BottleRock announces 2018 roster with Bruno Mars, The Killers & Muse booked as headliners

BottleRock - 2018 lineup

BottleRock Napa Valley //
Napa Valley Expo – Napa, CA
May 25th-27th, 2018 //

We’re one week into the New Year, and festival organizers across the country are just starting to unveil their 2018 lineups.

If last week’s Coachella lineup announcement didn’t do much for you, BottleRock Napa Valley has made its case this Memorial Day weekend with a bill that once again features not one, but two rock headliners, much like the 2017 installment saw with Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, which proved to be one of Petty’s before his sudden death. Yet this time, it will be Bruno Mars, The Killers and Muse leading the way in late May.

Including the three aforementioned headliners, more than 80 artists and bands will descend upon downtown Napa for the three-day festival’s sixth edition. Other noteworthy acts listed on the poster are The Chainsmokers, Halsey, Snoop Dogg, Incubus, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Head and the Heart, Billy Idol, Thievery Corporation, Phantogram, The Revivalists, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Bleachers, Mike D (DJ set), E-40 and St. Paul and The Broken Bones to name a few. BottleRock’s signature Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage, meanwhile, will also return to the Napa Valley Expo as various celebrity chefs team up with different Hollywood stars, musicians, bands, athletes and more for some cool live cooking demonstrations.

Tickets go on sale this Tuesday, January 9th at 10 a.m. PT here and start at $349 before going up to $359 for a three-day GA pass. VIP passes will be sold for as low as $749 (and as high as $799), and a three-day platinum pass is now a whopping $3,900.

BottleRock Napa Valley 2016 - Iration

Oysterfest 2015 serves up a steamy bill of old-school hip-hop and electronica

OysterfestPhotos by Maggie Corwin // Written by Molly Kish //

San Francisco Oysterfest //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
May 9th, 2015 //

O’Reilly’s SF Oysterfest celebrated its 16th year this past Saturday at the beautiful setting of Sharon Meadow inside Golden Gate Park. Billed as a 21-and-over event (although minors could attend only if they were accompanied by an adult), this year’s lineup of hip-hop and dance artists kicked the party up a notch with some profane rap classics and club favorites.

Opening acts The Schmidt, DeelanZ/K Theory and GZRUS warmed up the early crowds, which at peak attendance reached about 10,000 people. The Guinness flowed and kept attendees saturated as they braved the growing lines for their choice of shellfish delicacies. Barbequed, deep fried or chilled and shucked raw, the oysters were abundant as long as you were willing to wait your turn.

Grandmaster Flash


Grandmaster Flash

Kicking off the afternoon entertainment was hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash. A master turntablist, GMF took fans through a career-spanning set, touching upon songs he both took part in producing and crafting into iconic jams. He threw down lives remixes of Ini Kamoze, Sly and the Family Stone and Bob Marley and got the audience on its feet in anticipation for a grand finale of self-spun classics from his days with The Furious Five.

Warren G


Warren G

Next up on the bill was Mr. “Regulator”, aka Warren G, who commanded the crowd with a throwback set of 90’s-era hip-hop. Covering every hit song he delivered as a solo artist or collaborated on during the height of his career, he held it down for his West Coast homies, who by mid-set were screaming along to every filthy lyric that came out of his mouth. The most memorable moments of the set were seeing the entire festival shout the incredibly X-rated lines to songs like “It Ain’t No Fun” and a cover of Dr. Dre’s “Let’s Get High”.

Thievery Corporation


Thievery Corporation

Closing out the day’s festivities were back-to-back sets from Salt Lake City house duo Late Night Alumni and Washington, D.C. collective Thievery Corporation that bled seamlessly into each other. Late Night Alumni lead vocalist Becky Jean Williams, backed by John Hancock, Finn Bjarnson and Ryan Raddon aka Kaskade, pleasantly shifted the tone of the early evening from raging in the meadow to a more atmospheric, downtempo set. Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton picked up the pace during their full band live set that featured various guest vocalist, and the festival mood quickly shifted from there.

While most of the crowd was vibing hard off Thievery’s worldly, techno ambiance, part of the audience had already dispersed. The dwindling sunlight and cooling weather may have had something to do with that, but the remaining festivalgoers were kept warm by Garza’s and Hilton’s eclectic beats that carried them into the early-evening hours.

SF Show of the Week // GO4FREE to Thievery Corporation & Warren G at Oysterfest 5/9 (SAT)

San Francisco Oyster Fest 2015Written by Molly Kish //

San Francisco Oysterfest //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
May 9th, 2015 //

The largest oyster festival on the West Coast returns to Sharon Meadow at Golden Gate Park this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. as the 16th annual SF Oysterfest offers plenty of prime picks from the finest oyster farms across the Pacific Coast. Whether you like your oysters chilled or grilled, your shellfish appetite will undoubtedly be fulfilled with a wide range of dining options from some of SF’s premiere seafood restaurants.

As per Irish tradition, the Guinness will be flowing alongside a wide variety of adult beverages that include lagers, stouts, ale wines and premium spirit options. Guests can show off their shuck-and-suck skills in the festival’s annual crowd favorite contest, participate in various cooking demonstrations with local celebrity chefs, lose themselves in one of the live art demonstrations or take it easy with kids and four-legged friends in the meadow’s spacious and shaded play area.

