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Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category
13 Nov

Words by Sheyna Webster, photos by Phil DeSimone


Reverend Run doesn’t just ask anyone how their doing, and when he asks a crowd as big as the on awaiting his performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest how they’re doing, your response better be “real good.” More than 10 years after the still unsolved murder of their DJ “Jam-Master”Jay Mizell, Fun Fun Fun Fest was thanked on stage by Run for bringing back together the dynamic stylings of Run-DMC, the hip-hop trio that made strides in the industry when they first started out. And it looks like they have no plans to stop trying now. Though Jay was missed on stage- many tributes to his memory were made throughout the set- his presence was not lost. Jay’s sons, Jason Jr and TJ Mizell, joined the duo on stage as their DJs as the surprise moment of the night. They were given time to play their own original tracks, which were actually huge crowd pleasers, for a mass of people that stretched all the way to the exit, and even played the UT Longhorns fight song with their “hook’em’s” in the air. After crowd favorites like “It’s Tricky” and ending with “Walk This Way,” the big show was everything an old fan could ask for (minus an encore that didn’t happen, despite a screaming audience’s best efforts), and probably exactly what Run-DMC expected it to be- a tribute to an old friend and a new beginning for the young talent he left behind.

Earlier in the night, Santi White, AKA Santigold, brought everything from schoolgirl cheerleader (pom-poms included) dancers to a white horse on the stage. A mic issue during the first song left the crowd waiting for more, but as soon as the problem was managed, everyone was successfully riled up by Santigold’s big voice and even bigger performance. Dainty motions combined with outbursts of booty-shakin’ right alongside her dancers and biggest fans carried the crowd until they were too tired to move over for Run-DMC’s performance next door. A quick costume change into something much more comfortable and easier to shake in, Santi welcomed her front row fans onto the stage for her hit “Creator,” making sure to say “don’t touch my ladies,” but encouraging the massive dance party that ensued. The crowd may have been satisfied with that ending, but there’s no stopping the endearing weirdness that Santigold promises to bring on stage- including a two-person horse costume galloping while the audience first stared silently, then erupted into cheers for one of most confusing but appropriate acts I’ve ever seen. Because that’s exactly how an electronic princess ends a show.

The sun beginning to set on a hot, dusty mass of festival goers, Seattle indie rockers Minus the Bear graced the stage in front of fans clad in furry bear hats (Coincidence? I doubt it) and jammed some melodic beats that everybody was glad to hear. Their big sound commanded a ridiculously large stage set on the always-expanding backdrop of downtown Austin. Not too far to the side of the stage, fans hula hooped and danced along with hit songs like “Steel and Blood” and “Diamond Lighting.” Synth player and vocalist Alex Rose seemed relieved when the Texas sun decided to fall, commenting to the crowd, “It’s nicer now that the sun went down over those things over there,” prompting a quick “those are trees, Alex,” from his bandmates and a riot of laughter and heckles from an audience that was just happy to bob along to some sweet tunes before kicking off the night to hip hop beats.


Darkness falls but Gregg Gillis, better known as the DJ mash-up genius Girl Talk, turns up his lights and beats to take over the night. Demolishing the orange stage as Saturday’s headliner, Girl Talk opened his performance to a mass of ready-to-rage fans as they danced around him for the entire set. From behind Girl Talk’s chaotic performance, the massive crowd looked even crazier, whiter, and more off-beat than those of us rocking on stage. Tissue paper rained down on the crowd, glow sticks flew through the air, right onto the heads of ravers everywhere, and confetti boomed from side stage, swept away quickly (and thus ending up to be pretty anti-climactic) by the wind along with the giant bags of balloons thrown to the crowd, but that didn’t stop anyone from singing, screaming, dancing, and jumping to the mash of hits like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” and “Rolling in the Deep.” Ending on a high note and running off stage before any fans could grab him, Girl Talk left the crowd successfully sweaty and impressed, and probably a little sore, but I’m not complaining.

Indie-folk rockers The Head and The Heart took over a big crowd of expectant fans with far reaching vocals and some impressive guitar work. The audience swayed to big hits like “Lost in my Mind,” and seemed just as enticed by every other song- lead singer Josiah Johnson’s haunting lyrics leaving them hanging on every word. The six piece hopefuls made their debut on Conan last year and opened for big timers Vampire Weekend and Dave Matthews. Now headlining their own shows, the folky, campfire kids have gathered quite the fan base that waited for them outside the orange stage, including parents with their children on their shoulders and couples holding hands while bobbing to the sleep-inducing (in that comfy, good way) melodies. Clapping along to songs like “Sounds like Hallelujah” kept everyone entertained and left the crowd impressed, once again, under the stars of downtown.

