The 25 best live music acts of 2016

Best live music acts of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #25 - Tycho

25. Tycho

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #24 - Isaiah Rashad

24. Isaiah Rashad

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #23 - Bob Moses

23. Bob Moses

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #22 - Floating Points

22. Floating Points

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #21 - Ty Segall

21. Ty Segall

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


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

20. Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

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


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

19. RÜFÜS DU SOL

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #18 - Rudimental

18. Rudimental

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #17 - BØRNS

17. BØRNS

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #16 - Flying Lotus

16. Flying Lotus

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


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

15. The Last Shadow Puppets

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #14 - Miike Snow

14. Miike Snow

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #13 - Young Thug

13. Young Thug

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #12 - Pretty Lights

12. Pretty Lights

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #11 - Mac DeMarco

11. Mac DeMarco

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #10 - Moderat

10. Moderat

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - Foals

9. Foals

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #9 - Tame Impala

8. Tame Impala

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #7 - Jim James

7. Jim James

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #6 - The National

6. The National

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


Coachella 2016 - Guns 'N Roses

5. Guns N’ Roses

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


Coachella 2016 - Sia

4. Sia

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


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

3. Chance the Rapper

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


Best Live Music Acts of 2015 #2 - LCD Soundsystem

2. LCD Soundsystem

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


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

1. Anderson .Paak

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

Outside Lands 2016

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Nas preaches positivity while closing out this year’s Sound in Focus series in style

Sound in Focus - NasBy Josh Herwitt //

Sound in Focus: Nas with Wild Belle //
Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles
July 23rd, 2016 //

It’s hard to beat summer in LA. With longer days and warmer nights, there’s always so much to do in the City of Angels during this time of the year. But part of what makes summers in LA so special are the countless opportunities to see live music and best of all, for free. From the Twilight Concert Series on Thursday nights at the Santa Monica Pier to Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Museum, you can catch a show — if not multiple shows — in LA every week from July to September for little to no money.

Right along those lines, KCRW’s Sound in Focus concert series is just another reason why summertime in LA has its advantages. For the past few years, the NPR member station has shown its appreciation for photography by welcoming a wide array of musicians, including indie-rock stalwarts like Portugal. The Man, Band of Skulls, TV on the Radio and Cold War Kids (read our review of their 2015 show here), to what was once unchartered territory as far as concert spaces in LA go. And in many ways, the Annenberg Space for Photography, as a result, has proven to be the perfect location for KCRW to combine its love for music and the arts by offering fans of all ages the chance to explore the museum’s newest exhibit and see well-established artists perform for free with a simple RSVP online.

After last year’s roster, which featured old-school hip-hop group De La Soul and country music legend Dwight Yoakam as headliners, it was somewhat surprising to see Grammy-nominated rapper Nas (born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) listed next to psych-folk collective Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and eventually Senegalese singer/guitarist Baaba Maal when the 2016 Sound in Focus lineup dropped last month (Maal’s performance was revealed at a later date). Not because KCRW had booked a hip-hop act for a second straight year, but more that it had booked a hip-hop act of Nas’ stature. You don’t have to look much further than his two million Twitter followers, in stark contrast to Edward Sharpe’s 105,000 and Maal’s 5,750, to understand that. It should go without saying then that Mr. Jones is easily the biggest artist KCRW has ever booked for Sound in Focus in its three years running.

Sound in Focus 2016 - Nas

On the other hand though, Nas hasn’t released an album in more than four years. Better yet, it’s been more than three since the Brooklyn native disclosed he had begun work on his 12th studio album, the follow-up to 2012’s Life Is Good. In this day and age of instant gratification, that’s often three years too long to keep fans waiting. With so many options to choose from, it’s becoming harder and harder to remain relevant, even for a hip-hop artist of Nas’ caliber.

But there’s also something to be said for releasing eight straight platinum records, even if Nas doesn’t have any Grammys to go along with them. So, if last Saturday’s show was supposed to be Nas’ reminder to the world that he’s still working and grinding like he always has since the early 90’s, then a whole lot of fans got to hear that message loud and clear after Wild Belle’s opening set.

