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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Fauxchella 2016: Coachella FOMO no mo’ in the Bay

M83 at Fox Theater Oakland


M83 at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Photos by Steve Carlson, Norm de Veyra, Marc Fong, Pedro Paredes, Mike Rosati & Lisette Worster // Written by Molly Kish //

Fauxchella //
Various Bay Area venues – San Francisco & Oakland
April 13th-April 22nd, 2016 //

Paving the way for large-scale festivals all across North America, Coachella has served as an archetype in live music production since its conception 17 years ago. Throughout its storied history, Coachella’s stages have been graced with a roster of unparalleled talent. Year after year, the festival’s lineup has featured iconic performances from both artists on the verge of breaking into the mainstream and industry legends taking victory laps.

Located in the heart of Southern California’s Inland Empire, the three-day music festival now hosts back-to-back weekends at the Empire Polo Club with one of the most competitive artist lineups you’ll find anywhere. While Coachella’s location remains ideal for music fans based in California and many surrounding states, it can be a daunting task to make the trek to Indio for those living in other parts of the country. This reality has subsequently broke ground for offshoot shows up and down the West Coast, including the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest.

James Bay at Fox Theater Oakland


James Bay at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by Steve Carlson

In reference to this, the Bay Area music scene has dubbed the calendar dates leading into and out of Coachella’s consecutive weekends as its own unofficial festival, colloquially referred to as “Fauxchella.” Featuring headlining performances from Coachella artists in and around Northern California, the roughly two-week stretch serves as a strong preview for the upcoming summer concert season with many of the top names in the business getting to test out their live show in preparation for the desert or fine-tune their skills in between each weekend of the festival. For many music fans, Fauxchella remains the most optimal time to catch these high-profile artists performing at their best inside many of the Bay Area’s most beautiful and intimate venues.

Showbams took full advantage of this year’s Fauxchella festivities as we caught a number of performances throughout the Bay Area. Take a peek at our massive collection of photos, and let us know which shows were your favorite in the comments section below.

Fauxchella Shows of the Month // GO4FREE to Hudson Mohawke, Savages or DMA’s

Hudson Mohawke & SavagesWritten by Nik Crossman //

Can’t make it to Coachella this year? No worries! We’ve got you covered with tickets to some of the best Fauxchella shows in the Bay Area.

Win a pair of free tickets to one of our Fauxchella Shows of the Month by entering your name and email below.


DMA’s: April 15th (FRI) @ The Independent // BUY TICKETS

Releasing their debut LP in February, these Aussies continue to rise on the popularity of their single “Delete”. Before heading down to the desert for their Saturday set at Coachella, DMA’s will headline The Independent the day before to showcase their unique, layered harmonies and acoustic-to-electric transitions.

Contest ends Friday, April 15th at 3 p.m.


Savages: April 19th (TUE) @ The Fillmore // BUY TICKETS

Pulling their name from the 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, this London-based punk quartet is the “closest thing to art that post-punk has offered in a while,” writes The Guardian. Their latest and second full-length album Adore Life dropped in January and peaked at No. 26 on the UK charts. In between their two sets at Coachella, Savages will make a pit stop in SF to play The Fillmore.

Contest ends Tuesday, April 19th at 3 p.m.


Hudson Mohawke: April 21st (THUR) @ Mezzanine // BUY TICKETS

Better known by his stage name Hudson Mohawke, Ross Birchard is a Scottish DJ/producer from Glasgow who started his claim to fame by becoming the youngest ever DMC UK finalist. Building on his early popularity through his work as a turntablist, he continues to win over fans with his genre-smashing, wonky approach; in 2013, he signed on to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label. If you can’t make it to Coachella, make sure to catch him in SF for a Thursday night party at Mezzanine.

Contest ends Thursday, April 21st at 3 p.m.


