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

Caribou


Caribou at The Fillmore // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Justin Yee

Ah, where did 2015 go? It felt like we were just ringing in a new year a couple months ago. But with another year in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to once again doll out our annual “Best of” lists. Much like we did in 2014, we heard a lot of music this year, whether it was at a show or at a festival, at work, on the bus or in our cars. From established headliners who continue to amaze us to emerging artists who rekindled our excitement for new music, our collective lives were filled with one musical memory after another over the past 12 months.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2015.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2015

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


Tycho


Tycho at Lightning in a Bottle // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Jack White at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 11th
There’s a reason why Mr. White was named our No. 1 live music act of 2014 around this time last year, and it’s not because he’s simply a guitar god. The Detroit native and former White Stripe is much more than that now, as he has proven with the kind of clever, genre-swirling songwriting that permeates his two solo albums Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. But witnessing White perform live almost feels like a musical right of passage in and of itself, reminding us that while inventive, mainstream rock ‘n’ roll may be harder to come by these days, it’s still far from dead. On this warm, spring night in the California desert, he imparted on us that “music is sacred” — not just with his words in between songs, but also with every ferverous note that he struck on his fret board. From the moment White appeared on the festival’s main stage, his 20-song, headlining set was bold and powerful, even if it would serve as one of his last shows for a while.

2. My Morning Jacket at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – October 11th
3. Modest Mouse at Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, CA – August 21st
4. Tycho at Lightning in a Bottle – Bradley, CA – May 24th
5. The War on Drugs at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 10th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. My Morning JacketThe Waterfall
When My Morning Jacket announced that they would be releasing a new studio LP in May after nearly a four-year layoff, their longest between albums since forming in the late 90’s, I wasn’t sure if they could top what they had devised on 2011’s Circuital. But these Louisville rockers, rather, did just that, putting together a flawless record that opens with the inspiring “Believe (Nobody Knows)” and concludes with the gloomy, yet poignant “Only Memories Remain”. In between it all, frontman Jim James continues to build off his 2013 solo album, showing what a thoughtful songwriter he has become — knowing when to step on the gas pedal and when to ease off of it. With an already impressive catalog highlighted by 2005’s Z, it’s hard to definitively say that The Waterfall has taken over the throne as MMJ’s best album now, but there’s no doubt it belongs in the conversation.

2. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
3. Silversun Pickups – Better Nature
4. Jamie xxIn Colour
5. Tame ImpalaCurrents

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. My Morning Jacket – “Tropics (Erase Traces)”
It’s only fitting that my favorite album of the year also boasts my favorite song of the year. The penultimate track on My Morning Jacket’s The Waterfall is an absolute rocker that gradually builds from the opening, Led Zeppelin-esque guitar lick before peaking midway through for a chilling finish. There might not be a better example in MMJ’s catalog that demonstrates how well Jim James and Carl Broemel play off each other, and if the two guitarists haven’t already, then they’ve certainly cemented themselves as one of rock’s best one-two punches by now.

2. The Weeknd – “The Hills”
3. Modest Mouse – “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box”
4. Battles – “The Yabba”
5. Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”


The Chemical Brothers


The Chemical Brothers at The Armory // Photo by Justin Yee

Molly Kish // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Jamie xx at Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco, CA – July 31st
Whereas those familiar with his early XL Records mixtapes were satiated by his intermingling of Gil Scott-Heron and Idris Muhammad samples between hits, Jamie xx’s newfound, post-In Colour fans experienced equally breathtaking moments with the crowd hitting peak energy levels during the chorus of “Loud Places” amidst the glow of a warped-speed, neon-green strobe light. Another notable moment included the near-religious choral drop of “Gosh” that escalated the packed house to spiritual levels of enthusiasm, all while bathed in the glowing sparkle of Jamie Smith’s staggeringly iridescent, ceiling-to-floor disco ball and stage lights.