With the anticipation building, Nas arrived onstage with energy and purpose, immediately diving into his I Am…. anthem “Hate Me Now” that’s almost two decades old at this point. A little bit later, he would end up waxing poetic on “One Mic”, the third single off his 2001 LP Stillmatic that was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. Yet, more important than the songs Nas chose to perform or the albums he drew from was the postivity he preached to the crowd before calling it a night. At a time of racial and social unrest in the U.S., he imparted optimism and encouraged everyone who stood before him to chase their dreams, whatever they may be. For an emcee who once proclaimed that “hip-hop is dead,” that’s seemingly quite a change in rhetoric.

Snakehips consummate steamy sold-out set at The Indy

SnakehipsPhotos by Justin Yee // Written by Molly Kish //

Snakehips with DJ Dials, Mikos Da Gawd //
The Independent – San Francisco
January 9th, 2015 //

UK production duo Snakehips rocked a sold-out crowd last Friday night at The Independent with their signature glitchy beats and sample-heavy, half-sped house grooves.

Supported by opening sets from Mikos Da Gawd and a humbly apologetic DJ Dials, the packed venue was antsy to get their swerve on with the London outfit in the building. Although faced with technical difficulties, DJ Dials made the best of the situation by warming the crowd up with a personally-curated playlist of 90’s hip-hop and R&B. Ending his set somewhat abruptly due to issues with his equipment, he made a classy exit, apologizing for the mishap and letting Snakehips take the reigns the rest of the way.

Snakehips’ Oliver Lee and James Carter, in the meantime, wasted no time, breaking into their 2014 remix of Raury’s “Cigarettes”, which whipped the crowd into a sultry sing-along as fans bounced along to the duo’s downtempo take on the soul/pop ballad. With little stage production to offer, Snakehips kept their set focused directly on the music. Instead, entertaining the crowd with their onstage chemistry and a backdrop screen that simply displayed their moniker, Snakehips pulled material from several mixtapes and sprinkled in some of their own individually-released remixes, too.

Snakehips

A jammed-packed, steam-filled room broke out into a frenzy on several occasions throughout the evening, responding most passionately to the duo’s remixes of Wild Belle’s “It’s Too Late” and The Weeknd’s “Wanderlust” as well as their brand-new track “On & On”, which features Australian vocalist George Maple.

As Snakehips gear up for what undoubtedly will be a heavily-booked festival season this spring and summer, it was quite a treat to catch Lee and Carter in such an intimate setting. With talk of a debut album making the rounds and several of their mixes finding their way onto music blogs like Hypetrak and British radio stations like BBC Radio 1, Snakehips definitely should be returning to the Bay Area in the near future.

If you slept on their show this time around, do yourself a favor and keep yourself informed about their next U.S. tour. At the pace these two are escalating up the dance charts, you wouldn’t want to let them slither past you a second time around.

Showbams Photography 2013: A year in review

Purity-Ring

Purity Ring // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


The power and impact of a great photo is undeniable. Striking photos take you to another place, inserting you into a spectacular moment from the past.

The photographers in the Bam Fam have produced many memorable, inspiring live music photos in 2013. Feast your eyes on 50 of our best shots from the past year.

Click a band or artist name to view the original article.

Fiona-Apple-and-Blake-Mills

Fiona Apple & Blake Mills // Sam Heller
Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley //10.8.13


Killer-Mike

Killer Mike // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Crystal-Castles

Crystal Castles // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.27.13


Phantogram

Phantogram // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Warpaint

Warpaint // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.17.13


Cut-Copy_

Cut Copy // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.2.13


Geographer_post

Geographer // Sterling Munksgard
Bimbo’s 365 Club // 11.23.13


Thee-Oh-Sees

Thee Oh Sees // Pedro Paredes
Great American Music Hall // 12.18.13


Grouplove

Grouplove // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.14.13


James-Blake

James Blake // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.20.13


Matthew-Dear

Matthew Dear // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.22.13


Palma-Violets

Palma Violets // James Nagel
The Independent // 4.23.13


Polyphonic-Spree

Polyphonic Spree // Marc Fong
The Chapel // 8.19.13


Zedd

Zedd // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 10.9.13


Robert-Randolph

Robert Randolph // Steve Kennedy
Notes For Notes Benefit // 12.6.13


Savages1

Savages // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.27.13


Steve-Aioki

Steve Aoki // Sterling Munksgard
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 11.16.13


