An Evening with Spoon

(All photos taken by A. L. Davies).Above: The beautiful Newport Music Hall displaying Spoon’s show.

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Spoon play the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve always been a casual Spoon fan, enjoying their singles on the radio and appreciating how consistent their sound has been since the first song I remember hearing from them (“I Turn My Camera On”). But this show definitely impressed me, even though I generally prefer something more upbeat and experimental than Spoon’s laid-back, smoothly produced style of indie rock.

Above: Daniel sings to his fans.

First off, the stage presence of Britt Daniel was lovely. He was engaged from the start with the crowd, serenading people close to the stage and even pointing to fans in the balcony and singing to them. He paid homage to the Newport as the US’s longest-running rock club during the show, chatted about certain songs, and somehow looked like a total “dad” while also looking impeccably cool and relaxed.

Above: The band keeps perfect rhythm with each other, communicating both through count-ins and nods.
The band was also perfectly together; each riff tight, each beat on the mark and each synth lead perfectly placed. Even without the crystal-clear studio production, the bass still provided an excellent backbone to every song without being obnoxious (something I absolutely love about Spoon’s music). Daniel introduced and praised each member of his band while they were soloing, and every member exchanged nods, smiles and glances with each other during the song to make sure they were still on the same page. The precision was impressive, which I suppose is what makes Spoon such a lasting act over the past 20 years.

Above: Daniel in profile.
Even the light show was great. Not too showy or flashy, but adding the perfect amount of ambiance to the more ominous and atmospheric feel that Spoon’s new “Hot Thoughts” album plays with. Daniel was framed perfectly by the light, and the packed house loved it. 

The band played a solid mix of both older and newer songs, sticking mostly with their best known tracks from each album. I was probably one of the youngest people in the audience, but everyone around me was singing along to every word and greeted the start of each song with a new round of cheering. I left the show feeling like this dedicated fanbase was greatly deserved.

Spoon’s opener, Tennis, was also quality. The sounds of the two bands meshed perfectly, and as I’ve mentioned before, I love seeing women in indie. Despite some unfortunate sound system malfunctions, frontwoman Alaina Moore played it off delightfully with some jokes about her homeschooled, Christian upbringing (“My dad was a pastor and we always said in church that when the devil was cast out, it went into the nearest soundsystem” and “I was homeschooled, so that explains why I can’t dance”).

I love seeing shows at the Newport because it’s smaller, older, standing room only and historic. The stage isn’t too high off the ground and you’re right up there with the act you’re seeing. Despite being one of the more notable indie acts of the last two decades, Spoon managed to stay as down-to-earth and levelheaded as their music during the show and seemed truly gracious and humbled by the turnout of the crowd and the ability to perform in such a spot. I look forward to seeing them again in August at Lollapalooza and highly recommend their latest album.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

An Evening with Foxygen

Above: Impatiently waiting for the doors to open.
The feeling when a band completely shocks you and shatters your expectations of their live shows is a rare and glorious thing. And last night Foxygen did just that for me at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus.

I’ve always been a fan of Foxygen’s mesh of 60’s and 70’s-influenced rock songs that change tempo mid-tune, experiment with rhythms and brass/horns, craft erratic lyrical and vocal stylings, use sound effects, and fuse piano and keyboards into a jam. I went into the show expecting a laid back, peaceful session that wouldn’t be out of place at a small(er) city coffee shop, or a used book store.

Instead what I got was a full-fledged performance by Sam France dressed as a cross between Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, some Broadway-style dance sequences with backing singer Jackie, a nearly 7-minute guitar solo from Johnathan Rado and even a costume change halfway through the show. Above: Foxygen first takes the stage.

The show started with an excellent opener of about 6 songs from songwriter Gabriella Cohen and her backing band, who I’d never listened to previously. They were from an eclectic combination of Romania and Australia and crafted a show of charming banter with the audience and extensive jams on both electric and bass guitar. I also loved seeing two women fronting the show-and their vocal harmonies were fantastic. 

