Coachella

Damned if I Write This, Damned if I Don’t

I’m sorry to say, but it’s been another long amount of time I’ve gone without writing a blog post. It was a busy a fall with not much time at home and not much time to focus on the blog, which is a huge shame on me. As a quick update, up until last week, I only had 6 full days at home over the last 6 weeks. I spent mid-late September and much of October working 3 different music festivals (Firefly, Austin City Limits, and EDC Las Vegas). Then, I spent Halloween weekend with my family out-of-state. At this point though, I’ve finally been back for a week straight and thought it was time to make a post.

During Lolla week back in late July, I finally made it to my first Lolla after show. I saw pop punk band All Time Low at the Bottom Lounge (shoutout to my friend Emily for making it possible). Since then, I got back in touch with All Time Low, a band whose handful of songs I listened to at the end of high school/beginning of college. I can’t say I really went all in to All Time Low in the past few months, but I definitely started listening to a few more of their songs than “Dear Maria Count Me In” and “Coffee Shop Soundtrack.”

All Time Low, from Towson, Maryland (Baltimore suburb), formed in 2003 while still in high school. The group got their name from the lyrics of New Found Glory’s song “Head on Collision” (“And it feels like I’m at an all time low.”). Plenty of bands have gone through lineup changes over the years but All Time Low has remained consistent since their very early days with Alex Gaskarth on guitar and lead vocals, Jack Barakat on guitar, Zack Merrick on bass and backing vocals, and Rian Dawson on drums. In their very early days, Chris Cortilello and TJ Ihle were part of the group, but left before the band made a name for themselves.

The group released their first two EPs in 2004 before their debut album The Party Scene was released in 2005. The band signed with Hopeless Records in 2006 and released the EP Put Up or Shut Up that summer after graduating from high school. After joining the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2007, they released their second studio album So Wrong, It’s Right. This album peaked at 62 on the Billboard Top 200 and 6 on the Alternative Albums chart. Ultimately it lead to their rise in the alternative music scene. Their third album Nothing Personal debuted in July 2009. It reached number 4 on the Billboard Top 200 in it’s first week. By 2009 they became a headlining act at Warped Tour and had also been headlining their own national and international tours.

Since 2009, the band has been continually touring and releasing albums every few years. The most notable of those was Future Hearts in 2014 which debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest charting album thus far. The most recent album they released was Wake Up, Sunshine in 2020. Other albums released include Dirty Work (2011), Don’t Panic (2013), and Last Young Renegade (2017).

All Time Low’s music style is classified as pop punk, pop rock, emo pop, and alternative, which is pretty spot on. They’ve stayed true to their genre throughout their time in existence, but I always think of them and their music style as something else, “scene” music. In the late 2000’s the “scene” subculture became a thing for alternative music fans. It developed from emo music/emo subculture. Now over 10 years later, All Time Low is a staple at emo nights around the country, where emo and other alternative music from the scene days is played for hours as millennials re-embrace super tight skinny jeans and heavy eyeliner while belting out anthems from their youth. “Dear Maria Count Me In” is one of those hits, as well as other pop punk, emo, alternative songs from that early scene era.

Despite knowing All Time Low for years, and even seeing the 1975 with them at Coachella (I happened to stand next to them), I had never seen them perform live until July. If it wasn’t for my friend Hailey, I’m not sure I would have even pushed as hard to see them either, but I’m glad we did, even if we only saw the last 4 songs. Hailey reintroduced me All Time Low as well as the Maine around that time and I’ve gotten into a few more of their songs since then including “Monsters”, “Damned if I Do Ya, Damned if I Don’t”, “Clumsy”, and “Weightless”. I’ve also re-sparked my interest in songs by several other bands I used to listen to this year including Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Motion City Soundtrack. It’s definitely been a year of second-comings for alternative music for me.

Speaking of this year, we’re only weeks away from 2022 and for the first time in 2 years, there’s going to be a Coachella lineup drop, which means band previews and polo field hype will be back soon enough! Until then, I challenge you to get into a new old song by a band you listened to years ago. You just might be surprised how it could hit different especially if you’re over getting old.

Live Music is Back?!

