The 28th Annual JazzReggae Festival | UCLA | May 25th & 26th [PHOTOS]

Concerts

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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:

  1. The Internet
  2. Aloe Blacc
  3. Snoop Dogg

May 26th, 2014

  1. Kevin Lyttle
  2. Gramps Morgan
  3. Black Uhuru
  4. Ky-Mani Marley

Snoop Dogg | UCLA Jazz Reggae Fest | 5/25/14

Concerts

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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!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OTHER ARTISTS I WAS ABLE TO SNAP PICTURES OF AT THE FESTIVAL!

Aloe Blacc | UCLA Jazz Reggae Fest | 5/25/14

Concerts

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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.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OTHER ARTISTS I WAS ABLE TO SNAP PICTURES OF AT THE FESTIVAL!

The Internet | UCLA Jazz Reggae Fest | 5/25/14

Concerts

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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.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OTHER ARTISTS I WAS ABLE TO SNAP PICTURES OF AT THE FESTIVAL!

Charles Bradley | The Fonda Theatre | 5/17/14 [PHOTOS]

Concerts

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Charles Bradley is living proof that the American Dream is still alive.  After learning about his life from the documentary “Soul of America”, I made an effort to catch his afternoon set at FYF Fest in 2013. His performance was a highlight of that day. When I heard that he was to perform at the Fonda Theatre, I knew that it was a show that I couldn’t miss, so I bought myself some tickets, knowing that it would be a show that would ultimately leave a smile on my face, and put a groove in my step.

I’d been dreaming about seeing Mr. Bradley perform in a club venue since the first time I saw him perform. His performance at FYF Fest opened my ears to his music, but it was talking to him at the festival that really left an impression on me. He specifically told me that if I loved his show, that I should catch him in a more intimate venue. With a photo pass in hand, in a venue like The Fonda, I figured that this would be about as imitate as it would get for me.

Mr. Bradley’s performance was otherworldly. Watching him perform though the lens of my camera, I could see the all of the emotion emoting from his soul. The intense emotions expressed while singing “Why Is It So Hard” to the wild dance moves he bust out throughout the set, amazed me that a man at 65 could perform with such fervor. His voice, weathered by the rough life he has lived, covered the entire emotional spectrum, from passionate moans, to indignant rebellion, to tender cooing. It was all there.

Perhaps the most impressive thing to me was the love he openly expressed: his love for his band (the Extraordinaires), his love for the music, his love for the opportunity to perform … but most importantly, his love for his fans. It was a sentiment that was echoed by him throughout the evening.

“I love you!” he shouted out to the audience, “I love you so much. If it wasn’t for you,” he said pointing to the audience, “I,” moving his hands over his heart, “wouldn’t be here, singing for you all.”

His love was infectious. So much so, that he even had me yelling from the photo pit, “I love you, Mr. Bradley!” He glanced down in my direction after I yelled like a child, so I think he may have heard me.

But I wasn’t the only one reciprocating the love back to the stage. For as much as Mr. Bradley gave to the audience, the audience gave it right back to him tenfold. After finishing up his encore, he jumped off the stage to hug fans who were lined up at the front; each fan giving Mr. Bradley a tight embrace. A fitting conclusion, to a concert that was all about … love.

I couldn’t find a setlist online, so if anybody has it, or knows what it was, please let me know in the comments so I can add it to this post.

Charles Bradley is scheduled to perform a FREE concert on the Santa Monica Pier on September 11, 2014. I suggest you schedule your plans accordingly and attend that show.

 

The Strypes | El Rey Theatre | 3/31/14

Concerts

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I don’t know what they are feeding their kids across the pond, but I would suggest that we bring whatever they have over there and start feeding it to our kids in the States.

It was a last minute decision, but having missed out on seeing Jake Bugg perform at The Wiltern, I decided that I wouldn’t miss out on catching The Strypes, a four piece blues/garage rock band from Cavan, Ireland , finish up their U.S. tour with a stop at the El Rey. Their music is a throwback to some of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s … and they are only 16-18 years old.

