Q&A: Evan Thomas Weiss of Into It. Over It.

Evan Thomas Weiss is the hardworking frontman of Chicago indie rock band, Into It. Over It. Growing up on the east coast, Weiss was exposed to Sunny Day Real Estate in the seventh grade and quickly scoured the record stores of New Jersey and Philadelphia collecting any vinyl he could released by Jade Tree and Polyvinyl record. Years later, the profound affect of emo and indie rock music inspired Weiss to create his own outlet, and has since toured with The Get Up Kids, Minus the Bear and Modern Baseball to name a few.

Weiss has many projects under his sleeve (or perhaps I should say flannel), performing solo for Chicago festival, The Fest, touring with his side project, Pet Symmetry, which he created with members of the band Dowsing, and recently record a new album with his brain child, Into It. Over It.

The band chose San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studio to work with local hero John Vanderslice for their third album, Standards. The record is warm and uplifting, much like the climate in the city, never getting too cold or too hot. Fresh off the heels of a week at SXSW, I caught up with Weiss to talk about the unique writing process for this album, spending time in the city and working with John Vanderslice.

Your new album, Standards, was recorded in San Francisco at Tiny Telephone Studios with John Vanderslice. What was the driving factor in choosing this studio?

The driving factor was choosing John. Based on conversations leading up to the session it was clear that he was the person for the job. He had the right outlook, ideals and skill set. Plus, he WANTED to make the record. His desire to be a part of it was really huge.

Did working with Vanderslice help shape the record?

Absolutely. It was in many ways very collaborative. It was the first time I had really put 100% trust into someone else when it came to some big sonic decisions.

Known for being an analogue studio, you recorded entirely on tape. What were some of the challenges?

I went into it thinking there would be a ton. Really, it was so much easier than we had anticipated. The main difficulty was mostly in just being able to get solid/single takes of all of the parts.. Being well rehearsed and playing with confidence. This proves a little more difficult when I write so much of what’s happening in the studio in real time. 

Recording demands a lot of time. Did you at least get out to see the city?

Josh (who made the record with me) and I got a couple days to really see some of the sights. Did some touristy stuff (Golden Gate, etc.) and some less touristy outside stuff (Muir Woods). It’s a beautiful part of the country. A really inspiring place to be.

You wrote these batch of songs in a secluded cabin in Vermont, totally detached from the outside world. Do you think it helped with the songwriting process eliminating such distractions?

100%. I think you can hear the focus in the material.

What sort of clarity did you achieve, personally, from this?

It was almost zen like. A full feeling of purpose. There was very much of the outside world I really found myself missing. Maybe chalk this up to Josh and I being introverted people, but it was a complete creatively fulfilling process. 

You’ve been one of the busier musicians in the indie rock scene, touring with Into It. Over It. alongside Modern Baseball and Minus the Bear, playing a solo set at Chicago’s Riot Fest, touring with your side project, Pet Symmetry, even making a special appearance on bass at a Get Up Kids show. What drives you to tackle so many projects?

Hunger. Staying hungry is the only way I can keep myself motivated and with clear conscience. I think it’s important for any artist to continue to challenge oneself at all times. It’s the only way in my mind to keep from imploding.

You just finished up a few dates at SXSW. How was it this year? Any standout memories or performances?  

I think IIOI did it right. We took it easy and played one show a day. We scheduled everything out just right so we were never overdoing it. Plenty of sleep is the key. The Middlewest Management showcase was our standout night. A great show surrounded by friends and family. It was really special.

After your current tour, do you have any other goals for 2016?

Gotta get overseas. Gotta bring the band to Australia and Japan. Gotta get a jumpstart on writing the next record. It never stops!

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith, Among Others at Palace of Fine Arts

FullSizeRenderSeth Avett, guitarist/vocalist of the Avett Brothers, and Jessica Lea Mayfield, a whimsical singer/songwriter from Ohio, payed tribute to Elliott Smith with a live performance in San Francisco’s prestigious Palace of Fine Arts Sunday night.

It was the perfect setting for the two, who were joined by stand up bass player Paul Defiglia of the Avett Brothers. The theater was lined with a robust red interior while the stage was set to emulate a dollhouse like kitchen. The ornate backdrop had blue and white wallpaper with a door, and the kitchen was equipped with a refrigerator covered with magnets and juvinile sketches of faces, a working sink- which at one point Jessica Lea Mayfield proved, framed pictures on the walls, a desk for Seth to rest one his three guitars, cabinets holding empty glass bottles, a lamp and even a vacuum. For some of us, this probably resembled home, aside from the piano, the guitars, stand up bass and microphones; although for some that might not be too unrealistic either.

