Archive for the 'concert reviews' Category

Brand New at the Regency Grand Ballroom in San Francisco

On September 10th I went and saw Brand New perform at the Regency Grand Ballroom in San Francisco. This was an evening of firsts – it was the first time Brand New had been in San Francisco since 2009, the first time they had toured in a year, and my first time seeing them live.

Walking into the room, we all knew we were there for the same reason – the music we loved and an experience we would never forget. Each fan expected something different – for those seeing the band for the first time, they had no idea what to expect but knew it would be something they would remember; for those seeing Brand New for their fourth or fifth time, they knew the energy the band would bring but waited in anticipation for the songs the band would showcase. Everyone went straight to the front of the ballroom as soon as the doors opened, squishing up towards the barricade as close as they could in hopes that they would be able to catch something at the end of the show.

The show began and Robbers stepped onto the stage. They brought an easy indie vibe to the crowd that encouraged some bobbing heads and slow movement. After they closed their set, Sainthood Reps took the stage and brought a faster alternative vibe to the crowd causing them to jump and begin to push up closer to the stage. As I listened to both of these bands for the first time, I could tell that they were inspired by Brand New in some sort of way and pulled two different aspects from their music. Robbers was pulling from their slower, more melodic songs like “Jesus Christ” and “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot.” Sainthood Reps were getting their inspiration from songs like “Seventy Times Seven” and “Vices.” With both of these bands opening, they exposed the audience to different musical aspects that Brand New would tie together as soon as they took the stage.

It was at 10 o’clock that Brand New finally ascended the stage, opening with “Sowing Season (Yeah).” The crowd surged and went insane as soon as the first “Yeah!” was sung; while there was no mosh pit, the amount of movement occurring throughout the crowd never stopped. Halfway through their set they played “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad“, off of their first album Your Favorite Weapon, followed by “Seventy Time Seven”, a fan-favorite and my favorite song by them. The crowd went supremely crazy during these two songs because they are very fast paced and come from their early days.

Brand New continued to intertwine songs from different albums and made their encore “At the Bottom,” “Jesus Christ”, and “Soco Amaretto Lime. The last song was played just by Jesse Lacey, the lead singer, as the rest of the band members walked off stage. All the fans were singing and many had tears in their eyes due to the lyrics that Jesse changed from “you’re just jealous cause we’re young and in love,” to “I’m just jealous cause you’re young and in love.” The tears also stemmed from not knowing when Brand New would be back and playing shows, or when they would release their next album.

This was one of the best concerts I have ever been to hands down. While Brand New did not talk a lot in between their songs, make jokes with the crowd or involve them too much with the live show, they delivered a set list and performance that they knew their fans wanted to see. The unique thing about Brand New fans is that they don’t just know “the popular songs” or the newest album, but they love each album and know the majority or all of the songs they played. Simply put, they’re dedicated – I met people who had seen them the night before in Chico and drove down to San Francisco to see them again, and one person who drove sixteen hours to see the band. This made for the entire crowd singing each song, sometimes even louder than the microphone was.

While no one knows when the next Brand New album will come out, or how much longer they will be around, the performances they give are not going downhill or lacking in any aspect. The next time they come around I know I will be there no matter how much tickets are or how far I have to drive.

Matt and Kim at the Fox Theater in Oakland

This past Saturday night, I went and watched Matt & Kim perform at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California. While being a band with only a keyboardist and drummer, they are known for their upbeat music and energetic crowds. I walked into the show with high expectations, as it was my second time seeing them (I had seen their amazing performance at Live 105‘s BFD in 2010), and I expected this show to be better than the last because it was not in an outdoor venue with a short amount of time to play. Simply put, they delivered one of the most energetic performances I have ever seen and exceeded the expectations I had.

As the lights went down, after The Thermals delivered a fantastic opening, I could feel the energy radiating from the crowd. The keyboard and drums were set up on a small raised platform on the stage, illuminated by the stage lights. Matt and Kim ascended the stage and took their places, Kim at the drums and Matt at the keys, and dove into “Block After Block”, their newest single off their album Sidewalks. This immediately pumped up the crowd and got everyone jumping, pushing, and singing every word at the top of their lungs.

As they continued their show, they connected with the audience and encouraged everyone to get involved, even the balcony. Instead of just asking everyone to sing along and jump up and down like the typical band, they threw out deflated balloons and told us all to blow them up. I enthusiastically grabbed one of the balloons and began to inflate it. Matt then told us to hold onto them until he said “One, two, one, two, three, four!,” which meant to the crowd that we would be dancing to their song “Yea Yeah.”

