Photos: Above & Beyond all Expectations at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium


Friday night, photographer Mark Derutte and I braved the crowds to see the British EDM band Above & Beyond. Approaching the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, a line can be seen — formed like tightly packed sardines, about 12 people thick, and running half the length of the building. “Oh, yeah,” I say out loud, “The long wait. How could I forget?” “No worries,” we say to ourselves — that is until we get closer. About 50 people stand on the opposite side of the road, waiting for the cross walk. Once we reach them, we realize this is a part of the entrance line, and it extends beyond your previous line of sight. We venture further in attempts to find its end, and after traveling the entire length of San Francisco City Hall, we find our place in line amongst hundreds. It is not until forty minutes later that we are finally released to be free inside the Civic Auditorium. This is what you can expect for a sold out show.

Right as I walked in, I was immediately reminded of what it felt like to be 20 again; glow stick here, half naked people over there, hard-step dancers, people packed more tightly than the sardines I previously spoke of outside. When a song ended, the crowd erupted into a frenzy, leaving us to think we were louder than the bass. Then, a quiet, almost whisper like chant was heard: A & B, A & B, A & B. Another song started in the dark, bass began to roar. I didn’t realize it until half way through that this was the first song. Above & Beyond came on stage 15 minutes early, midway through the song the lights turned on, the singing began and dancing commenced.
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KONGOS Troubador Press Photo High Res 9.4.14

KONGOS Are Both Grogginess and the Caffeine Used to Eliminate It


KONGOS started their set at a crawl at The Fillmore on Tuesday after the opening acts, Colony House and Sir Sly, amped up the crowd in preparation of the headliners. When Kongos arrived on stage they played slow jam after slow jam, which jilted the atmosphere and had the crowd in a straight-faced stupor. They lacked the showmanship brought by Sir Sly’s lead singer, Landon Jacobs, who exited the stage with clothes soaked in the sweat induced from his almost constant dance-jumping. San Francisco is one of the last stops for the four brothers since the Lunatic tour began in late January. The exhaustion of the road could have contributed to their tired start of the performance.

After a lot of lackluster, the band redeemed the evening when they hit their fans like caffeine on a groggy morning with “Come With Me Now.” The crowd frenzied and continued to do so for the rest of the night as KONGOS found their energy. The music itself is fun to listen to; alternative rock with rhythmic South African influences that would fit perfectly over any montage of beach bonfire scenes. Read More


Viet Cong Get Freaky @ Rickshaw Stop


Last Thursday’s Viet Cong show came and went at the old familiar Rickshaw Stop. For those who’ve never been to this venue, it’s a great, divey open space that allows for an intimate musical environment… and no, not intimate like that time you played musical chairs with your friends and Jenny sat on your lap accidentally as you beat her to the last seat. It’s the kind of venue where everyone gets the best view, hears every word sung, and every chord strummed.

This was a little bittersweet for opening band Freak Heat Waves – an indie-rock outfit that sounded like Cake on painkillers reciting a Jim Morrison poem, which I say with some awe. Their set was unique, yet a little weird, and gauging the audience’s reaction was tricky. Their quirky combination of krautrock, punk, and funk seemed to be a good fit to open for the quickly rising Calgary post-punk entourage Viet Cong. Oddly enough, the last time these bands came through the Bay Area on the same bill, Freak Heat Waves headlined the show and Viet Cong opened. As Viet Cong bassist and singer, Matt Flegel hilariously stated, “That show was better, but this is fine too.”

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Folk Rockers Field Report Bringing a Little Wisconsin Flavor to The Independent in Support of Joe Pug Friday 3/20


Next Friday March 20th, Milwaukee’s best, Field Report, will take the stage at The Independent for a night of soulful strumming and impassioned folk vocals.  At the center of Field Report is singer/songwriter Chris Porterfield who some may know from his former work in another Wisconsin band DeYarmond Edison. Porterfield breathes life into complex and breathy lyrics and is accompanied by a solid compliment of musicians. The band is opening for Austin’s Joe Pug, one of the best americana/folk voices I’ve ever heard.

Field Report is touring on the new album Marigolden, released at the end of 2014. Much of the album tells stories of love, often with a sorrowful tone. The tracks that stick out for me are songs like “Pale Rider,” which starts out with a defeated feeling and seems to bloom with a feeling of hope as it progresses. There are also some elements of electronic music that have bled into the album, creating an interesting blend of the old and the new, especially evident on the track “Home (Leave The Lights On).”

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Outside Lands 2015 Early Bird Tickets on Sale Thursday


I can’t believe its already that time of the year again, Outside Lands 2015 tickets go on sale March 12th at 10am PT. While we don’t yet know anything related to the lineup, I am sure there are many of you out there who are willing to put your trust in “Ranger Dave” to put together another killer lineup.

This year three day “eager beaver” tickets are going for $285, which makes me think you’ll be paying well over $300 dollars to pick up three day passes later. VIP tickets clock in at $645 if you are looking for a few of the finer things in life, such as nicer bathrooms.

If you’re ready to pull the trigger you can pick up your tickets at 10am PT here. A word of warning the least expensive early birds tend to sell out immediately.

Below is an honest festival map we put together last year. Check out all our Outside Lands coverage here.

Outsiders Guide to Outside Lands


Song of the Day: “Solace” and the Rest of Fyfe’s Debut Album Control


Ever since Fyfe released single “For You” I have anxiously awaited the release of his debut album Control. Fyfe, which is the latest moniker for London-based Paul Dixon, layers beautiful flowing ambient tones– building beats that alternate between exhilarating complexity and haunting sparseness.