The stage set the tone for an extremely genuine performance. Seth and Jessica wasted no time, plunging into the first track from their tribute album, “Between the Bars.” Seth demonstrated his flawless guitar playing and impressive vocal range while Jessica was the perfect compliment to his voice. The chemistry was undeniable. These two could have played renditions of anything they wanted and it would have captivated people. It seemed evident that they also recognized they had something special, and whether or not their chemistry exists off stage, they interacted with a sincerity that only so few singers have with each other. What creates these special bonds, especially as a duet, is a great deal of respect and admiration, which they exposed by covering each other’s songs. What was also clear is that they were having a hell of a good time, not only playing Elliott Smith’s beautifully crafted songs, but playing as an item in such intimate settings. There was something greater that was occurring, something that Elliott Smith would be proud of.

While the show was mainly to support their album, Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield sing Elliott Smith, they also intertwined acoustic versions of their own songs and covers of artists who influenced Elliott Smith. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to hear them sing such influental artists as Neil Young, Hank Williams, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan paired with Smith’s tunes. It gave the audience a greater appreciation and understanding of where Smith’s inspiration and crafty songwriting developed. While these two were undoubtedly brilliant together, they never stole the spotlight of show, continuously thanking the audience for allowing them to play original tunes and sharing stories of the artists they were covering.

The future is extremely bright for this duet. While the project took almost three years, the hard work most certainly payed off as they played these songs with passion and perfection. Covering Elliott Smith songs are not easy to do, and perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard a tribute album thus far, or why more artists don’t attempt to cover his songs, but there really couldn’t have been a better duo to tackle it. While many people might not exactly be familiar with Jessica Lea Mayfield, or have listened to the Avett Brothers outside their commercial success, they are legitimately talented musicians and deserve applause for conquering something so fragile and making it their own.

The playful banter between the two made the performance more palpable. Smith’s songs can be intense, and when it came to playing them musically, there was no lack of respect. But at times Mayfield stood a little awkwardly while the more extroverted Avett chimed in. “We started playing this game,” he said during an awkward pause, “sometimes I won’t say anything into the microphone to see how long it takes for Jessica to speak.” They were as cute and charming as the model kitchen they stood in front of. Before a cover of a Darlings song, Mayfield spoke about seeing them on the Andy Griffith show and thinking they were “cute.” A few minutes later, Seth teased “I always thought they were cute, too.” Several times throughout the show Seth got a rise from the audience.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a lasting partnership that could rise to such heights as other powerful duos like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, or Sonny and Cher, or Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. Maybe they’ll even create an album of original tunes? Either way, what they’ve conceived has done great justice to Elliott Smith.

Set List

Between the Bars

Baby Britain

Fond Farewell

Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan)

There Is A Time (The Darlings)

Rain On My Tin Roof (Seth Avett- sung by Jessica Lea Mayfield)

Somebody That I Used To Know

Let’s Get Lost

Memory Lane

Out On The Weekend (Neil Young)

Settin’ The Woods on Fire (Hank Williams)

For Today (Jessica Lea Mayfield)

Ballad of Big Nothing

Angel in the Snow

Pitseleh

Angeles

The Beginning (Seth Avett)

Standing in the Sun (Jessica Lea Mayfield sung by Seth Avett)

I Will (The Beatles)

Our Hearts Are Wrong (Jessica Lea Mayfield)

ENCORE

I, Me, Mine (The Beatles)

Roman Candle

Twilight

**Read my interview with Jessica Lea Mayfield

Dr. Dog Makes Their Mark at the Fox Theater

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Dr. Dog just released a live record, Live at the Flamingo Hotel, full of their greatest hits, so why didn’t they just release a greatest hits record? Probably because once you see Dr. Dog live, you understand the value and importance of live performance. Most indie music fans have probably heard their name floating around- more than a couple times I’ve heard the response- “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of HIM but haven’t actually heard HIS music.” Firstly, there’s no him, it’s a collective ensemble of six awesome musicians who all just fucking own their craft, Toby Leaman (bass), Scott McMicken (lead guitar), Frank McElroy (rhythm guitar) Zach Miller (Keys), Eric Slick (Drums), and Dimitri Manos (everything). Not since the Beatles has their been a band of this magnitude that has multiple talented songwriters who write brilliant lyrics and unpredictable song structures. The one glaring difference might be that this band hasn’t let their egos get in the way of their relationship.