As soon as the song started, the balloons went flying around and the crowd was going crazy – the balloons continued to get tossed around throughout the rest of their set and I never saw one touch the ground. Their crowd interaction did not end there, as Kim would look at people in the audience and point or smile at them – I was lucky enough to get about a minute of her eye-contact and it genuinely made the show better. She would also step away from her drums and run out to the crowd and grab the hands of fans and even hand out her drumsticks. Matt would do the same when he could and would reach out to the crowd and encourage them to sing the words instead of him. The entire show was filled with amazing energy from the both of them – the jumping never stopped and the singing continued long after the show within my ears.

They ended their set with their most popular song “Daylight”, and when the crowd commanded them to perform an encore, they did something I had never seen before. Instead of just performing another song, they did a mash-up of all the hooks within all of their songs including: “Daylight,” “Cameras”, “Yea Yeah”, and “Lightspeed”.

Matt and Kim completely blew me away. Instead of being the same band I saw with the same great live performance, they got better. They¬†reminisced on their last time in the Bay Area (at BFD), where Kim did her infamous “booty dance” for the first time, and after announcing this, she recreated it for us. They also reflected back on their first show in Oakland, where they played to a cafe filled with six people, and the show got shut down because they were not the “acoustic” band that the manager had thought.

While being just two people, Matt and Kim deliver one of the most energetic and genuinely fun performances I have ever seen. With the show that I experienced on Saturday night, I know that Matt and Kim love what they do and could tell that they see themselves performing and creating music for a very long time.

First Ever Live Music Festival Webcast on YouTube: San Francisco's Outside Lands

Outside+Lands

There has been a lot of talk lately about live music. Some of us have noted that concert sales are thriving despite the recession, and there seems to be almost a revival of festival-going going on. The Taking Woodstock movie is coming out, which is sure to conjure up some nostalgia and fuel some fires that have been laying dormant. One of the more notable festivals on the West coast is definitely San Francisco’s Outside Lands, which is taking place this weekend.

For those of you who live in or have ever been near the Bay Area in August you know it’s a big deal. The historic Sunset District of San Francisco plays host to this 3 day festival in Golden Gate park, which includes an incredible lineup spanning just about every genre and showcasing both big names and lesser known gems.

Fans who were looking forward to the Beastie Boys headlining will have to shake it off and get excited about Tenacious D jumping in instead. Hopefully, M.I.A. will be able to do the same. She was none too pleased about the change.

In addition to being highly interactive and social media friendly, Outside Lands has taken it a step further and is going where no concert has gone before. It is being broadcast live on YouTube! While we’re doling out the accolades, let us also mention that they are doing their part to keep it green.

Planning on going? Have you seen all the tools out there to help you get organized? First of all, you can stay up-to-date via twitter. (Please note that it’s a “twitterbot for people going to Outside Lands Fest. Send tweet to @osl to broadcast back to everyone following osl.”) Also, you might want to download the iPhone app, try using Ranger Dave’s Magic Scheduler, or hop on to CrowdFire (a place to add your photos, videos, and tweets.)

Blue Scholars to be Re-Released on Duck Down

I received an email today announcing the release of Bayani Redux. When I saw this, I was under the impression that we were going to get a release of B-sides and remixes for the sophomore album by Seattle based Blue Scholars, Bayani. For anyone who has followed Evolving Music for a length of time, you’ve seen the concert reviews and album reviews for the duo of Sabzi and Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown.) And yet, I still find trouble reconciling myself with how talented they are and how little mass exposure they have. Granted, some of the best music falls through the cracks and gets chewed up by the massive grinder of the music industry, but I hold out hope that the word of mouth on some of the best underground artists will reach surface and flip the industry on its head.

I feel like the music industry is caught in a bad dream. That dream where you keep running, turning corners, opening doors, all to get away from something, and yet you can’t. Every time I turn on the television or flip through the radio dial, it’s like I’m opening a door in the dream and finding myself in the same place, listening to recycled music from the past twenty years, sometimes infused with a new trick like auto-tune, sometimes not. But people keep buying, and therefore, labels will keep re-packaging. This is an old rant of mine, but one that came back to the surface after reading the release details for the second coming of Bayani.

When Rawkus Records released Bayani on June 12th, 2007, it was the second album from the duo and one that promised an enormous amount of future material based solely on the progression of the artists between it and their eponymous debut. However, in reading the re-release article, I come to find that only 20,000 copies of it have sold. That’s 10,000 per year in the two since its release, which averages out to about 28 albums per day. That’s not too bad, until you think about the fact that Flo-Rida probably averaged 28 single downloads per minute for his crap and the current iTunes chart topper is Miley Cyrus.

