The 25 best live music acts of 2016

Best live music acts of 2016

As we officially place 2016 in the history books, it’s time to look back at all the live music we experienced this year. Last year we shared our 25 favorite live performers of 2015, so this year we thought we would do it again while excluding any artists we named in 2015. After all, who really wants to see the same acts listed two years in a row? That said, now that we’re two years removed, our 25 favorite live performers of 2014 were once again fair game.

After covering many excellent bands, musicians and DJs over the past 12 months, trimming our list down to 25 wasn’t easy and as usual, some difficult decisions had to be made. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

Adrian Younge, Air, Alessia Cara, Alina Baraz, AlunaGeorge, Alvvays, The Arcs, A$AP Ferg, Atlas Genius, Aubrie Sellers, The Avett Brothers, Bag Raiders, Baio, Banks & Steelz, Bas, Battles, Beats Antique, Beach House, Best Coast, Big Freedia, Big Gigantic, Big Grams, Big Wild, Bloc Party, Bob Mould, The Boxer Rebellion, Brand New, Brett Dennen, The California Honeydrops, Capital Cities, Cate Le Bon, Chairlift, Chelsea Wolfe, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Chuck Mosley, Chromeo, Claude VonStroke, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Cold War Kids, The Crux, Dan Deacon, Danny Brown, Deftones, The Devil Makes Three, Dirtwire, Disclosure, DMA’s, DMX, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, Duran Duran, Every Time I Die, Emancipator Ensemble, Ezra Furman, Faith No More, The Faint, Fantastic Negrito, Femi Kuti, Florence + the Machine, Flume, Fruition, The Gaslamp Killer, Geographer, Glass Animals, Gorgon City, Grimes, Halsey, The Head and the Heart, Heartwatch, The Heavy, Highly Suspect, Hippie Sabotage, Holy Fuck, How to Dress Well, Hudson Mohawke, Hundred Waters, IAMX, Ibeyi, Ice Cube, Iggy Pop, The Infamous Stringdusters, Jack Beats, Jack Garratt, Jack Ü, James Bay, Jamie xx, J. Cole, Jimmie Vaughn, Jhené Aiko, The Joy Formidable, Joywave, Julia Holter, Julien Baker, Kaki King, Kamaiyah, Kamasi Washington, Kehlani, K.Flay, The Kills, Kurt Vile, Lafa Taylor, Lana Del Rey, Låpsley, Les Sins, Lettuce, Lionel Richie, Lord Huron, Little Scream, Lucius, M83, Major Lazer, Marian Hill, Mayer Hawthorne, MC YOGI, Methyl Ethel, Metric, Miami Horror, Mick Jenkins, Midi Matilda, Miguel Migs, Modest Mouse, Moon Taxi, M. Ward, Nahko & Medicine for the People, The Naked and Famous, Nas, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Neon Indian, Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Nite Jewel, Panic! at the Disco, Parliament-Funkadelic, Peaches, Petite Noir, The Pharcyde, The Polish Ambassador, Porches, Prince Rama, Purity Ring, Pusha T, Radiohead, Ra Ra Riot, The Regrettes, The Revivalists, RJD2, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rogue Wave, Rubblebucket, Run the Jewels, The Russ Liquid Test, Ryan Adams, The Sam Chase & The Untraditional, Saosin, Sarah Neufeld, The Seshen, Shabazz Palaces, Shlohmo, Silversun Pickups, Snakehips, Solange, Son Little, St. Lucia, Stormzy, The Struts, STS9, Sturgill Simpson, Sufjan Stevens, Summer Cannibals, Sunflower Bean, Sigur Rós, St. Germain, Sylvan Esso, Tacocat, Taking Back Sunday, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, This Will Destroy You, Thomas Jack, Thundercat, Toro y Moi, Tortoise, Tory Lanez, Tourist, The Trims, Troye Sivan, Umphrey’s McGee, Viceroy, Vince Staples, Vokab Company, Walk the Moon, Warpaint, Wavves, Weezer, Wheeler Walker Jr., White Denim, Wild Belle, Wild Nothing, Years & Years, Yeasayer, YG, Young Fathers, Yuck, ZHU, Ziggy Marley.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our 25 favorite live performers of 2016.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2016

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2016:


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #25 - Tycho

25. Tycho

For as much as Epoch was a surprise, so were Tycho’s two most recent shows in LA last week. It was the first time Hansen and company had played The Fonda Theatre since the Awake tour back in 2014, and Thursday’s sellout, which was announced less than a week before the show, along with the subsequent need to add a second date the next night, made it clear that more than ever, Angelinos have a strong appetite for what Hansen is doing on both a musical and visual level. It helps, too, that KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley, who opened the shows at The Fonda with a DJ set, has helped expose Tycho to a broader audience, whether through the “Morning Becomes Eclectic” theme song or live, in-studio performances by the band. Even nowadays with an abundance of streaming sites, you can’t underestimate the power of radio in a city with a driving culture as large as LA’s. And truth be told, Tycho is some of the best music to drive to, especially when you’re surrounded by nature. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #24 - Isaiah Rashad

24. Isaiah Rashad

And when it did, Rashad torpedoed onto stage and turned the restlessness in the room on its head with “Smile”, the apropos homecoming banger he released after years of uncertainty that followed his 2014 EP Cilvia Demo. It was fitting because prior to his reemergence, which was sparked by the song, Rashad admitted to being addicted to Xanax and alcohol, and it almost led to him being dropped from his West Coast record label on several occasions. From his issues with substance abuse to the tears he shed while listening to Kid Cudi’s music and his open-book thoughts on the humanizing of mental-health issues, Rashad’s journey from being the contemplative unknown in superstar Kendrick Lamar’s crew to a complete artist deserving of your attention has been steeped in honesty. -Joseph Gray, photo by Joseph Gray


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #23 - Bob Moses

23. Bob Moses

Needless to say, worn-out axioms failed to apply in this scenario. Bob Moses silenced anyone attempting to pass them off as yet another contrived electropop outfit aiming to please the masses. At Mezzanine, both Howie and Vallance proved their prowess as EDM innovators, bringing more to the stage than a couple of laptops and a pretty light show. Surprising those unfamiliar with their work or expecting to be underwhelmed, Bob Moses have elevated the live electronic game for their respective contemporaries and succeeded in defining a new chapter for the genre — an innovative sound standard that’s all their own. -Molly Kish, photo by Lisette Worster


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #22 - Floating Points

22. Floating Points

The band continued building on its rhythms and melodies, creating a hypnotic feeling that was filled with textured synthesizers, guitar pedals and consummate percussion, as laser patterns reflected each rise and fall during its lengthy jam sessions. As Sheppard and his sidekicks progressed through each track, the complexity of the laser projections grew into optical illusions that, almost like another musical instrument onstage, intertwined with the style and progression of the band’s production perfectly. With each song reaching a climax and eventual denouement, the artwork remained untouched for a few minutes so that fans could observe each piece before their very own eyes. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Alister Mori


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #21 - Ty Segall

21. Ty Segall

But Segall is no doubt a showman himself, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who expends as much energy onstage as he does in merely 90 minutes. His passion simply rubs off on his fans, who wasted little time climbing onstage and taking the plunge into a sea of hands for a couple of minutes. Segall, of course, also got in on the action at one point, as his shows are often known to feature crowd surfing from both band and audience members, and he made sure to take the mic stand with him while he horizontally slithered across the room. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #20 - Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

20. Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind coming into Outside Lands was, “Who were Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem?” For those who knew, it was, “How in the hell were the Muppets going to fill a Sunday slot on the main stage?” Because the band had never played a show of such magnitude or outside the context of a TV/film studio, no one had any clue what to expect during this early-afternoon slot. Though some festivalgoers (mistakenly) decided to forego the experience altogether, those present will not forget the incredible feat that Another Planet Entertainment and Jim Henson Enterprises were able to pull off for what was one of the most emotionally nostalgic, blissfully complex and once-in-a-lifetime festival performances maybe ever. The Muppet house band both effortlessly managed to pluck the heartstrings of multiple generations of fans while delivering the most conceptually beautiful “love letter” to the city of SF, blanketing the grounds in a sea of love and collective euphoria for a brief, yet unforgettable moment. -Molly Kish, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #19 - RÜFÜS DU SOL

19. RÜFÜS DU SOL

By the time RÜFÜS made their entrance, the excitement in the room was at a fever pitch. The crowd was ready to dance from the very first beat (thanks to the excellent warm-up from Kllo and Yuma X), and they did just that. Lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist took center stage with great energy and proceeded to do the customary water bottle toss shortly after. Lindqvist set the tone right from the get-go for a high-energy, high-audience-participation set. The crowd responded in kind by getting down much harder than expected for a Wednesday night. Notably, there were surprisingly very few phones out as most attendees put away their cameras to make the most of every song. The intimate setting of The Fillmore could almost have been mistaken for the polo grounds of Coachella, given how many girls-on-shoulders could be seen around the venue. -Geoff Hong, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #18 - Rudimental

18. Rudimental

Through Rudimental tracks like “Not Giving In”, “Free” and “Waiting All Night”, the most unique element of the group’s live production was their charisma. Simply put, they look like they’re having fun. These aren’t tortured artists or cathartic performers — Rudimental are a band that loves the music they make. Even the band’s drummer, Beanie, easily one of the hardest working rhythmists on tour right now, managed to keep a smile on his face, racing through Rudimental’s repertoire of songs that were anywhere from 145 to 160 BPMs. The septet’s de-facto leader, DJ Locksmith, was surprisingly more in the background than you would expect from a typical DnB hype man. As Rudimental wrapped up their set with their chart-topping hit “Feel the Love”, the crowd joined in as the song ended, creating a shared moment at The Fox that perfectly reflected the intention of Rudimental — to spread the love. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #17 - BØRNS

17. BØRNS

On this night, that proverbial phrase seemingly rang true. It wasn’t just that BØRNS most likely amassed the largest attendance in the history of the Twilight Concert Series, but also the fact that it was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed at the Santa Monica Pier. One could certainly point to the opening of the Expo Line extension as a reason for the larger crowds so far this summer, which wasn’t all that noticeable during the series’ opening night with Mayer Hawthorne just the week prior, but that would simply be underestimating the exponential rise of Garrett Borns’ eponymous project. Since he relocated to Los Angeles in 2013 and signed with Interscope Records, the Michigan native has gone from supporting modest indie bands like MisterWives to selling out shows as a headliner in a matter of a year. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #16 - Flying Lotus

16. Flying Lotus

Brainfeeder founder, producer and unapologetic cultural mouthpiece Flying Lotus (born Steven Ellison) ended the night with a mildly controversial headlining set. Walking onstage and making what any FlyLo fan would recognize as an off-colored comment on the current presidential race may have proven too brazen for those not used to his brand. He let Captain Murphy out of the box a little early and road the wave of confusion into a heady, bass-driven assault on the conflicted crowd, providing the distinct audio punctuation point for the night’s bill of artists. Playing several tracks off of his 2014 LP You’re Dead! as well as various hits from high-profile hip-hop emcees like Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar that he has produced over the years, Ellison stunned us all with his double-screen, audio-visual stage setup and plenty of bone-rattling bass drops. -Molly Kish, photo by Marc Fong


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #15 - The Last Shadow Puppets

15. The Last Shadow Puppets

TLSP brought a strings section to their show, an added element that helped keep things fresh and new. The show began with the beautiful sounds of violins and cellos, but the moment TLSP got onstage, the whole floor at The Fillmore lit up in billows of smoke. I’m sure the band was stoned by the end of the show if it hadn’t been already, appearing beyond excited to be playing on a Sunday night in SF. Turner and Kane must have yelled out something about SF every few minutes and incorporated SF into some of their songs. They were so incredibly tight, and I felt their set in some ways was a bit better than what I had witnessed years ago — the mix and order of the songs felt more succinct at The Fillmore. -Rachel Goodman, photo by Diana Cordero


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #14 - Miike Snow

14. Miike Snow

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #13 - Young Thug

13. Young Thug

Fresh off releasing the latest — and final — installment of his Slime Season mixtape trilogy, Young Thug took his place on the stage. Arriving in a white blouse, multicolored sequined jacket, dark shades, a polka-dot head scarf and remarkably slim, golden pants, he aligned such a rangy and vibrant uniform with his performance. There wouldn’t be any towering LED lights, stunts or stage diving. However, Young Thug, who for the majority of his roughly hour-long set played the lone wolf, delighted the crowd with his animated and bright delivery while running through thundering Slime Season 3 favorites like “With Them”, “Digits” and “Slime Shit”. The audience, ranging from high school seniors to seasoned workers likely with mortgages, strikingly recited every uncanny, controversial lyric and Ric Flair-esque “Woo!” like they had been analyzing them for years. -Joseph Gray, photo by Joseph Gray


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #12 - Pretty Lights

12. Pretty Lights

Touring with a live band for the first time in 2013 — something that few other EDM artists have done to this day — he quickly changed the way electronic music can be experienced live. Fast forward to last Thursday, and we were once again treated to an electrifying Pretty Lights show that was more than just Smith behind a pair of Macbook Pros and two Akai MPD32s. Making his debut at the majestic Santa Barbara Bowl, he once again showed why he isn’t your typical EDM act. With Chris Karns and Big Wild providing support, Smith hit the stage at 8 p.m. with his bandmates — Karns, Borham Lee, Brandon Butler and Alvin Ford, Jr. — and put on a show that dazzled both sonically and visually. What was most impressive, though, was seeing how much of the performance was improvised, as the band transitioned from one jam to another while dropping in a number of remixes here and there. And as I looked on from my seat in the stands, I couldn’t help but think about how much the show reminded me of all the times I’ve seen STS9 perform live. It only seemed fitting considering that the livetronia band helped give Smith his start back in the day, and with the “EDM bubble” about to burst (that is, if it hasn’t already), it’s hopefully an approach more electronic artists will gravitate toward in the future. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #11 - Mac DeMarco

11. Mac DeMarco

The 26-year-old king of slacker rock, who over the past few years has become a fan favorite of many Bay Area audiophiles, never seems to hold back when he comes to town. His first night in SF last week saw him jump from The Indy’s balcony into an awaiting crowd (a feat that was later imitated by a female audience member at The Warfield the next night), run around half naked while playing new songs and perform a 25-minute cover of Eric Clapton’s 1971 hit single “Layla” with fart solos sprinkled throughout. -James Pawlish, photo by James Pawlish


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #10 - Moderat

10. Moderat

Easily the most anticipated set of the weekend from this spectator’s vantage point, Moderat hadn’t toured since dropping a pair of EPs in 2014. But with the release of its third full-length album, aptly titled III, the Berlin-based supergroup comprised of Apparat’s Sascha Ring and Modeselektor members Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary were primed to make their mark on the final day of LIB — and that they did. Beginning with “Ghostmother” off their latest LP, Moderat ran through a good chunk of new material, but nothing ignited the crowd more than their new single “Reminder”, which remains one of our favorite songs of the year so far. As we witnessed a few days earlier at The Fonda Theatre in LA, the group’s dark, minimalist stage setup with psychedelic flourishes paired nicely with Ring’s ethereal vocals. Of all the other performances throughout the weekend, Moderat’s 90-minute set undoubtedly stood as one of the brightest moments of LIB 2016. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - Foals

