Neko Case brings some stomp-foot vigor & sway-sweet happy to the Fox Theater Oakland

Neko CaseBy Ria Burman //

Neko Case with Destroyer //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
December 3rd, 2018 //

Well-known as a member of the two-decade-old indie-rock outfit The New Pornographers, Neko Case delivered a fun and lively performance Monday at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

Singing songs both new and old, Case’s distinctive vocals and guitar playing brought stomp-foot vigor and sway-sweet happy to the crowd, which whooped and cheered throughout the evening. Her stage setup was anchored by a backdrop of hornet nests above the seven-piece that added a simple, yet interesting visual aspect to what ended up being a stellar show.

Destroyer


Destroyer

The distinguishing voice and strums of Case’s creations intertwined beautifully with her backing band, which also featured pedal steel guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, as the setlist on this night ranged from country-tinged tunes to more rocking, folk-driven feels.

Destroyer, which fellow Canadian and frontman Dan Bejar formed back in 1995, opened with Bejar performing a solo acoustic set that included SiriusXMU favorite “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” from the group’s 2017 album ken and even a new song that has yet to be named.

NEKO CASE

Setlist:
Pitch or Honey
Last Lion of Albion
Deep Red Bells
Winnie
Maybe Sparrow
Margaret vs. Pauline
Calling Cards
Bad Luck
Curse of the I‐5 Corridor
Gumball Blue
Oracle of the Maritimes
Hex
Look for Me (I’ll Be Around)
Halls of Sarah
Dirty Diamond
Hold On, Hold On
Man

Encore:
Hell‐On
The Pharaohs
Loretta
Ragtime
This Tornado Loves You

DESTROYER

Setlist:
(Unknown)
Times Square
Tinseltown Swimming in Blood
Goddess of Drought
A Light Travels Down the Catwalk
Helena
(Unknown) (new song)
Chinatown
Foam Hands

The New Pornographers don’t miss a beat in Neko Case’s absence at Fox Theater Oakland

The New PornographersPhotos by Nicole Alfaro // Written by Anthony Presti //

The New Pornographers with How to Dress Well, Nick Diamonds of Islands //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
February 28th, 2015 //

On Saturday night, Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers overtook the Fox Theater as part of the annual Noise Pop Festival. Perhaps with the Vancouver band being one of the most acclaimed acts in this year’s lineup, fans of all ages came out to enjoy the show. Kids were spread throughout the crowd as longtime fans relished the nostalgia of a group that formed in 1999.

The New Pornographers’ seven members took the stage for a cheery and evocative set without one of their key players, Neko Case. They didn’t miss a beat without Case, who has enjoyed success as a solo performer, and have embraced her occasional absences since 2005, bringing in Kathryn Calder to fill the void during live shows. There’s still no denying the star power of Case, who performed with the band at last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival, flashing new tattoos that read “Scorned as Timber” and “Beloved of the Sky” in bold script on each forearm.

But with most supergroups, there’s a challenge of keeping the lineup in tact. Most of these types of groups really only collaborate for an album (Them Crooked Vultures) or have players leave permanently for solo engagements (Broken Social Scene).

The New Pornographers

The core of The New Pornographers, led by main songwriter Carl Newman, was solid and tight. Their sound is unique, mixing elements of 80’s synthpop and 90’s indie-pop rock. It’s almost like if Robin Scherbatsky from the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” became a legitimate pop sensation mentored by Blondie, backed by fellow Canadians Arcade Fire and occasionally joined by a Bob Dylan doppelganger. Their songs are cheery and jubilant, and Newman and Calder sang beautifully succinct harmonies, at times even pulling off four-part harmonies with other members in the band.

The pairing of Calder on keys with multi-instrumentalist Blaine Thurier on synthesizers creates dense layers to their music. Thurier also controlled samples that created subtle, abstract sounds throughout their songs, played the harmonica and even broke out the volatile Melodica, a small handheld keyboard powered by breathing through a connected tube. Dan Bejar, who’s mainly recognized as the frontman for Destroyer, came out for a handful of songs throughout the set.

The New Pornographers

Newman was fairly chatty with the nearly sold-out crowd, at one point mocking Bejar’s slight resemblance to Bob Dylan. “This next song’s called ‘Blowin in the Wind,’” he joked before breaking into “War on the East Coast.” Newman also acknowledged his history with the city, saying “I first came to Oakland in the 90’s, it was a lot different then. I remember thinking, ‘This is the day I’m going to die.’ And then I rose like the Phoenix and started this band.”