At the same time, you can get down with some hip-hop heavyweights who are dominating this year’s music lineup and dance to the beats provided by some of the leading names in electronic, R&B, soul and world music. Some of the highlights of this year’s lineup include Washington, D.C.-based DJ collective Thievery Corporation, West Coast hip-hop legend Warren G, hip-hop DJ pioneer Grandmaster Flash, Salt Lake City house duo Late Night Alumni, Oakland R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani and Berkeley producer deelanZ.

Register below for your chance to win a pair of ticket to this year’s festival or you can buy tickets here (use the promo code “thievery” to receive a 10-percent discount). Tickets are $45 in advance, and children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by a parent will receive free admission.

For more information, visit Oysterfest’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Contest ends Friday, May 8th at Noon.


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:

The Rentals with Rey Pila: Wednesday, May 6th at The Chapel
Big Sam’s Funky Nation: Thursday, May 7th at The Chapel
Peanut Butter Wolf at Summer Soul Roller Disco: Saturday, May 9th at Mezzanine


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).

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Thievery Corporation overcome stage drama to dazzle Greek

Thievery CorporationBy Josh Herwitt //

Thievery Corporation with Stephen Marley //
Greek Theatre – Los Angeles
September 27th, 2014 //

Ten years ago, Zach Braff introduced millions of “Garden State” fans to the downtempo, worldly beats of Thievery Corporation. At the time, the Washington, DC-based collective founded by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton had already released three studio albums and more than 10 compilation discs on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge Music record label.

But it wasn’t until Braff incorporated the hypnotic, Middle Eastern sounds of “Lebanese Blonde” into his 2004 film’s soundtrack that people really started to take notice of the electronic duo’s work.

Thievery Corporation

Now after almost two decades, Thievery continues to evolve and grow, as evidenced by their 2014 full-length effort Saudade (read our review here), which embodies the bossa nova spirit many Brazilians experience in their everyday lives.

Yet, even though Saudade stands as the group’s most straightforward and traditional record to date, sticking to the same formula for all 42 minutes, its live show, meanwhile, hasn’t suffered.

Coming to LA for one of the biggest gigs in their nearly 20-year history — a Saturday night headlining spot at the legendary Greek Theatre with opener Stephen Marley warming up the mostly middle-aged crowd — Thievery brought the funk from the outset, opening their 90-minute set with Natalia Clavier singing to the groovy “Web of Deception” from 2011’s Culture of Fear before turning the mic over to Loulou Ghelichkhani for “Take My Soul.”

Thievery Corporation

While it wouldn’t end up being the only time Clavier and Ghelichkhani made appearances during the show, Garza and Hilton did enlist a diverse roster of emcees and singers to rock the mic from start to finish. One of those guest performers was Boston rapper/producer Mr. Lif, a longtime Thievery collaborator who teamed up with Ghelichkhani at one point to perform the track “Holographic Universe” off arguably the outfit’s most high-profile LP, The Cosmic Game.

Also getting into the action was Ras Puma, Sleepy Wonder and Frank ‘Booty Lock’ Mitchell, each of them bringing their own unique style to the front of the stage while Garza and Hilton, perched high above the rest of the band, played conductor from their individual risers.

Thievery Corporation

But the biggest surprise of the night had to be bassist Ashish “HASH” Vyas, who showed signs early on that he may have had a little too much to drink or smoke or quite possibly both in the green room (no pun intended) before stepping onstage. And as the show progressed, things seemed to only get worse for Vyas. With a few songs left in the set, he had to be escorted off the stage by security after inviting a fan onstage and trying to teach him how to play bass in the middle of a song. To make matters even worse, he slapped the fan in the face after less than a minute and sent him back into the pit as many looked on in shock. As funny as it was to some audience members at the time, let’s just say that Garza and Hilton weren’t exactly pleased as they watched it all unfold in front of them.

For as strange and surprising as Vyas’ behavior was though, the rest of Thievery didn’t skip a beat down the homestretch. They capped off the show with one of their best tracks in their expansive catalog — the reggae-infused “Warning Shots” featuring Sleepy Wonder — leaving us without an encore but not a night void of memories.

Setlist:
Web of Deception
Take My Soul
Culture of Fear
Liberation Front
Overstand
Radio Retaliation
The Forgotten People
Lebanese Blonde
FireLight
Claridad
Sweet Tides
Amerimacka
Depth of My Soul
33 Degree
Holographic Universe
Vampires
Heart Is the Hunter
Unified Tribes
Warning Shots

New Music Tuesday: Thievery Corporation • Band of Skulls • Nickel Creek • Cloud Nothings • JAMAICA • Mac DeMarco

Thievery-Corp

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


Thievery CorporationSaudade

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Quem Me Leva”
“Sola In Citta”
“Le Couer”

Album Highlights: Saudade is a Portuguese word, difficult to define in English. Thievery’s press release defines it as “a longing for something or someone that is lost, a contented melancholy, or, simply, the presence of absence.” The vocal arrangements are gorgeously sung in Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish and English. This album features vocals by LouLou Ghelichkhani, former Bitter:Sweet singer Shana Halligan, Elin Melgarejo, Nouvelle Vague singer Karina Zeviani and Natalia Clavier. The tracks featuring LouLou and Elin stand out the most. Longtime Thievery singer LouLou’s sensual vocals are the perfect alluring compliment to the calm and jazzy Brazilian rhythms.

