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”

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.

2013 Outside Lands schedule announced!

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

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

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

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

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

OutsideLands
FRIDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 9th

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

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

OutsideLands
SATURDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 10th

Nine Inch Nails vs. Phoenix

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

OutsideLands1
SUNDAY SCHEDULE // AUGUST 11th

• Red Hot Chilli Peppers vs. Dillon Francis, Kaskade

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


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

OutsideLands2

MIDTERM REPORT: Best Albums of 2013

BEST-ALBUMS-so-far-2013Photos by Marc Fong and Mike Frash

Is 2013 the year digital dance music makes the big leap, fully taking over the Top 40 but also ingraining itself into the hearts of critics? Daft Punk made all the noise as the year was young, but young EDM-upstarts Disclosure, Flume & Jagwar Ma have all made an impact on the Bam Team.

That stated, the musical output in 2013 so far is pretty damn strong overall. And just think, we will be hearing new LPs from Arcade Fire, Earl Sweatshirt, Washed Out, Ty Segall, Franz Ferdinand, Nine Inch Nails, Arctic Monkeys, Holy Ghost!, Chvrches, and many more still. Take a gander at our favorite albums of the year as of July 17, 2013 – What are we missing?

*Any album released in the US in the year 2013 is eligible for Best Albums of 2013.
**Check out all of our music reviews from 2013.

Vampire Weekend

Mike Frash
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
2. Disclosure – Settle
3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
4. James Blake – Overgrown
5. Foals – Holy Fire
6. Flume – Flume
7. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
9. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
10. Baths – Obsidian

Phoenix

Molly Kish
1. Atoms For Peace – AMOK
2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
3. Disclosure – Settle
4. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
5. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
6. STRFKR – Miracle Mile
7. Devandra Banhart – Mala
8. Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
9. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Thee-oh-Sees

Kevin Quandt
1. my bloody valentine – m b v
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
3. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
4. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
5. Thee oh Sees – Floating Coffin
6. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
7. Disclosure – Settle
8. Rhye – Woman
9. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
10. A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP

Sigur-Ros

Pete Mauch
1. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
4. Foals – Holy Fire
5. Boards of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest
6. Deerhunter – Monomania
7. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
8. Bonobo – The North Borders
9. Kurt Vile and The Violators – Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze
10. Disclosure – Settle

Toro Y Moi

Kevin Raos
1. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
2. Rhye – Woman
3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
4. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
5. Sigur Ros – Kveikur
6. Foals – Holy Fire
7. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Camera Obscura – Camera Obscura
9. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
10. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Classixx

Sean Little
1. Flume – Flume
2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
4. Jessie Ware – Devotion
5. Hanni El Kattib – Head In The Dirt
6. Disclosure – Settle
7. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
8. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune
9. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala

Starfucker5

Eric Shaden
1.  Jagwar Ma – Howlin
2.  James Blake – Overgrown
3.  Daft Punk – Random Access Memories  
4.  Starfucker – Miracle Mile
5.  Disclosure – Settle
6.  Phoenix – Bankrupt!
7.  Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
8.  Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety 
9.  Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
10. Thundercat – Apocalypse 

MS MR
Nikki De Martini
1. MS MR – Secondhand Rapture
2. Deap Vally – Sistrionix
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
4: CSS – Planta 
5: Little Boots – Nocturnes
6. Portugal The Man – Evil Friends 
7. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
8. Kanye West – Yeezus
9. Great Gatsby Soundtrack
10. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

Coachella conflicts: 2013 set times announced

Coachella-2013

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 12th-14th & April 19th-21st, 2013 //

Set times dropped Tuesday evening, and Coachella shared they had been battling agents all day to explain the delay. Sounds like a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary …

Although set times didn’t unleash any surprise acts (what no Lou Reed replacement?), the brand new Yuma Dome is confirmed as the 6th main performance area, not including The Do Lab or Heineken Dome. The Yuma Dome will host Seth Troxler, DJ Harvey, Four Tet, Julio Bashmore, The 2 Bears, Jamie Jones, Jamie xx and so many more. This additional platform on the outskirts of the tents and Do Lab will be the anti-Sahara Tent with a minimalist-dance edge.


