This past weekend, I headed to San Pedro’s waterfront to watch two whole days of live music. Although I’ve been to a few major festivals this year including Desert Daze and Music Tastes Good, I was most excited for this lineup, mainly to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the B-52’s, Beach Fossils, Cigarettes After Sex and some of my favorite smaller acts like the Paranoyds, Billy Changer, and La Luz. I was also excited to re-live my high school punk days by catching FEAR and Bad Brains. Continue reading
There was literally something for everyone at this year’s Music Tastes Good Festival at the Marina Green Park in Long Beach, CA. Dance/EDM? Check. Hip-Hop? Check. Indie Rock? Check. Dad Rock? Check.
Long Beach pride simply ran through this festival. From the local chefs and restaurants to the liberal use of “what up, Long Beach!” to hype up the crowd, it was clear that people were both surprised and delighted to be there. Continue reading
It had been so long since I’d been to the Hollywood Bowl I’d forgotten just what a magical place it could be. I didn’t need to think twice, however, when I had the opportunity to snag a ticket to see two incredible bands: Beach House and Fleet Foxes.
Beach House I had seen a few times before, so I was already prepared to be blown away by them once again. I was excited to also catch my first live Fleet Foxes show because Robin Pecknold & Co. are musical geniuses.
I arrived early before the sun went down to have a picnic with friends overlooking the city. The show started promptly at 7:45 with Beach House as the opening act. They were backlit during the entire performance, their classic starlit backdrop sparkling on early in the set. They started with “Levitation,” allowing the music to start on a soft note. Singer Victoria Legrand hid behind her hair, singing softly at first, but exposing her full range later in the set. While they’re usual set ending song, “Elegy to the Void” wasn’t quite as dramatic in the open space, it’s still one of my favorites to see live. They also played “Chariot” from their latest B-Sides and Rarities release. This time they ended the set with “Myth,” the first track on Bloom, which was just as fitting to close the set. Legrand rarely spoke to the audience, but when she did it was about love, gratitude and appreciation for being able to perform again with Fleet Foxes.
After Beach House’s hour-long set, Fleet Foxes took the stage. Robin Pecknold’s voice was solid throughout the set, and the harmonies were simply magnificent as well. They really played up the dynamic contrasts, utilizing the Bowl’s full capacity, ranging from belting to whispering from dramatic effect. While they played many songs I recognized like “Ragged Wood” and “Mykonos,” I was blown away by several of their newer, more epic-scale tracks I had not yet heard. “On Another Ocean (January / June)” started off delicately and then went into an indie rock beat. While it was one of the more straightforward tracks in a set laden with tempo and time changes, it was stunning. Another breathtaking performance was of “The Shrine / An Argument,” an 8 minute track that featured an angsty Pecknold melody and built up into a cymbal-crashing, driving chorus. It was one of those sets that was welcomingly long. And just like that the night was over, and we were forced to come to terms that each of our cars were blocked in as we ventured down the hill to our cars.
Beach House set list:
10 Mile Stereo
Elegy to the Void
Fleet Foxes set list:
I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
Cassius, – Naiads, Cassadies
On Another Ocean (January / June)
He Doesn’t Know Why
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
White Winter Hymnal
Third of May / Ōdaigahara
The Shrine / An Argument
Blue Ridge Mountains
Blues Run the Game(Jackson C. Frank cover)
Set lists from http://www.setlist.fm, Photo from Sub Pop
Iowa-Based Bedroom Pop artist Jen Gloeckner released VINE just earlier this year, and the result is hauntingly stunning. The bedroom-recorded dream-pop album, released on Spinning Head Records, evokes hypnotic, reflective emotions.
The album opens with “Vine,” setting the mood with harp-like synth minor arpeggios and dark atmospheric sounds. Gloeckner’s vocals echo in a simple, eerie melody in which she declares she’s “all right without your love.” “Firefly” swells in a trance-inducing instrumental soundscape. “Breathe” is dreamy yet danceable with an industrial hypnotic vibe. What makes this track stand out is the avant-garde instrumentation — some electronic strings wail just before the halfway point of the song, and the “ahs” in the chorus pair perfectly with the rhythm of the synths. “Ginger Ale” could be straight out of Lana Del Rey’s repertoire with drooping vocals set to an ethereal backdrop. But the instrumental with piano and strings take the track into more complex territory, in a good way.
