Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Watch: Big Deal - Dream Machines

Big Deal's newest album June Gloom is one of the summer's underrated albums and it now comes with a brand new video for the single 'Dream Machines'. The duo of Kacey and Alice continue to push their sound to new heights with a finer, darker tone and it works so well.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Festival Coverage: Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Recap


This year's Pitchfork Music Festival, held in Chicago's Union Park, showcased multiple artists that I'd been dying to see for years now. On the surface, it may seem like just another music festival, but based on my first experience with the festival, I can tell you that's not the case.

The fest features a plethora of attendees, mostly in their mid-20s, but I was honestly surprised at the varying demographics who showed up each day. And sure, you'll get your occasional (or more-than-occasional) whiff of pot smoke, but the audience each day seemed more interested in the music than the chemicals they were consuming... the way it should be.

And Union Park plays out to be a great host venue for Pitchfork. The park is spread out just enough that noise from another stage doesn't interfere with the sound of the set you're enjoying, but the grounds aren't vast enough that it takes you 20-30 minutes to get to another stage (instead you could hustle to the next set and get there in about 3-5 minutes, depending on what kind of vantage point you're looking for). Festival coordinators did a great job plotting the sets to interfere with each other as little as possible. Pitchfork Music Festival is truly a music lover's festival.

In addition to music, the festival featured many other amenities and attractions worth checking out. Flatstock, a lineup of about 20-30 artists who set up their own tents and sold their handmade show posters for anywhere to $20-$80, and a good friend of mine picked up a Wu Lyf poster, while I had to be forcefully removed so as to not spend a small fortune. Instead we travelled to the Record Fair, put together by CHIRP (Chicago Independent Radio Project) with many small record stores taking part and selling records and playing host to some cool events, including Cut Copy's release of their new single, which was pressed live at the Record Fair. I scooped up a 7" copy of Prince's "Purple Rain" pressed on purple vinyl, because upon sight I couldn't put the thing down. Food and beer were reasonably priced as well, each costing around $5 on average.

So now, we can discuss the music lineup, which included a wide variety of genres and brought out a uniquely great crowd each day.

(All photos done by Kellen Nordstrom, unless otherwise noted)

Friday

Trash Talk



The first set I caught at the festival was one which I was highly anticipating: California hardcore group Trash Talk. The band gets even more edgy on stage, featuring a few of the people the group had brought with them sprinting to the front of the stage and diving in to the crowd. Frontman Lee Spielman even took his turn jumping into the crowd and eventually made it back to the stage.

I was greatly impressed with Spielman's ability to control the crowd, matched only by Belle & Sebastian and R. Kelly out of all the acts I'd see all weekend. Spielman had the crowd hanging on his every command whether it was "alright now, Circle Pit" before the group of people watching formed a small mosh pit, then eventually he commanded everyone to "sit down; chill the fuck out" and I was shocked as everyone actually followed suit and sat down in the dirt. Then, on his word, the group got back out and began wildin' out even more so than before. Trash Talk was a great way to start the fest, and definitely did not disappoint after all that I'd heard about their live sets.

Mac DeMarco & Mikal Cronin



Another act I'd heard so much about, especially after SXSW, was Canadian surf punk rock artist Mac DeMarco. His set was undeniably fun, and I could almost feel the crowd's energy feeding off of Mac's goofy, gap-toothed smile. His live set varies with sounds from grunge to surf, from metal to pop.

Mikal Cronin
He opened up with the first track from his latest album 2, called "Cookin' Up Somethin' Good" and the twangy guitar riff is so catchy it had me dancing and smiling in the photo pit. Eventually, DeMarco would go on to do a couple of covers, including rip-roaring versions of "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive and Metallica's "Enter Sandman". The surprising thing about Mac DeMarco is his overall demeanor and vocal stylings come off as gentle and catchy but deep down he's got a lot of punk within him, his ability to shred on guitar (coupled greatly with his band's talent level) matched by his surprise ability to style his vocals into a deep growl.

Continuing with the theme of surf punk is often Ty Segall-collaborator, Mikal Cronin, who looks like a long-haired John Cusack from High Fidelity but plays music like a surfed out Smashing Pumpkins. Another great set, highlighted by songs off of his new album, MKII such as "Weight" and "See It My Way" his vocals translated great into a live setting, and the instrumentation really blew me away, as they sound gentle on the album but played heavy on stage.


Joanna Newsom

Another California-based gem was the ever-engrossing Joanna Newsom, who held the slot right before Friday's headliner Björk. Her stage setup featured a piano next to a stool where she began her set playing a harpsichord that was as big as her.

I hadn't seen a crowd react that day like the way this crowd reacted to Newsom, eating up her every word. Not only that, but her reaction to the crowd's feedback was priceless. Newsom was beaming with energy and her smile had so many fans in the front row folding their hands as they tilted their heads and gazed at her starry-eyed.

Upon semi-apologetically stating that she would be playing "new material" and that "no one comes to the shows to see the new stuff" the crowd burst out in cheers and applause, bringing out the most amazingly heartfelt and beautiful smile from Newsom. Her songs were effortless and beautiful, just as I expected from one of modern folk's most beloved artists.


Björk


Photo by: Tonje Thilesen

I felt bad for a lot of Friday's Single Day Pass holders, as they were more than likely primarily there to catch Björk. But when you couple her stage set up and an impending thunderstorm, there's not much you can do. Björk's set was cut short by a lightning storm rolling through Chicago, which eventually turned in to monsoon-like rainfall, and festival goers were forced to leave early.

Her getup on stage was a spectacle in it of itself, which made her look like one of those dried up dandelions you blow on as a kid. Her stage setup boasted some amazing visual technology, reportedly developed by the Icelandic songstress and some geniuses over at MIT. The danger held within the electricity required to power the devices on stage and the potential to be struck by lightning made it understandable why the festival decided to cut her set short after about a half an hour.

Saturday

Phosphorescent




My fourth time seeing this band in 2013, and every show has been different. There have always been constants: incredible chemistry within the band, frontman Matt Houck wearing his staple: a black t-shirt and denim, an emphatic and talented keyboardist who head bangs as if he were playing bass for Sabbath and "Los Angeles" wrapping up the set.

Playing tracks from 2013's standout album Muchacho including "Ride On/Right On" "Terror in the Canyons" and the single "Song for Zula" all sounded amazing in the sweltering heat at 2:30pm in Chicago. Another fantastic set from Phosphorescent, and I'll continue seeing them as many times as I have the opportunity to.

Savages




I've heard great things about this all-female post-punk revival group, and they did not let me down. Led by frontwoman Jehnny Beth who not only has the stage presence of Ian Curtis (Joy Division), but has the all black wardrobe and short-cut hair to match. Her presence was incredible, showing emotion with each word she sang and shouted and with each step she took as she paced the stage.

Their set featured songs from their debut album Silence Yourself, such as "Shut Up" "Waiting for a Sign" and "Hit Me" their sound resonated throughout one of the biggest crowds of the day, as the sea of people stretched as far back from the stage as I had seen it up to that point.

The post-punk revival genre has made a huge resurgence in the last year, and it appears that Savages are reigning at the top of the scene, and the England-based quartet proved why with their live set.

Solange




The "odd act out" on Saturday was Solange, but I promise you, she was one of the best shows I saw all weekend.

No longer should she be referred to as "Beyonce's sister" (although the resemblance is undeniable and kinda heart-warming) Solange has set herself apart from her sister not only with her personal style but with her musical ability and showcasing as well. Her album was produced by (one of my fave musicians, Dev Hynes) Blood Orange and featured a backing group of artists that were also backing Blood Orange the following day. The group of background musicians and singers absolutely nailed it,
and the pure energy given off by Solange et al that evening was invigorating. The group would randomly break out into choreographed dance numbers, nothing fancy, just a few shoulder shakes and side steps from time to time.

One of my favorite moments came when Solange started playing her single, "Losing You". Not only is this song one of my favorite pop jams from the past year, but watching the crowd during the performance of this track was heartwarming. Everyone around me seemed to be having the best time of their summer, turning to one another, singing and dancing as Solange led the crowd in the most inspired way.


Belle & Sebastian



I've always been of the mindset that if you don't like B&S, you haven't listened to the right song yet. Everyone I know has a favorite Belle & Sebastian song (not only a favorite song, but probably a favorite verse as well), and if you were at their show on Pitchfork's Saturday night, they probably played it for you.

I had yet to see a Belle & Sebastian show, so I was ultimately elated when I received word I'd finally have the opportunity to see them. Mother Nature tried to put a damper on our good time, as at around 9pm it started to rain on us... steadily. We all saw a lightning strike in the distance, and there were a few mumblings about it, but that was it; as if we all saw it but no one wanted to speak of it, no word could get out because no one wanted a repeat of the previous night.

The Scottish seven-member band (equipped with a backing horn section) delivered one of the best shows I've seen all year, if not in my entire life. Despite the rain, I couldn't stop smiling as the group played "I'm A Cuckoo" "Stars of Track & Field" "Seeing Other People" "Piazza, New York Catcher" etc., etc. After recapping the setlist with a friend I realized they played every track I could've wanted them to play (with the noted exception of "If She Wants Me").

I was alarmed at the amount of energy a band that creates such laid back pop music could exude, with singer Stuart Murdoch would dance around stage and even include a lot of audience participation. And I mean A LOT. First, he brought a young lady up on stage to do the spoken word interlude of "Dirty Dream Number Two", as he held up cue cards for her to read off of, just in case she experienced any amount of stage fright (she did). He then tossed mascara to a lad in the front row, simply for the lyric in "Lord Anthony" which he discusses "blue mascara running over your eye". Murdoch braced himself over the barricade and had the young man sloppily apply makeup to his eyes.

Then, as the set was winding down the group played the intro to "The Boy With The Arab Strap" as Murdoch hand selected about two dozen people to join them on stage. Just to dance. Everyone up there looked spritely, as they skanked and danced around, for the entirety of the song.

The group came back out for their encore, and played a beautiful version of "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying" despite Murdoch flubbing up a lyric or two. To say the set was endearing would be a vast understatement.

Sunday

Blood Orange



One of my biggest sleepers of Pitchfork 2013 was Dev Hynes' project, Blood Orange. The producer/singer/all around renaissance man has been one of my favorite people to follow over the last year, and his set at Pitchfork on Sunday afternoon was no let down.

Playing songs from his latest LP, Coastal Grooves including standout jams like "Forget It", with it's incredible guitar solo interlude, the sensual backing beat and vocals of "Sutphin Boulevard" as well as "Champagne Coast" all stood out as Dev completely owned the performance.

Hynes also brought out Caroline Polachek of Chairlift to perform what he called the first track off of the new Blood Orange album (to be released this year), which just shows how well respected Hynes is in the music community. Dev also provided a little foreshadowing as he sang an a cappella verse of Sky Ferreira's "Everything is Embarrassing" who was slated to perform next at the Blue Stage.

I urge you to remember this man and his Blood Orange name. Devonté Hynes is the second coming of Prince, with just as much (if not more) charisma, style, and talent.

Sky Ferreira



Ever since seeing her at SXSW this year, and the infamous shaky-voiced meltdown, I couldn't help but feel for Sky Ferreira. I attended her concert in a tiny club in Madison on Easter, and was actually blown away at how great she sounded, but she was still somewhat an emotional mess. After telling her how great her vocals sounded, she admitted to having very intense stage fright. Kind of always seemed odd to me, being the 21-year-old has been modeling since she was 17 (at least).

Emotions still ran high for Ferreira during her set on Sunday. After performing her hit "Lost in My Bedroom" she admitted to "never talking between songs" and then told the story of how the song was written. She claimed that she would be in her bedroom, telling herself that no one would ever come to her shows and that she'd be a failing musician. She began to cry as she said "but to see so many heads out there is really amazing" and the crowd ate it up. There wasn't a silent moment in the set as fanboys and fangirls alike were yelling her name and "I LOVE YOU" any chance they could.

For her final song, Ferreira brought out familiar face Dev Hynes to perform a full version of "Everything is Embarrassing" which was a little underwhelming as Sky's voice was hard to hear at some parts of the song, but overall her set was great. Sky stuck around to hang out with some of her diehard fans in the front row afterwards, taking a few selfies with some lucky shriekers.

R. Kelly


Photo by Jason Bergman

Chicago's own voice of R&B was the bookend to a great weekend at Pitchfork Music Festival. And his show was an experience by itself, here's a quick rundown of things that happened.

Before coming out on to the stage, R. has a countdown system that states "The Show Will Begin in R-Minus 20 [or 15, or 10, or 5] Minutes" leading up until an actual countdown from 10-seconds to the time he took the stage. He rushed the stage wearing more reflective clothing than a night time highway construction worker, and his microphone bedazzled with so many jewels it was practically blinding. Kelly opened with the immediate crowd pleaser "Ignition (Remix)" and played a medley of hits thereafter including "Fiesta" and "Flashing Lights".

To be honest, there's absolutely no way I can explain to you how much fun this set was. The crowd was electric, including some middle-aged African American women screaming for R to take his sweatshirt off; hipsters making out; and yes I will admit that I was dancing like it was a High School dance to 90% of the songs.

Photo by Erez Avissar
"Bump N Grind" "Feelin' On Yo' Booty" and "Step in the Name of Love" (both original and remix version) were played and were delivered fantastically, and aside from "The World's Greatest" there wasn't a hit he didn't play.

After around 60-70 minutes on stage, Kelly had the crowd singing along a makeshift song in which R told the crowd he was tired and out of shape because he'd "been on stage for two hours" (it had literally been 70 minutes, tops) and had taken "no breaks." The crowd played along as he improvised a song, and singing "NO BREAKS" back to him and "NO SHAPE" was eventually sang as well. Kelly got a kick out this laughing with his band members "Man! We didn't even rehearse this shit!"

The kicker was the finale. R. Kelly dedicated "I Believe I Can Fly" to his home city of Chicago, and knocked the normally overly cheesy song out of Union Park. The crowd was going wild and the experience itself was surprisingly nostalgic and euphoric, especially when I realized I was at an R. Kelly concert. The man knows how to work a crowd though, there's absolutely no denying that. And as the song was heading into it's final verse and chorus, various balloons were set into the night sky, including ones with small LED lights nested inside of them and others in the shape of doves. It was a visual spectacle to say the least.

Photo by Erez Avissar

***

I cannot rave enough about how amazing the weekend at Pitchfork Music Festival was, and I want to thank each and every person who made it possible. 2013 has proven to be the year where music fests take off, and are actually becoming nauseatingly overpacked and overpriced. Pitchfork delivers the best bang for your buck and the setup and structure of the festival truly highlight that it is a festival by music lovers, for music lovers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Watch: Washed Out's New Video - "Don't Give Up"

Is there an artist combining audio and video more perfectly this year? I dare you to find me one who's combining their music with video elements better than Washed Out. First came his video for the audio stream of "It All Feels Right" the first single off his new album Paracosm, which is due out August 12.

The first actual music video spawned from Paracosm is for the single, "Don't Give Up" which you can view below. The video features elements of nature synced up to the track, and is probably really fun to watch while tripping, I don't know.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Festival Coverage: Pitchfork Music Fest 2013 Final Preview



The week is finally upon us, and the number of days until this year's Pitchfork Music Festival can be counted on just one hand. Single day tickets are still available, and in case you don't know what you'll be missing, check out the playlists below.

Pitchfork features 3 stages: Green, Blue, and Red. The Red and Blue stages are located at opposite ends of the park, with Red being on the north end and Blue being towards the southern end. Adjacent to the Red stage, is the Green stage, which features the main headliners every night.

There are a few tents worth noting as well:

Chirp Record Fair
Shop for records between sets! The Chicago Independent Radio Project brings you vinyl selections from indie labels, local record stores, and independent vendors. Buying direct from labels without shipping fees will save you a few pennies and sellers often dig out rare catalogue items for the event. Get there early on Friday if you want to score the best finds!

Chirp also can arrange the donation of your old vinyl to a good cause, the Chicago Independent Radio Project. They can even arrange pickups! If you'd like to donate, email the Chirp team at recordfair@chirpradio.org

Flatstock
I am a huge show poster collector, and this area of the festival spells trouble for me. The country’s best show-poster artists gather to share their work and sell prints at Flatstock, hosted by the American Poster Institute. An art show, poster sale, and community event, Flatstock offers festival-goers the chance to view the work of printmakers from Chicago's vibrant scene and beyond. Stop by the Flatstock tent to meet the artists and take home a handcrafted poster celebrating one of your favorite bands!

The Creative Lounge
One of Chicago’s premier nonprofits that has been serving local artists for more than 39 years, the Chicago Artists Coalition will present large-scale installations by Claire Ashley and Jenny Kendler, as well as an interactive art station and photo booth at their Creative Lounge. There will be special giveaways and opportunities to learn more about the Coalition’s residencies and programs for artists.

Plus, Dark Matter will be serving up their coffee treats and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will have its truck parked nearby!


There are also tents from Coterie Craft Fair and an independent literary fair called The Book Fort both are worth checking out. Not to mention a ton of good eats (Goose Island, Puffs of Doom, and a personal favorite Chicago Diner), and sponsored tents from Ray Ban, H&M, Vans and a ton more worth checking out during some downtime!

Here's the daily schedules and playlists!

Friday
(Gates at 3pm)
8:30pm - (Green) Björk
7:20pm - (Red) Joanna Newsom
6:25pm - (Green) Wire
6:15pm - (Blue) Mikal Cronin
5:30pm - (Red) Woods
5:15pm - (Blue) Angel Olsen
4:35pm - (Green) Mac DeMarco
4:15pm - (Blue) Trash Talk
3:30pm - (Red) Daughn Gibson
3:20pm - (Blue) Frankie Rose





Saturday 
(Gates at 12pm)
8:45pm - (Blue) Rustie
8:30pm - (Green) Belle & Sebastian
7:45pm - (Blue) Andy Stott
7:25pm - (Red) Solange
6:45pm - (Blue) Low
6:15pm - (Green) The Breeders play Last Splash
5:45pm - (Blue) Ryan Hemsworth
5:15pm - (Red) Swans
4:45pm - (Blue) Metz
4:15pm - (Green) Savages
3:45pm - (Blue) Merchandise
3:20pm - (Red) ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
2:50pm - (Blue) Parquet Courts
2:30pm - (Green) Phosphorescent
1:55pm - (Blue) Julia Holter
1:45pm - (Red) Pissed Jeans
1:00pm - (Blue) KEN Mode
1:00pm - (Green) White Lung




Sunday
(Gates at 12pm)
8:45pm - (Blue) TNGHT
8:30pm - (Green) R. Kelly
7:45pm - (Blue) Glass Candy
7:25pm - (Red) MIA
6:45pm - (Blue) Evian Christ
6:15pm - (Green) Toro Y Moi
5:45pm - (Blue) Chairlift
5:15pm - (Red) Lil B
4:45pm - (Blue) Sky Ferreira
4:15pm - (Green) Yo La Tengo
3:45pm - (Blue) Waxahatchee
3:20pm - (Red) El-P
2:50pm - (Blue) Blood Orange
2:30pm - (Green) Killer Mike
1:55pm - (Blue) Autre Ne Veut
1:45pm - (Red) Foxygen
1:00pm - (Blue) DJ Rashad
1:00pm - (Green) Tree

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Watch: Everything Everything - Don't Try

'Don't Try' is taken from Everything Everything's new album, Arc. Arc is the bands second album and has been getting plenty of praise overseas and rightfully so with its ambitious sound.

In an interesting interview with the Irish Times discussing the bands sound and vision, drummer Michael Spearman said
"It sounds quite cheesy, but stuff like Destiny’s Child has proven just as important as The Beatles and Radiohead. I suppose that love of R'n'B comes through in a way. We don't normally say 'we want this song to sound like this or that', we try to be as organic as possible. It's like with The Beatles – they were trying to play the black music of the day, and by doing so, they sort of changed it, it became a different thing. We thought about... trying to get Timbaland in, or something. But we decided against it, because it's a fine line between filtering that music, or just trying to ape it by going to the source of it... We all love Michael Jackson and stuff like that; dance music in general, or just that sort of syncopated music. That's something that connects all of us."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Weeknd Announces New Album & Tour



Based entirely off of hype from mixtapes, Abel Tasfaye - better known as The Weeknd - is currently prepping a "sophomore" effort. The mixtapes, Echoes of Silence, Thursday, and House of Balloons were all released in 2011, and eventually released as Trilogy last year by Republic Records.

The Weeknd specializes in falsetto-based crooning, layered over smooth synths, heavy bass, and immersive beats, and has boosted himself to the forefront of the "alt-R&B" genre. His next album, Kiss Land promises to deliver all the same elements, building on Tasfaye's reputation as a producer as well.

With this album, of course, will come a nationwide tour, for which the dates can be found below. Catching a portion of his set at last year's Lollapalooza, I can vouch for the transferability of his falsetto and sort of chaotically seductive tracks to a live setting. The album is due out towards the end of summer, just in time for the tour to reach major cities throughout North America.

Check out the video for the album's title track below (which is also available via iTunes), our first glimpse at the new album, Kiss Land.




The Weeknd Tour Dates
9/6 Vancouver, BC            Orpheum Theatre
9/7 Vancouver, BC            Orpheum Theatre
9/10 Seattle, WA               Paramount Theater
9/13 Berkeley, CA             The Greek Theatre – Berkeley
9/14 Santa Barbara, CA     Santa Barbara Bowl
9/16 Los Angeles, CA        The Greek Theatre
9/17 Los Angeles, CA        The Greek Theatre
9/20 Broomfield, CO          1st Bank Center
9/22 Grand Prairie, TX       Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
9/23 Cedar Park, TX          Cedar Park Center
9/24 Houston, TX              Bayou Music Center
9/26 Tampa, FL                 David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
9/27 Orlando, FL                Hard Rock Live
9/28 Miami, FL                  James L. Knight Center
9/30 Atlanta, GA                Fox Theatre
10/1 Charlotte, NC             Ovens Auditorium
10/2 Durham, NC               Durham Performing Arts Center
10/4 Camden, NJ               Susquehanna Bank Center
10/5 Washington, D.C.       DAR Constitution Hall
10/7 New York, NY            Radio City Music Hall
10/8 New York, NY            Radio City Music Hall
10/11 Boston, MA             Orpheum Theatre
10/13 Chicago, IL              Chicago Theatre
10/14 Chicago, IL              Chicago Theatre

10/15 Detroit, MI               Fox Theatre
10/17 Toronto, ON            Massey Hall
10/19 Toronto, ON            Massey Hall
10/20 Toronto, ON            Massey Hall

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Festival Coverage: Electric Forest Festival 2013 Recap

The Heart of the Forest Photo Credit: Matt Urban
Rothbury Michigan's four day music festival (June 27-June 30) Electric Forest is one of the most buzzed about festivals of the summer, so the choice was easy to investigate on behalf of Fake Plastic Tunes. The festival has been said to be "The String Cheese Incident's Festival," but whether you're a  fan or not the festival booked an incredibly diverse lineup, so there is music for everyone. Having attended similar festivals in the past with similar lineups (such as Camp Bisco, RE:Generation) the question I still needed to answer was; What sets Electric Forest apart from the rest?

Day 1 & 2

I arrived late Thursday night just shy of 2am, no thanks to the typical Chicago traffic, unfortunately missing bands such as Lotus and EOTO who I later heard put on one of their best sets to date (which seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the festival weekend). With Thursday gone I had my work cut out for me Friday. Doldrums were first on my schedule at the Tripolee Stage, but with a last minute cancellation I was able to catch the New Orleans brass band known as Trombone Shorty at the Ranch Stage. I've never been a fan of the song "American Woman", but the group covered it and was dialed in. Frontman Troy Andrews not only played trombone, but also sang on a number of songs. 

Next, I walked in over to the Tripolee Stage, and joined an eager crowd watching Milkman, who resembled Justice quite a bit, strangely enough mixing a rendition of the song "D.A.N.C.E.". The music quickly became a bit heavy, gravitating a little too closely towards the Dubstep genre for my liking, but being up front I had the opportunity to check out the live painting that was occurring during the set. Still eager to experience the forest, I held off and stuck around to catch Baauer, another EDM act who's name is becoming more and more popular for one reason or another (mainly the internet meme "The Harlem Shake"), but the guy definitely knows how to work a crowd. At one point I was having difficulty shooting photos due to the vibrating structure I was standing on.

Finally it was time to check out the Sherwood Stage, the furthest stage with only one obstacle, The Sherwood Forest. Located in between the Ranch Stage and the Sherwood Stage, the entrance was elegantly lit up along with an impressive array of lights that shined, flickered, glowed and glimmered off in the distance, something that needs to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated. Mesmerized, I powered through to the Sherwood Stage to catch DFA Records native, Holy Ghost! who put on one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Following shortly after Passion Pit rushed the stage to put on the most energetic performance I have seen from them, with frontman Michael Angelako's vocal ability to hit the high notes especially on songs like the "Reeling" from their debut LP Manners. The group seemed somewhat in shock by the positive feedback from the populous crowd even as they blasted through an incredible set featuring crowd pleasers such as "Carried Away," "Moth Wings," and of course "Sleepyhead."

Day 3

Photo Credit: Brian Spady 
Without a chance to recover from the previous night I welcomed the bassline to "Swordfish Hotkiss Night" from Empire of the Sun's soundcheck, which they played later on. Before heading back into the festival grounds I examined the map, which reiterated how well planned the layout was. General camping is just outside of the main gate, but also contains vendors and other amenities so you don't have to make the 5-10 minute walk into the grounds if you need food, ice, or anything other goods. Golf cart taxies were also patrolling throughout the camp grounds for a small $5 fee. Another feature I particularly enjoyed was the straight forward layout providing easy access throughout the festival grounds. Upon entering the venue area, the layout is as follows: Tripolee Stage, Ranch Arena, Sherwood Forest (Forest Stage, The Observatory & Silent Disco) and lastly the Sherwood Court.

With time to kill I headed in, passing the Tripolee Stage where a large mass participated in yoga daily. On the other side of the grounds within the forest, hammocks were drawn in every direction as campers lounged while performers on stilts weaved through the trees. At one point I came across a trained professional juggling knives before hoping on a unicycle, which was interesting to say the least. Home to three stages, the "Forest" was easily the most diverse area of the festival and despite my general dislike for hulu hoops (don't ask), the performance at the forest stage added another unique element to the festival as festival goers casually watched from their hammocks and blankets on the sprung out across forest floor.

The observatory is a visually appealing, newly erected structure in the forest that was created after an invasive species of insects infected some of the hardwood trees last winter, which resulted in cutting dozens of existing trees down to preserve the entire forest. By day it served as a lounging area or a nice meeting spot and by night hosted some of the more unique experimental acts such as Dixons Violin who both opened and closed the festival with jaw dropping improv skills on the violin. The stage was also home to the emerging bluegrass group Tumbleweed Wanderers who not only played 3 impressive sets over 3 days, but also play a mean cover of "Shadow People," by Dr Dog.  

Sherwood Forest | Photo Credit: Tobin Voggesser
Photo Credit: Vladimir Zaytsev
Back near the Ranch Area where the majority of the vendors were stationed, I made my way through the artists' tents who were selling mostly jewelry, paintings, prints and other goods you typically find at festivals. The Conscious Alliance tent was among the vendors who teamed up with EFs food drive program proving to be quite successful as individuals dropped off bags of non perishables to the existing pile. On the same corner, the Toyota tent, consisted of a photo booth, spin the wheel to receive swag and a very cool postcard program. Without limitation and with postage paid, postcards were provided to those who chose to send them anywhere in the world, but they also made for a nice souvenir.  

Still at the Ranch vendor area, the "Shelby Marching Band" stomped through the field with their assortment of instruments. Shortly after, Jeff Austin & Friends took the stage with their blues infused jam rock. He played electric mandolin with the accompaniment of a wailing electric guitar, slide guitar, bass in sync with the banging drums, while the audience slowly grew. The ranch stage became a mecca for bluegrass acts with Greensky Bluegrass who played the following day.

Up to this point the weather couldn't have been any better, so it's only natural a few rain clouds moved in for Party Supplies, an Electronic Pop duo, at the Tripolee Stage. Unfortunately as the clouds broke the two had to cut their set early due to vocal issues, which ended up being an ideal opportunity to eat and rest before embarking on another 10 more hours of music into the late night. 

Rested up, BoomBox kicked off Saturday night with their funk infused house at the Sherwood Stage, playing to one of the largest crowds I had seen up to that point until the English dance group Above & Beyond took over. String Cheese put on an unforgettable performance at the Ranch Arena, playing an impressive three and half hour set catering to both the jam and electro fans until Empire of the Sun performed the most extravagant on stage performance of the weekend.

As "Lux" played into "Old Falour's", both off their new album Ice on the Dune, two dancers appeared through the fog with Empire of the Sun following shortly after. I don't think anyone expected to see the group playing instruments, which is another thing I immensely enjoy about the duo who had another member helping them out with the percussion section. The Australian group performed a good mix of songs with the obvious crowd pleasers, "Walking on a Dream," "Alive" and as mentioned above "Swordfish Hotkiss Night" to put on yet another memorable performance.

Empire of the Sun
Passion Pit Silent Disco | Photo Credit: Brian Spady
Although I didn't spend too much time at the Tripolee stage, I did enjoy A-Trak's mix of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll," but left shortly after for the Silent Disco. Yes, you heard that correctly and you may laugh at the name Shreddie Mercury or even the term Silent Disco, but together they made for one of the most fun festival experiences I've ever had. Located deep within the Sherwood Forest, the Silent Disco featured a DJ who could only be heard through the headphones given out upon entrance, so what you get is a few hundred people who appear to be dancing to absolutely nothing. Allegedly Passion Pit played the secret set Friday and Shreddie Mercury made such an impression that I had to check out his set at the Forest Stage Sunday night. 

Day 4

Yeasayer
Day three started off similar to day two with Greensky Bluegrass at the Ranch Arena, while the Athen's group Reptar treated us to another overly energetic performance at the Sherwood Stage. About halfway through the set, the recently added three man horn section hoisted the lead guitarist up for a solo. With time to spare before my personal favorite and most anticipated act, Yeasayer, I checked out Emanicpator and Elliott Lipp, two respectable names among the festival community who delivered as always. Even though Pretty Lights and Nervo's set overlapped at different stages, Yeasayer sealed the deal as the perfect cap to complete my festival experience. They carried on the reoccurring theme of unforgettable performances with a tremendous set that consisted of songs from all three LPs, also bringing the horn section from Reptar out for Ambling Alp. On my way towards the festival exit, I dropped by "The Saloon," which is another hidden gem deep within the forest and can be described as an ever changing saloon with the appropriate vintage decor, lounge area and small venue.


In conclusion, the thing that set's Electric Forest apart from all of the other camping festivals alike is the actual "Electric Forest." Simply put, there is nothing else like it and if there I encourage you to enlighten me. Although the forest is home to various art sculptures, the "Saloon," an elaborate light display, three stages that feature music and performing arts, the festival couldn't survive without the given diverse musical lineup and involvement from the thriving community. 


For more photos visit FPT's Photo Gallery or the Electric Forest Facebook Page.






Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Watch: Travis - Moving

'Moving' will be the second single from Travis' upcoming album 'Where You Stand' set to be released August 19th. The video is made up from a series of animations that are projected onto the bands breath, in real time using no post production, to give the effect of plucking shapes and figures out of thin air for an arresting visual accompaniment.

'Moving' is the third listen in on the album now as we have already heard 'Another Guy' and 'Where You Stand'.  It comes with a little more flare and is a bit more upbeat.

Watch: Titus Andronicus - Still Life With Hot Deuce And Silver Platter

Titus Andronicus shared their new video for "Still Life With Hot Deuce and Silver Platter" over on their official website.  The video was directed by Bryan Schlam and filmed at the bands second home of Shea Stadium.  It displays the bands pure energy when performing live and gives a good sense of what to expect from seeing them play live.