I celebrated my birthday at LA’s Greek Theatre with a proper probing by Puscifer as ‘The Existential Reckoning Tour’ rolls on this summer

PusciferBy Josh Herwitt //

Puscifer with Billy Howerdel, Moodie Black //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
June 12th, 2022 //

California has already felt its first heat wave this year, and we’ve only reached the middle of June.

For those of us living in the Golden State who are more familiar with the notion of June Gloom than triple digits, that should only serve as a warning sign that the next three months could be unfavorably H-O-T.

While the high temperatures might play well for the live music industry with this summer marking the first since it returned to full form due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus still remains a major part of daily life in the U.S. For that reason alone, it’s these long days when the weather is warmer (than usual) that can feel particularly reserved for us to safely catch live music outside before the days become short and a chill fills the air again. Call it “outdoor concert season” if you’d like. Either way, it’s certainly one of our favorite times of the year.

In my own case, being invited to cover Puscifer’s show at the Greek Theatre seemed like a cool way — even if there was some “work” involved — to celebrate my birthday. After all, what could be better than watching your favorite vocalist perform on your special day at one of LA’s most historic music venues?

Puscifer

Maynard James Keenan has long been known as the frontman for the critically acclaimed rock bands Tool and A Perfect Circle dating back more than a couple of decades ago, but the third project that the 58-year-old multi-hyphenate — which includes his acting and winemaking ventures over the years — considers to be his “creative subconscious” has been making music for almost 15 years with its latest LP Existential Reckoning dropping toward the end of 2020.

Puscifer, in many ways, feels inspired at least in part by Keenan’s brief stretch in Green Jellÿ during the early 90’s that saw him sing those high-pitched backup vocals as one of the pigs on the 1992 hit “Three Little Pigs” (you might recall the song’s classic claymation music video, too). Half comedy rock and half joke metal, the trio that also consists of Mat Mitchell (guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, production) and Carina Round (vocals, guitar, percussions, keyboards) as permanent members has found a niche among MJK fans who don’t always take their rock ‘n’ roll so seriously. As you can see from our photos below in fact, there were actually a couple of spectators sitting near us who dressed up in costume as Keenan’s “Billy D” character and special agent Round complete with a metal briefcase.

That’s, of course, all part of the fun at a Puscifer show. Never short on theatrics, the group often plays pre-recorded videos during its live performances that only provide the audience with more laughs and further entertainment over the course of two hours. Even those who aren’t familiar with Puscifer’s four studio albums like “V” Is for Vagina and Money Shot should get a kick out of agent-in-training Keenan trying to play a strange game of celebrity lookalike on screen at one point in the evening.

Yet I would be remiss to not mention that when Puscifer announced “The Existential Reckoning Tour” in February, the slogan for the 21-date run was “Prepare To Be Probed.” And despite the message’s erotic undertones unsurprisingly, it does feel rather fitting as our world becomes more uncertain by the day. No one can know for sure if Planet Earth will be overtaken by extraterrestrials in the future, but with Keenan opening our eyes to the possibility while still managing to make us giggle, spending a night with Puscifer isn’t just an escape from reality whether you’re blowing out candles or not.

Setlist:
Act I
Bread and Circus
Postulous
Fake Affront
The Underwhelming
Grey Area
Theorem
Vagina Mine (Remixed)
UPGrade

Act II
Apocalyptical
The Remedy
Personal Prometheus
A Singularity
The Humbling River (Nagual del Judith Mix)

Act III (Billy D on vocals)
Bullet Train to Iowa
Flippant
Conditions of My Parole
Bedlamite

Animal Collective haven’t forgotten how to be delightfully weird, delivering a manic mind melt at LA’s Greek Theatre

Animal CollectiveBy Rochelle Shipman //

Animal Collective with SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
May 20th, 2022 //

It’s safe to say that a lot has changed in the world over the last two years, but there’s one thing that has thankfully remained the same about Animal Collective: they’re still weird as shit and delightful as all hell.

Their triumphant display at the Greek Theatre felt like a long-awaited psychedelic hug, a comforting two hours of pure and manic mind melt. Animal Collective’s music can be somewhat divisive, so to be with 5,000 of your newest friends at a concert screaming along to some of your most treasured songs … it never gets old, even if you don’t know exactly what it is that they’re saying all the time. In fact, that only adds to the beauty of it since they formed more than two decades ago.

Friday’s headlining performance in LA all the sweet spots. The last pre-pandemic tour or two had each member of Animal Collective tucked behind rightful, yet artful individual podiums, which decorated the stage and elevated the show in its own right. But after a chaotic couple of years for all of us, it felt really good to have all four of them together on the same stage, instruments spread about, baring it all in front of a live audience with nothing except a few cables and some keyboards separating them. It was a solid reminder that these guys make these stunningly intricate songs with their own human hands after all.