It’s been over a year now since Coachella got “postponed” and the live music industry shut down indefinitely. Thanks to vaccines and an ever growing need to re-open the economy, those of us who work in events amongst massive amounts of people are finally starting to get back to work. Maybe some of us aren’t quite “back” yet but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gigs are popping up. Fall tour dates and festival dates are being announced. We know people who have gotten called back to work or have gotten their jobs back. It’s all quite optimistic and honestly feels pretty good after a year where optimism was lacking. So is live music officially back? I’d say there’s a good chance.

First and foremost, we definitely wouldn’t be at this point without the vaccines. It was a slow roll out to start when the FDA gave the go-ahead for that emergency-use authorization back in December 2020. At this point though, about 1/3 of the eligible population has received at least one dose and more people are getting vaccinated each week. Although these disease protectors aren’t 100% full proof, they’ve been pretty damn effective so far and probably the best mechanism we have for defense against the virus. It’s key if you want have thousands of people hanging out together at a concert or festival. It was never going to be “safe” enough without them either unless there was zero virus risk which wasn’t an option here in the U.S., as it was in most countries as well.

Secondly, after a year of losing tons of money money money, capitalism says we gotta get back to work. I feel like most of us are eager to anyway. It’s fulfilling. I think if there’s any fear though it’s in the risk of getting sick with going back to work and of course others getting sick too. Vaccination has eased my mind a lot on that though, especially for myself. Again shoutout to those vaxes! Most states are trying to open their economies fully in the coming months. Restrictions are lightening and have been lightening since mid-March or so. The desire for normalcy is so real too which brings me to my most important and final point.

We miss the life we had before March 2020. I think we all do in a lot of ways. It was easier in ways that we didn’t even realize. There was a lot less to think about. I know I miss the easiness of it all. I’m sure you could name plenty of things you miss too. In that list, I think you could include concerts and festivals which is why many festivals that have sold tickets for the fall or beyond have sold out. The demand even seems unprecedented! Everyone is excited about the return of live music because I think so many of us missed those special moments that only live music can offer. Music heals. It’s always been true. But a lot of us feel a void without that aspect of music where you can go see your favorite bands or artists perform and truly be IN that moment (sorry livestreams!). So yes, FINALLY we are so close to getting that part back! For those of us who loved music enough to chase it as a career, it’s even more special. Obviously we’re all fans to begin with too.

When I was thinking about what to write today I almost decided to make a full post about EDC Las Vegas. The monster of all festivals announced its return for May (so soon!) on Thursday night. I had heard about the intent to have it in May prior to the official announcement and felt unsure. It felt too soon. I didn’t believe they could possibly have it. Even at this point, I’m still holding my breath a bit. Yet, do you know how exciting it is to talk to my friends/co-workers about upcoming gigs that are a month away?! It feels SO good. There’s still a lot more kinks to work out with EDC and a lot of work to be done in preparation in this short amount of time. You never know what can happen between now and then either. I think generally we can’t believe it’s happening so soon. We also feel like it’s too soon, but at the same time we’re all extremely stoked! Hopefully that makes sense to you. Needless to say it’s PLUR season baby!

If EDC goes off as planned, it’ll be a true test. EDC Las Vegas is the biggest music festival in the country. It doesn’t have the hype that Coachella gets but as far as attendance goes, it’s the biggest. It’s 150,000+ people each day for three days from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It’s a beast and unlike any other festival in that regard. So we’ll see what happens. Right now the hype and the optimism are real. Although it’s not official until festivals and concerts actually happen, I think the real phrase is that live music is ALMOST back. In the name of positivity and good vibes though, I still think we gotta hype it up. So buy those tickets because live music is back!

Daft Punk ISN’T playing at my house, my house

I knew I wanted to make a post today, but I didn’t expect it would be something Coachella related. Here we are though! As of this morning, Daft Punk (my way, way, way late music discovery of 2020) are no more. The iconic electronic duo have called it quits after 28 years together. They posted a video entitled “Epilogue” to their website which includes a scene of one of the robots blowing up followed by an image of two robot hands formed into a triangle (a representation of the pyramid they used on their Alive Tour in 2007) with “1993-2021” written beneath the image. Many media outlets reported the news with confirmation from the group’s publicists saying they are in fact retiring. Big sad!