9. Foals

Foals closed out their rambunctious set with a killer take on the title track “What Went Down” that brought lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis diving into the crowd, giving fans one hell of a selfie and proving their rock credentials for good. After all, any band that can unite 20-something bros with 50-something grandparents gets a gold star in our book. Rock brings people together, and those who made it out to see this unicorn of a band won’t live to regret it. -Zach Bourque, photo by Steve Carlson


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - Tame Impala

8. Tame Impala

As they opened with the dream-inducing interlude “Nangs” from their latest studio album Currents, Tame Impala gave the crowd an ample minute and a half to commit to the spatial surroundings before jumping full throttle into an explosive rendition of lead single “Let It Happen,” playing the tracks in reverse order than they are on the LP. By the third song (as promised), the sky, having just turned black, was filled with a stadium’s worth of rainbow confetti as the band played the opening chords of 2012’s psuedo love ballad “Mind Mischief”. Followed by a rare performance — only the second time in three years — of “Music to Walk Home By” from 2012’s Lonerism, Tame Impala played a wide range of emotive classics while scrambling the brains of more than 8,500 audience members with their intense onslaught of sensory-overloading imagery and hypnotic light show. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #7 - Jim James

7. Jim James

James is in rare company these days, amid a dying breed of guitar-rock gods like Jack White and Josh Homme who are not only capable of playing anything on six strings, but also on a myriad of instruments. And while Eternally Even feels in some ways like an opportunity for him to finally experiment more with keyboards, James made sure to remind his fans at the 90-year-old Orpheum Theatre last Friday that shredding is still a priority. Performing in his new hometown after officially moving to LA this year, he assumed the role of lead singer for much of the show as he and his bandmates from Twin Limb (also opening for James on this tour) played all of Eternally Even and half of Regions. But propped up by a stand onstage the whole time was James’ black Gibson axe, and you knew at some point during a two-hour set that he was going to unload some sick riffs like we have become accustomed to seeing from him at Jacket shows. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #6 - The National

6. The National

The real headline from The National’s performance was hands down the new material that was debuted, pretty much across their entire set, encore included. A rather standard opening of “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and “I Should Live in Salt” led into our first taste of the band’s upcoming LP in the form of “Checking Out”. Though many locals likely recognized this track from last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival (read our review here), it has tightened up over the past year and even begins to sound familiar as the Brooklyn-based five-piece begins to weave in more electronic, synth-like elements. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Steve Carlson


Coachella 2016 - Guns 'N Roses

5. Guns N’ Roses

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


Coachella 2016 - Sia

4. Sia

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #3 - Chance the Rapper

3. Chance the Rapper

In one of the few transcendent moments of the weekend, a set that had everyone throughout the fairgrounds hyped into an anticipatory frenzy, Chance the Rapper performed at the Lands End stage on Sunday afternoon for easily the largest crowd of the entire weekend. Even those who stood their ground through Third Eye Blind’s preceding set felt the drastic change in both crowd size and personal space as the Polo Fields flooded and temperatures rose. Even though Chance could have used this to his advantage and conducted an explosive show, igniting the tightly configured crowd into a combustive state, he instead took his fans “to church” with a spiritually centered gospel set, making sure everyone was attentive and of course, that “his part” resonated among the masses. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #2 - LCD Soundsystem

2. LCD Soundsystem

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #1 - Anderson .Paak

1. Anderson .Paak

I’m going to be completely honest: I went to SXSW this year to see .Paak because I knew once he played it, tickets to his shows would be impossible to get. Six months later, $30 tickets to his show in San Francisco at The Fillmore resold for upwards of $400. If you didn’t have another way to get into that show or rent to pay, it was worth it. The energy that comes out of .Paak while he’s performing is charming, infectious and unmatched. He splits his time roaming every inch of the stage and behind his drum set, often singing and rapping without missing a beat. At .Paak’s December show at the Hollywood Palladium in LA, Stevie Wonder came out not to sing, but to tell the crowd what a big fan he is. So basically, Stevie Wonder dropped by. OK, Anderson … we see you. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Norm de Veyra

Outside Lands 2016

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The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2016

Danny Brown


Danny Brown at The Regency Ballroom // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by James Pawlish

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Well, while we’re still wondering where the past 12 months have went, 2016 proved to be bittersweet for the entire music community. With David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Paul Kanter, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones and most recently George Michael all leaving us too soon, it’s been a rough ride to say the least. But amid all the heartbreak, we experienced plenty of amazing moments in music from January to December, and now it’s time for us to once again unveil our annual “Best of” lists just like we did in 2015.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2016.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2016

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2016:


Jim James at Orpheum Theatre


Jim James at Orpheum Theatre // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. LCD Soundsystem at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 8th
When reports started swirling around this time last year that LCD Soundsystem would reunite to headline Coachella a few months later, it was a chance to relive that one time I saw them on the same polo field six years earlier — the only time I was lucky enough to see James Murphy and company in action before they called it quits way too early. And while band reunions at Coachella are starting to feel like a gimmick these days, LCD had already played a couple of warm-up shows back home in New York by the time they stepped foot on the main stage for their highly anticipated headlining set at the Empire Polo Club. They didn’t perform any new material like some fans may have hoped they would, but rather a setlist laced with hits that also included their live debut of David Bowie’s “Heroes” as well as a nod to fellow headliner Guns N’ Roses. And as the final words to “All My Friends” left Murphy’s mouth that night, I walked away still buzzing from what I had just witnessed.

2. Radiohead at Shrine Auditorium – Los Angeles, CA – August 8th
3. Jim James at Orpheum Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – December 9th
4. Temple of the Dog at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – November 14th
5. Pretty Lights (Live) at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – November 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Moderat – III
With so many excellent albums being released each year, picking a favorite is never an easy task — but this year felt even more difficult than usual. And although I’ll admit I didn’t have time to hear every LP that dropped in 2016, it was hard not to choose Moderat’s latest studio effort after much thought and consideration. Time after time, I found myself coming back to III after countless listens. From the record’s opening track “Eating Hooks” to its initial single “Reminder”, the Berlin trio seems to get better and better with each release. As difficult as it can be to describe Moderat’s music, there’s something about the way Sascha Ring’s emotive vocals pair perfectly with the supergroup’s haunting melodies that makes III‘s repeatability incredibly strong. I guess the third time really is the charm for these three gents.

2. Jim James – Eternally Even
3. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
4. RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
5. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Jim James – “Here in Spirit”
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James often receives praise for his unique singing style, but the Louisville native’s songwriting chops remain equally impressive. On his sophomore solo album Eternally Even, James takes a more political stance than what he devised for his 2013 debut Regions of Light and Sound of God. What results is some of James’ most poignant and inspiring material to date, including the soulfully psychedelic cut “Here in Spirit” that bats third in the LP’s nine-track lineup. With lines like “No compromise / But willing to sacrifice / Believe what you want / Go on and be who you are / Go out and get what you want” to open the song, James empowers his listeners to not sit on the sidelines and instead, speak up for what they believe in. He might not be able to solve the world’s problems, but “Yim Yames” knows how to make you think about the issues that matter.

2. Moderat – “Reminder”
3. Glass Animals – “Youth”
4. Tycho – “Division”
5. Run the Jewels – “Legend Has It”


Brainfeed at Fox Theater Oakland


Brainfeeder at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by Marc Fong

Molly Kish // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Brainfeeder at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – September 15th
This showcase featuring artists from Flying Lotus’ label, including himself, was an experience to behold. No matter who you went to see on this night, eyes were opened and brains were fed — so to speak — thanks to the sonic diversions that continue to make Brainfeeder one of the most important players in shaping the future of music.

2. Danny Brown at The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA – October 11th
3. James Blake at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – October 17th
4. Erykah Badu at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – November 15th
5. Black Madonna at Public Works SF – San Francisco, CA – November 18th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Elevating the current state of hip-hop by ultimately bringing it back to its jazz roots, Malibu finally brought Anderson .Paak the credit he sorely deserved. The 16-track album boasts an intricately curated, eclectic roster of recording, production and songwriting talent. Easily the most important sophomore full-length release of the year, Malibu opened a brand-new door to a musical stratosphere that .Paak was born to commandeer.

2. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered
3. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
4. The Avalanches – Wildflower
5. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Solange – “Cranes in the Sky”
Another career-skyrocketing release of 2016 that was introduced to the world through this single, “Cranes in the Sky” helped bring attention to “the younger Knowles sister” as a force to be reckoned with. Amidst a track list of powerful ballads and political anthems, this song delivers a personal testimony of introspection that humanizes Solange in a way most artists are too afraid to convey. The track, which was delivered through a series of avant-garde music videos, shook the world of modern soul and R&B with one of 2016’s most influential power moves.

2. Chance the Rapper – “All Night”
3. Blood Orange – “Best to You”
4. Kaytranada – “LITE SPOTS”
5. Flume – “Never Be Like You” feat. Kai


YG at The Wiltern


YG at The Wiltern // Photo by Joseph Gray

Joseph Gray // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Kanye West at The Forum – Inglewood, CA – November 1st
Prior to its bizarre, abrupt ending that included a long-winded tirade critical of Beyoncé and some outspoken support for President-elect Donald Trump, Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” was a once-in-a-lifetime party. Seriously. In LA, the show featured a floating, illuminated and spaceship-like stage that traveled back and forth — while raging youngsters moshed below — to give everybody a great view of their favorite contradiction and/or superhero, who was later hospitalized due to a reported “psychiatric emergency.” With the elevated platform, a smiling and dancing West manned through his conflicts, happiness and faith, reminding us of why he provides the unmistakable feel-good vibes that only he can bring.

2. Young Thug at The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – May 16th
3. Isaiah Rashad at Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – November 14th
4. Jhene Aiko at Avalon Hollywood – Los Angeles, CA – November 21st
5. YG at The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA – November 29th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
The unearthed gem on rap legend Dr. Dre’s long-awaited Compton opus a year prior, Southern California rapper, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (he really does it all) Anderson .Paak kicked open the door to his fully-formed world of warm, unbridled expressiveness and raspy soul with Malibu. Brilliantly combining funk and jazz-filled triumphs (“Come Down”) and hip-hop’s reflective grit (“The Season/Carry Me”) with distinct and sprawling elegance (“Room in Here”), .Paak unquestionably put his mark on 2016. A detailed dot (just like the one in .Paak’s moniker), you better not forget it because Malibu proved that you have to pay attention to everything his name is attached to.

2. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
3. Young Thug – Jeffery
4. NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
5. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People…”
In a year drenched in political prejudices and panic for many citizens in the U.S., Q-Tip roared through the darkness over the funkiest of synths: “We don’t believe you ’cause we the people / Are still here in the rear / Yo, we don’t need you.” A message that echoed even louder after the presidential election, one of the standouts tracks from their celebrated final LP We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service invigorates a culture seemingly under attack more than ever.

2. Anderson .Paak – “Come Down”
3. Kanye West – “Real Friends”
4. Anderson .Paak – “Room in Here” feat. The Game & Sonyae Elise
5. Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016”


Radiohead at Outside Lands 2016


Radiohead at Outside Lands 2016 // Photo by by James Pawlish

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Kanye West at T-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, NV – October 29th
In some ways, there’s an unspoken hierarchy to the live-concert experience. The structure is simple — the closer you are to the front of the stage, the better your experience is, the bigger the fan that you are. Only the “rail riders” are the truest fans. In my experience seeing Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” in Las Vegas — a performance that ended up being one of his last uninterrupted shows prior to a breakdown and a subsequent cancellation of several future dates — he not only completely destroyed the hierarchy, he reinvented what a concert can be. Under a floodlight-filled sky, he spent 90 minutes on a floating stage playing a nonstop show that brought out a level of hype in the crowd I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. On the floor, underneath the stage, you are instantly a part of the performance. As the stage moved back and forth across the arena, West captured a sense of connection with fans, making it nearly impossible to not scream every damn word to every damn song. It was an emotional roller coaster filled with adrenaline (“Black Skinhead”, “Father Stretch My Hands”), joy (“Waves”, “Fade”), swagger (“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Heartless”) and some transcendent moments so intense during reworked songs like “Only One” and “Ultralight Beam” that many in the crowd (myself included) couldn’t help but be brought to tears. I’ve never seen a concert like this one and will probably never see something like it again. But for those 90 minutes as I jumped and sang with my brothers and friends, there was no world outside of Kanye’s floating stage. It’s a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life as Kanye proved to us there is no hip-hop artist in the world doing what he’s doing.

2. LCD Soundsystem at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 8th
3. Beyoncé at Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA – May 16th
4. Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – September 3rd
5. Air at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 6th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. The Avalanches – Wildflower
I really enjoy albums that can be experienced as one cohesive piece. Twelve years in the making, The Avalanches’ Wildflower is best experienced in one listen from start to finish. Using a near-plethora of samples from both ends of the musical spectrum, the Australian plunderphonics pioneers wove together a soundscape that’s not only textured and groovy, but also just plain old fun. From “Because I’m Me” and “Frankie Sanatra” to “Subways” and “If I Was a Folkstar”, the feel and experience of listening to Wildflower simply fills me with joy. After a year like 2016, it’s something we all needed.

2. RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
3. Beyoncé – Lemonade
4. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
5. The Range – Potential

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Radiohead – “Present Tense”
In a serene moment watching Thom Yorke and Co. play a live rendition of “Present Tense” at Outside Lands, I first thought to myself that this may be one of Radiohead’s best tracks. Ever. Their stripped-down rendition featuring Johnny Greenwood solidified that thought. “Present Tense” seems to capture all of the things I find most appealing about Radiohead: complex and beautiful chord progressions, subtle and complimentary percussion, and melancholy lyrics and ambient sounds creating a sense of space that no other band I know is capable of producing in a studio or on a stage. It’s an introspective song that blooms into a plea for a return to what was once had with “in you I’m lost …” That melody gives me goosebumps every time.

2. Blood Orange – “Best to You”
3. Brian Eno – “Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free”
4. Hundred Waters feat. Chance the Rapper – “Show Me Love”
5. DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak”


Anderson .Paak at South by Southwest


Anderson .Paak at South by Southwest 2016 // Photo by Rochelle Shipman

Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals at South by Southwest – Austin, TX – March 18th
Anderson .Paak played 13 shows in three or four days at SXSW this year. The Pandora show was one of his last ones, so he and his bandmates had their set down to blind perfection and played their hearts out to 150 new fans as the sun went down. Austin was falling in love with .Paak right in front of his eyes, electrifying his performance and even bringing him down into the audience to crowd surf. When he wasn’t behind the drums, he spent the rest of the show dancing on the monitors in between the barrier and the stage, seemingly as close to is fansh as possible. He was just grateful to be there, and it spilled from every ounce of his body. I’m going to be completely honest: I went to SXSW this year to see .Paak because I knew once he played it, tickets to his shows would be impossible to get. Six months later, $30 tickets to his show in San Francisco at The Fillmore resold for upwards of $400. If you didn’t have another way to get into that show or rent to pay, it was worth it. The energy that comes out of .Paak while he’s performing is charming, infectious and unmatched. He splits his time roaming every inch of the stage and behind his drum set, often singing and rapping without missing a beat. At .Paak’s December show at the Hollywood Palladium in LA, Stevie Wonder came out not to sing, but to tell the crowd what a big fan he is. So basically, Stevie Wonder dropped by. OK, Anderson … we see you.

