BeachLife Festival taps Jane’s Addiction, Cage the Elephant, Counting Crows & more for 2021 roster

BeachLife Festival - 2021 lineup

BeachLife Festival //
Seaside Lagoon – Redondo Beach, CA
September 10th-12th, 2021 //

What’s summer without a day at the beach?

Whether you’re a fan of the sand or not, we know that it sure wouldn’t be a party down by the shore without a weekend of live music. That’s why after a successful inaugural event in 2019, BeachLife Festival is headed back to the South Bay of Los Angeles County for a second stint after its 2020 edition last May was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — much like every other major U.S. music festival that was supposed to take place last year.

However, a number of the same acts are still scheduled to perform this September at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach, including Counting Crows, Ziggy & Stephen Marley, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Fitz and The Tantrums, Sugar Ray, G. Love and Special Sauce, Phosphorescent, Save Ferris and more.

Joining Counting Crows and the Marley brothers as the fest’s other headliners will be LA alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction for their first hometown gig since 2017. Fronted by Perry Farrell, the band has not released a new studio album in almost 10 years — since 2011’s The Great Escape Artist — but that doesn’t mean it has forgotten how to put on a show with Cage the Elephant also serving as a Day 1 co-headliner for what should be an epic Friday night.

And even if you’re not a big fan of Jane’s or Cage, there are plenty of other exciting additions on BeachLife’s 2021 lineup with The Revivalists, Men at Work, Portugal. The Man, Silversun Pickups, Gary Clark Jr. and Thievery Corporation standing out among the pack.

Three-day GA and VIP passes are on sale here for $349 and $799, respectively, as well as single-day tickets for $125 (GA) and $299 (VIP). Of course, there’s also the three-day Captain’s pass if you’re willing to shell out a small fortune of $2,999 or $1,250 for one day so climb aboard while you still can!

BottleRock drops new 2021 lineup headlined by Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Nicks & Foo Fighters

BottleRock - 2021 lineup

BottleRock Napa Valley //
Napa Valley Expo – Napa, CA
September 3rd-5th, 2021 //

So much for 2020, right?

After releasing a lineup early last year that never got to play out over Memorial Day weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BottleRock will return to Napa Valley this September with a refreshed roster that includes some newly announced acts as well as some that were revealed a year ago like Steve Nicks.

Joining the Fleetwood Mac singer at the top of the 2021 poster are iconic rock bands Guns N’ Roses and Foo Fighters, creating quite a trilogy of star power for the music festival’s eighth installment over Labor Day weekend.

While BottleRock has always catered to fans of rock ‘n’ roll (just look at many of the fest’s past headliners), it has also tried to offer an eclectic mix of genres and this year’s undercard that’s highlighted by Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, G-Eazy, Run the Jewels, Brandi Carlile, Cage the Elephant, Portugal. The Man, Young the Giant, Maren Morris, Black Pumas, Future Islands, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (DJ set), Jimmy Eat World, FINNEAS, Polo G, Jack Harlow, Milky Chance, Jessie Reyez, Dominic Fike, Chromeo, Mavis Staples and Jon Batiste proves that to be the case once again. And don’t forget about Village People! After all, how often do you get to see the legendary disco group perform live these days? Anyway, peep the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

But amidst all of the music, the three-day event will have its annual live cooking demonstrations between a variety of celebrity chefs, musicians and athletes at its beloved Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage that has seen appearances over the last several years by Alice Cooper, The Avett Brothers, Big Boi, Brett Dennen, Dan the Automator, E-40, Fitz and the Tantrums, Grouplove, Halsey, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Michael Franti, Questlove, Shakey Graves, Silversun Pickups, Snoop Dogg, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Tank and the Bangas, Warren G and more, too.

Tickets go on sale this Thursday, May 20th at 10 a.m. PT here and start at $369 for a three-day GA pass while it’s $849 if you’re going for VIP. And if you’ve been saving up during quarantine, there’s always the three-day skydeck pass that will cost you a cool $1,599 or the platinum for a whopping $4,350.

BottleRock - 2021 daily lineups

UPDATE (May 24th): BottleRock has released its daily lineups for 2021, with Stevie Nicks performing Friday, Guns N’ Roses rocking Saturday and Foo Fighters closing things down on Sunday. Take a look at the daily schedules above before single-day tickets go on sale here for $187 (GA) or $211 (FLEX) plus fees each day starting this Thursday, May 27th at 10 a.m. PT.

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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Outside Lands 2018: A return to form in Year 11

Outside Lands 2018Photos by Norm de Veyra // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 10th-12th, 2018 //

As another summer festival season winds down, we look back at the 2018 edition of Outside Lands with highlights, thoughts, musings and enough images to make you nostalgic for the Bay Area’s banner music festival. With the Superfly, Another Planet Entertainment and Starr Hill event celebrating its 11th edition, this incarnation of the annual Golden Gate Park soirée saw more of a return to form over the past year while also experiencing a notable shift in the sound that could be heard emanating through the eucalyptus and other flora.

While cancellations left a slightly sour taste in the mouths of last year’s attendees, this year only saw limited lineup hiccups. However, the bigger story at hand surrounds the changing tides of popular music. Sure, you’ve heard folks state “rock is dead,” but is a once-amusing quip starting to take greater shape as the youth clamor for a different sound and aesthetic? Though it was pretty evident on the 2018 lineup poster when it dropped in April, this query started to take greater shape once you were on the grounds and bouncing between sets. So, let’s jump straight into this now.

Outside Lands 2018 - Billie Eilish


Billie Eilish

Friday

Day 1 at Outside Lands tends to be a slow trickle of fans entering the park as some are able to play hooky, bounce from the office early or only show up for the headliners. Sure, some folks had to deal with longer-than-expected box office lines and others even had to bear the fest’s new bag policies, but luckily those in attendance were blessed with some clear skies instead of the usual August dread of the Outer Lands.

While Billie Eilish was relishing in her rising appeal on the Lands End stage, covering Drake and running through the majority of her singles, Rex Orange County was trying his hand at something a bit new and terrifying. The UK wunderkind was forced to play his first-ever solo festival set as his band and their gear ran into transit issues on the way to SF from the Pacific Northwest. The young crooner seemed a bit nervous about this predicament but competently knocked out a solid, eight-song performance that included “Sunflower” and closer “Loving Is Easy”.

N.E.R.D., meanwhile, played their first SF show in many years to a raucous crowd, opening with “Anti Matter” as a hyped Pharrell Williams feverishly worked every corner of the huge Lands End stage. The set featured a massive medley of tracks by The Neptunes, a cover of “Seven Nation Army” and a double dose of “Lemon” to send us on our way to the next set.

Simultaneously, Carly Rae Jepsen was apparently throwing down one of Outside Lands’ most enjoyable performances in front of a rather large crowd. While the pop sensation pleased the masses with a rendition of her breakout hit “Call Me Maybe”, she also performed more recent songs like “Emotion”.

ODESZA obviously drew a large crowd for their main stage afternoon showcase, putting the spotlight on the changing tides and tastes of the youth music market. That kind of youthful angst and energy seemed to be danced out to ODESZA, DJ Snake and Big Gigantic compared to the pits of rock bands from the 2000’s, be it Queens of the Stone Age, System of a Down or Deftones.

With the under-25 crowd predominantly stationed at Lands End, you could say there was a more intimate feeling at Twin Peaks for Father John Misty. Touting his expanded band that featured a string section and dialing back his quirky stage banter, Josh Tillman’s latest tour has been pretty much about presenting his music as faithfully as he can. “Nancy From Now On” opened his career-spanning performance as the shadows began to drape the park.

While FJM’s attendance was noticeably a bit small for a rock act, the king of “jizz jazz,” aka Mac DeMarco, was able to attract a rowdy crowd for his closing set on the Sutro stage. When the synth sections of “On the Level” opened DeMarco’s set, a certain air of relaxation swept the crowd as various smokeables were consumed in honor of indie-slacker royalty onstage.

Abel Tesfaye, popularly known as The Weeknd, enjoyed a sort of victory lap as he headlined the festival’s first day with an onslaught of hits such as “Starboy”, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”, along with a few select covers of Future, Belly, Drake and Ty Dolla $ign. Though Tesfaye’s current large-scale show is nothing new to the live music circuit, he still threw one helluva party before sending the masses into the wilds of the City.

Outside Lands 2018 - Florence + the Machine


Florence + the Machine

Saturday

It has been a couple of years since Outside Lands was fortunate enough to have a truly clear, sunny Saturday — and not just for a few hours, but the whole damn day. Plus, it was topped off with another insanely gorgeous sunset, but let’s not jump the gun here.

As the day got underway, New York indie artist Amen Dunes performed an extremely tight set, showcasing his wavy take on psychedelic rock/folk. Led by Damon McMahon, the trio played heavy off its most recent release Freedom while also not completely ignoring its back catalog. Moreover, McMahon’s stage presence was infectious and somewhat akin to R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, as his slender build moved to the emotive nature of his craft.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lizzo was bringing down the early-afternoon house as she decimated the Lands End stage. “Fitness” opened her 10-song set as her pair of dancers, as well as Lizzo herself, left everything on the stage for the sizable crowd that was yearning for her energy, and some even yearned for a shot of tequila from her bottle of Patrón as she entered the photo pit for an up-close appearance during closing song “Good as Hell”.

When the Lizzo crowd dispersed, Broken Social Scene fans got prime real estate to catch the Canadian indie-rock demigods perform a blistering set of guitar-heavy tunes like opener “KC Accidental” and closer “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl”. Even in such a large setting, the massive band was able to cook up a sense of intimacy and really engage.