“The Last Thought” has a dreamy retro-vibe featuring a folk inspired tune, a steady drum beat and swelling strings with cascading guitars. “The last thought of my day / was kissing you goodbye” she sings in a hopeless romantic kind of way. “Blowing Through” has just about the most pronounced vocals Gloeckner will give in the album. She sings a winding tune over dreamy soundscapes and sliding guitars to a ballroom tempo. “Counting Sheep” will certainly get you ready for bed with heavenly harp arpeggios and angelic backing vocals. “Prayers” stretches time by utilizing a quick dance beat and slowing down in the chorus. “Colors” is ambient in nature and share a glimpse of Gloeckner’s despair — “Fill me back in,” she pleads, mourning a lost love. “Row With the Flow” channels the Twin Peaks theme and is another true standout. “Somebody’s sinking way too low / Somebody simply rows with the flow / I know it’s not that easy,” Gloeckner sings undoubtedly about following her passion. “Sold” closes the album on a dreamy yet moving folk note.
Both the lyrics and ambient nature of VINE give the album an art-song, poetic feeling. Listening to it is like stepping into Gloeckner’s enchanting bedroom — a forest-like place to reinvent yourself while you soothe your soul.
Take a listen to the full album here, or purchase VINE on iTunes:
FSO X INDIECATION Summer Playlist Vol. II is here! My good friend and show buddy Cynthia of For Swooners Only and I have teamed together yet again this year to bring you a compilation of summer-worthy tracks that’ll have you swooning.
Perfect for road trips and coastal drives, vol. II incorporates a bit of the “old” and the new, featuring classics like Hall & Oates to new gems like Hoops. Being on opposite sides of the U.S., our collaborative process included texts back and forth, adding our own new faves and tried and true tracks separately, only to discover that we’ve been more in sync than ever.
So, without further ado, please enjoy this summer’s soundtrack:
On the 15th of June I caught a sold out show at the Echoplex with opener Cende, Japanese Breakfast, and Alex G.
Japanese Breakfast performed some new songs, sharing that their new album would come out next month. The singer was perfectly charming, even stepping out during Cende’s set to sing a song with them. Highlights from their set included their dreamy opening track and “Everybody Wants to Love You.”
(Sandy) Alex G, if you haven’t seen him live, is really something special. Their set was long without feeling over extended, and they played mostly tracks off their latest album, Rocket. Alex G switched from guitar to piano smoothly with a mild power interruption, and while I was happy to hear “Guilty” live, they were missing some key players on stage to round out the song like their sax and violin players. But regardless, Alex G’s intense talent and cool factor, even the way he quickly sways constantly while playing guitar had me in a star-struck trance. Their performance of “Sportstar” sans auto-tune made me a believer in the song, requiring me to go back and listen to it in the car with even more enthusiasm and respect.
Upon completing their jazz jam session in “Guilty,” Alex G said casually, “well, that was our set….what do you guys wanna hear?” This was so refreshing, as most bands these days aren’t quite as quick on their feet or even as cool to allow the crowd to shout out some requests. But they took the requests and played them, even the older more rusty ones, with ease. I was especially delighted when they played “Mis,” a particularly beautiful but depressing track with lyrics like “My baby’s all right / she just doesn’t wanna see me tonight / not for a minute / not for a second / she says there’s nothing here for you to make right.” Crying yet?
I was walking on air on the way out, and the only thing that added to my elation was a Zachary Cole Smith sighting (of DIIV) leaving the show – band members, they’re just like us!
Last night I caught a sold out show at the Echo with co-headliners No Vacation and Bilinda Butchers and opening act Tim Atlas.
There was a line awaiting me at the Echo, and standers-by awaiting an extra ticket. I walked into the crowded room to the groovin’ sounds of Tim Atlas. Atlas had apparently gained some fame by being selected on Gwen Stefani’s team for the Voice! It wasn’t hard to see why – his vocals and jazz-influenced yet danceable tracks had the crowd wanting more.
But the stars of the night were San Francisco-based indie band, No Vacation. This female-fronted act brought a range of dreamy indie and psych rock sounds that at one point had an audience member exclaim, “why am I crying at the club?!” They also played a couple brand new songs including one with a placeholder name “Tired,” which had everyone looking forward to hearing more new music. “Yam Yam” was my favorite song they played that night, which was one of their slower, dreamier tracks and was simply stunning live. For their final song, they encouraged the audience to get wild, which they did (to my dismay, as I was smack in the middle of the pit!) I kindly got out of the way and the crowd surfing commenced.
After what seemed like an eternity, the Bilinda Butchers, or the bbs as they’re going by now, took the stage after removing the drum set. They started with a series of electronic sigh-worthy songs, and I was a little disappointed at their lackluster performance of my favorite song of theirs, “Tulips,” but the crowd came alive when they performed “Sigh” with a real shoegazy-electro edge to it. The Frontman shared awkwardly between songs, sharing that they normally have a drummer so the current setup was still new. A drummer might have been nice! Their set seemed quite short, as they started after 11:00 and ended just around midnight, thanking us for coming out on a Wednesday (even though most the attendees looked like they had just finished high school.
