopen last April and host KCRW’s inaugural Skyline festival (read our review here). Alas, that unfortunately won’t be the case as festivalgoers will have to endure Expo Park’s unforgiving landscape of mostly asphalt and concrete (we just wish there was more green grass to roam — that’s all).

Weekend passes to FYF will be sold for $249, with single-day passes also available for $149 and weekend VIP passes available for $549. Tickets can be purchased starting next Friday, April 6th at 12 p.m. here. American Express Card Members will be able to purchase passes before the general public has a chance to, beginning Tuesday, April 3rd at 10 a.m. through Thursday, April 5th at 10 p.m. PT.

Ready for the “best weekend of summer” to return? Check out our past FYF coverage here.

FYF Fest 2018

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

Our 5 favorite moments from Coachella 2017

Coachella 2017 - palm treesPhotos courtesy of Coachella // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 14th-16th, 2017 //

It’s hard to believe what Coachella has become in just the eight years since I started making the drive from Los Angeles to Indio each April. At that point, Goldenvoice President and CEO Paul Tollett’s baby was already 10 years old and one of the biggest live music productions in the world. But the West Coast’s oldest music festival has changed a lot in that time, although it hasn’t always been for the better — and its 18th edition was no exception.

The most obvious change this year was the crowd size. With the capacity skyrocketing from 99,000 to 125,000, the number of people occupying the polo field by the time the sun started sinking behind the San Jacinto Mountains felt noticeably bigger. And while the grounds were expanded, it clearly wasn’t enough to make up for a 25-percent jump in attendance. We get it, Goldenvoice — there’s more money to be made given the size of such a space, but at what cost does it have to come at? This year for the first time, the festival stood at the center of a phone-stealing crime scandal that saw one man steal more than 100 smartphones during Weekend 1. That’s the kind of news that no concert promoter big or small wants to be associated with.

Coachella, after all, produces some of the harshest critics when it comes to any music festival out there. From the rise of social media to the celebrity culture that the event fosters due to its proximity to Hollywood, Coachella has become more than just the world’s most popular — or at least the most hyped — music festival. Simply put, it’s now its own brand. Attach the word “Coachella” to any product line, and your chances of it selling are that much better (ask H&M if you don’t believe me).

But while Coachella often gets a bad rep for its overabundance of shirtless bros and teenage girls glued to their iPhones, it still delivers some of the best moments in live music year after year. So, after returning to the Empire Polo Club for the festival’s first weekend and catching as many sets as humanly possible, here are our five highlights — ordered chronologically — from 2017 (spoiler alert: Lady Gaga wasn’t one of them).


Coachella 2017 - The xx

The xx

It’s amazing to think how far The xx have come since we saw them first play Coachella back in 2010. The London trio has released two LPs in that time, including this year’s I See You, which is unquestionably one of our favorite albums of 2017 so far. Serving as an excellent opener for Radiohead, their performance on the main stage was heartfelt and downright emotional, with the massive crowd eating up every word that came out of Romy’s and Oliver’s mouth. Don’t be surprised if you see them tabbed as a headliner in the future. We know how Tollett likes to put British bands (i.e. Radiohead, Muse, The Stone Roses, Blur, Gorillaz) at the top of the bill, too.


Coachella 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Yes, the sound problems (all three instances) put a real damper on what was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. This was the third time Goldenvoice called on Radiohead to headline Coachella, and for one of rock’s most important bands over the last 30 years, it certainly wasn’t a charm as the saying goes. In that moment, it was pretty hard not to feel bad for Thom Yorke, who could only make light of the situation by cracking a joke even if it wasn’t supposed to be one — or so he claimed. But Radiohead more than made up for it with a masterful setlist that opened with A Moon Shaped Pool cuts “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk” and “Ful Stop” before circling back to older hits such as “Everything in Its Right Place”, “There There”, “Idioteque” and even “Creep”. And the ensuing five-song encore, punctuated by OK Computer singles “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police” (with the crowd singing the song’s final lyrics in unison as they walked off stage, which delivered chills down the spine), only provided further validation for making the trip out to the desert this year.


Coachella 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

The Saturday lineup this year felt like one of the weaker rosters in recent memory, but one of the best sets we witnessed all weekend was Moderat’s inside the Mojave Tent as day turned to night. Last year, we caught the Berlin supergroup’s captivating performance at Lightning in a Bottle (read our festival review here), and we feel confident in saying this one was even better. At a time when it has become increasingly difficult for electronic acts to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, there’s something about Sascha Ring’s voice, paired with the dark, yet undeniably catchy production work from Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, that makes Moderat stand out. Whether it was their remix of Jon Hopkins’ “Abandon Window” or a closing sequence that featured “Reminder” into “Bad Kingdom”, these guys never manage to disappoint.


Coachella 2017 - Justice

Justice

One of the best electronic sets we’ve had the pleasure of seeing on the main stage at Coachella came from Justice in 2012. The French duo remain pretty much in a class of its own these days considering the lack of nu-disco acts in today’s music industry. Justice’s third and most recent LP Woman, which they released in November to less fanfare than what their other two records received, boasted four singles, and they made sure to indulge us during their Sunday evening slot on the expanded Outdoor Theatre. Yet, it’s the mash-ups of various Justice tracks — from “D.A.N.C.E.” to “Civilization” — Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay create for their live show that makes them such an unpredictably fun dance act time and time again.