While OSL this year leaned more toward R&B, electronic pop and other hip genres, UK jazz purveyors GoGo Penguin delivered a stunning set of avant-garde-leaning jazz. This punchy trio showed their chops over tracks like “One Percent” and set closer “Window” and could easily be compared to The Bad Plus. GoGo were a perfect palate cleanser before heading to more current stylings from either SOB X RBE or CHVRCHES.

Local legend Tycho performed to an enthusiastic crowd while Scott Hansen stated this would be the last incarnation of this phase for the group (we look forward to the next chapter). Back over at Lands End, Bon Iver delivered a prototypically powerful set as the sunlight dwindled, simultaneously providing a seriously stunning sunset.

As the limited amount of darkness fell over the park, one-third of The xx was preparing to hold court as the Sutro crowd swelled, moving their dancing feet to the new-school dance pioneer known as Jamie xx (born James Smith). Even as Jamie xx eased into his intro (The Animals’ “San Francisco Nights”) and more fans pushed in, it was rather evident that the Sutro’s sound system wasn’t able to fully reach the volume many were looking for. But an Above & Beyond nod (“Sun in Your Eyes”) eventually led straight into Smith’s mix of “On Hold” and all was right in the world, if only for about eight minutes.

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.

Outside Lands 2018 - Janelle Monáe


Janelle Monáe

Sunday

On the final day, the weather was back on track; by that, I mean it was cold, blustery and generally moist. Most were thankful for the two previous days as opposed to three days of “Karl the Fog,” as has been tradition for a good 3-4 years now.

The early afternoon of Sunday bore witness to some very lively performances from up-and-comers like Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Hobo Johnson & the Lovemakers, both of who are primed to make moves in the festival circuit over the next year if they play their cards right.

Continuing with the trend of electro-leaning acts playing to some big crowds, BØRNS fully commanded a youthful contingent with hits such as “10,000 Emerald Pools” and set closer “Electric Love”.

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.

Over at the Twin Peaks stage, The Internet was trying to hash out some sort of technical difficulties before beginning their abbreviated performance, which seemed to be a little lopsided and uneven as they did their best to deal with the 30 minutes that they had left. Fortunately, “Girl” got the majority who stuck around swaying to Syd’s sultry vocals and generally chilled demeanor.

Portugal. The Man held a fleeting rock slot on the main stage, putting their quirky brand of psych-leaning pop rock on display. Moreover, they tossed in some oddly placed Pink Floyd and Beatles covers before closing with their breakthrough hit “Feel It Still”.

Aussie newcomer Tash Sultana, meanwhile, was putting on a masterclass in instrumentation and looping. Sultana has really had one of the biggest breakout years in independent music, and it was clearly evident as she had a carefree stage presence backed by some truly unique, solo-delivered music ripe with psychedelic and world elements. The 23-year-old is certainly a name to watch over the next year and beyond.

As the last set of OSL artists got ready to play, James Blake brought us to church for this year’s final performance on the Sutro stage, failing to disappoint while the fog grew slightly thicker in Lindley Meadow. Highlights from Blake’s dreamy set were easily his take on Untold’s track “Stop What You’re Doing” and a semi-rare rendition of “Modern Soul”.

Some say Janet Jackson couldn’t pull in big crowds amid the current shifting landscape of large-scale music festivals, and although she didn’t pull in record-breaking numbers on a rugged SF night, it was clearly evident that those fans who stayed to watch her were all-in. Jackson’s career-spanning show touched on more than 35 songs and was accompanied by some fierce choreography and production elements. Sure, she wasn’t singing much of the time, but that didn’t stop a wide range of fans from showering Jackson with affection. Her closing performance was highlighted by “That’s the Way Love Goes” and later on, the MJ collaboration “Scream” that transitioned into “Rhythm Nation”.

As the music festival industry continues to deal with a shifting crowd and demand, Outside Lands regained its stride after a few hiccups in 2017. And while this year’s lineup might not have appealed to the core demographic from its incarnation, the event still offers something for everyone.

Outside Lands releases its 2018 schedule

Outside Lands - 2018 schedule

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 10th-12th, 2018 //

With Outside Lands just a little more than two weeks away, the three-day music festival has revealed what many fans have been waiting for since this year’s lineup dropped: set times!

Check out the fest’s schedule for its 11th edition here and start making your plans for which artists you’ll be seeing at Golden Gate Park this August.

As usual, there are enough scheduling conflicts to sort through in 2018. Friday’s action will see festivalgoers choosing between Rex Orange County/Perfume Genius, N.E.R.D./Chicano Batman/Carly Rae Jepsen, ODESZA/The Growlers/Father John Misty and The Weeknd/Mac DeMarco/Beck, while Saturday offers its own assortment of difficult decisions with Broken Social Scene, Poolside and Daniel Caesar pitted up against one another. Of course, there’s also CHVRCHES vs. Big Gigantic, Bon Iver vs. Tycho and Florence + the Machine vs. Future that the masses will have to consider on Day 2.

Outside Lands 2018 - daily lineups

Sunday’s slate offers even more, with Janelle Monáe and LP scheduled only 15 minutes apart and The Internet on 10 minutes later. Portugal. The Man’s and Tash Sultana’s performances, meanwhile, are only separated by five minutes, and to close out the weekend, attendees will have to choose between Janet Jackson and DJ Snake, which presents quite a dichotomy.

Trying to decide who to see might feel a little overwhelming right now, but just remember you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose. Much like every year, there are so many good options at Outside Lands that it’s not worth stressing over in the long run. Just be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes and download the mobile app here before you head to the park.

Overjoyed for Outside Lands’ return? Take a peek at our coverage from 2017 here.

Outside Lands - 2018 lineup

Coachella drops 2018 set times & map changes

Coachella 2018

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th & April 20th-22nd, 2018 //

Breathe easy, Coachellans. All of your scheduling conflicts have finally arrived.

The three-day, two-weekend music and arts festival has delivered this year’s set times just after 7 p.m. PT (7:02 p.m. to be exact), precisely one hour later than it did in 2017.

Part of going to Coachella is having to make some tough decisions when it comes to choosing which artists to see, and veterans like ourselves have become quite used to experiencing this #FirstWorldProblem over the years.

But now that the cat is out of the bag, you can start mapping out your 2018 schedule if you’re headed to the Empire Polo Club this weekend.

So, what’s your biggest conflict on this year’s schedule and who are you most excited to see?

WEEKEND 1 SET TIMES

Coachella 2018 - Friday set times

Coachella 2018 - Saturday set times

Coachella 2018 - Sunday set times

WEEKEND 2 SET TIMES

Coachella 2018 - Friday set times

Coachella 2018 - Saturday set times

Coachella 2018 - Sunday set times

Over the last several years, it has become more common to see the folks at Goldenvoice make some slight tweaks to Coachella’s Weekend 2 set times after the first weekend ends (the most notable might have been in 2015 when Florence Welch broke her foot during her performance Sunday on the main stage), and the same has proven to be the case in 2018, starting on Day 1 with Benjamin Clementine’s set being moved from the Gobi Tent to the Coachella Stage. Rick G., meanwhile, has been moved into Clementine’s 1:30 p.m. slot in the Gobi Tent, with DMM no longer preceding it at 12:30 p.m.

Some other noteworthy changes for Friday are Fisher, who didn’t perform during Weekend 1 but will replace B.Traits in the Yuma Tent, and Late Night Laggers, who were the first act to perform in the Sahara Tent on Day 1 but won’t be back for Weekend 2. Absent from Friday’s Mojave Tent lineup is Smiles Davis, which consequently has pushed Francesa Harding’s set back to 12:25 p.m., and Chulita Vinyl Club has replaced Jim Smith.

On Saturday, hip-hop producer Ahwlee will fill in for Salami Rose and Joe Lewis in the Mojave Tent, while Ron Gallo has been moved from the Gobi Tent, which lost Birdtastique and added Loboman, to the Sonora Stage, where Bane’s World, Otoboke Beaver and Mild High Club have all moved back one hour and five minutes to make up for the loss of R.O.C. Furthermore, Feel Good Green has replaced Palm Desert DJ Alf Alpha at the Outdoor Theatre, and Mexico City’s N.A.A.F.I. has been added to the Sahara Tent lineup in place of Jimbo Jenkins. The Coachella Stage also now has an eighth performer, with Gabe Real + Juicewon kicking things off at 1:25 p.m. on Day 2.

The third and final day of the festival’s second weekend sees the removal of Gabe Real from the Coachella Stage, leaving LION BABE as its first act to perform, while Los Angeles-based producer nostradahm will fill in for Juice won at the Outdoor Theatre. In the meantime, the Gobi, Mojave and Sahara Tents will each have new openers on Sunday: mr. rotu (replacing Phantom Thrett), VNSSA (replacing Pax) and EMME (replacing CVSS), respectively. And we couldn’t not mention that Jessie Ware’s set at the Outdoor Theatre has been moved back 15 minutes (as well as MAGIC GIANT’s by 10 to 2:25 p.m.), meaning that Weekend 2 attendees will have to settle for only 35 minutes from the UK singer-songwriter rather than 50.

Coachella 2018 - Weekend 2 set time updates

UPDATE (April 20th): Weekend 2 changes! Goldenvoice has announced some more tweaks to the schedule, with Jessie Ware moving from the Outdoor Theatre at 5:55 p.m. on Sunday to the Coachella Stage at 2:50 p.m. on Saturday (we have to think it has something to do with Cardi B performing around the same time after she drew one of the biggest crowds during Weekend 1). The other alterations are related to Sunday’s set times in the Sahara Tent, as Illenium (now at 6:35 p.m.) and French Montana (now at 8:05 p.m.) have switched places. Petit Biscuit will still precede both at 5:10 p.m., while chart-topping hip-hop trio Migos are expected to hit the stage at 9:30 p.m., although we’ll see if they’re a little more punctual this time compared to the first weekend of the festival, technical difficulties and all. Of course, we recommend downloading the Coachella app on your mobile device to receive the latest updates if you’re out in Indio for the festivities.