And like a testament to his survival, they played a jam-packed set with fan favorites like “Myriad Harbor” and “All the Old Showstoppers” from 2007’s Challengers, “Bill Bruisers” and “Champions of Red Wine” from their latest album Bill Bruisers, “Use It” and the “Bleeding Heart Show” from 2005’s Twin Cinema and even reached all the way back to 2000’s Mass Romantic to play a couple tunes.

The New Pornographers

Setlist:

Brill Bruisers
Myriad Harbor
The Slow Descent into Alcoholism
Moves
War on the East Coast
My Shepard
Use It
Broken Breads
The Laws Have Changed
You Tell Me Where
Testament to Youth in Verse
All the Old Showstoppers
Adventures in Solitude
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
Stacked Crooked
Backstairs
Champions of Red Wine
Born With a Sound
Mass Romantic

Encore:

Ballad of a Comeback Kid
Breakin’ the Law
The Bleeding Heart Show

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers

17 reasons to rage in the bay at Treasure Island Fest 2014

timf_post

Photos by Marc Fong // Written by Mike Frash, Molly Kish, Kevin Quandt and Marc Fong //

Treasure Island Music Festival //
Treasure Island – San Francisco
October 18th-19th, 2014 //

The Festival in the Bay returns this weekend with its progressive mix of indie rock, electronic/dance, hip-hop and (now) soul. Treasure Island Music Festival is always adept at curating under-card acts that are in the process of emerging into collective consciousness while crowning the bill with well-known musical entities that most independent-minded music fans will enjoy.

View the full schedule. Tickets are still available (for now), and you can buy them here.

Here are 17 reasons why you should rage in the Bay at TIMF this weekend.

treasure-island-music-festival-2

BONUS CONTEST: Enter below to rock The Bold Italic’s party boat to & from TIMF for FREE!

17. Not familiar with every act on the bill? Well, that’s half the fun at these contemporary music festivals, as your next favorite band is just waiting to be discovered.

16. Discover why Janelle Monáe is a headliner of the (very near) future. She’ll likely join OutKast as well, more specifically Big Boi, for their collaboration “Tightrope”. This treat was only viewed by a handful of crowds on the reunion tour, including during Coachella Weekend 1 and at OutKast’s hometown spectacular in Atlanta last month.

15. Jean-Philip Grobler and company put on breathtaking performances as St. Lucia. The Brooklyn-based band has a familiar electro sound, but simultaneously has a playfulness that will wonderfully fit with the TIMF crowd.

14. Stumbling across the Silent Disco, tucked away in the eastern corner of the festival ground, can be a surreal experience. Filled with festival crowds of anywhere between 20-200 people, this TIMF staple allows DJs to perform through Wi-Fi-enabled headphones that are passed out to festivalgoers as they enter the designated dance space.

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13. Poliça is must-see music at TIMF. Their dark synth will fit ideally with the setting of the music-infused October sun. Channy Leaneagh’s haunting vocals are fantastic live and are not to be missed. Get close for this one.

12. Carl Newman’s outfit The New Pornographers can easily be classified as a supergroup — Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and the lovely Neko Case heavily contributed to their wonderful 2014 album Brill Bruisers — and you can watch them all perform in the flesh at TIMF.

11. TIMF is one of the most unique festival locations around, and it gives way to even more creative ways to get on and off the island. TIMF offers an extremely convenient and free shuttle service between the island and a main point of transit at the City’s Civic Center. Or you could book a party bus or ride The Bold Italic’s party boat! (Enter below to win free tickets to Rock The Boat)

treasure-island-music-festival-4

10. One of our favorites, White Denim, will take to the Bridge Stage early on Sunday for their mind­-melting prog rock. Along with Cathedrals, Bleached and Ásgeir, there are lots of musical reasons to get to the island early on Day 2.

9. We finally get the return of the UK-­based, modern ­funk collective that goes by the wild name of Jungle. Bursting from the seams a few months ago, these guys have taken the festival circuit by storm, igniting stages and crowds with an incendiary stage presence coupled with devastatingly catchy tracks off their debut LP. Dancing shoes? CHECK!

8. Ana Tijoux isn’t super popular yet in Northern California, and her lyrics are in Spanish, but none of that matters. Her MC skills are impacting, and her production straddles multiple genres, including hip-hop and soul. Expect this to be a standout performance on Saturday.

7. Convenience is key when it comes to keeping festival crowds satisfied, and TIMF spares no expense in that matter. Easy navigation between stages, ample access to bathrooms, food/beverage vendors and helpful on-site staff members work together to elevate the flow of the festival experience.