What do you need to do to expose people to good, quality music these days? 2007’s Bayani is a far stronger album than Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak, yet that went Platinum with 1,000,000 sold in just three months and we’re talking two years later at 20,000 for a better hip-hop CD. Is it the lyrics? Are lyrics with depth and intelligence, as pushed out by Geologic and the majority of his underground counterparts, too much for radio listeners? Is it that any variety making a beat sound like something you haven’t heard in every Top 10 song for the past 5 years is frightening? Personally, I’m not sure. But what I can tell you is that while Kanye West walks around making an ass out of himself with all of the money the pop-hypnotized public gives to him, quality artists like the Blue Scholars are trying to figure out where the inspiration for and money to produce their next album will come from.

So do yourself a favor. Turn off the radio, stop watching MTV, and do something other than Shazam the latest club track you heard last night while you were drunk off your ass. Check out Indiefeed, your local independent record store or any vast number of music blogs and resources online and find something new, something different, and in many cases, something more artistic.

Bayani Redux comes out with three previously unreleased tracks on September 1st.

MixMatchMusic Artist Update

Summer concerts are in “full steam ahead”, “pedal to the metal”, “all systems go” phase at this juncture of the earth’s trip around the sun. Festivals are in full swing and summer concert tours are movin’ and shakin’. Speaking of, two MixMatchMusic artists in particular are sweeping the nation, rasta styleeee. John Brown’s Body and Slightly Stoopid are showing these fine states how summer can really be enjoyed, just chillaxin. I had the pleasure of checking out both in the last two weeks. Observe…

John Brown’s Body

John Brown’s Body took over Federal Hill at the 8×10 Club in Baltimore. The house was packed with people of all ages. No joke, I saw a variety of teens, 20 somethings and a handful of parental units decked out in tie dye having a blast. The crowd was friendly, excited and down to bounce to rasta beats. I gotta give it up to the opening act, Passafire who incidentally have a couple of local VA/MD boys in the band. I downright dug their style. It was more of an upbeat, rock/punk/particularly reggae mix. Each song was pretty different so I can’t really put them in one complete category. The keyboardist especially had a ton of energy, as did the whole band. They were a great set up for John Brown’s Body who completely blew me away as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how full their sound was. The band includes a trumpet, sax and trombone player which would bring great vibe to any venue. The lead singer has a captivating voice that puts you into a trance. Also, I’ve never seen a dude half bald, with dreads, kill a mic. I highly suggest checking out this tour if it comes to your city and you like reggae in the least bit. Find future dates HERE. They’ll even be in the UK!!

John Browns Body in Federal Hill, Baltimore

John Brown's Body in Federal Hill, Baltimore

Passafire, killin it!

Passafire, killin' it!

Slightly Stoopid

I’ll go ahead and say it, I’m stoopid for these guys. (Sorry, I had to go there.) I’ve been streaming them a lot lately and honestly, I’m digging the 2am remixes. But, uh, back to the lecture at hand, the Blazed and Confused tour, a whole different scene from the previous concert attended. First of all, the concert was at a beautiful outdoor venue tucked away in the trees of Colombia, MD called Merriweather Post Pavilion. LOVED attending a concert there. They had a great variety of drinks, food and entertainment on top of the actual concert. There’s a club on site for 21+ to get away and grab a drink as well as a music themed pinball arcade, waaaay cool. Second, I’d say the average age was a bit lower than what I’m used to. Slightly Stoopid/Snoop/Stephen Marley, keepin’ it real with the young’ins! As usual, Marley started it off with a crucial reggae style set to open the show. Then… Snoop D-O Double Gizzle hit the mic. He did a bunch of old school stuff which was exactly what the crowd (and myself) was hoping for. Also, Lady of Rage got on the mic and did an Afro Puff segment. Totally took me back to the good ol’ 90’s. Definitely a highlight of Snoop’s set as well as his official smoke break.

Blazed Individual

Blazed Individual

Snoop D-O Double G

Snoop D-O Double G

Slightly Stoopid came on stage with quite the set up. They had 2 large skulls on either side of the stage, lit up totem polls, a hazy Polynesian night themed backdrop, and an array of lighting that gave off a pretty stellar stony ambiance. The crowd was diggin’ their vibe and they often kicked it up a notch with some punk. These San Diegans definitely know how to please a stony crowd. Also, it’s pretty cool that they are headlining the tour.

Stoopid Set Up

Stoopid Set Up

Slightly Stoopid Set Up

Slightly Stoopid Set Up

Slightly Stoopid, kickin it up a knotch

Slightly Stoopid, kickin' it up a knotch

Enjoy the rest of the ’09 summer concerts! Please, you’re welcome to post your comments especially if you’ve checked out either or all of these artists!