Desert Daze 2019 Highlights

Imagine a world where you can watch amazing bands on a desert oasis just an hour from Los Angeles? It’s possible at Desert Daze. Phil Pirrone and Co curated an incredible lineup of psych rock acts including Stereolab, Khruangbin, DIIV and many many more. I went this weekend to cover the fest for MXDWN, and fully intended to see as much as humanly possible.  It wasn’t always easy – the heat during the day left me feeling woozy and the cold night air was hard to withstand (note to self, bring a thicker jacket!) and there were times I was just ready for it to be over. “You know what’s underrated? Arriving to festivals late” one of my friends said. And I felt that, but what I got to experience by being on the festival grounds all three days from open to close was nothing short of magical, and those moments in which I found myself feeling particularly grateful – listening to a band I love like Crumb while watching the sunset – made it all worthwhile.

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May Monthly Musings

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

Shugazi, aka Rooftoppin’ with Diiv

My friends and I were rightfully excited to discover this little Downtown Long Beach show, “Shugazi,” featuring great music and scenery atop the Mariott Hotel parking lot. Shugazi was Summer and Music‘s (SAM) inaugural event of this sort, however, SAM is quite familiar with creating music events for the Long Beach Community as their annual event, Buskerfest, attracts many local bands and concert-goers in the area.

We arrived slightly buzzed on rosé, ready to kick-off the Friday night that would begin our girls-only adventure of a weekend. Philadelphia based shoegaze-y alternative rock group Nothing opened the show with ’90’s inspired noisy garage rock sounds while members of Diiv were spotted grabbing tacos from a local vendor. With a  little liquid courage, we took the opportunity to say “hi” before Zachary Cole and Devin had to get backstage.

The real magic happened when Diiv took the stage. I’ve seen hem play about 3 times this year, and they seem to keep getting better and better. They played mostly tracks from Is The Is Are, opening with the album title track. They brought a great live energy to the stage, as they swayed and shoegazed about, with the perfect Downtown Long Beach backdrop to support the stage lights. One bummer though was a refusal of our request to play “Valentine,” a song they apparently had not yet learned to perform live. The performance ended relatively early, even with the encore. And with that, the soundtrack to our weekend was found, as we blasted Diiv in the car during our getaway to Morro Bay.

 

 

Oddly Comforting

Indiecation Playlist (1)Do you ever find yourself feeling comforted by a song that has a dark side, or seems slightly eerie? Yeah? No? Maybe it’s just me. But now that Mercury is in retrograde again, this playlist is just dying to be posted.

Take a listen! You might just find yourself oddly comforted.

What song strangely comforts you? Leave it in the comment!

 

 

 

DIIV at the Echo

Last night I caught Diiv performing on their first day of a three-day consecutive performance in Los Angeles at the Echo. The opening acts included girl-punk band, the Paranoyds, and Katy Goodman of Vivian Girl’s trio, La Sera.

The Paranoyds opened and looked like models with guitars, packed with moaning and belting vocals paired with punk rock guitar riffs. I appreciated the way the Paranoyds seemed to embrace the unexpected, as they shared a straightforward tune and without warning veered into a triplet breakdown complete with head-banging. Very fun to watch indeed!

La Sera took the stage next, and Katy’s vocals really shined through. Their music had a folky-indie-rock vibe to it, with a lot of catchy melodies. The highlight of La Sera was when Katy just decided she and her bass needed to be in the audience with us, and she jumped off the stage and danced around on the floor in the crowd. Loved the energy!

Headliners Diiv took the stage next. I’d seen Diiv live maybe four times already, and just from the opening act could tell that this crowd were avid Diiv fans, (as opposed to people who attend shows at the echo like “ooh what should we do tonight? There’s a show at he Echo, could be interesting!”) Diiv played a good mix of fan favorites from their first album, Oshin, as well as their latest album released just this month, “Is the Is Are.” The only song I left disappointed in not hearing was Valentine, but perhaps another time.

Diiv’s performance was really good overall, but had its moments of poor showmanship. The stopping and starting of songs to Zachary Cole Smith’s perfectionist standard was a bit much at times. They started Healthy Moon a good five times before getting it right, and Smith’s frustration came crystal clear through to the audience. His pedal also appeared to not be working properly, and he responded by kicking it repeatedly. I realized that he was coming down on himself, and the negative self-talk was going through his mind as he apologized profusely for the performance, and shared that he was feeling “off.” I felt for him, I really did, but in my experience of performing, only I truly know if I’m making a mistake and the majority of the time, it doesn’t event come through to the audience nor affect them. In my opinion, he could have played it off, but maybe that’s not rock-n-roll…

The crowd, however, was loving every minute of the show. They sang, got rowdy, moshed, stage dived, and crowd surfed at any opportune moment. The highlight of Diiv performance for me was their four-song encore. Despite moments of perfectionism and frustration, they were truly yearning to be on stage as long as possible. Keep making great music, Diiv, and give yourself a break once in a while!

