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THOUGHTS: I got to their set a little late because I wanted to watch as much of Phantogram’s set as I could, but the 20 or so minutes that I got to The Stepkids live was exactly what I was expecting. Funky, Steely Dan-ish, psychedelic soul. Oi. I seriously loved their groove. The way this trio blends elements of jazz, funk and soul is right up my alley. Jeff (guitar) and Dan (bass) were a joy to watch, playing riffs off of each other, and even synchronizing certain moves during songs. When each had a moment to solo, their respective play was a joy to watch, and listen. I wasn’t able to get any decent shots of their drummer, but I’m hoping the next time they are in Los Angeles, I’ll get approved for a photo pass so I can remedy that problem. I’m keeping my ears to the internet for more tour dates, and if you like their vibe, you should too.
Opening for Omar Souleyman was the Los Angeles-based, indie neo-disco band De Lux. I had gotten a little sampling of their music online, but listening to this band’s music live was something else.
De Lux is a favorite of KCRW DJs across the board (they are one of the few acts that ALL of the DJs play in their sets). I could hear why.
They may be a young band, but their sound is pretty damn sophisticated. A little synth-pop, a little electronic, a little disco, a little punk, a little funk … their music is a mish-mosh of styles that really blends together into a unique, almost throwback, sound.
I got to chat with a couple of the guys in the band after their set, and couldn’t help but rave about their sound. Though they’ve heard it before, I really emphasized my observation that their music really reminded me of the Talking Heads. Seaun Guerin, one of the founders and the lead vocalist, in particular, has a voice that’s as oddly wonderful as David Byrnes’ voice.
These guys are playing at the upcoming free music festival in Los Angeles, Echo Park Rising, August 15th-17th (TBD). I’m going to try and make it out for their gig. Hopefully, I’ll be able to snap some more pics of them jamming out.
On the second day of the BET Experience at L.A. Live, I decided to watch the various acts performing on the main stage of the convention center. Each of the acts performed short sets to give the audience a sampling of what their music was all about.
The third act I was able to catch was Roman GianArthur; a singer-songwriter who is a member of Janelle Monae‘s Wondaland Arts Society collective. His performance was quite impressive. His music was an infusion of soul and funk, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder (he did cover “Superstition”) and D’Angelo. His guitar skills were on point, and the way he played reminded be a bit of Prince.
Charismatic and skillful, his set really opened my eyes. He’s definitely someone I’ll be keeping tabs on. Check out Roman’s Facebook page to keep up with his music. CLICK HERE to get redirected to Facebook.
Similar to Centric TV’s “Centric Certified” initiative, the flagship BET channel “Music Matters” spotlight also aims to highlight the next BET superstars through music, bios, music videos, photos and intimate interviews where the artists explain who they are and what music means to them.
Being up close to the artist while they performed gave me the opportunity to take some really good pictures. Please follow me so you can get notified when they get posted.
Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 28 years, UCLA has hosted a music festival called the JazzReggae Festival. Originally, the first day was devoted to Jazz and the second day was devoted Reggae. Though the first day has morphed to a “Jam” day, the festival has always been able to pull in outstanding talent for the price of admission. If you are ever in Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend, and looking to enjoy a music festival at an extremely reasonable price, I suggest that you check out the lineup to see if any artists you like are on the bill.
Armed with a photo pass for the event, I was able to take pictures of the artists listed below. Click on the link to check them out!
May 25th, 2014:
May 26th, 2014
What is it about Aussie and their music scene that has me keep on coming back for more? Wondercore Island, an artist management company based out of Australia has put out another dope, funky, souled-out, mixtape featuring some of my currently favorite music acts: Moses Sumney and Hiatus Kaiyote.
Are you looking for some cutting edge grooves? You need to check this mixtape out. Otherworldly.
Working for Snoop, I’ve gone to my fare share of his concerts. One would think that after going to more shows than I can count on my fingers and toes, I’d be bored or indifferent to watching him perform. This is far from the truth.
Snoop’s passion for his art always impresses me. His live show, which features a live band, is always entertaining and is simply superior to those acts who rap over series of pre-recorded beats. Though this performance may have been lacking in some familiar faces (R.I.P. Uncle June Bugg), it was filled with all of his hits spanning his over two decades of hit-making.
