Just Like Heaven 2022: Pasadena’s own slice of indie-music bliss

Just Like Heaven 2022 - Interpol, Santigold & The ShinsPhotos by Josh Herwitt & courtesy of JLH with artwork by Melissa Herwitt // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Just Like Heaven //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
May 21st, 2022 //

For those of you in California who haven’t noticed yet, we’re right in the midst of festival season.

With Coachella wrapping up last month and Lightning in a Bottle as well as BottleRock taking place over Memorial Day weekend, 2022 has already brought the live music industry back to the Golden State in a big way (and let’s make sure we mention BeachLife Festival, too).

But for those of us who haven’t been attending music festivals for a few years in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more exciting when any concert promoter can assemble a lineup of great artists and bands to perform all on the same day. That’s what Goldenvoice did, in fact, when it announced the return of Just Like Heaven with a dream lineup for any indie-music fan during the mid-2000s, anchored by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins and M.I.A. with Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Chromeo, Santigold, Cut Copy, The Hives, Wolf Parade, Peaches and !!! also listed on the poster.

After taking over the Queen Mary Park in Long Beach for its debut in 2019, Just Like Heaven has found greener pastures to call home 35 miles north in Pasadena at the Brookside Golf Course adjacent to the Rose Bowl. It’s a proven location for hosting music festivals at this point after holding several large-scale events there before like Shaun White’s inaugural Air + Style and both editions of Goldenvoice’s two-day Arroyo Seco Weekend. But with the AEG-owned company’s other single-day fest Cruel World occupying the site two days the previous weekend and more music festivals like This Ain’t No Picnic scheduled for August, it’s safe to say that the Brookside is becoming quite a hotspot for Goldenvoice of late.

Just Like Heaven, nevertheless, seemingly fits the bill for Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett. And though the festival didn’t sell out nor was a second day added this time around, it still felt like quite a success given everything we have endured for more than two years. If anything, it was a brief reminder of what life felt like before the pandemic.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - Peaches


Peaches

While there wasn’t one performance at Just Like Heaven that stood above the rest, there were certainly highlights throughout the day — starting as early as 2 p.m. when Peaches stepped onto the main stage with an array of scantily-clad costumes to celebrate the belated 20th anniversary of her second LP The Teaches of Peaches. For those who got there in time to witness the Canadian electroclash musician in all her glory, it was 50 minutes we’ll never forget as Merrill Nisker delivered one erotic moment after the next alongside her backing band and backup dancers who were wearing as little as her. Sure, hearing Wolf Parade play 2005’s Apologies to the Queen Mary right after wasn’t quite as entertaining, but it did feel apropos given Just Like Heaven’s prior location, setting us up for an evening of classic indie rock.

By the time Franz Ferdinand took the stage for their 5:10 p.m. start, you could tell that the attendance had grown considerably compared to what it was earlier for late-afternoon sets by Kele Okereke, The Hives and Cut Copy. Of course the latter did their best to turn the daytime dance party up a notch with crowd-pleasers such as “Lights and Music” and “Hearts on Fire” off 2008’s In Ghost Colours, but it was Franz Ferndinand, Santigold and Bloc Party who shepherded us through the early evening (and one of them even made us pretend like we were back in 2005 listening to Silent Alarm for the first time again).

One of our only grievances with Just Like Heaven this year was scheduling Chromeo to perform exactly when The Shins were, leaving us less of an opportunity to catch both acts during the sunset. But James Mercer and his sidekicks made the most of it after a long time away from touring, offering 15 cuts across the band’s catalog before finishing with a rare cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” as the sun fell behind the San Gabriel Mountains.

From there, the remaining hours of the festival belonged to Modest Mouse, M.I.A. and Interpol. With the first two receiving 60 minutes on their respective stages — Orion and Stardust — each made a point to placate the more casual listener with commercial hits like “Float On” and “Paper Planes” receiving their three minutes in the spotlight. But while some of the songs on Modest Mouse’s 2021 album The Golden Casket don’t translate as well to a live setting as their older material and M.I.A.’s show can often be a bit too bizarre for some, Interpol was there at the end to ground us and bring it all home.

The NYC post-punk revival trio has been on the road for about a month after completing The Other Side of Make-Believe, and although we will have to wait until mid-July for their seventh studio effort to arrive, Interpol did provide a preview of sorts with “Fables” and “Toni” sprinkled into a setlist highlighted by one of our personal favorites “Rest My Chemistry” from 2007’s Our Love to Admire. Yet, it was only fitting on this night for Interpol to also uncork “The Heinrich Maneuver” from the same record that hears frontman Paul Banks ask the audience in the opening lyric, “How are things on the West Coast?” before replying, “I hear you’re moving real fine.” With Just Like Heaven alive and well after a three-year hiatus and new music from Interpol on the horizon, there’s no doubt we are now.

Just Like Heaven boasts stellar 2022 lineup led by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins & M.I.A.

Just Like Heaven - 2022 lineup

Just Like Heaven //
Brookside at the Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
May 21st, 2022 //

With California fully reopening last week on June 15th, normalcy is slowly but surely returning to the Golden State. And lucky for us, so is Just Like Heaven.

The one-day music festival put on by Goldenvoice made its debut in 2019 and proved to be an instant success — a second day was actually added after tickets sold out — with Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Beach House, Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, The Rapture, Miike Snow and more invading Queen Mary Park in Long Beach.

But after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show is ready to go on again next year and Just Like Heaven has dropped a 2022 roster that should be a dream come true for any indie music fan.

Migrating more than 30 miles north up the 710 Freeway to the Brookside Golf Course at the Rose Bowl, the fest will feature performances by Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Shins, M.I.A., Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Chromeo, Santigold, Cut Copy, The Hives, Wolf Parade (performing their 2005 debut LP Apologies to the Queen Mary), Peaches, !!!, The Raveonettes and more for one Saturday in May. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

Want to go? Make sure to register for the presale here before GA passes go on sale this Thursday, June 24th at 10 a.m. PT for $139 (Tier 1) and eventually increase to $159 (Tier 2) and $179 (Tier 3). VIP, Saturday Clubhouse and Saturday Clubhouse Platinum tickets, meanwhile, will also be available for $349, $599 and $899 plus fees, respectively.

And while that’s quite a chunk of change to shell out for a bunch of indie artists and bands who might have peaked more than a decade ago, we still can’t remember the last time heaven ever looked this good.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - set times

UPDATE (April 25th): As the days count down to Just Like Heaven’s return in less than a month, this year’s set times have arrived. With the lineup being as stacked as it is, there of course are conflicts to sort out, whether it’s Wolf Parade vs. Kele Okereke, The Hives vs. Cut Copy, Franz Ferdinand and/or Bloc Party vs. Santigold, The Shins vs. Chromeo or Modest Mouse vs. M.I.A. Interpol, meanwhile, will headline as expected with no competition and the entire crowd to itself. Peep the full list above to see who’s playing on which stage and when.

Just Like Heaven 2022 - festival map

Just Like Heaven 2022 - parking map

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2019

Kali Uchis at Smokin Grooves Fest - Rochelle Shipman


Kali Uchis at Smokin Grooves Fest // Showbams’ Photo of the Year, by Rochelle Shipman

Um, that’s it? Another year in the rear-view mirror? Where the hell did the last 12 months go? Time sure does seem to fly when there’s so much good new music out there to enjoy.

With that said, it’s once again time for us to share our annual “Best of” lists like we have done the past few years (see our 2018 picks here). From new emerging artists to reunion tours to the return of rock ‘n’ roll, this year had a little bit of everything for both the casual and passionate music fan. And even if you didn’t have the time to listen to every album that came out (neither did we), that’s why we’re here: to help point you in the right direction whenever you do finally get the chance to dig in.

So, without further ado, Showbams presents The Bam Team’s five favorite shows, albums and songs from 2019.

See our favorite performances from 2019 here.

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2019:


The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall - Josh Herwitt


The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall // Photo by Josh Herwitt

Josh Herwitt // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. Tool at Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA – October 20th & 21st
Unlike the delay on Tool’s fifth album Fear Inoculum, I thankfully didn’t have to wait 13 years to see my favorite band perform live. It was only a couple of years ago when I caught the boys at The Gorge, earning top honors as my favorite show in 2017, and subsequently a week later at Glen Helen Amphitheater for an all-day affair with Primus, Clutch, Fantômas, Melvins and The Crystal Method. Perhaps my tastes haven’t changed all that much since then, but even in a year that saw me attend half as many concerts as I usually do, Tool are still finding new and innovative ways to enhance their live show. Whether it’s tinkering with their stage production to incorporate a see-through curtain at times or adding surround sound throughout the arena, a Tool performance has evolved into a spiritual, meditative and almost out-of-body experience over the last decade. It’s no wonder why scoring tickets remains a trial of good fortune.

2. The Raconteurs at Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA – July 27th
3. The Chemical Brothers at Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles, CA – May 15th
4. Jim James & The Claypool Lennon Delirium at The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA – July 3rd
5. Foals at Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles, CA – March 24th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
When a three-time Grammy-winning band takes more than a decade to release its next album, it’s only natural for expectations to go through the roof. And I’ll be the first to admit that there was a small seed of doubt in my mind when it came to just how epic Tool’s latest sonic voyage in the studio could and would be. But upon first listen, any uncertainty I had about the merits of Fear Inoculum was quickly dispelled. The title track lures you in from the onset, building to a higher place as Maynard James Keenan (vocals) and company — Adam Jones (guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass) and Danny Carey (drums, percussion) — take listeners on an 80-minute rite of passage that holds up as some of the quartet’s best material in its entire catalog. I just hope they got at least one more LP in them, even if it takes another 13 years to make.

2. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
3. Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1
4. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
5. Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. Tool – “Descending”
If you’re still reading, you’ve probably gotten the hint by now that I’m a big fan of Tool. After all, it only seemed fitting that my top song in 2019 should also come from my No. 1 album of the year by my favorite band over the last two decades. I have seen Tool perform a shortened version of “Descending” several times since 2014, before it ever had an official title, so when Fear Inoculum arrived back in August, there was no track I anticipated hearing more. In fact, at more than 13 minutes long, it’s one that requires your full, undivided attention, which can be a significant amount of time to dedicate in a world of three-minute pop songs and endless distractions now. But for prog-rock enthusiasts like myself who are more than willing to take the ride, “Descending” delivers a total rush of blood to the head that ultimately leads to pure unadulterated euphoria.

2. Bon Iver – “Hey, Ma”
3. Hot Chip – “Hungry Child”
4. Foals – “On the Luna”
5. Karen O and Danger Mouse – “Turn the Light”


Cate Le Bon - Reward

Kevin Quandt // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. Stereolab at Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain – June 1st
Primavera Sound has always had a knack for booking reunions (i.e. Pulp, The Avalanches and Pavement) to its “musical mecca” on the Balearic Sea. 2019’s iteration featured the first proper show in nearly a decade from the anti-capitalist art-pop darlings Stereolab. “Come and Play in the Milky Night” on 1999’s Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night would open the evening to the international consortium of aging music nerds who undoubtedly knew that they were about to be treated to a “best of” set from the English-French outfit. Better yet, their politically themed lyrical content seemed more relevant in 2019 than it was around the time of their creation a quarter-century ago.

2. Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium at The Music Box Village – New Orleans, LA – April 26th
3. BLACK MIDI at Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA – November 21st
4. Amen Dunes at August Hall – San Francisco, CA – January 10th
5. Ween at Desert Daze – Perris, CA – October 12th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Cate Le Bon – Reward
What a banner year for the Welsh artist as she created her most highly acclaimed LP to date. Le Bon has truly honed her craft over the last decade as she has collaborated with a laundry list of indie-music royalty before writing the whimsical and austere Reward that employs an array of fresh sounds swirling around her haunting, pixie vocals. 2020 will see Cate jump on tour alongside Kurt Vile in a solo capacity, but we can’t wait to see what she produces next.