2. Conor Oberst at The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church – Los Angeles, CA – December 17th
3. Chance the Rapper at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 7th
4. Islands at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles, CA – June 9th
5. Animal Collective at Scala – London, UK – September 8th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Anderson .Paak has put out a lot of material, even before he was Anderson .Paak and went by Breezy Lovejoy. There are gems sprinkled throughout his early releases, but his latest studio album has a funky backbone that lets .Paak explore aspects of his range that he never shared before. It resulted in a rhythmic, emotional journey that’s flirty, genre-defiant and fun as fuck. Malibu nearly ruined music for me because nothing else is it.

2. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
3. Conor Oberst – Ruminations
4. Gallant – Ology
5. Noname – Telefone

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
I like Childish Gambino. I’ve always liked Childish Gambino. But the first time I heard his song “Redbone”, every hair on my body stood up and started grooving. It happened the second time and the third time, and even the 643rd time. And this dude is singing about peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool Aid, but because of how he’s singing about it, it’s somehow OK. I made a playlist with only this song on it 20 times over and it was still too short.

2. Anderson .Paak – “The Waters”
3. Sonder – “Too Fast”
4. Danny Brown – “Really Doe” feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt
5. Mac Miller – “Dang!” feat. Anderson .Paak


Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley


Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley // Photo by James Pawlish

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. The Cure at Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA – May 26th
I saw a ton of amazing shows this year, but seeing The Cure for the first time on my birthday topped them all. For more than three hours I got to catch Robert Smith and company churn out hit after hit, and hanging out with some of my best mates only added to the splendor. A setlist that spanned their entire career on a beautiful evening was just what I needed for my 38th trip around the sun.

2. Tool at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – January 7th
3. At the Drive-In at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – June 4th
4. Tame Impala at Greek Theatre Berkeley – Berkeley, CA – September 3rd
5. Temple of the Dog at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – November 11th

Top 5 Albums of 2016
1. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
This is the album that we needed, and it was delivered at the right time, in the right way. For a year that had taken so much away from the music world, ATCQ surprised everyone with an LP that delivered a vibrant, thoughtful and politically charged gift to the masses. No guys, thank YOU for your service (RIP Phife Dawg).

2. Mitski – Puberty 2
3. David Bowie – Black Star
4. Mall Walk – Funny Papers
5. Tycho – Epoch

Top 5 Songs of 2016
1. David Bowie – “Lazarus”
Oh, Bowie … even on the eve of your own passing, you knew how to pull out all of the stops and push your art to the limit. A true showman and artist to the end, this song encapsulates all that is raw, beautiful and bizarre about our beloved Ziggy Stardust. Its somber tone is met with a sexy, sinister groove, which leaves you with a sense of unease and is honestly perfect in my opinion. Thank you, sir. RIP.

2. Bob Moses – “Tearing Me Up”
3. Savages – “Evil”
4. Zack de la Rocha – “digging for windows”
5. Deep Sea Diver – “Secrets”

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The ‘EDM bubble’ may be bursting, but Pretty Lights remains a beacon of hope at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Pretty LightsBy Josh Herwitt //

Pretty Lights (Live) with Big Wild, Chris Karns //
Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA
November 10th, 2016 //

Amid the myriad of tragedies that the music industry has endured in 2016, one of the major talking points has been the future of electronic dance music. EDM, as the kids like to call it these days, experienced a meteoric rise just a few years ago as laptops replaced turntables and guitars, transforming DJs into music’s newest and biggest rock stars with multimillion-dollar residencies in Las Vegas and headlining slots at music festivals all around the world.

But in the last eight months, the genre’s sustainability has started to be called into question, with several media outlets predicting that the EDM boom will soon come crashing down. One well-known music website, for instance, published an in-depth look at EDM’s demise back in April, already declaring it a thing of the past with a title like “Popping the Drop: A Timeline of How EDM’s Bubble Burst.” Soon after, LA Weekly followed suit, continuing the conversation with their own piece on why an industry worth $6.9 billion only a year ago has fallen so fast. Of course, it should also be noted that Forbes was the first to tap into the subject, exploring how the proliferation of EDM festivals in the U.S. hasn’t always equaled massive payouts for some concert promoters.

Still, for a culture born out of the UK’s underground rave scene, it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that the EDM business has reached its ceiling. From simply a spectators’ point of view, watching someone entertain an audience with a computer and a mixer can only be engaging for so long, even if the song selection and stage production are superb (it can also depend on if any mind-altering substances were ingested at the time). That’s not to say dance music can’t or won’t survive. As oversaturated as the market is right now, there will always be a thirst for music that can make you move — it’s more that the genre will continue to evolve in new and different ways. And if there’s one electronic artist whom others should look to for inspiration, it’s unquestionably Pretty Lights.

Pretty Lights

Praised by legendary record producer Rick Rubin as “the face and voice of the new American electronic music scene,” Derek Vincent Smith started out making music under his Pink Floyd-inspired moniker with his close friend and frequent collaborator Michal Menert more than a decade ago. But unlike so many of his contemporaries, the Colorado native was carving his own path in his early 20’s. Influenced by hip-hop groups from the Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest to Wu-Tang Clan and The Roots, Smith got his big break opening for jam bands like Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), The Disco Biscuits and Widespread Panic at their late-night, after-party shows. Employing a colorful patchwork of hip-hop breakbeats and soul samples to build the foundation for his tracks, Smith’s process as well as his music in many ways felt like an extension of the classic trip-hop that DJ Shadow pioneered in 1996 with his seminal debut LP Endtroducing….. and RJD2 (read our interview with him here) later furthered on his initial studio album Deadringer.

Pretty Lights’ rise to stardom didn’t happen overnight. Releasing his music for free on his own record label Pretty Lights Music, it took years for Smith to build the worldwide following that he has today. Yet, what has always made him more than just merely a “DJ” or a “producer” is his propensity for incorporating live instrumentation into his live performances. By the time he began touring in 2007, he had enlisted drummer Cory Eberhard to join him for a run that would eventually include important U.S. festival appearances at Coachella and Ultra in 2010. Smith would go on to replace Eberhard with Adam Deitch, and while Deitch’s commitment to his other projects (Break Science, Lettuce) has curtailed his involvement in more recent years, he served as a key ingredient during the recording sessions for 2013’s A Color Map of the Sun, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album.

Since then, Smith has made a conscious effort to bring other talented musicians into the fray. Touring with a live band for the first time in 2013 — something that few other EDM artists have done to this day — he quickly changed the way electronic music can be experienced live. Fast forward to last Thursday, and we were once again treated to an electrifying Pretty Lights show that was more than just Smith behind a pair of Macbook Pros and two Akai MPD32s. Making his debut at the majestic Santa Barbara Bowl, he once again showed why he isn’t your typical EDM act. With Chris Karns and Big Wild providing support, Smith hit the stage at 8 p.m. with his bandmates — Karns, Borham Lee, Brandon Butler and Alvin Ford, Jr. — and put on a show that dazzled both sonically and visually. What was most impressive, though, was seeing how much of the performance was improvised, as the band transitioned from one jam to another while dropping in a number of remixes here and there. And as I looked on from my seat in the stands, I couldn’t help but think about how much the show reminded me of all the times I’ve seen STS9 perform live. It only seemed fitting considering that the livetronia band helped give Smith his start back in the day, and with the “EDM bubble” about to burst (that is, if it hasn’t already), it’s hopefully an approach more electronic artists will gravitate toward in the future.

Setlist:
Still Night Jam
Maybe Tomorrow
Time Remix
One Day They’ll Know > ODESZA Remix > Break Science Remix
Let The World Hurry By
So Much In The Dark
More Important Than Michael Jordan
Bombay Bump
Total Fascination > Jam
Understand Me Now > Jam
Cold Feeling > Jam > Remix
There Is a Light
Jam
Where I’m Trying to Go tease
More Important Than Michael Jordan tease
I Can See It In Your Face > Jam
High School Art Class

Beats Antique, Lettuce join forces at Club Nokia to bring electronica and funk together for one night

Beats Antique


Beats Antique

By Josh Herwitt //

Beats Antique, Lettuce with Lafa Taylor //
Club Nokia – Los Angeles
February 12th, 2015 //

It’s not often that you see a modern funk band sharing the stage with an electronic music act on the same night, let alone a weekend night in LA.

For that reason, it was hard to deny when last Friday’s co-headline show featuring Lettuce and Beats Antique was first announced that it felt like somewhat of an odd pairing between two well-established groups that have made their mark in very different ways. While Lettuce have inevitably cultivated jam-band fans with their tie to funk/jazz trio Soulive (keyboardist Neal Evans and guitarist Eric Krasno are members of both groups), Beats Antique have built their own unique audience, one that frequents Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle and other “transformational” events put on by The Do LaB.

Lettuce


Lettuce with Nigel Hall

But if there’s one constant running through both bands’ music, it’s their ability to make their fans move. Sure, funk might not be what’s trendy among mainstream music fans these days, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a group of musicians cooking up a better batch of funk than Lettuce. If anything, the No. 1 position on Billboard‘s U.S. Jazz Albums chart that their fourth studio album Crush earned firmly stamps the band’s place in today’s music scene. And even with Lettuce performing sans Krasno — to some fans’ dismay — on this night, the collective threw down one groove after another, as bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes and drummer Adam Deitch laid the foundation for Adam Smirnoff’s guitar licks or the band’s three-piece horns section to take center stage. That, of course, was all before Nigel Hall stepped onstage and grabbed the mic for the group’s final songs, letting it all hang out during a cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Gratitude” in memory of the late Maurice White, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 74.

When it came time for Beats Antique to join the party, the Oakland-based trio quickly made its presence known, as multi-instrumentalist David Satori, drummer Tommy “Sidecar” Cappel and belly dancer Zoe Jakes often do, with a performance that makes you feel like you’re at the circus or at the very least, a psychedelic-inspired carnival. Pair that with their own take on neo-gypsy electronica and tribal fusion dance, and you get the whole experience of a Beats Antique show. Jakes started off the set by riding a stationary bicycle high above the ground and eventually grabbed ahold of a bass drum for the group’s ensuing song, pounding away with both arms as if she were leading her own marching band onstage. Joined by frequent guest musician Sylvain Carton (baritone sax, clarinet), Beats Antique dove deep into their catalog, one that’s starting to near the 10-year mark believe it or not.

Beats Antique


Beats Antique

The highlight of the night, though, was no doubt the encore, which saw Deitch and Lettuce’s horns section jump back onstage for a couple more tunes. It didn’t take long for the highly sought-after Deitch — the Berklee College of Music graduate who has also produced hip-hop tracks with 50 Cent, Redman, Talib Kweli and Xzibit and now splits his time between Lettuce, Pretty Lights and Break Science, the latter being the Brooklyn electro/hip-hop/soul duo he formed with keyboardist/producer Borahm Lee in 2009 (read one of our show reviews here) — and Cappel to capture some of the spotlight, as the two drummers battled it out on the skins while exchanging a few smiles and laughs along the way. As surprising as it was to see these two bands teaming up for the very first time, it was a special moment for the fans who stuck around until the early-morning hours, one that they will likely not forget.

With SnowBall canceled again, why does Colorado still not have a large-scale music festival?

SnowBall Music Festival

Ever since I started visiting Denver on an annual basis to attend concerts at the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it was easy to see just how important live music was to the state of Colorado. From rock to electronic to hip-hop, there has never been a shortage of shows in The Centennial State, which still boasts one of the best live music scenes in the country today.

Which brings me to yesterday, when a random thought came over me as to when SnowBall Music Festival would be releasing its 2016 lineup. The three-day fest, which I attended from 2011-2013, was forced to cancel its 2015 edition but assured fans that it would be returning in 2016 and specifically to the mountains, where it all started in Avon, Colo.

Yet, after taking a look at SnowBall’s Facebook page, I quickly noticed that no updates had been posted to it since January 2015, when the festival announced that it would not be taking place in 2015. With almost a whole year of no news, it was strange to not see anything by now, so I decided to comment on SnowBall’s last Facebook post, asking when its 2016 lineup might be released.

Snowball Music Festival 2013

Within 30 minutes of posting my comment, the festival released an official statement on their Facebook page, stating that SnowBall had been canceled for a second straight year and would not be returning to the mountains in 2016 after all. The news, of course, didn’t shock me, as I expected at this point it wouldn’t be happening considering that there were no updates on the festival’s social media channels for nearly a year.

But as I continue to think about the live music landscape in Colorado, it continues to surprise me that the state has yet to host its own large-scale music festival on a year-to-year basis. With comparable U.S. cities like Seattle, Austin, San Francisco and Las Vegas all holding their own unique music festivals, it’s hard to understand why Denver hasn’t jumped on board by now. Add in the fact that AEG Live, which produces the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in conjunction with West Coast concert promoter Goldenvoice each April, is a subsidiary of the Denver-based Anschutz Corporation, and it’s even more perplexing when you stop and think about it.

That’s not to say that Colorado doesn’t have its fair share of music festivals already — Global Dance Festival, Sonic Bloom, ARISE Music Festival and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival are all still in circulation — but none of them feature an eclectic bill of artists that garners national attention like Sasquatch!, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands and Life Is Beautiful all do. Riot Fest, which returned to Denver for its third year last August, is the closest thing Colorado has to a large-scale music festival, except it also throws separate editions in Toronto and Chicago, where the multi-day punk fest was born. In fact, when SnowBall debuted in 2011 with Pretty Lights, Bassnectar and The Flaming Lips serving as its headliners, there was hope among the festival’s organizers and fans that it could eventually develop into something bigger. But with SnowBall’s future looking rather bleak now, it’s unclear whether a large-scale music festival will ever make its home where the columbines grow.

Is the Lightning in a Bottle lineup becoming a mini version of Coachella’s?

Lightning in a BottlePhoto courtesy of Daniel Zetterstrom // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Lightning in a Bottle //
San Antonio Recreation Area – Bradley, CA
May 21st-25th, 2015 //

For those who made the trek to Indio, this week officially signals the return to reality after witnessing some of the best live music you’ll likely see all year.

Coachella withdrawals, after all, don’t take long to set in, and the thought of having to wait 12 more months to experience what you just went through in three days is probably really bumming you out right now.

But fear not, because while it may not have the same name recognition that Coachella has come to garner, Lightning in a Bottle has slowly but surely started to share more and more of the same artists that have recently graced the polo fields.

Take this year’s LIB lineup, for example. SBTRKT, ODESZA, Tycho and Panda Bear all played at Coachella the past two weekends while newly anointed headliner Flume, RL Grime and AlunaGeorge made appearances last April. Other acts like John Digweed and Poliça have also performed at Coachella not that long ago, making this year’s LIB lineup one of the most appealing in its decade-long history.

With its own stage at Coachella for some time now, the artists collective and event creations company known as The Do LaB has continued to expand its reach, and as a result, LIB has grown more and more popular each year. Though the musical overlap might be just one reason for the boutique festival’s growing attendance, there are a number of LIB acts this year that could very well be printed on Coachella’s lineup next year, much like what Chet Faker, Gramatik, What So Not, Cashmere Cat and Ryan Hemsworth experienced from 2014 to 2015.