2. The Chemical Brothers at The Armory – San Francisco, CA – November 30th
3. Kate Tempest at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – May 20th
4. Kishi Bashi at Palace of Fine Arts Theatre – San Francisco, CA – January 30th
5. Caribou at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – March 1st

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Jamie xxIn Colour
Acclaimed London-based producer and half of electronic powerhouse The xx, Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) broke the mold this past year with his stunning solo debut In Colour. Earning top accolades within the music industry, including a 2015 Mercury Prize nomination and a Grammy nomination for “Best Electronic/Dance Album”, In Colour featured both individually conceptualized strokes of production ingenuity as well as many of the biggest contemporary-crossover hits this year. Smith explored his dubstep, house, garage and trip-hop influences on In Colour to deliver a genre-spanning masterpiece, highlighting his illustrious career as an electronic composer while setting the standard for the current and future state of EDM.

2. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
3. Tame ImpalaCurrents
4. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
5. Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Jamie xx – “Loud Places”
As part of a track list that included some of 2015’s most groundbreaking and genre-defining hits, “Loud Places” holds its own as a standout cut on Jamie xx’s monumental solo debut In Colour. It comes in toward the latter half of the UK producer’s LP and enlists the gorgeously haunting vocals of Romy Madley Croft, one of Jamie Smith’s partners in The xx and a longtime collaborator of his. Amid a packed roster of acclaimed vocalists, emcees and iconic samples, Croft’s contributions, while paired with a full choir, help manifest the lyrical content of the song while evoking a near-religious experience for its listener.

2. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
3. Robyn – “Love Is Free”
4. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
5. FKA twigs – “In Time”


Outside Lands 2015 - Tame Impala


Tame Impala at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival // Photo by James Nagel

Brett Ruffenach // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Four Tet b2b Floating Points at Public Works SF – San Francisco, CA – May 3rd
Sparked by their set at Plastic Peoples in London earlier in the year — a set, coincidentally, that was named “Best of the Year” by THUMP a few days ago — SF’s own DJ Dials was kind enough to bring Kerian Hebden and Sam Shepherd, better known as Four Tet and Floating Points, to Public Works last May. Starting early in the evening, the two well-established English producers put on a scorching, non-stop, six-hour, vinyl-only DJ set. Kicking off the evening with over an hour of early-70’s Brazilian samba and steadily moving from there to all forms of funk, big band, soul, jazz and of course their own eclectic catalog of music, the two DJs seamlessly moved between tracks, bringing up and down the energy at just the right point to keep you guessing what’s going to happen next. After dozens and dozens of shows and DJ sets this year, I always keep thinking back to this one because it wasn’t only a chance to see an artist I like play their music — it was a chance to see two artists I like play the music that they love, and do it on an absolutely killer sound system.

2. Kendrick Lamar at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – November 10th
3. Tame Impala at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – San Francisco, CA – August 8th
4. Jamie xx “In Colour” album release show at Church of St John-at-Hackney – London, England – July 16th
5. Nicolas Jaar at Symbiosis Gathering – Oakdale, CA – September 19th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
Kendrick wins. No contest. At this point, there’s nothing I can say that will be new or not already over-analyzed by the blogosphere over TPAB. All I can say is that TPAB is one of those rap albums that, just like Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010, expanded my understanding of what a rap album can be. From the very start you hear Lamar’s voice in the genius, FlyLo-produced “Wesley’s Theory” — a track that I think is among the greatest album openers ever — to the closing conversation with 2Pac in Mortal Man, TPAB is among the most ambitious and thoroughly conceptualized productions I have had the pleasure of hearing (and seeing) in my life.

2. Tame ImpalaCurrents
3. Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs I-IV
4. Jamie xxIn Colour
5. Beach HouseDepression Cherry

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Pumarosa – “Priestess”
“Priestess” is a seven-minute, punk-meets-disco dance party that starts as an observation and ends as a declaration. Its declaration? To dance. Its lyrics (for instance: “Cut from clay and stone / Electricity flows through your spine and shoulders/In the night when we’re alone”), its visceral rhythm and undeniably entrancing, three-minute instrumental closing out the track (DAT SAX) are what make it an easy choice for my favorite of the year. In a culture engulfed in consumerism, celebrity and over-consumption, “Priestess” reminds us all that dancing is free. Dancing can be a protest. Dancing can be a celebration. Dancing is whatever you make of it. “Priestess” is a track that reaches into your soul and forces you to do one simple thing: dance. That’s something we all need in our lives every once and a while.