Avey Tare (David Portner), Deakin (Josh Dibb) and Geologist (Brian Weitz) pivoted back and forth from strings to keys and synths, rarely looking up and never missing a beat, while just watching Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) coo and harmonize from behind his drum kit damn near felt like a privilege. And yet, they hardly exchanged so much as a glance at each other, somehow bringing an even more impressive layer to the group’s already-electrifying catalog.

Animal Collective

The setlist was perfect, the visuals were on point as ever and the band was tight on this night. Animal Collective are never loose per se — their music literally doesn’t allow it — but they glided through each song with such a familiar air of ease. In the handful of shows I’ve been lucky enough to catch over the years, they tend to use their live shows to test out brand-new material and dip into older songs — both beloved favorites and those that don’t always get to see the light of day. Given the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, it’s safe to say that their 11th and newest studio album Time Skiffs didn’t exactly get that same pre-release tour treatment. This show made up for that, not only with the band righteously tearing through the bulk of the nine-track LP that dropped in February, but also with the packs of “Time Spliffs” rolling papers available at the merch table (right next to the safe abortion access information).

In addition to the Skiffs and one or two new songs, Animal Collective offered cuts from Centipede HZ, Strawberry Jam, Merriweather Post Pavilion and two songs off ODDSAC. They didn’t touch Painting With or any of the fantastic singles from the EPs surrounding it, and they didn’t dig into anything pre-Strawberry Jam. As a Strawberry Jam purist, I again felt privileged to be there. Not only did we get to hear “Chores”, but we got a fiery encore of “Unsolved Mysteries” right into a raucous rendition of “For Reverend Green” to close out a four-song encore.

Within seconds of the house lights flickering on, someone in front of me lamented the absence of “My Girls”. He turned around and said, “I don’t get it. That was such a weak ending. Why wouldn’t they play their biggest hit?” To clarify (and as I confirmed by the look on his friend’s face), “For Reverend Green” was not a weak ending. It was, in fact, exhilarating. And it’s nothing against that dude — it was his first Animal Collective show. He’ll probably enjoy the next one more because he won’t be expecting it, and maybe he’ll even be surprised.

Animal Collective didn’t play “My Girls” partially because that guy expected it. They don’t champion their biggest hit in a way that many bands would. They’re not there to play the hits, and it’s clear at this phase in their career that they don’t have to be. Their live stage time is and always has been cherished among them, reserved for the songs they feel like sharing with fans and nothing else. For us, it’s just a privilege to bear witness after all these years.

Setlist:
Passer-By
Bluish
Gem and I
Wide Eyed
Prester John
Cherokee
In the Flowers
Working
Strung With Everything
We Go Back
Chores
Applesauce

Encore:
Screens
No More Runnin
Unsolved Mysteries
For Reverend Green

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2021

Best of 2021 - Olivia Rodrigo, Quicksand, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Moses Sumney, Caribou, Outside Lands

The past 12 months have been interesting to say the least. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world after almost two years, 2021 did prove to be a little better than its predecessor on the calendar and a big reason for that was undoubtedly the return of live music during the second half of this year. For so many of us after being locked down at home, just having the chance to attend a concert or festival in person again provided some sense of normalcy to our everyday lives.

But as we look forward to hopefully better days in 2022, it’s time for us to unveil our annual “Best of” lists like we have done since this blog first began (see our 2020 picks here). No, we didn’t have time to catch every show or hear all of the albums released in the last 365 days, but forcing ourselves to make difficult decisions can be a fun exercise that helps us reflect on the year in music before turning the page.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2021.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2021:

My Morning Jacket (Jim James) at Santa Barbara Bowl


My Morning Jacket at Santa Barbara Bowl // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2021
1. My Morning Jacket at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – September 23rd
Almost six years had passed since the last time Jim James and company performed at one of Southern California’s best music venues, but after surviving 18 months without witnessing any live music, the wait for MMJ’s return to the stage felt even longer. Fortunately for us, the Louisville-bred quintet brought its A game to kick off a string of West Coast dates and powered through a collection of 23 songs at the Santa Barbara Bowl that included the emotive “In Color” off the band’s new self-titled album as well as “Where to Begin” from the “Elizabethtown” soundtrack. MMJ have earned a reputation over the years as one of the best live acts still out there, and they certainly validated that claim with a 2.5-hour performance that made the 90-mile drive from LA on a weeknight totally worth it.

