Our favorite performances from 2018

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

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

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

Whittling down our list is never easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order), all of whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

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

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

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

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


Best of 2018 - Cut Copy

Cut Copy

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

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


Best of 2018 - Washed Out

Washed Out

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

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


Best of 2018 - Phoenix

Phoenix

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

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


Best of 2018 - Moby

Moby

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

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


Best of 2018 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

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

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


Best of 2018 - Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai

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

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


Best of 2018 - Eminem

Eminem

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

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


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

Big K.R.I.T.

Date: April 19th
Location: Echoplex – Los Angeles

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


Best of 2018 - Soulwax

Soulwax

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

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


Best of 2018 - NxWorries

NxWorries

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

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


Best of 2018 - The Roots

The Roots

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

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


Best of 2018 - Melvins

Melvins

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

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


Best of 2018 - Glassjaw

Glassjaw

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

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


Best of 2018 - Weezer

Weezer

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

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


Best of 2018 - Florence + the Machine

Florence + the Machine

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

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


Best of 2018 - Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe

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

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


Best of 2018 - Deafheaven

Deafheaven

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

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


Best of 2018 - Jack White

Jack White

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

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


Best of 2018 - David Byrne

David Byrne

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

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


Best of 2018 - The National

The National

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

Right before that final aforementioned single, they brought out Phoebe Bridgers to help them perform “Sorrow” from 2010’s High Violet, as Berninger and the 24-year-old singer-songwriter, who said during her brief opening set that The National were her favorite band, traded vocals on the tune they once played 105 times in a row, with the performance at an art installation in New York lasting all of six hours. We weren’t quite as fortunate to get that kind of show in LA, as The National opted for one of their more traditional, two-hour events. But whether you’ve been a fan from the start or one like myself who arrived rather late to the party, The National continue to make some of the most compelling music in rock, expanding their fan base with each and every album they release. That’s the sign of any good band these days, and though there’s only a handful of others that could even say the same right now, The National should take comfort in knowing they’re one of those select few. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2018 - Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

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

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


Best of 2018 - Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

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

When she wasn’t sharing the spotlight with Waxahatchee, Barnett was sharing it equally with the rest of her stellar backing band, but it was mostly just difficult to take your eyes off of her. Everything she does feels casual, from her outfit to her guitar playing, slinging her instrument around like it was an extension of herself. Even her delivery of the wrenching reality that the 30-year-old Australian singer-songwriter articulates so well is casual, singing like the end of the world isn’t a mere 22 years away. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2018 - Greta Van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet

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

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


Best of 2018 - Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

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

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


Best of 2018 - Pusha T

Pusha T

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

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


Best of 2018 - U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls

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

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


Best of 2018 - Daniel Caesar

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Weezer show a sold-out crowd in their hometown that they can still be wildly entertaining

WeezerBy Josh Herwitt //

Weezer & Pixies with Sleigh Bells //
The Forum – Inglewood, CA
August 8th, 2018 //

It has always been hard for me to take Weezer completely seriously. Of course, when one of your oldest and biggest hits is called “Undone – The Sweater Song” while others like “Pork and Beans” and “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You to) I Want You to” have cultivated their own commercial success, it’s easy to think that the Los Angeles foursome must have shared the stage with Green Jellÿ, Tenacious D or “Weird Al” Yankovic at one point in time over the last 26 years.

Well, one of those whimsical pairings actually became a reality last Wednesday. With a sold-out audience at The Forum welcoming them home during their 30-date, North American co-headlining tour with the Pixies, frontman Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards) and his cohorts — Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar, backing vocals, keyboards) and Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals) — gave many of us exactly what we wanted to hear near the end of a 20-song set: their now-viral cover of Toto’s single “Africa” from the group’s 1982 album Toto IV.

But what we didn’t expect to see midway through the tune was Cuomo introducing “Weird Al” Yankovic, who stepped onstage in one of his patented Hawaiian shirts and accordion in hand to perform the last half of it with the band. The crowd erupted upon the announcement, with many shocked by what they were witnessing. For me though, the surprise cameo only further validated some of those preconceptions I had about Weezer being one of rock’s goofiest acts.