2. Kendrick Lamar – “Wesley’s Theory”
3. Jamie xx – “Gosh”
4. Tame Impala – “Eventually”
5. Nicolas Jaar – “Swim”


High Sierra Music Festival 2015 - The String Cheese Incident


The String Cheese Incident at High Sierra Music Festival 2015 // Photo by Benjamin Wallen

Benjamin Wallen // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Greensky Bluegrass at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – November 1st
Many bands get bigger and play bigger shows. Every now and then, you get to see them in a smaller venue with a more “intimate” feel. This was that show. Following a crazy night at the Fox Theater Oakland celebrating Halloween, the band crossed the Bay Bridge to play a birthday show for its dobro player Anders Beck at The Independent. It was a “Greatest Hits” setlist of all the songs I loved the most: past, present and future. The show was definitely intimate and filled with energy, and Greensky ended the night with some acoustic tunes. I think it says a lot about a band that can pack a big venue and then play a smaller venue and still the heat. This is my favorite band these days. They are consistently great and just too much fun.

2. String Cheese Incident at High Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA – July 3rd
3. The Sam Chase at High Sierra Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA – July 3rd
4. Jeff Austin Band at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – April 26th
5. The Devil Makes Three at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – February 3rd

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Della Mae – Della Mae
These girls are damn talented as much as they are cute. I stumbled upon these five girls from Nashville while at The Chapel a few years back, and they were just damn good. Then, I heard that they were nominated for a Grammy and only beaten by the legendary Del McCoury Band. These ladies can pick and tick and get the crowd jumping. For Della Mae, powerful songs and epic throw-down jams are just par for the course. This album was Kickstarter-funded, which I was happy to contribute to, and continues the revival of bluegrass for the younger generation and modernizing the sound with the energy of youth. I find myself playing this album more and more each day from start to end — it’s just that good.

2. The Dustbowl Revival – With a Lamp Shade On
3. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
4. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – Loved Wild Lost
5. Jackie Greene – Back to Birth

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Jackie Greene – “A Face Among the Crowd”
I have been a Jackie Greene fan since I moved to SF almost 10 years ago. This song I heard a number of years ago when Greene was uploading hotel room solo tracks on the road. This song was put up on Father’s Day for Greene’s dad and was a touching song. Creepily sitting in a hotel room, you can feel the emotion. Hearing it on a record in my home is just heaven. After some of those really tough days in life, I come home, put this song on while listening on my best pair of headphones and zone out — let all the crap from the day that doesn’t mean shit just fade away. This song does that for me, and as a music lover, finding this type of song is like finding gold on the street.

2. The Dustbowl Revival – “Standing Next to Me”
3. The California Honeydrops – “When It Was Wrong”
4. Father John Misty – “I Went to the Store One Day”
5. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – “Mr. Saturday Night”


Father John Misty


Father John Misty at Treasure Island Music Festival 2015 // Photo by Marc Fong

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Father John Misty at Treasure Island Music Festival – San Francisco, CA – October 18th
Of all of the performers on Day 2 at the festival, Father John Misty held my attention the most. A stellar performance, hitting all of the right points, which gave me good reason to believe that he may in fact be one of the best frontmen of the last 10 years.

2. Hum at Slim’s – San Francisco, CA – September 18th
3. Fat Wreck Chords 25th Anniversary at Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA – Aug 22nd & 23rd
4. Refused at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – May 28th
5. alt-J at Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA – April 16th

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Tame ImpalaCurrents
From top to bottom, this is an album that I can listen to over and over without feeling burnt out (and believe me, I have). I appreciate the fact that on this album, they steer clear of too much “jam” and keep it straight forward. I can’t help but move my feet when I hear some of the tracks on Currents.

2. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
3. Failure – The Heart Is a Monster
4. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
5. God Is an Astronaut – Helios/Erebus

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”
From the first time I heard this track, I knew it was the best song of the year. Infectious as hell, you cannot stop your body from getting into that groove.

2. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”
3. Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
4. The Velvet Teen – “All Is Illusory”
5. Viet Cong – “Continental Shelf”


Viet Cong


Viet Cong at Rickshaw Stop // Photo by Diana Cordero

Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2015
1. Viet Cong at Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA – March 5th
Viet Cong were easily one of the most brilliant bands in 2015 as they shook up South by Southwest (even when their drummer had a broken arm), generally not caring about the whole band-name fiasco and releasing a stellar debut LP. The brooding studio work from this Canadian outfit turned out to be way more accessible on the live stage as bassist/singer Matt Flegel bounced between playful banter and pile-driving post-punk.