The-Flaming-Lips

The Flaming Lips // James Nagel
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 10.31.13


The-xx

The xx // Marc Fong
The Greek Theatre // 6.1.13


Atoms-For-Peace

Atoms For Peace // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Thundercat1

Thundercat // James Nagel
The Independent // 11.13.13


Trey-Anastasio-Band

Trey Anastasio Band // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.20.13


Alabama-Shakes

Alabama Shakes // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.5.13


AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.11.13


Autre-Ne-Veut

Autre Ne Veut // Mike Frash
The Independent // 3.11.13


chk-chk-chk

!!! // James Nagel
Great American Music Hall // 2.28.13


CSS

CSS // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Danny-Brown

Danny Brown // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Father-John-Misty

Father John Misty // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.24.13


HAIM

Haim // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


How-To-Dress-Well

How To Dress Well // Sam Heller
The Independent // 8.26.13


Jagwar-Ma

Jagwar Ma // James Nagel
The Independent // 12.11.13


Jamie-Lidell

Jamie Lidell // Sam Heller
The Independent // 3.29.13


Primus

Primus // Sam Heller
High Sierra Music Festival // 7.5.13


Run-The-Jewels1

Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Toro-Y-Moi

Toro Y Moi // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.15.13


Wild-Belle

Wild Belle // Eldon Christenson
The Independent // 9.26.13


alt-J

Alt-J // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 8.29.13


Andrew-Bird

Andrew Bird // Sam Heller
Congregation Sherith Israel // 12.16.13


Andrew-WK

Andrew W.K. // Marc Fong
The Independent // 10.12.13


Anna-Calvi

Anna Calvi // Marc Fong
The Independent // 11.17.13


Big-Boi

Big Boi // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.17.13


Deerhunter

Deerhunter // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


MS-MR

MS MR // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Phoenix

Phoenix // Chaya Frash
The Independent // 4.1.13


Rogue-Wave1

Rogue Wave // Marc Fong
The Independent // 7.12.13


Sigur-Ros

Sigur Rós // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oaklnad // 4.16.13


STS9_Post

STS9 // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.1.13


Washed-Out

Washed Out // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13

Wild Belle discuss sound development and rocking the electric kalimba

Wild_Belle2Photos by Eldon Christenson // Written by Molly Kish //

I found myself standing outside The Independent trying to figure out why I felt so odd. It was a pretty typical evening, waiting to enter the venue I frequent most often, in a neighborhood filled with friends and familiar faces.

Peering at the line that was growing in size and audible volume, I noticed there was a staggering amount of females in attendance. In fact, more women than I have ever seen in one line, entering any establishment, in my entire 10 years of living in the Bay Area. Dressed to the nines and emulating the headlining act’s fashionista frontwoman Natalie Bergman, the crowd was a sea of giddy females ready to get their Wild Belle groove on. All the male counterparts seemed like an accessory, getting drowned out by the sea of estrogen.

Waiting to interview the creative duo behind Wild Belle outside the venue, I caught a glimpse of Ms. Bergman floating through the crowd. Nearly camouflaged by the abundance of doppelgangers in attendance, she remained amusingly unnoticed as she hopped in line with her crew. The self-consumed throng of fans remained completely unaware of her presence until she discreetly meandered her way to the front of the line. Even the bouncers questioned her authenticity amongst the crowd! After her failed attempt to convince the flustered male door staff to allow her guests to enter with her, she summoned her manager to come out and personally escorted both myself and her party through the door. Humbling her detractors while flashing her provocatively coy smile, we followed Natalie inside.

We were all brought backstage, where you could literally hear the band’s excitement emanating from their dressing room. The artist area was filled with uproarious laughter, enthusiastic cheering and green room banter — final set picks and details for the evening were being solidified.