The album is a more conventional homage to bossa nova than previous efforts. This is their seventh full-length album and arguably their most traditional, drawing a considerable amount of influence from classic Brazilian performers, such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gal Costa. Clocking in at 42 minutes, the entire album is a beautifully simplistic musical time travel to 1960s Brazil. This is great news for fans of the artists that inspire Rob Garza and Eric Hilton.

Album Lowlight: After listening to a few songs, I find myself wanting to listen to my Elis & Tom album. While the songs are well-structured and the vocals can be quite enticing, the album itself leaves something to be desired. And that something is in the classic Brazilian music of yesteryear. The issue with this album is similar to the issue with defining a word like “saudade”; you can try, and people who don’t speak the language will probably understand. But there will be some aspect of the word that you can’t define, that which gets lost in translation. Many ideas cannot be recreated. This is a great effort by Thievery. But that indescribable thing is missing. Whereas other albums can fill that void with the mixing of musical genres, this album stays in one place. There are some great moments here, but as a whole, it’s a good thing that the album doesn’t go longer than 42 minutes.

Takeaway: If you are a fan of bossa nova or have been a big fan of Thievery Corporation throughout the years, definitely buy the album. If you prefer listening to a “Best Of” album, stick to the choice notes on this one. Rob Garza will be performing a DJ set and signing CDs at Amoeba SF on Friday, April 4th at 6 p.m.

~Krystal Beasley


Band of SkullsHimalayan

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Asleep at the Wheel”
“I Guess I Know You Fairly Well”
“I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying”

Album Highlights: After a successful sophomore effort that earned them the chance to tour with Muse and Queens of the Stone Age last year, these English alt-rockers didn’t waste a lot of time before they decided to jump back into the studio. Only this time, Ian Davenport, who produced both 2009’s Baby Darling Doll Face Honey and 2012’s Sweet Sour, didn’t come along for the ride. Instead, those duties were passed on to Nick Launay, one of the music industry’s most sought-after producers right now. While the change isn’t readily noticeable on Himalayan, Band of Skulls’ third full-length record still boasts plenty of firepower.

It begins in typical BOS fashion, with Russell Marsden’s fuzzed-out blues riff serving as the foundation for the album’s first single “Asleep at the Wheel”. Nevertheless, you won’t find yourself head banging to every track, whether it’s the group’s new hit “Nightmares” or the ensuing “Brothers and Sisters.” Unlike Band of Skulls’ two previous LPs, Himalayan sees it branching out sonically with songs like the surf rock-inspired “I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying” and the Spanish-flavored “Toreador” (which means “bullfighter” in English, naturally). There is no doubt there are risks being taken here, but they don’t compromise what Marsden, bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward set out to do from the beginning — and that was to make one badass record. Well, mission accomplished.

Album Lowlight: It’s strange to hear Band of Skulls hold back, but when it does on Himalayan, things start to get a little flimsy for the Southampton power trio. Following three rock-heavy cuts to open the album, “Cold Sweat” features Richardson on lead vocals as the band flirts with balladry for more than four minutes. A few tracks later, “You Are All That I Am Not” follows a similar course, relying on Marsden’s soothing vocals and exquisite guitar work to save the song from being completely forgotten amongst a number of better offerings. While we won’t knock Band of Skulls for exploring different musical avenues on Himalayan, we’d be lying if we said it hit all 12 songs out of the park, too.

Takeaway: The mark of any good band these days is for it to show a steady stream of progress, and that’s certainly what Band of Skulls has done with each album it has released. At the same time, it’s hard to say which record is its best at this point. For some BOS fans, Himalayan will be it. After all, it’s pretty impressive that there is this much sound coming out of only three musicians — a real testament to how in sync Marsden, Richardson and Hayward can be with a little fine tuning thanks to Launay’s highly-coveted production skills. But for a burgeoning band that has yet to reach its ceiling, Himalayan is simply a step in the right direction.

~Josh Herwitt


Nickel CreekA Dotted Line

2.5 BamsTop Tracks:
“Rest of My Life”
“Destination”
“21st of May”

Album Highlights: The musicianship on this album is top-notch Americana bluegrass with a twist of progressive folk. This may seemed a bit too far-fetched for any band, but for this trio from Southern California it’s just second nature. Chris Thile is one of the best mandolin players in the scene, and matched with the brother-sister duo of Sara and Sean Watkins on fiddle and guitar, you’ve got yourself one hell of an acoustic trio. With the band’s sixth studio album and the first since 2005, they started right where they left off, playing deep emotional songs, yet they seems to keep their songs fun and lighthearted.

The first track on the album, “Rest of My Life,” showcases Sean Watkins on vocals, and he seems to have really come into his own during the hiatus. His vocals stand out on this album, and the songs truly come to life with his singing style. The Chris Thile penned folk song “You Don’t Know Whats’s Going On” is the standout track on the album, as it blends pop, folk, Americana, and all things string, which will surely be great in a live setting, as these guys have been known for outstanding live performances.

Album Lowlight: I felt the cover of Mother Mother’s “Hayloft” is an extremely odd choice for this band. Even though it features master drummer Matt Chamberlain laying down a very interesting beat, it falls into the “Why?” category to me. It definitely showcases the lighter side of this band, but I think they could have chosen a way better cover than this one.