2015 Lightning in a Bottle lineup

Active Child: Electronic music artist Pat Grossi will follow up his critically acclaimed 2011 debut You Are All I See in June with the release of his second full-length album Mercy. But before that, he’ll kick off his North America tour consisting of mostly seated shows with his first appearance at LIB this May, and it’s only natural to think that a stop at Coachella is on the horizon.

GRiZ: Grant Kwiecinski has become a household name in electronic music circles over the past three years after supporting electronic heavyweights like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Gramatik and Big Gigantic on tour. The Detroit native has kept his foot on the accelerator, having already released his fourth studio album Say It Loud in only a little more than four years on the scene, and will be back at LIB after hitting the festival for the first time two years ago.

Goldroom: Josh Legg’s project performed on the main stage at LIB in 2013, and he’s got the live band back together for another go-around this year. The LA-based act gave off a sexy vibe at CRSSD Festival in San Diego last month, and it could be ready to take on Coachella once a full-length album comes out.

Les Sins: Chaz Bundick is best known for his work as Toro y Moi, but his electronic-leaning side project Les Sins has kept him rather busy going back and forth between the two. After playing Coachella this year with Toro, Bundick could be back in 2016 with the way Les Sins has taken off over the past few months.

Little People: London downtempo electronic artist Laurent Clerc has been releasing music since 2006, starting with his debut album Mickey Mouse Operation. Now based in the States and more specifically Portland, Ore., Clerc dropped his Csay Csay EP in March and recently spent some time on the road supporting Seattle duo ODESZA, which makes a lot of sense after you listen to his track “Enola”.

Random Rab: Having played the festival the past four years, the San Francisco producer is a LIB veteran, and he’ll be making his fifth straight appearance this spring. While his last album came in 2011, Random Rab has continued to perfect his live sets after touring with such LIB favorites as Bassnectar, Shpongle and Beats Antique.

Thomas Jack: EDM rising star Thomas Jack hit it big in 2013 with his single “Final Speech”, and his stock only continued to grow with remixes of Adrian Lux and Of Monsters and Men. With the way the 20-year-old DJ and producer from Australia is igniting dance floors, it’s probably not long before he’s hitting the polo fields in Indio after taking another crack at the LIB audience this year.

Snakehips: Oliver Lee and James Carter quickly climbed the dance charts last year with their sample-heavy PBR&B grooves as they exhibited on popular remixes of Wild Belle and The Weeknd. The UK production duo continues to sell out venues, and it will be no surprise if it’s listed on the 2016 Coachella lineup.

SOHN: English musician, songwriter and producer Christopher Taylor unleashed his first full-length album (read our review here) a little more than a year ago, and he’s been known to collaborate with high-profile artists like Lana Del Rey and BANKS. While it was relatively surprising to not see SOHN on the Coachella lineup this year, it’s a safe bet that he’ll find his way to Indio pretty soon.

Zion I: Oakland hip-hop group Zion I haven’t performed at Coachella in surprisingly more than a decade, and this year will mark their first time ever at LIB. Rapper Baba Zumbi and producer Amp Live earned praise for their ninth and latest album Shadowboxing back in 2012, but the duo is long overdue for a return to the desert.

WKEND MIXTAPE V7

WKEND-MIXTAPE7

Welcome to another week of great mixes. We start off with Tensnake, move to the funky vibes of DJ Nu-Mark, and finish with the latest episode of Pretty Light’s “The Hot Sh*t” radio show.

Tensnake

TensnakeCover Mix



Our first mix is from German producer and DJ Tensnake with Mixmag’s latest cover mix. Opening with a track from Nicolas Jaar, the mix weaves through nearly an hour of tracks from the likes of Metro Area, Dave Clarke, Matthew Johnson, Kron, Kim Brown, PHM, No Regular Play, and Tensnake himself.

Tensnake is headlining tonight (Friday, March 21st) at Mezzanine. Tickets are still available here.


DJ-nu-mark

DJ Nu-MarkTake Me With You



Next up is a funky world mix from DJ Nu-Mark of Jurrasic 5 fame. Nu-mark sums this one up best:

I was inspired to make a mix that captures funk inspired ethnic rhythms from music I’ve collected on my tours/travels around the world from Samba, Cumbia, Latin, Afro-Beat and Balkan Beat. This mix is intended to travel with you on your next tropical adventure to paint the musical background for your trip. When you’re headed out the door for your next vacation “Take Me With You”.


Pretty-Lights

Pretty LightsThe Hot Sh*t, Episode 121



We end this week with the latest episode of Pretty Light’s mix series for SiriusXM’s Electric Area. This long running show airs each Wednesday and Saturday, offering a consistent mix of tracks from Pretty Lights and friends. This week features his own tracks alongside tracks from Paul Basic, GRiZ, Elliot Lipp, Break Science (who were great last night at the Independent), Chrome Sparks, and What So Not. Enjoy!

Pretty Lights with live band enhances the EDM experience in SF

Pretty-Lights_postPhotos by Kory Thibeault // Written by Molly Kish //

Pretty Lights with Tycho, The Grouch & Eligh, ODESZA //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
November 29th, 2013 //

Pretty Lights blasted through SF during Thanksgiving weekend for two electrifying, back-to-back performances at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Accompanied by a full band and his armada of laser light visuals, Derek Vincent Smith curated live, bone-rattling dubstep and blinding optical illusions.

The first night was stacked with an opening bill of local talent. Kicking off the six-hour extravaganza, Pacific Northwest production duo ODESZA warmed the early evening audience up with their distinct brand of crunchy, blissed-out glitch pop. Comprised of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, otherwise known as Catacomb Kid and BeachesBeaches, Odesza played an opening set filled with material off their 2012 My Friends Never Die EP. The audience was small but responsive and proceeded to crowd the stage near the end of the set, positioning themselves front and center for the following act.

East Bay hip-hop legends and wildcard on the otherwise electronic heavy bill, The Grouch and Eli were second to take the stage. Drawing in local love from the half-filled auditorium, their set featured material from both emcee’s solo work as well as their respective efforts as a collaborative duo. Reaching an audience filled with old school G&E fans and hardcore bass heads alike, the duo got the crowd moving while teasing the anticipated release of their brand new triple album dropping this upcoming February.

Tycho

Last on the long list of openers, soundscape specialist and visual artist Scott Hansen, otherwise known as Tycho, took the stage. Playing into the visual effects most fans of the headliner were gearing up to be blown away by for the rest of the evening, Tycho ramped up his normally pictographic set to suit the large scale venue. Playing hits from his 2011 release Dive, along with several singles off of the reissued Past Is Prologue album from 2006, Tycho’s ambient groove and immersive projections welcomed the remainder of the audience that evening.

Pretty-Lights_cover

Packed in tight, without access to the balcony section, the ground floor of Bill Graham Civic started to fill with Pretty Light’s fans seeking out their ideal viewing spot for the evening. The large stage was equipped with all the usual lighting rigs, the elaborate DJ set up and Pretty Light’s token modified disco ball, utilizing the maximum capacity of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium’s dimensions.

However, along with the typical set up expected for the EDM giant, the main platform also included instruments and allotted space for an accompanying band. Dubbed the Analog Future Tour while promoting his recently released album A Color Map of the Sun, Smith decided to bring along a full band on tour with him, many of which played extensively on the record as well, and San Francisco witnessed the first performance.

Comprised of drummer Adam Dietch (Break Science), keyboardist Brian Coogan (New Orleans All-Star), keyboardist Borahm Lee (Break Science), Scott Flynn on trombone (John Brown’s Body) and Eric Bloom on Trumpet (Lettuce), Pretty Lights morphed from a solo project of an electronic mastermind into an ensemble cast. Reanimating hits from his catalogue, Smith brought a brand new sophisticated sound to the Bill Graham Civic, stunning intransigent fans into submission with a full range of wildly talented musicians and mesmerizing lightshow.

View photos from the Break Science after party Saturday November 30 at Mezzanine.

Pretty-Lights_post2

Delving deep into his soul and hip-hop roots, Smith paid tribute to the reggae origins of his electronic genre. Creating live samples of dubstep hits, as well as throwing in a couple covers from pioneers of the Rasta sound, Pretty Lights blew away the expectations of the entranced audience.

Igniting the crowd into a three-hour dance party, Smith tossed the typical notion of an EDM concert experience to the side. Embracing the live elements of a crew of bandmates, Pretty Lights raised the bar for electronic music genre-wide by simply stripping down the electronic manipulation ubiquitously associated with the modern day sound.

Smith managed to stay true to his form as a show stopping DJ, skilled producer and master of his audio-visual craft, while further expanding upon the current state of EDM and for a new kind of dubstep concert experience.

Live music artists ignite the dawn of a smartphone backlash

Phones-at-Shows

By Mike Frash //

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Savages1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father-John-Misty

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

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

Author Daniel Goleman explains the phenomenon quite effectively:

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

Phones-at-Shows

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

The Festival Lawyer explained this best in his Upgrade article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be-Where-You-Are


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Outside Lands Music Festival 2013: Top Sets

Outside Lands 2013Photos by Tim Hampson (unless otherwise noted) // Written by Mike Frash, Molly Kish, Kevin Quandt, Kevin Raos, Sean Little & Dara Shulman //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 9th-11th, 2013 //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is the ideal adult playground for live music fans — you can chow sardine chips and a Denogginizer from Drake’s while taking in a secret set in Choco Lands. Or maybe you prefer to laugh your face off at The Barbary or dance your ass off in the Heineken Dome. It may be a “walking festival” to some, but Outside Lands is at it’s best when you run. Feet don’t fail me now, use ’em while you got ’em.

San Francisco’s music fest is clearly in a groove now. A free comprehensive webcast was brought back this year, enticing future festival-goers near and far to be super jealous and to start saving money for next year. Beer Lands was moved to a strategically perfect spot opposite the Land’s End Stage on the Polo Field, making a quick stop-off convenient on the way to the next show. And it was cold — duh, it’s August in SF.

For the festival’s sixth incarnation, Outside Lands patrons witnessed the festival’s biggest headliner to date: Paul McCartney.

But Macca wasn’t the only auditory treat at Outside Lands. Here are our top sets from 2013.

Girls-on-Fire-Main-Stage-Tim

Paul-McCartney
DAY 1 ~ August 9, 2013

Paul McCartney ~ TOP SET
Friday • Land’s End Stage • 7:10 p.m.

It doesn’t get a whole lot better than Paul McCartney’s show, honestly, it’s nearly 3 hours of brilliantly competent showmanship, blazingly pleasing song selection and sheer crowd emotion. One highlight was watching Paul become giddy when Kronos Quartet joined him for a masterfully beautiful take on the tender Beatles classic, “Yesterday”. Even in his 70s, Macca keeps his crowds, and likely even himself, on their toes with an ever-changing setlist and bombastic surprises up his sleeve in the form of pyrotechnics during “Live and Let Die.” Selections from Wings were pleasantly received, especially “Band on the Run”. Closing the set, as he normally does, the crowd sang along to the timeless communal song “Hey Jude”. Friends locked arm in arm, and all was right in the world. Young and old were abuzz with the show they had witnessed on the exodus out of the park, whether it was vets finally hearing “Lovely Rita” or first-timers discussing their emotion during “Blackbird”. I mean, hey, it’s not everyday a legend plays your backyard. -KQ


Pretty Lights
Friday • Twin Peaks • 8:40 p.m.

Pretty Lights was the perfect Friday night closer for the Twin Peaks Stage and to oppose Sir Paul. Derek Vincent Smith featured most of his new album A Color Map of the Sun, plus the stand-by favorites remixed just enough on the fly to make them fresh and new. His musical ability is truly amazing, and his vibe was infectious as he’d build huge grooves then dropped them into massive basslines with his trademark soul vocals overlays that catapulted foggy Hellman Hallow to the stratosphere. Smith seemed genuinely happy and it bled into the crowd. By the night’s end, everyone was grooving and giving out high fives. –SL


Yeasayer
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 7 p.m.

Pitted against the incomparable Sir Paul at a festival is a spot that most bands would dread to be placed in. If you’re Yeasayer, however, it’s a challenge to be lived up to and utilized to your advantage. Knowing the crowd that evening would be filled with strictly die-hard fans, the boys pulled out all the stops. Playing a fan favorite set that included the most dance-heavy tracks from their entire catalogue, the intimate crowd was whipped into a collective frenzy. The best part — there was plenty of room for everyone to lose themselves in the energy of the moment. –MK


Chic---Eric-ShadenPhoto by Eric Shaden

CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers ~ TOP SET
Friday • Sutro Stage • 6:05 p.m.

The last-minute D’Angelo replacement was a surprise hit Friday evening at the Sutro Stage. Guitarist Nile Rodgers accompanied by a crew of horns and backup singers “le freaked” out the crowd with super funky dance hits. Rodgers expressed to the audience, “Now if this is your first Chic show, I have to make you understand something, you absolutely have to sing and you absolutely have to dance.” No problems there. Highlights include “We Are Family” “I’m Coming Out” and a groovy singalong to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” over the PA system after Rodgers had set down his electric guitar. –DS


The-National-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell (Cool Dads Rule)

The National
Friday • Land’s End Stage • 5 p.m.

As many learn every August, SF is not known for its stunning summer weather, but sometimes a little haze can add to the emotive release that is Matt Berninger and The National. However, the group lit the stage on fire with their stylish take on moody indie rock, opening with crowd-pleaser “Fake Empire” before fully utilizing Kronos Quartet’s strings on “I Should Live in Salt” and “Demons”, among others. Berninger’s characteristic baritone was strong, though not at it’s best on this day, but his lively mannerisms were in full effect as he paced nervously around on the large Land’s End stage. Once “Mr. November” had begun, it was inevitable that “Terrible Love” would close the set, but a late guest appearance in the form of Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead would truly put an exclamation point on this afternoon set. -KQ


Zedd
Friday • Twin Peaks • 5:25 p.m.

Zedd may not be the best DJ in the world, but his energy is hard to deny. It was the first truly “rager” set of the festival, and you could see people losing their minds all over the place, getting out the pent up energy they had been sitting on all week in anticipation of the Outside Lands. It ended up being a strong set and a lot of fun with hits “In My Mind” and “Clarity” satisfying the masses. –SL


Rhye
Friday • Sutro Stage • 4:45 p.m.

Rhye’s soothing sounds blanketed Lindley Meadow’s Sutro Stage at the midpoint of Day 1. The sun had fallen behind the eucalyptus trees, sprinkling the stage with beams of light — a perfect setting to relax to the peaceful beauty of Rhye. Rhye sounded excellent, delighting the crowd with many tracks from their 2013 debut album Woman. Minimal, yet captivating, Rhye demonstrated superior musical prowess with their performance, led by the delicate vocals of Mike Milosh. Their set was drawing to a close, and instead of squeezing in extras songs the group opted for a long version of the song “Open”. The extended version of the enchanting song highlighted the bands’ improvisational ability. Although very mellow, Rhye put on a magical performance. A must-see act. -KR


The Plump DJs
Friday • The Dome by Heineken • 4 p.m.

There’s nothing quite like an afternoon break-beat set in the Heineken Dome to get the blood moving. British duo, Plump DJs featuring Lee Rous and Andy Gardner, greeted the crowd with smiles on their faces and fists in the air. Although the Dome is slightly different than their usual SF stop, The Mighty in Potrero Hill, they brought their high-energy 2am beats to their Friday 4 p.m. set. Their beat selection was progressive and original; transitions and mixing were flawless as always. –DS


21-Pilots - PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Twenty One Pilots
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 3:50 p.m.

