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Explosions In The Sky | The Audio Perv
Posts Tagged ‘Explosions In The Sky’
10 May

Live now at EXPLOSIONSINTHESKY.com is the third ever video from Explosions In The Sky for “Postcard From 1952″ from their fifth studio album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care released on Temporary Residence Ltd. Directed by Annie Gunn and Peter Simonite, “Postcard From 1952″ employs yet another cinematically expansive track from Take Care, Take Cate, Take Care as the perfect complement to an indelible visual experience. Gunn and Simonite re-create a series of vintage Polaroid moments with painstaking care to every detail from vintage styling to flash cube lighting for a trip back in time that explores moments before and after these memory fragments were captured.

Joining Explosions in the Sky on their recently announced U.S. tour dates will once again be their Temporary Residence label mates Zammuto. Zammuto is the new project of Nick Zammuto, half of highly acclaimed collage-duo The Books. The upcoming dates include headline shows at such prestigious venues as the Chicago Theater in Chicago and Nashville’s revered Ryman Auditorium, in addition to appearances at the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington and the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island in New York City.

On Tour 2012

5/25/2012 – George WA – Sasquatch Music Festival
6/17/2012 – Houston TX – Warehouse Live
6/18/2012 – Mobile AL – Soul Kitchen Music Hall
6/19/2012 – Tampa FL – The Ritz Ybor
6/20/2012 – Miami FL – Grand Central
6/21/2012 – Athens GA – The Georgia Theatre
6/22/2012 – Charlottesville VA – Jefferson Theater
6/24/2012 – Randall’s Island New York NY – Governors Ball Music Festival
6/25/2012 – Morgantown WV – 123 Pleasant St.
6/26/2012 – Chicago IL – Chicago Theatre
6/27/2012 – Nashville TN – Ryman Auditorium

01 May

Explosions In The Sky have confirmed a victory lap of June U.S. dates rounding out the extremely successful touring campaign that kicked off around the April 26, 2011 release of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care… on Temporary Residence Ltd.

The new shows include headline appearances at prestigious venues including a long awaited return to Nashville for the band’s first ever Ryman Auditorium show–rounding out a 2011-2012 itinerary that has included Explosions’ biggest ever headline dates–from New York’s Radio City Music Hall to London’s Brixton Academy–as well as a debut performance on The Late Show With David Letterman.

Pre-sales for the new dates begin Wednesday, May 2nd at 10am CST with general on-sales commencing this weekend. More specific details will be posted at explosionsinthesky.com as they are confirmed.

On Tour 2012

5/25/2012 – George WA – Sasquatch Music Festival
6/17/2012 – Houston TX – Warehouse Live
6/18/2012 – Mobile AL – Soul Kitchen Music Hall
6/19/2012 – Tampa FL – The Ritz Ybor
6/20/2012 – Miami FL – Grand Central
6/21/2012 – Athens GA – The Georgia Theatre
6/22/2012 – Charlottesville VA – Jefferson Theater
6/24/2012 – Randall’s Island New York NY – Governors Ball Music Festival
6/25/2012 – Morgantown WV – 123 Pleasant St.
6/26/2012 – Chicago IL – Chicago Theatre
6/27/2012 – Nashville TN – Ryman Auditorium

20 Apr

By Ace Ubas

My favorite part about Coachella isn’t the festival itself, but rather “Localchella” – the concerts that happen before or after the festival in Southern California. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of large crowds and the ridiculous desert heat, but I digress. What Localchella brings is not only compensation to those who missed out (or refuse to) on buying weekend passes, but also to see the bands in a more intimate setting.

Wednesday night brought Austin-based quartet Explosions in the Sky to the Glasshouse in Pomona in front of a sold-out crowd. As an instrumental rock band, it might be a bit difficult to engage the audience because of the lack of vocals. But as one of the more dynamic bands today, they prove why they don’t need lyrics or a vocalist. To get their message across, they do it through sheer musicianship and passion. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a narrative to share. In fact, the song titles and song structure pretty much do all the necessary storytelling.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to be engulfed in the music as Explosions in the Sky surprisingly opened with “Memorial” – a song that they typically play last. From the opening guitar note, the audience was immediately entranced as much as the band itself, swaying back-and-forth and bobbing their heads up-and-down.

The swirling guitars on “Catastrophe and the Cure” led into drummer Chris Hrasky’s cymbal crashes until guitarist Munaf Rayani puts down his guitar to pick-up a pair of drum sticks and add to the percussive rhythm. Just watching them visually is already hypnotizing as they move along to their own music. Throughout the whole night, their body language shows the amount of emotion and energy that they invest into their live set and it spills over into the audience.

Whether it’s the build-up of crescendos, the destructive climaxes, or the brief moments of silence, it really is a spectacle to see performer and audience in-sync with one another, establishing a really unique bond that isn’t witnessed at most shows.