MAP

Several hours before revealing its Weekend 1 set times, the festival unveiled this year’s map, and it looks quite a bit different in comparison to some of Coachella’s past editions.

Last year, Coachella made some notable changes to its map, with the Mojave and Gobi Tents switching places and the addition of a third VIP section named “Hacienda Del Toro” that sat in between the Gobi and Sahara Tents. Goldenvoice even offered an updated location for the GA beer garden on that side of the polo fields, which was supposed to improve the traffic flow behind the Sahara Tent, though we’re not sure it totally worked to be honest.

Now, the Mojave Tent has been moved far away from the Gobi Tent and into the same area that the Sahara Tent once occupied (next to the VIP Rose Garden). In its place will be the Sonora Stage, which Coachella introduced last year, with the third VIP section (no longer named “Hacienda Del Toro”) directly behind it rather than off to the side. The Gobi Tent, meanwhile, has moved back to its old confines closer to the Outdoor Theatre, where the Mojave Tent was located just a year ago.

Coachella - 2018 map

Another brand-new addition for Goldenvoice’s signature event is the Indio Central Market, a covered food hall that will feature 15 different restaurants and be situated behind the Sonora Stage. Inside will not only be New York City burger chain Shake Shack for the very first time, but also street food stand Cena, Moby’s vegan restaurant Little Pine and David Chang’s fried chicken sandwich shop Fuku. So, make sure to come hungry if you’re going to Coachella this year — we know we will.

But the biggest modification to the fest’s layout has to be the Sahara Tent’s new home after seeing the massive stage outgrow its longstanding location over the last decade. Positioned next to the main entrance, it will sit just in front of the Cantina and Beer Barn with the iconic ferris wheel and The Do LaB Stage nearby. And from what we can decipher by looking at the map, it appears that the Sahara Tent will be not as long as it used to be, but instead wider, a structural adjustment that was likely made to fit the space within the grounds.

We’ll make sure to give our two cents about these changes and much more when we return from the desert to share our favorite moments from this year’s installment, but as we often like to say around this time … Happy Coachella!

Outside Lands taps The Weeknd, Florence + the Machine, Janet Jackson to lead 2018 lineup

Outside Lands - 2018 lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 10th-12th, 2018 //

Outside Lands is bringing some heavy hitters to Golden Gate Park this August.

The three-day music festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, has inked The Weeknd, Florence + the Machine and Janet Jackson to headline its 2018 edition, and we had good reason to believe that the latter, who was already confirmed for FYF Fest in July, would come true as early as a few days ago.

Last week, Ranger Dave started releasing lineup clues via Twitter, including one in particular that indicated Jackson would be on the bill as well as others hinting that Bon Iver, Huey Lewis and the News, Mac DeMarco, Jessie Ware, Big Gigantic, BØRNS, Rex Orange County, SOBxRBE and to get things started, Portugal. The Man, would perform.

Now, we have this year’s complete roster that also boasts Future, Beck, ODESZA, DJ Snake, N.E.R.D., CHVRCHES, James Blake, Jamie xx, Illenium, Tycho, Father John Misty, Carly Rae Jepsen, Chromeo, The Internet, Gryffin, The Growlers, Tash Sultana, Broken Social Scene, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Daniel Caesar, Perfume Genius, Goldlink, Chicano Batman, Jessie Reyez, LP, Sabrina Claudio, Margo Price, Kelela, Claptone, The Mountain Goats, Lauv, Lizzo, Whethan, Smokepurpp, Quinn XCII, Poolside, Bahamas, CUCO, Amen Dunes, Shannon and the Clams, Aquilo and many more.

The festival’s culinary program, meanwhile, will continue to expand in 2018, with access to more than 200 menu items from some of the Bay Area’s top restaurants that you’ll be able to pair with hundreds of Northern Californian wines and beers and a collection of the region’s best cocktail bars. Taste of the Bay Area, Wine Lands, Beer Lands, The Back Wine, Cocktail Magic and GastroMagic are all back as well, so there’s plenty to be excited about in regard to the unique food and drink experiences that Outside Lands has to offer (and stayed tuned for the full food and drink lineup coming soon).

Moreover, adding to the overall experience will be Outsider Art, Eco Lands and The Barbary, which is named in honor of SF’s Barbary Coast district and features some of the best comedy and cabaret around. The environment has long been an important cause for Outside Lands, and its organizers aren’t afraid to say that after contributing more than $20 million to the SF Recreation & Park Department and rather remarkably turning 91 percent of 2017’s waste into reusable, recyclable and compostable materials.

Outside Lands has delivered seven consecutive sellouts since 2011, so you won’t want to wait on getting your tickets when they go on sale here this Thursday, April 5th at 10 a.m. PT. Plus, for the first time ever, the fest is offering fans the option for a three-day GA and VIP layaway plan that will allow them to pay for their passes in four installments. After last year saw an increase in ticket prices, three-day GA passes will start once again at $375 while VIP passes will be available for $795.

UPDATE (June 5th): Outside Lands has revealed its daily lineups for 2018, with The Weeknd gracing the stage Friday, Florence + the Machine playing Saturday and Janet Jackson closing down the festival Sunday. See the daily schedules below before single-day tickets go on sale for $149.50 (GA) and $345 (VIP) this Thursday, June 7th at 10 a.m. PT here.

Outside Lands 2018 - daily lineups

If you’re excited for Outside Lands now, make sure to check out our coverage from 2017 here.

Outside Lands 2017

Goldenvoice announces 2018 Coachella sideshows

Goldenvoice Presents: April 2018

It’s Valentine’s Day, so what could be a better way to celebrate love — or least your love for live music — than with a whole slew of newly announced shows?

Well, with Coachella’s 19th edition just a couple of months away, Goldenvoice has done it again, assembling another massive list of April sideshows at various venues all across the greater Los Angeles landscape, including some in Orange County (at The Observatory and Constellation Room), Santa Barbara County (at the Santa Barbara Bowl and The Arlington Theatre) and the desert (at Pappy & Harriet’s).

Sister trio HAIM kick off the festivities with their headlining performance at arguably our favorite Southern California venue, the Santa Barbara Bowl, on Saturday, April 7th before things ramp up the ensuing week with Kali Uchis, Chromeo, Tyler, the Creator, St. Vincent, Portugal. The Man (with Cherry Glazerr), Perfume Genius (with Big Thief), Princess Nokia, PVRIS, Marian Hill, Fleet Foxes, Carpenter Brut, Tash Sultana, The Drums & Alvvays (with Fazerdaze), alt-J (with BØRNS), Migos, The Bronx, Greta Van Fleet, A Perfect Circle, Yaeji, Angel Olsen, Jessie Ware, BROCKHAMPTON, First Aid Kit, Japanese Breakfast (with Snail Mail), Kelela, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Buscabulla (with The Marías), Priests, MØ, Jorja Smith & Tom Misch, ODESZA, Miguel, Boogarins (with B Boys & Señor Kino), Ron Gallo, Moon Boots (Live), The War on Drugs, Jungle, Soulwax, Petit Biscuit, 6lack, Aurora, Motor City Drum Ensemble (with Talaboman), Los Ángeles Azules, The Drums, Hayley Kiyoko and Elohim all playing — some even more than once — inside and/or outside of LA’s city limits.

Unlike last year’s sideshows, which included a special showcase at the Palm Springs Air Museum the night before Coachella’s first weekend featuring several artists from British independent record label Young Turks, Goldenvoice has opted not to go down that route again. The two gigs that mirror that mini festival the closest both take place on Thursday, April 19th, as Motor City Drum Ensemble performs at the Palm Springs Air Museum with Talaboman and Los Ángeles Azules invades the Riverside County Fairgrounds with Cuco, Helado Negro and Ocho Ojos just one day before Coachella Weekend 2 commences at the Empire Polo Club. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

Year after year, Goldenvoice seemingly continues to outdo itself with more and more shows in and around Coachella, and this April the renowned concert promoter has done its best to give music fans in Southern California a little bit of everything, from electro funk and indie folk to hip-hop and alternative R&B. But at first glance, the 2018 sideshows that stick out the most to us include the following: Chromeo at the El Rey Theatre, St. Vincent at The Orpheum Theatre, Perfume Genius (with Big Thief) at The Mayan, Fleet Foxes at the Warner Grand Theater, Tash Sultana at the Fox Theater Pomona, The Drums & Alvvays co-headlining (with Fazerdaze) at Pappy & Harriet’s, alt-J (with BØRNS) at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Migos at The Observatory, A Perfect Circle at The Arlington Theatre, Japanese Breakfast (with Snail Mail) at The Roxy, The War on Drugs at the Fox Theater Pomona, Jungle at Pappy & Harriet’s, Soulwax at The Fonda Theatre, 6lack at The Novo and Portugal. The Man (with Chicano Batman and Deap Vally) at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, February 16th at Noon PT with the rest of them available on Friday, February 23rd at Noon PT or Friday, March 2nd at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice

Coachella wastes no time, revealing 2018 lineup headlined by The Weeknd, Beyoncé & Eminem

Coachella - 2018 lineup

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 13th-15th & April 20th-22nd, 2018 //

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just one day into the New Year, and Coachella has already revealed its 2018 lineup, signaling to music fans worldwide that festival season isn’t far off.

