Governor’s Ball: Day 3
And now the final write-up on Governor’s Ball. Welcome to Day 3!
Though I wanted to see HAIM, my body simply wouldn’t let me wake up early enough to catch their 1:30pm show. You have to understand, standing all day and walking through half a foot of mud is very tiring!
My muddy boots at the end of Day 2.
So my friend and I showed up at the festival grounds around 1:45pm for the Steel Pulse show. I featured Steel Pulse in Week 18 and I mentioned that I’d grown up listening to their sweet stylings. So imagine how exciting it was to see a band etched so deeply in my memory in real life! The show was great: energetic and rhythmic. For a band that’s nearly 40 years old, they still had it. I ended up recording them performing a song that my dad really loves. (Father’s Day gift anyone?)
Next, I stayed at the same stage to catch Deerhunter’s show. From the get go, Bradford Cox was being his same ol’ weird self. It was funny if not a little tiresome but they sounded great. I haven’t had a chance to listen to their new album but from what I heard they’ve maintained the quality of their music.
Deerhunter at the You’re Doing Great Stage.
I would have stayed for the whole set but unfortunately their show overlapped with the Foals’ show! As some of you may know, I’ve been obsessed with Foals since I was 19. Their debut album, Antidotes, got me through a sketchy summer working at a discount movie theater. However, I’ll admit I hadn’t been following them as closely since that summer.
Yet, seeing them live completely renewed my love for them.
The Foals show was absolutely explosive! They played a few songs from each of their albums but their performances of “My Number” and “Inhaler” (both on their third album, Holy Fire) were unforgettable. If anyone at that show wasn’t already a fan, they were probably converted. Then they ended the show with “Two Steps, Twice,” drawing out that bridge as long as they could before more or less blowing everyone away with the climax. We’ve both come a long way since I was 2009.
Foals at the Gov Ball Stage.
Now, here was my only disappointment of the day: I was planning to go to the Yeasayer show but decided not to because the friend I was with secured a great spot for the Grizzly Bear set, and subsequently, the Kanye West show, which were both on the same stage. So I sat there, for four hours with the Grizzly Bear show functioning as a break from the monotony of waiting.
The Grizzly Bear show was very good though I must admit, something about the way their music just doesn’t strike me. Like any other red-blooded American I love “Two Weeks” and “Yet Again,” (singles, I know) but as I watched the show and listened to a lot of their music, live, it still didn’t click for me. I know that Grizzly Bear makes great music. I know that. But it’s not for me yet. Maybe one day they’ll finally grow on me. I’ll certainly keep trying to get into them.
Grizzly Bear at the Gov Ball Stage.
And now the moment you may or may not have been waiting for:
First things first: He went on late BUT only 15 minutes late, which isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of a four-hour wait. And the wait was worth it. As a result, I was no more than 10 feet away from Kanye West.
He kicked off (and ended) the show with the bombastic “New Slaves,” which was absolutely facemelting. The song is basically all bass and it sinks into your bones.
Kanye West on the jumbotron of Gov Ball Stage.
Mr. West performed equal amounts of new and old songs. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which new ones he played but some of the old songs were “Heartless,” “Diamonds from Sierra Leone,” “All Falls Down,” “Jesus Walks,” “Theraflu,” “Power,” ”All of the Lights,” and so much more. When I knew the songs, it was great. When I didn’t, it was still pretty great.
The only criticism I have is that he tended to draw out songs longer than they had to be. He called for the crowd to sing the choruses of “Runaway” and “Heartless” about four or five times and each time his calls were met with less enthusiasm. Even so, he held our attention.
Bottom line: the guy is a showman and I’m so glad to say that I’ve seen him live!
So the show ended, I saw M.I.A. walk by (“Oh hey, M.I.A.” - Me), and then struggled through the two hour commute home (blame people traffic).
It was a wonderful weekend full of ups and downs and I’d do it again though it’ll be a while before that happens. My goal is to go to a different music festival every year and in 2014…I’m thinking Lollapalooza.
Governor’s Ball: Day 2
Even though Day 2 was two days ago, it doesn’t mean this post isn’t worth sharing!
Day 2, of course, was a huge improvement over Day 1. First, there was no more rain. It was a warm, partly cloudy day. Perfect weather. That didn’t mean the mud wasn’t there (that mud isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time) but it was more manageable.
Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing
I arrived at the grounds pretty early to see Wild Nothing and they were absolutely fantastic! Beautiful, full-bodied sound. The majority of the songs they played were from their dancier sophomore album, Nocturne, which made the show more light-hearted and fun (even if the lyrics are a little sorrowful). Lead singer, Jack Tatum, played the perfect frontman: Engaging but not too loquacious or eager to please. It was just a great show in general. Too bad it got cut short because Kings of Leon had to be squeezed in.
Next, the gang and I took a step back and sat on a little knoll a hundred feet or so from the gigantic Gov Ball Stage and listened in on Japandroids. I don’t know their music very well but I really enjoyed their show. They had the best sense of humor and energy. Brian King introduced the band as Guns N’ Roses (that night’s headliner) and kept that joke going for the rest of their set, even dedicating a song to Japandroids. On top of that, they sounded great.
After that, we made our way over to Dirty Projectors but I decided to dip out and wait for alt-j. By the time I got there, the area was packed. There are a lot more stateside alt-j fans than I was expecting! The best part of the show was seeing this band, that I’ve obsessed over for four or five months, in person for the first time. That was a wonderful experience.
However, I found that their sound, with its strong themes of nuance and subtly, doesn’t translate very well to the a venue like an outdoor stage. I felt as if their sound was evaporating in the sun at times. I’m glad to have seen them but if I listen to them again it’ll be in a smaller, closed venue or with a pair of great headphones on.
Still, “Bloodflood” was on point.
After that I made a quick run over to the Azealia Banks show, which was packed beyond belief. You could hardly stand right outside the tent. As expected, Azealia Banks’ show was high energy and the crowd was just grooving to her set. She used a DJ to spin the background music and had two backup dancers and the crowd was eating out of the palm of her hand. I didn’t stay for the whole set (though I was lucky enough to hear her remix of “Harlem Shake”) but I liked what I heard and I can’t wait for her new album to drop.
The crowd at Kendrick Lamar’s show.
I left that show early to run back and see KENDRICK LAMAR!!! I had a perfect spot over to the left of the stage and just below the jumbotron. Every once in a while I got a glimpse of his face. This was easily my favorite show of the day, maybe even the weekend. My part of the crowd was cool, Kendrick completely captivated the crowd and the sound was incredible. During that show I really felt like I was a part of a musical hive mind. Everyone was so in sync with not only Kendrick but each other and it was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
After that the day just melted away and I didn’t care who I saw, I just wanted to relax and then make my way home. I listened to Animal Collective from afar as the sun was setting. Then we all trekked to the main stage to see Guns N’ Roses. I’m not into them but my two friends grew up listening to GnR and they loved it. We left about forty minutes into the show and headed home.
In conclusion, it was a great day.
Check back tomorrow for my report on Day 3!
Governor’s Ball: Day 1
One day down, two to go.
Yesterday marked the first day of the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island. Since Monday I’d been dreading the first day because there were already reports that we were in for a lot of rain. Attendees got somewhat lucky because the tropical storm causing all this rain made landfall earlier than anticipated and started on Thursday evening.
Still, no one was spared.
To say that yesterday was a difficult day would be an understatement. Yesterday was insane. As predicted, the torrential downpour plus the extensive amount of grass added up to a lake of mud. No matter how hard you tried there was no avoiding it.
Courtesy: Micah Gaffney
However, I must say I was thoroughly impressed with the turn out. Music festival lovers are hardcore and there were still thousands of people there despite the unrelenting rain.
So how were the shows?
Well I arrived around 3:45, just early enough to catch the second half of the Best Coast show. It was nice to finally hear them in concert and they put on a good show. A bit of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day. At that point, people were still okay in terms of the mud so there was dancing going on and general celebration of the fact that things were pretty bad but not so bad.
After that show was over, my compadres and I weren’t interested in either of the bands performing in the next time slot so we headed over the Skyy Vodka Tent to stay dry and get a good place for the upcoming Crystal Castles show.
Let me preface my “review” of that show with this: the first time I saw Crystal Castles was in Fall 2010 at the Heaven level of Atlanta’s Masquerade. Not only did they go on late but once the show kicked off, that tiny room got too damn hot and I ended up not enjoying the show as much as I should have. Additionally, it felt more like a DJ set than a performance of their work.
