The prolific, often unpredictable King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard turn heavy at LA’s Greek Theatre

King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardBy Josh Herwitt //

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard with Stonefield, ORB //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
August 13th, 2019 //

Are King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard the most prolific and unpredictable band in all of rock?

If they aren’t, they’re certainly making a convincing case for that crown right now.

The Australian septet that’s made up of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, flute), Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, harmonica, keyboards), Cook Craig (guitar, bass, vocals), Joey Walker (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), Lucas Skinner (bass, keyboards), Michael Cavanagh (drums, percussion) and Eric Moore (drums, percussion, management) have put out 15 studio albums, including five in 2017, and two EPs since forming almost a decade ago while shifting styles and genres with each one. It’s in part why they have harvested one of the strongest and fastest-growing cult followings out there today as more new fans jump on the bandwagon (no pun intended) like yours truly.

In fact, just last year, a sold-out crowd packed the 5,000-person Hollywood Palladium to see the Gizz on a Thursday night, affirming that these guys’ popularity is no joke even if you feel compelled to laugh at their name (a colleague, who was unfamiliar, did when I brought them up recently during one of our conversations about music).

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Fast forward more than a year later to now, and King Gizzard’s popularity has only continued to rise, with their latest date in LA at the historic, 5,870-seat Greek Theatre serving as another example of how far they’ve come since their early days in Melbourne. Also on the bill for this North American tour opener were their fellow countrymen and women in ORB and Stonefield respectively, and with both supporting acts leaning in the direction of psychedelic rock upon first listen, the table was set quite nicely for Mackenzie and company to showcase their most recent sonic foray into the world of none other than thrash metal.

Yep, that’s right. You know, like, Metallica pre-1990?

Of course, with the arrival of Infest the Rats’ Nest just a couple of days away, I was prepared to have my ears pummeled while hearing a good portion of the nine-track LP that sees the group diving even deeper into heavy metal than it ever has before. This is what KG&TLW do, though. There simply are no boundaries or formulas when it comes to their songwriting. Sure, most of their albums fall under the general “psych rock” label, but 2015’s Quarters!, for instance, was inspired by jazz fusion and prog rock, and their third LP from 2017, Sketches of Brunswick East (with Mild High Club), was also rooted predominantly in jazz. So far this year, they’ve already taken their shot at the blues with the release of Fishing for Fishies and now they’ve unleashed their new doom-filled effort. Because after jazz and the blues, what could be a more respected musical genre than heavy metal?

All jokes aside, as these Aussie weirdos continue to explore other creative avenues, catching a King Gizzard show remains a fairly unique experience in its own right. You can usually expect at least one mosh pit, if not more, to form, but with the Greek only having a small floor area at the front of the stage, the lively audience that showed up on a Tuesday night could only get so rowdy with most of it resigned to the venue’s seated sections. That, however, didn’t stop these mates from delivering the goods. Over the course of a 90-minute set, they touched upon seven of their 15 albums, including opening and closing with three straight tracks off Infest the Rats’ Nest. There was “People-Vultures” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, plus a version of “Wah Wah” that featured a snippet of “The River” at the performance’s midway point. I’m actually a little surprised that they didn’t throw us a couple of curveballs before saying goodbye to be honest, because for as prolific and unpredictable as they’ve become lately, King Gizzard might be one of the most versatile rock bands on Planet Earth, too.

Setlist:
Self-Immolate
Mars for the Rich
Venusian 2
Inner Cell
Loyalty
Horology
People-Vultures (tour debut)
Alter Me III
Altered Beast IV
The River
Wah Wah (with “The River” snippet)
Road Train
This Thing
Beginner’s Luck
The Bird Song
Acarine
Murder of the Universe
Boogieman Sam
Cyboogie
Planet B
Perihelion
Hell

*Editor’s Note: “Venusian 1” and “Organ Farmer” were originally listed on the setlist after “Hell” but were not played.

