Fleet Foxes show a sold-out crowd at LA’s Greek Theatre why they are one of our most important indie bands over the past 15 years

Fleet FoxesBy Josh Herwitt //

Fleet Foxes with Tim Bernardes //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
July 8th, 2022 //

What is it about Fleet Foxes that makes them one of the most important indie bands over the past 15 years? Is it frontman Robin Pecknold’s golden baritenor and clever lyrics or is it the group’s lush vocal harmonies and eclectic instrumentation?

While the talent coming out of Pecknold’s mouth has been evident ever since the indie-folk act from the Seattle area dropped its debut EP in 2006, Fleet Foxes’ sound has continued to evolve and grow in that time past the Grizzly Bear comparisons, with 2020’s Grammy-nominated Shore exhibiting more of that sonic progression despite a three-year hiatus in the mid-2010’s and signing to their third record label in four albums.

None of those subplots seemed to have much effect on the final product, though. The gorgeous 15-track effort, if anything, represents another major step forward for Pecknold, and at the age of only 36, there’s no doubt that in a crowded landscape he has already proven to be one of the best songwriters out there after 2011’s Helplessness Blues and 2017’s Crack-Up cracked (no pun intended) the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

But even though Shore didn’t quite reach the same level of commercial success after being intentionally released on the autumnal equinox, it boasts some of Fleet Foxes’ catchiest melodies. It also established Pecknold (vocals, guitar) as more than just the band’s primary songwriter and truly the project’s creative mastermind after making the record without any of the other full-time members’ involvement. He instead worked with a myriad of collaborators in the studio, from Christopher Bear and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear to Kevin Morby and horn quartet The Westerlies, overseeing every step of the process right next to recording and mixing engineer Beatriz Artola. So in many ways, Shore is Pecknold’s baby and his baby alone after he was locked down for three months in his New York City apartment at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fleet Foxes

That said, you wouldn’t necessarily just know that by seeing one of Fleet Foxes’ shows on their current 28-date North American tour that included a sold-out stop in LA last Friday at the Greek Theatre, which Pecknold told us was his favorite venue in the country when he walked onstage to introduce opener Tim Bernardes, the Brazilian musician who also contributed vocals to “Going-to-the-Sun Road” on Shore. It was actually a surprising admission to hear from Pecknold, but considering that his parents don’t live far from the historic amphitheater and were in attendance this night, you could have thought Pecknold was just playing to the crowd early on. Or maybe it’s his admiration for The Beach Boys, who are scheduled to play the same stage later this summer, that has helped inform his opinion. Don’t get us wrong … the Greek is undeniably one of the best places in LA to witness live music, and it’s even in our Top 10 U.S. venues. We just can’t necessarily agree with Pecknold on this one as much as we admire and respect him. All differences aside, he did sound as good as he ever has — and maybe even better than on the last Fleet Foxes tour cycle when we caught them co-headline the Hollywood Bowl in 2017 with Beach House and perform at Coachella the following year — with his voice maturing like a fine wine.

For this run, Pecknold has been joined by more than just his usual four sidekicks in Skyler Skjelset (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), Casey Wescott (keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals), Christian Wargo (bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Morgan Henderson (upright bass, guitar, woodwinds, violin, percussion, saxophone). Christopher Icasiano (drums, percussion) has come onboard this year as a touring member, and with likely a bigger budget than the last time, Pecknold made sure to bring three-fourths of The Westerlies on tour, too. There was even a call for “Post” … you know, as in the 27-year-old Post Malone, who has become friends with Pecknold in recent years and invited him in May to sing “Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol” with a choir during his “Saturday Night Live” performance. It’s too bad he was allegedly sick, according to Pecknold.

Fleet Foxes have been setting the tone for these latest gigs with the first three tracks off Shore before going all the way back to their self-titled debut LP to deliver “Ragged Wood”, “Your Protector” and “He Doesn’t Know Why” respectively. Of the 24 songs that we heard at the Greek, nine were from Shore, with “I’m Not My Season” earning the solo acoustic treatment midway through the set. Pecknold has been known, however, to accept song requests while engaging with fans, and he did his best to oblige us on at least a couple of occasions over the course of two hours while also issuing a few jokes about Gen Z culture. There was the second half of “The Shrine/An Argument” dedicated to Pecknold’s friend Kerwin Frost, who was sitting a few rows in front of us, and the live debut (albeit a partial performance) of “Young Man’s Game” that was prompted by the audience.

It’s not uncommon at any concert for folks to head home when a band walks offstage to take its encore break, but when Pecknold and company returned from theirs after a few minutes, they were greeted by a roaring applause. After all, these were no fair-weather fans, and in a city like LA that has been on the receiving end of such criticism, nothing felt further from the truth as Fleet Foxes sent us home with the Helplessness Blues title track. Maybe it was because Pecknold proclaimed within the first few songs of the evening that this was the best show he had ever played or because it was the first time in nearly 11 years that the band had played the Greek. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of love for Fleet Foxes in the City of Angels and far, far beyond.