Fastforward to Summer 2013: The Crystal Castles show was SPECTACULAR. First, they now use a live drummer and he made their already aggressive sound even more bombastic. The live drummer added this awe-inspiring new dimension to their music. Secondly, Alice Glass is more involved in the mixing these days. At times she’d give up her singing duties to help Ethan with some beat mixing. Finally, the show was just amazing. They played “Baptism,” “Plague,” “Untrust Us,” “Crimewave,” a bit of “Magic Spells,” “Not In Love,” “Suffocation,” and a couple others I can’t remember at the moment. It just went to show what an amazing group they are and I completely forgot about the weather for that hour.
The Crystal Castles show
After that, we had another break because no one else was interested in Feist and I’d already seen her at Coachella. The whole day it felt pretty stressful to go out of your way for anything (i.e. food, drinks, bathroom breaks) because the whole day was one big act of going out of our ways haha
Next, we trekked back across what can only be described as a muddy lake to the You’re Doing Great Stage, to see Beach House. As some of you may know it would have been my third time seeing them but unfortunately, the show was taking too long to start and we were worn out: tired, hungry and cold. So we headed home.
They ended up canceling the Kings of Leon and Pretty Lights shows shortly after we left.
Even with all the rain and the mud and the general theme of discomfort surrounding the day, I had a great time. People were still having fun and being nice to one another. I saw some grade-A chivalry. Festival officials were doing an amazing job of improving what they could and keeping things going despite having every reason not to. Now, we’re in the early hours of Day 2 and the rain has let up and the clouds have parted. It’s gonna be a fantastic day! Let’s do this!
My Schedule for Today:
1:30 Wild Nothing
3:45 Dirty Projectors
5:45 Azealia Banks
6:45 Kendrick Lamar
8:00 Animal Collective
So I know it’s been a while since I posted. First, I went home to Georgia for a week and then when I came back I started my full-time (10-6pm everyday) summer internship at New York Magazine! So far it’s been a dream experience but as you can tell it is and will continue to take up a lot of my time through the end of August.
I’m trying to figure out a way to keep the blog going while working full time and if you guys have any suggestions I’d welcome them. I’m thinking maybe twice weekly posts about a lot of music at the same time (I have plenty of time to listen to music at work haha) or something along those lines. Let me know what you think.
Also, I’ll be attending the Governor’s Ball Music Festival this coming weekend and I’m going to do some great coverage for you guys. I’m thinking pictures, first impressions, etc.
In any case, thanks for your patience and I hope you’re all doing well!
Week 103: Otis Redding (Otis Blue)
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone though I’m guessing most of you only have mothers and aren’t mothers yourselves…right? Well either way, I hope you’re all having a great day! I’ve been home in Georgia for the past two days celebrating my sister’s graduation so this post had to be postponed but I think it’ll be worth the wait.
Today’s artist is Otis Redding, one of the most famous soul musicians in American history and a man who helped define the genre. Redding was born in Georgia in 1941 and from an early age began playing music as well as singing it. Much of his early experience came from singing in church but at age 15 he left school and worked in one of his idols, Little Richard’s, backing band. In the early 1960s he finally kicked off his solo career and began widely touring the South. Eventually, his fame grew and Redding played to bigger national audiences. In 1965, he released his most famous album to date, Otis Blue, and it’s high time you all heard it!
Redding specialized in Southern soul music and on Otis Blue (which consists almost entirely of cover songs) he puts a funky or more sorrowful spin on many popular songs. These songs are constructed around the blaring horns of a brass section and blues-driven guitar playing from the many studio musicians Redding employed to record the album. None of these elements are particularly unique but the voice that drives them was unlike any others at the time. Otis Redding was an extremely gifted singer with a wide range but what most appealing about his voice is the shockingly gravelly quality that radiates through it. His voice was rough around the edges which made his ability to express emotion through vocals-only possible. The songs are good, the rhythms are good, the singing is sublime.