Oakland hip-hop travesty Kreayshawn “twerked” on stage and brought some munchies for a crowd of her people. After working her audience up an appetite and playing her song “Left Ey3,” she asked who wanted some tacos. Not literally expecting her to pull out foil-wrapped Torchy’s Tacos (though, there were cannons shooting these things at people at the festival), Kreayshawn chucked them into the crowd and probably onto people’s faces, continued with the show, and busted out rhymes that were not only ironically awful, but seriously entertaining. Despite the slap in the face she gave to hip-hop music, Kreayshawn practically creates a style of her own, and you couldn’t help but bob and dance along as she ran all over stage, almost quite literally kicking ass and taking names. The crowd was obviously waiting for her end note “Gucci Gucci,” and when her hype man started with “one big room…” the masses threw their hands in the air, jolted toward the stage, and sung right along- “I got the swag and it’s pumping out my ovaries.” Yikes, really? But I’ll take it.

Taking the stage without Run, DMC brought a little more rock and roll to the daytime stage, and kept the sons of the late Jam-Master Jay Mizell behind him spinning tracks. After a moment of silence for Jay, the party began in front of a sizeable crowd, probably fans from the night before catching a second glimpse, or hopefuls that missed the exciting Run-DMC reunion. DMC kept the beats flowing while making a political stance in front of the Austin crowd- claiming “there is no generation gap, there’s a information gap,” and that “music succeeds when politics and religion fails.” Explosive hoots and hollers from the crowd emphasized his point, and the famed rapper moved on to crowd favorites like “Black Betty”- claiming Betty White was the most powerful woman in the industry right now, not Beyonce or Nicki Minaj. And we’re going to have to agree with that.


Instrumental deities Explosions in the Sky not only had big expectations as native Austinites, but they succeeded in getting the entire crowd on their feet shouting and hosted a light show that probably induced more than one fainting spell that night. The emotion behind the narrative-like guitar sets and symphonic beats were felt by everyone on the grass, on the ledge, and probably through downtown- there’s no way a sound like that didn’t carry through the city. Couples kissed during pivotal sound moments and long-time local fans smiled as they swayed to new album favorites like “Last Known Surroundings.” Explosions has a good time every show they get to perform where they started, and this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest was no different. Everyone turned away pleased as Explosions finished with a bang, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes took stage left to finish off the impressive last night.

Long Island hip-hop trio De La Soul graced the blue stage fashionably late, attitude at the ready. After playing a few hits and really getting the masses dancing along, a dramatic pause was necessary. Hands rose up out of the crowd when David Jolicoeur, known as just Dave, called for it, sans a few- the photographers in the pit. After harassing them about putting their cameras down and enjoying the music, De La Soul started playing again to massive cheers- only to cut it short to heckle the one lone photographer still keeping his finger on the shutter button. With a few laughs from the crowd and I’m sure one embarrassed photographer, De La Soul continued their set and proved that they’re still fresh and funky, with plenty of bass to get you moving. There was nothing that crowd wanted more than to move around to some jazzy hits taking us back to when the guys were at their peak, and they definitely brought that to the stage- and a few laughs and a little arrogance never hurt a performance.

Louisiana indie pop group Givers played in front of an appreciative crowd right in the middle of the hot afternoon. The sun blazing on their faces, vocalists Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco managed to still keep their eyes on the crowd and their voices soaring. Old and young and somewhere in between were entertained by the energetic and multi-talented band- they played each song with just as much fervor as the last, keeping up tempo and belting out favorites like “Meantime” and “Saw You First,” both of which many fans in the grass sung along to. Reminiscent of bands like Of Monsters and Men and Grouplove on the radio today, Givers are sure to make their mark in the chaotic indie scene, and their presence on stage isn’t one to disappoint.

Laying back in the soft grass and waiting for the next band to start, then having to wonder “is that an accordion?” and realizing, hell yeah it is, has to be one of the best feelings ever. Singer Howe Gelb of jam band Giant Giant Sand (previously just Giant Sand) has a voice reminiscent of Johnny Cash, and the little girl in front of me danced with her mom in a tutu to his raspy recounts of soulful lyrics and upbeat tunes. The multi-instrumental Arizona country band serenaded a lounging crowd as the sun went down and the half napping, half swaying attendees appreciated the rhythms, and I appreciated the creativity of the set. Sometimes reminiscent of an old West standoff, the twangy beats and fun vocals made for a relaxing evening, especially when trumpeter Jon Villa surprised everyone and took over lead vocals in Spanish for a while.

12 Nov

Los Angeles rock radio station KROQ 106.7 announced the lineup for the 23rd Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 9th, 2012. Tickets are available online at Livenation.com/Ticketmaster.com only on Friday, November 16th at 12:00pm PST. Presale tickets are available to KROQ Street Team members at http://streetteam.kroq.radio.com/main.aspx



Proceeds from 23rd Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas to benefit the following charities:

Para Los Ni̱os РPara Los Ni̱os is a non-profit family service agency designed to raise at-risk children out of poverty and into brighter futures through positive educational
opportunities and support.

Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center – Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center provides a safe after-school environment where hundreds of boys and girls in South Central Los Angeles participate in tutoring, learn important social skills and are guided to succeed in school and enter college.


17 Oct

By Jackie Ruth

This year marked the 11th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, and it was as big as ever. With headliners like The Black Keys and Avicii on Friday, Jack White and Neil Young & Crazy Horse on Saturday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Sunday, there was no way it could be a bad experience. The 2012 festival attracted music fans from all over the globe and kept festival-goers of all ages entertained.