Pixies


Pixies

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

Cuomo, however, might have all of them beat in one category: costumes. Appearing first in his preppy sweater-and-tie look, he eventually changed into a soccer jersey before later wearing a classic Nirvana T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. If anything, it was even more proof that Weezer don’t take themselves too seriously, considering that the only rock star who I’ve seen live with more costume changes than Cuomo is Axl Rose (and that shouldn’t be very surprising). It’s all part of the band’s playful attitude at the end of the day, and despite the political state that we currently find ourselves in, many of us could use a good laugh or at least a chuckle from time to time (I know I could).

After watching Cuomo and company do their thing for a little more than an hour, there’s no doubt that I have newfound respect for Weezer now. Selling out a 17,505-person arena in the middle of the week is no easy feat, even if the Pixies, who ripped through their own 22-song set in the same amount of time, were on the bill. But there’s a reason why Weezer have been performing second on this tour, and it’s simply because they’re still one of rock’s most wildy entertaining bands out there today — with or without Mr. Yankovic by their side.

WEEZER

Setlist:
Buddy Holly
Beverly Hills
Pork and Beans
Undone – The Sweater Song
Hash Pipe
Perfect Situation
My Name Is Jonas
El Scorcho
In the Garage
The Good Life
Happy Together (The Turtles cover) (with a snippet of “Longview” by Green Day)
Keep Fishin’ (Brian Bell on vocals)
Island in the Sun (Rivers Cuomo solo acoustic)
Take on Me (a‐ha cover) (Rivers Cuomo solo acoustic)
Burndt Jamb (Brian Bell on vocals; with lyrics from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana)
(If You’re Wondering If I Want You to) I Want You to
Feels Like Summer
Africa (Toto cover) (with “Weird Al” Yankovic)

Encore:
Susanne
Say It Ain’t So (with a snippet of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath)

PIXIES

Setlist:
Gouge Away
Wave of Mutilation
U-Mass
Um Chagga Lagga
Isla de Encanta
Caribou
All the Saints
Cactus
Nimrod’s Son
Mr. Grieves
All I Think About Now
Debaser
Classic Masher
Monkey Gone to Heaven
I’ve Been Tired
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Tame
Hey
Gigantic
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
Where Is My Mind?
Vamos

Rivers Cuomo delights Weezer fans with a rare acoustic performance at Bottom of the Hill

Rivers CuomoPhotos by Mike Rosati // Written by David Skaff //

Rivers Cuomo //
Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco
May 9th, 2018 //

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo brought his solo acoustic show to Bottom of the Hill, located in SF’s Potrero Hill district and touted by Rolling Stone as “the best place to hear live music” in the city, as he was greeted by a sold-out crowd mid-week.

Cuomo delighted the packed room with acoustic renditions of Weezer cuts as well as covers of Mike Posner, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, REO Speedwagon and Poison, but he also gave Weezer’s “Pig” — a bonus track off the deluxe edition of 2008’s Weezer (“The Red Album”) — its live debut. The audience, thrilled by what it was witnessing, came alive and sang along to most of the tunes Cuomo played during a 27-song set that lasted more than two hours.

Surprisingly, the show also included a special guest in former Weezer guitarist and founding member Jason Cropper, who performed two songs with Cuomo. Afterward, he remarked, “To be in a room stuffed with Weezer fans for a Rivers Cuomo solo show … So fun!”

Rivers Cuomo with Jason Cropper


Rivers Cuomo with Jason Cropper

“This crowd was a smart, kind, polite community of people who are passionate about this man, his band and the songs — it’s amazing,” he added. “To be playing Weezer (“The Blue Album”) songs with Rivers again after a 25-year hiatus? Wow! Literally a dream come true.”

With Cuomo leading the way, Weezer are set to hit the road this summer for a 29-date, North American co-headlining tour with the Pixies that features three California dates at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, The Forum in Los Angeles and Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista the second week of August following the release of the band’s 12th LP Weezer (“The Black Album”) this month.

Rivers, in the meantime, will also be performing another solo acoustic show, this time at a sold-out Troubadour in Los Angeles, less than four weeks before Weezer kick things off on June 23rd in Tampa.