Coachella 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

All hail, King Kendrick! Or should we say “Kung Fu Kenny?” The Compton rapper reached hip-hop’s mountaintop more than two years ago with his Grammy-winning masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, but headlining Coachella was still on his to-do list. In fact, it was only the second time he had ever been booked to perform at Coachella after being listed on the last line of the 2012 poster. Closing out the fest is no short order for any artist, let alone one who dropped his new album less than 48 hours before taking the stage, but K-Dot lived up to the billing with a show that provoked as much thought as it entertained. “Levitating” onstage, trading lines with Future, ScHoolboy Q and Travis Scott (all of whom performed separately during Coachella) and running through the hits, Kendrick reminded us that the rap throne belongs to him and only him right now.


Coachella 2017 - ferris wheel

Arroyo Seco Weekend drops inaugural lineup led by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Mumford & Sons

Arroyo Seco Weekend

Arroyo Seco Weekend //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
June 24th-25th, 2017 //

For the past few years, there’s been talk about the city of Pasadena hosting a multi-day music festival near the historic Rose Bowl. Shaun White’s snowboard/music festival Air + Style was the first to give it a shot (read our review here) back in 2015, but after experiencing some noise issues, it moved to downtown LA the following year and has continued to call Exposition Park its home.

Now, those rumors have become a reality with Goldenvoice announcing the inaugural lineup for Arroyo Seco Weekend. Coming to “the shady oaks and parkland” of Brookside at the Rose Bowl in late June, the two-day festival will feature three stages of live music with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons topping the bill. But maybe even more impressive is the undercard, which includes Alabama Shakes, Weezer, The Meters, The Shins, Dawes, Fitz & the Tantrums, Live, Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Galactic and more. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

In addition to all the live music, there will be curated menus from LA’s celebrated restaurants and chefs, including Union’s Bruce Kalman, Sweetfin Poke’s Dakota Weiss, Rose Cafe’s Jason Neroni, Broken Spanish’s Ray Garcia, Sotto’s Steve Samson and République’s Walter Matzke. Free day parking and a bike valet will be available for festivalgoers, and those looking to take public transit to the festival will have easy access to the Metro Gold Line.

Weekend passes and single-day tickets can be purchased here for $225 and $125, respectively, starting this Monday, March 20th at 11 a.m. PT. VIP passes will also be sold at a price of $399 and $225, with weekend preferred parking available for $50.

Brookside Golf & Country Club

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

Goldenvoice announces 2016 Coachella sideshows

Coachella 2016 sideshows

Each and every April, Goldenvoice puts on a number of sideshows all around Southern California in support of the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

2016 will be no different, and the renowned concert promoter has unveiled its list of shows that will take place at various venues in and out of the greater Los Angeles area, one of which includes the rustic, Westernized Pappy & Harriet’s in little-ole Pioneertown near Joshua Tree.

The sideshows will kick off on Friday, March 25th in LA at the El Rey Theatre, where London electronic music producer Sophie will take the stage, and will continue through Monday, April 25th with Years & Years headlining The Fonda Theatre. In between those, Goldenvoice will welcome performances by Goldroom, Courtney Barnett, Silversun Pickups (with Foals), Mbongwana Star, Bob Moses, Savages, AlunaGeorge, The Kills (with The Big Pink), Skepta, Rhye (with Ibeyi), AlunaGeorge, M83, The Arcs, Rancid, The 1975, James Bay, Beach House, Museum of Love, Christine and the Queens, Death Grips, Miike Snow, The Heavy, The Front Bottoms, The Last Shadow Puppets, Deerhunter (with Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Matt & Kim, Of Monsters and Men, Lapsley, St. Germain, Ex Hex, Snakehips, Grimes, The Damned, Nosaj Thing, BADBADNOTGOOD, Parov Stelar and more. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

As in past years, these sideshows will extend outside of LA’s city limits, with The Glass House and The Fox Theater in Pomona once again playing host to quite a few of them in addition to the aforementioned Pappy & Harriet’s. April 14th’s pairing of Silversun Pickups and Foals on the night before Coachella Weekend 1, for example, looks particularly appealing, while The Kills’ April 18th date at the Mayan Theater with The Big Pink and LA Witch stands out as one of our other must-see shows on Goldenvoice’s lineup. Of course, there’s also Miike Snow at The Fonda Theatre on April 20th and BADBADNOTGOOD, one of our favorites from FYF Fest (read our review here) last year, hitting The Roxy Theatre on April 22nd. Much like Coachella and its own lineup, there’s a lot to choose from here, though that’s not exactly a bad problem to have if you’re a live music fan in Southern California.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, January 29th at Noon PT or next Friday, February 5th at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice

Coachella organizers launch new NYC music festival

Coachella 2015

Around this time last week, Coachella unveiled its 2016 lineup, instantly sending shockwaves across the Internet by officially confirming the reunions of both LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses.

Just a week later, and the music festival’s organizers at Goldenvoice have dropped some more headline-worthy news on a Monday night, though this time it doesn’t involve Coachella.

Instead, the Los Angeles-based events and promotions company is taking its festival game to the East Coast, where it will host Panorama from July 22nd-24th in New York City.

The three-day music festival will bring “music, art, technology and local food offerings” to Randall’s Island Park, the same location where Governor’s Ball will also be held seven weeks earlier on June 3rd-5th. It’s a bold decision on Goldenvoice’s part, knowing that the Big Apple already has one well-established summer music festival, but a petition from the organizers at Governor’s Ball wasn’t enough to block Panorama from getting off the ground.

