Mac DeMarco

Coachella Band Preview: Mac DeMarco

We’ve hit February. One month down, two to go until Coachella 2019. I hope you’ve been jamming to all the Coachella bands and prepping your flower crowns for the annual two weekend party in the Indio desert. This week I’m previewing another indie rock act set to make his third Coachella appearance this year.

Canadian artist Mac DeMarco came onto the music scene as a backing musician around 2008 shortly after he graduated high school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He relocated to Vancouver but failed to reach success as a musician there. He then moved to Montreal in 2011 to work on a solo project. It was from there that DeMarco signed with Captured Tracks and released his first EP Rock and Roll Night Club. The EP lead the way to DeMarco’s first full-length album 2. The album received a nod from indie music outlet Pitchfork being labeled as “Best New Music”.

Mac DeMarco’s second album Salad Days was released two years later and again it received the same praise from Pitchfork. He released another mini-album/EP Another One in 2015. He also released an instrumental album that same year entitled Some Other Ones. Mac’s latest album This Old Dog was released on May 5, 2017.

Mac DeMarco has described his style of music as “jizz jazz”. I think it fits the indie music category perfectly. It’s something you’d hear at Urban Outfitters circa 2011. It’s super chill and vibey. Some might call it indie rock or psychedelic rock. It does have elements of both genres, but in my opinion it’s way less rock from what you’d consider indie rock to be and way more pure indie, if that’s a thing?

I found out about Mac DeMarco from a friend in 2016. He was playing a music festival that I had hopes of volunteering at that spring as well. I ended up volunteering at the festival but not seeing Mac DeMarco since he performed while I was on my shift. I did see one of his live sets in 2017 though. I was working Lollapalooza and I was supposed to finish at 10 p.m. that night but I was cut early. I realized I had some time so I decided to catch Mac DeMarco’s set since he was closing out the night at one of the smaller Lolla stages and I didn’t care for the headliners. The set was so fun. Seeing him live is nothing like listening to his music. He jams, gets drunk, plays crazy Vanessa Carlton covers and plays his tunes in the midst of all that. It’s a great live music experience.

Mac DeMarco plays on Saturday. I’m guessing he has a late afternoon, early evening time slot, but as for what stage I don’t have a great guess. It may even be possible that he headlines a smaller stage just as he did at Lolla in 2017. His music fits the chill Coachella atmosphere perfectly. Unless you’re a huge fan who wants to be front and center, this is a perfect set to catch while laying out in the field, sitting under some shade (if he plays in the afternoon!), or just relaxing while soaking up all those Coachella vibes. I highly recommend catching his set though because like I said his live performances are fun and highly crowd-oriented. You never know what you’re gonna get from Mac DeMarco. Here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Salad Days
  2. Chamber of Reflection
  3. Freaking Out the Neighborhood
  4. Still Beating
  5. Ode to Viceroy
  6. This Old Dog
  7. Honey Moon
  8. On the Level
  9. Let Her Go
  10. Another One

(and also Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” just in case that cover happens again!)

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Coachella 2019 Lineup Release

Happy 2019 bitches! With a new year comes a new festival season and the hype for me always starts with Coachella (as most of you know). 5 years ago I decided to attend Coachella. I also began this blog about music, sports, and entertainment making the decision to review the Coachella lineup and preview bands leading up to the festival a no brainer. Who knew I’d make it a yearly thing? I mean I guess you could’ve figured it might happen. So here we are… on the brink of Coachella 2019 and I’m proud to say this is the 5th time for Coachella Band Previews leading up to the 20th anniversary of the spring festival in the Indio Desert. I know I haven’t kept up with my blog as much this year because of work and travel but I’m taking steps and measures to assure you (and myself honestly) that I have weekly band previews leading up to Coachella.

Now on to the important stuff…the LINEUP! It just dropped last night around 11:30 ET and I have a lot of good feelings about this one. Back in September, the headliners were projected to be Childish Gambino, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West. It bummed me out. It felt like another year with mainstream Coachella and no indie rock headliners. In the coming months it seemed that plans changed for Justin Timberlake and Kanye West. Reports in mid-December indicated that Justin Timberlake had dropped out of Coachella. Then yesterday as all of Coachella’s devoted fans waited for the lineup to drop, reports surfaced of Kanye dropping out of Coachella because both parties couldn’t come to agreements on stage size. It brought a new wave of excitement and anticipation for the lineup for me. After a few teasers around 7:00 p.m. and another around 10:30 p.m., the lineup dropped an hour later for the east coasters and 8:30 p.m. for those on California time. I was immediately hyped upon seeing the headliners and in general, which is crazy because it feels like none of my favorites play Coachella anymore. The lineups are so broad and encompass music across genres at this point, but I’ve reached a point of acceptance of that with Coachella. There’s no longer a hype to make every year 2014 even if I’m still a little bummed I didn’t see Vampire Weekend’s name on the ticket (it’s their year people!). It’s zero expectations from here on out. So without further delay and teasing, here it is the Coachella 2019 lineup:

The Headliners: Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Ariana Grande

