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.

With the death of net neutrality, how will music consumption change?

net-neutrality_post

By Mike Frash //

The way the Internet works is about to fundamentally change, unless companies, organizations and people continue to band together in a populist uprising to take on Big Cable. If the Telecom behemoths have their way, the wild, weird open web as we know it is dead.

So how might the death of net neutrality effect the way we consume digital music?

The second battle over net neutrality is heating up, and we the people are losing. A major blow to net neutrality went down last week when a three judge panel unanimously agreed with Verizon’s appeal to 2011 net neutrality regulations that “the FCC did not have the legal authority to enact …”

Within a day, a grassroots conglomeration of 76 major websites and thousands of others organized by Battle For The Net joined forces on September 10th for “Internet Slowdown Day”, building a campaign of awareness around the corporate threat to net neutrality.

On September 10th, over two million people took action, making 312,171 calls, writing 2,332,092 emails and filing 777,364 comments to the FCC, numbers that indicate a successful viral and action-inducing effort. One of the more effective illustrations of the Internet’s possible future came from Join the Fast Lane, a mocked up website that shows what using the Internet might be like soon.

The battle over net neutrality signifies the most important struggle between populism and corporate interest in the age of information. “Team Cable” has the money and K Street influence on their side, but “Team Internet” is able to use their platforms and creativity to make an impactful counter attack.

Visit Battle For The Net and sign their letter to lawmakers — it should take about 20 seconds to complete.

Internet-Slowdown-Day

So what will happen to the landscape of digital music consumption if net neutrality is no more?

Rock The Net is an effort from the Future of Music Coalition, which believes “creators must be able to compete on a level technological playing field alongside the biggest companies.” Artists that support Rock The Net include R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Mould, Calexico, Les Claypool, Rogue Wave, and many more.

In writing about access and innovation for artists, Rock The Net declares, “imagine logging on to your favorite band’s website, only to have it take forever to load on your computer because they couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) to pay a toll to powerful Internet Service Providers. All artists deserve the right to use the Internet to cultivate listeners, and fans deserve to make their own choices of how and where to access legitimate content. That’s why the open Internet must be preserved.”

Is it possible that net neutrality regulation are part of why there are more mega-break out bands now more than ever? Would Imagine Dragons, alt-J, Chvrches, The Lumineers, Disclosure, Sky Ferreira, Capital Cities, and Bastille have all made it as big as they are now without an open Internet?

Streaming music has become the most essential means of listening to music, greatly reducing peer-to-peer piracy. Piracy has been so rampant that many artists stream new albums a week before they are released. Spotify, Beats Music, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, YouTube, Grooveshark and others have become the de facto platform for music consumption.

When these companies are forced to choose the “fast lane” of bandwidth options, you can bet streaming will cost more — all so the elite can get richer. Services that don’t pay ISPs could lose sound quality if they don’t pay to allow users more bandwidth — as Gizmodo pointed out, “… the end of net neutrality would mean striking deals with ISPs if they want to reach consumers, the same way television networks must do with cable companies.”

The absence of net neutrality also means it’s plausible that Big Cable could help decide the victor of the battle for streaming supremacy by taking the most strategic pay-to-play partnership that comes their way.

And if streaming starts to sound worse, has interruptions or gets more expensive, won’t we see a second boom in piracy? Will private bit torrenting networks become even more popular, while a new generation masters IP blocking and online activity masking?

How do you see the future of music without net neutrality?

As corrupt as this whole thing is, it’s not over yet. You can still make your voice heard at the FCC Website, and visit Battle for the Net for more information and tools for your own website.


What is net neutrality?

You might be asking yourself, what exactly is net neutrality and why do I care? Let’s let Jimmy Kimmel, an expert curator in virality, explain:

We are now amidst the second major battle of online businesses & users versus IP & Content Provider Associations. The first major counter-offensive on January 18, 2012 was against proposed legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which were legislation largely funded by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). If passed, these laws would have threatened online freedom of speech and Internet communities. Websites could be outright shut down if one user of a community shared a link to trademarked media.