Above: Gabriella Cohen and her merry band.
Foxygen took the stage around 9 and instantly ripped into “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” complete with a brass arrangement and a fantastic contrast of France’s wild and dramatic stage presence and Rado’s collected and calm keyboard playing. But just because Rado was relaxed and quiet in his demeanor doesn’t mean he still didn’t have his time to shine, like in his aforementioned solo before the encore, and some additional solos on both guitar and keyboard.Above: Rado is a man of few words, but plenty righteous riffs.

After that, their lovely singer Jackie (who the crowd gleefully yelled to) joined the band on stage to provide some delightful backing vocals for “San Francisco” and “Shuggie,” and stayed on stage the rest of the show to provide a dance partner for France, tambourine playing, and assorted harmonies.Above: Jackie prancing around her microphone stand before being joined by Rado to provide vocals for “On Lankershim.”

The band played the entire “Hang” album, as well as their hits from “We Are the 21st Century…” They even pulled a few from “…And Star Power,” using “How Can You Really” as the closing encore track.

Above: A casual trumpet jam session from France.

What really thrilled me about the show was the sheer energy level that France provided and the amazing quality of musicianship. Everyone on stage flowed perfectly wth each other, even when just jamming out during a transition. France performed each song like he was the starring role in an old Broadway show, falling to his knees and nearing tears for “Trama” or doing a perfectly timed jazz hand and kickline dance for “Avalon” (one of my personal favourites).

Above: France sings to his adoring fans after serenading Rado.
The audience interaction was also great. France offered the perfect amount of sarcasm and self-confidence, but seemed genuine as could be in all the kisses he blew to the crowd. He even answered fans screaming to him on the stage, and invited people to sing along and correct the words he’d gotten wrong in the lyrics.

All in all, I’m blessed I got to start my weekend watching such a performative and talented group that completely blew me away (and writes music that reminds me of my musical theatre days). I can’t wait to see Foxygen again soon and see the direction they take this performative and theatrical style in.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

A Concert Update

I hope everyone is doing well and settling into the winter season as the first month of 2017 draws to a close. With the end of January I find myself determined to hold my resolutions for the new year, and also with quite an exciting update for my summer concert schedule.

You may’ve heard already that U2 is planning on touring “The Joshua Tree” album in its entirety worldwide this summer, and I am thrilled to say that I will be going to one of the shows for my second time seeing them live. U2 was one of my first favourite bands back when I was really getting into music and developing my own taste. I distinctly remember being assigned to read a biography of my choice as part of my reading class in 7th grade and choosing to read about Bono because of how much I admired his lyricism on early U2 releases (a very distinct memory of mine being the first time I learned the meaning behind the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and couldn’t focus on my lessons in school the next day because I kept playing the song over and over in my head). My first time seeing them-in 2011, on the U2 360 tour-is to this day on of the best nights of my life.

It may seem sacrilegious to say “The Joshua Tree” isn’t my favourite U2 album (I’m weird-I actually love their 90’s sound. Of course I think “Achtung Baby” is a masterpiece, and I actually really love “Zooropa” too. And “Boy” holds a special place in my heart), but I still can’t wait to hear songs like “In God’s Country” and “Trip Through Your Wires” live.

While I may not be nearly as much of a fanatic of a fan as I was when I was 13, I’m still thrilled to see the band that kickstarted my alt-rock fascination when I was a kid. I’ve definitely grown and matured since that 2011 show. Seeing again at a more mature and “adult” age a band that played such a crucial role in my adolescence will be a surreal experience, especially since I’m seeing them at the exact same venue with the exact same people. I eagerly await sharing about it on here and posting pictures.

Second in my summer concert lineup, and the night immediately after U2, I will be seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with two huge Nick Cave fans (my dad and his best friend). This show I’m excited about for several reasons. First, it’s the complete opposite of U2’s venue-Nick Cave will be playing in an indoor concert hall where I saw Morrissey a few years back, a much more intimate venue than the outdoor arena where U2 will be. I think this works perfectly for the moody, rumbling, melancholy approach Nick Cave takes to indie rock.