Day 1 – Friday

The Wombats

This indie rock trio hails from Liverpool, and they opened the Honda stage at Austin City Limits on Friday morning. Despite repeated technical difficulties, they powered through their 45-minute set with a sense of humor. It seems fitting that their latest album is called The Wombats Proudly Present… This Modern Glitch in light of the problems they had Friday. Lead vocalist Matthew Murphy made a remark about hearing that another band had been from Liverpool once, but that “they didn’t do very well.” At one point when they were waiting for a technical problem to be fixed, drummer Dan Haggis began singing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” a capella, and tried to get his band mates and the crowd into it as well. Although it was early on the first day of the festival, The Wombats put their all into their performance, emitting nonstop energy. Every song they played was a crowd-pleaser, and though they may not be a household name yet, it seems inevitable, if the ACL show was any indication.

Los Campesinos!

This seven-piece set from the U.K. never fails to impress at their live shows, and their early-afternoon set at ACL’s Bud Light stage was no different. Male lead singer Gareth delivered passionate vocals while showcasing his typical spastic dance style. He and his sister Kim harmonized well together on many of the band’s songs, although she joined the band in 2009 after their keyboardist and female lead singer Aleks left to continue her studies. Some of the members did synchronized dance moves that matched up with the lyrics of the songs during the performance. Although most of the music that Los Campesinos! creates is upbeat, they did play one song that had a slower pace on Friday, just as the clouds covered the glaring sun, creating an unplanned moment of calm that fit the mood of the song perfectly. The biggest hit of the concert was “You! Me! Dancing!,” a fast-paced tune that had the whole crowd singing and jumping. Unlike most of the artists at the festival, Gareth got up close and personal with his audience, jumping off the stage and climbing into the crowd during the last song, where he sang amongst their fans. The band showed that even a larger group can maintain camaraderie, as they performed the last few lines of their final song a capella and huddled in three small groups, with their arms around each other.

Tegan and Sara

This Canadian twin-sister duo is a treat to see live, whether or not you’re already a fan of their indie rock music. They both write songs and play guitar and keyboard, and both have similar, but distinct, voices. They alternate lead vocals on songs, and sometimes harmonize as well. Instead of mastering a sound and sticking to it, each song tends to have its own sound, so their set stayed fresh for the entire hour. They engaged with the audience numerous times during their performance, including a vulnerable moment when Sara took off her leather jacket due to the heat and humidity, and announced that it was a big deal, because that jacket is like her security blanket. They made several jokes about the weather in Austin, which definitely wasn’t prime concert weather, and they made the crowd follow step-by-step instructions in a ploy to get everyone to hug each other, as a token of Tegan and Sara’s affection for their fans. There really wasn’t a boring moment while these two were onstage.


This alternative rock band from California may have been around since 1992, but they rock just as hard as today’s younger artists. All of the members of Weezer were well-dressed, despite the muggy weather, including frontman Rivers Cuomo, who donned a sweater vest. The crowd was clearly full of long-time fans of the group, because there wasn’t one song on the set list that the majority of the show-goers didn’t sing along to. They mixed older hits, like “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Buddy Holly” with newer fare, like “Memories” and “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.” Before launching into their hit “Island in the Sun,” Cuomo improvised a short tune asking for a dance partner. They also spiced up their performance by splitting the lyrics of the second verse between all of the members – Cuomo would introduce a band member, and they would sing the next line of the song. This show probably exceeded expectations even for fans that have wanted to see Weezer for over a decade.

The Black Keys

There is no doubt as to why Ohio’s The Black Keys were chosen as Friday night’s headliners for Austin City Limits Music Festival. Some fans camped out from the festival opening at 11 a.m. until their set at 8:30 p.m. just to be close to the stage. Overall, they played an upbeat show, and their signature bluesy-rock sound was perfect for a comfortable October night in Austin. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach is a skilled guitar player, and had no problems showcasing his talent. Both members of the group were obviously invested in making sure the crowd was having a good time, as they kept trying to pump everyone up between songs. They also seemed determine to make sure that they were playing their best, so as not to rob fans of a truly great live performance. While much of the listeners at The Black Keys’ show were dedicated enthusiasts, there was another portion of the masses that seemed to just be interested or curious festival-goers, trying to see what the hype was all about (and they surely realized it quickly). At one point during the set, a giant disco ball was revealed from under a cover that had been hanging from the ceiling of the Bud Light stage all day, and it was a big hit with the audience, just like the performers standing under it.

13 Oct

The Black Keys were one of the bands to play the Global Citizen Festival in New York City two weeks ago. If you weren’t there in person, didn’t watch it on TV or online, we can help you out. Watch their entire set below:

11 Oct

By Ace Ubas

Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide has been going on since 2010 and its mission is simple: bring together artists from all over the country to bring their perspective on music in one place for a four-day music festival. This year, they’ve got a musical melting pot that includes acts from the UK, Sweden, Iceland, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Israel, The Neatherlands, and even Estonia. It’s a great opportunity for fans of music to discover something new that exists all throughout the world.

