Treasure Island Music Festival 2018: A strong return for one of the Bay Area’s best live music events

Treasure Island Music Festival 2018 - JunglePhotos by Brendan Mansfield, Josh Withers, Paige K. Parsons & Josh Sanseri // Written by Brett Ruffenach //

Treasure Island Music Festival //
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park – Oakland
October 13th-14th, 2018 //

Treasure Island Music Festival is back. After 10 years on its namesake island, Another Planet Entertainment’s and Noise Pop’s two-day music and arts festival has returned in full form to its new home, the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland.

A popular spot for open-air events, MHSP has become well-known for its sprawling natural grass, cool breeze and stunning sunsets revealing a silhouetted view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Having hosted both hip-hop festival Blurry Vision and house music day party All Day I Dream in the past, the park has become a reliable space for large-scale events in the East Bay.

TIMF 2018 was no different. For the fest’s first iteration at this new venue, organization and logistics ran as smoothly as one may hope. Based on my own experience and the anecdotes shared by other festivalgoers throughout the weekend, arriving and leaving the festival was simple and stress-free; exiting both nights after the headliner finished and waiting to board the shuttle to the West Oakland BART station took no longer than 30 minutes, even at peak times. After transporting thousands of patrons on and off Treasure Island in years past, it’s not a surprise that the organizers were successful in keeping everything on course over the whole weekend.

The layout of the festival followed a similar logic to previous iterations: two stages at opposite ends of a large field, with artists playing back-to-back on each stage. This is where TIMF truly shines — to be able to see every artist on any music festival’s lineup is always a treat. Kicking off Saturday’s hip-hop and electronic-oriented artist roster was up-and-coming experimental rapper JPEGMAFIA. Using nothing but a laptop (managed by himself) and a mic, JPEGMAFIA spent much of his set in the crowd, rapping his manic flows atop noisy, blaring hip-hop beats.

Treasure Island Music Festival 2018 - Moses Sumney


Moses Sumney

Later, Moses Sumney took the stage as a four-piece band, a new iteration of what has usually been a solo project. His sultry vocals, combined with some expanded instrumentation, made for a complete reinvention of the LA native’s live show. “Make Out in Your Car”, for example, featured an extremely groovy outro that gave the band backing the soulful singer-songwriter space to jam out for a second.

Sadly, as Sumney began his closing track “Plastic”, electronic duo Polo & Pan started their set on the opposite stage, quickly overtaking the airwaves across Middle Harbor. Polo & Pan have garnered considerable hype this year, and for good reason. The French duo seamlessly guided us through a 45-minute, non-stop dance party, layering bacchanalian melodies over thumping house beats that invoked a sense of being at a old-time carnival. It’s quite a unique sound that can really get a crowd moving.

As the afternoon progressed, artist after artist brought their best underneath the beating sun. Laff Trax is a new side project featuring Bay Area resident Chaz Bundick (aka Toro y Moi) and enigmatic electronic producer Nosaj Thing. In what really ended up being a B2B DJ set rather than a new musical project, the two DJs were impeccable in their selections.

Back at the main stage, Santigold celebrated the 10th anniversary of her self-titled debut LP by performing it in full. Another new DJ duo, Silk City, which was formed by All-Star record producers Mark Ronson and Diplo, shortly followed, keeping a small crowd moving leading up to the night’s two final acts: Pusha T and A$AP Rocky.

Treasure Island Music Festival 2018 - Pusha T


Pusha T

Pusha T took The City stage right at set time, kicking off with an a capella intro to the opening track “If You Know You Know” from his most recent album Daytona. From there, it was “King Push” in full form — performing a setlist of nearly 20 songs, back to back to back, while never missing a beat. Throughout the set, Pusha and his DJ continuously proclaimed “DAYTONA … ALBUM OF THE YEAR!” And after he performed the whole disc from start to finish, including a word-perfect rendition of “Infared”, I might be inclined to agree.

Saturday headliner A$AP Rocky was an unfortunate disappointment. Due to what we think was technical difficulties, he didn’t take the stage until 37 minutes after his scheduled start time, killing more than half an hour. While he brought all the bells and whistles one would expect — pyrotechnics, strobe lights and a full backing band — when headlining a festival, you could tell he felt rushed and flustered trying to get through what they could before the strict noise curfew of 10 p.m. As a result, Rocky ended up being one of the more forgettable acts of the weekend.

Sunday at TIMF proved to be sublime. Offering just as much sunshine and warmth as Day 1, a perfectly sequenced day focused heavily on rock transpired. Pond, the first of four Australian acts to perform on the main stage, got things started for a noticeably large audience, many of who were likely Tame Impala fans arriving early to show their support for Jay Watson, who is in both bands. Next was Soccer Mommy, another one of this year’s indie darlings, as she and her sidekicks held their own playing tracks off her debut LP Clean, including excellent takes on “Your Dog” and “Cool”.

Alex Cameron, the second Australian act to take the main stage on Sunday, is a puzzling one. Picture “Macho Man” Randy Savage meeting Michael Jackson if you can. It’s part comedy bit, part completely serious 80’s dream-pop band. Cameron describes the project as a “dossier of evidence about the condition of being a straight white male.” Take from that what you will.

Treasure Island Music Festival 2018 - U.S. Girls


U.S. Girls

The marathon of music subsequently continued. Shame, a post-punk outfit that couldn’t have originated from anywhere except the UK, brought a breath of fresh air (and dust) to TIMF with their fast and loose instrumentation and leery vocal stylings. Sharon Van Etton unveiled what I see as version 2.0 of her music by adding some really gritty guitar and synthesizer sounds to her stunning vocals. We look forward to hearing her new album Remind Me Tomorrow, which comes out next year.

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.

Tame Impala delivered what one might expect from one of the world’s top-touring rock bands right now. Running through a 17-song set full of hits, from “Alter Ego” to “The Less I Know the Better” on 2015’s Currents, the final Aussie act of the day left us with a special treat by playing “Jeremy’s Storm” from their debut album Innerspeaker for the first time in nearly five years.