About 10 months ago during what was dubbed as “Couchella” because of the panny d related Coachella postponement, I took an interest in Daft Punk and proclaimed that I’ve become one of those people who want them to headline every year. When my friend sent me this news earlier today, I was shocked and heartbroken for a solid…oh I don’t know 5-10 minutes? The reason being….retirement isn’t always forever. Reunions happen and there’s a certain festival FAMOUS for reunions. What festival is that? Coachella! Duh! Even if the reunion never actually happens, or it takes years and years, there’s still hope that we get to see Daft Punk live. This isn’t something to be devastated about. Obviously take it seriously because as of right now, yeah, they’re serious about it. Appreciate Daft Punk for what they gave for 28 years. Appreciate them for their impact on the electronic music world. Appreciate their music that you love because you know you’ll still be playing it for years to come. But do NOT be sad about this! Things change. Reunions happen. Bands get back together. Your odds of seeing them live now are just about as much as they were yesterday before this announcement. I swear. These guys do not tour often.

Anyway, if you’ve learned anything from the last year, it should be that anything is possible! Both good and bad, but let’s think about the good instead because no one like a Debbie Downer. I’ve been all about a few mantras this year and I’m gonna give them to you (and also relate them to music for the sake of the blog)…..

  1. “2021 Energy” – The point of this is to get out of that negative 2020 mindset. Bad shit always happens. Last year was very bad, but this year will be better. Stay hopeful! Stay optimistic! This year isn’t last year and it will be better. Just start believing it. I’m a firm believer that I’m going to be back working music related things at some point this year. I already was able to work again once which although was not at a concert or festival, was something and one of my goals for 2021. Small things matter. Baby steps matter. That brings me to the second mantra…
  2. “Transition” – See this year as a transitional year. It’s not going to be the exact life we want quite yet, but we’re slowly getting back to it. Baby steps. Small accomplishments. We’ll get there. One step at a time. And before you know it we’ll be back at Coachella!
  3. “Panny D” – Change the name of the game. Pandemic felt so damn serious and scary and yes of course it’s still happening. We’re still working on those vaccines. People can still get sick. People are still dying! So yeah it’s serious. But this name changing is more of a mental thing. I feel like last year we let the pandemic own us. This year let’s own it. By changing the name, it feels less serious (mentally). It’s more casual. I know you’re probably worried that making it like this might make people take it less seriously literally, but you know what, everyone was already doing that anyway. Stop worrying and trying to control everyone else. You can’t do it. What you can do though is take care of yourself. Put yourself first. If changing the name isn’t for you, then so be it. Don’t do it. But it’s helped me get out of that negative mindset and you just gotta do what works best for you. That’s not saying to not be safe. Be safe when you need to be, cause we’re getting there. But you can still, be safe and not let it get you down.

That’s it. Those are my big three so far. There might be more on the way, but until then this is all I’ve got. It’s the mental set and it’s helped me refocus this year. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we can see it. I promise. Concerts will be back. Festivals will be back. Coachella will be back. Daft Punk will be back. See what I did there?! Ha!

So for now, spend the rest of the day listening to Daft Punk, dream about hearing them play live again because guess what? It’s still possible. As long as Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, are “alive” and well, it can happen. Maybe they headline Coachella in a few years as a reunion set. Maybe they bring out LCD Soundsystem as a surprise guest and they perform “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” together. I mean I can dream right? Maybe they don’t? Who knows? But anyway…robots can be rebuilt and anything is possible. So stay positive and keep the vibes up that maybe we’ll “get lucky” enough to hear them perform “one more time” because if you know Daft Punk you know that their “work is never over!”

Doses & Mimosas

It’s so weird not writing about this year’s Coachella artists during this time. As a result, new music has been sparse since the turn of the new year. As soon as the clock hit midnight on New Year’s Eve though, I was filled with a new kind of energy. Even though this year so far is still a continuation of 2020, it feels better. It feels more optimistic and hopeful. It’s definitely not going to be the ideal year, but it will be better. I see it as a transition from the disaster that was 2020 to a return to normalcy. It’s all a process, but we’ll get there.