The rest of their set consisted of a good balance of songs that span their catalog. On songs like “The Birth and Death of Day,” “Human Qualities,” and “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” display how the quieter sequences in the songs are powerful because regardless of how well you know the songs, they manage to catch you off-guard when it transitions into the louder peaks.

They ended their 10-song set with a trio of 10-minute long songs as Rayani and guitarists Mark Smith and Michael James created a non-stop barrage of guitar melodies that layered each other quite beautifully, resolving in what can simply be described as euphoria.

Seeing Explosions in the Sky in a live setting provides the perfect escape if all you want to do is just get lost in the music. Once they start to play, you’re immediately placed in some kind of fantastical world that you never want to leave.

Set list:
Catastrophe and the Cure
Last Known Surroundings
Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean
Be Comfortable, Creature
The Birth and Death of Day
Human Qualities
With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept
Let Me Back In
The Only Moment We Were Alone

07 Feb

Explosions In The Sky has followed up recent news of the band’s appearances at the Coachella and Sasquatch festivals with its first confirmed headline dates of the new year. The new shows expand on an itinerary that has included Explosions In The Sky’s biggest ever headline dates–from New York’s Radio City Music Hall to last month’s performance at London’s Brixton Academy–and a debut performance on The Late Show With David Letterman.

Explosions In The Sky’s triumphant return to the road will begin April 5 in Boulder, CO with dates running through to Sasquatch on May 25. Further shows will be announced as they are confirmed.

On Tour 2012

04/05/12 – Boulder, CO- Boulder Theater
04/06/12 – Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theater & Club
04/07/12 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
04/08/12 – Missoula, MT – Wilma Theater
04/11/12 – Eugene, OR- McDonald Theater
04/12/12 – Reno, NV – Knitting Factory
04/13/12 – Indio, CA – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
04/16/12 – San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts Theater
04/20/12 – Indio, CA – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
04/22/12 – Flagstaff, AZ- Orpheum Theater
04/24/12 – San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live
05/25/12 – George, WA – Sasquatch Music Festival

09 Sep

Explosions In The Sky has followed up its “space-tripping wonder” (WIRED) of a debut video “Last Known Surroundings” with its second ever clip, “Be Comfortable, Creature.” (watch it below or at explosionsinthesk.com

Directed by longtime EITS creative associate Paul Logan, “Be Comfortable, Creature” employs the emotional currents of the track from current album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care as backdrop to an utterly unique and supremely touching romantic fable built on bittersweet longing, alienation and physical transformation.

Director Logan explained that the genesis of the video’s concept came about as Explosions’ Munaf Rayani first played him the album: “Their music has always been evocative and there’s nothing better for me than to put on an Explosions record and daydream. I’ve written entire scripts inspired by one moment in an Explosions song. as i sat down and the record began my mind immediately raced away. Each song took me to another world and stirred up a number of ideas and feelings. Then track four came on (at the time there were no song titles), and I immediately saw this creature lost on Earth. As the song unfolded so did the story. I just watched it. It made me remember the fears of growing up, of feeling like an outcast in a small town, of being lonely, of wanting to be a kid again, and of being in love. A couple of months later a few friends and myself went out and over a month we filmed it. It’s homemade, personal, and like Explosions In The Sky, heartfelt.”

“Be Comfortable, Creature” stars Neil Maris and features Magali Pijpers, Esteban Rey and Penelope + Sylvia. It was created with help from Rey, Pijpers, Sarah Meraz, Martha O’harra, Mr. Manners, Tyler Frazier and David Hobizal.

Currently in the midst of a North American tour that concludes October 16 with the penultimate slot at this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco, Explosions In The Sky have just confirmed a December run of dates on Australia and New Zealand. The Australian dates go on sale September 14, New Zealand September 15.