After it was reported almost two weeks ago that this year’s headliners would be The Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem, that indeed will be the scenario, marking the first time in all 19 years that the three-day, two-weekend event won’t have a rock act topping its bill (a real sign of the times as some might say). Coachella’s 2018 edition will also serve as Beyoncé’s official debut after being forced to cancel last year due to pregnancy, as well as Eminem’s (the only time he has appeared was as a guest back in 2012 during Snoop Dogg’s and Dr. Dre’s headlining set). The Weeknd will be back on the polo fields for the first time since 2015, when the R&B singer closed the main stage on Saturday night as a sub-headliner after Jack White’s headlining slot.

Other notable names listed on the festival’s famed poster this year include HAIM, ODESZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, Portugal. The Man, David Byrne, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, alt-J, A Perfect Circle, Fleet Foxes, Chromeo, MØ, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Kamasi Washington and Jungle. The undercard, meanwhile, does feature some buzzworthy indie-rock acts such as Perfume Genius, BØRNS and King Krule, but as was the case in 2017, there continues to be more of a focus on hip-hop and R&B, as evidenced by this year’s headliner selections along with the second-line poster placement of SZA, Tyler, the Creator, Migos, Vince Staples, Post Malone, Cardi B and Miguel.

Coachella’s first weekend is scheduled for April 13th-15th, with its second weekend slated for April 20th-22nd. All tickets will go on sale for both weekends this Friday, January 5th at Noon PT here.

Got your sights set on the California desert this April? Relive our five favorite moments, from Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar, after last year’s festival.

Coachella 2017

Nas preaches positivity while closing out this year’s Sound in Focus series in style

Sound in Focus - NasBy Josh Herwitt //

Sound in Focus: Nas with Wild Belle //
Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles
July 23rd, 2016 //

It’s hard to beat summer in LA. With longer days and warmer nights, there’s always so much to do in the City of Angels during this time of the year. But part of what makes summers in LA so special are the countless opportunities to see live music and best of all, for free. From the Twilight Concert Series on Thursday nights at the Santa Monica Pier to Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Museum, you can catch a show — if not multiple shows — in LA every week from July to September for little to no money.

Right along those lines, KCRW’s Sound in Focus concert series is just another reason why summertime in LA has its advantages. For the past few years, the NPR member station has shown its appreciation for photography by welcoming a wide array of musicians, including indie-rock stalwarts like Portugal. The Man, Band of Skulls, TV on the Radio and Cold War Kids (read our review of their 2015 show here), to what was once unchartered territory as far as concert spaces in LA go. And in many ways, the Annenberg Space for Photography, as a result, has proven to be the perfect location for KCRW to combine its love for music and the arts by offering fans of all ages the chance to explore the museum’s newest exhibit and see well-established artists perform for free with a simple RSVP online.

After last year’s roster, which featured old-school hip-hop group De La Soul and country music legend Dwight Yoakam as headliners, it was somewhat surprising to see Grammy-nominated rapper Nas (born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) listed next to psych-folk collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and eventually Senegalese singer/guitarist Baaba Maal when the 2016 Sound in Focus lineup dropped last month (Maal’s performance was revealed at a later date). Not because KCRW had booked a hip-hop act for a second straight year, but more that it had booked a hip-hop act of Nas’ stature. You don’t have to look much further than his two million Twitter followers, in stark contrast to Edward Sharpe’s 105,000 and Maal’s 5,750, to understand that. It should go without saying then that Mr. Jones is easily the biggest artist KCRW has ever booked for Sound in Focus in its three years running.

Sound in Focus 2016 - Nas

On the other hand though, Nas hasn’t released an album in more than four years. Better yet, it’s been more than three since the Brooklyn native disclosed he had begun work on his 12th studio album, the follow-up to 2012’s Life Is Good. In this day and age of instant gratification, that’s often three years too long to keep fans waiting. With so many options to choose from, it’s becoming harder and harder to remain relevant, even for a hip-hop artist of Nas’ caliber.

But there’s also something to be said for releasing eight straight platinum records, even if Nas doesn’t have any Grammys to go along with them. So, if last Saturday’s show was supposed to be Nas’ reminder to the world that he’s still working and grinding like he always has since the early 90’s, then a whole lot of fans got to hear that message loud and clear after Wild Belle’s opening set.

With the anticipation building, Nas arrived onstage with energy and purpose, immediately diving into his I Am…. anthem “Hate Me Now” that’s almost two decades old at this point. A little bit later, he would end up waxing poetic on “One Mic”, the third single off his 2001 LP Stillmatic that was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. Yet, more important than the songs Nas chose to perform or the albums he drew from was the postivity he preached to the crowd before calling it a night. At a time of racial and social unrest in the U.S., he imparted optimism and encouraged everyone who stood before him to chase their dreams, whatever they may be. For an emcee who once proclaimed that “hip-hop is dead,” that’s seemingly quite a change in rhetoric.

The 25 best live music acts of 2015

Best Live Acts of 2015

Around this time last year, we shared our 25 favorite live performers of 2014 after spending the past 12 months covering many excellent bands, musicians and DJs. So, with 2015 almost in the books, we thought we would give the same exercise another try, except this year, we made the call to exclude any artists we named in 2014. What fun would it really be to list them two years in a row anyway?

In the end, it wasn’t an easy task whittling down our list to 25, but some tough decisions had to be made. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists and bands (in alphabetical order) who we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

AlunaGeorge, Ariel Pink, BADBADNOTGOOD, Bad Religion, Battles, Beirut, Belle and Sebastian, Big Grams, Billy Idol, Black Lips, The Black Keys, Blonde Redhead, BØRNS, BROODS, Built to Spill, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Chet Faker, Chromeo, City and Colour, Classixx, Cold War Kids, Dâm-Funk, Damien Rice, Death Cab for Cutie, Dengue Fever, Django Django, Dr. Dog, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Failure, The Flaming Lips, Flight Facilities, Goldroom, Glen Hansard, The Glitch Mob, Gorgon City, Holly Herndon, Interpol, Israel Nash, James Bay, Jeff Tweedy, Jenny Lewis, The Jesus and Mary Chain, JMSN, Jose Gonzalez, Jurassic 5, Kanye West, Kindness, King Tuff, Marina and the Diamonds, Miami Horror, Milky Chance, Modest Mouse, Morrissey, MS MR, Les Sins, Lotus, Natalie Prass, Neon Indian, ODESZA, Of Montreal, Oneohtrix Point Never, Panda Bear, Penguin Prison, Phantogram, Portugal. The Man, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Purity Ring, Ratatat, Royal Blood, San Fermin, Shlohmo, Slow Magic, SOHN, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, STRFKR, Surfer Blood, Talib Kweli, Tame Impala, Tennis, Toro y Moi, Tycho, Umphrey’s McGee, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vintage Trouble, Vulfpeck, Widespread Panic, YACHT.

Now, without further ado, The Bam Team presents our 25 favorite live performers of 2015.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2015

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2015:


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #25 - Lord Huron

25. Lord Huron

The audience reacted with just as much enthusiasm during classic Lord Huron tunes as they did in hearing brand-new material, especially during fan favorites like “She Lit a Fire” and back-to-back rockabilly-tinged jams “The World Ender” and “Fool for Love”. At this point, the crowd had not only warmed up to Lord Huron’s infectious stage presence, but also gave into their buoyant vibes as mini dance parties broke out throughout the venue. -Molly Kish, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #24 - Puscifer

24. Puscifer

Maynard James Keenan and friends have established themselves as not just a group of musicians who play songs on stage, but rather an assemblage of entertainers that provide their viewers and fans with something they may not have ever seen before — a true experience. Paying homage to the likes of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and the glory days of the rock opera, Puscifer have a very special way of combining their music with a stage show that offers so much more than just music. -Scotland Miller, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #23 - Viet Cong

23. Viet Cong

Once the appetizer had been digested, Viet Cong were taking the stage and beginning a theme of quirky banter that eased the crowd into the blistering set as opposed to bombardment. Within the first few chords, it was evident that continued time on the road found the band at the peak of perfection. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Diana Cordero


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #22 - Kate Tempest

22. Kate Tempest

This decade will likely be known for the death of “genre,” the end of how groups have been contained into categories like R&B or rap since the birth of record labels. And with dance music on the rise, digitized conventions are creeping into pop, rap and indie music on the regular. With music more accessible than ever and for free, listeners are willing to experiment with their auditory material — and amalgamation is the natural result. Tempest represents this change as much or more than anyone as we enter the smack-dab middle of this decade. And that includes Kanye West, Sylvan Esso or Run the Jewels. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #21 - Deerhunter

21. Deerhunter

Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox talked about how he decided on the way over to the island that he wouldn’t play many songs, how he took ayahuasca on Saturday night in LA and he was surprised at how reserved the TIMF audience was. He said we were “polite like the Japanese.” Bradford, that’s what we call “respect” — and you’ve earned it. -Mike Frash, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #20 - Faith No More

20. Faith No More

It can be hard to know what to expect from a crew like Faith No More and their eccentric, yet prolific members. The entire stage was dressed in white, from the curtains to the amplifiers to the mic stands. Lining the entire length of the stage and any flat surface that would support them were thousands of dollars worth of beautiful, fresh flowers. The abundance of purples and pinks, reds and yellows created a very comfortable and soothing, yet incredibly eerie feeling as to what was about to happen next. Once the setup was complete and the lights dropped, the crowd was let in to the stark contrast that is the weird world of Faith No More. -Scotland Miller, photo by Greg Ramar


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #19 - Sufjan Stevens

19. Sufjan Stevens

Stevens spoke of the need for community in the throes of grief, and the audience ably did their part to help him through this very public grieving process. At the end of the main set, a young woman crashed the stage to offer a bemused Sufjan something (a hug? words of love and encouragement?), and it seemed wholly appropriate, as if the audience needed in some small way to collectively reach out to the man after he bared his soul so openly. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #18 - Allen Stone