Setlist:
Wading in Waist‐high Water
Sunblind
Can I Believe You
Ragged Wood
Your Protector (followed by joke with “Montezuma” tease)
He Doesn’t Know Why
Featherweight
Third of May/Ōdaigahara
White Winter Hymnal
Phoenix (Big Red Machine cover)
Mearcstapa
Mykonos
I’m Not My Season (solo acoustic)
Blue Spotted Tail (solo acoustic)
The Kiss (Judee Sill cover)
The Shrine/An Argument (“An Argument” only; dedicated to Kerwin Frost)
Drops in the River
A Long Way Past the Past
Young Man’s Game (Live debut – partial; audience request)
Blue Ridge Mountains
Grown Ocean

Encore:
For a Week or Two
Going-to-the-Sun Road (with Tim Bernardes)
Helplessness Blues

Desert Daze enlists Tame Impala, Iggy Pop and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard as 2022 headliners to celebrate 10th anniversary

Desert Daze - 2022 lineup

Desert Daze //
Moreno Beach – Lake Perris, CA‎
September 30th-October 2nd, 2022 //

Itching to hit up a music festival this year?

Now that the live music industry has returned to its pre-pandemic ways, there have recently been a slew of festival lineup announcements in California and the latest just happens to be Desert Daze.

After all, on the same day that Ohana Encore announced a return to Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, the always-psychedelic Desert Daze has also revealed plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary at another beach in Southern California not anywhere near the ocean.

The three-day boutique music festival, which has found a home at Moreno Beach inside the 1,800-acre Lake Perris State Recreation Area since 2018, has put together a roster that falls right in line with past lineups as Tame Impala get set to perform their 2012 semifinal LP Lonerism in its entirety. Joining them as headliners will be Iggy Pop and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, both of which are Daze alumni.

Desert Daze’s undercard in 2022, meanwhile, will be rounded out by Chicano Batman, The Marías, Sky Ferreira, BADBADNOTGOOD, JPEGMAFIA, Mild High Club, Men I Trust, Cortex, Fuzz, Pond, Perfume Genius, Aldous Harding, Sleaford Mods, DakhaBrakha, Boy Pablo, Cymande and more. See the poster above for the rest of the scheduled acts.

Three-day GA and VIP passes to Desert Daze are available to purchase here starting at $299 and $649, respectively, during the fest’s presale before the general public on-sale begins this Thursday, June 16th at 10 a.m. PT. Don’t sleep on picking up tickets for what’s sure to be an exciting weekend in the desert!

Desert Daze 2022 - daily lineups

UPDATE (August 2nd): Desert Daze has unleashed daily lineups for its 10th anniversary with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard rocking Friday, Tame Impala performing Lonerism on Saturday and the legendary Iggy Pop closing things down Sunday to mark his only North American performance of the year. Single-day tickets are also available now, so grab those here for $139-179 (GA), $299-399 (VIP) and $666-777 (VIP Plus) while you can!

Desert Daze - updated 2022 lineup

Desert Daze 2022 - Friday set times

Desert Daze 2022 - Saturday set times

Desert Daze 2022 - Sunday set times

Desert Daze 2022 - map

UPDATE (September 22nd): With Desert Daze’s 10th anniversary only a week away, the festival has dished out this year’s set times and quite a few lineup changes, beginning with Beach House replacing Iggy Pop as Sunday’s headliner. The legendary singer-songwriter unfortunately won’t be able to perform in 2022 due to unprecedented visa delays involving his French band, but he’s not the only who won’t be making it out to Lake Perris as Boy Pablo and Los Retros have also pulled out. In their place, along with Beach House, will be English post-punk band Shame and an undisclosed secret set that organizers say “may cause havoc.” Don’t forget to take a peek at the entire schedule and map above, and if you haven’t already snagged yours, single-day and weekend tickets are still available here!

Just Like Heaven 2022: Pasadena’s own slice of indie-music bliss

Just Like Heaven 2022 - Interpol, Santigold & The ShinsPhotos by Josh Herwitt & courtesy of JLH with artwork by Melissa Herwitt // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Just Like Heaven //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
May 21st, 2022 //

For those of you in California who haven’t noticed yet, we’re right in the midst of festival season.

With Coachella wrapping up last month and Lightning in a Bottle as well as BottleRock taking place over Memorial Day weekend, 2022 has already brought the live music industry back to the Golden State in a big way (and let’s make sure we mention BeachLife Festival, too).

But for those of us who haven’t been attending music festivals for a few years in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more exciting when any concert promoter can assemble a lineup of great artists and bands to perform all on the same day. That’s what Goldenvoice did, in fact, when it announced the return of Just Like Heaven with a dream lineup for any indie-music fan during the mid-2000s, anchored by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins and M.I.A. with Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Chromeo, Santigold, Cut Copy, The Hives, Wolf Parade, Peaches and !!! also listed on the poster.

After taking over the Queen Mary Park in Long Beach for its debut in 2019, Just Like Heaven has found greener pastures to call home 35 miles north in Pasadena at the Brookside Golf Course adjacent to the Rose Bowl. It’s a proven location for hosting music festivals at this point after holding several large-scale events there before like Shaun White’s inaugural Air + Style and both editions of Goldenvoice’s two-day Arroyo Seco Weekend. But with the AEG-owned company’s other single-day fest Cruel World occupying the site two days the previous weekend and more music festivals like This Ain’t No Picnic scheduled for August, it’s safe to say that the Brookside is becoming quite a hotspot for Goldenvoice of late.

