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!
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.
House parties in Los Angeles can be hit or miss. More often misses, than hits. At Toddchella, I discovered what it takes to make a house party a sure-fire hit (i) have the house party at a really cool location, (ii) have fully stocked bars with bartenders, (iii) have vending machines that dispense party essentials (i.e. lighters, cigarettes, condoms…), (iv) have a free taco truck, (v) have a very cool photographer capture the evening, and (vi) have live music that kicks some serious booty.
Held at the Penfield Mansion, Toddchella celebrated the birthday of Todd Hurvitz. Though I had only met Todd once- perhaps twice- before, I’ve hung out with his friends on several occasions at concert events like Coachella, and they were the ones organizing the shindig. The location aside, the party flyer listed three bands that’d be performing that evening: Tijuana Tears, The Record Company and We Were Indians. Me, being the music junkie that I am, checked out each band’s music. I immediately RSVP’s for the festivities.
Penfield Mansion is located in Woodland Hills, so I booked an inexpensive room at a local hotel so I could have a place nearby to crash. Such a good call. Unaware that there would be full spread of food at the party, I stopped by a local market to pick up some late night munchies (roast beef sandwich, mac and cheese, and a large bottle of water) just in case. After settling into the hotel, I called a cab to drive me 2 miles to the spot.
I have the cab pull me up to the entrance of the driveway, and I notice a black SVU parked out front. Inside is my friend Lyndsey who was one of the peeps in charge of putting the event together. I say, “Hi,” then let her alone to take care of her business with the bouncer of the event. After walking up the steep driveway, I let myself into the house that Frank Sinatra once lived in.
It was early, about 8:00pm, but the party seemed to have already been kick-started. I do a short walkthrough of the venue, especially impressed with the views and the full bar, then make my way to the kitchen/living room area where the early crowd had congregated to watch the end of the final four matchup between Michigan and Syracuse. I see a couple of my friends hanging out on the couches, and I pull up a wooden rocking chair to join them. Even though there was a full bar, I still brought a good bottle of scotch to sip on (Macallan 12) and open it up, pouring glasses for my friends that wanted some. Following the conclusion of the game, I head to the back yard where the bands had set up. The first band was about to take the make-shift stage.
Tijuana Tears was the first band to take the stage. A five man band that came together in 2012, they released a 5 song EP on September 14, 2012 called “Phantasmic Consciousness”. Team Toddchella did good in having this band open the night. Their sound was kind of music you want to hear when you’re starting the evening. It was the kind of music that lets you know that the party was about to get fun. Having only released one EP, their set was relatively short, but it was the perfect kick-off. Reza in the band gave me the set list, and it is below:
1. “Oceans”: When this song started, I felt that there was definitely a Cali influence. For some reason it reminded me (excluding the intro) of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The bass line and vocal melody felt very Flea and Keidis.
2. “Howl”: When this song started, I had a feeling that some of the guys in the band were from Texas. A very Tex Mex punk, hillbilly vibe.
3. Bryce Alber guitar solo.
4. “Beloved Venus”: A solid pop-rock song.
5. “Woman To Serve”: A solid rock and roll, blues number. A song that cresendos into a heavy frenzy.
6. “Phantasmic Conciousness”: They concluded their set with a song that I liked the most off the EP. It’s sound reminded me of Local Natives, but with more soul. Especially effective use of using call and response with the audience to sing along at the end with, “Whoa, what I say goes”.
The evening had officially started for me. This band got the adrenaline in my system pumping. As the band was putting away their equipment, I briefly introduced myself to the band. I ended up having a brief convo with Bryce, the singer. I offered the band some of my scotch. Bryce accepted.
This is a band that you need to see live. Their recordings are great, but their live sound has so much energy and joie-de-vivre. I was especially impressed with Bryce’s vocal timbre. With the scotch starting to set in, I think I may have made some silly comparisons, like telling Bryce that he reminded me of how Jamiroquai may have sounded if he grew up in the mid-west, and how during certain passages of certain songs I had Jeff Buckley flashbacks. Needless to say, I was impressed with his live performance.
Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of being introduced to a hip-hop group based out of Toronto, Ontario. A company I was working for was interested in bringing them in as clients, and my friend forwarded me a few tracks to check out. I’m very picky about the hip-hop I listen to. Continue reading →