Desert Daze 2019: Another intriguing lineup loaded with must-see performances takes over Lake Perris

Desert Daze - 2019 lineupPhoto by David Evanko // Written by Kevin Quandt & Pete Mauch //

Desert Daze //
Moreno Beach – Lake Perris, CA‎
October 10th-13th, 2019 //

After settling into a new location last year, Desert Daze aims to dial in a festival that continues to gain steam and win over rock fans around the globe, beckoning them to come to the shores of Lake Perris. This self-proclaimed “anti-festival” has impressed with their eye-popping artist roster, interactive art and smorgasbord of workshops and otherworldly experiences for all you intergalactic space rangers making the drive from Los Angeles or any of the surrounding hubs across Southern California.

We have a deep love for Desert Daze and want to be your pre-fest sherpas, so we have broken down the best music, camping and food options ahead of this weekend’s festivities.


Stereolab


Stereolab

Music

Let’s jump head first into the real meat of Desert Daze, and that’s its cutting-edge lineup of all things rock, psychedelia, garage, noise, experimental, North African-desert Tuareg blues-pop guitar and so on. Between the festival’s trio of lakeside stages, there should be little downtime for the savvy listener, so we’ll happily offer up a few of our picks and tell you why you should order that chicken tikka wrap a little later on.

Artist: Frankie and the Witch Fingers
Set date/time: Friday, 2:15-3 p.m.
Location: The Block

These LA psych rockers are truly having an amazing year. After unloading their most cohesive and energetic album to date in ZAM, they have found themselves touring non-stop supporting their killer new release. They are currently on a 37-date tour that sees them opening for ZZ Top and Cheap Trick on seven of those dates, with their Desert Daze set coming right smack dab in the middle of their run with both legendary rockers, so we’d imagine that they’ll be fired up to play to their own crowd. This should be an extremely high-energy set that won’t let you take a breath because Frankie and the Witch Fingers are pure psychedelic bliss right now. -PM

Artist: Stereolab
Set date/time: Friday, 6:35-8:05 p.m.
Location: The Moon

Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier are finally bringing their electro-leaning indie pop back to the western side of the country and should be firing on all cylinders after a nearly decade-long break. Having witnessed one of their first reunion shows at Primavera Sound, I can confirm Stereolab’s laid-back vibe is still delivered with precision as they work classics like “French Disko” and “Brakhage” as well as others from Dots and Loops into the setlist. We can’t think of a better act to catch during Friday’s magic hour. -KQ

Artist: Altın Gün
Set date/time: Saturday, 2:40-3:40 p.m.
Location: The Moon

This Anatolian psych-folk group that calls Amsterdam home has been blending traditional Turkish music and psychedelic melodies to great avail. Their most recent release Gece finds this experimental outfit playing around with time signatures and quick, fierce changes that keeps their listeners wanting more. Their Desert Daze slot in the early afternoon Saturday is really going to get the day rolling. -PM

Shintaro Sakamoto


Shintaro Sakamoto

Artist: The Locust
Set date/time: Sunday, 12:45 a.m.-1:35 a.m.
Location: The Theatre

Shit! This set is not for the faint of heart and will surely be one of the most brutal (looks over shoulder for Lightning Bolt) and thrilling performances for those brave souls still awake after Devo, Ween and Flying Lotus (3D) hit the main stage. Expect a handful of masked musicians bending every boundary of rock music to their back and call, a feat that hasn’t transpired for close to five years. Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone clearly has the Midas touch whenever it comes to reuniting bands or flying in rarities from around the world. -KQ

Artist: SASAMI
Set date/time: Sunday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: The Block

Domino artist Sasami Ashworth has been having a moment since the release of her self-titled debut LP back in March. Some veteran Desert Daze attendees might recognize Ashworth from her days as a former touring member of the LA band Cherry Glazerr, which played the festival in 2016 at its previous location The Institute of Mentalphysics. Since departing Cherry Glazerr, she has quickly cultivated a following under the moniker SASAMI that swoons for her unique brand as a guitar-wielding indie songstress. For now, she has toured with her contemporaries, received blessings from Mitski and expanded to larger international tours. -KQ

Artist: Shintaro Sakamoto
Set date/time: Sunday, 7:45 p.m.-9 p.m.
Location: The Block

Japanese composer Shintaro Sakamoto is making his U.S. debut at Desert Daze 2019, and we couldn’t be anymore excited to see him perform on Sunday. Sakamoto has been active in his home country for 30 years, most notably with psych rockers Yura Yura Teikoku, but you will see a softer side to him than with his prior band. Sakamoto at The Block during sunset with the Mad Alchemy light show behind him is an absolute must-see! We should hear plenty of tracks off 2014’s Let’s Dance Raw and 2011’s How to Live with a Phantom, too. -PM

Desert Daze 2019 - map

Camping

There’s nothing easier than pitching a tent only a few hundred yards away from any festival site, and Desert Daze continues to excel in this area. Moreno Beach’s plush grounds have it all: trees, campside parking, free hot showers, permanent bathrooms and even a camping-exclusive stage area called The Mystic Bazaar.

The Bazaar features a mind-expanding array of programming, including, but not limited to, Modular Sound Baths, Vinyasa Pranayama yoga and various forms of meditation (check out the full schedule here). Plus, plenty of camping options to fit your liking are available here.

Desert Daze 2019 - The Marketplace

The Marketplace

Whether your home base will be offsite or you’re calling Lake Perris home for a long weekend, you’ll want to do some light shopping, quench your thirst or carb load for Animal Collective’s blistering show on Friday. Desert Daze always prints a whopping selection of show- and artist-specific posters and they’re always sold at affordable prices, so an early trip to the merch tent is a must. And if boutique wares are your preference, a healthy variety of vintage sellers, craft jewelers and visionary designers are strewn about the groves and shoreline. Bring some cash because you won’t be disappointed with what you find.

For all of your consumption needs, Black Fin Sushi, Flavors of East Africa and Good Times Ice Cream are just the beginning of options that will be available onsite. Don’t forget to look at the full listing here to see if your local favorites will be making the trip out to Moreno Beach.

Lastly, make sure to grab your Desert Daze 2019 passes here and we’ll see ya on the other side.

Desert Daze 2019 - David Evanko

Desert Daze 2018: A stacked lineup & new location for one of California’s premier boutique festivals

Desert Daze 2018 - Phase FourPhoto by David Evanko // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Desert Daze //
Moreno Beach – Lake Perris, CA‎
October 12th-14th, 2018 //

It was really only a matter of time before Desert Daze outgrew its home of the past two years, as it was evident The Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree had reached peak capacity in 2017 (read our review here).

So, it was no surprise to longtime attendees when a new location was announced, coupled with a talent roster that proved growth was in the works, and a recipe for something special was concocted. Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone and his team at Moon Block had slyly put together one of the banner rock lineups on U.S. soil in many moons.

Did this signal the next fad in rock ‘n’ roll? Was this a strong thesis in the argument that boutique music festivals would start to rule the landscape as the behemoths dealt with homogenization?

I’m sure there could be convincing cases made for both, but at the end of the day, word of mouth had worked its magic and the event was “movin’ on up.”

Early reports from events held on the new site have been rolling in, lauding Moreno Beach as a scenic little slice of nature hidden in the hills above Moreno Valley. Though many will miss the magic that can only be found in Joshua Tree, there are a multitude of amenities that will make the three-plus days a little bit easier for attendees, such as permanent bathrooms and showers, more grassy and shaded areas, and plenty of accessible parking for both campers and day attendees alike.

There’s also a smorgasbord of VIP add-ons if you’re looking for a touch of luxury in between sets, as the Beach Club will offer some top-notch perks if that’s your thing. Meanwhile, there have been some other shifts in the event as it eases into a new home.

Desert Daze 2018 - Lake Perris


Lake Perris

Pirrone has recently stated in interviews that the music schedule this year will start a tad later each day to allow attendees to properly enjoy Lake Perris’ natural beauty. What better way to prepare for some long nights of blistering music than with a daytime boat excursion or a hike into the surrounding hills?

Now, onto the real reason we’re going to Desert Daze: the music. As has been the trend for many years, Moon Block continues to up the ante with another stacked roster, and with a larger capacity and budget, they went all-in on with three packed days and nights.

The top of the poster is simply bananas as we see this past decade’s psych-pop torchbearers, Tame Impala, top Friday’s billing with fellow neo-psychedelia Aussies, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, holding down Saturday’s headline slot.

Lastly, the Irish shoegaze demigods My Bloody Valentine will be bringing their wall of sound to the outdoor areas of Southern California. Fans can expect a smattering of new songs as the band has been unleashing fresh material most of this year.

As we take a peek further down the lineup, we see some rarities in the form of Ty Segall and White Fence, Jarvis Cocker Introducing Jarv Is… and Mercury Rev performing all of Deserter’s Songs. Never one to exclude stellar international acts, Desert Daze will also boast Boogarins from Brazil, Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha and the first U.S. show by English space-rockers Ulrika Spacek on Saturday.

A deeper dive into three international acts can be found below.

Kikagaku Moyo


Kikagaku Moyo

The Holydrug Couple: It has been more than three years since the Chilean duo graced the states with live shows, and what better locale for their return. Holydrug Couple write some seriously dreamy psych-pop that will fit perfectly into the festival’s new landscape, literally. Expect to hear songs from their expansive catalog, with an emphasis on new tracks off their Sacred Bones release Hyper Super Mega. The band is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, so make sure to welcome Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra warmly.

Kikagaku Moyo: Over the past year, this Japanese psych-rock outfit has been turning heads in some serious ways as they deliver a truly authentic sound. They hit a few smaller fests like Pickathon and have been gaining steam as the psych flag-bearer from the Far East. Their use of sitar and other less-traditional rock instrumentation has only helped garner a truly unique sound. Their 2016 release House in the Tall Grass is sure to get you pumped for their multiple sets at Desert Daze.

IDLES: While Desert Daze has a decided niche for all things rock, this year’s event sees the inclusion of slightly more punk-leaning artists in the form of UK’s own IDLES. Coming off a banner summer season, this whirlwind live act was much talked about at Primavera Sound and Rock Werchter for its raucous performances. Their second LP Joy Is an Act of Resistance, which came out in August, only cements that there is indeed still life in angst-ridden guitar rock. See ya in the pit for this one.

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Our favorite performances from 2017

Best live shows of 2017 - The xx, Miguel, Moderat & Coldplay

2017, where the hell did you go? It just felt like the other day that we were ringing in a new year, and yet, here we are again as we plow straight ahead into 2018.

But before we officially put a bow on 2017, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. This year, we had the opportunity to capture many amazing moments in live music, and while we couldn’t pay homage to every single performance we witnessed, we made a conscious effort to include a wide range of talent spread across the industry.