Just Like Heaven, nevertheless, seemingly fits the bill for Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett. And though the festival didn’t sell out nor was a second day added this time around, it still felt like quite a success given everything we have endured for more than two years. If anything, it was a brief reminder of what life felt like before the pandemic.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - Peaches


Peaches

While there wasn’t one performance at Just Like Heaven that stood above the rest, there were certainly highlights throughout the day — starting as early as 2 p.m. when Peaches stepped onto the main stage with an array of scantily-clad costumes to celebrate the belated 20th anniversary of her second LP The Teaches of Peaches. For those who got there in time to witness the Canadian electroclash musician in all her glory, it was 50 minutes we’ll never forget as Merrill Nisker delivered one erotic moment after the next alongside her backing band and backup dancers who were wearing as little as her. Sure, hearing Wolf Parade play 2005’s Apologies to the Queen Mary right after wasn’t quite as entertaining, but it did feel apropos given Just Like Heaven’s prior location, setting us up for an evening of classic indie rock.

By the time Franz Ferdinand took the stage for their 5:10 p.m. start, you could tell that the attendance had grown considerably compared to what it was earlier for late-afternoon sets by Kele Okereke, The Hives and Cut Copy. Of course the latter did their best to turn the daytime dance party up a notch with crowd-pleasers such as “Lights and Music” and “Hearts on Fire” off 2008’s In Ghost Colours, but it was Franz Ferndinand, Santigold and Bloc Party who shepherded us through the early evening (and one of them even made us pretend like we were back in 2005 listening to Silent Alarm for the first time again).

One of our only grievances with Just Like Heaven this year was scheduling Chromeo to perform exactly when The Shins were, leaving us less of an opportunity to catch both acts during the sunset. But James Mercer and his sidekicks made the most of it after a long time away from touring, offering 15 cuts across the band’s catalog before finishing with a rare cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” as the sun fell behind the San Gabriel Mountains.

From there, the remaining hours of the festival belonged to Modest Mouse, M.I.A. and Interpol. With the first two receiving 60 minutes on their respective stages — Orion and Stardust — each made a point to placate the more casual listener with commercial hits like “Float On” and “Paper Planes” receiving their three minutes in the spotlight. But while some of the songs on Modest Mouse’s 2021 album The Golden Casket don’t translate as well to a live setting as their older material and M.I.A.’s show can often be a bit too bizarre for some, Interpol was there at the end to ground us and bring it all home.

The NYC post-punk revival trio has been on the road for about a month after completing The Other Side of Make-Believe, and although we will have to wait until mid-July for their seventh studio effort to arrive, Interpol did provide a preview of sorts with “Fables” and “Toni” sprinkled into a setlist highlighted by one of our personal favorites “Rest My Chemistry” from 2007’s Our Love to Admire. Yet, it was only fitting on this night for Interpol to also uncork “The Heinrich Maneuver” from the same record that hears frontman Paul Banks ask the audience in the opening lyric, “How are things on the West Coast?” before replying, “I hear you’re moving real fine.” With Just Like Heaven alive and well after a three-year hiatus and new music from Interpol on the horizon, there’s no doubt we are now.

Just Like Heaven boasts stellar 2022 lineup led by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins & M.I.A.

Just Like Heaven - 2022 lineup

Just Like Heaven //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
May 21st, 2022 //

With California fully reopening last week on June 15th, normalcy is slowly but surely returning to the Golden State. And lucky for us, so is Just Like Heaven.

The one-day music festival put on by Goldenvoice made its debut in 2019 and proved to be an instant success — a second day was actually added after tickets sold out — with Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Beach House, Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, The Rapture, Miike Snow and more invading Queen Mary Park in Long Beach.

But after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show is ready to go on again next year and Just Like Heaven has dropped a 2022 roster that should be a dream come true for any indie music fan.

Migrating more than 30 miles north up the 710 Freeway to the Brookside Golf Course at the Rose Bowl, the fest will feature performances by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins, M.I.A., Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Chromeo, Santigold, Cut Copy, The Hives, Wolf Parade (performing their 2005 debut LP Apologies to the Queen Mary), Peaches, !!!, The Raveonettes and more for one Saturday in May. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

Want to go? Make sure to register for the presale here before GA passes go on sale this Thursday, June 24th at 10 a.m. PT for $139 (Tier 1) and eventually increase to $159 (Tier 2) and $179 (Tier 3). VIP, Saturday Clubhouse and Saturday Clubhouse Platinum tickets, meanwhile, will also be available for $349, $599 and $899 plus fees, respectively.