On Tour

09/08/11 – Spokane, WA – Bing Crosby Theater
09/09/11 – Vancouver, BC – The Vogue Theatre *
09/10/11 – Portland, OR – Music Fest NW
09/11/11 – Boise, ID – Egyptian Theatre *
09/13/11 – Denver, CO – The Fillmore Auditorium *
09/14/11 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theatre *
09/15/11 – Marfa, TX – Vizcaino Park *
09/16/11 – Dallas, TX – AT&T Performing Arts Center – Strauss Square *
09/21/11 – Urbana, IL – Canopy Club
09/28/11 – New Orleans, LA – Tipitina’s ^
09/29/11 – Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle ^
09/30/11 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel ^
10/01/11 – Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live +
10/02/11 – Philadelphia, PA – Tower Theater +
10/03/11 – Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theatre +
10/05/11 – Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre +
10/06/11 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis Theatre ^
10/07/11 – Toronto, ON – Sound Academy ^
10/08/11 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre ^
10/10/11 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue ^
10/11/11 – Des Moines, IA – Val Air Ballroom ^
10/12/11 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theatre ^
10/13/11 – Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom ^
10/15/11 – Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl
11/04/11 – Madrid, SP – Anexa del Pabellon de Vistalegre **
11/05/11 – Zaragoza, SP – Sala Oasis **
11/06/11 – Barcelona, SP – Casino Alianca **
11/08/11 – Switzerland, Lausanne – Les Docks **
11/09/11 – Italy, Milan – Trezzo sull’Adda **
11/10/11 – Germany, Munchen – Theaterfabrik **
11/11/11 – Germany, Stuttgart, KA Longhorn **
11/14/11 – Sweden, Stockholm – Debaser Medis **
11/15/11 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega **
11/16 /11 – Groningen, NLD – Vera **
11/18/11 – Hasselt, BEL – MOD **
11/19/11 – Kortrijk, BEL – De Kreun **
11/20/11 – Bristol, UK – Academy **
12/08/11 – Melbourne, AUS – Forum Theatre
12/09-11/11 – Meredith, Victoria, AUS – Meredith Music Festival
12/11/11 – Sydney, AUS – Metro Theatre
12/13/11 – Brisbane, AUS – The Hi Fi
12/15/11 – Wellington, NZ – SFBH
12/16/11 – Auckland, NZ – King’s Arms
01/22/12 – Belfast – Mandela Hall
01/23/12 – Glasgow – o2 Academy
01/24/12 – Leeds – o2 Academy
01/25/12 – Gateshead – The Sage Gateshead
01/27/12 – London – Brixton Academy
01/30/12 – Paris – Casino de Paris

* Twin Sister supports
^ Wye Oak supports
+ The Antlers support
** The Drift supports

Be Comfortable Creature from Explosions in the Sky on Vimeo.

06 Sep

By Ace Ubas

In 1999, Austin-based friends Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith, Michael James, and Chris Hrasky (originally from Illinois) formed instrumental rock band, Explosions In The Sky. Since then, they’ve become one of the most influential bands in the post-rock genre along the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Ros.

This year has been another big year for them. They released their sixth album entitled Take Care, Take Care, Take Care and have been touring the United States and Europe since the beginning of the year, with numerous festivals along the way.

Last Saturday, they returned to Los Angeles and played FYF Fest (read our review including Explosion In The Sky’s set here.) But before their set, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris Hrasky for an interview.

Have you guys checked out any other bands on the festival so far?

We watched Twin Sister at noon because they’re opening for us on this tour so we thought we’d go out and support them. But other than that we’ve just been sitting on the bus. We’ll definitely watch some bands tonight.

Explosions In The Sky recorded the new album (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care) at the legendary Sonic Ranch. How did that come about?

We were talking to our engineer, John Congleton, and asked him “where would you want to record the new record? Where do you think is a good place to record?” He was like “without question this (Sonic Ranch) is my favorite studio in the country. I think it would be perfect for you guys.” We just kinda trusted him on that. We looked at pictures on the website and it looked great. It was fairly close to home; eight hours I guess. It was incredible, so it was all because of John Congleton.

The band was only in the recording studio for two weeks from what I understand.

Yeah we recorded for two weeks and then we mixed it in Austin for a week.

For most bands, that’s a really short amount of time. For you guys, it was actually the longest.

That was, by far, the longest. We scheduled two weeks and actually finished a day early, and went home. It was really nice! We would start at noon everyday and record until about nine at night. Normally when we record, we could cram it all in five days where it’s like we’re up at seven in the morning and go until two in the morning, killing ourselves. This was really relaxed, it was nice.

If it only takes two weeks to record an album, how long does it take to write a song?

Months. One thing we’ve always done is when we go into a studio, we’ve always gone in with finished songs. It’s never like “well, we’ll come up with something in the studio.” That’s just not a good way for us to do things. I don’t think it would work out very well, so we were always well-prepared when we go in. We took two weeks this time because we could afford the time and also there’s just a lot more stuff on this record, as opposed to just us playing live. We never write in the studio, it would be horrible. It would be the worst album of all time.

Your latest album is entitled Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. The repetition gives it a sense of loss. How do you guys come up with a theme for each album?

I don’t know, they just sort of fall into our laps. We’ll always be throwing title ideas back-and-forth to each other, and most of the time they’re like “that doesn’t feel right.” And then Mark (Smith), one of the guitar players, said “how about Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.” For all four of us, it just sort of clicked. There’s no real analysis of it either. It’s mostly junk and then every once in awhile, someone will come up with something that we like.

In choosing song titles, is there a certain order? Do you write songs and then come up with the title or do you come up with a title and base the music off that?

We’ve had both. Some where we’ve had a title and written a song around it. I think most of the time we have a song done, we kind of struggle and search around for a title, which somehow seems increasingly more difficult as we’ve gone along.

Trembling Hands, the first released song off the new album, is pretty different in terms of what most fans expect. It’s around three minutes in length. Was it originally that short?