2. Caribou at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – March 1st
3. Todd Terje (Live) at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 10th
4. Kendrick Lamar at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – November 10th
5. BADBADNOTGOOD at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – August 22

Top 5 Albums of 2015
1. Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly
No surprises here, as truly this was objectively the best album of the year. With expectations high from his growing fan base, Lamar delivered an LP that had it all: crushing singles, a bold concept and a clear message. The smorgasbord of genres and vibes TPAB lays out for the listener further shows that K-Dot’s bag of tricks has no end in sight.

2. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect
3. DJ Paypal – Sold Out
4. Tame ImpalaCurrents
5. Archy Marshall – A New Place to Drown

Top 5 Songs of 2015
1. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”
This track was our first taste of Currents, and it got fans salivating in no time. “Let It Happen” was the perfect amuse-bouche with Kevin Parker’s vision shifting a bit toward synths over his trusty Rickenbacker guitar, which slightly became the resounding chatter behind the LP. Oh yeah, and there was the “record skip” in the middle of the track that we all went mental over.

2. Ought – “Beautiful Blue Sky”
3. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
4. DJ Spinn – “Dubby” (feat. DJ Rashad & Danny Brown)
5. Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

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Beyond the music: Symbiosis Gathering reinvents the festival experience in 2015

Symbiosis Gathering 2015Photos by Nik Crossman, Jamie Rosenberg & John Felix // Written by Nik Crossman & Brett Ruffenach //

Symbiosis Gathering //
Woodward Reservoir – Oakdale, CA
September 17th-20th, 2015 //

Floating 100 miles east of San Francisco, Symbiosis Gathering brought more than 12,000 incredible humans together to celebrate the power of music, art, education and love at Woodward Reservoir. Symbiosis is leading a paradigm shift in the festival world, and the 10 Year Re:Union proved to be their largest gathering yet.

The recipe for Symbiosis is simple. Start with a conventional music festival — Coachella, FYF Fest or Sasquatch! — and throw in some Burning Man essentials like sustainability, alchemy, yoga and education. Now, sprinkle elements specific to the venue of choice (ahem, art boats and water stages), remove all the corporate sponsorship and alcohol sales, and wrap it up in a community of love and consciousness. The result is the next generation of festival experience — a gathering, not a production.

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With minimal funding, an international family of volunteers and festivalgoers come together to make Symbiosis possible. Extending beyond the “everyone contributes” mentality of Burning Man, the gathering curates and organizes many, but not all, of its attractions. The community encourages everyone to contribute to the already stellar experience of Symbiosis. Distributed throughout the 24-hour festival grounds, earth and water art installations provide interactive spaces to create, climb, lounge and float. The spinning balls of fire proved to be a solid meeting place throughout the night and presented some beautiful photo opportunities.

The flagship amenity, aptly named “Swymbiosis”, was a Copacabana-meets-Hippy-Hill drum circle/beach party at the lakeshore. Each afternoon, festivalgoers grabbed their flotation device of choice (a pink flamingo named Karen, an inflatable pizza slice, etc.) and drifted in the sunshine while listening to an impressive lineup through the festival’s Funktion-One sound system. From Raja Ram of Shpongle to Ooah and Edit of The Glitch Mob, “Swymbiosis” offered one of the most unique and fun live music experiences imaginable.

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With an impressive, internationally influenced lineup, “Swymbiosis” certainly wasn’t the only noteworthy stage performance. Thursday night kicked off the festival with five hours of house music from the Desert Hearts crew, followed by Eprom’s extraordinary bass. Well into Day 2, The Polish Ambassador’s high-octane set had everyone moving and shaking at The Big Island. Despite some sound issues, G Jones and Minnesota managed to deliver seamless, back-to-back sets, satiating Friday night’s appetite for bass. Spilling into dawn, Four Tet opened a gorgeous, three-hour set with “Digital Arpeggios” from his Percussions alias and closed with “Morning Side”.

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From Bob Moses to Nicolas Jaar, Saturday came through with more stellar acts to accompany the transformational journey that was unfolding. Sylvan Esso demonstrated noteworthy growth on stage with a spectacular set, complete with an encore that lit up the crowd in dance. Of course, no 2015 festival experience would be complete without a secret sunrise performance by Tipper, and Symbiosis delivered with a magical welcoming of Sunday morning set to the British producer’s dreamy electro grooves.