As opening act Saint Rich were wrapping up their set, Natalie emerged with her brother and bandmate Elliot, vocally expressing his confusion with how early of a call time they had for that evening’s performance and apologizing for their tardiness. Natalie and Elliot Bergman joined us for a conversation before their first headlining set at The Independent in San Francisco, flashing their impeccably sunny disposition with cocktails in hand.

READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM THEIR SHOW AT THE INDEPENDENT HERE.


Wild_Belle3

Showbams: Last year we were able to catch you at Treasure Island Music Festival and Mezzanine, have you ever played The Independent before?

Natalie: This is actually our second time performing here, but our first time headlining. So it’s really exciting for us!

Elliot: It’s a great room to play and the feeling, the vibes are really great in here.

Showbams: I know that you’re brother and sister and come from a very musically inclined family of four. Both of your parents were also musicians, what kind of background did they have?

Natalie: My dad grew up with a lot of classical music. His mom was always playing that and gospel on the piano. Same with my mom, they both grew up in the church so there was lots of choral music. My mom was also really rooted in jazz, which she got both of us interested in at a young age, and we picked up piano from her.

Wild_Belle1

Showbams: You guys also played together before Wild Belle. Elliot, you had something in college, a sort of Afrobeat band that you were toying around with, which is when you Natalie came in on vocals. Was playing together in a group something you always wanted to do or a fate that naturally transpired?

Elliot: Yeah, it just kind of came together. I was in the studio working on some stuff and Natalie kept bringing in these songs, saying “hey check this out.” So we sort of started trading ideas, saying, “Oh, what about this? What if you wrote lyrics for this …” and that was kind of all how it came together. It was just kind of a natural evolution of us experimenting together in the studio.

Natalie: I think, we started recording demos at our friend’s studio in Benton Harbor called Key Club. We had a bunch of demos we were weeding through, and then once we developed an actual sound, we were excited about it. We recorded “Keep You”, which is one of our first tracks we documented and we were just excited. Then, we booked a show and we called ourselves The Runes, like the rune stones, and played a set with our songs, which was kind of the first little seed we planted with this band, and it just developed and bloomed from there.

Wild_Belle5

Showbams: Your debut album dropped in March of 2013 and you released singles leading up to it, garnishing a lot of traction showed by the following you currently have. It’s titled Isles and is said to be in reference to each track resembling its own distinct culture and sound. What drew you in about island music and made you want to incorporate such an influence into the songwriting of Wild Belle?

Natalie: Well, yes, we love island music. We love rock steady, ska and early Jamaican music. There is a whole tropical sound that we’re drawn to. We like Tropicalia from Brazil, we like Highlife from Africa and that’s just been in our book growing up. Our mother taught us about some cool African musicians, and we all just sort of branched off from there. It’s definitely in our repertoire, but making the record, we definitely weren’t thinking it was going to be island-oriented. We were just kind of like, “Alright, let’s make a rock ‘n’ roll record!” Yes, there were some reggae influences, but just as much as there was reggae, there’s also lots of soul and Motown and rock and blues and so on.

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Showbams: Included in said sound, you guys have something really unique in your band that Elliot personally came up with called the electric kalimba. Where did this idea sprout from, and how did it come to fruition?

Elliot: That was just something that … I think maybe my mom bought me my first one as a little toy thumb piano type thing, which I was always kind of kicking around the house. But then as I got a little older, I started realizing that you could electrify it and put it through effects pedals and play with it. It could sound like an electric guitar or steel drums or orchestral chimes or …

Natalie: Frogs, crickets, tigers (laughs).

Elliot: It’s a very pure sound that can be manipulated in a lot of different ways. It can even sound like a pipe organ if you want. It’s just kind of a fun way to approach making a record, you build some instruments and figure out what they sound like and where you can fit those sounds. It’s not like plugging in a drum machine and pressing play. It’s something that’s weird and broken and has different overtones than any other instrument. So, it can lend a bit of a distinct sound and is a little bit of a chance procedure, but usually yields some interesting results.

Showbams: It’s been quite a whirlwind of a past year for you, with your rigorous tour schedule where you hit tons of festivals, had a Daytrotter session, filmed numerous videos and have received tons of accolades along the way. What’s next on the agenda for Wild Belle?