No, the first part of it was part of another song that was really long, but we ultimately were like ‘it’s kind of dumb.’ We threw it out but we liked that first guitar line. I think we specifically said ‘let’s see if we can write something that’s really short.’ From the beginning, it’s sort of frenetic from the start to the finish; there’s none of the typical lows and highs. We went into it with that mindset after that point, but we tried to make it at least feel that there’s a lot going on in a short amount of time.

There are also vocal loops in the beginning of the song. Where did that idea come from?

I had actually come up with it where we were doing a demo of it, and then I was like ‘I could imagine little voices going off here. We demoed it and it seemed pretty cool. We sort of looked at it as just another instrument that we could use. It’s weird because I’m not even totally sure how I feel about that particular area of the song (laughs).

With that being said, do you plan on incorporating more of that into your songs?

I don’t know it’s hard to say. I could see the next record where we try to incorporate a lot of things we haven’t done, in the sense that it doesn’t get boring – that’s the fear with instrumental stuff. We’ve really tried with this record to make it feel different from anything else we’ve done. Some people have been ‘man, it feels totally different,’ and some people have said that it sounds like every other song we’ve ever written.

It’s really hard for me to imagine us in a position where we would actually add lyrics or a traditional song structure. I would say that’s probably not going to happen, but I don’t know. We’re trying to keep this going for the long haul (laughs).

You had your first ever music video this year for Last Known Surroundings. What made it the ideal song to make a music video for?

It was because our friends who did the video approached us, saying ‘for this song, we could do this awesome video. We have this cool idea…’ We had never done one before and we were kind of hesitant. It wasn’t like our manager came up to us with a video team. It was good friends of ours who happen to be talented and proposed it to us. We actually have another one that’s going to come out in a few days that another friend of ours made for Be Comfortable, Creature.

Earlier in the year, I saw you play at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. How was the experience playing in that kind of setting?

It was pretty awesome. We were nervous before we got there because we were like, ‘people aren’t going to be standing on any graves are they? Surely families wouldn’t allow that,’ but they said, ‘no, there’s an empty field.’ We got there late the night before and they said we could leave the bus there overnight. So we slept on the bus and walked around the cemetery at one in the morning. It was really amazing, peaceful, beautiful, and sort of creepy for a second, but we calmed down. We would like to try and play more shows like that – just weird or unique places.

When you play your songs, what normally goes through your mind?

All sorts of things – sometimes it’s nervousness about ‘oh, am I going to screw this part up’ if it’s a song that I find hard to play. Or if the crowd is really awesome, you’re just thinking about ‘OK, play harder now’ because you kind of feed off that energy. And sometimes it’s just like ‘I have some movies I rented from iTunes. Which one will I watch on the bus tonight?’ (laughs). Undeniably, that sometimes comes up. Most of the time it’s kind of just being exhausted though and trying to get through it, and finding the energy to keep going.

Do you ever visualize your own narrative to your songs?

Definitely, but not so much when we’re playing live. There’s just too much other stuff going on. I never really visualize narratives, but I can have images and stuff. I know that’s something that a lot people can do with our music and adapt it to their own little story. I feel lucky that people feel that way or respond that way.

On your upcoming tour, you have Wye Oak, The Antlers, The Octopus Project, Twin Sister, and a couple of shows with Arcade Fire, all of whom are my favorite bands.


Who’s responsible for choosing those bands?

We are ultimately. We’ll get suggestions for openers, but it’ll be bands that we like. Octopus Project, they’re really good friends of ours who are from Austin as well. Wye Oak and The Antlers are just bands that we liked and thought would make for an interesting show. I know that Octopus Project is an instrumental band, but they’re pretty different than we are. It’s not depressing or anything, it’s like fun and exciting.

We wouldn’t want to have another epic, instrumental rock band because I just think it’s boring. We try to have bands that somehow make sense playing with us, but different enough from us.

So I’m guessing a band like Metallica might come up in the future? (laughs)

We always talk about what huge bands would ask us to open them and if we would do it. If Metallica asked us, would we do it? If it was 1988 maybe, I don’t know if I could anymore.

Who’s a band today that you’d like to open for that you haven’t had a chance to?

Radiohead is a pretty obvious choice. The other bands that we’ve talked about though, are Arcade Fire and Flaming Lips. We’ve been able to tour with them, which was insane.

If you could have someone sing on your songs, who would you choose?

That’s a tough one. There’s so many sings, it depends on what we’re going for. Thom Yorke would be an obvious. I think Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) voice would go well with something we did. Bjork…I don’t know. All of the big ones, all the famous ones (laughs).

I’d be curious to see Damian from Fucked Up, just a total hardcore type of thing. That could be kind of interesting, just totally screaming. We’ve played festivals with them and man, I love that band and their new record.

Explosions In The Sky will be embarking on another national tour until October with bands such as Twin Sister, Wye Oak, The Antlers, and a stop at San Francisco’s Treasure Island Music Festival before they tour Europe that runs through the end of January.