Voxhaul Broadcast (USA)

Los Angeles natives Voxhaul Broadcast opened up the stage located in the Taix Champagne Room on Friday night. Mostly everyone in the room was already familiar with them, evidenced by their singing along to the lyrics and dancing around to their mix of garage rock and classic rock and roll. Right from the start of their set opening with “Turn the Knife,” exuberant frontman/guitarist David Dennis commanded the stage by bouncing around the stage and occasionally screaming notes with a classic 80s style falsetto. Voxhaul Broadcast is a band that is well-known to the local music scene and they showed why while proving that they’re ready for a bigger stage. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of having never seen them live before. Shame on me.

Immanu El (Sweden)

As a huge fan of the post-rock genre, it was great to see a post-rock band from Europe make their way State-side. Sweden’s Immanu El was one of the bands I was excited to see most and they definitely did not disappoint. Despite technical issues before their set, they managed to overcome them with a solid set at the Taix Front Lounge. Led by brothers Claes and Per Strangberg, Immanu El presented beautiful Explosions in the Sky-esque reverb-heavy guitars with soothing vocals that are reminiscent of Jonsi from Sigur Ros. The juxtaposition between aggressive instrumentation with the soft vocals create a wonderful and layered soundscape that surely stirred all kinds of pleasing emotions.

Sudden Weather Change (Iceland)

Having had the pleasure of seeing two of Iceland’s top acts this year in Of Monsters and Men and Sigur Ros, I learned two things: Iceland is a country that needs to be mined and excavated of its music scene and you can never go wrong seeing a band from Iceland. After walking over to The Echo, I took a chance at seeing Sudden Weather Change – and I was glad I did. The quartet delivered a blistering set full of psychedelic/noise rock tunes akin to early Sonic Youth and Pavement. While the hooks aren’t as stark as you would expect them to be, they still delivered some nasty guitar riffs with a stout and tight rhythm section that seemed to energize the crowd. Embarking on a brief West Coast tour after Culture Collide, don’t be surprised to see Sudden Weather Change as one of the bands to watch out for next year.”

Royal Teeth (USA)

Little is known about New Orleans quintet Royal Teeth other than the fact that they’ve played festivals such as CMJ and SXSW in the past, so they’re no stranger to that circuit. Lead vocalist Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson charmed the crowd with their southern hospitality, inviting the crowd to repeat certain lines in the songs or provided vocal harmonies. Their infectious pop tunes are definitely radio-ready and won’t be surprising to see some of their songs gain some kind of mainstream success (TV commercials, TV shows, etc.). Their songs are filled with catchy synth melodies and other than the drummer, two other members provide percussion that give greater depth to their rhythm. At one point during the last song, Larsen jumped into the crowd with a floor tom and started pounding on it much to the crowds approval. It doesn’t take much for Royal Teeth to have a high likeability.
(photo credit: Holly Crawford)

School of Seven Bells (USA)

School of Seven Bells was easily one of the bigger name acts for the night so seeing them only play for half an hour was certainly a disappointment. But that didn’t mean their set did as well, making most of their time limit by playing six of their best songs in their catalog. They opened with the hypnotic “Windstorm,” however, Alejandra Deheza’s vocals seemed lost in the mix and was barely audible. But that improved with “The Night,” an atmospheric number that summarized what SVIIB are all about: electronic-tinged shoegaze rock that creates an ethereal experience. Electronic elements are stronger on songs such as “Scavenger” and “White Wind,” causing the crowd to dance with electronic percussion and sampled vocals. “Low Times” was easily the best song of their set and also their most haunting as Deheza’s vocals and guitarist Benjamin Curtis’ guitar riffs have the ability to engulf your body and cause chills, especially when the word ‘predator’ was spelled out. They ended their short set with fan-favorite “Half Asleep,” a song with beats are even more pulsating live than on record. Think M83 but with Portishead’s trip-hop style sprinkled in there. Once again, they never fail to put on one hell of a show.
(photo credit: Holly Crawford)

Zola Jesus (USA)

Zola Jesus was another of the bigger names playing on Friday night, playing a longer set than most of the bands that have played. During their set, Zola Jesus’ Nika Rosa Danilova announced that it was going to be her last show as an Los Angeles resident. There’s no doubt that the local arts community will miss her presence, but she made sure she left with a lasting impression. What makes her shows very impressive is how she moves along to her own music, never standing still and always going from one stage to the other, and making her performance that more dynamic. Opening with “Avalanche” and “Hikikomori,” Danilova displayed her immensely powerful voice backed by tribal-esque percussion and a violin that added a dramatic and classical aspect to her set. The piano-driven “Lightsick” was a perfect example on how Zola Jesus can be so mesmerizing and captivating with a simple arrangement and repetition of the chorus. It was a great example of how her goth/dream pop sound fused perfectly with hip-hop inspired beats and blips. While she doesn’t do much chatting with the crowd in between songs, she still manages to incorporate them in her performance by jumping into the crowd and dancing with the surrounding fans during “Seekir.” There’s no reason for banter or dialogue with Zola Jesus; the interaction between the crowd and performer is there with the music and her body language. She’s even stated in interviews that she likes to be in the crowd rather than talk to them. Now that’s a genuine performer.