Friday features one of the most brutal headline conflicts in years. The Stone Roses are on a mondo reunion tour, while How to Destroy Angels and Earl Sweatshirt are playing their first major shows. Poliça will be performing in the Gobi Tent after The Shouting Matches, Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) new project. Vernon collaborated with the members of Poliça in his side project Gaynes. You connect the dots…

Toughest Conflicts:
• The Stone Roses vs. Earl Sweatshirt vs. How to Destroy Angels
• Blur vs. Grinderman
• Modest Mouse vs. Local Natives (SUNSET)
• Japandroids vs. alt-J
• Poliça vs. Jake Bugg
• The Shouting Matches vs. Youth Lagoon vs. Beardyman vs. C2C

Saturday headliners will depend on your energy and vibe, as Phoenix, Sigur Rós, Booka Shade, New Order and Knife Party will create inner-group conflicts. Upon seeing The xx above The Postal Service and Major Lazer at 6 p.m. while Moby sub-headlines the Sahara Tent, the “been fighting with agents all day” reference starts to make sense.

It’s almost as if Goldenvoice is attempting to set a new tone in the Sahara Tent this year after house-pop like David Guetta and Calvin Harris dominated last year. Are they challenging the Sahara stalwarts to go see Franz Ferdinand, Two Door Cinema Club or The xx … or go check out the Yuma during Moby?

Toughest Conflicts:
• Phoenix vs. Sigur Rós vs. Booka Shade vs. New Order vs. Knife Party
• Hot Chip vs. Yeasayer vs. Grizzly Bear (SUNSET)
• Danny Brown vs. Baauer vs. Savages
• Wild Nothing vs. Birdy Nam Nam vs. Action Bronson

Sunday will be a tale of two scenes. Eric Prydz and Disclosure will be packed while Dead Can Dance & Red Hot Chili Peppers should be relatively spacious. Tame impala secured a Sunset-ish slot, but Roodriguez and James Blake will be playing in the tents at the same time. Pretty Lights seems odd at 7:30, but he’s the only EDM artist to get a featured slot on an outdoor stage this year.

Toughest Conflicts:
• Eric Prydz vs. Disclosure
• Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds vs. OMD vs. The Faint
• Vampire Weekend vs. Pretty Lights vs. Father John Misty vs. La Roux (SUNSET)
• Tame Impala vs. James Blake vs. Rodriguez (SUNSET-ISH)
• Kurt Vile and the Violators vs. Grimes
• Thee Oh Sees vs. Jessie Ware vs. Jamie xx

New Music Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix • How to Destroy Angels • The Men • Youth Lagoon • Rhye • The Cave Singers • Blue Hawaii

Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels

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


Jimi HendrixPeople, Hell and Angels

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Earth Blues”
“Hear My Train a Coming”
“Somewhere”

Album Highlights: The solo in “Hear My Train a Coming” is quintessential Jimim and it bridges the gap between beginning and end of the song perfectly. This early take on the classic song is quite powerful, and the solo alone deserves a listen. “Somewhere” has Hendrix showcasing his amazing Wah Wah pedal skills, and his stream of conscious style singing makes this song come to life. The album opener “Earth Blues” is probably the most complete song with great lyrics and classic Jimi riffs throughout.

Album Lowlight: I thought the album lost its place during “Let Me Move You,” even though the great Lonnie Youngblood was featured on Saxophone. The track seems out of place on the record, and the same could be said for “Mojo Man.” Also, the album ended with a whimper by picking “Villanova Junction Blues” as the outro song, and it isn’t even two minutes long. While I can’t exactly blame Jimi for this choice, I would prefer to hear a blistering solo to end the record.

Takeaway: It’s just great to hear Jimi Hendrix play guitar, and for that I am grateful this album has been released so far after his untimely death. It definitely helps us see which direction Jimi was going right after the Experience broke up. Most of the recordings are from sessions he played with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, the rhythm section from the Band Of Gypsies. Hendrix was straying from his psychedelic era sounds with the material that ended up on People, Hell and Angels, leaning more toward bluesy rock from Hendrix’s early years.