Twenty One Pilots might be trying to be cool, and that seemed to be on the mind of Tyler Joseph, as he kept referencing the ‘cool factor’ in a self-depreciating way. But the duo turned the stage antics up to 11, performing backflips off the grand piano, jumping into the crowd, and donning a full ski mask while climbing to the top of the Twin Peaks stage. And ya know, as much as it was Macklemore-esque cheese, the passion and musicianship these two young men exhibited transcended any second thoughts. -MF


Wild-Belle-TimPhoto by Tom Hampson

Wild Belle ~ TOP SET
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:15 p.m.

Wild Belle has been making a splash since releasing their debut album in early 2013, and they have only been getting bigger. As one of the first acts of the weekend, Wild Belle got the crowd moving in a major way with their psychedelic reggae beats. Comprised of brother-sister duo Elliot and Natalie Bergman, Wild Belle were lucky enough to draw one of the only moments of sunshine the entire weekend. One could say it was the incredible vocals of Natalie Bergman that elicited the sun’s rays. Wild Belle has been progressively adding more pieces to the puzzle throughout their short career, and they unveiled their latest piece during their performance at Outside Lands. The newest addition to their live show is a large “wall of sound” speaker system meant to enhance their live sound, and boy did it sound good. Wild Belle was an unexpected jewel Friday and one of the reasons we go to festivals: to discover new music. -KR


Houndmouth - PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Houndmouth
Friday • Panhandle Stage • 1:30 p.m.

Houndmouth provided a delightful opening to Outside Lands for many on the festival’s smallest stage, which is solar-powered. From the opening line of “Penitentiary”, which references San Francisco, the foursome brought bluesy gospel goodness right into everyone’s faces. With lyrics that seemed rooted in finding one’s self — and sobriety — Katie Toupin’s seductive stage presence and heavenly vocals were downright delightful. -MF


Midi Matilda
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 12:45 p.m.

For an early afternoon festival spot, Another Planet booked properly when deciding to put Midi Matilda on the Friday bill. Kicking off what undoubtedly was going to be a long weekend with bang, this percussion-heavy duo immediately got the crowd moving. Rife with dance-heavy beats, an animated stage show and no expense spared on the lights and fog machines, Midi Matilda came out swinging. The most memorable moment occurred when both guys jumped on the drum set during their last song to deliver a joint solo to close out the set. –MK


Mad-Rush-TimDAY 2 ~ August 10, 2013

Nine Inch Nails ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 8:25 p.m.

Like The National, the fog which veiled the Land’s End stage created an aura of dark beauty for serious talent to shine through. Saturday’s headlining set by Trent Reznor and cohorts was one of nostalgia equally coupled with the future possibilities of Nine Inch Nails. Opening with a trio of new tracks that beckons closer to Radiohead and How to Destroy Angels than Pretty Hate Machine era industrial rock Nails, it was evident Reznor didn’t, nor shall he ever, miss a beat with his primary project. “1,000,000” into “March of the Pigs” picked up the energy, and built upon the ever-shifting new stage setup that has been winning accolades the past three banner festival performances (think Stop Making Sense meets Aliens). Though the masses were at Phoenix, the crowd energy was high, especially during “Terrible Lie” and “Closer”. As per usual, “Hurt” left the crowd in an introspective gloom, though their hearts were surely still pounding from the assault that is Nine Inch Nails live. -KQ


Phoenix
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 8:40 p.m.

French indie-rock sensation, Phoenix, rallied the youth with a strong set featuring many songs from their 2009 album Wolfgang Amedeus Phoenix. “Listomania,” “Rome,” and “1901” were just some of the highlights. Front man Thomas Mars was spot on with his vocals. “This next song is a dancing one, so feel free …” was followed by longtime fan favorite “If I Ever Feel Better”. They played a solid handful of tracks from their 2013 release Bankrupt! such as “SOS in Bel Air” and “Entertainment”, but the clear goal of Phoenix’s headlining festival set is get the crowd rallied and ready to dance. The rock riffs were on point and the visuals were equally entertaining and Mars crowd surfed the entire audience near the end of the set as has been the habit this tour. Yes, he safely made it back to the stage with a little help from his friends. -DS


Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 6:30 p.m.

Equal parts punk rock and dance party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs held nothing back Saturday, perfectly segueing into whichever headliner you chose to witness. Pulling hits from their entire body of work, the set was equally as entertaining for hardcore fans and new converts alike. The band’s energy was at an all-time high, transferring a sense of mania in the crowd, which created dance circles and mosh pits throughout the entire set. The polo fields were electric and gained much more raw energy during the last five minutes, when Karen O. decided to let her body do the talking. After her signature deep-throating, she not only placed the bedazzled microphone down her shirt, but also into the front of her pants, while further emphasizing her need to be heard. Saturday night had officially started, and from that moment on it was going to be epic, whichever stage you ended up at. –MK


Grizzly Bear
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 6:50 p.m.

One of the toughest decisions of the weekend was choosing the electricity of Karen O and Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the tightness of the well-toured Grizzly Bear. Well, everyone won in their respective choices, but Grizzly Bear’s growing crowd demonstrated that these Warp label, psych-folk rockers are more than capable of stepping up to the festival plate and knocking one out of the park, so to say. Shields was well represented on this final tour stop, after 105 shows on the road behind the release. The vocal interplay is one of their strongest suits as the responsibilities are well shared over their contagious take on the rising avant-rock sound. -KQ


The Mother Hips
Saturday • Panhandle Stage • 6:05 p.m.

Organizers of the festival always strive to showcase local Northern California acts, young and old, and this year, Chico’s own legendary act, the Mother Hips, brought their defining take on California rock and roll sound to the under-appreciated Panhandle Stage. “Toughie” opened this set before launching into “White Falcon Fuzz”, which showcased the raw, vibrant sounds of Tim Bluhm and the band. Though few were in attendance, at least a couple of patrons had to have been won over by the soul-drenched psychedelia that these vets bring every time they grace a stage. -KQ


Jurassic-5-Mike-FrashPhoto by Mike Frash

Jurassic 5 ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 5 p.m.

Los Angeles hip hop ambassadors Jurassic 5 took the Land’s End stage to a BIG midday crowd, especially for a hip hop act at a primarily indie rock & electronic festival, which is a testament to their crossover appeal and lasting legacy. Maybe this demonstrates how hungry the people are for more hip hop and rap. The best part of the set went down when Cut Chemist scratched with a turntable guitar strapped to his chest while DJ Nu-Mark elicited sounds from the ridiculously large turntable set up square in the middle of the stage. This collective, allegedly in the midst of a ‘reunion tour’, has most definitely honed their act since Coachella, and festival-goers ate up every minute, following commands as if in a massive yoga class. –SL


Baauer
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 5:15 p.m.

Is the “Harlem Shake” dead? Yeah, but that still doesn’t mean that we can’t get thoroughly down to the bass-heavy set of this “Rookie/One-Hit-Wonder of the Year” candidate that goes by the name of Baauer. His take on Outkast’s “B.O.B” beckoned back to Big Boi’s triumphant set from last year’s Outside Lands, while simultaneously making asses shake and hands fly skyward in ecstasy. Much like Coachella, a youthful cult of EDM lovers are ever-present at any, and every, set that pulsated bass and catered to that beloved phenomena known as “the drop”. And surprisingly, the crowd kind of shrugged when his virally ubiquitous anthem was played, go figure. -KQ


Bombino
Saturday • Panhandle Stage • 4:30 p.m.

The energy Omara “Bombino” Moctar and his band Bombino exhibit while performing is the first thing that is noticeable. They are constantly moving, dancing — vibing to their own music. When a group creates good music, this physical ‘being in the moment’ presence is an effective way to draw the audience into your world, and this tactic worked for Bombino (both the man and the band) in Golden Gate Park. The group stays true to their African roots through their politically anthemic music, and they rock their Tuareg garb with pride, showcasing their culture on the road as the buzz grows with each performance. After seeing them at Outside Lands, it makes sense — they left it all on the Panhandle Stage, pouring their hearts into each song. -MF


Young-The-Giant-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Young the Giant
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 3:40 p.m.

Sameer Gadhia is one helluva a front man, and YTG’s rise from the small stage in Orange County to the big show at events across the world is nothing less than earned. They filled both the Lands Stage and Polo Fields with infectious alterna-indie-pop offerings from their lone self-titled release. Luckily, the group had some new selections they were eager to test on the sizable early afternoon crowd, which seemed to go over well, especially to diehards awaiting new material. Singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” obviously received the loudest response, and Sameer’s venture down the center barricade further poured on the feverish energy they thrive on. -KQ


Youth Lagoon ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Twin Peaks Stage • 3:40 p.m.

“Robert De Niro” — Trevor Powers uttered the famous actor’s name casually between songs early in his set. Oddly there wasn’t any other memorable stage banter, just hypnotic renditions of the highlights from Powers’ recent Dropla. Youth Lagoon has always thrived on a sharp aural duality; the contrasting of minimalist, quiet soundscapes for half of a song — then BANG — the blooming, triply explorations are more exciting and create a more impacting memory in the listener. You could call it “post-drop” music. And on the Twin Peaks Stage where dance fans usually got their fix, the bass was body-rattling, forcing the maximal parts of the songs to hit harder than one might expect. Consequently, the crowd mostly obliged with the subtle, quiet parts, allowing “Mute” and “Dropla” to play quite nicely. -MF


Gary Clark Jr.
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 2:20 p.m.

Gary Clark Jr. simply rips, there is no doubt about it. One should be careful to even consider covering a Jimi Hendrix song, but based on Clark’s rendition of “Third Stone From the Sun”, Jimi is smiling down at a man that is following in his footsteps over 50 years later. Clark floats around the stage with ease, flashing easy smiles then melting faces with his reverberating guitar solos. This was a set where it would be best to be close to the stage (or close to speakers) — the sound was entirely too low in some spots, allowing friendly festival conversations to drown out this 29 year-old legend in the making. “Bright Lights” ended the set per usual, coalescing the large audience into the moment. -MF


Atlas-Genius-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Atlas Genius
Saturday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:10 p.m.

Another example of perfect placement, Atlas Genius continued Saturday with pop-centric bliss. Catching what little sunshine the weekend had to offer on the hillside of the Twin Peaks stage, one could view the expectedly young crowd so genuinely stoked to catch this band, and couldn’t help but make you smile. No matter how tired you were of hearing that top forty hit, you were undoubtedly up and dancing when it finally played. Spontaneously starting the morning with a sing-along really was a great way to kick off Saturday on the right foot. –MK


On-The-Rail-TimDAY 3 ~ August 11, 2013

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 7:45 p.m.

Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the festival Sunday evening, a slot many thought would be reserved for Sir Paul McCartney when the initial lineup dropped. Whether it was a scheduling conflict or Ranger Dave optimizing his own schedule, the Chili Peppers proved that they were up to the task. In a roughly two hour set, the Chili Peppers were playing with something to prove as they ripped through single after single with fervent intensity. Their energy did not cease for the duration of the show as the band took the audience on a musical journey of one of the most celebrated funk-rock bands in history. Hits like “Under the Bridge”, “Californication”, “Give it Away” & “Around the World” sent off the rock fans happy. After a sand-swept Coachella performance, expectations were not very high, so it’s not shocking that they exceeded them at Outside Lands. They might not be the most relevant bands in today’s musical landscape, but they proved they can still bring the freaky styley when the time is right. -KR


Kaskade ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 8:25 p.m.

For those in dire need of one more dance party before the weekend came to a close, alas Ryan Raddon was primed to set the field ablaze with his hard-hitting take on deep-house music. The moist air felt nice as revelers fist-pumped and bounced to a particularly bass-heavy set from the longtime San Francisco resident and torch-bearer for the new American electronic sound which gained immense popularity some years back. A tasteful remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” was a highlight, and as 9:35PM ticked closer, many hoped the speakers wouldn’t compromise with dead silence. -KQ


Dillon Francis
Sunday • Panhandle Stage • 7:35 p.m.

Oddly placed at the Panhandle Stage, reminiscent of Wolfgang Gartner last year, there was no way Dilllon Francis wasn’t going to be a rager. Crowds rolled deep to watch this bass heavy set, and in no way did this DJ disappoint. Small stage be damned, Francis killed it, rattling off a consistent set of club bangers and EDM hits. The crowd ate up every second of the eardrum pounding womps, causing many members of the passing crowds to second guess the direction they were headed. The haystacks were packed deep with frottage and pool noodles dancing wildly. –MK


Vampire-Weekend-RyanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Vampire Weekend ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 5:50 p.m.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend came from one of the biggest bands of the year, Vampire Weekend. The Polo Field was packed as everyone and their mother (Hall and Oates performed before them) wanted a piece of the boys from the North East. Vampire Weekend came out firing contemporary classics “Cousins”, “White Sky” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Next came the first offerings from their latest record Modern Vampires of the City, “Diane Young” and “Step”. Vampire Weekend dedicated “Step” to Bay Area hip hop legends Souls of Mischief, who were the song’s source of inspiration. Take one listen to Souls of Mischief’s “Step To My Girl” and you will hear the resemblance. During “Oxford Comma”, the camera zoomed in on a sign a fan created that read “I give a f*ck about an Oxford Comma.” Vampire Weekend wound down their set with “Giving Up the Gun” and my personal favorite from the new album “Hannah Hunt”. Two more tracks from their self-titled album concluded the impressive set with “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” and “Walcott.”

Throughout the performance, the crowd was equally enamored with the older classics as they were with the new material. Vampire Weekend is currently at the top of their game, and their dominance was on full display as they delivered one of the strongest performances of the festival. They may not appear to be enjoying themselves while performing, but open your ears and listen for a moment — you will hear a band in their prime. -KR


A-TrakPhoto by Ryan Shulman

A-Trak
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 5:10 p.m.

Producer, DJ/live mixer extraordinaire A-Trak brought the heat quickly Sunday, feverishly building to sneaky drops that revealed deliciously crunchy beats. The most pleasurable part about taking in Alain Macklovitch live is during transition time, when his scratching abilities deserve close up attention on the video screen. He does it all in a robotic trance; what A-Trak does is on par with what a jazz guitarist does in a blues club or what Ivan Neville did earlier in the day on the main stage — it’s freestyle jamming with pin-point control. After an almost EDM-free Saturday, A-Trak got things going the final day with Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” and a raging remix of Kanye West’s “New Slaves”. Fool’s Gold! -MF


Hall-&-Oats-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Hall and Oates
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 4:20 p.m.

Everyone’s favorite 70’s and 80’s nostalgia act took to Land’s End Stage Sunday afternoon sandwiched between two of today’s most influential acts, Foals and Vampire Weekend. Hall and Oates have been the benefactors of a complete career resurgence despite the fact their only recent album was a Christmas record in 2006. A slow start to their set sent many people to Dawes and A-Trak, but those who stuck around were delighted with classic hits such as “Maneater”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” and “Rich Girl”. The corny nostalgia was high, but so were the good times. You can’t ask more from a Sunday afternoon set. -KR


Head-and-The-Heart-Secret---MikePhoto by Mike Frash

The Head and The Heart (Secret Show)
Sunday • Choco Lands’ Hell Brew Review • 3:50 p.m.