2. Modest Mouse at The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles, CA – September 25th
3. Caribou at Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – November 15th
4. Lord Huron at Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, CA – September 30th
5. Primus “A Tribute to Kings” at Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – October 17th

Top 5 Albums of 2021
1. The War on Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore
What can we say about Adam Granduciel that hasn’t already been said? After composing and producing The War on Drugs’ best material during his previous two trips into the studio with the latter effort winning a Grammy, we knew it would be tough for the Philadelphia native to match that same level of excellence attained in 2014 and 2017 with Lost in the Dream and A Deeper Understanding. And though I Don’t Live Here Anymore doesn’t quite get there, it marks another LP from Granduciel and his cohorts that you can listen straight through from start to finish without skipping a track. Because in an era when our attention spans have been shrunk thanks in large part to technology, that’s something we should all applaud.

2. Modest Mouse – The Golden Casket
3. DARKSIDE – Spiral
4. My Morning Jacket – My Morning Jacket
5. Royal Blood – Typhoons

Top 5 Songs of 2021
1. Royal Blood – “Boilermaker”
The English alt-rock duo comprised of lead singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher shared “Boilermaker” in the lead-up to releasing its third full length this year, and the promotional single certainly stands out from the pack as one of the best songs on Typhoons. Produced by Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme, it opens with Kerr’s fuzzed-out riff and quickly builds into a head-banging anthem over the course of three and a half minutes. If you haven’t heard it before, just make sure to also check out the badass music video that’s directed by and stars Liam Lynch. Enjoy!

2. My Morning Jacket – “In Color”
3. Modest Mouse – “Walking and Running”
4. The War on Drugs – “I Don’t Wanna Wait”
5. Bonobo – “Rosewood”

Favorite remix: Four Tet – “Never Come Back” (Caribou)


Quicksand - Distant Populations

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2021
1. Kowloon Walled City at The Golden Bull – Oakland, CA – November 30th
Regardless of the fact that I didn’t go to many shows this year, this would have likely been my No. 1 even if I went to more. I had only recently been turned on to Kowloon Walled City, but I was immediately drawn to their heavy sound and they proved to replicate that sonic fury live. The Golden Bull is a nice, intimate setting for live music, and the fact that KWC were able to dial in such a balanced sound at a small club made a huge difference given how BIG they sound on their studio albums. Everyone was fixated on the band throughout its entire set, and I barely noticed anyone looking at a phone — one of the modern-day signs of a great show.

2. Quicksand at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – October 15th
3. Bad Religion & Alkaline Trio at The Masonic – San Francisco, CA – November 24th
4. The Slackers & The Aggrolites at Cornerstone Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – December 9th
5. Lagwagon with Red City Radio & Decent Criminal at Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco, CA – November 4th

Top 5 Albums of 2021
1. Quicksand – Distant Populations
During a turbulent time like what we’ve all been collectively experiencing since last year, I think this album resonated with me so much because Quicksand has always been such a solid standby. Distant Populations is heavy in all of the right ways without being abrasive while also effectively showcasing Walter Schreifels’ dynamic song-crafting abilities. Quicksand aren’t necessarily breaking the mold here, but they’re a band that had already set the bar high with their earlier albums and this LP is an excellent continuation of their contribution to the hardcore scene.

2. Turnstile – Glow On
3. IDLES – Crawler
4. Kowloon Walled City – Piecework
5. Snail Mail – Valentine

Top 5 Songs of 2021
1. IDLES – “The Wheel”
I love how IDLES have the ability to take a song about a heavy subject like chemical dependency and turn it into an absolutely infectious banger. “The Wheel” is a perfect example of this, leaving you drawn in and tapping your foot while giving you something to ponder. The way that it can make you feel equal parts uplifted and uncomfortable is part of the appeal to me, and this was easily one of my most played songs of the year.

2. Decent Criminal – “Reap”
3. The Dirty Nil – “Doom Boy”
4. Kills Birds – “Rabbit”
5. Snail Mail – “Valentine”


Adam Schatz


Adam Schatz at The Gold Room // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2021
1. Adam Schatz at The Gold Room – Los Angeles, CA – November 18th
The Landlady frontman actually served as the opener on this night, but armed with little more than his saxophone, keyboards and loops, it’s safe to say Schatz stole the entire show. Fresh off a tour playing with Japanese Breakfast, he stepped onstage and quite literally let loose. It was the most refreshing, freeform, organic set full of wit and wonder, offering a sharp reminder why we need to protect the live music space (and to buy the killer album Landlady put out this year, too).