Beyond music, Symbiosis offered a myriad of attractions to stimulate the mind, body and soul. Encouraging personal growth and awareness, it created a warm environment to foster deep bonds with friends, lovers and strangers alike. Partner yoga classes and Tantric workshops demonstrated the beauty and strength derived from a connection between two humans.

Symbiosis Gathering 2015

With talks and workshops ranging from government surveillance and overcoming addiction to the culture of tea, Symbiosis offered much more than the usual “escape from real life” presented by most festivals. Don’t get us wrong — things like the DeLorean hovercraft and Tipper’s secret sunrise set put Symbiosis closer to Neverland than the real world. It’s the underlying focus on consciousness and personal development that engages beyond the typical music festival and makes Symbiosis the poster child for what festivals can and ultimately should represent.

We don’t burn … we swym! Symbiosis is not another Burning Man pretending to be a music festival

Symbiosis Gathering 2015Written by Nik Crossman //

Symbiosis Gathering //
Woodward Reservoir – Oakdale, CA
September 17th-20th, 2015 //

As the “Burners” venture back to a reality absent of playa-dust bikinis and Mad Max gear, another breed of community-driven enthusiasts get ready for one of the world’s most unique music festivals: Symbiosis Gathering 10 Year Re:Union.

Since its inception in 2005, Symbiosis Gathering has brought together individuals from all over the world to celebrate the power of music, art and education. With humble beginnings that saw less than 1,000 people attend the festival, the enlightening success of the first Gathering set the stage for years to come. 2015 marks the 10-year Re:Union of The Gathering, and as co-producer Kevin KoChen explains, “Nobody is prepared to witness what happens. And when it does, it makes all the planning worth it.”

Symbiosis is not another music festival, and it’s not another Burning Man. Similar to Lightning in a Bottle (read our review of this year’s festival here) now based in Central California, it’s something in between. With community contributions from chocolatiers, astrologers and nutritionists as well as yogis hosting a variety of talks and workshops, The Gathering aims to educate just as much as entertain over four days at Oakdale’s Woodward Reservoir. Symbiosis, furthermore, intends to gather many facets of the counter-culture movement and provide a collective environment to foster symbiotic relationships among those who wouldn’t normally cross paths.

Beyond a stellar music lineup (pictured below) impressively influenced by international trends, Symbiosis offers a variety of shenanigans ranging from the popular shows like Tourettes Without Regrets and Chaos Karaoke to Kidzbiosis, which are focused workshops dedicated to children.

Alas, no music festival/Burning Man hybrid would be complete without the presence of some mind-blowing art installations. For its 10th year, The Gathering sets itself apart even more by leveraging the sandy beaches and cooling waters of Woodward Reservoir and introducing art boat installations. From stationary sculptures to human- and wind-powered cruising vessels to motor-powered ferries, the art boats at Symbiosis will be as diverse as the attendees. In the traditional “Contribute to the Community” mentality, The Gathering encourages everyone to build and bring their own art boat with them, presenting participants with an interactive, aquatic escapade not seen at any other music festival. It’s just another reason why Symbiosis is one of our eight California music festivals you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015.

Experience Passes are still available online for $280 and at participating ticket vendors. Festival walk-in camping is included and car camping passes are also available for purchase.

2015 Symbiosis Gathering lineup

Inaugural One Tribe Festival canceled just weeks before coming to Southern California

One Tribe Festival

One Tribe Festival //
Lake Perris State Park – Lake Perris, CA
September 25th-26th, 2015 //

In what came as some surprising news this week, EDM promoter SFX has canceled the first edition of One Tribe Festival after ticket sales failed to meet expectations.

The two-day, electronic-leaning festival located outside of Los Angeles in Riverside County was supposed to feature sets from Norwegian DJ and record producer Kygo, San Francisco ambient-techno outfit Tycho and glitch-hop act Gramatik. London-based house/techno DJ Damian Lazarus, Israeli DJ/producer Guy Gerber and renowned Detroit techno producer Carl Craig were also slated to perform this year, with the festival offering other activities such as camping, yoga, swimming and paddle boarding.