Courtney Barnett reminds us why she’s simply the coolest at LA’s Greek Theatre

Courtney BarnettBy Rochelle Shipman //

Courtney Barnett with Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Waxahatchee //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
October 5th, 2018 //

Courtney Barnett is the coolest. There’s no way around it. And if you’ve been lucky enough to see her live, you know it and you also know that she, somehow, still doesn’t know it herself.

Take this for example: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks and Waxahatchee supported her at the Greek Theatre last Friday, and Malkmus brings out former Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon (maybe the only person cooler than Barnett). I felt like they were going to turn the lights on after Malkmus’ set and end the show by accident.

Of course, they didn’t, and towards the end of her headlining set, Barnett introduced her own special guest, which, mind you, could’ve been almost anyone on the planet since this was LA after all and Gordon was probably still backstage.

But she reintroduces Waxahatchee, who joins her for a cover of Elyse Weinberg’s “Houses”. It was a song I’d never heard before, but it was crisp and tender and almost broke my heart with how perfect they sounded. I was so damn happy that Barnett was cool enough to invite one of her opening acts back out onstage instead of inviting, say, Slash.

Courtney Barnett

When she wasn’t sharing the spotlight with Waxahatchee, Barnett was sharing it equally with the rest of her stellar backing band, but it was mostly just difficult to take your eyes off of her. Everything she does feels casual, from her outfit to her guitar playing, slinging her instrument around like it was an extension of herself. Even her delivery of the wrenching reality that the 30-year-old Australian singer-songwriter articulates so well is casual, singing like the end of the world isn’t a mere 22 years away.

Barnett’s second studio LP Tell Me How You Really Feel is the pissed-off soundtrack that 2018 deserves, but she still couldn’t help but smile throughout the show. She walked the length of the stage as if she owned it (though casually), clearly having found her comfort level playing to thousands.

For an hour and a half, Barnett mostly just reveled in the music and the company, keeping the banter limited and the breaths nearly nonexistent. But for a few moments here and there, she looked like she’d just realized that she’s the coolest. And then she’d switch the focus and start another riff.

Setlist:
Hopefulessness
City Looks Pretty
Avant Gardener
Need a Little Time
Nameless, Faceless
I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch
Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence
Small Poppies
An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)
Small Talk
Depreston
Are You Looking After Yourself?
Elevator Operator
Houses (Elyse Weinberg cover) (with Waxahatchee)
Charity
History Eraser

Encore:
Everything Is Free (Gillian Welch cover)
Anonymous Club
Pedestrian at Best

After winning their first Grammy, The National don’t hold back at the Hollywood Palladium

The NationalBy Josh Herwitt //

The National with Phoebe Bridgers //
Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles
September 20th, 2018 //

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve only been a fan of The National for a little more than a couple of years now. And though I was familiar with the band before then, it was merely by accident that they finally piqued my interest not that long ago.

It was a Thursday evening in the middle of summer when I got a text from a friend who said he had an extra ticket to their show at the Greek Theatre that very same night. The ticket, of course, was supposed to be for his girlfriend at the time, but they had just gotten into one of their volatile back-and-forths and there was no way she was going to go with him. I, like any devoted live music fan, wasn’t about to let her ticket go to waste, so I said yes on a whim and made my way to the venue, where The National invited St. Vincent and Adam Granduciel (of The War on Drugs) onstage as surprise guests and even performed “Morning Dew” from their massive Grateful Dead tribute box set for the first time. Pretty cool, right?

From that point on, I’ve made an effort to pay closer attention to what Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Scott Devendorf and Bryan Devendorf have been up to. I knew I had some catching up to do considering that they’ve been at it for close to 20 years, but when the group’s seventh studio album Sleep Well Beast dropped last September on British indie label 4AD, much of it caught my attention thanks to SiriusXMU — and for good reason.

The National

The 12-track LP, after all, would not only go on to produce five singles, but it also took home a Grammy for “Best Alternative Music Album” in one of the more encouraging moments at this year’s 60th Grammy Awards. And at the Hollywood Palladium for the first of two nights in LA last Thursday, The National gave us all five of those singles, beginning with “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and running through the remaining four as part of a 22-song setlist that opened with “Nobody Else Will Be There” just as Sleep Well Beast does.