Follow Showbams on Twitter for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows:

Chuck Prophet: April 15th (FRI) @ Great American Music Hall
(((folkYEAH!))) Presents Marc & the Casuals with special guest Sean Hayes & Extra Classic: April 15th (FRI) @ The Chapel
Haelos: April 19th (TUE) @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
Bombino: April 22nd (FRI) @ The New Parish
Keller Williams: April 22nd (FRI) @ Great American Music Hall
Bombino: April 23rd (SAT) @ The Independent
Day Wave: April 25th (MON) @ The Independent
Say Anything: April 27th (WED) @ Slim’s
Garden & Villa: April 27th (WED) @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
Fruition: April 28th (THUR) @ The Chapel
The Sam Chase: April 29th (FRI) @ Great American Music Hall
The Slackers: April 30th (SAT) @ Slim’s
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: April 30th (SAT) @ The Fillmore


Win-2-Tickets

Enter your name (First and Last) along with your email below. If you win a contest, you’ll be notified on the day the contest ends (details above).

Like Showbams on Facebook, follow Showbams on Twitter and follow Showbams on Instagram. Subscribe to our social channels for a better chance to win!

CONTESTS CLOSED.

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Goldenvoice announces 2016 Coachella sideshows

Coachella 2016 sideshows

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

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

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

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

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

Goldenvoice

Was FYF Fest 2015 the ‘best weekend of summer’? Here are 10 highlights from this year’s festival

FYF Fest 2015By Josh Herwitt //

FYF Fest //
LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park – Los Angeles
August 22nd-23rd, 2015 //

The 12th annual FYF Fest returned to the LA Sports Arena and Exposition Park last weekend, and from everything we witnessed over two action-packed days, it felt like a major success. For starters, we didn’t have to wait in a three-hour security line and it didn’t take 20 minutes to walk from one end of the festival grounds to the other (it was more like 10 minutes), which already made this year a huge improvement compared to last year.

It should also go without saying that FYF has come a long way since its early beginnings as a punk fest, and teaming up with Coachella promoter Goldenvoice back in 2011 hasn’t hurt its rep by any means. If anything, it’s only made it more accessible for mainstream music fans (though there are still plenty of “indie” acts to come by). That couldn’t have been any more apparent than this year with Kanye West replacing Frank Ocean as Saturday’s headliner less than two days before the gates officially opened. And yet, somehow FYF didn’t end up selling out. We’re still not sure how that didn’t happen.

But the festival’s well-publicized slogan has long been that it delivers the “best weekend of summer,” and such a proclamation certainly sets the bar pretty high, especially in Southern California, where there is no shortage of ways to keep oneself preoccupied on a late-August afternoon. So, whether FYF was or wasn’t (it was one of our eight California music festivals you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015), here are our top 10 highlights from its 2015 edition.


FYF Fest 2015 - Battles

10. Battles

New York City trio Battles have been creating some of the most interesting rock music in the business for more than a decade, bordering on prog while throwing a heavy dose of math rock into the equation. With their third full length La Di Da Di due out September 18th (and thanks to Ableton, fans can get a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s writing and recording process for the album here), Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards), Dave Konopka (bass, guitar, effects) and John Stanier (drums) debuted some new material on Sunday evening for their Southern California fan base, most notably “The Yabba”, which gradually navigates its way through sonic peaks and valleys over the course of seven minutes. Meanwhile, Stanier, the glue that holds it all together for Battles, is still proving to be an absolute beast on the skins at age 47.


FYF Fest 2015 - FKA twigs

9. FKA twigs

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


FYF Fest 2015 - Simian Mobile Disco

8. The Arena

While there hasn’t been much use for the LA Sports Arena these days with The Forum and Staples Center serving as LA’s two primary large-scale music venues now, FYF made sure to utilize the 56-year-old stadium as best it could in conjunction with Exposition Park — and surprisingly enough, it actually ended up being our favorite stage this year. With space to roam on the floor — except during Flying Lotus’ DJ set from what we were told — and the seated area upstairs providing a nice respite from more standing, The Arena felt very much like a different world when you walked inside its doors. Plus, it had one of the most visually stunning stage backdrops and lighting setups that we’ve ever seen at a music festival.


