Month: March 2020

Good Spring

It’s kind of amazing how much has changed since I last posted. Two weeks ago my big concern was hoping Coachella wouldn’t get cancelled. Now it’s hoping that I’ll get to work again at some point this year. In the last 3 weeks the world has just gone downhill. Three weeks ago it was unimaginable. Now it’s the standard and it’s crazy how I’ve already settled into it. For me it’s been a re-adjustment. When I first started this blog, I was in the midst of a time in my life where I was unemployed. I stayed home a lot. I tried not to spend much money. I would occasionally do things like drive an hour to the nearest Chipotle once a month. It’s kind of like that now with even less opportunity to do anything to pass the time. It’s heartbreaking when I think about it, but I’ve been getting through it and I’m reminded every day just how lazy I can be. I’ll buy into this thing though if it ends with me being able to work again, see my friends, and enjoy live music sooner rather than later. I don’t really know what other options I have. It’s all pretty shitty and hopefully the music industry gets some support soon.

When I last posted, I know I said I’d have a lot more time to write, but I really didn’t realize just how much time I’d have. Since then, I did a lot of thinking about music during this down time. The moment we all get to enjoy concerts and festivals again is gonna be pretty special. I also think we’re gonna get a lot of great new music out of this, which lead me to think about a great record that was created after Justin Vernon of Bon Iver spent months escaping the world, For Emma Forever Ago.

Bon Iver’s debut album was made while Vernon spent November 2006-January 2007 at his father’s remote hunting cabin that was an hour northwest of his hometown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Vernon decided to spend some time there to get away from society after dealing with having mono, a liver infection, and just general displeasure in his songwriting and life. While in the cabin, he hunted his own food. His father also visited him every two weeks or so to bring him beer, eggs, cheese, and other items he wasn’t able to hunt.

Vernon recorded 9 songs in the cabin that winter including favorites like “Skinny Love”, “Flume”, and “Re: Stacks”. He drew inspiration from multiple sources such as Bruce Springsteen, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and Appalachian folk singers. He recorded the music for his songs first. Then he used wordless vocals to add to each song. The album represented major life events Vernon was going through at the time that ranged on topics of longing and lost love to mediocrity. When Vernon left the cabin in February 2007, he was still feeling ill and not particularly satisfied with his songwriting.

After about a few months, Vernon’s friends encouraged him to release the album so he did. He independently released it in June 2007 under the name Bon Iver, which is a misspelling of the french phrase “bon hiver” meaning “good winter”. The project gained popularity throughout 2007 into 2008 from many indie music outlets. For Emma Forever Ago was re-released in February 2008 under Jagjaguwar. It eventually made music charts worldwide and lead to plenty of success for Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver.

I spent a few days last week listening to this album in full. It gave me a lot of comfort in knowing such a beautiful thing could come from isolation.¬† This is why I truly believe there’s going to be great music that comes out of this dark time. There’s going to be a lot beauty in general. Who knows how long this lasts or what’s to come for our future because for once I think everyone feels pretty uncertain. We will make it out though. There will be concerts. There will be festivals. There will be more new albums and songs. Things might be a bit different initially, but we’ll adjust and make them better. Maybe we needed this break. Maybe earth just needed this break. It will get better though. It always does. Be well in the meantime and I’ll leave you with this from Florence and the Machine, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Coachella 2020 Postponed

I know. I know. This is coming about 2 days late. It’s old news at this point, but I still needed to post something because as you may have guessed my Band Previews are also postponed. We were about a month away when Goldenvoice released the official announcement postponing the festival to October so now we’re about 7 months away. As a result, I’m gonna get back into posting about Coachella in spurts around August/September. There’s still a few more bands/artists I’d like to preview and also with this change who knows how things are going to go. Will there be artists who can’t play both weekends? Will there be new acts added? Will the festival itself add anything or make changes to the original plan? There’s a lot of unknowns out there, but here’s some positives to take away from the move.

First, Coachella is in October for the second time ever. The first time was in 1999. It was the first Coachella! Oddly enough, Rage Against the Machine played that one too! October is way different than April. It’s Fall vs. Spring. I guarantee you’ll see different kinds of Coachella fashion. There might even be different kinds of food and drink offered that are in theme with the season. The weather is likely to be hotter for weekend one than it usually is. The average temperature in the Coachella Valley in October is about 3 degrees hotter than it is in April, but overall not much different. Another interesting factor is that the sun will set sooner by about 1 hour! This means different kinds of sets for different artists. Obviously certain kinds of production look better at different times of the day based on daylight or darkness. This also plays a factor into the sunset sets. Do the set times change? Who knows, but it’ll be fun to see what happens.