Whittling down our list, though, was not that easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

21 Savage, The Accidentals, Action Bronson, Alice Cooper, Alina Baraz, alt-J, Amber Mark, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Animal Collective, Atlas Genius, The Avalanches, The Band Perry, Beach Slang, Belle and Sebastian, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Bleachers, Blonde Redhead, Bob Moses, Car Seat Headrest, Cate Le Bon, Cigarettes After Sex, Circles Around the Sun, City of Caterpillar, The Coathangers, Claude VonStroke, Chris Robinson, Con Brio, Conor Oberst, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Crystal Castles, The Crystal Method, Daniel Caesar, Dawes, Dead Meadow, Deafheaven, Deep Purple, Diet Cig, DIIV, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Dog, Dr. Octagon, Duke Dumont, Eagles of Death Metal, Electric Guest, Emancipator, Emily King, Empire of the Sun, Foxygen, Future Islands, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Gatecreeper, Girl Talk, Gone Is Gone, Grizzly Bear, Gucci Mane, Hamilton Leithauser, Hazel English, Hinds, The Hip Replacements, Hiss Golden Messenger, How to Dress Well, Iggy Pop, Isaiah Rashad, Jack Johnson, Jagwar Ma, Jamestown Revival, Jamie Isaac, Jay 305, Jen Cloher, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Jessie Ware, Jim James, JR JR, Julie Byrne, Julien Baker, Justice, Karen Elson, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, KAYTRANADA, Kelis, K. Flay, Khalid, Khruangbin, Kilo Kish, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kurt Vile, La Femme, LANY, Lauv, L.A. Witch, Lettuce, Lil Yachty, Little Dragon, Lo Moon, Lorde, Lord Huron, Miike Snow, Milky Chance, Minus the Bear, Mister Heavenly, MØ, Mondo Cozmo, Neon Indian, Nicki Bluhm, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, NVO, Oh Sees, OK Go, Once and Future Band, Pallbearer, The Palms, Passion Pit, Peaches, Perfume Genius, Petit Biscuit, Phoebe Bridgers, Playboi Carti, Pond, Porcelain Raft, PRAYERS, The Radio Dept., Real Estate, The Revivalists, Royal Blood, Sampha, ScHoolboy Q, Sheer Mag, serpentwithfeet, Silversun Pickups, Sleep, Sleigh Bells, SOFI TUKKER, Solange, Spiritualized, Styles P, Sunflower Beam, Talib Kweli, Tank and The Bangas, Tash Sultana, Tei Shi, Temples, Tennis, Tennyson, Thou, Thundercat, TOBACCO, Touché Amoré, Tool, Tove Lo, Travis Scott, Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vagabon, Vance Joy, Vic Mensa, Warpaint, Weezer, White Fence, Woods, YG, Young the Giant.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2017.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Best of 2017 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Date: February 1st
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Yet, in just four years, Run the Jewels have already reached hip-hop’s mountaintop with their politically charged lyrics and hard-hitting beats. Just take last Wednesday’s sold-out show in LA for example. With the duo’s third studio album still only a few weeks old, 5,000 or so fans poured into the spacious Shrine Expo Hall to watch El-P and Killer Mike fuck shit up (for lack of a better term). And that’s exactly what they did after opening sets from The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangasta Boo and CUZ. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - BADBADNOTGOOD

BADBADNOTGOOD

Date: February 23rd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold-out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Spoon

Spoon

Date: March 7th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

In total, Spoon performed five songs from the new record, including “First Caress” to open a brief encore that left us eager for more. But as the five-piece rocked “Rainy Taxi” from 2014’s They Want My Soul to close, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is one band I never should have slept on. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

Date: April 8th
Location: Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best of 2017 - DREAMCAR

DREAMCAR

Date: April 9th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Jared Stossel, photo by Jared Stossel


Best of 2017 - A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

Date: April 13th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Date: April 14th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

Yes, the sound problems (all three instances) put a real damper on what was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. This was the third time Goldenvoice called on Radiohead to headline Coachella, and for one of rock’s most important bands over the last 30 years, it certainly wasn’t a charm as the saying goes. In that moment, it was pretty hard not to feel bad for Thom Yorke, who could only make light of the situation by cracking a joke even if it wasn’t supposed to be one — or so he claimed. But Radiohead more than made up for it with a masterful setlist that opened with A Moon Shaped Pool cuts “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk” and “Ful Stop” before circling back to older hits such as “Everything in Its Right Place”, “There There”, “Idioteque” and even “Creep”. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Date: April 16th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

All hail, King Kendrick! Or should we say “Kung Fu Kenny?” The Compton rapper reached hip-hop’s mountaintop more than two years ago with his Grammy-winning masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, but headlining Coachella was still on his to-do list. In fact, it was only the second time he had ever been booked to perform at Coachella after being listed on the last line of the 2012 poster. Closing out the fest is no short order for any artist, let alone one who dropped his new album less than 48 hours before taking the stage, but K-Dot lived up to the billing with a show that provoked as much thought as it entertained. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - The xx

The xx

Date: April 17th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

Playfully alluding to their material’s emotional sentiment, Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar) and Oliver Sim (bass, vocals) managed to entrance all of us with their tension-filled gazes and syncopated dance moves. Prolonging vocal arrangements, especially during their accelerated live interpretation of “Infinity”, were also stunning to witness. About halfway through the set, Jamie Smith (beats, MPC, production), aka Jamie xx, took the lead and transformed the room into a giant disco party thanks to an onslaught of consecutive dance hits before finishing with “Loud Places” from his 2015 solo LP In Colour. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

Date: April 20th
Location: Mayan Theater – Los Angeles

Moderat subsequently circled back to III, performing “Intruder” before exiting the stage to a rousing applause. Yet, when the house lights didn’t come on right away, the suspense began to build once again. Less than a minute later, the three-piece reemerged, giving the audience more than its money’s worth. Two-encore shows are usually reserved for high-profile groups with extensive catalogs like Radiohead, but Moderat have never played by any rules. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Date: May 9th
Location: The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles

The Lips, of course, made sure to play that song, and even though it was without Watts, it still proved to be an unforgettable moment due to the fact that Coyne rode a life-size unicorn from one end of the stage to the other as he belted out lines like “Yeah, there should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes / It should be loud as fuck / Hope the swans don’t die” to open the tune while wearing a big smile across his face. If that’s not psychedelic to you, then I don’t know what is. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Date: June 3rd
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Stephanie Port, photo by Stephanie Port


Best of 2017 - Jay Som

Jay Som

Date: June 17th
Location: Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.” -Kevin Quandt, photo by Emmeline Munson


Best of 2017- AIR

AIR

Date: June 23rd
Location: The Masonic – San Francisco

AIR’s live performances focus on capturing the crisp, detailed production style that the duo has honed over two decades. It’s a vibrant, textured sound. Centered around acoustic guitar, synthesizers and the breathy timbre of the duo’s immaculate harmonized vocals, the use of live drums helped round out the contrast between both the artificial and acoustic sounds in songs like “Cherry Blossom Girl”. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - PLANETARIUM

PLANETARIUM

Date: July 21st
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”. -Norm de Veyra, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - The Drums

The Drums

Date: July 21st
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

By the time The Drums took the stage, the intimate venue was packed to the brim with fans. The Brooklyn outfit made as much of an impression as it did when frontman Jonathan Pierce and company exploded onto the scene in 2009 with their initial EP Summertime! From then on, it became glaringly obvious with their eccentric band members and seemingly effortless style that they possessed an energetic presence. And at their SF show, it didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to fall into a groove as the venue’s whole atmosphere lit up. -Jacqueline Moore, photo by Jacqueline Moore


Best of 2017 - Miguel

Miguel

Date: July 23rd
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles

Once the sun set and Miguel stepped onstage, the audience was transported somewhere else entirely. Born and raised in LA, the 31-year-old’s silky-smooth voice floated through the cool evening breeze over the twinkle lights in the trees, giving the impression of an island retreat rather than a concert in the park. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: August 5th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

Granduciel’s raspy voice, as well as his driving (no pun intended) guitar rhythms and reverb-laden riffs, are largely what separates The War on Drugs from the rest in a crowded indie-rock scene, but the sum of the band’s parts — Charlie Hall (drums), David Hartley (bass), Anthony LaMarca (guitar, keyboards), Robbie Bennett (keyboards) and finally Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) — also creates a sound that while familiar, still feels uniquely different. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Date: August 11th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Easily one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Gorillaz’s Humanz tour made its West Coast debut on Day 1 at OSL. After a six-year hiatus, expectations ran extremely high for this headlining performance. On previous tours, the band’s members had played second fiddle to the cartoon projections of their alter egos onstage, but everyone was visible this time around. Several collaborators from Gorillaz’s previous albums, including Kali Uchis, Yukimi Nagano and Del the Funky Homosapien, came out to join them, and the Damon Albarn-led group still pulled some even bigger surprises with cameos appearances from De la Soul and Pusha T. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Date: August 12th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

While the cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age was a blow a week prior to the event, the replacement that was lined up more than delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll. Cage the Elephant are now being widely considered festival-headliner material, and frontman Matt Shultz is making a strong claim for that accolade as he continues to elevate his stage act to near-Mick Jagger levels of pomp and energy. “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” received hearty sing-alongs from a decidedly youthful crowd as Cage have become a favorite of Generation Z. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!” -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - SZA

SZA

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - Bonobo

Bonobo (Live)

Date: September 27th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Coldplay

Coldplay

Date: October 4th
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

Coldplay took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. as a video montage of fans who introduced them as “the biggest band in the world” played onstage. While I’m pretty sure there are a few other artists or groups from their side of the pond (ehem, U2) who might take issue with that claim, they certainly did nothing during their electric, almost two-hour performance to dissuade that sort of thinking. Chris Martin and company, in fact, wasted no time getting down to business, flooding the stadium with confetti and firing off pyrotechnics at a steady clip while opening with “A Head Full of Dreams” and subsequently all throughout the night. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Date: October 26th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

Here’s the thing about BSS — after 15 years, the web of musicians that makes up the collective have created their own individual projects, from Metric to Stars to Feist to Do Make Say Think to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. And while many of the band’s members who have gone on to find success in their own solo careers didn’t happen to join the group on this particular tour, the sense of professionalism built into the BSS live experience remains prevalent. Every person who stepped onstage demonstrated consummate abilities in their own realms, never missing a beat or a note. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Norm de Veyra

Best of 2017 - Jim James

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Noise Pop 2017: Celebrating 25 years of Bay Area indie culture

Noise Pop 2017Written by Molly Kish //

Noise Pop //
Bay Area venues – San Francisco & Oakland
February 17th–27th, 2017 //

Marking its 25th anniversary this month as the West Coast’s premiere independent music and arts festival, Noise Pop returns to take over more than 30 clubs, theaters and art spaces in the Bay Area. With residencies at various locations in SF and Oakland, the festival officially kicks off with its 2017 film series and art exhibits leading into 11 days of live musical performances from nationally recognized and locally curated acts.

This year’s roster includes members of Animal Collective, Vince Staples, BADBADNOTGOOD, Dawes, Kelis, Hudson Mohawke, Ty Segall and more, Noise Pop continues its legacy as one of the nation’s leading purveyors of independent music, culture and arts.

To help you navigate this year’s Noise Pop lineup, we have locked in our top picks for the fest’s happy hours, art shows, film series and concerts. Check out our full list of favorites below and prepare yourself for what’s to come!