2. Wand – Laughing Matter
3. (Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar
4. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
5. Omni – Networker

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. Foals – “Sunday”
As Foals teeter on the edge of being rock’s next big headliner, the British group semi-quietly unleashed a pair of albums entitled Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 and Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2. While their style continues to hover around math, dance and indie rock, they dig into a deeper realm of sonic atmosphere as frontman Yannis Philippakis questions, even laments, the state of our current times. “Sunday” tends to borrow a tad from the grandiose nature of their fellow Brits in Coldplay before dropping into a four-on-the-floor section that was rather well-received during their March stop at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

2. Crumb – “Ghostride”
3. Vampire Weekend – “Sunflower” feat. Steve Lacy
4. Oh Sees – “Henchlock”
5. Allah-Las – “In the Air”


Rochelle Shipman // Los Angeles

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. slowthai at Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA – September 4th
Shortly after releasing his debut album Nothing Great About Britain in May, Tyron Frampton played a few intimate U.S. shows several months later. My guess is that those were probably the last ones he’ll do if the UK rapper out of Northampton continues to rise and deliver, just like he did for much of 2019. Part Johnny Knoxville-type grime smart ass, part brilliant gritty-crust punk, slowthai shook the roof off LA’s Lodge Room, which turned out to be a warm-up show before he returned to play Camp Flog Gnaw in November. Frampton certainly came to please, setting the energy level at 11 and even performing his rowdy hit “Doorman” twice in the set. He could’ve run through it 15 times and the crowd would’ve left just as satisfied.

2. Little Simz at The Echo – Los Angeles, CA – June 13th
3. Taking Back Sunday at Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, CA – April 11th
4. Night Moves at The Echo – Los Angeles, CA – September 21st
5. Usher at Smokin Grooves Fest – Long Beach, CA – June 15th

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Little Simz – GREY Area
The production. The flow. The bars. The BALLS. Little Simz absolutely brings it on GREY Area, leaving no space for second-guessing, sexist bullshit or honestly anyone else at all. This latest studio album from the British emcee is all her, and you can feel it with every breath she takes. We should all be so lucky to come into our confidence the way that she did on this record, but most of all, we should just be grateful “Simbi” trusts us to keep her deepest secrets — and that they sound so, so good.

2. slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
3. Shura – forevher
4. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby
5. White Reaper – You Deserve Love

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. slowthai – “Doorman” (with Mura Masa)
This song technically dropped in 2018, but its spotlight was shone even wider with slowthai releasing his debut LP this year. The Mura Masa-assisted cut pulses with adrenaline, carries the air of a movie soundtrack in only three minutes and has a beat that will take you all the way to the moon and back. In the words of Lizzo, it’s a whole damn meal!

2. Kari Faux – “Latch Key”
3. Billie Eilish – “bury a friend”
4. Little Simz – “Venom”
5. Smino – “Trina”


Tool - Fear Inoculum

Andrew Pohl // San Francisco

Top 5 Shows of 2019
1. IDLES – Fillmore – San Francisco, CA – October 10th
After putting out one of my favorite albums from 2018 and missing their show earlier this year, I was thrilled to finally catch IDLES live. To say that these English punk rockers put on a good performance would be a true understatement. They had the energy of an out-of-control freight train but were able to contain it while proving to be an incredibly fun act to see live. Frontman Joe Talbot engaged with the audience in a very authentic way, talking and singing to fans, not just at them. There were crowd-surfing guitarists, mosh pits and sing-a-longs … it was wild.

2. Punk Rock Bowling 2019 – Las Vegas, NV – May 23rd-27th
3. Judas Priest at The Warfield – San Francisco, CA – June 24th
4. Van’s Warped Tour 2019 at Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA – July 20th-21st
5. ITCHY-O at Cornerstone – Berkeley, CA – November 23rd

Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
Well, after all of the waiting and speculation, Tool have done it again, in a really big way. Fear Inoculum is everything that I was hoping it would be, and then some. HUGE-sounding drums, guitars and bass wrap your head in a warm prog blanket while Maynard does what he always has so well. It takes the best parts of their previous albums and combines them to showcase a band that has clearly not missed a step in the 13 years since 10,000 Days.

2. Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
3. Brittany Howard – Jaime
4. Catbite – Catbite
5. Plague Vendor – By Night

Top 5 Songs of 2019
1. The Hammerbombs – “I Hate Cars”
The Hammerbombs are an undersung Bay Area pop-punk group that have written some of the catchiest and fun songs I have heard from the East Bay scene in a long time. Their 2019 release Goodbye, Dreamboat made my top 10, and this track is the hands-down standout on an album chock-full of toe-tappers. It’s a heartfelt song written by singer and bassist Jen Louie, who has a knack for crafting some really fantastic tunes. The chorus is saccharine sweet, and you can’t help but sing along.

2. Lizzo – “Juice”
3. Bad Religion – “Do The Paranoid Style”
4. Ceremony – “In The Spirit World Now”
5. Lagwagon – “Surviving California”

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Moving Units celebrate rise of dance-punk in their hometown

Moving UnitsBy Josh Herwitt //

Moving Units (10th anniversary show for Dangerous Dreams) //
El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles
December 5th, 2014 //

As the days count down to 2015, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the early 2000s marked a seminal time in the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll. But for fans of dance-punk, a subgenre that fuses punk rock, new wave and disco all into one cohesive sound, there may have been no bigger year than 2004.

A year after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs broke into the scene with their first full-length record, the Grammy-nominated Fever to Tell, dance-punk exploded into mainstream pop culture as young, emerging bands like !!!, Liars and Death from Above 1979 all released albums to predominantly positive reviews.

Yet, that same year, there was another dance-punk outfit — a much-lesser-known one by way of Los Angeles — that was also leaving an imprint on the dance-rock landscape.

Moving Units, a four-piece fronted by lead singer and guitarist Blake Miller, would end up playing a key role in the post-millennium renaissance of dance-punk thanks to their 2004 debut Dangerous Dreams.

Moving Units

The album, which embodies the dance-punk spirit as well as any studio recording to this day, would eventually find its way into more traditional media, including a television spot in 2007 for the deodorant brand Secret. But for those who were already fans of Moving Units, TV commercials weren’t necessary to justify the respect and admiration they had for Dangerous Dreams.

So, when the band announced that it would be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Dangerous Dreams by performing the album in its entirety, there were plenty of Angelinos who knew where they would be on the evening of December 5.

At the El Rey Theatre, Moving Units did exactly what they said they would, playing the 12-track LP from start to finish, as Miller let it all hang out, leaning into the microphone to deliver his lyrics with passion and force. The songs may have been more than a decade old, but you would have never known by how tight the band sounded.

For their encore, Miller and his three sidekicks — bassist Mike Delgado, lead guitarist Boz Bosgieter and drummer Danny Deleon — dipped even deeper into their catalog, going back to the start of it all by playing three songs from Moving Units’ self-titled EP. It was a nice surprise to see, considering the group dropped its third full-length Neurotic Exotic just a little more than a year ago.

Because these days, in this go-go-go world we find ourselves living in, it’s OK for a band to celebrate the past once in a while.

Setlist:
Emancipation, Between Us & Them, Available, Going for Adds, Unpersuaded, Anyone, Scars, Submission, Birds of Prey, Bricks & Mortar, Killer/Lover, Turn Away

Encore:
X and Y, I Am, Melodrama

Showbams’ top tracks of 2013

Best-tracks-post

Sometimes the more music you listen to, the feeling of missing out on a song or an album can make you feel a little neurotic. You simply can’t give every piece of good music it’s proper due. So when it comes to picking your favorite songs, a safe bet is to pick the songs that not only soundtracked your year but also helped define it.

Showbams presents our Contributor top tracks of 2013. What are your favorite tracks of this dwindling year? Holler with links in the comment section…


James Blake at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

James Blake at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/20. Photo by Marc Fong.

Mike Frash // Founder, Editor, Columnist // @MikeFrash

01. James Blake – “Retrograde”
“Retrograde” perfectly represents the state of music in 2013, providing an amalgamation of cutting edge electronic, bass & R&B sensibilities. Also, the track is hauntingly memorable — How many contemporaries can use their pitch-shifting croon-hum as a low melodic layer like this? Lyrically, manipulative seduction is the center piece as Blake propositions his subject, asking to “show me where you fit.” Retrograde means ‘moving backwards’, and the theme is splendidly represented in the song’s payoff through elongated synth that modulates enough to sound like slow degradation.


02. Disclosure – “When A Fire Starts To Burn”
The mantra of the year, “When A Fire Starts To Burn” can ignite a party or help work get done faster. Somehow the motivational speech sample never tires, and it’s one of the only samples on Settle, proving the keen production sense Guy and Howard Lawrence have ingrained in them. The simple four on the floor house beat slightly evolves every 16 bars, allowing the sample to dominate throughout. An instant classic, it’s a track that uses long-used underground themes and brings them to the forefront as Disclosure continues to explode with popularity.


03. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
The penultimate song from Reflektor explicitly stares death in the face and dares you to live. More than any other song on the record, “Afterlife” successfully digs into the idea of what happens when we die in Arcade Fire’s serious, intense style. The song offers multiple rhetorical questions that function as a challenge. Our time is finite, and love should be the focus. “It’s just an afterlife with you…”


04. Foals – “Milk & Black Spiders”
So much of Foals’ music is about being on the verge of total loss, although the message is almost always vague. A far cry from yelling at “Cassius” that she’s “second best”, “Milk & Black Spiders” centers on the idea of confidence in finding the right mate and openly admitting it. Found in an album full of potential top tracks, this cut contains the best moment of the album at about 3:30. Is it hyperbole to consider this one of the most euphoric crescendo of all time?


05. my bloody valentine – “in another way”
To be truly understood, my bloody valentine needs to be felt, not only heard. To experience MBV live or in the comfort of your living space like the Maxwell Guy is encouraged (although it may be too late to catch them live). The sound is jarring at first, but upon adapting to the volume level, “in another way” transforms into magnificent hypnotism once the first major chords hit. It’s like a persistent, awesome airplane is taking off in your face, in a very good way…

06. Baths – “No Eyes”
07. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
08. Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean – “New Slaves”
09. The National – “I Need My Girl”
10. Rhye – “Open”
11. Volcano Choir – “Byegone”
12. Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”
13. Run the Jewels – “Job Well Done (feat. Until the Ribbon Breaks)”
14. Mount Kimbie – “Made To Stray”
15. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
16. Darkside – “Paper Trails”
17. Autre Ne Veut – “Play by Play”
18. Jon Hopkins – “Breath This Air”
19. Haim – “Falling”
20. Bill Callahan – “Small Plane”


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Molly Kish // Artist Relations Manager, Columnist // @MollyKish

01. Vampire Weekend – “Unbelievers”
Far from the New England prep rock of their previous two albums, the boys of Vampire Weekend explore new territory both in songwriting and soundscape on their 2013 release Modern Vampires of the City. This breakout pop gem explores the frivolity of faith, dissecting spirituality in the context of a contemporary domestic relationship. Paying homage to blissful rockabilly melodies executed by such greats as Buddy Holly and the Crickets and Jerry Lee Lewis, Vampire Weekend put a current spin on an archetypal pop formula, composing easily one of the best tracks of 2013.


02. Big Black Delta – “Side of the Road”
Jonathan Bates, of Mellowdrone fame, delivers one of the catchiest terrestrial dance jams of 2013 with the lead single off of his debut album, Big Black Delta. A solo project, Bates performs the entire song through layers of modified vocals, electronic improvisation and innovatively tracked percussion. He succeeds in developing an addictive one man dance party that’s just as entertaining to see live as it is to listen to on record and calls for near immediate loops of repetitive play.