With Coachella in October, that also means that it’s close to Halloween. Instead of Coacheaster, Coachellaween/Spookchella is now a thing! There might be costumes. There might be pumpkins. Maybe a Haunted Heineken House?! There will for sure be Danny Elfman playing music from the Nightmare Before Christmas and what could be a bigger mood than hearing the performance of “This is Halloween” in October at Coachella?! Exactly. It’s gonna be incredibly unique and a special version of Coachella that we may not see again!

Do you want to know the best part about all of this though? Coachella wasn’t cancelled! Not only that but, Coachella 2020 in October means that Coachella 2021 will be in just under 6 months!!!! Yes, 2 Coachellas within 6 months. This is 100% the best news of all! Sure we’re waiting 1.5 years from one Coachella to another but having 2 within 6 months will be well worth the wait.

Will I be sad next month when I’m not experiencing Coachella in Indio? Absolutely. Am I worried and anxious over my career in general given the current situation and especially in the wake of all the latest news? You bet I am. But as the saying goes, “Things will get better with time.” (That honestly sounds more positive than I’m feeling right now.) Hopefully sooner rather than later and who knows maybe I’ll still take that trip to Cali next month anyway. Until then though, I’m going to get back to posting normal blogs. I surely have enough time on my hands to do so. So I’ll be back with more soon. In the meantime, keep listening to those Coachella bands/artists because we just gained way more prep time. We’re gonna know all the songs by October and the fall Coachella vibes will be in full swing! I can’t wait til then.

Coachella Forever

In the past few days since I made my last Coachella blog post, a lot has changed. Currently the fate of this year’s edition of the festival is in a state of uncertainty with everyone involved in the festival. When news of Ultra Music Festival being cancelled over growing concern of the virus sweeping the nation and world came out Wednesday evening, I felt my yearly excitement and anticipation for Coachella dissipate in favor of anger, worry, and sadness.

I still had some hope though because Miami and Ultra have a poor relationship. The festival and the city have had battles in the past so I figured this was just another reason to get rid of the festival. Then Friday evening SXSW announced its cancellation. That broke me. I was counting on SXSW to be an example of a large scale event that generates worldwide traffic successfully operating without a hitch in the wake of this mass hysteria.

Coachella seems to be next on the bubble in the music festival world. It generates an attendance of 125,000 people per weekend with people traveling from all over the globe to attend. It also generates over $700 million for the economy in the Coachella Valley. To cancel it would be financially devastating to many who work in the music industry as well as to those who profit from it locally. For me, this is definitely a concern, but I think what hurts the most has more to do with the festival itself.

I spend the year anticipating Coachella. Sure there are other festivals and things that happen along the way to pass the time, but I always talk about Coachella. It’s my thing. It’s the reason why I started working in this industry along with my love of music. I know I’m not the only one who loves Coachella, but I feel like each year it’s something I work towards. So if I have to wait another 13 months for Coachella after being teased of its existence all year, it’ll be really hard for me especially with this impending outlook for my line of work.

I’m not gonna lie. Everything I’ve seen and read over the past few days has felt hopeless especially with recent news that the large-scale tennis tournament in Indian Wells has been cancelled. It feels like a matter of time before the polo fields themselves are quarantined. It’s very hard to take in for a normally hopeful person who cares a lot about this festival and the experience it provides. I feel like I can’t be excited anymore. This month normally flies by in anticipation of the festival and now it just feels like an agonizingly long wait until its fate is decided.

There’s still a little under five weeks until the festival begins and for once I wish it were a little longer. It’s very difficult to predict what might happen because 24 hours could make a difference in times of uncertainty. For once I can’t give you a good guess like I can with set times or stage locations. All I can tell you is that I’ll be very sad for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important is because I care so much. I always think that maybe I shouldn’t care so much. It would save a lot of heartbreak. When I was super into sports, there was one year I believed the hockey team I followed was destined to win a championship. When that didn’t happen I vowed to not care about sports and winning as much. It was much easier. Then win or lose, I felt almost indifferent. I was happy if a team won and unaffected if they lost.