After the drop outs from Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I heard Rihanna rumors and some Ariana Grande rumors as well. I honestly expected Rihanna, but Ariana Grande felt like an ironic fit to the lineup for me. After listening to “thank u, next” for the first time last week, it became a guilty pleasure. It was the new year’s motto and now she’s headlining Coachella. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Ha! I mean it’s not. “thank u, next” has been a big deal for a few weeks now, but it just seems like the icing on the cake after so much Ariana Grande talk in my life over the last week It’s actually not her first Coachella appearance either. Last year during Kygo’s set on Weekend 2, she joined the Norwegian DJ to perform her new single “No Tears Left to Cry”. She then joined in on Kygo’s “Sexual Healing” remix. Childish Gambino was the least surprising of the three. Donald Glover’s stage alter ego was part of the original three Coachella headliners since September. I’m indifferent to him honestly and expected his name to be there. Tame Impala, however, was the most exciting for me. After last year’s drop of an indie rock headliner and a lack of indie rock performers in general, seeing Tame Impala’s name on the bill got me stoked. I saw them headline Panorama aka Coachella East in 2017. They killed their performance. Seeing them play at night added another element to their set with insane strobes and visuals that I’m sure will be a highlight of their Coachella headlining set as well. These might not be the greatest headliners ever, but something about them feels right. And it just feels good too.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Janelle Monáe, the 1975, DJ Snake, Diplo, RÜFÜS DU SOL, BLACKPINK, Solange, Kid Cudi, Weezer, Aphex Twin, J Balvin, Billie Eilish, Bassnectar, Khalid, Zedd, Gesaffelstein, Bad Bunny, Dillon Francis, CHVRCHES, YG, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Kacey Musgraves, Juice WRLD, Ella Mai, Los Tucanes  De Tijuana, Four Tet, Christine & the Queens, Wiz Khalifa, Mac DeMarco, Bazzi, Maggie Rogers, Sheck Wes, Cirez D, Playboi Carti, H.E.R., Blood Orange, Pusha T, Unkown Mortal Orchestra, Kaytranada 

From the other top acts at Coachella this year, I’m most excited about RÜFÜS DU SOL. I’ve gotten into RÜFÜS over the past 2 years. They played Electric Forest last summer and I caught part of their Weekend 2 set. I wanted to see as much as possible but I was tired. I stayed for about 20-30 minutes though and it was incredible. They were killing it, but I was alone, had to get up early the next day, and had no one with me to peer pressure me into staying, so I left. I was both happy and sad about it, but Coachella is another chance for me to see them. Plus I know it’ll be a great vibe at their set in the Coachella atmosphere.

Another one of my faves from this list is the 1975. After the band announced their tour dates a month or two ago, it was expected that they would be at Coachella. I got really into the 1975 almost three years ago and saw them twice over the summer of 2016. They’re super fun live. I actually previewed them back in 2016 when they last played the festival and wrote a blog about them a few months before that. So needless to say I can’t wait to see Matt Healy and the crew performing again!

Weezer is also a staple on this list and I’ve never been able to catch them live. They’ve been in my life since high school and although I’ve never been a major fan, I’ve been a fan of several Weezer jams throughout the years. I’m hoping to be able to see them at Coachella this year.

I’m pretty stoked about CHRVCHES too. I watched their 2016 performance via livestream and also previewed them in anticipation of their 2016 performance. Lauren Mayberry had such a killer stage presence. I’m sure she still does too. Since watching the livestream that year though, I’ve never had the chance to see the band in person so hopefully it’ll work out at Coachella 2019.

A few others from this list worth mentioning are Janelle Monáe, Billie Eilish, Zedd, Diplo, Dillon Francis, Mac DeMarco, and Kid Cudi. Janelle Monáe released a new album last year (Dirty Computer) and is up for a Grammy for it. I’ve noticed a lot of hype around her from my friends/coworkers and not gonna lie, I even got into a few of her songs myself. Billie Eilish has exploded over the last year. I first heard of her in 2017 when my friend played a remix of one of her songs on our work trip in Sacramento. The remix version is a jam but her music overall is mood music. As far as rappers go, Kid Cudi was one of the first ones in a while that I actually enjoyed. This was back in 2011 but I used to vibe “Up, Up, and Away”. Mac DeMarco is always a good time. Listening to his music vs. seeing him live is completely different too. His live sets are one of a kind and you honestly just have to see him play to understand. I was lucky enough to see his set at Lollapalooza in 2017 and it was wild. Zedd, Diplo, and Dillon Francis are sure to bring the electronic flare at this year’s festival. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of any of them but “The Middle” is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine so I’d probably enjoy a Zedd set the most.

Also I hope everyone is prepared for the young wooks this year since Bassnectar is playing. That set is gonna bring all the head bangers out.