18. Allen Stone

In many ways, Stone’s ideological stance on technology shapes not only his set as a performer but also his fan base. Watching an Allen Stone show, one can feel certain that all pretenses will be left at the door and those surrounding you will be committing their full attention to the music. Midway through Stone’s set, the venue was completely under his charismatic spell. The audience actively followed the Seattle-born frontman’s lead as he prompted a group participation “2-step” and rolled through crowd favorites from his self-titled LP and latest album Radius. -Molly Kish, photo by Tom Dellinger


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #17 - The Kills

17. The Kills

Mosshart, tall and slender, strutted her way through just about all of it, displaying a bravado that exudes both sex and confidence, while Hince handled his axe like a bona fide rock star, eventually playing some slide guitar during the gritty, blues-infused track “Pots and Pans” that got the crowd roaring after it was over. After all, it’s that blues/garage-rock overlap, along with the chemistry exhibited between Mosshart and Hince onstage, that makes The Kills such a captivating rock ‘n’ roll act to see live these days. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #16 - The Chemical Brothers

16. The Chemical Brothers

Directly following their dramatic entrance to a recording of Junior Parker’s epic “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the duo kicked off their career-spanning set with crowd favorite “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” from 1999’s Surrender. They launched into a full-blown frenzy from that moment on, and the UK dance legends went hard (no pun intended) throughout the rest of their two-hour performance, debuting live remixes of new material from their 2015 release Born in the Echoes while interspersing nostalgia-inducing EDM classics off their seven previous albums. -Molly Kish, photo by Justin Yee


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #15 - Eagles of Death Metal

15. Eagles of Death Metal

EODM have the perfect style as a rock band, one that takes itself just seriously enough. As a whole, they are a hard, fast and tightly-wound production, with their silly lyrics and even sillier frontman bringing a perfect balance to what you want to see at a rock show. Closing with “Speaking in Tongues”, EODM walked off the stage at the Great American Music Hall knowing that they had accomplished what they came to do — to prove that rock ain’t dead. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #14 - Florence + the Machine

14. Florence + the Machine

Welch lapped around the inside ring of the bowl, stopping briefly at the sound stage. What a cool moment. -James Nagel, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #13 - Sturgill Simpson

13. Sturgill Simpson

Simpson has stage presence, that is without a doubt. The conviction of his voice bolsters his words as he describes a life of highs and lows, trials and tribulations. This was evident on renditions of songs like “Turtles All the Way Down”. If there is a song to capture your attention and convince you of Simpson’s talents as a songwriter, this is one of them. Just like that of his predecessors, he writes music that goes against the grain of popular country music. It may be defined as “outlaw country,” but I personally feel it is music that resonates with a wider audience than that of its counterparts. -Kory Thibeault, photo by Kory Thibeault


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #12 - alt-j

12. alt-J

The 2012 Mercury Prize winners echoed a semblance to that of Sigur Rós or Volcano Choir, leaving audience members entranced in a near-altered state while observing the foursome. The biggest fan responses erupted during the band’s singalong favorites “Breezeblocks”, “Fitzpleasure” and their token cover of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”. -Molly Kish, photo by Mike Rosati


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #11 - Hot Chip

11. Hot Chip

In recent years, only ever getting the chance to see the outfit in stripped-down DJ sets or as part of side projects/collaborations, the afternoon crowd full of die-hard, nu-disco fans were not disappointed as the UK dance veterans set the polo fields ablaze. Refraining from any slow builders, Hot Chip performed an hour-long set of career-spanning bangers, keeping the crowd moving with hit after hit, that seamlessly blended into one another. The set procured one of the most viral dance party moments of the festival, with the audience spiraling into a collective bliss as it came to a close. -Molly Kish, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #10 - Dan Deacon

10. Dan Deacon

One of the toughest things to do in the world of electronic music is to sound organic, to imbue a sense of heart into the digitized nature of ones and zeroes. The Baltimore native accomplishes this through his hilarious and improvisational free-form, stand-up comedy, which thrives on wandering non sequiturs. And he mirrors this by adapting his insane-train of sound to meet and exceed the energy in the room. The “America” suite finished off the show with an extended doom metal quality that gave a sense that no aesthetic boundaries can contain Deacon’s sense of musical exploration. -Mike Frash, photo by Pedro Paredes


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - FKA twigs

9. FKA twigs

British singer-songwriter Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better known as FKA twigs, has been all the rage lately after performing at Coachella in April, and she closed out FYF in style, donning an elaborate burgundy- and gold-colored robe for her Sunday night set. Just the week before, the 27-year-old fiancée of actor/musician Robert Pattinson released her brand-new EP M3LL155X, and with it receiving high marks from a number of music outlets, there were quite a few fans who stuck around after 11:30 p.m. on a “school night” to watch her perform some of them, including the opening track “Figure 8”, “In Time” and “Glass & Patron”. FKA twigs might be one of the most compelling live acts out there right now, and after scheduling Purity Ring to close out The Lawn the night before, FYF seemed to make a point of letting women rule that stage in the late-night hours this year. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #8 - Empire of the Sun

8. Empire of the Sun

As Steele belted out “Alive”, the hit single off the band’s sophomore studio album Ice on the Dune, to close things out, he brought the audience to a transcendent place of exhilaration. Crowd members embraced and danced amongst a like-minded family of people lost in the moment, even if it involved intergalactic creatures dancing in colored smoke and a crowned Emperor playing without his bandmate on stage. EOTS shows are a special kind of magic that regardless of the material’s absurd nature, translate into an experience unlike anything else. -Molly Kish, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #7 - My Morning Jacket

7. My Morning Jacket

Though it was more than understandable to see the band play a large majority of The Waterfall for its first performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl in almost four years, there were plenty of other deep cuts mixed in over the next two hours, from “Bermuda Highway” to “Mahgeetah” to “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2”. After all, it’s no secret that My Morning Jacket have always been good to their most loyal and dedicated fans, and in once again taking song requests as part of their “Spontaneous Curation Series,” they made sure to dig up many of the classics from their seminal album Z, including “Wordless Chorus” and “Off the Record” one after the other in the middle of a loaded, four-song encore. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #6 - Jamie xx

6. Jamie xx

Throughout his tour, Smith has refused to compromise his individual style for the sake of appeasing either extreme of his now commercially hybrid audience. Whereas those familiar with his early XL Records mixtapes were satiated by his intermingling of Gil Scott-Heron and Idris Muhammad samples between hits, his newfound post-In Colour fans experienced equally breathtaking moments with the crowd hitting peak energy levels during the encore chorus of “Loud Places” amidst the glow of a warped-speed, neon-green strobe light. Other notable moments included the near-religious choral drop of “Gosh” that escalated the packed house to spiritual levels of enthusiasm, bathed in the glowing sparkle of Smith’s staggeringly iridescent ceiling to floor disco ball and stage lights. -Molly Kish, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #5 - Elton John

5. Elton John

The star-spangled legend sat at his majestic piano as the sun went down on Sunday and moved the crowd with his brilliant playing. The adoring audience hung on every word and joined in singing his most popular hits. Walking off stage quickly after his last song, the audience demanded more and Elton happily obliged. With rumors of Lion King songs being played at past performances, some doting fans wanted a second encore to the tune of “Circle of Life”. While he didn’t indulge the Lion King fans, his stellar performance was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend at Outside Lands, leaving everyone’s festival tank full of love. -Nik Crossman, photo by James Nagel


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #4 - Father John Misty

4. Father John Misty

Father John (Sassypants) Misty has his festival game on point, and he has progressed his I Love You, Honeybear songs into epic plateaus since premiering them in the Santa Cruz mountains last February. He spewed banter like an Stephen Colbert-esque contrarian, saying, “Look at these suckers with their hair blowing all over the place.” And as he approached the mic for more improv-snark later on, Tillman paused to say, “Sorry, I have nothing to say. Ha.” FJM was speechless for once, but granted, it might have been set up for “Bored in the USA”, a song that should be considered an American classic at this point. -Mike Frash, photo by Pedro Paredes


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #3 - Kendrick Lamar

3. Kendrick Lamar

As Kendrick Lamar’s incredible performance began to wrap up with his newest single “Alright”, a group of fans in the crowd proceeded to lift someone up in a wheelchair, who, if I recall correctly, was the same guy who had his photo famously taken at Outside Lands in 2013. Kendrick took notice and called him out — his sense of sincere appreciation for a place like the Bay Area was written all over his face. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #2 - Caribou

2. Caribou

Described by fellow musician Dan Deacon as “one of the most brilliant acts touring right now” just before their set, Caribou lived up to the hype. Starting with “Our Love”, the four-piece band led by Dan Snaith perfectly set the stage for the next hour — a series of tightly wound compositions that, as the song progresses, expand in rhythmic complexity before reaching a climax that will get even the most tired Sunday afternoon crowd moving. Heavily augmenting its live performances from its studio recordings, the band’s live rendition of “Jamelia” in particular was a highlight of the set. Caribou is a band not to be missed. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Justin Yee


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard #1

1. D’Angelo & The Vanguard

One of the most anticipated sets of the entire weekend was none other than D’Angelo’s — and for good reason. The R&B/neo-soul singer-songwriter hadn’t put out an album in 14 years until he suddenly dropped his 2014 masterpiece Black Messiah last December, so you knew that getting the rare opportunity to see Michael Eugene Archer work a crowd at FYF would be something special. Sounding more like a youthful James Brown than a wannabe Prince (we still don’t totally understand where those comparisons are coming from), D’Angelo and his eight-piece backing band The Vanguard took the audience for a ride as they doled out new and old hits. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt

Outside Lands 2015 - Dan Deacon

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10 takeaways from Shaun White’s first Air + Style on U.S. soil

Air + Style - Shaun WhitePhotos by Josh Herwitt, Melissa Hebeler & Matthew Nordman // Written by Josh Herwitt & Pete Mauch //

Shaun White Presents Air + Style //
Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
February 21st-22nd, 2015 //

Olympic gold medalist, X Games superstar and part-time actor/musician Shaun White brought the first-ever Air + Style contest to the States last weekend, taking over the Rose Bowl grounds for two days of extreme sports, music and art. Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, “The Flying Tomato” has become quite the renaissance man these days.