Noise Pop 2017 - Mission Bowling Club

Art Shows

The Flavors of Noise Pop: February 1st-March 7th @ Mission Bowling Club


Noise Pop 2017 - film series

Films

Festival (featuring Q&A with director Michael Raspatello and panelists Allen Scott, Jordan Kurland & Kevin Arnold): February 17th (FRI) @ Swedish American Hall (8 p.m., $12, All Ages)

The Art of Listening: February 17th (FRI) @ Roxie Theatre (6:30 p.m., $12, All Ages)

My Buddha Is Punk: February 18th (SAT) @ Artists’ Television Access (2 p.m., $12, All Ages)


Noise Pop 2017 - Tricycle Records

Happy Hours

Tricycle Records Presents Hot Toddies, Great Apes & Brasil: February 23rd (THU) @ Bender’s Bar & Grill (5 p.m., 21+)

Different Fur Presents: OCD, Trash Vampires & Phosphene: February 24th (FRI) @ Bender’s Bar & Grill (5 p.m., 21+)


Noise Pop 2017 - Sunday Smörgåsbord

Other Events

Sunday Smörgåsbord: February 26th (SUN) @ Swedish American Hall (FREE RSVP, 21+)

Schedule:
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. — “Showga” Yoga Set to Live Music (by Everyone Is Dirty’s Sivan Lioncub)
12-6 p.m. — 1-2-3-4 GO! Pop-Up Vinyl Store
12-6 p.m. — Vinyl Tapestry Part II: The Scarpati Brothers Rock Photo and Art Show
1-3 p.m. — The MailChimp Brunch Time Happy Hour
3-4 p.m. — Noise Pop Live Podcast
4-6 p.m. — Litquake: I Thought It Sucked


Cloud Nothings


Cloud Nothings

Music

Cloud Nothings with Itsaca, Never Young, Kid Trails: February 20th (MON) @ The Independent (7:30 p.m., $20, 21+)

Weyes Blood with Half Waif, 20 Minute Loop, Young Moon: February 21st (TUES) @ Swedish American Hall (7 p.m., $15, All Ages) // WIN TICKETS

Hazel English with Elsa Y Elmar, Tanukichan, Maggie y/o: February 21st (TUES) @ Rickshaw Stop (8 p.m., $12, All Ages) // WIN TICKETS

Diet Cig with Plush, Joyride!, Shutups: February 22nd (WED) @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall (7 p.m., $15, 18+)

Desert Daze Caravan Festival featuring Temples, Night Moves, Deap Valley, Froth, JJUUJJUU: February 22nd (WED) @ The Chapel (7 p.m., $34, All Ages) // WIN TICKETS

The Palms with The Young Wild, Warbly Jets, NYRE: February 22nd (WED) @ Rickshaw Stop (8 p.m., $12, 18+)

Kelis with Rayana Jay, Cellus: February 22nd (WED) @ 1015 Folsom (10 p.m., $10, 21+) // WIN TICKETS

PWR BTTM with Chaos Chaos, Soar, The Total Betty’s: February 23rd (THU) @ Starline Social Club (21+, SOLD OUT)

Tash Sultana with Monster Rally, John Cashman, Affectionately: February 23rd (THU) @ Swedish American Hall (All Ages, SOLD OUT)

BADBADNOTGOOD with Hodgy, London O’Connor: February 23rd (THU) @ The Fillmore (18+, SOLD OUT)

Crocodiles with AJ Dávila, Hot Flash Heat Wave, NRVS LVRS: February 23rd (THU) @ Bottom of the Hill (7:30pm, $15, All Ages) // WIN TICKETS

Kevin Abstract with Bearface, Hugo, Hobo Johnson: February 23rd (THU) @ The New Parish (8 p.m., $18, 21+) // WIN TICKETS

Barclay Crenshaw with AABO, Chiller Whale, Jackson Waites, Roeviscious: February 23rd (THU) @ 1015 Folsom (10 p.m., $15, 21+) // WIN TICKETS

Hanni El Khatib


Hanni El Khatib

Hanni El Khatib with The Buttertones, The Molochs, Innovative Leisure DJs: February 24th (FRI) @ The Chapel (7 p.m., $20, All Ages)

Matt Pond PA with Before the Brave, Hideout, The Bye Bye Blackbirds: February 24th (FRI) @ Bottom of the Hill (7:30 p.m., $16, All Ages)

Deafheaven with This Will Destroy You, Emma Ruth Rundle: February 24th (FRI) @ The Independent (8:30 p.m., $20, 21+)

Hudson Mohawke with Francios K, Teklife, DJ Spinn, And Taye, Jay Daniel, Seven Davis Jr., Benji B. & Judah: February 24th (FRI) @ 1015 Folsom (10 p.m., $20, 21+) // WIN TICKETS

Vince Staples with Kilo Kish: February 25th (SAT) @ Fox Theater Oakland (7 p.m., $30, All Ages)

Tennis with Hoops, Great American Canyon Band & Owl Paws: February 25th (SAT) @ Great American Music Hall (18+, SOLD OUT)

MSTRKRFT with Maniacs, MPHD, NVO: February 25th (SAT) @ Mezzanine (9 p.m., $25, 21+)

The Radio Dept. with Germans, The Bilinda Butchers, Future Shapes: February 25th (SAT) @ The Independent (7:30 p.m., $25, 21+)

Grandaddy with Minihorse, N.Lannon, Goon: February 26th (SUN) @ Bimbo’s 365 Club (7 p.m., SOLD OUT, 18+)

Radical Face: February 26th (SUN) @ The Fillmore (8 p.m., $25, All Ages)

Ty Segall with Shannon and the Clams, White Fence, Axis: February 27th (MON) @ Fox Theater Oakland (6 p.m., $25, All Ages)


Download the Noise Pop mobile app to get special updates, including details on Noise Pop After Hours performances, and create your own customized schedule here. Super Fan Badges are still available for purchase here.

Noise Pop - 2017 lineup


The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2014

St. Vincent at Fox Theatre Oakland // Showbams' Photo of the Year, by Pedro


St. Vincent at Fox Theater Oakland // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Pedro Paredes

Ah, year-end lists — they’re an exercise in subjectivity and personal experience if there has ever been one. But what better way is there to learn from each other and discover some great new music while capping off the year and beginning anew?

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2014.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2014
Showbams’ Top 50 Albums of 2014

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2014:


Darkside at The Fillmore

Darkside at The Fillmore // Photo by James Nagel

Mike Frash // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Darkside at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – January 24th
Looking at my top five shows list for 2014, it appears I favor the weird, ya know, the good weird. This Darkside performance, the only SF show ever (for now) since Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington have put the project on indefinite hold, had patrons at The Fillmore in SF breathing and moving in unison. There was a magical feeling in the air as the hybrid of electronic and organic played out wonderfully with the duo tipping their hat to the past and setting a new standard for the brave new future of live music.

2. Panda Bear at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – May 22nd
3. tUnE-yArDs at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – June 6th
4. Phish at MGM Grand – Las Vegas, NV – October 31st
5. Volcano Choir at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – January 21st

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2
Ever since Jamie and Mikey blew my mind performing Run the Jewels almost in its entirety at The Independent in August of 2013, I’ve been a loyal RTJ soldier. And without taking a break, El Producto and Killer Mike stepped it up to an even higher plateau with their production precision, an uncanny balance of fun and intense, while lyrically honing more on the important issues of our time. Sensing the unstoppable momentum, Run the Jewels are already heading back into the studio for Run the Jewels 3. When Mike was recently asked if they’d continue to name their albums numerically, he said “Why not?!? Zeppelin did it!” Exactly. Say it with me now: Festival headliners circa 2016?

2. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream
3. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
4. Aphex TwinSyro
5. The Antlers – Familiars

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Sturgill Simpson – “Turtles All the Way Down”
This is country music turned on its head, while staying mostly true to the hallmarks of the genre. Lyrically subversive while instrumentally emotive to the core, this song kept me coming back throughout 2014. It’s positive message of love winning over all else is certainly timeless, but when was the last time you heard a country tune tell a story of mind over matter transcendence? “There’s a gateway in our minds that leads somewhere out there, far beyond this place / Where reptile aliens made of light, cut you up and pull out all your pain.” Stirgill Simpson is as progressive as you can get within the realm of Americana, urging the listener to both think and feel.

2. St. Vincent – “Digital Witness”
3. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
4. FKA twigs – “Two Weeks”
5. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” feat. Kendrick Lamar


Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails // Photo by Rob Sheridan for NIN.com

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO – July 21st
What a dream come true. Having the opportunity to see two of my favorite childhood bands at one of the best venues in the country would be hard to beat any year, let alone in 2014. Sharing the bill with Soundgarden on this tour, Trent Reznor made the most of a minimalist stage setup and trimmed-down lineup of sidekicks. Of the four shows (Red Rocks, Chula Vista, Irvine and Hollywood) I saw on this tour, this one felt particularly special. If this was one of the last times I ever got to see Nine Inch Nails perform live, it was a night I will never forget.

2. Jack White at The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – June 10th
3. Cinquanta featuring Puscifer, A Perfect Circle and Failure at The Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – May 10th
4. Queens of the Stone Age at The Forum – Los Angeles, CA – October 31st
5. Tool at Valley View Casino Center – San Diego, CA – March 16th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. The Black KeysTurn Blue
Akron’s favorite rockers answered the call this year, following up their Grammy-winning album El Camino with arguably their most ambitious effort to date — especially when you consider the turmoil that surrounded Dan Auerbach’s life at the time of its recording. Over the last five years, the Keys have become one of rock’s biggest bands, but they haven’t stopped taking risks as a result. Turn Blue dabbles in a myriad of styles, from the psychedelic sound of Pink Floyd on its opening track “Weight of Love” to the hip-hop groove on “10 Lovers.” For as many critics as they have, Auerbach and Patrick Carney have come a long way since their early years as strictly a blues duo.

2. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream
3. Jack WhiteLazaretto
4. Aphex TwinSyro
5. Death from Above 1979The Physical World

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”
Jack White seems to be on another level these days. The former White Stripe has grown into one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most exciting talents, and this blues-heavy, instrumental track showcases that better than any other offering on Lazaretto. White’s ferocious guitar riffs dominate the tune, taking listeners on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. And when he plays “High Ball Stepper” live, the song takes on a new whole life of its own.

2. Foo Fighters – “Something for Nothing”
3. Interpol – “All the Rage Back Home”
4. TV on the Radio – “Happy Idiot”
5. Tycho – “Awake”


Jack White at BGCA // Photo by

Jack White at Bill Graham Civic // Photo by David James Swanson

Steven Wandrey // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Jack White at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco, CA – August 22nd
From the dramatic curtain drop that slammed into high-octane rock, this show never let off the gas. Even with a bum ankle, Jack White stalked the stage and held power over the crowd. When the slowest moments of a show are White Stripes ballads that you’re giddy to hear and the other half of the show is headbanging, guitar-slinging rock, it’s easy to see how this show cemented itself as the best of 2014.

2. Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – May 6th
3. The War on Drugs at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – April 1st
4. Run the Jewels at Mezzanine – San Francisco, CA – November 14th
5. Duck Sauce at Outside Lands Music Festival – August 9th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Flying LotusYou’re Dead!
This album makes me feel like I’m actually traveling through the underworld to the land of the dead. From front to back, the first thing that caught me about this album was its consistent message. Steven Ellison has an inviting sense of storytelling that’s infused with hip-hop but touches on an array of different music styles, involving a star-studded cast of guests, including Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Snoop Dog. I have a feeling Flying Lotus is on the forefront of creative hip-hop and that this album will prove to be influential down the line. More importantly, I just love listening to it. Taking wild turns from frenetic to serene, listening to this album from start to finish is a journey.