Takeaway: Nickel Creek haven’t played together for seven years, and they’ve put out a relatively solid album with A Dotted Line, but I feel there is something lacking from this album. I fell in love with the young, gritty, and virtuoso playing that they had in their early days. They have matured through the years and now have cleaner sound, and that holds them back. These guys can outplay most of the musicians out there, but this album doesn’t fully show that. There are some gems, but overall this album lacks a lot of substance that used to be there.

~Pete Mauch


Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Now Here In”
“I’m Not Part Of Me”
“Pattern Walks”

Album Highlights: Some of the best albums are the ones that start and finish strong, and that’s what we have here with Cloud Nothings’ fourth LP, not to say that everything in the middle of Here And Nowhere Else is sub par — far from it. Continuing the post-hardcore noise rock Cloud Nothings carved out with their excellent 2012 album Attack on Memory, the bookend tracks, along with the album’s penultimate track, contain the best moments and most strikingly embody the core of the new effort.

Most every song begins with classic punk propulsion, with guitar, bass and drums screaming along while frontman Dylan Baldi delivers songwriting that is bent toward indie sensibilities. Although, the best part of Cloud Nothings’ output comes on the latter third of the tracks, finally breaking from chorus/verse repetition to bridge out into massive, emotive crescendos.

“Now Here In,” the first track, masterfully executes the extended bridge crescendo in the song’s last minute, but right away the song establishes hyper-hooky garage punk that feels somewhat familiar. Channeling adolescent adrenaline, the song is confrontational yet withdrawn with lyrics, “I can’t feel your pain, and I feel alright by this…And now there’s nothing left to say.” “I’m Not Part Of Me,” the last song and album lead single, hits home on the theme of Here And Nowhere Else being a breakup record. “Not telling you everything I’m going through…” opens the doorway to the squashing repetition of “I’m not you, I’m not you, you’re a part of me, you’re a part of me.”

“Pattern Walks,” the second-to-last cut, bucks the typical songwriting form to deliver a thrilling song that’s double the length of all others, while being twice as intense. Dissonant noise extends out midway through until it drops into a thunderous, driving jam, and Baldi’s voice drowns in reverb as the song builds toward a dizzying plateau. Squarely against the concept of change, the extended second and third sections, bathing in noise and Cloud Nothing’s patented outro crescendo, mimic the idea of change by shifting the sections in a quick heartbeat. Change, as it happens, often happens quickly.

Album Lowlight: Low points are rare, but some of the early tracks feel a bit generic. “Quieter Today” almost sounds like a Japandroids song at first, but sure enough it proves to be an intricate cut. It contains a tad of hope with the line “I keep telling myself love is real,” and the positively-toned guitar-led outro keeps it from being anything close to a bad song. “Psychic Trauma” is one big confrontation, and the time signature changes keep this track appealing. The screaming, hardcore singing in this song, along with “Giving Into Seeing” and “No Thoughts,” might be a bit much for some — but hey, you gotta tickle the metal/punk/rage part of your brain sometimes, right?

Takeaway: The lyrics are bitter throughout, yet the overall instrumentals create a sound that is so freeing. The more you listen, the complexity of the angst-filled eight compositions begin to reveal themselves more and more. Mashing gritty aesthetics with mostly accessible singing and guitar work, it’s hard to pigeonhole Cloud Nothings, as they’ve created a record that is progressive, both pushing and blurring the boundaries of rock into new terrain.

~Mike Frash


JAMAICAVentura

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Turbo”
“Ricky”
“2 on 2”

JAMAICA’s “Ventura” is the second album from the French duo off the independent label Control Freak. Boasting an all-star production team spearheaded by the Grammy award-winning audio engineer/producer Peter Franco (Daft Punk, Justice), the sophomore effort follows suit with contemporary Parisian pop protocol. Although not groundbreaking, the album expands upon their synth-laden rock formula, successfully giving fans of Phoenix, The Wombats and Hot Hot Heat something to satiate their appetites in 2014.

Album Highlights: A pure pop-driven album, each song’s composition is pretty straight forward. Simple sing-along verses, catchy hooks and guitar solos repeat. It’s been a while since there has been a danceable piano rock band in the scene, so it’s nice to hear an experienced key player represented in the group. The songs that are most successful on the album focus heavily on rhythm based sections, demonstrating that this band is more than just a manufactured group altered efficaciously in post-production. Clearly established in the stand out instrumental track “Turbo,” these guys have some serious shredding capability. Advanced musicianship easily bounces back and forth between sing-along pop gems “2 on 2” and “Hello Again,” and on more complicated arrangements like the piano driven “Ricky.”

Album Lowlight: In a way, the tracks that are most effective on the album also serve as a double-edged sword. Whereas they introduce us to a newer, more cutting-edge version of JAMAICA, they cast a negative shadow over the less superior attempts on the album. The isolated ballad “Rushmore”, for instance, is completely lost amidst the steady flow of guitar-driven pop rock. Absent of much creative ingenuity, the track comes across as a half assed effort at including some type of introspective reflection jam. Falling abruptly between two of the most riveting tracks on the album, the song is highly skip-able and ultimately a waste of recording space. Both this lackluster ballad and the band’s proclivity to “play it safe” with radio friendly cuts such as “Ferris Wheeler” and “Golden Times” are a bit disappointing, especially in relation to how far they creatively pushed themselves with the rest of the album.

