FM-84 and The Midnight @ The Globe Theatre

Sold-out debut LA show ignites the night

November 20th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: Review

Last Saturday night, refurbished movie palace The Globe Theatre came alive when synthwave artists FM-84 and The Midnight made their Los Angeles debut to a sold out crowd. It was only the second show for the double billing of 80s-inspired, cinematic synth pop acts who, as independent artists, previously sold out their debut concert in San Francisco earlier this year. Both performers and concertgoers celebrated in disbelief what they were hearing and seeing live as the nostalgia-fueled evening stretched until 2am.

Colin Bennett, also known by the moniker FM-84, came onstage as his signature neon sun lit up the stage. Vocalist Ollie Wride struck dramatic poseswihle embracing the theatricality of the music and sky-high notes in his vocal register. The crowd sang along to the soaring “Wild Ones” and ballad “Let’s Talk” but it was hit “Running in the Night” got the largest reaction.

The Midnight hinted at this Los Angeles debut performance in an interview with the LA Music Blog earlier this year and producer Tim McEwan (who calls Los Angeles home by way of Denmark) began the evening with pulsating, synth-driven instrumental tracks “Nocturnal” and “Collateral” off the pair’s recently-released third album NocturnalVocalist and lyricist Tyler Lyle, who had traveled from the east coast, joined McEwan onstage for noir-tinged city ballad “Crystalline”, fitting given the venue’s downtown locale.

Saxophonist Jesse Molloy elicited cheers every time he performed powerful, burning sax solos in the majority of The Midnight’s songs. Fans were elated to see frequent collaborator singer/songwriter Nikki Flores join the pair onstage. Flores lent her vocals to the duo’s most melodic, summer-soaked tracks “Jason” and “Light Years.” I complimented Flores backstage and she gushed, “I’m just such a big fan of their music and they couldn’t be nicer guys.”

Oftentimes, Lyle would be overpowered by the crowd as fans reveled in singing along with the nostalgia-driven anthems “Days of Thunder” and “Comeback Kid”. McEwan controlled waves of lush soundscapes while surrounded by an explosion of television screens that utilized retro visuals when their colorful laser light show wasn’t in full effect.

“Los Angeles” saw fans raise their “hands like a gospel choir” for the first time in the city that inspired the dreamy, deep cut. The Midnight may be influenced by decades-old songs, but the duo has brought that synth-filled, imagery-driven music into the present, asking,”If we live forever, let us live forever tonight”.

Flores rejoined Lyle onstage for  “Sunset” and the crowd began one last, energetic dance party before the performance came to a close and fans begged for one more song. The crowd would have to wait, however, for that encore until The Midnight’s next hometown show. Based on the thunderous sing-a-longs, euphoric cheers and merchandise flying off the shelves, they won’t be waiting long.

For more information on The Midnight:
Official Site
Official Facebook

Ariel Pink @ The Regent

It’s just gonna get weird from here

Melissa Karlin
Category: Review, Staff Pick

HE DIDN’T PLAY “JELL-O.”

I think I’m literally the only person who was disappointed by that fact. I mean, he played other tracks I love like “White Freckles” and “Round & Round.” But not “Jell-O.” And that’s my review.

Continue reading…

Warped Tour Announces Its End Next Year

2018 will mark the festival’s final treck

November 16th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: Lead Story, News

After over two decades, the iconic Vans Warped Tour will end it will its run next summer. The annual festival traveled from coast to coast and featured alternative acts stretching across genres like punk, rock, pop, rap, indie and emo. Founder Kevin Lyman took to Warped Tour’s official site to reminiscence on some of the tour’s most memorable acts and the festival’s lasting impact on communities and fans nationwide.

Speaking with Billboard, Lyman reflected further on some of the contributing factors to the tour shuddering. He cited dwindling attendance for younger fans who prefer to stay indoors with their technology, and the public’s general fear for their safety after an uprise in violent incidents like last month’s mass shooting at the Route Harvest 81 Festival in Las Vegas or the bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester earlier this year.

Hayley Williams of Paramore at 2011’s tour

Some of my fondest memories of music intertwining with summer come took place during Warped Tour. I saw bands like Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy for the first time before they sold out giant venues. I researched fashion trends for Hot Topic, my summer job at the time. I competed (and lost) with my pop punk group for a coveted spot on the festival stage. 2011’s Los Angeles stop marked my first assignment writing for the LA Music Blog.