Air + Style officials, in fact, estimated that approximately 40,000 folks attended the event, but we’re a little skeptical of that number after a sparse turnout Sunday thanks to some unforgiving weather. While many attendees, including quite a few media members, only showed up for Saturday’s festivities, we made our way back to Pasadena to catch more live music and brave Sunday’s torrential downpour.

So, with plenty of highs and lows over the course of the weekend, here are 10 things we took away from two action-packed days at Air + Style.


Air + Style - Phantogram

10. These ph-ancy pants

OK, we know she’s dating Shaun White, but Phantogram lead singer Sarah Barthel undoubtedly took home the “Best Outfit” award, donning a pair of leopard sequin pants during the band’s hour-long set on Saturday. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear Barthel’s vocals all that well, but that wasn’t exactly her fault. That was for the sound guy to figure out — or not. More on that below.


Surfer Blood

9. Surf’s up

One of the few highlights on Sunday was a 45-minute set by alt-rock group Surfer Blood. Hailing from Florida, these four dudes brought a much-needed, high-energy set during the heaviest rainfall of the day. The band kept mentioning the rain and how much they appreciated everyone sticking around to see them. It seemed that the crowd didn’t mind — they just wanted to rock. Their big hit “Swim” was the perfect fit for the rain-soaked crowd, who could have swam around in the pit if they wanted.


Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

8. Not so Sharpe

Edward Sharpe, aka Alex Ebert, made a big splash in 2009 with songs like “Janglin” and “Home” from Up From Below, but it’s been all downhill since then. Ebert broke up with then-girlfriend/vocalist Jade Castrinos, kicked her out of the band and is now resorting to using audiences to sing Castrinos’ parts. But when only a few hundred people show up to see your set, that doesn’t really work too well.


Air + Style - Craola & Jeff Soto

7. Getting colorful

One of the festival’s big positives were the live paintings on Saturday by three talented artists from the greater Los Angeles area. Craola, Jeff Soto and James Haunt each brought a unique graffiti style to their individual walls and were very gracious in answering questions from lots of drunken festivalgoers.


Cults

6. Cult following

We didn’t know much about Cults before their 4:45 p.m. set on Sunday, but the New York indie-pop outfit had the small, yet lively crowd at the Flood Magazine Stage cheering them on in the rain. Even with the band’s instruments getting soaked, forcing them to lay down towels over them when they weren’t being used, you could tell vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist/keyboardist Brian Oblivion were having a good ol’ time — and it rubbed off on everyone else.


Air + Style - Big Air Jump

5. BIG air

Another obvious high point of the weekend was the gigantic, 16-story big air jump in the middle of the Rose Bowl fairgrounds. About 30 truly gifted athletes launched themselves into the dark grey sky on Saturday and the beginning part of Sunday, and it was quite fun to watch in between the musical acts. Sunday afternoon’s rainstorm put a damper on the ski final, which had to be canceled, but the few attendees who made it back for Day 2 didn’t seem to mind.


The Flaming Lips

4. Flaming hot

The last time we saw The Flaming Lips come through LA, they were sharing the bill with Tame Impala and Wayne Coyne was dressing up as “Carrie.” The Lips didn’t bring their “A” game that night at The Greek Theatre, but they sounded a whole lot cleaner and tighter on Sunday despite only getting to play for a total of 30 minutes (their set time was scheduled to be one hour and 15 minutes) due to weather-related equipment issues.


Air + Style - Crowd

3. First-time festival problems

The lines at all the concession stands and bathrooms were absolutely horrendous. If you were lucky enough to notice the makeshift beer stands next to each stage, then that saved you easily an hour for each beer purchase. We heard that people were waiting in line for a $10 PBR for over a hour! Those who came back on Sunday were rewarded with no lines anywhere, but that came with the price of getting completely drenched.


Air + Style - Portugal. The Man

2. These guys rocked

While Diplo had the majority of attendees fist-pumping their way through his hour-long set on the Main Stage, Portland-by-way-of-Alaska psych-rockers Portugal. The Man followed EDM’s most misogynistic DJ with one of the best sets of the weekend. The LCD projections, some of them featuring frontman John Gourley’s drawings, on the diminutive Flood Magazine Stage jived perfectly with a performance that was highlighted by covers of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”


Air + Style - Kendrick Lamar

1. Kendrick Lame-ar

Compton native Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set on Saturday could have been amazing, but the volume was just too low. After constantly hounding the sound guy in between each barely-audible song, Lamar finally got the volume turned up, but it was only for one song — and he chose to redo “m.A.A.d city” again?!?! We can thank Pasadena’s noise ordinance laws for that one or the festival organizers for choosing to host the event outside the Rose Bowl.

The National showcase natural evolution, continue to inspire

The-NationalPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

The National with Portugal. The Man //
The Greek Theatre – U.C. Berkeley
April 26th, 2014 //

The National’s music can be taken as moody, or perhaps even depressing on the surface level by those not familiar with their work. Some of The National’s most rewarding auditory gems only reveal themselves upon repeat listens, and through this repetition, it’s easier to identify and appreciate the crafty song structures and oddly pleasurable feeling the National can provide. But enigmatic constructs can be thrown out the window when it comes to experiencing The National live. Their performance at the Greek Theatre Saturday showed they have grown to be more comfortable with themselves, evolving for the better while steadfastly staying true to their roots.

So what has changed? One obvious, noteworthy shift is they command theaters now, two nights in a row this past weekend in Berkeley, while eliciting rapturous crowd engagement — silence during the quiet parts while compelling the crowd to carry the load on “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” to end the show, no small feat at an 8,500 person venue. Frontman Matt Berninger mentioned early on it was good to be back. The last time The National played on the U.C. Berkeley campus was with Modest Mouse and REM in 2008. Now six years later, the performance Saturday offered an experience that was segmented into two distinct halves.

The-National4

The first section of the concert showcased much of the excellent material from Trouble Will Find Me, The National’s sixth album, released in May 2013. There was a sense of arrival with the new music, that they’ve ‘figured it out’ in their lyrical storytelling. There are more direct statements of clarity and satisfaction, admitting “tiny bubbles hang above me, it’s a sign that someone loves me” to open the show stands in stark contrast to the passive aggressive, latent adolescent state of mind found in “Mr. November”. The newest record is less snarky, more direct, as though the guys in The National have grown up substantially.

The songwriting will never be cheery (and let’s hope it never is), but there is more confidence and awareness lyrically. Berninger may claim that “when I walk into a room, I do not light it up” in “Demons”, but that notion is see-through self-degrading hyperbole in the context of the performances this past weekend.

While there is a slightly brighter outlook to the new words, more “Sea of Love” than “Terrible Love”, Berninger, the Dessner & the Devendorf brothers have banded together to create music more springy and full of life, often faster with a more uplifting tonal quality than previous efforts. Some older tracks are treated through this prism — “England”, a somber song from High Violet, was crisp and faster, allowing the song to soar higher, and to be more inspiring live.

The-National2

If the performance was front loaded with new material, the second half favored the wants and needs of longtime fans. Unsurprisingly, it’s the older material that inspires Berninger to channel his one of a kind angst-joy spectacle. In “Squalor Victoria”, Berninger added a line about his “little brother the fuck up,” slamming the mic & stand to the floor, a coy plug for his brother Tom’s documentary titled Mistaken By Strangers, chronicling the singer’s little brother being a little fuck up on the National’s High Violet tour. “Abel” was a platform for Berninger to lose himself in punk rock intensity as he used to do more often, while per usual, “Fake Empire” and “Mr. November” found the lead man not only reaching out to the audience, but running through it as well.

Poised and energetic with precise control, The National’s music is more accessible and impactful than ever before, and the group is pulling it off in front of the biggest audiences of their career. Slowly winning over fans for 15 years, The National have earned it.

Show Notes:

•Portugal. The Man, the opener of the night, were an interesting contrast of falsetto versus baritone between Portugal’s John Gourley and The National’s Matt Berninger.

•”About Today” was one of the most poignant songs of the evening toward the end of the first set. The cut from Cherry Tree was a treat.

•The follow up performance Sunday, April 27th featured The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir for “I Know You Rider” and “Terrible Love” during the encore. Sunday’s setlist included nine songs that weren’t played on Saturday.

•The National uses basic video production equipment in a very effective way. GoPro cameras flank the artists, and the imagery is filtered with glich-filled, broken pixilation, reflecting the fractured feeling of disconnect found in The National’s music.

Outside Lands 2014: Lineup locks, likely acts & long shots

OSL_Windmill-Scene-by-Tim-HampsonPhotos by Tim Hampson // Written by Mike Frash & Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

As we inch towards springtime, leading to summer, and Coachella is within a month’s reach, some Bay Area music freaks (like us) begin to speculate about who is gonna be gracing those stages freckled throughout Golden Gate Park come August. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is set to return to SF on August 8th-10th.

The greatest indicators are the group’s touring schedules — Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal and Pickathon in Oregon have announced their schedules the weekend prior to Outside Lands (with Lollapalooza to still be announced). Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia is the same weekend as Outside Lands, but Vancouver is close enough for artists to double dip.