Second, Nick Cave has always been one of those artists that is an indie rock flagship I was told I would “appreciate when I was older,” and I think I’m finally old enough to do some deeper exploration into his influential and established history. I’ve been meaning to listen to more of his back catalogue because I think his lyrical style and musicianship is something I would appreciate. I’ve heard Cave doesn’t shy away from exploring dark themes and emotions in his music, which as a writer, is something I’ve loved in bands from The Smiths (one of my all-time favourite bands) to Joy Division to Arcade Fire to Car Seat Headrest and The Orwells. Hopefully the show will be a great introduction.

And, as I’ve said in a previous post, early next month I will be seeing Lucy Dacus and Hamilton Leithauser live in a smaller venue, which I’m very excited for. I’m especially anticipating Dacus’s set because I missed her at Lolla, I love her debut so much and seeing women and people around my age in indie rock makes me happy. I’ll be sharing pictures and reflections on that, too.

What shows will you be seeing this year? Any you are particularly excited for? Will you be seeing any of these artists on their summer tours?

As always, thank you for reading, and God bless you and yours.

-A.L.D.

If I Could go to Coachella…

The announcement of the Coachella lineup is always a sad day for someone like me living in Ohio and confined to the final weeks of classes without room for a vacation just yet.

However, I always do enjoy making hypothetical lists of the artists I would enjoy seeing there, and fortunately for those who are able to attend, the setlist is stacked with talent. Here’s my top ten must-see artists if I could go to Coachella.

10.) Glass Animals

Glass Animals were at Lollapalooza 2015 and I refused to go see their show, writing it off as “not my cup of tea” because I didn’t like the song “Gooey.” Since then I have thankfully gotten over myself. The percussion and energy level in each track on their new record was enough to change my mind.

9.) Whitney

I enjoyed Smith Westerns, so I’m pleased Whitney sprang from their breakup. The upper range of singer Julien Ehrlich’s voice works to his advantage for both songs that make you want to skip with glee (“Wherever We Go”) and dismally reminisce about the one that got away (“No Woman”). I like the balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation as well as the occasional horn performance.

8.) Real Estate

Real Estate is the kind of band you want to soundtrack your November evening drives as you ponder the direction your life has taken over the year. I love how their songs layer repeating riffs on top of each other to make melodic, peaceful, soothing jams.

7.) Father John Misty

Don’t let the stage presence intimidate you-this guy knows how to make music that explores the bizarreness of the human condition in the driest, most verbose and most touching way possible. Watching him sardonically answer fan questions on stage was one of the highlights of Lolla 2015 for me.

6.) Radiohead

I think I want to see Radiohead again based on how talented they are as equally as I want to see them again based on how influential they’ve been to the field of independent rock over the years. (And “High and Dry” is one of my favourite songs of all time).

5.) The Avalanches

This group’s 2016 record “Wildflower” completely floored me in the best way. I’ve never listened much to sample-based music, but the amount of creativity and production skill that goes into creating an Avalanches track, and for that matter a whole record, makes me quite curious as to how a live show would translate.

4.) Mac DeMarco

I have to give a shout-out to my boy Mac! I’ve mentioned my love of his jangly, free spirited, carefree approach to music so many times on this blog. How friendly he is in interviews is enough to peak my interest in his live shows. The fact his music is so easygoing and listenable makes it all the better.

3.) Guided by Voices

This is another one of those bands that is so huge and so influential in creating and changing the shape of the independent landscape that seeing them live would be enough for a music fan. The storytelling and lyrical style of Robert Pollard and the DIY, lo-fi production and performance styles in the GBV catalogue would be a beautiful sight to behold.

2.) New Order

NO is one of my all-time favourite bands and a large portion of that love comes from how creative their music is. The way they use synthesizers and drum machines in building, crescendoing, dancey tracks that often last over the six minute mark has stayed fresh for over 30 years. While I wasn’t the hugest fan of 2015’s “Music Complete” and I love the bass playing of Peter Hook, I’d still love to see these guys live. Also, I just really love Bernard Sumner’s singing voice.

