By: Rosario “DJ Chayo” of The Starlit Hour
Music, fog, forest, break dancing and sliced piggies – it’s either not what you’d expect from your average Music Festival or EVERYTHING you could want in a festival. I’m still debating which one, but what I do know for sure is that if I had a hat to tip to Another Planet Entertainment, I would- even knowing it’d be a gross form of repayment to San Francisco for putting on one hell of festival.
Still fairly new, Outside Lands has just finished it’s 7th annual festival at the Golden Gate Park and shows no sign of stopping as this year saw sold out tickets, a great lineup and a diverse range of names both big and small, ranging from local SF groups like The Districts to big names like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I stepped foot into the forest grounds except that it’d probably be somewhat more chillier (an assumption that I paid for dearly once I felt the full extent of the chill and then realized that I had only a meager sweater and sandals to help me cope with the weather). By the night of the last act, however, I felt both relieved and saddened, by the fact that I’d be finally able to rest my feet, but that it’d be a full year until I could step back into the wonderful foresty realm that encompasses and makes up Outside Lands.
One of the best things about festivals is the various range of artist that are gathered in one spot, and even better than that is when you discoverer a love for a new band right as they’re playing right in front of you. Such was the experience with a lot of artist at Outside Lands, but this was especially true for Chromeo ‘s set. With a keyboard standing on a pair of lady legs, David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel delivered an explosion of funk and electronic as they played “Sexy Socialite,” “Don’t Turn the Lights On” and more to a roaring audience.
Donning a greenish space-age looking dress and dark round shaped sunglasses over their eyes, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig looked like a couple of blonde alien woman from some unknown planet, come landed down to San Francisco to play for an Earthling crowd. As soon as the music started, they fortunately, sounded nothing at all like that. Instead their voices, meshing together so smoothly and yet so powerfully, made this photographer an instant fan with “Two of Us on the Run” and “Turn it Around.”
Having played Lykke Li several times while subbing shows for KUCI, I had made it a point to see them perform when I first got to the festival. I nearly didn’t even get the chance to do that, as the crowd that gathered before the stage extended way out across the entire Twin Peaks grounds, with some people even climbing trees just to see over the crowd. Wading through a sea of shoulders ( I’d say heads if I was actually tall enough to see over them) was all worth it because as soon as I made it near the front, the soft playful tune of “Dance Dance Dance” started, making the audience transform from hundreds of separate individuals to an entire moving organism, united through music and dance.
I arrived in front of the main stage to see Churches play, but due to a change in schedule (apparently they had missed their flight) the set was replaced by Paolo Nutini’s. Standing before his audience, Paolo ‘s set was backed by a vibrant mural frame that went only too well with the mix of soul and agony that came from his voice as he sang “Scream” and “Funk (My Life Up).”
The Flaming Lips
Having sealed their name in fame, it was no surprise to anyone that The Flaming Lips would draw one of the biggest crowds in Outside Lands. Deep in the thick of this monster of a crowd is where you can feel the energy the most, and it was absolutely pulsating in anticipation of The Flaming Lips. The music came on and the energy exploded as front man Wayne Coyne took the stage, wearing a muscle suit (the first of many suits) and flanked by men and women inside inflatable mushroom, rainbow, and alien costumes. Singing “Do You Realize” and other favorites, he came out crooning a baby doll in his arms and presented himself to the audience before disappearing inside his signature Bubble Ball and letting the audience take him.
Patrick Stewart and the Improvised Shakespeare Company
One of the things that separated Outside Lands from other festivals I’ve been to or heard about is their stage attractions. Aside from several different music stages, there was The Barbary Tent, which was a stage set up for stand up, improve groups and other comedy groups. I decided to check out Saturday’s 4 o clock show to see the Improvised Shakespeare Company and was surprised to see that Patrick Stewart would be performing alongside the group (meanwhile Craig Robinson was sitting off in the reserved part of the audience). An improv group dedicated to performing improvised plays based entirely off of Shakespearean work and language, we saw the company put on a spectacular one time showing of “A Midsummer Night’s Shish-kabob” (as suggested by an audience member). With such made-up-on-the-spot “Turkish” names like Abdragul, Abdagzul, Abddasomethingorother fighting against Theseus (Stewart) and the rest of the Grecians, the company had the audience in tears and on their feet and cheering.