Takeaway: Ventura has the potential of gaining positive traction in the mainstream market. Riding off of the disco-centric French domination of modern day pop music, JAMAICA can easily coattail the success of their genre’s counterparts into some radio friendly singles and airplay. The band makes a viable effort to expand upon their sound with this second album, however they leave the listener without a clear direction of where they intend to go with their musical advances. A good album to start the summer months off with, the band is definitely club-ready. Currently sticking to solely European dates, anticipate the duo to expand their tour horizons into US territory once the live show is polished enough to jump the pond.

~Molly Kish


Mac DeMarcoSalad Days

4.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Salad Days”
“Passing Out The Pieces”
“Goodbye Weekend”

Album Highlights: Jangly, poppy guitar licks ring out as soon as you start-up this album. Mac DeMarco’s signature style is here, it’s still fresh, and in ways stronger than ever; it’s more pointed, focused, and accessible. His quirky guitar melodies are still cathartic and gently unsettling. The topics broached are spoken with a nonchalant attitude but deal with love, honesty in relationships, the insignificance of life and his resulting ambivalence, and the hectic solitude of being on the road. DeMarco is able to write in a way that allows the listener to easily empathize with him, as he turns his issues into ones that most of us have dealt with at some point. In “Chamber of Reflection”, it’s easy to really feel a sense of solitude. “Goodbye Weekend” sounds like a stoney Sunday afternoon coming to a soothing end. Every track has a personality of its own while holding up the overall ethos of the album.

Album Lowlight: The first few tracks start strong out of the gates but the album loses some steam after the seventh track, “Passing Out Pieces.” DeMarco has a tendency to be a tad self referential (“Far as I can tell she’s happy / Livin’ with her Maccy”). However, it doesn’t come off as overly pretentious, even leaning toward endearment. Also, it may seem a little strange taking sage advice from a 23-year-old, and some of the love songs may take on a concocted or forged feeling.

Takeaway: This is probably DeMarco’s most accessible work yet, so look out for this increasingly-rising young star. The guy is only 23 and is putting out his third fantastic album, so his future is very bright. This album is lighthearted enough for multiples listens in a row with its breezy beach vibe, but also easily induces deep thoughts with its many lyrical gems. Perfect for a Sunday morning or an afternoon drive.

~Steve Wandrey

Thievery Corporation, Little Dragon, A-Trak, Dillon Francis ring in NYE 2013 at Sea of Dreams

Sea-of-DreamsPhotos by Mike Frash // Written by Molly Kish //

Sea of Dreams //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
December 31st, 2013 //

The Sea of Dreams’ 14th annual New Years Eve celebration took on a new theme and venue for their 2014 transcendental gala, VibrantSea. Playing upon the theme of “energetic realms of felt experience,” the festival relocated from its previous residency to the heart of San Francisco, taking over the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for nine whimsical hours to ring in 2014.

Presenting a challenging shift in spatial dimensions, the new venue helped to curate a very different experience than most have come to expect with Sea of Dreams festivities. In previous years, attendees have had to navigate through the crowd constraints of a shotgun floor plan, but the Bill Graham Civic allowed for revelers to flow freely amidst its ample space and side rooms. Enhancing the overall experience and motif of the evening, movement amongst the masses maintained a comfortable fluidity throughout the auditorium and allowed for ample time to immerse in the entirety of the VibrantSea experience.

Little-Dragon

Swedish synth pop fourtet Little Dragon got the venue stirring after an opening set by DJ Jocelyn on the main stage. Pulling tracks from their entire catalogue, this one-off performance was the perfect way to usher in the multitudes of fans and first time observers. The soulful electronic grooves of this opening performance was highlighted by familiar favorite “Ritual Union” and a striking dub remix of their 2011 hit “Little Man.”

Next up on the Main Stage, Thievery Corporation brought their unique blend of world music, electronica and hip hop to the party. Ramping up the eccentric auditorium with a full band ensemble and rotating vocalists, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton brought the largest crowd of the evening together under the floating lanterns, inflatable sea creatures and the eventual sea of balloons that dropped over the dancing masses at midnight. Their set began with diva-led revelry and led to hip-hop driven songs after midnight.

Thievery-Corporation1

Thievery’s hip-hop driven post-midnight jams transitioned nicely into late night heavy hitters A-Trak and Dillon Francis, who went back to back with bass-pounding performances. Scheduled directly after one another, the EDM giants treated the crowd to a rare collaboration, sharing duties as selector while vibing off the other for the next choice.

The two competitively battled as rap prodigy and NYE Mezzanine headliner Danny Brown made a debaucherous late night appearance that sounded a bit like spent karaoke. But Brown’s presence brought new life to the cavernous Civic Center, so witnessing Danny Brown perform with A-Trak and Dillon Francis was icing on the cake of a fantastic evening.

High Sierra Music Festival 2013: Top Sets

Photos by Sam Heller // Written by Kevin Quandt, Mike Frash & Pete Mauch

Lennon-McCartney said it best when they stated, “Got to admit it’s getting better, getting better all the time.” High Sierra Music Festival, held every Fourth of July weekend for the past 23 years in lovely Quincy, California somehow keeps getting better each year. The success of this event isn’t anything too surprising, as the producers truly know how to run a seamless event while drawing in such a rich diversity of musical talent from across the globe, year after year. The Plumas County Fairgrounds are amazingly transformed into a wonderland for both adults and kids, alike, becoming a community environment that allows people to lose themselves in the festivities.