The tweet came across at 3:30, which inspired thoughts of Jack White performing a special Choco Lands set last year on Sunday. Reeling off of the amazing Foals set, a quick solo sprint to the Hell Brew Review across from Lamb Lands paid off magnificently. The three mainstays from Head and The Heart emerged on the tiny vaudeville stage for a hushed acoustic set, which included their new song “Shake”. Then crowd-pleaser “Lost In My Mind” took center stage when Josiah Johnson asked the close proximity crowd mid song, “Does anyone want to come help sing with us up here?” The stage was quickly at maximum capacity, a couple drunk goofballs stood in front of the performers, and someone managed to pull the plug, ceasing all speaker sound. This only made the sing-along more essential, especially for a song that already relies heavily on community spirit. -MF


Foals-by-Ryan-ShulmanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Foals ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 2:50 p.m.

Front man Yannis Philippakis walks around with purpose, like he has a chip on his shoulder – something to prove. Maybe it’s hard to go from headliner back home in the UK, then play broad daylight performances in the US like they did at Outside Lands. Philippakis and lead guitarist Jimmy Smith are doing everything they can do to catch the US up to them as Foals gain more traction and success each week. The Polo Field was pretty packed as “Prelude” began, and once Smith appeared ripping on lead guitar, pure fire ensued. Foals purvey cutting edge rock – their so called “Math Rock” deals heavily in progressive time chord changes, while emphasizing the offbeat ‘ones’ and ‘threes’ in melodies that mimic rhythm. Absolute rager “Milk & Black Spiders” finished out the all-too short hour in manic fashion – come back to the Bay soon Foals for a proper show please. -MF


Kurt Vile and the Violators ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Sutro Stage • 2:30 p.m.

Sunday’s weather left a little to be desired, but that didn’t deter the throngs from arriving a bit early for the likes of Kurt Vile. This seasonal festival veteran’s breezy sound lent perfectly to the tepid atmosphere thick with “San Francisco cigarette” plumes. Nodding heads were rewarded with classics like “Freak Train” and newer offerings, “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze” and “Girl Named Alex”. Some monitor issues didn’t slow the already laid back pace of the band, even when Foals’ sound started to bleed into Lindley Meadow. -KQ


Rudimental
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:05 p.m.

An unexpected highlight on this year’s bill, this mash up of blues, rock, funk and soul with DNB percussion was legit. A lively and large band fronted by two modelesque vocalists (knock off Fergie included), the group is accompanied by an assortment of horns, drums, piano, guitar and a live DJ. Rudimental pumped up the crowd for a positively charged last day, and they proved to be an act worth seeing at any venue – whether you’re looking to start a party or keep the fire burning at the end of a festival weekend. –MK


Fishbone-RyanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Fishbone
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 1:30 p.m.

Fishbone rocked out Sunday afternoon with their ska/punk-rock hybrid sound. Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibes, pumped crowd the crowd up with his high energy vocals and stage banter. Not only did Moore and audience members crowd surf during their fifty-minute set, but Moore introduced “Flying Jay”, clad in a red cape, the ultimate crowd-surfing trombone player. Moore also encouraged a mosh pit during their Sublime cover, “Date Rape”. Highlights included “Party at Ground Zero” and “Everyday Sunshine”, when Moore tried to solicit the sun to come out…the fog won. –DS


Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 12:10 p.m.

The Sunday morning main stage “Gospel Slot” was appropriately given to Ivan Neville’s (and NOLA’s) Dumpstaphunk — where two bassists and double-bass drum work got booties shaken’ early. Original Neville Brother Ivan asked the crowd if we had been to New Orleans, and when we’d be going back — you’ve gotta love how musicians are the best sellers of tourism for the Crescent City. “Meanwhile…”, a song about still having a good time in post-Katrina NOLA, showcased the spirit of New Orleans perfectly. “You might as well have yourself a good time…there might not be a next time” — a refrain that glows longer then the verses that detail political corruption and violence. It may all read as a didactic song for the TV show Treme, but no one deals with hardship better than New Orleans, led by the “can’t stop, won’t stop” musicians that call the city home. -MF


Polo-Field-3-Tim

Beer Lands!

In only it’s second year onsite, Beer Lands has become a popular meeting spot, and, obviously, the place for the best local suds this region has to offer. An upgraded location in the Polo Fields, as opposed to tucked in the back of Lindley Meadow, made this spot even more popular and viable for social get-togethers. Doing away with the $1 ‘tickets’ as opposed to cash and card was a relief to those who would rather opt to not drink Heineken all day and night. Sierra Nevada offered a fragrant, herbal Saison exclusive to Outside Lands. Anchor Brewing brought their popular new California Lager and debuted an Autumn Maple Red Ale that was a tasty treat to those paying attention to the constantly rotating cast of taps. Drakes 1500 Pale Ale was this writers beverage of choice, but honestly, there were no losers in the bunch, and many look forward to this addition every year. Bottoms up. -KQ

Twin-Peaks-Scene-Tim

We didn’t catch them all this year! We missed Chromatics, The Tallest Man on Earth and Daughter — amongst others. What were your favorite shows at Outside Lands 2013?

Torch us in the “Comments” section below.

2013 Outside Lands schedule announced!

Outside LandsPhotos by Mark Fong // Written by Mike Frash //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 9th-11th, 2013 //

The schedule has been released for the completely sold-out 2013 Outside Lands Music Festival, meaning the schedule conflict stress has already begun. Some folks have the misplaced assumption that they can see half, or even most of the artists on the OSL bill. They are wrong. With four stages and long walks from Lands End/Sutro to Twin Peaks/Panhandle (and back), you won’t see more than 1/4 of the performers on any given day.

So, now it’s time to start dealing with this first-world festival problem by making some tough choices. But remember, you don’t have to commit! Sometimes it’s best to choose shows while at the fest based on your mood.

Here are the biggest conflicts we see on the schedule — along with the sets we are most likely to attend in bold.

OutsideLands
FRIDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 9th

Paul McCartney vs. Yeasayer, Chromatics & Pretty Lights
*Macca has a two-hour, 45-minute set!

The National vs. Rhye vs. Zedd vs. Stanton Warriors
• Band of Horses vs. Jessie Ware vs. Twenty One Pilots vs.
• Surfer Blood vs. Wild Belle vs. Jeffrey Ross
Smith Westerns vs. Midi Matilda

OutsideLands
SATURDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 10th

Nine Inch Nails vs. Phoenix

Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs. The Head & the Heart vs. Grizzly Bear
Jurassic 5 vs. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down vs. Baauer
• Young the Giant vs. Youth Lagoon
Gary Glark Jr. vs. Milo Greene vs. Atlas Genius

OutsideLands1
SUNDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 11th

• Red Hot Chilli Peppers vs. Dillon Francis, Kaskade

Vampire Weekend vs. Willie Nelson & Family vs. Matt & Kim vs. MS MR
• Dawes vs. A-Trak
Hall & Oates vs. Trombone Shorty vs. King Tuff
*4:20 Hall & Oats set. Just sayin’
Foals vs. Kurt Vile & The Violators vs. Deap Vally
*Winner of worst conflict: Foals vs. Kurt Vile


Check out our previous Outside Lands articles:
Outside Lands 2013 Beer/Artist Pairings
Outside Lands 2013: Ten sets not to miss
Outside Lands Music Festival Lineup 2013: Rumors vs. Reality

OutsideLands2

Outside Lands 2013 beer/artist pairings

Outside-LandsWritten by Kevin Quandt & Kevin Raos //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 9th-11th, 2013 //

For the first time last year, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in SF’s Golden Gate Park introduced “Beer Lands”, a heavenly oasis for brew aficionados and party animals alike. Beer Lands is back for this year’s fest, taking place from August 9th-11th, and the stable of California brewers has somehow grown stronger.

So it got us thinking, with such delicious local brew options (something that virtually no other festival curates … ahem, Coachella), what would be the ideal adult beverage to enjoy during some of our favorite acts?

Willie-Nelson
Indica IPA by Lost Coast Brewery for Willie Nelson // “How’s the glaucoma?”

Nothing will go straight to your head like some Willy Nelson and Indica IPA by Humbolt county’s Lost Coast Brewery. Based in Eureka, Lost Coast brewery has been a staple in the Northern California beer scene since 1986, producing such favorites as Great White, Downtown Brown and Indica IPA. One dose of the Red Headed Stranger washed down with some Indica IPA and you’ll be hanging out with Ranger Dave in the forest after the set. Don’t forget to bring a towel, as you’ll be foaming from the mouth from these delicious beers. -KR

Nine-Inch-Nails
Back in Black IPA from 21st Amendment for NIN // “Dark, rare and slightly dangerous”

21st Amendment Brewery has been churning out some seriously amazing beers over their short history in the shadow of AT&T Park, and Back in Black IPA was lucky enough to make the jump from spout to can, an honor only held by a few of their brews. Don’t be too scared off by the darkness of this beer, as it can go down smooth, sometimes too smooth. So, if you are feeling no pain and need to let off some steam, then Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails headline set is sure to suit the dark beer drinker in all of us. Though the NIN lineup is still in sway after some personnel changes, this set is sure to be the most hardcore of the weekend, so expect moshing, headbanging and the possibility of some scattered mayhem to beloved songs such as “Head like a Hole” and “March of the Pigs”. -KQ

Pretty-Lights
Drake’s Denogginizer Imperial IPA for Pretty Lights // “Mind-melting goodness”

Mix a little Denogginizer Imperial India Pale Ale with little Pretty Lights and your noggin will be rockin’ in no time. Hold onto your head – the bass notes will hit as hard as this mind-melting brew that boasts an ABV of 9.75%. An East Bay beer titan, Drake’s Brewery has been making quite a name for themselves by putting out some of the best beers in the bay. Classics such as 1500 Pale Ale and their Kölsch-Style Blonde Ale anchor a seasonal beer selection that is constantly rotating. Like Pretty Lights’ beats, you might not know what your getting into, but you know it’ll be good. -KR

Jessie-Ware
Honey Saison from Almanac Beer for Jessie Ware // “Sweet but complex”

Almanac Beer Company is another reasonably new brewery in San Francisco whose emphasis is on small batch farm-to-table beers utilizing local producers for the bulk of their ingredients. After only 3 years in the beverage industry, Almanac has crafted some seriously impressive, and environmentally honorable, beverages including a Bier de Chocolat, an Extra Pale Ale with local Mandarin oranges and a celebrated Honey Saison. The latter will likely be on tap this August as this sweet, complex adult beverage is sure to go down smooth while enjoying the neo-R&B powerhouse that is Jessie Ware. Her contemporary sound touches on many genres with one constant; her powerful vocals that cut through so cleanly. She’s already started a successful festival season and is sure to garner more fans at Outside Lands. -KQ

Head-and-the-Heart
Urban People’s Common Lager by Linden Street Brewery for The Head and the Heart // “Familiar and friendly”

Linden Street Brewery is going back to the roots of brewing, paying homage to the once bustling Oakland brewing scene of the pre-prohibition days. Differentiating themselves from the “West Coast” style ales, Linden Street is replicating “Old California Style” lagers brewed the way European immigrants did it during the Gold Rush. Their flagship beer, the Urban People’s Common Lager, has it’s own unique flavor while still honoring the tradition of all those that have come before. The Head and the Heart, like the Common Lager, have a comfort to them that traces it’s lineage to the folk rock roots of Americana. They might not be that big of a name yet, but they are friendly, easy going and will never do you wrong. This is a great pairing, especially in the afternoon sun – if the fog decides to subside. -KR

Soft-White-Sixties
California Lager by Anchor Brewing for The Soft White Sixties // “SF originals you can win with”

Anchor Brewing is the quintessential SF brewery and is well regarded among locals and out-of-towners, alike. Almost 120 years of brewing experience has led to a string of successful beers over the past century, most recently released is the California Lager, which many attendees are hopeful to imbibe at Beer Lands in the coming months. What better nod to the local brewery and their tasty new creation than enjoying one, or two, during local breakout band The Soft White Sixties. The distinct golden hue and creamy head should pair perfectly with a breezy summer set of the Sixties’ patented soul-drenched Cali-rock. A recent sold out record release show not far from Golden Gate Park is a sure sign this set will be highly attended. -KQ

Paul-McCartney
Big Daddy by Speakeasy Ales & Lagers for Paul McCartney // “Who’s your daddy?”

Sir Paul McCartney, arguably one of the biggest acts in live music right now, and one of the biggest song writers of all time, is headlining the biggest music festival in the Bay Area this year. The ultimate ‘big daddy’, Paul McCartney pairs too perfectly with the robust citrusy hops of Big Daddy IPA from Speakeasy Brewery in San Francisco. Familiar, kind and good for almost any occasion, you can’t go wrong with either Big Daddy IPA or Mr. McCartney. Don’t know what to listen to? Put on the Beatles. Don’t know what to drink? Make it a Big Daddy. -KR

Check out 10 sets you won’t want to miss this year at Outside Lands.


Coachella Review: Top Sets Weekend 1

Coachella

Coachella Weekend 1 came and went like a flash as it usually does. The build up is the slow part: You make your predictions, do your homework after the lineup drops, fret over the soul-crushing set times – then throw your plans in the trash and have some fucking fun.

Twas a unique weekend as each day was different from the other, and not just by which acts were on what stages at any given time. Friday, the masses showed up early and entry was a hassle due to it, and a few gate-crashing episodes due to slow security lines raised anxiety even before stepping foot in the concert venue itself. However, the majority did not stick around for the midnight action shared between highly buzzed acts. Saturday brought a more unified crowd to sing along to the Femmes classics and nervously await a certain special guest to make an appearance with Phoenix. As a whole, this was the best day for the overall experience we have come to know and love out in Indio. Sunday was a bit mild on banner moments, and the winds seemed to dominate as a theme, both for those withstanding and those retreating the gale. Goose pimples and bandana face-masks were plentiful as the event winded down, just to do it all over again next week. Even with a musically less eventful Coachella, compared to year’s past, it was the musical adventure so many long for year round.

Here are the most memorable sets we witnessed, for better or worse.