Before we hit number one, I want to give two Honorable Mentions. First, to the singer/songwriter known as Mitski, whose skills as not only a singer and guitarist but also as a lyricist make her a force to be reckoned with in the indie world right now. And second, to Lorde, who’s created some excellent pop songs with her lower range and minimal instrumentation.

1.) Car Seat Headrest

I gotta give it to the Car Seat boys. 2016’s “Teens of Denial” is one of those rare albums where I honestly feel like there’s not a single dull moment. The entire time I listen, every time I listen, I feel completely tuned in and connected to Will Toledo’s stories of self-discovery, navigating postgraduate life and growing up. The instrumentation is lively, sorrowful, passionate, angry and above all else, catchy. The lyrics are relatable, the riffs are loud and sometimes, a song brings on a momentary existential crisis. This is some quality music coming from a group of guys who are in their early 20’s. Hopefully, they’re going to be creating masterpieces like this for the rest of their lives.

What are your thoughts on the 2017 Coachella lineup? Are you going? Who are you most excited to see?

Safe travels to all those attending and have a wonderful time. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

 

 

Music Gifts and a Concert Update

Hello, happiest of holidays and a very happy New Year, my friends. I hope everyone has had a blessed season in whatever way it may be you celebrate and you’re adjusting well into the new spin of 2017.

I received a few music-centered Christmas gifts this year that I wanted to feature on this blog. The first (and my personal favourite) is a poster of the map of alternative rock history, arranged in the style of a transistor radio blueprint.

(I wasn’t able to get a good picture of mine because it’s framed and kept reflecting me and my camera, so here’s the online link from Wired).

The print will make a lovely addition to the house where I currently live at school. I love maps for decoration, and a blueprint documenting the influences of bands on another is even better. One of the things I’m most interested about in music history is the progression of different music movements (specifically the 80’s college rock and 90’s Britpop/alternative/indie trends), so I’ve already enjoyed quite a bit of time studying which bands branch from others.

I also received from my lovely aunt and uncle a 2017 Beatles calendar. This is the 7th year they’ve given me one, as the tradition started during my 8th grade obsession with the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo (that, I might add, still continues to this day).

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The lines of the weeks look like sheet music, which I find exceptionally adorable.

Additionally, my mom got me a piece of wall art for my house at school as well. It’s in the shape of a guitar pick, and the design looks like a shelf of vinyl records. I especially enjoy it because around the center is a copy of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour,” the first record by them that I ever owned.

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Finally, I have a concert update: I’ve gotten tickets to a Lucy Dacus and Hamilton Leithauser show in February. As I’ve previously blogged, Lucy Dacus is Matador Records’ latest resident singer/songwriter and I am totally into her work. Her record “No Burden” definitely made my year-end list of the best releases, and since I missed my chance to see her at Lollapalooza, I eagerly await seeing her open for Hamilton Leithauser.

As far as Leithauser, I quite enjoy the singles he’s dropped with Rostem from Vampire Weekend (“A 1000 Times,” which I’ve mentioned on here before, and “In A Blackout”) which surprises me since I’m not much of a Vampire Weekend fan.

This show shall show if I end up enjoying the rest of their work, and since it’ll be in a more intimate concert venue, I look forward to the chance to fully appreciate both Rostem and Leithauser’s ability.

I also eagerly await blogging about the concert and how it goes. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get as close as possible to the stage.

What were some of your favourite musical Christmas/holiday gifts you received this year?

As always, thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a very happy and blessed New Year. God bless.

-A.L.D.

Support Your Local Music Scene

The town where I currently reside (Delaware, Ohio) is, from what I can tell, equal parts “college town” and “small family town.” And, coming from a small town originally, I must say they produce some fantastic music.

The beauty of where I live is that Columbus, Ohio (the capital) is only 30 minutes away. Having a city of music and art so close means Delaware is full of students who play music for fun, people with day jobs who like to play gigs on the weekend and music majors from Ohio Wesleyan. The coffee shop where I frequent, Choffey’s, has people who’ll stop by on their lunch breaks and play for whoever is in there (I’m serious, they were doing it the other day while I worked on a paper and drank chai).