Setlist:
I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Mike Posner cover)
El Scorcho (Weezer song)
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
Buddy Holly (Weezer song)
Basket Case (Green Day cover)
Undone – The Sweater Song (Weezer song)
1979 (The Smashing Pumpkins cover)
Say It Ain’t So (Weezer song)
Happy Together (The Turtles cover) (with “Longview” snippet by Green Day)
Island in the Sun (Weezer song)
Can’t Fight This Feeling (REO Speedwagon cover)
Sober Up (AJR cover)
The Good Life (Weezer song)
Slob (Weezer song)
(Girl We Got a) Good Thing (Weezer song)
Pink Triangle (Weezer song)
Cardigan Disaster (New song; live debut)
Getchoo (Weezer song)
Pig (Weezer song) (Live debut)
Talk Dirty to Me (Poison cover)
No Other One (Weezer song)
Falling for You (Weezer song)
Today (The Smashing Pumpkins cover)
In the Garage (Weezer song) (with Jason Cropper) (preceded by a brief tease of “My Name Is Jonas” by Cropper)
No One Else (Weezer song) (with Jason Cropper)
Why Bother? (Weezer song)
Across the Sea (Weezer song)

Encore:
Tired of Sex (Weezer song)

Coachella 2014: It’s officially festival season

Coachella-Scene1Photos by Marc Fong // Written by Molly Kish, Pete Mauch & Kevin Quandt //

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 11th-13th, 2014 //

Well, that time of year hath arrived in the form of sun burns, overpriced Heineken and jamming in as much music as you can into a three-day window. Coachella has grown to be so much more than simply just a “music and arts festival” now, for better or worse, but it always retains the feeling that something special is really happening on these grass fields. Some embrace it, and many loathe, but overall, time spent at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio is always an enjoyable romp full of the freshest artists mixed with many old favorites in a colorful sea of eye candy. 2014’s first weekend featured its biggest demand to date as wristbands hovered near four figures and many were left roaming the suburban streets surrounding the site. Yet, this didn’t keep the masses down, and persistence paid off to those who were lucky enough to snag a last-minute pass.

Goldenvoice has feverishly plugged away at creating an encompassing experience to the nearly 90,000 attendees who flock to the wind-swept stretch, Empire Polo Fields, where it all started fifteen years ago. Things have changed each and every year, and at this point, it’s a well-oiled machine needing little tinkering. This year featured more room in the Terrace area with the Do-Lab stage finding a new home off the main field, as well as an expanded Yuma Tent which kept dance enthusiasts complacent to rage in their own little nightclub. 2014 held many surprises that were laid out over the days before the event, culminating with a smorgasbord of guest appearances over the three-day span. Below, you will find some of our favorite sets as presented by the 2014 ‘Chella Bam Team.

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Goat // Outdoor Theatre // Friday 1:25-2:05PM

This show was quite the eye opener for anyone who wasn’t familiar with the Swedish psychedelic outfit called GOAT, especially since this was the first set of the entire weekend for many in attendance. The whole band was masked and decked out in extravagant tribal attire that would fit perfectly into many a children’s nightmares. The band drew songs from their 2012 release titled World Music with the highlight being their single “Run To Your Mama” that had many in attendance gyrating their hips to the infectious groove. I couldn’t think of a better opening set to start the long and definitely weird weekend that is Coachella. -PM


OutKast // Coachella Stage // Friday 11:30-1:00AM

Friday night marked the reuniting of one of the most influential acts in rap, albeit for a crowd that maybe wasn’t ready or as generally excited enough for such a momentous occasion. Saving radio hits for the closing numbers, they pulled from a set list spanning their entire career, including “Aquemini”, “Skew It on a Barbeque” and an explosive version of “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” to start off the set. Several guests joined them throughout their performance, including Future debuting a new track, Sleepy Brown joining in for “So Fresh and So Clean”, and most impressively Janelle Monae gracing the stage for her collaborative performance of “Tightrope”. Each emcee featured segments revolving around their solo work — Big Boi smashed “Shutterbug” while 3 Stacks brought a little tenderness during “Prototype”. A weary crowd, half dominated by a pre-Stankonia generation of EDM enthusiasts, didn’t quite give the response that most would anticipate for the kick off to a massive summer festival tour, and some onstage could tell. However, die-hard fans were pleasantly surprised by the song choices and were bouncing along in camaraderie the entire set. -MK