Scene1

Young and old are ever-present at HSMF — while the little ones enjoy family yoga and children’s sets by the one Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon, the older attendee may likely enjoy wine tasting by sponsors or fresh sushi in the morning or fresh oysters in the afternoon. From the wide variety of cuisine available from Gerard’s Paella to crab smothered artichoke to the array of music playshops to explore the deeper, inner workings of music. It’s qualities such as these that lend to one overall thrilling experience, which keeps so many returning every year, and most newcomers pledging the same.

High Sierra caters to everyone, and if you are unable to have an amazing time, you may want to check your pulse. But let’s be honest, the masses primarily flock to the Sierra Mountains to enjoy the varied selection of musical acts. Here are Showbams’ top sets from the long weekend.

Allen-Stone

Allen Stone
Thursday • Big Meadow • 7:15pm

Young soul powerhouse Allen Stone and his electrifying band held down a two hour (!) set at the Big Meadow Thursday — not bad for a performer who self-released his two full length albums and toured hard and strong enough to catch fire over the past year. He stretched his set out for the last 20 minutes by announcing a dance off and asking the crowd to create an aisle down the middle toward the soundboard. Either it was too early in the fest on a hot day, the two hour set was too long, or people were too high, because no one obliged. Stone had to collect himself before trying again, and after some chastising by the neo-soulster a the dance off ignited. -MIKE FRASH


White Denim
Thursday • Grandstand • 7:15pm + Friday • Big Meadow • 7:15pm

Fast rising indie-psych rockers White Denim delivered a couple excellent sunset shows on Thursday and Friday. The foursome is tightly synced, precisely nailing oft-changing time-signatures in a set that rarely paused. The songs segued seamlessly, blending with the help of swirling electric guitar layering and looping. The Thursday show on the Grandstand came as a relief as the ridiculously hot sun dipped behind the trees, and many were sitting down waiting for the legendary Thursday headliner. The Friday show at the Big Meadow ended spectacularly — a tighter crowd gave way to more heady psychedelic fare, including a sneakily-effective light show once full darkness arrived for the set-ending song “Drugs”. -MF


Robert-Plant

Robert Plant presents The Sensational Space Shifters
Thursday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Robert Plant’s a legend, we all know this, so to have this mammoth performer be featured as the first major headliner of the event led to seriously large crowds, especially on Thursday. His banner set did not disappoint with his mix of rockin’ Zeppelin classics, blues-laden solo material and a rich representation of various world music styles. Plant’s band was a very impressive conglomeration of modern musicians featuring players from Massive Attack and other highly regarded acts, which lent well to the characteristic howl of the Zeppelin legend on a clear, cool first evenin. Highlights were a show opening “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You”, Zep classic “Black Dog” and a version of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”. The response was unanimous that Robert Plant and his latest touring act were a rousing success as one would expect from this caliber performer. -KEVIN QUANDT


Tumbleweed-Wanderers

Tumbleweed Wanderers
Friday • Vaudeville • 1:15pm

Oakland’s Tumbleweed Wanderers benefited from being placed in the shady Vaudeville tent Friday afternoon, and the folky, soulful group took full advantage of the dense crowd seeking solar protection. Frontman Zak Mandel-Romann fearlessly ripped into tracks from their 2012 debut LP So Long as he would jump off the stage to engage with the audience. The crowd reciprocated, and upon the end of the set the rousing applause was so widespread and forceful that the band members tried to hide their unbridled joy, an indication they were experiencing the best response of their careers. It was a goose bump-inducing moment, and after the continuous applause interrupted the stage emcee, the Tumbleweed Wanderers were called back for a rare encore. -MF


Nataly Dawn
Friday • Big Meadow • 3:45pm

Nataly Dawn was yet another newcomer to the festival, and she represented the singer-songwriter sect in splendid form. Her songbook may not be extensive, but is incredibly strong with playful elements of both comedy and heartfelt songs of real life and love. Dawn’s delivery was flawless as she was simply accompanied by an electric guitar player, augmenting her vocals ever so slightly. Some may know this Sacramento rising star as one half of the act Pomplamoose, but with a recent release How I Knew Her making waves, she is sure to be a name to look out for. High Sierra is generous with the amount of time a performer gets onstage, and in Dawn’s case, too much time for her limited song selection. However, with the crowd gaining size, she went through a few selections twice, including “Caroline”. Hey, exposure is exposure. -KQ


Houndmouth
Friday • Big Meadow • 5:45pm

Indiana based Houndmouth showcased their Americana folklore to the High Sierra masses on Friday afternoon, and they did so with amazing harmonies, precise musicianship and all around great whiskey-drenched songwriting. Their songs speak of troubled travelers, coked-up drug dealers and any vigilante vagabond looking to make amends with oneself. The set focused on their debut album From the Hills Below the City, with “Come On, Illinois”, “Houston Train” and “Penitentiary” rounding out the show highlights. One aspect that makes High Sierra so wonderful is the intimacy of the Festival — after Houndmouth’s set, I let them know their set was excellent. They were extremely grateful and thanked me as I walked away to my next adventure. -PETE MAUCH


