Future Islands | The Wiltern | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/20/14 [Photos & Video]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

THE ACT: Future Islands |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS: (Excerpted from the Full Length Concert Review that you can read by CLICKING HERE)

“[…] When Future Islands walked out on stage, you could tell that the crowd that was unmistakably on a mission to move and be moved. Singer Samuel Herring began with speaking a heartfelt introduction that bonded us both and served as preparation for a ceremony of unabashed intimacy.

[…]

[…] Between primal outbursts of energy, blessing the crowd, eating his own sweat, and a Hulk-like tear through his shirt, the shamanistic vocalist prodded out our repressions as he shared with us his confessions. Balloons released from above as the night came to a close and Future Islands made sure there wasn’t a single thing you hadn’t danced out by playing three encores. By the end of the performance, the air was thick with the sweat of released emotional baggage […].

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To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

Rose Quartz | The Wiltern | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/20/14 [Photos & Video]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

THE ACT: Rose Quartz |  Facebook | Twitter

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS: (Excerpted from the Full Length Concert Review that you can read by CLICKING HERE)

“[…] The band’s musicianship gave gravity to the group’s spacey nature and I appreciated the strength of their live show; they gave their all and played an enthusiastic set. I would however like to hear them develop the journey of their songs instead of relying on technological filters as a vehicle to drive the music home. […] Their stamina to float into the ether and keep the dance vibes rolling made for a truly dancy, trancy, synthy indie time at the Wiltern.”

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To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

SPEAK | The Wiltern | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/20/14 [Photos & Video]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

THE ACT: SPEAK |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS: (Excerpted from the Full Length Concert Review that you can read by CLICKING HERE)

“[…] Joey, Troupe, and Nick (bass, vocals, guitar) heralded three part harmonies that maintained the attention of an audience caught off guard by the band’s naïve appearance and subdued interactions. […]. Troupe’s ambitious vocal range sailed smoothly through the heart of every song, and as a singing trio they were just as solid and as much of a centerpiece. Their quick paced songs were brought down to hip swaying tempos at times, adding an aura of unexpected intensity and edge to the band’s otherwise sonically friendly climate. But despite their seemingly shy demeanors reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, but edgier, the four guys from Austin performed a confident set of hook-heavy pop rock.”

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To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

Future Islands, Rose Quartz & SPEAK | The Wiltern | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/20/14 [Photos & Concert Review]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

Written by G.Bonilla and D. Lee

There was a line almost 2 blocks long waiting to to get into the venue before doors had opened. Future Islands, who were playing club gigs last year, are now selling out storied venues like the Wiltern.

It’s not easy for bands to break through. Sometimes it can take years. Sometimes it never happens. It took 8 years, but Future Islands finally got the exposure they deserved when they made their network television debut on March 3, 2014, on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing the lead single “Seasons (Waiting On You)”. That’s how I discovered them. That’s why I’ve seen them three times this year.

We entered the storied venue and as the others spent time visiting Red Bull affiliated booths and activities in the lobby, we stepped into the performance room to set up shop to find a good view. As we made our way up front, walking towards the relatively empty orchestra pit, a security guard stopped us to give us wristbands to enter the space up front. Typically at the Wiltern, orchestra pit passes are given to those waiting in line for the doors to open. Thankful, for whatever reason, that they gave them out, first come-first served, to whose who ventured to the front of the stage before the show started.

The first band to take the stage was Red Bull Sound Select artist, SPEAK; an art rock band from Austen, Texas.

The muted look of black attire and prescription glasses camouflaged the three guys and drummer out on stage. They quietly took the stage and meekly addressed the audience.  They didn’t have to say a word. They introduced themselves to the audience by digging into their instruments. With a different palate to offer, SPEAK took a detour from the synth-pop lineup of the evening. Elaborations on four-on-the-floor beats and pop progressions were accompanied by synth lines but not driven by them. That’s not to say that the band was unfamiliar with how to hook a bait; the oscillating melodies that stamped each of their songs are proof of their knack for knowing what sticks.

Joey, Troupe, and Nick (bass, vocals, guitar) heralded three part harmonies that maintained the attention of an audience caught off guard by the band’s naïve appearance and subdued interactions. That’s not to say that there was a timidity in their sound. Troupe’s ambitious vocal range sailed smoothly through the heart of every song, and as a singing trio they were just as solid and as much of a centerpiece. Their quick paced songs were brought down to hip swaying tempos at times, adding an aura of unexpected intensity and edge to the band’s otherwise sonically friendly climate. But despite their seemingly shy demeanors reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, but edgier, the four guys from Austin performed a confident set of hook-heavy pop rock.

CLICK HERE to see more photos and video clips from SPEAK’s performance.