Elliot: We have to make a new record! It’s funny, we really didn’t know what this would be when we started making the music at first. Now, the more we work, the more we become clearly defined, know what we want to do and the easier it is to execute things. We’re just excited to get back into the studio. To keep writing music, looking for sounds and continuing to make new things happen. I think we have another four or five weeks on the road, and then we’re planning on maybe taking a week where we don’t have to do anything. Just relax, maybe have some time to sleep and then start working on the new record. We’ll see you guys again real soon, though. This has always been one of our favorite places to play and any time we can, we’re very happy to be here.

Wild_Belle6

Wild Belle continue fast-rising ascent at The Indy

Wild-Belle1Photos by Eldon Christenson // Written by Dara Shulman //

Wild Belle //
The Independent – San Francisco
September 26th, 2013 //

Fast-rising sibling duo Natalie and Elliot Bergman of Wild Belle impressed at the group’s sold-out show at The Independent. Lead singer Natalie remarked toward the end of the performance that “this first headlining show [in SF] has been a magical evening.” By the time the show concluded, it was obvious that many in the room were thinking the same thing.

Natalie Bergman’s sexy, raspy voice is a soulful blend of Macy Gray and M.I.A. for comparison sake and is clearly Wild Belle’s not-so-secret weapon. She fronts the four piece band, which features her songwriting partner and kin Elliot on both keys and saxophone. Natalie is an all around package of star power — from her seductive voice to her striking blonde locks, she beams on stage. Every move she makes exudes cool and a smooth style.

Wild-Belle2

The band follows her captive lead with on-point instrumentals. Jazzy, island sounds kept hips moving at a steady pace at this San Francisco show. There’s a worldly element to Wild Belle’s music, and the Chicago-based outfit’s approach to fuzing mildly psychedelic funk & reggae appeals to contemporary indie-rock fans that digest new music with a progressive twinge at a ravenous pace. It’s this amalgamation of genres that is most enticing about Wild Belle’s sound.

The talented Elliot plays a third instrument as well, the electric kalimba, keeping his worldly roots in tact from his former band NOMO. Fellow NOMO band members Erik Hall (guitar), Quinn Kirtcher (drums), and Kellen Harrison (bass) comprise the Wild Belle touring act.

Wild-Belle

At one point during the set, the sibs traded instruments. Natalie took over on keys while Elliot projected lead vocals — are all siblings this talented? The only slight disappointment, which is typical for an act with one long player under their belt, was that the set was a short one.

Wild Belle played faithful versions of songs from their 2013 release Isles, including favorites such as “Shine,” “Keep You,” and “Backslider.” Those in attendance Thursday were treated to a sneak peak off Wild Belle’s next album, and the unnamed track possesses the same island-jazz roots but included heavy blues vocals.

This may have been the first headlining show in San Francisco for a group that is destined for bigger venues and more fans, and based on the vibes that circled around The Independent last week, things are just starting for Wild Belle.

Outside Lands 2013: Five Friday Favorites

PaulPhotos by Patrick Tyrrell // Written by Mike Frash //

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

With so many blissful distractions at Outside Lands, it’s easy to get sidetracked. While encompassed by the most opulent culinary treats in the City’s finest park (sorry Dolores), festival-goers could get sucked into the beer or wine tent or even watch a long comedy set (I’m sure Jeffrey Ross slayed). But in the end, we all go for the music (and friends).

Here are five glorious sets I absorbed on Day 1.

Paul

Sir Paul McCartney

A lot of bucket lists were checked off Friday. McCartney’s boyish charm is truly uncanny and defies reality. His stories were contextualized to history, not simply music history, and they seemed too short. During “Back In The U.S.S.R., “FREE PUSSY RIOT” flashed on the screen for five seconds, and the legend said that when he met Russian government officials in Moscow, they told him they learned English through The Beatles. Macca took listeners through a progression of Beatles lore, starting with the early 60’s boy band material, then progressing to psychedelic fare once it was dark. McCartney is a rock and roll God, and he fulfilled the promise of an epic set — the “Live and Let Die” firework moment will never be forgotten.