Primus

Primus
Friday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Primus is weird in all the right ways. Legendary bassist Les Claypool’s primary vehicle headlined Friday night, proving to be an über-suitable headliner that fits High Sierra’s full embrace of individuality. An intense, trippy “Southbound Pachyderm” gave way to more energetic favorites like “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” and “Jilly’s on Smack”. Skerik appeared to add yet another twisted layer of sax to “Groundhog’s Day”. Two consistent factors relate to Claypool — his bass is the driving force and his uniquely weird songwriting and vocal delivery make it work every time. Claypool hid in the shadows all night, letting his jazz-paced diction and offbeat baseline and leadership boggle the minds of the packed main stage. -MF


The John Scofield Uberjam Band
Friday • Vaudeville • 11:30pm

The return of John Scofield’s electric band was a bit of a surprise to longtime fans of this freaked-out, electric jazz-fusion act. Jazz legend Scofield brought old friends and new to blaze through some selections from his past catalogue (Up All Night, Uberjam) and most recent (Uberjam Deux) to a healthily packed free, late night show. His mix of funky-fusion, hip-hop and electronic drum beats generally adds up to sonic grooves that are easy to dance to, but complex in their melody and solos arranged onstage. Some highlights were “Polo Towers”, “I Brake for Monster Booty”, and “Everynight is Ladies Night.” Try to catch this act on tour, as it could be the last time Scofield brings this band on the road for awhile before he likely returns to more straight-ahead jazz projects. -KQ


Skerik’s Lab
Saturday • Music Hall • 3:30pm

High Sierra vagabond and artist at large Skerik once again showcased his teaching abilities, along with his oddly-interesting poetic musings. The best woodwind and brass musicians, some in official acts and others just at High Sierra to camp and have fun, line up on stage at the Music Hall. With Mike Dillon supporting on drums, each player on stage gets a turn to take the lead, and everyone else joins in until a ferocious jam builds to a peak. Skerik then introduces the next performer, and often will ask the audience for the next musical key. Once again Carley Meyers from Mike Dillon Band stole the show. -MF


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The Barr Brothers
Saturday • Big Meadow • 7:55pm

Brad and Andrew Barr are two longtime performers who have graced the many stages at High Sierra for well over a decade. Generally, they represent their early project the Slip, sometimes with their Marco Benevento and Nathan Moore collaborative project, Surprise Me Mr. Davis. This year, they towed along a giant harp for the Barr Brothers, a rising indie-leaning project garnering impressive underground success. Songs like “Give The Devil Back His Heart” demonstrate Andrew’s complex rhythmic arrangements and Brad’s ability to write dynamic songs under any moniker. This set saw the band joined by Mike Dillon on vibraphone and the Rubblebucket horns for a bombastic set closer. -KQ


Thievery Corporation
Saturday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Thievery Corporation brought a much needed dance party to the main stage Saturday, also delivering on the promise of being an ideal headliner for HSMF. With rotating live singers seriously augmenting the beats laid down by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, the upbeat set never got too stuck in downtempo territory. After getting “Lebanese Blonde” out of the way early, hip hop and dance influences took center stage. So much more than a DJ show, the DC based duo have curated a revolving door spectacle supported by Rob Myers, Frank ‘Booty Lock’ Mitchell, Jeff Franca and Ashish Vyas and live instrumentation. Put it all together and it was an awe-inspiring production that hit the High Sierra sweet-spot. -MF


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Lee Fields and the Expressions
Sunday • Vaudeville • 12:15am

The final Vaudeville late night featured soulful R&B brought by the charismatic Lee Fields and his young, competent band, the Expressions. A possible new name to many in attendance, few could deny the soul-drenched revue delivered in true professional form by a 40+ year veteran. Hands in the air in rejoice were plentiful while the dapper dressed frontman channeled the obvious comparison, James Brown. Come Sunday, the High Sierra faithful were murmuring about their new favorite act, for the time being, and how friends had to catch Fields’ set on the big stage for their final Sunday performance in Quincy. -KQ


moe.
Sunday •Music Hall Late Night Show • 1:30am

Sunday night jam headliners moe. played a sold out late-night show early Sunday morning, and as usual it raged. Rob, Al, Chuck and and the rest of the gang were pretty subdued as a physical presence on stage, but they sounded as good as always. Classic opening one-two punch “Not Coming Down –> Wormwood” kicked things off nicely, and “McBain”, “Moth” and “Timmy Tucker” were set highlights. “Seat of My Pants” ended the epic third day on a high note. -MF


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Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Sunday • GrandStand • 12:45pm

Lukas Nelson & POTR made their High Sierra debut this year and put on quite an impressive set that caught the eye of many a festivalgoer, including that night’s headliner moe.(Nelson guested on “Opium” in Moe’s set). Nelson started things off with his single “Forever is a Four Letter Word”, which was well received by the growing crowd. Nelson is the son of the legendary Willie Nelson, and he truly shines on his own, clearly not leaning on his namesake to achieve success (I’m looking at you Jakob Dylan). Nelson delivers high energy sets full of excellent originals, many of which are about “Weed”, so the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. The band also ran through great cover songs including an amazing take on The Grateful Dead’s “Althea”, Pink Floyd’s “Money” and set closer “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Stones. Lukas Nelson should just be getting started –plan on seeing him grow exponentially from here. -PM