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Temples // Mojave // Saturday 2:40-3:25PM

The crowd gathered early inside the Mojave Tent to see one of the more buzzed about bands of the weekend, an English Psychedelic rock band simply called, Temples. Fresh off their debut release, Sun Structures, they delivered 45 minutes of psychedelic bliss, drawing tracks mostly off their new album with the exception of a b-side called “Ankh”, which was one of the many highlights of the set. The song is driven by the powerful bassline from Thomas Warmsley and the guitar slaying of James Bagshaw. The song had some serious legs that found the band soaring over the crowd in a psychedelic haze, a plateau they hopefully reach every show. The one-two punch of their singles “Keep in the Dark” and “Mesmerize” had the hot and sweaty crowd in an absolute frenzy. -PM


Future Islands // Gobi // Saturday 7:05-7:55PM

Hot off the release of their fourth studio album, Singles, not to mention their Late Night with David Letterman performance going viral, the Baltimore outfit took the Gobi tent by storm. Sam Herring and Future Islands are not your typical rock band; they are fronted by easily one of the most enigmatic lead singers in contemporary rock. Hurling himself across the floor, throwing wild fists and debuting some brand new gyrating dance moves throughout the set, Herring was feeding off the love from his festival fans and reciprocated in full throttle for the band’s Coachella debut. “Inch of Dust” appropriately opened the show as the palms swayed along in the background while being assaulted by airborne sand particles. Pulling from their entire discography the band catered their signature hard-edged new-wave rock to the festival environment. Herring spoke tenderly to the crowd, re-assuring the youth that things will be alright before falling into “Balance”. Speeding up each career spanning track, such as “Tin Man”, into dance floor face-melters, Herring’s signature growling vocals sparked cheers of enthusiasm from the afternoon crowd. -MK

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Pixies // Mojave // Saturday 8:50-9:40PM

It had been almost exactly 10 years since the original Pixies reunited on the big stage in Indio, however this year we saw Black Francis and associates take to a smaller tent to pummel a decent sized crown with some good old rock and roll. The Pixies’ new release, Indie Cindy, was played before their set, which was somewhat odd, and they played relatively heavy off the release. Highlights of the set included a cover of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On”, along with old favorite “Wave of Mutilation” and “Crackity Jones”. Frank was fired up as he scorned objects being oddly floated over the crowd, possibly miffed at the bleed of the Sahara, but then again, that’s why we love him. “Where Is My Mind?” received popular praise, as always, and featured new bassist Paz Lenchantin wailing as best she could. “Caribou” also showed that Paz can hang with the band, and that there may be a bright future in the coming years for the alt legends. -KQ

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Pharrell Williams //Outdoor Theatre // Saturday 10:35-11:35PM

What turned out to be a tough night for Pharrell ended up being one of the most fun sets of the weekend as throngs of girls belted out “Hollaback Girl” while dudes lit up in honor of Snoop’s presence for “Drop It Like It’s Hot”. The last 2 years of Weekend 1 have been slightly marred by high winds turning into small dust storms, and this year, Saturday was both the blustery day and the big Pharrell show. Promises of guests were fulfilled by the likes of Nelly, Tyler, the Creator, Puff Daddy and Diplo among those listed above. “Lose Yourself to Dance” opener was a good sign as the sizable crowd loosened up to the adventure that lay ahead, but the prolific producer’s voice just couldn’t weather the storm, and the finale of “Get Lucky” and “Happy” was largely sang by the crowd as Williams shook his head in sheer disappointment. -KQ


Nas // Outdoor Theatre // Sunday Midnight-1AM

Hip-hop is alive and well in 2014 and Coachella wanted to reinforce this. If you are a hip-hop head, then this was the year to be at Coachella. With OutKast, Nas, Kid Cudi, Chance the Rapper, GZA’s impromptu set in the Heineken House, and all the special guest MCs throughout the weekend, rap fans had a grand ‘ol time this past weekend. It was known that Nas was set to perform his 20-year-old classic album, Illmatic, in its entirety from start to finish. However, that’s not all that “nasty Nas” had in store for the late crowd. After the fourth track of his legendary album, Nas invited his longtime nemesis Jay-Z to the stage for an unforgettable performance of Jigga’s “Dead Presidents”. If you remember, this is the song that started all the “beef” between the two New Yorkers when Nas declined to re-rap the chorus. All the hate was squashed as the two legendary MCs showed the crowd that it’s all “One Love”. Toward the end of the set, Nas invited hip-hop guru Puff Daddy up to the stage to perform their song “Hate Me Now”, which truly delighted the rap freaks in attendance. Nas was on Point! -PM