The Rest: FISHER, Jaden Smith, Nina Kraviz, Rosalia, Gorgon City, Mon Laferte, Khruangbin, Kayzo, dvsn, King Princess, Chris Lake, Jauz, the Interrupters, Hot Since 82, Charlotte Gainsbourg, SOPHIE, Nicole Moudaber, Tierra Whack, Pole & Pan, Beach Fossils, Yellow Days, the Frights, Nora En Pure, Yves Tumor, SG Lewis, Kero Kero Bonito, JPEGMAFIA, Calypso Rose, Nic Fanciulli, Kölsch, CamelPhat, Let’s Eat Grandma, Anna Lunoe, Amelie Lens, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Walker & Royce, Turnstile, RAT BOY, 88Glam, Ross from Friends, Lauren Lane, Still Woozy, Bakar, Blondish, Tomasa del Real, Las Robertas, Dave P. Gryffin, Bob Moses, Virgil Abloh, Tale of Us, Mr Eazi, Sabrina Claudio, Ty Segall & White Fence, Deep Dish, Smino, FKJ, SiR, Idris Elba, Parcels, JAIN, Soulection, Turnover, SALES, Stephan Bodzin, CloZee, ARIZONA, Murda Beatz, Jambinai, Ame, CHON, Little Simz, Adriatique, Lee Burridge, The Garden, Agoria, Hop Along, shame, Superorganism, serpentwithfeet, Dokay, Steady Holiday, Javiera Mena, The Messthetics, The Red Pears, Heidi Lawden, Gucci Gang, Jon Hopkins, SOFI TUKKER, Burna Boy, Lizzo, Dermot Kennedy, SOB x RBE, Clairo, NGHTMRE, Perfume, boy pablo, Guy Gerber, HYUKOH, Emily King, Dennis Lloyd, Alice Morton, Shallou, 078 Shake, Soccer Mommy, Rico Nasty, Cola Boyy, Wallows, Mansionair, Nocturnal Sunshine, Dusky, Yetto, Patrice Bäumel, Easy Life, Jan Blomqvist, U.S. Girls, Iceage, Men I Trust, Charlotte de Witte, Social House, Ocho Djes, Razorbumps, Tara Brooks

There’s a lot of great hidden gems in the rest of these performers. I think several of them should be billed higher actually but it is what it is. Out of these guys I’ve been super hyped on Bob Moses recently. A friend of mine told me about them recently and I’ve been slowly getting into them. I love the song “Back Down” along with a few others. I’m sure by Coachella I’ll be full on into them.

I’m also really stoked about Gryffin. Gryffin last played Coachella 2 years ago but I never made it to his set. I did catch his performance at Lollapalooza that summer though. He’s a great electronic artist who also incorporates instruments into his sets. I love his music too. It’s a win-win with Gryffin for sure.

ARIZONA is another one of my favorites from this year’s lineup. I’ve been digging ARIZONA since the winter of 2016. You already know because I’ve blogged about them before, but I saw them open for Hayley Kiyoko in late 2016 in a tiny Philly venue without even knowing it was them until I recognized their second song. The following summer I saw them play a small stage at Lollapalooza and the set was packed! This past year they played Lollapalooza again on the Bud Light stage (main stage) to another huge crowd! They also toured with Panic! At the Disco. They’ve just been growing and growing over the past few years so I know their set for their first Coachella appearance will be packed as well.

A few of my other favorites from the rest of the lineup are Turnover, Lizzo, and Mansionair. I found out about Turnover on my way to Coachella in 2017 and now here we are in 2019 with them on the lineup. It’s pretty cool. They’re part of the pop punk scene but their music is more indie. I’d probably say it’s on the indie punk spectrum, if thats a thing? During Coachella 2018 when we spent our drives listening to alt nation on Sirius XM, Mansionair’s “Astronaut” was always in the rotation. Now they’ll be back for real in the Coachella Valley. I’ve listened to them a few times since last spring, so I’ll definitely try to listen more in prep for Coachella 2019. Lastly, Lizzo. Lizzo is a big mood. I saw her open for Haim last spring shortly after I returned from Coachella. Slay is the word that comes to mind when I think back on that performance. She’s been getting bigger ever since so it makes sense that she’ll be at Coachella this year. I expect her to draw a decent sized crowd too.

I also suggest looking out for Wallows. They bring a great indie rock vibe to the festival and their claim to fame is their guitarist Dylan Minnette who is the star of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why amongst other TV and movie appearances. Will Smith’s son Jaden is also on the list of those performing and who knows maybe Dad will show up for a guest appearance. Beach Fossils is another indie band worth checking out too if indie music is your thing.

So there you have it. The Coachella 2019 lineup with a few brief overviews of all my recommendations for this year. In the coming weeks it’ll be Coachella Band Previews and prep from here on out. Although I’ll be working a few music festivals down in Mexico over the next two months I’ll still be releasing weekly blog posts up until the festival, which means I’m going to be doing a lot of writing in my free time.

I’m so stoked for Coachella this year. Once again, there will never be another 2014 it seems, but I’m okay with it. I’m excited. I’m happy with lineup. I love its diversity. I love that Coachella always seems to find up and coming artists. Mostly though, I love Coachella in general. It’s the reason why I’m following my dreams in the music industry and I can’t wait to spend another spring in the desert with my favorite people at my favorite place. Cheers to 20 years Coachella! I’m ready for you.

Coachella 2017 Lineup Release

Beyoncé, can you handle this? I don’t think you can handle this!