08 Oct

The Austin City Limits Music Festival returns this weekend and it’s COMPLETELY SOLD OUT again (you might be able to snag a VIP or Platinum Pass but you’ll need a rather fat wallet for it). If you’re not going this weekend, you can catch over 40 of the artists’ sets on the YouTube webcast of the festival at http://www.youtube.com/user/aclfestival. For the rest of you who are going, here are some artists you’ll definitely want to see up close.

By Jackie Ruth


Los Campesinos!
12:30 pm, Bud Light Stage

This British indie band has been rocking out since 2006, and they would be an energetic start to your weekend at the Austin City Limits Festival. Their music is mostly loud and joyful-sounding, though their lyrics don’t always match that description. Los Campesinos! mixes classic strings and percussion with chaotic electronic sounds and lead vocalist Gareth David does nothing to hide his Welsh accent. All of the members of the band refer to their last names as Campesinos!, so they come off as an inseparable group. If you like dancing to dynamic indie pop tunes, you’ll definitely want to check out Los Campesinos!

Florence + the Machine
6:30 pm, Bud Light Stage

Since 2010, London’s Florence + the Machine has been gaining notoriety for their beautiful, catchy hits, such as “The Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake It Out.” Named for lead vocalist Florence Welch, this group is a mixture of indie pop and soul, and Welch’s powerful voice is like nothing else out there right now. They’ve performed on Saturday Night Live and won 18 awards from outlets in the United States and Europe, including an MTV Music Video Award. Seeing Florence + the Machine live will give you something to brag about for years.

M. Ward
7:30 pm, Austin Ventures Stage

If you want a more laid-back show, check out California’s M. Ward on the Austin Ventures Stage. The male counterpart from She & Him (the “she” is Zooey Deschanel) and a member of supergroup Monsters of Folk, M. Ward has been making music as a solo artist since 1999. He is a master guitarist and has a uniquely soothing voice. Although he doesn’t always consistently interact with his audience the way a lot of musicians do, it’s a treat to see him play the music that he loves with such skill. His mixture of indie rock, folk and alt-country makes him stand out from the crowd, and his music is a great way to unwind and enjoy yourself.

The Black Keys
8:30 pm, Bud Light Stage

This bluesy-rock duo from Ohio has also been climbing the ranks to stardom since 2010, when they had commercial success with their song “Tighten Up,” which won them a Grammy in 2011. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have been making albums together as The Black Keys since 2001, and their newest album, El Camino, is heavily influenced by music genres that were popular in America from the 1950s to the 1970s. They’re the headliners for Friday night, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on what is sure to be an exciting show.

25 Sep

By Lavina Loya

On the official last day of Summer, Southern California rock fans invaded Irvine, California for Epicenter 2012. The sun was relentlessly beating down on the Verizon Amphitheater as the crowds flooded in and die hard fans awaited in the mid-day heat for the opening group of bands to play the side stage.

The festival was broken down into two parts: the daytime openers and the main stage heavy hitters. Kicking off at noon bands like Hyro Da Hero, Beware of Dark, Crash Kings, Escape the Fate warmed up the crowd (as if they needed more heat) on the Monster Energy stage. Daytime closers Hollywood Undead played to a relatively full crowd, considering the mass amounts of people in line for a cold drink to keep from passing out.

As late afternoon approached they opened the gates to the main stage amphitheater and thousands of eager fans made the trek up the infamous steep hill to find their seats. Taking on the always difficult task of opening the big stage, Los Angeles natives Dead Sara was up first on deck. The half girl half guy foursome delivered the days first pleasant surprise. Genuine talent. I donʼt think most of the concert-goers; who were still busy buying beers and looking for the bathroom really saw it coming, but the in-yourface sound Dead Sara delivered was hard to ignore. Front woman Emily Armstrong came out swinging with a voice that sounds like an endearing mash-up of Janis Joplin and Courtney Love. Her voice displayed a solid range of sweet and melodic to a pitch perfect scream that could rival any modern day metal god.

Up next was Chevelle followed by Scars on Broadway. I felt these two should have traded places in the line up, but hey, thats just me. Illinoisʼ Chevelle set out for a straightforward yet solid set that took you through a good balance of their hits and B-sides. With the sun backing off the crowd was visibly amped for songs like “The Red” and “Send the Pain Below”.

The “turn and burn” method set up by Verizon had a circular rotating stage divided in half allowing road crews to set up the next band while the current band was mid-set. On one hand it kept the show moving and on time, yet on the other you had no idea when to go grab a beer! No sooner had Chevelle yelled “Goodnight SoCal,” the stage had rotated to reveal Scars on Broadway. System of a Down member Daron Malakian took his electronic-ish side project to the stage to a slightly confused yet excited crowd. Although largely unknown, their energy kept the fans engaged with eyebrow raising lyrics in songs like “Chemicals.” There were hints of System of a Down heard throughout the set and I think itʼs safe to say they were the nightʼs wildcard.