After taking 2017 off and relocating to Oakland, TIMF has returned in full form and we are certainly thrilled about that. With great weather, excellent organization and a near-perfect sequencing of artists this year, it still happens to be one of the best live music events in the Bay Area. Who’s ready for 2019?

Can Treasure Island Music Festival regain its footing after a year off & a new location?

Treasure Island Music Festival - 2018 lineupWritten by Brett Ruffenach //

Treasure Island Music Festival //
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park – Oakland
October 13th-14th, 2018 //

With what seems like an endless amount of opportunities to see dozens of artists perform over a weekend in the Bay Area — Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Blurry Vision … the list goes on — Treasure Island Music Festival has spent the past decade establishing a foothold in Northern California’s festival scene through well-curated lineups and unique headliners such as Massive Attack, Atoms for Peace and Outkast, along with exciting emerging artists in pop, hip-hop, electronic and rock ‘n’ roll.

Best of all, TIMF is one of the few music festivals where you can see every single artist on the lineup. A two-stage event that staggers artists back-to-back for 12 hours straight, it’s ideal for those looking to discover some of the hottest live music acts on tour right now.

TIMF has gone through a couple changes over the years. Originally held on the northwestern end of its namesake island for the first nine years, organizers were forced to relocate the fest due to construction on new housing (what else would it be, of course?) in the area. And after what was an unfortunate 2016 installment due to bad weather and artist cancellations on the opposite end of Treasure Island, the festival took a break last year.

But TIMF has found a new home in Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. A new popular spot for open-air events, MHSP has become quite well-known for its sprawling natural grass, cool breeze right off the water and sunsets revealing a stunning, silhouetted view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. MHSP has proven to be a reliable space for festivals, with events like hip-hop festival Blurry Vision and house music day party All Day I Dream.

Treasure Island Music Festival - 2018 daily lineups

TIMF’s 2018 lineup features, top to bottom, some of the most interesting artists in pop, rock, hip-hop, electronic and all the experimental forms that cross them. In an era where hip-hop remains at the height of its popularity, TIMF 2018 includes artists behind some of the most provocative rap music released this year. JPEGMAFIA, a rapper hailing from Baltimore, is a standout among heavy hitters like Pusha T and A$AP Rocky. Blending experimental noise with booming beats behind maniacal flows, this is not one to be missed. He’s on at 12:40 p.m., so get there early, folks. You won’t regret it.

It’s hard to place a lot of these exciting artists in a specific genre. How can you capture the sweeping sounds of Moses Sumney? Take the soaring vocal traditions in gospel, then mix jazz, looped electronics and simple guitar chord progressions, and stir. Having hit pretty much every major music festival this year while also appearing at The Oscars with Sufjan Stevens, this buzzworthy artist lives up to the hype.

In a similar vein, serpentwithfeet will make an appearance to play the experimental sounds from his critically acclaimed album, entitled soil, that arrived in June. Alongside other genre-bending artists like Hiatus Kaiyote, a soul-meets-rock band bound to catch the interest of any first-time listener, there’s really no shortage of artists refusing to be placed in one category.

Joining the wide spectrum of hip-hop, R&B and jazz showcased on Saturday is a cavalcade of cutting-edge electronic projects, including easily one of the most exciting acts to emerge over the last year in French duo Polo & Pan.

Treasure Island Music Festival - 2018 map

Even more excitingly, TIMF will host two brand-new projects making their Bay Area debut: Laff Trax and Silk City. Hard to imagine what exactly to expect, but when you see that indie-pop artist and Berkeley native Toro y Moi is going B2B with the downtempo, enigmatic beats of Nosaj Thing, it’s hard not to have your hopes high. Similarly, Silk City will feature two of the biggest pop music producers in the world joining forces, Mark Ronson and Diplo. You’ll just have to be there to see what it’s like.

Guitars may seem like a thing of the past at other major music festivals (we’re looking at you, Coachella), but at TIMF, rock ‘n’ roll is thriving. With the current kings of psychedelic rock in Tame Impala leading the pack, the bands preceding them are sure to pack their own punch.

Among the most exciting are U.S. Girls, a pop project lead by the unique vocal stylings of Meghan Remy. Their most recent LP In a Poem Unlimited is destined to top many year-end lists, and we can only expect their live production to meet a similar standard. Sharon Van Etten, with her new-meets-old-school style, and Courtney Barnett, who possesses the most charming accent in the game and just played LA’s Greek Theatre (read our review here) this month, also will be there to showcase their latest material.

Be sure to hit the merch stand early, as TIMF will have a brand-new line of gear to celebrate their new home in Oakland. This year’s merch is presented in partnership with Oaklandish, which is a popular fashion line and retail store based in Oakland. They’ll be printing all of this year’s merch locally in their warehouse, and they’ve also been tapped to design a new collaborative item specific to 2018. The company will also have a pop-up booth at TIMF for those looking to explore additional apparel and accessories. Plus, there will be a variety of Oakland and East Bay food trucks to keep things local and of course, your bellies full.

Who are you most excited to see? What are your pro tips for this weekend?

Our 10 favorite moments from Coachella 2016

Coachella 2016Photos courtesy of Coachella // Written by Josh Herwitt & Brett Ruffenach //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 15th-17th, 2016 //

Say what you will about Coachella. The famed music festival has become known for creating a culture that hinges on celebrity sightings, shirtless bros, H&M outfits, pool parties, drugs and a shitload of millenials obsessed with their Instagram feeds.

But for music lovers like ourselves, there is no bigger stage in the entire music industry than the ones Goldenvoice set up across the Empire Polo Club each April, with 2016 marking the 17th edition of the longest-standing and highest-grossing music festival in the country. The latter of those two accomplishments has produced plenty of haters in recent years, but it’s impractical to deny the magnitude and scope of Coachella as it has morphed from modest, two-day music festival into three-day, two-weekend megafest.