Yes, it’s that time of year again: festival season lineup announcements and in particular…Coachella. The Coachella lineup just dropped yesterday around 1:30 p.m. and I’m stoked (as always)! I heard lineup rumors during the past few weeks and certain predictions had me feeling some kind of jealous. However, upon the announcement yesterday I feel like 2017 still won’t be topping the 2014 lineup (toughest lineup to top ever). 2017 is still pretty epic because the Queen Bey herself, Beyoncé, is headlining. That’s why I felt the need to quote her former group, Destiny’s Child, to start this post. It was fitting, don’t you think? Anyway, this will be a first for the pop superstar, whose sure to draw a massive crowd as the Saturday night headliner. I can’t put all the focus on Bey though since there’s two other headliners. So, without further ado, the Coachella 2017 lineup is as follows:

The Headliners: Radiohead, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar

Obviously the big story from this is Beyoncé as I already mentioned and again yes this will be her first solo performance at the festival. She made a surprise appearance in 2014 at her sister Solange’s set.

Radiohead is no stranger to the Indio desert. Thom Yorke & company headlined Coachella twice in 2004 and 2012. They’ve even played “Creep” once while headlining there, so it’s obviously a pretty special place (they rarely play “Creep”). After the release of their most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool, last summer, it seems fitting that the group once again headlines a Coachella festival.

Lastly there’s rapper Kendrick Lamar. He played on the Main Stage in 2012 and came out as a guest during the Dre and Snoop set that year. Kendrick Lamar has been on the rise since 2010-2011. Last year he headlined Goldenvoice’s (same promoter as Coachella) Panorama Festival, also dubbed “East Coast Coachella”, in its first year of existence. He apparently crushed his set there and drew a crowd of epic proportions, which might give you an indication of how he’ll be closing out Coachella this year on Sunday night.

Usually Coachella headliners are primarily alternative, rock, or indie or some form of a combo of those genres. In recent years, there have been rap headliners such as Jay-Z (2010), Kanye West (2011), Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg (2012) or Drake (2015) and last year saw electronic artists take the headlining spot with Calvin Harris and, if you consider them to be indie eletronic-ish, LCD Soundsystem. This year is the first time a major pop/ pop-R&B artist is headlining the festival (Beyoncé). Each night sees a different genre of music as the headliner making Coachella even more appealing to the masses.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: the XX, Travis Scott, Father John Misty, Empire of the Sun, Dillon Francis, Bon Iver, Future, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, ScHoolboy Q, Gucci Mane, Lorde, Justice, New Order, Porter Robinson & Madeon, Future Islands, Mac Miller, Steve Angello, Glass Animals, Phantogram, Mac DeMarco, Little Dragon, BANKS, the Head and the Heart, Two Door Cinema Club, Nicolas Jaar, Bastille, Tycho, Tory Lanez, Röyksopp, Hans Zimmer, DJ Khaled, Marshmello, Lil Uzi Vert, Galantis, Kehlani, Grouplove, Kaytranada

Out of the the other top acts coming to the festival this year, the ones who stick out most to me (a.k.a. the ones I would see) are the XX, Empire of the Sun, Bon Iver, Lorde, Phantogram, BANKS, and Bastille. That means in weeks to come be on the look out for Coachella Band Previews featuring these bands and artists. Bon Iver, Lorde, Phantogram, BANKS, and Bastille will each be making their second Coachella appearance, while the XX and Empire of the Sun will be performing for the third time. All of these acts have released an album over the past year with the exception of the XX, whose third album comes out next week, and Lorde. Lorde is expected to release a new album this spring so I’m excited to hear her new material.

Other notable acts (for me) from this list are Two Door Cinema Club, Glass Animals, Mac DeMarco, and Grouplove. I would check out these acts if it fit in my schedule for sure, especially Mac DeMarco, who I missed at sweetlife last year, and Grouplove, who is a fun indie pop band that fits the Coachella atmosphere perfectly.

There’s also plenty of top electronic artists who will set the Sahara Stage on fire. Look for Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Justice, Porter Robinson & Madeon, Steve Angello, Nicolas Jaar, Tycho, Röyksopp, DJ Khaled, Marshmello (who is basically the new Deadmau5/Daft Punk with his visual persona), Galantis, and Kaytranada there or even on the main stage. There’s no doubt that Dillon Francis and Martin Garrix should be closing out their respective nights on at the Sahara Tent. It’s bound to be lit.

The most interesting artist of this bunch is German composer Hans Zimmer. This guy is a legendary film composer so to earn a spot at Coachella is out of the ordinary. I’m interested to see what his set will be like. Will there be an orchestra there that he directs? Will it be some sort of DJ set? Will everyone sit out on blankets drinking wine and eating cheese if it is an orchestral set? There’s endless questions for this one. Interesting doesn’t even begin to describe it for me.

Another note from this group is the amount of top rap/hip-hop artists. It actually feels like an overwhelming amount of rap artists at Coachella this year compared to the usual. It might be the year for rap there. Just by the look of the lineup, they’ve booked solid acts with Travis Scott, Future, Mac Miller, and Gucci Mane, and not to mention Kendrick as a headliner.