On New Year’s Eve, I hung out with a few close friends. We decided to get dressed up and ring in 2021 together. While getting ready that night, my friend put on her playlist that she uses when she’s in the mood to dance and a song that I’ve known for several years came on. It was the track “Doses & Mimosas” by Cherub. For some reason, it just hit the right way. I couldn’t get it out of my head all night and the entire the next day. Neither could she. So we listened to it a bunch in the 40 or so hours we spent together. That song reflects the energy I want to carry in the year. I now listen to it all the time since I added it to my new work out playlist. So I thought since I’m enjoying it so much, why not talk a little bit about the artists that created it.

Cherub is an electronic indie duo from Nashville, TN. Formed in 2010, Cherub is comprised of Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber. They met while studying music production in college at Middle Tennessee State University. In 2011 they released their first EP, followed by their first album in digital form MoM & DaD in 2012. Their big hit “Doses & Mimosas” was part of that album and contributed to the growth they experienced afterward. They signed with Columbia Records and re-released the track on their debut studio album Year of the Caprese. Since then the group released a second studio album Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence and embarked on several tours all over the country. This past July the duo released a compilation of previously unreleased songs titled DJ BJ’s Faves.

Back when “Doses & Mimosas” was on the scene, I had trouble finding an interest in Cherub because I was more into indie rock. However as I’ve gotten into electronic music in the last several years, I now have an appreciation for the group. They truly have a more indie based electronic sound than I initially thought to the point that I’ve taken an interest in their other tracks as well. There’s nothing like overdue music discovery. Maybe at some point I’ll get to hear “Doses & Mimosas” live and I’ll be reminded of the vibe I had in early 2021. Until then we can at least be stoked that we’re done with the “bitch ass hoe” of a year that was 2020 and I’m gonna keep that energy, momentum, and optimism flowing through this transitional year as long as I can.

2020 Sucked But Here’s Some Music That Didn’t

In 2016, which everyone claimed was a terrible year, I started a personal music recap for the year as a way to find something good to talk about. I kept it up because 2017 was an absolutely amazing year for music and then just kept going with it. 2016 was nothing compared to this year though. To be honest I had a pretty good 2016, but like most people, I didn’t have a great 2020. I’m usually a pretty positive person and try to look for good things when bad shit happens, but this time around there wasn’t a lot of good. Barely any actually. The bad far outweighed it. Where I found my hopefulness though is that someday it will get better. If I made it through high school and my emo years, I knew I’d be able to get through this emo year. Thankfully, even in the absence of live music and the career path I started for myself in 2016, artists still released albums. Some albums were delayed, but eventually got released. Some albums were even unplanned such as Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore. Music discovery was one thing that wasn’t cancelled this year and for that I am grateful. So here you go, my top music faves from 2020:

“Heat Waves”, Dreamland -Glass Animals

I usually only pick a song, album, or artist to focus on for each of these, but this one was tough to distinguish. In 2020, there are no rules though. Glass animals released their latest album Dreamland back in August but a month earlier dropped the song “Heat Waves”. I fell absolutely in love with song immediately. I knew a few days after I first listened to it that it was the song of the year for me. I couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks even after the album was released. It was my most played on Spotify as well. The album was also my favorite of the year. It featured other great bangers like “Tangerine” and “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” and several other great ones as well. The album was an ode to childhood in the 90’s, but still captured the smooth yet trippy, groove style of indie music that Glass Animals is so well known for. I feel like it’s highly underrated and most definitely my favorite album of 2020.

Women in Music Part III -HAIM

Before Dreamland was released, if you asked me, I would have told you that Women in Music Part III or WIMPIII for short was going to be my favorite album of the year. I knew earlier on from the single releases in the spring that the Haim sisters were about to release a hit of an album. I’m not the only one that took notice either. The album was recently nominated for album of the year by the Grammys and their song “The Steps” was nominated for Best Rock Performance, a category dominated by women this year. I bought the album in July and was able to secure a signed album poster! I still have yet to hang it up, but I have plans to make it happen soon. Much like Dreamland, this album is top to bottom filled with great songs. My favorite is “Don’t Wanna”, but that’s followed by “I’ve Been Down”, “Gasoline”, “I Know Alone”, and “The Steps”. I could honestly go on with the songs too. Like I said, top to bottom, it’s fire. HAIM’s third full-length is really something special and my other top fave from this past year.

