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

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.

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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!

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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

Moses Sumney @ El Rey Theatre

The Inland Empire’s rising soul star sheds light

October 23rd, 2017
David Fisch
Category: Lead Story, Review

It’s felt like a long-time coming for Moses Sumney, whose work has rippled through the indie music scene for at least the past three or four years. Most of his work rides on his incredible and spine-tingling falsetto, but his music and lyrics contain a blue hue and solitary veneer that drive his vocals to a bittersweet beauty.

His full-length debut Aromanticism finally saw daylight earlier this month, and I was able to catch him performing in its support at his hometown and final U.S. show for the year at the classy El Rey Theatre.

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Flying Lotus 3D & Thundercat @ Hollywood Forever

The Brainfeeder labelmates raise eyes and the dead

October 16th, 2017
David Fisch
Category: Lead Story, Review

This past weekend saw a lot of big music events happening in the Southern California area. It’s that mid-October surprise when the masses of music greats come together and perform before the looming winter arrives and there is considerably much less of it around (though SoCal can hardly be called an area with seasons).

Of these events, one of the most anticipated was having Brainfeeder’s founder and LA’s electronic golden boy Flying Lotus officially premiere his 3D tour (it technically debuted for the first time at this year’s FYF Fest) as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival Los Angeles. Along with the bass maestro and labelmate Thundercat and some comedy bits from the great Hannibal Buress, the night of artists who made 2014’s You’re Dead! and purveyors of that imagery performing on the Fairbanks Lawn of Hollywood Forever Cemetery sounded like the best and most conceptual mashup music and visuals since I don’t know when – and it pretty much was.

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Preview: Sheryl Crow @ Fonda Theatre

The venerable singer/songwriter returns to LA

David Fisch
Category: Lead Story, News

There isn’t much more I can add to the impression that singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow is leaving on the world of music that my buddy Lex Voight hasn’t already stated when she was last in LA back in June. Indeed, the quantity and quality of her music from the 90’s right up until this year’s release of Be Myself is truly remarkable, and to get to see her live on a stage big or small is comparable to seeing a living legend. If you missed her in LA last time, you now have the opportunity for redemption.
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Interview with Desert Daze Founder Phil Pirrone

Joshua Tree fest enters its 5th year on Thursday

October 11th, 2017
Jillian Goldfluss

Putting on a music festival is like producing a movie. It’s an arduous, stressful process. You’ve got to book the best celebrities on the budget you’re allotted, play logistical tic-tac-toe from one day to the next, put out fires that only lead to bigger fires, and get it all sorted before the release date. Then you cross your fingers, hope tickets sell, and pray that the audience enjoys the spectacle. It’s stressful as hell, and Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone can’t get enough of it.

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The Flaming Lips & Mac DeMarco @ The Shrine

Both play up psychedelia in their own ways

October 9th, 2017
David Fisch

All photos by David Fisch

It might seem odd at first to pair a guy who often sings acid-tripped songs in their purest and simplest ways with another guy (and band) who often sings about battling robots and warding demons in sings at their most gargantuan, but their quest for love and continually morphing forms of psychedelic rock easily tie them together. Mac DeMarco and The Flaming Lips on the same bill, in hindsight, makes so much sense, and though they didn’t necessarily share the stage together, the wavy flows of their energy were combed together across three hours at The Shrine Saturday night.
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