The second band, another Red Bull Sound Select Artist, Rose Quartz, is a synth band Denver, Colorado.

As the veil of darkness on stage lifted to reveal stacked bulks of vintage looking synth gear, the duo known as Rose Quartz (who perform as a foursome live with the addition of guitar and drums) went into what I would describe as dancy trancy synthy indie.

Their cyclical progressions and repetitive vocal lines gave the performance a chanty element and plenty of landscape to dance to, making their set sound like one long song. Build-ups usually plateaud onto lyrical incantations while vocal effects trailed through musical changes that hopped back and forth between two or three chords. Again, dancy trancy synthy indie. The band’s musicianship gave gravity to the group’s spacey nature and I appreciated the strength of their live show; they gave their all and played an enthusiastic set. I would however like to hear them develop the journey of their songs instead of relying on technological filters as a vehicle to drive the music home. We couldn’t ignore that the progression of their songs lacked a story, leaving listeners pretty much where it all began. Nonetheless, their stamina to float into the ether and keep the dance vibes rolling made for a truly dancy, trancy, synthy indie time at the Wiltern.

CLICK HERE to see more photos and video clips from Rose Quartz’s performance.

Rose Quartz was a decent appetizer … but we were ready and anxious for Future Islands to take the stage..

When Future Islands walked out on stage, you could tell that the crowd that was unmistakably on a mission to move and be moved. Singer Samuel Herring began with speaking a heartfelt introduction that bonded us both and served as preparation for a ceremony of unabashed intimacy.

There seemed to be shaky start as within a few seconds of their opening song, Sam gestured abruptly to kill sound and apologized of for the synth malfunction. It was as is he was teasing and taunting the brewing hurricane that the music was stirring. The audience was more than willing to forgive the incident even before Herring made a comment on the beauty of second chances. If anything, the technical difficulty proved to show the humanity in the circumstance and fit right in with the prevalent theme of their music.

They picked up just as powerfully as the first attempt, and it soared from there. Between primal outbursts of energy, blessing the crowd, eating his own sweat, and a Hulk-like tear through his shirt, the shamanistic vocalist prodded out our repressions as he shared with us his confessions. Balloons released from above as the night came to a close and Future Islands made sure there wasn’t a single thing you hadn’t danced out by playing three encores. By the end of the performance, the air was thick with the sweat of released emotional baggage. Walking back out into the city was the perfect cool down for the collective dance party we’d all just had.

CLICK HERE to see more photos and video clips from Future Islands performance.

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

Run The Jewels, Mystery Skulls & Thurz | Echoplex | Red Bull Sound Select’s “30 Days In LA” | 11/13/14 [Concert Review]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

Two of the best hip-hop albums I’ve purchased in the past 5 years were released in 2012: Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” … and Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music”.

“R.A.P. Music”, like “good kid, m.A.A.d city”, received widespread acclaim from music critics. Produced entirely by El-P, the album is essentially the progenitor of Run The Jewels. With El-P’s amazingly heavy and ear-piercing beats coupled with Killer Mike’s concise and crisp, visceral political raps that span the social consciousness gamut, I couldn’t get enough of that album.

Though “R.A.P. Music” didn’t quite match the type of album sales that Kendrick’s album achieved, it’s still an album that deserves to be heard … and deserves to be listened to. Remember back in the 90s when hip-hop artists were prophets preaching the gospel on societal injustices? Well, “R.A.P. Music” fills the void, and carries the torch, when other popular hip-hop artists fail, or neglect, the obligation.

Ever since I picked up that limited edition LP, I’ve been dying to see Killer Mike in concert. It’s been over two years in the waiting, but with Run The Jewels performing as a headliner for one of Red Bull’s “30 Days In LA” concert series, I knew that this was a show that I couldn’t miss.

When I arrived at The Echoplex, 20 minutes before the doors were supposed to open, the line to get in was already about 75 people long. Thankfully, having been approved with a photo pass, I’d have the opportunity to stake out some territory up front … as long as I hit the head before the mad rush of fans came into the venue.

First up on the bill was Inglewood native, Thurz. Originally a member of the rap duo U-N-I, he broke out on his own in 2011 with the album “L.A. Riot,” and album that overflows with socio-economic and political content. With a marketing campaign that focused on questions like, “What do your Riot For?” and releasing a “Riot Manifesto”, I anticipated a set that would be filled with heavy messages and serious content.