These were just a few among many awesome events that took place at Outside Lands (I stumbled upon a breakdancing/food-fight stage at one point), so if you’d like to get a taste of it, you’d better mark this down on your calendar for next year. In the meantime, keep on listening to KUCI for the next up and coming artists. You never know- maybe you can see some of them live onstage at the next festival.
Photos Taken By Rosario Diaz
TONIGHT leaving richmond’s Jordan Pier will be stopping by on World Without Worlds to perform some new songs from his brand-new EP An Elusive Glow.
Listen in from 6-9 pm at http://www.kuci.org/ or 88.9FM in Irvine!
LAMC Day 1 Part 2: Indie Showcase
After escaping the rain from Central Park we headed downtown to the Mercury Lounge, a night life hot spot in the Lower East Side. Although I consider myself a pretty decent city navigator, we missed our metro stop and decided to walk the rest of the way to the venue. Our train delay meant we missed the first act, (me llamo) Sebastian, a Chilean artist who I’m told was one of the evening’s
highlights and after checking out his Soundcloud page, I’m pretty bummed I missed out.
The evening however included one of the artists who I was most excited to see. Caloncho, a native of Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, dazed the crowd with his unassuming good looks, his tender voice, and romantic lyrics. Playing songs from his FRUTA EP, I’m sure all the girls (myself included) were swooning over lyrics like “y quiero rozarte, acariciarte con mis labios…” ( I want to touch and caress you with my lips..). His set ended much too quickly but the banana costumed bassist and the pineapples on the drummer’s headphones definitely won the chatty crowd over.
El Mato A Un Policia Motorizado roughly translates to He Killed A Motorized Cop
The next and last performer I got to see was El Mato A Un Policia Motorizado, a hard-working psychedelic lo-fi fuzz band from La Plata, Argentina. Making their U.S. debut after touring all over South America and Europe for the last nine years, El Mato were right at home on a NY
C stage. After blasting through highlights of their long career with songs like “Mujeres Bellas y Fuertes” and “Mi Proximo Moviemiento,” El Mato were awarded the LAMC Discovery Award. This well -deserved award hints at the bright future of this band, which has their long awaited US debut album slated for release on July 29th.
LAMC Day 2 coming up soon…
This is the second part of Cindy’s LAMC Diary. To hear artists interviews and live sets from New York tune in this Saturday to AlternLatino, 2-4PM. For more info on the LAMC and AlternLatino, follow Cindy on Twitter @Cindy_Ly and AlternLatino.tumblr.com
Cindy’s DIY KUCI signage
The LAMC, the Latin Alternative Music Conference, is an annual gathering of the brightest Latin Alternative artists. Set in Manhattan over the course of 4 days, the conference is celebrating its 15th year as the go-to event for established artists as well as up and coming acts.
With concerts, panels, and press days, Cindy Ly will be representing KUCI and AlternLatino and the spirit of underground music.
Cindy’s camera braving the elements
A free outdoor concert in Central Park was the perfect way to start off the LAMC. As part of its weekly free concert series, the Summer Stage welcomed Franco-Chilean Hip Hop darling Ana Tijoux, best known to American audiences as the singer of 1977, a song featured in the show Breaking Bad (season 4, episode 5) and EA Sports FIFA ‘11
No stranger to drawing an enthusiastic crowd, Tijoux played a rain soaked set, the audience dancing around as the heavy droplets got us caught in the rain. Always the socially conscious artiste, Ana Tijoux did not shy away from talking about issues of feminism, femicide, and the Palestine-Israeli crisis. Her music too speaks of social issues, and her set finishing piece was Somos Sur, the anthem of the underrepresented.