“We look forward to bringing Panorama to New York City and introducing a new festival that showcases today’s top music acts,” Goldenvoice’s Mark Shulman said in a statement. “We’re committed to creating an event that will provide significant benefits to New York City with the level of experience and meticulous attention to detail for which Goldenvoice is known.”

Goldenvoice also said that in addition to launching Panorama this July, it plans to continue working on bringing a music festival to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens someday.

While Governor’s Ball boasts Kanye West, The Strokes and The Killers as headliners (not to mention Beck, whom Yeezy had some interesting words for after last year’s Grammys) in its sixth year this June, it’s hard to imagine it being able hold its own in the long run against a Goldenvoice-run event like Panorama.

Shulman says that “Goldenvoice has received tremendous support from the local community and elected officials,” so we’ll see if two, and potentially three, summer music festivals in the greater NYC area can co-exist over time. As we saw in Southern California last year, there may be a limit to how many music festivals are actually sustainable in one of the country’s biggest music markets, much like EDM promoter SFX experienced with One Tribe Festival.

Goldenvoice

Neon Indian debut new material at SF’s newest venue Social Hall

Neon IndianBy Justin Yee //

Neon Indian //
Social Hall SF – San Francisco
September 23rd, 2015 //

In what was the second show of a two-night run at SF’s newest concert venue Social Hall, electronic four-piece Neon Indian stuck with new material from their forthcoming album VEGA INTL. Night School with a few fan favorites thrown in for good measure. The new record, which is out October 16th via Mom + Pop Music, is Mexico-born frontman Alan Palomo’s first release since Era Extraña came out in 2011.

I was excited to finally see the band live, not to mention check out what the Social Hall had to offer. This “new” venue, which resides on the lower level of The Regency Ballroom — Mac Miller was actually performing upstairs — isn’t actually new to hosting concerts. I caught a STRFKR and Will Call show at this same spot when it was called The Lodge in 2012, so this feels like more of a re-branding than a grand opening.

Neon Indian

Though I can’t speak to how the first sold-out show was the prior night, my expectations for both the band and venue were not met. I was a little salty when I found out that I purchased a $30 ticket off Ticketmaster, only to find out people got in for free through a sponsorship by upstart music app Jukely. I had never heard of this app before, but I would have loved to put that money toward the overpriced drinks I was consuming. The drinks did little to help the muffled sound that was bleeding through the speakers, as I struggled to recognize which songs the band transitioned into without them saying “this song’s called …” before beginning to play. I couldn’t tell if it was the band or the venue’s sound system and its acoustics that were to blame, but I’d give Neon Indian the benefit of the doubt.

The stage setup itself gave off a high school gym vibe that was highlighted by the primarily young, all-ages crowd — the type of crowd that was yelling for the band to play their hit single “Polish Girl” a quarter of the way into their set and was not all that happy I was taking photos with my camera. As expected, the crowd got the rowdiest for “Deadbeat Summer” and “Polish Girl”, which the band played back to back to close out their set and begin their two-song encore. I grabbed a spot near the back left to see the failed crowd-surfing attempts, and a girl dancing on top of a guy’s shoulders. It was easy to maneuver around the venue, which seemed half full, but it was difficult to catch a glimpse of the band due to the low stage.

Neon Indian

It will be interesting to see what Goldenvoice is able to do with Social Hall as it tries to attract shows that are on a slightly lower scale in size than The Regency Ballroom. Due to the venue’s underground feel that you get from its low ceilings, I think a DJ or EDM act would be a good fit, turning the place into a “Rave Cave” of sorts. Social Hall will have to compete with the likes of Mezzanine, which is tough to beat, but it’s always nice to have another option in SF.

Setlist:
Dear Skorpio Magazine
Annie
The Glitzy Hive
Terminally Chill
Street Level
61 Cygny Ave
C’est La Vie (Say the Casualties!)
Mind, Drips
Slumlord
Slumlord’s Re-lease
Baby’s Eyes
Deadbeat Summer

Encore:
Polish Girl
News From the Sun

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

Skipping FYF Fest? You can still see all these shows

2015 FYF sideshows

FYF Fest returns to the LA Sports Arena and Exposition Park this August for its 12th edition with an amalgam of trending indie in tow. It’s also one of our eight music festivals taking place in California that you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015.

But if you’re not keen on catching headliners Frank Ocean and Morrissey yet still want to see sub headliners like Bloc Party or The Jesus and Mary Chain without shelling out $175 for a two-day GA pass (single-day passes have already sold out, by the way), well then, you’re in a bit of luck.

FYF and Goldenvoice have announced a series of sideshows around the festival’s August 22nd-23rd dates, which include performances by Toronto experimental hip-hop/post-bop trio BADBADNOTGOOD, Northeastern legendary alt-rockers Dinosaur Jr. and even NorCal industrial hip-hop group Death Grips, who, if you can remember, broke up not all that long ago, reneging on an opportunity to tour with 90’s rock heavyweights Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden last summer.

The sideshows start later this month, with LA’s own HEALTH kicking things off at The Echo before London-based post-punk revival band Savages finish the run off with a headlining gig at The Roxy on August 26th. It’s worth noting, however, that none of the sideshows will take place over the weekend of FYF, much like what Goldenvoice does in April by booking high-profile shows in and around Coachella’s two weekends.