The Rest: Bonobo, Richie Hawtin, DJ Shadow, Loco Dice, Dixon, Capital Cities, Big Gigantic, Crystal Castles, SOHN, Jagwar Ma, Francis and the Lights, BROODS, Guided By Voices, Preservation Hall, Jazz Band, Sampha, BICEP, Raury, the Martinez Brothers, Oh Wonder, Stormzy, Zipper Club, Tennis, SNBRN, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Kungs, Floorplan, Denzel Curry, the Lemon Twigs, Nora En Pure, Joseph, the Interrupters, Sam Gellaitry, Klangstof, Tacocat, Alison Swing, Local Natives, Majid Jordan, DREAMCAR, Four Tet, Róisín Murphy, Moderat, the Avalanches, Mura Masa, Nav, Solomun, Warpaint, Banks & Steelz, Hot Since 82, Classixx, Kaleo, Breakbot, GRYFFIN, Car Seat Headrest, Daphni, Brodinski, Mitski, Floating Points, Thundercat, SURVIVE, Arkells, the Atomics, Ben UFO, Bishop Briggs, Blossoms, Chicano Batman, Autograf, Moss Kena, Red Axes, Shura, Honey Dijon, Declan McKenna, Eli & Fur, Swet Shop Boys, Chris Cruse, Tale of Us, Toots and the Maytals, Devendra Banhart, Tove Lo, Jai Wolf, Jack Garratt, Sasha, Kiiara, Real Estate, the Belleville Three, Maya Jane Coles, What So Not, PNL, Lee Fields & the Espressions, NAO, GoldLink, Allah-Las, King Sunny Adé, Marcel Dettmann, SOFI TUKKER, Whitney, Patrick Topping, HONNE, Twin Peaks, Tourist, Preoccupations, Hinds, Ezra Furman, Pond, Hannah Wants, Anna Lunoe, Grace Mitchell, Los Blenders, Show Me the Body, Caveman, Jen Ferrer

A lot of these bands and artists are playing Coachella for the first time. Some of them are new to their respective music scenes and some may only get bigger from here. Take this year’s headliner Kendrick Lamar for instance. When he played in 2012, his name was listed on the last line of Friday’s acts. Not all of these bands may make it as a headliner, but you may see some of them in the coming years selling out shows and playing festivals as a top-act.

If I were attending, I would definitely want to see BROODS, Oh Wonder, Kungs, Local Natives, GRYFFIN, and Tove Lo. I missed Local Natives in favor of Halsey at Lollapalooza, but caught the tail end of their set. They’re a great indie alternative band who I’d love to see live, or at least all of their set live. BROODS is a brother-sister music duo who just came on to the music scene in the past few years. I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by them so far. If I had the chance, I would definitely listen to them more and see them at the festival if I had the chance. I’ve also just started to get into Oh Wonder and seeing their name on the Coachella lineup makes me want to listen to more of their stuff and check them out live. I doubt these guys will be climbing the festival lineups soon but they put out some great tunes.

I’m also not sure why Tove Lo isn’t listed higher on the festival lineup. I’m sure she’ll be playing on the Outdoor Stage or the Main Stage though because she’s already selling out smaller venues. Her appeal kind of reminds me of Ellie Goulding and I’m guessing in the coming years she’ll be making her way to the top just as Ellie’s done.

Out of the few electronic artists I like, GRYFFIN is one I would love to check out at Coachella. If you read my Music Saved 2016 post from last week, you’d know I had a GRYFFIN song on the list. He’s also got a song called “Heading Home” that I’m a fan of too. Another electronic artist that you should see/pay attention to is Kungs. This kid, because yeah he’s only 20 years old, came on to the electronic scene huge with his hit “This Girl” feat. Cookin’ on 3 Burners (another song listed on said Music saved 2016 blog post). I actually just listened to some of his other stuff about 2 days ago. I liked what I heard. He released his debut album on November 4th and I’m sure you’ll hear more from him in the future. Like I said pay attention to him and see him now if you have the chance.

Some other bands worth checking out are electronic duo HONNE, rock group Arkells, and indie band Twin Peaks. You may even want to check out solo artist Jack Garratt, who reminds me of combo between Bon Iver and the Weeknd, and indie/alternative rock artist Declan McKenna, who won Glastonbury Festival’s emerging talent competition in 2015.

To those of you scored tickets and are heading to Indio this spring, have the best time of your lives. Coachella is an incredible experience filled with music that spans across genres so there really is something for everyone to see. At this current moment, I’m not officially going to Coachella as a festival attendee, but there is a possibility that I could work there. I’m not getting my hopes up yet though because I could very well be spending this year watching from my computer again. As such, I’ll be previewing bands playing the festival this year as I’ve done the last two years and writing as if I were going like I did last year in 2016 (because I did go in 2015, which started all this preview hype to begin with). So stay tuned for all the previews because festival season is almost here!

Music Saved 2016

2016 can be defined as being a shit ass year for Americans (maybe for other countries too but I can only go by U.S. standards). There were a few good moments, like the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years or the Pittsburgh Penguins winning their 4th Stanley Cup (It was good for me as a Pens fan), but for the most part many agree that 2016 sucked. We lost some truly great artists, story tellers, athletes, and human beings and it hasn’t stopped even in the days before the new year. As I sat down to write this, I found out that Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher passed away and then as I sat down to finish it two days later Carrie’s just as famous mother, Debbie Reynolds (her most substantial role, in my opinion, was Agatha Cromwell in the DCOM Halloweentown), had passed as well. Crazy. More importantly we lost progress, decency, and democracy from a shocking presidential election outcome. 2016 took so much from us and most of us are glad it’s almost over.