Tijoux finished her set just as night fell on Central Park and a firefly show was on full display. Im trying to find another word besides magical to describe that show but nothing else is fitting. It was pretty magical.
Part 2 to be continued…
Cindy Ly is the host/selector for AlternLatino, a KUCI show airing on Saturdays 2-4pm. For more information on the LAMC as well as Cindy’s adventures in New York, follow her on Twitter @cindy_ly and on tumblr alternlatino.tumblr.com
-Rosario “DJ Chayo” Diaz (The Starlit Hour)
With the release of their latest album, “Too Much Information,” British rock group Maximo Park have finally returned to the states after two years to perform on American stages. This past Friday, they performed at the Troubadour in Hollywood, where I had the opportunity to interview front man of the group, Paul Smith.
I met with Paul at the venue some hours before the show. Having followed the band since 2005, I was a little more than ecstatic at being able to question him, so I decided to use this opportunity to ask the questions that I had often struggled with, the first of which pertained to the many labels there were surrounding the band. With so many terms out there on the internet, I figured the best thing to do would be to ask the man himself.
Me: “Whenever I’m talking about the band to some of my friends, I’m never really sure what to call the genre of music you produce. Back when “A Certain Trigger” and “Our Earthly Pleasures” came out, the thing that’d often come to mind when listening to the songs is something like “lonely rainy British days.” And online there’s so many labels used to define you guys, like post-punk, British rock, alternative…so I was wondering how you would describe your sound, without use of any of those labels.”
Paul: “I suppose there is a strand of melancholy that runs through the all of the songs. It’s there even in our most elated moments. The feeling could be snatched away at any moment. You know, we always wanted to make pop songs. I like all sorts of different music, but it seems that this was more of what suits us best. It’s what we all really like, what we really look for. For instance, I really like folk music, but maybe Lukas [keyboardist] doesn’t, Lukas likes techno music and Tom [drummer] doesn’t, but the thing that really unifies us is the idea of a pop song and having a catchiness of an infectious nature. We try to put as much punk in as possible without overloading the song and we’re trying to write pop songs that are an alternative to the mainstream, so in that case, you can probably say alternative-pop or alternative-rock. We’ve also always liked rock and roll piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, compared to some of the more electric stuff that Lukas does that reminds me of stuff like The Knife. It’s kind of quite diverse really and I suppose that diversity doesn’t really do us any favors in terms of, you know, putting us in a pigeon hole.”
We also discussed their latest album, “Too Much Information”
Me: “You’ve been performing for over 5 years, and with bands that do produce for such a long time, there’s bound to be adaptions to the style. And change is always good, but I always thought that there was a mark of identity consistent with each album.”
Pau: “That is what we’d like. I want people to connect with the music, so I would say we try to make music emotional- it’s not detached. Some music out there is detached, whether it’s been detached because it was written by 20 people in a marketing room or whether it’s been detached because it’s cool like The Velvet Underground, where it’s just a little bit reserved. But the way I sing is from the heart. I sing in my own accent, I sing just as honestly and as openly as I can and that’s how I do it and that’s how we write our songs. It’s always on expressing ourselves and getting excited about guitar riffs or drum beats or the base line. It’s just that hope and that enthusiasm that goes in our song. I hope that that enthusiasm which goes in our songs is reflected in the recordings. I feel it is- there’s an edge to it and that’s sometimes anger and aggression. Sometimes it’s cheekiness and in the songs, it’s a rich bin of romanticism that is, perhaps, more than many other bands are willing to give out to their listeners in terms of their personal lives.”
Me: “You say that Maximo Park is an emotional band, which brings to mind something I had read in another article regarding “Too Much Information,” You said that the reason for the name was because your music would never be “too cool for school,” in that it can contain a lot of emotions in it or a lot of information that you normally wouldn’t want to disclose to your average person.”