Now, Iʼll will be the first to admit I snickered a bit at the thought of seeing Bush live. I have always felt lukewarm for the band and all but wrote them off as a casualty of the late 90ʼs. I ate my words. As much as it pained me to admit, Bush hands down gave the performance of the entire evening. Starting strong with crowd pleaser “Machinehead” the band kept a steady pace of radio hits mixed with older classics to keep the life long fans happy. Plowing through “Everything Zen,” and “Little Things” you start to remember just how many hits Bush has had.

With all Epicenter fans firmly on their side by now, front man Gavin Rossdale took it to another level and led the crowd in a Beatles cover of “Come together” before he leapt off the stage to walk through the entire venue, weaving in and out of the stands and making a handful of security work hard for their money that night. Returning to the stage for “Glycerine” and “Comedown” the band played with heart and Rossdaleʼs voice and energy was on point. They officially set the standard for the evening.

We all know a solid 70% of the crowd was there to see the Deftones. Myself as well. The band came out strong with a one-two punch of “Rocket Skates” and “Diamond Eyes.” With a mic that seemed to need to be turned up Chino Moreno delivered all expected goods throughout an amazing eleven song set. Pacing back and forth in his standard plaid shirt, Moreno offered up the pre-requisite “Change (In the House of Flies)” as well as a first ever performance of their latest track “Leathers,” from their up coming album Koi No Yokan, due out in November.

As predicted the energy, the screaming, and the song selection was perfect..if only the set was longer. Although I do feel the Deftones translate better in a smaller venue, that did not stop this band from giving this festival the proper rock it deserved. Stone Temple Pilots closed out the night and had the crowd more than ready to take a trip down memory lane. I find it hard to make an assessment of Stone Temple Pilots. On one hand it takes a lot to stay together for 20+ years without killing each other…on the other hand it pains me to to accept that they will never be what they used to be. This band, and chiefly Scott Weiland, will not be stopped. The brothers DeLeo and drummer Erik Kretz kept the songs tight while Weiland riffed, twirled and added flavor to classics like “Vasoline,” “Interstate Love Song” and “Plush.”

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the bands famous Core album, STP made their one and only local appearance this year. Barely scratching the surface of their catalogue they made their way through song after song as if it were 1994. Realizing that over the years the tone of Weilandʼs voice has changed significantly, the bands relentless effort and the love the fans have for these songs makes it nearly impossible to criticize. The band came out for a two song encore ending with the one and only “Sex Type Thing” before the lights came up.

Hordes of concert-goers made their way back down the hill with smiles on their faces, $10 bootleg T-shirts in hand and preparing to embark on a 45 minute search for their cars. Not every festival can knock you on your ass but without a doubt, this one did not suck.

25 Sep

By Matt Arena

The 2012 summer festival season has been a great one. Though at times it may have felt more like a Jack White/The Black Keys festival tour, there were some rather pleasant surprises. The inaugural year for Firefly Festival was quite possibly the best of the summer, and the incredibly well organized (and Metallica curated) Orion Music + More Festival both prove that you don’t need to stick to any of the major mainstays to have a great weekend of music. Closing out the festival season with its second year back from hiatus was late September’s Music Midtown. Though once a popular stop on the festival circuit in the early 2000’s, it took a couple years off and resumed as a one-day test run of sorts last year. It was successful enough not only to warrant another go this year, but to spread it to two days. Booking two major headlining acts like Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters no doubt helped too. Add to that hometown and down south rap legends like T.I. and Ludacris, and it seemed impossible for Music Midtown to be anything other than a rousing success.

With a rather short first day (the first act came on at 4 pm), there wasn’t the lull that sometimes comes with the early acts. Though they do tend to be some of the most underrated ones on the bill, Music Midtown instead decided to jump headfirst into the deep end of the pool on day 1, with T.I., Avett Brothers, and Foo Fighters all crammed into one night.

Though Van Hunt and Joan Jett had each played their respective sets, the crowd didn’t really seem to ignite until T.I. took the stage. A hometown hero at this point in his career, he came out with one of his most popular (and earliest songs) ‘Rubberband Man.’ At this point the crowd had swelled to its largest size of the day, reaching as far back as the hill a mere few feet away from the entrance. Though that may be more of a statement about the size of the park itself, it was clear that T.I. was the first act of the day to have a real pull. He then went into his smash hits, ‘Whatever You Like,’ ‘What You Know,’ and ‘Live Your Life,’ which all got the teeming crowd from as close as the front to as secluded as the VIP area dancing wildly.

Just minutes after T.I.’s set ended, The Avett Brothers kicked into their performance on the second stage. Though they definitely had a dedicated crowd already waiting for them, the short lapse in time between sets didn’t really allow for T.I.’s entire crowd to find their way over too quickly. But those that were there obviously had come solely for The Avett Brothers. With their old-school-bluegrass-meets-modern-rock sound, they bridged a gap between straight country and alternative rock fans. Equal parts Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys; though The Avett Brothers have been around longer than either of those two bands, their sound definitely found a home with such a southern crowd. A rock/bluegrass act following a rapper may not seem like a formula for success, but Atlanta’s well-known diverse musical tastes allowed for both artists to receive a lot of love from the crowd.