Day-1--PPIT

The Shouting MatchesGobi Tent, 2:05
Coachella Weekend 1 featured a premier performance from Justin Vernon’s über-blues project. The Bon Iver frontman played it cool most of the set behind dark glasses, laying out thick, bluesy guitar riffs. Jack-of-all-trades Phil Cook took over stage banter duties for most of the set, allowing Vernon to try his hat at slow-grinding bluesman. The Shouting Matches explored a couple lengthy jams that worked well. ~MF

Dillon Francis2:30
Crowds swelled rather early compared to year’s past, and many eager youths were chomping at the bit with the lengthy entry lines trying to catch the buzzy Dillon Francis. An upgraded, arena-sized Sahara tent was packed early on with throngs of fresh attendees bouncing to “Bootleg Fireworks” and other stylistic electronic mash-ups for the primarily under-21 masses. ~KQ

Jake BuggMojave Tent, 3:05 TOP SET
The teenage prodigy Jake Bugg impressed thoroughly at his early tent set, but it wasn’t only due to his excellent acoustic versions of “Two Fingers” and “Simple As This.” Bugg plugged in and let loose with his electric guitar for about half the set, and these songs proved to be the most successul and surprising. The young British singer-songwriter has already honed his live skills and is worth seeing live before his next trip through the states, when he’ll be packing theater-sized venues. ~MF

Divine FitsOutdoor Theatre, 4:35
Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) brought their newish outfit to the Outdoor Theatre for an afternoon of power-pop rock. Coupling the unmistakable vocals of Daniel with the heavy chorded guitar romp that is Boeckner added up to an impressive performance. “My Love is Real” was a highlight as drummer Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks added thick rhythm for the sun drenched crowd to sway and stomp to. ~KQ

JapandroidsGobi Tent, 5:00
Vancouver-based duo Japandroids had a tough time getting started due to sound issues, something that permeated the Gobi Tent Friday (the sound at TNGHT & Earl Sweatshirt was muted, but FOALS sounded great). Finally the set appeared ready to begin, until Brian King ran off stage, most likely to take a piss. David Prowse followed him offstage, then they returned to the stage to start “Fire’s Highway,” and we all discovered the sound was as shitty as it was when they were sound-checking. I’ve heard Japandroids play with immaculate sound quality, so it was time to move on… ~MF
Japandroids

∆(Alt-J)Mohave Tent, 5:20
This british quintet was a highlight of the day as they charmed a large crowd with their quintessentially unique take an indie rock, playing heavily off debut album An Awesome Wave. Cartoonish may be the best way to describe the singing style of Joe Newman, but once you’ve acquired the taste, it’s no joke and it shined brightly on the Mojave Stage. “Breezblocks” received a wonderful reception as revelers shook and weaved to the hypnotic rhythm while reciting the grand chorus. ~KQ

Local NativesOutdoor Theatre, 7pm
A calm mellow fell over the crowd for the majority of the Local Natives sunset time slot at the Outdoor Theatre. Some enjoyed the slightly closer and better beer garden, while others neatly filled a sizable chunk of real estate in front of the stage. “Sun Hands” was the perfect shock to attendees before sending them back out into the great wild that is the Empire Polo Fields. ~KQ

Dog BloodSahara Tent, 7:40
Combine Skrillex and Boys Noize and you have the two-headed EDM monster fans are getting to know as Dog Blood. This recent collaboration made waves at Ultra this year, and they blew minds in the thickly packed Sahara for a hard driving amalgamation of many of the current electronic styles. The sound resonating from the beefed up DJ booth wasn’t fully Skrillex, nor Boys Noize, which was refreshing to hear from these two superstars. ~KQ

Yeah Yeah YeahsCoachella Stage, 8:40
Karen O commands crowds with the best of them, and every big performance from Yeah Yeah Yeahs confirms her place as one of the most enigmatic bandleaders of our time. She oozed intensity and sensuality while bopping all over the largest stage during hailed tracks like “Zero” and set closer “Maps.” The new tracks sounded as artsy and danceable as ever and Mosquito is sure to catch some serious attention as they prepare for a lengthy summer season. ~KQ

FOALSGobi Tent, 10:50-11:40 TOP SET
FOALS destroyed their set against tough competition, making everyone present forget they were missing Blur & Jurassic 5. “Inhaler” and “Milk & Black Spiders” from FOALS’ 2013 LP Holy Fire were set highlights, but tracks from all three of their full length records were present in the setlist. The British group is pure fire in concert, producing surprisingly technical live versions of their songs while at the same time extending or intensifying some sounds or instruments in response to the audience reaction in the moment. ~MF
FOALS

How to Destroy AngelsMojave Tent, 12:00 TOP SET
Trent Reznor’s new project took the stage for the second time ever, and the multi-dimensional presentation wowed the surprisingly sparse crowd in the Mojave Tent. “The Wake Up” began the set with the group veiled behind a curtain of white strings, creating an eerie outline of Atticus Ross, Rob Sheridan and the mystifying Marqueen Manndig. Presentation appeared to be key in the short time this act will be on the road before the return of NIN, even though the wall of sound aspect was a treat for the diehard fans of Reznor and everything he touches. ~KQ
How-to-Destroy-Angels

Earl SweatshirtGobi Tent, 12:05
Sure, Friday at midnight was undoubtedly one of the most stacked schedule times, but the lack of throngs at Odd Future wunderkid Earl Sweatshirt’s banner set showed that one can’t be in more than one place at a time, which is a massive dilemma at Coachella. New single “Whoa” was delivered confidently, even if the sound was less than stellar. Tyler, the Creator aided his LA bud on old rarity “Orange Juice” and crowd favorite “AssMilk” while climbing scaffolding and generally causing a ruckus. ~KQ


Day-2

Danny BrownOutdoor Theater, 3pm
Another moderatly hot day welcomed the wrist-banded festivilians to a more unified day and night compared to the calm finish of day 1. Detroit-born, gap-toothed hip-hop artist Danny Brown brought a feverish set of his unique brand of profane-ridden tunes to the Outdoor Theatre. His nasally delivery could be compared to Andre 3000, while his melodic flow is so neatly packed and wickedly clever it makes folks chuckle in awe. ~KQ

Zane LoweYuma Tent, 3:00
The BBC 1 Radio DJ hailing from New Zealand played a spirited set of electro-house in the new official sixth stage. The Yuma Tent was an air conditioned oasis for dance purists needing a respite from the elements while also not wanting to rest their dancing feet. A hard wood floor was a proper addition to this space. Lowe kept things straight ahead, pounding the sizable system with original beats and a mixed set of dance styles before the tent packed up for The 2 Bears. ~KQ

The inaugural Yuma Tent was so intimate with such quality DJs that most festival-goers did not have the opportunity to see some highly anticipated shows. Many people bought tickets for Coachella this year so they could dance to their favorite progressive DJs, but ultimately you had to sacrifice lots of other shows and wait in long lines to experience the Yuma Tent. This should be remedied for 2014, as Jamie xx would have probably filled out the Mojave Tent. Make the Yuma Tent bigger.
Yuma-Tent

Ben HowardOutdoor Theatre, 4:10
Ben Howard, another Brit, brought his soft semi-folk-rock material to a scorching Outdoor Stage, and the tunes he played were pretty standard. That is until “The Fear,” which built to an explosive peak not captured on Every Kingdom. It might have made sense to put 2 Chainz on the Outdoor and Ben Howard in the Mojave Tent based on the crowds. ~MF
Ben-Howard

Violent FemmesCoachella Stage, 6:05
Many weren’t aware that this was to be the first show from the folk-punk legends in over six years. Furthermore, many of the younger patrons were likely completely unfamiliar with this act besides the occasional play on KROQ and other national alternative rock radio stations. What a surprise when they launched into their self-titled premier album, playing it in full. Classics like “Blister in the Sun,” “Add It Up,” and “Gone Daddy Gone” were passionately crooned by the majority of the crowd. ~KQ

Major LazerMojave Stage, 6:25
Why Major Lazer didn’t play the Sahara is a mystery to me, but the EDM masses made the rare pilgrimage to Mojave to lap up Diplo’s worldly party. A frenetic set kept everyone jumping to Major Lazer hits like “Pon de Floor” and the ubiquitous Baauer banger “Harlem Shake” alike. Jillionaire is one helluva hype man keeping the crowd fully engaged at every track, instructing the crowd to remove their shirts, hold them in the air, eventually demanding they be tossed into the desert air in dance ecstasy. Many bros obliged. ~KQ
Major-Lazer

Hot ChipCoachella Stage, 7:35
What a perfect sunset Saturday dance party. It was a set full of hits like “One Life Stand,” “Over and Over,” & “Ready For The Floor,” along with the amazing “Flutes.” This show conflicted with Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, & Julio Bashmore, so there was plenty of room to shake it. Guitarist Pat Mahoney, also from LCD Soundsystem, added a busy 70’s guitar riff to many songs, including most of the new tracks from In Our Heads. ~MF

The Postal ServiceCoachella Stage, 8:50 TOP SET
The Postal Service show was surely one of the best pop sets of the weekend thanks to Jennie Lewis. Ben Gibbard, Jimmy Tamborello & Jen Wood were flawless as well, but Lewis’s sultry charisma, timing and all-around perfection made this a top set for me. From the building beat in “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” to the outro of “Brand New Colony,” where “everything will change” was repeated until the session ended, the crowd was zoned in. As the last line was harmonized, I looked up to see all the Coachella spotlights meeting at a point in the sky directly above us and instantly was struck by goosebumps. ~MF

DescendentsOutdoor Stage, 9:05
Milo Aukerman and band were treated to an evening slot on the 2nd largest stage, up against the breezy Postal Service reunion. Manhattan Beach local punk legends treated their fans to classics like opener “Everything Sucks,” “Suburban Home,” and “I’m the One.” Though Aukerman’s voice is not the youthful squeal it once was, they still deliver in a pleasing way, especially to a home town-ish crowd that grew up on their classic releases. ~KQ

Moby (DJ set)Sahara Tent, 9:55
It was another tough conflict-ridden time slot, as The xx, Two Door Cinema Club, Janelle Monáe & Franz Ferdinand all rubbed up against one-another. So how the hell did I end up at Moby? It’s a good question, and one I haven’t quite figured out yet. Sometimes, after all the planning, it’s best to go by your mood and follow your friends. That’s what happened here, and I’m glad I did. I was prime for for a euphoric dance party, and this DJ set from Moby sampled from a large variety of music and pop culture to create a fun, upbeat show. ~MF
Moby

PhoenixCoachella Stage, 11:35
When Daft Punk is confirmed in the house, and they play a preview video the night before, and you consider Daft Punk showed up with Phoenix at Madison Square Garden in 2010, it’s kind of a no brainer to see the Phoenix set just in case. Well I became a sucker to the Daft Punk hype machine, but in this case I still won because I saw Phoenix perform live. R Kelly appeared as the special guest, spittin’ “Ignition” over a remixed “1901” and “Chloroform.” Thomas Mars has been finishing his recent shows by going to the back of the venue, thanking the audience, then crowd surfing back to the stage. Well, the crowd surfing didn’t quite work so well for the first festival try. Mars got hung up by grabbers multiple times, almost hung himself with his pink microphone cable, and he got knocked around on the dismount. The rest of the band had already extended the “Entertainment” reprise multiple times, and Mars was too winded to deliver the final line of the night. All he could get out was “Thank you Coachella!” I wonder if he’ll attempt this again Weekend 2. ~MF

Sigur RósOutdoor Stage, 11:50 TOP SET
While a sizable chunk of the crowd awaited what potential surprise guest may come out with Phoenix on the Main Stage, a devote crowd enjoyed the sonic brain massage that is Iceland’s own Sigur Rós. Having seen this band since their first US performances, they are best enjoyed outside, whether it be in the fog swept fields of Golden Gate Park or the warm Indio evenings. The set featured a horn section, string section and a full piano, not to mention the Hopelandish, angelic singing and bowed guitar brilliance of frontman, Jónsi. Few live musical experiences can match up to the usual set closer, “Untitled #8,” and this rendition was no different. Truly one of the most transcendental builds in live music, it left most viewers floating out of the venue for the wrap to the second day. ~KQ


Day-3

DIIVMojave Tent, 2:30
Zachary Cole Smith has had a busy year after departing from Beach Fossils, but his diligence has paid off in dividends as DIIV has quickly garnered critical success as they win over new fans across the country. “Sometime” and “Doused” displayed their art-gaze rock style quite nicely among other tracks off the sublime album Oshin. ~KQ
DIIV

Thee Oh SeesGobi Tent, 3:15 TOP SET
John Dwyer brought his disturbingly rocking flavor of psychedelic garage to the Gobi Tent for an unforgettable afternoon set. There was no let up after the first note (“The Dream”) as the pit grew and more joined in the pogo fever that swept the crowd during tracks like “Contraption/Soul Desert,” “Lupine Dominus,” and “Meat Step Lively.” Dwyer pulled Ty Segall from the VIP section to play tambourine the majority of the set, a nod to the tightness of the San Francisco garage-rock family. Look for a whirlwind summer as they release the scorching new album The Floating Coffin. ~KQ

Jessie WareMojave Tent, 3:45
Jessie Ware is a star in the making. Her pop music has a dance edge to it, but it’s her natural charisma and mannerisms that communicate so effectively to the audience, making her super likable. She has a killer smile and knows she’s hot shit. “If You’re Never Gonna Move,” “Wildest Moments” and the rest of her tracks were well received, including an impromptu new song that she performed with her slightly embarrassed drummer Dornik Leigh to end the set. ~MF
Jessie-Ware

Kurt Vile and the ViolatorsOutdoor Stage, 3:55
As the winds started to relieve the weathered festival goers, Vile brought a cool breeze of his own to the Outdoor Theatre while Gaslight Anthem wailed on the big top. Vile couldn’t help but make a quip at the Springsteen-esque vocals pumping a good hundred yards from where he was churning out laid-back tunes. Opening with the title track off his recent Wakin on a Pretty Daze displayed his fondness for his new material, especially track “A Girl Named Alex,” which is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Vile and band may have been better served in one of the tents, but nothing fazed this prolific up-and-coming song writer. ~KQ

Social DistortionCoachella Stage, 6:00
Orange County was fully represented by the legendary punk band Social Distortion and their fondly aging frontman, Mike Ness. What an honor for them to play the Main Stage, opening with “I Was Wrong” and including their stellar version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” They nodded back to the old days with a personal fave “Mommy’s Little Monster.” I applaud Goldenvoice in their decision to spotlight music that is quintessential to this geographic region of Southern California. ~KQ

Tame ImpalaOutdoor Stage, 6:25 TOP SET
As the gusty winds upgraded to blustery, Australian fuzz rockers churned up a storm of their own opening with “Solitude is Bliss.” Kevin Parker was visibly thrilled at the environment he found himself in, and this feeling was contagious to the crowd who were coming to the climax of their long weekend. This set was more exploratory than usual with an extended jam revolving around the heavy-as-lead single, “Elephant.” Palm trees swaying behind the Outdoor Theatre were all the visuals the fans needed, in total contrast to the Sahara rave, to reach even greater heights. “Enders Toi” was aborted as some of their equipment was giving the band trouble, luckily that didn’t distract the band from continuing on. “Half Glass Full of Wine” closed an impressive showing from the growing act that continues to thrill fans of rock and roll. ~KQ
Tame-Impala

Pretty LightsOutdoor Stage, 7:45
The Pretty Lights show took place out in windy, open space, but that didn’t stop one of the best dance sets of the weekend. Derek Vincent Smith curated a varying set, beginning with his patented downtempo trip-hop/dubstep cuts, but then the set transitioned into Pretty Lights remixes, including Pink Floyd’s “Time” and his tripple-threat remix of Radiohead, Nirvana & NIN. Overall, the set was geared toward the masses or for someone’s first Pretty Lights show. Of course, the open air light show was excellent, and it didn’t matter that the screens had been lowered due to the sandstorm. ~MF
Pretty-Lights

The FaintMojave Tent, 8:30
Post-punk dance act the Faint have returned to the live circuit and regained their title as one of the most exciting bands to see, especially in a festival setting. Todd Fink sauntered out with his signature hat and launched into “The Conductor” before tearing through favorite “Glass Danse” off of the acclaimed album, Dance Macabre. With dance music and live rock becoming better bed fellows, one has to respect one of the originators from the last decade. “ParanoiaAttack” would be their last song, and everyone caught their breath before facing the now moderate sandstorm wreaking havoc on the polo fields. ~KQ

Eric PrydzSaharah Tent, 10:40 TOP SET
Choosing Eric Prydz to end the weekend was a rather easy choice, and it was done before we knew it would be smart to hide in the Sahara Arena to avoid the weather. The LA-Based Swedish DJ is worthy of headliner status at this point, as his progressive electro house is eclectic enough, unpredictable most of the time, and beyond fun. Prydz provided a massive exclamation point to a weekend that was packed with excitement. His hyperactive M83 cover of “Midnight City” was placed perfectly, and “Call On Me” signalled the end to the weekend musically. That was until the roadies decided to prank the buzzing crowd, continuously coming back and putting their arms in the air to falsely signal one more song. ~MF
Eric-Prydz


What were your top sets? Leave a comment!