Tickets for the sideshows go on sale at FYFpresents.com this Friday, July 10th at 10 a.m.


Here is the schedule for the festival’s upcoming sideshows with links to purchase tickets:

July 24th: HEALTH at The Echo // BUY TICKETS

August 19th: The Jesus and Mary Chain with A Place to Bury Strangers at The Fonda Theatre // BUY TICKETS

August 19th: Bloc Party at Glasshouse // BUY TICKETS

August 20th: The Jesus and Mary Chain with A Place to Bury Strangers at The Fonda Theatre // BUY TICKETS

August 20th: Bloc Party at The Roxy Theatre // BUY TICKETS

August 20th: METZ at The Echo // BUY TICKETS

August 21st: BadBadNotGood with Show Me the Body at The Regent Theater // BUY TICKETS

August 21st: NAILS at Echoplex // BUY TICKETS

August 21st: The Drums with Froth at Glasshouse // BUY TICKETS

August 21st: Lower Dens with Empress Of at The Echo // BUY TICKETS

August 21st: Dinosaur Jr. at The Roxy Theatre // BUY TICKETS

August 25th: Death Grips at Glasshouse // BUY TICKETS

August 26th: Savages at The Roxy Theatre // BUY TICKETS

August 26th: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard at The Echo // BUY TICKETS

2015 FYF Fest lineup

CRSSD makes a big splash in debut as 2015 festival season heats up

CRSSD FestivalBy Josh Herwitt //

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
March 14th-15th, 2015 //

Music festivals rarely ever run smoothly in their inaugural year. Whether they are poorly timed, disorganized or just not well thought-out, first-time festivals often have their fair share of problems.

But Southern California-based event promoters Goldenvoice and FNGRS CRSSD are quickly changing the game after putting on a nearly flawless first edition of CRSSD Festival at San Diego’s Waterfront Park last weekend.

Bridging the gap between the EDM and alternative electronic worlds much like HARD Events founder and CEO Gary Richards has done with his own festival series, the two-day, 21-and-over event initially caught fans’ eyes with electro-rock bands like Empire of the Sun and Chromeo topping an impressive, dance-oriented bill that also included ODESZA, Flight Facilities, Hot Natured, Classixx, Maceo Plex, Justin Martin, Lee Burridge and Pete Tong.

Then, a month later, CRSSD organizers drew even more attention to the festival when they announced Phase II of the lineup, adding James Murphy, Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons and Trippy Turtle to an already stacked list of performers.

And with temperatures hitting the high 80’s on both Saturday and Sunday, CRSSD Festival couldn’t have served as a better warm-up (no pun intended) for Coachella, which, by the way, is only three weeks away.

Here are our awards from the first-ever CRSSD Festival.


CRSSD Festival - Empire of the Sun

Most Epic Set: Empire of the Sun

The Aussie glam-pop giant has been headlining festivals for a while now and continues to do so in epic fashion. Empire of the Sun’s live performance is as much of a spectacle as it is a psychedelic dance party, and when they intertwine the two so fluidly as they did to close out the first day of festivities at CRSSD, they’re able to leave lasting memories for both new and old fans.


CRSSD Festival - Chromeo

Biggest Dance Party: Chromeo

These two childhood friends from Montreal have been igniting dance parties all over the world since dropping their 2004 debut She’s in Control, and while their synthpop sound hasn’t necessarily evolved leaps and bounds over the last decade, they still know how to get a crowd moving, whatever the occasion may be. With the weekend winding down, you could find plenty of festivalgoers all over the grounds grooving to Chromeo’s signature brand of disco funk. We even saw people dancing on their way to the porta potties!


CRSSD Festival - Classixx

Most Uplifting Set: Classixx

As we found out at Treasure Island Music Festival last fall, LA electronic duo Classixx have come a long way since their early days remixing artists like Phoenix, Mayer Hawthorne and Holy Ghost! Scheduled to play the always-important post-sunset set on the Ocean View Live stage, they stepped up to the challenge and delivered one of the most awe-inspiring shows of the weekend. With their wide range of influences, the sky — especially when it’s tinged orange, red and blue — appears to be the limit for these two beatmakers.


CRSSD Festival - Lido

Biggest Surprise: Lido

Quite frankly, we didn’t know anything about Norwegian producer Lido (aka 22-year-old Peder Losnegård) prior to his 4:30 p.m. set on Sunday. Well, maybe we should have. After watching him drop remixes of Bill Withers, The Weeknd and alt-j all while maneuvering between keyboards, electronic drums and a variety of programming equipment, we were thoroughly impressed with this young stud’s skills. Oh, and his pipes aren’t shabby either.


CRSSD Festival - ODESZA

Best Stage Visuals: ODESZA

The Seattle production duo has been on fire of late, and its Sunday night set was easily one of the most anticipated of the weekend thanks to the release of its second full-length album In Return this past September. While “Say My Name” has taken the airwaves by storm over the last few months, it was their stage visuals that really stood out. Artistic and abstract at the same time, you couldn’t help but stare at the huge LED screen directly behind Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight as they worked their magic on us.


CRSSD Festival - Robert DeLong

Most Enthusiastic Performance: Robert DeLong

Is there a more entertaining live performer in dance music right now than Robert DeLong? Whether he’s singing or banging away ferociously on the drums (his stage setup includes both acoustic and electronic), the 29-year-old Washington state native is one of the most animated acts in electronic music. Fusing house, moombahton and a handful of other EDM sub-genres into his Sunday afternoon slot, he showed an enthusiasm unparalleled to any other artist on the CRSSD lineup.