6. It’s been a while since the Bay Area has seen TV On The Radio, and hopefully these gritty indie rock geniuses will play some tracks off their upcoming album Seeds. TVOTR has no better place than TIMF to give us a taste of things to come.

treasure-island-music-festival-7

5. This will be alt-­J‘s first performance in the area in support of their second album, and we’re sure to hear all the exciting new songs off of This Is All Yours (Read our community review here). Ready to sing some Miley samples?

4. Landing Massive Attack to headline Sunday is a mondo feat for Noise Pop and APE Entertainment — 3D and Daddy G will playing their only 2014 U.S. festival at TIMF (and only two other shows in the U.S. this year). The electronic duo might normally be a Saturday headliner, but we get to finalize an action-packed Sunday with these influential trip-hop legends.

3. No set conflicts means no stress, no making tough festival decisions and no missing out on an act you love. You get to see everything.

2. The “Summer of OutKast” is coming to a close as Bay Area fans will bear witness to what is expected to be their third-­to­-last performance ever. Did ya hear us on that one? Big Boi and Dre have pretty clearly stated that this is it, so there’s little reason for any fan to miss this banner, headlining performance.

1. It’s on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. ‘Nuff said.


Win-2-Tickets

ROCK THE BOAT TICKET CONTEST

For the 2014 installment of Rock the Boat, our friends at The Bold Italic have teamed up with Hornblower Cruises & Events to rent out the San Francisco Spirit luxury yacht, equipped with a full bar and live entertainment provided by premiere Bay Area DJs to get you to and from TIMF like a boss. For a full lineup and more details on the trip, click here and enter below for your chance to win a weekend pass aboard the party boat courtesy of Showbams.

Fill out your full name and email address below.
Contest ends Thursday at 4 p.m. The winner will be picked at random and notified by email on Thursday. Your email will be kept private –- we will share your email with no one.

Like Showbams on Facebook and follow Showbams on Twitter to be eligible to win.

treasure-island-music-festival-6

Live music artists ignite the dawn of a smartphone backlash

Phones-at-Shows

By Mike Frash //

Mobile technology and social media have advanced exponentially the past five to ten years, connecting scores of individuals that would have never met a decade ago, enabling us to share narcissistic musings and photos at a moment’s notice. (Unsurprisingly, “Selfie” is the “Word of the Year”.) Bottom line — It’s mostly a glorious thing to live in the age of information and rapidly expanding technology.

But holy shit do we misuse it sometimes. Our social behaviors frankly haven’t caught up to our relatively newfangled devices that are always available in our pockets and purses.

The Pope’s inauguration at the Vatican, in 2005 & 2013.


It’s all changed so quickly, hasn’t it? Communication abilities, access to content & opinions, the structure of web-based writing itself and a pervasive social media mentality have all collided and intermingled magnificently since Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Consequently a massive smartphone market has flourished, and a large majority of us have gotten a bit more ADHD.

Our collective focus and attention span have changed significantly, taking a turn for the horrible. It’s become second nature for many to plug-in to their smartphones while mentally checking out of their immediate surroundings, whether we’re riding the bus, enjoying drinks with friends or experiencing a concert.

Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, recently said, “We have a world that’s been engineered to distract us.” This can’t be denied when a Facebook update, tweet or Instagram upload is always only a finger tap or two away.

One of the most contentious issues revolving around smartphones today is crowd-based photography and videography at shows. A continuous lack of technology awareness from just one individual can inhibit the live music experience for those around the bright screen being held just above eye level. Not only is the screen-addicted cinematographer distracted, but so is everyone else, including the artists on stage.

So is this the new normal, or is this a trend that can be addressed and changed? There are a handful of artists that have spoken out this year, igniting what might be the roots of a mainstream “be where you are” backlash in the world of live music.

Savages1

In the year that Arcade Fire’s Win Butler crooned, “We fell in love when I was nineteen / And I was staring at a screen,” many artists have fought back against concert camera phone use, putting their proverbial foot down explicitly, politely and absurdly.

UK-based Savages fired the loudest, most forceful warning shot of 2013. The all-female foursome released their debut album Silence Yourself to critical acclaim, taking the ethos of the record on the road with them by banning phones based on the idea of immersion. For every show, they put up signs that read:

Our goal is to discover better ways of living and experiencing music. We believe that the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves. Let’s make this evening special. Silence your phones.

That show at the Independent in San Francisco was special because of Savages’ intense, smart use of contrast and due to the room’s communal, energetic focus. The phone ban helped, keeping most devices out of sight.

