Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow are MS MR, respectively. Though there are a lot of solid electronic music groups fronted by a male and female duos these days (i.e. Phantogram and The Naked and Famous), MS MR distinguish themselves in my eyes because of their stage presence. Lizzy Plapinger is a whirlwind on stage. Her infectious smile is contagious, and her stage presence, whether its cradling the microphone or dancing across the stage, reveals an almost effortless energy. Even Max, positioned behind his keyboard, danced to the music (you can see it in a video clip below). With a sound that embraces elements of both trip hop and pop, combined with extremely capable vocals, handling both delicate ballads and uptempo dance grooves, MS MR appears to be the total package. I have a feeling that I’ll probably be seeing/hearing more from this band especially since it was revealed/announced at the show that Max had just moved to Los Angeles. Welcome to L.A., MR!
Feather’s set was shorter than anticipated. Though I’m not absolutely certain, I think it may have been a result of the technical difficulties that they seemed to be dealing with; which in turn seemed to affect Anastasia Dimou’s (the founder and lead singer) stage presence. The bold music could have used more assertive body language. Notwithstanding the short set, and the technical difficulties, I was really hoping for more as the music was growing on me. I’m a huge Depeche Mode fan, and a thought that crossed my mind was, “this is like a female version of Depeche Mode.” Heavy on synths, with dark and broody overtones, it was music that I could imagine Dave Gahan singing over.
This band from Altanta Georgia impressed me. Their polished synth and drum driven melodies had the packed house at the The Roxy moving to their beat, and it was pretty clear to see/hear why Red Bull Sound Select decided to showcase their music this month. Having never seen/heard their music before, their live show had a terrific energy that definitely left a very solid first impression on me. With the right material (songs) and the right push (marketing) this band has all of the potential to break into an already crowded market.
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.
Pharcyde’s relationship to Dilla runs deep. At one point, Dilla was even the group’s DJ. Dilla helmed the majority of production duties for The Pharcyde’s sophomore album, “Labcabincalifornia”, producing the hit single “Runnin’,” which peaked at #55 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Though I wished that all of the original members were performing the hip-hop tracks I listened to all throughout high school, there was absolutely no reason to complain. Each of J-Swift and K-Natural admirably performed the verses originally recorded by Imani and Bootie Brown. Fittingly, they concluded their set with a performance of “Runnin'”.
I don’t have a setlist to the songs that were performed that evening, but all you you have to do is listen to the album, and that’s all you need to know.
There’s a special place in my heart for James Dewitt Yancey, pka J Dilla. I’ve already written about the impact his music has had on my life, so I won’t rehash it here, but let’s just say his music has meant a lot to me. When I heard that Slum Village and Bizarre Ride Live (The Pharcyde’s Fatlip and SlimKid3 backed by Bizarre Ride producers J-Sw!ft and LA Jay) were paying homage to J Dilla with a concert aptly titled “Welcome To Dillaville”, I made some calls to make sure that I could attend the event.
Slum Village is a hip hop group from Conant Gardens, Detroit Michigan that has gone through a lot of changes since it’s inception. Originally consisting of J Dilla, Baatin, and T3, only T3 remains as an original member, with both J Dilla and Baatin passing on way before their time (rest in peace). Currently the group is on record as featuring T3, Young RJ and Illa J (J Dilla’s younger brother), but for this show it seemed that only T3 and Young RJ handled MC duties.
With the ever sublime instrumentals produced by J Dilla, Young RJ and T3 faithfully spit verses from some of my favorite Slum Village tracks: “Fall In Love”, “Get Dis Money”, “Players” and, my personal favorite, “Tainted” (clips of which are all below). They had a couple of surprises appearances from specials guests, including Frank Nitt (a frequent J Dilla collaborator) and one other rapper that I didn’t know (but whose picture is below).
Before Slum dove into their set, Young RJ and T3 gave the audience a little presentation about their beloved, lost member. They gave a slideshow presentation of never seen before letters, track sheets, personal affirmations, and photos, telling stories that only they would know, and it was truly a pleasure to watch them reflect so fondly on their lost comrade.