03. Disclosure -“F For You”
UK sibling duo Disclosure deliver one of the hardest hitting and simplistically rendered club hits of 2013 with “F For You.” Stripping away frivolous electronic production, they find success in a modest deep house composition featuring a pulsating baseline, repetitive chorus and a stylistically pert, finger-snapping beat. The song’s sassy subject matter and infectious groove are bound to get any dance floor moving and set the song apart as a standout hit on the band’s 2013 debut album.


04. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
Departing from their traditionally art punk mold, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s burst back on the scene with the first single off of their fourth studio album, Mosquito. Highlighting rooted soul riffs and Karen O’s bluesy wails, the beat driven arrangement pays homage to the band’s time spent writing and recording in New Orleans. The track in a fiery choral cameo by the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir and serves as the band’s rousing call to arms for their alternative counterparts. The song exemplifies the band’s successful feat in retaining some of the genres fearlessness and artistic credulity as well as their willingness to step outside of the convoluted mainstream box.


05. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
Often compared to fellow DFA records’ flagship artist LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost! assumed the label’s inherent responsibility of producing the next wave of synth-pop super hits with their 2013 album Dynamics. The most comparable track, coming in the form of this funk laden jam, draws directly from the genre-defining record label’s indisputable formula for discotheque domination. Rhythmically resonating with old and new fans alike, Holy Ghost! seamlessly transitioned into their new reign of the DFA universe with this stand out party anthem that floored live music venues and festival stages, all summer long.

06. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
07. Atoms for Peace – “Default”
08. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Nighttime”
09. Toro Y Moi – “Say That”
10. Empire of the Sun – “Alive”
11. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”
12. STRFKR – “While I’m Alive”
13. Jagwar Ma – “Man I Need”
14. Phoenix – “S.O.S. in Bel Air”
15. Washed Out – “All I Know”
16. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
17. CSS – “Into the Sun”
18. Devendra Banhart – “You’re Fine Petting Duck”
19. Wild Belle – “Another Girl”
20. The Strokes – “One Way Trigger”


Palma Violets at The Independent 4/23. Photo by James Nagel.

Palma Violets at The Independent 4/23. Photo by James Nagel.

Kevin Quandt // Assistant Editor, Columnist // @KJQuandt

01. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
When the ‘Song of the Summer’ (sorry “Blurred Lines”) is as thoroughly enjoyable as this interstellar first single off of RAM, you know you won’t get nearly as tired of it as past summertime jams. “Get Lucky” is still is as fresh as the first time it was debuted on a Saturday night at Coachella, eventually ruling airwaves across multiple genres all over the globe. This track has it all; from a space disco groove that rivals any legendary disco jam to the sultry vocals of the multi-talented Pharrell Williams. Was it the single that most fans were expecting? Probably not, but lends even more to the production and writing talent of these two mysterious French robots that most of us know by the name of Daft Punk. Though we haven’t seen how it’ll shake out on stage, if ever, it is sure to be on repeat for the foreseeable future. 


02. Foxygen – “No Destruction”
What a fun slice of American tinged psych-pop these young San Franciscans delivered this year. Sure this band has had a rough year on the road, but these issues never diminished their stellar sophomore release, spotlighted by this rousing tale of youthful urban life and love. Dylan-esque crooning coupled with phrasing that would make Ray Davies blush lends a nod to some of rocks legends in the form of “No Destruction”. Every listen also shines more light on the storyboard that these lyrics build, adding another key component to Foxygen’s success.  


03. Foals – “My Number”
I’m not sure exactly when Foals became masters of catchy song structures, but many are happy to hear this British act upping their game to dazzling new heights. The formula of placing the hook early in the track is part of the key, and this is not to mention the amazing returns to said hook while balancing afro-inspired guitar lines, piercing melodies and unpredictable rhythm shifts. “My Number” signifies the next era for Foals while displaying they are ready to leave the clubs to larger theaters while bearing the banner of Bono-esque grandeur in the face of a changing landscape in popular rock music. 


04. King Krule – “Baby Blue”
Young Archie Marshall has come along way for a 19 year old Brit with a refreshing spin on bedroom-produced darkwave music. Though in all honesty, King Krule can not be defined as he bends genre lines all over his debut LP, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Archie’s unique vocal stylings paint a brilliantly simple portrait of love lost over a stripped down production that is akin to the muted style that launched acts like the XX and Toro Y Moi. The baritone delivery pitches and bends on the singer’s whim over gentle guitar flourishes and minimal beat production equally something fully unique. In an age of EDM maximalism, it’s tracks like this that demonstrate the idea of ‘less is more.’ 


05. London Grammar – “Hey Now”
London Grammar may not be an artist that the majority are familiar with, but a head-turning debut LP released in the fall has garnered this trip-hop trio much deserved attention. Hannah Reid’s vocals soar all over this chilled-out track that slowly builds to a mellow peak that could remind you of early Zero 7 (the Sia years). A feature on Disclosure’s album closer and vocal comparisons to Jessie Ware are promising signs for these up-and-comers that understand restraint can be extremely powerful as demonstrated in this powerful single.  

06. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
07. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
08. Palma Violets – “Best of Friends”
09. Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean – “New Slaves”
10. Jake Bugg – “Lightning Bolt”
11. A$AP Ferg feat. A$AP Rocky – “Shabba”
12. HAIM – “The Wire”
13. Queens of the Stone Age – “My God is the Sun”
14. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”
15. The National – “Humiliation”
16. Ducktails – “The Flower Lane”
17. Deerhunter – “Dream Captain”
18. Jon Hopkins – “Open Eye Signal”
19. iceage – “Ecstasy”
20. White Fence – “Pink Gorilla”


Holy Ghost! at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19.

Holy Ghost! at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19.

Pete Mauch // Festival Manager & Columnist // @PeteMauch

01. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”    
The summer anthem is just too good to be denied the number one spot. With Nile Rodgers laying down the funk chords on guitar and Pharrell Williams’s resurgence back on the scene with smooth croons, it gives the song has some serious lasting power.


02. Kurt Vile – “Wakin On a Pretty Day”
Best morning song ever besides Dylan’s “New Morning”? I absolutely love waking up to this song — it’s bright, catchy guitar licks are matched perfectly with Vile’s earnest lyrics about solitude, yet he’s optimistic about this pretty day. 


03. Foals – “My Number”  
This song come firing out of the gates with infectious dance grooves that are nearly impossible to not move your feet to. The hypnotizing multi-guitar work is such a great complement to the vocals on this should-be hit single.


04. Jagwar Ma – “Come Save Me”
If the Beach Boys started to make electrified, psychedelic dance songs then I suspect it would sound a lot like this. These Australian rockers put together one hell of a dream-like track this year.


05. Superhuman Happiness – “Sentimental Pieces”
One of the most fun and creative songs I’ve heard in a long while. The way they combine dance grooves, hand claps, piano work, and some serious vocal harmonizing is quite impressive.

06. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
07. Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
08. White Denim – “Pretty Green”
09. Sigur Rós – “Isjaki”
10. Phosphorescent – “Song for Zula”
11. Youth Lagoon – “Mute”
12. Savages – “She Will”
13. Anders Osborne – “Peace”
14. Ty Segall – “Sleeper”
15. Atoms for Peace – “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”
16. Jim James – “Know Til Now”
17. Deerhunter – “Back to the Middle”
18. Johnathon Wilson – “Moses Pain”
19. Bonobo –  “Cirrus”
20. Darkside – “Paper Trails”


Washed Out at First City Festival 8/24. Photo by Marc Fong.

Washed Out at First City Festival 8/24. Photo by Marc Fong.

Kevin Raos // Columnist // @Semirec

01. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
The best song, on perhaps the best album of the year, “Hannah Hunt” is an instant classic. Modern Vampires of the City is littered with tracks that will be considered amongst Vampire Weekend’s best, and “Hannah Hunt” leads the pack. Despite the lack of “quirkiness” that Vampire Weekend is sometimes known for, the track gently builds the listener up to one of the most jubilant climaxes found on any record this year.


02. Youth Lagoon – “Raspberry Cane”
Another song that builds you up and sweeps you off your feet, “Raspberry Cane” is a bright spot on Wondrous Bughouse, a sophomore effort that fell slightly short of expectations. Hauntingly fascinating and beautifully psychedelic, this song takes the listener on a musical journey.  


03. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
“Afterlife” is a song that took a few years to see the light of day. When it was released, Win Butler commented on the history of this song, saying it began “with a Haitian percussion loop we recorded way back at the end of the The Suburbs tour and “took a while to get the chorus right.” Enter producer James Murphy and the result is an extremely danceable synth-pop tune that is up there with the year’s pedigree.


04. Rhye – “Open”
Passion oozes from this song. Simple and pure love in it’s most basic form. Lyrics, musicianship and delivery make this track one of the most soothing songs of the year. Turn this on,  embrace those you love, and all will be right in the world if only for a couple minutes.


05. Washed Out – “It All Feels Right”
The title of this song says it best. Washed Out’s sunbathed reverb vibes can instantly transport you to a beach and put a beverage in your hand. Fact. Move aside “Get Lucky”, this was the summer anthem of 2013 on my stereo.

06. Major Lazer – “Get Free”
07. Wild Belle – “Keep You”
08. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
09. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
10. James Blake – “Retrograde”
11. Phosphorescent – “The Quotidian Beasts”
12. Daft Punk – “Instant Crush”
13. Boards of Canada – “Nothing is Real”
14. Mikal Cronin – “Weight”
15. Sigur Rós – “Brennisteinn”
16. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
17. Phoenix – “Trying to Be Cool”
18. Foxygen – “San Francisco”
19. Junip – “Line of Fire”
20. Disclosure – “White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)”


Cut Copy at Fox Theater Oakland 11/02. Photo by James Nagel.

Cut Copy at Fox Theater Oakland 11/02. Photo by James Nagel.

Brooks Rocco // Columnist // @brooksrocco

01. Jagwar Ma – “Uncertainty”
In the wholly subjective exercise of selecting a favorite song of a year, one must consider one’s most notable experiences, focusing upon those driven by the most notable soundtracks. 2013’s best dance party, in my little sphere of dominion, was Jagwar Ma’s headlining set at Rickshaw Stop, and it was the song ‘Uncertainty’ that made me most notably lose control of my senses. Even upon sober reflection, the song (defining the tone of the album it appears on) is a sledgehammer of a good time, a song that revels in the Clichés that in an earlier year would have manifested in sardonic irony. It’s finally time to embrace what works, and in doing so, create the future that pushes towards the goal: a musical tribute to our ecstatic humanity, as we remain fueled by uncertainties.


02. Deafheaven – “Dream House”
In some ways, “Dream House” is the end of black metal. It’s been a long time coming though, with American kids raised on the stuff tilting their combo amps backward, screaming their fresh-faced idolatry for the legends that dared to not give a fuck. With the pink Pitchfork kiss of approval, black metal has become another texture in the tech-savvy hipster’s chest, to be yanked out when the time is appropriate (then and only then!). ‘Dream House’ is the black metal song that everyone can agree on. Euronymous is Dead. Long live Black Metal.


03. Cave – “Arrow’s Myth”
Shifting space, coagulating color, sound, motion; breaking barriers, and driving the motorized swirl ever farther, Cave returned in 2013 with some of their most funky and delicately harmonious hues yet. Once again they delivered just the right the stuff we all need—imbalance your chemicals (whatever that means to you), throw on “Arrow’s Myth”, and wrap your head around whatever comes natural. If it feels good, right?


04. Carcass – “A Congealed Clot of Blood”
I got a little worried when I found out Andy Sneap was producing the followup to Carcass’ swan song, Surgical Steel, as said producer is the type of surgeon to sterilize all his instruments thoroughly before performing his delicate incisions. Fortunately, this sublime return to force by the UK legends is necrotising death metal masterpiece; ‘A Congealed Clot of Blood’ worthy amongst their greatest.