Berninger, by now, is well-known for his baritone vocals and somber lyrics, and for that same reason, The National have never come across as one of rock’s more uplifting acts. Their music often sounds perfect for a rainy day, even though there are some energetic moments on Sleep Well Beast, be it “I’ll Still Destroy You”, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” or “Day I Die” as maybe the record’s most uptempo cut despite its obviously melancholy message.

Right before that final aforementioned single, they brought out Phoebe Bridgers to help them perform “Sorrow” from 2010’s High Violet, as Berninger and the 24-year-old singer-songwriter, who said during her brief opening set that The National were her favorite band, traded vocals on the tune they once played 105 times in a row, with the performance at an art installation in New York lasting all of six hours. We weren’t quite as fortunate to get that kind of show in LA, as The National opted for one of their more traditional, two-hour events. But whether you’ve been a fan from the start or one like myself who arrived rather late to the party, The National continue to make some of the most compelling music in rock, expanding their fan base with each and every album they release. That’s the sign of any good band these days, and though there’s only a handful of others that could even say the same right now, The National should take comfort in knowing they’re one of those select few.

Setlist:
Nobody Else Will Be There
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Guilty Party
Don’t Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
I Need My Girl
Green Gloves
Lemonworld
Born to Beg
I’ll Still Destroy You
Slow Show
Sorrow (with Phoebe Bridgers)
Day I Die
Carin at the Liquor Store
Graceless
Rylan
Fake Empire

Encore:
Light Years
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Our favorite performances from 2017

Best live shows of 2017 - The xx, Miguel, Moderat & Coldplay

2017, where the hell did you go? It just felt like the other day that we were ringing in a new year, and yet, here we are again as we plow straight ahead into 2018.

But before we officially put a bow on 2017, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. This year, we had the opportunity to capture many amazing moments in live music, and while we couldn’t pay homage to every single performance we witnessed, we made a conscious effort to include a wide range of talent spread across the industry.

Whittling down our list, though, was not that easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

21 Savage, The Accidentals, Action Bronson, Alice Cooper, Alina Baraz, alt-J, Amber Mark, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Animal Collective, Atlas Genius, The Avalanches, The Band Perry, Beach Slang, Belle and Sebastian, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Bleachers, Blonde Redhead, Bob Moses, Car Seat Headrest, Cate Le Bon, Cigarettes After Sex, Circles Around the Sun, City of Caterpillar, The Coathangers, Claude VonStroke, Chris Robinson, Con Brio, Conor Oberst, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Crystal Castles, The Crystal Method, Daniel Caesar, Dawes, Dead Meadow, Deafheaven, Deep Purple, Diet Cig, DIIV, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Dog, Dr. Octagon, Duke Dumont, Eagles of Death Metal, Electric Guest, Emancipator, Emily King, Empire of the Sun, Foxygen, Future Islands, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Gatecreeper, Girl Talk, Gone Is Gone, Grizzly Bear, Gucci Mane, Hamilton Leithauser, Hazel English, Hinds, The Hip Replacements, Hiss Golden Messenger, How to Dress Well, Iggy Pop, Isaiah Rashad, Jack Johnson, Jagwar Ma, Jamestown Revival, Jamie Isaac, Jay 305, Jen Cloher, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Jessie Ware, Jim James, JR JR, Julie Byrne, Julien Baker, Justice, Karen Elson, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, KAYTRANADA, Kelis, K. Flay, Khalid, Khruangbin, Kilo Kish, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kurt Vile, La Femme, LANY, Lauv, L.A. Witch, Lettuce, Lil Yachty, Little Dragon, Lo Moon, Lorde, Lord Huron, Miike Snow, Milky Chance, Minus the Bear, Mister Heavenly, MØ, Mondo Cozmo, Neon Indian, Nicki Bluhm, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, NVO, Oh Sees, OK Go, Once and Future Band, Pallbearer, The Palms, Passion Pit, Peaches, Perfume Genius, Petit Biscuit, Phoebe Bridgers, Playboi Carti, Pond, Porcelain Raft, PRAYERS, The Radio Dept., Real Estate, The Revivalists, Royal Blood, Sampha, ScHoolboy Q, Sheer Mag, serpentwithfeet, Silversun Pickups, Sleep, Sleigh Bells, SOFI TUKKER, Solange, Spiritualized, Styles P, Sunflower Beam, Talib Kweli, Tank and The Bangas, Tash Sultana, Tei Shi, Temples, Tennis, Tennyson, Thou, Thundercat, TOBACCO, Touché Amoré, Tool, Tove Lo, Travis Scott, Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vagabon, Vance Joy, Vic Mensa, Warpaint, Weezer, White Fence, Woods, YG, Young the Giant.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2017.