Soon enough night had fully come and it was time for Foo Fighters to take the stage. At this point, Piedmont Park had become a seemingly endless sea of people, with the crowd spilling over almost into the second stage. Festivals stalwarts at this point in their careers, Foo Fighters came out of the gate with one of their newest, heaviest, and best songs in ‘White Limo.’ It’s a literal screamer of a track that announces their presence in the very best way possible. Shrieking vocals, ear splitting guitar riffs, and thundering drum beats, it’s possibly the only way to open a Foo Fighters show. With an almost endless amount of hits, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t know a single song in the set list. Famous for their marathon shows and passion for playing as long as possible, Dave Grohl kept the banter to a minimum. “Do you guys want me to talk or do you wanna hear us play some fucking songs? Because they only let us play two hours, and we came here to play some fucking songs!” The crowd’s roar of approval was met with a string of some of their biggest hits, ‘All My Life,’ ‘Rope,’ ‘The Pretender,’ ‘My Hero,’ and ‘Learn to Fly’ all came out in a row. Most bands would be hard pressed to find that many hits in an entire set, let alone in the first half hour. They also found time to work in some of their new material, though Wasting Light is about a year old at this point, it really speaks to the quality of the album to see the non-singles still in heavy rotation. After ‘Walk,’ Grohl introduced his band, giving each member a moment to show off their skills, which built up into a full on jam session, which quickly turned into a Van Halen cover. After the crowd realized that they were actually playing ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Grohl stopped, warning the crowd, “you don’t want us to start playing covers, man, we’ll be here all fucking night!” and then proceeded to give the crowd the rest of the song. Their older material was by no means ignored either, with ‘This Is a Call,’ ‘Hey Johnny Park!’ and the Taylor Hawkins lead vocal track, ‘Cold Day in the Sun.’ After a great cover of Pink Floyd’s In the Flesh, they resumed diving into their big catalogue of hits. ‘Best of You’ and ‘Times Like These’ both preceded a surprise guest appearance by Joan Jett for ‘Bad Reputation.’ Closing the set with their biggest hit, and possibly the greatest closing song in history, ‘Everlong’ had the crowd nearly drowning Grohl out completely. Of course a crowd sing-along to ‘Everlong’ isn’t the first or last time it’ll happen, it’s always a surreal moment to hear over 50,000 people all shouting the lyrics so such a legendary song in unison.

Day 2 started off a bit earlier, but as a whole was much more loaded with quality acts than Day 1. From the moment gates opened there was quality music to be found, as Atlanta natives O’Brother started off on the secondary stage. One of the loudest, heaviest, and head-bangingest (yes, that’s a new adjective) bands out there, O’Brother brings a whole new take on progressive rock. Sometimes ambient and other times a wall of screams, they’re able to use a bevy of sounds to warp and thrash their songs to life. Playing tracks off their stellar debut album, ‘Garden Window,’ they were hands-down the most underrated act on the bill. Tracks like ‘Lo’ and ‘Poison!’ sorted out the metal heads in the audience, as heads were quickly banging and if it weren’t for the early set time, one could easily imagine massive moshpits forming. They closed with the two part ‘Machines,’ which starts off like a punch to the face, then dips into a subtle throbbing before coming back with one of the best breakdowns and riffs in recent memory. If anyone left Music Midtown not a fan of O’Brother, they definitely did something wrong.

Up next on the main stage, was Civil Twilight. Hailing from South Africa, they’ve developed success quite well in the US, due to their unique sound. Sometimes piano rock, other times incredibly atmospheric, it always works. Their latest album Holy Weather saw a development of their sound, further venturing into a light electronic piano-rock territory. These songs sounded great live too, with ‘Fire Escape’ being a definite highlight of the set. Being the first act on the main stage, they roped in quite an audience and no doubt garnered that much stronger of a fan base.

Another big pull for the festival was Ludacris, another Atlanta grown southern rapper who had a myriad of fans awaiting his set. Playing with a live band (a rarity for the rapper), it definitely helped his sound. Rappers that utilize a live backing band sound that much better, as having an actual person play the parts instead of using a backing track is always the way to go. Though he seemed to lack the presence and energy that T.I. brought the day before, he had the crowd just as enthralled. With an eight album catalogue to pull from, Ludacris reached as far back as his very first hit with songs like ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ and ‘Southern Hospitality.’ Not only was the crowd into it, but backstage Civil Twilight’s Steven McKellar and Florence Welch could be seen dancing along too. His established collaborative work came into play too, as his popular songs with other artists made appearances too. And I’d be lying if I said hearing a crowd roar back the lyrics to ‘Move Bitch’ wasn’t one of the most entertaining things I saw all weekend. Ok maybe I did too.

Again with a rapid shift in genres, Neon Trees were up. The pop band has grown exponentially ever since their first album and continued it with the success of their second album, ‘Picture Show.’ Though a physical fireball of energy, the band seems to lack the musical punch on stage that most seem to have when performing live. The songs feel somehow lower, as if someone turned down the dial on the drums and guitar. Lead singer Tyler Glenn’s vocal work always impresses though, as he manages to belt out the lyrics while whirling around the stage like a spinning top gone rogue. Their earlier material is definitely lighter on the pop elements that seemed to have invaded Picture Show, so songs like ‘1984,’ Sins of My Youth,’ and ‘Animal’ came across much better than the newer tracks. Regardless, the crowd seemed to eat it up, yelling before ‘Animal’ even started and singing along to nearly every word to the catchy ‘Everybody Talks.’