~Pete Mauch


How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Keep it Together”
“Ice Age”
“The Loop Closes”

Album Highlights: Welcome Oblivion is a brilliant experiment in collaboration between Trent Reznor and his wife, Mariqueen Maandig (formerly of West Indian Girl), also featuring his usual suspects, Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan. To take the industrial tension of Nine Inch Nails and have the vocals fronted by the sultry and angelic Maandig is a winning formula. Tracks like “Ice Age” turn down the synths and simply pair staccato strings with soft vocals, throwing the listener for a loop compared to previous tracks. Recently, Reznor has become the master of keeping his fans on their feet, this recently demonstrated by the quick and startling revamping of Nails, all before he’s even debuted How to Dress Angels on stage. Production is heavy on the chiller side of industrial/glitch electronic music, even industrializing the sound of vocals as seen in the beginning of “Too Late, All Gone.” Not all tracks feature vocals, something Reznor is a bit fond of.

Album Lowlight: The inclusion of Mariqueen as lead singer alleviates some pressure from Trent, and it certainly shifts the overall sound and feel away from something that is wholly Nine Inch Nails. With this stated, I would have liked to hear a bit more of Reznor’s characteristic vocal style. “Keep it Together” is a prime example of Trent augmenting Mariqueen’s steamy female vocals, and this would have been welcomed on more tracks.

Takeaway: Fans of Nine Inch Nails will enjoy this release, furthermore listeners who may have been scared away by the likes of the brutal side of NIN (see “Closer”) will feel it is more palpable, especially to female listeners. Reznor is not a musician who takes much down time, and he has kept himself busy since temporarily dissolving NIN a few years back. This project is not brand new, but has now fully taken flight with the impending live debut coupled with a debut LP. Welcome Oblivion is a satisfying listen overall, taking a great leap in con-temporizing the brilliant industrial sound Trent Reznor and his cohorts have polished over multiple decades.

~Kevin Quandt


The MenNew Moon

Top Tracks:
“The Seeds”
“Electric”
“I See One”

Album Highlights: New Moon is a different album than previous, likely pointing to maturity or fear of being lost in the ever increasing bands that sound akin. It leans more on the poppier side than the noise side of rock, especially when viewed compared to previous releases. Songs like “The Seeds” are a fun romp in folk rock that is becoming evermore popular, as demonstrated by Father John Misty and the likes. “I Saw Her Face” features a heavy, lo-fi guitar lead full of drudge and weight to accompany the lulled-out drumbeat and bass. “Bird Song” lends itself to a more personal side that would make Crazy Horse smirk. One can almost hear old Neil play his harmonica along with ‘em.

Album Lowlight: It feels as if the track order was a total toss-up, and gives the album a lack of direction and flow that is not easy to look past. Maybe they should slow down and take some time with these efforts, as this is the fourth release in four years.

Takeaway: An enjoyable spin on the current state of modern rock, full of hooks and unique tracks placed side by side in no distinguishable rhyme or reason. It’s lighter on the tinges of punk that these New Yorkers have been somewhat known for, but there is a sound for just about everyone on New Moon.

~Kevin Quandt


Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Mute”
“Dropla”
“Raspberry Cane”

Album Highlights: Trevor Powers, the boy genius behind Youth Lagoon, has created a sequel to 2011’s Year in Hibernation that continues the dreamy low-fidelity indie rock and succeeds in many spots. “Mute” sounds clear and cheery after the opening track “Through Mind and Back,” and it is the best track on the long player. It starts with a Bradford Cox-like wandering space into, but when the track transitions to it’s second phase dominated by repetitious keyboard strokes and Star Wars destroyer swoosh-byes as part of the conceptual build, the song begins to fly. “The Bath” and “Third Dystopia” are also stand-out tracks.

Album Lowlight: Overall, Wondrous Bughouse could be viewed as a soundtrack to a sinister clown carnival, and only rarely succeeds (“Raspberry Cane”) while looking at the record through this prism. Upon repeat listens, Youth Lagoon’s newest effort is more appropriately seen as a collection of tripped out lullabies. But what holds this record back from greatness is that it feels like an exercise in seeing how many carnival sounds Powers could layer on top of each other while still creating likable pop songs. Creating this sound aesthetic is a tightrope walk, and it often works. It does not work with “Attic Doctor,” “Sleep Paralysis” & “Daisyphobia,” and these tracks push the “trippy lullaby” theme to the edge of the listener threshold.