05. my bloody valentine – “in another way”
I wasn’t listening to Loveless in the 90’s like it was my religion. In my erumpent musical debut, I was blasting stuff like Emperor, Dissection, Meshuggah; bands louder, noisier, and far, far more unsettling than My Bloody Valentine. But for a lot of people, MBV were the anti-music of their spheres. That said, the night m b v dropped, I got sucked into the tornado along with everyone else.  A cursory pirated listen and I was in. ‘in another way’ was the tune that made me whip out the plastic capital and order the wax. Full disclosure for Mr. Shields: it was that guitar.  How did you…

06. RP Boo – “Invisibu Boogie!”

07. Dispirit – “All Paths End The Same”

08. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

09. Föllakzoid – “9”

10. Foals – “Late Night”

11. Thee Oh Sees – “No Spell”

12. Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out”

13. The Five Eyes – “HEY HEY NSA (Tinfoil in Every Hat)”

14. The Knife – “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized”

15. Kanye West – “On Sight”

16. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Desert Ceremony”

17. Parquet Courts – “Master of My Craft”

18. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”

19. Anthroprophh – “Hermit”

20. Telekinesis – “Power Lines”


MS MR at The Independent 6/16. Photo by James Nagel.

MS MR at The Independent 6/16. Photo by James Nagel.

Nikki De Martini // Columnist & Photographer // @SweetSoundBites

01. M.I.A. –  “Y.A.L.A.”
Seducingly rhythmic percussion loops, heavy dropping bass lines and a shining bratty-tude mock US society fads on this effortless dance track from my favorite Sri Lankan West-Londoner. M.I.A.’s signature ballsy Bollywood flavor minus the familiarity of foghorns will make you want to get up and dance before realizing what she’s singing about sets in and when it does, this track gets even better. “Y.A.L.A.” makes me wonder why Interscope Records repeatedly shelved her 4th album for not being “dark” or “controversial” enough.


 
02. RAC Featuring Kelle Okereke and MNDR – “Let Go”
As a fan of MNDR for years and a Bloc Party fan for even longer, this collaborative RAC track won me over since the very first time hearing it — the emotionally charged lyrics paired with it’s uplifting melody just melt into one so well.


 
03. MS MR – “Hurricane”
Easily one of my favorite tracks off of their breakthrough debut album, the first single “Hurricane” showcases the multitude of MS MR’s talents to a tee with rich, relatable lyrics and an underlying electro-pop essence wrapped up and delivered in a neat indie rock fashion.


 
04. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?”
It’s heavy drums, low bass chords and dirty guitar licks reminiscent of The Black Keys are that draw me to this song. Then the lyrics hit and that was it. Every time I hear this song I turn it up and sing along.


 
05. Schoolboy Q Featuring Kendrick Lamar – “Collard Greens”
The catchy hooks and layered verses are a throw back to old school “dirty” rap yet remain fresh, leaving me hungry for more Kendrick Lamar!  


 
06. Lana Del Rey – “Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais remix)
07. LORDE – “Team”
08. Cage the Elephant – “It’s Just Forever (featuring Alison Mosshart)”
09. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Wedding Song”
10. Queens of the Stone Age – “Sat by the Ocean”
11. Jay Z – “Tom Ford”
12. Little Boots – “Strangers”
13. Portugal the Man – “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”
14. VV Brown – “Apple”
15. Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals”
16. Broken Bells – “Holding on for Life”
17. NONONO – “Pumping Blood”
18. CSS – “Hangover”
19. Atlas Genius – “Electric”
20. Smallpools – “Dreaming”


Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Pedro Paredes // Photographer // @pedropar

01. Atoms for Peace – “Before Your Very Eyes”
Every great album needs an opening song worthy of it, and “Before Your Very Eyes” gives just that to the supergroup formed by members of Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea), Beck (Joey Waronker) and Forro in The Dark (Mauro Refosco). With dense, steady percussions, electronic arrangements, a simple guitar section, and the soft sound of Thom Yorke’s voice, this song walks to the beat of life and death, joy and sorrow, and begins the path for one of the best albums of 2013.


02. Vampire Weekend – “Obvious Bicycle”
Vampire Weekend’s first song of their amazing Modern Vampires of the City sets the mood for an album that takes a different route from their previous work, with a warmer, more mature sound. A beautiful song for a beautiful album.   


03. James Blake – “Retrograde”
Melodic Bass Music are the words James Blake chose to describe his work, and “Retrograde” seems to fit that description quite well. It’s a love song for the future, coming from the darkness of the dawn.


03. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street”
Nick Cave is a natural storyteller that makes use of his musical talent to make any story come alive (his music scores for films like ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’ or ‘The Proposition’ are enough to prove my point)  Jubilee Street starts simple, growing in complexity in the subtlest of ways, beautifully contained under the spell of Nick Cave’s voice.


05. Blood Orange – “It is What it Is”
“It is What it Is” is exactly what it should be — Deliciously elegant, precise, presenting a new version of 80’s pop-reset. This song is the cherry on top of one of the best albums of 2013.

06. Mutual Benefit – “Golden Wake”
07. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time”
08. Daft Punk – “Instant Crush”
09. Lorde – “Royals”
10. William Tyler – “Cadillac Dessert”
11. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
12. Phosphorescent – “Ride On/Right On”
13. Deerhunter – “Back to the Middle”
14. Darkside – “Paper Trails”
15. Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of A”
16. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
17. Low – “Plastic Cup”
18. Blue Hawaii – “Try To Be”
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Despair”
20. Foxygen – “No Destruction”

Showbams’ 40 best albums of 2013

Best-Albums-of-2013

“Best of” lists are always subjective, and this one is no anomaly. When it comes to the best albums of any given year, we can most likely agree that the best records are excellent from beginning to end — no “skip ahead” songs — and that groundbreaking new music can emerge from any genre.

At the same time, we imprint music on moments in our lives, and this will always influence personal taste. Combine these past influences with modern streaming capabilities in 2013, where new records are now accessible before an album release date, and our collective creation and criticism of music begins to transform, adapt and influence more rapidly.

Here are our most addictive albums of 2013, the records we couldn’t stop spinning.

01. Arcade FireReflektor
02. DisclosureSettle
03. Atoms For PeaceAmok
04. FoalsHoly Fire
05. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
06. Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
07. Kurt VileWakin On a Pretty Daze
08. James BlakeOvergrown
09. White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
10. Toro Y MoiAnything In Return

11. RhyeWoman
12. DarksidePsychic
13. Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
14. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
15. My Bloody Valentinem b v
16. Sigur RósKveikur
17. Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
18. Danny BrownOld
19. Holy Ghost!Dynamics
20. Jagwar MaHowlin

21. Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) – Run the Jewels
22. Washed OutParacosm
23. ClassixxHanging Gardens
24. Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
25. Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork
26. The StrokesComedown Machine
27. Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
28. Volcano ChoirRepave
29. A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
30. Anders OsbornePeace

31. Jon HopkinsImmunity
32. Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito
33. King Krule6 Feet Beneath The Moon
34. Kanye WestYeezus
35. Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth
36. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
37. BonoboThe North Borders
38. Tyler, the CreatorWolf
39. PhoenixBankrupt!
40. PhosphorescentMuchacho


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Mike Frash // Founder, Editor, Columnist // @MikeFrash

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
1The focus on larger themes of mortality and spirituality in Modern Vampires of the City have catapulted this indie group from angst-ridden collegians to mainstream players — and in the process Ezra Koenig and company crafted an American classic. Compulsively listenable, this record matured with age in 2013, just like the artistic path Vampire Weekend seem to be on. The album continuously waxes poetically about death and higher powers, and “Unbelievers” sums it up best: “Girl you and I will die unbelievers, bound to the tracks of the train.” The ambiguousness is biting, as it is tough to tell if the statement is earnest atheism or harsh criticism of Godless existence. In “Step”, we’re told, “Wisdom’s a gift but you’ll trade it for youth, age is an honor it’s still not the truth…we know the true death, the true way of all flesh. Everyone’s dying, but girl – you’re not old yet.” Even “Dianne Young” is a double entendre for ‘dying young’. Every track is filled with high-level substance lyrically, but sonically it’s multi-faceted as well, melding baroque sensibilities and African grooves at a wonderfully variant pace throughout. Ultimately, it’s a supremely empowering coming of age album from Vampire Weekend, one that stares mortality in the face while celebrating time’s finite quality.

Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike)Run the Jewels
2Early in Run The Jewels, Killer Mike announces, “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s the ‘beat of the year’, I said ‘El-P didn’t do it, so get the fuck outa here.’ El-P, the sole producer of rap music’s most dynamic duo, bases his production in captivating weirdness, micro-sampling everything from classic organ to nintendo glitch sounds to electric guitar, building epic beats for Killer Mike & El-P to deliver clever rhymes, based both in reality and playful hyperbole. One of Run The Jewels’ greatest successes is that it can be both funny and deadly serious within the same song, and often within in the same flow or line at times. So motherfuckin’ grimy, “Job Well Done” highlights how successfully dolphin sounds can contrast with aggressive lyricism, for example. Killer Mike broaches serious topics, bringing up the “elephant in the room” whenever possible, and EL-P is hyperactive and light-hearted as he spits his ‘future shit’. Put these two together and you have the best hip hop album in years.

FoalsHoly Fire
3The beauty is in the build with Foals, and that is the case with Holy Fire more than prior album as the UK-based festival-headliners-in-the-making have largely abandoned their post-dance punk sound aesthetic for a more ballad-based approach. Sure, “My Number” and “Providence” continue the upbeat, math rock-dance-freak-outs, but overall Foals have centered their 2013 record around patient song development in order to establish more memorable, ecstatic moments. “Milk & Black Spiders” does just that, taking a full three minutes and forty five seconds to reach it’s blissful summit. “Late Night” is a harrowing slow burner, repeating the line, “Calling out your name,” asking for the subject of the song to “Stay with me.” Lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ impassioned vocals, paired with Foals’ guitar interplay and non-standard rhythms make Foals a unique force in the world of modern rock.

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
4Matt Berninger has a way with words — who else could make the phrase “full of punks and cannonballers” sound eloquent and measured in the track “I Need My Girl”? The National thrives on non-literal lyricism, but the instrumental elements from The National in Trouble Will Find Me prop the singing up on a pedestal better than prior records. Void of any filler, this contemplative record easily allows the listener to take their own meaning from any given track, applying it internally. The first half impresses quickly with “I Should Live In Salt” through “Sea Of Love”, but it is the second half that solidifies the effort as The National’s best work to date. An album that also gets more addictive with subsequent listens, Trouble Will Find Me works well as both a “pick me up” record and one to embrace life’s good times, an odd duality indeed.

Volcano ChoirRepave
5Who needs Bon Iver when Justin Vernon is making music like he has with The Shouting Matches and Volcano Choir in 2013? Vernon, the creative centerpiece behind Bon Iver, announced while promoting Repave that Volcano Choir is his new band. Arguably, this is a genius move, as Vernon is exhibiting a higher level of confidence and innovation with this possibly permanent collaboration with members of Collections of Colonies of Bees. Repave traverses a path that balances grandiose and minimalism, choosing off-beat, unexpectedly contrasting moments to ‘drop the sound hammer’ in both “Comrade” and “Byegone”. “Drop the sound hammer” refers to the mesmerizing technique Volcano choir uses to quickly transition from falsetto-based minimalist intros into hard-hitting Philip Glass-like synth blasts and authoritative drums. I’m fine with Vernon considering himself a legend, as long as he continues creating music with cryptic, poetic lyrics and the progressive intermingling of intense and soothing sounds.

06. Darkside – Psychic
07. James Blake – Overgrown
08. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
09. Rhye – Woman
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
12. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
13. Atoms for Peace – Amok
14. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
15. Washed Out – Paracosm
16. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
17. Bonobo – The North Borders
18. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
19. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
20. John Vanderslice – Dagger Beach


Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.