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

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


Best of 2017 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Date: February 1st
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Yet, in just four years, Run the Jewels have already reached hip-hop’s mountaintop with their politically charged lyrics and hard-hitting beats. Just take last Wednesday’s sold-out show in LA for example. With the duo’s third studio album still only a few weeks old, 5,000 or so fans poured into the spacious Shrine Expo Hall to watch El-P and Killer Mike fuck shit up (for lack of a better term). And that’s exactly what they did after opening sets from The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangasta Boo and CUZ. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - BADBADNOTGOOD

BADBADNOTGOOD

Date: February 23rd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold-out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Spoon

Spoon

Date: March 7th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

In total, Spoon performed five songs from the new record, including “First Caress” to open a brief encore that left us eager for more. But as the five-piece rocked “Rainy Taxi” from 2014’s They Want My Soul to close, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is one band I never should have slept on. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

Date: April 8th
Location: Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best of 2017 - DREAMCAR

DREAMCAR

Date: April 9th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Jared Stossel, photo by Jared Stossel


Best of 2017 - A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

Date: April 13th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Date: April 14th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

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”. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Date: April 16th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

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. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - The xx

The xx

Date: April 17th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

Playfully alluding to their material’s emotional sentiment, Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar) and Oliver Sim (bass, vocals) managed to entrance all of us with their tension-filled gazes and syncopated dance moves. Prolonging vocal arrangements, especially during their accelerated live interpretation of “Infinity”, were also stunning to witness. About halfway through the set, Jamie Smith (beats, MPC, production), aka Jamie xx, took the lead and transformed the room into a giant disco party thanks to an onslaught of consecutive dance hits before finishing with “Loud Places” from his 2015 solo LP In Colour. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

Date: April 20th
Location: Mayan Theater – Los Angeles

Moderat subsequently circled back to III, performing “Intruder” before exiting the stage to a rousing applause. Yet, when the house lights didn’t come on right away, the suspense began to build once again. Less than a minute later, the three-piece reemerged, giving the audience more than its money’s worth. Two-encore shows are usually reserved for high-profile groups with extensive catalogs like Radiohead, but Moderat have never played by any rules. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Date: May 9th
Location: The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles

The Lips, of course, made sure to play that song, and even though it was without Watts, it still proved to be an unforgettable moment due to the fact that Coyne rode a life-size unicorn from one end of the stage to the other as he belted out lines like “Yeah, there should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes / It should be loud as fuck / Hope the swans don’t die” to open the tune while wearing a big smile across his face. If that’s not psychedelic to you, then I don’t know what is. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Date: June 3rd
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Stephanie Port, photo by Stephanie Port


Best of 2017 - Jay Som

Jay Som

Date: June 17th
Location: Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.” -Kevin Quandt, photo by Emmeline Munson


Best of 2017- AIR

AIR

Date: June 23rd
Location: The Masonic – San Francisco

AIR’s live performances focus on capturing the crisp, detailed production style that the duo has honed over two decades. It’s a vibrant, textured sound. Centered around acoustic guitar, synthesizers and the breathy timbre of the duo’s immaculate harmonized vocals, the use of live drums helped round out the contrast between both the artificial and acoustic sounds in songs like “Cherry Blossom Girl”. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - PLANETARIUM

PLANETARIUM

Date: July 21st
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”. -Norm de Veyra, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - The Drums