2. Aphex TwinSyro
3. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2
4. Future IslandsSingles
5. Tweedy – Sukierae

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Run the Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”
The minimalist production and deep, rumbling bass frequencies have helped this track become my No. 1 listened to on the album and also No. 1 for the year. The complimentary flow that El-P and Killer Mike have together is on display in this track. This cut has infected my brain like a virus (the good kind?), and I just can’t get enough.

2. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
3. Sam Smith – “I’m Not the Only One”
4. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
5. Perfume Genius – “Queen”


Future Islands at The Chapel // Photo by

Future Islands at The Chapel // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Future Islands at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 12th
It’s been a banner year for the Baltimore darlings we have grown to love as Future Islands. Breaking through the underground touring circuit to being a highly sought-after festival act was quick and clean as the passionate stage performance of Samuel Harrington could not be ignored by growing audiences. A packed Gobi Tent was eating from the frontman’s palm as Herrington poured himself out on stage, belting out a set heavy on new tracks and old favorites. It was a pivotal point where both the band and audience knew that Future Islands had arrived at the next stage of their career.

2. The Cure at BottleRock Napa Valley – Napa, CA – May 30th
3. Phish at MGM Grand Arena – Las Vegas, NV – October 31st
4. Connan Mockasin at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – May 15th
5. Deerhoof at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – November 18th 

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream 
Adam Granduciel had one helluva 2014 to brag about. His third studio album Lost in the Dream was an overwhelming success, and all for good reason as the lush waves of rock swell over the listener like a warm Christmas sweater, just less ugly than the one you wore to that one party. “Under the Pressure” opens this release in epic fashion and does not let up from there. Guitar rock is not dead!

2. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
3. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2
4. D’Angelo – Black Messiah 
5. White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent  

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Steven Ellison’s left-field meditation on death, as demonstrated on 2014’s release You’re Dead!, is not for everyone and is more about the full album than the sum of its parts (tracks). However, there is one shining beacon of a collaboration that could not be cast aside in the form of “Never Catch Me”. The partnership of one of the hottest MCs with one of the most sought-after producers was meant to be a brutally infectious slice of off-kilter street music. 

2. Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”
3. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
4. Beck – “Blue Moon”
5. Ariel Pink – “Put Your Number in My Phone”


Ryan Adams at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

Ryan Adams at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014 // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Pete Mauch // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Phish at MGM Grand – Las Vegas, NV – October 31st
Phish has made the tradition of covering other artists albums on Halloween, and this year they completely outdid themselves by covering essentially an album of only narrative and spooky sounds. The Disney-produced album The Thrilling and Chilling Sounds of the Taunted House was turned into a rock opera of sorts as Trey and company worked through completely new songs based off just minimal sounds, but the night didn’t just end there. The band played this rock opera sandwiched between two very strong sets of original Phish songs that could have held its own alone.

2. Lettuce’s Late Night in Red Barn at Summer Camp Music Festival – Chillicothe, IL – May 22nd
3. Future Islands at Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA – April 12th
4. Ryan Adams at The Fox Theater Pomona – Pomona, CA – October 11th
5. Todd Terje at FYF Fest – Los Angeles – August 24th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
When someone as prolific as Ryan Adams puts out a new record, you buy that record and you listen intently. The songs in his first self-titled album may seem simple at first listen, but they stay with you in the back of your mind until you just can’t take it and you re-listen again and again. This is exactly how what I’ve been doing the past few months since the release. Songs like “Gimme Something Good” and “Am I Safe” prove once again that Adams is still on top of his game.

2. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream
3. moe. – No Guts, No Glory
4. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
5. Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
“People change / You know but some people never do / You know when people change, they gain a piece but they lose one too.” These lyrics are so uplifting and real, and the music to accompany these amazing lyrics ties the emotion perfectly together.

2. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure”
3. The Barr Brothers – “Come in the Water”
4. Temples – “Shelter Song”
5. Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”


Old Crow Medicine Show at The Regency // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Old Crow Medicine Show at The Regency // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Pedro Paredes // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Darkside at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – January 24th
The album Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington put together in 2013 was a delight for the ears, but with the show they played at The Fillmore, they were going after every sense in your body. Jaar once said that Darkside’s music was more experiential rather than musical, and they surely succeeded in delivering one of the best musical experiences to all the lucky attendants on that cold January night.

2. Future Islands at The Chapel – San Francisco, CA – April 10th
3. St. Vincent at The Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – March 22nd
4. James Blake at The Chapel – San Francisco, CA – December 7th
5. Old Crow Medicine Show at The Masonic – San Francisco, CA – September 20th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. BeckMorning Phase
Beck’s Morning Phase follows the same breezy style as Sea Change, but the latter’s serenity seems to come from darker places. Morning Phase is, as the title suggests, a bit brighter and sets the tone for all the good things yet to come.

2. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2
3. Real EstateAtlas
4. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream
5. Perfume Genius – Too Bright

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. alt-J – “Nara”
It is hard to isolate “Nara” as the best song of Alt-J’s latest album This is All Yours since the story told in it is not exclusive to that song and it comes back in different sections of the album (as well as in some of the musical arrangements). But “Nara”, a song about love, deserves to be listened again and again. The 2:58 mark is bliss to my ears.

2. tUnE-yArDs – “Water Fountain”
3. Run the Jewels – “Love Again”
4. Perfume Genius – “Fool”
5. Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five”


St. Vincent at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by

St. Vincent at Fox Theater Oakland // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden at Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mountain View, CA – August 24th
I had never seen either band live before and based on my experience, it was like they had never broken up or aged since the ’90s. Amazing stage/light shows to go along with what was hands down my most eagerly anticipated show of the year.

2. Cibo Matto at Slim’s – San Francisco, CA – February 26th
3. American Football at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – December 12th
4. Failure at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – May 14th
5. Crosses at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – March 30th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. St. VincentSt. Vincent
This album comes off like a chameleon, with many shifts but always staying very characteristically St. Vincent. I feel that she is one of the more important artists to come around over the last few years, and I am excited to see what she does next.

2. Nothing – Guilty of Everything
3. BeckMorning Phase
4. Fugazi – First Demo
5. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Spoon – “Do You”
Spoon have a knack for throwing a good toe tapper in their albums. This song is short and sweet, and you cannot help but get caught up in its infectiousness.  

2. Ryan Adams – “Give Me Something Good”
3. St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
4. TV on the Radio – “Could You”
5. Nothing – “Bent Nail”


Arcade Fire at Shoreline Amphitheater // Photo by Justin Yee

Arcade Fire at Shoreline Amphitheater // Photo by Justin Yee

Justin Yee // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1) Future Islands at South by Southwest (Cheer Up Charlie’s) – Austin, TX – March 13th
2) Arcade Fire at Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mountain View, CA – July 30th
3) Chromeo at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – April 12th
4) James Blake at The Chapel – San Francisco, CA – December 7th
5) Outkast at Treasure Island Music Festival – San Francisco, CA – October 18th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1) Future IslandsSingles
2) The War on DrugsLost in the Dream
3) ODESZA – In Return
4) Flying LotusYou’re Dead!
5) CaribouOur Love

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1) Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
2) Chromeo – “Come Alive” feat. Toro y Moi
3) Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me” feat. Kendrick Lamar
4) Chet Faker – “1998”
5) Mac Demarco – “Let Her Go”


James Blake at The Chapel //

James Blake at The Chapel // Photo by Pedro Paredes

Eric Shaden // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. James Blake at The Chapel – San Francisco, CA – December 7th
I feel bad telling friends about how great this show was since so few people were able to get tickets. An intimate venue hosting such a phenomenal artist was a no-brainer for my top pick. James covered hits from his albums as well as debuted new tracks and an incredible interlude of house jams. I just wish more friends could have seen this!

2. Chromeo at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – April 12th
3. Todd Terje at FYF Fest – Los Angeles, CA – August 24th
4. tUnE-yArDs at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – June 6th
5. Holy Ghost! at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – San Francisco, CA – April 30th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2
What else can be said about this album that hasn’t been covered already? An outstanding sequel to Run the Jewels that expands on the original with top-notch production and punishing delivery from El-P and Killer Mike. Without a doubt my top choice of the year.

2. Syd Arthur – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble
3. D’Angelo – Black Messiah 
4. Sinkane – Mean Love
5. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. D’Angelo – “Sugah Daddy”
I imagine D’Angelo coming back with his long-awaited album in December showed which writers/blogs/etc. wrote their “Best of the Year” lists early. His style of soulful R&B is sorely needed, and “Sugah Daddy” is my favorite from the album. Looking forward to his tour in 2015!

2. Caribou – “Our Love”
3. Aphex Twin – “minipops 67 [120.2]”
4. Jungle – “Time”
5. Jamie xx – “Sleep Sound”


High Sierra Music Festival // Photo by Benjamin Wallen

High Sierra Music Festival // Photo by Benjamin Wallen

Benjamin Wallen // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. High Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA – July 2nd-5th
2. Paul McCartney at Candlestick Farewell – Candlestick Park – San Francisco, CA – August 14th
3. Jamestown Revival at Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – November 28th
4. The String Cheese Incident at Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA – April 24th
5. Greensky Bluegrass at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – November 14th


Cali-Roots_fix

Scott Martin // San Jose

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. California Roots Music Festival at Monterey Fairgrounds – Monterey, CA – May 23rd-25th
2. Rival Sons, Soft White Sixties & Sir Madam at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – September 25th
3. The Pimps of Joytime at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – February 15th
4. Caravan Palace & Rosin Coven at The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA – April 16th
5. Jackie Greene at The Catalyst Club – Santa Cruz, CA – March 26th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Bears Den – Islands
2. Milky Chance – Sadnecessary
3. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
4. Mighty Oaks – Howl
5. Solstafir – Otta

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Bears Den – “Agape”
2. Bears Den – “Isaac”
3. Milky Chance – “Down by the River”
4. Mighty Oaks – “The Great Northwest”
5. Crosses – “Bitches Brew”


MIA at BFD // Photo by Marc Fong

MIA at BFD // Photo by Marc Fong

Nikki DeMartini // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2014
1. MIA at Shoreline Amphitheatre for BFD 2014 – Mountain View, CA – June 1st
It had been four years since I saw MIA live and even though I’d prefer to see her play her own show rather than a set at a music festival, I was super excited to see her at BFD last summer. It was the first time in nearly 10 years that my cousin and I went to LIFE105’s annual summer show together. We lucked out and upgraded our tickets just in time to see MIA’s performance. Both of us were out of our seats, singing and dancing along to every song as soon as her set started. I was beside myself as MIA herself made her way off the stage, up into the seats of the venue and stopped near our row to spit lyrics as fans gathered and danced around her, myself included. I still can’t believe I danced with MIA!

2. OK Go at The Independent – San Francisco, CA – July 16th
3. Die Antwoord at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – May 22nd
4. Sylvan Esso at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – June 6th
5. MS MR at The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – April 15th

Top 5 Albums of 2014
1. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
When I covered Sylvan Esso at The Fillmore earlier this year (when they opened for tUnE-yArDs), I had no idea who they were but ended up leaving the show a fan. Their self-titled debut album is an uplifting mix of danceable electropop tracks and indie rock that’s easy to lose yourself in. Their sparkly, layered and melodic sounds translate well whether you’re listening to the album or seeing them live. Sylvan Esso is one of three albums I bought in 2014, and it’s been on repeat ever since I picked it up.