Many thanks go out to Nasty Little Man and publicist Dana West for setting up the interview and providing me the opportunity for speaking to one of my favorite bands.


06 Sep

FYF Fest took place this Saturday to Los Angeles State Historic Park. We sent our writer Ace Ubas and photographer Robert Vega out to cover it. Take a few minutes to read about the awesome festival that you missed (or relive it if you were there!)

Twin Sister (Raphael’s Stage: 12:30-1:00)

I began the festival with the Long Island-based quintet Twin Sister. With an acclaimed EP Color Your Life and an upcoming album entitled In Heaven, vocalist Andrea Estella, keyboardist Dev Gupta, guitarist/vocalist Eric Cardona, bassist Gabe D’Amico, and drummer Brian Ujueta look to have 2011 be the biggest year in their young career. They opened their set with “Lady Daydream” that gave off a splash of New Wave nostalgia while “All Around” and “Away We Go” and the lead-single from the new album, Bad Street, were examples of a disco/dream-pop cocktail that got the audience instantly buzzed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for their entire set. But whatever drink they’re mixing, I won’t hesitate to gulp it down.

Mister Heavenly (Leonardo’s Stage: 1:35-2:10)

While checking out the festival grounds, I stumbled upon Mister Heavenly in the middle of their set. With members from Man Man (Honus Honus), Islands (Nicholas Thorburn), and Modest Mouse (Joe Plummer) (sorry guys, no Michael Cera on bass this time around), you can call this a supergroup. I managed to catch a bit of their set as they played songs from their debut album Out of Love. Self-described as “doom-wop,” they blend simple song structures with emotional, dark lyrics that shows influences in different genres. “I Am a Hologram” is an upbeat, piano-driven tune while “Charlyne” is a bit more psychedelic. Even though “Reggae Pie” is a ridiculous name for a song, the rhythm section was crisp and tight.

Cass McCombs (Raphael’s Stage: 2:25-3:00)

I caught Cass McCombs for a bit, where most of his set consisted of new songs and…well, newer songs with some of his earlier work sprinkled into his set. He released Wit’s End back in April, and now he’s set to release his second album this year entitled Humor Risk. There’s a noticeable difference between his older songs and newer songs. “Harmonia” presented more of McCombs’ psychedelic side. The new songs such as “Angel Blood” and “The Same Thing” from the upcoming album seem to his most upbeat, hinting that the new album may be a bit different than his previous work.

Ty Segall (Michelangelo’s Stage: 2:50-3:25)

Ty Segall is a name that plenty of friends have told me to check out. This was my chance to check out what he was all about and he definitely didn’t disappoint. He brought tons of energy and the crowd responded the same way. With songs like “Goodbye Bread,” “Imaginary Person,” and his love song, “Girlfriend,” Segall simply plays raw, gritty, garage rock that got the crowd to mosh in the middle of the flying dust. There was never a moment in his set where he slowed down; he full-on rocked.

Future Islands (Splinter’s Den: 3:45-4:15)

I went into the ridiculously hot, barely ventilated Splinter’s Den to check out Baltimore’s self-proclaimed “post-wave” band, Future Islands. The majority of their set consisted of songs from their upcoming third album On the Water (due on October 11 via Thrill Jockey). New song “Grease” was slow in pace that gave it a dark and brooding tone. Before the Bridge was the more ‘dancier’ song of the set, as vocalist Samuel Herring slapped his face multiple times, fueling more adrenaline into himself. “Tin Man” and “Walking Through That Door” from their acclaimed album In Evening Air garnered the loudest cheers. Herring’s intense passion and emotional energy was infectious as it spread throughout everyone in attendance. But last song “Vireo’s Eye” was where it turned into one massive dance party as fans jumped on stage (including one dressed as Waldo), engulfing the band. Bassist William Cashion brought thick, pulsating rhythms and keyboardist Gerrit Welmers played mesmerizing synth chords as he seemed unfazed by what was going on around him and getting lost in his own music.

Cults (Leonardo’s Stage: 4:40-5:20)

Within the past year, New York-duo Cults has generated plenty of buzz due to their well-received debut album and retro pop sound. Vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion arrived two hours before their set from London, leaving some of their gear at the airport. But that didn’t stop them from charming the Los Angeles crowd. Like their album, they opened with “Abducted” as they immediately hooked the audience in with its hooks and catchy melodies. “The Curse” was one of their slower songs, but that didn’t stop “Oblivion” from adding some psychedelic fuzz on this guitar. Follin’s dreamy vocals and the funky bass lines made up the 50s/60s-pop number “Never Heal Myself,” while “Most Wanted” was an endearing piano ballad. Towards the end of their set, they sent a bit of through the crowd with the soulful “Go Outside” (arguably their biggest hit) that featured the catchy glockenspiel intro, Follin’s beautiful, wide-range singing, and a guitar solo from “Oblivion.” Their buzz is well-deserved.