Though it was Jazz Day, and not Reggae Day, he opened his set with one of my favorite tracks off his reggae album “Reincarnated”, “Here Comes The King”. He paid tribute to Nate Dogg with his performance of the 213 songs “So Fly”. He performed his verses from 50 Cent duet of “P.I.M.P.” He performed “Lodi Dodi,” “Gin & Juice,”Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” and on and on and on. He even dropped his verse from Katy Perry’s single, “California Gurls” in the middle of his set.
Snoop, dressed in a custom made, all-black, UCLA jersey with the number 19, stitched on, played to the crowd and used his charming stage-manner to his have the crowd vibing off of him throughout the entire set. It was either that, or the copious amounts of weed that was being lit up while he was performing. As an aside, UCLA has a campus-wide no-cigarrette smoking policy. In fact, I was forced to toss my cigarettes into a trash can before entering the festival grounds, and even noticed security actively enforcing the policy all throughout the day. But weed smoking? Naw. That’s all good. LOL.
When Snoop closed his set with “Young, Wild & Free,” he had the entire crowd singing along. He finally took his sunglasses off to address the crowd to keep singing along. When the music ended, and he hustled off stage to head off to his DJ gig in Las Vegas that evening, the crowd was still buzzing, perhaps still high from the weed that was smoked during the set, but more likely high from the hit filled set that they had just listened too.
I couldn’t find a complete setlist for Snoop’s performance at this event online, so if anybody happens to know what it was, please post it in the comments so that I can add it into this post. Thanks!
I was a fan of Aloe Blacc before he was … Aloe Blacc. Being a fan of the underground, L.A., hip-hop scene back in the mid 90s, I was listening to Aloe Blacc’s music before he broke-out, commerically, with “I Need A Dollar” in 2010.
I saw Aloe Blacc first perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue September of 2013. As much as I liked his hip-hop leaning music from back in the day, I absolutely love his soulful leaning music that he’s focusing on today, so not hearing his jams like “Blind World” or “Close To Me” was something I could easily accept … although, I wouldn’t mind him sprinkling in a song or two in future sets.
Dressed in a classy fitted suit, topped with a sharp fedora, he took the sun drenched stage and dazzled the audience with his bright personality and hit singles. From “I Need A Dollar” to “Wake Me Up” to “The Man”, the audience was treated to songs that have been permeating the radio airwaves for the past several years. He even performed a slowed-down cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that really had the audience eating out of his hands.
I wasn’t able to find a set lit of the of the songs that Aloe Blacc performed at UCLA’s Jazz Reggae Fest, so if you happen to know which songs were performed, please leave them in the comments below and I will add them to this post.
I saw a lot of bands at Coachella this year (2014), but there was one band that was on my list, that I regret missing: The Internet.
The Internet is a neo-soul band consisting of Odd Future members Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians as well as Tay Walker, Patrick Paige and Christopher A. Smith. They debuted in 2011, and released their debut album, “Purple Naked Ladies” that same year. They released their sophomore album, “Feel Good” in 2013, and have been touring in support of it since its release. When I found out they were performing at UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival, I knew I had to make it in time to see their afternoon set.
The Internet’s performance at Jazz Reggae Fest was, in truth, my first real introduction to the band. Sure, I was familiar with some of the Odd Future music by Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt’s music, but I really didn’t know too much about The Internet other than the video clips I was able to find on Youtube. Watching them live, I was impressed with what I saw and heard.
Their take on late ’90s neo-soul/R&B was something that really hit the spot for me. Syd and the band played a set that really was perfect for the mid-afternoon. Syd’s smooth and understated voice and the band’s clean groove, together with their improvisational playing and singing abilities really demonstrated to me how capable they were as musicians and how smart they were as performers.
The catalog of music is relatively small having only released two albums, but they covered one of my favorite GAP band songs (“Outstanding”) and I was especially impressed with their cover of Jamiroquai’s “We’re Too Young To Die” (one of my favorited cuts off of “Emergency on Planet Earth”, an album that really pushed the boundaries of British funk/acid jazz to new limits). That cover alone would have been enough to convert me as a fan. It’s an extremely tough song to sing. A clip of that performance is in the video below. Maybe it will make you a fan as well.
I couldn’t find the band’s setlist online, so if you were there and know what songs they performed, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the post.