The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Coldplay at Levi's Stadium


Coldplay at Levi’s Stadium // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Steve Carlson

Let’s be frank: 2017 had its ups and downs. And when it came to the political sector in this country, it was mostly the latter during Year 1 of the Trump administration. But as art often does in times of turmoil, music flourished in new and exciting ways. From stripper-turned-rapper Cardi B topping the charts to veteran alt-psych rockers Portugal. The Man filling the airwaves for Top 40 radio stations all over America, there were plenty of unexpected twists and turns this year. Amid all of them, we still managed to consume a healthy diet of music, both live and recorded, and once again it’s time for us to ante up our annual “Best of” lists, much like we have done each of the past few years (see our 2016 picks here).

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2017.

See our favorite performances from 2017 here.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest 2017


Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest 2017 // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Tool at The Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA – June 17th
What could be a better bachelor party than getting to watch your favorite band at the most scenic outdoor music venue in the U.S.? Seeing any concert at The Gorge would likely be a surreal experience, but my first trip to Washington’s holy grail was that much more special with Tool returning to the amphitheater for the first time since 2006. And even though their gap between albums has stretched to more than 10 years, Maynard and company still know how to elevate the live show to new heights both sonically and visually. Talk about a dream come true for this die-hard fan.

2. Nine Inch Nails at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 23rd
3. LCD Soundsystem at Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, CA – November 18th
4. Gorillaz at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – October 5th
5. Radiohead at Coachella, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 14th

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel had to know that it would take a monumental effort to match, let alone top, 2014’s Lost in the Dream (one of our favorite albums that year), but The War on Drugs’ primary songwriter and band leader delivered another masterpiece in late August with the release of A Deeper Understanding. It’s an album that will touch your heart and soothe your soul as the LP moves seamlessly from one track to the next, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a much better soundtrack for the road over the last 10-15 years. A Deeper Understanding doesn’t need to win a Grammy in 2018 to validate its legitimacy as an Album of the Year candidate, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

2. Slowdive – Slowdive
3. The xx – I See You
4. The National – Sleep Well Beast
5. Grizzly BearPainted Ruins

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. The War on Drugs – “Holding On”
There’s something about Adam Granduciel’s guitar playing that will make you want to play air guitar, and maybe no better example of that is the second single from The War on Drugs’ fourth studio album A Deeper Understanding. For nearly six minutes, Granduciel takes his listeners on a ride through peaks and valleys, as the song finishes with him doing what he does best: shredding. But what makes “Holding On” even more powerful is its music video starring actor Frankie Faison, who plays a middle-aged man coping with his wife’s passing. It’s a sad, yet touching story written by Granduciel’s girlfriend, Krysten Ritter, that offers an important reminder about love and just how precious it is.

2. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
3. Washed Out – “Hard to Say Goodbye”
4. The National – “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
5. Nine Inch Nails – “Less Than”


Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre Berkeley


Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre Berkeley // Photo by James Nagel

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Solange at FORM Arcosanti – Arcosanti, AZ – May 12th
Taking the stage in the amphitheater of Arcosanti, a scenic artist compound that’s built into the canyons sitting north of Phoenix, Solange and her nine-piece crew brought her critically acclaimed LP A Seat at the Table to life right before our eyes. As an album entrenched in the modern experience of the black woman, Solange’s live production turned these themes into one visually stunning, intricately choreographed and sonically vibrant experience, coupled with a subtle balance of strength and vulnerability. Deep bass, soaring harmonies and tight rhythms made each song a joy to watch, including older hits like “T.O.N.Y.” After a year that was as emotionally taxing as 2017 was, it was a breath of fresh air to watch Solange present her own truth, her own experience with such bravado and mastery.

2. Gorillaz at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 11th
3. Sigur Rós at Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA – April 8th
4. Mitski at FORM Arcosanti – Arcosanti, AZ – May 13th
5. Kevin Morby at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – September 23rd

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Pure Comedy captures a different perspective in this politically drenched culture we’re in now — one that chooses to embrace the insanity of it all and laugh, as privileged and unhelpful as that might be. “She’s like, ‘Oh great, that’s just what we all need / Another white guy in 2017 / Who takes himself so goddamn seriously'” croons Josh Tillman. His lyrics in “Leaving LA” are just one of several scores of quotable lines that fill this nihilist-yet-comforting, saddening-yet-hilarious album. Being a privileged white man who lives in a liberal bubble, this album marks the definition of a guilty pleasure for me. Pleasure, because it is sharp, honest and bold. Guilt, because I am capable of even laughing in the first place.

2. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
3. Sylvan Esso – What Now
4. Lorde – Melodrama
5. Brockhampton – SATURATION II

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – “Over Everything”
Its jangly guitars and wonky rhythm, combined with the chemistry of Courtney Barnett’s and Kurt Vile’s singing and occasional harmonizations, make “Over Everything” my favorite song of 2017. It’s an instant earworm — the cadence of Barnett’s and Vile’s lyricism gives the duo a distinct identity but still allows them to come together at the right moments to make the song feel whole. And after watching them make their live debut at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass earlier this year, they continue to raise my spirits and remind me to wear earplugs.