No Age (Michelangelo’s Stage: 6:00-6:40)

I managed to catch the end of No Age’s set and just like Ty Segall, the duo of vocalist/drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall brought their garage/punk sound back home. “Inflorescence” had skillful guitar work, leading to the barreling and distortion filled “Fever Dreaming.” “Depletion” was more on the punk side of things with catchy melodies and precision drumming. The guitar-feedback loop on “Eraser” was a bit hypnotic, but that didn’t stop fans from crowd surfing. From the looks of it, No Age still wears the lo-fi crown – in Los Angeles at least.

Broken Social Scene (Leonardo’s Stage: 7:05-7:55)

Led by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, the Canadian collective were back in Los Angeles, but for those that missed them at FYF won’t be able to see them for awhile as they stated that they’ll be taking a break. They played all the right songs to make fans remember them by until the next time they come back around. They opened up with an instrumental intro that led into “Cause=Times.” “Texico Bitches” off their new album Forgiveness Rock Record, which was a nice sing-along song that most of the crowd enjoyed. Unfortunately on “7/4 (Shoreline),” Leslie Feist didn’t come out to sing her part on the song, despite playing a secret show in L.A. the night before. The beautiful and big-haired Lisa Lobsinger took over the vocal duties as she sang in a relaxed-yet-graceful manner that captured everyone’s eyes and ears. They ended their set with the 10-minute long sporadic epic “It’s All Gonna Break” off their self-titled album. Unlike the album, the song was raw and dynamic in a live setting. Theatrical in structure each section of the song was different and had different highlights that came together in the end. The horns practically had a jam session while the guitarists played sweeping riffs that landed them on the floor. Hopefully the people that missed their set have the patience to wait who-knows-how-long until they come back.

YACHT (Raphael’s Stage: 7:50-8:35)

Portland/Los Angeles/Marfa duo YACHT are one of the more visually and musically appealing and pleasing acts today. Per usual, Jona Bechtolt was clad in his black tuxedo with musical partner Claire Evans in an elegant, contrasting white dress with a video projection shown behind them, highlighted by their signature triangle symbol. With summer coming down to a close, it was only appropriate they pay homage to a wonderful season with the bouncy “Summer Song.” One of the reasons I’m in love with Claire is her love for science fiction, as she asked the crowd if they believed in aliens. This led to “Beam Me Up,” where punk-beats mingle with 80s pop synth-chords that would make LCD Soundsystem grin. They immediately went into the Jona-led “I Walked Alone” that featured a guitar solo.

At this point, Jona and Claire did an about me section where they showed where they were from and introduced the rest of the band: Jeff Jerusalem (guitar), Katy Davidson (guitar/keyboards/back-up vocals), and Bobby Birdman (drums). They even threw in a quick Q & A with the crowd. They’re one of the few bands that break the barrier between performer and audience, and it makes them enjoyable.

They played a cover of the B52s “Mesopotamia,” where Claire and Katy did their best to parallel Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider. They ended the set in dichotomous fashion with “Dystopia” and “Utopia,” where Claire climbed up the speakers and sprawled herself across the top. YACHT isn’t a band that can be heard. They MUST be seen.

Guided by Voices (Leonardo’s Stage: 8:20-9:15)

Is it hard to be surprised by Guided by Voices? Yes, I know they’re legends in the indie world, but I’ll admit that I don’t listen to them as much as I should. In fact, I’ve only listened to a couple of songs in their catalog. In an earlier piece, I put them down as one of the bands that are a must see at FYF. Of course I followed my own recommendation and when I did, I walked away surprised.

My friend didn’t like what he heard, but GbV’s set seemed fresh-yet-raw – as if they haven’t gone anywhere. Opening with “Local H-Smothered in Hugs,” Robert Pollard and company showed they haven’t lost a step. And after playing hits like “Asia,” “Hot Freaks,” “Expecting Brainchild,” “Kicker of Elves,” “Exit Flagger,” “I Am a Scientist,” and “Some Drilling Implied,” there’s a reason why they belong at the top. Pollard hit every note, Kevin Fennel’s drumming was on-point, bassist Greg Demos’ tight rhythm, and the guitar duo of Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell played crisp, powerful riffs. There really isn’t much you can ask for from this band other than keep playing.

Descendents (Leonardo’s Stage: 9:40-10:40)

When walking around the dust-filled park, it’s pretty on-the-nose to know who the majority wants to see. I never really got into the punk genre, but when you have a legendary punk band reuniting in their hometown, I’d be an idiot for missing their set. When the first note of the song Descendents was played, the violent mosh pit and frenetic crowd surfing began. I should point out that the crowd mainly consisted of people that weren’t even born when the Descendents started, but it was fun to see a wide age-range to get excited and bloody for the band.