Virtually all major web-based businesses protested this legislation. Wikipedia went completely dark for the day, only featuring an easy to use widget that helped visitors find the contact details of their representatives in DC. Reddit, WordPress, Mozilla and Flickr conducted prominent information campaigns. Google covered their iconic landing page logo with a censor bar, and a petition at Google recorded over 4.5 million signatures.

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Congressional offices were flooded, and the laws being pushed by content provider associations and big cable were tabled, and the power brokers behind the would-be laws had no clue what hit them. But in typical villain style, these groups retreated to their lair to regroup, strategically infiltrating the FCC, to come back with a stronger and final spear to the heart of net neutrality.

The FCC cleared way in April for a two-tiered system, where Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon can charge tech companies for bandwidth priority, creating a
fast lane” for established businesses that can afford it, making it much harder for start ups and small businesses to compete. It’s a sort of caste system that will ultimately mean consumers pay higher prices for online subscriptions and services.

The biggest hurdle for the people and online businesses is the cronyism between the FCC and Telecommunication Corporations. Comcast has spent over 18 million dollars in lobbying over the past year. Law professor and net neutrality expert Susan Crawford has essentially said that “if the FCC tries to save it [net neutrality] … Republicans have sworn to dismantle the FCC.

Then in 2013, President Obama named Tom Wheeler, a former top lobbyist for a consortium of Big Cable behemoths, the current Chairman of the FCC. John Oliver compares this incestual corruption hilariously to “needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”

The semi-fascist possibility of collusion between the governmental agency meant to regulate communications and the cable providers themselves looms over all these proceedings. As Vice pointed out, “The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.”

Politicians


Animal Collective consumes the Fox Theater for their “Centipede Hz” tour 2012

Nearly a week after their September 21st Fox Theater performance, I am still reeling from the first night of Animal Collective’s double header in Oakland. The Friday night show was my first time experiencing the band live. I tried but in no way could have been able to mentally prepare for the concert spectacle, which the band has come to be known for over the past twelve years. The current tour highlighting their ninth full length release, “Centipede Hz” is one that showcases venues indicative of their veteran status. With appearances scheduled for the Pitchfork Music Festival, Australia’s “ Big Day Out” as well as various museums and large scale music halls throughout it’s European stretch, I felt fortunate to have caught them in such a beautiful location as the Fox Theater, Oakland.

Upon entering the theater’s lobby, you could feel the electricity in the air. With the venue reaching capacity and opener Micachu and the Shapes finishing their set, AC fans started scampering wildly through the hallways further heightening the anticipation ever present amongst the crowd. Although opinions are subjective on where the best place to view the stage is at this theater, I chose to opt for general admission. After entering into the lower level and further positioning myself above the swarming bodies in the pit, I couldn’t have felt better about my position and subsequent immersion w/in the masses. The demographic ranging from burners’ still shaking off playa dust to UC undergrads dressed to the nines, I immediately was entertained by the diverse range and obscurely wide spectrum of responses the show inevitably was about to evoke.

As a long time fan, I of course had my preferences for the potential set list ahead. Knowing that they were going to obviously focus on cuts from “Centipede Hz” I previewed the tracks beforehand extensively. As for the rest of the audience, those not familiar with the new material were definitely thrown for a loop. Hitting hard w/four brand new tracks back to back in a dizzying array of vocal ranges and improvisational jam sessions, the band immediately set the tone for the rest of the evening ‘s plan to desensitize even the most seasoned concert goers. The complex electronic arrangements interlaced w/tribal drum beats, pulsing baselines and static noise conclusions to most of the songs on the new album, made way for near perfect transitions between the opening tracks “Rosie Oh,” “Today’s Supernatural,” and “Wide Eyed.” After asserting their presence, the band shifted over into more lighthearted material, with the next song off of “Centipede HZ,” the playful homage to the simplicities of childhood, “Applesauce.” This led straight into the funk driven A-side off of their 7” of the same name “Honeycomb,” which got great response from the partially disseminated crowd.