Atoms for Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Molly Kish // Artist Relations Manager, Columnist // @MollyKish

Atoms For PeaceAmok
1Alternative Rock super group Atoms for Peace delivered one of the most evocative, skillfully executed and notable debuts of 2013, completely as expected. Bringing together some of the most innovative, iconic and artistically defining tastemakers of the past two decades (most notably Thom Yorke & Flea), Atoms for Peace composed a near-perfect representation of contemporary sound evolution. Touring this past year promoting Amok through intermittent concert dates and festival-headlining performances, Atoms for Peace captivated live audiences on a global scale while generating critical acclaim, and for good reason.

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
2Drawing artistic influence from elements of 90s dance music while paying homage to the iconic hip hop sounds of the era, Chaz Bundick departed from his signature “chillwave” style to compose his third studio album, Anything in Return. Revisiting harder house elements from his 2010 debut Causers of This, Bundick taps into a funky soundscape filled with intensified vocals and hard hitting jam-based percussion. Paying homage to legendary producer J Dilla, Anything in Return touches upon intimate subject matter while remaining accessibly pop-driven, delivering Bundick’s “biggest sounding” album to date.

DisclosureSettle
3UK sibling duo Disclosure was one of the most successful breakout acts of the past year, largely in part to the global commercial appeal of their debut album, Settle. Mixing the perfect blend of R&B vocals, UK garage, two step and deep house cuts, Settle is a seamless composition of dance floor ready hits. Disclosure’s first full length succeeded in curating a sound both primed for the band’s spellbinding live improvisation and the album’s inevitable mainstream sampling and remixes.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4Preceding its April release date with a show-stopping album trailer debut at Coachella (and nationally syndicated on Saturday Night Live) and a video website series presented by The Creators Project, Daft Punk set the bar early this year for the future of mainstream album promotional campaigns. Defying the expectations of their devoted fan base along with the speculatory opinions of many EDM counterparts, Random Access Memories marks the band’s groundbreaking introduction of live musicians into their otherwise strictly electronic body of work. Their most successful album to date, Random Access Memories is a definitive album that highlights the robots’ personal influence, and the effect is a lasting impact on popular music.

Arcade FireReflektor
5Arcade Fire’s Reflektor serves as a testament to their creative ingenuity as a modern art rock group. Its evolutionary sound was produced by nu-disco vanguard James Murphy and features collaborations with David Bowie, Kid Koala and an armada of additional percussionists and recording personnel. Promoted and released through an ingenious guerrilla marketing campaign, intriguing the attention of a frothing worldwide audience.

06. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
07. Kanye West – Yeezus
08. Washed Out – Paracosm
09. Holy Ghost – Dynamics
10. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
11. Devendra Banhart – Mala
12. Major Lazer – Free The Universe
13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
14. Starfucker – Miracle Mile
15. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
16. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
17. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
18. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
19. St. Lucia – When The Night
20. Jay Z – Magna Carta


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.

Kevin Quandt // Assistant Editor, Columnist // @KJQuandt

Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
1In a year with many strong rookie efforts (Haim, Disclosure, Lorde, etc.), it was this Brooklyn quartet that rejuvenated garage-tinged, punk rock with a blisteringly fierce debut LP, Light Up Gold. Opening track “Master of My Craft” lets us know we are in for one helluva a ride and it doesn’t let up in the least as Andrew Savage belts out anthems full of modern tales of urban decay and the slacker lifestyle. This we do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want mentality was also clearly present on a recently released EP entitled Tally All the Things That You Broke, which was equally as impressive as the full length. Alas, all is not lost when it comes to irreverent rock music in a sea of shiny synths and EDM takeovers. 

My Bloody Valentinem b v
2If this album was a person, it could legally drink in this country. Now, after that fact settles in, we can concentrate on how impressive m b v actually is. Kevin Shields and cohorts took 22 years to deliver this baby and it is chock-full of all the aural beauty that made these shoegaze legends modern rock royalty a couple of decades ago. Standout final track “wonder 2” is a whirling dervish of otherworldly drums, guitars and distorted vocals, slowly building into one serious rapture. Attention to detail is not lost on this album as meticulous craftsmanship is ever-present, especially when listened to fully, or in the distinct ‘3 EP’ structure that m b v is recorded in. All I ask Kevin Shields is that I don’t have to wait till I’m almost 50 years old to hear another new release from My Bloody Valentine.

Arcade FireReflektor
3There’s little surprise that this ‘double’ release ended in my, and many others, top albums list. Why? Because Arcade Fire make great albums, and I enjoy great albums. The grab bag of influences on this album is truly startling and lends much to it’s overall success whether it be deep Haitian rhythms or the the electro-dance production of James Murphy. With so many standout tracks, it really makes you wonder what they are putting in the water up in Canada. “Joan of Arc”, “Normal Person”, “Afterlife” and so many others create something fully unique and fully Arcade Fire. 

Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
4It was a bit of a long wait for fans of BoC, but well worth the interesting journey that was to become Tomorrow’s Harvest and it’s unique marketing campaign which precluded the June release. Not much has changed from the ambient electronic soundscapes that put these Scots on the map nearly two decades ago. What makes Boards so significant is their knowledge of analogue gear they use to transform sound into warm ambience that is loaded with emotion, complexity and cinematic themes. Songs like “Nothing Is Real” fully demonstrate their textbook mix of instrumentation and warm, vintage synths which gracefully paint a picture of the natural world which we live in. It’s albums like this which should make every listener wanna go out and spend four figures on some serious headphones, and Boards of Canada wouldn’t object.

Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
5It’s been a long time coming for the San Francisco garage titans that, most popularly, go by Thee Oh Sees. John Dwyer once used this moniker as his solo effort, but eventually became his primary effort, eventually growing from one man to a full blown band. Floating Coffin shows a shifting of the tide as the once tin-can recording sound has matured to a sonic boom of heavy guitar, driving rhythm and quintessential weirdo vocal. All these elements, and many more, equated to the most comprehensive sounding release in their extensive discography. “Come From the Mountain” opens this album with atomic bomb-shredding guitar and doesn’t really relent from this style till the soothing album closer, “Minotaur”. What’s most profound about Floating Coffin is that they have arrived with a permanent lineup, a better produced sound and a band mentality that creates a more unified front as opposed to it being solely Dwyer’s project. Oh yeah, they are also straight bananas on stage.

06. Disclosure – Settle
07. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
08. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
09. Atoms for Peace – Amok
10. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf
11. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
12. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
13. Rhye – Woman
14. Danny Brown – Old 
15. David Bowie – The Next Day
16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires in the City
17. White Denim – Corsica Lemonade
18. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
19. Pickwick – Can’t Talk Medicine
20. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.

Pete Mauch // Festival Manager & Columnist // @PeteMauch

Arcade FireReflektor
1All-star collaboration of these Canadian rockers and producer James Murphy proved a success with their fourth release. The album, filled with instant hits like “Reflektor” and “Here Comes the Night Time”, is heavily influenced by traditional Haitian music that adds a deep rhythm to the elongated grooves, but the real treat is how its all tied together. Arcade Fire let loose on Reflektor, finding comfort in initiating a party atmosphere while staying confident with a dash of weirdness.

Jagwar MaHowlin
2There seems to be a psychedelic air blowing in Australia these days, and Jagwar Ma’s debut album is filled with trippy yet danceable songs like the opening pair “What Love” and “Uncertainty”. “Come Save Me” evokes a dream land where the Beach Boys created acid-dance music. This album is gonna get a lot of play on Friday nights for many years to come.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3These Texas rockers put out an intense album in 2013 filled with screaming guitar solos layered over intense time signatures and wailing vocals, but White Denim makes it all sound so simple. Songs like “Pretty Green” and “Cheer Up/Blues Ending” are straight up rocking songs, rooted in the genre’s past while offering a progressive take at where rock is heading. It never hurts to have Jeff Tweedy producing as well.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4The instantly classic single “Get Lucky”, the summer anthem of 2013, is still hyper-catchy, but “Instant Crush”, “Lose Yourself to Dance” & “Doin’ It Right” succeed as pleasantly repetitious tunes that represent a variety of decades. What makes Random Access Memories work completely is all the mellow cuts, perfect for bedtime or a drive down the coast. The music lesson that is “Giorgio by Moroder” just takes off after the ballsy call to include an interview with Giorgio Morodor before launching into an exploratory space jam. 

Anders OsbornePeace 
5Underground New Orleans guitar slayer Anders Osborne released a very impressive long player, filled with deep personal songs that are truly outstanding. Title track “Sentimental Times” showcases Osbornes’ brilliant songwriting, and his guitar work is simply phenomenal and engrossing. Personal favorite “Sara Anne” begins with a reggae feel that builds into a great bouncy song that has me repeating it often.

06. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
07. Atoms For Peace – Amok
08. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
09. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
10. Foals – Holy Fire
11. Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
12. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
13. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
14. Darkside – Psychic
15. Bonobo – The North Borders
16. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
17. Savages – Silence Yourself
18. Deerhunter – Monomania
19. Ty Segall – Sleeper
20. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15.


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Kevin Raos // Columnist // @Semirec

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
1Toro Y Moi just keeps getting better and better with subsequent listens. Part dance, part melancholy electro, Anything in Return strikes many different chords. From feelings of longing and romance, to coming to terms with growing up, Anything in Return ranges the emotionally gamut. This album stood the test of time in 2013, being one the first albums of 2013 to make a dramatic impact, then remaining front of mind come Christmas time.

RhyeWoman
2Woman is the mellow album of the year — If you need to relax, fall asleep, or just chill out, this is the album for you. A go-to in the bedroom, Rhye’s Woman also has the uncanny ability to cradle and comfort you from start to finish. Equally as good in a live setting, Woman proves excellent musicianship can flourish in downtempo form. The record’s male vocalist, Milosh, also released an excellent solo record titled “Jetlag” in late 2013 that clicks at a slightly faster tempo.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3Funky, fresh and just downright dirty, the guys from Austin can bring the heat. Corsicana Lemonade is an album that might not make many end of the year album lists, but it should not be overlooked. Cool and collected while still being rhythmically aggressive, Corsicana Lemonade pushes forward an innovative rock sound that should make The Black Keys nervous their throne is currently up for grabs.

Danny BrownOld
4Danny Brown’s Old creates a new genre of hip hop, one with an electronic psyche. Old may offend some and be lost on others, but Brown’s distinctive voice and tongue-flaunting rhymes constitute a “grower”. Here we have a rapper who isn’t afraid to talk about more than banging it out in the streets, and all together Brown breathes more fresh air into a hip hop landscape that has been seeing a resurgence the past few years.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
5It’s tough to deny that indie kings Vampire Weekend are on top of their game right now. If you haven’t heard of these A-Punks that escaped from Cape Cod, you surely have been living under a rock. With Modern Vampires of the City, an already huge band has gotten huger, blasting off into new territory more than in previous efforts. Did I mention they shout out Oakland and Alameda, too?

06. Foals – Holy Fire
07. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
08. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
09. Atoms For Peace – Amok
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. James Blake – Overgrown
12. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
13. Darkside – Psychic
14. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
15. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
16. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
17. Wild Belle – Idles
18. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
19. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
20. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Sean Little // Columnist // @Splittle

FoalsHoly Fire
1Foals have made their best album to date with Holy Fire. It’s a wall of sonic noise mixed with strong doses of angst that starts with “Prelude” and continues to pin listeners to their seats until the last track. The British quintet have produced my number one record of the year, and their live performance is one to see if you haven’t.