Daft Punk

Daft Punk has been around since the 90’s. I’ve known about them since the Random Access Memories era, but I didn’t quite realize that I knew them way longer than that until I watched the Coachella Documentary this past spring. There was such a focus on Daft Punk’s iconic 2006 set that I began really going through their discography. I wrote a blog post about them and how even without a physical Coachella this year, Coachella still helped me discover some new artists. They were one of my top artists of the year. I even bought Discovery on vinyl back in April. The song “One More Time” was in my top 5 most played songs of the year and I’m now one of those people who want them to headline Coachella. I’m definitely late to the game on this robotic electronic duo, but it’s better late than never.

Notes on a Conditional Form -The 1975

The 1975 dropped their latest album in the spring with plenty of track releases in the lead up to the full album that began in 2019. It was an album I highly anticipated during the spring lockdown. In fact during those weeks, I was living for new music Fridays. I claimed back in my blog post review of the album that it might be one of their best works yet. However, I’m not sure if anything will able to top their debut self-titled, but I definitely believe Notes On A Conditional Form is one of the best of the year. I spent weeks listening to the full album. I love “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” and “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” which features Phoebe Bridgers, who had a big year herself. “People”, “Frail State of Mind”, “Me & You Together Song”, and “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” are all great too. This album came at the perfect time and I’m incredibly grateful for it and all the new music that helped me through this crazy year.

“POWER” -Kanye West

“POWER” by Kanye West is not a new song. It actually came out 10 years ago. I never even knew it back then. It first came into my life with the Power Rangers reboot movie in 2017. Then last year during Sunday Service at Coachella it also popped back in. Then yet again this past spring in the Coachella Doc it also made an appearance. It was this time though that I finally got hooked. It was another staple song of my spring time work out playlist and even a go-to I would listen to at other random moments. The intro and subsequent background music for the song which was taken from the song “Afromerica” by Continent Number 6 is just so damn catchy too. It was another better late than never situation, but it worked out fine. There were plenty of songs that got me through the spring but this one is definitely a stand out.

“New Daze” -Bay Ledges

In the summer Bay Ledges released a 6 song EP titled New Daze. The EP included a song of the same name that I really connected with. It’s my favorite new song of theirs since I heard “Safe” in 2018. The song exemplifies their chill indie vibe sound, but has that same uplifting feel that “Safe” also contains. The lyrics themselves do too. It gives such a hopeful perspective for this trash year and I really love the song for that reason as well.

“Giants” -Dermot Kennedy

Dermot Kennedy was huge for me in 2019. His show was actually the last concert I was able to attend before the music industry shut down on March 12th. After such a big year with his first album in October, I wouldn’t have expected any new releases in 2020, but in June he dropped the new track “Giants”. It’s another powerful upbeat track similar to “Power Over Me” and “Outnumbered”. He recently released a “Complete Edition” version of his debut album which contains “Giants” among other collabs, a cover, another new song, and alternate versions of old songs. “Giants” was just the new track I needed for my summer work out playlist to even further my love for Dermot Kennedy. I even enjoyed the Sam Feldt remix of the track and got a double dose of the track by including that version in my fall work out playlist. It’s quite a banger and one of my favorites of the year.

“Bodies” -The Knocks ft. MUNA

Obviously the spring and summer were filled with plenty of new tunes and discoveries of old for me this year, but I found this gem by The Knocks featuring MUNA in the fall. The song was recommended to me by Spotify after my playlist finished one night and I thought it was great. After I added the song, I couldn’t get enough of it when it played during my nightly work outs. “Bodies” was released in the summer, but it didn’t come into my life until early November. For almost the last two months, I’ve been obsessed with this song. It’s a late comer to this list of my favorites for 2020, but it deserves to be here. It’s a keeper.

“Believer” -LUDVIC, Mathoma

Spring was such a time of music discovery for me thanks to the Coachella Documentary and my weekends of “Couchella”. In that time I also discovered the song “Believer” by LUDVIC and Mathoma thanks to checking out my friends’ Spotify playlists. I love being a creep on Spotify but it’s truly a great way to discover new music and find out what your friends are listening to. Although this jam wasn’t directly because of Coachella, it came to me around that time and joined my spring playlist in the midst of some great tunes. This was one song I couldn’t get enough of though. I would frequently replay it or listen to it when I wasn’t working out thus earning this trop house style track a spot on this list of my faves from 2020.