Paul: “Yeah, I think as you get older, you realize you can’t please everyone. And we are what we are, even though we want to change and keep moving on. That’s a key part of our mission as a band, we still don’t want to deny the things that make us excited or that we’re good at. As a lyricist, I don’t mind if I give a little something away to make a song click and to make it work and for me to feel it every night when I sing it. It makes sense to be like that to me.”
Me: “Yeah, it really does come out in performances. I remember I had seen you guys play at The El Rey a couple years back and I was struck at how animated everyone was…which I really hope will always stay that way.”
Paul: (laughs) “Yeah I may not be when I’m 50. My legs may give up, but hopefully I can still be expressing myself and I can still give it everything I can.”
Me: “You’ve mixed in a lot of punk, pop and even some electronic in your albums, but is there anything that you guys would absolutely not touch? Like, is there any kind of genre or style that is completely off limits?”
Paul: “I’m not sure anything is really, but we recently did a German TV show and they asked us to do their main tune which is a kind of blue grass…And it wasn’t working out when we were rehearsing and so I’m like, ‘look let’s just do it how we would do it, let just rock it up’ and all of a sudden it worked…so maybe bluegrass (laughs). I’m not so sure we’re well equipped although I wouldn’t mind doing a country song. Like a Gram Parsons kind of song.”
Me: “Is there anyone in the industry you’d want to collaborate with in doing music?”
Paul: “Well…everybody who I like. And that’s a lot of people. And you know there are people in the northeast of England who I get along with and they’re really good at what they do. The Unthanks, they’re a folk group – Rachel Unthanks has a great voice. And I knew Kathryn Williams. She’s a folk acoustic singer-songwriter – lovely voice – and I remember when I first moved to Newcastle and I would see her play when I was a student, I was inspired by her. We actually started writing some lyrics about a café once because her husband owned a café in Newcastle, so we went and looked out of the window and wrote about people coming in and out of the café. Like, those are are more realistic ones. And then there are others (laughs). Like, I would like to sing with Tony Bennett, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”
Me: “All right, so last question. You became the lead singer when the guys were first looking for a front man and happened to hear you singing. If they hadn’t heard you that day, what would you have been doing now?”
Paul: “Well, I was teaching before. This was 18 months before the band got signed.”
Me: “Teaching what?”
Paul: “Art and design”
Me: “Oh, are you an artist?”
Paul: “Kind of. Not really. I like to draw, I don’t get to do it as much I used to. I’m so focused on lyrics and vocals. I did a Polaroid book that went with a solo record that I did called “Margins.” I did a little special edition. Just a very small rectangular book called “Thinking in Pictures,” named after one of the lyrics in the album. And the album came stuffed in the back, but it was just an excuse to get my stuff out there. So I’d like to do most stuff like that. In an ideal world if I wasn’t doing this, I’d be a painter, or something to do with art. I did art history at the university. Writing about art, writing about music would be exciting for me. Or being on the radio…I didn’t think I would be able to do that. Recently, I did a few shows at the BBC Radio 6 Music. So maybe if I wasn’t doing this, I could do something like that. I’m obviously mad about music and I love different styles of music and playing them to other people, so I suppose doing something like radio would be a very cool thing.”
We wrapped things up so as to allow enough time for them to set up before their performance, after which I couldn’t thank him and his tour manager Bobby enough for agreeing to meet. Left to revel in the fact that Paul Smith could just as easily have become a radio DJ junkie like so many of us at KUCI, I waited in anticipation until I could see the whole group play later that night where, as hoped for, they demonstrated the same fervor onstage as is portrayed in so many of their songs.
Photos taken by: Rosario Diaz
KUCI at Music Festivals – Coachella 2014 – Written by Rosario “DJ Chayo” Diaz of The Starlit Hour
Spring is finally among us, which means longer days, a sudden abundance in greenery, and importantly, the start of festival season. Round this time every year, people from across the nation and sometimes from opposite sides of the world are joined together in one place to bask in the universal love of music. Outside Lands, Desert Daze, Treasure Island, Stagecoach, Lollapalooza – these festivals are spread across different locations yet they each manage to attract hundreds of folks of all ages to engage in music and dance.