Last week I watched a YouTube video about the good in 2016 (because like I said there were a few good moments) and a statement was made that I agreed with wholeheartedly: “Music saved 2016.” It did, but for me especially. This year I embarked on an adventure into the music industry by working concerts, shows, and festivals all over the country. I learned new things, met amazing new people from all over the country, stepped outside my comfort zone, and had some incredible experiences especially over the summer. I’m entirely grateful for every single one and for the company that gave me a chance. This year I attended more live music events than ever. I saw some incredible bands and artists perform. I learned new music and fell in love all over again with bands I’ve listened to before. Music was everything to me this year. Because of that I wanted to share with you my favorite/most listened to music of 2016. Some of it might not have come out this year but I might have discovered it for the first time this year or rediscovered it, if you will. I’ll be including songs, artists, or albums as part of the list but each has a relevant meaning to my year of music.

1. “Holdin’ On” by Flume. This song was the song of the year for me. I discovered it shortly before I volunteered at the Sweetlife Festival in May, but the full impact of the song occurred the day of the festival. As you may already know from the post I did back in April, Flume is an electronic artist. This song is a hit from his first album which came out in 2012. He also released a new album this year, Skin, which had a few huge hits, like “Never Be Like You” ft. Kai and “Say It” ft. Tove Lo, earning Flume 2017 Grammy nominations. For me though, it was “Holdin’ On” that stood out the most. I feel like the song has more energy than his other stuff. Part of the song has this slowed down warp type of sound that leads into the refrain with a POW! At Sweetlife, my friend and I went to Flume’s set with no expectations. “Holdin’ On” stole the show that was marred by technical difficulties causing us to leave early (we were planning on leaving early anyway to not miss another set). After we left though, it was the song that played in my head the rest of the day. That day turned out to be one of, if not, the best day(s) of my whole year. The faulty set aided in our decision to buy tickets to see Flume perform 3 months later, which was also pretty sick but didn’t have the same impact as Sweetlife weekend and the first time I heard “Holdin’ On”.

2. LCD Soundsystem. 2016 saw the return of a band we thought was gone after 2011. Electronic dance-punk band LCD Soundsystem got back together in 2016 and played festivals all summer long. I was stoked by the news last year and jealous of everyone attending Coachella 2016 who would see them headline. After working at the Firefly Music Festival in mid-June, I rediscovered LCD Soundsystem because of the great people I worked with on the Dover Downs Speedway and Spotify Premium. We listened to LCD several times throughout the weekend and talked about the band, which earned my re-interest in the group who hails from NYC. Following Firefly, I started listening to LCD again. Then the universe came together and I was lucky enough to get a spot working at Lollapalooza in July, thus earning me the privilege of being able to see LCD Soundsystem perform on the final night of the Chicago festival. It was something else. I danced myself clean for the entirety of the set.

3. Sia. Sia’s been around for years, but she soared to the top of music charts with her 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear. In the beginning of 2016, I fell in love with the 1000 Forms of Fear song “Elastic Heart”, only to hear the newly released single, “Cheap Thrills”, off Sia’s newest record This Is Acting a few weeks later. I loved “Cheap Thrills” even more than “Elastic Heart” and it became part of my nightly workout playlist. I even introduced the song to my then 4 year old cousin Hudson when he came to visit me in early March. He loved the song too. So much so that he corrected me for singing the wrong lyrics during a visit in May. “Cheap Thrills” progressively became a hit of 2016 and Sia’s newest album was a hit too (not as much as 1000 Forms of Fear, but still a good album nonetheless). She also played several music festivals including Coachella and Panorama (Coachella East) and toured the U.S. for the first time since 2011. Singing Sia songs with Hudson, “Cheap Thrills” in particular and now “The Greatest”, which was a newly released single in the fall and a track on the deluxe edition of This Is Acting, was a huge part of my year. Hudson and I live 3 hours apart but still managed to see each other at least once a month, so there was plenty of singing (we crush long distance relationship/friendship standards). I doubt we’re the only ones who were singing Sia a lot this year though. She slayed 2016.

4. “The Sound” by the 1975. Before 2016, I liked the 1975. I knew a few of their songs. Three to be exact. I liked each one. Then I heard “The Sound” and I forgot all my previous thoughts on the band. That song was it for me. The 1975 released a new record this year called I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. “The Sound” was released as a single before the record. I thought at that time if “The Sound” is any indication, then the new record will be stellar. It turned out to be pretty good. “Somebody Else” is great. “She’s American” and “Love Me” aren’t too bad either. Some may argue I Like It When You Sleep… is not as good as the debut self-titled. I might argue that too, but “The Sound” is in a league of its own. That song made me want to see The 1975 live and I did. Twice (at Sweetlife and Lollapalooza). Both times The 1975 put on a great set, but I bet you can take a guess what my favorite song played was.

5. “Seeing Stars” by BØRNS. “Seeing Stars” became an instant favorite song of mine after listening to it a few times. It’s a happy, good feeling type of song. It was exactly what I needed in the spring after going through some disappointing and shocking moments. It was my positive jam for a while. I even played it a few times driving to Sweetlife. Then two weeks later my friend and I purchased last minute tickets to see BØRNS perform at the Electric Factory. It was a great decision and a fun show even though there were a few off moments that night like a 30 minute wait at Taco Bell and a speeding ticket. I loved hearing my song of the spring live regardless.