And while that’s quite a chunk of change to shell out for a bunch of indie artists and bands who might have peaked more than a decade ago, we still can’t remember the last time heaven ever looked this good.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - set times

UPDATE (April 25th): As the days count down to Just Like Heaven’s return in less than a month, this year’s set times have arrived. With the lineup being as stacked as it is, there of course are conflicts to sort out, whether it’s Wolf Parade vs. Kele Okereke, The Hives vs. Cut Copy, Franz Ferdinand and/or Bloc Party vs. Santigold, The Shins vs. Chromeo or Modest Mouse vs. M.I.A. Interpol, meanwhile, will headline as expected with no competition and the entire crowd to itself. Peep the full list above to see who’s playing on which stage and when.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - festival map

Just Like Heaven 2022 - parking map

Our favorite performances from 2018

Best live shows of 2018 - Foo Fighters, NxWorries, Pusha T & Courtney Barnett

Holy smokes, 2018 … you were a blur. Maybe it’s just us, but this year really did fly right by.

Before we officially say hello to 2019 though, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. Every year we have the great privilege of witnessing some amazing moments in live music, and this year was no different. While we can’t touch upon every performance we covered in looking back at the year that was, we still managed to see a wide variety of talent over the course of 2018.

Whittling down our list is never 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), all of whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

Aaron Neville, A.CHAL, Alanis Morissette, Alina Baraz, Allen Stone, Amen Dunes, Aminé, A Perfect Circle, Ari Lennox, A$AP Rocky, Aquilo, BADBADNOTGOOD, The Bangles, Belle & Sebastian, The Beta Machine, Billie Eilish, BØRNS, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cashmere Cat, Childish Major, Chromeo, CHVRCHES, Cigarettes After Sex, Cloud Nothings, Cuco, Cut Snake, CyHi the Prynce, Daniel Caesar, Deap Vally, Destroyer, Diet Cig, Drab Majesty, DRAM, The Dustbowl Revival, Erykah Badu, Fantastic Negrito, Future, Garbage, George Fitzgerald, Gomez, Gov’t Mule, Great Grandpa, Griz, The Growlers, Gucci Mane, HAERTS, H.E.R., Hot Flash Heat Wave, Ibeyi, Iggy Pop, Irma Thomas, Isaiah Rashad, Jaira Burns, Jamie xx, Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, Jhené Aiko, John Maus, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Joywave, JPEGMAFIA, Jungle, Kailee Morgue, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Kamasi Washington, Kauf, Kelela, Kikagaku Moyo, Kings of Leon, Kopps, Laff Trax, Lion Babe, Lizzo, Lophile, Lord Huron, Los Lobos, Lucy Dacus, Margo Price, Miguel, Mija, Milk Carton Kids, ModPods, Moses Sumney, The Mother Hips, Mura Masa, Neil Young, N.E.R.D, North Mississippi Allstars, ODESZA, Pale Waves, Paula Frazer and Tarnation, Phantogram, Pharoah Sanders, Pixies, Polo & Pan, POND, Portugal. The Man, The Pretenders, Quicksand, Ravyn Lenae, Rivers Cuomo, The Revolution, Robert Plant, Rory Phillips, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Sabrina Claudio, Salt-N-Pepa, Santigold, Sasha Sloan, Seu Jorge, Shakey Graves, Shame, Shana Falana, Sharon Van Etten, Silk City, Sleigh Bells, Snoh Aalegra, Soccer Mommy, The Specials, The Spook School, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Tame Impala, Tenacious D, Third Eye Blind, Tinashe, together PANGEA, TV on the Radio, Tycho, Typhoon, Uniform, Wafia, Waxahatchee, The Weeknd, Wet, William Tyler, Will Varley, Yen Yen, Zedd

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2018.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2018

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2018:


Best of 2018 - Cut Copy

Cut Copy

Date: March 3rd
Location: Exposition Park – Los Angeles

For those in LA who missed Cut Copy 10 months ago when they visited the Shrine Expo Hall with De Lux, Palmbomen II and Cooper Saver also on the bill, their headlining performance last Friday at The Wiltern was another chance to dance the night away upon hearing several classics such as “Need You Now”, “Free Your Mind”, “Future”, “Hearts on Fire” and to close, “Lights & Music”. In fact, the last time that we caught them back in March, a mini downpour erupted at Shaun White’s Air + Style (read our festival review here), but it didn’t phase them. Who said playing — and dancing — in the rain isn’t fun anyway? -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Air + Style


Best of 2018 - Washed Out

Washed Out

Date: March 4th
Location: Exposition Park – Los Angeles

In what was easily the most visually stimulating (and pleasing) show we witnessed at Expo Park, Ernest Greene, who performs under the moniker Washed Out, entranced a completely packed crowd at the smaller Summer Stage with a slew of trippy visuals and his chilled-out tunes. We had been wanting to see Washed Out in SoCal for several months now, ever since Greene released the project’s third LP Mister Mellow last year, and after missing his gig with Nick Murphy at the Shrine Expo Hall in October, we were glad to finally hear him play “Hard to Say Goodbye” (one of our favorite songs of 2017) and “Feel It All Around” live as any loyal “Portlandia” fan would be. With Toro y Moi venturing away from the chillwave movement he helped pioneer, it’s up to Greene to lead the charge, and so far, he has done one hell of a job. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Air + Style