Golden Hour -Kygo

After seeing Kygo perform at Coachella in 2018, I became a huge fan. I’ve always been partial towards the trop house style of electronic music, but that 2018 performance really set in my affinity for the Norwegian DJ. Golden Hour was another album I was anticipating in the spring with new track releases every few weeks. Kygo’s third album dropped at the end of May and I already had some favorites from the new record. “Freedom”, “Lose Somebody”, and “Higher Love” caught on quick for me. I also love “Like It Is”, “I’ll Wait”, and “How Would I Know.”

Kygo decided to do a virtual live stream festival from his home in Norway to promote the new album and support LiveNation’s Crew Nation Fund among several other relief funds. As we know, streaming shows became a thing this year. I think they’re trash. They will never compare with going to a concert or festival, but in the mean time, they’re something to watch. I watched two streams in the spring and this was one of them. The thing that kept me around was the beauty of Norway. Kygo’s set was shot partially with a drone that exhibited the entire landscape of his community. People were out on the lake watching his set from boats. It was so cool. Who would have thought this music which usually sets the vibe at in the desert of southern California so perfectly would create an insane vibe in a different setting like Bergen, Norway. It was great and it gave me another chance to hear this solid new record.

Honorable Mentions:

The New Abnormal -The Strokes (the first Strokes album since 2013, full of indie rock goodness)

girl in red (the indie version of Hayley “Lesbian Jesus” Kiyoko)

“Good” -TWIN XL (indie pop summer jam)

“Palm Springs” -Luna Shadows (pure Palm Springs vibe and I bet you can’t get it out of your head)

“Anywhere” -Dillon Francis ft. Will Heard (Thanks to a re-watch of his 2019 Coachella set it became a spring fave of mine)

I typically end these posts filled with excitement knowing I’ll be anticipating the Coachella lineup to drop within days, but this time around that excitement for my favorite festival is non-existant. Instead, I’ll be looking for another postponement to the Indio festival that was only a month away before corona dragged it and the rest of live music down. The good thing is that there’s finally a light on at the end of this tunnel. The vaccines are probably the hottest records to drop this year with a few more slated for early 2021. We’re all hoping that these creations will help get us back to the things (concerts and festivals) and people we love the most at some point next year. So I’m definitely urging you to give them a chance, because the faster you do the faster we can move forward away from this crazy upside down world we’ve been living in since March.

Besides hopefully a fresh start for the live music and events industry, 2021 should be filled with some highly anticipated new music. In May 2019, Adele hinted at a new record that was to come out in 2020. I’m not sure if this year put a damper on production, but it has yet to be released. A brief stint on SNL in October gave us some hope for new music but Adele quickly squashed those hopes in her opening monologue and shifted gears towards 2021. So as the saying goes, “rumor has it” that we’ll have some new Adele music next year after over 5 years since 25.

Lorde has also hinted at the release of new music. It will be 4 years ago in June that Lorde released her Grammy nominated sophomore album Melodrama. So this third full-length will be a highly anticipated record in 2021.

As I mentioned girl in red in my honorable mentions, her debut album should be dropping next year as well. The first single from it, “Rue”, was released in late August and I’m sure there will be more songs coming in anticipation of the release. After the big year girl in red had, thanks in large part to Tik Tok, I’m sure this debut will help grow her fan base even more.

Lana Del Rey, who just never stops making music, has an album due out for 2021 as well with Chemtrails over the Country Club. We should be seeing new music from Bleachers, St. Vincent, Spoon, Weezer, and Greta Van Fleet in the new year too.

Although it has been over 3 years now that my favorite band, Foster the People, released an album, they released an EP called In the Darkest of Nights, Let the Birds Sing on December 11th. They’ve dropped plenty of new music since their last record Sacred Hearts Club (2017) too. Hopefully touring returns at some point next year and I’ll have the chance to see Mark and the boys again soon. I miss them. I actually said the same thing at the end of last year too, but now I miss them even more.