Savages haven’t been alone this past year shaming phones at shows. Prince threatened to boot any patrons caught playing director on his west coast club tour, and the Artist excluded all media photographers outright. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s phone ban sign was way more punk than Savages’ nuanced approach, advising that ticket holders “PUT THAT SHIT AWAY.” Neko Case stopped her show in Cincinnati multiple times October 22, threatening to end the show early because of flashing phone photos, finally saying “Just put away the cameras. It isn’t going to kill you, but it might kill me.” David Byrne & St. Vincent, She & Him, The Polyphonic Spree & Bjork all prohibited phone photography or asked for devices to be put away mid-show this year as well.

Ever the groundbreaker, Jack White was the one to get the ball rolling in the summer of 2012. Rumor spread that the young living legend demanded that fans avoid social media and not take photos during his show, and the public backlash was surprising brutal. White’s label Third Man Records later clarified, “the only thing that we’ve ever asked of the audience is to not take pictures or videos while holding up their camera phones, etc that block other peoples view or otherwise hinder other fans concert experiences.” The message continued, “Along with that, the bigger idea is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand.”

Father John Misty performed through a giant iPhone on his recently wrapped solo tour. Perhaps J. Tillman wanted to treat the audience to the same visual that has been thrown in his face the past two years. But Father John Misty gets bonus points for referring to himself as “content.”

Father-John-Misty

Some artists are using mobile technology to enhance their live performance. Dan Deacon told his fans to download his interactive app before his show via a projected message at the venue. Then during one song late in the set, he instructed the audience to pull phones out, launch the app, and dance with it. Deacon controlled the color blasts and strobe effects that emanated from scattered smartphones, using the devices to bring the collective attention of the crowd together. Pretty Lights followed suit this year at Outside Lands with a much bigger audience.

So the possibilities for using our pocket computers to enhance the live music experience are out there and will likely gain steam.

Author Daniel Goleman explains the phenomenon quite effectively:

We all are carrying technological devices, our phones, our iPads, and whatever it may be, and they are diabolically designed to take advantage of the weaknesses of our attention system and nab us, and keep us nabbed. And so we’re constantly fighting distractions. That’s why, I think focus is more important than ever.

Phones-at-Shows

Certainly there is a difference between popping out your Android for 10 seconds to snap off a couple shots versus literally shooting an entire concert on your smartphone with it’s shitty sound recording capabilities.

The Festival Lawyer explained this best in his Upgrade article:

Maybe you might want to record the whole show on your iPhone (or now iPads? seriously?) and just stand there and focus on getting the best video and pics. I’m not here to judge or scold you. Although I do feel the need to point out that you will NEVER watch that stupid motherfucking shaky video again and you are watching something through a tiny screen that is actually happening really big and loud RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU LIVE!!! (Umm…actually maybe I am judging you a tiny bit. Sorry.)

Ultimately, it’s about finding balance between capturing the moment and immersing in the moment.

When someone is shooting a song-long video during a show, staring through a screen version of their current reality, and thinking about their friends watching it on YouTube later, that person is simply not in the moment.

The musical moments that give us auditory pleasure and ingrain in our memories are significantly more powerful and important than anything that can be captured on a phone.

Just take a look at the Jimmy Kimmel crowd at their outdoor stage…

This is the new normal — we’re all photographers. (Granted, people that go to a free taping in Los Angeles don’t represent a typical concert crowd.)

We are moving toward a world where we are more connected to our phones than each other. Many of us (yes, including myself) are too damned dependent on digital devices.

It’s a bit scary to contemplate a generation born with Facebook accounts. A generation of kids that are given tablets to stop them from crying at a restaurant. A third generation that is routinely fed amphetamine-based drugs when focus is an issue, even though we don’t teach attention-based skill strategies (yet).

In his book, Goleman wrote, “Today’s children are growing up in a new reality, one where they are attuning more to machines and less to people than has ever been true in human history. That’s troubling for several reasons. For one, the social and emotional circuitry of a child’s brain learns from contact and conversation with everyone it encounters over the course of a day. These interactions mold brain circuitry; the fewer hours spent with people— and the more spent staring at a digitized screen— portends deficits.”

The problem here is way bigger than just experiencing a show through a smartphone.

Phone zombies can SnapChat all day if they want to, but it’s critical that we live in the moment as much as possible and enjoy who we are with. The key is to identify screen addiction, set new habits through cognitive control & repetition, and be where you are to the best of your ability in this distracting age of information.