2. Real Estate – “Darling”
3. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”
4. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
5. Bonobo – “Bambro Koyo Ganda”


J.I.D at Day N Night Fest 2017


J.I.D at Day N Night Fest 2017 // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. J.I.D at Day N Night Fest – Anaheim, CA – September 9th
The J. Cole-signed rapper proved to be much more than just another name from Atlanta with a nonstop, energetic set that established him as a young goat. Keep tabs on this one.

2. Sonder at The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, CA – April 19th
3. Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 21st
4. Gorillaz at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 11th
5. Erykah Badu at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – July 22nd

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Smino – blkswn
This album brings nothing but warm vibes and impressive wordplay from the fast-rising St. Louis emcee. Since it dropped in March, not a week goes by that I don’t bump this debut for me and all my neighbors.

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
3. Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors
4. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
5. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Smino – “Anita”
The dude rhymes “ice cream” with “chocolate” and gets away with it. Enough said.

2. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
3. Dirty Projectors – “Up in Hudson”
4. Vince Staples – “Love Can Be…”
5. Phoebe Bridgers – “Funeral”


Slowdive - Slowdive

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2017
1. Slowdive at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – October 28th
This was my first time seeing Slowdive, and they completely took my breath away. It was one of those perfect shows in which the sound was on point, the band brought its A game and the visual elements complimented the music just right. They played cuts from their entire catalog, and by the end of the night, the audience was completely happy.

2. Quicksand at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – September 8th
3. LCD Soundsystem at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – November 15th
4. Band Together Bay Area: Metallica, G-Eazy, Rancid, Dave Matthews, Dead & Company and Raphael Saadiq at AT&T Park – San Francisco, CA – November 9th
5. Roger Waters at Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA – June 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2017
1. Slowdive – Slowdive
A totally perfect album from start to finish. There have been a lot of bands that have emulated Slowdive’s dream-pop/shoegaze sound over the past few years, but this album, their first in 22 years, proves why the UK group is one of the genre’s true originals. Lush soundscapes, paired with gorgeous vocals, made for what was easily my most-listened-to album of the year.

2. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
3. Quicksand – Interiors
4. Versing – Nirvana
5. Hobosexual – Monolith

Top 5 Songs of 2017
1. Quicksand – “Illuminant”
I had been waiting so patiently for the new Quicksand album to drop, and when they released this single, it was one of those completely satisfying musical moments. From that opening riff to the breakdown, “Illuminant” showcases the post-hardcore band’s evolution since the early 90’s while remaining true to its roots. Interiors is a fantastic album front to back, but this song is the one that stands out the most.

2. Slowdive – “Star Roving”
3. Elbow – “Magnificent (She Says)”
4. LCD Soundsystem – “Call the Police”
5. Versing – “Body Chamber”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Sasquatch! Music Festival releases 2016 lineup

Sasquatch! Music Festival - 2016 lineup

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

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

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

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

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

Sasquatch! continues to reign supreme as the Pacific Northwest’s premier music festival

Sasquatch! Music FestivalPhotos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Nik Crossman //

Sasquatch! Music Festival //
Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA
May 22nd-25th, 2015 //

2015 marked the 14th successful year of Sasquatch! Music Festival thanks to a hunch followed by a Pacific Northwest concert promoter. Back in 2002, when the U.S. festival scene was an infant, Adam Zacks decided to try his luck with an untapped market and bring the festival experience to the Pacific Northwest. The single-day festival sold out its first year, quickly validating Zacks’ hunch and setting the stage for one of the world’s most unique festival experiences.

Embracing the culture of the Pacific Northwest, Sasquatch! caters to the growing breed of indie-centric fans caring just as much about the festival experience (if not more) than the music itself. Over the last 14 years, Sasquatch! has become a “must-do” for festivalgoers and continues to impress with a stellar lineup playing against the majestic backdrop of The Gorge.

So, when I fell into tickets the week before the festival, I jumped at the opportunity to see some of my favorite bands jam out at Mother Nature’s cathedral. Having no campsite and no ride to/from the festival, I posted a Hail Mary message on the Sasquatch! Facebook page, asking a bunch of strangers to take me in as one of their own … and it worked! That’s when I realized Sasquatch! is more than the music — it’s coming together as a community to lend a hand and help a fellow human.

The two-hour drive from Seattle to The Gorge wet the appetite for the alluring landscapes to come. My two new friends and I arrived Friday afternoon, just in time to set up camp and catch the sun fall behind the mountainous horizon.

Sasquatch! - Little Dragon


Little Dragon

Friday

Kicking off the festival, Friday’s lineup included the sounds of Ought, Mother Mother, Gogol Bordello, Action Bronson, Angel Olsen, AlunaGeorge, Little Dragon, Of Monsters and Men, Sleater-Kinney and of course, Flume, the 23-year-old Australian DJ/producer who has been taking the electronic music scene by storm since dropping his debut album in 2012. Despite a little rain early Friday night, the festival was in full swing and the energy inside the grounds built on itself with each performance. The unique sound of Little Dragon had the crowd flowing together, sprinkling in rumors and heightened anticipation for SBTRK‘s set on Sunday night. “Will Little Dragon come out for ‘Wildfire’?!” By the time Flume dropped his first beat at the Bigfoot Stage, the energy was palpable and everyone could feel why this young DJ was chosen to close out Friday night.

