Festival Recap: Riot Fest 2017

A hot and heavy weekend in Chicago

September 20th, 2017
David Fisch

All photos by David Fisch

It’s been an interesting year for music festivals, in which most have made headlines for their follies and their corporate handlings rather than the music actually performed at the festivals themselves. It’s humbling to know that this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago went off without a hitch and was all about, you know, the music.

Additionally, it was one of few festivals so far this year that didn’t have the feeling of “festival fatigue,” in which most lineups tend to blend together as acts perform on a festival circuit. No, Riot Fest didn’t cozy up to that, but rather set out to provide thousands of people with fan favorites like Built To Spill, Ministry, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Jawbreaker, Wu-Tang Clan, Danzig, and Bad Brains.

Then again, there were the majors like Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age, and “hardly” smaller acts Death From Above, TV On The Radio, M.I.A., Action Bronson, and Vic Mensa. Just in typing out all of those bands, this year’s Riot Fest might have had the best curated sets among festivals this year.

The three-day festival over the Sept. 15th-17th weekend was generally void of issues, with some exceptions in sound for certain acts. Otherwise, the power of these bands drove a generally hot weekend and gave every rioter in the audience reason to crowd surf.

Photos from the festival can be found below.

A Love Letter to Sound and Fury Fest 2017

Sorry it took so long.

September 6th, 2017
Lex Voight

Dearest Sound and Fury,

Its has been months since I have seen you. In the intervening time I have traversed another continent, climbed volcanoes, wound my way through mountains and hills and rainforests, and nearly been trampled by a (baby) elephant but you have never strayed far from my thoughts…
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CONTEST: Win A Pair of Tickets to Cal Jam 17!

A one-day event of rock and roll in October!

David Fisch
Category: Contest, Lead Story, News

As the summer season winds down, usually so does the music festival circuit. That’s usually because the kids are back in school and the weather outside isn’t exactly ideal. That is, if you’re living in any state other than California.

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LAMB Session: Ocean Park Standoff

Summer Gods on the rise.

August 30th, 2017
Lex Voight

On the strength of two songs alone, Ocean Park Standoff landed a national tour with alternative legends Third Eye Blind and Silversun Pickups. The Summer Gods Tour, as it has been dubbed, is hitting the Greek Theater on 7/20 so be sure to get your tickets stat.
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LAMB Session: Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee astounds with two cover songs

August 19th, 2017
Lex Voight

Annabel Lee moved to Los Angeles recently from Massachusetts and already shes building up a cult-like following. With her mixture of absolutely sensational pipes, killer songs, killer work ethic, and endearing, no-nonsense personality, Ms. Lee is going to be making huge waves in a short time.
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Show Review: The War On Drugs at Apogee for KCRW

Getting the version that will last forever

August 10th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Lead Story, Review

Now that the gold-tinged sonic dust from Ryan Adams’ Prisoner seems to have settled, Adam Granduciel and The War on Drugs are back, primed to take our collective hand and escort us down similar halls of heartfelt and soaring rock 1980’s nostalgia.

From the handful of tracks off of upcoming LP A Deeper Understanding released to date, it is clear that The War on Drugs’ signature cinematic sunset montages, ringing-for-days guitars, and Granduciel’s irrefutable Dylan Infidels sneer haven’t gone anywhere.

All of this was evident Saturday night at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica, where the Philadelphia band convened to record a performance and interview to be aired on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic on August 24, the eve of the release of A Deeper Understanding.

If you’ve seen The War On Drugs before without the luxury of being a few feet away from the players, you may have missed the frenetic busyness with which Granduciel builds a series of emotional peaks in his solos, often turning to his whammy bar to ignite the powder keg moments like he did during opener, “Pain.”

Although the songs themselves tend to eventually shoot off in to the stratosphere, the band themselves remain grounded, with little gratuitous rock star flair. The benefit of an understated performance like this is that its efficiency speaks to a sincerity in their creative intent.

Meanwhile, drummer Charlie Hall plays like a man possessed, his pie-eyed gaze more of a thousand yard stare. Hall’s gesticulations and the way in which he leaned in to his drumming during new cut “Holding On” and later on “In Reverse,” led him to being dubbed “a crowd favorite” by host Jason Bentley during the interview portion of the night.

“Strangest Thing,” another new song, benefitted from slow jam sax strains courtesy of Jon Natchez, and an overall lack of urgency despite the gentle tune progressing in to an up tempo jam.

Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr” made an appearance, an easy-feel cover that frequented Granduciel’s car stereo as he drove around LA during the recording of the new album.

Based on fervent fan reaction alone, the set’s older selections (“Eyes To The Wind,” or “Lost in The Dream”) were immediately distinguishable from the lesser digested new tracks. The right on the screws solo from Granduciel in “An Ocean In Between The Waves” proved to be another indicator of the incubation time some of these songs now possess. The interplay between his harp and Natchez’s saxophone on “Eyes To The Wind” was indie rock cohesion at its finest.

Robbie Bennet’s Wurlitzer in “You Don’t Have To Go,” the last new song played, helped recall the gorgeous but gut wrenching desperation in “Suffering” from 2014 LP, Lost In The Dream.

To hear a portion of the set, sure to include some new tracks, tune in to KCRW on the morning of August 24. The interview is likely to expose Adam Granduciel’s affable ways and good humor, a fascinating audio tour of the new album artwork, discussion about the clubhouse feel the band pursues in the studio, and which member of the band rode his bike all the way from Hollywood to Apogee, instrument slung across his back.