With ONLY an hour to play, the punk legends raced through 24 songs that included “My Dad Sucks,” “Silly Girl,” “Coffee Mug,” “I Like Food,” “Pervert,” “Suburban Homes,” “Sour Grapes,” and closer “I’m Not a Loser.” There was also a moment where vocalist Milo Aukerman brought kids out to the stage and had them repeat a series of “commandments,” symbolizing that punk isn’t defined by age, but rather a mindset. The Descendents showed they’re ageless and displayed their prowess for pure punk rock.

Explosions in the Sky (Donatello’s Stage 10:45-11:40)

Austin-based quartet Explosions in the Sky brought a bit of diversity as the only vocalist-less band on the bill that isn’t electronic-based. Guitarists Mark Smith, Michael James, Munaf Rayani, drummer Chris Hrasky, and touring bassist Carlos Torres form a no-nonsense band that lets their music speak for themselves behind innovative musicianship. Their music is structured like a story: exposition, rising action, climax, resolution. But what makes their live set an experience is that the audience gets to create their own narrative within the confines of the music.

The time and setting couldn’t have been anymore perfect for them to take the stage with the bright lights of Downtown Los Angeles shining through off to the side.

Opening with “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” the marching percussion intertwined with the three layers of simple guitar lines, forming multiple peaks and valleys only to crash as loud as it could in the end. “The Catastrophe and the Cure” comes out full-force in the beginning with swirling guitars and crashing cymbals. It hits a steady rhythm in the middle until Rayani puts down his guitar in exchange for a pair of drum sticks as he pounds the snare in front of Hrasky’s drum set, adding another layer of pounding percussion. “Postcard from 1952″ from their latest album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care and “The Birth and Death of Day” showed how shifting melodies accompanied by hefty bass-lines and precise and effortless drumming can build-up beautifully, leading up to a euphoric crescendo. Set finale “Let Me Back In” featured slurred vocal loops, echoing guitars that mirrored the sound of howling ghosts, and reverberated and hollow drums blended together to create an eerie mood that crept towards the chaotic climax as midnight approached.

Having seen this band multiple times, it’s always incredible to see a band that plays music that they themselves get lost in. Whether it’s Rayani’s body movement that flows with the music and pounding the floor with a tambourine to James’ swaying back and forth, this band will create a world of its own for both performer and audience. Describing this performance in words is never enough. They need to be witnessed live to fully understand their music because it is its own experience. I’m pretty sure there’s some band that I missed that went on at the same time as Explosions in the Sky. I think the band had something to do with dance-punk and the year 1979. Oh well.

30 Aug

By Ace Ubas

The best thing about the summer is the mélange of music festivals that take place around the world. Unfortunately, the season is winding down to a close. But worry not, folks! Taking place this Saturday September 3rd at the L.A. State Historic Park in Downtown Los Angeles, FYF Fest is going to make sure that everyone’s summer ends with a loud bang.

Festival founder Sean Carnage has watched his musical offspring grow bigger and better each year since its incarnation eight years ago when he was only 18. Last year, however, wasn’t without its flaws. Many people complained about the ridiculous prices for food and drinks as well as their accessibility (they ran out of water!), the minimal entrances leading to long lines, and the amount of dust in the air.

This year, they addressed those concerns with “bringing in more water fountains, multiple water carts, double the amount of food stands and vendors, increasing the amount of entrances, and investing in wood chips that will keep the dirt from coming up into the air” on their site (www.fyffest.com). The promoters are definitely making sure that everyone’s weekend is safe and fun-filled.

With that being said, I’ve broken down this preview by the stages and the two acts that you must see on each stage. Speaking of the stages, the promoters asked fans for their ideas on naming the stages. They ended up choosing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the theme: Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo (what, no love for Casey Jones or April O’Neil?).

Anyway, cowabunga dudes. Here’s my preview for FYF Fest:

Raphael’s Stage

Cass McCombs (2:25 PM-3:00 PM)

I’ll admit that up until a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t listened to Cass McCombs. I listened to his last two albums, Catacombs and Wit’s End, and came to the conclusion that he’s created some of the most entrancing music that I’ve heard. I’ve seen him described as a folk musician, but doing so is somewhat of a disservice. His lyrics are emotionally powerful and in terms of instrumentation, he manages to strip them down to its core. Combine the two factors together, and it results in some of the creepiest, hauntingly hypnotic music I’ve heard.

Cass McCombs – The Same Thing by DominoRecordCo

YACHT (7:50 PM-8:35 PM)

When I saw the Portland-based YACHT two years ago, not only did they put on a great show musically, they put on a great visual show as well. Whether it’s their quirky, signature dance style, dressing dapper and chic in contrasting colors, or even giving away their home address through a projector, Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans never fail to please. Expect the electro/dance duo (along with a live backing band) to play some new tunes off their latest release Shangri-La.