All in all, it was a decent show!
This past Memorial Day weekend while everyone was brunching and BBQ’ing (and apparently in Lake Tahoe!), I headed to the Echoplex on a Saturday afternoon on my own to celebrate a Birthday of a beloved institution – Play Like A Girl!
Headliners Kitten and Smoke Season drew me into the show, but I was just as excited to listen to a new lineup of female-fronted bands I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing. I was greeted by friendly faces upon arrival around 4:30, just in time to catch the second band of the day, Stars at Night. Amongst the modest crowd of hard-rock enthusiasts, I spotted a table I had missed with only a handful of swag bags. I snagged mine and immediately noticed the Urban Decay lipstick package, which I promptly put on! I also stopped by the raffle table filled with impressive prizes and with proceeds going to the trans alliance, and I gladly made my $5 entry.
Spare Parts for Broken Hearts was the first full set I was able to experience, and they got me really excited for what was about to come. They were an alt/garage-rock group with a lead singer who was quite impressive. Between the setups, I headed out to the smoke filled patio that featured several eclectic vendors and a food truck. I got myself a Black Flag button that said “Black Coffee” instead, the iconic lines taking the shape as coffee cups in their place.
The Bedroom Witch had an elaborate setup – the trans woman walked around the stage placing styrofoam heads and wigs atop three pillars and a string of purple lights. She wore a fierce all-black outfit, complete with a crop top and witch’s hat brim. Her set took the shape of a performance art piece, as electronic music played while she sung or spoke and a film of her in her bedroom played silently in the background.
Twin Temple was one of my favorites from the night. I was looking forward to their set after seeing their “satanic” (more like witchy) merch table, complete with palo santo sticks and magic candles for sale. The front woman was small yet fierce, donning all black with a black veil and leading all-male bandmates also sporting black outfits and satanic necklaces. They started the scene with an altar ritual and played an impressive set of psych and surf rock with a satanic twist (think “Oh Lucifer” instead of “Oh Baby). They were backed by a sax and trumpet player, and boy could she sing! I later discovered she’s a trained violinist. Go figure.
The charming Viaa took the stage next, and played some soulful indie-pop. Iress was a powerhouse of an act, bringing in a Chelsea Wolfe meets Slowdive vibe to the stage. The lead singer sang over a wash of sound with such might, she moved the entire crowd.
Blimes Brtixton added the hip-hop element to the fest, and Sisu played a short but sweet dreamy indie set. Smoke Season took the stage, and performed their indie-pop all out. Singer Gabbi has such a confidence about her on stage, and moves and sings with such precision and grace. Big balloons were tossed into the now-crowded room, raining confetti when they finally popped.
But the crowd really went nuts for Kitten – her voice shimmered and belted over indie-pop tunes with an ’80’s vibe, and she simply couldn’t stop moving. At one point, she even climbed up the stage and jumped into the crowd and just crowd surfed for a while. It was quite a show! Vagina balloons were eventually tossed into the crowd, and PLAG was officially one!
Between the bands, I did my best to be social and the concert-goers were delightfully interested! I’d talk about my blog, they’d share about their band or project and it really gave the night a community feeling vibe. A lovely hilarious couple even bought me my first Irish Carbomb (which I regretted in the a.m.), but it was just that kind of night! I even sat myself in the meme photo booth and had a blast finding that my facial expressions matched the meme generator to perfection.
PLAG did a stellar job with this lineup of impressive female-fronted acts, even giving GIRLSCHOOL a run for it’s money! (not that it’s a competition…) PLAG hosts events every month for just a small entry fee. If you’re in the L.A. area, come out and support the girls (who run the world!)
This month was full of great releases and good vibes for the most part. And while I attended probably the least amount of shows I ever have in a month, there’s hope on the horizon for a music-filled month.
So, let’s start with some hot new singles that were recently released – from indie legends Grizzly Bear to local wonder Miya Folick, there is much to be thankful for as an indie enthusiast. Continue reading
Slowdive is the shoegaze legend’s newest album since their last release 22 years ago and after emerging on the scene in the ’80s. Compiled of 8 dreamy tracks, Slowdive reveals they haven’t missed a beat in the music scene and also the massive influence they’ve had on emerging bands over the years. Dream pop and post-punk still dominate the indie scene when it comes to quality, and clearly this is where it all started. Continue reading