Paul

The-National

The National

The lyrics “with a beautiful white heaven hanging over me” have never been more appropriate; the foggy confines of the Lands End Stage painted that word picture. Matt Berninger’s group needs fog. And while the kids were busy getting their euphoria on over at Zedd, those looking for floaty poetic musings placed over life-affirming musicianship found it. Like Paul McCartney, The National were lovingly backed by the Kronos Quartet, adding uplifting symphonic layering. Those that stayed until the end were offered a local treat; Bob Weir of Grateful Dead fame came out to help on the final song “Terrible Love” — and that made me think, what ever happened to that Grateful Dead cover album that was to be curated by The National?

The-National-Weir

21-Pilots3

Twenty One Pilots

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

21-Pilots

Wild-Belle

Wild Belle

The brother-sister duo has evolved to a full band, but Natalie Bergman’s throwback-rasp vocals are still the focus of their strolling, reggae-dub style instrumentals. Dressed in classy white suits and surrounded by wooden keyboard barriers and speaker crates for added visual aesthetic value, there was certainly a timeless quality to the set.

Houndmouth

Houndmouth

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

21-Pilots2

2013 Outside Lands schedule announced!

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

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

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

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

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

OutsideLands
FRIDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 9th

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

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

OutsideLands
SATURDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 10th

Nine Inch Nails vs. Phoenix

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

OutsideLands1
SUNDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 11th

• Red Hot Chilli Peppers vs. Dillon Francis, Kaskade

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


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

OutsideLands2

Yeasayer show mad love for SF at Mezzanine

YeasayerPhotos by Sam Heller

A highlight performance for Mezzanine’s 10 year Anniversary concert series in San Francisco, Yeasayer performed this past Friday to a sold out crowd, and they were accompanied by fast-rising Wild Belle as the featured act.

The club-sized venue provided the crowd with the most intimate show that Yeasayer has played in the Bay Area over the past 5 years. Having sold out both The Fillmore and Fox Theater their last two visits, the audience was treated to a side of the band that most had likely not yet witnessed. Stripped down to simple house lights and absent of their optically illusive stage designs, the band kept the show simple, treating the crowd to a performance-based set absent of the frills.

Their set list pulled from from all three of their full lengths with highlights such as “Ambling Alp,” “One” and “Reagan’s Skeleton” whipping the crowd into a full frenzy. The band fed off the energy running through the audience, which remained at an all time high throughout. At any point you could look around and catch crowd members fully immersed, singing along and dancing to every song. Everyone knew how lucky they were to be there and the feeling resonated mutually with the band.

At the end of their set, front man Chris Keating said, “I don’t live here, but I truly believe this is the best city.” Directly after the words were uttered, I received a text confirmation that they will be included on the Outside Lands 2013 bill. The Yeasayer love remains reciprocal in the Bay Area, and if last Friday is any indicator of what they have in store for August, their OSL festival set should not be missed.

Coachella 2013: What you should know before you go

Coachella 2013

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

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

Coachella 2013

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

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

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.
Coachella-2013Friday 2013

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

Friday Reunions

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Reunions

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella-2013Sunday 2013

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

Sunday Reunions

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

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

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

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

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

Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.

Coachella 2013

Coachella 2013: Predictions, wishes & rumors vs. reality

Coachella 2013By Mike Frash //

With a casual tweet, festival season is about to begin. Anticipation over the imminent 2013 Coachella lineup is building, and recent history shows the festival lineup could come this week.

Do you have your accommodations set? Hopefully your ticket is taken care of, because Coachella 2013 could already be close to sold out.

Presale ticketing for this year’s Coachella sold out within hours of going on sale both weekends last May, and it was the first time pre-sale sold out in such a quick fashion. The Coachella 2012 general on-sale sold out within an hour for both weekends a year ago, and if you weren’t ninja-quick at getting into the waiting room, you were shit out of luck. Take all this into account, and there might be a very limited amount of tickets available after the 2013 lineup drops. Is it possible Coachella 2013 is completely sold out from presale ticketing?