On Tuesday afternoon, One Tribe officials issued a statement on their website, Facebook and Twitter, stating that the event had been “postponed indefinitely due to a mix of unforeseen events and circumstances.”

However, Jacob Smid, managing director of SFX Live North America, revealed to The New York Times that it was low ticket sales that in fact put the kabosh on having One Tribe later this month at Lake Perris State Park.

“We had an ambitious plan to bring an innovative and unique experience built around the spirit of community, art and music to an amazing venue in Southern California,” Smid told The Times in a statement. “Unfortunately, disappointing ticket sales put us in a position of choosing between compromising our vision and the overall experience at One Tribe, or canceling it.”

As Billboard reported, SFX has fallen on hard times, with its stocks declining more than 80 percent in 2015. SFX chairman and CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman had plans to complete a bid to take the company private but recently changed course and announced that it would instead entertain minority offers from potential stakeholders. A parent company of Dutch dance promoter ID&T, SFX also organizes and promotes Electric Zoo, the three-day music festival which returns to Randall’s Island in New York City this weekend, along with TomorrowWorld, another three-day music festival that hits Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., outside of Atlanta later this month for its third straight year.

But One Tribe’s cancellation speaks louder to the music-festival market in California. With music festivals spread across The Golden State throughout the summer and into the fall, it’s worth asking if we’ve hit a ceiling point on how many are actually sustainable. Lightning in a Bottle and Symbiosis Gathering (one of our eight California music festivals you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015) are both multi-day festivals in Central and Northern California and already offer similar experiences, with camping, yoga and music all apart of the overall packaged deal.

If anything, One Tribe’s inability to reach a larger audience in one of the country’s biggest music markets throws caution to the wind for other concert promoters looking to tap into California’s festival scene. We’ll see if SFX gives One Tribe another shot in 2016 or conversely scraps the idea altogether.

8 California music festivals you won’t want to miss before the end of 2015

California music festivalsWritten by Josh Herwitt, Molly Kish & Nik Crossman //

Believe it or not, we’re already halfway through 2015. If you live in California and haven’t been to a music festival yet this year, don’t worry — you’re still in luck. Yes, Coachella and Lightning in a Bottle have come and gone, but summer is here and there are a number of music festivals in The Golden State that are quickly approaching. Here are eight that each offer their own unique experience and are sure to deliver before the calendar turns to 2016.


2015 Northern Nights lineup

Northern Nights Music Festival
Location: Piercy, CA
Dates: July 17-19
Tickets: Buy them here!

Donning “A Greener Festival Award” for their 2014 presence, the three-day Northern Nights continues to prove itself to be one of the most sustainable, community-driven festivals in its third year. The electric lineup promises to set trends, debuting a wide variety of talent sure to appeal to many tastes. Beyond the music, NNMF sets itself apart with unique “floating stages” and engaging activities, including art installations, yoga, DIY and dream-decoding workshops, comedy and more, encouraging all festivalgoers to apply and contribute to the events. Festivals must deliver an experience beyond the music to stay relevant, and NNMF’s dedication to sustainability and community involvement demonstrates an understanding of this paradigm shift. -NC


2015 HARD Summer lineup

HARD Summer
Location: Pomona, CA
Dates: August 1-2
Tickets: Buy them here!

HARD founder and CEO Gary Richards has toed the line between the EDM and mainstream music worlds over the past few years, starting in 2012 when bands like Bloc Party and Miike Snow were featured on the lineup. This year’s bill continues along that trend with alt-R&B artist The Weeknd serving as one of the festival’s two headliners alongside several other non-traditional EDM acts, including Schoolboy Q, Ratatat, Chromeo, Die Antwoord and Caribou. Yes, there will actually be plenty of instruments being played on stage this year. Who knew an electronic-focused festival could offer the best of both worlds? -JH


2015 Outside Lands lineup

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
Location: San Francisco
Dates: August 7-9
Tickets: Sold out!

Outside Lands has quickly risen from a SF summer highlight to one of the country’s top large-scale music festivals and a crown jewel of Bay Area production company Another Planet. Claiming the title as the “world’s only gourmet rock festival,” OSL has paved the way with its fairground food/music movement since 2008, setting the bar high with artisan experiences at its many “Lands” (wine, cheese, beer and choco) as well as its “Taste of the Bay Area” and “GastroMagic” programs. Although recognized as one of the premiere West Coast festivals, OSL still remains deeply ingrained in the rich culture of the Bay Area and continues to showcase some of the top talent in music, food, wine, beer, comedy, theater, art and culture on both a national and local scale. -MK


2015 FYF Fest lineup

FYF Fest
Location: Los Angeles
Dates: August 22-23
Tickets: Buy them here!