The first time I saw them was at the Independent like six years ago. They barely fit on the stage, but they were still more energetic and passionate than some three piece bands I’ve seen, and they rocked the venue like a fucking Led Zeppelin hurricane. They were pretty chatty with the crowd, accepting requests and responding to harmless banter. But the Indy is an intimate venue, there were probably no more than four hundred people, if that. The second time I saw them they played at the Warfield for Noise Pop. They were even louder and rocked even harder to a sold out crowd. I walked out the venue half deaf and still bobbing my head to their catchy tunes. It reminded me what it would be like to see the Rolling Stones back in the 70’s at full throttle. These guys seemed to be on a mission to bring back Rock N’ Roll, and not just the musical aspects, but the attitude.

Their performance at the sold out Fox Theater on February 12th didn’t fall short of my expectations. Not that I really have expectations, I just automatically know it’s gonna be a fucking kick ass time. These guys seem to stay true to their roots. They might pump out albums every year and half, but they’re legitimately good albums, and never have I seen them where they just play their “new” album and abandon old songs. They have so many quality songs that it’s almost impossible to hear all the tunes you want in one set. They always leave me longing for more in the best way possible. This was my third time seeing them and they still played a couple songs I didn’t recognize right off the bat.

The stage set up was very retro, like a scene from the sixties, paying homage to the historic Flamingo Hotel. On each side of the stage was a fern, possibly mocking the Funny or Die bit “between two ferns,” while a vintage pink backdrop hung from the ceiling. The drummer was on a platform with a semi circular light module behind him, illuminating an illustrated pink flamingo. Dr. Dog started off their set with the tune “These Days” from Be the Void, and didn’t look back. The Pennsylvania rockers played a great mixture of songs from their seven album catalogue. Some of the crowd favorites included “Army of Ancients,” “Lonesome,””Let Go” (one of my personal favorites), a version of “Heavy Light” that included an improvisation jam and drum solo, “Hang On,” “Heart It Races,” and “California” from their 2007 ep Takers and Leavers.

Whenever a band starts to get popular, there’s always going to be disgruntled fans who saw them in small venues ten years ago when no one knew who they were. For the most part, I’m that disgruntled fan. I’d love to see Dr. Dog at the Independent again, but this band deserves the attention. They’ve worked hard for over a decade and genuinely love playing music and I’m grateful to have witnessed their evolution. But they’re the type of band to play a secret show at Bottom of the Hill, or pay tribute to the Band at the Warfield, or play a show in their hometown with the Phillies mascot, the Fanatic, making a surprise cameo. They aren’t doing this for the money or the fame, they’re doing it to be able to sustain and give their fans the true rock n’ roll experience they deserve, no matter what stage they’re on, or venue they’re in.

Set List

These Days

Let Go

Army of Ancients

Long Way Down

Lonesome

Turning the Century

Shame Shame

How Long Must I Wait

The Ark

Heavy Light

Too Weak To Ramble

I Hope There’s Love

Hang On

Ain’t It Strange

Be The void

Broken Heart

That Old Black Hole

Encore

California

Heart It Races

The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer

Jackie Wants A Black Eye

The Devil Makes Three Come Full Circle with Sold Out Show at the Fox Theater

The Fox Theater was bustling with excitement as The Devil Makes Three are no strangers to Northern California, having resided in Santa Cruz while playing many intimate shows at places like the Mystic Theater and Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. They’ve even played Henflings- a notorious biker bar in Felton with a maximum occupancy of about a hundred people. They’re loyal to the bone but have surprisingly kept their fans at bay over the last year, possibly letting their record resonate with their fans. This was the first full tour supporting their newest record and their first performance in the bay since 2013’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and 2014’s special New Years gigs at the Fillmore and The Catalyst, respectively.

The response was overwhelming as the band plunged right in to their extensive set, starting with their first single “Stranger” from I’m a Stranger Here. People from all likes were singing along to the chorus- “I’m a stranger here just like you.” The realization that this band is in the midst of astounding popularity became very real, even to Pete Bernhard, who at one point pronounced “I feel like I’m having an outer body experience.” There couldn’t be a better band to root for, as these guys have played vehemently since their inception in 2002. And they only get better and better live, appeasing old and new fans by always  playing the songs that everyone wants to hear.