6. “Gold Rays” by Vinyl Pinups. In early 2016, this song was MY. JAM. The only downfall was that I liked it in the dead of winter and it’s the perfect spring/summer song. I did listen to it on my workout playlist for several months though well into the spring. However in the summer, I was listening to other things and I didn’t play it as much as I would have liked. It’s one of my favorite songs of the year by far. It’s also a great feel-good song by a smaller-name band.

7. “T-Shirt Weather” by Circa Waves. Like “Gold Rays”, this was another perfect summer song that I fell in love with during the winter. It made me long for warm days in late January, early February 2016. I constantly imagined listening to this song while driving in the summer on a road trip with friends. Then like “Gold Rays” it was rarely played during the summer months. It’s another favorite of the year for sure.

8. Tegan and Sara. I’ve liked Tegan and Sara since college. I rediscovered them again in 2014 when I purchased Heartthrob. If it wasn’t for bonds over women’s soccer, I probably wouldn’t have fell into their web of smooth, catchy rock tunes again this fall, but I’m so thankful it happened anyway. I went to see Tegan and Sara live in early November with a friend, her roommate, and her roommate’s girlfriend. It was another last minute decision that ended up being even better than BØRNS. It was a night where everything felt right. I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I wished it would never end. It was so much fun. We even saw two shows at the same venue. How epic right?! Tegan and Sara were great live and almost everyone there could sing along to every song. It was because of that night that I gained a new appreciation for the song “The Con”. I listened to it with a greater affinity afterwards. Because of how insanely amazing that night was, Tegan and Sara are high on my list for the year, but they deserve it regardless. They’re incredible talent that has been around for over 17 years.

9. Adele. Adele ended my 2015 with a bang. Her new album 25 was released in November of last year. Right before the new year I scored tickets to her sold out World Tour for a show in early September. That show became a huge anticipation of 2016. I loved bringing it up any time Adele came up. Adele came up often too. She had a few singles that came out in 2016 and her album earned her several Grammy nominations for the 2017 awards show. As for the concert I saw in September, it was well worth the almost 9 month wait. It was incredible seeing her perform live. She’s got a killer voice and sang for 2 hours straight with no openers. There was some stand-up comedy in between songs of course. She’s hilarious if you didn’t already know. It was an epic 2016 music event and one I won’t soon forget.

10. Wild World, Bastille. In September 2016, Bastille released his sophomore album Wild World. After hearing 2-3 songs off the new album (one during the summer months and the others post album release), I knew I needed the band’s newest compilation of music. I don’t even regret buying it for $4-5 more than what I would have paid if I waited to get it on Black Friday. I couldn’t wait. It’s actually that good. So good that it’s my favorite new album of 2016. Bad Blood put Bastille’s name into the music world, but Wild World is just as good. I actually believe it’s underrated considering it hasn’t received as much hype as their debut album. “Send Them Off” is currently (still!) one of my favorite songs to listen to. “Good Grief” is amazing. “Warmth” is a solid jam too. I can’t say enough good things about Wild World. It’s my album of the year for sure.

11. Hayley Kiyoko. Remember when I said I saw two shows in one night in early November? Yes, one of them was Tegan and Sara. The other was Hayley Kiyoko. I mentioned it in my Tegan and Sara blog post but didn’t talk about it further. I found out about Hayley Kiyoko while doing some reading online last winter. The referenced song in the reading fit the story so well.  I obviously listened to it when I saw there was a song reference. I liked the song itself too. Throughout the year Hayley Kiyoko songs just kept wandering into my life here and there. I liked and downloaded every single one I listened to. The music is traditional pop but the themes are a little different. I’ll have to do a full blog post on Hayley some day and explain it further, but you know what I mean if you’ve heard her stuff. The fact that she’s not a mainstream artist despite the traditional pop sound makes her more appealing to me as well.

12. ARIZONA. I first heard ARIZONA last winter. It was a song called “Where I Want to Be”. It popped up on a twitter account I follow. I loved the song and it was a perfect fit for my workout playlist (I workout a lot if you couldn’t tell by how many times I’ve mentioned my workout playlist). Several times throughout the year I checked ARIZONA’s Spotify page for new music because of how much I liked “Where I Want to Be”. That lead to liking one or two more ARIZONA. Then the night I saw Tegan and Sara and Hayley Kiyoko in one night I was in for a surprise. My friend and I walked into the Hayley Kiyoko show shortly before it started. We got some drinks and the first band came on. While the band played their first song, I said to my friend that I liked the music but wasn’t a fan of the song’s melody. It reminded me of some electronic artists that I listened to. Then the second song started. I knew what song they were playing. I asked my friend who the opener was as I tried to remember what band played that song. Then it hit me. ARIZONA! I looked it up to double check. I was right and instantly stoked. I didn’t pay attention to who Hayley’s opener was, but it ended up being a band I liked. That moment was another reason for how epic that evening was.

13. Arctic Monkeys. It’s a shame I never heard of the Arctic Monkeys until 2013. It’s also I a shame that I didn’t appreciate them enough until 2016. I totally fell in love with them this year and began listening to more of their music. Hence writing a blog post about them just for the sake of writing about them. I’m also dying to see them live. So hey guys if you see this, please put out another record and tour again soon! Thanks! Cheers!

