Category Archives: Festivals

“Barton Hollow” – The Civil Wars (Live at Austin City Limits)

It’s a really rare thing nowadays when a live performance is better than the recorded version, especially in this, the age of digital instrumentation which can’t really be recreated (or improved on) live by a human player–what is to me, the best, most essential part of live music.

With their live performance of “Barton Hollow” at Austin City Limits, The Civil Wars have joined The Head and The Heart, Death Cab for Cutie and Macklemore x Ryan Lewis (according to both myself and fellow blogger Taylor) as artists that have transcended the record to create an amazing live performance and earn a serious amount of respect.

Watch here and wash yourself in gorgeous:

 


I Think I’ll Do This EVERY Year; Bumbershoot From A 2nd Perspective

Sorry Kevin, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do… By which I mean I’m just as floored as you and simply COULDN’T keep all these important ideas and opinions to myself. I mean, someone’s gotta want to hear these… right?

First off, a background on my history at Seattle festivals. I’ve been a regular attendee of the Folk Life festival for the past 4 years and have always enjoyed going to the Seattle Center to run into a lot of “Oh hey let me just give you the head nod cause I don’t ACTUALLY know you”s, get just a little bit too high every year, and end up staring at the fountain for a good hour. That being said, I also enjoy the overpriced fair foods (Pirozhkis out the ying yang) and tracking down the Seattle Scarf Man for an annual Free Hugs sign. However, until yesterday I had never been to Bumbershoot. Why? I suck, that’s why. I’m a huge loser and don’t like fun.

See? Sleeping. No fun.

Continuing on, Bumbershoot. To quickly explain for those of you that don’t know Bumbershoot is a 3 day music festival held at the Seattle Center that features a mixture of local and underground as well as bigger, more mainstream acts. So when I arrived at precisely 2:34 PM (You have to keep a tight schedule if you don’t want to have any fun) I was pleased to see that music aside, this was quite similar to the Folk Life atmosphere. Girls wearing little to no clothing (some guys too), tons of drugs (decidedly did not partake this year), and yet there was something missing. Lo and behold, no Scarf Man… I shed a quick tear for my lost comrade.

But we pushed forward! Now then, the music:

Oh hey M83, what’s that? I’m sorry I can’t hear you. One more time? [Insert sounds of head exploding]

If you don’t know who M83 is they’re that French band that’s been all over the radio with that one song that has the random scream-like sounds that sound exactly like the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time

Yes that one. Anyways, I wasn’t a huge fan of them at first (partially because that sound reminds me of sleepless nights waiting for this) but also hadn’t really taken a good listen yet. Well guess what, I’m fucking stupid, because these guys kick absolute ass. We started out in the nosebleed section of seats and decided we were better than that, so we found some seats lower down (where the above picture was taken from), and then eventually made out way onto the floor like the rest of the sane people there. And again, seriously, M83 put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Their whole performance has this crazy mix of electronic keyboards and synths with a very pure set of drums, guitar, and the occasional saxophone. It’s very French, very nuanced, and very catchy. Not in an obnoxious sort of way though. The band sort of sneaks these incredibly addictive sounds into their songs that have left me obsessing (first person to tell me what that song is gets a post about why they’re awesome). And the band got so into their performance, climbing on drum sets, skanking for like 8 minutes straight, and just giggin. They also did something I hadn’t really seen a lot of previously, which was a consistent switching of roles and instruments. Which was cool, it was like each band member wanted a different piece of the action for each song. Along with this whole crazy performance they had an amazing light show. The band was staged in front of a dozen or so lit up poles that resembled what I can only hope is the awesome hybrid of bamboo and LEDs (let’s go scientists). The crowd was frequently assaulted by euphoria inducing waves of lights that only egged us on even more. Oh yeah, I forgot. Speaking of egging us on, the band was so incredible, that this happened.

Dear Lights, Can I have your number you Canadian vixen of song and dance? Love, Seth

After a long late-afternoon hanging out by the fountain and catching up with some old friends (shouts out to Emma Spence) we made our way to the Tune In stage to watch Canadian singer Lights perform. 