Florence + The Machine were up next on the main stage, and though at first dealing with some technical difficulties, Flo’s charm kept the audience on her side and she continued into a very well received set. Her earth-mother vibes come out not only on the songs, but the way she carries herself, floating around the stage like a heavenly Poison Ivy. While it does get to be a bit much, not only her moves but the similarity of her songs, the crowd didn’t seem to care as her fans up front matched her energy with an almost alarming level of passion. Florence is most definitely a talented singer, but if you’re not a fan before seeing her live she isn’t one of those acts to change your mind upon seeing her perform.

Closing out the festival was Pearl Jam. Their reputation for being one of the hardest working and best live acts out there precedes them, and they somehow managed to eclipse it. Lots of bands were popular in the 90’s, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s still as respected, loved, and downright rocking as Pearl Jam is. They’re one of those bands that live for their hardcore fans, evidence of this by the unparalleled amount of diversity in their set lists. People see them countless times and very rarely ever see the same show twice. While this is a bonus for hardcore fans, they run the risk of alienating the more casual audience members, especially at a festival. But that wasn’t the case at Music Midtown. They had a perfect mix of hits and b-sides, and speaking from the standpoint of somewhere in between a casual and hardcore fan, it wasn’t remotely boring even for a second. ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town,’ ‘Better Man,’ ‘Do the Evolution,’ and ‘Even Flow’ made early appearances in the set and had the swelling crowd in a trance. Being able to hear songs like ‘Alive’ and ‘Black,’ ones that are so famous it gives that immediate giddy sensation of “hey, hey it’s THIS song!” is truly something special. Pearl Jam showed why they’re such a respected live band and why they were chosen as the anchor for Music Midtown. Plus hearing ‘Jeremy’ live is finally something I get to check off my concert bucket list.

All photos courtesy of Matt Arena

23 Sep

Oxford, Mississippi’s Young Buffalo have announced their new self-titled EP will be available on October 9th, 2012 in the US and November 5th, 2012 in the UK. The highly anticipated EP, which will be released onVotiv, has been picking up momentum amongst the world of indie rock tastemakers as the free download of the EP track “Nature Boy” has been making its way across the blogosphere. The band has also announced the EP artwork (included above) and the track listing for the EP:

1) Baby Demons
2) Hold Me Back
3) Upstairs
4) Nature Boy
5) The Prize

This EP highlights the mature mindset with which the band approached the recording process this time around. The band is a more cohesive unit than at any point in their career, and they are genuinely happy playing music together. When asked how the recording of this EP has changed his view of the band’s
future, Barrett offered this statement: “Two years ago I would’ve answered like ‘we’re going to win Grammys and tour the world. Now thats just bullshit. I just want to be able to tour and make records, anything else is a bonus. I just want an excuse not to be a caterer full time”.

This EP will serve as a rebirth of sorts for the band, and with the quality it exudes; their patient approach in getting to this point seems well worth the wait. Make sure to check them out on select dates this fall, and stay tuned for more details as we get closer to release date!

Tour Dates:

9/26 – St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird^^
9/28 – Chicago, IL @ Abbey Pub
9/29 – Decatur, IL @ Bounce Fest (Milikin University)
9/30 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry**
10/2 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive**
10/3 – Albuquerque, NM @ Low Spirits
10/5 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues San Diego**
10/6 – Los Angeles, CA @ Culture Collide Festival
10/7 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord**
10/9 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studio**
10/10 – Vancouver, BC @ Electric Owl**
10/11 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern**

^^ – Denotes dates with White Arrows
** – Denotes dates with Admiral Fallow


18 Sep

Founders Entertainment is thrilled to announce the dates for the 2013 Governors Ball Music Festival. The 3rd annual installment of the successful New York City festival will take place Saturday, June 8th and Sunday, June 9th in beautiful Randall’s Island Park, and feature the best in indie, hip-hop, electronic music, rock, pop, and more. Governors Ball will continue to build upon the incredible success of the past two years, incorporating additional performance areas to the festival grounds, expanding the scope and strength of the line up, and adding to and improving existing attractions and activities including art installations, games, gourmet food trucks, craft beer, wine vendors, and much more. Founders Entertainment is committed to presenting Governors Ball audiences with the very best a music festival has to offer, and looks forward to the 2013 festival.

In its sophomore year Governors Ball made the jump from a one to two day festival, further cementing its place as the preeminent music festival in New York City, and one of the premier music events in the North Eastern United States. With both 2-day General Admission and VIP tickets sold out, energetic crowds poured into the grounds each day to enjoy amazing food, craft beer, art installations, fun activities, and an incredible lineup of musicians including Beck, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse, Explosions In The Sky, Duck Sauce, Chromeo, Atmosphere, and more.