2. Glass Animals – Zaba
3. Die Antwoord – Donker Mag
4. Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
5. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

Top 5 Songs of 2014
1. Tove Lo – “Habits (Stay High)”
I really enjoy the simple percussion-driven melody and voluptuous vocals of Tove Lo’s hit single “Habits (Stay High)”. The subtle, yet engaging buildup to her belting, emotionally-charged lyrics has me singing along and turning it up every time I hear it on the radio. While it is very catchy, it’s not a super dancey song. However, it is a great go-to for karaoke. 

2. Die Antwoord – “Rat Trap 666”
3. Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”
4. First Aid Kit – “My Silver Lining”
5. The Dead Weather – “Buzzkill(er)”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Showbams’ Top 50 albums of 2014

Best-albums-2014-coverBy Mike Frash, Josh Herwitt, Molly Kish, Steve Wandrey & Kevin Quandt //

Showbams presents the Top 50 albums released in 2014 (yes, all of 2014) that we just can’t stop listening to.

These are the albums that made us double-take upon first listen, while also being auditory art pieces that we continue to spin as we head into 2015. They are the bundles of songs that innovated and inspired us more than the rest, signifying musical progression, defining our time with a soundtrack that challenges traditional expectations, while boldly trekking into new frontiers of pop music.

Because as music continues to become more accessible, the bridge between independent and mainstream gets shorter each year.

The 25 Best Live Music Acts of 2014
Showbams’ Top 50 Albums of 2014

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2014:


1. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2

run-the-jewelsSo often sequels don’t deliver, but ascending hip-hop stars Killer Mike and El-P have simply progressed their brilliance as Run The Jewels one year removed from their first official collaboration. From the top of RTJ2, Michael Render manages to set a higher bar for pumped-up aggression, there’s more social activism laced throughout, more special guests that only add to the fuck boy-crushing populist mentality. And compared to RTJ1, there are more stand-alone gems that are primed for remixing and cultural integration. The sequencing is superb, and El and Mike are having more fun than ever as they tour the world and snowball momentum with their brand of hardcore, yet intricate rap that contains shades of weird. Like a championship baseball team, the songs in the two hole through cleanup hitter offer the biggest impact, wreaking instant classics upon us with masterful experimental production from El-P that emits new, subtle surprises the more you listen. As the album unfolds, tales of police brutality (“Early”), introspection and personal improvement (“Crown”), along with over the top raunch (“Love Again”) prove RTJ2 shines in every moment in a variety of ways through multiple lanes of success. -Mike Frash


2. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream

war-on-drugs-lost-in-dream-album-coverWhen a truly inspired artist borrows from the past while looking to the future, the outcome can be something fully new and exciting, which is what we have here. The brilliance of Adam Granduciel lies in his delivery, both musically and lyrically, crooning about the sometimes-not-so-simple intricacies of existence. Life, love and everything else in between can be tricky, yet Granduciel calmly assures us that things can work out.

Granduciel knows how to structure albums with the best of them — this acutely demonstrated via the nine-minute, sprawling opener “Under the Pressure”. First single “Red Eyes” keeps on a similar path as we sink deeper in, bobbing along to the pounding drum machine that has been a constant over the years for the Philly-based band. “Disappearing” takes us soaring above the clouds as we hear new, thrilling piano instrumentation with warm bass lines, creating a sense of weightlessness and flight. An extremely strong finishing track, “In Reverse” perfectly captures the fleeting minutes on this release before jarring us back into a slightly crueler reality. The long play of this record is so rewarding, and it grows with hopes that more can be brought into the light. Oh, and that the state rock ‘n’ roll is just fine. -Kevin Quandt


3. D’Angelo and the VanguardBlack Messiah

dangelo-black-messiahThere’s an intentional off-kilter spontaneity and cohesive force at the center of D’Angelo’s first album in 15 years, Black Messiah. The percussive and vocal syncopation here makes the off-beat feel natural — layered vocals get treated with filters and are multi-tracked to lend an unfamiliar presence to the back-and-forth vocal pitch shifts D’Angelo employs from line to line.

The end product is a record that possesses its own musical language, telling stories that are incredibly meaningful, but achieve balance between serious and playful, while always being sexy. The confusing, driving funk of the first two cuts give way to “The Charade”, which manages to hit a rare aural sweat spot of ultra-pleasurability. But then “Sugah Daddy” follows as an unplanned Sunday in the park, with vocal scats skipping along to the breezy song’s pacing. D’Angelo arguably can now join the ranks of the all-time great R&B/soul artists with the delivery of his long-awaited third record. -MF


4. Future IslandsSingles

Future IslandSingles jumps right out of the gates, showing its cards early, presenting the listener with Future Island’s trademark new-school, new-wave sound. Samuel Herring’s vocals are stunning as he pitches and growls through tales of the tougher side of love. It’s pretty, gripping and powerful while also holding certain pop sentiments, lending to an overall lightness while being arresting. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” is a quintessential slice of the emotion this band has become well known for both onstage and in the studio. “Doves” balances all the elements nicely, shining a light on the top-notch production featured on Singles. -KQ


5. Aphex TwinSyro

FINAL MASTER SYRO DIGIPAK.inddRichard D. James has been practically an enigma for the last decade plus, hiding out in a small Scottish village of 300 and releasing no new music as Aphex Twin since 2006. But the long layoff hasn’t changed the fact that he remains one of the most unique and influential electronic producers in the game today. Some of James’ best material on Syro comes early on, from his club-oriented mixes like “minipops 67 [120.2]” to the techno funk ­he crafts on the ensuing “XMAS_EVET10 [120]” and “produk 29 [101].” These aren’t beats designed to make you sweat your ass off — if anything, the cerebral nature of James’ work makes him the ultimate antithesis of the current EDM scene. -Josh Herwitt


6. Flying LotusYou’re Dead!

Flylo_youre_deadOn Flying Lotus’s latest record You’re Dead!, the Los Angeles producer forgoes the acid kool-aide test for a cyanide kool-aide dive straight into a fourth dimensional confrontation with the afterlife. You’re Dead masterfully trips through the journey of the soul into the next episode with sun-scorched psychedelia, 8-bit snapshots of g-funk and gorgeously redemptive jazz. The cold transition between the frantic jazz freak out of Kendrick Lamar featuring “Never Catch Me” and the cooled-out West Coast bounce of Snoop Dogg and FlyLo alter-ego Captain Murphy’s “Dead Man’s Tetris” highlights the producer’s prolific ability to craft varying hip-hop textures. FlyLo fully buries his new album’s death aesthetic through ecstatic, free-form layers of acid jazz and sprawling EDM planes of sound. -John Venanzi, Community Review


7. St. VincentSt. Vincent

St. VincentAnnie Clark ups the electronic ante on her fourth studio album. Branching out of her experimental indie-pop compositions, she embraces more cohesive arrangements that ironically focus her creativity on deconstructed production and sound obstruction. Both equally impressive in sound quality and sass, the opening tracks “Rattlesnake” and “Birth in Reverse” set the tone for the rest of the records’ exciting stylistic shifts and the intriguing unveiling of Clark’s gritty rock goddess persona. “Digital Witness” is a spot-on snapshot of our brave new 21st century day-to-day reality. Unapologetic, raw and sonically genius, St. Vincent is Clark’s breakthrough moment, and she appears to be doing it all with ease. -Molly Kish


8. Mac DeMarcoSalad Days

Mac DemarcoMac DeMarco’s signature style is here. It’s still fresh and in ways stronger than ever; it’s more pointed, focused and accessible. 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. 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. -Steve Wandrey


9. CaribouOur Love

our-loveWhat we have here is one of the most addictive albums of 2014. Our Love keeps deep house in its front pocket with steady beats per minute and an introspective mantra-centric lyrical conceit, but it’s also exploratory in nature, finding success in consistently building toward intense, euphoric plateaus. A steady flow of pleasant sounds ascend into impacting transcendence with “Can’t Do Without You”, “Silver” and “Your Love Will Set You Free”, and you must give Snaith extra credit for the masterful pacing and song-to-song flow — there is never a “skip ahead” moment. Like many classic albums, it opens up if you give it more time to radiate around your head, and listening to it becomes more pleasurable over time, even though it is mostly presented in poetic simplicity. -MF


10. Sun Kil MoonBenji

Sun Kil MoonBenji must be interpreted as a concept album about death, but more importantly, it’s about the importance details related to memory. For example, the title is taken from what seems like a throw-away line toward the end of the breathtaking “Micheline”. It’s powerful, visceral storytelling that is self-reflexive and biographical, yet so relatable that it compels personal introspection from the listener’s own experiences. Mark Kozelek’s lyrics are the centerpiece of the listening experience — they are so deep and resonant that the instrumentals and production are absorbed secondarily, although the stripped-down approach is intentional and noteworthy. Built around obsessing about the state of human demise — and the randomness of it — it’s easy to join Kozelek’s dire state of mind hours or days after listening. -MF


11. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
12. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
13. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
14. Spoon – They Want My Soul
15. Ariel Pink – pom pom
16. Beck – Morning Phase
17. Jack White – Lazaretto
18. The Black Keys – Turn Blue
19. Tycho — Awake
20. TV on the Radio – Seeds

21. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
22. Tweedy – Sukierae
23. Jungle – Jungle
24. Temples – Sun Structures
25. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
26. Death from Above 1979 – The Physical World
27. Ty Segall – Manipulator
28. The Antlers – Familiars
29. Real Estate – Atlas
30. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

31. Cold War Kids – Hold My Home
32. Interpol – El Pintor
33. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
34. Swans – To Be Kind
35. Strand of Oaks – HEAL
36. White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent
37. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
38. Phantogram – Voices
39. Broken Bells – After the Disco
40. SOHN – Tremors

41. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
42. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
43. Karen O — Crush Songs
44. Chet Faker – Built on Glass
45. Woods – With Light and with Love
46. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
47. Kishi Bashi – Lighght
48. Mark McGuire – Along The Way
49. Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
50. Adult Jazz – Gist Is

Run-the-Jewels4

The-War-on-Drugs5

10.future-islands

4.st-vincent

12.Ryan Adams

Sharon-Van-Etten_post

Spoon

Tycho

TVOTR

Temples

8.tune-yards

Real-Estate

Interpol

alt-J

Parquet Courts, White Fence share an exciting bill at GAMH

Parquet-CourtsPhotos by Kory Thibeault // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Parquet Courts & White Fence with CCR Headcleaner //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
January 16, 2014 //

A packed house was eagerly ready for the triumphant return of one of 2013’s most exciting rookie acts that goes by Parquet Courts. They weren’t the only heavy-hitter on the bill as White Fence and local’s CCR Headcleaner set the Great American Music Hall ablaze with various takes on the state of contemporary rock. Each band brought fueled-up performances to a mix of youthful punkers and savvy critics as head-banging, moshing and shoe-gazing all had a place on this evening.

San Francisco heat-seeker’s CCR Headcleaner started things off with a stony take on garage-rock that tapped into the noisier side of Black Sabbath. Though not a recent act to the City, they have been gaining attention as cohorts, and contemporaries, of Ty Segall’s latest act, Fuzz, who will be releasing a split as part of Famous Class Records’ LACM series.