She put on quite a show for us if I do say so myself. For those of you that don’t know her (shhhh, it’s ok. Don’t be embarrassed, I didn’t either… There there) Lights’ music consists of poppy, electro beats and cute, love songy lyrics to accompany them. Her whole set was actually pretty spectacular. She’s got a really great voice and totally knows how to work with the crowd. She sort of reminds me of a more indie, less commercialized, more Canadian Katy Perry. Not to say she’s a KP knock off, she’s totally got her own sound and persona. Keeping with the theme of new experiences here, Lights threw me and I think the whole crowd off when she started throwing dubstep drops into the middle of her songs. The first time was sort of a knock to the head: “Whoa…, hey wait what was that?” but by the second and third time it was more of an outstretched hand that said “Hey there, it’s ok, I meant to do that.” at which point the crowd was like ksweetthanx. Overall, she’s an excellent performer and a perfect act to open up for…

Passion Pit. So let’s get the record straight here. I originally had planned on attending Skrillex. Yup, I said it. Having been to enough electronic concerts I figured a Skrillex show would be nothing short of an insane 2 hour long dubstep orgasm (according to reports, it was). Anyways back onto topic, the friends I was with convinced me to stay (“C’mon Seth, be cool, for once in your life”). So Lights ended and we had about 45 minutes in between sets. We (along with every-fucking-one else around us) wanted good spots close to the front for PP and decided to stay and wait. But don’t worry it was worth it. The whole band came out and opened up with their latest hit Take a WalkNeedless to say, everyone got pretty pumped up at the point. Their set as a whole consisted of mostly new songs off their just released album Gossamer aside from their older hits Sleepyhead and Little Secrets. The band was spot on and the whole crowd was jumping and swaying to every song. Also, if you haven’t ever seen these guys perform, the lead singer is hilarious. I assume it’s because of how high pitched his singing is, but his mouth is stretching in ways I thought not possible and his tongue flails about in all directions.

Meh, I guess we thought they were alright

Although Passion Pit wasn’t quite as nuts as Skrillex might’ve been, they made up for it with a killer performance and a sensational positive vibe about the whole thing. My only big disappointment was the lack of a significant light show. Maybe it’s too difficult to set something like that up outside in the open but I was bummed there wasn’t more trance-like visual effects. Ah well, maybe next time.

Go like some facebooks: M83, Lights (Also check out her new album Siberia), Passion Pit

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For those wondering, yes I did have fun. I also got Dicks afterwards. Suhhhhwagggg


Bumbershoot 2012! – The Musings of a Floored Fan

Although this review is only my own opinion and what I perceived the whole event as, I am pretty sure that I can speak for most, if not all, attendees in say that Bumbershoot is the fucking shit. Yo this year was absolutely nuts. Closing day of this 3-day September adventure, you can feel a definite buzz in the air. Oh and also the tired look on the faces of the people running the booths. Now I had the fortune of attending another big music event a couple weeks ago (107.7 The End Summer Camp) and as much fun as I had at that one, Bumbershoot will always prevail. The cool thing that sets Bumbershoot apart from other music events is that while you do come for the vast amount of popular artists, and their music, you end up staying for the entire vibe of it all. There is such an overwhelming sense of pure bliss whilst walking around, hearing music blasting from every corner of Seattle Center, seeing the vast crowds of thousands, jam-packed onto a lawn. It’s just so…damn beautiful. Now that may either be the legit vibe you get or the smoke from the weed wafting up into your nostrils. Whatever the reason, Bumbershoot is just so damn fun. It is the greatest culture event out there. Nothing makes you feel cooler than walking around, strutting your shit, and listening to some of your favorite bands with some fellow fans. Not only is the music great, but the people (except the obnoxious drunk dudes), food and booths are as well. Bumbershoot should never be relegated to just music, as there is so much to do, it’s just fun to explore and look for things. There are booths out there where you can get a bunch of free stuff. Who doesn’t like free stuff right? Just cruising throughout the entire Center is fun in itself. I mean people take your photos for free too!

Two guys digging the event! The guy on the left smells bad too.

It is just a wild party that everybody should go to. Doesn’t matter how old you are, what music you like or whatever else. Go for the good times and the memories. Now about the music. Although I liked many bands that were playing, I did not go to many of them because I prefer discovering new things. Also I hate lines. Speaking of lines, before we get into music, I was considering going to Skrillrex. But it cut into Passion Pit time. So no go. Thank goodness not. Skrillex’s act started at 9:30. The line opened up at 6:00. By 6:30, there were already at least 1000 people waiting in line. By 7:30, hoards of people were waiting and the line stretched way past Key Arena. So yeah, you get the idea.