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The backdrop was set up with three giant illuminated eyes that grace the cover of I’m a Stranger Here. Pete Bernhard, Lucia Turino and Cooper McBean owned the stage and at times were joined by a cellist and a fiddle player during various songs, adding an extra layer to an already big sound. Their musicianship is incredible for a three piece band without a drummer to hold the rhythm, but who needs a drummer when you have hundreds of people stomping their feet against the ground, creating a human bass drum effect that vibrates through the floor boards.

Forever grateful and never lacking praise for his fans and friends, Pete gave a brief history lesson about their relationship with the beautifully remodeled Fox Theater. “When this place reopened, we opened for Social Distortion,” he explained. “So we may have been the first band to play here.” While that’s an incredible feat in it’s own right, headlining to a rowdy sold out crowd was probably more gratifying. Hopefully it’s a little while longer before they start rocking Arena’s across the country, for anyone who’s seen them at a modest venue knows it’s an experience fueled by boot stomping, dancing and whiskey that leaves you with a raspy voice and a handful of amazing memories.

Set List

Stranger

Beneath the Piano

The Bullet

All Hail

Statesboro Blues

40 Days

Gracefully Facedown

The Johnson Family

Hallelu

Tow

Spinnin Like a Top

Black Irish

Graveyard

A Moments Rest

Old Number 7

For Good Again

Dead Body Moving

Worse or Better

Aces and Twos

Do Wrong Right

Encore

Ten Feet Tall

Check out my interview with Pete Bernhard through Sf Station

She Keeps Bees Make a Buzz

The Brooklyn duo, She Keeps Bees, comprised of Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant, formed in 2006 after Larrabee was LaPlant’s bartender. Larrabee explains that “Nothing really clicked until I met Andy.” While she was working on solo material under the name She Keeps Bees, LaPlant was the perfect counterpart, bringing a strong rhythmic backbone to her naturally talented vocals and guitar playing. After two albums, “Nests” and “Dig On,” the band drew comparisons to Cat Power, Patti Smith, the Kills, and were quoted as “the White Stripes in reverse” by the Guardian.

She Keeps Bees - Eight Houses | Press Pic

*She Keeps Bee’s play at Brick and Mortar Music Hall September 3rd
Tickets Here

The first track from their new album, Eight Houses, is simple and sweet. Lasting not even three minutes, “Feather Lighter” introduces the band to the listener with an intimate sample of what to expect: a subtle guitar riff layered with vibrato, overlapped with Jessica Larrabee’s warm vocals and poetic lyrics reminiscent to Mazzy Star or Elysian Fields. They’ve kept their raw, blues ridden mantras, but have elevated their sound to the next level.

Caught up in a musical era where glamour and pop have overridden the subtly of female sensuality and sensibility, Larrabee could be the one to bring back that powerful sultry swagger. There’s an undeniable sense that they wanted to make a impression with this album, creating an introspective experience for the listener. From start to finish it flows like an ocean’s rippled waves, connected and grounded to emotions, touching on something much greater than words written on paper. Larrabee seems to be questioning humanity and its history without any remorse, and in a manner that’s not overbearing but profoundly genuine.

The subtleties are appreciated on this record. The second track, “Breezy,” starts off with a simple bass line and drum beat that’s easy to nod your head to. There are subtle synth noises but nothing like the overproduced and tiring sounds that sometimes burden music these days. Raw and powerful guitars chime in halfway through the song, lending an intensity of Rage Against the Machine with a hypnotism of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” It’s haunting, intense, and innocently unforgiving.

The album also features guest appearances by Adam Schatz from Man Man, Sharon Van Etten singing back ups on “Is What it Is” and “Owl,” with Rare Book’s Room producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors) helping define and shape the album. Nothing is ever overused or redundant, as LaPlant admits “having a producer was nice in that respect; if things were starting to sound too similar and we didn’t hear it, Nicolas wasn’t shy about letting us know.” From the soft pianos on “Burning Bowl” and “Radiance,” to the horns on “Owl,” nothing is ever exploited, but used just right. There’s a perfect balance of antique admiration with a modern acceptance that melds the great artists of the 70’s with todays current icons. They should be making a buzz with Eight Houses, which officially drops on September 16th, stinging the masses with their mesmerizing tunes.