ClassixxHanging Gardens
2Classixx made a superb album here. Being a primarily electronic poduction group, their skills show something much deeper and diverse as they move from bouncey disco tracks to deeper, more evocative tracks like “Borderline” where they showcase their ability to craft a tune that hits heart strings and nods heads. Classixx are vastly underrated and should be given a serious listen, even by non-electronic fans.

DisclosureSettle
3What can be said that hasn’t already about this brotherly duo? They hit the scene hard and made a lot of people snap their heads in their direction. Their production quality and use of instruments in their sets has turned many notions of a “DJ” set on its head and opened the doors for a whole new type of set that calls to the crowd more. This album is full of gems that will surely go down in dance history as classics.

Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
4Hanni grew up immensely since his last album and really fine-tuned his sound. This is a pure rock album with no pretense. If you arere tired of pop rock bands trying to make the next iPod commercial-worthy track and long for a record that slaps you in the face to wake you up while still being a tad gentle about it, this is the one for you.

A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
5Hip Hop has fallen to the wayside in years past as electronic has made its resurgence. Fans have grown weary of the over-produced, same old lyric songs that most artists offer. A$AP though brings in, what I consider to be the finest hip hop album of the year. Production by Skrillex, and cameos by Florence Welch, Drake, and Birdyman attest to his range not just as a rapper but as a producer and curator as well.

06. James Blake – Overgrown
07. Queens of the Stoneage – …Like Clockwork
08. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
09. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala
11. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
12. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
13. Bass Drum of Death – S/T
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
15. MS MR – Second Hand Rapture
16. Tesla Boy – The Universe Made of Darkness
17. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
18. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
19. Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips
20. The Weeknd – Kiss Land

Live music artists ignite the dawn of a smartphone backlash

Phones-at-Shows

By Mike Frash //

Mobile technology and social media have advanced exponentially the past five to ten years, connecting scores of individuals that would have never met a decade ago, enabling us to share narcissistic musings and photos at a moment’s notice. (Unsurprisingly, “Selfie” is the “Word of the Year”.) Bottom line — It’s mostly a glorious thing to live in the age of information and rapidly expanding technology.

But holy shit do we misuse it sometimes. Our social behaviors frankly haven’t caught up to our relatively newfangled devices that are always available in our pockets and purses.

The Pope’s inauguration at the Vatican, in 2005 & 2013.


It’s all changed so quickly, hasn’t it? Communication abilities, access to content & opinions, the structure of web-based writing itself and a pervasive social media mentality have all collided and intermingled magnificently since Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Consequently a massive smartphone market has flourished, and a large majority of us have gotten a bit more ADHD.

Our collective focus and attention span have changed significantly, taking a turn for the horrible. It’s become second nature for many to plug-in to their smartphones while mentally checking out of their immediate surroundings, whether we’re riding the bus, enjoying drinks with friends or experiencing a concert.

Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, recently said, “We have a world that’s been engineered to distract us.” This can’t be denied when a Facebook update, tweet or Instagram upload is always only a finger tap or two away.

One of the most contentious issues revolving around smartphones today is crowd-based photography and videography at shows. A continuous lack of technology awareness from just one individual can inhibit the live music experience for those around the bright screen being held just above eye level. Not only is the screen-addicted cinematographer distracted, but so is everyone else, including the artists on stage.

So is this the new normal, or is this a trend that can be addressed and changed? There are a handful of artists that have spoken out this year, igniting what might be the roots of a mainstream “be where you are” backlash in the world of live music.

Savages1

In the year that Arcade Fire’s Win Butler crooned, “We fell in love when I was nineteen / And I was staring at a screen,” many artists have fought back against concert camera phone use, putting their proverbial foot down explicitly, politely and absurdly.

UK-based Savages fired the loudest, most forceful warning shot of 2013. The all-female foursome released their debut album Silence Yourself to critical acclaim, taking the ethos of the record on the road with them by banning phones based on the idea of immersion. For every show, they put up signs that read:

Our goal is to discover better ways of living and experiencing music. We believe that the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves. Let’s make this evening special. Silence your phones.

That show at the Independent in San Francisco was special because of Savages’ intense, smart use of contrast and due to the room’s communal, energetic focus. The phone ban helped, keeping most devices out of sight.

Savages haven’t been alone this past year shaming phones at shows. Prince threatened to boot any patrons caught playing director on his west coast club tour, and the Artist excluded all media photographers outright. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s phone ban sign was way more punk than Savages’ nuanced approach, advising that ticket holders “PUT THAT SHIT AWAY.” Neko Case stopped her show in Cincinnati multiple times October 22, threatening to end the show early because of flashing phone photos, finally saying “Just put away the cameras. It isn’t going to kill you, but it might kill me.” David Byrne & St. Vincent, She & Him, The Polyphonic Spree & Bjork all prohibited phone photography or asked for devices to be put away mid-show this year as well.

Ever the groundbreaker, Jack White was the one to get the ball rolling in the summer of 2012. Rumor spread that the young living legend demanded that fans avoid social media and not take photos during his show, and the public backlash was surprising brutal. White’s label Third Man Records later clarified, “the only thing that we’ve ever asked of the audience is to not take pictures or videos while holding up their camera phones, etc that block other peoples view or otherwise hinder other fans concert experiences.” The message continued, “Along with that, the bigger idea is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand.”

Father John Misty performed through a giant iPhone on his recently wrapped solo tour. Perhaps J. Tillman wanted to treat the audience to the same visual that has been thrown in his face the past two years. But Father John Misty gets bonus points for referring to himself as “content.”

Father-John-Misty

Some artists are using mobile technology to enhance their live performance. Dan Deacon told his fans to download his interactive app before his show via a projected message at the venue. Then during one song late in the set, he instructed the audience to pull phones out, launch the app, and dance with it. Deacon controlled the color blasts and strobe effects that emanated from scattered smartphones, using the devices to bring the collective attention of the crowd together. Pretty Lights followed suit this year at Outside Lands with a much bigger audience.

So the possibilities for using our pocket computers to enhance the live music experience are out there and will likely gain steam.

Author Daniel Goleman explains the phenomenon quite effectively:

We all are carrying technological devices, our phones, our iPads, and whatever it may be, and they are diabolically designed to take advantage of the weaknesses of our attention system and nab us, and keep us nabbed. And so we’re constantly fighting distractions. That’s why, I think focus is more important than ever.

Phones-at-Shows

Certainly there is a difference between popping out your Android for 10 seconds to snap off a couple shots versus literally shooting an entire concert on your smartphone with it’s shitty sound recording capabilities.

The Festival Lawyer explained this best in his Upgrade article:

Maybe you might want to record the whole show on your iPhone (or now iPads? seriously?) and just stand there and focus on getting the best video and pics. I’m not here to judge or scold you. Although I do feel the need to point out that you will NEVER watch that stupid motherfucking shaky video again and you are watching something through a tiny screen that is actually happening really big and loud RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU LIVE!!! (Umm…actually maybe I am judging you a tiny bit. Sorry.)

Ultimately, it’s about finding balance between capturing the moment and immersing in the moment.

When someone is shooting a song-long video during a show, staring through a screen version of their current reality, and thinking about their friends watching it on YouTube later, that person is simply not in the moment.

The musical moments that give us auditory pleasure and ingrain in our memories are significantly more powerful and important than anything that can be captured on a phone.

Just take a look at the Jimmy Kimmel crowd at their outdoor stage…

This is the new normal — we’re all photographers. (Granted, people that go to a free taping in Los Angeles don’t represent a typical concert crowd.)

We are moving toward a world where we are more connected to our phones than each other. Many of us (yes, including myself) are too damned dependent on digital devices.

It’s a bit scary to contemplate a generation born with Facebook accounts. A generation of kids that are given tablets to stop them from crying at a restaurant. A third generation that is routinely fed amphetamine-based drugs when focus is an issue, even though we don’t teach attention-based skill strategies (yet).

In his book, Goleman wrote, “Today’s children are growing up in a new reality, one where they are attuning more to machines and less to people than has ever been true in human history. That’s troubling for several reasons. For one, the social and emotional circuitry of a child’s brain learns from contact and conversation with everyone it encounters over the course of a day. These interactions mold brain circuitry; the fewer hours spent with people— and the more spent staring at a digitized screen— portends deficits.”

The problem here is way bigger than just experiencing a show through a smartphone.

Phone zombies can SnapChat all day if they want to, but it’s critical that we live in the moment as much as possible and enjoy who we are with. The key is to identify screen addiction, set new habits through cognitive control & repetition, and be where you are to the best of your ability in this distracting age of information.

Be-Where-You-Are


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Outside Lands Music Festival 2013: Top Sets

Outside Lands 2013Photos by Tim Hampson (unless otherwise noted) // Written by Mike Frash, Molly Kish, Kevin Quandt, Kevin Raos, Sean Little & Dara Shulman //

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

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is the ideal adult playground for live music fans — you can chow sardine chips and a Denogginizer from Drake’s while taking in a secret set in Choco Lands. Or maybe you prefer to laugh your face off at The Barbary or dance your ass off in the Heineken Dome. It may be a “walking festival” to some, but Outside Lands is at it’s best when you run. Feet don’t fail me now, use ’em while you got ’em.

San Francisco’s music fest is clearly in a groove now. A free comprehensive webcast was brought back this year, enticing future festival-goers near and far to be super jealous and to start saving money for next year. Beer Lands was moved to a strategically perfect spot opposite the Land’s End Stage on the Polo Field, making a quick stop-off convenient on the way to the next show. And it was cold — duh, it’s August in SF.

For the festival’s sixth incarnation, Outside Lands patrons witnessed the festival’s biggest headliner to date: Paul McCartney.

But Macca wasn’t the only auditory treat at Outside Lands. Here are our top sets from 2013.

Girls-on-Fire-Main-Stage-Tim

Paul-McCartney
DAY 1 ~ August 9, 2013

Paul McCartney ~ TOP SET
Friday • Land’s End Stage • 7:10 p.m.

It doesn’t get a whole lot better than Paul McCartney’s show, honestly, it’s nearly 3 hours of brilliantly competent showmanship, blazingly pleasing song selection and sheer crowd emotion. One highlight was watching Paul become giddy when Kronos Quartet joined him for a masterfully beautiful take on the tender Beatles classic, “Yesterday”. Even in his 70s, Macca keeps his crowds, and likely even himself, on their toes with an ever-changing setlist and bombastic surprises up his sleeve in the form of pyrotechnics during “Live and Let Die.” Selections from Wings were pleasantly received, especially “Band on the Run”. Closing the set, as he normally does, the crowd sang along to the timeless communal song “Hey Jude”. Friends locked arm in arm, and all was right in the world. Young and old were abuzz with the show they had witnessed on the exodus out of the park, whether it was vets finally hearing “Lovely Rita” or first-timers discussing their emotion during “Blackbird”. I mean, hey, it’s not everyday a legend plays your backyard. -KQ


Pretty Lights
Friday • Twin Peaks • 8:40 p.m.

Pretty Lights was the perfect Friday night closer for the Twin Peaks Stage and to oppose Sir Paul. Derek Vincent Smith featured most of his new album A Color Map of the Sun, plus the stand-by favorites remixed just enough on the fly to make them fresh and new. His musical ability is truly amazing, and his vibe was infectious as he’d build huge grooves then dropped them into massive basslines with his trademark soul vocals overlays that catapulted foggy Hellman Hallow to the stratosphere. Smith seemed genuinely happy and it bled into the crowd. By the night’s end, everyone was grooving and giving out high fives. –SL


Yeasayer
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 7 p.m.

Pitted against the incomparable Sir Paul at a festival is a spot that most bands would dread to be placed in. If you’re Yeasayer, however, it’s a challenge to be lived up to and utilized to your advantage. Knowing the crowd that evening would be filled with strictly die-hard fans, the boys pulled out all the stops. Playing a fan favorite set that included the most dance-heavy tracks from their entire catalogue, the intimate crowd was whipped into a collective frenzy. The best part — there was plenty of room for everyone to lose themselves in the energy of the moment. –MK


Chic---Eric-ShadenPhoto by Eric Shaden

CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers ~ TOP SET
Friday • Sutro Stage • 6:05 p.m.