The crazy thing is, if you didn’t know how old they were, I guarantee that you would have never guessed that they were so young. Their music is fast and loud, and they carried an attitude on stage that made them appear older than they actually are. It was an 18+ show, but it didn’t surprise me that that their audience was equally split between those still in high school, and those who grew up with music from bands like The Kinks (whose rendition of “Louie, Louie” they faithfully covered as their finale) and the Yardbirds. It no surprise that legacy artists like Elton John (full disclaimer, Elton is managed by the same company that manages The Strypes)  have been raving about the group for some time.

Their music is accessible by disparate age groups because though they perform with their naturally youthful energy and swagger that could make any pre-teen girl squeal, they also have the musical chops to impressively sound like that music form the glory days of classic rock-and-roll. I mean, the lead singer, Ross Farrelly (who I understand is only 16 years old) has a voice that quite faithfully covered classic by Bo Diddley, The Specials, Ramones and Kinks.

These kids are impressive. Their stage present and their seems to indicated that they have the potential to keep on making great sounding rock-and-roll for years to come. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that their sound doesn’t change too much with puberty.

The Strypes Setlist El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2014

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

How To Dress Well | The Roxy | 3/18/14

Concerts

 

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The first time I saw Tom Krell p/k/a “How To Dress Well” perform live, I thought to myself, “I really need to see him perform in an intimate club venue.” On March 18th, at The Roxy Theatre, I got my chance.

What intially hooked me to How To Dress Well’s music was twofold. First, the music leaned dark, simple and atmospheric; the kind of music you could press play on a rainy day, lie on a couch and let it sooth you to sleep. Second, I was very partial to Tom’s tender and vulnerable vocals stylings. A lot of male singers can use their falsetto, but not all male singers can use it the way Tom does.

Before the set started, I scanned the room to see what kind of audience was in attendance. I didn’t have to ask. By the looks of it, I may have been the oldest one in the room. I was a bit impressed insofar as the music that’s been released thus far is quite mature (both lyrically and musically). I asked the two fresh faced kids standing to the right of me (who weren’t wearing drinking bracelets) how they got into How To Dress Well’s music, and they said Spotify. I asked the young girl standing to my right the same question. She said Spotify.  A quick non-sequitor … even if major recording artists are complaining about the amount they get paid from streaming services like Spotify, it would appear that Spotify led at least 3 kids to spend their extra cash to buy a ticket to see an act like How To Dress Well perform at a Hollywood club on a Tuesday night. Just saying …

The music of the evening was stellar. I knew that Tom was in the process of recording new material, but I wasn’t expecting that he’d be showcasing a lot of the new songs at the gig. It was truly a pleasant surprise for me. He had the drummer from Broken Social Scene play with him (he used a drum machine at FYF Festival) and that added a new life to the music’s live effect. I was again impressed with the way he used his two-mic set up (one mic without reverb and one mic with) to give his songs layers of depth and feeling.

And I was right about wanting to see him perform in an intimate venue. The concert-going experience was magnified 10 fold for me. For How To Dress Well’s music, you want to be captivated. You want to focus on the emotion that Tom is purging from his body and hang on very word/note. Being in an intimate venue afforded Tom the ability to interact and really connect with the audience.  When introducing songs, I really got the sense that Tom wanted the audience to connect with its meaning, and it’s a lot easier to do so when the audience is captivated rather than tent-hopping at a festival. When I say intimate, I don’t necessarily mean a small club venue. In fact, if could pick another venue for Tom to perform in, I’d love to see him perform at The Orpheum.

I didn’t quite catch the names of all of the new songs (some of them were still untitled) but I did my best to list them below, together with little concert notes that I took.

  1. “Two Years” (?): A song about his father
  2. “The Power” (?)
  3. “What You Wanted” (?): A song about how you feel when you have a desire that you can’t control
  4. “Cold Nites”: After he sang this song, he told that audience that he got shivers while he was singing it stating, “That felt really good”
  5. “If You Were My Girl” (?): A dance song
  6. “No More Death” (?): He asked for the venue to turn the lights down since it was a “really dark song”
  7. “I Don’t Know What’s Best For Me” (?)
  8. “Suicide Dream 1”: A song about a friend
  9. “Childhood Faith in Love” (?): Inspired by “You Can Have The Best Of Me” by the Starting Line
  10. “Repeat Pleasure”: A song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”, Tom suggested that this was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he’s written and that it was going to be a big hit
  11. “Words I Don’t Remember” (?)
  12. “Set It Right”