Laughing I turned to a girl whom I’d been watching through my peripheral vision. Deducting she felt the same way I did through her abhorrent body language directed at the current surrounding crowd of underage hipster hookers, I reassured her that the band’s play list will clear out the amateurs soon enough. A notion which was only to be further punctuated by the next song on the bill, an old school crowd favorite from 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, “Lion In A Coma.” Sending the pit into a frenzy, the prevalent sound of the didgeridoo vibrated skin of anyone within 100 feet of the stage while the entire crowd amidst screaming the chanted chorus was bouncing along in a cohesive pogo clusterfuck. Following after in the same pop centric manner, two more tracks from the 2012 release, “Moonjock,” and “Father Time,” which effortlessly segued into the shows second half. Both songs, continuing in the same vein of dance driven, lyrically decipherable, melodic gems with opportunities for vocal improvisation and band interaction. Whereas the boys were almost lost amongst the musical chaos, set design and incredible light show in the first half, at this point they took full command of the stage and subsequently their audience. Dancing with each other and losing themselves in the moment, you could tell that they were enjoying their performance as well as spatial capacity contributing to their view point from on stage.

Slowing down the dance party briefly, the band then transitioned into “New Town Burnout.” Another track off of “Centipede HZ,” the song creates a strong jam based musical atmosphere furthermore aiding in the dispersal of those strictly present for the high energy commercial AC hits. At this point the hardcore fans were amped and rightfully so, because not only were they aware of the dynamic ending of the said track but correspondingly the possibility of it escalating into a full blown party block. As anticipated the cut blended perfectly into another song off of the new album, (which in turn becomes more of an extension of the predecessor), “Monkey Riches.” Which at that point in time was flawlessly correspondent w/the crowd dynamic of the evening, allowing for truly fervent fans to be front and center for the explosively climactic track of the evening “Brothersport.” Beyond the mind blowing light show and overwhelming intensity of the screaming crowd sing along, the band took it even further by playing the extended bridge version of the song. Leaving every person present at that moment feeling as though they might combust w/unprecedented excitation during the monster build up mid song.

The concert then ended with the crowd marching to the beat of “Peacebone,” an old school crowd favorite from the 2007 album, “Strawberry Jam.” In no way could they have culminated on such an upbeat and obviously unfinished note, which shortly there after they remedied with an encore of “Cobwebs,” into “My Girls,” finishing the night off w/ “Amanita.” Solidly coming to a much more mellow conclusion, through two older tracks known mostly for their mainstream appeal and one of the few mellower songs off of the new album to round it all out.

Beyond the incredibly professional execution of their performance and incomparable sound/musical talent. The set design for this tour was one derived of beautiful nightmares, hitting the Animal Collective ambiance nail right on the head. The band staged itself dead center in the middle of giant teeth with Burton-esque inflatable tentacles growing around them at all angles, intermittently dispersed among glowing floor based stalagmites. All of which only was further accentuated by various psychedelic images being projected on their surface along w/a rainbow’s array of light fixtures. Needless to say they didn’t spare on the design budget while still managing to create a remarkably unique and encapsulating experience.

Ultimately I left the Fox Theater that night not only satisfied but hungry for more, talking with friends on the BART ride back home about how we were going to try and find tickets for the following night’s performance. If they delivered that magnitude of a show the first night, what more could they have in store for the closing Northern California date? Although, I didn’t in fact make it out for the second evening, I can’t wait for them to come back and grace the Bay Area with their presence once more. I’m surprised I’ve waited that long to have seen them in the first place and now an only confirming my future reservation for all upcoming performances within my vicinity. If you get a chance to check them out in a town near you, be sure to do so with an open mind and sense of adventure. For all those who are already fans, don’t let yourself miss them it’s an experience like no other.

Check out the full set list for the September 21st show w/soundbites.

For further info and artist interviews done by yours truly, click here.
-Molly Kish