Fun in the Sun: Comprehensive Summer Festival Guide

Summer is almost officially upon us, and as of June 21st (Summer Solstice) there will hardly be a dull moment as the festivals infiltrate California with some of the best bands and activities around the globe. Here’s a list of festivals with some of their standout artists.

Sierra Nevada Music Festival

June 20th-22nd

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Complete Lineup here

One of the more affordable festivals of the summer, this secret gem resides out in Boonville where campers plant themselves for three days of music in the sun. The lineup is also one of the more eclectic for a reggae festival and exposes world music, tribal dancers, and local artisans.

Shaggy– The Grammy award winning Jamaican American Reggae fusion singer headlines the festival. Best known for his hit “Bombastic” and his “Shaggy” hair, other notable songs include “Angel,” “Midnite Lover” and “It wasn’t me.”

Ozomatli– A late addition to the festival, the seven-piece Latino rock group from Los Angeles is a perfect fit to the bill. With their worldly blend of hip-hop, reggae, jazz and rock they are one of the reasons this is the most eclectic Sierra Nevada Music Festivals this year.

Rebolution– Four dudes from Santa Barbra bring their Cali-roots sound to the stage and there couldn’t be a more perfect environment. After breaking out with their first album Courage to Grow in 2007, the band hasn’t looked back and has played a number of festivals throughout the years.

Hollie Cook– This British singer is the daughter of Paul Cook, drummer of the Sex Pistols, and Jeni, a backup singer for Culture Club, and her godfather just happens to be Boy George himself. Her music, however, is not a cultivation of her parents, straying into a more soulful, R&B musical direction. She could eventually reach her parents pinnacle of success.

Barrington Levy– Dancehall reggae artist, Barrington Levy, is a popular name. He’s been playing since 1979 and has released over twenty albums. Within the past decade he has stayed current, collaborating with Prince Paul and Dan the Automator in the song “White Boy” for Handsome Boy Modeling School, showing up on Slightly Stoopid’s album “Closer to the Sun,” and featuring his song “Here I Come” on the video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

Stern Grove Music Festival

June 22nd– August 24th

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This free festival brings a mixed lineup of artists for ten Sundays in a row at Stern Grove. More of a family friendly environment, it features everything from R&B legends to up and coming soul artists to great local acts and respectable indie artists.

Lineup and details here

June 22

Smokey Robinson– One of the original Motown singers, fronting the band “The Miracles.” He co-wrote and helped produce singles like “I Second that Emotion,””Get a Job,” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.”A big influence of George Harrison from the Beatles, who wrote the song “Pure Smokey,” was featured on Robinson’s first solo album, Smokey.

Patti Austin– New York born Jazz and R&B singer was born into jazz, and won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Jazz Vocal album for her album “Avant Gershwin,” recorded live with the WDR Big Band.

July 27

Rufus Wainwright– No stranger to San Francisco, Rufus is the son of Loudon Wainwright III and brother to Martha Wainwright. The openly gay singer and pianist is best known for his take on Jeff Buckley’s song “Hellelujah” and “Going to a Town.”

Quartet San Francisco

June 29

Allen Stone– Stone has been making his name known around the bay, with a performance at the Independent this year for their string of anniversary shows. The Seattle native brings his soulful and upbeat songs to the Stern Grove festival, backing a soon to be released new album.

Yuna– A Malaysian singer and guitar player and self proclaimed “business woman.” A powerful and inspirational woman, she was an independent artist for the first half of her musical career until singing with an American label (who flew her to the states to convince her) and worked with producer Pharrell Williams on the popular 2012 single, “Live your Life.”

August 3

Andrew Bird And The Hands Of Glory– Bird brings his “Hands of Glory” band to the Stern Grove festival. After releasing the widely acclaimed 2012 effort “Break it Yourself,” Bird quietly released the “Hand of Glory” album that same year. With more folk influence, Bird shouldn’t be abandoning his violin for this performance.

Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors– The San Francisco born jazz and rock bass player is now a resident of Berkeley, and has played in multiple bands and artists that include Trey Anastasio, John Zorn, Stanton Moore, and Andrew Bird to name a few. Except some guest appearances and surprise collaborations.

July 6

San Francisco Symphony– San Francisco’s beloved Symphony takes over the park. They’ve produced some of the most admired musicians since their formation in 1980.

Edwin Outwater, conductor

August 10

Darlene Love- Darlene Love has that recognizable face, mainly because she was featured as Danny Glover’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” movie series, and actually won an academy award for her in the documentary, “20 Feet from Stardom.” But she is also a popular singer, producing a top hit “He’s a Rebel” and collaborating with Phil Spector.

Monophonics– This psychedelic funk band will be sure to have the crowd swaying with the trees, establishing themselves in the past seven years as one of the west coasts premier jam bands.

July 13

Funky Meters– The Meters were an American funk band based out of New Orleans in the 1960’s and 70’s. Now revived as the Funky Meters, they’ve still got the same energy with just a little more experience.

Sugar Pie DeSanto– The seventy-eight year old Filipino-American blues singer has been singing since the 1950’s, now this living legend lives in Oakland and makes a special appearance this year at Stern Grove.

August 17

Sergio Mendes– With over fifty-five releases, Mendes shows no sign in slowing down. The Brazilian musician melds bossa-nova with funk and jazz, and his Stern Grove performance kicks off the start of a mini tour around the world.

LoCura– Specializing in Spanish music that makes the hips move, the local group have put in their dues all around the west coast and deservedly acquired a spot at this year’s Stern Grove.

July 20

Pupy Y Los Que Son Son– Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso’s Cuban band makes an appearance this year. Expect a lot of dudes on stage playing an array of instruments.

Vieux Farka Touré– Keeping things worldly, this Malian singer guitarist is the son of Grammy winning musician Ali Farka Touré and has worked with the high profile Toumani Diabaté.

August 24

The Zombies– The popular English rock band from the sixties reformed in the nineties, and have kept going since despite multiple band changes. They’re familiar for songs like “Time of the Season,” “She’s not There,” and “Goin out of my Head.”

Vetiver– This contemporary folk band started in San Francisco in 2002 and headed by Andy Cabic. They’ve opened and collaborated for big names like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, it’s only fitting they play on the last weekend of Stern Grove.

Northern Lights Music Festival

July 18-20

Northern Lights

Complete lineup Here

Out under the giant California Redwoods, bordering the Mendocino and the Humboldt county line features the Northern Lights Music Festival, with plenty of entertainment including river activities, exquisite food vendors, and exceptional DJ’s.

Beats Antique– (*Interview with Sf Station) The World Fusion and Electronic Super Group include David Satori, an alumni of the California Institute of Arts, Tommy Cappel, the Berkeley College of Music graduate, and Zoe Jakes, a respected lifelong belly dancer. Forming in 2007, their individual achievements joined forces to create powerful and intricate music with an unforgettable visual pairing of performance art.

Zion I– The hip-hop duo reigning from Oakland is known for making innovative and conscious music. With Amplive’s futuristic production techniques that cross live instrumentation with sampling and MC Zumbi’s positive and socially conscious and constructive lyrics, the duet are favorites amongst the hip-hop and festival community and always bring good vibes to the party.

Giraffage– Twenty-three year old Charlie Yin is a resident of San Francisco and utilizes his multi-instrumental talents to create a type of dream pop with catchy samples, tight-knit hooks, and thoughtful compositions that will be perfect underneath the stars of the Northern Lights.

30th Annual Reggae on the River 

July 31st-Aug 3rd

Reggae on the River

Complete lineup Here

Perhaps the biggest Reggae Festival of the summer takes place on the Russian River in Humboldt County, featuring lots of legends and newcomers to the lineup.

Jimmy Cliff– Cliff might be one of the most well known of Reggae artists. Hailing from Jamaica, the multi-instrumentalist has a barrage of talents including acting and singing. He’s the only living musician to hold the Order of Merit, which is the highest honor granted by the Jamaican government. He’s best known for songs like “The Harder they Come,” “Wild World,” and “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Alpha Blondy and the Solar System– An innovator in the reggae scene, Alpha Blondy is known for singing in many different languages and dialects, including his native tongue Dioula, French and English. His songs are mainly politically motivated, and he’s accredited for adding violin and cello to reggae music.

Israel Vibrations– From Kingston, Jamaica, they’re one of the most successful reggae groups to come out of Jamaica sine the 1970’s. They’ve supported such acts as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown, and have been a staple of the reggae festival circuit for a while.

Fishbone– The influential alternative band has been rocking since the 1970’s, and their infusion of reggae and ska caught on quickly, making them one of the most distinct bands of their time. They should add some energy to the river.

Gentleman and the Evolution– Gentleman is one of those secrets in the Reggae world. The German born artist and son to Lutheran pastor, he brings passion to the table and has been touring independently since 2002.