Takeaway: The most joyous thing Powers established with The Year of Hibernation was a nuanced song structure. Most tracks thrived on introspective, exploratory introductions that thrived on building to a second-half sonic payoff. And it is the second-half building in tracks like “Afternoon” that smacked you out of your wondrous state, creating a contrast that is goose-bump inducing. Overall, this quality is less present in Wondrous Bughouse. However, the record is a grower, one where the nuances present themselves more and more, and most tracks subsequently get better with each listen.

~Mike Frash


RhyeWoman

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“The Fall”
“Open”
“3 Days”

Album Highlights: The highly anticipated debut album from Rhye, the producer duo Robin Braun and Mike Milosh, is an infectious, soulful, electro-R&B album. Women is highly sensual; this album is perfect for a late night romance or a long drive in the middle of the night. It’s upbeat enough to keep your head bobbing, but mellow enough to fall asleep to. And I say “fall asleep to” in the most endearing way possible.

The vocals are the true highlight of this album. Milosh and Braun’s voices work together in perfect venereal harmony that keeps the listener longing for more.

Album Lowlight: I’m nitpicking here, but I simply want more from Rhye. I can’t wait to see how their sound develops with future material, and I’ll be spinning this record for a while.

Takeaway: Woman has an incredibly developed sound that mixes elements of minimalist electronic with a orchestral components, highlighted by the incredible vocal performance. The album is extremely well produced and mature. For a debut album, it is a sensational effort. Dim the lights, open a bottle of wine and enjoy this album.

~Kevin Raos


The Cave SingersNaomi

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Have to Pretend”
“Shine”
“Northern Lights”

Album Highlights: The Cave Singers present a lighter, spring time soundtrack on their 4th album Naomi. The addition of Morgan Henderson on bass/flute (Fleet Foxes, Blood Brothers) and producer Phil Ex (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Modest Mouse) allows the northwestern folk quartet to stick to their simple yet original and audible recipe while dabbling in some new territories. Front man Pete Quirk also sings in tune…on purpose, throughout the entire album! We can thank Ex for that suggestion.

Album Lowlight: Naomi lacks a certain flow that 2007’s Invitation Songs and 2009’s Welcome Joy possess. “Easy Way” ventures into a generic cookie cutter rock song that pushes Quirk to stressful, at times uncomfortable harmonies.

Takeaway: Fans that are looking for the same dish that The Cave Singers have been delivering will surely be satisfied. The fuller sound and additional band member definitely works in favor for the band. Still, The Cave Singers use the same, simple rifts with very little key chord progression, relying heavily on lyrical melodies. Don’t expect the same foot stomping, glass shattering sensation that “Dancing In Our Graves” delivers. This album will be great for sunny spring time mornings.

~Sam Heller


Blue HawaiiUntogether

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Yours to Keep”
“Try to Be”
“Sweet Tooth”

Album Highlights: Divided into two separate installments, “In Two” highlight’s the dual nature of this album’s artistic influences and conception. Cowan and Preston are both able to communicate their individual spin on the track in an extended jam, mixed perfectly through electronic dance-style cohesion.

Album Lowlight: Although tight on the mixing and an impressive execution of skill, “Sierra Lift” would have been better without as much editing. Standell-Preston’s vocals are excessively staggered and nearly indecipherable due to the choppiness of the track. The effect audibly is interesting, but becomes exhausting throughout the song’s duration, and album in general.

Takeaway: “Try to Be” is the best representation of what Untogether is aiming to achieve both in sound quality and songwriting. Blue Hawaii, a duo of Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alexander Cowan, recorded Untogether with the intention to explore deviating genres and the audible patterns that lie between them. “Try to Be” showcases the natural symbiosis of their co-writing capabilities.

~Molly Kish

Coachella 2013: What you should know before you go

Coachella 2013

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

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

Coachella 2013

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

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

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

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

Friday Reunions

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Best Friday “Bottom-Liners”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Reunions

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Best Saturday “Bottom-Liners”

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella-2013Sunday 2013

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

Sunday Reunions

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

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

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

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

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

Best Sunday “Bottom-Liners:”

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to the Spotify Playlist Coachella 2013.