14. “Collide” by EVVY. This was another song of last winter. I really got into it during my trip to Baltimore/DC at the end of January/beginning of February. I took that trip because I worked at a Muse concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. It was the first music event I ever worked. I didn’t know what to expect for the show or for the rest of the year as far as my life choices were going. The song was calming and positive at the time. During my drive to my cousin’s apartment the night before the concert, to work the show the next day, and back to my cousin’s apartment after the concert, I listened to the song. A multitude of thoughts and feelings went through me during those drives. I was nervous, yet confident and then relieved, yet overjoyed. I reflected on my whole experience while listening to the song on the way home and knew that my choice to go after music was the right one.

15. “Capsize” by FRENSHIP. “Capsize” is another song I added to my workout playlist and my iPod in general after I heard it on my favorite soccer player’s monthly playlists. A large handful of my workout songs are electronic and this one was no exception. It also became the song that reminds me of the first multi-day festival I worked because I played it a lot at the time (it was Firefly, in case you were wondering). In fact, I introduced the song to a friend I made during the festival who is a huge electronic fan. She didn’t know the song at the time, but it apparently blew up afterwards. It ended up being a song I played throughout the summer months while driving, relaxing, and of course working out.

16. “Whole Heart” by Gryffin. The first time I heard this song was after a trip I took to see my favorite NWSL team in their first home playoff match. The team won the match and earned a spot in the Championship game. The week after the win, the club posted a “Thank You” video to the fans and this song played in the background along with highlights and video clips from the season. It made me amped for the final even though the song is a much slower electronic song than the norm. Then in another depressing 2016 moment for fans of the team I followed for 4 years (myself included), the opposing team scored a game tying goal in the final minute of stoppage time during the championship match. They opposing team went on to win in penalty kicks. I was heartbroken for the team. I hadn’t been as heartbroken over a sporting event since 2011. I didn’t even care as much when the USWNT got knocked out in the Olympic quarterfinal almost two months earlier (another bummer 2016 moment and I was working a festival at the time). It was a devastating blow. Listening to “Whole Heart” after the loss made me feel a tremendous amount of sadness because the song describes giving your whole heart to something, which the team did and came up short. I felt similar listening to this song after the 2016 Presidential Election especially with the hate that ensued post-results. With time, the song no longer feels as sad as it did in those moments and it still reminds me of the positive thoughts I had when I first heard it.

17. “home” by morgxn. Addicting. That’s the word that first comes to mind to describe this song. I heard it on Spotify in November and it’s been one of my favorites to listen to ever since. It’ll probably be one of my faves going into 2017 as well.

18. Sigala. At the same time I added “Capsize” to my music rotation, I added the song “Sweet Lovin'” by Sigala as well. It’s another song that I listened to on my way to Firefly. Sigala, in general, became part of a joke between me and a friend I met during the festival because she couldn’t pronounce the artist’s name correctly (it’s pronounced Sig-AH-lah not Sig-ah-LAH (stress on the second syllable) in case you were wondering). Sigala was the only artist she wanted to see perform during the festival since our schedules didn’t really allow for more than one performance each. She was able to attend Sigala’s set and I happened to catch “Sweet Lovin'” live too during the only time we both spent in the festival (I chose to see Florence and the Machine who played before Sigala though. Well worth it.). I would have just put the song “Sweet Lovin'” by Sigala on here, but that wasn’t the only Sigala song I got into this year. “Give Me Your Love” was another jam from the fall. It was the only Sigala song I heard since “Sweet Lovin'” that had the same kind of energy.

19. “Fever” by Roosevelt. I heard this song on the “Discover Weekly” Playlist on Spotify in mid-September. I liked it immediately upon hearing it. It reminded me of a nickname of a soccer player I like and got me pumped to attend that NWSL Playoff game that I mentioned before. It was my go-to song for several weeks in September and October.

20. “Starving” by Hailee Steinfeld ft. Zedd. I’m embarrassed this song is on my list, but it was a 2016 fave so I had to include it. It’s definitely been my biggest guilty pleasure song of the year even though I’ve only known it for the past few months. I can also do a mean cover of it on guitar. The Zedd version is by far better than the original. It adds electronic flare and more energy to an otherwise soft yet peppy love song.

21. “This Girl (Kungs vs. Cookin’ on 3 Burners) by Kungs & Cookin’ on 3 Burners. Last but not least, “This Girl”. My cousin played this song for me in late September on my trip to the soccer match. I stopped to visit Hudson for a day first. At dinner that day, my cousin played me this song. It was so familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out where I heard it. It took me 20-30 minutes before I realized I heard it on an instagram video and that it was the song stuck in my head a few weeks prior. It’s such an interesting song, but yet so so good. When I returned home from the trip, I immediately added the song to my workout playlist and it has been a mainstay ever since.

Bonus Music: “Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums, Mac DeMarco, “I Am A Nightmare” by Brand New, “Better Off” by Haim, “Dancing on Glass” by St. Lucia, “Roses” by The Chainsmokers ft. ROZES, “Cake By the Ocean” by DNCE (Yep, guilty pleasure #2)

So you can see from this list, 2016 wasn’t too bad if you just look at it from a music perspective. Yes I know we lost Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, but just check out all the other amazing music we did have, whether it’s on this list or not. Music is the good thing from 2016. It’s usually a good thing most years. It saved 2016, but let’s be real music saves everything.