Encore

  1. “Baby” (?): Tom mentioned that in the next part of his life, he wants a baby, but that this song is his fear of the fragility of babies, derived from a fear of wondering if a baby is alive while its sleeping (A cappella)
  2. “Lovers Start” (A cappella)

 

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

 

The Weeks | The Satellite | 2/21/14

Concerts

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The last, and first, time I got to hang out with the fellas from The Weeks, I got drunk, rocked my face off and got late night taco-truck tacos with some of them after the gig. This time, I decided to take a more professional approach.

I had asked for permission to take some pictures during their sound check and show using a DSLR camera a buddy loaned me, and the day before the scheduled event, Alex “Admiral” Collier (the keyboardist), texted me letting me know that I was good to go. Making the hour and a half long drive in traffic, I thought that I had arrived too late for sound check, but luckily the band was still setting up. Upon retrospect, I’m glad that the band let me come early to snap some pics because the lighting during the show was extremely low. Even with a decent camera, you still need light.

A couple of the fellas seemed to have remembered me from their last L.A. gig, and that was a pleasant surprise. What was even more of a surprise was that they let me hang out with them and their friends after the sound check, before the show. Admiral got me an “all-access” sticker, presumably left over from their international touring dates with the Kings of Leon, and I slapped it on my chest with pride.

The guys treated me like one of the crew and it revealed to me how down to earth and gracious they were. They included me in their group conversations, lit my cigarettes and had me laughing with some of their observations about California living. While waiting in line for tacos at the taco-truck parked outside with Dee Bone (the bassist), I found out that my after-show taco excursion with them the last time out was not an anomaly, since Dee Bone truly loves tacos and gets them whenever he has the chance. I found out that Admiral’s hand was in a cast because of a car accident he was in (not his fault), and only recently joined the band on tour as he was recouperating. I wished Uel-Dee (the guitarist) a happy birthday as he autographed my vinyl copy of “Dear Bo Jackson” (their latest album) and I found out that Shelly Colvin was getting into town to perform with the band coming from a gig she had in San Diego the night before, making me giddy with the possibility that she’d perform her duet with the Weeks titled “Bad Enough”, which is one of my favorite cuts from the album.

By the time the band got on stage for their set, I was glad that I had staked out, and stood in, my spot up front. The packed crowd was tipsy with eager anticipation for the southern rockers to take the stage. A  girl, and her friend, squeezed in next to me, as she professed her love of the band’s music to me with her alcohol tinged, warm breath watering my eyes. The couple right behind me told me that they had travelled from Ohio to catch the band play in Los Angeles.

Most of their set came from “Dear Bo Jackson”, but they did include songs from their critically lauded album “Gutter Gaunt Gangster” and “Rumspringa”.

  1. Lawman’s Daughter
  2. King-Sized Death Bed
  3. The House We Grew Up In
  4. Gobi Blues
  5. Brother In The Night
  6. Bad Enough
  7. Slave To The South
  8. Ain’t My Stop
  9. Chickahominy
  10. Wo Is I
  11. White Ash
  12. Steamboat

The music rocked big and loud, with everyone in attendance throwing up their hands and dancing in what space they could find. The vocal mix could have been a little louder, at least from where I was standing, but it really didn’t matter all too much since the concert-goers around me seemed to know all the lyrics to the songs anyways, singing along when they could. Funky, steady and thumping, once again, like that night at the The Three Clubs, I was particularly impressed with Dee Bone’s bass playing. Equally impressive was Admiral’s playing on the keys with essentially one hand. His work on “Slave To The South” sounded superb.

After the set, I snagged a setlist from the stage, and shmoozed a bit with some of my friends that had attended the show. On my way out, I had the band members, and Shelly, sign the setlist. I had a long drive ahead of me, so I stepped outside to take off when I noticed that the taco-truck was still parked out front. I wasn’t drunk, so I wasn’t in the mood to eat, but I decided to buy an assorted plate of tacos for Dee Bone. When it was presented to him, his eyes widened with joy.