CRSSD Festival - Flight Facilities

Best Guest Performance: Flight Facilities

Since their inception in 2009, Australian production duo Flight Facilities have continued to soar by dropping new singles year after year. Exceeding all expectations at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco during Noise Pop 2015, they arrived at CRSSD on Sunday night and didn’t disappoint, employing guest vocalists like Brooke Addamo (aka Owl Eyes) to engage the crowd and supplement their disco-house grooves.


CRSSD Festival - STRFKR

Most Under-Appreciated Set: STRFKR

Portland electronic quartet STRFKR have been going strong for more than eight years now. With four studio albums to their name, Joshua Hodges, Shawn Glassford, Keil Corcoran and Patrick Morris have continued to build on their synth-heavy sound. Unfortunately with DJ Harvey and Thomas Jack playing sets on the festival’s two other stages at the same time, STRFKR’s rather fun and upbeat performance on Saturday went relatively unnoticed.


CRSSD Festival - Goldroom

Sexiest Stage Presence: Goldroom

We unexpectedly caught Goldroom at Lightning in a Bottle a couple years ago, so we were already familiar with Josh Legg’s breezy, chilled-out arrangements. But somehow we did forget how sexy Mereki Beach can be when she takes over the mic, as she strutted her stuff in her shiny kicks midway through Goldroom’s Saturday afternoon set. With Legg getting the live band back together, fans of the LA-based act should be seeing a lot more of Beach.


CRSSD Festival - Slow Magic

Most Mysterious Performance: Slow Magic

One of the biggest enigmas in electronic music these days is the man behind a Technicolor wolf mask. While his identity still remains unknown to most, his fans know him best by his stage name Slow Magic (read our review of his SF show from the fall). Though a small, yet passionate crowd assembled for his early-afternoon set on the main stage Sunday, you had to feel for a guy wearing a mask and playing drums in almost 90-degree heat.


Five reasons why you won’t want to miss CRSSD

CRSSD FestivalBy Josh Herwitt //

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
March 14th-15th, 2015 //

Making its debut this spring at San Diego’s Waterfront Park, CRSSD Festival is the newest music festival to call California home.

Los Angeles promoter Goldenvoice and San Diego promoter FNGRS CRSSD have teamed up to assemble an eclectic lineup of electronic talent, one that’s suited for a more sophisticated, mature audience with headliners like Empire of the Sun, Chromeo, Justin Martin, Jamie Jones and more. Simian Mobile Disco, Classixx, ODESZA, STRFKR, Flight Facilities, Breakbot, DJ Harvey, Robert DeLong, Lee Burridge, Pete Tong and Aeroplane are some of the other names rounding out this year’s impressive two-day bill.

With CRSSD serving as a nice warm-up before Coachella in April, here are five other reasons why you’ll want to be in SD for all the festivities.

5. Tickets are going fast

Both early-bird and advance tickets are sold out, and only weekend GA passes, which started at $85 and are now up to $145, are left for purchase at this point. You won’t want to wait until the last minute to buy your pass and risk seeing the festival sell out.

4. There are more than just DJs

Portland-based quartet STRFKR provide an intriguing blend of synthpop and indie pop, while Robert DeLong and Slow Magic employ the one-man-band philosophy when performing live. Trust us, your weekend down south won’t be filled with only a bunch of button pushers.

3. You will definitely dance

With Empire of the Sun and Chromeo leading the way, there’s little chance that you won’t be dancing your ass off by the end of the night. Not to mention, electronica vets Pete Tong and Simian Mobile Disco certainly know how to throw down, too.

2. The location

Overlooking the San Diego Bay, Waterfront Park offers one of the best backdrops you could find for a music festival. Between the sunshine and sweet tunes, it’s sure to feel like mid-summer in mid-March.

1. The music

While the lineup leans heavy on the electronic, there is enough talent from top to bottom to keep you entertained and not overwhelmed over two days. With its laid-back vibes, CRSSD feels like it could be a perfect fit in sunny San Diego.

Waterfront Park - San Diego

First City Festival returns to Monterey for second edition

First City FestivalPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Molly Kish //

First City Festival //
Monterey County Fairgrounds – Monterey, CA
August 23rd-24th, 2014 //

Goldenvoice’s second annual First City Festival returns to the idyllic Monterey County Fairgrounds this weekend with two full days of music, performance art, crafts and more. Following up a successful inaugural year, the beautiful 22-acre setting hosts three outdoor music performance areas and a vaudeville stage, the Unique USA Marketplace, a curated vinyl record Beat Swap Meet and a full-scale carnival.

Enter our contest below for a chance to win free tickets!

With such a fantastic roster of both well-known and buzz-worthy acts, we recommend you get to the fairgrounds early to really take in all that the festival has to offer. Beyond local vendors, artisan food and alcohol selections and a county fair’s worth of carnival rides and games, here are the toughest decisions we’ll be making after considering the musical talent on the bill this weekend.

First City Festival lineup

CONFLICTS

Saturday:

Tokyo Police Club vs. Midlake (4-5:15 p.m.)