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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue // Coachella Stage // Sunday 12:40-1:30PM

Trombone Shorty is arguably the king of New Orleans right now, especially since he has taken the closing duty reigns from The Neville Brothers at JazzFest. So seeing Troy Andrews in the early heat on Sunday was kind of odd as I felt that he deserved a better slot, but that didn’t stop him from performing a fiery set of trombone-driven NOLA funk. The small but very enthusiastic crowd was hanging on every note as he effortlessly banged through his soon-to-be classic hits. “Fire and Brimstone” was a clear highlight of his raucous set as was his closer “Do to Me”, which had the crowd singing along to every word. Trombone Shorty is truly a national treasure, and you gotta tip your cap to Coachella for even having him on the bill. -PM


Arcade Fire // Coachella Stage // Sunday 10:20-Midnight

Closing out festivals isn’t anything too out of the ordinary for these veterans, especially after 2011’s massive display, so Win Butler and cohorts knew to bring all the stops. Touring in support of their critically acclaimed fourth studio album, Reflektor, the band had various options of surprise guests they could potentially have join them on stage as a grand finale to Weekend 1. Rumors of David Bowie or James Murphy had the crowd abuzz due to their direct involvement with the latest release. Halfway through the epic set of hits from both 2010’s The Suburbs and cuts off of the new album, the band broke into the opening notes of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, only to be joined by Debbie Harry of Blondie fame for this full rendition. Sticking around to provide back-up vocals and ribbon dance around the stage with Regine, Debbie joined in on Arcade’s quintessential “Sprawl II”. Confetti canons spewed out into the crowd during the climactic notes of “Here Comes the Night Time”, igniting the crowd for their closing number “Wake Up”. And with that, the first major music festival of the 2014 season was in the bag. -MK

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Guest sets were prevalent this year with additional highlights including:

• Beyonce shook her “jelly” on stage with little sister Solange during her sunset performance on Saturday for song, “Losing You”.

• A$AP Ferg brought out the whole A$AP Mob for multiple tracks before A$AP Rocky debuted a new track, featuring a diss on Been Trill clothing. Rocky also came out with Skrillex.

• Chromeo’s set included a collaborative performance with Toro y Moi to perform the duet off of White Women called “Come Alive”.

Chromeo

• Girl Talk pulled Busta Rhymes, Too $hort, Juicy J and E-40 into his remix set on Friday night (while the Bryan Ferry set played oddly on the screens flanking Greg Gillis).

• Justin Bieber decided to put a funny taste in people’s mouths and backed up his buddy Chance The Rapper.

• Mary J. Blige came on for a rousing rendition of her alternate vocal version of “F for You” with Disclosure Sunday evening. Sam Smith came out for “Latch”, as well. AlunaGeorge also lent a helping hand.

Disclosure

• Up-and-comer Jene Aiko welcomed some big names in the form of Drake and Childish Gambino while Disclosure and Arcade Fire played against this stealthy guest set.

• The legendary Motörhead brought out Slash for a healthy dose of guitar.

• Classixx bounced back from a tough start to a set with help from Nancy Wang, Yacht, The Preatures and Sarah Chernoff from Superhumanoids.

• Flosstradamus welcomed a bit of help from another big-named emcee in the form of Waka Flocka Flame.

PHOTOS: Pixies, Best Coast at Fox Theater Oakland 2/21

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By Sterling Munksgard//

Pixies with Best Coast //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA
February 21st, 2014 //

Pixies, back on the road, played a blend of songs from Surfer Rosa, Come on Pilgrim, Doolittle, Trompe le Monde, and a handful of new tunes from their recent releases EP 1 and EP2. The band played 33 songs in total, a vast group of tunes to entertain new and old fans alike. Bethany Cosentino’s cheery outfit Best Coast got things started, and Sterling Munksgard was there to capture the moment.