What makes Coachella so unique are the trends it sets, whether it’s through music, fashion or culture. There is no music festival out there with the same pedigree for reuniting broken-up bands or welcoming special guest stars quite like Coachella has built over the last five years — and 2016 was no different. Between LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses, two of the biggest reunions in music served as headlining material while the fest once again made headlines with a laundry list of surprise appearances that included Rihanna, Kanye, T.I., Seal, Lorde, Kesha and even Kristin Wiig.

We hit the polo field in Indio for the first weekend of Coachella, and while it was physically impossible for us to catch all 180 acts in roughly 40 hours of festival time, we still witnessed plenty of great music. So, without further ado, we present our 10 highlights from Coachella after surviving three days in the desert. -JH


Coachella 2016 - Despacio

Despacio

Despacio is more of a side project than a particular artist. Consisting of a 50,000-watt sound system created by LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy in partnership with McIntosh Laboratory, Coachella was fortunate enough to be the only North American festival hosting this makeshift “club” all three days. With brothers David and Stephen Dewaele of 2manydjs spinning their personal vinyl collection for six hours a day next to Murphy, Despacio served as the perfect intro music as I arrived at the Empire Polo Club each day. The trio of DJs kept things pretty eclectic, playing very few tracks the crowd would actually recognize besides Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” or Warren Zevon’s “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”. I got the opportunity to experience Despacio at Sónar in Barcelona a couple years ago, and seeing it again only made me wish that it could be featured at every music festival. With the three DJs manning the decks in a dark corner of the club, Despacio tries to turn the crowd away from the stage and toward each other — something every festival could use a little more of. -BR


Coachella 2016

Miike Snow

Sunday’s roster at Coachella last year was significantly weaker in comparison to Friday’s and Saturday’s. This year was much of the same, though Calvin Harris somehow proved to be an even worse headliner than Drake (we didn’t know that was possible). But one of the bright spots on Day 3 was no doubt Miike Snow’s 9:45 p.m. slot in the Mojave Tent, the same place where I discovered the Swedish trio back in 2010 during my first Coachella. Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg have come a long way since then, and with three studio albums in their catalog, including their latest effort iii, they have more than enough material to fill out a 50-minute set and leave you wanting to hear more. -JH


Coachella 2016 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

I’m not sure if there’s a group of rappers more infectious than Run the Jewels at the moment. Between their poignant songwriting, booming instrumentals and cultural relevance, the duo featuring El-P and Killer Mike has ascended into the top tier of hip-hop acts. Introduced via video by 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (a political ally and friend of Killer Mike’s), the two emcees opened with a new track from their highly anticipated third LP RTJ3. They managed to keep the crowd’s energy up throughout their Saturday afternoon set despite the heat, bringing onstage an impressive list of guests, from DJ Shadow to Boots to even Nas, the latter of which joined them for a short performance of his classic track “Made You Look”. Over the course of three days, I’m not sure I saw a crowd more excited to hear new material by an artist than what I witnessed at Run the Jewels. Killer Mike and El-P are unstoppable. -BR


Coachella 2016

St. Germain

For as “mainstream” as Coachella has become in recent years, it has made a point of staging some rare live performances by different alt-electronic artists from overseas. Back in 2014, we caught British musician/producer Bonobo for a full-band set in the Mojave Tent, and last year Norwegian DJ/record producer Todd Terje ignited a disco-infused dance party in the Gobi Tent with his backing band The Olsens. So, when St. Germain was billed for this year’s festival, I knew Ludovic Navarre’s gypsy jazz/downtempo house project was a must-see act on Day 1. Not only did St. Germain’s self-titled LP in October mark a 15-year drought between albums, but it had also been nearly as long since Navarre performed at Coachella. While his cast of sidekicks wasn’t quite as large as the 20-piece big band he brought in 2001, he did assemble a group of musicians from Mali, Senegal and Brazil that hypnotized the crowd with a variety of world-music grooves that played as well live as it would over the speaker system at a French-Moroccan cafe. -JH


Coachella 2016 - Vince Staples

Vince Staples

As an emerging force in the world of hip-hop, Vince Staples took the stage at the Sahara Tent on Day 2 and put on a set that met the hype surrounding his 2015 critically acclaimed album Summertime ’06. Though the primarily EDM-focused Sahara Tent seemed like a strange fit for the Odd Future associate, Staples covered the protruding wall of LED cubes with relative ease as the crowd hung on his every word. The Long Beach-based rapper’s banter between songs, along with his range and ability to deliver heartfelt tracks like “Summertime” and bangers like “Norf Norf”, proved that he is a human torch that shouldn’t burn out anytime soon. -BR


Coachella 2016

The Arcs

Dan Auerbach is no stranger to Coachella. The seven-time Grammy winner headlined the fest in 2012 with The Black Keys, just a year after the band assumed the sub-headliner role behind Kings of Leon. But after a four-year absence in Indio, Auerbach was back with his latest side project The Arcs months after releasing the group’s debut album Yours, Dreamily,. While it’s easy to confuse blues-y singles like “Stay in My Corner”, “Outta My Mind” and “Put a Flower in Your Pocket” — all of which were performed by Auerbach and his bandmates during their set — for some of The Keys’ own material, what made this performance extra special were the guest stars who took the stage. If you thought Auerbach could shred on his own, adding Joe Walsh and his mentor Glenn Schwartz only made our ears tingle even more, especially when you consider what Schwartz is still capable of doing at the age of 78. -JH