Wrapping up the final leg of their summer tour, Tokyo Police Club will get the crowd rowdy in this late afternoon slot, pulling bounce-along favorites from their garage-pop discography to go along with new tracks from their latest album Forcefield, which was released this past March. In contrast, folk-rock veterans Midlake will be making their West Coast festival debut this year sans lead singer Tim Smith. The band has been promoting its latest album Antiphon — and first release on ATO Records — with the new lineup to create a “rebooted progressive rock” sound. In following suit with their most recent string of performances, Midlake very well could break out some acoustic material, too.

Best Coast vs. Tanlines (5:20-6:30 p.m.)

In this Day 1 pop throwdown, which team are you on? This is a crucial decision, setting up what inevitably will be the mood you will choose to embrace going into the remainder of the evening. Will you be shuffling a pair of dance shoes or gazing listlessly at them covered in the rodeo’s dust? If you’re feeling the need to bust a move, Tanlines has got you covered. Bringing their infectious, experimental dance music to the festival side stage, this Brooklyn-based duo will have the audience on fire. Call and response with calypso-infused pop, Tanlines’ Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm provide the perfect combo of guitars, vocals and various percussion instruments to invigorate an early-evening crowd before it readies itself for a big evening ahead. If you anticipate the evening’s headliner Beck to have a more melancholy setlist and feel like taking a breather from the crowds, carnival and other stimulus surrounding the first day of the festival, let Best Coast lead singer and guitarist Bethany Constantino’s croon lull you into a mellow mindset. Performing on the main stage, this also could be a good power move, setting yourself up for a spot front and center for the rest of the evening performances.

FCF SCENESunday:

Future Islands vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (4-5:15 p.m.)

This is arguably the worst conflict of the weekend for the rage-faced dance enthusiast with quite possibly two of the most similar acts billed consecutively on the lineup. Both bands play to the overly enthusiastic crowd member demographic, and although mildly different in style, each evoke such passion and excitement with their respective fan bases that they would be equally disappointing acts to miss out on. H ailing from Detroit, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is the electric duo of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott who bring a soulful blend of funk, pop and cross-genre songwriting to the stage. Their stage presence and range as a pair of performers is something that not only speaks to the crowd, but also calls for participation and will no doubt get the early-evening audience active by moving their weary feet. Future Islands, on the other hand, are the wild-card act on not only this bill, but just about any festival roster. Gaining mainstream fame with their incredible electro-rock body of work and after this past year’s impressionistic performance on the “Late Show With David Letterman”, lead singer Sam Herring danced his way into the hearts and curiosities of a nation. Beyond Herring’s guttural howls and spastic stage presence, the band has had great success playing festivals worldwide in executing some of the most memorable sets. Those who show up should be excited to be a part of a performance that everyone around them will remember as a special moment in their lifetime of concert experiences. Whether the crowd sits idly dumbfounded or actually commits to losing itself in the music, this set is sure to be a highlight of the festival and is one we look forward to catching.

Create your custom schedule here!

ATTRACTIONS

Beat Swap Meet:

A traveling record swap meet, Beat Swap Meet features dozens of invited record collectors and dealers from all over the U.S. and beyond. They’ll be selling everything from blues to funk to hip-hop to jazz to metal to punk to reggae to rock to soul, with World 12’s and 45’s on vinyl.

Monterey Carnival:

You will have full access to rides and games with your purchase of a festival ticket.

Unique USA Marketplace:

Take some time to visit this marketplace where furniture, art and fashion designers sell goods, all of them made in the U.S.

First City Festival

GENERAL INFO

With the gates opening at noon and set times starting as early as 1 p.m., we recommend getting there with ample time to park and jump in what undoubtedly will be a line wrapping around the fairgrounds’ perimeter.

First City Festival map

Parking is available with shuttles to the fairgrounds at the neighboring Monterey Peninsula College, located at 980 Fremont Street, Monterey, CA 93940.

First City Festival location

Other options include parking around the neighborhoods surrounding the venue and walking a short distance to the festival location. The locals are generally friendly and accommodating, but be sure not to block anyone’s driveway. There will also be a free bike and skateboard valet near the festival’s front entrance.

If you have any issues with your tickets, you should contact Front Gate Tickets at 888-512-SHOW or on their website. We also recommend taking a peek at the festival’s list of “Dos and Don’ts” before you arrive.

Win-2-Tickets

To win a pair of tickets to the festival, enter below. You must like Showbams on Facebook and follow Showbams on Twitter to be eligible to win.

Submit your full name and email address.
Contest ends Tuesday, August 19th at 3 p.m. Winners will be picked at random & notified by email. Your email will be kept private — we will share your email with no one.

CONTEST CLOSED.

First City Festival

Coachella 2013: What you should know before you go

Coachella 2013

So now that we have had time to let the 2013 Coachella line-up settle in, it’s pretty good, right? People were freakin’ out there for a minute. There has been a universal panning of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing as the closing headliner, even though they were a last hour addition. And rightfully so – there have been some popular sets that have shut down Coachella the past few years (Dre/Snoop, Kanye West, Gorillaz).

Goldenvoice clearly lost an expectation game with the reactions to the headliners this year, most notably due to the rumors swirling around Daft Punk and Rolling Stone. That didn’t stop them from selling out both weekends within a day, including weekend one within 15 minutes, so saying Goldenvoice lost anything is pure silliness.

Coachella 2013

Rock, particularly British Rock, leads the charge this year (Blur, The Stone Roses, the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, James Blake, alt-J, Jessie Ware).