The last-minute D’Angelo replacement was a surprise hit Friday evening at the Sutro Stage. Guitarist Nile Rodgers accompanied by a crew of horns and backup singers “le freaked” out the crowd with super funky dance hits. Rodgers expressed to the audience, “Now if this is your first Chic show, I have to make you understand something, you absolutely have to sing and you absolutely have to dance.” No problems there. Highlights include “We Are Family” “I’m Coming Out” and a groovy singalong to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” over the PA system after Rodgers had set down his electric guitar. –DS


The-National-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell (Cool Dads Rule)

The National
Friday • Land’s End Stage • 5 p.m.

As many learn every August, SF is not known for its stunning summer weather, but sometimes a little haze can add to the emotive release that is Matt Berninger and The National. However, the group lit the stage on fire with their stylish take on moody indie rock, opening with crowd-pleaser “Fake Empire” before fully utilizing Kronos Quartet’s strings on “I Should Live in Salt” and “Demons”, among others. Berninger’s characteristic baritone was strong, though not at it’s best on this day, but his lively mannerisms were in full effect as he paced nervously around on the large Land’s End stage. Once “Mr. November” had begun, it was inevitable that “Terrible Love” would close the set, but a late guest appearance in the form of Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead would truly put an exclamation point on this afternoon set. -KQ


Zedd
Friday • Twin Peaks • 5:25 p.m.

Zedd may not be the best DJ in the world, but his energy is hard to deny. It was the first truly “rager” set of the festival, and you could see people losing their minds all over the place, getting out the pent up energy they had been sitting on all week in anticipation of the Outside Lands. It ended up being a strong set and a lot of fun with hits “In My Mind” and “Clarity” satisfying the masses. –SL


Rhye
Friday • Sutro Stage • 4:45 p.m.

Rhye’s soothing sounds blanketed Lindley Meadow’s Sutro Stage at the midpoint of Day 1. The sun had fallen behind the eucalyptus trees, sprinkling the stage with beams of light — a perfect setting to relax to the peaceful beauty of Rhye. Rhye sounded excellent, delighting the crowd with many tracks from their 2013 debut album Woman. Minimal, yet captivating, Rhye demonstrated superior musical prowess with their performance, led by the delicate vocals of Mike Milosh. Their set was drawing to a close, and instead of squeezing in extras songs the group opted for a long version of the song “Open”. The extended version of the enchanting song highlighted the bands’ improvisational ability. Although very mellow, Rhye put on a magical performance. A must-see act. -KR


The Plump DJs
Friday • The Dome by Heineken • 4 p.m.

There’s nothing quite like an afternoon break-beat set in the Heineken Dome to get the blood moving. British duo, Plump DJs featuring Lee Rous and Andy Gardner, greeted the crowd with smiles on their faces and fists in the air. Although the Dome is slightly different than their usual SF stop, The Mighty in Potrero Hill, they brought their high-energy 2am beats to their Friday 4 p.m. set. Their beat selection was progressive and original; transitions and mixing were flawless as always. –DS


21-Pilots - PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Twenty One Pilots
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 3:50 p.m.

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-depreciating way. But the duo turned the stage antics up to 11, performing backflips off the grand piano, jumping into the crowd, and donning a full ski mask while climbing to the top of the Twin Peaks stage. And ya know, as much as it was Macklemore-esque cheese, the passion and musicianship these two young men exhibited transcended any second thoughts. -MF


Wild-Belle-TimPhoto by Tom Hampson

Wild Belle ~ TOP SET
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:15 p.m.

Wild Belle has been making a splash since releasing their debut album in early 2013, and they have only been getting bigger. As one of the first acts of the weekend, Wild Belle got the crowd moving in a major way with their psychedelic reggae beats. Comprised of brother-sister duo Elliot and Natalie Bergman, Wild Belle were lucky enough to draw one of the only moments of sunshine the entire weekend. One could say it was the incredible vocals of Natalie Bergman that elicited the sun’s rays. Wild Belle has been progressively adding more pieces to the puzzle throughout their short career, and they unveiled their latest piece during their performance at Outside Lands. The newest addition to their live show is a large “wall of sound” speaker system meant to enhance their live sound, and boy did it sound good. Wild Belle was an unexpected jewel Friday and one of the reasons we go to festivals: to discover new music. -KR


Houndmouth - PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Houndmouth
Friday • Panhandle Stage • 1:30 p.m.

Houndmouth provided a delightful opening to Outside Lands for many on the festival’s smallest stage, which is solar-powered. From the opening line of “Penitentiary”, which references 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. -MF


Midi Matilda
Friday • Twin Peaks Stage • 12:45 p.m.

For an early afternoon festival spot, Another Planet booked properly when deciding to put Midi Matilda on the Friday bill. Kicking off what undoubtedly was going to be a long weekend with bang, this percussion-heavy duo immediately got the crowd moving. Rife with dance-heavy beats, an animated stage show and no expense spared on the lights and fog machines, Midi Matilda came out swinging. The most memorable moment occurred when both guys jumped on the drum set during their last song to deliver a joint solo to close out the set. –MK


Mad-Rush-TimDAY 2 ~ August 10, 2013

Nine Inch Nails ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 8:25 p.m.

Like The National, the fog which veiled the Land’s End stage created an aura of dark beauty for serious talent to shine through. Saturday’s headlining set by Trent Reznor and cohorts was one of nostalgia equally coupled with the future possibilities of Nine Inch Nails. Opening with a trio of new tracks that beckons closer to Radiohead and How to Destroy Angels than Pretty Hate Machine era industrial rock Nails, it was evident Reznor didn’t, nor shall he ever, miss a beat with his primary project. “1,000,000” into “March of the Pigs” picked up the energy, and built upon the ever-shifting new stage setup that has been winning accolades the past three banner festival performances (think Stop Making Sense meets Aliens). Though the masses were at Phoenix, the crowd energy was high, especially during “Terrible Lie” and “Closer”. As per usual, “Hurt” left the crowd in an introspective gloom, though their hearts were surely still pounding from the assault that is Nine Inch Nails live. -KQ


Phoenix
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 8:40 p.m.

French indie-rock sensation, Phoenix, rallied the youth with a strong set featuring many songs from their 2009 album Wolfgang Amedeus Phoenix. “Listomania,” “Rome,” and “1901” were just some of the highlights. Front man Thomas Mars was spot on with his vocals. “This next song is a dancing one, so feel free …” was followed by longtime fan favorite “If I Ever Feel Better”. They played a solid handful of tracks from their 2013 release Bankrupt! such as “SOS in Bel Air” and “Entertainment”, but the clear goal of Phoenix’s headlining festival set is get the crowd rallied and ready to dance. The rock riffs were on point and the visuals were equally entertaining and Mars crowd surfed the entire audience near the end of the set as has been the habit this tour. Yes, he safely made it back to the stage with a little help from his friends. -DS


Yeah-Yeah-Yeahs-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 6:30 p.m.

Equal parts punk rock and dance party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs held nothing back Saturday, perfectly segueing into whichever headliner you chose to witness. Pulling hits from their entire body of work, the set was equally as entertaining for hardcore fans and new converts alike. The band’s energy was at an all-time high, transferring a sense of mania in the crowd, which created dance circles and mosh pits throughout the entire set. The polo fields were electric and gained much more raw energy during the last five minutes, when Karen O. decided to let her body do the talking. After her signature deep-throating, she not only placed the bedazzled microphone down her shirt, but also into the front of her pants, while further emphasizing her need to be heard. Saturday night had officially started, and from that moment on it was going to be epic, whichever stage you ended up at. –MK


Grizzly Bear
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 6:50 p.m.

One of the toughest decisions of the weekend was choosing the electricity of Karen O and Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the tightness of the well-toured Grizzly Bear. Well, everyone won in their respective choices, but Grizzly Bear’s growing crowd demonstrated that these Warp label, psych-folk rockers are more than capable of stepping up to the festival plate and knocking one out of the park, so to say. Shields was well represented on this final tour stop, after 105 shows on the road behind the release. The vocal interplay is one of their strongest suits as the responsibilities are well shared over their contagious take on the rising avant-rock sound. -KQ


The Mother Hips
Saturday • Panhandle Stage • 6:05 p.m.

Organizers of the festival always strive to showcase local Northern California acts, young and old, and this year, Chico’s own legendary act, the Mother Hips, brought their defining take on California rock and roll sound to the under-appreciated Panhandle Stage. “Toughie” opened this set before launching into “White Falcon Fuzz”, which showcased the raw, vibrant sounds of Tim Bluhm and the band. Though few were in attendance, at least a couple of patrons had to have been won over by the soul-drenched psychedelia that these vets bring every time they grace a stage. -KQ


Jurassic-5-Mike-FrashPhoto by Mike Frash

Jurassic 5 ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 5 p.m.

Los Angeles hip hop ambassadors Jurassic 5 took the Land’s End stage to a BIG midday crowd, especially for a hip hop act at a primarily indie rock & electronic festival, which is a testament to their crossover appeal and lasting legacy. Maybe this demonstrates how hungry the people are for more hip hop and rap. The best part of the set went down when Cut Chemist scratched with a turntable guitar strapped to his chest while DJ Nu-Mark elicited sounds from the ridiculously large turntable set up square in the middle of the stage. This collective, allegedly in the midst of a ‘reunion tour’, has most definitely honed their act since Coachella, and festival-goers ate up every minute, following commands as if in a massive yoga class. –SL


Baauer
Saturday • Twin Peaks • 5:15 p.m.

Is the “Harlem Shake” dead? Yeah, but that still doesn’t mean that we can’t get thoroughly down to the bass-heavy set of this “Rookie/One-Hit-Wonder of the Year” candidate that goes by the name of Baauer. His take on Outkast’s “B.O.B” beckoned back to Big Boi’s triumphant set from last year’s Outside Lands, while simultaneously making asses shake and hands fly skyward in ecstasy. Much like Coachella, a youthful cult of EDM lovers are ever-present at any, and every, set that pulsated bass and catered to that beloved phenomena known as “the drop”. And surprisingly, the crowd kind of shrugged when his virally ubiquitous anthem was played, go figure. -KQ


Bombino
Saturday • Panhandle Stage • 4:30 p.m.

The energy Omara “Bombino” Moctar and his band Bombino exhibit while performing is the first thing that is noticeable. They are constantly moving, dancing — vibing to their own music. When a group creates good music, this physical ‘being in the moment’ presence is an effective way to draw the audience into your world, and this tactic worked for Bombino (both the man and the band) in Golden Gate Park. The group stays true to their African roots through their politically anthemic music, and they rock their Tuareg garb with pride, showcasing their culture on the road as the buzz grows with each performance. After seeing them at Outside Lands, it makes sense — they left it all on the Panhandle Stage, pouring their hearts into each song. -MF


Young-The-Giant-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Young the Giant
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 3:40 p.m.

Sameer Gadhia is one helluva a front man, and YTG’s rise from the small stage in Orange County to the big show at events across the world is nothing less than earned. They filled both the Lands Stage and Polo Fields with infectious alterna-indie-pop offerings from their lone self-titled release. Luckily, the group had some new selections they were eager to test on the sizable early afternoon crowd, which seemed to go over well, especially to diehards awaiting new material. Singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” obviously received the loudest response, and Sameer’s venture down the center barricade further poured on the feverish energy they thrive on. -KQ


Youth Lagoon ~ TOP SET
Saturday • Twin Peaks Stage • 3:40 p.m.