Coachella 2016 - Sia

Sia

From the very beginning, Sia set herself apart from every other artist who took the Coachella Stage this year. With the Australian artist standing in the back of the stage, her set was more performance art than it was pop music. While her face was hidden thanks to her trademark wig, Sia’s voice stood front and center as she belted out every note to hits like “Diamonds”, “Bird Set Free” and “Titanium”. Throughout it all, different dancers and actors would come on stage, abstractly embodying the themes her songwriting often conveys: fear, anticipation, stress, anger, joy, love and most of all, doubt. As Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano contributed to the overall performance, the height of Sia’s conceptual masterpiece reached its peak with a breathtaking rendition of “Breathe Me”, bringing some of the audience to tears. It was the true headliner of Sunday night and among the top performances of the entire weekend. -BR


Coachella 2016

Silversun Pickups

Ever since these LA alt-rockers burst onto the scene in the mid-2000’s with radio hits like “Future Foe Scenarios”, “Well Thought Out Twinkles”, and “Lazy Eye”, Silversun Pickups have been high on my list of bands to see live. But for whatever reason (most of it likely my doing), the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until Coachella revealed its lineup in early January. Pitted against Ice Cube in what proved to be my biggest scheduling conflict of the weekend, SSPU didn’t make me question my decision the minute they stepped onstage and tore into “Nightlight”, the first single from their fourth and most recent studio album Better Nature. At a time when special guest appearances have become the trend at Coachella, it was refreshing to see a band not feel the need to go down the same path as everyone else. Instead, Brian Aubert, Nikki Monninger, Chris Guanlao and Joe Lester looked comfortable just being themselves, even if their nine-song set felt like it was over in the blink of an (lazy) eye. -JH


Coachella 2016 - LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem

Over the last couple of years, it’s hard to think of a band I have wanted to see more than LCD Soundsystem. Deeply tied to my formative years in college, the Brooklyn outfit’s return after a five-year hiatus was nothing short of stunning. Opening with the undeniably groovy “Us vs. Them” and covering a good chunk of their catalog over almost two hours, LCD certainly met the expectations of an eager crowd. James Murphy kept the banter between songs fairly short, and these indie heavyweights demonstrated a true dedication to their craft, starting fast with songs like “Movements” and “Yeah” before moving to more deep, tightly wound rhythms on “Someone Great” and “Home”. Though “Losing My Edge” was written more than 10 years ago, Murphy’s part-improvised, part-proclamation, part-perfectly-delivered rendition of the track seemed to really capture the attention of more casual LCD fans. Nearing the end of its set, the band covered “Heroes” by late collaborator David Bowie. I have seen many concerts as well as attended many festivals in my life, but this was truly among the most beautiful moments in live music I have ever experienced. Wrapping up their headlining performance with “All My Friends”, LCD Soundsystem proved to be among the top artists to ever grace the festival’s main stage. -BR


Coachella 2016 - Guns 'N Roses

Guns N’ Roses

There may have been no more talked-about act in Coachella’s 17-year history than Saturday’s headliner — and for good reason. Going back to 1993, it had been 23 years since Axl Rose and Slash last performed on the same stage together, and though some of that allure had worn off by the time they reached Indio thanks to a surprise show in LA and back-to-back nights in Las Vegas in prior weeks, Guns N’ Roses were still the talk of the town leading up to Coachella. In fact, all you had to do was look around on Saturday and see just how many GNR T-shirts were traversing the polo field before their 10:30 p.m. set. When it came time to deliver, the original trio of Axl, Slash and bassist Duff McKagan most certainly did, while rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer proved to be more than suitable fill-ins for Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler/Matt Sorum. Meanwhile, the surprise appearance by Angus Young couldn’t have come at a much better time after the announcement was made minutes before GNR’s set that Rose will be filling in for Brian Johnson on AC/DC’s remaining tour dates this year. GNR have always been one of my biggest bucket-list bands, and even if a broken leg prevented Axl from strutting and slithering across the stage like he once did as a brash, slender 21-year-old rock star, seeing one of my favorite childhood bands perform for two and a half hours felt all too surreal as I left the Empire Polo Club that night. -JH


Goldenvoice announces 2016 Coachella sideshows

Coachella 2016 sideshows

Each and every April, Goldenvoice puts on a number of sideshows all around Southern California in support of the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

2016 will be no different, and the renowned concert promoter has unveiled its list of shows that will take place at various venues in and out of the greater Los Angeles area, one of which includes the rustic, Westernized Pappy & Harriet’s in little-ole Pioneertown near Joshua Tree.

The sideshows will kick off on Friday, March 25th in LA at the El Rey Theatre, where London electronic music producer Sophie will take the stage, and will continue through Monday, April 25th with Years & Years headlining The Fonda Theatre. In between those, Goldenvoice will welcome performances by Goldroom, Courtney Barnett, Silversun Pickups (with Foals), Mbongwana Star, Bob Moses, Savages, AlunaGeorge, The Kills (with The Big Pink), Skepta, Rhye (with Ibeyi), AlunaGeorge, M83, The Arcs, Rancid, The 1975, James Bay, Beach House, Museum of Love, Christine and the Queens, Death Grips, Miike Snow, The Heavy, The Front Bottoms, The Last Shadow Puppets, Deerhunter (with Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Matt & Kim, Of Monsters and Men, Lapsley, St. Germain, Ex Hex, Snakehips, Grimes, The Damned, Nosaj Thing, BADBADNOTGOOD, Parov Stelar and more. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

As in past years, these sideshows will extend outside of LA’s city limits, with The Glass House and The Fox Theater in Pomona once again playing host to quite a few of them in addition to the aforementioned Pappy & Harriet’s. April 14th’s pairing of Silversun Pickups and Foals on the night before Coachella Weekend 1, for example, looks particularly appealing, while The Kills’ April 18th date at the Mayan Theater with The Big Pink and LA Witch stands out as one of our other must-see shows on Goldenvoice’s lineup. Of course, there’s also Miike Snow at The Fonda Theatre on April 20th and BADBADNOTGOOD, one of our favorites from FYF Fest (read our review here) last year, hitting The Roxy Theatre on April 22nd. Much like Coachella and its own lineup, there’s a lot to choose from here, though that’s not exactly a bad problem to have if you’re a live music fan in Southern California.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, January 29th at Noon PT or next Friday, February 5th at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice

Shlohmo concludes first live band tour in U.S. with hometown show at The Fonda Theatre

ShlohmoBy Josh Herwitt //

Shlohmo //
The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles
May 7th, 2015 //

Los Angeles electronic musician Henry Laufer, or Shlohmo as most know him these days, broke onto the scene in 2011 with his debut album Bad Vibes, drawing early comparisons to other LA experimental hip-hop producers such as Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing. As part of his own beatmaking career, he’s a founding member of Wedidit, a collection of electronic musicians that includes RL Grime and Ryan Hemsworth, and has collaborated with Tom Krell’s How to Dress Well and hip-hop/R&B recording artist Jeremih over the past two years.