Ryan Key of Yellowcard performing in 2014 at Vans Warped Tour

Lyman hinted that Warped Tour may continue in some form in the future, saying, “The enduring spirit of the Vans Warped Tour remains as bright as ever, continuing to inspire creativity and ambition in new and exciting ways as we prepare for a 25th anniversary celebration in 2019.” A quarter of a century may be a new dawn for the tour in some iteration, but for now fans will look to 2018 for one last farewell sing-a-long with friends in the hot summer sun.

For more information on Vans Warped Tour:
Official website

Astronautalis at the Resident

Rapper rocks the Resident

Lex Voight
Category: News, Photo Gallery

Astronautalis is already a bit of a difficult artist to pigeonhole, but he seems, for the most part, to reside fairly firmly in the hip-hop camp. But only for the most part. His music so much more encompassing than simply hip-hop alone, as he incorporates everything from punk rock to indie to trap in a seamless amalgam. This made his signing and release with LA-based mostly-punk label Side One Dummy an interesting move for both artist and label, and his interesting choice of tourmate in former Fake Problems frontman Chris Farren.
Continue reading…

Circa Survive/Thrice at the Shrine

The Post Hardcore Legends Unite for 2 Night Stay

November 15th, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: News, Photo Gallery

The second of two nights at the Shrine for Thrice and Circa Survive’s coheadlining tour was as bone-shakingly great as was to be expected of the two titans of post-hardcore. Thrice was subdued, playing a loud-as-hell set with their big hits peppered through some of their deeper cuts. Surprisingly, the biggest audience response was from a back to back to back to back performance of the best of their Elements suite. Circa Survive, meanwhile maintained their unwavering reputation as one of the best live bands in the biz. Anthony Green is an absolutely captivating performer–so much so that my lens, I am sorry to say, rarely strayed from his catapaulting theatrics.
Continue reading…

Rhye @ Moroccan Lounge

The debut of new songs to swoon to

November 9th, 2017
David Fisch

The downtempo R&B stylings of Rhye were something of an enigma back in the early 2010’s, releasing singles of androgynous vocals and soulful chill with underground raves before finally releasing a full-length LP in 2013 in the form of Woman. With the exception of touring in the following year, Rhye has been fairly quiet – that is, until this year, when the band resurfaced with a similar release strategy that once again began the hype machine of high anticipation, leaning on superb singles that hinted at a brighter energy and expanded scope.

While information of a new full-length follow-up is pending, Rhye will be back on the road with a formally announced tour heading into 2018. In the meantime, though, the LA-based band made a sold-out stop to test new material and perform older songs at the Moroccan Lounge, which is rapidly making the case for becoming LA’s best venue for intimate settings, devoted crowds, and outstanding acoustics.

Continue reading…

Featured Artist + Contest: FOXTRAX @ The Roxy

Listen to new single “Everything’s Changing”

November 3rd, 2017
David Fisch

The NYC-bred, LA-based alternative rock trio FOXTRAX have been busy at work and touring for the past year, continuing to release new material in the vein of singles and EPs. Their latest single “Everything’s Changing” from their upcoming EP Nothing Lasts Forever continues the anthemic and cinematic strength of its previously released singles, and you can listen to it below. Most importantly, the band will embark on a tour along the west coast in support of it, and you can catch them at The Roxy November 9th or enter our contest to win a pair of tickets!

Continue reading…

M. Ward at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Minutiae ruled the night

October 30th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Lead Story, Review

There was something of an underlying nautical theme at M. Ward’s show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Wednesday night. As the story goes, in designing the building, Frank Gehry found aesthetic inspiration in his love of boats. So when M. Ward got things cooking during second song “Poison Cup,” his trademark bow legged shuffle made it look like he was losing his balance and bouncing around the galley of a ship battling rough waters.

But this was the storm after the calm. The set began with distinguished gentleman Ward’s “Lullaby + Exile,” a song that goes for the heart’s jugular with the gentlest of ease.

M. Ward is a musician’s musician, one who moves to make every last drop of a solo or a lyric coherent and meaningful. Set him down in the Disney Hall, and suddenly it felt like you were sitting in Studio A of Capitol Records with control room headphones on.

As he sang “Well a trance is a spell, with a thrill wrapped up inside it, and try as you might to fight it, love will get you in the end,” there was infinite musicality packed in to his utterance of “spell.” And that was just one word of one song. The night unfolded beautifully from there.