It’s also been awhile since LCD Soundsystem has put out music so I hope to hear from them next year as well as Florence & The Machine whose last album came out in 2018. As for the next few months though, instead of going to Mexico and anticipating Coachella, I’ll be trying to ski as much as I can and keep my eyes and ears peeled for a return to the work I love so much. If all goes well, the new roaring 20’s might be in full swing by the fall. Stay tuned for that.

Although music was partially shut out this year, at least we have the technology to release, find, and hear new songs, EPs, and albums. I’m not going to try to tell you that music saved this year like it did in 2016. This year could never be saved and that’s okay. The good news is that we made it so here’s to shutting the door on a wild, lameass year and opening the next door for a better one. Onward and upwards!

6 Months Later

It’s crazy that when I started this blog 6 years ago I planned to keep up with it and that I’m still sort of doing that. Once I started working more, it became tougher though. When work stopped and music shut down 6 months ago, I thought I would write more. Turns out my lack of motivation in everything aside from working out dropped. So here we are 6 months later with not much change.

The world has changed a lot, but I keep feeling like it’s more of a regress than progress. We went from unexpected, catastrophic change to an uncertain, gradual return. Nothing quite feels as good as it used to. We’re not locked down anymore (were we ever really?), but I still stay home almost as much. Honestly that was pretty standard for me before as well. I’m good at staying home when I’m home. Home feels comforting now though because the world is strange.

I do miss work though. I miss the grind. I miss being busy. I miss making one festival my entire world for a week or two then feeling a sadness when it ends, yet an excitement for the next one or the next event I have coming up. I miss one day gigs in the cities and driving all over to work them. I miss wearing a radio and doing radio calls. “Copy that.” I miss catering when I was allowed to have it. I miss live music. I miss the lights going dark before a band appears on stage. I miss being in a crowd of people losing myself to music. I miss creating aspects of these live music experiences and making people happy because they get to see or meet the bands they love. I miss my work friends the most though. I miss getting it done with them and the good vibes and positive energy they bring. They’re a huge part of the reason why I love what I do. I truly do love it and miss it so much.

We still don’t have a clear timeline on when live music will return to its greatest state. There have been some drive-in shows and of course livestreams. Neither can live up to the energy that’s created in a large crowd of people standing next to one another. We’re hoping next year at some point that we’ll be back. The rest of this year is pretty much shot. There won’t be a Mexico this year either. At minimum it’ll be 6 more months, but as time keeps moving we’ll find out if it’ll be more. I just can’t wait for the light at the end of this long tunnel. The brightest spot will be the next Coachella for sure. I’ll be back writing previews and the excitement will be better than ever.

Until then, this was just checking in. Things are okay. They could be worse, but they could also be a lot better. They will get better though. I still think about the feeling I had the day the local favorite ice cream spot re-opened after being closed for a year. The owner died. We weren’t sure at the time if it would be closed forever. Then the following summer it was back. The hype was unreal. It was a great day in the beginning of summer. That’s the feeling I expect to have the next time I get to work or be at a show and I expect it to last for a while. It’ll be so great and that’s what’s keeping me going.

Nochella 2020

It’s been several days since the news finally broke about the year’s biggest party in the Indio desert being cancelled. 3 months ago I would have been absolutely devastated to hear about Coachella being cancelled. In fact I spent a weekend crying about it. Over the first few weeks after Coachella got postponed and live music every where ceased to exist, it became evident that Coachella in October was probably not going to be a thing. I stopped thinking about it. I hosted my own Couchella during the Coachella weekends. I watched the new documentary and decorated a room in my house like the polo fields. I even watched former live Coachella sets. I tried to celebrate Coachella as it should be celebrated in the best way I could.

Even though I expected this to happen, I’m still bummed about the news. This year has really become the year without live music and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Times are so strange right now. Life feels so weird and everything is upside down. I actually prefer being home these days since at least it’s comfortable. Home is the world I’ve always known, but I still miss the rest of the world as I knew it too. I miss the days when two weeks in the southern California desert listening to music with thousands of people on fields at a polo club would cure any similar heart break.

