Beach House and Fleet Foxes at the Hollywood Bowl

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:

  1. Levitation
  2. Wild
  3. PPP
  4. Silver Soul
  5. Space Song
  6. 10 Mile Stereo
  7. Chariot
  8. Wishes
  9. Elegy to the Void
  10. Take Care
  11. Sparks
  12. Myth

Fleet Foxes set list:

  1. I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
  2. Cassius, – Naiads, Cassadies
  3. Grown Ocean
  4. Ragged Wood
  5. Your Protector
  6. The Cascades
  7. On Another Ocean (January / June)
  8. Fool’s Errand
  9. He Doesn’t Know Why
  10. Battery Kinzie
  11. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  12. Mykonos
  13. White Winter Hymnal
  14. Third of May / Ōdaigahara
  15. The Shrine / An Argument
  16. Blue Ridge Mountains
  17. Blues Run the Game
    (Jackson C. Frank cover)
  18. Helplessness Blues

Set lists from http://www.setlist.fm, Photo from Sub Pop

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(Sandy)Alex G & Japanese Breakfast at the Echoplex

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!

Bilinda Butchers and No Vacation at the Echo

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!

Surf Curse, Slow Hollows, and Sadgirl at the Glass House

 

This past Thursday I headed to the Glass House in Pomona for the first time to catch a powerhouse of a lineup featuring Boyo, Sadgirl, Slow Hollows, and Surf Curse.

I arrived in time for the last few songs of Boyo’s set and then headed upstairs to view the rest of the show at a safe distance where I could actually see since the floor was already packed and I fully expected the moshing to break out during Sadgirl’s set. And I was not wrong! They delivered an impressive, high energy surf rock set complete with jangly guitar solos and ’50s rock vocals. Next Slow Hollows took the stage, this time featuring a sax and trumpet player on several of their tracks as well. They played mostly songs from their new album, Romantic, which features mostly mellow indie styles with deep vocals.  Continue reading

Priests Prove Post-Punk Perseveres

This President’s Day (#notmypresident), I appropriately caught an all-female lineup at the Echoplex. Stef Chura and Alice Bag opened the show for Washington D.C. based post-punk outfit, Priests.

People began to filter in during Stef Chura, a Detroit based indie rock group as the trio filled the room with dreamy lo-fi sounds. The crowd was really excited to see L.A. punk icon, Alice Bag on the Echoplex stage. She was one of the founding members of the Bags, and was really essential in putting the Los Angeles punk scene on the map. Born and raised in East L.A., Bag’s music and lyrics are reflective of her upbringing, and her message inspires political activism. She sang some originals from her 2016 solo album, as well as some songs from The Bags, including “We Will Bury You” – a message she dedicated personally to the Tump administration. Her daughter even joined on stage as a backup singer, and it was a tender moment when Alice Bag made a brief but touching shoutout to her. In between songs, she spoke about feminism, consent, education, and Chicano and human rights. It was quite a movement of a set, and she and her band really brought the energy to match through catchy, punk rock tunes.

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Midnight Mass II: Long Beach’s Punk Rock Church

I was pleased to hear about this show for the first time this year, “Midnight Mass,” which caters to the DIY punk scene in Long Beach. With headliners like The Garden and The Spits, and a lineup featuring some of my faves, Feels, Walter, and The Buttertones, and taking place at an artist colony venue “The Packard” on Anaheim and Long Beach Blvd., this Christmas-themed festival was sure to be a huge draw for locals of all ages.

When I arrived a little past 2:00 p.m., the Nectarines were onstage outside to a fairly empty venue. Right away, I noticed that I’d probably be one of the eldest attendees (even though apparently I look 21 ;-)), but I didn’t let that deter me and just made a mental note to step aside from the riff-raff because, let’s face it, my moshing and crowd-surfing days are well behind me. Continue reading