Be-Where-You-Are


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FCF finds first-year success for five game-changing reasons

First-City-FestivalPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Molly Kish //

The inaugural First City Festival was a big success over the weekend (August 24 & 25) — something most new festivals do not pull off.

There were five particular reasons this first-year fest worked so well — and these five game changers are why FCF will return for year two. Be sure to keep scrolling down to view all the magnificent eye-candy captured by Marc Fong — there are over 150 artist and scene photos to take in.

Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse

1. The Comprehensively Diverse Music Line Up
Exhibiting a wide spectrum of genre and talent, First City Festival nailed the booking of the festival’s inaugural year. Filling both days with incredible sets performed by bands both at the height of their musical game or on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough, Goldenvoice SF made sure the bill was stacked.

The fairgrounds housed three separate stages within a five-minute walk of each other, sparse conflicts and ample set spacing optimized maximum viewing pleasure. The line-up encouraged audience members to branch out of their comfort zones between sets, encouraging the discovery of new music.

Passion Pit
Passion Pit

MGMT
MGMT

Neko Case
Neko Case2

2. Concession Placement and Prices
Given the spare time allotted between sets, sampling a variety of food and beverage choices located throughout the fairgrounds was a breeze. The general food court was set up at the midsection of the festival — food trucks, cocktails and beers could be found everywhere.

Drink prices ranged from $7-12, offering everything from the standard domestic to artisan crafted cocktails (the option to spritz your beverage with absinthe and chartreuse was available). Food prices also followed suit and presented modern spins on the traditional carnival fare.

FCF SCENE

3. VIP Perks in General Admission Area
Most festivals go out of their way to generally sanction off the VIP ticket holders from the GA masses. Although FCF reserved a special entrance, carnival perks, seating accommodations and swanky lounges for those who sprung for the VIP pass, the festival worked hard to deliver an enjoyable experience for all that attended. Ample indoor bathrooms were available for all, along with large charging stations, hard alcohol options and outdoor shaded chill areas that were well furnished. In its inaugural year, FCF ran crowd cohabitation smoothly and kept everyone in attendance happily content.

FCF SCENE

FCF 19

4. The Monterey County Carnival
Taking notes from modern day music festivals, FCF jumped on the idea that concert go-er’s enjoy alternative entertainment to suffice their down time between sets. Beyond providing eclectic acts throughout both days on the vaudeville stage, the festival utilized their fairground landscape to its full capacity.

In prep for Monterey’s upcoming county fair, the festival decided to take initiative and set up the rides and games early, allowing FCF crowds to have a complete carnival at their disposal all weekend. Boasting games, mazes and rides ushered in from Neverland Ranch, the concert attendees were able to split their time between a festival of live music and a dub step sound-tracked carnival. A smart move in crowd control, and an ingenious way to boost revenue and all around surreal experience, the carnival uniquely set FCF apart from other festivals.

FCF 2

5. Location, Location, Location
Although the Monterey County Fairgrounds have an impressive calendar of events and a historical legacy within the Bay Area music scene, there hasn’t been much recently to compete with the crowds and caliber of this past weekend.

Nestled in the small suburban coastal community of Monterey, a town that usually catches cover bands, rodeos and craft fairs at the fairgrounds, the promoters couldn’t have picked a better place to kick off what undoubtedly will become a premiere West Coast music festival.

FCF SCENE13

Even elements such as the constant overhead traffic of the adjacent small aircraft port were met with ease. Instead of being considered a distraction to the sets, musicians embraced the magical nature of each plane taking off or landing throughout their performance, usually incorporating banter and impeccable comedic timing

The weather, layout and charm of the surrounding neighborhood played a key part into how successful the FCF weekend played out. From the ample roadside accommodations and street parking within blocks of the fairgrounds, to the killer family owned restaurants and extremely congenial locals, FCF was a hospitable music festival for the books.

Toro Y Moi
Toro Y Moi

Beach House
Beach House

Washed Out
Washed Out6

FCF SCENE

Devendra Banhart
Devendra Banhart

Deerhunter
Deerhunter

Purity Ring
Purity Ring

FCF SCENE

Father John Misty
Father John Misty2

Okkervil River
Okkervil River

FCF SCENE

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

The Black Angels
The Black Angels

Capital Cities
Capital Cities

FCF SCENE

Lucero
Lucero

The Antlers
The Antlers

Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper

FCF SCENE

Electric Guest
Electric Guest

Civil Twilight
Civil Twilight

The Dodos
The Dodos

FCF SCENE

Akron/Family
Akron:Family

Guards
Guards

FCF SCENE