Coachella conflicts: 2013 set times announced

Coachella-2013

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 12th-14th & April 19th-21st, 2013 //

Set times dropped Tuesday evening, and Coachella shared they had been battling agents all day to explain the delay. Sounds like a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary …

Although set times didn’t unleash any surprise acts (what no Lou Reed replacement?), the brand new Yuma Dome is confirmed as the 6th main performance area, not including The Do Lab or Heineken Dome. The Yuma Dome will host Seth Troxler, DJ Harvey, Four Tet, Julio Bashmore, The 2 Bears, Jamie Jones, Jamie xx and so many more. This additional platform on the outskirts of the tents and Do Lab will be the anti-Sahara Tent with a minimalist-dance edge.


Friday features one of the most brutal headline conflicts in years. The Stone Roses are on a mondo reunion tour, while How to Destroy Angels and Earl Sweatshirt are playing their first major shows. Poliça will be performing in the Gobi Tent after The Shouting Matches, Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) new project. Vernon collaborated with the members of Poliça in his side project Gaynes. You connect the dots…

Toughest Conflicts:
• The Stone Roses vs. Earl Sweatshirt vs. How to Destroy Angels
• Blur vs. Grinderman
• Modest Mouse vs. Local Natives (SUNSET)
• Japandroids vs. alt-J
• Poliça vs. Jake Bugg
• The Shouting Matches vs. Youth Lagoon vs. Beardyman vs. C2C

Saturday headliners will depend on your energy and vibe, as Phoenix, Sigur Rós, Booka Shade, New Order and Knife Party will create inner-group conflicts. Upon seeing The xx above The Postal Service and Major Lazer at 6 p.m. while Moby sub-headlines the Sahara Tent, the “been fighting with agents all day” reference starts to make sense.

It’s almost as if Goldenvoice is attempting to set a new tone in the Sahara Tent this year after house-pop like David Guetta and Calvin Harris dominated last year. Are they challenging the Sahara stalwarts to go see Franz Ferdinand, Two Door Cinema Club or The xx … or go check out the Yuma during Moby?

Toughest Conflicts:
• Phoenix vs. Sigur Rós vs. Booka Shade vs. New Order vs. Knife Party
• Hot Chip vs. Yeasayer vs. Grizzly Bear (SUNSET)
• Danny Brown vs. Baauer vs. Savages
• Wild Nothing vs. Birdy Nam Nam vs. Action Bronson

Sunday will be a tale of two scenes. Eric Prydz and Disclosure will be packed while Dead Can Dance & Red Hot Chili Peppers should be relatively spacious. Tame impala secured a Sunset-ish slot, but Roodriguez and James Blake will be playing in the tents at the same time. Pretty Lights seems odd at 7:30, but he’s the only EDM artist to get a featured slot on an outdoor stage this year.

Toughest Conflicts:
• Eric Prydz vs. Disclosure
• Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds vs. OMD vs. The Faint
• Vampire Weekend vs. Pretty Lights vs. Father John Misty vs. La Roux (SUNSET)
• Tame Impala vs. James Blake vs. Rodriguez (SUNSET-ISH)
• Kurt Vile and the Violators vs. Grimes
• Thee Oh Sees vs. Jessie Ware vs. Jamie xx

Coachella 2013: What you should know before you go

Coachella 2013

So now that we have had time to let the 2013 Coachella line-up settle in, it’s pretty good, right? People were freakin’ out there for a minute. There has been a universal panning of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing as the closing headliner, even though they were a last hour addition. And rightfully so – there have been some popular sets that have shut down Coachella the past few years (Dre/Snoop, Kanye West, Gorillaz).

Goldenvoice clearly lost an expectation game with the reactions to the headliners this year, most notably due to the rumors swirling around Daft Punk and Rolling Stone. That didn’t stop them from selling out both weekends within a day, including weekend one within 15 minutes, so saying Goldenvoice lost anything is pure silliness.

Coachella 2013

Rock, particularly British Rock, leads the charge this year (Blur, The Stone Roses, the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, James Blake, alt-J, Jessie Ware).

Conversely, Electronic Dance Music bro-house is gone compared to 2012. There is no major DJ act closing out a night on the main stage for the first time in years. There are no EDM acts on the top two lines of any day. It seems like a concerted effort was made by Goldenvoice to enact a change in direction, and it has been welcomed by many Coachella vets.

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Coachella-2013Friday 2013

Friday should be a day to remember, as there are plenty of reunions and first time performances scheduled (see below). Lou Reed fits the “living legend” bill, Nick Cave’s supposedly on-hiatus Grinderman will appear for a one-off, and half of The Smiths songwriting partnership will be present with Johnny Marr performing. Bassnectar or Dog Blood (Skrillex & Boys Noize project) will close the Sahara Tent, and Justin Vernon’s new blues project The Shouting Matches will play one of their first shows. Hopefully Vernon sticks around for the weekends and makes some surprise appearances with the many acts he is associated with.

Friday Reunions

Damon Albarn’s Blur returning to the US for the first time since their reunion is a pretty big deal, though the American masses may not agree. Sure “Song 2” is a bit played out, but there are albums full of some of the best Brit-pop in decades. Songs like “Coffee and TV” and “She’s So High” beckon back to the 90s for many, but not all. Luckily this reunion is including Graham Coxon, a seminal part to the vocal arrangements of Blur. 


The co-headliner for Friday is also an English exported reunion, courtesy of the Manchester sound-makers The Stone Roses, fresh off a 15 year hiatus. Sure, New Order captured American fans a little more than the Roses, but they created a serious body of work for well over a decade starting in the mid-80s. John Squire’s guitar-work is something to marvel in as aspects of the Roses’ sound would be borrowed by some serious US acts like the Pixies. Having released an album last year, the Coachella masses should plan to hear these tracks coupled with hits like, “I Wanna Be Adored.”


Jurassic 5 is a name more fans will recognize over the one-two combo of Blur and the Roses. After a 6 year break, the LA hip-hop collective are back on the circuit with a banner set. The question will be if all the original members show up, as many of the artists have branched off to become successful solo artists; mainly Cut Chemist, Chali 2na and Nu-Mark. While the landscape of hip-hop has shifted a bit since their departure, tracks like “Quality Control” and “Concrete Schoolyard” will whip the crowd into a frenzy as equally as Danny Brown.

UPDATE – Jurassic 5 doesn’t know “How far” reunion can go.

Possible Friday Collaborations
Johnny Marr with Modest Mouse
Justin Vernon with Poliça

Friday Firsts (First shows ever/First in the US)

How To Destroy Angels – Trent, Marqueen, and Atticus will debut their newest project on Friday, and boy is it gonna be something. As many miss Nine Inch Nails, this band is pretty damned close in sound and personnel, and their two released EPs show great strength and should be an awesome early evening set in the warm desert winds. Look for their upcoming LP, and likely national tour. 


TNGHT – The duo that is Hudson Mohawke and Lunice has almost single handedly birthed the trap music sub-genre that is permeating bass music and hip-hop alike. Their debut EP is so fresh and hot, I needed an oven mitt to flip the vinyl. Having only played a show or two in NYC, this will be the marquee US debut of this Canadian meets Scottish production duo. The kids are gonna be losing their shit for this set, as trap is all the rage on the dance floor. Second in command to this movement is Baauer, who is featured this year as well. Will Kanye make an odd appearance on stage as he did in New York?


Earl Sweatshirt – Years in the making, and the anticipation is still sky high for Thebe’s live, full set premier. Expect massive crowds for this Odd Future cast-away, as his talent is undeniable, his story unbelievable and his allure is unquenchable. This set has lots of guest potential, as his OFWGKTA crew will likely be in tow for support both morally and lyrically. The Earl mixtape from a few years ago is such an impressive collection of explicit, yet Rhodes smart tunes that many fans are dying to hear them first hand from the man himself. Will Flying Lotus don his Captain Murphy cape and back Earl on the massive track “Between Friends?” Will Syd tha Kid be on the decks and buttons? 

Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”

Purity Ring’s sound is as future-pop as it gets, and the light-show matches the duo’s vibe and timing. Each light change is controlled by percussionist & beat-maker Corin Roddick’s drum strikes. Hopefully they are given a night tent set so they can show what they’ve got.

Jamie xx (Jamie Smith) is the chief producer, percussionist and DJ for The xx (performing Saturday), and he’s already well known for his progressive sound and excellent remixes.

•The lo-fi dream-pop from Trevor Powers’ Youth Lagoon will be a chill way to get started Friday.

Beardyman uses live sounds to make instant dance grooves, and it’s impressive how good he is at his niche skill.

Lord Huron is an indie-folk rock group on the rise. Their 2012 record Lonesome Dreams was highly underrated.

Palma Violets are a buzzy British psych-rock group that wil likely have a big year. Catch them early when most people haven’t arrived yet.

Coachella-2013Saturday 2013
Saturday is stacked: Phoenix, the xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Rós, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear. If you are as excited as we are about the top two lines for Saturday, be ready to make tough decisions. There will be conflict. This doesn’t even include Yeasayer, Franz Ferdinand or Spiritualized into the conflict factor. Saturday is fucking stacked. It appears Knife Party will close the Sahara, and Simian Mobile Disco, Major Lazer & Richie Hawtin should deliver top notch electronic sets. Saturday also features FOALS, Ben Howard, Danny Brown, Janelle Monáe, Wild Nothing, El-P, & Booka Shade.

Saturday Reunions

The banner reunion on Saturday is squarely held by The Postal Service, the exciting collaboration of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Their first announced show since 2005 came as a surprise to most music junkies as mumblings of The Smiths, as always, took first prize in the reunion hype category. Their upbeat electro-pop sound is pretty perfect for a sunset Saturday show, maybe warming up the majority to the dance-rock stylings of Phoenix later that night. Will Jenny Lewis make an appearance to sing as she did many times in their touring days a decade ago?


Many readers and attendees may not be familiar with The Make-Up, and that’s cool, but this soul-garage-politico-punk act is a force to see. The organ driven sound is highly infectious, and their live show has been compared to a punk rock gospel. Having only recently regrouped to play ATP, persuaded by Les Savvy Fav, this will be their marquee return, similar to Refused last year. Maybe Dischord co-owner Ian McKaye will accompany his labelmates for a track.


Violent Femmes slowly faded off the radar about 5 years ago as Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie were tangled in royalty lawsuits stemming from the sale of “Blister in the Sun” to Wendy’s. It now appears the hatchet has been buried and they are returning to what they have been at for a couple of decades, making kitschy alternative rock. Their folk-driven sound is unmistakably likable, and devastatingly difficult to not sing along to. “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Add it Up” will be heard throughout the polo fields in the afternoon on Saturday. Will we get some surprise members to their infamous Horns of Dilemma? 


Toss The Descendents in the “sort-of reunion” column, but don’t diminish their key addition to the quintessential Southern California festival lineup. Birthed in Manhattan Beach in the late 70s, this seminal punk band that pioneered the skate, even pop-punk sound is still playing shows when singer Milo Aukerman can fit it between his demanding job as a biologist. Surely, the majority of attendees will recognize the Buddy Holly-glasses wearing frontman and his cartoonish caricature. They’ve been back at it a few years now, but mainly at small punk festivals, not the 80,000-size crowd that will be in attendance. Milo Goes to College is a must in your pre-fest rotation.

Possible collaborations:
Danny Brown & El-P
Danny Brown & Purity Ring
Ian McKaye with The Descendents

Saturday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Savages – London’s all-female post-punk band have been building lots of buzz and lots of comparisons as they bring a fresh act to the music landscape this year. It’s hard to not hear Siouxsie and Banshees and the infectious howl of Karen O at first listen, but there’s a lot more going on here. Coachella will be their first trip across the ‘Pond’ and they will be hitting the road hard before, after and in the middle of the festival. 

Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”

Birdy Nam Nam is a four man turntabilist crew from France, and their sound champions a mix of jazz, funk & downtempo. Asses will be shaking.

Action Bronson is fire breathin’ fat fuck who spits mostly about food, and he does it damn well over sick beats. All true.

•Bummed about no Warpaint? Get your girl power on early with Savages (check out the preview above).

•Singer-songwriter Kurt Vile made a delicious record with Smoke Ring For My Halo in 2011, and he’s got a new LP lined up for later this year. Preview his new songs in April.

•If you like Hot Chip, check out The 2 Bears, which is a DJ collaboration between Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and producer Raf Rundell. Think Hot Chip’s tone with more dancing and less instruments.

Coachella-2013Sunday 2013

Sunday has the “dreaded” Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining, but Wu-Tang will get more love. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and RHCP may create the most empty scene on the main stage ever. Cool dads will profit. On the other side of the field Pretty Lights and Eric Prydz will be spilling ragers outside of the Sahara Tent parameter. If there is a god Tame Impala will get a sunset slot. Where will the house crew consisting of Julio Bashmore, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Maya Jane Coles, etc. end up? Sunday has a deep undercard with Grimes, the Faint, Father John Misty, Tanlines, Jessie Ware, Disclosure, Cloud Nothings & Thee Oh Sees.

Sunday Reunions

Wu Tang Clan’s inclusion this year isn’t so much a reunion, but a re-introduction. After talk of a new album around 2011 went quiet, fueled by reserved speculation by some members, it appears this new recording will see the light of day this year, and Coachella will likely mark the beginning of a busy year for RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Master Killah.

Possible Collaborations:
Jessie Ware live with Disclosure
Justin Vernon with James Blake

Sunday “Firsts:” (First shows ever/First in the US)

Excision – Many EDM artists are creating bigger, brighter and blinkier stages on the road and festival circuit, and Canadian brostep artist Excision is the next to toss his hat into the ring. Excision presents the Executioner will be making it’s big stage debut at Coachella after a few US dates. It promises to be loud, flashing and full of pre-pubescent kids losing their collective minds. 

La Roux – Even though the synth-pop princess and her producer aren’t a new act to the US or even Coachella, their cancellation from last year is being rectified with a slot in 2013. Look for some new material from this act in the upcoming year after a hiccup in the previous.

Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”

•Zachary Cole Smith from Beach Fossils started DIIV (originally “Dive” until they were sued) as a solo project, and their dreamy, building indie songs will put a smile on your face.

Little Green Cars offers five-part harmony anthems in the vein of Local Natives and First Aid Kit.

•The electro-pop group White Arrows put on a great show, and their set can get pleasantly psychedelic and heady at times.

Wild Belle is a prime candidate to be a 2013 breakout group, and their set at Treasure Island Music Festival went over well last October. Elliot and Natalie Bergman’s debut LP will arrive in March.

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.

Coachella 2013