This past weekend, I was able to attend Coachella as a Press Member, so without further ado, I present my coverage of the festival, including photos of several KUCI featured bands and a brief interview with Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon.
The Takeaway Things from Attending a Music Festival:
Prior to this event, I had never attended any music festival of any sort but I figured it wouldn’t be much different from any of the concerts I had gone to before in my life. I mean, aside from the camping, it’s just like a bunch of bands playing right?
That and giant robots.
It sunk in pretty quickly to me when I arrived that what I had joined would be far different than what I had experienced before in any show. It goes without saying, of course, that the communal environment that comes from forming a camp in the desert will certainly influence your experience as a whole, but that fact was, surprisingly, not what I found so strikingly different from concerts. For lack of a better word, it was harmony that I found in the crowds at Coachella and which I often find lacking in concert crowds.
Aloe Blacc’s performance actually inspired people to hug each other
Both scenarios have people who are brought together by a common interest in music, and yet with concerts, there’s a sort of “every man for himself” feel in the crowd. If you’re not fighting for the front, you’re protecting your own circle of friends and just generally stuck in that sphere. In contrast, I hardly ever experienced that with the festival crowd and I found that the folks there, for the most part, were pretty jovial and easy to converse. Which brings us to the next point…
This is solid advice that could probably apply to any situation but the reason why it’s so relevant to a music festival is that it is, without a doubt, the best way of getting the most out of the whole experience. That’s not to say that you have to be a total extrovert to attend these festivals (I’m shy myself so I sometimes find some difficulty with approaching others) but as I realized within hours of the festival, there’s just really no point in playing shy and hoping someone will take the initiative to start a conversation. Yes, you will find some of the most friendly-ass folk (and not just the doped out ones either) in these places, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t count yourself in as such. Reach out and start a conversation. Most people will actually appreciate a friendly stranger.
This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when attending music festivals. As soon as I was able to get my passes for the festival, I started planning out my schedule for each day. I thought that if I could see The Knife on Friday night and catch Julian Casablancas and The Pixies on Saturday, as well some other big names, I’d be set for life.
Julian Casablancas at Coachella’s Mojave Stage
While I did get to see most of the musicians that I wanted to, the highlight of the entire weekend actually involved a lot of bands that I had never or hardly listened to before. Temples’ performance, to name a few, completely sucked me in with their mellow rhythms and the way that it resembled the psychedelic bands of the 60’s. And after hearing Bombay Bicycle Club produce such a soft yet rousing pulse to dance to, I knew I would have to do some expanding in my music library. And to drive the point home, I’ll bring up my experience with STRFKR as it was easily the most fun I’ve had at any show. I met up with my camping buddies there, who assured me that I’d be in for a treat.
STRFKR puts on a good show amidst a chaos of polar bears and cosmonauts
The show turned out to be a whole party as men in sumo and polar bear suits crowded the stage and eventually the crowd itself. Really, there’s nothing quite like seeing costumed heroes atop inflatable boats sail (literally) through the crowd to an electronic tune of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” In conclusion, don’t restrict yourself to seeing only the bands that you like. You’ll never know what you’re missing out on.
This next piece of advice is not so much for just anyone interested in attending a music festival but more for those who’ve got plans on interviewing the artists. Since I had been able to acquire a Media Pass for the festival, I figured I should try to get as much coverage as I can and sought to arrange something with the attending musicians. In the last minute, I was able to set up a slot to speak with Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon and although there was an internet station available that I could use for preparation, I had severely underestimated just how much time I would need to arrange my questions. As a result of that (and a sudden bout of the nerves) my words stumbled more than I would have liked and I ended up skipping over some important questions. Fortunately, Yukimi was very cordial through it all and answered those questions that I did manage to ask.