THE WOMBATS

The Wombats performed twice during the last day, once with KEXP at the Toyota booth and later at the Exhibition Hall. I didn’t make it to the exhibition hall one and I was surprised. The performance at the Toyota booth had less than 75 people watching. The line for The Wombats for their main performance was  around 3000. Yup. This 3-piece band from Liverpool is mostly known for their super upbeat, dancefloor hits that’ll get you moving, but on that day, at a special 20-minute performance, we were treated to a softer side of them. Relying on acoustics, everything was definitely toned down, but still pretty awesome. Best part had to be when they played their hit song “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” in what they called a “Hoe-Down” version, essentially an acoustic, country sounding song. Pretty damn cool. Since they were doing their acoustic thing, no real jumping around, but still had the crowd sing along!

DEBO BAND

I had no idea who these guys were. I walked over right after The Wombats and came face to face with this World/Ethiopian Funk type band. It sounded kind of weird at first and I strolled over to check it out and was definitely surprised. At first I thought it was some abstract band just making some kind of A capella song, but they were actually playing with violins, saxophones, guitars, drums, accordions, trumpets, sousaphones! And they sounded really great! Good enough to make me jump straight into the middle of the crowd and start to do some stupid dances with a bunch of hippies. As ridiculous as it sounds, it was very very fun! The funk of the band was overwhelming and just engulfed me. I couldn’t stop dancing to them. They had me paralyzed or something. Paralyzed with Dance-Fever! Something was entrancing about the band and I am sure I can say it was the funk. Damn, I loved it. Hippie dancing is fun too haha. But the lead singer actually came out into the crowd and danced with us! How often do you get that? Mad respect.

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

LIGHTS

I stood off to the side and admired her. She’s real good at singing and playing the crowd. For a more in-depth analysis of the performance, check out Seth’s post!  He saw the whole thing!

HEY MARSEILLES

PASSION PIT

Passion Pit was flipping awesome. From the beginning to when I had to leave early, the crowd was rocking along with the band. By that point in the night, there were so many people just high out of their mind, either from self-stimulation or second hand. But no one needed that to enjoy Passion Pit’s performance. Just really damn good. Great stage presence the entire time up there as well as a lot of crowd interaction as well, which was very cool. For a more in-depth analysis of the performance, check out Seth’s post!  He saw the whole thing!

To be continued later. I am tired now.


107.7 The End’s Summer Camp 2012 – Review

August 25, 2012. Marymoor Park. Redmond, Washington. 107.7 The End’s Summer Camp 12. Stuff just went down. Washington’s biggest alternative radio station just threw one of the biggest concerts of the year with big names throughout. And boy, was it good. The lineup (in order) for 2012 was Adventure Galley, Husky, Milo Greene, Animal Kingdom, The Features, Morning Parade, Atlas Genius, The Royal Concept, Walk The Moon, fun., Alex Clare. Here comes a review of the entire series (in this writer’s humblest opinion of course!)

Adventure Galley

I missed them completely. Sorry. Here is a cool song called Addict anyway.

Husky

First time I’ve heard of them and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when I first heard them start playing. But this folk band did wonders and actually was a pleasant surprise. Their overall performance left me with a good first impression. This four-piece band from Melbourne, Australia with a folk-alternative sound has this soft, melancholy feel about them. That’s the first vibe that I got from them, but then later they actually kind of rocked as well, so look for them to be a soft band with a rockin’ side to it. The greatest aspect of their performance had to be the vocals though. The singing was very, very good. I might even go to argue it was one of the best voices of the night.

Milo Greene

This five piece band has been one of my favorites within the past year, so it might be a bit biased to say that I really liked their preformance and thought it was good. Wait scratch that. It was good! They started off their set with a flawless transition from an opening number into “Don’t You Give Up On Me” and from there, the rest of their time on stage was damn good. With reverbing guitars that echoed nicely, to the change in tones with the switch up of the lead singer, Milo Greene kept it nice and steady until it rocked out in the end with a cover of Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago”. The only knock on an otherwise, very solid set, was the difficulty in hearing some of the singers at times, especially the girl. This was a bigger problem for Milo Greene than the harder bands because they rely a lot on their soft vocals to carry them through songs, but it gets hard live. Other than that, I enjoyed the consistent performance.

Animal Kingdom

I was first exposed to this band a long time ago when their track “Tin Man” was a free single on itunes. I forgot about them and I was reminded that they are actually a quite solid band. But I was really surprised by the way their sound has evolved. I liked “Tin Man” but compare that to a track 3 years later in “Strange Attractor”. Not gonna lie, I first thought the lead singer was a girl when I first heard “Tin Man” but now he definitely sounds like a man. Interesting fact about them that Summer Camp was their first ever show in Washington, yet their first record was recorded in Seattle. But the thing I liked about their performance was some strange beat machine that kept on mixing their sounds. But one thing I can take away from them, is that I know I won’t forget about them now.