Best of 2018 - Phoenix

Phoenix

Date: March 4th
Location: Exposition Park – Los Angeles

After what we thought was an underwhelming way to wrap up Day 1, Air + Style closed with a bang thanks to Phoenix’s energizing, 16-song set. The French indie-pop outfit have headlined Coachella before, and it was more than worthy of that billing for this occasion. Kicking things off with the opening track “J-Boy” from their sixth studio album Ti Amo that dropped back in June, Thomas Mars and company gave us exactly what we wanted to hear: a hit-ladden show featuring singles like “Lisztomania”, “Trying to Be Cool”, “Too Young” and “1901”. No, there wasn’t a Daft Punk or R. Kelly appearance — not that we expected one — but Phoenix put an exclamation point on an otherwise successful weekend. We may not have known the quartet could rock that hard after the last time we saw them, but we definitely do now. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Air + Style


Best of 2018 - Moby

Moby

Date: March 26th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

His guitar playing, meanwhile, may be just as impressive, if not surprising to some. Less than two weeks before Moby stepped into Bob Clearmountain’s diminutive recording studio, I was fortunate enough to catch him the final of his three shows at The Echo, and it was there as he performed a variety of songs from Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, Play and a few other albums, that I fully realized just how talented he is with a black Gibson SG in his hands. He may be an electronic musician, but unlike a lot of them today, Moby is a musician in every sense of the word. While his vocals at times sound more like spoken word than actual singing, he has found more than capable sidekicks in Julie Mintz (keyboards, vocals) and Mindy Jones (vocals) to assist him in that department. Jones’ ranging voice, in particular, is one that suits his music well, and when you hear her sing, her pipes elevate the song to a whole new level. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Brian Feinzimer


Best of 2018 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: April 13th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

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


Best of 2018 - Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai

Date: April 13th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

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


Best of 2018 - Eminem

Eminem

Date: April 15th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

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


Best of 2018 - Big K.R.I.T.

Big K.R.I.T.

Date: April 19th
Location: Echoplex – Los Angeles

At Echoplex, we were treated to the “rapper” and the man himself as bass-heavy party starters like the title-track opener and “Confetti” from 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time got everyone hyped, while Atlanta’s T.I. came out to perform his verse on “Big Bank”. After singling out one excited fan, who was wearing a shirt with a giant picture of his face, during the easygoing “1999” and paying homage to Southern rap pioneers UGK, Big K.R.I.T. took the latter half of his hour-long set to connect with the crowd. -Joseph Gray, photo by Joseph Gray


Best of 2018 - Soulwax

Soulwax

Date: April 19th
Location: The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles

While Soulwax’s recorded music has always been perfectly enjoyable, in person it becomes something else entirely. Their new, three-drummer lineup was the ideal format to hear new tracks like “Is It Always Binary” while giving older tracks such as “KracK” a newly textured and complex sound. Sitting stage right, drummer Victoria Smith, for one, offered the group some serious personality thanks to her animated facial expressions. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2018 - NxWorries

NxWorries

Date: June 16th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

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


Best of 2018 - The Roots

The Roots

Date: June 16th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

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


Best of 2018 - Melvins

Melvins

Date: July 16th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

I’m far from an expert on this kind of thing (because I’m not), but I didn’t expect to see the Melvins perform with the amount of energy that they showcased. For a band that has been touring and putting out new material for the past 35 years, they performed as if everything depended on it. You weren’t going to catch “King Buzzo” standing in one place for too long, with his signature fro whipping in the wind from the fans that were on the stage, McDonald and Pinkus holding it down on their own instruments, and Crover beating the living hell out of his drums. Fans were ready to receive the band and responded to the various sonic blasts coming from the amplifiers. During the thrashy songs, they formed a brutal pit, and during the sludgier songs, they lit up joints and bobbed their heads to the music. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2018 - Glassjaw

Glassjaw

Date: July 20th
Location: Observatory OC – Santa Ana, CA

Glassjaw’s show covered their entire discography, and very few fan favorites were left off the setlist. While it was to be expected that newer tunes like “Shira” and “New White Extremity” would rock, it was staggering how well their older songs held up in a live setting. Palumbo’s voice, though slightly less manic than it once was, is still unmatched in its vocal range and shear intensity. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2018 - Weezer

Weezer

Date: August 8th
Location: The Forum – Inglewood, CA

That’s not to say that Cuomo isn’t a talented musician. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Harvard grad shreds without question, something I never really realized until he uncorked a number of guitar solos, whether it was during “Buddy Holly” to open Weezer’s performance or “Say It Ain’t So” (with a snippet of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”) to put a bow on the show. And while there aren’t many lead singers who can do both, Cuomo certainly remains among some elite company, with Jack White, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) also immediately coming to mind. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Florence + the Machine

Florence + the Machine

Date: August 11th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

There was a bit of controversy surrounding Saturday’s main slot as Florence + the Machine officially made the move to full-blown festival headliner. Some festivalgoers had their own doubts after FYF Fest 2018 was canceled with a near-identical top billing, but Florence and her bandmates proved, many times over, that she is more than capable of commanding any stage as her energy is unlike many others. She debuted a brand-new show, which featured “June” in the opening slot and was book-ended by “Big God” and “Shake It Out” for a two-song encore. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2018 - Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe

Date: August 12th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

The incomparable Janelle Monáe was a tad late to take the stage, as she was fighting off a stomach bug, but when she did, she captivated the masses with a suite of tracks from her most recent release Dirty Computer and tossed in a fair amount of costume changes over a nearly hour-long set. Monáe proved that she’s easily one of the best in the business at the moment and will only continue to climb upwards. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2018 - Deafheaven

Deafheaven

Date: August 18th
Location: The Wiltern – Los Angeles

Fortunately, Deafheaven haven’t bowed to convention or criticism. Their fourth studio album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, which ANTI‐ released last month, is their arguably their most experimental to date, spanning more than an hour over seven songs. There’s a sense of angst and nostalgia in the music that leans far more positive and hopeful than their previous work. There are still echoes of black metal at times, but you can feel this is a band that’s embracing its differences instead of defending them. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2018 - Jack White

Jack White

Date: August 19th
Location: Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA

Yet, for as eclectic and wide-ranging as White’s output has been over two decades, it’s the unpredictable nature of his live shows that makes them so intriguing to see. This time, we were treated to a rare cover of The Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” from their 1970 album Fun House, as well as a number of fan favorites, from set closer “Ball and Biscuit” to an eight-song encore that featured “Icky Thump” (with some amusing “Icky Trump” messaging), “Steady, as She Goes” (with a snippet of Richard Berry’s 1955 song “Louie Louie”), and of course, what has easily become the biggest stadium anthem in the world, “Seven Nation Army”. And though the show didn’t conclude without a few hiccups during some of White’s improvised playing between songs, he hasn’t lost his unique ability to surprise an audience — whether it means bringing out his mother in Detroit to perform “Hotel Yorba” with him or covering Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” in Seattle — at any given moment, especially when we all aren’t staring down at our phones. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Jack White


Best of 2018 - David Byrne

David Byrne

Date: August 22nd
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

As the show progressed into his songs “Here” and “Lazy”, Byrne’s band joined him onstage. The light changed and filled in the stage, giving the audience a happier tone and providing a seamless transition into a Talking Heads interlude. Then, later on during “Blind”, one of the more stunning visual elements was made possible by a simple lamp that was placed in front of the band, casting whirling shadows on the strands of beads hanging behind them. -Tim O’Shea, photo by Tim O’Shea


Best of 2018 - The National

The National

Date: September 20th
Location: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles

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. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

Date: September 23rd
Location: Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles

Similarly, the gig also marked one of Grizzly Bear’s last performances in support of their fifth LP Painted Ruins, which they released last year on RCA Records, and having already played a two-night run at The Wiltern back in December, this was more of a victory lap than a coming-out party. Unfortunately for us, the five-piece had to cut things short due to the venue’s strict Sunday night curfew, ending on a rather sudden note. That’s just part of the deal at the Bowl, though. For those of us who have to work on Monday morning, it’s actually more of a blessing in disguise than a disservice to the overall concert experience as we’ve come to realize. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Date: October 5th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

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. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2018 - Greta Van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet

Date: October 6th
Location: Glen Helen Regional Park & Festival Grounds – San Bernardino, CA

By the time we got through security and stepped inside the gates, Manchester Orchestra had just finished their 45-minute set on the main stage, which essentially was the 65,000-person Glen Helen Amphitheater that was constructed back in 1982 for the first US Festival. Next up was Greta Van Fleet, and boy, do these kids know how to rock. Zeppelin clearly runs deep in these four Michiganders’ veins, as they showcased songs off their forthcoming debut album Anthem of the Peaceful Army with frontman Josh Kiszka commanding the stage and offering his best Robert Plant impression. He even dresses the part, sporting some tight, white jeans with a water-colored blouse and necklace of feathers while his brothers Jake and Sam wore vests or shirts that looked like what you would find at a vintage clothing store. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

Date: October 6th
Location: Glen Helen Regional Park & Festival Grounds – San Bernardino, CA

As the Foos left the stage for their encore break, we waited patiently for them to return. The crowd, by now, had been taken for a two-hour ride with Grohl firmly at the wheel, pumping adrenaline into our veins with every minute that passed as the Foo Fighters know how to do so well during their usual two-and-a-half-hour jaunts. The video screens on each side of the stage were black until suddenly some backstage footage appeared showing Grohl with Krist Novoselic and what looked like Joan Jett. All of that would end up coming true in the last 30 minutes of Cal Jam 18, but it was a six-song encore with Grohl on drums, Novoselic on bass, the Foo Fighters’ Pat Smear on guitar and Deer Tick frontman John McAuley on both vocals and guitar as Kurt Cobain’s fill-in who got us hyped. Nirvana fans have waited 25 years for a reunion since Cobain’s sudden passing, and when you put it in perspective, it will probably go down as one of the year’s biggest surprises, even at a time in music when many industry experts say that rock now stands in the shadows of hip-hop and EDM. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Pusha T

Pusha T

Date: October 13th
Location: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park – Oakland