Coachella

Headliners: Reality vs. Rumors
The headliner rumors arrived early this year, with speculation over The Rolling Stones and Daft Punk dominating the conversation. At this point The Rolling Stones seems like the more likely of the two to be headlining, even though they haven’t played a whole lot of festivals since Altamont in 1969. Besides, Coachella rumors about Daft Punk and David Bowie playing Coachella are a yearly running gag at this point — we’ll believe it when we see it. Bowie even has a confirmed album coming out in the spring, but his bandmates are saying Ziggy has ruled out performing live … forever.

Reunions are a big part of Coachella’s top-notch lineups, and last year saw the regrouping of At The Drive-In, Pulp and Refused. This year it looks like The Postal Service and My Bloody Valentine could happen. Blur would also make sense since they reunited at the Olympics last year. Black Sabbath was reportedly on board to headline last year until they had to pull out at the last moment, and they have a new album coming out in June. Outkast would be the perfect hip-hop headliner, but that seems unlikely with Big Boi pushing his new LP. Wu-Tang Clan seems like the most likely rap act to play the main stage, but are they big enough to headline one of the three days each weekend?

Last year saw The Black Keys headline Friday along with Swedish House Mafia, and most people thought The Black Keys weren’t worthy of headliner status. But Coachella is good at king-making groups and artists, elevating them to the top level simply by making them headliners. Goldenvoice could repeat last year’s Friday concept by crowning Phoenix, The xx or Mumford and Sons headliners while putting deadmau5 on the top line to satiate the EDM masses.

Reality (likely headliners):
The Rolling Stones, The Postal Service, deadmau5, My Bloody Valentine, Black Sabbath, Pearl Jam, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wu Tang Clan, No Doubt, Mumford & Sons, The xx

Rumors (probable wishlist-fiction):
Daft Punk, Outkast, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails (How to Destroy Angels is likely)

Artists to see before they get big:
Last year, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips, Azealia Banks, First Aid Kit, and lots of other artists performed at Coachella before getting exponentially bigger by the end of 2012. Possible contenders for 2013 include Angel Haze, AlunaGeorge, FIDLAR, Foxygen, Wilde Belle, & Earl Sweatshirt, although the hype for Earl is already tremendously loud.

Coachella

Best EDM acts most likely to not perform in the Sahara Tent:
• deadmau5
• Bassnectar
• Tiesto
• Simian Mobile Disco
• Andy Stott
• Nicolas Jaar
• Dan Deacon
• John Talabot
• Disclosure
• Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Artists most likely to return for second consecutive year:
Kendrick Lamar and Dawes, because Dawes somehow plays every festival.

Headlines we’d like to see:
“Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator join Earl Sweatshirt’s first solo set”
“Progressive-house trend baffles Sahara tent candy-kids”
“Thom Yorke, Bradford Cox & Trent Rezner play a combined 9 sets each weekend”
“Katie Perry attends Coachella again, never considered for performing duties.”

Plausible Acts We’d Like to See:
Alabama Shakes
alt-J
AlunaGeorge
Andy Stott
Angel Haze
Animal Collective
Atlas Sound
Atoms for Peace
Bassnectar
Bat for Lashes
Beach House
Ben Howard
Big Boi
Bjork
Black Sabbath
Blur
Cloud Nothings
Chromatics
Crystal Castles
CHVRCHES
Dan Deacon
Divine Fits
Disclosure
Die Antwoord
Django Django
Ducktails
Earl Sweatshirt
Father John Misty
Fiona Apple
Frightened Rabbit
Grimes
Grizzly Bear (Added 1.17.13)
Haim
Hot Chip
How to Dress Well
James Blake
Jamie Lidell
Japandroids
Jessie Ware
John Talabot
Jim James
Kendrick Lamar
Kishi Bashi
Killer Mike
Local Natives
New Order
Nicolas Jaar
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Major Lazer
Matthew Dear
Mumford & Sons
Passion Pit
Penguin Prison
Phoenix
Pretty Lights
Sigur Ros
Skrillex
Spiritualized
Stars
STRFCKR
Tame Impala
The Faint
The Joy Formidable
The Knife
The Postal Service
The Rolling Stones
The Walkmen
The xx
Toro Y Moi
TNGHT
Ty Segall
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Vampire Weekend
Warpaint
Wavves
Wild Belle
Wild Nothing
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeasayer
Yo la Tengo
!!!

Coachella