The Features

These four rockers from Nashville, TN came and blew me off of my feet. Not literally but pretty damn close. Throughout their performance, my shorts were shaking from the bass’ power. Their sound is quite interesting as they call themselves modern pop/indie/rock, but to be honest, the sound a bit like some abstract folk rock that relied heavily of synths. Whatever they are, they really brought it that afternoon. Their energy level was insane. As their performance went on, their energy grew and it was damn fun to watch and rock along with. It also really helped that the singer could really freakin’ belt. They had the best energy the whole night, hands-down.

Morning Parade

Their performance was absolutely flawless. That’s all I can say. It was just perfect. The crowd was in sync perfectly with the band and they had every fan out there eating out of their hands. The beats were super energetic, upbeat and hella catchy. You could just see people mesmerized by the performance. I know I was. I had an absolute pleasure watching every second of the performance. Now thing I liked most about them was their pure joy of just playing. They looked so damn happy just being up on that stage, rockin’ out while the crowd went nuts. Great show by them. Best Stage Presence.

Atlas Genius

Coming off of the high that Morning Parade brought, it was a bit weird to get switched to the slower-paced Atlas Genius, but it was still alright. They started out with a little funk sound, but they eventually sped up and gained crowd support, as well as energy. Big props to them for gaining the crowd back after a kickass performance. By the end, their ending “Trojans” had the entire crowd bouncing up and down, the first time all night that it happened. Must’ve been pretty cool for the Australians that are touring in the US for the first time.

The Royal Concept

I had previously known them as The Concept before they changed their name and when I saw them as The Royal Concept, my perception of them changed. They went from being really cool to freakin’ kickass! That night yielded very little similarities to the voice of Thomas Mars and the rest of Phoenix and The Royal Concept made a nice job banging out a name for themselves. Absolute great vibes from the crowd the entire time and people were just bouncing around digging the high-octane energy of the group. By the time their finale came up, the crowd was already pretty pumped. “D-D-Dance” came on and the place just about blew up. Freaking crazy.

Walk The Moon

How was Walk The Moon supposed to surpass any of the great bands from before? Well they do it by doing a little something like this: Make the crowd wait 30 minutes to preform (even though they were already set-up), get to the stage with the hype and excitement rippling through the air, start playin some bitchin’ music, get into it with the crowd, throwing stuff out, including the crowd in with the music (during Quesadilla, it was magical) and just getting everyone to go nuts. I didn’t know how the energy could go past what The Royal Concept brought, but it was done. Walk The Moon made the crowd just go ape-shit crazy. Everyone was jumping up and down and just whooping like no tomorrow. The best part of the set had to be during “Anna Sun” where pretty much every single person was screaming the memorized lyrics at the the top of their lungs. Best Overall Performance.

fun.

Now even though fun. was the headlining act, they preformed second to last because Alex Clare refused to play unless it was dark. So fun. took it in stride and played a fucking awesome set. They had the best set-up and atmosphere during their set. There was even a point where they blew a whole bunch of confetti up in the air and the crowd went wild:

fun. played with such a passion and the lead singer maintained his awesome singing voice throughout the entire set. Yes, “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” were freakin’ awesome too, don’t worry. fun. basically got their shit done. Coolest part asides from the confetti exploding and the awesome light show in the background, was when the crowd was given the chance to croon out the chorus to “We Are Young”. That was cool listening to 1000+ people sing together.

Alex Clare

Skipped him completely. Why not just suck it up and play during the day? Also I wanted to beat the traffic. But apparently it was good!

Overall:

There was not one bad artist there. I ended up loving each and every performance, regardless of my original thought. All the bands genuinely wanted to be there and you could really see it in their performances. A whole bunch of them came out after their sets to sign autographs and talk with the fans. It’s always cool when groups realize their fans supporting them is what got them big, so showing  little love never hurt. It definitely made the experience much greater because if the artists were happy to be there, the fans were sure as well ecstatic to be there. Asides from the heat and a bit of anger from inside the mosh pit from the swarming pile of bodies, I have no complaints of the night. Everything just kind of fit together perfectly to create an awesome cultural experience. Everything, from the music, to the weed smoke wafting up in the air, the dude holding a cardboard sign that demanded people have a dance party, to the idiots that went crowd surfing and eventually being dropped, all fit together like a perfect puzzle to put an exclamation mark on the just amazing 2012 107.7 The End Summer Camp.