In true 1960s style, Redding went on to record three more albums in the two years left in his life. He died in a plane crashed in December 1967 at the age of 26. He was gone too soon like his idol Sam Cooke and his most famous song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” was released soon after Redding died only emphasizing the tragedy of his loss but he did so much good with what time he did have. We can always honor him by continuing to listen to him. Give Otis Blue a try and have a great day. Enjoy!
THE SOUND: soul music, R&B, use of brass instruments, use of organs, use of guitar, use of percussion, elements of funk music, rhythmic music, some cover songs, influenced by Little Richard and Sam Cooke, some elements of rock, Southern soul, use of piano, use of organ, use of bass guitar, covers of Temptations songs, cover of The Rolling Stones, cover of Sam Cooke, male vocalist with an expressive voice, mixture of upbeat and downbeat songs. Album lasts 32 minutes.
- Ole Man Trouble
- Change Gonna Come
- Down In The Valley
- I’ve Been Loving You Too Long - To Stop Now
- My Girl
- Wonderful World
- Rock Me Baby
- You Don’t Miss Your Water
“Cancer” by I Break Horses
I’ll post an mp3 later. For now, I’m stuck at work!
Week 103: I Break Horses (Hearts)
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well because all that good weather we were having in New York has finally caught up with us in the form of buckets of rain (and for me, a pair of soaked shoes). Luckily, I’ll be leaving soon to go home and visit my family and Georgia is sure to be sun-soaked. It’s practically summer there! So since I’m feeling so optimistic I thought I’d feature some uplifting music today.
I Break Horses is the stage name of a Swedish duo consisting of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck. The Stockholm-based, hypochondriac pair came together in 2008 after exchanging messages on an online medical forum and discovering that they shared more interests than perceived medical maladies. After three years of writing and developing a relationship with the Bella Union record label, I Break Horses, released their debut album in 2011. That album is known as Hearts.
There’s some kind of emerging theme this week because this is the third expansive, electronic act I’ve featured. I’ll be sure to go in a completely different direction tomorrow. Anyways, that’s the kind of music I Break Horses makes. Their music builds on melodically droning beats, steady barely-there guitar rhythms, glowing/growing synths, Lindén’s breathy vocals and some wonderful wholesale sound manipulation courtesy of Balck. The band’s songs seem to be less about individual notes or lyrics and more about how the song actually moves as a whole and any change whatsoever reverberates throughout the song in a very significant and noticeable way (see: “Wired”). This is the kind of electronic music that lives and breathes. And it’s quite lovely.
As of April 12th, the band is mixing their new album and it’ll probably see a release late this year or very early next year (I’m banking on this year). The bottom line is that if you like gauzy electronica with impressive beats then I Break Horses is right up your alley. Give Hearts a listen on Spotify. The link is right there. Enjoy!
THE SOUND: electronic, shoegaze, ambient music, Swedish band, subtle elements of drone music, expansive music, female vocalist with a mid-to-high range, use of distortion, use of guitar, use of synths, use of keyboards, use of vocal harmony, rhythmic music, delicacy as a theme. Album lasts 42 minutes.
- Winter Beats
- I Kill Your Love, Baby!
- Load Your Eyes
- Empty Bottles
- No Way Outro
Week 103: Still Corners (Strange Pleasures)
Happy New Music Tuesday, everyone! It’s another great day for music in what will frankly be a great month for music between new records from She & Him/Deerhunter (today), Vampire Weekend (next week), Daft Punk (two weeks) and Laura Marling (three weeks)! Action-packed! However, today Still Corners made the cut because after hearing the flawless first single from this album, “Berlin Lovers,” it was high time we gave them another listen.
We first discussed Still Corners and their debut album, Creatures of an Hour, in Week 51 of the blog. The four-piece English band, which celebrates six years together this year, started out as a brooding collective and I even described their music as “decidedly nightmarish.” While the line up hasn’t changed since then, they’ve made amazing progress and changes with their sound. The result is the fantastic Strange Pleasures, which hit U.S. shelves today.
When Still Corners first hit the scene, their sound was so dark, which is fine, you’re allowed to do that but it didn’t come from any kind of joy at all it seemed and that made it difficult to connect with their music completely. The band has changed that with Strange Pleasures, an aptly-named sophomore effort. Here we see the band employing expansive electronic elements like synths and keyboards, upping the energy and taking inspiration from the more epic aspects of 1980s pop music without mimicking the era to create what can only be described as startlingly gorgeous outtakes from the Drive soundtrack. They’ve added more light to their sound (though it’s still angst-filled) but it’s absolutely transformed them as a band and they’ve entered the annals of high-quality, beat-driven dream pop. Strange Pleasures is going to take Still Corners to the top.