YACHT – The Afterlife by The Triangle Boy

16 Aug

For our final day of coverage of Lollapalooza, our writer Michael Zonenashvili would have to make the most difficult decision of the weekend: Foo Fighters or Deadmau5? Find out which he chose below. (Photos courtesy of Lollapalooza Flickr page)

The Joy Formidable:

The Joy Formidable by Matt Ellis

The best set that could possibly happen so early in the morning. The UK’s Joy Formidable could play the extended outro of “Whirring” as an entire set and I’d be more than fine with it. What preceded that closing song, was a quick slew of songs from the thunderous album “The Big Roar.” The crowd clapped along without any prompt from the band, only encouragement after already starting, Ritzy Bryan saying, “Fuck yeah! Keep doing that.” Massive double kick drums, all the bass strings hit at once, and Ritzy’s army of guitars compact into one made it the loudest non-headlining show of the weekend. I always like to consider Ritzy Bryan to be the My Bloody Valentine incarnate that’s actually listenable/discernible. But yeah, back to that outro. A ten minute extended version of “Whirring” concluded the set, complete with Ritzy and crew thrashing their instruments, meddling with pedals, and Ritzy smashing a guitar into a gong. A perfect wake up call.

Noah and The Whale:

Noah & The Whale by Matt Ellis

I came to the stage expecting a cheery, ukulele ridden, completely inappropriate for a main stage set. Only one of those rang true. Being clad in matching suits was not the only thing that made Noah and the Whale seem like they were trying to be The National. New songs were droney and little too post-breakup to keep the crowd interested. The violin that cut through all their album tunes shifted from whimsical to eerie, and the songs as grey as the suits. A ukulele wasn’t the only thing missing from the most anticipated track, “Five Years Time.” Replaced with a guitar, and stripped of all charm, the song had me(and seemingly others) completely disengaged. Perhaps they would’ve just been better suited for the stage in the shade.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. hasn’t given up their shtick. They still came out in racing suits, only to strip them off before starting to play – it is hot, after all. I hadn’t yet seen them post-album release, but a little did change. Even more tight on the harmonies, on point with dynamics, and with no decrease in enthusiasm. Even stage banter was inspired and sincere, balancing between cheesy cuteness and festival-y togetherness. My only complaint is that they traded their cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” for a Celine Dion one. Probably not a career defining move, but it’s not too late to go back.

The Cars:
The Cars by Steve Wrubel

“I should learn how to play that one.” murmured Ric Ocasek following the career defining “Just What I Needed.” Even he knew something was up, and that’s what made the set a little disappointing. Compared to last year’s “legacy” act, Devo, The Cars made me feel old and dated themselves as well. Can’t blame it on being tired of old tunes; even new songs from “Move Like This” lacked enthusiasm and volume. The audience awkwardly bobbed to “My Best Friend’s Girl” as I sat on a hill and feared the impending storm.

Arctic Monkeys:
Arctic Monkeys by Jack Edinger

Delayed by thirty minutes due to the second strongest storm of the weekend, the Arctic Monkeys refrained from making too many jokes about the weather and got straight to the music. It was a shame that after every song I’d have to actively hope that the next one wasn’t from “Humbug,” but songs from “Suck It And See” melded well with old tracks, and the band luckily got a 45 minute set instead of being cut down to 30 by the storm. Just enough time to appease the crowd with songs like “Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and “When the Sun Goes Down” that were significantly more enthused and energized than when played on the “Humbug” tour. Maybe all Alex needed was a haircut, but whatever it was, the band is starting to get their groove back.

Explosions in the Sky:
Explosions in the Sky by Dave Mead

Every time, Explosions in the Sky is a completely cathartic experience without even needing lyrics. Perfect buildups to even better payoffs riddle their extremely precise set. An artistic approach to volume and crescendo establishes the band as one deserving of their almost religious following. Perhaps there were only previous fans at the stage, others walking by to see the Foo Fighters and wondering “why aren’t they singing yet?” but those fans were into it. The crowd would be at Explosions’ side until the rain washed the set away, and the Foos started to blast across the park.

Deadmau5 by Matt Ellis

I passed up seeing a stadium rock band to see a DJ I hate. Was it worth it? Completely. After the brief, torrential storm that turned any blade of grass left on Grant Park into mud, we had all potentially garnered pneumonia but had made it to the North Stage. Upon passing the hill to the stage, we had the first glimpse at Deadmau5′s massive production. His famed Cube setup was bolstered by more lights and crazy rigging, and apparently that was only about half the setup that was allowed with the weather. The Deadmau5 set had an entire field dancing and jumping in mud, and I guess something converted me. Seeing everyone in a field lose their collective shit regardless of being covered in god knows what was exciting. Even the remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was tasteful, a nice nod to the band that everyone hopes will headline Lolla with each announcement released.

Deadmau5 was able to convince thousands of people to opt out of returning to their hotel to shower, in favor of being dirty and listening to some great beat drops accompanied with great lighting and design. And fine, I don’t hate him, “Ghosts n Stuff” is a pretty fun one, I admit.

09 Aug

Explosions In The Sky at Lollapalooza. Do we need to say more?