“Slow Driving Man,” another slow song about slow things, was slowed down even further on this night. It was subdued af, yet totally entrancing in its deliberate pace. In “Time Won’t Wait,” the headliner flirted with the front edge of the stage during a solo that took the shape of a signature Matt Ward solo where angular sections are cobbled together with a touch of magic to create a whole that is fluid and groovy.

Similarly, in the sneakily sordid “I Get Ideas” or solo acoustic jam “Duet for Guitars #3,” Ward effortlessly snuck in harmonics as easy as if they were blinks. In “Duet,” Ward’s spidery right hand opened and closed like a fan, as he alternated between pluck and strum, bounding about the stage.

A two-song run on the piano included the melancholy “Vincent O’Brien,” and wrenching take on Daniel Johnston’s “Story of an Artist.” In introducing the cover, M. Ward dipped his toes in political waters with the edict “Now is the time to defend the artists.”

With an attentive audience and the acoustics of the room so dialed in, minutiae continued to rule the night.

Ward strapped on a harmonica for “Fuel for Fire,” but added only a requisite pinch in favor of unnecessarily gratuitous servings. In “One Hundred Million Years,” he stood with sly posture, his body shielding a guitar that was turned away from the front of the room.

“Rave On” started solo, and ended with digital looping that welcomed the band back to the stage finish off the song. Towards the end of “Chinese Translation,” M. Ward brought the band to a halt, leaving only he and the warm tones his Gibson electric to make any noise.

After a brief respite, the band faded back in to the proceedings with such evenness and precision, it sounded like someone reached to turn the room’s volume dial up.

Although the Hall was shamefully(!) undersold, those who did venture to DTLA caught one of the stronger local double bills in recent memory.

Rhiannon Giddens opened the evening with a hell of a set of music that drew from a variety of genres and instrumentation, and one that never turned a blind eye to difficult chapters of American history. Instead, her music took them head on, sharing with the audience stories of from where certain songs came, and injecting them with vibrant new life.

“At The Purchaser’s Option,” lead track off of Giddens’ 2017 LP Freedom Highway was a prime example. After a slow creep percussive intro, her voice soared through verses that told the haunting tale of an African-American slave, a mother forced from custody of her own child. For the tune, Giddens aimed for period authenticity, plucking a banjo that is a replica of one made in 1858.

The barefoot Giddens had a divine and commanding presence that matched her musicianship. On “Fiddle Tunes,” she provided a glimpse of a rare musical high wire act: playing the violin and singing lead vocals at the same time.

Giddens’ propensity to change things up from one song to the next was shared by her band. The group – the same crew that recorded Freedom Highway – swapped out their instruments on nearly every song. Album producer Dirk Powell shape-shifted from keys, to guitar, to impressive lead vocals, to the squeezebox – or something just like it.

Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You” proved to be the centerpiece of the set. The timeless kiss off tune provided Rhiannon Giddens an opportunity to showcase her far ranging vocals, and for drummer Jamie Dick to relentlessly work his cymbals to amass a whooshing wall of sound.

M. Ward Setlist

Lullaby + Exile
Poison Cup
The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me
Slow Driving Man
For Beginners
Time Won’t Wait
I Get Ideas
Vincent O’Brien
Story of an Artist
Duet for Guitars #3
Fuel for Fire
One Hundred Million Years
Rave On
Chinese Translation
Never Had Nobody Like You
___________________________________
Moon River (with Victoria Williams)

Rhiannon Giddens Setlist

Spanish Mary
Fiddle Tunes
The Love We Almost Had
At The Purchaser’s Option
(unknown)
We Could Fly
Jack O’ Diamonds
Creole Tunes
Children Go Where I Send Thee
She’s Got You
Freedom Highway
That Lonesome Road/Up Above My Head

Show Preview: Zac Brown Band @ The Hollywood Bowl

Down home Georgian country comes to LA!

October 27th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: News

I first saw the Zac Brown Band live during the summer of 2015, when they were on their JEKYLL + HYDE album tour and hosting their famous “eat and greet” pre-show experience. Their concert was a fun, two hour long country sing-along, perfect for a warm summer night. Given the recent weather here in LA (autumn, where are you?) I don’t expect the Band’s upcoming concerts on October 28th and 29th (this weekend) at the Hollywood Bowl will be anything less than their summer-night-perfect!
Continue reading…