“Robert De Niro” — Trevor Powers uttered the famous actor’s name casually between songs early in his set. Oddly there wasn’t any other memorable stage banter, just hypnotic renditions of the highlights from Powers’ recent Dropla. Youth Lagoon has always thrived on a sharp aural duality; the contrasting of minimalist, quiet soundscapes for half of a song — then BANG — the blooming, triply explorations are more exciting and create a more impacting memory in the listener. You could call it “post-drop” music. And on the Twin Peaks Stage where dance fans usually got their fix, the bass was body-rattling, forcing the maximal parts of the songs to hit harder than one might expect. Consequently, the crowd mostly obliged with the subtle, quiet parts, allowing “Mute” and “Dropla” to play quite nicely. -MF


Gary Clark Jr.
Saturday • Land’s End Stage • 2:20 p.m.

Gary Clark Jr. simply rips, there is no doubt about it. One should be careful to even consider covering a Jimi Hendrix song, but based on Clark’s rendition of “Third Stone From the Sun”, Jimi is smiling down at a man that is following in his footsteps over 50 years later. Clark floats around the stage with ease, flashing easy smiles then melting faces with his reverberating guitar solos. This was a set where it would be best to be close to the stage (or close to speakers) — the sound was entirely too low in some spots, allowing friendly festival conversations to drown out this 29 year-old legend in the making. “Bright Lights” ended the set per usual, coalescing the large audience into the moment. -MF


Atlas-Genius-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Atlas Genius
Saturday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:10 p.m.

Another example of perfect placement, Atlas Genius continued Saturday with pop-centric bliss. Catching what little sunshine the weekend had to offer on the hillside of the Twin Peaks stage, one could view the expectedly young crowd so genuinely stoked to catch this band, and couldn’t help but make you smile. No matter how tired you were of hearing that top forty hit, you were undoubtedly up and dancing when it finally played. Spontaneously starting the morning with a sing-along really was a great way to kick off Saturday on the right foot. –MK


On-The-Rail-TimDAY 3 ~ August 11, 2013

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 7:45 p.m.

Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the festival Sunday evening, a slot many thought would be reserved for Sir Paul McCartney when the initial lineup dropped. Whether it was a scheduling conflict or Ranger Dave optimizing his own schedule, the Chili Peppers proved that they were up to the task. In a roughly two hour set, the Chili Peppers were playing with something to prove as they ripped through single after single with fervent intensity. Their energy did not cease for the duration of the show as the band took the audience on a musical journey of one of the most celebrated funk-rock bands in history. Hits like “Under the Bridge”, “Californication”, “Give it Away” & “Around the World” sent off the rock fans happy. After a sand-swept Coachella performance, expectations were not very high, so it’s not shocking that they exceeded them at Outside Lands. They might not be the most relevant bands in today’s musical landscape, but they proved they can still bring the freaky styley when the time is right. -KR


Kaskade ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 8:25 p.m.

For those in dire need of one more dance party before the weekend came to a close, alas Ryan Raddon was primed to set the field ablaze with his hard-hitting take on deep-house music. The moist air felt nice as revelers fist-pumped and bounced to a particularly bass-heavy set from the longtime San Francisco resident and torch-bearer for the new American electronic sound which gained immense popularity some years back. A tasteful remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” was a highlight, and as 9:35PM ticked closer, many hoped the speakers wouldn’t compromise with dead silence. -KQ


Dillon Francis
Sunday • Panhandle Stage • 7:35 p.m.

Oddly placed at the Panhandle Stage, reminiscent of Wolfgang Gartner last year, there was no way Dilllon Francis wasn’t going to be a rager. Crowds rolled deep to watch this bass heavy set, and in no way did this DJ disappoint. Small stage be damned, Francis killed it, rattling off a consistent set of club bangers and EDM hits. The crowd ate up every second of the eardrum pounding womps, causing many members of the passing crowds to second guess the direction they were headed. The haystacks were packed deep with frottage and pool noodles dancing wildly. –MK


Vampire-Weekend-RyanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Vampire Weekend ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 5:50 p.m.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend came from one of the biggest bands of the year, Vampire Weekend. The Polo Field was packed as everyone and their mother (Hall and Oates performed before them) wanted a piece of the boys from the North East. Vampire Weekend came out firing contemporary classics “Cousins”, “White Sky” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Next came the first offerings from their latest record Modern Vampires of the City, “Diane Young” and “Step”. Vampire Weekend dedicated “Step” to Bay Area hip hop legends Souls of Mischief, who were the song’s source of inspiration. Take one listen to Souls of Mischief’s “Step To My Girl” and you will hear the resemblance. During “Oxford Comma”, the camera zoomed in on a sign a fan created that read “I give a f*ck about an Oxford Comma.” Vampire Weekend wound down their set with “Giving Up the Gun” and my personal favorite from the new album “Hannah Hunt”. Two more tracks from their self-titled album concluded the impressive set with “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” and “Walcott.”

Throughout the performance, the crowd was equally enamored with the older classics as they were with the new material. Vampire Weekend is currently at the top of their game, and their dominance was on full display as they delivered one of the strongest performances of the festival. They may not appear to be enjoying themselves while performing, but open your ears and listen for a moment — you will hear a band in their prime. -KR


A-TrakPhoto by Ryan Shulman

A-Trak
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 5:10 p.m.

Producer, DJ/live mixer extraordinaire A-Trak brought the heat quickly Sunday, feverishly building to sneaky drops that revealed deliciously crunchy beats. The most pleasurable part about taking in Alain Macklovitch live is during transition time, when his scratching abilities deserve close up attention on the video screen. He does it all in a robotic trance; what A-Trak does is on par with what a jazz guitarist does in a blues club or what Ivan Neville did earlier in the day on the main stage — it’s freestyle jamming with pin-point control. After an almost EDM-free Saturday, A-Trak got things going the final day with Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” and a raging remix of Kanye West’s “New Slaves”. Fool’s Gold! -MF


Hall-&-Oats-PatPhoto by Pat Tyrrell

Hall and Oates
Sunday • Lands End Stage • 4:20 p.m.

Everyone’s favorite 70’s and 80’s nostalgia act took to Land’s End Stage Sunday afternoon sandwiched between two of today’s most influential acts, Foals and Vampire Weekend. Hall and Oates have been the benefactors of a complete career resurgence despite the fact their only recent album was a Christmas record in 2006. A slow start to their set sent many people to Dawes and A-Trak, but those who stuck around were delighted with classic hits such as “Maneater”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” and “Rich Girl”. The corny nostalgia was high, but so were the good times. You can’t ask more from a Sunday afternoon set. -KR


Head-and-The-Heart-Secret---MikePhoto by Mike Frash

The Head and The Heart (Secret Show)
Sunday • Choco Lands’ Hell Brew Review • 3:50 p.m.

The tweet came across at 3:30, which inspired thoughts of Jack White performing a special Choco Lands set last year on Sunday. Reeling off of the amazing Foals set, a quick solo sprint to the Hell Brew Review across from Lamb Lands paid off magnificently. The three mainstays from Head and The Heart emerged on the tiny vaudeville stage for a hushed acoustic set, which included their new song “Shake”. Then crowd-pleaser “Lost In My Mind” took center stage when Josiah Johnson asked the close proximity crowd mid song, “Does anyone want to come help sing with us up here?” The stage was quickly at maximum capacity, a couple drunk goofballs stood in front of the performers, and someone managed to pull the plug, ceasing all speaker sound. This only made the sing-along more essential, especially for a song that already relies heavily on community spirit. -MF


Foals-by-Ryan-ShulmanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Foals ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 2:50 p.m.

Front man Yannis Philippakis walks around with purpose, like he has a chip on his shoulder – something to prove. Maybe it’s hard to go from headliner back home in the UK, then play broad daylight performances in the US like they did at Outside Lands. Philippakis and lead guitarist Jimmy Smith are doing everything they can do to catch the US up to them as Foals gain more traction and success each week. The Polo Field was pretty packed as “Prelude” began, and once Smith appeared ripping on lead guitar, pure fire ensued. Foals purvey cutting edge rock – their so called “Math Rock” deals heavily in progressive time chord changes, while emphasizing the offbeat ‘ones’ and ‘threes’ in melodies that mimic rhythm. Absolute rager “Milk & Black Spiders” finished out the all-too short hour in manic fashion – come back to the Bay soon Foals for a proper show please. -MF


Kurt Vile and the Violators ~ TOP SET
Sunday • Sutro Stage • 2:30 p.m.

Sunday’s weather left a little to be desired, but that didn’t deter the throngs from arriving a bit early for the likes of Kurt Vile. This seasonal festival veteran’s breezy sound lent perfectly to the tepid atmosphere thick with “San Francisco cigarette” plumes. Nodding heads were rewarded with classics like “Freak Train” and newer offerings, “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze” and “Girl Named Alex”. Some monitor issues didn’t slow the already laid back pace of the band, even when Foals’ sound started to bleed into Lindley Meadow. -KQ


Rudimental
Sunday • Twin Peaks Stage • 2:05 p.m.

An unexpected highlight on this year’s bill, this mash up of blues, rock, funk and soul with DNB percussion was legit. A lively and large band fronted by two modelesque vocalists (knock off Fergie included), the group is accompanied by an assortment of horns, drums, piano, guitar and a live DJ. Rudimental pumped up the crowd for a positively charged last day, and they proved to be an act worth seeing at any venue – whether you’re looking to start a party or keep the fire burning at the end of a festival weekend. –MK


Fishbone-RyanPhoto by Ryan Shulman

Fishbone
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 1:30 p.m.

Fishbone rocked out Sunday afternoon with their ska/punk-rock hybrid sound. Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibes, pumped crowd the crowd up with his high energy vocals and stage banter. Not only did Moore and audience members crowd surf during their fifty-minute set, but Moore introduced “Flying Jay”, clad in a red cape, the ultimate crowd-surfing trombone player. Moore also encouraged a mosh pit during their Sublime cover, “Date Rape”. Highlights included “Party at Ground Zero” and “Everyday Sunshine”, when Moore tried to solicit the sun to come out…the fog won. –DS


Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
Sunday • Land’s End Stage • 12:10 p.m.

The Sunday morning main stage “Gospel Slot” was appropriately given to Ivan Neville’s (and NOLA’s) Dumpstaphunk — where two bassists and double-bass drum work got booties shaken’ early. Original Neville Brother Ivan asked the crowd if we had been to New Orleans, and when we’d be going back — you’ve gotta love how musicians are the best sellers of tourism for the Crescent City. “Meanwhile…”, a song about still having a good time in post-Katrina NOLA, showcased the spirit of New Orleans perfectly. “You might as well have yourself a good time…there might not be a next time” — a refrain that glows longer then the verses that detail political corruption and violence. It may all read as a didactic song for the TV show Treme, but no one deals with hardship better than New Orleans, led by the “can’t stop, won’t stop” musicians that call the city home. -MF


Polo-Field-3-Tim

Beer Lands!

In only it’s second year onsite, Beer Lands has become a popular meeting spot, and, obviously, the place for the best local suds this region has to offer. An upgraded location in the Polo Fields, as opposed to tucked in the back of Lindley Meadow, made this spot even more popular and viable for social get-togethers. Doing away with the $1 ‘tickets’ as opposed to cash and card was a relief to those who would rather opt to not drink Heineken all day and night. Sierra Nevada offered a fragrant, herbal Saison exclusive to Outside Lands. Anchor Brewing brought their popular new California Lager and debuted an Autumn Maple Red Ale that was a tasty treat to those paying attention to the constantly rotating cast of taps. Drakes 1500 Pale Ale was this writers beverage of choice, but honestly, there were no losers in the bunch, and many look forward to this addition every year. Bottoms up. -KQ

Twin-Peaks-Scene-Tim

We didn’t catch them all this year! We missed Chromatics, The Tallest Man on Earth and Daughter — amongst others. What were your favorite shows at Outside Lands 2013?

Torch us in the “Comments” section below.