Conversely, Electronic Dance Music bro-house is gone compared to 2012. There is no major DJ act closing out a night on the main stage for the first time in years. There are no EDM acts on the top two lines of any day. It seems like a concerted effort was made by Goldenvoice to enact a change in direction, and it has been welcomed by many Coachella vets.

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.
Coachella-2013Friday 2013

Friday should be a day to remember, as there are plenty of reunions and first time performances scheduled (see below). Lou Reed fits the “living legend” bill, Nick Cave’s supposedly on-hiatus Grinderman will appear for a one-off, and half of The Smiths songwriting partnership will be present with Johnny Marr performing. Bassnectar or Dog Blood (Skrillex & Boys Noize project) will close the Sahara Tent, and Justin Vernon’s new blues project The Shouting Matches will play one of their first shows. Hopefully Vernon sticks around for the weekends and makes some surprise appearances with the many acts he is associated with.

Friday Reunions

Damon Albarn’s Blur returning to the US for the first time since their reunion is a pretty big deal, though the American masses may not agree. Sure “Song 2” is a bit played out, but there are albums full of some of the best Brit-pop in decades. Songs like “Coffee and TV” and “She’s So High” beckon back to the 90s for many, but not all. Luckily this reunion is including Graham Coxon, a seminal part to the vocal arrangements of Blur. 


The co-headliner for Friday is also an English exported reunion, courtesy of the Manchester sound-makers The Stone Roses, fresh off a 15 year hiatus. Sure, New Order captured American fans a little more than the Roses, but they created a serious body of work for well over a decade starting in the mid-80s. John Squire’s guitar-work is something to marvel in as aspects of the Roses’ sound would be borrowed by some serious US acts like the Pixies. Having released an album last year, the Coachella masses should plan to hear these tracks coupled with hits like, “I Wanna Be Adored.”


Jurassic 5 is a name more fans will recognize over the one-two combo of Blur and the Roses. After a 6 year break, the LA hip-hop collective are back on the circuit with a banner set. The question will be if all the original members show up, as many of the artists have branched off to become successful solo artists; mainly Cut Chemist, Chali 2na and Nu-Mark. While the landscape of hip-hop has shifted a bit since their departure, tracks like “Quality Control” and “Concrete Schoolyard” will whip the crowd into a frenzy as equally as Danny Brown.

UPDATE – Jurassic 5 doesn’t know “How far” reunion can go.

Possible Friday Collaborations
Johnny Marr with Modest Mouse
Justin Vernon with Poliça

Friday Firsts (First shows ever/First in the US)

How To Destroy Angels – Trent, Marqueen, and Atticus will debut their newest project on Friday, and boy is it gonna be something. As many miss Nine Inch Nails, this band is pretty damned close in sound and personnel, and their two released EPs show great strength and should be an awesome early evening set in the warm desert winds. Look for their upcoming LP, and likely national tour. 


TNGHT – The duo that is Hudson Mohawke and Lunice has almost single handedly birthed the trap music sub-genre that is permeating bass music and hip-hop alike. Their debut EP is so fresh and hot, I needed an oven mitt to flip the vinyl. Having only played a show or two in NYC, this will be the marquee US debut of this Canadian meets Scottish production duo. The kids are gonna be losing their shit for this set, as trap is all the rage on the dance floor. Second in command to this movement is Baauer, who is featured this year as well. Will Kanye make an odd appearance on stage as he did in New York?


Earl Sweatshirt – Years in the making, and the anticipation is still sky high for Thebe’s live, full set premier. Expect massive crowds for this Odd Future cast-away, as his talent is undeniable, his story unbelievable and his allure is unquenchable. This set has lots of guest potential, as his OFWGKTA crew will likely be in tow for support both morally and lyrically. The Earl mixtape from a few years ago is such an impressive collection of explicit, yet Rhodes smart tunes that many fans are dying to hear them first hand from the man himself. Will Flying Lotus don his Captain Murphy cape and back Earl on the massive track “Between Friends?” Will Syd tha Kid be on the decks and buttons? 

Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”

Purity Ring’s sound is as future-pop as it gets, and the light-show matches the duo’s vibe and timing. Each light change is controlled by percussionist & beat-maker Corin Roddick’s drum strikes. Hopefully they are given a night tent set so they can show what they’ve got.

Jamie xx (Jamie Smith) is the chief producer, percussionist and DJ for The xx (performing Saturday), and he’s already well known for his progressive sound and excellent remixes.

•The lo-fi dream-pop from Trevor Powers’ Youth Lagoon will be a chill way to get started Friday.

Beardyman uses live sounds to make instant dance grooves, and it’s impressive how good he is at his niche skill.

Lord Huron is an indie-folk rock group on the rise. Their 2012 record Lonesome Dreams was highly underrated.

Palma Violets are a buzzy British psych-rock group that wil likely have a big year. Catch them early when most people haven’t arrived yet.

Coachella-2013Saturday 2013
Saturday is stacked: Phoenix, the xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Rós, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear. If you are as excited as we are about the top two lines for Saturday, be ready to make tough decisions. There will be conflict. This doesn’t even include Yeasayer, Franz Ferdinand or Spiritualized into the conflict factor. Saturday is fucking stacked. It appears Knife Party will close the Sahara, and Simian Mobile Disco, Major Lazer & Richie Hawtin should deliver top notch electronic sets. Saturday also features FOALS, Ben Howard, Danny Brown, Janelle Monáe, Wild Nothing, El-P, & Booka Shade.