Guitarmaggeddon
Sunday • Music Hall • 4:00pm

The 10th annual Guitarmaggeddon face-melt was a special treat. Each year, Tea Leaf Green’s Josh Clark leads a group of electric guitar thrashers on a set of covers that revolve around a theme, and the songs always give way to epic guitar wailing and thrashing. It seemed like last year’s Talking Head’s set would be tough to beat, but the “Stadium Rock!” theme was plenty epic. From the steady opening of “Slow Ride” to “Satisfaction” (with a younger Mic Jagger in tow) to “Layla”, the show just killed it as expected. Lukas Nelson and Al Schnier from moe. guested for multiple songs, and fest-goers who still had a couple ounces of energy left benefited from a jamtastic, raging two hours of fun. -MF


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Steel Pulse
Sunday • Grandstand • 7:15PM

Roots reggae legends Steel Pulse would also make their debut appearance at the event this year, and they filled the Sunday “worldly afternoon” slot in proper form. The legendary Birmingham, England act are some of the most proficient performers in the business, likely do to nearly 40 years of pumping out revolutionary songs and touring the globe. “Roller Skates” and “Chant a Psalm” were just a few of the hits played to a nicely sized late-festival crowd as the sun dropped behind the Main Stage one final time this year. A new, tribute song to Trayvon Martin called “Put Your Hoodies On [4 Trayvon]” may have been too borderline serious for the crowd, but the masses embraced the message of equality for all. -KQ


Rubblebucket
Sunday • Big Meadow • 10pm

Representing Brooklyn, Rubblebucket has really come into their own as an entrancing mix of pop, rock and world music that thrives on crowd energy and is helmed by one helluva front-woman, Kalmia Traver. This would be there first evening set after gracing the fairgrounds for a few years now, and they brought their already stellar show to the next level on the final evening. Highlights from the set included “Overstaurated”, “Rescue Ranger” and “L’Homme”. Kalmia invited attendees up on stage to join in the revelry, and the throngs rewarded this act by crowd-surfing her across the stage during “Came Out a Lady”. -KQ

High Sierra Music Festival’s fresh, new acts

HSMFPhoto by Sam Heller

The annual High Sierra Music Festival has become a true staple of Northern California music culture over the past two decades. This year the event’s talent has deviated, just slightly, from some of the old favorites to some truly fresh acts. Here’s a look at some of the newcomers to High Sierra’s 23rd incarnation, set to take place at the Plumas County Fairgrounds in Quincy, CA between July 4th and 7th.

Listen to our High Sierra Music Fest playlist.

Primus – Les Claypool has graced High Sierra with his presence many times, but this year he brings his original claim to fame for a banner headlining set. Les, along with Larry LaLonde and Jay Lane, have been touring the heck out of his 90’s staple rock act the past few years, and it is only fitting we see him atop the lineup in 2013. A few years ago, Primus developed a 3D stage show to accompany their tour, and it has received solid reviews as an extra sensory rock and roll show experience unlike others. Though it appears this festival set will be in standard, human dimension.


Thievery Corporation – The DJ/production duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have championed the melding of various world music influences with electronic music, both on record and the live stage. Their worldly influences range from classical Indian to Brazilian Bossa Nova to dub and everything caught in the middle. Some attendees may be less familiar with Thievery, but are sure to enjoy a warm evening’s worth of mellow downtempo music in a rare live format.

Steel Pulse – These roots reggae legends have been going strong for almost 40 years and show no signs of letting up their furious live touring pace. Luckily, Quincy will be on their summer itinerary for a premier set of Afro-Caribbean inspired roots reggae. Still as dynamic as ever, David Hinds and company are preparing yet another album to be released this year. Expect to hear some new material as well as favorites like “Roller Skates,” “Stepping Out” and my personal favorite “Chant a Psalm.”

Gramatik – High Sierra has always kept their roots in live bands, but has branched out over the past few years with the inclusion of a handful of electronic acts to draw in a younger crowd while widening the variety of music showcased. Denis Jasarevic is one of Pretty Lights Music’s rising stars, enthralling young crowds with his beat-driven style of funk, jazz, and hip-hop. His new stage dubbed “the Tesla Coil,” coupled with his inclusion of a live guitar player will up his act at the festival this year.

Lee Fields & the Expressions – Lee Fields is one of the few soul acts who is still continually touring and recording after some 43 years in the business, and will likely become a new favorite for attendees unfamiliar with the legendary name. Akin to Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, Fields’ style of soul music includes elements of James Brown era funk, lo-fi blues and contemporary Southern soul.

White Denim – Many festival attendees are thrilled to see this Austin, TX bands name listed on the lineup for 2013, and it’s for good reason, as White Denim is one of the most exciting rock acts playing. Having won over accolades last year as the touring support to Wilco, this act is an impressive amalgamation of progressive indie rock. Their early work leans more towards the lo-fi psychedelic, while their later releases feature a more polished indie sound with room, and skill, to improvise on.

Allen Stone – The self-proclaimed “hippie with soul” is set to make his debut, and his set(s) should not be missed, as he is one of the leaders of the soul and R&B revival sweeping the nation. His years in the local church choir have aided this young man’s ability to truly feel the words that he sings. Expect the female festivalgoers to go bonkers for this pitch-perfect crooner.

Lord Huron – Ben Schneider started using the name Lord Huron as a tag for his solo material about 3 years ago, but the project has grown to a full band. The indie folk outfit has been crafting a unique mountain-folk sound, rich with harmony and a romanticized view on the distant past. Lord Huron should make for a nice break between clustering banjos and electronic funk at the Plumas County Fairgrounds this July.

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