Coachella 2013

Treasure Island Music Festival: 10 best sets

Treasure Island Music festival has a lot going for it. It’s smack dab during the nicest time of year in San Francisco, and the weather obliged this year. No sets overlap – you can see every single there if you can manage to get there in time – and the two stages are right next to each other. The view of the city by the bay never gets old, and many artist rightfully pointed out how great the view is. And the music curation delivered, as this year was a bit of a sleeper.

Scroll down to view the 10 best sets of the weekend, along with 10 more great sets.
What was your favorite set of the weekend? Leave a comment below.

1. The xx

Sunday was more crowded than Saturday, which is a testament to the rising worldwide power of The xx. Their newfound headline status was re-confirmed, as they were anything but mellow or boring. From the first notes of “Angel,” the festival crowd was rapturously involved. They were loud during the blasts & dance parts, and quiete during the subtleties. And the fan girls – The xx now has a screeching contingency of fangirls as if we were watching The Beatles or Justin Bieber.

The surprisingly respectful crowd added to a mind-blowing live show. Jamie xx has had a clear impact on The xx’s live show. Mid-set there was a string of songs that included “Reunion,” “Sunset” & “Swept Away” and was bridged by Jamie xx’s micro-house beats. A 20-30 minute dance sequence was not expected but certainly invited. And Romy Croft & Oliver Sim have such great voices live, and they play the parts well that they have invented in their songwriting. They were worth the price of admission Sunday.

2. The Presets

Aussie-Pop dance duo The Presets returned the US friday to play an epic show at The Independent. They were just as entertaining the second night in a row at TIMF. Their new live show melds dance beats and drops, live instrumentation, apocalyptic Aussie-charm vocals, and a killer light and video show that will satisfy most contemporary music fans. Their live show, which featured many new songs from Pacifica, turned into a dance party in no time.

They proved they are ready for the festival circuit just as it wraps up in the northern hemisphere. They’ll return come 2013 to headline Coachella, Bonnaroo, and everywhere in between if they’d like. After putting out one of the best albums of the year and showing the Bay area this past weekend that they put on a stellar show that plays both to small and large audiences.

3. M83

M83 has been touring on “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” forever. And why not, it’s one of the best albums of the last decade. The best part about the epic touring schedule is that they’ve gotten much better live. Last November at the Mezzanine they performed “Midnight City” without a saxophone solo and killed the momentum of the set with a poor performance of the wonderful slow song “Wait.”

About a year later, they have crafted a spectacular festival set that features songs that turn into dancey remixes of themselves and no slow songs. The group’s energy was infectious sunday, with Anthony Gonzalez, Yann Gonzalez & Morgan Kibby blasting off with kinetic energy nonstop. The 50 minutes passed by and the show ended with Anthony spraying the crowd with champagne as if they’ve reached the finish line. M83 indeed has come a long way in a year.

4. Matthew Dear

Matthew Dear put on a rock & roll set that showed off his dance moves, voice & stage presence. He stays away from adding many effects or relying heavily on digital music with his live group, and the super bassy vocal effect he uses on his voice on the newest LP was almost missed on tracks like “Headcage” & “Her Fantasy.” But their reconstruction of digital-sounding dance tunes worked well live, even though the crowd was sparse and Matthew Dear’s set would play better at night or inside (with lights).

5. araabMUZIK

AraabMUZIK is a beat machine. The thought “this guy is so completely unique and talented” crept into thought at least 5 times during this set that flew by Saturday. Abraham Orellana is a button pusher but damnit he’s probably the best there is (sorry Girl Talk). He controls and performs every live sound live on the fly with his MIDI pads and collection of mixers and effects. AraabMUZIK is pioneering a subgenre of spinning that micromanages the sound and adds a higher level technical proficiency needed to execute in the live setting. And by putting more on the line, it actually feels like a live performance because it is.

6. Los Campesinos!

7. Divine Fits

8. SBTRKT

9. Tycho

10. Youth Lagoon

10 more great sets

Public Enemy

Toro Y Moi

K Flay

The Coup

Grimes

Girl Talk

Wild Belle

Gossip

Joanna Newsom

Best Coast