This Might be the Most Fantastic Thing You Will See

Rotary Dial Springtime cover art

So I surfing the web in hopes of exploring some other cultures (and subsequently fueling my passion to go overseas sometime soon) and I came across this gem of a video. It covers Holi, a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. A group by the name of Good Line captured the event and posted it on their page. Here’s their statement about what they do:

Good Line is a creative collaborative focused on telling stories through the method of short documentaries.

We are writers, cinematographers, musicians and artists fueled by the art of Storytelling. Our tale-chasing takes us around the globe as we enthusiastically track down the best threads, the wildest yarns, and the good lines; no matter where it takes us.

The experiences we’ve shared with our clients make us who we are and we count ourselves blessed to be a part of their story.

We believe in optimism, truth, and real life characters.

We believe in capturing life as it is.

Now proceed to watch their awesome video.

Beyond the eyegasms of watching thousands of people having a the time of their lives as they blast each other with colors, I couldn’t help but notice the cinematic sound of the video. Well, in actuality notice would be too much of an understatement. I absolutely adored the music, this is a kind of sound that absolutely bursts with energy and enthusiasm.  Go ahead, listen to the track for the first minute and see if you aren’t compelled to smile in joy. Do the same thing with the video too. Oh Jesus I need to participate in Holi.

http://micahdahl.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thegoodline


SXSW 2012 Downloads

As you may know, SXSW, a music festival in Austin is near the end of its scheduled run. With that, many bands are getting a chance to increase their exposure and sharpen their skills in front of crowds. However, there are so many bands playing it is hard to know which ones to really check out. Have no fear, some fella over at Listen Before You Buy went through all the artists and put up the best. Here’s what he said:

“For the past few years the organisers of the SXSW festival have included an MP3 with each artists they feature on their site who is appearing at the festival, as a wee taster of what to expect from said artist.

At the same time some awesome fellow organises all of the free (and legal) MP3s featured on theSXSW website and makes them available as a Torrent file. For the last couple of years I’ve spent a month or so going through all of these songs and picking out my favourites, so you can have a sweet little playlist of awesome free music to either soundtrack your roadtrip to the festival, or check out some of the great things going on if you’re unable to make it.

Last year there were 792 songs to listen to, this year there were 771, but here’s the process I went through.

  • Three weeks of listening to all 771 songs and artists
  • Going back through the 233 that I’d picked out as extra special awesome, and making sure they were still awesome on the second listen (they were)
  • Making sure all of the songs had the correct ID3 tags and were labeled properly
  • Putting the songs into groups of ZIP files
  • Uploading each ZIP file to Mediafire and then posting them below
  • Uploading all of the songs to the excellent SoundOwl.
  • Copying the MP3 location from SoundOwl, highlighting the song in the post and pasting the MP3 link so that it plays on this here page…..233 times
  • And finally going through each song on this page and making sure they all worked (they did)

So there you have it. 233 free MP3s curated by LBYB for your perusal. Let us know what you think in the comments and who your favourites are.  We’re going to have a few staff members at SXSW this year so if you see us somewhere and know what we look like (no, we don’t look like douchebags actually) come and say hello.”

Clearly amazing. Check out the link to really find out some fantastic artists (the SHEER size is amazing).

The best of SXSW 2012


“Miranda” – Surfer Blood

So, a few months back, I told you guys the story of how I dropped the lead singer of Surfer Blood, one of my favorite bands, at Sasquatch. Sadly, I never got around to finishing my review of Sasquatch (though I might do that sometime in the future for kicks), so I didn’t have a chance to regale you with the story of how I was in the front row for his concert in the rain on Monday. He jumped in the crowd (no drop this time), and was actually set down next to me. He didn’t recognize me, or at least pretended not to. The energy and the song creating it were awesome. So I guess we’re cool. I guess.

Tuesday, Surfer Blood released their new album, Tarot Classics, and it’s freaking awesome. My favorite song to jam out to right now is  “Miranda”, about the lead singer’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend from New York, which was my favorite song that they played at the Sasquatch show; the catchy chorus of the echoing harmonies chanting Mi-ir-a-a-nda over and over pulses me and keeps me hooked. The last harmony, on ‘da’, is beautifully dissonant, recognizing the irregularity in the traditional punk heartbeat–it’s a nod to the imperfect, but passionate relationship shared by Miami Surfer Blood and his New York girl.

The Miami-based band is touring in support of Pixies right now. Check that out if you get the chance.

Listen & Download Here: