Chet Faker | Mack Sennett Studios | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/29/14 [Review & Photos]

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THE ACT: Chet Faker Facebook | Twitter

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Chet Faker. Girls love him. Guys wish they could write music like him.

I saw Chet Faker earlier this year at The Roxy. Musically, there is no question that Nicholas James Murphy a/k/a “Chet Faker” has the musical goods. His sound (soulful, downtempo electronica) is baby-making music, plain and simple. It’s still early in his career (he’s only released one full length album, “Built On Glass” and a couple of extended plays) so it’ll be interesting to see how his sound develops going forward.

What I was more interested in observing this time around was his actual stage performance. At the Roxy, Chet Faker spent the length of the performance behind his keyboards under dim lights. On a couple of songs, additional musicians took the stage to perform as part of a backing band. This time around, with Red Bull as the sponsor of the event (and presumably  a bigger budget), that his stage performance could have bit could a bit … more. The lighting at Mack Sennett Studios was definitely a step up from The Roxy’s lights, but on the large stage, it was again Chet behind his keyboards.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love his music. I even brought my LP copy of “Built On  Glass” just in case I could catch him for an autograph. But truly memorable  musical performances are not only auditory; there has to be a visual component to it as well … for me, it takes both aspects to make a show complete. Chet looked so isolated on the large stage. I was really hoping that he could have hired a backing band play his arrangements, or at least a some video screens to actually see what he was doing at the keyboard consoles. I mean, you can see moving around behind his instruments, but it would have been so much more effective if there were more “action” on stage. I mean, take Flying Lotus, for example. Flying Lotus performs behind his consoles, but he’s got an elaborate laser/lighting show going on around him simultaneously.

I’m not suggesting that Chet Faker needs some intricate laser light show. I just wish I could have seen what his hands were doing. There musicality and artisanship in watching a professional maneuver a drum machine and keyboards. It would have been nice to see the action on the keys.

SETLIST (unconfirmed)

  1. Blush
  2. 1998
  3. I’m Into You
  4. Terms & Conditions
  5. Intro
  6. Ciggs & Chocolate
  7. On You (with Goldlink)
  8. No Diggity
  9. Drop The Game
  10. To Me
  11. Gold
  12. Talk Is Cheap

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Goapele | El Rey Theater | 11/18/14 [Review, Photos and Video]

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Goapele: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Earlier this year, I got a call from management to negotiate a side artist agreement for a track Snoop was to be featured on. When I asked who the featured verse was for, management indicated that it was a female R&B singer named Goapele.

Goapele … that name sounded so familiar to me.

I quickly opened my iTunes and found that I had purchased a compilation back in 2004 titled “California Soul”, and nestled in as the fourth track of the album was Goapele’s track titled “Childhood Drama”. Apparently, after listening to the track 12 times to date, I’ve given the track 5 out of 5 stars. With it’s smooth production value, and dreamy vocals, I was bit surprised that I never opted to purchase more music from this artist.

After concluding negotiations on the agreement, Goapele’s manager offered to give me a comp ticket and a photo pass to her performance at the El Rey. Arriving at the venue for the performance, I got to meet Goapele’s manager and publicist, who let me know, with appreciative glows in their eyes, that Snoop had called earlier in the day to wish Goapele luck.

Goapele’s fans had arrived at the venue early like me, sitting on the steps close to the stage, bordering the perimeter of the venue. As I scanned the audience, I noticed that the audience was filled predominantly with women. Let’s put it this way, if you were a single guy, the odds … attractive odds … would definitely have been in your favor.

I made my way to the front of the stage and staked out my position, engaging in small chit chat with some of the female attendants who would occasionally peek at the photos I took during the show, smiling with approval.

The opening act for Goapele was a singer songwriter name Josiah Bell.

I couldn’t find too much about this artist online prior to his performance other than the fact that he was (as of June 26th, 2014) dating actress Jurnee Smollett of “True Blood” fame and that he was a big fan of vinyl records, so I listened to him with open ears.

Josiah is a solid singer whose vocal range, and timbre, reminded me of Brian McKnight. His music is pure R&B and I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Perhaps my favorite part of his set was when his band took a break, and he sang a song while playing the keys. His voice, exposed and raw, demonstrated a tenderness with firm foundation that I wanted to hear more of. I understand that he recently had a string of performances at the Hotel Café. If it was just him and his piano, I’m sure that those performances would have been definitely worth the price of admission.

To see additional photos and video from Josiah Bell’s set opening for Goapele CLICK HERE

When Goapele took the stage, the first thing I noticed was her fierce, blond-dyed short hair and the beautiful angles of her face. With the house lights reflecting off her gold embroidered dress, I was literally in awe of how regal and strong she looked. When she started singing, I basically fell in love.

Her music hit all the right notes with me. From powerful to playful, from longing to seductive, the music both induced me to dance where I was standing and to scan the crowd to see if I could catch the eye of a potential soul mate. Though my dancing was awkward, and my scanning was fruitless, there was no time to dwell on my own deficiencies as Goapele’s music kept flowing and had me vibing … hard. It was almost a musical soul cleansing. It was music that didn’t rely on modern day gimmicks. It was solid songwriting, enhanced by a distinctive Sade-like voice.

Having singed recently to Eric Benet’s record label, Jordan House, she had, to the delight of the females in the audience, Mr. Benet join her on stage for a number.

When Goapele’s set had finished, I made it a point to thank her team for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot her performance. When Goapele came from backstage to greet fans, I was briefly introduced to her by her manager. When she thanked me for being diligent in finishing Snoop’s agreement. I could only thank her for performing that evening so sublimely. If I had known her better, and if there wasn’t a line of at least 70 fans anxiously waiting at the merchandise booth to meet her, I would have told about the rollercoaster of emotions that she put me on that evening and that I’m making some room on my CD racks for more of her music, because having only one of her songs is simply not enough.

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Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil | Redwood Bar | 10/21/14 [Photos, Videos & Tacos]

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There’s aren’t many bands that’d I’d see four times in one year. Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil is the only one that I’ll have on my list this year.

Not only are they really cool dudes, but their music also rocks. This year, I saw them twice at Ink-N-Iron and personally arranged for them to play a gig at the Garage. When they told me they had a weekday gig in downtown L.A., I didn’t hesitate to put it in my calendar.

I get pumped to see these guys live, because they have an absurd amount of stage presence. From Jack growling into the microphone, wildly dancing while jamming killer riffs, to Pete’s eye’s menacing, almost possessed, look while he smashes the drums, these guys, at least to me, embody rock and roll. As a wanna-be photographer, getting chances to shoot bands like this is a thrill. If I can capture a moment of the pure, unrelenting joy that these guys perform with … that’s something that would make my day.

I got to the venue a little early, and the fellas were our front hanging in their tour van. Jack was greeting friends and Pete was munching on a slice of pie from California Pizza Kitchen. I told Pete that I liked some of their pizzas, and he told me that he never realized that California Pizza Kitchen was an actual restaurant. He always assumed that it was just a frozen pizza. I got a chuckle out of that.

Set times were running a little late, and friends, fans and the band were getting antsy. Jack, while puffing on a cigarette, was already making plans for after the set.

“Tacos, man,” Jack said while flicking out his smoke, “I need tacos.” Taking recommendations from friends, he already had location in mind. In a Pavlovian kind-a-way, I started craving tacos too.

Got to meet some of Jack and Pete’s friends, including a photographer named Jason who was touring with the band as a friends and roadie. This was one of the dope pics he took at the gig.

The light was dim and I had put pump the ISO on my camera (even though I know that the pics always come out noisy at a high ISO with my old-ass camera), but I still think I got a couple decent shots.

Again, they rocked (check out the video clips below).

After they had packed, the band, and some of the fans, made a short trip to the late-night taco stand. While waiting to order L.A. deliciousness, we noted a multi-storied, retro-fitted building across the street that was for lease. We started talking about what we would do if we could afford to buy the classic looking building. As we sipped on horchata, and devoured out grub, we fantasized about which floor would be rooms and which floor would be the studio … but I think we were all in agreement about having the ground floor be a performance venue/club.

Dreams and tacos. A perfect end to a terrific night of rock-and roll.

Do yourself and follow them on Facebook. You’ll want to catch their live show if they end up in your neck of the woods.

VIDEOS

Quantic | Culture Collide | The Methodist Church of Echo Park | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Quantic | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

Don’t you love it when soul meets any genre of music?   A highlight of the Festival.  Best time of the night!  Will Holland, the musician, producer and DJ who is Quantic does just that.   Holland collaborates with musicians, DJs and artists with different backgrounds and talents to create unique sounds, a little Jazz, a little electronic, a little bongos and some trumpet, perhaps.  I think Holland hears, explores and ultimately takes different music genres and finds a way, and a place, they have not yet been together. On this night, soul met funk, electronic, jazz and Latin styles – they do mean a salsa with electronic riffs (ya, that happened!). In the middle of their world tour, Holland and his current collaborators arrived at The United Methodist Church from sold out shows in France, Japan and San Francisco. Colombian singer Nidia Góngora, who is the lead vocals on the single La Plata, showed us her organic dance moves and captured our attention with her clear, smooth and rich tone on vocals. Other sounds you will hear in these collaborations are Ethiopian jazz, accordion, clarinet – no really this is true – and if you need a picture to wrap your head around the scene and sounds, this was the Cultures Collide version of a scene from Dirty Dancing.   This rhythmic Latin, soul and funk infusion had the audience dancing in the aisles and grinding in front of a pulpit.   Before the band started playing, Holland said, “feel free to get up out of your seats,” and you could see it in people’s eyes, they were already planning on it – and they did.   Quantic, whose home base is Columbia, released his latest album, Magnetica, on June 10, 2014.  This album’s 3rd single, La Plata, was a highlight of their set and even I sang along to this one on and I didn’t even know what the lyrics meant, but Quantic makes you want to move, sing and be a musician.

Post Script: Best line of the night, “This is a great congregation” – Will Holland.

I danced to Quantic while I wrote this review.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Culture Collide | World Stage | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

I love these guys!  I have partied with them in the past, partied to their Indie Rock sound throughout my life.  Their sound is good listening with beer on a beach or an indoor venue when it’s snowing outside with friends.  Point in case, they’ve even played Lollapalooza in the past, that must have been a good time.  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a great Indie Rock band – one of the best bar rock band and college tour band I’ve seen – they have that sound.   The band is tight, complete with guitar riffs and lyrics to sing along to.  This band already has a huge following and it was clear from the crowd dancing and singing lyrics to their songs.  “Satan Said Dance” was the song I remember singing on Saturday.  The one problem with is band is that they are really good at the Indie music, but, to me, and that’s that.  For a minute the lead singer made chewing gum onstage look cool, collected and kind of sexy.  Check ‘em out if you are an Indie music fan.  Their latest album was, Only Run, released June 3, 2014.  This US band hails from the East Coast and they’re playing the Brooklyn Bowl November 12th.  

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PINS | Culture Collide | World Stage | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: PINS | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

I love this band for their total sound and style.  This UK band is what the Go Gos circa 2014 would sound like if they went dark Indie Rock, or, if they stayed Punk circa 1978.  Pins’ lead vocalist even has a vocal tone or quality that reminds me a little of Belinda Carlyle, but she’s not Belinda, xo Belinda!   Pins is the combined musical talents of Faith, Anna, Lois and Sophie from Manchester, UK and their music is unapologetic, tough yet feminine, and natural compared to their Electronic and Pop peers.   By that I mean, the Pins’ sound includes effortless dark chanting and rock rhythms of unfinished or unconcluded emotions, unmistakably heard in their beats, guitar riffs and even in their vocal harmonies  – it’s a dope sound.   To me, this is a distinct sound and musical road than the more polished emotions and lyrics usually heard more in the Electronic and Pop genres.  The Pins’ lyrics are about relationships, feelings and love, tough and dark but with exposure, flaws and soul searching, like any good female rock band.  I am always looking for a good female rock band and the only other one I’ve heard live lately is Deap Vally (no “e”), two female rockers who shred.  Deap Vally is a stronger more pure rock sound, but I use the comparison to emphasize, there aren’t many bands that can claim girl rockers out there right now.   Pins’ vocals don’t have the muscular sound of classic female rockers, but I am excited about their sound.  They recently played the CMJ Music Marathon and they are playing (sold out) shows in the UK in the coming months and I know why.

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Tkay Maidza | Culture Collide | The Echo | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Tkay Maidza | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

A highlight of the day, and my personal highlight!  Who are you, girl!?  It’s pronounced “T.K.,” and readers, you should probably remember that – her rapping is pure fire!  She killed it!  She sings, too.  Tkay combines pistol quick rap and EDM sounds, and her performance seemed effortless, which is a unique style trait to her . . . and she sounded like a boss!   Sure there are great rappers and rapid fire lyricists (not that many), but Tkay has her own style, too, ingénue-like, commanding, tough and effortless.   She is also reminiscent of M.I.A. and Azaelia Banks.   At times, Tkay’s tone and verbal rhythm, as well as her elocution and delivery, reminds me of M.I.A., but Tkay’s effortless brand of fierce is different because it’s definitive, hard and commanding, but less aggressive than M.I.A.  This artist is able to go from spitting out rap verses to singing verses.   Her elocution and delivery is also reminiscent of Azaelia when she puts vocals over electronic beats and I can see Tkay commanding the Coliseum (my measure of an LA Rave).  Tkay’s vocals and performance are unaffected, natural and unproduced, like she thought she’d just drop it right now .  From Australia, Zimbabwean Tkayo’s debut mix taped was released October 23, 2014.  I watched Tkay’s debut video for “U-Huh” and I loved it, but this 18 year old is so good, she doesn’t need all that production.   On stage – just her – done!  She had her first NYC performance this week and is being picked up by major online publications like Entertainment Weekly and Fader.   Check her out  – Rap, Pop, EDM sounds, like it’s no problem!  S/O to Derrick who knew this artist would be a highlight!  I had a chance to talk with Tkay after the show and she was sweet, in the moment and gracious to her fans – stay grounded girl you are about to be a star.

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Banoffee | Culture Collide | The Echo | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Banoffee | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

Pop, rhythm and EDM.  Singer/producer Banoffee is an Australian artist whose performance included mixing her own R&B and sometimes Reggae style beats, throwing down versus once or twice, singing and frontin’ the ultimate cool chick persona and musical ability.   Her music is chill vibes and heavy, sick synth production.   Banoffee’s beats drop with accented bounces and her vocals are a smooth glaze over electronic beats Pop, R&B and EDM sounds.   You could say she’s an EDM and sporty Imogen Heap.  She includes “Ninja” and “Let’s Go To The Beach” in her performance at The Echo and I included the link to her debut EP whick dropped October 7, 2014 so you can listen to her unique texture of musical styles.   She’s been playing NYC venues this past week  – check her out!

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Takeoffs & Landings | Culture Collide | World Stage | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Takeoffs & Landings | Facebook | Twitter

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

Good band, they got it done.  On lead vocals is Naama, her voice has a unique sound, one you don’t hear often these days in the music age of Electronic and Dance Pop.  Truth, I love this girl’s voice – it’s a slightly raspy, feminine Rock voice that meets some good Indie and unique enchanting sounds.  Naama’s is not a true muscular voice, but it has a cool texture, a little bit of Pop meets Rock with a unique ingénue sound.  I liked it, kind of wanted to see Joan Jett after hearing this band, too.   Naama also has showmanship, an intriguing attraction to her movement with her sound.  Take Offs and Landings is from Lima, Peru and the other members of the band are Dennis, Christian, Chris, Sergio.  Take Offs and Landings was formed recently, in 2013, and is already playing festivals like Culture Collide.  Their music is a blend of sinister girl rock and tones that make it seem like they know something you don’t and you are intrigued enough to follow wherever they are leading, which I I think is one reason the lead vocal’s voice struck me, it all went together – their enchanting sound and lead vocals that compliments the magic.   Their first album is due to drop at the end of the year.

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Torches | Culture Collide | The Methodist Church of Echo Park | 10/18/14 [Review, Vids & Photos]

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THE ACT: Torches | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS  [Written by Kate M.]:

Pop, Indie Rock, EDM, Punk – one reason I liked this festival is that every band had unique musical stylings and combinations of sounds, and the US band Torches was no exception.  Torches is an Indie, Rock, Electronic blend and the second band of the night with a traditional string instrument, a violin.   This band had an Empire of the Sun vibe and sounded like Phoenix, if Phoenix went Indie Rock.   If you’re a Friendly Fires fan, you will like this band, but they can’t capture a stage like a Friendly Fires or a Phoenix.  Their performance was bland, but it was a church stage and the Festival itself was not well trafficked.   Azad Cheikosman, Eric Fabbro and Adrian Acosta make up this Los Angeles-based band and I would have liked to have seen their EP Release show at The Bootleg Theater to get better sense of what they can do, but I listened to their tracks again at home and Torches is tight!  I can see some mainstream pop, alternative and electronic sounds with defined rhythmic drums.  I thought they sounded like Arcade Fire, Cut Copy, The Mighty Lemon Drops and similar artists, which makes sense because according to their bio they have worked with David Newton (The Mighty Lemon Drops) and Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire).  If you like any of the artists mentioned, or another band I love, The 1975, I would definitely check out Torche.   Torches dropped their EP, Endlessly Repeating, on June 19, 2014.

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