And because Open Mic Night is such a quintessential college experience, Delaware has that too. Last week I was able to go to the first Open Mic held at Endangered Species, the only record store in downtown Delaware.

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Above: James Ormerod, a student at Ohio Wesleyan, played a combination of covers and original work.

The beauty of the event is Endangered Species has large windows that face the busy streets, and people passing by from nearby restaurants and shops saw what was happening and came in to hear college musicians share Beatles covers and original work. I saw a couple introduce themselves to a musician and tell him how much they look forward to hearing him perform again.

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Above: Dane Poppe, an OWU student, covers Neil Young.

There was a father son duo as well who covered Led Zeppelin and played an original the father wrote, and that showed me how strong the bond of music can be to bring families together (just like my dad and I going to Lollapalooza).

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(Above: A Delaware high school student covers Yes).

Opportunities where people can join together and share a creative talent they carry inside never fail to amaze me. It’s a great chance for people to bond over a shared interest with something so pure, so emotional, so personal. And as an aspiring music journalist, people who are willing to share their work gives me hope for what I’ll discover in my professional life. I have so much respect for their willingness to be exposed musically.

So my recommendation to you is get out there and support your local music scene. Go to an open mic, a local show, a festival. There is so much talent and potential in the people around you, and we all have a desire to create something and share it with the world. As a student I see you never know what kind of talent you’ll find within your own school, and better yet, within your town.

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Above: My housemates (from left) Dom Mejia, Chase Smith and Emily Phillips performing under the moniker There Will Be Cardigan.

And as a side note, since the Open Mic was held at a record store, I picked up a CD copy of both Angel Olsen’s “MY WOMAN” and Car Seat Headrest’s “Teens of Denial.” So all in all, I’d say it was a successful night.

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Above: Two great records.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

God bless.

-A.L.D.

Lolla in Brief: Day 4

What a great wrap up to a weekend of performances. Starting off the day was Oh Wonder, a chillwave outfit adorned with fuzzy bass and the usual breathy, distorted lyrical delivery of most keyboard-heavy bands. I feel like they’d sound amazing through a set of good headphones so I could catch each syncopation of the beat and production nuance. Their frontwoman was simply delightful.

(Above: Peeved Paul is prepared to enjoy an Oh Wonder show).

Next up was a an emerging three-person Brooklyn, NYC outfit called Dreamers. They made some great noisy garage rock that, while following a standard formula, did so without ripping off The Strokes or White Stripes or Cage the Elephant. It was both refreshing and fun to sing along to, and I look forward to their debut album dropping on August 26.


(Above: The gents of Dreamers and the frontman’s lovely “Pluto: Never Forget” shirt).

And then came Local Natives. On a previous post I put these guys on my Honorable Mentions list for bands I wanted to see at Lolla. What a mistake. They’re a must see. I think of them as a sort of indie-rock Beatles: Like the Beatles in their early years, the songs sound similar, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means the formula is working. They also switch around on who takes the lead vocal and a few appeared to be multi-instrumentalists. And while they did bring politics into the show for a bit (and I’m not really a fan of when artists start preaching politics, regardless of side and myself being political), I’m always in favour of free speech and it was still such a fantastic set.


(Above: Frontman of Local Natives jumps down into the crowd as the flag of Chicago flies overhead).

Next was some fun with the wonderful Haim sisters. These ladies did NOT disappoint. Besides getting the entire crowd involved in the show, they also debuted two new songs, got nostalgic about seeing Lolla in 2007 and paid tribute to Prince. And their stage presence was electric. All three sisters seemed to be having the time of their lives.

(Above: Este Haim drums along with her sisters Danielle and Alana).

But the main event was surely LCD Soundsystem. I could talk about every aspect of an LCD Soundsystem song that appeals to me and how it transfers to the main stage, but I kind of can’t use words to describe this show. I think it’s just best to picture a huge group of people who’ve never met joining together for a truly euphoric, magical synth rock dance party and having the time of their lives. It was a blessed experience, and I feel so happy to’ve been a part.