I couldn’t find a setlist online anywhere, but if anyone has it, please let me know, and I’ll update this post accordingly.
Earlier this year, I hit a little bit of a rough patch. It was one of those times when life just didn’t seem to go my way. My loving dog of 13 years, Samson, passed away while I was out of state, I was having some personal issues I was dealing with, and the icing on the proverbial cake was that a show I had planned on attending months in advance was rescheduled such that I couldn’t attend.
The show that I missed was Laura Mvula at the Bootleg Theater in April. If you’ve been following my blog this year, you probably saw my first post about her music back in January. I followed that post up with additional posts in February and March because I was so excited by her sophisticated sound. As fate would have it, Laura Mvula ended up scheduling another show in Los Angeles, which was a breathtaking performance at the El Rey Theatre in September. It appeared as if the music gods were throwing me a bone.
I had purchased tickets for Iron & Wine back in June, and at that time there was no opening act listed. It was almost an afterthought, since I had been wanting to see Iron & Wine live for years. About a week or two before the Halloween Eve concert, Laura Mvula posted on Facebook that she would be opening for Iron & Wine on a series of west coast dates. Needless to say, I was enthralled. At this point, I thought the music gods were serving me a t-bone.
I barely got there in time for the first song of her set. Watching her perform in the beautiful and historic Orpheum Theatre was truly a musical blessing. The fashionably late arriving Los Angeles crowd steadily filed in to their seats during her set, and I could only think to myself that they were fools to miss out on her glorious music. Their loss.
She bantered with the crowd and mentioned that her favorite song was “Let Me Fall” (which, ironically, wasn’t on her debut album) and her second favorite song was “Flying Without You”. She performed a subdued version of “She” which sent shivers down my spine. After she sang the title track off her debut album, “Sing To The Moon”, and having heard that she had just recently lost out on the prestigious Mercury Prize, I yelled out from my seat, “You deserved the Mercury!” She giggled and said, “That’s funny.” Really though … she should have won that award.
Though her set was obviously shorter than her concert at the El Rey, it was still filled with the deep musicality and unabashed emotion that makes her music so appealing to me. I eagerly anticipate her sophomore album, and the next time she’s back in the United States to perform for her fans.
Setlist (written down by me during her performance):
Earlier this year (2013), Snoop threw up some beats he had cobbled together onto his Soundcloud account, giving other musicians on Soundcloud the opportunity to record melodies and lyrics on top of them for fun. It so happened that an amazingly unique vocalist from Poland caught Snoop’s ear. Her name was Iza Lach p/k/a “Iza” and Snoop decided to scoop up this hidden jewel of a talent before anybody else could releasing several EPs executed produced by Snoop (as Berhane Sound System) and released under Snoop’s wife’s imprint label “Boss Lady Entertainment”.
When I heard the tracks she had recorded, I got excited. Like, being a kid and finding the toy in the cereal box kind of excited. Iza’s voice and vocal technique is so unique that I couldn’t really compare it to anything that I’ve heard before … and I listen to a lot of music. Maybe a souled out Portishead with a Sade vibe? I don’t know. All I know was that I wanted to hear more.
When management told me that she would be performing in Los Angeles, I knew that I had to buy a ticket. She performed three sets at Culture Collide, but unfortunately I was only able to attend her first one on Thursday as I was already attending a friend’s wedding on the Saturday she was scheduled to perform twice.
The performance I attended was in a small lounge of a restaurant, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to watch her perform live for the first time. Backed by a full band (drums, guitar, bass and Iza playing keys), the music filled the intimate setting, drowning out the drunken chatter of the guys hitting on girls at the bar.
She played songs that I was familiar with, and also sang some songs that I didn’t remember hearing before. But the part of the performance that really impressed me was when Iza shed her coy and seductive sound and rocked out the refrain of a song. It was unexpected, but pleasantly surprising. I loved it.
I probably would have loved watching her performance that was scheduled in the church venue, but c’est la vie. One can only hope that she gets to perform in Los Angeles sooner rather than later.
To check out some of Iza’s music, check out her Bandcamp page. Support independent music!
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.