Marlon Asher– Popularized for the hit, “Ganja Farmer,” plumes of smoke are ensured to encapsle the skies of Humboldt County when he hits the stage.

Outside Lands

August 8th-10th

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Complete linup Here

Every San Francisco native probably has their calendar marked for this event, whether attending or not. It might be hard to top Sir Paul McCartney, but one of the best events of the summer in Golden Gate Park never really fails to impress.

Kanye West– He’s one of the first hip-op/pop icons to headline at Outside Lands, and at least it’s not Puff Daddy Kanye has probably gained more fans since proposing to Kim Kardashian in the city. Look for a cluster of Kim-watchers. Even if one doesn’t dig his music, he should put on a good show.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers– How do you replace Paul McCartney with another legend, you don’t, but the Florida native Tom Petty is no stranger to Outside Lands and will make a repeat performance.

The Killers– The Killers formed in 2001 in Las Vegas, released a Killer album (Hot Fuss), then released a flurry of mediocre albums and went hiding in Northern California. This band should produce a good time with familiar danceable indie rock hits.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis– His story is admirable, a young independent hip-hop artist in recovery for alcoholism from Seattle makes it big through the internet, exploding with his hit single “Thrift Shop,” and then really laying it on thick with “Can’t Hold Us.” But he wasn’t nominated for seven Grammy awards for nothing.

Arctic Monkeys– The English rockers might have overplayed festivals this year, but at least they rock.

Chromeo– The song “Jealous” is apparently the hit of the summer, and rightfully so. They’ve been producing sexy tunes for the past decade with “Fancy Footwork” and “She’s in Control” quietly building a cult following. They should bring some swagger and glitter to Golden Gate Park.

Atmosphere– He wasn’t nominated for seven Grammy’s and isn’t married to Kim Kardashian, but Slug is one of the best MC’s of our time.

Death Cab for Cutie- The Seattle rockers come to the Bay Area for a performance sure to dazzle and swoon.

FYF Fest

August 23rd and 24th

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Yes, it’s in Los Angeles, but the lineup might be worth the drive, or short flight, down south. Lots of bands coming out of retirement for this one.

Complete lineup Here

The Strokes– The band hasn’t released a record since 2011, and singer Julian Casablancas and other members have been busy releasing solo material, but they come out of hiding for this festival.

Phoenix– The band from France has been somewhat quiet since last year’s “Not So Silent Night” held in San Francisco. This could mark the start of a string of U.S. shows?

Interpol– Probably New York’s most beloved band in the past decade, they make a rare appearance on the West Coast.

The Blood Brothers– The hardcore band from the suburbs of Seattle will reunite for this show. It should be brutal, or bloody, to say the least.

Caribou– The Canadian composer and musician released his latest effort, Our Love, and gaining proper attention.

Grimes– It wouldn’t be a real festival if it didn’t feature some grimy electronic music.

Slint– Yet another band coming out of a semi-retirement, the post rock- math core band have been linked to artists like Tortoise and Billy Corgan.

The Presidents of the United States of America– Another throwback to the 90’s.

First City Festival

August 23rd and 24th

First City Festival

If you don’t go to LA, you can head down highway 1 to Monterrey and still catch an amazing lineup that features a more rare cast of festival performers in a smaller town on the coast of California. What started as the “Gentleman of the Road” tour quickly caught on in a town most famous for its aquarium. Held in their fairgrounds, it’s coupled with the local fair that includes rides exclusive to festival attendees that weekend.

More Info Here

Notable Performers:
Beck
The National
Phanotgram
Best Coast
Dawes
Coco Rosie *Show Review
The Family Crest– *Interview with Sf Station
Blind Pilot
Lake Street Dive– *interview with Sf Station

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 

October 3rd, 4th, 5th

Hardly Strictly

There are no rumored lineups at this time, but don’t worry, they always deliver.

More Info Here

Treasure Island Music Festival

October 18th-19th

Treasure-Island

It might technically not be summer anymore, but with San Francisco’s Indian Summer people still look for an excuse for a good time. Bring jackets though, many jackets, it get’s cold out on the island.

Complete lineup Here

Outkast– Playing festivals “ain’t not thang but a chicken wang” for this Atlanta hip-hop duo who have become festy veterans, who made an appearance at this years Bottle Rock in Napa Valley and last years Coachella.

Massive Attack– This performance could be a bit nostalgic for long time trip-hop fans. The band from Bristol has been making music since 1988. Their unique sound of deep rhythms and beautifully simplistic melodies only seem to be getting darker and craftier.