(Above: LCD Soundsystem mid-set).

I hope you all had a lovely Lollapalooza 2016. Let me know your thoughts/what your favourite artists were!

If you have to travel to get back home, travel safely and soundly. Thank you for reading, and God bless.

Till next post,

-A.L.D.

Lolla in Brief: Day 3


(Above: The Chicago skyline from the centre of Grant Park).

Today was a day full of sonic jams. Most of which was harder rocking, but to start was the folky Mumford and Sons-esque Strumbellas. 

(Above: Strumbellas performing their final song on the Lake Shore stage).

Strumbellas drew a decent crowd considering their “early” time slot (12 p.m.). They’re simple happy summer music, which gives them their wide appeal. What stuck out the most to me was their grim lyrics that feature a definite optimism and hope for the future, friendly stage presence and some good strings.

And then came the act I’ve been waiting four years for, The Joy Formidable. And I must say, it was worth the wait. I was in the second row from the gate separating the stage from the crowd. This show was incredibly loud and despite just being three people, the band created a powerful fusion of bass, guitar and drum. There was so much energy in every member’s performance. You could tell they were losing themselves in the music.


(Above: Only two rows back from the three-person Joy Formidable, performing on the Bud Light stage).

Next was Lollapalooza’s own Perry Farrell in Jane’s Addiction. First of all, seeing the perpetually smiling creator of such a great fest taking control of the stage was an experience in itself. And this show will be something I remember for a long time. It was basically like listening to your closest friends jam out on their guitars in their garage while acrobats performed and fireworks went off in the background. And that is met as an extremely high compliment.


(Above: Perry playing with a speaker during Jane’s Addiction on the Samsung stage).

Closing the night was the one and only Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their set was primarily their hits, which I thought was perfect. It was a solid festival set and watching so many RHCP fans singing along and dancing to the songs made the entire day worth it. Their light show and screen display (a semicircle screen surrounded by four smaller circles that showed the same image) was also entertaining to watch. And of course Flea’s onstage antics (like doing handstands) got the crowd fired up.


(Above: Red Hot Chili Pepper’s screen display from the middle of the audience).

Thanks for reading! Time to get excited for the final day of Lollapalooza, friends.

As always, God bless.

-A.L.D.

Lolla in Brief: Day 2

Today was a day full of music discovery, so this post will mostly be focused on the bands I wasn’t expecting to find today. I’ll touch on a few I’d planned on seeing, too.

To start is the band Con Brio, a seven-strong lineup of extremely talented musicianship. Brass solos, guitar solos and vocal improvisation created a show full of funk, soul, blues and rock influences. I’d love to see these guys get a later time slot eventually. Their friendly stage persona and high energy will take them places.

Following these guys were the spacy surf-rock outfit Daywave, known most for their single “Drag.” These guys follow in that West Coast vein of Best Coast and Real Estate with a subtle New Order influence as well. In fact, they ended up covering “Ceremony” (one of my favourite NO tunes) in the set. I’d say this makes them slightly more mature than your basic “surf rock” band and elevates the group to the level of other NO-inspired acts like Beach Fossils.

St. Motel proved to be a real suprise for me. I’m not a fan of their big single “My Type,” but I was wrong to write them off based on that sound. It’s fun, accessible alt rock with a solid brass section and a talented keyboardist. And I must say the ceramic tiger attached to the keyboard was a great touch.

And speaking of fun alt rock, I’d go see The Struts in their own show in a heartbeat. It’s less of a concert and more of a performance with these guys, complete with a mini costume change and interactive singing/dancing with the crowd. A 45-minute Lolla slot just didn’t seem enough for the antics of the frontman (who, I’m pretty sure, is Freddie Mercury reincarnated).

Foals did live up to expectations, but played a few too many mellow songs for my liking. Their studio sound transferred well to the stage, but I would’ve liked them in a smaller indoor venue so I could appreciate each nuance. However, their ending with “Inhaler” and “What Went Down” back to back was brilliant.