Saturday Reunions

The banner reunion on Saturday is squarely held by The Postal Service, the exciting collaboration of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Their first announced show since 2005 came as a surprise to most music junkies as mumblings of The Smiths, as always, took first prize in the reunion hype category. Their upbeat electro-pop sound is pretty perfect for a sunset Saturday show, maybe warming up the majority to the dance-rock stylings of Phoenix later that night. Will Jenny Lewis make an appearance to sing as she did many times in their touring days a decade ago?


Many readers and attendees may not be familiar with The Make-Up, and that’s cool, but this soul-garage-politico-punk act is a force to see. The organ driven sound is highly infectious, and their live show has been compared to a punk rock gospel. Having only recently regrouped to play ATP, persuaded by Les Savvy Fav, this will be their marquee return, similar to Refused last year. Maybe Dischord co-owner Ian McKaye will accompany his labelmates for a track.


Violent Femmes slowly faded off the radar about 5 years ago as Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie were tangled in royalty lawsuits stemming from the sale of “Blister in the Sun” to Wendy’s. It now appears the hatchet has been buried and they are returning to what they have been at for a couple of decades, making kitschy alternative rock. Their folk-driven sound is unmistakably likable, and devastatingly difficult to not sing along to. “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Add it Up” will be heard throughout the polo fields in the afternoon on Saturday. Will we get some surprise members to their infamous Horns of Dilemma? 


Toss The Descendents in the “sort-of reunion” column, but don’t diminish their key addition to the quintessential Southern California festival lineup. Birthed in Manhattan Beach in the late 70s, this seminal punk band that pioneered the skate, even pop-punk sound is still playing shows when singer Milo Aukerman can fit it between his demanding job as a biologist. Surely, the majority of attendees will recognize the Buddy Holly-glasses wearing frontman and his cartoonish caricature. They’ve been back at it a few years now, but mainly at small punk festivals, not the 80,000-size crowd that will be in attendance. Milo Goes to College is a must in your pre-fest rotation.

Possible collaborations:
Danny Brown & El-P
Danny Brown & Purity Ring
Ian McKaye with The Descendents

Saturday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Savages – London’s all-female post-punk band have been building lots of buzz and lots of comparisons as they bring a fresh act to the music landscape this year. It’s hard to not hear Siouxsie and Banshees and the infectious howl of Karen O at first listen, but there’s a lot more going on here. Coachella will be their first trip across the ‘Pond’ and they will be hitting the road hard before, after and in the middle of the festival. 

Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”

Birdy Nam Nam is a four man turntabilist crew from France, and their sound champions a mix of jazz, funk & downtempo. Asses will be shaking.

Action Bronson is fire breathin’ fat fuck who spits mostly about food, and he does it damn well over sick beats. All true.

•Bummed about no Warpaint? Get your girl power on early with Savages (check out the preview above).

•Singer-songwriter Kurt Vile made a delicious record with Smoke Ring For My Halo in 2011, and he’s got a new LP lined up for later this year. Preview his new songs in April.

•If you like Hot Chip, check out The 2 Bears, which is a DJ collaboration between Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and producer Raf Rundell. Think Hot Chip’s tone with more dancing and less instruments.

Coachella-2013Sunday 2013

Sunday has the “dreaded” Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining, but Wu-Tang will get more love. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and RHCP may create the most empty scene on the main stage ever. Cool dads will profit. On the other side of the field Pretty Lights and Eric Prydz will be spilling ragers outside of the Sahara Tent parameter. If there is a god Tame Impala will get a sunset slot. Where will the house crew consisting of Julio Bashmore, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles, etc. end up? Sunday has a deep undercard with Grimes, the Faint, Father John Misty, Tanlines, Jessie Ware, Disclosure, Cloud Nothings & Thee Oh Sees.

Sunday Reunions

Wu Tang Clan’s inclusion this year isn’t so much a reunion, but a re-introduction. After talk of a new album around 2011 went quiet, fueled by reserved speculation by some members, it appears this new recording will see the light of day this year, and Coachella will likely mark the beginning of a busy year for RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Master Killah.

Possible Collaborations:
Jessie Ware live with Disclosure
Justin Vernon with James Blake

Sunday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Excision – Many EDM artists are creating bigger, brighter and blinkier stages on the road and festival circuit, and Canadian brostep artist Excision is the next to toss his hat into the ring. Excision presents the Executioner will be making it’s big stage debut at Coachella after a few US dates. It promises to be loud, flashing and full of pre-pubescent kids losing their collective minds. 

La Roux – Even though the synth-pop princess and her producer aren’t a new act to the US or even Coachella, their cancellation from last year is being rectified with a slot in 2013. Look for some new material from this act in the upcoming year after a hiccup in the previous.

Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”

•Zachary Cole Smith from Beach Fossils started DIIV (originally “Dive” until they were sued) as a solo project, and their dreamy, building indie songs will put a smile on your face.

Little Green Cars offers five-part harmony anthems in the vein of Local Natives and First Aid Kit.

•The electro-pop group White Arrows put on a great show, and their set can get pleasantly psychedelic and heady at times.

Wild Belle is a prime candidate to be a 2013 breakout group, and their set at Treasure Island Music Festival went over well last October. Elliot and Natalie Bergman’s debut LP will arrive in March.

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Coachella 2013