The Drums

Date: July 21st
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

By the time The Drums took the stage, the intimate venue was packed to the brim with fans. The Brooklyn outfit made as much of an impression as it did when frontman Jonathan Pierce and company exploded onto the scene in 2009 with their initial EP Summertime! From then on, it became glaringly obvious with their eccentric band members and seemingly effortless style that they possessed an energetic presence. And at their SF show, it didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to fall into a groove as the venue’s whole atmosphere lit up. -Jacqueline Moore, photo by Jacqueline Moore


Best of 2017 - Miguel

Miguel

Date: July 23rd
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles

Once the sun set and Miguel stepped onstage, the audience was transported somewhere else entirely. Born and raised in LA, the 31-year-old’s silky-smooth voice floated through the cool evening breeze over the twinkle lights in the trees, giving the impression of an island retreat rather than a concert in the park. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: August 5th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

Granduciel’s raspy voice, as well as his driving (no pun intended) guitar rhythms and reverb-laden riffs, are largely what separates The War on Drugs from the rest in a crowded indie-rock scene, but the sum of the band’s parts — Charlie Hall (drums), David Hartley (bass), Anthony LaMarca (guitar, keyboards), Robbie Bennett (keyboards) and finally Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) — also creates a sound that while familiar, still feels uniquely different. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Date: August 11th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Easily one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Gorillaz’s Humanz tour made its West Coast debut on Day 1 at OSL. After a six-year hiatus, expectations ran extremely high for this headlining performance. On previous tours, the band’s members had played second fiddle to the cartoon projections of their alter egos onstage, but everyone was visible this time around. Several collaborators from Gorillaz’s previous albums, including Kali Uchis, Yukimi Nagano and Del the Funky Homosapien, came out to join them, and the Damon Albarn-led group still pulled some even bigger surprises with cameos appearances from De la Soul and Pusha T. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Date: August 12th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

While the cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age was a blow a week prior to the event, the replacement that was lined up more than delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll. Cage the Elephant are now being widely considered festival-headliner material, and frontman Matt Shultz is making a strong claim for that accolade as he continues to elevate his stage act to near-Mick Jagger levels of pomp and energy. “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” received hearty sing-alongs from a decidedly youthful crowd as Cage have become a favorite of Generation Z. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!” -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - SZA

SZA

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - Bonobo

Bonobo (Live)

Date: September 27th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Coldplay

Coldplay

Date: October 4th
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

Coldplay took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. as a video montage of fans who introduced them as “the biggest band in the world” played onstage. While I’m pretty sure there are a few other artists or groups from their side of the pond (ehem, U2) who might take issue with that claim, they certainly did nothing during their electric, almost two-hour performance to dissuade that sort of thinking. Chris Martin and company, in fact, wasted no time getting down to business, flooding the stadium with confetti and firing off pyrotechnics at a steady clip while opening with “A Head Full of Dreams” and subsequently all throughout the night. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Date: October 26th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

Here’s the thing about BSS — after 15 years, the web of musicians that makes up the collective have created their own individual projects, from Metric to Stars to Feist to Do Make Say Think to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. And while many of the band’s members who have gone on to find success in their own solo careers didn’t happen to join the group on this particular tour, the sense of professionalism built into the BSS live experience remains prevalent. Every person who stepped onstage demonstrated consummate abilities in their own realms, never missing a beat or a note. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Norm de Veyra

Best of 2017 - Jim James

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Bonobo gives his new hometown a beautiful night to remember at LA’s Greek Theatre

BonoboBy Josh Herwitt //

Bonobo (Live) with Bob Moses //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
September 27th, 2017 //

More than 17 years have passed since Simon Green dropped his debut album. In fact, the British musician, producer and DJ wasn’t even known as Bonobo at the time.

But five LPs and a plethora of other releases later, and Green has established himself as a pioneer of the modern downtempo scene. And in many ways, he’s still leading the charge.

What makes Bonobo’s music so intriguing to listen to is its detachment from any one genre. Green, rather, draws from a variety of musical styles that can be heard all over the world in creating a sound that is uniquely his own.