But for his first world tour since the release of his sophomore LP Dark Red on True Panther Sounds last month, the 25-year-old is bringing a live band with him for all 36 dates around the globe. To conclude the North American portion of the tour, Laufer performed in front of a hometown crowd at The Fonda Theatre on Thursday, incorporating guitars, synthesizers and drums into his hour-long set (Laufer played guitar for much of it). While his dark, eery and almost psychedelic offerings at times serve more as introspection than dance music for listeners, Shlohmo, who will play in LA again at FYF Fest this summer, remains a rising star in the low-BPM sector of the EDM world.

Shlohmo

Shlohmo

Shlohmo

Shlohmo

Shlohmo

Shlohmo

Noise Pop preview: Indie music, film and art take over SF

Noise-Pop-2013

“I think our tag line “Championing Independent Culture” is an accurate description of what we are.” ~Julie Zielinski, Assistant Producer of Noise Pop

Written by Mike Frash & Molly Kish //

Noise Pop, an indie music festival that features emerging artists and living legends, is poised to take over 25 San Francisco venues from February 26th-March 3rd. It began as a one-night affair at The Independent 21 years ago, and has expanded to incorporate independent film and a wider range of art into the sphere of the week-long event.

The artist curation has also evolved over the years. “We’ve definitely extended Noise Pop as a concept. It started out so much as indie rock like Built to Spill and White Stripes,” said Julie Zielinski from Noise Pop headquarters. “But since we began Treasure Island Music Festival, we have expanded to electronic music and even hip hop a little bit.”

Subscribe to our Noise Pop 2013 Spotify playlist.

As you’ll see below, some of the best looking Noise Pop shows have already sold out. But fear not! You can purchase a Festival Badge, which is a super value for show hoppers & concert addicts. The badge grants access to all general admission (non-seated) shows, films, happy hours, Culture Club and other events during the festival.

Noise-Pop-2013

“We try to curate really unique shows and while we often have big headliners, it’s super important to us to have local bands and West Coast representation in all of the supporting acts.” ~Kelleyann Schilke, Noise Pop Production Coordinator

Noise Pop Headliners
toro-y-moi
Toro Y MoiFriday & Saturday March 1 & 2 @ The IndependentSOLD OUT Buy a badge

Coming off the recent release of his third studio album Anything in Return, Toro y Moi (aka Chaz Bundwick) brings the sexy to this year’s Noise Pop lineup. Bundwick is a “chill wave” innovator rooted deeply within the genres of R&B, Soul and Funk and now dance with the new LP. Toro Y Moi, Bundwick’s full band, will be heating up The Independent for two sold out nights. With support from Sinkane and Dogbite, prepare to leave a sweaty mess with no tread left on the soles on your shoes.

Best show to boogie your way into some baby making.


!!! (Chk Chk Chk)
!!! (chk chk chk)Thursday February 28 @ Great American Music HallBUY TICKETS

Kicking off the weekend early with some movement, bi-coastal dance-punk party starters Chk Chk Chk will be bringing down the house at Great American Music Hall. With their fifth studio album Thr!!!er dropping April 30, which the band describes as “auricular magic,” one can anticipate !!!’s first show of their tour to include a healthy dose of new material along with crowd favorites. Festival veterans, Chk Chk Chk know how to motivate crowds to get asses shaking. Nic Offer’s ecstatic outfit has the ability to continuously satisfy long term fans and blow the minds of first time witnesses. Combine that with the added support of three up and coming acts led by White Arrows, and this show is one not to miss.

Best show to gain a new appreciation for booty shorts and leave with some stellar dance moves.


Amon-Tobin
Amon Tobin (DJ set)Friday March 1 @ Public WorksBUY TICKETS

After a widely successful and rigorous schedule promoting his 2011 album ISAM, Amon Tobin brings his special blend of performance art & gritty beats to Public Works. His latest work, coming in the form of a Two Fingers album Vengeance Rythym and remixes of “Chaos Theroy,” is bound to be front and center at his Noise Pop performance, bringing to life his unique vision of “dub step built on an interplanetary level.” Accompanied by hard hitting openers Maus Haus, Naytronix and Group Rhonda, this show displays the diversity of Noise Pop 2013 by slapping you across the face with dirty electronic talent.

Best show to attend ready to rage and leave with enough optical stimulation to inspire the completion of your visual arts thesis.


Starfucker (STRFKR) Friday March 1 @ The RegencySOLD OUT Buy a badge

Polyvinyl darlings and favorites amongst the electro-indie scene, Starfucker (aka STRFKR) make their way back to the Regency Ballroom for one of the most anticipated shows of the Noise Pop 2013 Festival weekend! Celebrating the release of their forth LP Miracle Mile February 19, the boys took some risks with their songwriting and produced what is being hailed as their most ambitious effort to date. In addition to their infallible dance-floor-ready discography, expect to hear some of their recent successful experiments with funk, psychedelic pop and disco. Taking the stage after one of the strongest opening acts of the festival, Blackbird Blackbird, this show will leave you ready to take the city by storm (on your way to 1015 Folsom).

Best show to find yourself singing, jumping, dancing and/or making out with someone, whether you know ’em or not.