 The Paranoyds

  La Sera


La Sera

  Diiv


Diiv

Beach Goth 2015

Beach Goth. The annual party that is equal parts Beach and Goth hostbeach-goth-4ed
acts ranging from the electro-pop styles of Grimes to the ghastly metal act appropriately named, “Ghost.” Top performances for me included Warpaint, the Drums, Mac Demarco, Moving Units, Grimes, and DIIV. Also, with the Adicts and Subhumans in the line-up, the show took me back to my high school punk years. Upon arrival at the venue, the Orange County Observatory in Santa Ana, long lines of concert-goes dressed in their creative and scantily clad costumes, as requested by the event curators. It was a sea of hipsters, punks, and weirdos alike. If you didn’t have tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair, you simply wouldn’t fit in. I would suggest watching the main stage from the beer garden–you’ll be at a side-view, but you’ll be closer to the stage and less crammed into the main crowd (where you’d likely get dehydrated or tired of being pushed around by the mosh pit and have to get a security guard to eventually lift you out of the crowd). The indoor secondary stage hosted smaller acts, such as Moving Units, Corners, and the Alla-Lahs, but with equally enthused an audience. Side-shows included the Rocky-Horror Picture show and a Dub club in the smaller Constellation Room and in the outside patio.
We arrived just in time for the Adicts playing “Viva la Revolution” which set the tone for the weekend. After a brief stint with Mr. Twin Sister, we caught The Aquabats who’s performance included a stage show with a dancing alien and what looked like one of those monsters from little shop of horrors, and a memorable last song of a cover of the Pixies, “Where is my mind.” Warpaint was next, and they promised the, “best 30-minute set” of our lives, a promise they did deliver. They started the set with one of their newer hit singles “No Way Out,” and played fan favorites including “Love is to die” and “Disco//very.” They always put on a great performance. My friend and I met some Warpaint fans at the show who were just there to see that band, a young married couple. They seemed to be happy with their money’s worth–at a $100 show, that might’ve been a lot to ask for. The Drums took the main stage after Warpaint with another 30-minute set. Donning his yellow tropical print satin jacket and blue bowl cut, Johnny Pierce was the embodiment of “Beach Goth.” One good thing about a 30-minute set time is that the bands are most likely going to play their fan favorites. This was also the case for the Drums, as they played “Surfing,” “Days” “Money,” and “Best Friend,” much to the crowd-surf loving audience’s approval. I wasn’t much of a fan of the next band, Ghost, who donned black skeleton pope and devil-ish costumes for their heavy metal set. But, next was Mac Demarco, who charmed the audience from his sound check to his classic final song “Together.” And just when the sounds of Mac got everyone feeling mellow, Grimes took the stage, equipped with a lightshow, heavy dance beats, and a theatric on-stage presence. To my dismay, we did not catch the Growlers, as the beer was kicking in and it was time to head home.
The following day, we arrived a little earlier to catch acts, “Corners” and “DIIV,” both of which we’d seen multiple times. Corners were on the “Graveyard” indoor stage. This local band from Echo Park had a full house of punk-indie-rock appreciative fans complete with mosh pit. We went outside to catch DIIV, who performed several new songs with their classic intro “we’re called DIIV….we’re from New York…this is a new song…” in addition to several tracks from Oshin, their first and only album (so far). The sounds washed over the crowd in a haze of reverb, and much head swaying was spotted. After DIIV, we went inside to catch Moving Units, whom I hadn’t listened to in at least 5 years, but their sound was instantly recognizable, and suddenly I remembered the chorus to “Between Us and Them.” They performed with high energy on the neon-glowing slightly-demonically dressed stage. Outside we caught the pop-punk act, FIDLAR, whose members ironically appeared in identical suits
as they sang songs about 40 oz beers, bills, and babes. Their catchy song, “west coast” had the entire audience pogo-ing. It was such a fun, light-hearted set. We stuck around to catch Julian Casablancas, whom I hadn’t really listened to much before, as I’m not a huge strokes fan. However, listening to them now, their set just seemed to be a wash of loud sound and was difficult to make out the songs because the voice distortion was pretty hard on the ears. We left early to catch the Allah-Lahs, whose simple 70’s inspired surf-rock had the crowd swaying. We went outside once more to catch some of Die Antwoord’s performance, which included all kinds of artsy videos and choreography to back their experimental electronica style.
Overall, with several impressive acts, this event was not to be missed. Yes, the crowds were a bit much at times and the food was just okay, but it’s that DIY, low-budget production that gives the event it’s true charm. The bands all started on time for the most part, and there was an act to please everyone. We’ll see you next year, Beach Goth.