Alt-J– These English rockers were on the fast track to success, and sort of equalized in the past year. They could be the perfect fit for Treasure Island with lots of psychedelic riffs mixed in with synthesizers without ignoring their inherent indie rock roots.

TV on the Radio– High powered, emotive, electronic, post punk rockers from Brooklyn sound like spoken word poetry on acid.

The New Pornographers– There always seems to be at least one straight up indie rock and roll band at Treasure Island. The rockers from Vancouver are sure to shake things up. They also have eight members, including Dan Bajar and Neko Case.

St. Lucia– And this year, instead of James Blake we get St. Lucia- a very formidable following act. Born in South Africa and later moving to Brooklyn, his influences range from Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson, to Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon. His music should warm the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Buzzo Reminds GAMH Who’s King

On a Sunday that was mostly overshadowed by Father’s day, King Buzzo, the perennial and animated front man of the everlasting grunge/punk rock band from Washington, The Melvins, played an acoustic show at the Great American Music Hall. After a thirty-one year career in music, Buzz Osborne set out to do something he’s never done before, make an acoustic album.

Buzzo

In support of his latest effort, This Machine Kills Artists, King Buzzo jokingly admitted “this is a bit strange for me. I don’t have a drummer to hide behind.” His vocals were boisterous and his acoustic guitar was strummed with an assault that reminded the crowd of his hard rocking roots, “As you can tell I’m more of a hard strumming acoustic guitar player.” Osborne definitely didn’t abandon any part of himself, this new sound isn’t a recreation it’s simply just a bare boned version of his musical soul.

The inspiration of his latest album, released on Mike Patton’s Ipecac records, was the guitar he used to write most of his songs for the Melvins and other electric projects. The red, white and blue Buck Owens American acoustic guitar he wrote the songs on stayed at home for his tour, but his live sound doesn’t waver too far from the tracks on the album. Playing to a nearly full audience at the Great American Music Hall, a venue Osborne has played many times in the past, the wild haired enigmatic singer entertained the crowd not only with tunes like “Dark Brown Teeth” and “Instrument of God,” but also lived up to his storytelling reputation.

Like a bit of a godfather fitting for the occasion, Osborne is easily mentioned in the same breath as influential frontmen Jello Biafra or Henry Rollins, and when he speaks people are very attentive. “Time for pointless story time,” Osborne said while tuning his guitar. “I’ll give you two options and you guys can decide. I can either tell you a story about Iggy Pop, or Mike Patton.” The crowd was immediately divided and torn with a tough decision while screaming indecisive rants rang throughout the venue. After about a minute of deliberation, Osborne came to his conclusion, yelling into the microphone- “Iggy Pop it is!”

He continued to tell a story about playing a festival with Fantomas in Europe where Iggy Pop was headlining the main stage. “I figured out that if we had played our set real quickly, loaded up super fast and ran over to the main stage we could have caught Iggy’s set, so that’s exactly what we did.” Osborne, a great story teller and orator, had the crowd’s full attention. When Osborne made it to the other stage he realized the band that played before Iggy was still on the stage. “I looked to my left and Iggy was crouching down, observing the band.”

Osborne insulated that Iggy was not impressed by this band, whom ended up being Weezer. The crowd giggled at such an odd pairing. “So Iggy finally went on stage, and during his second or third song paused and asked the crowd,’ so what did you think of Weezer?’” The crowd cheered and jeered, and Iggy did the complete opposite. Appalled by their reaction and laud for this band that was so different than Iggy Pop’s musical taste and background, he walked to the side of the stage and started cussing his manager, screaming “what kind of fucking festival do you have me playing?” Iggy, in a fit of rage, walked off the stage and never returned, leaving his band dumbfounded. Osborne concluded, “And this is why I have so much respect for Iggy pop.”

There was still a lingering desire for the Mike Patton story as Osborne delved into a couple more songs. A particular man, who sat quietly in the corner of the venue, was especially admiring the show and offered playful banter in between songs. This man just so happened to be Mike Patton himself, a humble fan and admirer of his friend who was ambitious enough to try something different, out of the realm of his usual musical comfort, something that Patton has much experience with. While most the fans probably wanted to hear these songs with a bit of distortion while dancing around in a circle pit, the night was more about respect, whether it was paying it forward to an idol like Iggy Pop, or just being there to hear the songs and stories of King Buzzo.