However, for as popular as Bonobo has become in electronic music circles, it wasn’t until he started touring with a full band in support of 2010’s Black Sands that a whole new light was shone on the project. And as the push-play EDM scene began to take hold, it was a different and refreshing way to see downtempo electronic music being performed live.

Bob Moses


Bob Moses

The move to play with a cast of sidekicks has opened the door for Green to explore new sonic territory, and at the seemingly always-serene Greek Theatre in LA, that transformation, much like his performance up north just a few days prior (see our photos from the show here), was more evident than ever before. This wasn’t my first time seeing Bonobo perform with a band, but it did feel a little different for a few reasons. One was simply that it wasn’t at Coachella or a music festival, while the other was I hadn’t seen Bonobo perform live in his new hometown. Green, after all, moved to LA several years ago following the release of his fifth full length The North Borders in 2013, and this year’s follow-up, Migration, clearly draws inspiration from that significant change in his life as the album’s title suggests.

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. But one difference between the two electronic-leaning artists is Bonobo’s knack for working with vocalists, and British singer Szjerdene has been one of the latest as she continues to join him on the road in support of Migration, which features LA-based R&B duo Rhye and Aussie singer-songwriter Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker). And while neither of those aforementioned collaborators made an appearance on this early fall night that in many ways still felt like summer in LA, Szjerdene and an orchestral section only added to the magic of the evening.

As Bonobo’s popularity continues to grow in the U.S. with every new album he puts out, it’s curious to think how far it could go. With his move to the states and more specifically to The Entertainment Capital of the World, you can expect him to flourish in a city that’s absolutely flooded with talent in all facets. LA has long been home to one of the biggest electronic music scenes in the world, and with the rise of satellite and independent radio — in particular, NPR member station KCRW — over the past decade, Bonobo’s music has reached many more ears across the Southland.

So, if the nearly sold-out crowd at the 5,870-seat Greek Theatre on a Wednesday night was any indication as to how far he has come, then Green picked just the right place to now call home.

Deep Purple, Alice Cooper shake a sold-out crowd at LA’s Greek Theatre

Alice Cooper


Alice Cooper

By Christina Badalian //

Deep Purple & Alice Cooper with Edgar Winter Group //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
August 13th, 2017 //

The Greek Theatre in LA was packed last Sunday for a sold-out show featuring legendary artists Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and the Edgar Winter Group.

Alice Cooper, known as “The Godfather of Shock Rock,” excited the audience with a visually stunning, theatrical show involving dolls, fake blood, a giant Frankenstein doll and macabre-costumed actors. We also saw Cooper get electrocuted and later get his head chopped off in a guillotine for murdering a woman.

Deep Purple


Deep Purple

The crowd sang along as Cooper performed his biggest hits, including “Poison”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “I’m Eighteen” and the best for last, “School’s Out”. He also played tracks from his new LP Paranormal, including the album’s lone single “Paranoiac Personality”. At the age of 69, the dark and ghoulish Cooper proved that he is a true master of his craft.

British heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple closed out the night as part of their “Long Goodbye Tour”. They got the audience pumped as they opened with their hit “Highway Star” before the group continued to perform such hits as “Strange Kind of Woman”, “Space Truckin'”, “Smoke on the Water” and “Hush”.

DEEP PURPLE

Setlist:
Highway Star
Fireball
Strange Kind of Woman
Uncommon Man
Lazy
The Surprising
Keyboard Solo
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Smoke on the Water

Encore:
Time for Bedlam
Hush

ALICE COOPER

Setlist:
Brutal Planet
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
Paranoiac Personality
Woman of Mass Distraction
Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss)
Poison
Halo of Flies
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Killer
I Love the Dead
I’m Eighteen

Encore:
School’s Out

Ryan Adams & The Unknown Band remind us at LA’s Greek Theatre why we keep coming back for more

Ryan AdamsBy Stephanie Port //

Ryan Adams & The Unknown Band with Karen Elson //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
June 3rd, 2017 //

“It’s good to be home,” touted singer and guitarist Ryan Adams, who performed at LA’s Greek Theatre with his Unknown Band last Saturday.

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.