Time felt like it moved so slowly in March. Then it started to speed up. Now, 3 months later, it feels like we’re 3 months closer to be able to live, breathe, exist, and listen as we’ve done for our entire lives. Coachella 2021 dates have already been set, but even next April is in question right now. The uncertainty of it all feels like someone has taken a bat to my stomach and knocked all the air out of me. The only thing we know is that live music will be back the way we knew it at some point, we just don’t know how long it will take and I really hate thinking about it. I’m just trying to focus on right now and enjoy what I have in the present.

However, until it’s back, I’ll also still be here yearning for the days spent admiring flower crowns, sweating in the afternoon sun at the Outdoor Theatre, capturing pictures of art installations and that iconic ferris wheel, losing myself to the electronic beats of the Sahara tent, relaxing in the air conditioned Arctic Dome, drinking yerba mate and living my best life with my co-workers, indulging at catering, appreciating the palm trees and snow peaked mountains, eating In-N-Out Burger, catching one of my favorite bands at sunset, spying celebrities, witnessing ground-breaking headlining performances at the main stage, and getting lost in the good vibes and good tunes that only Coachella has to offer. We’ll be back there some day and I can’t wait for that moment. Can’t wait to see you again Coachella. You know I’ll be prepped and ready and I hope you will be too.

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert

Since I left Coachella last year, I hoped to spend today checking in guests who stay at the campground where I work at the festival. I even expected it from mid-July until the beginning of March. Then, life changed unexpectedly. Even now with Coachella rescheduled for October, everything is uncertain. It’s crazy because life is always uncertain. Anything can happen at any moment to change the course of the expected. Sometimes it could incredible, great, or good. Sometimes it could be terrible, awful, or bad. Sometimes it could be crazy, wild, or unthinkable. Regardless of what it is, it could happen because nothing is ever a guarantee. With that being said, most times we can rely on things. We can make plans and look forward to them. Right now though, everything is predictably uncertain, when usually it’s just predictable. It’s hard to tell where we’ll be in a few weeks let alone a few months given the state of the world. So, I think the best we can do right now is take it one day at a time and remain hopeful, but also keep expectations low. With that advice it’s safe to say I’m still looking forward to this weekend, specifically tomorrow for reasons involving Coachella.

In January, Coachella announced a documentary premiering on Youtube on March 30th that would commemorate 20 years of the festival. Over the last month sometime though, they announced that the premiere would happen April 10th at Noon PST, the exact time gates were supposed to open for Weekend 1 (big sigh). Over the last week the festival has been promoting the documentary, calling the circumstances surrounding the premiere “Couchella.” They even released a preview for it that features many acts who took to the Coachella stages over the last 20 years like Beyoncé, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Post Malone, and the famous Tupac hologram. The preview also included commentary from Billie Eilish, Moby, Ice Cube, and Perry Farrell. In addition to that, they’ve been teasing a few acts in the documentary throughout the week.

The other day I checked the Coachella website and it has since been updated with a whole page about the documentary. It gives a timeline of each year and mentions an artist for each one. They’ve also added 4 playlists featuring those artists and more. I’m expecting the artists mentioned on the page to be featured in the documentary. If it’s anything like the 2006 documentary, I’ll probably love it. My heart will also probably ache for Coachella. I’ll wish I was there instead of here. I’ll wish everything was predictable instead of predictably uncertain. Honestly over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll wish I was in Indio. I already do. That’s where I was supposed to be. Nothing is going to change that feeling for me, so I might as well embrace it and just let myself feel it. I waited long enough and I deserve to feel it.

So I decided, for the next two weekends, which were supposed to be Coachella 2020, I’m going to try to live my best Coachella life and Couchella. I’m going to watch the documentary every day. Maybe I’ll mix in the 2006 documentary as well. I’m also going to try to find a video of last year’s Sunday Service from Coacheaster. I plan to attempt to make my favorite dish from catering too, Orzo pasta with cream sauce. I’ll probably look at old pictures and videos I took from 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 too. It won’t be Coachella but I’m making Coachella a part of my life over the next two weeks regardless of the fact that it’s not actually happening. I have nothing better to do anyway so why not?!

I encourage you to do the same. There’s no reason you can’t live the greatest party in the desert in your own head and dream about the next Coachella whenever it happens to come. It will come too! If I can wait 4 years from knowing about Coachella to actually attending, we’ll be able to get through this wait. See you on Youtube when the gates open! Happy Couchella!