Rogue-Wave
Rogue WaveFriday March 1 @ Bottom Of The HillSOLD OUT Buy a badge

East Bay indie rockers Rogue Wave are headlining an intimate show with Wymond Mills, Mwahaha, and Brainstorm at Bottom of the Hill. On the heels of a cryptically announced LP that is in the works, this one of two shows Rogue Wave has on their touring calendar. Eager to debut new material and backed by a killer local line up, Rogue Wave play chaperone to a bar mitzvah of local Bay Area talent. Welcome back to Zach!

Rogue

Best show to avoid your ex that you see across the room. The one that stole your copy of Out of the Shadow and is still sporting your Rogue Wave T-shirt. Awkward …


YACHT
YACHTSaturday March 2 @ SlimsBUY TICKETS

YACHT began as Jona Bechtolt’s solo project, but at a live show you are more likely to have your eyes on singer Claire Evans. Evans officially made YACHT a twosome in 2008, and they haven’t looked back since. YACHT is much more than a creative duo that tours with a full band and recreates their digital sound with live instruments. YACHT is a movement, even a borderline religion. I’m not kidding.

Best show to Overcome Humanity and Become Your Own God


thermals
The ThermalsFriday March 1 @ Rickshaw StopSOLD OUT Buy a badge

The Thermals bring their infectious post-punk energy to Rickshaw Stop for Noise Pop 2013. Aiming to tear shit up with Bay Area bad asses Dirty Ghost’s, The She’s and EV Kain, this lineup is bursting with with raw talent and youth. The central core of Noise Pop is to feature bands on the rise in venues known for breaking new artists – to call attention to burgeoning talent, ya dig? Get on it!

Best show to watch a female spill her drink on you while pogo dancing, make fun of you for how ridiculous you look and buy you a shot in place of an apology.


Kim-Gordan
Body/HeadTuesday February 26 @ Rickshaw Stop • BUY TICKETS

One of the most anticipated and exciting acts of the Noise Pop 2013 line up, Body/Head has even the most seasoned of music professionals’ tongues wagging with predicative prose. Noise Pop Assistant Producer Julie Zielinski says, “We have some fun shows like Body/Head, Kim Gordon’s side project. The thing about this one is that really none of us have heard it, so it’s going to be this huge surprise.” An experimental project formed by indie rock legend and founding member of Sonic Youth Kim Gordon and free noise guitar superstar Bill Nace, this outfit is one that falls nicely into the Noise Pop realm.

Best show to arrive with absolutely no expectations, except that you are seeing a new act before everyone else.


Damien-Jurado
Damien JuradoSaturday March 2 @ The ChapelBUY TICKETS

Those with a proclivity toward singer-songwriters might want to check out Damien Jurado at San Francisco’s newest venue The Chapel in the Mission. Lately Jurado has been been releasing new records at a yearly clip, and he’s currently touring on his 2012 effort Maraqopa. Jurado is certainly an under-the-radar talent; his songs and discography greatly outweigh his overall success.

Best show to discover a hidden musical gem.


Catch Em Before They Blow Up
thao

“I’ve been with Noise Pop for about five to six years now, and I remember the first year I said ‘Wow, I don’t even really know a lot of these bands,’ and I consider myself pretty well versed. Then from the progression of Noise Pop, to SXSW to the next set of festivals you would see bands like the Fleet Foxes play second of four at the Bottom of the Hill, then all of the sudden they are on the front cover of all of these magazines. It’s interesting to see how people are able to trampoline onto the next thing.” ~Julie Zielinski, Assistant Producer of Noise Pop

Thao & The Get Down Stay DownSaturday March 2 @ Great American Music Hall
SOLD OUT Buy a badge

Thao Nguyen, the spark-plug front-woman for The Get Down Stay Down, is ready for the spotlight and even mainstream radio-play with the release of We the Common on February 5. Title track “We the Common (For Valerie Bolden)” will be a hit – and for a good reason. The track plays on multiple genres successfully, contrasting a bluegrass/jazz based-sound with synth hits, alt-rock beat transitions and poppy, Regina Spektor-like accessible lyrics. By the time the refrain kicks in (“Whooo-a-hooo, haha), it becomes easy to speculate that Thao and The Get Down Stay Down could have a big year.

Ty-Segall-Fuzz
FUZZFriday March 1 @ The KnockoutSOLD OUT Buy a badge

When Trouble in Mind Records received an anonymous submission by a heavy psych rock band last year, the mystery of FUZZ was born in a wall of sound. When the veil was raised, it turned out to be Ty Segall and his long-time collaborator Charlie Moothart were the creators of this new ruckus. The plot thickened when it was learned that Ty was manning the drumkit while Moothart banged out riffs heavy enough to make Sabbath blush. Bongs across America rattled as this is no average stoner rock band. The vocals are unmistakably Segall, which couldn’t fit the limited tracks any better.

Having the pleasure of seeing this band at tiny Hemlock Tavern got me excited that this was not a waste of Segall’s increasingly valuable time and effort. Having known that Ty is competent on all instruments lends perfect sense to him truly wanting to try it all, and sooner than later.
-Kevin Quandt

DIIVFriday & Saturday March 1 & 2 @ Brick & Mortar Music HallSOLD OUT Buy a badge

Beach Fossil’s Zachary Cole Smith released a whopper of a solo effort in 2012 under the aquatic-name, DIIV (Dive). Heavy on the reverb and not lacking any quality of pop shoe-gaze mentality, DIIV’s sound has a way of grabbing you and holding on as the infectious guitar hooks play over and over in your skull. Apparently the secret is out, as two Noise Pop shows sold out rather quickly. The attention is deserved.

Nosaj-Thing
Nosaj ThingThursday February 21 @ California Academy of Sciences

Nosaj Thing produces subtle yet contemporary beauty at it’s finest. It was well worth the wait for Jason Chung’s new album Home under his Nosaj Thing monicker, as this fresh batch of progressive down-beat tracks is full of his unique sound. Nosaj Thing is headlining the weekly California Academy of Sciences Nightlife February 21, the Thursday before Noise Pop week.

