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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Blue Hawaii @ Moroccan Lounge

Canadian duo hits the Arts District’s newest venue

David Fisch
Category: Review

The owners of the recent movie-house-turned-concert-space Teragram Ballroom in downtown turned another small space into a venue called the Moroccan Lounge, and with its neatly placed staging area next to its low-lit and vibey dining/bar area, it felt like the right spot to showcase the electronic Canadian duo Blue Hawaii. After a four-year gap between albums, they released Tenderness earlier this month, and they are out touring in support 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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Perfume Genius @ The Glass House

Mike Hadreas performs at the top of his game

September 27th, 2017
David Fisch

Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, has slowly come into his own and built an audience for his brand of provocative chamber pop and folk throughout the 2010’s. It’s weird to say he’s “broken through” multiple times, but with each successive record, a new, bursting Perfume Genius is born. This year’s No Shape continues this streak without question with tracks like “Slip Away” and “Valley,” and with its expansive instrumentation and propulsive flow, his confidence is firing on all cylinders, and it’s undoubtedly one of the year’s best records for it.

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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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Show Review: OneRepublic at The Forum

Pop rockers bring soaring songs, light show

Mary Bonney
Category: Review

Last Thursday, OneRepublic took over The Forum as part of this summer’s Honda Civic Tour and brought a side Los Angeles fans haven’t seen in their decade-spanning hit career. The quintet performed their infectious pop tunes and wildly popular emotional ballads with musical perfection, but the moments in between the music truly showed the band’s passion for music and connection to their fans.

Opener “Stop and Stare” immediately demonstrated the band’s ability to craft dramatic, infectious songs and the following “Secrets” and “Kids” showcased OneRepublic’s diverse, well-crafted discography of four successful albums. Ryan Tedder’s impressive vocals were on display as his belts stretched dizzyingly high, well past the recorded vocals of songs like “I Lived” and “Let’s Hurt Tonight”.

OneRepublic effortlessly transitions between stadium-filling epics and intimate tracks. Tedder performed piano, guitar and drums (briefly) throughout the night as the pyramid-shaped stage displayed a stunning light show, which shone best during the Alesso-remixed “If I Love Myself”.

Tedder is well-known as OneRepublic’s lead singer, but is also one of our generation’s most prolific songwriters and producers, which he briefly discussed after warning the audience, “some of you may not care.” He explained his history and desire to perform songs on this tour that he originally penned, including Ed Sheeran’s “Happier” and Beyonce’s “Halo”, another opportunity for Tedder to perform falsetto acrobatics.

During the stripped-down portion of the evening, however, Tedder confessed to fans his fear of this tour. After touring non-stop over two years off their third album Native, Tedder said the band hit the wall and wanted to quit music, but this tour had reinvigorated them. “Now we release music when we want to,” he explained, and thanked fans for reminding them what a strong, supportive following they have.

While the band was touring in support of their most recent release, this year’s Oh My My, I of course heard young fans laugh in the lobby about wanting to hear their hit debut “Apologize”. Tedder announced the band’s debut single was celebrating the ten year anniversary of its release that week, also noting that may have been when some audience members “were like seven years old”.

The encore made use of the packed arena as Tedder demanded cell phones light up to “Counting Stars”. The Tedder-written Adele track “Rumor Has It” nearly brought the house down as opener Fitz and the Tantrums returned to the stage. The pulsating “Love Runs Out” ended the evening, a performance packed with wall-to-wall hits and unforgettable musical talent.

For more information on OneRepublic:

Official Website

Festival Review: It’s Not Dead Fest

It’s still very much alive.

August 30th, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: Review, Staff Pick

Every time I head out to San Bernadino, I tell myself it’s the last time. The ride is too long, the traffic too brutal, the parking too difficult, and, despite the invariably amazing lineup, no lineup could be good enough to be worth it all. And every time I am proved wrong.

It’s Not Dead Fest 2 is case and point.
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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