Conversely, we can confirm some big acts that won’t be on the bill due to scheduling conflicts. But if this is even close to what the Outside Lands 2014 lineup looks like, the Bay Area should be in for a delicious, fog-enhanced treat.

UPDATE 4/7: The lineup has been announced!

Girls-on-Fire-Main-Stage-Tim

Lock It In (we think)

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: A new album on the way and a lack of dates out West makes him a solid candidate for top billing this year. Also, keep in mind that OSL has never repeated headliners, as well as the fact that Super Fly (Bonnaroo), who along with Another Planet Presents, handles the bulk of the booking.

Arctic Monkeys: [CONFIRMED] These festival stalwarts announced an extensive tour with a noticeable gap in the western demographic which leads to speculation that they’ll return for a sub-headlining set. Confirmed for August 10th at Osheaga.

Chromeo: [CONFIRMED] A Red Rocks date on August 5th is a good sign that these party starters are en route back to San Francisco for a possible Twin Peaks headlining spot. 

Modest Mouse: Confirmed for Osheaga, and with no California dates on the calendar for the recently announced tour, Modest Mouse is starting to look like a lock.

Cut Copy: [CONFIRMED] Cut Copy and Chromeo are on parallel tracks. Both will have played APE shows in the past year, and their tour buses are aligning toward the Bay in early August.

CHVRCHES: [CONFIRMED] Confirmed for Osheaga, it just makes sense that one of the the biggest breakout acts of 2013 will triumphantly return to the Bay after playing the Independent, Mezzanine & Fox Theater Oakland over the past year.

Flume: [CONFIRMED] It’s due time for this EDM heat-seeker to return to San Francisco, and what better place and time than Outside Lands. Flume’s popularity could land him Twin Peaks headlining duties.

Tycho: [CONFIRMED] Having become the darlings of Another Planet, what better progressive act to grace the bill than Tycho. Sold out shows in the coming weeks lend to a strong demand.

Foster the People: Performing at Squamish Valley Music Festival Friday lends a good possibility that Mark Foster and band will trek down to Golden Gate Park for a Sunday set. A slot at Osheaga Festival the weekend prior says they’ll be hitting many large events as they support their latest release Supermodel.

Iron & Wine and Glen Hansard: These two artists are booked to play Hollywood Bowl on August 10th, leading most savvy music aficionados to make the leap that these acts will be present.

Danny Brown: A lack of Bay Area dates coupled with spots on the ‘OSL crossover’ festival, Squamish, could mean we are in for a ‘Kush Koma’ with oddball, Danny Brown. 

Mad-Rush-Tim

Likely To Appear

Elton John: The announcement of Sir Elton playing Bonnaroo has fueled this rumor nicely, even if questions of availability swirl. The main issue would be surrounding a clause with Caesars where John has a residency. However, this Vegas run ends in April, so it looks possible.

Green Day: These Bay Area legends have surprisingly never played Outside Lands, and it seems possible we’ll see them grace the main stage for a night with Billy Joe and company. 

Coldplay: New music on the way, coupled with scheduled appearances at South by Southwest is a clear sign that Chris Martin and lads are gearing up to re-dominate the world with their anthemic rock. Also, never headlined OSL.

Tiësto: [CONFIRMED] Ranger Dave likes to book some of the biggest names in the EDM world to ‘compete’ with headliners, attracting a slightly younger crowd to congregate at Twin Peaks on most evenings. Tiësto’s production would fit nicely into the bigness of past DJ spotlights.

Frank Ocean: Frankie is mounting his come back after a relatively quiet past few years. His billing on Bonnaroo fuels the speculation that Super Fly booked him, and other acts, for more than just Roo.

The Flaming Lips: [CONFIRMED] Wayne Coyne has had a busy past few months with a recent release and some serious Fall touring. Now, as summer looms, it appears the Lips will be omnipresent at summer festivals. Recent Another Planet shows coupled with Bonnaroo presence make these weirdo legends a likely booking.

Lorde: Has any act ever gone to sub-headliner status this quickly? Based on her popularity and the way she’s altered the pop landscape, Lorde deserves it. She’s confirmed to play Osheaga and her April dates at Fox Theater sold out immediately.

Chance the Rapper: No longer Chicago’s secret, Chancelor Bennett needs to get better acquainted with the Bay Area. There is a gap in his schedule, and the Acid Rapper is confirmed for Osheaga.

HAIM: [CONFIRMED] For being California girls, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana could show a bit more love to the Bay Area (They’ve played in England over 20 times). Their first ever show in the Bay was at Treasure Island Music Festival last year, and their fauxchella Fillmore dates were tough tickets to snag as they sold out in seconds.

Lykke Li: [CONFIRMED] Confirmed for Friday of Squamish, it’s very possible the breathtaking Swedish singer-songwriter could grace Outside Lands on Sunday.

Foxygen: Even though there has been turmoil (broken legs, inner-band conflict), the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic should come play “San Francisco” in it’s namesake. The group is confirmed for Pickathon as well.

Mikal Cronin: [CONFIRMED] The singer-songwriter has become quite the popular local musician and would be ideal for a showcase of SF rock. Booked for the Oregon Pickathon means he’ll be active around this time. 

Valerie June: [CONFIRMED] The American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is playing Pickathon and other West Coast dates prior to Outside Lands. June’s sound will fit nicely into the festival’s curation net.

On-The-Rail-Tim

It Could Happen

Kanye West: [CONFIRMED] As it appears OutKast will not be the infamous first hip-hop headliner, we look to Kanye West as an outside possibility as the debut of rap taking center stage one summer evening. Inclusion on Bonnaroo’s docket makes a reasonably strong start to an argument for Yeezy.

Eminem: Already a rumored headliner for Lollapalooza, Slim Shady has also booked a co-headlining date with Rihanna at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena the Thursday before Outside Lands while also confirmed for Squamish on Sunday the 10th. Starting to trend toward “likely”, should we be adding RiRi as a rumored headliner?

Tool: Already playing two SF shows in March, would it be that much of a surprise to see Tool headlining one night? Certainly they are big enough to handle top billing duties.

Pharrell Williams: A Ranger Dave’s “hat” tweet has led many to speculate the possibility of Williams’ presence on the festival grounds. Limited dates pepper his itinerary, so it’s anyone’s guess.

The Avett Brothers: Having not played the event in over five years and select festival appearances over the summer, one could make the argument that Avett will return. Bonnaroo booking also helps this case.

Kendrick Lamar: K-Dot’s touring schedule is open, but there are no obvious indicators an Outside Lands appearance will happen. But for a festival that’s usually short on hip hop & rap, it would be too fun to see the Outside Lands stage and surrounding area get crazy during “Backseat Freestyle”.

Gogol Bordello: The Gypsy-punk freaks are confirmed to play Osheaga, and they played Outside Lands in 2010. A return seems possible.

Jagwar Ma: [CONFIRMED] Being rather active in the festival realm in 2014, these party-starters can easily jump from Osheaga over to SF. A previous Another Planet-booked show at the Independent demonstrates there is communication present.
 
Polo-Field-3-Tim

Long Shots: Already booked elsewhere (don’t count on it)

OutKast: Andre 3000 and Big Boi might be playing over 40 festivals this year, but Outside Lands won’t be one of them. OutKast is confirmed for Flow Festival in Finland the same weekend as Outside Lands.

Arcade Fire: Win Butler and company are performing at Squamish Valley Music Festival, but they have a date set at Shoreline in July, and they headlined three years ago.

Jack Johnson
Queens of the Stone Age
Robert Plant
Santana
Neutral Milk Hotel
Janelle Monae
DARKSIDE
Mac Demarco

Twin-Peaks-Scene-Tim

MIDTERM REPORT: Best Albums of 2013

BEST-ALBUMS-so-far-2013Photos by Marc Fong and Mike Frash

Is 2013 the year digital dance music makes the big leap, fully taking over the Top 40 but also ingraining itself into the hearts of critics? Daft Punk made all the noise as the year was young, but young EDM-upstarts Disclosure, Flume & Jagwar Ma have all made an impact on the Bam Team.

That stated, the musical output in 2013 so far is pretty damn strong overall. And just think, we will be hearing new LPs from Arcade Fire, Earl Sweatshirt, Washed Out, Ty Segall, Franz Ferdinand, Nine Inch Nails, Arctic Monkeys, Holy Ghost!, Chvrches, and many more still. Take a gander at our favorite albums of the year as of July 17, 2013 – What are we missing?

*Any album released in the US in the year 2013 is eligible for Best Albums of 2013.
**Check out all of our music reviews from 2013.