Parquet-Courts

Somewhat surprisingly, Parquet Courts were next to take the stage as it appeared the majority of the crowd was in attendance for only their third show in San Francisco after a gig at Rickshaw Stop in early June and Hemlock prior to that. 2013’s Light Up Gold was a breath of fresh air for independent music, and their subsequent live show lived up to the hype, equally. The NYC quartet started out the evening with a pair of unfamiliar tunes that were extended to small psych-drone masterpieces, even if the crowd seemed to be waiting for the more-familiar. “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” got things kicking as a decent pit began to form to the delight of the band.

Parquet Courts don’t really give a fuck. They play what they want, and we are just lucky enough to be in on it. Newer tracks like “She’s Rolling” took wings as the dual guitar acts of Andrew Savage and Austin Brown elevated feedback sections that would make Thurston Moore nod in approval (not to mention Brown looks like Moore in mop-haired appearance). It was about halfway in when the band started to tackle gems off their debut LP in the form of opening duet “Master of My Craft” into “Borrowed Time”, as well as “Yr No Stoner” into “Careers in Combat”. Savage and his newly-grown Sideshow Bob-esque afro couldn’t help but remark on the younger members of the crowd having the time of their life; “Sure like watching you boys move around out there,” he stated with a smirk. “Stoned and Starving” was oddly missing from the night’s set, possibly a product of not being awarded the headlining set on this night. Whatever, Parquet Courts don’t give a fuck.

White-Fence

Tim Presley’s White Fence would be last to play on this Thursday night with a revamped lineup and a newer album, Cyclops Reaps, under their belts. Some new elements on stage allowed Presley more musical room for him to delve into his guitar-shredding odysseys he, and the crowd, craves. “Pink Gorilla” got the set going nicely before launching “Swagger Vets and Double Moons”. Vocals is what sets White Fence apart from their contemporaries as Presley’s nasal-leaning singing comes off as more British than Californian. The Great American did unfortunately clear out a little bit as the rambunctiousness of Parquet Courts settled into a more mellow atmosphere where the music was the focus.

WIN TICKETS: White Fence // Parquet Courts at Great American Music Hall Thursday 1/16

Parquet Courts / White Fence
Enter to win a pair of free tickets to this show below.

Parquet Courts and White Fence
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
January 16, 2014

Hold on, and hope to win, as Parquet Courts and White Fence team up for a series of shows out West highlighting two of rocks most exciting acts. Honestly, this pairing is sheer brilliance as NYC’s Parquet Courts return to California with their sneering take on garage-leaning punk rock. On the other hand, Tim Presley’s White Fence demonstrates preternatural mastery of all things psychedelic rock; from the jangle-fuzz of Presley’s guitar solos to his sneering, British-leaning vocals, it all fits so damned well. San Francisco rising star’s CCR Headcleaner will open the night in a loud, raucous manner as they have for years across this town, and with a debut release, Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open, under their belts. You’d be foolish to miss out on this showcase, we promise.

Buy tickets if you know you want to go!


Win 2 Free Tickets!
Enter to win if you can attend this show Thursday, January 16th at the Great American Music Hall.

Submit your full name and email address below.
Contest ends Wednesday, January 15th at Noon. Winners will be picked at random & notified by email. Your email will be kept private – we will share your email with no one. All Ages 6+

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CONTEST COMPLETE

New Music Tuesday: James Blake • Jake Bugg • The Knife • Kurt Vile • The Dear Hunter • White Fence

James Blake - Overgrown

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


James BlakeOvergrown

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Retrograde”
“Voyeur”
“Digital Lion”

Album Highlights: James Blake continues his standout formula with his sophomore LP; confessional musings with vocal modulation and repetitive lyrics are matched by deconstructed R&B dub step beats and orchestral builds. The most successful tracks are the ones that discover new territory within Blunt’s sound aesthetic. “Voyeur” drops into a blissful dance track for the last third of the cut, driven by moaning synths and surprisingly, a cowbell. “Digital Lion” possesses a tribal ethos that will entice auditory climaxes at concerts all over the world throughout 2013. “Retrograde” is the quintessential track of the record – Blake’s wordless crooning grows into haunting vocal layering as the song progresses.

Album Lowlight: In the end it can be classified as moody music, in that you need to be somewhere between a mellow or drab mood to really get into Blake’s music. Lots of folks will give Overgrown a cursory listen and not notice the intricacies of the record. This would be a mistake.

Takeaway: While this record is a bit of a grower and is exponentially better upon repeat listens, it’s still hypnotic fresh out of the box. The collaboration with RZA on “Take a Fall For Me” flashes even further genre-diverse potential in Blake. With a range that extends from gospel to electronic music to hip hop, the future is blindingly bright for the young British artist. At the age of 24, Blake has crafted an impressive second record with less obvious singles than his self titled debut, yet as a whole his newest effort is more cohesive. It’s worth reiterating how impressive Blake’s writing is. Gems like “I don’t want to be a star, but a stone on the shore, no door frame to wall, when everything’s overgrown” display seriously mature songwriting skills.

~Mike Frash


Jake BuggJake Bugg

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Two Fingers”
“Broken”
“Lightning Bolt”

Album Highlights: It’s impossible not to sound hyperbolic in describing 19 year-old Jake Bugg. England’s finest and fastest-rising young artist has created a record exploding with exported Americana at it’s best. No shit, it sounds like Joan Baez is about to pop up and start a duet at any moment. All you have to do is listen to the first two tracks “Lightning Bolt” and “Two Fingers” to recognize the kid’s got it. These two songs would have been radio hits in the 60’s, and they should be now. “Broken” is a remarkably beautiful song, one that is lovable at first listen. The low-fi, one-take production works well, and it reinforces Bugg’s throwback sound.

Album Lowlight: Bugg’s lyrics would benefit from a bit more bite – maybe some contempt for society or a cause to rally for (or against) would give some songs more meaning. His songwriting point of view will only strengthen and mature with time.

Takeaway: He’s Dylan without the drawn out vocal exclamations, or Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth) with less passionate howls. And I feel fine making these comparisons, as Bugg’s self-titled debut exhibits songwriting potential that could be on par with the aforementioned by the time the he finishes puberty. Plan on watching Jake Bugg’s career evolve indefinitely – he’s sure to keep gaining popularity going forward, and deservedly so.

~Mike Frash


The KnifeShaking the Habitual

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“A Tooth for an Eye”
“Full of Fire”
“Without You My Life Would Be Boring”

Album Highlight: “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” being the crowning achievement of their fourth studio album, this beat-driven banger exemplifies the Swedish duo’s ferocious return to the EDM scene after a seven-year hiatus. Karrin Andersson’s layered vocals pitch perfectly with the varied flute samples and southeast instrumentation. A looping rhythm section composed of tribal drum rolls and feverish tambourines keep pace throughout the entire track, and this ups the ante in respect to the band’s production quality and composition.

Album Lowlight: Clocking in at a whopping 19:52, “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized” is more of a glorified soundscape than a corresponding track within the record. Waiting for the musical substance to kick in becomes a perilous journey through distant distortion and ambiguous song structure. I envision this piece contextually effective as a cinematic score or accompanying an art installation. Interesting as it is to listen to The Knife on an experimental level, the track placement as well as duration push the limits artistically into semi-obnoxious territory.

Takeaway: Marching to the beat of their own drum machines, Karrin Andresson and Olof Dreijer destroy the sample-laden “Full of Fire” with masterfully quirky cohesion. The Knife sibling’s chemistry, even amidst the structure of the most complicated effort on the album, can be heard and it is captivating. The song is elaborate and possesses a sound quality that at times can be overwhelming. However, true to The Knife’s form, it compels the listener’s attention and will provoke most to make an attempt at comprehending it’s complexity.

~Molly Kish


Kurt VileWakin on a Pretty Daze

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Girl Called Alex”
“Pure Rain”
“Shame Chamber”

Album Highlights: God Bless Kurt Vile. He is truly a beautifully patient writer, musician and performer whom creates some of the most genuine music of our time, not to mention he is consistent. The wait after 2011’s blisteringly magnificent Smoke Ring as My Halo was well worth it with a full, even lengthy, album packed neatly with Vile’s signature psychedelia. The title track leads off with a hazy acoustic romp that sets the tone for the majority, and this song is full of Vile’s twang-electric solos that one can easily get lost in. Vile’s everyman confessional comes through on “Too Hard” with lyrics like “Take your time/ so they say/ that’s gotta be the best way.” Displaying a lyrical maturity akin to the Walkmen would be a fair comparison.

Album Lowlight: No huge departure in sound, just a tightening of a signature style. Though “Air Bud” does add a synth layer that is a bit more contemporary for this artist. Lengthy songs may prove difficult to those whom don’t possess musical patience.

Takeaway: Upwards and onwards is a great way to describe this album, as well as Vile’s future in the industry. Banner sets at Coachella will likely prove to be a highlight, and the accompanying tour is sure to generate buzz, as has proven true in the past for the Philly native. Songs like “Girl Called Alex” sludge along in an upbeat manner, building precisely with warm organ flourishes in the background, equally a sonic thickness he has become so praised for. Wakin on a Pretty Daze is likely to be the soundtrack of the summer, and for excellent reason.

~Kevin Quandt


The Dear HunterMigrant

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Shame”
“Shouting in the Rain”
“Girl”

Album Highlights: A small indie rock band originating from Rhode Island, The Dear Hunter has been making a splash in the indie scene since 2006. Brainchild of Casey Crescenzo, The Dear Hunter’s 5th album Migrant is a departure from their previous conceptual album The Color Spectrum. Casey’s powerful and emotional lyrics, both in delivery and content, are the clear highlight of this record. Haunting at times, Crescenzo’s commanding lyrics take the listener on a euphonious journey. This lyrical adventure is something listeners have become accustomed to when listening to The Dear Hunter albums.

Album Lowlight: The same reason I praise it above, is the same reason I criticize it here. Casey’s lyrics are powerful, but at times they become effusive. I almost had lyrical fatigue a couple of times listening to this record. This criticism however, is likely a personal preference, and should not be judged until you hear this record for yourself.

Takeaway: The Dear Hunter’s music falls somewhere in the indie, progressive, post-rock genre. Mixing traditional rock instrumentation with a string accompaniment, Migrant incorporates many styles to create a unique blend of “rock.” The Dear Hunter is a band that has had great critical reception, yet they have not taken off with widespread audiences. They are a well-kept secret of the indie music scene that has earned them an extremely loyal and dedicated following. Perhaps it is the concept albums of the past that have prevented them from breaking through with the masses? The talent and star power are there, it’s just a matter of putting this music on as many ears as possible.

~Kevin Raos


White FenceCyclops Reap

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Beat”
“Make Them Dinner at Our Shoes”
“To the Boy I Jumped in the Hemlock Alley”

Album Highlights: Here comes another serving of Tim Presley’s patented brand of lo-fi psychedelic guitar rock. This time we are treated to a single release, as opposed to the double album that was Family Perfume. Presley re-imagines the era of trippy rock and roll that dominated the late 60s with his nasal, English-tinged vocals coupled with twangy guitars swirling to create an aural whirlwind. “New Edinburgh” fully displays the fuzzy sound that has become characteristic of this project. One can only hope to snatch up a vinyl copy of this album, as that seems to be the way it was meant to be heard.

Album Lowlight: At times the production can come across as too busy as seen in first single “Pink Gorilla.” In a live format, the band has a much crisper sound that is a little more palpable for the masses.