Taking the stage with a full band, the vibe I got was more The Roots than Ice Cube, and it was definitely more playful and funky than what I had anticipated (Editors Note: Poor due diligence on my part as I hadn’t hear his latest EP which is posted above). Thurz played off each player in the band and throughout his set continued to raise his level of energy. From bringing out producer OverDoz and vocalist Jarrell Perry, among others, to perform with him to waving on his entire entourage to the stage to keep the audience hyped, it all culminated when he called upon, Compton native, and hip-hop royalty, DJ Quik to close out the set. I heard from a friend that Quik was working with Thurz on some music. If that’s the case, I’m excited to hear what they come up with. I did find it a bit weird that Quick performed by himself, and not with Thurz, but I wasn’t going to complain.

To check out more photos and video clips from Thurz set, CLICK HERE.

Thurz was followed by Mystery Skulls, another Los Angeles based artist whose music was not hip-hop, but electronic pop.

I’ve seen Mystery Skulls before, and he’s quite good at what he does. His music has shades of house music that reminds me of artist’s like Breakbot and his vocals, tinged with a soulful R&B vibe, are very club worthy and totally danceable. The music is definitely mainstream pop-worthy.

But the crowd at the Echoplex that night wasn’t interested in smooth vocals with an electronic house beat, and unfortunately the hecklers were out in full force.

It was a shame to hear someone yell for him to get off the stage when he was finished. He certainly didn’t deserve that kind of send off. If anything, I’d blame Red Bull for seemingly forcing him on the bill. I’m sure they could have found another hip-hop act more suitable to perform that evening.

To check out more photos and video clips from Mystery Skulls set, CLICK HERE.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write about Run The Jewel’s set. I could have written about how amped the crowd was, and how difficult it was for me to get any decent shots of the performance given the mass of bodies constantly bumping into me and the house photographers bursting their flash throughout the set. I could have written about how it was my birthday. I could have written about the plethora of surprise guests who performed cuts off their latest release with the duo (Gangsta Boo performed “Love Again”, DJ Z-Trip performed “Get It”, Zack de la Rocha performed “Close Your Eyes (Count To Fuck)” and Travis Barker played drums on “All Due Respect”), but given the recent state of civil unrest throughout the nation, and Killer Mike’s subsequent reaction to it, I scrapped it all.

Following the announcement of there being no indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Killer Mike took the stage in St. Louis and delivered an emotional speech prior to Run The Jewels’ performance at the Ready Room (which is very close to Ferguson).

I watched Killer Mike’s emotional plea, and I was moved. In fact, when his voice wavered … my own throat became taught.

I’ve always respected what Killer Mike has meant to the rap game. My level of appreciation reached an all time high after watching him pour his heart out. I’ve always assumed it, but now I knew it. He lives what he preaches, and what he preaches what matters. It matters and it’s the truth.

It made me realize that what I witnessed on that stage at the Echoplex was something that audiences don’t often get to experience. Authenticity. Unadulterated verity. With more heart … more guts … than 90 percent of the garbage that’s out there on the radio.

Killer Mike’s collaboration with El-P is music that matters. Their latest release, RTJ2, is hard hitting and even more poignant today than it was it yesterday. Their song “Early” (a track about police brutality)? It couldn’t be more appropriate given the times.

To check out more photos and videos from Run The Jewel’s set CLICK HERE.

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught During Red Bull Sound Selects “30 Days In LA” CLICK HERE

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

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught At Culture Collide CLICK HERE

THE ACT: Tkay Maidza | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

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]

To Check Out Other Bands We Caught At Culture Collide CLICK HERE

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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MØ | Culture Collide | Echoplex | 10/16/14 [Photos]

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THE ACT:  MØ | Facebook | Twitter Instagram

SOUNDS LIKE: 

THOUGHTS:  I’d thought that I’d be over female fronted, beat-driven, electro pop, but wow … MØ was something else. Her live show was something fierce. She may have been criticized for her “off” performance with Iggy Azalea on Saturday Night Live, but I’ve witnessed MØ performing live, and she is a powerhouse performer. Stage diving, and stage walking, throughout her set, engaging the audience with her piercing eyes and impressing me with her unexpected stage presence and voice, I was blown away. I’m willing to make this prediction … she’ll be making the festival rounds next year, and she’ll be performing on the main stages. Guaranteed.

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De Lux | Culture Collide | Echoplex | 10/16/14 [Photos]

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THE ACT: De Lux | Facebook | Twitter Instagram

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THOUGHTS: I don’t know how many times can I say it. I love this band. When I first saw them play opening for Omar Souleyman, I knew that I’d have to see them play again. Catching them at Culture Collide was my third time this year (the second time was at  Echo Park Rising). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you’re a fan of the post-punk sounds of the Talking Heads, I’m sure you’ll dig this band. They are heading out on tour for the month of November, and I suggest you buy a ticket and check them out. Seriously. Buy a ticket. Check these guys out.

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