2. Foxx Bodies with Suzie True & Lando Chill at Resident DTLA – Los Angeles, CA – November 7th
3. Islands at Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA – September 9th
4. Spoon at Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA – September 28th
5. Armand Hammer & The Alchemist at Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – September 19th

Top 5 Albums of 2021
1. Foxx Bodies – Vixen
The raw emotions that come through Foxx Bodies’ debut on indie label Kill Rock Stars grabbed me by the ankles and knocked me off my feet the first time I heard it. For an album that explores everything from mental illness, sexual abuse, eating disorders, gender fluidity and beyond, it’s equally shocking how upbeat and uplifting it comes off. It’s part empowering riot grrrl and part rollicking surf punk, full confessional. Trigger warning: it will change your life.

2. Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
3. Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost
4. Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
5. Noga Erez – KIDS

Top 5 Songs of 2021
1. Hiatus Kaiyote – “Red Room”
This song is the antithesis to 2021. It’s so warm and beautiful, so intimate as though it was conceived in a world where social distancing doesn’t even exist. Nai Palm’s soft, raspy vocals envelop you, and the uncharacteristically subtle sounds (for Hiatus Kaiyote) deliver perhaps the most consistent semblance of peace felt this year.

2. Olivia Rodrigo – “Brutal”
3. Foxx Bodies – “BPD”
4. Yaya Bey – “fxck it then”
5. Little Simz feat. Cleo Sol – “Woman”

Favorite remix: Kari Faux feat. J.I.D – “While God Was Sleepin’… (Remix)”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Caribou kick off their North American tour at LA’s Greek Theatre & make the case why they’re among today’s best live-electronic acts

CaribouBy Josh Herwitt //

Caribou with Jessy Lanza //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
November 15th, 2021 //

Whether he’s creating new material in the studio or hitting the decks to share the music that has inspired him with others, Dan Snaith has been honing his craft for more than two decades now.

The Canadian musician who performs under several stage names got his start recording as Manitoba, but in 2005, NYC punk rock singer Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba of The Dictators came calling and threatened Snaith with legal action, prompting him to make a change. Shortly thereafter, Snaith’s new recording alias Caribou was born.

But maybe Manitoba barking up Snaith’s tree over a silly name more than 15 years ago was actually a small blessing in disguise. After all, it’s only subsequently led Snaith to make several excellent Caribou records, most notably 2014’s seminal Our Love but also last year’s Suddenly that dropped just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. And of course there’s Snaith’s DJ side project Daphni that allows him to focus on more club-oriented sounds as Caribou’s live-electronic aesthetic has simultaneously grown in its appeal to larger audiences.

So after having his return to Coachella in 2020 postponed due to coronavirus cases skyrocketing at the time, that could be why Snaith decided to kick off Caribou’s tour across North America in LA to mark the Greek Theatre’s final gig of the year. While it would have been a lot to expect a full house on a Monday night in mid-November, the outdoor amphitheater with a 5,900 capacity still managed to welcome a few thousand folks inside its gates as Snaith’s fellow Canadian Jessy Lanza, who collaborated with him on the Grammy-nominated Our Love, warmed up a modest crowd as part singer, part electronic producer.

Caribou

Snaith, like Lanza, has taken a somewhat similar approach with Caribou, though even one step further live as a four-piece band that sees him not only incorporating various samples into the performance but also his vocals. Suddenly is actually the first Caribou album that features Snaith singing on every track, and you could sense it was a point of emphasis at the Greek over the course of 14 songs that spanned the project’s last three studio efforts and included new single “You Can Do It” from this past August.

That said, it isn’t often that you come across an electronic act as eclectic as Caribou. Snaith, in fact, has a knack for making dance-ready tracks that blend everything from 70’s funk and soul to 90’s hip-hop and R&B, with some of the highlights on Suddenly — whether it be the glitchy “New Jade” or soulful “Home” — serving as prime examples. But the real standout on the 12-track LP has to be the infectious “Never Come Back”, which has amassed nearly 28 million streams on Spotify and closed Caribou’s set with a version that employed elements of Four Tet’s extended remix.

And while it was a little bit surprising that Lanza did not join Snaith and company onstage at point in the evening, a Caribou concert wouldn’t be complete without hearing “Can’t Do Without You” before heading for the exits. The Our Love opener is no doubt a favorite for many Caribou fans, and at a time when the live music industry is still recovering after being shut down for 18 months or so, it was a simple reminder to soak up every second of the show we had left.

With plenty of uncertainty still surrounding the pandemic, there’s no telling what the future will hold for live music. If all goes as scheduled though, Snaith and his sidekicks will be back in California next year for a date at the Fox Theater Oakland on February 16th, and we can tell our Bay Area friends right now that’s one you won’t want to miss in 2022.

Setlist:
New Jade
Odessa
Our Love
Silver
Lime
Bowls
Like I Loved You
You and I
Ravi
Sun
Home
You Can Do It
Never Come Back (with elements of the Four Tet remix)

Encore:
Can’t Do Without You

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.