But U.S. Girls were the highlight of the weekend for us. A nine-piece experimental pop act, they put on a stunning 45-minute set that culminated in an entrancing rendition of “Time”, the closing track on their critically acclaimed studio effort In a Poem Unlimited, that lasted more than 10 minutes. The energy, instrumentation and vocal capabilities were absolutely stunning. Easily one of this year’s most exciting new acts, and we can’t wait to catch them again soon. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Brendan Mansfield


Best of 2018 - U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls

Date: October 14th
Location: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park – Oakland

But U.S. Girls were the highlight of the weekend for us. A nine-piece experimental pop act, they put on a stunning 45-minute set that culminated in an entrancing rendition of “Time”, the closing track on their critically acclaimed studio effort In a Poem Unlimited, that lasted more than 10 minutes. The energy, instrumentation and vocal capabilities were absolutely stunning. Easily one of this year’s most exciting new acts, and we can’t wait to catch them again soon. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Josh Withers


Best of 2018 - Daniel Caesar

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Grizzly Bear & TV on the Radio unite for one night in their new hometown to play the Hollywood Bowl

Grizzly Bear


Grizzly Bear

By Josh Herwitt //

Grizzly Bear & TV on the Radio with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith //
Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles
September 23rd, 2018 //

In the early 2000’s, Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio emerged out of Brooklyn’s crowded indie-rock scene as two of its biggest darlings. Both bands, in fact, would go on to release their seminal albums a little less than a decade later, starting first in 2008 with TV on the Radio’s Dear Science and continuing the following year with Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest.

But Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio have each issued two additional LPs since then and somewhat surprisingly, have both made the cross-country move out to LA within the past several years. So, when NPR member station KCRW revealed the lineup for its 2018 World Festival series at the iconic Hollywood Bowl, the final performance on the docket was one that easily stuck out with the two Brooklyn-bred outfits co-headlining and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith opening.

As the glow of a full moon shined bright against a dark sky, Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio gave us one last taste of summer on the season’s final day. And though it felt rather fitting for them to share a stage in their new hometown, especially one that’s as big as the Bowl’s, each group exhibits its own unique sound and style through a wide range of influences. They may get slapped with the generic “indie rock” tag by some lazy music critics, but without a doubt, their music is much different from the other’s.

TV on the Radio


TV on the Radio

The last time we caught Grizzly Bear was almost a year ago, when they performed at Apogee Studio for KCRW’s Apogee Sessions series (read our review here) and reminded us how they were making “chamber pop” sound cool again. The intimate gig came just a few weeks prior to TV on the Radio’s last show in LA (at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption), and with their most recent album Seeds from 2014, this was probably one of the final times that they would be specifically showcasing that material live. Nevertheless, they made sure to close out their 70-minute set with a bang, finishing with classics like “Repetition” from 2011’s Nine Types of Light, “Wolf Like Me” off 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain and lastly “Staring at the Sun” on their 2004 debut Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes.

Similarly, the gig also marked one of Grizzly Bear’s last performances in support of their fifth LP Painted Ruins, which they released last year on RCA Records, and having already played a two-night run at The Wiltern back in December, this was more of a victory lap than a coming-out party. Unfortunately for us, the five-piece had to cut things short due to the venue’s strict Sunday night curfew, ending on a rather sudden note. That’s just part of the deal at the Bowl, though. For those of us who have to work on Monday morning, it’s actually more of a blessing in disguise than a disservice to the overall concert experience as we’ve come to realize.

After all, any evening under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl feels like a magical one. There’s just something comforting about taking in some live music at one of the world’s most famous amphitheaters, no matter who’s listed on the marquee. And although there’s no telling when Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio will tour again, let alone together, this was one pairing that we’re glad we didn’t miss before we officially said goodbye to summer.

GRIZZLY BEAR

Setlist:
Southern Point
Losing All Sense
Yet Again
Fine for Now
Ready, Able
Four Cypresses
Sleeping Ute
Two Weeks
Foreground
While You Wait for the Others
On a Neck, On a Spit
Three Rings
Sun in Your Eyes

TV ON THE RADIO

Setlist:
Young Liars
Lazerray
Golden Age
Province
Happy Idiot
Could You
Winter
Red Dress
Shout Me Out
Trouble
Repetition
Wolf Like Me
Staring at the Sun

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.
-Steph Port, photo by Steph 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

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Grizzly Bear are making ‘chamber pop’ sound cool again as we discovered at Apogee Studio

Grizzly BearPhotos by Dustin Downing // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Grizzly Bear //
Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA
September 26th, 2017 //

With the way the world moves now — one tweet, status update or Instagram photo at a time — five years between studio albums can feel like an eternity, even when your last one received as much critical acclaim as Grizzly Bear’s did.

But for the quartet that formed in Brooklyn more than 15 years ago, 2012’s Shields served as more than just a strong follow-up to the group’s seminal LP Veckatimest. The album, which saw the band purposely take a more collaborative approach during the writing process than ever before, became Grizzly Bear’s highest-charting effort, surpassing the No. 8 position that Veckatimest reached on the Billboard 200 by one spot. And even with the struggles that they faced along the way, with the band scraping most of the early material it recorded for Shields in Marfa, Texas, and subsequently starting over by returning to Cape Cod, Mass., where they conceived their sophomore LP Yellow House, Grizzly Bear managed to still come out on top.