English singer-songwriter Karen Elson got things started with a set of songs from her new LP Double Roses, as Jack White’s former wife and her bandmates exhibited airy vocals, ethereal melodies and haunting guitar licks.

Setlist:
Let It Ride (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
Magnolia Mountain (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Two
Gimme Something Good
Dirty Rain
Fix It (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Prisoner
Outbound Train
Shakedown on 9th Street
Do You Still Love Me?
Stay With Me
When the Stars Go Blue
Ashes & Fire
Peaceful Valley (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Dear John (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals cover)
Doomsday
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
improv > “What the Fuck Is That Shirt”
Everybody Knows
Invisible Riverside
New York, New York
Come Pick Me Up

Conor Oberst’s sad songs make us feel happy at LA’s Greek Theatre

Conor OberstBy Rochelle Shipman //

Conor Oberst with Julien Baker //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
May 13th, 2017 //

As the crowd filled into the Greek Theatre during Julien Baker’s opening set last Saturday, the young singer softly said it best: sad songs simply make us feel happy.

This is what keeps fans coming back to see Conor Oberst year after year, this most recent time in support of his latest release Salutations. This is what quieted the crowd low enough to hear a sniffle or two during songs like “Lua”, which is now 12 years old and still inciting a cheerful uproar as it crescendoed midway through.

And for anyone who has been comforted by Oberst at some point during the last 20-plus years of his career, this was the truth that will keep us listening for 20 more.

Setlist:
Afterthought
Four Winds (Bright Eyes song)
Time Forgot
Too Late to Fixate
Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out
Eagle on a Pole
Barbary Coast (Later)
Well Whiskey (Bright Eyes song)
Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch)
Anytime Soon/Overdue
Map of the World (Monsters of Folk cover)
Lua (Bright Eyes song)
Jack at the Asylum (The Felice Brothers cover)
Salutations
Artifact #1
Poison Oak (Bright Eyes song)
A Little Uncanny

Encore:

Unknown (new song)
Train Under Water (Bright Eyes song)
Napalm

As their frontman battles drug addiction, The Head and the Heart press on at LA’s Greek Theatre

The Heart and the HeartBy Josh Herwitt //

The Head and the Heart //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
October 7th, 2016 //

It’s amazing how far The Head and the Heart have come in just a little more than seven years. Formed through a series of open mic nights in the northwest Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, the sextet ditched world-renowned indie label Sub Pop this year and signed with Warner Bros. Records for its third full-length album Signs of Light, which dropped early last month.

But attaining major-label status hasn’t been the only change for The Head and the Heart over the past 12 months. Back in March, the band announced that frontman Josiah Johnson would be taking an indefinite leave to enter rehab and recover from drug addiction, leaving Jonathan Russell in charge of handling lead-vocal duties all on his own.

The Heart and the Heart

Though there’s no doubt the indie-folk outfit misses Johnson’s presence onstage, it seems to be doing just fine without him for the time being. For instance, take last Friday’s show at the Greek Theatre, which welcomed a solid turnout from the group’s LA contingent as countless couples and fans anywhere from the ages of 25-50 occupied the historic outdoor venue by the time The Head and the Heart took the stage shortly after 9 p.m.

Opening with their newest single “All We Ever Knew”, The Head and the Heart spent the next hour and a half showcasing some of their biggest hits, from “Lost in My Mind” and “Down in the Valley” off their self-titled debut LP to “Shake” and “Another Story” that are on their 2013 follow-up Let’s Be Still. It’s still unclear when Johnson is expected to return, but Russell and his four sidekicks — Charity Rose Thielen, Chris Zasche, Kenny Hensley and Tyler Williams — should be able to find comfort in the fact that their latest record is setting its own record after reaching as high as No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 40,000 units in its first week. If that, in addition to their new label status now, doesn’t immediately convince you that The Head and the Heart are on the up and up, seeing them perform live at a place like the Greek just might.