Vampire Weekend

Mike Frash
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
2. Disclosure – Settle
3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
4. James Blake – Overgrown
5. FOALS – Holy Fire
6. Flume – Flume
7. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
9. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
10. Baths – Obsidian

Phoenix

Molly Kish
1. Atoms For Peace – AMOK
2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
3. Disclosure – Settle
4. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
5. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
6. STRFKR – Miracle Mile
7. Devandra Banhart – Mala
8. Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
9. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Thee-oh-Sees

Kevin Quandt
1. my bloody valentine – m b v
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
3. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
4. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
5. Thee oh Sees – Floating Coffin
6. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
7. Disclosure – Settle
8. Rhye – Woman
9. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
10. A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP

Sigur-Ros

Pete Mauch
1. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
4. FOALS – Holy Fire
5. Boards of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest
6. Deerhunter – Monomania
7. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
8. Bonobo – The North Borders
9. Kurt Vile and The Violators – Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze
10. Disclosure – Settle

Toro Y Moi

Kevin Raos
1. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
2. Rhye – Woman
3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
4. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
5. Sigur Ros – Kveikur
6. FOALS – Holy Fire
7. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Camera Obscura – Camera Obscura
9. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
10. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Classixx

Sean Little
1. Flume – Flume
2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
4. Jessie Ware – Devotion
5. Hanni El Kattib – Head In The Dirt
6. Disclosure – Settle
7. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
8. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune
9. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala

Starfucker5

Eric Shaden
1.  Jagwar Ma – Howlin
2.  James Blake – Overgrown
3.  Daft Punk – Random Access Memories  
4.  Starfucker – Miracle Mile
5.  Disclosure – Settle
6.  Phoenix – Bankrupt!
7.  Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
8.  Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety 
9.  Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
10. Thundercat – Apocalypse 

MS MR
Nikki De Martini
1. MS MR – Secondhand Rapture
2. Deap Vally – Sistrionix
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
4: CSS – Planta 
5: Little Boots – Nocturnes
6. Portugal The Man – Evil Friends 
7. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
8. Kanye West – Yeezus
9. Great Gatsby Soundtrack
10. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

New Music Tuesday: Queens of the Stone Age • Disclosure • Portugal. The Man • Rogue Wave

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

Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“If I Had A Tail”
“My God Is The Sun”
“I Sat By The Ocean”

Album Highlights: Queens of the Stone Age have come back from a seven-year hiatus since their last album Era Vulgaris, and the group has crafted another solid record. Less commercial sounding than Lullabies to Paralyze but more approachable (while including more ‘single-worthy’ tracks) than Era Vulgaris, …Like Clockwork brings QOTSA’s melodic breakdowns and tempo changes in with Josh Homme’s distinct rock falsetto and guitar to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable album. Stand out tracks such as “I Sat By The Ocean” and “If I Had A Tail” rely heavily on Homme’s signature riffs and guitar work reestablish the Queens’ trademark sound of perfectly executed breakdowns, tempo changes, and psychedelic guitar work pushed forward by crisp drums and harmonies. The lead single “My God Is The Sun” has the Queens, and their one constant Homme, written all over it from haunting, down-a-tunnel background vocals to wailing staccato guitar over the choruses. The album delivers for hard-core fans of QOTSA.

Album Lowlight: No one track seemed sticks out as a ‘lowlight’, and while it’s a perfect Queens Album for fans of the group, it hasn’t gotten much better with subsequent listens, nor has it created unabashed enthusiasm as I hoped after such a long hiatus. Most of the songs, while technically perfect and fun to listen to, seem like rehashed versions of songs they put out in the past. A handful of tracks seem to take new directions or try new things, but overall the sound doesn’t differ enough from previous albums to make this a truly great album. It could be due to the never-ending flux the band is in with members, leaving them unable to grow and develop a sound that grows along with them. The album is still a fun listen, but will doubtfully go down in history as one of their best, especially compared to such classics as R and Songs for the Deaf.

Takeaway: Overall, the album is good, at times excellent, for a QOTSA album. As an whole album though, it falls a bit short. Die-hard fans won’t be disappointed, as it can be easily played over and over without getting tired of it, but it doesn’t flex much new muscle or show a lot of passion. The psychedelic, stoner rock flavor is still there, but it tastes slightly stale this time around, as it feels that much of it has already been done on previous albums, save for a handful of songs. If you’re a fan, grab it as you’ll enjoy it, but I can’t see …Like Clockwork wooing many new fans.

~Sean Little


DisclosureSettle

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“F for You”
“January” (feat. Jamie Wood)
“Confess to Me” (feat. Jesse Ware)

Album Highlights: It’s about time for one of the freshest, most sought after acts in the electronic genre to release their debut album, and boy it doesn’t disappoint in the least. Disclosure’s resurrection of late 90s UK garage coupled with two-step, contemporary bass and UK funk has become a highly praised formula that combines new and old styles. Sure, the careers of Artful Dodger and Todd Edwards are still going, so it doesn’t seem like a massive leap since the popularity of UK garage was within most of our lifetimes. Guy and Howard Lawrence, the brotherly duo behind Disclosure are very young, making their understanding of these style even more impressive. They truly know their UK dance music history, and it’s with this knowledge that they have built a style that is more palpable to the ever-growing throngs of dance music aficionados. The Lawrence brothers have taken styles that were largely ignored by the rest of the world and tossed in enough House influence to be suitable for the dance floors of Vegas as well as the basements of South London.

Songs like “Latch” are hard to ignore with it’s swirling bass and sultry vocals provided by Sam Smith. Settle demonstrates a preternatural knack for clean production, ready for remixing and repeated play on the dance floor.

Album Lowlight: Though some of the stronger tracks Disclosure has produced, the inclusion of a couple of previously released songs (mostly on the deluxe edition) is just slightly disappointing. On the flip side, the album logs in at over an hour so there’s plenty of tunes, so no big whoop.

Generally speaking, when one looks at an EDM track list and sees that more than half of the release features special guests, that can be a big red flag, but not in the case of Settle. The impressive selection of both male and female vocalists is superb and without banner names to American market, with the exception being Jessie Ware. Some argue that this tactic is a blatant run for the charts, which is likely in the UK, bit it remains to be seen elsewhere.

Takeaway: It’s clear to see that the state of EDM is a constantly shifting one, keeping loyal followers on their feet and pulling in new recruits through new sounds all the time. Though Settle is a deadly serious dance effort it is also a pop album with appeal beyond festival dance tents. Comparisons to Basement Jaxx have been rampant, and yes, they had a few dance songs that slid slightly into the pop-realm, but let’s be honest, Jaxx were a little too over-the-top in their production to truly be embraced by the masses. Disclosure may close some gaps that still exist between EDM and mainstream culture, a phenomena that the US is inching closer to, for better or for worse.

As the word continues to spread about the Lawrence brothers, we can only look forward to their banner summer sets across the globe, exemplifying the universal appeal of exceptionally produced dance music.

~Kevin Quandt


Portugal. The ManEvil Friends

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Modern Jesus”
“Sea of Air”
“Waves”

Album Highlights: Portugal. The Man continues its steady climb up the rock ‘n’ roll ladder with their seventh full-length album since 2006, Evil Friends. Maybe Portugal. The Machine would be a more appropriate band name. This time around, they have enlisted famed producer Danger Mouse (producer for The Black Keys, Norah Jones, Gorillaz and a member of Gnarles Barkely as well as Broken Bells) to bring this record to fruition.

Evil Friends has all the of signature trademarks of Portugal. The Man’s sound — catchy falsetto-laden hooks, head-banging psychedelic rock and deep introspective lyrics, yet the flow to this album is much better than its two previous studio efforts. This LP holds up much better when listened to all the way through, rather than cherry picking songs. A PTM album has not had this kind of flow since The Satanic Satanist (its best album, in my humble opinion).

Album Lowlight: This album has rekindled my love for Portugal. The Man after they lost it with American Ghetto. In the Mountain in the Cloud regained some of that love, but Evil Friends brings it back to Satanic Satanist levels.

Can we go back in time and see what Danger Mouse can do with their previous seven studio albums?

Takeaway: This could be the record that people look back to reference when Portugal. The Man “got huge”. The band is fairly well-known to anyone that has moderately followed indie music in the last five years. If you went to a few major music festival in the last four years, there’s a good chance it was on the bill.

This LP is highly accessible and listenable all the way through. Long time PTM fans will get their fix without screaming “sellouts”, while at the same time, they should gaining slews of new fans. Is there a debate as to which Portugal. The Man record is their best? If there is, this album is now in the discussion.

~Kevin Raos


Rogue WaveNightingale Floors

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Everyone Wants to Be You”
“S(a)tan”
“Siren’s Song”

Album Highlights: Oakland’s Rogue Wave has returned with their 5th LP, Nightingale Floors, and it thrives best when it hones in on meditative repetition. Opening track “No Magnatone” utilizes an Eastern drone sound that hints at transcendental aspirations, then quickly repeating guitar melodies layer on until Zach Rogue’s modulated vocals pleasantly blend. This track and the breathtaking closing song “Everyone Wants to Be You” utilize Zach’s voice as an instrument, as opposed to a leading force behind the songwriting, and the psychedelic wandering in these two tracks leave the greatest impact on the listener. These songs represent what

Themes of death and acceptance of passing on dominate, and “Figured It Out” captures the zeitgeist of the album’s mantra better than any other track. The inspired writing and delivery of the repeating lyrics is utterly transfixing: “At the moment i pass away, I know I’m gonna be so proud.” “Without Pain” also overtly waxes poetic on letting go at the end of life. Two other tracks, “Siren’s Song” and “S(a)tan” are excellent and well worth a couple spins.

Album Lowlight: The first singe “College” is hyper-catchy, but doesn’t necessarily fit in with the record. The happy tone and prep-school upbeat-ness to it is too strikingly different than the rest of the record, even if they meant the song to be interpreted with irony. Although this is unlikely; Rogue Wave have a track history of sincerity and earnestness. The refrain is repetitious to the point of annoyance, while instrumentally the song is pleasant. “College” is likable at first but falls flat after multiple listens within the scope of the album as a whole – it smells like the song’s dominance in the album sequencing and the choice of making it the lead single involved the presence of suits from the record company. Also, the track “Without the Pain” is rather pedestrian despite the reoccurring theme of accepting death.

Takeaway: The meditative, minimalist tracks work best in Nightingale Floors, but at the same time “Siren’s Song” flashes beastly grandeur and “S(a)tan” finds it’s appealing center in reverberating electric guitar picking that is reminiscent of DIIV. Some range works very well with this record, but the attempt at pop-radio play with “College” puts a dent in it’s excellence. But overall, this record is meditative self-examination at it’s best.

~Mike Frash