If one thing is clear, it’s that patience has been a virtue for Ed Droste (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Daniel Rossen (guitar, vocals), Christopher Bear (drums, vocals) and Chris Taylor (bass, vocals). It’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that their fifth full length Painted Ruins, which dropped in mid-August on RCA (their first with the label since they left Warp), took almost twice as long to reach fans as any of their previous albums did and yet, at the same time, holds just as much water as any of them, Veckatimest included. Painted Ruins, in fact, could very well be Grizzly Bear’s most accessible album to date with four singles and one of them being “Four Cypresses”, which opened their private show in Santa Monica for KCRW’s Apogee Sessions last Tuesday.

Grizzly Bear

Apogee Studio has been a special place for artists and bands to showcase new music over the last five-plus years, but this performance was particularly significant, and not just because it was a celebration of Grizzly Bear’s latest feat, but also because it marked the 75th live session at Bob Clearmountain’s private recording studio since he first opened his doors to KCRW back in 2011. From Ryan Adams to The War on Drugs (read our review here) and everyone else who has graced the room’s diminutive stage, it’s arguably KCRW’s best series to date, bringing fans as close as humanly possible to some of their favorite musicians in a setting that’s as intimate as you’ll find anywhere.

While the champagne flowed on this celebratory night, that intimacy played exceptionally well for Grizzly Bear, as the band and touring member Aaron Arntz (piano, keyboards) dug into tracks almost exclusively from Painted Ruins for the first half of their set before Rossen and Taylor both sat down with KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley to share their own stories as a band (and a few laughs, too). But despite some awkward moments during the interview, Bentley did offer an interesting observation, at one point describing Grizzly Bear’s music as “chamber pop.” For those not familiar with the term, chamber pop refers to a style of rock ‘n’ roll that was born out of the 60’s by groups like The Beach Boys and predicated on the use of strings, horns, piano and vocal harmonies, the latter of which being a characteristic you can often hear in Grizzly Bear’s music. Because it’s not all that common that you find a band with members who all can sing (and do it well collectively), and with that in mind, Grizzly Bear are certainly among rare company these days.

For a long time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on Grizzly Bear’s sound. The only descriptor I could conjure up was the lame and trite “indie rock” label, even though I knew I was doing a total disservice to the music. But as the four-piece ran through some of its fan favorites, from “Sleeping Ute” to the wildy popular “Two Weeks” that hinges on a beautiful vocal harmony, I thought about what Bentley had said minutes earlier and just how much truth there was to it. Chamber pop might be a thing of the past, but if there’s one band making it sound cool again, Grizzly Bear, as we came to find out, are that band.

Setlist:
Four Cypresses
Losing All Sense
Yet Again
Cut-Out
Mourning Sound
Sleeping Ute
Two Weeks
Three Rings
Foreground
While You Wait for the Others

Encore:
Sun in Your Eyes

Albums you’ll want to hear in 2017

2017 albumsWritten by Josh Herwitt //

For as bad as 2016 might have been, there’s no question it yielded some excellent albums. So, what’s in store for 2017? It’s still early, but from what we know right now, there’s plenty of new music on the horizon — and a lot of it we can’t wait to get our hands on.

Here are 10 upcoming albums (in chronological order by release date) that you’ll want to hear and could very well end up being on some “Best of 2017” lists in another 12 months.


Bonobo – Migration

Bonobo - Migration

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Ninja Tune

British musician, producer and DJ Simon Green has organically built a loyal following among electronic music fans for almost two decades with a unique sound that combines downtempo electronica with trip-hop and world-music influences. Since 2013’s The North Borders, he has moved to Los Angeles and recorded his sixth LP Migration, which boasts a few notable guest appearances from Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Rhye and Hundred Waters.


The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Warner Bros.

Wayne Coyne and his psychedelic sidekicks have been busy over the last few years, recording Beatles cover album With a Little Help From My Fwends in 2014 and releasing a collaborative LP with Miley Cyrus the following year. On their 15th studio effort, the difficult-to-pronounce Oczy Mlody that drops on Coyne’s birthday, the Lips return to the days of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and get a little help from their pop-star “fwend” on closing track “We a Famly”.


SOHN – Rennen

SOHN - Rennen

Release date: January 13th
Record label: 4AD

London native Christopher Taylor has been known for working extensively with such artists as BANKS, Lana Del Rey and Rhye, but his transition in becoming a legitimate solo act was cemented with the release of his 2014 debut LP Tremors, which peaked at No. 31 on the UK charts. Now calling LA his home, he has spent the last three years constructing Rennen, his second record as SOHN that’s led by “Signal” and its frighteningly beautiful music video.


The xx – I See You

The xx - I See You

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Young Turks

No impending album in the first quarter of 2017 may have as much hype around it as The xx’s I See You, their long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Coexist. The build-up to its release in the last few months has seen the London trio perform on SNL, where they showcased lead single “On Hold” and debuted “I Dare You”, and play shows in Eastern Europe to go along with the news of guitarist/vocalis