Years ago, back in 2009, I got to see one of my favorite bands growing up, Depeche Mode, perform at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a concert that I hadn’t purchased a ticket for, but I was lucky enough to have friends who, for one reason or another, couldn’t go, and I was the lucky recipient. For that show, I literally had the “last seat” in the house (Section X2, Row 4, Seat 3), but it is still one of the handful of concerts that I have ever been to that I am sure will always be somewhere in my top 10 of all time. I’ll have to admit though, I could be a little biased simply based on the fact that Depeche Mode’s music was such an integral part of my growing up.
I remember how I got introduced to their music. While I was in elementary/middle school, I had a cool cousin who graduated from college and was trying to get a job in the film industry. During her job search, she spent a few years living at my parents house, and with her came her music collection. Though I only got to listen to her music in her car, when she found a job and moved out, she left a handful of albums behind. The Fleetwood Mac LPs were cool. The Billy Joel cassette was cool. But all of a sudden, I noticed a black double cassette (the first double cassette I’d ever seen), of some band I thought was named “Depeche Mode 101”.
When I popped in the first cassette, the first thing I realized was that it was a live recording (recorded at the Pasadena Rose Bowl). When I pressed play, I didn’t hear any music. Rather, it was the sound of an audience cheering like crazy. I was enthralled. Each song was something new to me, and whenever a song ended, and the crowd roared with cheers, I truly felt like I was at that concert. I would eventually find out that the band’s name was just Depeche Mode, and the live album was titled 101. The title of that album was fitting, as that album was basically my beginner’s course for a band that I would come to love so whole heartedly.
For some reason, I failed to purchased tickets to any of their shows at the Staples Center when they were released to the public. I checked online for tickets, but they were all exorbitantly marked up. It was a sad oversight, and I figured that I would miss out this time around … but again, the music gods must have been looking over me as another friend messaged me on the 28th about having an extra ticket for the 29th. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes”.
The seats were in the rafters of the Staples Center, but if I learned anything about Depeche Mode from the last time I saw them, seats anywhere in the venue would have been fine. Like the first time I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore did not disappoint. Their live performance was grand and filled with adrenaline rushing moments, contrasted with emotionally charged darkness. Dave Gahan strutted across the stage throughout his songs with such a bravado that one would never guess that he’s over 50 years old.
Though the tour is in support of their latest album, Delta Machine, they performed songs from every stage of their careers. Crowd, and radio favorites, “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy The Silence”, “World In My Eyes” and “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and “classic” Depeche Mode favorites like “Behind The Wheel”, “A Question of Time” were performed, but what really stood out in my mind were the songs that Martin Gore sang solo. Subdued, acoustic and intimate versions of “A Question of Lust” and “Condemnation” were performed during the encore that moved me immeasurably. Those two songs, for me, epitomize Depeche Mode’s ability to reach into the listeners soul to question, consider and forgive all of the intricacies and follys of love. Where Dave Gahan is the bravado, Martin Gore is the soul. Their pairing is what keeps the yin and yang of Depeche Mode in harmony.
I LOVE soul music. I listen to all genres, but if I had to guess, I’d venture to guess that probably a third of my music collection (iTunes indicates that I have 19,452 songs that last 54.4 days) consists of soul tracks and about half of my vinyl collection consists of soul LPs. From Aretha Franklin to Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye to D’Angelo, I have a thing for soul music. Period.
When I heard that KCRW, in association with the Echo/Echoplex, was having a Soul/Reggae Festival, I was excited. As soon as I saw the line-up, I bought tickets. The Bay Area soul duo, Myron and E; The prolific and enduring Lee Fields; one of the architects of Funk, Maceo Parker; the hippie with soul, Allen Stone; and the former rapper turned soul-man, Aloe Blacc: I knew and respected all of these artists and there was no way I was going to miss out on this full day of soul music. I bought an “early bird” VIP ticket which only cost me $45, and my Saturday, September 21st was set. Below is a list of the artists whose performances I had the pleasure of catching. Click through on their names to read my thoughts, see pictures and watch performance snippets. If there is a “(pending)” notice next to the name, follow my blog, twitter (@methodman13) or Instagram (@methodman13) for updates. Hey…. these entries just don’t write themselves! LOL.