Sasquatch! -  Modest Mouse


Modest Mouse

Saturday

With the loving melodies of Milo Green rushing over the Bigfoot State by mid-day, Twenty One Pilots picked up the tempo with an animated performance on the Sasquatch Stage, where the dynamic duo commanded their early-day crowd. Sylvan Esso threw down a Bigfoot dance party when their hit “Coffee” ignited the entire crowd to dance along with the ever-so-strange Amelia Meath on stage. Chromeo‘s love for themselves may only be surpassed by the massive turnout the funky duo brought to Sasquatch! main stage early in the evening. Their funk-tastic sound and vibrant stage presence was perfectly timed to set the stage for following acts like Glass Animals, Kiesza, Modest Mouse, ODESZA and Spoon. Kiesza took the El Chupacabra tent by stormy lights and surprisingly produced more vigor into the crowd than the Seattle duo ODESZA, who seemed to play a more mellow version of themselves than most are familiar with. Just down the hill from ODESZA, 22-year-old rock band Spoon spilled heavy guitar riffs over the crowd and presented an alternative ending to Saturday’s electronic scene. For the second night in a row, Sasquatch! closed out the night with a young, up-and-coming electronic act, staying true to their committed mix bag of new and established performers.

Sasquatch! - St. Vincent


St. Vincent

Sunday

Milky Chance wooed the crowd at the Sasquatch Stage in the late afternoon on Sunday with their unique electro-folk-reggae sounds, lead vocalists Clemens Rehbein’s deep, melodic vocals and the magnificent backdrop of The Gorge. Shortly after Milky Chance stirred the crowd, the unlikely future of rap, Kate Tempest, lived up to her reputation as a force to be reckoned with while showering the crowd with positive affirmations. The sun started setting behind The Gorge while the idiosyncratic St. Vincent moved so distinctly across the stage like an elegant robot, convincing the crowd they made the right choice. The sultry vixen Lana Del Rey attracted one of the largest crowds to the Sasquatch Stage on Sunday night. While Del Rey is not as active as some of her siren peers, her presence was not lacking. Captivating the masses while her white dress blew in the wind, Del Rey abandoned the stage to walk among her amorous fans before leaving her set early to pass the spotlight to an epic instrumental jam session by her band. Madeon, the 21-year-old child prodigy, proved himself once again in the El Chupacabra late on Sunday night when he led the crowd on a fantastic journey of impeccable mashups and psychedelic lights.

Sasquatch! - Slow Magic


Slow Magic

Monday

Monday was the last day of the four-day festival, and the crowds started to thin between the intermittent rain clouds playing hide and seek with the sun. Monday was also the day of drums, at least in the El Chupacabra. Armed only with a wolf mask, laptop and two drumsticks, Slow Magic kicked off the night in the Spanish-flavored tent with a one-of-a-kind experience. With his rare combination of synth and live drumming, Slow Magic is re-imagining electronic music as we know it. Not far behind the solo drumming DJ were the three-piece veterans The Glitch Mob. The trio conquered the stage with their new musical element “The Blade,” which combines both lights and instruments into something that looks like it came out of a space-age movie scene. Drumming their way into the bones of the crowd, The Glitch Mob elicited some of the most hands-in-the-air praise I saw all weekend. They closed out Sasquatch! with a bang, literally.

Sasquatch! Music Festival

Camping

The Sasquatch! campgrounds were far from organized, which presents pros and cons, pending what you’re after. The grueling trek from general camping to the grounds made going to the festival more of a commitment than many appreciated. After a few journeys to and from, premium camping seemed well worth the investment. The wheel-and-spoke layout of the grounds made it easy to find other campsites and stumble into the food trucks for a late-night zombie dog. The camping community itself was friendly and full of love for each other, inviting neighbors to play beer darts and other awesome lawn games.

Sasquatch! Music Festival

Activities

Despite the loving nature of the campers, the Sasquatch! campgrounds lacked the festival-sponsored activities so many of us have come to appreciate and expect like morning yoga classes at Coachella and personal development workshops at Lightning in a Bottle (LIB). The Sasquatch! community inside the grounds attempted to provide this outlet with a vintage arcade, self-defense demonstrations and community dance parties, but they fell short relative to other festivals. One could also argue the lack of art installations throughout the Sasquatch! grounds presents an area of improvement for the festival. That is, until they’re reminded of the natural art blanketing all of The Gorge. Well done, Mother Nature!

Sasquatch! Music Festival

Sustainability

While LIB has been dubbed as “The Greenest Festival in America,” you’d think all festivals would have a strong commitment to sustainably responsible business practices by now. This was an oversight for Sasquatch!, as recycling bins were nowhere to be found and trash cans were often overflowing — a pretty easy, yet significant improvement that needs to be made.