So I didn’t get taco’s with the band after show, but my parting words to them was, “Next time.” And I certainly hope there will be a next time sooner rather than later. The taco-trucks are waiting.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

The Secret State | Loaded Hollywood | 10/13/13

Concerts

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A band is, literally, a living breathing entity. Nowadays, rare is a band that sticks with each other for the long haul. Guns N Roses, Oasis, The Police, Smashing Pumpkins, the list goes on. A band keep on performing with eh same the name, but when the faces change, it often times makes it difficult to maintain the same level affection that curried the initial musical infatuation.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine, and a talented musician, Steve Miller a/k/a “Steville” was asked  to play with the band The Secret State. The band seems to have a loyal following (over 400K likes on Facebook), but has in the past year (based on my understanding) undergone a pretty significant personnel overhaul. The band was back in Los Angeles after touring a bit domestically, and set up a semi-acoustic gig at Loaded Hollywood. Knowing how kick-ass my friend, and his music, is, I knew that it was going to be good show.

The Secret State, normally a 6 person, electric band, was paired down to 4 (two acoustic guitars, vocalist and DJ). Their set was short, but impressive. Their original songs were catchy and the arrangements of the two covers they performed (Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” and Seal’s “Crazy”) were solid. It was an acoustic performance, so it wasn’t as “hard” as they normally are, but it gave me a chance to hear the fine guitar work of my buddy and Joshua Jones.

I liked what I heard.  For some reason when I was watching them perform live, I thought to myself that maybe they were a mix of Incubus and Tool with a splash of Filter. Again, it was an acoustic gig, so I may be way off. Check out the video below to make your own comparison. The dude singing lead for the gig, Michael, a recent addition, was a solid vocalist, but from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, it sounds as if the band decided to go in a different direction. C’est la vie d’une bande.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

 

The National | Jimmy Kimmel Live | August 12, 2013

Concerts

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The National has been around for a while, since the late 90s, releasing the first full length album in 2001, but I really didn’t start listening to them until their album “Boxer” (which is still my favorite The National album), which was released in 2007. Since then, I’ve been high on their music and their melodramatic, punk, indie rock sound. They released “Trouble Will Find Me” in 2013, and I was really hoping to get tickets to see them perform live, having heard that it was a great show to catch. I knew that they were schedule to perform two concerts in Los Angeles, at The Greek and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but as fate would have it tickets had sold out before I had the chance to purchase them. Scouring the web for tickets through sites like Stubhub and Barry Tickets, tickets, even for the nosebleed seats, were in the triple digits, and a little more that I wanted to spend.

Fast forward to the Saturday eve they were playing at The Greek, I was having drinks at my watering hole, when a couple sitting next to me starting talking about the tickets they had for the Sunday show at the cemetery. I was about to lament about the fact that I didn’t get tickets, when a friend of mine, who I have been having drinks with for years at the bar, mentioned that The National was the featured artist for Jimmy Kimmel Live, August 12, and would be performing a mini-concert as part of Jimmy Kimmel’s summer concert series.

I jokingly asked if he could sneak me in, and to my surprise he said that he worked on set for the late night talk show, and offered that if I wanted to go, even though tickets were no longer available, he would sneak me in for the concert. How ironic that after 10 years of seeing him, and having drinking with him, in the bar I only now discovered what he did for a living… I took him up on the offer.

Having negotiating a $20 parking fee to $10 in Hollywood, I walked over to the alley he told me that he would meet me at. Without having to go through security, he led me to the concert area and left me to devices. Unaware that I wasn’t allowed to bring a camera into the concert area, I was able to take a few pictures with my camera before security told me to put it away.

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The National played 5 songs, but at the end of the day, it was better than never having seen them at all. Looking at the set lists for their shows at the Greek and Hollywood Forever, I was still envious that I wasn’t able to get those tickets, but beggars can’t be choosers, and I was extremely grateful that I have friends willing to hook me up every once and a while. The set list for Jimmy Kimmel was as follows:

  1. Graceless
  2. This is the Last Time
  3. Don’t Swallow The Cap
  4. Sea Of Love
  5. Pink Rabbits