Setlist:
All We Ever Knew
Coeur d’Alene
City of Angels
Ghosts
Rhythm & Blues
Shake
Another Story
Let’s Be Still
Turn It Around
Lost in My Mind
Colors
Library Magic
Oh My Dear
I Don’t Mind
Winter Song
Sounds Like Hallelujah
Down in the Valley

Encore:
(Unknown)
Your Mother’s Eyes
Rivers and Roads

Hot Chip take their game to the next level at LA’s Greek Theatre

Hot ChipBy Josh Herwitt //

Hot Chip with !!! (Chk Chk Chk) //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
August 11th, 2015 //

It takes a special kind of band that can pack the Greek Theatre on a Tuesday night and ignite a full-blown dance party within minutes, but after spending the last 15 years perfecting their craft, Hot Chip proved to be more than up for the challenge on their latest stop through LA.

Coming off their much-talked-about set at Outside Lands last weekend, the London septet was joined by electronic/​synthwave musician Com Truise and longtime dance-punk band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). With the Greek still half empty, !!! lead singer Nic Offer did his best to energize fans with a pair of short shorts and a bag full of flamboyant dance moves. Part of the problem at the Greek has always been that shows are forced to start on the earlier side due to its strict 11 p.m. curfew, but by the time !!! had finished their 40-minute set, most of the seats inside the Greek had been filled with fans eagerly awaiting Hot Chip’s presence.

Hot Chip

The house lights dimmed just after 9 p.m., and all seven members — Alexis Taylor (vocals, synthesizer, guitar, percussion, piano), Joe Goddard (vocals, synthesizer, percussion), Owen Clarke (guitar, bass, synthesizer, percussion), Felix Martin (drum machines, synthesizer, programming), Al Doyle (guitar, backing vocals, synthesizer, percussion, bass, flugelhorn, steel pans), Rob Smoughton (guitar, bass, percussion, backing vocals, synthesizer) and Sarah Jones (drums, backing vocals) — took the stage to a roaring applause from an audience of all ages, one with many who looked like they were having the time of their lives. It was the first time the band had been in LA since 2012, and with its most recent album Why Make Sense? less than three months old, they didn’t waste any time diving into their new material.

Hot Chip have been opening with “Huarache Lights”, the first single off Why Make Sense?, on this tour, and they did exactly the same at the Greek before transitioning into another big hit of theirs, this time the title track from their 2010 success One Life Stand. For as well-received as Why Make Sense? has been, Hot Chip didn’t favor it in light of their older songs. But of the tracks they did play from their latest album, all of them resonated with the overjoyed and surprisingly polite audience. From the electro-funk groove that anchors “Easy to Get” to the electropop sounds of “Started Right”, they compelled the crowd no matter which song they played on this night.

Hot Chip

When it was time for the encore, Hot Chip dialed it back all the way to 2006, the year their sophomore LP The Warning was nominated for a Mercury Prize. And although “Boy from School” served as one of its earliest hits, the group also decided to pay homage to a couple of its influences, with one being none other than The Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen. The band, in fact, has been covering “Dancing in the Dark” for several months now, but watching it close the show with its own rendition of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” was just as gratifying in the end. Sure, the song selection may not have been a surprise considering Doyle used to play in James Murphy’s now-defunct dance-punk outfit, but with the way Hot Chip can hold an audience’s attention these days, it may not be long before another band is breathing new life into one of their own songs.

Setlist:
Huarache Lights
One Life Stand
Night & Day
Easy to Get
Started Right
Flutes
Over and Over
Alley Cats
Cry for You
Need You Now
Ready for the Floor
I Feel Better

Encore:
Look at Where We Are
Boy from School
Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)
All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem cover)

Thievery Corporation overcome stage drama to dazzle Greek

Thievery CorporationBy Josh Herwitt //

Thievery Corporation with Stephen Marley //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
September 27th, 2014 //

Ten years ago, Zach Braff introduced millions of “Garden State” fans to the downtempo, worldly beats of Thievery Corporation. At the time, the Washington, DC-based collective founded by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton had already released three studio albums and more than 10 compilation discs on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge Music record label.

But it wasn’t until Braff incorporated the hypnotic, Middle Eastern sounds of “Lebanese Blonde” into his 2004 film’s soundtrack that people really started to take notice of the electronic duo’s work.

Thievery Corporation