So it’s no secret: Strange Pleasures gets an official Music for the Musically Challenged Stamp of Approval. We want nothing more than for you to form your own opinion but sometimes there are albums that just can’t go unnoticed and this is one of them. They kick off the English leg of their tour tomorrow and hop the pond at the end of May to tour alongside CHVRCHES. This album will play great live but for now, enjoy it via a great pair of headphones. Enjoy!
p.s. They’re on Tumblr.
THE SOUND: dreampop, indie pop, English music, elements of electronica, similar to Beach House, similar to Goldfrapp, elements of psychedelia, some upbeat songs, inspired by music of the 1980s, use of synths, use of keyboards, use of vocal layering, female vocalist with a mid-to-high range, ethereal music, ambient, use of guitar, use of bass. Album lasts 45 minutes.
- The Trip
- Beginning to Blue
- I Can’t Sleep
- All I Know
- Berlin Lovers
- Future Age
- Going Back To Strange
- Midnight Drive
- We Killed The Moonlight
- Strange Pleasures
Week 103: IO Echo (Ministry of Love)
Hi everyone! I’m back and it’s the last week of school! Yes! I actually had a fantastic weekend. On Friday I found out I was accepted as a PAID summer intern at New York Magazine! I’ve been obsessing over that magazine all year and now I get to work there! I think I’m in for a challenging but fanastic summer. But before I can embark on that adventure, I have to finish this week of school, go home for a week (my sister is graduating) and keep up the blog! Let’s start the week with IO Echo.
IO Echo is an L.A.-based duo consisting of Ioanna Giko and Leopold Ross and featuring guitarist Michael Edelstein and drummer Paul Rinnis. Ross had been a part of the music industry for a while when he met Giko, having his first band signed at age 14 and as a bassist for English rockers, The Big Pink. In 2009, the two officially became a band with Giko providing vocals and Ross moving up the musical scale from bass to guitar. Since forming they’ve not only written music for themselves but some done soundtrack work as well, which fits well with their atmospheric sound. They released their first EP, IO Echo, in October 2012 before finally releasing their debut LP, Ministry of Love, in April 2013.
If anything, Ministry of Love, is very California. It’s got that hazy, glowing feel to it and is built on reverberating guitar lines and long, forlorn notes in Giko’s beautiful soprano. Many of the write-ups on this band highlight their Asian influences and use of instruments native to the Far East but I think they’re using these instruments more in a “Hong Kong Garden” way than in an authentically Asian way. Without a doubt, these instruments lend a certain delicacy to the band’s music but otherwise, their sound is more influenced by indie rock and dreampop. Each song plays very brightly without being tinny, creating the kinds of cautiously sunny tunes that then to soundtrack summer.
This pair is well on their way up the fame ladder, securing a coveted spot at this year’s Coachella music festival and opening for the likes of Nine Inch Nails and The Drums. Oh, and they’re on Tumblr. If you’re in the mood for something light in music and heavy in tone, then Ministry of Love will do. Enjoy!
THE SOUND: rock music, dreampop, inspired by 1980s music, elements of pop music, inspired by classical Asian music and instrumentation, female vocalist with a mid-to-high range, atmospheric music, inspired by classical music, inspired by Nirvana and The Velvet Underground, upbeat music. Album lasts 55 minutes.
- Shanghai Girls
- When the Lillies Die
- Ministry of Love
- Tiananmen Square
- Ecstasy Ghost
- Berlin It’s A Mess
- Forget Me Not
- Eye Father
As The Dodos Said, “It’s That Time Again…”
Hi everyone! I hope you’re not letting the Monday blues get you down. For some of you it’s time to study for finals. I’m on the same page…kinda. See in journalism school we simply have long final articles due. I’m writing two in-depth stories at the moment (both beer-related!) and so I’m going to take a break this week.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back next Monday and nearly finished with my second semester of grad school.
I hope you all understand and will use the time to catch up on the music you might have missed! Enjoy!