Then I started going after this music dream of mine. Music was always something I loved. It got me through a lot. So I decided to pursue a goal of bringing happiness to others through live music experiences, the same kind of joy I experienced at my first Coachella in 2015. I’ll never forget the moment. It was while I was sitting during Belle & Sebastian’s set at Outdoor and I thought to myself it would be so cool to put on this festival. That moment gave me the motivation to chase this dream and I’ve been passionate about Coachella ever since. I never thought this passion of mine would be able to create the same kind of heartbreak that sports has done, but here we are because I care so much. I care about my job. I care about music. I care about the festival. I care about creating experiences for people who enjoy the same things I do. I just care.

I do care about the safety and wellbeing of others too but honestly I think this has created an irrational sense of fear in people. I think it’s over-exaggerated. Yet when someone kills 59 people at a music festival in Las Vegas almost 2 1/2 years ago, nothing is done about gun violence and music festivals are still occurring with precautionary measures. That was just in 1 night too and yearly the number of deaths from gun violence is over 30,000. Yet here we are looking at these small numbers of people dying and infected and creating draconian measures to try to combat it. It’s mind blowing.

For me and my fellow industry friends, it’s also how we live. We freelance. We work part time gigs and this is destroying our livelihood. It’s funny how when some sort of natural disaster occurs funding gets provided to the affected area, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is starting a disaster relief fund for the folks of Austin who will be affected by SXSW being cancelled (Update: There has been. Thank God! Click to donate). Trust me this is a disaster in its own right. It’s a financial disaster. It’s a mental health disaster. It’s an emotional disaster. I’m not wrong. Fight me on it.

So now all there is to do is wait. Wait and be prepared to have some backup plans. The only positive is that at least a festival cancellation won’t be sprung out of nowhere. We have a little time to come up with some alternatives. I’m debating whether I should keep up with this blog series. I have 2 more specific artists I want to preview (regardless of the outcome of all this, you should listen to all of these artists I’ve previewed…they’re fantastic!). But I feel like a cancellation is going to happen any day now. I’ll probably update one way or another in early April based on the outcome of the festival. I’m also coming up with my own little contingency plan which involves a bit shorter of a trip to California. A trip to Cali for fun, who would have thought. It’ll be what my soul will need at that time so I’m intent on it. Until then, let’s hope this gets better rather than worse and keep our fingers, toes, legs, arms, eyes, and any other body part I’m missing crossed. I hope Coachella 2020 is somehow a thing and I’ll be devastated if not…truly I already am…because no matter what, I will always long for hot days, cool nights, dope views, and desert vibes. Coachella Forever.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Hayden James

It’s been two months since the Coachella 2020 lineup was released, which means we have 5 weeks and 2 days to go before the masses start flooding the Coachella Valley in preparation of southern California’s most famous music festival. I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away. Time really flies when you spend the winter in Mexico. Now it’s full steam ahead towards my 5th Coachella. It’s pretty surreal how I started these yearly band previews in preparation of my first Coachella and now here we are 5 years later and I’m on the brink of being at my 5th one. It was truly the festival that started it all for me and this crazy music industry adventure that I’m a part of. Alright…enough of me being super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, it’s time to focus on the music. This week I’m previewing an artist I wrote about back in 2018, Hayden James.

When I first wrote about electronic artist Hayden James, I had been listening to his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE for months. It was my most listened to song of 2018. Since then, James released his debut album¬†Between Us on June 14, 2019. I also did an album review of it in August. Since the debut release, James has only played a few music festivals and a few tour dates, which is a bit out of the ordinary surrounding an album release. Most of his sets were in his home country of Australia with a few dates in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. This year includes several more tour stops in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. including his Coachella appearance.

Coachella 2020 will mark James’ second Coachella appearance. His first came in 2015 as a Do Lab artist. This time he’s officially on the bill though and likely to play the Sahara Tent, if not, Gobi or Mojave. His soulful and sensual house style will surely bring plenty of fans out to his set no matter where it’s played. I would definitely expect a larger draw at Sahara since a lot of younger festival goers like to spend all their time at the stage, but who knows because many people enjoy a good electronic set. After seeing him in 2018 at Electric Forest, I know he’s capable of bringing lots of dancing and a lot of bass to his sets. He’s also very capable of setting the Coachella vibe with his tracks. Here are the one’s you should know:

  1. NUMB
  2. Something About You
  3. Just Friends
  4. Better Together
  5. Just A Lover
  6. Favours
  7. Nowhere to Go
  8. Hold Me Back
  9. Remember You
  10. Permission to Love