With its eclectic lineup of indie rock, hip-hop and electronic-leaning acts, FYF Fest has become, in many ways, a Coachella offshoot over the years. That shouldn’t be all that surprising considering both are Goldenvoice-sponsored events at this point, but this year’s lineup feels underwhelming and repetitive in comparison to previous editions. If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the Morrissey fans can finally rejoice. Other highlights include Bloc Party, D’Angelo & the Vanguard, FKA twigs, Run the Jewels, Mac DeMarco and Jon Hopkins, although it wasn’t that long ago that Chet Faker, Flume, Purity Ring, Dinosaur Jr., Toro y Moi, Simian Mobile Disco and Nicolas Jaar all played the fest, which will return to the LA Memorial Sports Arena and Exposition Park for its second time. And let’s also hope the FYF organizers have things figured out after last year’s epic line fiasco. -JH


2015 Symbiosis Gathering lineup

Symbiosis Gathering
Location: Oakdale, CA
Dates: September 17-20
Tickets: Buy them here!

With 2015 marking Symbiosis’ 10-year “Re:Union”, the Northern California festival is set to impress. Born through a common vision of togetherness, Symbiosis encourages physical, emotional and social well-being through a vibrant community of artists, performers and creators. The lineup rivals other festivals in its class and compliments the unique multi-day “Immersion Workshops,” including Permaculture, Visionary Art and Yoga. In addition to complimentary camping, festivalgoers can upgrade to Reserved Car, RV or five-day “Ready, Set, Camp” glamping, aligned with the trend that festivals must deliver on the experience just as much as the lineup. As one of the older festivals around and their beautiful riverside venue, Symbiosis upholds its reputation as an experience you don’t want to pass up. -NC


2015 KAABOO Del Mar lineup

KAABOO Del Mar
Location: Del Mar, CA
Dates: September 18-20
Tickets: Buy them here!

2015 has already marked a banner year for the greater San Diego area’s music scene. First, it was CRSSD Festival making a big splash in its inaugural year this past March, and now it’s KAABOO Del Mar making its debut on the final weekend of summer. With over 100 musical acts scheduled, including two VIP performances from Sheryl Crow and Ed Kowalczyk, as well as a comedy lineup that boasts Joel McHale and Lewis Black, KAABOO is primed to compete with the other large-scale, three-day California music festivals in Coachella and Outside Lands. But KAABOO is not simply a “music festival.” According to its organizers, KAABOO is a “new kind of arts and entertainment ‘mix-perience’ designed around comfort, quality and good times.” Well then, let the good times roll by the beach this September. -JH


2015 TBD Fest lineup

TBD Fest
Location: Sacramento, CA
Dates: September 18-20
Tickets: Buy them here!

Beginning as a one-day festival in 2007, TBD Fest has grown into one of the major-market festivals in the country. With top-notch acts like Pretty Lights, Cut Copy, RATATAT, Chance the Rapper, Chromeo and Tycho, the now-three-day affair presents an all-star lineup along the Sacramento River. Although there’s no camping, TBD Fest touts a commitment to “all things creative” with artists, boutiques, chefs, craft beer, cocktails, wine and more. -NC


2015 Treasure Island lineup

Treasure Island Music Festival
Location: San Francisco
Dates: October 17-18
Tickets: Buy them here!

Treasure Island, a joint effort from Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop, hails as one of the West Coast’s premiere boutique music festivals. Year after year, TIMF has become known for its diverse lineup by booking some of the biggest talent worldwide. With one of the most seamlessly designed layouts, TIMF takes place against the gorgeous panoramic views of the SF Bay on the historical landmark site of Treasure Island. The grounds allow for an easy commute between its two stages and facilitates the festival’s strict policy of no overlapping sets, while free shuttle transportation to and from SF as well as a host of after parties sets TIMF apart from the competition. -MK


Which of these music festivals are you going to? Which are you looking forward to the most?

Outside Lands