Scene-Unseen
Washed Out, Toro Y Moi, Young Magic Scene Unseen II • Friday March 1 @ 1015 FolsomFree with RSVP

Did you see all the sick shows happening Friday March 1st? The place to be afterwards will be at 1015 Folsom, where Washed Out (Ernest Greene) and Toro Y Moi (Chazwick Bundick) spin at this free after-party.

Culture-Club-Logo

“The Culture Club, it is what all of these musicians and artists do outside of just making music…” ~Kelleyann Schilke

Culture Club Presented by Bay Bridged • Saturday @ Swedish American Music HallBUY TICKETS

Culture Club, now in its third year of celebrating this process and DIY spirit, gives you the rare opportunity to see and hear your favorite artists in the music, film, art, design, food and technology communities show in an interactive way how, why and what inspires them in creating their work(s). In addition to talks and unique performances, there are hands-on opportunities for participants to delve into their own creativity as well. Culture Club creates an all-around immersive experience to get in touch with your favorite creatives on a deeper and more insightful level.

“One thing we’re highlighting this year is Olek, who is a famous crochet artist that does “crochet bombing.” She’s going to come in a teach crochet workshops and talk about that aspect of public movement which is pretty cool.”

“Also highlighting music, we’ll be featuring Dust & Grooves: For the Love of Vinyl, whom are going to come in and take photographs of local musicians and their record collections, then talk about how people are influenced by music and how vinyl has continued to effect really popular music. The concept itself is really just to highlight how much music really effects artistic movement and movement in the world.” ~Kelleyann Schilke

Culture-Club

Noise-Pop-Film
Noise Pop Film SeriesBuy a film series badge

See a Little Light: A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould
Q&A with director Justin Mitchell & Bob’s manager Jordan Kurland
February 27 / Roxie Theater / 9 p.m. / $10

Last November at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, some of today’s most influential artists gathered to celebrate the music of Bob Mould. Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Ryan Adams, No Age, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler (The Hold Steady), Margaret Cho with Grant Lee Phillips, and Jessica Dobson (The Shins, Deep Sea Diver) all performed songs from Bob’s historic catalog. Fortunately, the entire evening was captured in stunning audio and high-quality video quality by filmmaker Justin Mitchell. Justin and his camera crew followed Bob and the other artists meticulously throughout their day catching the rehearsals, preparation, interactions—and of course the night’s unforgettable performances.

“We also have a lot of great films I’m excited about like See a Little Light, A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould. Shepard Fairey is going to be there as well as Jordan Kirland, our boss in honor. Also the Bad Brains film, I’m excited about that as well.” ~Julie Zielinski

Noise-Pop-Art

Strom Thorgerson & Hipgnosis Taken by Storm: Iconic Album Art
Pre-screening Reception: Thursday, February 28, 2013 / 5–8 p.m.
San Francisco Art Exchange; February 28th-March 16th

For over 40 years using album covers as his canvas, Storm Thorgerson has created some of the most iconic images in the history of music from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, Peter Gabriel, Black Sabbath, Paul McCartney to Biffy Clyro, Muse, The Mars Volta—in fact possibly 80% of your classic vinyl collection! Eschewing digital manipulation in favor of building massive sets and tableaus, staging performances and actions and ‘doing it for real’, Storm has deliriously confounded expectations of the relation of images and music, hyperrealism and the everyday, and the role of the record sleeve at the intersection of art and commerce.

Taken by Storm, with Storm Thorgerson is really being hyped and will be accompanied by a champagne toast down at the SF Art Exchange downtown, which has the world’s largest collection of Rock and Roll Art, which is really neat as well and such an honor to have that as part of the festival.” ~Kelleyann Schilke

San Francisco Rocks! Noise Pop & Treasure Island Photography (2007–2012)
Opening: Thursday, February 7, 2013 / 7 p.m.
Festival Reception: February 26th, 2013 / 5 p.m. / Hotel Biron

In the past five years Noise Pop has brought the Bay Area some incredible live music from local bands. And, while most of us were just getting off on the music itself, a select group of some of the world’s best music photographers were taking some spectacular shots of these shows. This exhibition is a rare treat as we get a unique look at what’s been happening onstage here in our own backyard over the past half a decade.

TIMF

New Music Tuesday: Bad Religion • Toro y Moi • Ra Ra Riot • The Joy Formidable • Nosaj Thing • FIDLAR • The Growlers • Foxygen

Bad Religion - True North

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.


Bad ReligionTrue North

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Past is Dead”
“Hello Cruel World”
“Dept. of False Hope”

Album Highlight: Bad Religion’s sound has been crafted over three and a half decades, and it hasn’t deviated much from a strong drive, mixed in with educated, anti-establishment lyrics and endless touring. Some faster tracks from the “80-85” era are a pleasant surprise.

Album Lowlight: A few odd songs like “Dharma and the Bomb” could have been omitted, as they are a little goofy and misplaced. If you aren’t a fan of 90’s punk drumming, this album may not be for you.

Takeaway: A must for any fan of Bad Religion or punk-tinged rock and roll fan. There are lots of thoughtful lyrics sung masterfully. True North continues a great punk rock tradition, what you’d expect from vets like Greg Graffin and Co.

~Kevin Quandt


Toro y MoiAnything in Return

4.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“So Many Details”
“Say That”
“Cola”
“Cake”

Album Highlight: Chazwick Bundick’s new LP Anything in Return is heavily dance-influenced compared to his prior works, and he’s brought a new beat to the table by lacing his first three tracks with UK deep house and R&B sensibilities. The opening section of the record has the freshest sound on the record.

Album Lowlight: It’s Toro y Moi’s longest record, and it does feel a bit long. “Touch” and “Day One” aren’t spectacular, but they aren’t bad either.