FYF Fest 2015 - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

After capitalizing on the success of their 2013 sophomore album entitled II, UMO have been trending upward as one of indie rock’s buzziest bands this summer thanks to the release of their third full length Multi-Love in May. Led by singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson, the New Zealand/Portland, Ore., quartet creates an intriguing mixture of lo-fi, psychedelic rock with garage, funk and R&B elements thrown in for good measure. After a long and tiring first day at FYF, UMO served as an uplifting way to start Day 2, and the turnout was pretty impressive with a large crowd arriving at The Lawn on Sunday for their 4:30 p.m. set.


FYF Fest 2015 - BADBADNOTGOOD

6. BADBADNOTGOOD

Instrumental jazz/hip-hop trio BADBADNOTGOOD was high on our list of artists to catch at FYF this year, holding down a relatively early slot in The Arena on Saturday. Evoking almost a free-jazz spirit at times, Matthew Tavares (keyboards), Chester Hansen (bass) and Alexander Sowinski (drums) put their chops on display for close to an hour. Within minutes of arriving at the festival’s only indoor stage, it was fairly easy to see just how talented they are when it comes to playing their instruments, and together their sound had us wanting to hear more the next time these three Torontonians come to town.


FYF Fest 2015 - Chet Faker

5. Chet Faker

When we saw Chet Faker perform in LA following the release of his debut album Built on Glass last year, we were underwhelmed by Nicholas Murphy’s stage presence and a cast of sidekicks who didn’t add much to his overall sound. But a lot has changed since that early June night at The Roxy Theatre, and Murphy’s live show has grown leaps and bounds from 2014 to 2015, in part because he’s surrounded himself with some very skilled players lately. Though Murphy didn’t drop his newest single “Bend” into a nine-song set on Saturday, the FYF mainstay gave us every reason to believe why he belongs on the festival’s main stage.


FYF Fest 2015 - Flume with Andrew Wyatt

4. Special guests

Ever since FYF founder Sean Carlson teamed up with Goldenvoice, his festival has felt more and more like a mini Coachella each year. That trend continued in 2015 on a number of levels, with one of them being the fact that quite a few artists introduced special guests during their sets, something that has become rather synonymous with Coachella over the past few years. Chet Faker brought out BANKS, Travi$ Scott joined Kanye, Flume handed the mic right over to Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt (pictured above) and then later danced with Lorde, and Run the Jewels gave Zack de la Rocha and Travis Barker their moment to shine onstage, too. If that doesn’t sound like a typical weekend at Coachella, then we don’t know what does.


FYF Fest 2015 - Kanye West

3. Kanye West

Yeezus was all the talk less than two days before the festival kicked off, and we must say that we were pleasantly surprised by the last-minute Kanye-West-for-Frank-Ocean trade that FYF was able to pull off in the end. The headlining performance, nonetheless, delivered on all fronts, as Kanye ran through a career full of hits, eventually playing one every minute as his set went down to the very last second. We won’t go as far as to say that it was the best show of the weekend, but an impromptu performance from Rihanna on “Four Five Seconds” and “All of the Lights” after she was pulled onstage by Yeezy himself will have us remembering that moment for quite some time.


FYF Fest 2015 - D'Angelo & The Vanguard

2. D’Angelo & The Vanguard

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


FYF Fest 2015 - Run the Jewels

1. Run the Jewels

It’s hard to find a more entertaining and raucous show in hip-hop right now than Run the Jewels’. Yes, El-P and Killer Mike have been making the festival rounds this year much like Outkast did in 2014, but one actually released an album last year and the other hasn’t since 2006. Never ones to hold back, RTJ’s post-sunset show on the festival’s main stage was both highly provocative and hilarious, getting the adrenaline pumping within the first few minutes and setting the tone for the rest of Day 1.