Takeaway: One of the more unique acts championing the lo-fi psychedelic sound at the moment, and this album shows off the production skills Presley has gained over the past decade. White Fence has garnered some solid critical success in the past few years, and will likely add-on to that even if the masses prefer the more slick take on 60s psychedelia played by the likes of Foxygen and Tame Impala.

~Kevin Quandt

Showbams’ best live music photography of 2012

Ultraísta at The Independent – By Michael Frash
Ultraísta

Click a photo to view full size.
Click the band and venue link to view the photo’s full article.
Click the photographer name to view more photos.

M83 at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Marc Fong
M83

Future Islands at The Independent – By Maggie Corwin
Future Islands

Die Antwoord at The Fox Theater – By Marc Fong
Die-Antwoord

Charles Bradley at Royce Hall – By Pete Mauch
Charles-Bradley

Santigold at The Fox Theater – By Michael Frash
Santigold

The Lumineers at The Chapel – By Marc Fong
The Lumineers

Best Coast at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Marc Fong
Best-Coast

The Faint at Regency Ballroom – By Michael Frash
The-Faint

Yeasayer at The Fox Theater – By Marc Fong
Yeasayer

Japandroids at The Fillmore – By Michael Frash
Japandroids

How To Dress Well at Rickshaw Stop – By Michael Frash
How-to-Dress-Well

Blondfire at Rickshaw Stop – By Maggie Corwin
Blondfire

The xx at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Marc Fong
The-xx

Geographer at Bonfire Sessions – By Michael Frash
Geographer

Gossip at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Marc Fong
Gossip

Simian Mobile Disco at Mezzanine – By Michael Frash
Simian-Mobile-Disco

Devine Fits at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Marc Fong
Devine Fits

Knife Party at The Fox Theater – By Marc Fong
Knife-Party

Red Baraat at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – By Michael Frash
Red-Baraat

Of Monsters and Men at Not So Silent Night – By Michael Frash
Of-Monsters-&-Men

Electric Guest at The Independent – By Michael Frash
Electric-Guest

Bloc Party at The Fox Theater – By Michael Frash
Bloc-Party

Bombay Bicycle Club at The Fillmore – By Chaya Kranz
Bombay-Bicycle-Club

Tame Impala at The Fillmore – By Michael Frash
Tame-Impala

Matthew Dear at Treasure Island Music Festival – By Michael Frash
Mathew-Dear

Father John Misty at Bonfire Sessions – By Michael Frash
Father-John-Misty

Rufus & Martha Wainwright at The Fox Theater – By Marc Fong
Rufus-Wainwright

Bassnectar at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – By Marc Fong
Bassnectar

Jack White at Not So Silent Night – By Michael Frash
Jack-White

Sea Wolf at The Independent – By Marc Fong
Sea-Wolf

The Shins at Not So Silent Night – By Michael Frash
The-Shins

Wilco at The Greek Theater – By Michael Frash
Wilco

White Fence at Bonfire Sessions – By Michael Frash
White-Fence

Django Django at The Independent – By Michael Frash
Django-Django

Justice at The Warfield – By Michael Frash
Justice

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead at The Independent – By Marc Fong
You Will Know Us...

Showbams’ best shows of 2012

Showbams contributors name their favorite shows of 2012.

Showbam contributors reflect on the best concerts they went to in 2012 & list their favorite shows.

2012 has been a top-notch year for live music, and the Showbams team has witnessed some great acts that have come through California in the last 11 months. Take a look at our contributor’s favorite shows of 2012.

What was your favorite concert in 2012? Let us know in the comments below.

The xx at Treasure Island Music Festival

The xx at Treasure Island Music Festival


Mike Frash San Francisco

1. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands Music Festival 8.11.12
Leaving Metallica for Sigur Ros to end the second day at Outside Lands was a torturous decision. Metallica was a warzone spectacle, but i stuck to my guns and headed to the Twin Peaks stage. I’m glad I did. Jonsi now conducts a mini orchestra, and the eerie SF fog lowered on command to the slow builds & crescendos. It was a spiritual show that effected me more than any other concert in 2012.

2. Japandroids @ The Independent 6.14.12
Brian King and David Prowse brought ecstatic energy to the sold out Independent in June the week after Celebration Rock was released. Brian King understands how to control the pace of his set, offering fun pre-song statements that prepare you for what’s next. Their songs are vibrant live – it doesn’t sound like only two people are playing instruments. They truly seem to live the life they glorify on their 2012 album – still drinking, still smokin, and full of hyperactive desperation.

3. Phish Night 3 @ Bill Grahm Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
The highly anticipated phish three-show SF run in August started off a bit slowly. Saturday’s show left me a little bummed about Phish due to some sloppy play (“Split open and melt”) and what felt like a lack of enthusiasm. I was questioning why I still see Phish live heading into the last show of the weekend. My lowered expectations combined with a killer show quashed those thoughts. Crosseyed > Light > Sneakin’ Sally > Crosseyed was some of the best Phish I’ve ever heard, “Boogie on” redeemed Stevie Wonder’s omission of the song at Outside Lands the week before, “Meatstick” made me really happy, and the San Francisco-mentioning “Ride Captain Ride” made a surprise encore appearance. The show was pure bliss.

4. The Rapture @ Coachella 4.13.12
5. The xx @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.14.12
6. The Presets @ The Independent 10.12.12
7. STS9 @ High Sierra Music Festival 7.5.12 & 7.6.12
8. Head and the Heart @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 10.6.12
9. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
10. My Morning Jacket @ The Greek 9.15.12

Honorable Mention:
Father John Misty at Jansport Bonfire 9.30.12
Of Monsters & Men at The Independent 3.22.12

My Morning Jacket performing at The Wiltern in September

My Morning Jacket performing at The Wiltern in September


Pete Mauch Los Angeles

1. My Morning Jacket @ The Wiltern 9.13.12
MMJ capped off the best 3-night run I saw this year with this stellar closing show complete with a Horn section. This is a big statement for a band I knew I loved but wasn’t fully convinced about until this night. Highlight: “All Night Long” & “Movin On Up” with Horns

2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
Phish played a terrific 3-night run, and topped off by an amazing Sunday night show that proves that Phish is still top of the Jam Scene. Highlight: Light > Sneakin Sally Through the Alley

3. Ryan Adams @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 2.17.12
Ryan Adams, an acoustic Guitar, and a Piano is all this show contained, and it was truly special. Adams’ classic songs stripped down with his raspy croons is all I needed to make this a top show of the year. Highlight: “Rescue Blues” on Piano “Holy Diver” on Guitar

4. Trey Anastasio and LA Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
5. Neil Young and Crazy Horse @ the Hollywood Bowl 10.17.12
6. Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band @ UCLA Royce Hall 11.29.12
7. Radiohead @ Coachella Music Festival 4.21.12
8.Trombone Shorty @ the Key Club 2.11.12
9. Wilco @ the Palladium 1.24.12
10. New Multitudes (Tribute to Woody Guthrie) @ the Mayan Theatre 3.7.12

Honorable Mention:
Phish at Long Beach Arena 8.15.12
String Cheese Incident at Greek Theatre Berkeley 7.14.12
Roger Waters The Wall at the LA Coliseum 5.21.12
Umphreys Mcgee (True Hollywood Stories Acoustic Show) at the House of Blues 3.16.12

The Faint performing in November at The Regency Ballroom

The Faint performing in November at The Regency Ballroom

Molly Kish San Francisco

1. Radiohead @ HP Pavilion 4.12.12
After merely catching glimpses of them while shoved against thousands of festivalgoers at Outside Lands 2008, I was determined to catch Radiohead the next time they came through the Bay Area. The sound, visuals, performance and energy of the evening were electrifying. Although I was extremely lucky to have been viewing the concert from the sixth row, the entire crowd looked as though they were just as lost in the moment as I was. The band’s enigmatic stage presence, fully developed set composition and career spanning choice of material made for one of the most collectively impressive concert experiences that I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of.

2. Kishi Bashi/Of Montreal @ Slim’s 3.22.12
As a long time Of Montreal fan, I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to interview their opening act and latest addition to the line up (Kishi Bashi) the night of their performance at Slim’s. It wasn’t only for the sake of getting a personal perspective on the band, but also due to the fact that this would actually be my first time catching them performing live. The entire show and evening that followed was everything I could’ve wanted for my first experience seeing Of Montreal. Accompanied by three screens of psychedelic visuals, various costumed extras, balloon drops, props and whole score of vaudevillian rivalry, the band took the crowd and venue by storm. During the encore to top it off, I was able to reconnect with Kishi Bashi and ended up initiating an after-party with the entire band, crew and record label affiliates at an industrial themed “dark carnival,” taking place across the street at local dive bar Butter. Several jello shots, deep fried twinkies and contortionist carnie-prompted dance battles later, I looked around and felt assured that I had enough material to develop my own personal “Of Montreal” concert story contender.

3. The Presets @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.13.12
Completely blown away by their performance the night before, I was overwhelmed with excitement and intrigue to see how the Presets could accomplish translating such energy to a festival setting. Anyone who had caught their Treasure Island Music Festival opener at the Independent instantly was taken over by sensory recall as they broke into song almost right where they left us hanging less than 24 hours earlier. Almost in homage to those who witnessed them destroy their previous set, they picked the dance party up right where they left off, only this time kicking it up about ten notches with the accompanied stage show, visual intensity and professional grade sound of seasoned professionals. Completely upstaging their more commercially recognized headliner and showing the younger generation how it should be done, they stole the show and were easily the stand out act of the 2012 TIMF. To this day I still find myself saying that I wish I could continually be going to a Presets show, based off of the concert experience I had at these two performances.

4. Dan Deacon @ The Great American Music Hall 10.23.12
5. Against Me! @ The Catalyst 9.10.12
6. The Faint @ The Regency Ballroom 11.18.12
7. Justice @ The Fox 11.4.2
8. Metallica @ Outside Lands 8.10.12
9. Animal Collective @ The Fox 9.21.12
10.The Shins @ The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 4.22.12

Honorable Mention:
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s @ The Creator’s Project SF 3.17.12
Cold War Kids @ The Bottom of the Hill 3.5.12
Dr. John @ The Independent 8.17.12
Girl Talk @ Sasquatch 5.25.12

David Byrnes & St. Vincent performing in

David Byrnes & St. Vincent performing in October

Kevin Raos San Francisco

1. David Byrne & St. Vincent @ the Orpheum Theater 10.15.12
This is my number one show of 2012 for a couple of reasons. First off, Love this Giant, the recently released collaborative album between Byrne and St. Vincent, was a major disappointment. One of my most anticipated albums of the year ended up being one of the most disappointing. All was redeemed, however, when I saw these songs performed live. The accompanying brass band and the chemistry on stage breathed new life into was I felt was a stale album. Playfully executed and precisely choreographed, these songs shined live.

Secondly, I am a huge David Byrne fan and was able to check a big one off my bucket list of musical artists. Byrne’s career needs no introduction and this evening we were treated to a few Talking Head’s classics such as “Burning Down the House,” “This Must Be the Place,” and “Like Humans Do.”

This show was simply a once in a lifetime experience.

2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
A three night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was capped off with a masterful performance by jamband kings, Phish. The final night of the run was easily the best night as the band flexed their improvisational muscles in a blistering 2-set performance, highlighted by covers of the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” and Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.”

3. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Sigur Ros on my birthday to cap off an unbelievable festival day? How could it possibly get any better? It can’t really.

4. Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang @ Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael 10.4.12
5. Keller Williams, Steve Kimock & Kyle Hollingsworth ft. Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram & Andy Hess @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival 10.7.12
6. Miike Snow / Penguin Prison @ Fox Theater Oakland 4.12.12
7. Washed Out @ Mezzanine 5.4.12
8. Electric Guest @ The Independent 11.2.12
9. The Album Leaf / Blackbird Blackbird @ Bottom of the Hill 9.30.12
10. Citizens! Lescop, Housse de Racket, Tomorrow’s World @ The Rickshaw Stop 10.12.12

Honorable Mentions:
Zee Avi @ New Parish 9.28.12
M83 @ The Fillmore 4.22.12

Japandroids performing in 2012

Japandroids performing in 2012

Eric Shaden San Francisco

1. D’Angelo @ HOB – Los Angeles 7.4.12

2. Passion Pit @ Rock en Seine – Paris 8.26.12

3. Starfucker @ the Independent 1.7.12

4. Stevie Wonder @ Outside Lands 8.12.12
5. Miike Snow + Penguin Prison @ The Fox Oakland 4.12.12
6. A.Skillz + Krafty Kuts Presents Tricka Technology @ Mighty 6.1.12
7. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) @ the Independent 10.19.12
8. Japandroids @ the Independent 6.14.12
9. Guns n’ Roses @ Bridge School Benefit 10.21.12
10. Kid Koala Vinyl Vaudeville Tour @ Independent 11.4.12

The Lumineers performing at The Chapel in August

The Lumineers performing at The Chapel in August

Marc Fong San Francisco
1. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ Slim’s 3.25.12
It’s not often I gush like a school girl (only about once or twice a week), but seeing ESatMZ at Slim’s was panty dropping. Can I say that? Well, I just did. It was a secret/private show so Slim’s was overcrowded. I stood center stage close enough to see the dirt on Alexander’s suit. The sound was great and the band always puts on a damn fine show.

2. The Lumineers @ The Chapel 10.11.12
LIVE 105 brought the Lumineers to newly opened Chapel in SF and the band didn’t disappoint. The venue was the perfect size for the band and like most of the other bands on this list, the Lumineers had fun playing and it made for a great show.

3. Kronos Quartet @ Greek Theater 10.5.12
Okay, it was really Amon Tobin’s deal, but Kronos opened and performed beautifully. Being a long time fan, it’s not a surprise these openers made my list. Great music from great performers. And The Greek Theater in Berkeley was the best venue to see them. (And most other shows.)

4. Willie Nelson and Family @ The Fox Oakland 3.15.12
5. Of Monsters and Men @ Independent 5.22.12
6. Fun. @ The Independent 5.28.12
7. Sage Francis @ Independent 3.17.12
8. Steve Aoki @ Bill Graham 1.21.12
9. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ The Fox Oakland 5.12.12
10. AVICII @ Bill Graham Civic 6.28.12

Tame Impala at The Fillmore in November

Tame Impala at The Fillmore in November

Kevin Quandt San Francisco

1. The Walkmen @ The Independent January 20th & 21st
These 10th Anniversary shows were a Walkmen fan’s wet dream as they played their first album in full among multiple sets and configurations including a horn section. Over 30 songs of Hamilton Leithauser and company churning out their own brand of rock and roll to devote fans from across the States.

2. Refused with the Hives & the Bronx @ The Warfield 4.18.12
Having seen their Coachella show a week prior, the anticipation was less palpable, yet the reigning post-punk champs delighted a more rowdy and dedicated crowd with a spirited set for the masses who patiently waited a decade to witness.

3. Trey Anastasio and The Los Angeles Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
Dressing up for a show is fun, especially when Trey is at the helm of philharmonic symphony in one of the best rooms to hear, and see, music in. From the playful rendition of “Guyute” to the half hour “Time Turns Elasctic,” this night had the packed concert hall re-charmed by Ernest and his recharged song book.

4. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
5. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
6. Woods and White Fence @ The Chapel at Preservation Hall West 10.17.12
7. Howlin Rain @ The Independent 2.18.12
8. Radiohead @ The Santa Barbara Bowl 4.12.12
9. Father John Misty & Har Mar Superstar @ Bottom of the hill 5.5.12
10.Mala @ Yoshi’s San Francisco 6.23.12

Festival sets:
Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Future Islands @ FYF 9.1.12
Flying Lotus @ Coachella 4.14.12

Justice performing at The Warfield in November

Justice performing at The Warfield in November

Sean Little San Francisco

1. Justice @ The Warfield 11.4.12
What else is there to say about Justice that hasn’t already been said. They came, they saw, and they melted faces with an amazing set the blew fans away and converted first timers alike. At least half my friends decided to go last minute (tickets were still available because it was a Sunday) and all of them became huge fans. Some of these friends are not into electronic music of any kind either, so that really says something. It was one of those rare shows where you leave euphoric and can’t stop saying “wow” to the people you went with.

2. Florence & the Machine @ Coachella 4.15.12
The only other performer I’ve ever seen that commanded an audience like Florence did was Snoop Dogg back in 02 at the Smoke Out (stop-you’re not better than me so put that eyebrow back down). It was one of the rare festival sets where everyone felt really in tune with the performer and each other, singing along and knowing when to interact with each other and the songs. She was absolutely amazing, and the set was a dark horse highlight to my festival as I didn’t expect her to command the audience like she did. She’s truly a presence.

2ManyDJ’s @ Regency Ballroom
I saw them about this time last year but fuck it, it still counts. If you have never seen them live then go. Even if you don’t like electronic, go. Even if you hate music go. If you want to be schooled in what real DJs as performers can do, you have to go. They blend the most amazing remixes, edits, mashups and drops all together with a mindblowing set of animated artwork, based on the song that is being played behind them. I won’t even try to explain because it won’t work.

White Fence continues the psychedelic garage trend in SF


Photos by Michael Frash at the Bonfire Sessions 9.30.12

San Francisco is clearly leading the way in the psychedelic garage movement that has been sweeping indie rock for the past few years. Whether it’s Wavves’ bratty surf rock, or the twisted antics that are the Black Lips, it is evident that the talent in the Bay Area is taking it way further. The likes of Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall and the Fresh and Onlys have been garnering national attention, and the latest group to step up to the plate is Tim Presley, popularly known as White Fence.

Riding the critical success of his recent double release Family Perfume Vol. 1 and 2, Presley brought his ever-changing band members to a well attended show at the Rickshaw Stop last Friday evening. Support act The Mallard brought some local flavor to a mixed bill with yet another take on the fuzzed-out genre. White Fence shared the headlining duties with another buzzed act, Twerps, hailing from Australia.

Twerps have been making the international loop rather frequently touring behind a successful self titled album. Their sound leans more on a 90s alternative-grunge coupled with some breezy reverb as demonstrated on song, “Dreamin,” a crowd favorite.

White Fence came on stage quickly, and jumped out the gates with a heater, “Swagger vets & Double moon.” However, as Presley has expanded his guitar and drums duo into a four piece, there have been numerous personnel changes, and new rhythm guitar player was not in time with the Presley. Luckily, this issue alleviated early in the set. Having been a key member of former psych-wave group, Darker My Love, Presley is desperately trying to get his sound the full attention that it deserves.

The sound at these shows leans between the shredding blitz guitar style, a la John Dwyer of Thee oh Sees, and the heavy use of slide giving a bluesier feel. This, coupled with Presley’s tendency to sing in a style akin to 60s garage-punk made popular by Syd Barrett, makes White Fence’s sound stand out in rising tide of Bay Area rock. “Enthusiasm” lived up to it’s name, full of power chords and the English-style of swagger that the thin front man serves up so well.

A favorite track, “Sticky Fruitman Has Faith,” had Presley gyrating near his amp to create the perfect feedback for a truly assaulting solo that went on an odyssey, something this Phish fan couldn’t help but smile at. It’s wonderful how much life Presley injects into these songs, as the jangly cassette-tape quality of their recordings are traded in for piercing, well-delivered garage rock.

Having recorded and toured with Ty Segall this past year, one but can’t wonder how far Presley will take his deep songbook once he finds a band that can keep up with his mad genius process which unravels on stage for the lucky few.

Father John Misty, The Dodos & Geographer set a dreamy tone on Treasure Island

Bay area music fans were treated to an intimate mini-music fest on Treasure Island Sunday evening courtesy of Jansport, and a combination of immaculate weather, free BBQ, beers and good vibes established a dreamlike good time. While the perks and schwag were nice, most people were there to see local acts The Dodos, Geographer, White Fence & “a special appearance from Father John Misty.” The view wasn’t too bad either.

White Fence

Most people were walking in to the psychedelic distortion-pop duo White Fence. They came and went like ghosts in the night, as most attendees didn’t acknowledge the group at the beginning, middle or end of the set. Still, White Fence’s sound matched up perfectly with the kickback feeling and served as a suitable opener for the next three acts.

Geographer

The sunset show featured San Francisco’s Geographer. The trio continued the surreal & floaty feeling with their unique take on dream pop; Nathan Blaz’s cello adds such layered emotion to every song, and when matched with Michael Deni’s vocals and his litany of sound-making devices, good things happen. And in an era where it’s ok for bands to have electronic drums, Brian Ostreicher does a fine job.

Deni mentioned that he was bummed he couldn’t make it to Treasure Island Music Festival in two weekends, but he basically said this was the next best thing. Most people who made it to Treasure Island Sunday night would probably agree.

Father John Misty

Once Father John Misty, aka John Tillman, arrived on stage it was clear he was not with his band. The very special appearance meant that he was performing a solo acoustic set. The term “special appearance” is absolutely appropriate, as Tillman performed just about every track off his 2012 album “Fear Fun.” Without his backing band, his sharp lyrics hung in the air to pin-drop silence. He seemed less in character compared to the spotlight loving aura he usually performs with. It seems like Tillman has fully embraced his Father John Misty persona to the point that it is him now, and he is confident and entertaining.

During “Only Son of the Ladiesman,” he sang the lyrics “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodger fan,” which elicited huge boos from the SF crowd. Father John then added the line “I don’t care about baseball.” “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” was haunting with just voice and acoustic strums and was a clear set highlight. During the song “Everyman Needs a Companion,” the lyric “I never liked the name Joshua” felt more haunting & confessional than ever. Without the backing band’s presence & rhythm, and with the intimate crowd presence, Father John Misty offered a glimpse of why he left guaranteed success as the Fleet Foxes drummer to strike it out on his own. The man was not meant to be on the back part of the stage. This intimate set was one for the ages.

The Dodos

Holy shit this set threw people for a loop. The Dodos have been away for a bit, and the duo comprised of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber debuted new songs and a new sound, which seems to be somewhere between Cloud Nothings and the Japandroids’ new albums. The Dodos are about to reveal themselves as a a building wall of sound that is very danceable when they head out on tour with Calexico this month.

Since only a couple tracks from their first three albums were played, the set was a bit of a blur. Maybe the free beers had something to do with that. But the set featured mostly songs with fast beats, and the duo have clearly abandoned their folk roots for now. It felt perfectly acceptable for the night to end on an upbeat note.

Jansport should be commended for putting on an excellent, free music experience that wasn’t overly “corporate” to the indie crowd that was lucky enough to enjoy this evening on Treasure Island.