Following this was Frightened Rabbit, who played almost every song I was hoping for (“The Oil Slick” would’ve been great). Every guy in the band looks like a middle-aged dad, but they know how to switch from an acoustic folk song about being nostalgic for the good old days to a blistering rock jam about holy rollers. A solid mix of slower songs, new songs and singalongs.

And I have to give a shoutout to Wolf Alice, who completely destroyed the Pepsi stage. This band isn’t afraid to be loud and their frontwoman stagediving into the audience while screaming the lyrics to the closing song proves as such. Guitar solos reminiscent of Sonic Youth and a driving beat made for an excellent show. And to the gentleman who was dancing with his small son on his shoulders the whole time, you win Dad of the Year.

Stay tuned for more fun tomorrow. Enjoy your Lolla and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Lolla in Brief: Day 1

What an excellent start to the weekend. Lolla on a Thusday was great: crowded, but not too crowded and we were able to get fairly close to the stage for each act.

I was pleasantly surprised by almost all acts I saw yesterday. To start the day was Autolux, a band I’ve never listened to prior to the show yesterday but who made quite the impression on me. The distortion on each instrument was absolutely insane. I can imagine this is a type of band whose studio sound translates well to the main stage, despite so much production. It was like a mixture of Sonic Youth and a heavy dose of My Bloody Valentine, with a few touches of Smashing Pumpkins in there. Additionally, the band’s stage presence was crazy chill for how loud they were.

Another gem was Bob Moses. I’ll be honest, I hated this group’s breakout single “Tearing Me Up,” so my expectations were low. This show, however, was 45 minutes of my expectations being completely shattered. Bob Moses is like the baby version of Hot Chip, with a fantastic blend of “real” instrumentation and synths and drum machines. I think they’re one of those bands who’s just better live. It was impossible to not dance to what these guys were cranking out. I was even singing along to “Tearing Me Up” by the end of the show. I just wish it’d been longer.

Then came some good clean fun with The Arkells, a Canadian alt rock band who had great stage presence. I’d missed a bit of their show, but upon arrival was instantly caught up in the fun. Some highlights of audience interaction featured the frontman dedicating a song to his newly engaged friends and having them come on stage to dance, a few impromptu Elton John covers from the keyboard player and call-and-response singing between the frontman and audience.

The big disappointment, at least for me, was unfortunately Bastille. I don’t doubt that the band sounded good and I really do enjoy moments of their first record (as well as their new single “Good Grief”). But their  soundsystem  was majorly glitchy and all I could hear from where I was in the crowd was the bass. The singer’s voice was completely drowned out and the instruments were muffled.

But, thankfully, Kurt Vile and the Violators delivered an hour of great jams. It wasn’t nearly as mellow as I thought, and Vile’s voice had that perfect laid back slacker vibe I’ve come to love. The studio sound from “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze” and “b’live im goin down…” carried so well to the main stage. I especially liked the layered guitars and touches of saxophone. And of course I was amazed at how relaxed and at home Kurt and his band seemed on the stage. I may’ve even liked it a bit more than The War on Drugs last year, but that’s debatable.

Probably the most surprising of the bands yesterday was The Arcs, the side project of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. I consider myself a casual Black Keys fan, and I enjoyed a bit of what’s come off “Brothers,” “El Camino” and “Turn Blue” (while also thinking it does have a very similar, formulaic sound). I went to see The Arcs because a.) I’m not a 1975 fan and they were playing around the same time and b.) I had to pass on seeing The Black Keys in 2013 because of school. I was expecting a watered down Black Keys show but instead was blown away by all the blues influence in each song. I especially loved how the brass instrumentation and backup singers (who all played different instruments, too) complimented Auerbach’s guitar solos and gravelly voice. The band’s stage presence was a combination of both untouchably cool and wonderfully friendly. They seemed genuinely happy to be performing and their audience was going nuts. 

Thanks for reading! Hope you’re enjoying Lolla as much as I am. Stay tuned for more updates and God bless.

-A.L.D.