Dixon’s voice reaches through the speakers and demands your attention. In “For You” he weaves his words into a jungle of alternating percussion, punctuated by a saxophone solo that puts even Sexy Saxman to shame. In songs like “Solace” sparse sections spotlight layered vocal harmonies and his potent heartfelt crooning. You will hear him compared to Patrick Wolf and at times it feels like he even falls into a Thom Yorke-like trance, such as “Control.” Read More


Theophilus London @ The Independent


Theophilus London did not disappoint. Wednesday night at The Independent was, as we Theophilus fans like to say, “hella Vibes,” for sure!

The DJ was playing all my favorite songs. A mixture of some old school Hiphop and the new shit on the charts. I was feeling it, I was dancing. My only complaint was when Nicki Minaj’s “Only” came on and he skipped the Drake line. You know, the only reason people listen to “Only” is because they only want to hear the Drake’s verse! Anyway, I scoped around and did a head count of the crowd. Definitely a chill group of people, mostly urbanites and hipsters, the SF usual.

The show started off with Doja Cat, a singing/rapping babe. Her voice was sultry and soulful like Erykah Badu and her rap game like that of Ms. Minaj. She looked tiny and cute in a pink oversized sweater and white clunky heels, played all of her beats off her iPhone and created a definite mood when she performed her hit, “So High.” Most people were already lit, I wasn’t, but she brought me to a trance with her smooth hypnotic voice. Now, Doja Cat may not be on everyones map, but after the exposure from Theophilus and his Vibes Tour, she definitely will be. Read More


People Gettin’ Down in the Rafters: Live Review of Lotus at The Regency Ballroom


Lotus played the beautiful Regency Ballroom earlier this month, and it was a scorcher. Lotus brings sounds that jamband fiends have all grown to adore– the types of jams that play in the background of South Park episodes when they make fun of jam bands and the surrounding culture. And as the title suggests, people were absolutely gettin’ down up in them rafters that Friday in February.

First things first, Lotus is a special band. They were one of the first bands I was seeing when I was first getting into the jam scene back in the day in Atlanta – and they’ve been going long before that: Lotus has been getting after it since 1999, when the original members formed at Goshen College in Indiana. Comprised of two guitarists, drums, and a bass+DJ combo, they epitomize the classic sounds of jam for me, and many consider them serious pioneers in bringing jamtronica to the masses. While there is a definite element of electronic in their music, there’s more than a healthy dose of improvisational instrumentals – with guitar tones reminiscent of Jerry Garcia; that flat-yet-popping tone that just sounds right. Read More


Viet Cong descend upon Rickshaw Stop this Thursday


(photo from www.imposemagazine.com)

Red-hot Calgary post-punk band Viet Cong are on a tear right now, earning accolades left and right (including the holy grail of a Pitchfork BNM) for their unpredictable and explosive self-titled record, just released in January. You can catch them at Rickshaw Stop this Thursday- tickets are sold out, but I’ve found myself getting lucky by striking up conversations with patrons outside this venue before- it’s worth a shot!

Viet Cong’s brand of mathy post-punk and art rock tosses a barrage of unexpected sounds in your face, from the twangy, high-pitched guitars and droning noise interludes, to the dizzying rhythm changes and galloping kraut-rock basslines. Despite a lo-fi aesthetic, the tunes are solid and well-constructed, and it will be fun to see how they translate to a live setting… I’ve been looking forward to this show for months.

Every song from this record sounds pretty different but screw it, let’s try this one. Close your eyes, pop on your headphones, and let the band take you on an 11-miute journey that goes all sorts of places you didn’t see coming with album closer “Death”.

As mentioned, the show is sold out, but there MAY be some $12 tickets at the door. Show starts at 8pm. For more info about the show and the openers, check out Rickshaw Stop’s site, here.


K Flay and Geographer @ The Fox


Another year of the Noise Pop music festival brought another lineup of outstanding independent artists from all over the continent.  Yet, with it’s ever-growing reach, Noise Pop, a San Francisco born festival, will always have a soft spot for the Bay Area. Friday night’s lineup at the Fox theater was heavily Bay inspired, with appearances from Geographer, K. Flay, and Bells Atlas, all of whom have roots here in the Bay area. This is what I had been waiting for all week; a night full of dreamy indy rock, indy hip hop, and a couple of beers.

Opening the night was Bells Atlas, followed by Chicago-based, alternative rock band Empires. The energy  was pretty high from the start of the show, but once Stanford alum, K. Flay hit the stage, that’s when the party got started.  She went right into songs from her most recent album, Life as a DogSongs like “Fever,” “Thicker Than Dust,” and “Everyone I know” all made an appearance and hit the crowd hard. As a longtime fan though, I was secretly hoping for some of her older tracks like “2 Weak” or “Danger Starts.”

I’ve been a fan of K. Flay since her Mashed Potatoes mixtape came out in 2009, and it’s been a pleasure watching her skills as a musician evolve and mature. Her music has always been refreshing and innovative and has always proved to be relatable to me, but now I can tell that through years on the road and refining her craft, she has honed in on a lot of themes that make us young and human. Themes of loneliness, unrequited love, and self doubt, are still in her music, but have only been brought to a new heights.

It was no time before San Francisco’s very own Geographer finally graced the stage and played us several songs from their soon-to-be-released album Ghost Modern. Having already seen and photographed Geographer at BFD and  San Francisco’s Outsidelands music festival, I was highly anticipating another unbelievable, yet more intimate, show.  Lead signer, Michael Deni, and the band, did not disappoint. Seeing them perform “Paris” at the end of the set sent chills down my spine. As Deni said, “It was the song that started it all.” I can’t wait to listen to the new album when it comes out later this month (3/24). Until then, I’ll have 2010’s Animal Shapes on repeat.

As the Noise Pop music festival comes to an end, I’m anxious for what the summer has in store. When one festival ends, it usually means the start of another. More rock, more hip hop, and more beers

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