Yukimi Nagano, in front of Little Dragon’s trailer
Q: How is it that you’re able to move from more down-tempo and electronic tunes from your previous albums to that with a slow jam in your upcoming album, Nubuma Rubber Band?
A: It’s kind of a natural progression. We move with what we’re feeling. And we’re wanting to do something different. We never want to do an exact replica of the previous work. You know, you feel like you want to experiment.
Q: What’s the creation process like when it comes to making music? When do you know that you’ve got something?
A: Well, we try to start somewhere in the music and when you feel like the music- that part is speaking with you… then we know and we build off of that. It’s quite intuitive. And it’s also a lot trial and error. And I think, like with anything, you get to the point that you feel its special and then…maybe, it might not feel special the next day. Once it feels more stable and you still like it about a week and a half later, you think we’re on to something.
Q: I see. So do have some kind of regular ritual you practice when making new music? Some people, for example, have a daily routine before starting.
A: Hmmm, not really. Sometimes I try to write differently so I don’t always put myself in the same situation. Just to kind of challenge myself. And when I’m working, I can go out and write in the garden somewhere- or early in the morning late and late at night. You know, try different strategies to see what works.
Q: I was wondering how you and each of the band members collaborate when you’re making music? How does everyone put in their fair share?
A: We do it quite organically…everyone writes. Everyone in the band produces. Every one in the band has their own flavor and their own style…so I think it’s basically lot of ideas and sketches that come from a place inside us.
Q: Have you ever experienced any clashes with others when it comes to inputting styles or ideas for the music?
A: Well that’s part of being in a band. Of course it’s frustrating and it would be easier somehow for someone to come in and make the decision for us, but that takes out what’s special about the band. I think its just realizing that people with different views other than your own would be to your advantage. It’s nice to see what other people have to say.
Q: Did you think when you first started out that Little Dragon would be as successful as it is now?
A: Well like with anything you go in, if you really want it, you have nothing but success in mind. Of course, it’s thanks to the help of everyone that we were able to be where we are now. My friends have helped me out a lot and…really, we couldn’t be here without each other.
Q: Any advice to anyone out there who’s got it in mind to start their way out in the music industry?
Persevere. That’s all I can really say. It’s just really about perseverance and working hard. And with that, you can accomplish a lot.
Little Dragon performing Sunday night
With that, we thanked Yukimi for her time and ended our session to leave her to prepare for her performance later that day. Moral of the story, folks: It pays to rehearse and if planning to record using a camera, always bring a microphone as you never know how loudly your surroundings will be (Zoé was performing next to us at the time, and as good as they sounded, it sure as hell made conversation difficult to hear).
Photo Credit: Angie and Rosario Diaz
Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club
James Edward Bagshaw of Temples
Matt Bellamy of Muse
Dan Smith of Bastille
Zoé Colotis of Caravan Palace
Pixies (We were planning on getting closer, but a last minute change allowed only Goldenvoice photographers to enter the photo pit.)
The Naked and Famous
Concert Review by KUCI DJ Jesse Morales of The Bat Cave (Sun 2-4am).
VNV Nation recently played The Mayan in LA. The show was what you would expect any EBM show to be, heavy beats and raw synthesizers. However, The two main members of the band, Ronan Harris on vocals and Mark Jackson on drums, accompanied by two other keyboard players, gave the audience an experience that they won’t soon forget.
More than a few heavy synth lines and infectious beats, Harris’ energy on stage was inspiring and his connection with the audience was genuine. You almost felt like he was glad that you personally showed up. That kind of presence on stage really made for an intimate and enjoyable experience. All throughout the night Harris made several comments to individual audience members, acknowledging their presence and giving them a truly unique experience. One audience member managed to offer Harris his dog tags, to which Harris was hesitant to accept.
All the hits were present in the setlist. Songs like Chrome, Control, Illusion, Matter and Form and Perpetual gave the audience the experience they were undoubtedly hoping for. A show like this was a true gift to any VNV Nation fan and I would highly recommend keeping your eyes and ears open for future show, especially if you missed this one.