Takeaway: Anything in Return blends tracks influenced by dance (“Harm in Change” and “Say That”), R&B (“So Many Details”), micro-house (“Rose Quartz”), disco/chillwave (“Studies”), electronic pop (“Cake”) and funk (“High Living”). It’s a sexy, cohesive album, and Bundick takes a mature look at youthful living with his smooth lyrics. This is a winning record.

~Mike Frash


Ra Ra RiotBeta Love

4.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Dance with Me”
“Is It Too Much”
“Angel, Please”
“Binary Mind”

Album Highlight: Ra Ra Riot’s new album Beta Love is upbeat and infectious, combining many elements from their previous work with a more developed electronic sound. If Ra Ra Riot was in the alpha phase before, they have certainly progressed into the Beta phase with ‘Beta Love.’

Album Lowlight: Nitpicking here, but the second half of the album doesn’t quite retain the all-out dance party of the first half. After “Angel, Please”, the LP settles down a little and takes the listener into a nocturnal state with “When I Dream”.

Takeaway: Ra Ra Riot has created a tremendous indie electropop album. The band’s sound has evolved, moving away from the heavier, classical sounding music to a more electronic, synth vibe. Ra Ra Riot purists might be skeptical towards the change, but I love it. One of the best albums in a very young 2013, IMO.

~Kevin Raos


The Joy FormidableWolf’s Law

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“This Ladder Is Ours”
“The Turnaround/Wolf’s Law”
“The Leaopard And the Lung”

Album Highlight: The second half of Wolf’s Law contains enjoyable tracks that don’t sound like the typical, upbeat alt rock this group usually puts out. Check out “The Leaopard And the Lung” and a slow but lovely “Silent Treatment.”

Album Lowlight: Why throw a 70-second gap in the middle of the last track “The Turnaround/Wolf’s Law”? Both the parts within this track are excellent and could have been bridged. I’m sure there’s a reason they weren’t completely merged, but it just breaks up a beautiful final song in an unspectacular way. And “Maw Maw Song” is a little meh.

Takeaway: The Joy Formidable produce a noisy wall of sound that abruptly comes and goes, and Ritzy Bryan’s guitar-work dominates this album. If you’re a fan of The Joy Formidable, give it a spin, but you may be stumped by the odd, yet entertaining second half of the record. Overall, there isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking to be found in this LP.

~Mike Frash


Nosaj ThingHome

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Glue”
“Tell”
“Try” feat. Toro y Moi

Album Highlight: Subtle, yet contemporary beauty at its finest. Tracks such as “Distance” from LA electronic musician Jason Chung feature a fresher take on old legends like Boards of Canada. “Tell” leans closer to the dub-scape sound of London-based beat maker Burial.

Album Lowlight: Though it’s not Chung’s style, one bigger, fuller or faster track could have helped full-album listening experience. I had higher expectations, as this album was nearly four years in the making. I guess when you’re producing for hip-hop stars, it gets time-consuming.

Take-away: It was well worth the wait for Jason Chung’s new album under his Nosaj Thing monicker, as this fresh batch of progressive down-beat tracks is full of his unique sound.

~Kevin Quandt

FIDLARFIDLAR

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Cheap Beer”
“Wake Bake Skate”
“5-9”
“Blackout Stout”
“No Waves”

Album Highlight: “Cheap Beer” is the lead single and party anthem of the album, leading into the record apologetically with screeching distortion, pelting lyrics and surf rock guitar riffs. The song sets course for a 14-track homage to the grittier side of punk rock, highlighting the angst of wasted youth set in the streets of LA.

Album Lowlight: “LDA”, reminiscent of a Ramones ballad, is a song that sidetracks from the anxious energy that keeps this album interesting. Appearing in rotation after the most lively track on the album “5-9”, the song stunts the manic motion of Fidlar’s material in what seems like a forced attempt to squeeze a cheesy love song into the mix.

Takeaway: “Paycheck,” a track which starts off unconventionally slow, is sung in unison, and is placed on the coattails of the least impressive song on the album. One might pass this up the first listen or two. The latter half of this song shreds, slapping the listener in the face with the albums’ strongest guitar solo.

~Molly Kish


The GrowlersHung at Heart

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Someday”
“Naked Kids”
“One Million Lovers”
“Row”

Album Highlight: The opening one-two punch of “Someday” and “Naked Kids” gets the album started in a big way. “Someday” finds Brooks Nielson singing about the future and “when tall boys turn into champagne, and Bologna turns to steak”. “Naked Kids” is a slower-paced psychedelic ode to a lost lover, and he swears he’s changed and has had an epiphany. Great opening tracks here.

Album Lowlight: Every song seems to blend together — it’s hard to distinguish between different tracks. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys was supposed to produce this album, but The Growlers weren’t happy with Auerbach’s touch, so they went back in the studio and did it their way. It does make me wonder what Auerbach could have done with these songs.

Takeaway: All in all, this album is enjoyable, especially the lyrics and the 60’s SoCal psych-rock vibe, but I feel it could have had stronger material. All the songs are good, but only a couple stand out from the others.

~Pete Mauch


FoxygenWe Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Shuggie”
“We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic”
“San Francisco”
“Oh Yeah”

Album Highlight: “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” is the album’s title track and undoubtedly the strongest song. A psychedelic freak-out coated with soulful shrieks, impressive percussion, steady guitar riffs and someone ripping on the organ, Sam France and Jonathan Rado showcase their incredible musical talent and chops for songwriting.

Album Lowlight: The least complicated effort on the album, “No Destruction”, lacks in production value and lyrical content. It’s great in the context of a stripped-down country song, but it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the tracks on this album.

Takeaway: With its borderline obnoxious lyrical interludes, “On Blue Mountain” seems silly at first. I was at first deterred from what ends up being one of the most enigmatic tracks on the album. Approach this album with acceptance of the ironic song structure, and you’ll sure to be smitten by the end.

~Molly Kish