Just in case it doesn’t make the radio edit, fans of The War On Drugs should know that when discussing his band’s efforts to make the best studio work possible, Adam Granduciel believes that, “you have to work really hard to get the version that will last forever.”

For more information:
The War On Drugs
KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic

The War On Drugs at Apogee Studios Setlist

Holding On*
Strangest Thing*
Accidentally Like a Martyr
An Ocean In Between The Waves
In Reverse
Eyes To The Wind
Lost in The Dream
You Don’t Have to Go*
Under The Pressure

*off of new album, A Deeper Understanding

Lead photo by Larry Hirshowitz

LAMB Session: Sarah Darling

Nashville comes to LA

August 9th, 2017
Lex Voight

Three records in, Sarah Darling is taking charge of every aspect of her sound. Her last record, Dream Country, shows an amazing amount of confidence and control for a burgeoning country starlet, incorporating a wide array of influences and interests while maintaining a Nashville heart.
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LAMB Session: Amanda Fondell

Swedish Idol sets sight on US Soil

July 28th, 2017
Lex Voight

Sweden’s Amanda Fondell has been a mover and shaker since winning Swedish Idol’s Eighth Series back in 2011. Six years later, shes turning her eyes towards the states, looking to dominate in the pop/soul/electro market much the same way fellow countryman Robyn has for some time. Amanda is sweet, her answers are unpolished and endearingly somewhat lost in translation, and though her frustration with the language is clear, clearer still is her good-natured smile and passion for her work.
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Gallery: FYF Fest 2017

Live photos from FYF Fest 2017

July 25th, 2017
David Valera

L.A.’s backyard festival FYF Fest took place July 21-23 at Exposition Park. The tightly curated festival featured a cross pollination of music to feed everyone’s soul. The 3-day festival featured performances by Frank Ocean, Missy Elliott, Nine Inch Nails, Björk, Anderson.Paak, & the Free Nationals, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange and Iggy Pop. The undercard was just as impressive as the headliners and not to be ignored.

Have a look at the festival photos and if you were there, tell us about your favorite moment from the “best weekend of summer”.

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Five Can’t-Miss Sets at FYF Fest 2017

We’ve whittled it down to the must-sees

July 10th, 2017
David Fisch
Category: Lead Story, News

This year, FYF is ramping up to be the festival to beat. Expanding from two days to a full-fledged weekend of three days, there is a whole extra day of sets, which also means a whole extra day of more of LA’s best food vendors, access to a new stage, and plenty more.

Tickets are still available for all three days of the festival – and we highly recommend it – but seeing as how the set times were revealed a few days ago, we’ve come to the conclusion that if we’re going to see a few select sets, we’re going to pick out the ones listed below.

1) Missy Elliot

All puns intended when we say “Get UR Freak On” with the only set by the Queen of Hip-Hop scheduled this year. Hot off a new single from an anticipated new record and an anniversary reissue of her debut LP Supa Dupa Fly, we’re expecting Missy to go all-out for this performance, performing new and old material but with the electrified kicks to make everything feel refreshed and alive once again. It will literally be seeing a legend on stage, and she will be headlining the first night of festivities. Speaking of legends…

2) A Tribe Called Quest

For the sake of music, or if you call yourself a fan of music, see A Tribe Called Quest at least once in your life. They’re back on tour after a years-long absence and bouncing after the surprise release of last year’s critically-acclaimed final album We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, and most certainly riled-up in the wake of recent socio-political events and personal strifes with the death of essential founding member Phife Dawg. If their Grammy-award performance was any indication, their Saturday night set will be full of good energies – so really, just as if the band never left in the first place. Also, you can just stick around after their set for…

3) Frank Ocean

Though this article has been posted close to two weeks before he’s set to appear, we’re going to bet that Frank Ocean will indeed be performing. He had dropped out as headliner of FYF 2015 unexpectedly and was replaced with Kanye West (which no one in their right mind could complain about), but considering new material finally did drop last year in the form of the widely-praised Blonde and new collabs constantly appearing this year, we’re feeling confident that the new reigning prince of R&B will show and perform the swooning set we all were hoping for.

4) Cherry Glazerr

Get to Exposition Park early because we’re going with LA natives Cherry Glazerr to watch for their set kicking off Sunday. Quite literally, Cherry Glazerr kick so much ass on stage and on record, and with a record like this year’s Apocalipstick, expect vocalist Clementine Creevy to blow you away, but not before you start a rioting mosh in the sun as they go into overdrive. They should get you amped for another nine hours of music.

5) Moses Sumney

The heat-seeking singer-songwriter with an incredible falsetto, Moses Sumney will be at “The Club” stage Sunday evening for what will likely be a ruminative set. Having sold out The Echo in 2015 and right off the presses of a debut LP on Jagjaguwar Records called Aromanticism coming out this Fall, you might just witness the birth of a new star. We’d suggest you could almost end the festival with Moses’ allure, that you could potentially close yourselves in your bedroom with your experience as you listen to his EP and singles, but there’s so much more music happening afterwards that you’ll want to be there till the very end.

Which sets are you considering as your must-see sets? Let us know in the comments below!

FYF Fest will be held in Exposition Park July 21st-23rd. As previously stated, tickets are still available.